I am not a big fan of shopping. Those islands of sofas and coffee tables that appear in random areas of the mall seem to have been designed specifically for me. When I do shop, I go with a list or an agenda, hit the stores I need and try to get out almost as fast as I got in. However, as I am part of a family, I find myself meandering through the malls and other shopping or dining venues in my area on a regular basis. A Saturday morning might find me waiting for someone (or someone’s) to get nails done, or for another to buy some sporting gear or for everyone to do some general shopping. That got me wondering if there was any way I might make cash in this spare time.
Turns out there are many valid ways to make cash in your spare time, and while some are a bit more active and involved, others are amazingly simple. I want to share my personal successes in this endeavor in the hopes of helping you determine the best ways you can make cash in your spare time, too.
Start on the Sofa
So, if you are someone interested in learning how to make cash in your spare time, I have a few simple words of advice: Think about paid surveys.
These are sites that also work as mobile apps. You open them from anywhere on your phone, and while you sit on one of those islands of sofas in the midst of the mall, you can start to make cash in your spare time. My favorite sites for surveys include (in alphabetical order):
You can also do your own, online, shopping and make cash in your spare time, as well. This is because there are so many rebate sites that are happy to reward you with actual money, discounts, or points to exchange towards goods just for shopping via their portal. You can also use those to make cash in your spare time if you do your shopping at popular websites.
My personal preferences are
With these sites, you get financial rewards for shopping or doing activities like surveys, contest entries, watching ads and more. It is some of the easiest way to make cash in your spare time, and I find myself using my phone during commercials, while waiting (as a passenger) in traffic, and even if I can’t get to sleep right away!
When You Wander
Of course, I don’t always gravitate instantly to the sofas and lounge areas of malls. I also do window shopping and occasionally bust out the wallet to do shopping of my own. That’s when I found out that even just window shopping could become a simple way to make cash in your spare time. How you might wonder? By becoming a mystery shopper.
You may have read a bit about this before, and if you haven’t, you might think it is a potential scam. However, I can tell you that there are a lot of legit mystery shopper and secret shopper sites. They are an easy way to make cash in your spare time if you are someone with the ability to follow very specific instructions, have an excellent memory and are willing (and able) to use your own cash to get a job done.
Not sure how it works? It is actually a cool activity. What you do is register with the better sites (don’t worry, I’ll list them below), and then start accepting a few of the jobs they offer. Your work usually involves going to a specific store (let’s say a place like a local electronics store) to purchase a specific product (we’ll say a 4k HD TV). Your job is going to involve everything from determining if the staff wear name tags, ask you about your needs and show you more than the most expensive items. You may even have to speak with two staff to get the work done, and you may be required to ask very specific questions.
You cannot usually make notes or indicate you are a secret shopper, and buying a TV may be required. You only take the job if you are able to make the purchase, and want it, too. In some instances, you might be reimbursed for the TV (meaning you get a free TV) and you get paid for the work. You need to fill out a very detailed report and submit any receipts for the purchases, and sometimes meals are reimbursed, too.
There are mystery shopper gigs in almost all areas and even organizations dedicated to the industry. After all, it is meant to improve customer service and other areas of business. You can even find work in restaurants.
How to Get a Secret Shopper Job
So, how do you get a secret shopper job and start to make cash in your spare time doing this appealing sort of work? I would say that a smart route is to join the MSPA or Mystery Shopping Professionals Association and use their training courses. They don’t take a lot of time or money and are a good way to jumpstart a part or full time career. The Mystery Shoppers of America site is also helpful in getting training and work. And once you are ready to start taking work, you have a surprising number of sites offering jobs. I had luck with a few of the following companies:
- A Closer Look
- About Face
- Amusement Advantage
- GAPbuster Worldwide
- KSS International
- Market Force
- Sinclair Customer Metrics
- Secret Shopper
- Second to None
I learned (by making mistakes) that you should start with just one gig and see how it goes. It can be time consuming to do the report, and I felt frustrated that I dedicated so much time to something I viewed as the ultimate way to make cash in your spare time. Yet, once I got it down, it became easy to do gigs and so each weekend, I make sure I have at least two opportunities to earn a bit of money rather than just killing time window shopping and eating lunch.
Back to the Sofa
Of course, if you are super serious about finding a way to make cash in your spare time, but you want it to involve more than just mystery shopping or taking surveys, you can always participate in the highest paid clinical trials. This is not as scary as it sounds, and my research into it led me to some pretty surprising discoveries.
I describe this work as heading back to the sofa because a lot of it is really passive stuff. For instance, there are authentic sleep study trials that allow you to check into the facility and then be a subject for observation and documentation of conditions like sleep apnea. If you don’t mind traveling to the clinic, you will want to visit the AASM website to determine if they have any trials open to you.
You can also head to the National Institute for Health’s website to see the current database of trials. Search by condition or location and you may see that you can get paid for using new medications, new devices or products or by being part of a group observed over a specific amount of time. And as I discovered, it is not always the super risky trials that yield the best pay. A trial over an extensive time may pay well just because you are asked to make the time commitment.
As an example of a well paying but low risk study, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research pays people for saliva collection and nothing more. Of course, if you are not grossed out by such things, then you may want to look at things other than the highest paid clinical trials.
For instance, I found out that I can make money doing almost nothing doing things like selling hair, donating blood plasma and even participating in stool donation opportunities.
Now, I don’t have the kind of hair to donate (or enough to do so), but if you do, then you might find it incredibly easy to make cash in your spare time by heading to a site that wants your hair. I discovered that BuyandSellHair.com and HairSellon.com are two of the most popular.
If you have a bit more than just spare time, a few hours per week is needed, you can also do the world some good and donate blood plasma. If you don’t know about it, plasma is used therapeutically for people will all kinds of health problems. Any donation is usually described as the gift of life because it is vital to patients with people with uncontrolled autoimmune diseases, burn victims, blood clotting problems, emergency patients and more.
You can earn from $20 to $50 per donation, and it takes less than two hours to complete. You can do this up to twice a week, and top tier sites offer bonuses if you commit to ongoing donations. You can learn all about it at DonatingPlasma.org.
And what about the stool donation? Though there is certainly an ick factor involved, you should know that it is a fascinating thing. It is done via the OpenBiome Stool Donor Registry and it is in place to help patients with uncontrolled infections of clostridium difficile. This is antibiotic resistant and can make life nearly impossible for those suffering with it. If you pass the firm’s screening process, you could be doing a lot of good and making lots of money doing it – in fact some have earned thousands a year for their, well, donations!
Head to Someone Else’s Sofa
And maybe you are one of those who would like to do some good as you make cash in your spare time? I felt the same and started to look around for opportunities that were not exactly volunteering but had the same benefits that certain volunteering opportunities offered. In other words, I wanted to feel good about the way I was spending time, but I also wanted a bit of a return.
What I discovered was that I could get paid for my compassion by working as an elder sitter. I learned that it is also called elder concierge services, but that sounded all too serious for me. Instead, I discovered that lots of seniors are in need of help with certain tasks. Some needed a lift to the store and help with the bags, some needed someone else to do the shopping and errands, and some just wanted someone to help with very light housekeeping. A few just needed a bit of company and someone to whip up lunch.
I looked at the best organizations for registering to do this officially, and found that like Brightstar, Care.com, or Sitters Companion Care were the best for people like me. I just created an account and checked the boxes that explained what I could do, my experience levels and so on. I knew I didn’t have skills for anyone with special medical needs, but I was soon making a nice sum for my free afternoon in the middle of each week and added some hours on the weekends, too.
What do I do? Make a lunch for me and my buddy, do a bit of his cleaning, talk to him to make sure he took medications and spend around four hours on my day off with him. I also use a few hours on Sunday to do shopping for him and two of his neighbors. I make a nice amount of money for the time, and I get my own grocery shopping done while doing theirs. Two birds, one stone and a nice paycheck…not a bad way to make cash in your spare time!