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How to Make an Extra $1,000 a Month (25 Ways That Actually Work)

When I was in college, I felt like having an extra $1,000 a month would basically make me rich.

It seems silly now, but when you’re in college, $1,000 a month can go a long way.

You could use it to:

By my last couple of months in college, I finally hit that $1,000 a month income goal. But looking back, I realize I could have hit that number a lot sooner if I had known what I know now. That’s why I’ve put together this guide.

Below, I’ll show you 25 ways to actually earn a $1,000 a month. No questionable methods, no b.s., and no get rich quick schemes. Just ways that, with a little hard work, will pay off quickly.

The Right Mindset for Making Extra Money

Before I get to the methods, you need to understand the right mindset to have when looking for ways to earn extra money. I include this section because, as a college student, I made the mistake of spending way too much money on courses that claimed they would help me make extra money.

I’m not saying that the courses were giving bad advice, but rather that I made the mistake of falling for the allure of extra income without wanting to put in the work required to get it. Certainly, there are courses out there that can help you boost your income. But you don’t need any of those to get started.

To make extra money, you just need 3 things:

  1. Be able to do something people will pay for.
  2. Get people to pay you for it.
  3. Keep doing #2 till you’ve hit your income goal.

The above advice applies whether you want to make an extra $1,000 or $10,000. Of course, there are details to iron out such as what you’ll do and how you’ll find people to pay you for it. That’s what the rest of this guide is for.

25 Ways to Make an Extra $1,000 a Month

fanning out 1000 dollar bills

Ready to stop dreaming and start earning? Below, you’ll find 25 ways you can actually make an extra $1,000 per month. None of these require expensive equipment, high startup costs, or even a degree. What they do require is hard work, creativity, and the willingness to try new things or learn new skills.

Freelance Writing

I’m going to start with a method that’s near and dear to my heart. Freelance writing was the first way I started making serious money when I was in college, and I still think it’s a great thing to try if you have writing skills.

There are a ton of companies out there that need written content, including blog posts, video scripts, website copy, and more. They’re willing to pay, too; a starting writer can easily charge $50 for an article. 

More experienced writers can charge $150/article or more, depending on the length and subject matter. Work your way up to that level, and writing just two articles a week could net you $1,200 a month.

To get started freelance writing, you have a couple of options. The first is to check out freelance job boards like Upwork, Fiverr, and ProBlogger. Alternatively, you can reach out directly to blogs who accept guest contributions. Both methods can work, though I had more success with direct outreach when I was starting out – and in this realm, I had the most success when I worked to build relationships instead of doing cold outreach.

You’ll also want to build a portfolio to showcase your writing. Check out our guide to building an online portfolio to get started on that.

If you want further guidance, including tips on how to pitch articles and get your first clients, check out this freelance writing course my friends Kristin and Alex created.

Graphic Design

A few examples of our graphic designer's work for the CIG Podcast.
A few examples of our graphic designer’s work for the CIG Podcast.

Companies aren’t just hungry for written content; they’re also constantly in need of graphics, illustrations, logos, custom slide decks, and other graphic design assets.  If you’re artistic or enjoy design, this can be a great way to make money.

The steps for getting started with freelance graphic design are fairly similar to freelance writing. You can search on Upwork, Fiverr, or even 99designs for gigs. Alternatively, you can ask around campus to see if anyone needs design help. Making business cards and logos for people can be an especially fruitful place to start.

If you want to learn graphic design, there are a ton of avenues out there. I’ll note that it’s important to learn both the fundamentals of design (composition, type, white space, etc.) and the technical skills, such as how to use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Here are a few courses to start with:

Web Development

Having a website is a must these days, yet so many businesses and individuals still don’t have one. This is a great opportunity for anyone with web development skills to make some serious money.

But what if I don’t know how to make a website? Just read our guide, and now you have no excuses. Combine that with a few web development tutorials on Skillshare, and you’ll have all the skills you need to build beautiful, functional websites for just about anyone.

You can easily charge $500 for a basic website, so I’d be shocked if you didn’t make more than $1,000 per month doing this. Who knows — it could even turn into a full-blown career.

Audio Transcription

Voice recognition technology is getting better every day, but it still isn’t great at transcribing real human speech. For this reason, there’s a demand for skilled audio transcriptionists.

Audio-what-tionists? When transcribing audio, all you do is listen to a recording and turn it into a word document. All kinds of companies and people need this service, and they’re willing to pay. While you can do this on your own, it’s generally better to work for an audio transcription company. This way, you don’t have to find clients.

I recommend looking into Rev — pay starts at $0.36 per minute of audio, which means you need to transcribe around 50 hours of audio per month (12.5 per week) to hit the $1,000 mark. Plus, you can do this job from the comfort of your home, making it great for fitting around your busy schedule.

Helping People with Computers

Using a computer may seem second-nature to you, you darn millennial-Gen-XYZ whippersnapper. But for many people who aren’t “digital natives,” it’s not so easy. Instead of making fun of your grandpa for not knowing how to use his iPad, why not see if you can turn your knowledge into some extra cash?

The possibilities here are only limited by your creativity and what people will pay for. Just a few ideas:

  • Make PowerPoints for your less than tech-savvy professors (a former professor reached out to me about this just the other day)
  • Give a class on computer basics at a local retirement home or community center
  • Start your own IT business that makes house calls (a friend of mine made one contact in college who paid him around $200/month for very basic computer help. The guy was pretty wealthy, but knew nothing about computers.)

You can choose to charge per hour or per project — whichever makes more sense.

Bonus Tip: If you’re willing to take some time and spend a bit of money to get an A+ Certification, you may be able to charge even more. If you choose to go this route, you should get Mike Meyers’ (no, not that Mike Meyers) excellent CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, which is updated every year.

Investing Your Money

I’ll state this up front: Compared to every other method on this list, investing will take by far the longest amount of time to make you an extra $1,000 a month. Still, you should seriously consider investing as early as you possibly can.

Here’s why: Investing means putting your money to work for you. Every other method here requires you to essentially trade hours for dollars; investing allows you to sit back as the money you have invested grows due to compound interest. And the sooner you get started, the more that compound interest will benefit you.

Here’s a simple calculation: If you’re 25 now and you invest just $200 a month for the next 30 years at a 7% rate of return (which is reasonable to expect over the long term), by the time you’re 55 you’ll have a bit over $228,000 – even though you only invested a total of $72,000 of your hard-earned money.

That means that you gained a whopping $156,000 while you slept. And that’s assuming you never increase your monthly investment as you get further into your career; do that (as most smart investors do) – and get started as early as possible to reap the benefits of compound interest year after year – and you can retire with millions.

Here’s another calculation, this time looking at what it would take to be able to pull $1,000 a month out of your retirement savings every month for 30 years:

40 years of saving for retirement - $1,000/month goal

Again, assuming you never increase your contribution (which is unlikely), you still only need to save $316 a month assuming you start when you’re 25. (You can use this Bankrate calculator to play with the numbers.)

How to get started: The main three things you need to know are:

  1. Tax-advantaged retirement accounts are your friends. A Roth IRA is a great place to start.
  2. Index funds are your friends. These passively follow the entire stock market, providing a good rate of return without too much risk.
  3. High fees are your enemy. Even a fee of 1% on a fund can eat a huge portion of your earnings. And funds that charge these fees almost never outperform lower-cost funds.

While you can learn and optimize later, these three rules are really all you need to get started.

As for where to start, Betterment is a great option; their fees are low, there’s no minimum starting investment (you could throw in $50 now and set up a $25 monthly auto-investment to start), and they adjust your investments based on your goals.

Selling Your Old Stuff

Your closet, garage, or attic is probably full of perfectly good things that you just don’t use anymore. Instead of letting them sit there collecting dust and getting in your way, why not sell them for some extra cash?

Depending on how much stuff you have, you could certainly earn an extra $1,000 doing this. This is especially true if your parents or grandparents will let you comb through their old stuff and sell it as well.

That being said, this probably isn’t the best way to consistently make extra money. To do that, you need to branch beyond selling your stuff and into selling other people’s.

Retail Arbitrage

Retail-what? So it’s a fancy business term, but all it means is going to stores like Wal-Mart, Target, or even a thrift store and finding items that you can re-sell online for a profit.

Generally, people use either Amazon or eBay to do this, though you could also look into a more specialized platform such as Poshmark or Etsy if you’re focusing on clothing or vintage goods.

Now, be warned — if you do this wrong, you can lose a bunch of money and waste a lot of time. You have to be smart about what you buy, which generally means using a tool like the Amazon Seller app (Android | iOS) to calculate your potential profit. But if you do it right, this can be an effective way to make money in your free time.

Fixing & Flipping Cars (or Other Vehicles)

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see an old car or bike for sale in someone’s yard. While I don’t have the time or mechanical skills to do it, I know lots of people who make good money buying old vehicles, fixing them up, and re-selling them.

This is definitely an area where you need to know what you’re doing, and you’ll also need the appropriate tools and space. But provided you have those things, it’s easy enough to get started. Even if you spend a few months fixing up a car and manage to sell it for a $5,000 profit, that’s easily an extra $1,000 a month.

Babysitting or Nannying

People have kids, and they need a responsible adult to watch them. There’s good money to be made here, particularly if you have the time to do a more involved job such as nannying.

You can either go through a site such as Care.com or build up your own business through word of mouth. I have a few friends that were easily able to charge $20 per hour for this sort of work, which means you would only need to work an extra 12.5 hours per week to reach $1,000 a month.

Yardwork

This category covers everything that people don’t want to do in their yards. People tend to associate yardwork with warm-weather activities such as lawn mowing, but it can also include things like shoveling snow and picking up dog poop. With these activities, you can stay busy earning money all year round.

Pro-tip: When I was a teenager, I stood out from the other teenage lawn-mowing businesses by BUNDLING dog poop pick-up and lawn mowing. Differentiating yourself is key!

How you price this work is up to you — you can charge a flat rate based on the size of the yard (this works well for mowing or snow shoveling) or an hourly rate (which is best if you don’t know how long the work will take). As long as you charge enough, you can hit your extra income goals with only a few hours of work per week.

Cleaning Houses

Cleaning is something that has to be done, but many people don’t have the time or desire to do it. This is where you come in — with just some simple cleaning supplies and a few hours per week, you can earn great money.

To maximize your earnings, we recommend doing this gig solo. You’ll get to keep all the money you earn, and you can often charge a more competitive rate than a bigger cleaning company. Getting started is as simple as asking around, and it’s easy to charge $100 for a small house or apartment. Do that 10x per month, and there’s your extra $1,000.

Home Repairs

In a similar vein to cleaning houses, things around the house tend to break. While some people know how to fix them, plenty of others will go running to a handyman (or woman) whenever they need to patch a small hole or fix a leaky faucet.

If you have some basic tools and a little bit of practice, you can earn good money helping friends, family, and anyone else with simple household repairs. People will pay more for this than you might think — my friend recently got paid $100 just to help a co-worker hang a curtain rod.

Note: Please don’t blow yourself up, chop off your hand, or get electrocuted. Leave any major work to licensed professional contractors. But for small fixes, go for it!

Tutoring

Many parents will do anything to help their kids succeed, even if it means spending lots of money. Tutoring is a prime example of this. After all, how is your neighbor’s kid going to get into Harvard at age 15 if they can’t pass their first-grade algebra class?

Okay, this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but lots of parents freak out when their kid is struggling even a little bit in school. To fix this, they’ll often hire a tutor, and that tutor could easily be you. As long as you know more about a subject than a kid and are good at explaining things, you can be a tutor (though some parents may want you to have certain test scores or grades in certain courses).

Reading and math are definitely the most popular subjects, but you can tutor anything that kids’ parents are willing to pay for. To maximize your earnings, we recommend being a freelance tutor, but you can also earn decent money working for a tutoring company.

Teaching a Foreign Language

¿Habla español? Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Parlez-vous français? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you might be able to earn extra money teaching a foreign language.

Now, this won’t work if you just took a few classes in high school or college — you need to be fluent in the language. But assuming you are, then you can earn good money helping other people learn a language. This is especially true if you can teach a high-demand language such as English, Mandarin, or Spanish.

To get started, we recommend iTalki, which is our favorite place to find online language teachers.

Note: While not required, having some kind of degree or certification in the language you want to teach will definitely help boost your earnings.

Bookkeeping

Think you need to be a CPA to do bookkeeping? Wrong. In fact, you don’t need any formal certifications or degrees to be a bookkeeper. All you need is an understanding of basic bookkeeping and accounting principles. My friend Thomas (this site’s founder) landed a part-time job in high school doing bookkeeping for a small business.

It can also be helpful to know your way around the accounting software that small businesses use – the most popular is Quickbooks, though Wave and Xero are also popular. If you know Quickbooks, though, you can quickly adapt to others. Here’s a very thorough Quickbooks class you can take on Skillshare (this link gets you a 2-month free trial, so you could take other bookkeeping classes there for free during those two months).

Selling Handmade Goods on Etsy

Know how to knit? Make pottery? Craft jewelry? If you can make it with your hands, then you can probably sell it on Etsy. Etsy is fairly mainstream now, but in case you haven’t heard of it, it’s an online marketplace for selling handmade and vintage goods. You set your own prices, and Etsy takes a small commission each time you make a sale.

Now, you won’t start making extra money with Etsy overnight. You need to take good photos, write compelling descriptions, and get the word out about your store. But if you’re willing to take the time to do this, then you can certainly build up a business that makes an extra $1,000 per month.

Working as a Virtual Assistant

There are lots of busy professionals who have way more money than time. Therefore, they’re willing to pay to get some of their time back. This is the whole premise behind hiring a virtual assistant (VA) — you do the things that a busy person doesn’t have time to do.

Many people associate virtual assistants with outsourcing, but there’s actually a sizable market for native English-speaking VAs based in U.S. timezones.

If you’re organized, responsive, and don’t mind dealing with stressed out, sometimes demanding professionals, then this can be a great gig. Your job will generally consist of scheduling appointments, booking travel, answering calls and emails, and doing whatever else the person you’re assisting is too busy to do.

To find VA jobs, you can either go through an agency or freelance your services directly. If you go through an agency, you’ll generally be paid by the hour. If you find clients directly, it’s possible to negotiate a flat monthly fee, which can easily be $1,000 with the right client.

Personal Chef

There are lots of people who need help with cooking. Some people are too busy to cook for themselves, while others are unable to cook due to age or disability. Whatever the case, if you know how to cook, then you can turn that skill into extra money.

According to Career Trend, the average hourly rate for a personal chef is between $35 and $50 per hour. Even if you can just charge $35 per hour, that means you can make $1,000 with just an extra 29 hours of work per month. Plus, you’ll meet lots of interesting people and have an amazing experience to put on your resume.

Note: Be sure to check local laws to make sure you don’t need any special licenses or food-handling certifications to be a personal chef.

Help People Move

If you’ve ever moved to a new house or apartment, you know how much of a pain it is. It’s time-consuming, laborious, and often frustrating. For this reason, most people who can afford it will hire movers.

If you’re organized, careful, and capable of lifting heavy things, then you can start your own moving business today. Having a truck or other large vehicle also helps, though it’s not strictly necessary.

You can easily charge $100 for a small moving job (often more), so this is an awesome gig to earn the extra cash you’re looking for.

Street Performer

I’ll never forget walking down Fremont Street in Las Vegas, seeing the street performers, and witnessing the unbelievable things people will do to make a buck. While I don’t advise that you copy the things the performers on Fremont do (the man dressed as a giant baby still gives me nightmares), street performing can be a solid way to earn extra money.

What you do is entirely up to you. Busking (playing music for donations) is a time-honored approach, but you could also tell fortunes, make art, or just dress up in a weird costume and charge for photos. I’ve never done this myself, but I bet you can definitely make $1,000 a month doing this part-time.

Note: Many cities require you to have a license in order to be a street performer (especially if you’re going to charge money or ask for tips). Check your local laws before you begin. And, obviously, don’t do anything that will get you arrested, fined, or kicked out of school.

Personal Trainer

Most people would like to be in better shape than they are. And when going to the gym won’t cut it, the people who can afford it will often hire a personal trainer. If you know how to get (and stay) in shape, then there’s no reason that personal trainer can’t be you.

According to PayScale, the average hourly rate for a personal trainer is $19. That means you only need to work around 13 hours a week to hit your $1,000 monthly target. As long as you can find enough clients, this is an easy gig to get started with.

Note: We strongly recommend that you get a personal trainer certification if you’re going to do this. Not only will it help you market yourself to potential clients, but it will also make sure that you and your clients stay safe.

DJ-ing

Can you play music off your computer? Then that’s really all you need to be a DJ. Having some more specialized equipment certainly helps, but DJ-ing really isn’t that hard to learn.

You probably won’t end up playing festivals for millions of dollars, but you can certainly earn $1,000 a month DJ-ing weddings or parties on the weekends.

Consulting

This might well be the holy grail of earning extra income. There’s a lot of b.s. in the consulting world, but it can be a perfectly legitimate field. As a consultant, you help businesses (or sometimes individuals) overcome a particular problem. Generally, the goal is to help a business make more money.

If that sounds insanely broad and generic, it is. But that’s the beauty of consulting. If you can help a business make more money, then you can basically charge whatever you want, provided it’s less than the amount of additional money you’ll help the business make.

Here are just a few things you could consult on:

Junk Removal

People have all kinds of crap in their yards and houses that they need help getting rid of. If you have a strong back and a vehicle that can haul junk, then you can start your own junk removal business.

To get started with this, your best bet is to hit the streets. Walk around local neighborhoods and see if you can spot piles of brush, trash, or other items that people might need help getting rid of. Then, just knock on doors and see if anyone is interested. It can take some persistence, but you can easily charge enough for this to make at least an extra $1,000 in 30 days.

Hourly Jobs

This is a very broad category, but we wanted to include it because sometimes making extra money is as simple as getting a good ole fashioned part-time job.

Assuming you can work 20 hours per week, you just need to find a job that pays at least $12.50 an hour in order to hit the $1,000 per month target. It may not be the sexiest way to make extra money, but it’s proven to work.

Want to learn about some of our favorite hourly jobs for students? Check out this list.

Making an Extra $1,000 a Month Is Totally Doable

Making an extra $1,000 a month really isn’t that hard. You just need to pick something from the above list that matches your skills, interests, and available time.

So what are you waiting for? That money isn’t going to make itself. Get out there and start earning it!

Image Credits: featured, 100 dollar bills