Skip to main content

21 Ways to Make Pocket Money

For years, Kelley collected aluminum cans and plastic beverage containers during the Great Recession.

"All You Collect May Be Sold," a photo used by permission of Henry Garciga

"All You Collect May Be Sold," a photo used by permission of Henry Garciga

Making sidebar cash can save your tail!

Hey, when times are hard, nearly everybody needs extra cash, a.k.a, that “put it in your pocket and forget about it kind of money.” So here are 21 ways you can earn such money:

1. Work as a House Player in a Cardroom

I’ve actually done this, but it was a long time ago. In order to work as a house player or shill, you’ll need to go to one of those cardrooms that offer player-versus-player games, not where everybody plays against the house. Then you play cards using house money. They pay you so much per shift, and then you can stuff the cash in your pocket with no audit trail. You could also get work as a so-called proposition player, which pays perhaps $20 per hour, but prop players have to play with their own money. Trouble is, one “unlucky” streak could wipe out your bankroll. That's too much like gambling!

Anyway, this kind of independent contractor work, if you will, works best in establishments where they offer games such as lowball or draw poker. California has lots of these so-called casinos. But don’t just walk into one of them and ask if you can work as a shill! You’ll need to inquire discreetly – and you also better be able to play poker like a pro. Good luck!

2. Use Your Vehicle as a Taxi

You can charge people whatever you want to give them rides around town. I charge at least $5 for a short drive and as much as $20 or more for a long one. You can charge even more if you use your vehicle to move stuff such as building materials, tools, furniture, pets, trash or whatever. You could also charge people for being the “designated driver” for a night on the town.

This way of making extra cash probably worked better before the advent of Uber and Lyft cabs, whose fares vary according to one’s location. Uber cabbies also make you pay for the time it takes to get to your destination. So, if you don’t charge for your time, just the distance, you may be able to undercut their fares somewhat— or a lot.

3. Recycle Aluminum Cans, Plastic or Glass Bottles

If you’re inclined to dumpster dive, you can make money by collecting used aluminum cans, plastic and bottles. This place in South Sacramento pays $1.70 per pound for aluminum cans and $1.28 cents per pound for #1 plastic (the clear plastic often used for beverage containers.) For other plastics they pay different amounts, and 10 cents per pound for glass bottles. Some recycling centers pay more than others, so you should shop around. But be careful, some communities have ordinances against people scavenging for cans and such! Incidentally, some people make $30 or so a week doing this, working only an hour or two a day, and all you have to do is sign your name (or someone else's ) when you cash in your recyclables. Since the income is nontaxable, you don't need to show ID.

Actually the state of California tries to make people pay taxes on this type of income, but if you’re a low income person, you won’t have to pay state income taxes anyway. Of course, other states have different tax laws.

If you want more information about collecting, please click on the following link: Trash Money.

4. Wash Windows at Homes or Businesses

If you wash the windows of businesses, you can make perhaps $25 per hour, because, after all, few people want to do windows! But you’ll need some equipment – a ladder or two, squeegees, buckets and some window cleaner. Also keep in mind that if you work for a business, they’ll probably have you fill out a W9 form, initiating an audit trail for this money. Perhaps you should wash windows for private citizens who generally don’t bother with such paper work. Also, you can promote your “business” by printing some flyers on your computer printer.

5. Sell Bottled Water

These days, just about everybody buys bottled water. So go to the grocery story or wherever and buy some half-liter bottles of water for as cheap as you can possibly get them. (By the way, you can purchase water, bottled or otherwise, with food stamps.) Then find a place that gets lots of foot traffic and sell your water for a $1 a bottle. You can sell this water at flea markets, art walks, concerts or sporting events, but you’ll need a business permit, sales license or tax account (whatever they require), as well as the permission of the people having the event, all of which would complicate matters considerably and bite into profits.

6. Sell Used Books, Magazines, CDs, DVDs, Vinyl, VHS tapes, Cell Phones or Smart Phones

This stuff is easy to sell at garage sales, and the cheaper you sell it, the quicker it will go. Try selling your paperbacks for 50 cents apiece, hardbound for a $1 and somewhat more for the other items. Of course, there are many stores that buy this kind of used merchandise, but they probably won’t give you what you think they should.

As for the relatively high-tech stuff such as cell phones and smart phones, you could try selling those on EBay or Craig’s List.

Scroll to Continue

7. Cash-in Pennies or Other Change

Stores such as Safeway pay you cash for your change and charge you 10 per cent for their trouble. But make sure that your nickels, dimes and quarters don’t contain silver, for which you can get somewhat more money by going to a coin shop or collector.

8. Sell Home-Grown Vegetables or "Herbs"

If you live in a place such as California, you can grow vegetables or whatever throughout the year and sell them for a profit. Naturally, this option is only for people who can produce enough products to sell, because you should consume as much of your own vegetables as you possibly can to save money and to maintain a healthier diet as well!

9. Dog Walking

Many people have dogs they are willing to pay you to walk, and you can charge them whatever you want. But don’t do this for less than $20 to $30 per hour, including or not including expenses. Anybody who can afford to pay you to walk their dog or dogs, can afford to pay you at least that much. By all means, charge more if you can. Also keep in mind that once the dogs are in your care, you could be held responsible if one of them bites somebody or destroys property.

10. House Sitting

The sky is the limit on what you can make watching people’s homes, ranches, apartments, boats or whatever. I’ve heard of people getting $100 for a three-day weekend plus all they could eat. Or you might prefer a long-term job, where they let you stay rent-free for weeks, months or whatever, and in exchange you do a little work around the house, such as taking care of the pets, etc. This kind of job could turn into a caretaker position for which you could be paid a salary, but that would probably remove this position from the realm of “pocket money.”

11. Babysitting

This job may be more suitable for the female gender, but I’m sure guys could do it too. In ancient times, babysitters made 50 cents per hour, but during the contemporary era they can make around $10 per hour, depending on the location, of course. What the heck, charge what you want and see what happens. This is a great way to make money you can simply stuff in your pocket and forget about it. However, you could start your own staffing agency for babysitters. But at this point you’d probably want to turn legit, if that’s the way to describe it.

12. House Cleaning

Some companies pay their employees minimum wage to clean houses. But those are slave wages for such hard work! Instead, charge $15 per hour or don’t bother. Do a good job and many people will be happy to pay this much. I know a woman who charges this amount and has plenty of work – payment “under the table,” thank you very much!

13. Panning for Gold

If you live in an area where it’s possible to pan for gold, then you may want to give it a try. I live in Sacramento, California, which is near Coloma on the American River, where gold was discovered back in 1848, and they say millions of dollars in gold is still in the Sierra Nevada. Unless you must camp where you pan, you’ll need little more than a pan, some tweezers and a vial in which to place your precious gold. The great thing about making pocket money this way is that you can keep your gold until you’re ready to convert it to money, at which point you may be able to find somebody to pay cash for it, perhaps eliminating an audit trail. So, hit the road and pan for gold!

14. Donate Your Plasma

I actually did this many years ago. I remember having to take protein pills so I could keep donating. Anyway, if you’re willing to put up with getting poked with hypodermic needles, this is an easy way to make some quick cash. You have to let them give you a blood test and perhaps a simple physical. If everything goes right, you can donate your plasma two days per week and get paid about $65 every week. (People travel from Mexico to the U.S. to make money this way.) Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be such a business in the Sacramento, California area.

15. Mow Lawns

If you’re an able-bodied person, you may consider mowing lawns and doing other yard work such as chopping wood, raking leaves, sweeping up and trimming trees and shrubs. But make sure you use their tools and not yours, because buying such things could cut into your profits. Also, if so inclined, you may consider working as a handy person, expanding your possibilities. Anyway, it’s recommended that you accept cash only for this work and no checks, which could bounce like a rubber ball!

16. Dumpster Dive

If you live in an area such as Sacramento, California, where people often throw their unwanted personal property into dumpsters, alleys and parking lots, you could haul away the sellable stuff. Hey, it’s amazing what people throw away! And then sell these discarded items at a garage sale. In fact, you could have a garage sale every week or so. Don't laugh. Some people do this.

17. Surveys

Filling out surveys is a way to make money on the internet, though more times than not it seems to be very little money. In fact, the money I made filling out surveys was so small I didn’t even bother to collect it! What usually happens when I do surveys is that at some point after beginning the process, I’ll get a message saying I do not quality to complete the survey. At that point I’m so irritated I feel like throwing my computer monitor out the window! If you tend to have similar results, you may be better off walking dogs or collecting cans and plastic, both which will probably pay you considerably more money!

18. Micro Jobs

I actually tried doing micro jobs on Amazon Mechanical Turk. I lasted for about an hour and a half before I gave up—because I hadn’t made a nickel! The work is very tedious and you have to complete the job within five minutes or so, which I found very stressful. Also, sometimes the instructions are hard to understand, so you may end up leaving the job before you even try to do it. At any rate, this work pays very little money and it seemed—at least to me—that I was constantly being tested. If you’re like me and you’ve been around for decades, being tested again and again for crap money is the last thing you’ll want to do in your quest for making pocket money!

19. Proofreading and Editing (Fiverr)

As most writers probably already know, you can earn sidebar money by editing people’s writing. You can do it for friends or acquaintances or start a website dedicated to improving people’s fiction or nonfiction or whatever. Or you can sign up for a website such as

I actually tried to put in my application at, which proved to be a lengthy process. But at one point I could no longer find my application! Twice I asked their customer service to help me, but they never did. Finally, I gave up and sent an email which said I thought their customer service was terrible, and I wouldn’t recommend their service to anyone!

By the way, Fiverr presents the services of writers who will proofread or edit people’s writing for as little as $5 a project, perhaps 500 words or so in length. Since I could charge whatever I wanted, I decided I wouldn’t work for less than ten bucks a pop. I actually felt sorry for these writers because they were selling their work for chump change, at least in some cases. At any rate, maybe Fiverr did me a favor by insinuating that I wasn’t quite what they wanted as one of their writers . . . !

20. Got Any Spare Change?

Yes, you could beg for money when looking for extra cash. I actually tried this when I was a teenager. In those days it was called panhandling, and it helped me get into concerts. You could do it just about any place people congregate. I suggest you appear needy and simply ask for spare change—or even more, enough for bus fare, a loaf of bread or a gallon of gas. At his time, I’d do just about anything else to acquire money except beg for it. But if I had dire need, I’m not certain what I’d be willing to do. How about you?

21. Try Posting Ads

This is sometimes called the Data Entry Scam. Years ago, I actually paid ten dollars to see how it works! You simply post ads on the internet that read if people send you ten bucks—or whatever amount you want to charge them—you’ll send them a list of websites that allow you to post free ads. Technically, this may not be a scam, because you’ll be giving people something for their money. (Of course, you could probably find such generous websites on your own, but that’s another story.) A couple years ago I checked to see if people were still doing this to make money on the internet—and at least a few people were! But I wouldn’t advise anybody doing this—it’s too much like a rip-off! Don’t you think so?

Good luck on your quest for making extra cash and please leave a comment.

© 2009 Kelley Marks


Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on August 03, 2020:

Thanks for the comment, Devika Primic. This sort of list seems popular on the internet, because most people are looking for ways to make extra money using the internet. Unfortunately, there are few, if any, ways to make easy money on the internet. I know—I've tried!...

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 03, 2020:

Kelley Marks this is a useful hub and ideas that are helpful in doing a side hassle to make money. Thank you for following me.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 25, 2020:

Thanks for the follow up comment, Carrie Lee Night. Regarding product testing, I think I'll pass on that way of making pocket money. As for doing surveys, you'd have to threaten me with death before I'd complete any survey. Why? I'll tell you why when I add another two ways of making pocket money to this list. Later!...

Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on May 25, 2020:

Kelley Marks,

I think you misunderstood me :) the product testing I do is completely free. I have been testing products on and off for years and have never paid a cent, they actually pay me for my opinions and/or let me keep the full size product. If any company is asking u to pay them upfront it is a scam. The only downside is it may take a while to qualify or the oppronunity closes. Right now I do e-search. Once I sign up they email me when surveys or product testing becomes available. Then I answer their survey questions to see if I qualify for the survey or study. If I dont qualify they let me know and I wait until they send me another oppronunity. If I qualify, I complete the survey and give them my mailing address and then they send me a product to test and finish the survey. They pay ME through paypal once the study is completed which is usually 4 to 6 weeks later. I have completed three product testings in the last 2 months that have paid quite well with miniumal amount of effort :) Now due to the privacy agreement I cannot tell u what specific products, but some are food, cleaning products and tolietries.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 24, 2020:

Thanks for the comment, Carrie Lee Night. I haven't tried testing products because I'm not about to buy anything up front. As for doing surveys, they're a bust as far as I'm concerned because I never seem to qualify. Later!...

Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on May 23, 2020:

Interesting hub :) I test products for money :) Sometimes it is in clusters of trying a few products per month followed by not qualifying to test. I do surveys too, but there are only a scarce few that actually pay. Its good pocket change :)

nestle02 from Florida, USA on February 03, 2018:

Got it lol

Lauren Flauding from Sahuarita, AZ on February 02, 2018:

A lot of these are really innovative ideas! I think I’ll try panning for gold, but maybe just as a hobby...

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on February 01, 2018:

Thanks for the comment, nestle02! I've checked into MTurk and other ways of making money online, but they all connect to an audit trail. People need to make money without worrying about paying taxes based on it. You get it?...

nestle02 from Florida, USA on January 30, 2018:

Awesome ideas for earning pocket money! I've been making extra money by taking surveys, some are better than others. I can earn way more in mTurk than Cashcrate but then some people tell me they make more with Cashcrate than mTurk. I guess you just gotta find the survey platform that works best for you.

Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on November 29, 2017:

I got you! :D

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 29, 2017:

Uber drivers have lots of expenses, including commercial auto insurance which could cost thousands per year. Uber drivers also have to pay income taxes, but people who make "pocket money" do not. Get it? Thanks for the comment, Mr. Guckenberger!

Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on November 28, 2017:

As far as your number two goes, Uber drivers seem to be doing pretty good. Thanks for the thoughts and time!

Chloe on July 10, 2015:

Brilliant idea of getting your passive income - Referral Program ( If you didn't ever try it being a student I highly recommend that you start. It is a very convenient way to study and earn simultaneously. Moreover, it needs no experience or a special backgrounds to do so.

jenn on August 10, 2014:

Try doing surveys. There are some legit companies out there if you do your research. I made $220 dollars last month sitting on my butt. I'm a stay at home mom and the extra money is nice. check out cashcrate they are very reliable

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on July 04, 2014:

Thanks for the comment, crysolite. Hey, tell me about some of your ways to make pocket money and I'll add them to this list. What's fair is fair! Later!

Emma from Houston TX on July 03, 2014:

Very interesting hub! I've got lots and lots of things to sell, but i feel i still have need of them! like some used gadgets of mine. there are many other ways to get pocket money, but i thin yours is insightful!

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on December 26, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, Katherine Monaco. Unfortunately, cash made on the computer tends to create an audit trail, which removes it from the realm of pocket money - at least what I call pocket money in the context of this article. You know what I mean? Later!

Katherine Monaco on December 26, 2012:

Nowadays, most individuals needs extra income. This blogs give ideas to all readers who want to earn extra cash.

Sitting in front of your computer can give you extra cash. It is the best way to earn extra cash, you are working with no worries and in a very comfortable way.

M-Chen on December 21, 2012:

Really interesting article,humm.

Okay, my friend did some lawn work during the summer, his record was $80+ during 30 mins.

I usually do some paid work on Elance, and take some paid survey online...well, i got paid by paypal.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 14, 2012:

Hey, Rabbit3407, this list includes all the ideas I have, though I suppose one could mow lawns or rake leaves for cash. If walking dogs doesn't work out, try some of that. Later!

Rabbit3407 on November 14, 2012:

i need 2 pay back a friend $45. i am going 2 try out walking dogs, but that is the only one of these ideas that would work. any ideas?

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 13, 2012:

Five hundred sounds about right, so that one K would have to be declared as income. Bummer! So I can't put anything like clinical research on this list. Too bad. I was ready to update this hub. Later!

Kimberly Vaughn from Midwest on November 12, 2012:

You must declare it over a certain amount a year. I believe the limit is $500.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 12, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, Kimberly Vaughn. I've heard about people making money by engaging in medical research or whatever one wants to call it. But, must you declare the money as income? Please let me know, if you get a chance. Later!

Kimberly Vaughn from Midwest on November 11, 2012:

Great suggestions! Along the selling plasma line, I have participated in a medical study to make some extra bucks. It pays pretty well. It is usually around $1000 and you spend two weekends at the facility. Each weekend you are given one pill and they monitor your blood, blood pressure, etc. The research facility that I worked with usually did generic drugs that were in the last phase of testing before going onto the market.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 07, 2012:

Hey, Sam, I'll bet a few people can make money washing dishes. I'll do it for 20 bucks. Any takers? Later!

sam on September 06, 2012:

here's a tip do the dishes i have to do it every night and every weekend i get about 10$ or 20$ so just try it

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on July 08, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, techhound. During tough times, I was constantly trying to think of new ways to make pocket money. I wish I could come up with more, but I haven't been able to. Later!

techhound on July 08, 2012:

It's amazing when you think about the various ways to make some extra cash. Think about your hobbies too and how to capitalize on them.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on January 28, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, Ingenira. Writing online does provide some passive income, but it also creates an audit trail. Sooooo . . . ! Later!

Ingenira on January 28, 2012:

Interesting and useful ideas.

I sell used books and things at home that I do not need any more to get extra pocket money.

Writing online is another good way to earn extra pocket money, in fact, it gives us passive income continuously.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on December 07, 2011:

Thanks for the comment, Coachcatherine. I've added information to this hub a couple of times, and it seems to be one of my most useful and popular. Later!

CoachCatherine from Altamonte Springs, FL on December 07, 2011:

This is a well written hub with creative ideas.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 01, 2011:

Hey, Dave, be happy you have people who pay for plasma where you live. Alas, here in Sacramento I've found none.

Thanks for the comment. Later!

Dave on November 01, 2011:

Good ideas. The plasma thing pays here in Kentucky 50.00 a pop for the first four or five visits. Make sure when you go that there are no defects of any kind on your arms. (They will flag you for a misquito bite on the left arm, even if you are going to give from the right).. No small itty bitty bruises itty bitty cuts or itty bitty anything. The arms must be immaculate. Dave

VENZKHVAM from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers on August 23, 2011:


Lyn.Stewart from Auckland, New Zealand on August 19, 2011:

A very interesting read

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on June 16, 2011:

You know how to make money, amurbach! Garage sales are tremendous ways to make pocket money. Thanks for the comment. Later!

amurbach from Arizona on June 15, 2011:

I've flipped great garage sale finds for extra cash. Recently, I bought a changing table for $5 in great condition and sold it within 3 hours for $35.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on June 06, 2011:

Of the options on this list, the best ways to make money quickly - and not have to pay taxes - are to sell what you don't use anymore, collect cans and plastic and use your car as a taxi. Those all work. I haven't been able to find anything more imaginative than these thirteen. If you know of something, let me know and I'll add it to the list. Keep in mind, if they aren't practical, there's no sense in putting them on such a list. Later!

ruffridyer from Dayton, ohio on June 06, 2011:

A good hub but most of your suggestions are pretty standard. The first one, house player, wouldn't work for me since the only card game I know is uno. Selling water seems rather complicated, perhaps if you check out the weather report and on a particularly hot weekend set up a card table on your lawn. Just like the old lemonade stands kids had. I would like to try housesitting. If a person was low on funds and honest he or she might get free housing out of the deal.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 28, 2011:

There are many ways to make pocket money. You just have to keep looking and be creative. Later!

6hotfingers3 on May 26, 2011:

Great ideas for earning some quick cash. Some of these ideas are unique to me but are practical suggestions. Thanks again!

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 23, 2011:

Hey, Sunnyglitter, I've made money with most of these methods. Tell your friends. Later!

Sunnyglitter from Cyberspace on May 23, 2011:

This was a great article. I know quite a few people who need to read this.

Deb on February 02, 2011:

here is a good way to make extra money i signed up for ths website and i make about $400 a week doing it the url is check it out for yourself

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on December 09, 2010:

Thanks for the kudos, MtShastaWriter. I'll check out some of your writing. Later!

MtShastaWriter from Mt. Shasta Valley, CA on December 08, 2010:

This is a great hub. I enjoy your writing style.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on October 30, 2010:

Have you ever played the game "Careers"? You start a business and when it begins making good money you sell it and start another one. That's Capitalism at its best. Later!

seanorjohn on October 30, 2010:

Good work Kosmo.The great thing about the window cleaning business is that you can build up a round and then sell the business. Then start up again and sell the business....a never ending loop. Thanks for linking .

jared redd on October 15, 2010:

Very Impressive Kosmo! I am a new observer and participant within this forum quite by accident. I wish to add that many of my 'found' discards, when being intelligently selective, have been recycled back on Craig's List for a modest gain. It illustrates the connective power of potential customers throughout the internet spectrum.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on March 04, 2010:

Thanks for the long comment, BkCreative! Housesitting does sound like a good idea. Perhaps I should advertise that I'm available; however, they might want to 1099 me at some point, which would spoil the fun. Also, there must be an art to dealing with life in NYC. Later!

BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on March 04, 2010:

Selling books has worked for me. I have sold on and last summer I just put a table out front and sold books cheaply - people grabbed them.

I think I would like to do housesitting. I plan to retire next year and it would be ideal to travel around and housesit - I can take my computer with me - even write a hub about house sitting while I housesit. Hmmmmm.

Dog walking is a super big business here in NYC - there is no yard to leave your pup in.

Thanks for the ideas - I wrote a hub about how folks are earning money in NYC - we have to hustle because our taxes and services are the highest in the nation - in addition to State and Federal taxes - we also pay city taxes and the highest - well on everything. And get nothing back.

Nice to meet you too!

Chloe Comfort from Long Island on July 30, 2009:

In this day and age, everyone could use a little xtra in their pockets! Have already used a few of the suggested ideas! Kudos Kosmo!

Related Articles