With the government shutdown now entering its second month, and with no end in sight, over 800,000 federal workers and contractors continue to go unpaid. In fact, The New York Times reported that federal workers are now doing odd jobs to try to make ends meet as a result of the shutdown.
But even if you aren’t a federal worker, there is still an argument to be made for developing a supplemental source of income so that you can accelerate the payoff of credit card debt and student loans or boost your retirement savings.
You may be thinking that earning a few dollars here and there won’t make a difference, but the math is irrefutable. Earning an extra $100 per week will add up to over $5,000 annually, a figure which is nothing to be scoffed at.
That sum is enough to make a healthy dent in your debt, or give a generous boost to your IRA, or other retirement savings.
So, if you are looking for ways to save or make money, here are 5 ideas to get you started.
1. Don’t Be Penny Wise, Pound Foolish.
As the saying goes, don’t work hard to scrape together a few bucks or save money at the grocery store, if you then go and overspend on your housing or transportation costs, which are often the largest household expenses.
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If you are serious about saving and having more money, start by analyzing your cost of living and try to keep your living expenses low.
When it comes to housing, aim to keep your rent or mortgage expenses at 30% of your take-home pay, or lower. If you aren’t sure if you’re at that threshold, you can use this simple monthly rent calculator to check.
Being able to cut down your overhead expenses can make a drastic difference because the savings are recurring on a monthly basis. In effect, lowering your rent by $200 will add up to thousands over several years.
If you love where you live and aren’t willing to relocate, you can consider finding a roommate to help defray some of your living expenses.
2. Donate Your Blood Plasma For Money
If you’re looking for a way to make some extra money while also helping other people, look no further. According to plasma donation enthusiast, Melissa Blevins, you can earn an extra $300 to $400 per month by donating your plasma for money.
In addition to the money you’ll earn, you can rest easy knowing that your plasma can help save the lives of people suffering from trauma, severe burns and other medical emergencies.
3. Become A Referee Of Your Favorite Sport
If you love sports, then officiating games can be a wonderful way to spend some of your free time while also making extra cash.
If you do it year-round, you can earn up to $5,000 per year. This is because it’s possible to earn $50 per game and you can easily officiate 2 games per week.
The added bonus here, is that you’ll also be physically active, which is great for your health and can possibly lead to savings in healthcare costs down the road. Clearly, getting paid to exercise and learn to resolve conflict is possible.
You’ll need to be familiar with the sport and its rules in order to qualify, but for the sports enthusiast, it’s hard to think of a more fitting way to earn extra money.
4. Earn Money When You Shop
Earning cash back with your credit card is a perk that has been around for several years. But fewer people realize that sites like Ebates allow you to earn additional cash back (on top of whatever you get from your credit card) at leading online retailers, at no cost to you. In fact, you’ll have to do very little to earn the money, you simply just begin your shopping journey at their site and voila.
The catch is that it’s usually a small amount (1-2% of your purchase, although it can be higher) and it’ll take a few months for your check to arrive in the mail. But not utilizing a service like this for your regular online shopping is similar to walking past dollar bills laying on the sidewalk.
You won’t be able to live off of the cash-back rewards, but it’d be foolish not to earn that money and save it to help you reach your financial goals faster.
5. Stop Paying Top Dollar For Contact Lenses
If you buy your contact lenses without checking different prices around the internet, you are probably paying way too much. With contact lens price comparison websites like ContactsCompare and ContactsPrice, finding the cheapest contacts is simple.
The reason this is important is because many people don’t realize that they have options. Since you need a prescription for contact lenses, many people assume that the prices are the same regardless of the store, or that they are required to purchase from their prescribed contact lenses from their optometrist. However, prices vary wildly from store to store, and it’s important to shop around.
You wouldn’t shop for flights without checking Kayak or another price comparison site first. Contact lenses are no different. The savings can be substantial since these purchases are often made on a recurring basis.
Bonus Tip 1: Update Your W4 Form To Have The Right Amount Of Tax Withheld
If you are used to receiving a large tax refund, it simply means that you paid too much tax during the year. Said differently, you essentially extended Uncle Sam an interest free loan, something you likely wouldn’t do for many people. But the good news is that there’s something you can do to fix that.
You can submit an updated 2019 W4 Form to your employer so that the appropriate amount of tax is withheld from your paycheck. If you experienced any life events like a change in marital status or had children during the year, chances are that you’ll want to change the amount of federal tax withheld from your paycheck. The last thing you want to do is leave money on the table that could be accruing interest or gaining value.
Bonus Tip 2: Learn To Negotiate A Car Lease
Most of the time, leasing a car is a luxury. If you are focused on saving money, you’re better off by buying a used car. But if you’re set on leasing, you need to learn how to negotiate a car lease.
Knowing how lease math works and understanding what the best offers available are will save you big, but you need to put in the work to do your homework.