Updated on 05.02.16

20+ Ways to Make Extra Money to Pay Off Your Student Loans

woman knitting, man walking dogs, car with lyft mustache

Want to earn some extra income to pay down those student loans? Selling handmade items on Etsy, walking dogs, or driving for Lyft or Uber are all worth considering. Photos: Tom Page; Dave Crosby; Alfredo Mendez

You graduated college, started your career, but you still don’t have enough money to make headway with those student loans. While the best option would be to find a higher paying job or wave a magic wand — or find a magic job — that eliminates your loans altogether, there are some things you can do to earn a little extra money on the sisde to put toward your loans. Below are a number of side jobs, ranging from stuff just about anyone can do to opportunities for highly trained professionals.

Note: Because a lot of people are looking for ways to make extra money, unfortunately there’s a chance for scams. Avoid any opportunity that involves giving personal information that could put your identity at risk, or anything you have to pay for. Always take time to do thorough research on any opportunity before signing up. Search companies on the Better Business Bureau, and read reviews online before pursuing them. 

Skill Level: Basic


Offer a task you can do for $5. Categories include Online Marketing, Writing and Translation, Video and Animation, and more. Tasks include anything from writing a LinkedIn profile, recording a voice over, improving an AdWords campaign, converting PDF files to Word, and hundreds more. While it doesn’t require a college education, a degree would be helpful for many tasks, like a public relations degree for writing a press release. Check out Fiverr.com for more information.


Get hired to help people with their day-to-day tasks, such as handyman jobs, house cleaning, moving assistance, furniture assembly, or running errands. Learn more at TaskRabbit.com.

Focus Groups & Online Surveys

Before they sink millions of dollars into a new product or advertising campaign, companies want to know what people think of their ideas. You can find paid focus groups through websites like FindFocusGroups.com and 20I20 Panel. Always do research before signing up, and confirm that it is legitimate. Never pay to sign up for a focus group.

You can find online surveys that pay for your opinion, but beware of the scams. Swagbucks is a legitimate site that pays for surveys. CashCrate offers users cash for taking surveys and trying new products. Again, always research a company to see if any complaints have been filed against them.

Search Online

You’re constantly searching for stuff online anyways, so why not make money doing it? Using BingRewards or Swagbucks as your search engine could help you pull in a little extra money.

Rent Your Home

If you travel a lot for work, you can look into renting out your home while you’re away through a site such as Airbnb. Even if you’re home, you can rent out an extra room (or even a couch) to travelers.

Check whether this is legal in your city before signing up; some cities have banned it, plus your landlord or HOA might not be OK with it either. Consider the safety risks that go along with having a stranger in your home as well. AirbnbHomeAway, and VRBO are three places to list your space. Check out LifeHacker’s tips for avoiding getting screwed with Airbnb.

Earn Money With Your Car

If you’re comfortable with picking up strangers and driving them to a destination, look into driving for Lyft or Uber. According to their website, drivers make up to $35 per hour. Uber drivers earn an average of $19 per hour, according to Tech Crunch. Learn the requirements, understand the risks, and sign up to start earning extra money.

If you’d rather let someone else do the driving, RelayRides.com allows you to list your car for people to rent. This is ideal if you don’t use your car that often — for instance, maybe you take the subway to work and it sits idle until the weekend.

Daily commuters can consider making money by putting ads on their car. Unfortunately, there are a lot of scams associated with this as of late, so watch for things like cashing a check and needing to send money to someone else or paying upfront for something. Always research any venture on the Better Business Bureau and research online. Free Car Media is one company that advertises this.

Earn Money With Your Money

Here are some simple ideas to do so:

  • Open a checking account at a bank that offers a sign-up bonus.
  • Use a credit card that offers cash back rewards (and pay off the balance in full each month to avoid paying interest).
  • Put your savings in an account with a higher interest rate.
  • Shop through Ebates or Upromise to earn cash back toward your loans.

Sell Stuff You Don’t Want or Need Anymore

It’s spring: Clean out your closets, your basement, or your parents’ attic, and start hawking the stuff you no longer have a use for. If you haven’t used it for a few years, you can probably live without it. You can host a yard sale and try to unload it all at once, or sell your old items individually through:

More Random Gigs

  • Mock jury jobs: This option was featured in a Forbes article about a college graduate who paid off her student loan debt in three years. She suggests simply typing in your location and “mock jury” in a search engine to come up with results. Lawyers might want to hold a mock jury session to perfect their case before trial. Also, you might find these near any colleges that teach law.
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk: Do minor tasks, like visiting a website, to earn small amounts of money. Check out our article on how you can make it work.
  • Mystery shopping: Beware of mystery shopping scams. The FTC offers tips to avoid mystery shopping scams.

Skill Level: Intermediate


Crafty and creative? Sell your items on Etsy. No degree is required — just an knack for making handmade items such as crafts, woodwork, or clothing, or spotting and reselling vintage styles. Check out our post on how to make money selling your crafts on Etsy to get started.

Start a Blog

Anyone can start a blog (here’s a primer on it), but a college education in a specific subject would definitely help lend some authority to your site. Went to school for anthropology? Write a blog on the subject.

Of course, this is especially perfect for anyone that majored in creative writing, journalism, or English. Start for free on WordPress or Blogger. According to LifeHacker, 9% of bloggers make between $1,000 and $10,000 per month, 4% make more than $10,000, but another survey shows that 81% of bloggers won’t ever see $100.

Sell Your Food at a Farmers Market

Use that culinary degree to sell some of your best foods at a local farmers market. Or if you have a garden, you may be able to sell produce or herbs. Check your state’s regulations on selling food.

Pet Sitting

If you have experience with pets, start pet sitting or walking dogs. This is especially perfect for anyone who studied veterinary medicine or got a veterinary technician degree. Find gigs on Petsitter.com, Care.com, Pettsitters.org, or Craigslist.

Provide Childcare

If you majored in education, early child development, or anything related to children, you’ll have an inside track on childcare opportunities in your area. Find work through SitterCity or Care.com, or of course through community bulletin boards and neighborhood referrals.

Another option is to check out Nanny in the Clouds any time before you fly. Parents sign-up, list their flight, and will pay for assistance on the plane. If you have the same flight, you can earn some cash while flying to your destination.

Sell Your Photos

You take enough of them, so why not sell your photos online? Media companies and marketing departments have a constant demand for stock photography, and many sites accept photos from amateur photographers. Each opportunity offers a different way you’ll earn, so check them out individually:


Regardless of your skills, chances are you have some type of knowledge or experience you can turn into a freelance opportunity. Perhaps the most common job associated with freelancing is writing. You can find freelance writing gigs on Odesk, JournalismJobs.com, Upwork.com, and by pitching individual publications. Upwork.com also lists freelance marketing, editing, graphic design, and programming opportunities.

Did you major in photography or have great photography experience? Offer your services in a freelance setting. Other common freelance gigs you can find include social media marketing, make-up and hair services, personal training, and videography.

House Sit

Some house sitting gigs may not pay, but only allow you to stay in the home for free — which would simply amount to a free mini-vacation or a savings on rent. But, you can also find house sitting gigs that pay on sites like TrustedHouseSitters.com.

Skill level: Advanced

Translation Services

Foreign language majors, or anyone who is fluent in a second language, can find translation gigs. Find jobs on Upwork.com, Gengo, or via traditional job searches on Indeed.com, Monster.comGlassDoor, or Career Builder.

Tutor or Give Lessons

Do you have expert knowledge of a skill or subject? Giving lessons or tutoring is a good way to use those skills to earn extra money.

Tutors are always needed in academic subjects such as chemistry, biology, English, history, and anything math related. And there are plenty of opportunities for test-prep help with the ACT, SAT, and other exams as well.

Meanwhile, you can offer lessons in playing a musical instrument, singing, acting and any other performing arts, sports and fitness activities, artistic activities, crafts, computer programs, and more. Look for opportunities both in person and online, including these websites:

Teach a Class

Generally, you’ll need a masters degree or higher to teach a college-level course as an adjunct faculty member. You may also find opportunities to teach at a community center or community college if you’re qualified. Another option is teaching a course online through a website like Skillshare.

Answer Questions Online

Health care professionals are sought for the website AmericanWell.com. Get paid to answer patient questions online if you’re a board certified physician, licensed therapist, or registered dietitian. Teledoc.com is a similar site for board-certified physicians specializing in family practice, pediatrics, or internal medicine. NowClinic also offers paid opportunities to answer questions via phone or Internet.

Health and Medical opportunities, including veterinary, are also available on Justanswer.com. But this site goes beyond health questions to also hire experts who are Research librarians, Genealogists , Lawyers, Life coach and counseling, Plumbers and electricians, and those who have extensive knowledge in a wide variety of subjects including trucks and heavy equipment, finance, cars, computer support, or even etiquette.

Apps That Can Earn You Income

  • Field Agent: Create an account and earn anywhere from $2 and $12 doing tasks in your area — like taking a photo of a menu, for example.
  • Nielsen Mobile Panel: While running in the background of your phone, the app collects data and studies your usage. The website says you can earn up to $50 per year.
  • Inbox Dollars: Earn cash for taking surveys, playing games, searching the web, and reading e-mail.
  • Gigwalk: Similar to Field Agent, gigs can take anywhere from five minutes to a few hours and range from $3 to $100.
  • WeReward: Earn rewards for watching videos on your phone.
  • Swagbucks: You can also use the Swagbucks app to earn money by answering polls, watching videos, and taking surveys.

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