Given that 57% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, it's clear that many of us could use more money -- and what better way to snag some extra cash than by working a side hustle? A good 44 million U.S. adults have taken on a secondary gig to help supplement their income. And the best part? You don't need to wait tables or work some boring telemarketing job to get your hands on the extra money you need. If you play your cards right, you can turn some of your favorite pastimes into a viable, respectable income stream. Here are just a few that can really pay off.
1. Playing an instrument
If you love playing the piano or strumming away on your guitar, you have several opportunities to monetize that talent. For starters, visit local coffee shops or restaurants and see if they're interested in having you provide live music for customers. If they bite, they may not pay a spectacular wage, but you'll have the potential to take in quite a bit in tips. You can also offer your services as a wedding or party entertainer, whether it's of the cocktail or child birthday variety. Finally, if you can't manage to get paid to play, teach others to do so. You'll bring in some pretty big bucks as an in-home music instructor.
2. Cooking or baking
If you enjoy concocting new recipes or whipping up cupcakes by the dozen, you have the potential to earn some serious cash. That's because food service providers typically get away with charging a 300% markup, which means that if it costs you $10 to produce your signature pie, you may be able to sell it for $30. If you're interested in selling your homemade creations, do some research into local farmers' markets or craft fairs and see about setting up a booth. Just be sure to research your state's laws on selling homemade food before you proceed. Another option is to promote yourself as a private chef, where you cook in other people's homes. And if you're really feeling ambitious, you could even try your hand at catering events.
That scarf or blanket you've been working on for weeks as a means of stress relief? Somebody else might want to buy it, and for a decent price. If you have a knack for knitting, you might consider selling your wares online. Sites like Etsy provide the perfect outlet for showing off your creations. You can also try peddling your goods at local fairs or festivals, but to do so, you may need to pay a fee that could eat away at your profits.
If you happen to enjoy cruising around behind the wheel, you might consider turning your love of driving into a moneymaking opportunity. With the advent of companies like Uber and Lyft, now's the perfect time to get in on the action. The average Uber driver, for example, makes $364 a month, and the company claims drivers can earn $25 per hour. Lyft, meanwhile, boasts that drivers can bring home an impressive $35 an hour. Of course, these figures will vary depending on where you live, but if you have a car in decent condition, it pays to look into either option.
Love composing haikus and limericks? You probably won't make much money off them. But if you enjoy different sorts of writing and are willing to put in some time, you can earn a sizable chunk of cash as a freelance writer. There are numerous blogs out there that will pay you to write about the things you're passionate about, whether it's fashion, travel, or raising children. And if you're able to whip up advertising copy or technical content, you stand to make even more.
6. Direct sales
If you love hosting parties, interacting with people, and learning about new products for fun, dabbling in direct sales could put more cash in your pocket. These days, there are hundreds of companies whose products you can sell at your own pace and on your own schedule. Find a line you can really stand behind, whether it's cookware, skin care, or clothing, and start promoting its products at theme parties (which you'll get to throw), social gatherings, or even online. Better yet, recruit others to sell under you, and you'll typically get a cut of their commissions as well. Of course, the one caveat here is that you risk ticking off your friends by pushing them to buy products they don't want. But if you're not overly zealous in your sales efforts, you could make a respectable sum of money without alienating people in the process.
7. Restoring old furniture or antiques
Have a knack for woodwork or fabrics and love a challenge? Between Craigslist and yard sales, there are tons of opportunities to get your hands on other people's unwanted furniture and antiques, and if you enjoy restoring such items, you can then try selling them at a pretty substantial profit. Incidentally, the same concept applies to old cars and motorcycles, but since it can cost a lot of money to get vehicles up to snuff, it's a riskier proposition than investing in a sander and some painting supplies.
8. Caring for animals
If you're an animal lover by nature, you can turn your passion for pet care into an actual business opportunity. In some cities, for example, you'll make up to $20 for taking somebody else's dog for a 20-minute walk. You can also try pet sitting, where you might make anywhere from $25 to $75 per day depending on the job at hand and whether you're required to stay overnight. Sites like Rover.com make it easy to connect with pet owners, so create a profile and get ready to start bringing in extra dough.
Love taking pictures? Why not get paid for it? If you're really good, you can try getting hired as a wedding photographer, where you'll earn about $2,800 per affair, on average, if you're on par with a true professional. Another option is to offer your services as a family photographer and provide in-home or outdoor sessions for those looking to capture some precious moments with their loved ones. Though you'll probably need to invest in equipment to get your business off the ground, if you drum up a respectable client list, you'll recoup that money -- and then some -- in no time.