Whether or not you got a raise going into the new year, one thing's for sure: Most of us could just plain use more money. If you're looking to boost your income and gain the flexibility that comes with it, here are a few ways to accomplish that goal.
1. Get a side hustle
When you spend the bulk of your waking hours working, the last thing you want to do is go back to work at night or on weekends. But if you're intent on increasing your income this year, taking on a second job is a guaranteed way to do it. And if you play your cards right, you may end up making more than you'd think. Of the 44 million Americans who currently hold down a side hustle, 36% bring home over $500 a month extra as a result. And that can go a long way toward accomplishing goals like building savings, paying down debt, or saving for a home, car, or vacation.
If you are going to go the side hustle route, be sure not to push yourself so hard that you burn out or compromise your primary gig. Start by taking on a few shifts at a local restaurant or shop, or by taking on a few freelance assignments, and work your way up over time. And if you find that you're perpetually frazzled and stressed because you're just plain working constantly, don't hesitate to scale back. Taking on a secondary gig is great income-boosting strategy, but it shouldn't come at the cost of your health or well-being.
2. Monetize a hobby
Maybe you have a knack for knitting or enjoy concocting homemade treats in your kitchen. No matter how you choose to spend your downtime, if you're looking to boost your income this year, you might consider turning your favorite hobby into an income source. This might require an initial investment, whether it's obtaining a business license or setting up a marketing website, but if you're willing to put in the time, you stand to come out way ahead, money-wise.
3. Rent out your home
If you live in a cramped studio apartment, then finding a tenant isn't exactly an avenue you can explore. But if you're sitting on a larger home or have an unused room in an urban loft, then it pays to become a landlord, even if temporarily, and take in that extra cash. You're more likely to be successful in renting your space if you live in an appealing or convenient area, such as a city center or college town, but that doesn't mean you should give up on the idea if you're deep in suburbia, either. You never know who might be looking for a place to live, and how much one might be willing to pay for it.
Don't like the idea of a full-time tenant? Then try renting out your home seasonally. This works if you live near a ski area, beach, or even a fun city with nightlife. Another option is to rent out your space only when you're vacating it yourself, such as for periods when you happen to be traveling. And if you limit yourself so you're only renting out your home for 14 days (or less) within the same year, you can avoid paying taxes on the income you generate.
4. Buy dividend stocks
They say that it takes money to make money, and that's certainly true of investing. But if you're willing to sink a little money into the stock market, you might end up reaping a very generous reward -- especially if you invest in dividend stocks.
Dividend stocks are a great way to generate a reasonably predictable stream of quarterly income. In this regard, they're similar to interest-paying bonds, only they tend to offer a greater upside. That's because if those stocks gain value over time, you'll have an opportunity to cash them out (eventually) and collect your gains. Granted, you can do the same thing with bonds, but the stock market tends to be more lucrative on a whole. If you like the idea of collecting dividends but aren't sure where to start, check out these top dividend stocks that my colleagues currently recommend.
It never hurts to have extra money at your disposal. Follow these tips, and with any luck, you'll be well on your way to a wealthier 2018.