Are you looking for an alternative way to make money outside of the 9 to 5? Whether you desperately want to quit your job or just want some extra income, you'll find something on this list that suits your needs and interests.
According to a new report by Gallup Inc., only 30% of the U.S. workforce are engaged by their work, which means that 70% of Americans spend 35 or more hours a week doing something they aren't passionate about! Working under these circumstances can drain your energy and take a toll on your mental and physical health. But what if we could make a living in a way that offers more flexibility, less time commitment, and more income?
This article explores making money without a job (or at least a “traditional” job). There are some great options to consider, from blogging to taking paid surveys to becoming a day trader. A few of the ideas we will cover are investments that can provide you with spendable cash flow. Others will offer you equity growth, which increases your net worth and gives you more job flexibility in the future. Some of these ideas could even provide both.
Alternatively, some of the items below are not investments at all but are instead ideas that can produce extra money for you for either little or no work. You can combine a couple of flexible side gigs to invent your perfect mix.
Ready to learn how to make money without a job? Let's do this! I rank each money-making method on a scale of effort, with “10” requiring the most hustle to make moola and “1” being utterly effortless money in the bank.
How To Make Money Without a Job
1. Invest in Dividend Stocks
Effort Level Required: 2
I started with this one because it's one of the easiest ways to make money without a job. But you do have to have money to start with.
Dividends are cash or stock payments made by companies to shareholders (usually quarterly). If you have a sum of money at your disposal, investing in dividend stocks is an excellent way to produce a (relatively) stable source of cash flow and spending money.
So, how does it work? Let's say you invested $100K in a company paying an 8% dividend yield. In this case, you would receive $8000/year from the company in the form of dividends (or $666.66/month) without doing anything! That's actual spendable money in your bank account (pre-tax).
If managed correctly, dividend investing can be a great way to grow your wealth and provide passive income. It does take effort to find and pick the stocks, hence the “2” on the scale.
Now, you can undoubtedly make money investing in regular stocks as well. But they won't all offer regular spendable money. Before you invest, learn how to make your money work for you by comparing a few investment philosophies.
2. Invest in Real Estate
Effort Level Required: 2-6 Depending on Investment Type
You may have heard that real estate is a fantastic vehicle to build wealth. Well, you heard right. You just need to uncover a real estate strategy that works best for you. The approach you choose will determine how much effort is required.
Own Your Residence
The easiest way to get into the real estate game is to own your residence. You have to pay rent anyway, so you may as well turn it into an investment. That's a “3” on the effort scale.
If you're strapped for cash but want to buy a home, a duplex can be your ticket into the market! You live on one side and rent out the other. Genius! That's “4” on the scale. You can even use the rental income to help you qualify for the loan.
Another way you can use real estate investing to make some income is to own and rent out a property yourself. It's not entirely passive income (more like a small business effort), but it gives you myriad advantages over a typical 9-5 job. I give this a “6” on the effort scale.
If you're not so keen to manage a property yourself, you can look into investing in turnkey rental properties. Basically, instead of running the property yourself, you control the managers. It's much more passive than renting out properties yourself but typically provides you with lower returns. This is a “3” on the scale.
Real Estate Syndication & Crowdsourcing
If you're looking for truly passive income, real estate has another avenue you can take advantage of: real estate syndications and crowdfunding.
The total rates of return (or IRR) on these partnership and group deals are often lower than that of turnkeys and actual properties. However, they can work out to be higher if you take advantage of the research available on the modern real estate syndication platforms.
Look up Fundrise vs. DiversyFund vs. CrowdStreet, and you will find great information.
As you can glean from that last statement, there is still research and decision-making involved in real estate syndication, so it gets a “2” on the effort scale.
3. Save on Taxes
Effort Level Required: 3-4
By doing your taxes efficiently, you're saving yourself money without putting in much work. In this way, you're “making money” without a job!
The approach to saving on taxes will differ depending on your situation. Namely, whether you work as a W2 employee or own a business will determine the difference. Paying less tax as a W2 employee will be more challenging, but it's still possible.
If you own a business, you will have a far greater chance of paying less tax! I know not everyone owns a business, but you can work around that. Find a way to start a side hustle, perhaps with an evening part-time job online, and take advantage of the awesome business tax deductions that way.
If your side hustle takes off (congrats!) and you start making extra money, you would be wise to learn how to incorporate yourself. By creating an INC or LLC, you may be able to save even MORE money in taxes!
Last but not least, if you are pondering whether you'll get the best tax results with TurboTax vs. H&R Block vs. an accountant, I'd say it depends on your situation.
If you're very young and have simple finances, you can do taxes on your own using something like TurboTax. But, for most relatively higher-income individuals, you should pay someone else to do it. You will save money by spending money on someone who knows how to save you money!
The real difference a good accountant makes is that they can provide tailored advice and tax planning. Hiring an accountant is A MUST if you have numerous assets and investments.
Just be aware that you will need to provide your accountant with an accurate set of books. And that leads me to my next idea.
4. Manage Your Finances
Effort Level Required: 4
The most reliable way to save money is to keep track of your earnings and spending. And as the adage says, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Poof! More money without a job!
Why? It's simple math. If you're spending more than you earn, you aren't actually making any money! You are just working for debt. And you certainly won't have any cash to invest and help grow your nest egg.
So, enter personal bookkeeping, which allows you to identify the areas of your life where you have the most significant overspending issues. Once you know how much you spend in a given category annually, you can make changes in your habits and amass some data for creating a budget to stick to your financial goals.
This information is part of a financial planning process that can get you on the road to financial independence!
The first step to managing your finances is to buy the right software! Research potential options such as Personal Capital vs. Mint vs. Quicken. A relatively small investment in the appropriate software can have a substantial positive impact on the health of your finances.
If you're a business owner, you'll need to compare Freshbooks vs. QuickBooks vs. Quicken to hone in on the bookkeeping software that's most beneficial for you.
5. Get a Cashback Credit Card
Effort Level Required: 1
Another way to take advantage of cashback is through credit cards. I like cashback (instead of other rewards) from my credit cards because it's completely flexible and easiest to access and use. If I want to use it for travel, I can, or if I want to put it in an investment account, no problem.
The following credit cards all have pretty good cashback deals, which could make you some easy money. This information is accurate as of 12/10/2021.
- Wells Fargo Active Cash Card – Earn $200 in cashback after spending $1000 in the first three months. Then earn 2% cashback on all purchases! $0 annual fee.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited – Get a $200 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months. Then 1-5% cashback on various categories. $0 annual fee.
- Discover It Cash Back – Get 1% cashback on all purchases automatically and 5% on everyday items like groceries, food, and gas. The bonus offer is an unlimited match to your cashback in the first year!
- Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express – Earn $300 when you spend $3000 within the first six months. $0 annual fee in year one, then $95. Get 1-6% cashback on various categories.
- Citi Double Cash Card – There is no bonus offer currently, but you make 2% of your purchases back by paying your minimum payments on time.
Cashback credit cards are the only category I gave a “1” on the effort scale.
6. Shop Using Cashback Apps
Effort Level Required: 2
Do you consistently spend hundreds of dollars a month on clothes, food, and travel? If so, you'll be pleased to know that apps like Ibotta and Rakuten provide cashback rebates in thousands of different stores, hotels, and even airlines!
Your only work is to sign up and shop based on their requirements. You'll earn money in the form of cashback without having to do so much as getting off your couch.
If you buy groceries online, Ibotta is a simple way to make money off your purchases, and they add up quickly! Seriously! I enjoyed a free turkey plus all the fixings this year for Thanksgiving.
7. Lend Out Your Cryptocurrency
Effort Level Required: 4
If you own cryptocurrency, you can lend it out via platforms like Gemini and earn up to 8% APY! This idea can be a hipster way to put your money to work (and make some sweet passive income for yourself). But the downside is that, like dividend stocks, you need to start with some money.
Fair warning: when you lend out your crypto through a platform like this, you take a certain amount of risk. You're allowing Gemini to lend it to other folks to use in their margin accounts. Theoretically, that should be fine, as Gemini would margin call your crypto back before disaster strikes. But you never know!
Gemini is not the only crypto trading platform out there, but Gemini seems to offer some of the highest rates I have found, particularly on their Gemini coin, which is throwing out 8% currently. Note that rates do vary depending on the currency you're lending.
I made this an effort level “4” because there is a huge learning curve if you don't know much about cryptocurrency. But once that is over, it gets easier.
8. Become a Day Trader
Effort Level Required: 10
Does your 9 to 5 job make you feel trapped? If you HATE the bureaucracy of a 9 to 5 and LOVE being in charge of your schedule, you can become a day trader of stocks, cryptocurrency, and options for both.
OK, OK, day trading is not a workless endeavor. But if you are merely looking to escape a 9 to 5 for something more exciting, it's an option. I also included it because it seems to be a big thing right now.
Day trading was also a big thing back in the late '90s when no one could lose money on internet stocks. People quit their regular jobs to day trade. Cut to 2001, and they were all looking to get their everyday jobs back. And unfortunately, they had far less money than when they quit their jobs.
So just to warn you, unlike with a day job, there is the risk of losing all your money when you day trade. It's certainly not for the skittish, and in all honesty, it will be a lot of work.
If this STILL sounds like a good idea, there are many trading platforms to choose from. Most will even guide you through the basics!
9. Become a Hard Money Lender for Real Estate Investors
Effort Level Required: 3
Yet another way to make money via real estate is to become a hard money lender. Meaning a loan of money you already have. Do you see the pattern here? Money makes more money! (It seriously helps in life to have money.)
The idea here is that you'll lend out money to real estate investors who will use your money to buy the property and likely flip it. They will pay you a set percentage of your capital every month in exchange for you trusting them with your money.
There is the chance that your borrower will be unable to pay back the loan with hard money lending. But, if you can stomach this chance, the returns can be pretty lucrative, reaching upwards of 10% per year. You can (hopefully) foreclose on them if they don't pay and get some or all of your money back by selling the property.
I have researched this topic and found The Norris Group a helpful resource. They also act as a broker to get your money lent out. That said, there are a variety of brokers that can help you do this.
I gave it a “3” because of the research needed and that you may have to chase down your money if things go wrong.
10. Invest in Alternative Assets
Effort Level Required: 4
When people think about making money outside of their job, they usually think about stocks, real estate, and side hustles. Usually, alternatives are not even on the radar.
Alternative assets include real estate notes, business loans, oil wells, art, or anything that earns monthly or quarterly income (paid out via cash flow) or appreciation.
Platforms like Yield Street can help you navigate the confusing (but potentially very profitable) world of alternative asset investing.
Like crypto, I gave it a “4” due to the learning curve.
11. Become a Blogger
Effort Level Required: 11 (wait, are you serious, or is that just a Spinal Tap joke?)
No article titled “How to Make Money Without a Job” is complete without the mention of blogging. But I'm just going to burst your bubble now and tell you that blogging takes A LOT of work.
I would go as far as to say that it's genuinely disingenuous when a blogger tells you blogging can be passive income. Anyone who tells you that blogging is passive income is just trying to get you to click on their affiliate marketing links.
Seriously though, if you like the idea of blogging and can stick it out for the long term, it can be an extremely profitable endeavor. It is affording you the income of a VERY healthy 9 to 5, without all the stress and bureaucracy of one.
If you decide to start blogging, you should join a blogging group early. I joined The Money Mix Insiders, and it improved my blog (and my blogging knowledge) tremendously!
12. Skip Directly to Affiliate Marketing
Effort Level Required: 10
If you were wondering how to make money with a blog, one of the primary ways is affiliate marketing (remember, I just made a joke about that above). Affiliate marketing is when you sell another person's product and receive a commission.
If you're interested in making money online, but the thought of writing endless blog posts doesn't appeal to you, you can cut right to the chase and instead get started with affiliate marketing.
There are thousands of products and services you can promote and endless resources to teach you to be an affiliate marketing master.
Like blogging, affiliate marketing takes a lot of work, so it's more like a job. But you'll be your own boss, and you have the potential to earn big bucks.
13. Take Paid Surveys
Effort Level Required: 3
Do you spend tons of time on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat and wish you could be more productive instead? Does turning all that wasted time into money sound good to you?
Then you should consider paid surveys! They don't take much work, and if you're spending time on your phone anyway, why not make some money?
I'll admit you can't make a ton of money doing online surveys, but it can provide supplemental cash. And it's entirely on your schedule and pace.
If you want to dig deeper into the online survey game, I wrote an article entitled Is Survey Junkie Legit? It will likely answer a lot of questions for you.
14. Life Insurance
Effort Level Required: 4
Not many people know this, but you can use your life insurance as a retirement plan and get tax-free growth while you are working.
Part of the reason people don't know this is because most financial gurus and bloggers always say, “Life insurance isn't an investment. If you want insurance, just buy insurance. Don't try to mix the two. It's a bad idea,” etc.
I kind of felt that way too. But then I read this book called The Lost Science of Compound Interest written by Curtis Ray. Admittedly, it's a comprehensive sales brochure for a retirement planning product that uses life insurance, called an MPI account. But it's still a good book!
It's pitched as having the ability to compound your wealth at a higher-than-average rate while protecting your principal, eventually providing long-term tax-free retirement income, and then passing the wealth tax-free to your heirs.
Sound too good to be true? That's what I've endeavored to find out. I vetted this product extensively and even created one of my epic spreadsheets to test the math. Here is a little peek for you folks that like spreadsheets!
Anyway, long story short, I opened an account for my son, wife, and me. So I guess that says it all.
I like the MPI account because, at the very least, it tries to solve the undeniable problems with conventional retirement planning (of which there are some big ones). And it likely can (eventually) dish out higher than average tax-free retirement income.
It's a “4” because you need to do the research and decide for yourself.
15. Ask for a Raise at Work
Effort Level Required: 2-3
Have you contributed quality work to your company and are not getting the raise you think you deserve? Well, it could be because you didn't ask!
Though technically you are still working, asking for a raise might yield more money for you at the cost of just speaking up. In this way, asking for a raise at work isn't so much “making money without a job” but instead “making more money without much effort.”
You absolutely do have to be your own advocate in life, and that statement directly applies to getting paid what you deserve at work. I owned a company with over 35 employees, and it always amazed me how uncomfortable people were with asking for raises.
It was good for me in that I wasn't dishing out raises every year for each person. But make no mistake, there were always a few people asking for raises EVERY year.
So if you haven't had a raise in over a year, ask. Better yet, take some time to figure out how to perform better, take on more responsibility at your job, and then bring that golden info with you when you ask.
Employers don't just like to give out raises because you have been there for yet another year. Instead, they want to give raises as a “thank you” for good performance, and more importantly, as an incentive for you to keep it up and hopefully take on more.
The last thing they want is to pay you more, give you an extra week of vacation, then have your performance flatline or go down. So instead, try to be entrepreneurial about your job, look for ways to improve, perform at a high level, then ask for commensurate compensation.
You have to make them so scared to lose you because of the insanely great job you do that they will pay you what you want so you don't leave and go work for the competition.
16. Play the Lottery
Effort Level Required: 2
Though the chances of you winning the lottery are slim, you are technically giving yourself a chance by playing it. It might become your favorite way to make money without a job if you win it! What is life without a little bit of fun?
I gave it a “2” because you have to drive back to the store to collect your winnings!
Recap: How To Make Money Without a Job
So there you have it: 17 unique ways to make money without a job! Most of the methods covered in this post involve some work and aren't entirely passive, but they all provide you with an alternative to working a typical 9-5 to make money.
As a quick recap, they are:
- Dividend Investing
- Real Estate Investing
- Saving on Taxes
- Managing Your Finances
- Getting a Cashback Credit Card
- Shopping Using Cashback Apps
- Lending Out Your Cryptocurrency
- Becoming a Day Trader
- Becoming a Hard Money Lender for Real Estate Investors
- Investing in Alternative Assets
- Affiliate Marketing
- Doing Paid Surveys
- Using Life Insurance As a Retirement Plan
- Asking for a Raise at Work
- Playing the Lottery
So what are you waiting for? If you're sick and tired of your day job, pick something off this post and start making money without a job. Get good at it, and who knows, maybe you'll replace your J O B altogether!
Joe DiSanto is a fractional CFO and consultant for small businesses and high-income individuals. Throughout his career in Los Angeles, he built multi-million dollar businesses, produced critically acclaimed documentaries and an Emmy-winning TV show, invested millions in real estate, and was semi-retired at age 43. He now helps others achieve their career and wealth goals by sharing a lifetime of fiscal know-how via his website, Play Louder (https://www.playlouder.com/).