Do you HAVE to spend money to make money? Ideas for making money when you’re broke

Today, no one is doing just one thing. Everyone has their “day job”, “side gig”, and sometimes even more than that. As of 2021, about a third of Americans have a side hustle. And millions more are planning to start one in 2022. 

Planning a side gig can lead you to wonder: do you have to spend money to make money? 

After all, your budget is tight. You don’t have extra cash to invest, and you don’t want to spend money if you don’t have to. Especially if there’s no guarantee that you’ll make that money back. So let’s take a look at the truth behind this age-old saying and find ways to make money fast (even when you’re broke).

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You have to spend money to make money…. Right?

The saying “you have to spend money to make money” has been around for a long time. And I mean a really long time. The phrase is attributed to Roman philosopher Titus Maccius Plautus, as far back as 254 BCE. 

Here’s the problem with this ancient wisdom. Titus was talking to business owners. And that makes sense, right? 

When you run a business, you do have to spend money to make money. You have to pay for supplies, at the very least. Then, as your business grows, you spend more to make more. You’d buy a storefront, pay for advertising, and hire employees. 

When you’re a business owner, it makes sense to spend more money so you can make more money. It’s a proven pattern that people have watched over and over again.

But what about someone who isn’t looking to start their own business? Do you have to spend money to make money?

Not necessarily. 

You’re already familiar with the idea of NOT spending money to make money. For one thing, there’s your “day job”. You know, the job you spend most of your time at to pay your bills. 

Unless your job requires certifications or degrees, you didn’t have to spend money to get this job. You also don’t have to spend money to get your paychecks.

So how do you get money from your day job? You show up. You’re putting in time and energy rather than money. When it comes to side gigs, the same thing applies. 

Instead of spending money to make money, spend time and energy. This means that for most people, you can make money without any start-up costs at all. 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Ideas for making money fast

With the question “do you have to spend money to make money” answered, there’s another problem. How can you make money fast, without spending a cent? Well, you use your time, your energy, or stuff you already have. Or a combination of all three! 

Invest Your Time…

First, there are the ways that only require your time. These are the ways that don’t require you to spend ANY money to make money. All you need to do is show up! Some of these will require you to have transportation, special skills, or be part of a specific group. Others only need you to be there and willing to work!

1: … in scientific research.

This might not sound like a way you could make money, but it’s one of the most low-effort ways to make some extra cash. 

Donating plasma gives you the opportunity to make up to $1,000 a month (depending on where you live). Your plasma is used in life-saving medications, and all you have to do is go to a plasma center. Donating plasma takes around 2 hours, but while you wait for the plasma to be collected, you can binge your favorite show, read a book, or listen to music. It couldn’t be easier to make money!

2: … in making your voice heard

Focus groups are also proof you don’t have to spend money to make money. No matter who you are, what kind of health conditions you might have, or whether you have access to transportation, you can make your voice heard in focus groups. 

You’ll need access to the internet or transportation for this, but you don’t need to pay to participate. There are a lot of factors when it comes to focus groups, so you might not qualify for some. The good news is that hundreds of interviews and surveys are available on any given day, so you’ll definitely qualify for a couple!  The amount of money you can make varies from $50 to as much as $1,200, depending on the specific group you participate in.

Feeling shy? Check out Survey Junkie or CashKarma. These free apps let you earn money just by answering online questionnaires. No face-to-face (or face-to-zoom) interaction, and you can expect to make $20 to $50 a month on these apps. 

3: … in regular, old chores. 

Maybe not as exciting as advancing scientific discoveries or making a change through focus groups, helping with normal household tasks is still one of the best ideas for making money fast. Elderly and ill people often need help with things like weeding a garden or cleaning the carpets, but even people who are just overworked find they could use a hand now and again.

You can help fill those needs by signing up for a platform like TaskRabbit. You may need to bring your own supplies, depending on what kind of task you sign up for. TaskRabbit connects you with people who are looking for all kinds of help – from cleaning a bathroom to assembling furniture and even moving. Generally, you’ll make around $30 – $50 a project (more if you choose something that requires special knowledge).

Where TaskRabbit has jobs in lots of categories, Hampr specializes in just one. With Hampr, you get paid to do someone else’s laundry. If you have a washer and dryer, find folding fun, and don’t smoke, this is a perfect gig for you. “Washrs”, as the site calls them, can make up to $2,000 a month! 

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Invest your stuff…

If you’re selling stuff, do you have to spend money to make money? Well, that depends on what you’re selling and how long you want selling your stuff to be a side hustle. Selling extra things is perfect for people who are looking for quick cash and don’t need anything long-term. That’s not to say that you can’t make selling an ongoing side hustle!

When you want an ongoing side hustle selling things, you have to spend money to make money. Our advice? Start with stuff you already have. Once you’ve sold that, you can use the profits to buy more stuff and make more money with it! 

1: … by reselling.

When it comes to making money with your stuff, reselling is the best way to get started. We all have something lying around that’s in perfect working order… we just don’t use it. Reselling allows you to make some money with that stuff that you don’t use, but someone else will love. 

Depending on what you’re trying to sell, there are tons of sites out there to help. No matter what you want to sell, though, there’s one rule you should always follow. Never try to sell something you wouldn’t buy yourself. 

If you try to sell something that’s in a bad condition, out of date, or completely broken, two things will happen. First, you’ll have a hard time selling it at all. Few people want to buy something that doesn’t work. Second, you won’t make as much money on it as you’d like to. When you find someone who’s willing to buy something that’s in a poor condition, they’ll typically be looking for a bargain. This means they’ll try to haggle you down to a lower and lower price. 

Reselling can be lucrative, and all you need to do is find it, clean it, and list it!

2:… by refurbishing.

You know how a minute ago we said few people want to buy something that’s in poor condition? Well, there’s one exception to that rule: refurbishers. 

Refurbishing is when you buy something that’s in a bad condition and fix it up. This can be anything from putting a new cover on something to sanding and repainting and more. It all depends on what you want to refurbish! 

Do you have to spend money to make money refurbishing? Not necessarily! Many times, you can find things that people have left on the curb to be thrown out for free. You can even go to thrift stores and ask if there’s anything they were planning to throw out that you can take home. 

Once you’ve grabbed that first free project and turned a profit, you can start putting some money towards buying more stuff to refurbish. If you have the skills, you may find that refurbishing can replace a full-time income!

3: … by crafting.

It’s no surprise that crafting found its way onto our list of ideas for making money. Crafting is a great way to relieve stress, depression, and anxiety so many people will do it anyway. If you’re anything like me, you probably make more fun crafts than you could give away!

Listing some of your crafts for sale is a great way to feed your hobby and make a little extra cash on the side. When it comes to making money crafting, the setup is similar to refurbishing. You can work with what you find for free at first, but eventually, you have to spend money to make money… at least if you turn your crafting into a business. 

Photo by Andre Taissin on Unsplash

How To: Making money fast

When it comes to making money fast, there are three basic steps to follow. First, choose your investment. You can invest time, stuff, and/or money, but there’s no such thing as free money.  You’ll have to put something in to get that extra cash!

Next, take your first steps. This can mean creating an account with a website, getting yourself established with a company, or creating your first listing. (Or all of the above!) 

The last step is the most important. You need to be consistent. This is the number one mistake people make when they’re trying to make money on the side. 

Take surveys, as an example. If you fill out surveys for a day or two, you’ll make anywhere from $5 to $10. If you stop there, that’s all you’ll make. If you fill out surveys to reach $5 once a month, you’ll probably be stuck there. However, if you fill out one or two surveys a day for a whole month, something amazing happens. Your offers start to get better. 

Companies, websites, and real people all love consistency. In the case of surveys, users who are active regularly are given better offers. If you’re selling stuff, websites will prioritize your listings when you list and sell consistently. 

No matter what kind of side hustle you pick, this is the best advice out there. Whether you’re investing time or money, consistency is key.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

You DON’T have to spend money to make money

The old adage goes “you have to spend money to make money”, but that’s for business owners. While many people are starting their own businesses in light of the growing gig economy, sometimes you just need a little extra cash. 

When that’s the case, you don’t have to spend money to make money. You can invest time, energy, and creativity to work toward your financial goals. Once you’re making progress, it’s time to revisit that old saying.

Putting money back into yourself and investing in a brighter financial future is the best way to increase your net worth. Whether that means going back to school, investing in stocks and bonds, or starting a totally new side gig, you are worth investing in. 

For more tips, tricks, and advice on side gigs, increasing your net worth, and managing your money, subscribe to our newsletter. You’ll get articles like this delivered straight to your inbox, so you can bust the old financial myths and start building a better tomorrow.