Time quicksand: Making extra money without spending a lot of time

Time is Money, as the saying goes, and in these uncertain economic times, more and more people are trying to figure out clever ways to supplement their income. Whether considering a second job, starting their own business, or reselling items on ebay, clients often seek my counsel on how to balance their schedule while tackling additional ventures.

Time is Money, as the saying goes, and in these uncertain economic times, more and more people are trying to figure out clever ways to supplement their income.The trap for most people is that far too many “get rich quick plans” come with a crushing time burden that is hard to see in advance. The result is what I call Time Quicksand; where hundreds of hours (and often thousands of dollars) are consumed, with barely a nickel to show for it, before abandoning the project. You can avoid that mistake by filtering every idea through a strict time lens; seeking activities that take minimal effort for maximum rewards.

If you are thinking about making extra money here are three efficient ideas to consider that could boost your income without spending a ton of time:

Rent out a space. If you are house rich, cash poor; why not make your real estate assets generate some income for you? Look for underutilized spaces in your home that could be valuable to someone else. By investing a few days decluttering and prepping, you could generate an ongoing source of revenue. Rent out a spare bedroom to a year-round tenant, or your whole house for a few weekends a year, while you go stay with (loving) relatives. Consider the needs of local entrepreneurs…. Could your garage serve as rehearsal space for a local band, workshop for a local carpenter or studio for an artist? Do you have a room with a separate entrance that would make a perfect office for a local therapist, writer, or lawyer? It may even be worth creating a new entrance to a part of your house that you could section off. If parking (or storage) are in short supply in your town, do you have a space that you could lease out to help meet that market need?

Peddle your talent. The best way to dip your toes into entrepreneurial waters is to leverage a skill or talent you already possess, and start small. Love to play the guitar? Offer music lessons on the weekend. If you have a green thumb, throw a lifeline to struggling gardeners, by making house calls for a fee. If you’re talented with electronics, peddle your skills as a set-up wizard. Pick something that comes naturally to you (and that you enjoy) and start off with just one or two clients. If you are good, your name will get passed around: soon, two becomes four or five customers, and you begin profiting from your passion, without the stress and time commitment of a full-time business.

Leverage auction sites wisely. Most people drastically miscalculate the time (and space!) required to run a profitable online store, between identifying items to sell, snapping photos to post online, writing copy to describe each one, monitoring bids, executing the sale, shipping items – before long, it truly takes over your life. Making money with minimal effort is possible, though, if you focus your attention on a handful of high value things to sell. Try to think in collections of items that you can move in batches. Travel mugs? Vintage t-shirts? Stamps? Antiques? Pick a category of items that are easy to describe, hassle free to ship, and price competitively. Investing a few hours to post, pack and ship something that you earn a few hundred dollars for is a high-value use of your time.

Supplementing your income without throwing your schedule out of whack isn’t easy, but is possible. In today’s demanding economy, time and money are two of our most precious commodities. Spending one wisely to generate more of the other is a noble and worthy goal.

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