How to Make Money Without a Job was written by yours truly, Joe DiSanto, for Wealth of Geeks. It has been republished here with permission.
Are you looking for an alternative way to make money outside of the 9-5? Whether you desperately want to quit your job, or just want to make some extra income, you're sure to 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?
From blogging to taking paid surveys to becoming a day trader, this article covers exactly how to make money without a job (or a “traditional” job at least). So you can get some of your precious life back!
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.
Each money-making method is ranked on a scale of effort, with “10” requiring the most hustle to make moola and “1” being utterly effortless money in the bank!
Ready to learn how to make money without a job? Let's do this!
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. Like literally no job. But you do have to have money to start with. Wha-wha:(
Dividends are payments made by companies to shareholders (usually quarterly) that come in form of cash or stock. 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. This means that you would receive $8000/year from the company in the form of dividends (or $666.66/month), without doing a single thing! That's actual spendable money in your bank account (pre-tax of course).
Now, you can certainly make money investing in regular stocks as well. But they won't all dish out regular spendable money. Before you invest, be sure to learn how to make your money work for you, by comparing a few investment philosophies.
Not sure how to buy stocks? Why not try an investment app? If you google Webull vs Robinhood, for example, you'll find lots of info on various brokerages.
2. Invest in Real Estate
Effort Level Required: 2-6 depending on your type of investment
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. I mean you are going to be paying 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. You can even use the rental income to help you qualify for the loan. Genius! “4” on the scale!
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, however (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 actually renting out properties but typically provides you with lower returns. 3-Scale.
Real Estate Syndication & Crowdsourcing
If you're looking for truly passive income, real estate has yet another avenue that 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. But, they can work out to be higher if you take advantage of the research available on the modern real estate syndication platforms that are available.
Look up Fundrise vs DiversyFund vs CrowdStreet and you will find a lot of great information.
Now, 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.
International Real Estate
And last but not least, if you're an adventurous type, you could consider buying international property! There are so many great deals to be had. I bought real estate in Belize and made a killing on it! You should check out this super rad publication, International Living Magazine if this sounds cool to you!
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 personal situation. Namely, the difference will be determined based on whether you work as a W2 employee or own a business. Paying less tax as a W2 employee will be harder, but it's still possible.
Now, 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 evening part-time jobs online, and take advantage of the awesome business tax deductions that way.
If your side hustle takes off (congrats!) and you start making a lot of extra money, you would be smart to learn how to incorporate yourself. By creating an INC or LLC, you may be able to save even MORE money in taxes! Dive into this article to learn how: What Is an LLC? And How Is It Different Than a Corporation?
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, then you can learn how to do taxes on your own using something like Turbo Tax. 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 are in possession of numerous assets and investments.
Just be aware that you will need to provide your accountant with an accurate set of books. This 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 what you're earning and spending. And as the old adage says, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Poof…mo 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 to help grow your nest egg.
So, enter “personal bookkeeping“, which allows you to identify the areas of your life where you have the biggest overspending issues. Once you know how much you spend in a given category annually, you can both make changes in your habits, and also amass some data for creating a budget, so you can stick to your financial goals.
This is all part of a financial planning process that can get you on the road to financial independence!
Now, 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 so you can 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 personally like cash back (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 in 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 on them, 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 2% cash back on all purchases! $0 annual Fee.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited – Get a $200 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months. Then 1-5% cash back on various categories. $0 annual fee.
- Discover it Cash Back – Get 1% cash back on all purchases automatically and 5% on everyday items like groceries, food, and gas. The bonus offer is that they will make an unlimited match to your cash back in the first year!
- Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express – Earn $300 when you spend $3000 within the first six months. Then 1-6% cash back on various categories. $0 annual fee in year one, then $95.
- 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.
Now if you own a business, you can get a cashback card for your business as well. You can even get a business credit card that won’t affect your personal credit. Pretty cool!
I think cashback credit cards are the only category I gave a “1” on the effort scale. Man, why does everything in life take so much damn effort?! 😉
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!
All you have to do is 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! I enjoyed a free turkey plus all the fixings this year for Thanksgiving. Seriously!
I mean, why not…right?!?
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 can be a super hipster way to put your money to work (and make some sweet passive income for yourself). But obviously, like dividend stocks, you need to start out with some money. I hate that!
All that said, lending out your crypto through a platform like this does put it at a certain amount of risk. Basically, 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, ya never know!
Gemini is not the only crypto trading platform out there by the way (in case you have been living under a rock and didn't know that already). I like Coinbase, KuCoin and CoinEx. 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 if you don't know much about cryptocurrency, there is a huge learning curve. But once that is over, it gets easier.
8. Become a Day Trader
Effort Level Required: 10
Does your 9-5 job make you feel trapped? If you HATE the bureaucracy of a 9-5 and LOVE being in charge of your schedule, you can become a day trader of stocks, cryptocurrency, and options on both.
OK OK, day trading is not a workless endeavor. But if you are merely looking to escape a 9-5 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. Literally, people quit their regular jobs to day trade. Cut to 2001, and they were all looking to get their regular jobs back. Ha! And unfortunately, they had way 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. Actually, you should just not be a day trader. IT'S A BAD IDEA.
If this STILL sounds like a good idea to you, there are many trading platforms to choose from. Most will even guide you through the basics! But seriously…don't do this. I might do it though. JK!!!
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. Yeeeeeesssss…of money you already have. Are you seeing the pattern here? Money makes more money! (It seriously helps in life to have money.)
Anyway, 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 with hard money lending, your borrower won't be able to pay back the loan. But, if you can stomach this chance, the returns can be pretty lucrative, reaching upwards of 10% per year. Plus, you can foreclose on them if they don't pay and get some or all of your money back by selling the property. (Hopefully.)
I have done a little research on this topic and found The Norris Group to be 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 the fact that you may have to chase down your money if it goes bad.
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 are things like real estate notes, business loans, oil wells, art, or anything else that earns money through monthly or quarterly income (paid out via cash flow) and/or appreciation.
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 going just 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. Affording you the income of a VERY healthy 9-5, without all the stress and bureaucracy of one.
Now, the key to making money with a blog is to educate yourself. Here's a solid list of blogging courses, services, and “gurus” I've enlisted in my online income journey.
And finally, since we're talking about blogs, I would not be doing my blogging duty if I didn't try to get you to sign up, for all the services you will need, using my affiliate links. Check out that list here: The Critical Tools I Use for My Blogging Business.
And finally finally, on the blogging topic. Don't go it alone! I joined this super rad blogging group, which has not only grown my site's traffic and revenue but made it way more fun. Check out The Money Mix Insiders. Go TMM!
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 through affiliate marketing (remember I just made a joke about that above!?!). This 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 you can take advantage of that will teach you how to be an affiliate marketing master.
I highly recommend taking Michelle Schroeder-Gardner's popular Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. It's an easy read, breaks it all down well, and points you on your way. And it is inexpensive.
If after you take that course, you are feeling pumped and think you want to try this, I would then flip the bill for Spencer Mecham's Affiliate Marketing 3.0 course. I bought this and found it to be worth the money.
I will say though, I didn't opt for click funnels. It's way too expensive (and probably spencers largest source of affiliate income..haha!). I decided to use Cart Flows, which is far far less expensive and lives on my site. Plus it integrates with my courses plugin (learn dash) and woo commerce. It's a pretty great system (IMHO).
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 find yourself spending tons of time on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat and wish that 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?
Now, I'll admit you can't make a ton of money doing online surveys, but it can provide a little supplemental cash here and there. And it's completely on your own schedule and pace.
If you want to dig a little deeper into the online survey game, I wrote an article entitled Is Survey Junkie Legit? which will answer a lot of questions for you.
14. Use Life Insurance as a Retirement Plan
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 “…blah blah.
I kind of felt that way too…but then I read this book called The Lost Science of Compound Interest. It's written by this dude Curtis Ray. It's basically a very thorough sales brochure for a retirement planning product that uses life insurance, called an MPI account.
It’s pitched as having the ability to compound your wealth at a higher-than-average rate, while also protecting your principal, eventually providing long-term tax-free retirement income, and then passing on 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 pretty darn extensively and even created one of my epic spreadsheets to test the math. Here is a little peek for you folks that really like spreadsheets!
Anyway, long-short, I opened an account for my son and for my wife and me. I guess that says it all.
I like the MPI account because, at the very least, it tries to solve the very obvious 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. You can deep dive into it with my article about the MPI account.
It's a “4” because you really need to do the research and decide if it's for you.
15. Ask for a Raise at Work
Effort Level Required: 2-3
Have you been contributing quality work to your company and are not getting the raise you think you deserve? Well, it's probably because you didn't ask!!!!!!
Though technically you are still working, asking for a raise might end up yielding 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 really 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.
I mean, it was kinda good for me in that I wasn't dishing out raises every year for every person. But make no mistake, there were always few people asking for raises EVERY year.
So if you haven't had a raise in over a year, go ask already. Better yet, take some time to figure out how you can perform better and take on more responsibility at your job, and then bring that golden info with you when you ask.
The thing is, employers, don't just like to give out raises because you have been there for yet another year. They like 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, then give you an extra week of vacation, then have your performance flatline or go down. 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
What is life without a little bit of fun? Though the chances of you winning the lottery are slim, you ARE technically giving yourself a chance by playing it. If you do happen to win it, it's likely to be your favorite way to make money without a job!
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
- Allowing Your Cryptocurrency To Be Lent Out
- 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 get started making money without a job. Get good at it, and who knows, maybe you'll replace your job altogether!