20 Ways to Make a Quick $20 to Start Your Side Hustle with $400
When you’re running low on funds, whether you’ve had a stroke of bad luck, or you’re in school, or working on other things and you just don’t have the time to take on another job, a home side hustle is an easy solution. That’s what it was for me, at least! I felt compelled to do something productive with my time that generated some sort of revenue for our family, partly because we needed a little extra, but mainly because I felt called to do so. But, when you’ve gone through all your paces and you’re ready to get started, where do you start? And with what funds?
Today I’m going to list out some easy ways you can make some money to pool together and use to start your side hustle, whether you use it to pay for a website, or for the cost of materials, or for new equipment. $400 can really go a long way if you’re purposeful with it, and if you’re lucky, it might just be enough to propel your little business idea into a full-on, productive hustle.
My business was started about four years ago on just about $400, which I used to pay for a website, business cards, and a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. That’s it. That’s all I felt I needed at the bare minimum to start designing for people and guess what? I hustled, and I hustled hard. And now I’m supporting myself and employing six virtual assistants to help with the client workload I’ve brought in. My expenses aren’t much more than about $400 a month either, so it feels ironic considering where I started from, knowing where I’ve ended up.
Here are my favorite ways to make a quick buck (or twenty) to bootstrap your creative side hustle:
Host a yard sale: All you have to do is make $20. You can make that easily just by going through your kids closets or your own, I’m sure.
Downgrade a bigger piece of furniture: How many of us have that coffee table, tv stand, headboard, or guest room futon that really just isn’t cutting it with our ambitions for the atmosphere of our home? Last summer, I sold my metal farmhouse bed frame for $60 and bought a new headboard-less platform bed frame for $40. The new bed frame is higher off the ground, allowing for more storage underneath, and it fits with the decor of the room better, which makes my heart happy. And I ended up with $20 leftover. Cha-ching.
Inventory your existing equipment: Be realistic with what you actually need for your business. A few years ago, I went out a bought a Wacom drawing tablet on a whim for $100, thinking I’d get all fancy with my business. I quickly learned I had neither the skill nor the patience for understanding how to draw on a tablet connected to my computer screen, so the tablet sat in my junk drawer for two years after ONLY ONE USE. I kept hanging on to it thinking that one day I’d figure it out and make money off of it. I finalize wised up last year and sold it on Facebook Marketplace for $40, which I was incredibly proud of considering how much longer it might have sat unused. Take stock of the equipment or supplies you have lying around from unfinished projects or dreams that are no longer your priority.
Skip eating out for one week: My family of four can easily rack up a $20 bill anywhere we eat dinner, except for maybe McDonald’s. Our go-tos are pizza buffets and Chic-fil-A, both of which cost us a little over $20 if we don’t have a coupon. We could easily save tons each month if we had a concrete goal we were working towards, like, say, saving up enough to start our dream side hustle. It’s doable!
Cancel your Netflix subscription for two months: Really, you can live without it for TWO months, and that’s $20 saved right there!
Offer a flash sale of your services to get started: Sure people don’t know what you offer, because you just started! But there is someone in your circle of friends who would be willing to support you in your quest for $20 as you do $1 hair cuts, or $5 headshots, or $10 commissioned artwork. Everyone starts somewhere, so start NOW and soon you’ll be at that destination you’re envisioning as you read this.
Offer to babysit a few different times: Chances are one of those families is going to offer you SOMETHING for your time, and you might earn more than $20 fairly quickly, even if you don’t put the expectation of getting paid on the table.
Take your clothes to a consignment store: Try selling your old clothes at Plato’s Closet or another similar store that will buy used items from you. This errand is less than half an hour of your time and could easily hit that $20 mark.
Use a couponing app like iBotta: I used to scan my receipts and earn rebates on all my purchases. When I was doing it diligently, I was bringing in about $40 a month!
Use eBates for big purchases: Last year, when we bought our new bed frame (and replaced our original since-we-got-married mattress with a new ultra-soft, ultra-cheap one from Walmart), I used eBates to purchase on the Walmart website, but through the eBates app, and I earned $17.00 just from that one purchase. This was something I was already going to buy, but by being smart about how I completed the transaction, I earned $17.00 for a couple of extra clicks.
Other cash back apps: I also have a few additional apps on my phone that track my expenditures on my credit cards and give me small change in return for money spent at bigger franchises like Walmart, McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, and Sam’s Club. I literally do nothing with these apps besides enter my credit card info when I get a new one, and I make probably about $25 every two months that I cash out.
Open a new checking account/credit card: We’re big-time Chase fans over here, and every time we’ve opened a new card or account with them, there has been a big reward associated with spending a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time. The reward is usually something like $500 cash back in points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, or something similar to that. We simply put all our purchases on that same card during those three months and we easily hit that mark, earning us $500 for making the simple decision of using a specific credit card when we go to make a purchase we already were planning to make.
Create a digital product related to your business to sell in an Etsy shop: When I started my business, I created several quotes and home decor graphics and listed them for $2 a piece in my Bloom Etsy shop. I haven’t touched that shop in over a year, and I’m consistently bringing in anywhere from $20-$40 each month on those products I created several years ago. Passive income for the win!
Sell your unopened Bath and Body Works goods: We’ve all probably got a lifetime’s worth of birthday presents and Christmas gifts filling the under-the-sink cabinets in our laundry rooms and guest bathrooms, all courtesy of Bath and Body Works. You could easily sell the entire bundle of scents (the ones you don’t want to keep, of course) for $20 to someone on Facebook Marketplace or at a yard sale.
Rent your tools: When your husband isn’t working on his latest home improvement project, see if you can’t list the fancy tools he convinced you were oh so necessary to rent out for the weekend to someone needing them for a one-time project.
Sell photos on a stock photo website: I’ve never done this, but I have a friend who has! It’s an easy way to turn a passive profit on photos that aren’t doing anything other than sitting on your hard drive. If it gets you that much closer to your dream hustle, why not try it?
Tutor someone: If you took French in high school, brush up on your skills for a bit and then find a freshman who wants to learn and offer to tutor them for the semester for $10 a lesson. A couple of those under your belt and you’re well on your way!
Donate plasma: My husband did this off and on when I was starting my business because it was the boost we needed to our budget that allowed me to hustle hard to get things to where they are today. If he hadn’t, I’d probably have needed to spend my time earning money at a different job that I wasn’t as passionate about. Donating your plasma, depending on your area, could earn you a lot more than $20 per visit, so try it out to see if it’s something you’re interested in making a more permanent solution to funding your side hustle.
Sell produce from your garden: This would be a fun family activity you could get your kids in on, too. Seeds are cheap, and if you nurture your produce throughout the summer, you could have a hefty harvest to sell to neighbors and friends and family, easily hitting that $20 mark.
House sit: Put the word out there that you and your VERY CLEAN AND TIDY FAMILY would love to house sit the next time a family member or friend goes on an extended vacation. You can easily earn $20 just by taking care of someone’s dog for them while they’re gone, too, regardless of whether or not you’re staying in their home!
I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors to earn that $400 and start bootstrapping your creative side hustle. Good luck, and happy hustling!
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