Personal Finance

5 Ways to Generate Extra Income Beyond Real Estate Investing

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance, Personal Development
32 Articles Written

Side hustles. They're awesome, right? Many of us have at least one, and that's real estate (if we haven't made the plunge into full time). Here are a few of my favorite side hustles I've been able to employ while working full time! Let's start with the major money-makers and work our way down.

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1. Give Lessons

If you have a unique talent or skill, you can make money with it! I’ve posted violin lessons on Craigslist and acquired as many as four students—at an hour each per week. At $50 an hour, that’s an extra $800 a month. If they’re really committed students who never take a week off, it’s nearly $10,000 per year! (Other people I know have used their abilities to perform one night a week at restaurants for fun. That’s another great way to use your talents and make extra cash.)

I grew up as a competitive dancer in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, pointe, and hip-hop. I also have some training in ballroom dance. Straight out of high school, I made $20 an hour teaching dance to younger students. Now I make nearly $40 an hour doing something I absolutely love, part time at a large dance studio. That’s not even teaching private lessons! I’ve taught wedding dances, competitive solo pieces, and more, at $60 an hour easily. It’s been a great way to stay in shape, teach students of all ages (which I love doing), and fund my travel budget each year.

This income admittedly isn’t very passive, but it can be very fulfilling if you’re interested in, and enjoy, teaching. There are plenty of online platforms where you can tutor various topics for around $20 an hour, working your way up the longer you teach there. I’ve known a few people who’ve done fairly well with these. Simply Google “tutor from home,” and you’ll likely find a handful of reputable companies to peruse.

Do you have a Master’s degree? Check your local community college to see if they need instructors for certain topics. You can do part-time work or perhaps find yourself in another job in academia with free tuition benefits.

The bottom line? If you have a skill, talent, or knowledge of a subject, you can put it to work to make some extra cash.

Related: 7 Creative Ways to Earn More Money from Your Rental Properties

2. Photography

Photography businesses have been popping up everywhere, especially on social media. There’s a good reason for it: It pays incredibly well! For 30 minutes of photographing and a handful of photos, the going rate is around $200. (Note, you may or may not get to keep the rights to your photos, and you may have to pay out of pocket to make prints for your clients.) Yes, you still need to work to find clients, edit pictures, and pay for website hosting, if you’re that into it—but for someone just taking clients on a referral basis, that’s not bad.

Since high school, I’ve always respected and loved the art of photography. So much so that I bought a fancy camera I use to commemorate special events like traveling, visiting family, attending weddings, and not-so-special events like sitting in the backyard dog sitting.

A few weekends ago, after seeing some of my work (i.e. random photos), a friend asked me to take some additional pictures of her wedding as a gift. It was a great way to participate in her special day. This gig led to a family asking me to take their family portraits. I told them I’d never done so professionally, but they didn’t care. They liked my work and offered to pay me for it. This isn’t the first time this has happened, either. A few days ago, I launched my amateur albums online and will be happy to take photos of people, events, and things for a small fee, since I also enjoy doing it for free.

For the family portrait session, I was asked how much I charge. Well, $100 seemed OK for me. I’ll take as many photos as I can in 30 minutes, edit their favorites, and give them the digital pictures so long as I can use them in my portfolio. There’s my entertainment budget for the month! That single hour (or so) of work will provide me nearly 10 hours of dinners out with friends and more.

3. Refinishing Furniture

This one can be very lucrative if you have an eye for it, but it’s not as consistent for me personally. I spent many years as a child rolling my eyes at my mom’s love for garage sales and Home Depot trips. Now, I am making a decent living off of them. I’ve furnished most of my house through Craigslist, Nextdoor, local Facebook buy-and-sell groups, or garage sale flips. It’s taken less than 10 minutes to learn how to refinish even the worst-looking furniture.

If you’re interested in this side hustle, it’s extremely easy to get into. It’s amazing what a little love can do to the appearance of a piece of furniture. Breathing new life into a piece is something I’ve come to really enjoy. I’ve found countless coffee tables, dining sets, and other wooden furniture, either for free or really cheap on the aforementioned sites.

I got a coffee table and two matching end tables for $5. All they needed was maybe $1–$2 of stain application after I sanded them down. Here’s a before picture, and here’s an after picture. I was able to finish these within 30 minutes and sell them for $75. My best flip was a set of chairs and a table I bought for $40. The chairs needed tightening and the table needed to be sanded a good bit. Three hours of work and I was able to sell the table and chairs for nearly $350. Not a bad payday for something I enjoyed doing in the first place! That table bought my airfare and lodging for a weekend in Las Vegas.

The only caveat to this hobby is that you need a good bit of space to work in. My Mustachian upbringing begs me to tell you that I was able to move all of these dressers, coffee tables, dining tables, etc. without a truck. That’s right! I was able to move all of the pictured (and plenty of non-pictured) furniture in a Prius. You don’t need a truck for this hobby. Make sure you have the right tools to take things apart. Most sedans can take a table home if the legs are taken off of it. Hatchbacks are pretty amazing, though. I’ve fit an entertainment center, a king-size sleigh-bed frame, a workout bench, and more into my Prius. It’s pretty roomy.

Other variations of this are car flipping, clothing flipping (a lot of people do this on Amazon or eBay), etc. You can also find free items and sell them. We’ve picked up plenty of couches off of Nextdoor. One morning we went to pick one up, put it in our garage, drank a beer on it King of the Hill style, and sold it a few hours later for $200. We flew to Los Angeles for a wedding the next month with that money.

4. Wedding/Event Planning

If you have good people skills and like organizing events, you can easily plan events for others. Weddings these days are pretty elaborate, don’t you think? You can make a quick buck setting up catering, music, venues, and entertainment for all sorts of people who need help with their events. Most of this is easy to do from home until the actual event, where your attendance is likely required. I’ve done this for families at a heavily discounted price, but never policed a day-of event. Instead, I have offered that they (or the vendors) just call me if there’s a problem.

Check out this article outlining how much a wedding planner can cost: Around $1,500 for day-of services? As much as $200 an hour at a three-hour minimum? I can call some vendors and prevent Great Aunt Milley from getting into the vodka at that rate!

Related: 4 “Real Estate” Side Income Streams to Sustain You As You Pursue Investing Full Time

5.  Secret Shopping

Speaking truthfully, I don’t make much money off of this one. It is, however, a great way to get free movies, dinners, cell phones, or even hotel stays. Normally it entails checking off items on lists, filling out surveys, or ordering items from the menu and commenting on the service and quality of food. I’ve heard of people making as much as $400 a month, but my personal strategy is I never to do them unless I’m already going to buy (or do) something. Don’t get caught in the couponing traps buying something you don’t need to get another for free.

The cell phone was the most intensive, but after four years with the same phone, an upgrade was desperately needed. So $75 off for talking to salespeople I’d need to speak with anyway seemed worth it to me.

Truthfully, there are some not-so-great companies out there. If you’re going to do this, make sure you get in with a good one. You can find user reviews for most companies, and if you can’t find them, perhaps don’t go with that company.

Remember, part of the game is making life cheaper to live.

You don’t need to be insanely frugal unless you want to be. These side hustles allowed me to never once cut into my actual income to spend money having fun. And the best part about each one of these is I inherently have fun doing them. They are a part of who I am and what I like to do already.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer readers.]

What side hustles have you tried?

Which ones work best with your lifestyle? Let me know in the comments below!

A longtime writer and consumer of all things related to the FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement, Chris Prit went from working 50+ hours a week to less than 20 thanks to her real est...
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    Nancy Nahi from Tauranga, Bay Of Plenty
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I love Sarah story, I live in NZ nd I have been reading nd soaking in all the blogs on here. I am really happy to b part of the BiggerPockets community. I have learnt so much about Real Estate Investing, recently got back into work force with a real bad credit as a single mum would- no excuse on my part that I messed up my chances of becoming a RE Investor trying to work my way up is proving difficult. I am unable to get any loans to get my first home nd then use the equity to start investing. I have been reading different ways of raising money nd I am hoping someone can steer me in the right direction. I have approached my bank nd have started my savings programme also joined Government Grants nd Investing with is below 7grand. My bank has refused to loan me due to my bad credit. Just need a little steering or mentoring in the right direction please- anyone?:)
    Lana Lee from Philadelphia, pa
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hello, Nancy. I strongly suggest you to copy your post and post it on Biggerpockets forums if you haven’t already. Just choose a category and post it there. You will receive some advice from BP family. I do it all the time, anytime I have a question and get very helpful answers. Good luck
    Karen Rittenhouse Flipper/Rehabber from Greensboro, NC
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hi Nancy: It’s not funding that’s keeping you out of real estate investing, it’s education. Spend more time with true investors, at local REIA meetings, check out additional investor meetings in your area on, go to landlord association meetings. Once you have knowledge, you will find that there are plenty of ways to fund investments when you know how to find a true deal, and there are plenty of deals to find when you know what you’re doing. Finding funding is never a problem when you know what you’re doing in real estate. Get educated and get going! Good luck to you.
    Karen Rittenhouse Flipper/Rehabber from Greensboro, NC
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Whoa, Sarah: One of the main reasons I find people fail at real estate investing is that they get distracted by other things. Why in the world would someone who really wants to be successful in this business spend so much time trying to make pennies doing something else? If you need additional streams of income (and doesn’t everyone?), stick with real estate. 1. When you know what you’re doing – Teach! Real estate investment coaches make good money and, as in your example, you can certainly charge by the hour. 2. Lend. Once you’ve had financial success, lend to others who need short term funds for wholesales, assignments or, eventually, for rehabs. 3. Offer your services for fees: staging properties for sale, landscaping advice, rehab advice, let others tag along with you when you talk with sellers so they gain from your experience. These are only a few quick tips on how to make extra income, but they will add to your own skills and not distract from the highest and best use of your earning potential – real estate investing! Good luck.
    Chris P. Rental Property Investor from East Coast
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Karen, I respectfully disagree. I do all of these things as a part of FIRE now that I’ve achieved it, but did them because I found them extremely fulfilling. I absolutely adore teaching, working on furniture, taking photos of people’s happiest moments… and happen to make money oftentimes doing them. None of this distracts me from RE investing, but rather, before FIRE, reinvigorated me to pursue FIRE so I could do all these things as much as I pleased. Alas, continually learning and growing the RE business is absolutely a priority. 🙂 Good luck to you as well!
    Deren Huang Real Estate Agent from Tulsa, OK
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Wait, you fly jets but drive a Prius?
    Chris P. Rental Property Investor from East Coast
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Gotta make it up somehow…
    Dawn Metcalfe Investor from Stuart, Florida
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Sara, love the article. What does the acronym FIRE stand for? Thanks
    Jacob Johnson
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Financially Independent Retired Early
    Mindy Zimmerman Investor from Maryville, Illinois
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Great ideas, Sarah. If nothing else, it’s a reminder to pursue passions! Fellow Mustachian here but still a ways off from FI. I could get there sooner but realized I was getting burned out by focusing on it too much. I’ve taken up some hobbies that I really enjoy even if they do drain some of my time/money I could be using toward FI. And, like you said, after getting a little burned out on the financial grind, those hobbies have encouraged me to push for FI again so I can spend even more time on fun stuff! Don’t lose sight of your “why”.
    Gina Daggett from Kent, WA
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I really enjoyed this article. I think it is important to know that you can have other outlets to do periodically and it doesn’t always mean you will neglect your passion of RE investing. Congrats to you and more success. You are FIRE indeed.
    John Murray from Portland, Oregon
    Replied over 2 years ago
    The key to financial freedom is to find your passion. When a person finds their passion it will include portfolio income, passive income and capital gains. It is rare that a person finds their passion working the earned income mode. It is only a matter of time before job burnout occurs and that lacks passion. Becoming a multimillionaire is a long road and must be filled with a person’s passion, work and passion are one in the same. Sacrifice, self discipline and being comfortable in uncomfortable situations will drive a person’s passion.
    Alden Simpson Wholesaler from Greenville, South Carolina
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Great article, greatest advice I have ever received is to always have at least 3 different sources of income. Great article to think outside the box.