16 Side Hustles to Help Save Money for Your First Deal

by | BiggerPockets.com

Do you know why most people cannot invest in real estate? It’s because they don’t have the money.

Are you one of these people?

Are you dying to get in, but don’t have the funds to do so? You may have fully optimized your spending, but let’s be real—you can only save so much.

Ideas on how to get into your first real estate deal have run through your mind. Perhaps this includes wholesaling, flipping, or using other people’s money (OPM).

Unless you plan to dedicate 100 percent and make this your full-time job, I would advise against these strategies, as they can be quite time-consuming and may take away from your current job.

Instead, I would advise that you continue to pinch your pennies and look for easier ways to generate additional income—ones that are relatively easy to do for a short period of time and will generate just enough to get you the cash for that first down payment.

Related: 5 Ways to Generate Extra Income Beyond Real Estate Investing

There are a plethora of options in this arena, but I am going to provide 16 side hustle ideas that you can start and monetize in the next 30 days — so you can be on your way to rapidly saving for that down payment.

These side hustles are geared toward someone who is young and hungry but has yet to do their first deal. His or her time best spent at this point would be hustling for every dollar to save up for that down payment.

As a result, these may be low dollar-per-hour tasks. I am certainly not suggesting you do these forever—just until you have obtained your first property or can find a higher dollar-per-hour task.

So, here it goes!

1. Drive for Uber or Lyft

Driving for Uber or Lyft is the most obvious side hustle. Turn your car into an asset while familiarizing yourself with the city and networking with the passengers. You’ll be surprised that you may find a property that you are interested in — or meet the newest member of your team.

I actually did this for about three months and would make an extra $1,000 per month while also getting to know Denver. Fun fact: I actually found the woman who cleans my Airbnbs through driving for Lyft.

2. Rent Your Car on Turo

I’m not the biggest fan of driving, which is why my career with Lyft was rather short. I decided that I’d rather make slightly less money but have all of my time back by turning my car into a semi-passive income stream by renting it out on a site called Turo.

Turo is essentially the Airbnb for cars. It works great, and depending on the type of car you have, it can put a couple hundred dollars in your pocket each month.

3. Airbnb Rooms in Your Apartment (If Your Landlord Allows)

Be sure to check with your landlord, but if you have an extra room in your residence and live in a semi-desirable area, try renting an extra bedroom, or even your couch, on Airbnb.

I rented my bedroom out while sleeping on a futon behind a curtain in the living room. The results? My savings were boosted an additional $1,200 per month and I met some cool travelers from all around the world.

4. Walk Dogs on Wag or Rover

These days, people are more and more treating their dogs like humans. Dogs wear clothes, shoes, and I recently even saw something where dogs have their own car seat. I can’t wait until dog owners start sending their dogs off to doggy college.

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

Anyway, the point is that people love their dogs and they don’t want them couped up inside all day while they’re at work or on vacation. What do they do? They will pay you ~$20 to come in and take their dog for a 30-min walk.

If you’re a dog lover, this one might be a no-brainer.

5. Bicycle Taxi

Have you ever seen those folks on bicycles towing a couple through downtown or around after a baseball game? Those bicycle taxi drivers with the huge legs actually make decent pay for a side hustle.

If you live in the city and don’t mind spending some of your nights and weekends riding your bicycle, this could be an attractive side hustle option for you.

6. Assistant to a Real Estate Agent

Are you just getting started in real estate? Do you want to learn a whole bunch in a short amount of time while getting paid for it? Would you like to gain a mentor in the process? If so, go onto Zillow and look at some of the top performing agents in your area. I bet more than anything they are extremely busy and are going to need some assistance. Reach out and ask if they are looking for an assistant. You will receive a lot of Nos, but keep asking. All it takes is one Yes, and you’ll have yourself a (albeit low) paying real estate job while learning from one of the best in your area and making connections.

7. Waiter/Bartender on the Weekends

If you are looking to rapidly save money, becoming a waiter or a bartender on nights and weekends might be a great way to get started. This is a double win. Not only will you make lots of money, but you’ll be doing it during a time when you’d likely be spending a significant amount of money. Each night you bartend you replace high spending with high earning.

Although, you likely will not get many high-value networking opportunities being a waiter or bartender.

8. Handyman/Mow Lawns

If you are confident in your handyman skills, try selling these skills on Craigslist, TaskRabbit, or other sites. You’ll be amazed at how many people will pay someone to change a light bulb or mow their lawn.

If you are ever planning to do a rehab yourself, this is a great way to gain experience and confidence while also generating some additional income.

9. Take Surveys Online

While not a great use of your time given that you won’t make a whole lot of money and you won’t learn much, companies pay people to take surveys for them. Swagbucks is one of the most popular, but others include Toluna, OnePoll, and MySurvey.

I would recommend only doing this in down times such as when you are watching TV.

10. Start a Blog

You are about to embark on a journey down the path less traveled. The road of financial independence through real estate investing. Why not document the journey? Let your friends and family know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and the frame of mind you are in.

A couple of years down the road, when you are much more experienced, your blog will likely help and motivate others. Who knows? It might even be thousands of other people in which case you can monetize if you’d like.

11. Tutor

What was your favorite subject in high school? I’m sure if it was your favorite, it was because you were pretty darn good at it. Guess what? There are loads of kids having lots of trouble learning the stuff that you are good at and there are twice as many parents willing to pay someone to get their kids up to speed.

Why not monetize your math, history, or English skills? If you live in a culturally diverse area, this can include teaching non-English speakers how to speak English.

12. Babysit

Babysitting is a great way to make extra money. I’ve never been paid to babysit, but the people I know who have seem to get paid a decent amount of money. Depending on the kids and time of day, it can be a relatively easy job. If all it takes is putting them to sleep, then you’ll have time to listen to a podcast, read a book, or work on other side projects.

Heck, maybe even the parents you’re babysitting for are involved in real estate and you might be able to get some good networking from it.

13. Clean Houses

One thing that many people dislike doing is cleaning. You know what that means? There’s a good chance that they will pay someone else to do it. Do you know who that someone is? It’s you!

Get a few clients and clean their houses once or twice a month. Depending on the size of the house, you’ll likely be able to make $60-$100 per house. If it takes you 3-5 hours per house, that’s a $20-per-hour job. Not bad for one of your first side hustles.

14. Become a Freelance Writer

If you are a good writer, there are a lot of people who have great content but do not have time to write the articles. I promise that I write my own articles, but do you think guys like Tim Ferriss and Gary Vaynerchuck write their own articles? Probably not. They probably hire someone to do the writing so they can still provide quality content while doing bigger and better tasks.

You can be a writer for one of these people. That is, until you move on to bigger and better tasks.

15. Give Music Lessons

Do you play an instrument? If you do, I’m sure you enjoy playing it. Whatever instrument that is, I’m sure there is a whole bunch of people who play worse than you but want to get better. Teaching music lessons is a great way to do something you enjoy while teaching others and potentially networking!

16. Become a Local Tour Guide

If you’re going to be investing in real estate, it might be a good idea to have knowledge of the area you want to invest in. Assuming that this is where you live currently, what better way to really know an area than to give guided tours?

Not only will you learn a lot about the neighborhood, but you’ll likely be meeting 25–30 people. While on the tour, in between stops, try to make your rounds and let everyone know what you do. Perhaps they can help you or you can help them?

As you can see, there are an infinite amount of side hustle opportunities, many of which are not mentioned in this list. My suggestion is to pick one where you think you can get the most additional income and personal growth so you can purchase your first property.

Remember that this is not a job you will hold onto forever, it’s just for a couple of months or years until you’ve saved enough for that down payment. Once you feel like your time can be better spent elsewhere, do it!

Until then, heads down and get to work! Remember, saving the first $20,000 is the hardest part. My challenge to you is to do it in 2 years.

Ready… GO!

We’re republishing this article to help out our newer readers.

What side hustles have you used successfully?

Share them below!

About Author

Craig Curelop

Craig Curelop, aka thefiguy is an aggressive pursuer of financial independence. Starting with a net worth of negative $30K in 2016, he has aggressively saved and invested to become financially independent in 2019. From sleeping on the couch and renting out his car, he was able to invest in two house hacks in Denver and a BRRRR in Jacksonville. He plans to continue to investing in both Denver and Jacksonville for the years to come. Craig's story has caught the attention of several media outlets, including the Denver Post, BBC, and many other real estate/personal finance podcasts. He hopes to inspire the masses to grab hold of their finances and achieve financial independence. Follow his story on Instagram @thefiguy!


  1. Josh Jenkins

    I would like to add to the list. Get a real estate license and become a leasing agent. There is no better way to learn about leasing market than getting in there and leasing properties. It is a great way to see how property management companies run their operations, learn market rates, and decide if its something you want to do for yourself (or if you hate it and want to hire it out). I would say the same thing goes for becoming a property manager. You can learn a lot and build relationships with vendors and owners. I feel like there are ways to be more involved in real estate even if you don’t have the money to be an investor. I wish I had been more involved earlier in my investing. I am sure many investors would say the same thing.

      • Dave Rav

        Yes, and other hurdles. Such as:

        – having 10-20 days to take (and pay for) courses
        – pay for and pass the exam
        – “paying your dues” once licensed. I mean this figuratively, as you typically give up a good spread of commission earned for the first 6-12 mos to that broker you mentioned

        • Ty McAllister

          You can take self-paced online real estate courses on your phone. It’s 180 hours in Texas, so it takes a little while if you can’t commit a whole lot of time to it. Also, here in Texas, I registered for all of the coursework for just south of $500. Also, since I’ve started coursework, I’ve met with 6 different agents/brokers who have tried to get me to join their team. I haven’t even tried to meet them, it just happens. Brokers need agents, just like agents need brokers. An agent’s success is a broker’s success too. Don’t count it out too easily, even if you don’t do it full-time!

    • Craig Curelop

      Thanks for the contribution, Josh! Yes these are all great ways to get involved. I have my real estate license as well. Though, I just use it for my own deals and to refer people to agents that may not be able to find one that is suitable for them.

  2. Dave Rav

    Great tips! I esp liked Renting car on Turo and the job mowing lawns.

    Another hustle is selling items on FB marketplace, OfferUp, or one of those Mom swap sites. After selling all your personal items you don’t need, you can actually buy and resell items. (I’ve never done the buy n resell, but know someone who did and made a few bucks)

  3. Ben Kudisch

    One thing that I would add to number 6 is that, if you are able to get a ‘Yes’, then to look into becoming a loan signing agent as well. It’s pretty cheap and easy to become one and you’ll be able to get tons of direct business through either the real estate agent you’d be working for or the connections you make, or both.

  4. Conn Hutzell

    I got a job as a Ghost Tour Guide here in town before I read this. You dont have to be young, RE is going to be the second half of my life career. I used to make extra cash ‘winterizing’ houses before the cold hits… plastic on windows, water hoses up, gutters cleaned etc.. Got really good tips and food from some of the older folks!

  5. Amy Ferguson

    I have a RE License, but soon to go inactive…I invest in vacation rentals that pay for my mortgages. I have house in Kona, Las Vegas and am looking for a “winter” venue… And to be honest I make a lot of $$ as a private chef anywhere in the world my clients want me to cook…It’s great being semi retired!

  6. Bill Wilson

    I’d be careful venturing into the handyman business. The seasoned pros are able to provide hard quotes after asking a few questions since that’s what homeowners want to hear, not a hourly rate. That gets the pro’s on the property where they can adjust the price either way then look around for ways to sell-up the job. One also needs to check with the local building codes about doing any plumbing and electrical work. It’s not uncommon for licensed contractors to rat on unlicensed handymen. One also runs the risk by being sued by the property owner if your work on the mechanicals fails or the component itself and their insurance carrier denies their claim because the work was done by an unlicensed contractor that didn’t carry completed operations insurance. I knew two men that sold and installed a popular undersink water filter that only required a saddle clamp valve to tap a pipe for water. They did that for years until one batch of filter housings began splitting down the side and flooding houses. They were sued by a few homeowners whose claims were denied and by a few insurance companies who paid the claims then went after the installer and manufacturer for reinbursement. Their lawyers had them pay the rejected claims since those costs would be less than their estimated fee to fight them then defended them against the insurance companies since they were going after everyone that made a component for the filter. The two lost all the money they made on the filters and then some. I carried completed operations as a painting/remodeling/repairs contractor and only used licensed contractors that had the same that did my HVAC, electrical, plumbing and roofing. It came in real handy three times when I got a notice about being sued for defective work supposedly done by me or the other contractors. I just turned the notices over to my insurance agent and went back to work. Got calls later on from my agent saying I was in the clear and my rates never went up.

    One side racket that’s easy to do and profitable is to haul away broken down appliances and gas powered yard equipment, especially if you can charge a nominal fee for the service. I did that for 30 years while painting since that enabled me to meet prospective customers along with latching onto appliances and lawn tractors/mowers that usually had something minor wrong that was cheap and easy to repair. Sears Appliance Service and lawn-garden equipment shops made that possible by giving crazy high repair estimates. A simple VOM meter and compression tester are the only special tools you’ll need for those and most area appliance parts stores are as cheap as the online outfits. Pick them up Saturday, get the parts Monday and fix it that night. Place an ad for those with pics on CL Tuesday and if priced right, will be sold before the weekend.

    Weekend side work is the best if you work Monday thru Friday. Then you can do several small jobs from 7am to 7pm Saturday and Sunday if the customer doesn’t mind. I’d stay away from lawn care and do what they won’t do, such as cleaning out rain gutters, trimming low hanging branches by roofs and eaves, cleaning mildew, algae and grunge off houses, decks, fencing and flat concrete. There’s a few websites such as homewyze that’ll show how to price those jobs in your area by entering the job’s zip code along with a general idea of the materials and tools needed. The best neighborhoods to find work in first are retirement communities since the folks are old so usually have one story houses and have an active interest in keeping their property up thus it’s valuation just in case they’ll have to put it on the market.

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