50 Ways to Make More Money in 2020
Does boosting your bank account feel like an impossible dream? It’s not…as long as you know these smart and savvy tips.
Boost your bank account in the new year
The start of a new year is a great time to evaluate your money habits and identify places where you can boost your income or decrease your spending. While the process can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re drowning in bills, you’ve got this—and we’ve got your back. We rounded up a wide assortment of great tips for all aspects of your financial life so that you can turn your dream of saving money into a reality. Believe it or not, just a few simple tweaks can help you get (and keep) more money in your pocket in 2020. For more ideas and inspiration, check out these everyday habits of debt-free people.
Ask for a raise
But first, be prepared to make a strong case. “Keep track of your professional achievements and how your work positively contributes to your organization,” says Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez, a personal finance expert and the author of The Broke and Beautiful Life. “The more specific you are and the more metrics, examples, and anecdotes you can bring to the negotiation table, the easier it will be to build your confidence and support your ask.” It may also help to research how much your coworkers are making.
Buy gift cards at a discount, and sell ones you don’t want
Most of us have at least a few old, unwanted gift cards stashed away in a drawer. Leaving them unused is like throwing away money. Instead, turn them into cash by selling them online at sites like GiftCard Granny, Coinstar, or Raise. Many of the sites that buy gift cards also sell those cards at a discounted price. This is a great way to save money on gift cards for yourself or others. To ensure gift cards you give to others don’t go unused, check out this list of gift cards people actually want.
Shop through sites that offer cashback rewards
Meghan Fox, a savings expert at Raise.com, suggests users maximize their savings by buying discounted cards and then using those cards at a site that pays cash back. Check out sites like Raise, Rakuten, and Swagbucks, which offer cashback rewards for purchases at a variety of retailers and websites. Here are some more savvy ways to save big when you shop online.
Use social media for positive motivation
“Follow financially savvy young professionals instead of, say, travelers,” says Brian Walsh, a certified financial planner at SoFi. “They will inspire you to stick to your goals rather than keeping up with the Joneses.” But when it comes to what you post, beware: These 13 social media posts could get you fired.
Declutter and make money on Facebook Marketplace
Go through your closet, apartment, garage, or storage unit, and sell things you no longer wear or need on Facebook Marketplace. “I have sold several thousand dollars worth of stuff to declutter our house!” says Deb Liu, Vice President of Marketplace and Commerce at Facebook. “I [also] get the kids involved. We’ve sold some of their games and toys. It’s a win-win: They think they’re earning money for even more toys, and I get to teach them about math and budgeting!” Here are some other great tips for clearing your home of clutter.
Research discount prescription prices
“Some drugs may cost you more with insurance than if you use a coupon or pay cash,” says Tori Marsh, Health Insights Analyst at GoodRx. “While many insurance plans offer a $10 copay for preferred drugs, insurance copays are often higher than what people would pay with a GoodRx discount.” And while you’re picking up your medications, you might also want to get these other things you should always buy at drugstores.
Cash in on special-event items you won’t use again
Lindsey Nickel, a wedding planner at Lovely Day Events, suggests newlyweds help recoup some of their wedding expenses by selling items they used at their event. “These items are very wedding-specific and probably won’t be used again,” she says. “So instead of taking up storage, I tell them to sell them on sites like Facebook Marketplace and help out the next bride instead. Ask your professional photographer for the big day to take high-quality pics of the items.” Avoid embarrassing snafus by reviewing these things you should never post about your wedding on social media.
Take advantage of price matching
This can help you avoid a lot of driving around or wasting time shopping at a bunch of different sites. But be sure to read the store policies carefully. Some will only price-match the items at brick-and-mortar stores (not websites) or stores within a certain geographic location. Check out this price-matching guide from U.S. News & World Report. Don’t miss these 50 other insider secrets to help you save big at all your favorite stores.
Become a preferred shopper
Sign up for retailers’ email promotions and follow them on social media. You will often get access to special coupons, sales, and discount promotions. That said, it’s a good idea to create a special email address for these promotional emails to keep them from swamping your primary inbox. To avoid getting distracted by an overabundance of messages, check out these 11 ways the most productive people handle their emails.
Hang out in the carpool lane
Carpooling can save you thousands of dollars each year on gas and vehicle expenses, in addition to helping you decrease the stress and anxiety of commuting. Need further convincing? Check out the national survey report The State of the American Commute, conducted by the carpooling connection and community site Scoop, which evaluates 15 cities across the United States in terms of commute times, hassles, job issues, and employment-related travel expenses. If you’ve got a little one in tow, these are the back-to-school carpool hacks all parents should know.
Let your home pay for itself
According to Trulia, there are 3.6 million unoccupied rooms that could be rented out in the top 100 U.S. housing markets. “This is often especially true for empty nesters and retirees,” says Wendi Burkhardt, CEO of Silvernest. “Rather than letting them gather dust, profit from them by renting them out to a long-term housemate. Estimates show that you can earn an average of $10,000 a year per room. Even better is that you can split bills with your housemate, helping you slash monthly expenses while you’re earning passive income on the side.” If you’d rather explore something like Airbnb, here’s how much money you can earn renting out your home.
Do gig work in your spare time
“There are apps that let you pick the jobs that you want to do when you want to do them, without having to commit to something ongoing like driving for Lyft or Postmates,” says Carisa Miklusak, CEO of tilr. “Another upshot of this type of work is that it typically pays daily or weekly, so you get money in your pocket even faster. It can also be a good way to test the waters in various jobs if you’re looking for a more permanent position down the road.” Retired but still need income? Check out these great jobs for retirees.
Sell your life insurance policy
This can make sense for seniors who no longer need a large policy—or who can no longer afford the premiums. “A life settlement is the sale of a life insurance policy to a third party,” says Michael Freedman, CEO of Lighthouse Life. “Every year, seniors lapse or surrender around $200 billion in life insurance policy death benefits that could have been sold in a life settlement. Selling a policy this way generates resources for seniors who can use that money to fund retirement costs, health care, and long-term care expenses, or just provide money for the family to enjoy.” Here are some other insurance policies that may not be worth the money.
Make extra cash on “microwork” sites
“These are sites like Amazon MTurk that allow you to do small simple tasks such as surveys or rating pictures for pay and allow most people to earn a little bit of extra money without leaving their home,” says Jarek Grochal, founder of Time in the Market. “The one warning is that a lot of the work there can be very low paying, and it takes a bit of work to understand the website and how to ignore the bad jobs and concentrate on the good ones.” Check out these other great ways to make extra cash fast.
Sell your expertise or advice
Become a coach, consultant, or anything along those lines. “You can find customers/clients/students for anything you’re good at,” says Jeff Rose, a certified financial planner and the founder of Good Financial Cents. “Know how to change your own oil? Shop using coupons? Edit video content? More and more people are learning remotely how to do things via video. If you need help getting started, there are various platforms that offer specific income opportunities, such as teaching English. Get your name and what you’re offering out there.” Land those gigs with these tips to get your resume noticed.
Consider opening a health savings account
One way to save additional pre-tax dollars: a health care savings account, or HSA. “An HSA is available to people who are enrolled in an HSA-eligible health plan, and it allows you to save pre-tax dollars for health-care costs you have today or anticipate having in the future,” says Ellen O’Connell, a financial consultant at Fidelity Investments in Boston. “You can access this savings immediately to pay for qualified medical expenses if needed, but what makes these accounts even more valuable is the opportunity to contribute annually and then invest your contributions to grow for the future.” Speaking of your taxes, these tax mistakes could cost you hundreds.
Harness the energy of the sun
Invest in a solar energy system to take advantage of the refundable investment tax credit. “This tax credit offsets the cost of the system to reduce its price while also generating power to reduce your electric bill each month,” says Riley Adams, CPA. “During shoulder months (spring and fall) when you use less electricity, you could have zero electric bills if your utility doesn’t have a minimum bill or fixed charge. Either way, it can provide more cushion to your budget as system costs continue to fall.” Here are some other clever ways to cut your utility bills.
Explore peer-to-peer marketplaces
Airbnb is an obvious one, but the peer-to-peer universe is far-ranging—and constantly expanding. “Today, there are sites to rent out your car, boat, bikes, RVs, power tools, and more,” says R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner and the founder of the personal finance site The Ways to Wealth. “If there is an asset you have sitting idle, see if there is a peer-to-peer marketplace where you can list that item. It’s a great way to earn some extra cash, without taking up too much of your time.” These are some more easy ways to make money at home (instead of working overtime).
Refinance your student loans
The majority of recent graduates have student debt, with the average graduate carrying a debt balance of almost $30,000, according to CNBC. This guide from LendKey can help you understand the pros and cons of refinancing your student loans. And make sure to check out these weird scholarships that can help you reduce those college bills.
Keep your current vehicle a little longer
“A little-known trick that can save lots of money is to get another year or two from your present car,” says financial advisor Mark Snyder, author of the free personal finance quarterly The Snyder Report. “If you’re thinking of buying a newer model or rolling over a lease, think about who is actually benefiting from this—you or the salesperson? Next, think of where that saved money can be better utilized, like paying down debt.” FYI, these are the best ways to save money on car maintenance.
Treat your savings like a monthly bill—and pay yourself first
“Think about what you’re saving for and set up a separate account,” says O’Connell. “Each month, just like one of your bills, deposit a set amount into that account. If you have a direct-deposit option through your employer, all the better. Most will allow you to add multiple accounts, so set this up to deduct a set amount right to your special savings account and then sit back and watch it grow. No matter the amount, it will add up!” Here are another 17 habits of people who are great at saving money.
Track your spending
“There are all kinds of applications and programs out there that allow you to see where you’re spending your money,” says Cameron Burskey, managing director at Cornerstone Financial Services in Southfield, Michigan. “A lot of you might be surprised by how much that daily Starbucks drink is costing you. Little things add up. Be aware and look for cheaper alternatives.” Check out these tips for making a budget you can actually stick to.
Teach English to foreign students online
“USA Today notes there is a big demand for online teachers to help students all over the world learn English,” says Philip Taylor, side-hustle expert and founder of Part-Time Money. “A site like VIPKid will facilitate this moneymaking opportunity by setting you up as a teacher and lining you up for gigs on their platform.” Improve your own English skills by reviewing these confusing grammar rules.
Earn your certification in a specific field or discipline
“You may not have time or the income, or even the desire, to go back to school to earn a college degree,” says Rose. “But you might want to earn a certification in something you’re passionate about or in a field in which you currently work. Doing so can open up pathways to more income in your current career or perhaps an entirely new career.” Learn how to earn more money based on your zodiac sign.
Funnel cashback rewards into investment accounts
“Consider a credit card that offers cashback rewards that you can link right to an investment account,” says O’Connell. “If you are a regular credit card user, why not put that cash back to work immediately by having it auto-deposited into a brokerage account, an IRA, or a 529? Even small contributions add up over time—and once invested, that’s making that cashback work even harder for you!”
Trim your monthly subscriptions
“Monthly boxes are so popular, but they can also be a real drain on your budget, especially if you are receiving boxes you no longer use,” says Kimberly Palmer, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet and the author of The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life. “Try canceling your subscription and see if you miss it. You can always re-subscribe.” That said, the right subscription boxes can make the perfect gifts for those impossible-to-shop-for people on your list.
Keep your savings in a high-interest bank account
“Many online savings accounts are now hovering around 2 percent without any major hoops to jump through,” says Taylor. “If you have your savings in a regular brick-and-mortar savings account, odds are you’re making a fraction of that in interest. This simple move could put hundreds in your pocket by the end of the year.” Check out these 15 money-saving ideas that will make you richer.
Shop around for auto insurance
“At NerdWallet, we found drivers could be missing out on more than $400 a year on average by not comparing insurance prices,” says Palmer. “Many people overpay for auto insurance because they just let their policies auto-renew instead of shopping around. Use an online tool to compare prices once a year.”
Protect your investments
“Is your portfolio set up to handle a crash? Have an asset allocation analysis done by a professional on your portfolio,” says Burskey. “When was the last time you checked your positions in your investment accounts? Most people just set them and forget them and wonder why every seven to 11 years they lose 30 to 40 percent of their money.” Here are a few more important things you need to know about investing.
Drive for Uber
“You hear this one a lot, but what I really like is that you set your own hours via their app,” says Rose. “Have some free time to earn? Set yourself as available. Need to be done for the day? Set yourself as unavailable. You can make money quickly, with little fuss and no punching a clock or promising specific availability.” Whether you’re a driver or a passenger, check out these secrets Uber and Lyft drivers want you to know.
Weed out your wardrobe
“When is the last time you went through your closet? Poshmark is the perfect way to make some extra cash and clear out some space, killing two birds with one stone,” says Burskey. “It’s a place to sell used clothing, shoes, and accessories that have sat in your closet for years.”
Profit from your photos
“If you’re the type of person who likes to snap a photo everywhere they go, you may have found yourself another income source,” says Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at WalletHub. “You can upload your pictures to a stock photo website. They will be indexed for others to find, and you’ll get a royalty fee whenever someone decides to use one of them.” Whether you’re selling your pics or just sharing them with friends and family, you’ll want to know these genius tricks for taking great photos with your smartphone.
Pad your retirement fund with employer matching
If you work for an employer that offers a retirement savings plan, make sure you open an account and contribute to it regularly. “This allows you to save and invest pre-tax dollars from your paycheck, so it can accumulate and grow for the future,” says O’Connell. “As a bonus, in many cases, employers will offer some matching contribution, up to a percentage of your own contributions. Make sure you contribute at least up to this matching percentage to take advantage of what can be considered free money.” The bottom line: You need to take retirement seriously because you can’t get around these facts.
Look for unclaimed funds
“Search for missing money in your name,” advises Gonzalez. “Some examples of unclaimed money you could find include bank accounts, insurance policies, or even rental deposits.” Mary Pitman, author of The Little Book of Missing Money: A Quick and Easy Guide to Finding Money, breaks it down into easy steps:
- Go to unclaimed.org
- Click on any state you lived in
- Look for yourself, friends, and family
- Look up your business, church, and charity
Yep, it’s that easy! Here are some more ways to find out if you have unclaimed money somewhere out there.
Update your resume
“Even if you’re happy with your job, investing some time into a top-notch resume is a smart move for every strategic worker,” says Caitlin Proctor, a career expert at Zipjob. “Focus on your results and impact, providing numbers and metrics whenever possible. Keep tweaking until you have a document that reflects you accurately and makes you feel good about your accomplishments. A good resume writer or career coach can be really helpful here!” Be sure to use these power words to make your resume stand out.
Get rid of store credit cards
“Store credit cards offer you little value once you’ve taken advantage of the up-front incentive,” says Ande Frazier, CEO of MyWorth. “Instead, get credit cards that give you cashback or points that you can use for things you would otherwise have to pay for, such as airline travel or hotel stays. If you don’t travel, opt for a card with cashback rewards or points you can redeem for things like electronics, groceries, or gas.” Find out the best type of credit card for every purchase.
Make the most of your workplace benefits
We’ve already discussed retirement-fund matching, but don’t forget about other workplace benefits. “Once you’re on track with your retirement savings, be sure to look at what else your company may offer,” says O’Connell. “Every company is different, but more are starting to offer valuable financial support or discounts such as gym reimbursements, tuition reimbursement, and help paying down student loan debt, to name a few.”
Consider investing in a condo you can use as a rental property
“With interest rates at all-time lows, locking in advantageous financing for the long haul might be a good investment to make for building your wealth,” says Adams. “This investment provides two return components: an income return from monthly rental payments and then property appreciation if purchased in a prospering area.” Before buying, make sure you know these secrets your real estate agent won’t tell you.
Shift some savings to accounts that offer higher returns
“Fidelity research has found that nearly 50 percent of women have $20k or more sitting in low-interest accounts—and this is in addition to their retirement savings and emergency funds,” says O’Connell. “Consider moving some of these funds to a brokerage account, which can be invested to grow and help you reach your goals faster.” Just be sure to avoid these mistakes first-time investors often make.
Learn about credit card churning
This is where you open (and later close) credit card accounts to take advantage of lucrative sign-up offers. U.S. News & World Report says this strategy can be high risk but offers high return. Only attempt this if you are highly organized—you’ll need to keep track of cards that you’ve opened and closed, along with the details of each—and are disciplined enough to manage your spending. “If you have expenses you need to incur and can bunch them appropriately, you might be able to qualify for the minimum spend requirements and not pay for additional expenses you don’t need,” says Adams.
Invest in yourself
“I can say without hesitation: For 2020 and beyond, the best investment is always you,” says Joseph Deitch, chairman of Commonwealth Financial Network, author of Elevate: An Essential Guide to Life, and founder of the Elevate Prize. “Whether that means going back for a degree, learning a new skill, or working on an area of weakness in your personal or professional repertoire, prioritize spending time and money on improving yourself. It’s a guaranteed return on investment, no matter what the market is doing.” Learn the soft skills employers are seeking right now.
Sell shirts online
Selling T-shirts online using Print on Demand technology is a great business anyone can start without any capital or even the need for a website, says Stacy Caprio of Deals Scoop. “There is no start-up cost to sell since all you have to do is set up an account with a Print on Demand retailer such as Amazon Merch, TeeSpring, Redbubble, or others, upload designs you create, and then get royalty payouts each time they sell and print one of your shirts,” she explains. First, though, review these tips for selling things online.
Skip the fees
Just one bank fee can set you back $35 or more. “Avoid paying hefty overdraft or bank maintenance fees by setting up a fee-free checking account,” says Adrianne Ho of Branch. “There are so many digital options like Branch that allow users to set up a zero-fee checking account and debit card. The application also gives users a way to skip another fee—free instant access to earned wages.”
Try your hand at user testing
“One pretty easy and fun way to make extra money is through user testing,” says Dylan Houlihan, founder of Swift Salary. “All you need to get started is a computer with a microphone, and you can make up to $30 an hour testing websites and apps. You don’t have to be super tech-savvy to do this. As a user tester, all you’ll be doing is using a website or app like a normal user would, making sure it functions properly. These types of tests are typically around ten minutes long and pay out about $10 each, sometimes more.”
Be an assistant (virtual or real)
“Lots of people out there just need an extra hand,” says Liz Frazier, a financial planner and the author of Beyond Piggy Banks and Lemonade Stands: How to Teach Young Kids About Finance. “If this is in person, you could offer to run errands, shop, or help around the home. Virtual assistants can provide proofreading, translating, accounting services, or help with many other tasks.” Find out how virtual assistants can save people gobs of time.
Share your computer skills
“If you are tech-savvy, provide computer tutorials,” says Liz Frazier. “This can be especially helpful to older generations, particularly ones looking to move into a job that requires computer skills.” Not particularly tech-savvy? You might want to learn a little yourself, since this computer-based skill will be enormously important for job seekers in the future.
Be a mystery shopper
This can be fun and easy, and you may be able to get paid for visiting stores where you already shop. As a mystery shopper, you go “undercover” to evaluate services at stores, restaurants, and other establishments. You must be observant and detail-oriented, as you will be writing reports that include specific details about your visit to the store. Just make sure to be aware of (and, of course, avoid) some common mystery shopping scams, per the FTC. Here are another 13 savvy shopping tricks you’ll wish you knew all along.
Get paid to do online surveys
Sites like Swagbucks let you earn money for taking online surveys, watching videos, and doing a variety of other tasks. You earn points, which you can then redeem for gift cards and other items. The amount you can earn can vary; longer surveys tend to pay more.
Downsize and streamline your life
Mateusz Grzesiak—known as Dr. Matt—promotes a life mantra he sums up as: “Live a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity.” He urges people to minimize their material consumption. “This will not only save you a lot of money, but also help find inner peace,” he says. Having a hard time doing that? Here are 10 effortless ways to declutter your life and stay organized.
Turn your phone into a moneymaking machine
“New apps are constantly appearing that offer people ways to make a little extra change in their free time,” says Lou Haverty, CFA, founder of Financial Analyst Insider. “Many companies are taking old concepts like focus groups and adding modern technology with apps like InboxDollars and Swagbucks.”
Haverty says there’s also a growing trend in which companies monetize everyday activities—which can produce new income-generating activities for users. He cites the example of Halo, a company that attaches LED screens on top of cars (primarily rideshare vehicles) that broadcast targeted ads, while letting car drivers/owners make extra money. Next, find out ways to make easy money in an hour or less.