I’ve never found all those jokes about poverty and college students funny. Financial insecurity is a real problem facing a lot of young people — not even being able to treat yourself to so much as a McDonald’s latte brings undue stress, not to mention embarrassment.
Fortunately, you don’t have to accept the idea that you’re just stuck slurping water and noodles forever. Many students—myself included—have bucked all the stereotypes by earning passive income.
What’s passive income? It’s any money you earn through side hustles and other avenues where you’re not an employee of a company. Instead, you’re on your own, getting a few bucks here and there. You might not strike it rich, of course. But you’ll feel more comfortable saying “yes” when your friends want to hang out at the latest club.
Even if you don’t think you have an entrepreneurial bone in your body, I’m here to convince you otherwise. You don’t have to be a business genius to benefit financially (and psychologically!) from these passive income hacks.
- Launch a niche blog
Your parents were right: You’re one-of-a-kind. Now, it’s time to make your uniqueness pay by starting a blog. You can blog about any topic you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Maybe it’s an advice column on dealing with a significant other who’s on a campus far, far away. Or perhaps it’s all those basketball-playing “secret tips” you’re finally ready to unveil. Choose a catchy name, get your domain, set everything up with a techie friend, and start publishing.
For best results, publish something at least twice a week. Even if it’s a short video blog, it’s something. Tell everyone about your blog and open social profiles related to the blog. When you have enough followers, you can monetize the blog by selling ad space or becoming an affiliate marketer.
- Offer to pet sit or house sit
People love their pets. They love their homes, too. When they travel, they want to know that both are protected. That’s where you come in: Make it known around campus that you are available for pet-sitting or house-sitting duties.
Now, you can’t just mention that you’re willing to do this once. You have to be kind of assertive about it. For example, let’s say you have a professor who talks about their dog and cat. The professor mentions that they’re going away for the weekend. Why not ask if they need someone to at least check in on the cat? You may get a “That’d be great. How much do you charge?” All you have to do is set a fair rate and do a wonderful job. Word will spread fast that you’re reliable and you’ll be able to get a little spending cash.
- Rent the use of your car
I had a friend who brought a car to campus. She drove it about twice each semester. Seriously: It just sat in the parking lot. She liked knowing it was there but never really had a reason to use it. What she should have done was allowed others to rent it.
You might not realize it, but renting out your car is perfectly legal. (You can rent out your bike, too.) There are numerous providers online like Turo and Getaround. Do a little research to see which one floats your boat while offering both protection and money.
- Go the Etsy route
I. Love. Etsy. Seriously, that’s a fun place to discover new art, crafts, and stuff I didn’t know I needed. It’s also a great site to sell the stuff you make. I’m talking about anything from handmade jewelry and notecards to upcycled clothing pieces and crocheted scarves. Your innovations could be exactly what someone else wants to buy.
For example, say you love photography and have an eye for it. You could sell framed or unframed prints of some of your best work. As long as you price your items so you make a profit, you could enjoy a little extra disposable income. Who knows? Your Etsy store might become pretty popular. Bonus points if you’re a business major and need to sell something as a final project anyway.
- Offer yourself as a tutor or coach
We all have something we’re good at doing. Now is the perfect moment to share your mad skills with others as a tutor, mentor, coach, or trainer. One student I know taught English to kids in another country online. She was their virtual tutor and worked unusual hours due to the time difference. Nonetheless, she loved the challenge. Since she worked through a third-party company, she could flex her schedule. It was a perfect arrangement.
Your coaching or mentoring doesn’t have to be over the computer like hers was. You could work with others in person around your campus. Set a competitive rate and make it known that you’re happy to help out. Even if you only tutor occasionally, you’ll be profiting from your talent and knowledge.
Before you start diving into exciting side gigs, I want to encourage you to plan first. You don’t want to end up letting your earnings slip through your fingers. Therefore, put a process in place to save and invest your newfound wealth. You might even want to connect with a financial advisor to give you a solid head start.
How can you find the right financial advisor for you at this stage of your life? Mary Lyons, an investment advisor at Wealth Woman, tells HerCampus that you need to look for an advisor who treats you with respect.
“Don’t settle for an advisor that talks down to you,” says Mary. “Find an advisor who takes the time to get to know you and your dreams. Their job is to help you achieve your dreams. If they tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams, or they tell you to settle for less, they aren’t the right person for you.” With the advice you get, you can start setting aside dollars for all your post-graduate goals.
Passive income may not turn you into an overnight millionaire, but it can ease your stress. Not to mention allow you to pick up the tab for your besties once in a while.