How the New Sharing and Gig Economies Can Help You Make Money

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When I use the term ‘sharing economy,’ I’m not necessarily referring exclusively to services such as Uber or Airbnb.  I’m more referring to a general philosophy of living that corresponds to working together, as opposed to separately.  This also refers, therefore, from private ride-sharing options like carpooling to meal planning, cooking, and sharing, together.  There are many meanings to the idea of the ‘sharing economy.’  There is even such a thing as a peer-to-peer lending that makes loans between private parties a viable possibility.

Sure, I know: you’re busy; we’re all busy.  However, you’re also short on cash—or, at least, this is a very real possibility, since it’s probably part of the reason why you came to this website and clicked on this article title, in the first place.  Chances are you probably have a few spare hours here and there, on evenings and weekends, in which you can afford to put some time into side jobs like blogging or tutoring.  Of course, you could always try your hand at either Uber or Airbnb, but that’s assuming you’re willing to put up with the annoyance of interacting with strangers.

If not, consider selling your consumer opinions or opening a high interest savings or credit account, or you might consider selling your artwork, hobby projects, or crafts on sites such as Etsy or eBay.  You’d be amazing to discover how many people go searching, online, for good deals on everything from practical household items to unique seasonal apparel like warm winter hats or knitted, fingerless gloves.  Even if you don’t make anything yourself, you could always capitalize on people who do by starting a crafting page for people who don’t have online marketing skills but do have access to crafting supplies and talent.  You can always request commission.

Another possible source of income could be derived from peer-to-peer lending.  Of course, the feasibility of disposable investment funds depends upon a couple different factors.  If you are the one lending money, the rate of return depends on the interest rate as well as the amount of time money is allowed to accumulate.  If, on the other hand, you are looking for a short term loan but have historically struggled with your credit rating or high interest rates, you may be in for a pleasant surprise.  Potential lenders may be interested in providing an alternative to high-interest lending companies like banks or payday loan sharks.

One last way you might be able to save a little extra money is by carpooling with friends and coworkers.  It could benefit you in a couple different ways: either by catching a ride with others, making it unnecessary to do all the driving, every day; or you could reduce weekly fuel expenses by having other members of the carpool chip in some gas money.  You might also consider alternative forms of transportation, such as commuting by bike or taking public transportation.  Any of the above options could help reduce your monthly fuel expenses—as well as your stress levels and feelings of connectedness between yourself and the outside world, or between yourself and others.

If you’re not overly concerned about saving extra money for the here and now, perhaps you’ll give it a bit more thought when considering your retirement needs—even if that period of your life seems to be situated sometime relatively far in the future.  Another way to look at it is preparing for the possibility of working freelance gigs exclusively, at some point: familiarity with the ins-and-outs of self-employment taxes, for example, can help ease you into this kind of independent contracting life.  However, keep in mind that working for online services like Uber and TaskRabbit should ideally remain purely supplemental—as opposed to full time or the main source of income—simply because the number of hours you can expect to work each week is totally unpredictable.

This level of unpredictability—coupled with an absence of unions and benefits—makes it difficult for anyone to feel secure or stable enough to estimate a yearly salary or weekly schedule.  However, side gigs can provide an ample financial cushion that can be nice to fall back on—in the event of an emergency.  Moreover, there are numerous kinds of work and ways of existing as a freelance contractor: “The freelance workforce grew from 53 million in 2014 to 55 million in 2016 and currently represents 35% of the U.S. workforce.”  That’s a lot of freelance workers—clearly not a way of life that should be dismissed as irrelevant to our discussion of healthcare and retirement benefits, for example.

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There are plenty of ways to save a little money—but can you also make a bit of extra money, every month?  That is the question.  What are some techniques you’ve used to supplement your income?  Share some of your advice

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