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How to Paint a Mirror Frame: Easy DIY on a Budget

Chalk paint on sliver mirror frame with texting reading Easy DIY on a Budget: Refresh a Mirror Frame on a Budget

Before and after picture of a painted mirror frameOne of the easiest and cheapest ways to update a bathroom is to with paint. You can paint the walls, sure, but why not paint mirror frames, fixtures, lights, towel holders, and even doorknobs?

What’s “in” can change pretty quickly – much quicker than your lights, doorknobs, or mirror frames break or stop working. Rather than wasting money on buying new and figuring out how to switch them out, you can easily update what you already have without breaking the bank.

Our bathroom needed a refresh but just wasn’t in the budget, since we’re focusing on the kitchen. So instead, we chose to go after some small and simple wins by choosing to renew pieces rather than replace them.

One of the pieces we focused on renewing was our bathroom mirror. My husband hated the silver, heavy finish, and candidly, it was pretty dated.

So with a couple of hours to kill and $20 burning a hole in my pocket, I set off to paint the mirror frame.

Silver mirror frame with chalk paint, metallic paint, and brush

How to Paint an Old Mirror Frame

What paint do I use to paint a mirror frame?

There are a lot of different options out there, and this is a small enough project that it’s perfect for trying something new.

While I did a mix of chalk paint, acrylic, and wax in layers on my mirror frame, you can easily try something else. Some paint ideas include:

  1. Chalk paint.

     I love, love using chalk paint on mirror frames because they tend to have a lot of details and crevices. It makes it easy to layer colors, play with tinted wax, and build a layered look to your color palette. Plus, you don’t have to use a primer with chalk paint. It adheres great to wood, metal, and plastic mirror frames.

  2. Spray paint.

    If you’re not looking for a lot of layered color or dimension, spray paint can work. You can get it textured, matte, metallic, hammered and even chalkboard. Plus, some spray paints have primer and paint in one, so you don’t always have to use a primer. Spray paint would work if your mirror frame is flat without a lot of crevices or detail work, and you can easily remove it from the wall.

  3. Latex paint.

    If you have a wall color that you love, you can use latex paint on your mirror frame. Make sure to use a foam roller to avoid brush strokes. I would only recommend this if your frame is relatively plain and doesn’t require a lot of brushwork. Also, you’ll need to use a primer to get solid coverage. If your mirror belongs in a bathroom or an area with high moisture, consider latex paint specifically for bathrooms. 

  4. Wood Stain.

    If your mirror frame is wood, you can sand down the old stain (or paint) and restain it with a stain like this. Sanding, restaining, and sealing can be time-intensive but will produce a beautiful wood finish. 

  5. Milk paint.

     This paint often comes in a powder that you mix to create your perfect hue. Since mirror frames are small, this could be an excellent opportunity to try out milk paint. It produces a more ‘chippy’ look and will distress more over time. Milk paint also ages over time, creating a sheen that gives it an authentic antique look.

  6. Salt wash.

    Salt wash is perfect if you want an aged and antiqued look. It creates a very textured surface that makes the piece look like it’s been sitting out in the sea air and sun for ages. Combining salt wash with any of the paints above creates a unique and beautiful piece!

  7. Gold leaf/foil.

    If you want to learn how to paint a mirror frame antique gold, try gold leaf. Once painted, you apply thin sheets of gold leaf to create a beautiful and luxurious finish. If you’re want to change a gold mirror frame to silver or bronze, they make silver and bronze leaf as well. The gold leaf look can be acheived with paint without the work – I would recommend using something like this paint.

What you will need to paint a mirror frame:

To paint this mirror frame, I used chalk paint since I knew I could create some beautiful textures and layers with the details of the frame. My frame is plastic, so I knew that chalk paint would be easier to use since I wouldn’t have to mess with a primer.

Supplies:

How to protect a mirror when painting a frame

My mirror and frame are the door of a medicine cabinet. Luckily, I was able to use a screwdriver to dismantle the frame and remove it entirely from the door. 

On the inside of the door were screws around the entire oval. I removed the screws from the top so that I could slide out the glass part of the mirror before removing the plastic frame. I then placed the mirror in a safe place (ekkk!), removed the rest of the screws, and popped off the mirror frame.

If your frame doesn’t come off, try removing the full door/mirror.

If you can’t remove the mirror from the frame, you’ll want to cut a piece of cardboard to place over the mirror area. Then, you’ll use painter’s tape to tape under the edge of the frame, so that paint doesn’t end up on the mirror.

An alternative idea: Another interesting idea is to use vaseline, however, then you have to worry about it getting on the frame and preventing the paint from sticking well, especially since vaseline can be used to distress chalk paint. Plus, then you have to clean vaseline off your mirror, which seems like it could be a smeary pain in the butt.

Next, prep your mirror frame for painting.

If you’re choosing to stain a wood frame, now is when you would use a sander or sandpaper to strip the wood down. Once the sanding is done, make sure to wipe the frame down with a damp cloth or a tack cloth to remove all the bits of dust. If you don’t, your paint job will be a bumpy, hot mess!

If you’re painting your frame (whether metal, wood, or plastic), wipe it down and clean it with a damp cloth or Magic Eraser. This removes any stray toothpaste chunks, dirt, or gunk that’s made its way onto the frame over the years. 

Paint your base coat.

I chose FolkArt’s White Adirondack and put down two layers with a small sponge brush. Using a sponge kept the frame from having brushstrokes that would create a different texture than I wanted.

Here’s the mirror frame after one coat of chalk paint:

Mirror with first coat of chalk paint being added

And after the second coat of chalk paint:

Mirror with two coats of chalk paint

Now that I have my base down, I could do several things. I could add some wax (from a candle) or vaseline to create spots where I can show this bottom color through. I did that on this dresser, to show the blue through.

If I did a second chalk paint color, I could paint and wipe to show some of the base color. Or, I could let it dry and sand where I’ve added the vaseline/candle wax to create a chunkier removal of paint, as I did here.

However, for this project, I decided to just stick with one chalk paint for the mirror frame to keep it from being too heavy and dark.  

Next, use wax to seal the frame.

Since we have rubbed oil bronze in our bathroom, I decided to pull some brown into the mirror frame. I did this by sealing the frame with brown wax.

You can see it best in the coils around the frame here:

Brown wax over white chalk paint on mirror frame

Wax comes in various colors, including clear, white, brown, and even grey. It will give a beautiful tint to your piece. Remember that wax settles in the cracks and crevices of your frame, so that’s the color you’ll see in those areas.

To use the wax, brush it on over a small area. Then, use a clean white cloth to wipe it off. 

Bonus Tip for Using Wax: If the brown is too dark, you can mix your wax with clear wax before brushing it on. Or, if you’ve already brushed and wiped your brown wax off, you can brush on a clear wax over the top. Then, use the cloth to wipe and help pick up and remove some of the brown wax. Using the clear wax will help soften that heavier color.

Once you’re done with your wax layer, you want to let it dry overnight. Then you’re going to want to use a soft, white cloth to buff the wax to a dull shine.

Antique wax over white chalk paint on plastic mirror frame

Add some highlights to your frame.

You can choose to stop here, but since I was attempting to match the rubbed oil bronze look, I opted to do some dry brushing of highlights.

Dry brushing is a method where you use very little paint to highlight spots of your frame. Start with a dry brush and dab the tip in the paint. Then, you’re going to use a paper towel to dab the brush onto to remove any excess paint.

You want to make sure the brush is dry and not saturated with paint. Once you have most of the color off, you’re going to hit the high parts of the frame to create a highlight with your accent color. I went through and did a round with a beautiful rose gold metallic paint:

Metallic rose gold paint with plastic mirror frame

And then the second dry brush was with a metallic bronze acrylic paint:

Painted mirror frame with metallic highlights and brown wax

If you feel like it’s too much of a highlight, use a cloth to wipe off the excess. You just want to hit the high points of the mirror frame with paint to give it a little pop.

Seal the entire frame (optional).

If you’re feeling especially froggy, you can then seal the entire frame with a coat of clear wax. This wax layer ensures that all the layers of paint set and are covered. 

The final wax coat is entirely optional and up to you! At this point, I just wanted to get the finished piece back in place – and then mirror back in the frame before a kid or cat knocked it over!

FInished chalk paint mirror frame

Clean the mirror.

Now that your mirror is done, remove any painter’s tape and cardboard. If you got paint on the mirror, no worries! The easiest way to remove any paint is to use a flat razor blade like this one to scrap off the paint. Luckily you aren’t likely to scratch the mirror since it’s flat to the surface when it scrapes.

As a final step, make sure to use window cleaner (or vinegar and water) to clean the glass after you’re all done. Here’s the final outcome:

Before and after of chalk paint mirror frame

 

Now that you know how to paint a metal, wooden or plastic mirror frame, what do you plan to try out? Leave a note in the comments below!

How to be Successful on Rover as a Pet Sitter

Dog with sunglasses and text that reads how to be successful on Rover

Pop quiz time! What’s got four legs, lots of fur, and can help you make some sweet side hustle money while getting lots of slobbery kisses?

If you guessed dogs (I’m not even entertaining any other answers here, people), you’re onto a very lucrative new side job. While there are several pet sitting services out there, one of the most popular is Rover.com. Not only can you hire someone to watch your pup while you’re out of town, but you can also work for Rover as a sitter or walker. 

If you love animals more than people, chances are you’d be a great pet sitter. So how does someone start working with Rover? And more importantly – what’s it take to learn how to be successful on Rover?

How does Rover Work for Dog Walkers? 

Getting started as a pet sitter on Rover is very easy and only involves a couple of steps. Start by creating a Rover account and building your profile. Within five days Rover will run through a quick background check and you’ll be ready to start your sitter side hustle!

Clients will contact you based on your profile, and then you’ll do a meet and greet. If it’s a match, the client will book you and you’ve got your first client on Rover!

If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a full-time dog sitter, learning the ins and outs of how to be successful on Rover can help all your frisbee throwing dreams come true. 

I wanted to know how it is to work for Rover – so I turned to Mark MacLean to answer these very questions for me. Mark has been with Rover for over two years and is in the top 1% of all the sitters in the Greater Toronto Area. He’s not only figured out how to be successful on Rover, he’s also has created a course is called “Mastering Rover” that runs for five weeks with each enrollment period.

Mark’s knowledge of how to be successful on Rover helps him to teach his students the keys to becoming well earning Rover pet sitters as well. Mark’s course topics include how to make a good Rover profile, as well as how to get your first client.

Mark was kind enough to talk through how Rover works and how to be successful on Rover. Keep reading to learn more!

1. Tell me a bit about yourself. How long have you been with Rover.com? How did you start your course to train dog sitters that want to work through Rover.com?

Mark MacLean with his dog CharroHi there! My name is Mark MacLean. I live in Markam ON, (just north of Toronto, Canada), with my wife Lorena, and our dog Charro (a Minature Schnauzer). My wife and I first joined Rover when we wanted to find a place for Charro to stay during an upcoming trip. We found Rover and then interviewed about 5-6 dog sitters before we finally settled on one we felt comfortable with. 

Shortly after we came back for our trip, we had a conversation about getting a second dog (as a companion for Charro). Then we remembered Rover and started discussing the idea of becoming part-time dogsitters ourselves. Having grown up with dogs, we decided we might be able to provide a great guest house for the occasional well-behaved visiting pup. Dog sitting would also give Charro an extended family of friends to socialize with and, of course, put a little extra money in our pockets, which we often joke is Charro doing his part to help out with the rent. 

Fast forward about two years, and we had (rather quickly) become one of the top 20 most reviewed sitters on the site in our city, which put us (by the total number of reviews) within the top 1% of all the sitters in the Greater Toronto Area. 

Being in the Top 20 didn’t necessarily mean that we were the best dog sitters in the world, or even in our city. But what it did mean (at least from a sales and marketing perspective), is that we were doing enough things right on the platform. In just over two years, we were consistently standing out, being found, and booked to dog-sit on a site with over 1200 other dog sitters competing for the very same business. And we now have more reviews than people who have been on the site 2-3 times longer than us. 

2. What’s the hiring process like at Rover.com? Are there background checks? How long does it typically take to get approved?

Because Rover operates in many areas, the hiring process varies. In some places, a person can simply sign up; in other cases, a member of the local Rover crew will come to your home and do an in-person interview and leash test. In all cases, (to my knowledge), they do run a police background check on the person applying. When we joined the site, we joined doggy-vacay.com, (which was later bought out by Rover, and we migrated over). But in general, it doesn’t usually take very long to get approved (a week or two at most). 

3. What type of work is typically available through Rover.com? Is it more than dog-sitting?

Yes, it is more than dog-sitting. Rover offers, a) walks, b) doggy-day care, (for just a single day), c) dog-boarding (overnights/dog-sitting), d) drop-in Visits, and e) house sitting. That said, except for some major urban cities, most sitters on Rover are making most of their money from overnight stays (aka dog boarding). For those in urban centers, the very best and busiest Rover workers can do well, walking dogs, doing drop-ins, and the occasional house-sitting gig, (instead of, or in addition to, overnight stays). 

4. Can you set your schedule? Is there a minimum of hours required each week/month to remain active?

dog with sunglasses and text reading, How to Get Paid to Play with DogsYes, you can absolutely set your schedule, which makes working on Rover great for when you want to take time off or do some traveling of your own. You can even restrict the size and number of dogs you take, and the types of bookings you are willing to accept. 

There also are no minimum hours required to work to remain active. If anything, one of the major issues most people on starting on Rover face, is the huge amount of people on the ‘supply’ side of the equation, and not nearly enough demand for everyone who would love to be busy dog-sitting. 

What this means to the average sitter on Rover is they will typically receive just a handful of requests per year, (usually in the summer and during the holidays), when there are far more bookings to go around. And (more importantly) when the sitters with the most reviews are already booked solid and filled to capacity. 

In fact, from nearly every sitter I’ve talked to on Rover, all could use (and would love to have) more bookings. The lack of bookings also means that plenty of people (with big dreams of becoming full-time dogsitters) will eventually end up abandoning this dream, and the site, or (at least visiting very irregularly). 

5. How much do you make on Rover, and how much does Rover take out of your pay? How long does it take to get paid? 

While Rover does make some recommendations on setting your rates, you can set your schedule and your pricing, and Rover handles all payments. Both clients and dogsitters set up their payment details with Rover, and Rover takes care of the rest. 

At the time of the booking, the payment is charged to the client. 48 hours after the booking is complete (to ensure that everyone is happy), the money for that booking is then released to the dogsitter. 

Rover does take a cut, both from the dogsitter and the client at the time of the booking. The amount they charge varies (depending on when you joined the site, and whether you signed up for Rover or RoverGO (more on that later), but in general terms, you keep 75%-85% of the booking fee, and Rover charges something like 2%-7% to the client at the time of booking. 

Now, while many dogsitters grumble about the size of Rover’s cut, Rover does provide a ton of value for that slice: a steady stream of clients, an app, 24/7 support, and handles all payments. I don’t for a second begrudge sharing that revenue with them. As I see it, we work as a team.  

6. Are there ways to boost your earnings? Is there any way to earn bonuses or tips?

Yes, there are ways to boost your earnings! Most people who join Rover LOVE dogs and the idea of taking care of them for money. Unfortunately, they don’t have a background in sales and marketing, and therefore, aren’t doing many of the things that could or would boost their earnings. 

I’ll give a quick example: many people include in their profile a list of questions that they want answers to about the dog that they may be sitting. Is it old? Does it need medication? Does it get along with other dogs/children? And, of course, all of these things are important to know and find out about from the prospective client. 

However, unless you are a dog sitter who is already booked solid, your profile is probably NOT the place to include all of these questions. Providing all of these answers (before they’ve even met the dog sitter) probably comes across like a lot of ‘work’ to someone just browsing through dogsitter profiles. Who wants to write an essay to answer questions when they first make contact and are checking your availability? 

As I share with my FB group, Top Dog Sitters of Rover, step one to boosting your earnings is cleaning up your profile. These small changes will start to increase the number of people who are likely to contact them in the first place. 

Any client can tip their dogsitter with cash at the end of the stay, but this is really at the client’s discretion. Whether it happens or not has more to do with regional/local attitudes towards tipping. In some cases, some dogsitters will imply that it is expected (or at least welcome). 

We personally tell all of our clients that Rover handles the money, so there is no need to tip. We do this just to take that pressure off them with the whole question of ‘should we’/’shouldn’t we’ and wondering how much to tip. Most people don’t like that feeling, and who wants to be thinking about that for two weeks while they are on holiday? That said, we still do often receive generous gifts over the holidays from some of our regular and happiest clients. 

7. Is there support if there’s a problem with a dog or owner?

Yes, there sure is! Rover has a 24/7 support line that is very good at supporting their dogsitters and deals with these types of situations every single day. If a dog gets sick, hurt, or runs away, or there is any kind of issue with an owner, their well-trained call center staff are excellent at providing answers, solutions, and suggestions to remedy the situation to the benefit of all involved. 

We don’t need to call it often, but when we do, they have been amazingly helpful. Now, of course, your mileage may vary, and you may end up on the phone with someone new to the call center. I’ve had conversations with dog sitters who have had things go badly with their clients, Rover customer service agents are not miracle workers and can’t always iron out every situation. However, they are excellent and experienced, and they do work hard to solve whatever the issue is for both the dog sitter and the client. 

8. What’s the difference between Rover and Rover Now?

Rover is the original profile type that a person can set up. 

As for Rover Now, it is an on-demand dog walking service designed to match someone who wants their dog walked or a drop-in visit for their pet with someone available right now. Rover Now has been set up to compete directly with WAG and other similar apps. Also, at present, Rover Now is only available in just over a dozen major US cities

9. How do you get popular on Rover? And what the most significant mistake potential sitters make when trying to find jobs through Rover?

As I see so many mistakes being made, it is hard to pin it down to just one. That said, let me expand my answer to three broad categories of major mistakes that I see made most frequently, as well as some advice to address each one.  

Make sure you have a Rover profile that stands out.

First, probably the very biggest category of mistake I see day-in and day-out on the site is people not spending nearly enough time setting up their profile properly. It’s important that it is attractive and inviting to potential clients (but just like a dating profile, there are hundreds of small ways to get it wrong). Of course, when people set up an online dating profile, they’ll usually post the very best image of themselves that ever taken, and will endlessly tweak and re-write their profiles. 

And yet, on Rover, we consistently see blurry pictures of dogs, spelling and grammar errors, and essays detailing the dogsitter’s entire life story that no one has the desire to read. Doing this is like pilling rocks outside your front door, just to make sure no one comes knocking. 

A bad profile is often also the hardest (for most people) to fix or clean up without an outside perspective. People often think that their profiles are ‘just fine’ and don’t see anything wrong with them. If they knew a little more about sales and marketing, they would realize that they are probably turning off some number of people who are visiting their profile. 

The best advice I can offer here is to visit and/or join my FB group, Top Dogs of Rover and get the 100+ Tips of the Day, (dating all the way back to April of 2019). Go through them all looking for opportunities to make all of these small but necessary improvements to their profile. 

Fix your pricing to be competitive in your market.

The second category of mistake is setting prices. Here again, we see an issue that springs from how people (who typically don’t have a background in business) think about pricing. Most dog sitters, when setting up their profile, ask themselves, ‘How much do I want to make from each booking?’ And then they just set their prices accordingly. 

Unfortunately, they aren’t thinking about the far more important two questions that they should be asking themselves. “What is my time worth to a potential dog-sitting client?” AND “What are their other options in my area?” By not doing this critical comparison and pricing themselves somewhere in the neighborhood of their competition, they are dramatically decreasing the number of requests that they are likely to get.

Without enough reviews to justify a premium price, why would any client choose a far more expensive dogsitter, when one with far more (and seemingly better) reviews, is available for a significantly better price? Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that people should price themselves as the lowest in the area (as this sends a less-than-ideal signal all of its own), but certainly what a dogsitter thinks that they are (personally) worth, is one of the worst ways for someone to price themselves when they first start. 

Invest in learning about sales, marketing, and/or running a business.

And finally, the third category of mistakes has to do with how people who join Rover choose to invest in their dog sitting business. 

When many people join Rover, they have big dreams of becoming full-time, well-paid dog sitters, and would love nothing more than to retire to take care of dogs around the clock. While spending time with dogs is certainly one of the greatest joys available in life these days, it is still a business, and therefore requires a certain amount of ‘business thinking’.

As such, before they’ve even booked a client, often the first thing many dog sitters invest in is dog stuff. They are not out buying a book on marketing or sales, or even how to write a compelling profile. Now, of course, some of this dog stuff (like toys) may come in handy, but without clients, it’s probably NOT a great (early) investment. 

Consider investing in a Rover specific course like my Mastering Rover Course. This course covers all the best practices and sales and marketing strategies to climb to the top of the search results across the platform. 

The Mastering Rover Course also includes:

  • A personal review of their Rover profile with feedback
  • Helping them set their prices
  • What to do and say during the meet & greet
  • Best all the practices for both during and after the stay
  • A private Facebook group to talk with other course members and Mark

We help Rover dog sitters have better stays – which leads to better reviews, more repeat bookings, and increased requests. 

Bonus Tip: Reply quickly.

People are always impressed when you respond to their requests quickly. If the sitter is fast enough, they can start a conversation with the potential client before they’ve even sent out their request to another sitter!

10. Can you tell me more about your course and what students can expect? 

The individual modules break down as follows: 

Module 1: Mastering the Profile. As the front door to connecting with you, clients need to have as many reasons as possible to contact you and, as few reasons (as possible), to be turned off by your profile. This module is a deep dive into everything related to building YOUR perfect profile. 

Module 2: Mastering the Marketing Mindset. Now we’re ready to meet some new potential clients! But just before we do that, it’s time we talk about pricing, positioning, and starting to understand Rover’s search algorithm so that you can increase your chances of actually showing up when people are searching. 

Module 3: Mastering The Meet and Greet. A critical step for most sitters and clients is a quick Meet & Greet so that owners and dogs can get to know each other and give each other a quick sniff. But underneath all this sniffing, this is an important marketing and sales meeting. Therefore knowing what types of things to say and do (so that you can consistently close these meetings) is essential to growing your Rover business.  

Module 4: Mastering the Stay. While many dogsitters just wing it, here again, there are several ‘best practices’ that will dramatically improve client satisfaction with your dog-sitting services. 

Module 5: Mastering the Follow-up. Perhaps the single biggest way a sitter stands out on Rover is by their number of reviews. In this module, we will explore strategies for increasing reviews (in ways that you don’t have to feel icky about), and cover extremely ethical ways to follow up with clients, turning potential one time clients into regular clients, and/or repeat bookings. 

In addition to these modules, there is a private Facebook group. Students will be able to ask questions, get advice and feedback, work on exercises together, and have a little bit of accountability with one another, as they move through the course. I designed it this way (rather than just letting people start whenever they want) because this type of ‘cohort learning’ is known to increase student outcomes significantly. 

Also, I will personally be working one-on-one with every student to ensure that we maximize their chances for success. I view my job as an instructor to help my students do just about everything related to improving their Rover business – except come to their house and care for the dogs myself. 

11. Where can students sign up for your course on how to be successful on Rover?

They can visit my Mastering Rover FB page, (and send me a direct message there) or contact me directly at [email protected]

Note: All applicants must have an active Rover profile, and as I keep my class sizes very small, every profile will be reviewed prior to acceptance into the course to ensure that every student is, in fact, a good fit for the program. 

As mentioned above, enrollment for the next class (2020-Spring-1) is now open, but spaces are limited, and registration will close at Midnight, Sunday, March 8th, 2020. 

For those reading this article and thinking of joining Rover, and would like to register for Mark’s course but haven’t joined Rover yet, feel free to contact him to get on the waiting list for his next enrollment period (2020-Spring-2), which will be closing Midnight, Sunday, May 3rd.  

12. Any final words of wisdom, tips or tricks that you’d like to share to learn how to be successful on Rover?

Dog-sitting is a fantastic business opportunity IF you do enough of the right things to be successful at it. Everyone LOVES dogs. Dogs are easy to love. We bred them to be lovable over ruffly (pun intended) 20,000 years. 

But, what makes you good at loving dogs, doesn’t necessarily make you good at running a dog-sitting business on Rover. So, if you do want to spend a lot your time loving dogs (in the future), then I would strongly urge you to spend some of your time investing in yourself. Gain a little bit of business knowledge and invest in learning how to be successful on Rover. 

By doing so, you’ll be one of the few that really can spend a lot more of your time hanging out with these beautiful animals (and getting paid to do so). And look, I do realize I’ve spent a lot of time talking about ‘the business’ of Rover, but the bottom line is that it has to be that first and foremost (and you’ve got to figure that part out somehow) before it can (or ever will) become anything more.  

In closing, I’d just like to say that this has been a great chance for me to reach an audience that is working on becoming debt-free while navigating the gig economy that we now find ourselves in. I’m happy to share a little of my wisdom with you all (from my small personal corner of expertise with Rover). 

I also just want to thank Tana for this fantastic opportunity. As a forty-something-year-old person myself, Rover has made a HUGE difference in the life of my wife and I…and Charro (our dog) if we’re honest. The difference is both financially and in the quality of our life (as we’ve always got an extra pup or two running around adding a little entertainment into the mix!). 

When I think about the joy that it has brought us, I now wake up each day eager to share what I’ve learned about Rover with those that want the same success, and I look forward to hearing from anyone who may be interested in learning more about how to be successful on Rover. 

Thanks again, and if you like what you’ve heard, and think I can help! Get in touch, (and please mention Tana and this site when you do)! 

Now that you know how to be successful on Rover, click here to get started creating your Rover profile!

Standard Disclaimer (and in the interest of full disclosure): Tana approached Mark MacLean, the course creator of “Mastering Rover”, to answer some questions about working on Rover, and his course, to share with her audience. Mark agreed. No financial relationship exists between these two parties and all answers provided by Mark represent his own personal views, experiences, and expertise, and are not (necessarily) the views of Rover (which he has no formal relationship with other than being an experienced dogsitter on their site), or Tana. 

Interested in other side hustles? Learn more about side hustles for introverts as well as the best legit side hustles this year!

The 4 C’s of Credit: How to Slam Dunk Loan Approvals

Hands pulling money out of wallet with text that reads How to Slam Dunk Getting Approved for Any Loan Immediately

Are you considering getting a house, car, or personal loan this year (or in the next 2 – 3)? If so, you’re going to need to know about the 4 c’s of credit.

No, they’re not horsemen bringing the apocalypse or the top cuss words your kids will spout out in front of their kindergarten class (again). The 4 c’s of lending are markers that help lenders (like Freddie Mac) decide if you’re a safe bet for a loan.

Candidly, I’ve never heard of the 4 c’s of credit framework before, and I’ve had a handful of car loans, mortgages, and student loans. While it’s not a significant term amongst borrowers, it’s a big piece of the puzzle for lenders.

I knew that they checked your credit score and employment, but I never thought much about why they do so. It turns out lenders are checking your 4 c’s (or 5, 6 c’s of credit, depending upon who you ask) to make sure that you’re not likely to default on the loan.

So, ready to jump into what exactly the four c’s are, and how you can plan to slam dunk them without breaking a sweat? Let’s get started!

The 4 C’s of Credit Analysis

Without further ado, the four C’s of credit analysis are (in no particular order):

  • Capacity
  • Credit 
  • Capital
  • Collateral

And, if you’re feeling extra cheeky, you can consider these as numbers 5 and 6 of the c’s of credit: 

  • Character
  • Conditions

Infographic with icons depicting the four c's of credit analysis

The 4 c’s help mortgage lenders and loan companies gauge just how much of a risk you are. All of these add up to create a picture of your risk factor. When your picture looks good, these companies will gladly offer you a loan. If it’s not great, it can affect the conditions of the loan. 

Person getting money out of a wallet with text that reads How to Get Approved for Any Loan ImmediatelyBut if your four C’s are trash? You’re out of luck. At least until you get to work fixing them.

So how do loan companies determine if you’ve got what it takes? Lenders begin by asking for various documents and information to review. These documents vary depending upon the type of loan you want. However, they can include:

  • Employment records to see work history
  • Most current pay stub
  • Letter explaining any gaps in the past two years of employment; extra points if you have documentation to back it up
  • Self-employed workers will need to provide two years of tax returns (and possibly additional documents depending upon your business structure)
  • Social security number and birth date to pull credit reports
  • Two months of bank statements, including checking, savings, retirement and investment accounts

Now that the lender has your information, they’re going to analyze it to see if you’re a good match for a loan. Here, we get in-depth of just what each of the four c’s of credit mean, and how they can work for (or against) your chances of landing a loan.

The 4 C’s of Credit Analysis: Capacity

Capacity refers to your ability to handle the loan payment. Lenders want to know:

  • Are you able to make the payment? What’s your debt load now?
  • Do you have a stable job?
  • Do you carry high credit card debt?
  • What’s your monthly disposable income?

Lenders will look at a couple of things to determine this:

DTI Ratio: This is your debt-to-income ratio. They’ll add together all your minimum payments of your monthly debts, then divide by your gross monthly income (that’s what you make before taxes).

The lower the DTI ratio, the better your chances of getting approved. A rough rule of thumb is 35% or less, however, take that with a HUGE grain of salt. Each lender varies, not to mention the other c’s of credit analysis can play into this as well.

Your DTI ratio includes monthly debts like car payments, student loans, credit card payments, personal loans, child support, alimony, any other debts that you have more than ten months left to pay.

Example: You make $2,000 gross a month. Your student loan, car loan, and minimum credit card payments add up to $1,000. Therefore, your DTI ratio is 50% because your debts take up half of your gross monthly income.

Housing Expense Ratio. (This applies specifically to applying for a mortgage.) This ratio states the cost of owning a home should be 28% or less of your gross monthly income (again, a generalization, there are lots of other factors).

Lenders don’t consider utilities or garbage to be part of your housing expenses, but do consider the following to be so:

  • Principle
  • Interest
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • HOA costs (if applicable)
  • PMI (private mortgage insurance; added to your loan if you are putting down less than 20% as a down payment)

Example: Your gross monthly income is $2,000. Lenders would want your total housing expenses not to exceed $560 a month (28% of your gross monthly income).

Job History and Future Job Stability. Lenders want to know that you’re going to show up for work and make that dough to support that loan payment. If you’ve been flaky with jobs in the past, they’re going to notice. 

If you’re working in a shaky industry, they’re going to take note of this as well. Lenders want to be sure you have what it takes to pay during the life of your loan and that you’re likely to be gainfully employed.

To-Dos: How to Boost Your Capacity

If your capacity if looking a little rough, you can work on the following to beef it up:

  1. Pay off any debts that you can quickly boost your debt-to-income ratio or housing expense ratio.
  2. Boost your income by getting a better paying job or a side hustle.
  3. If your housing expense ratio is too high, consider a different area with lower property taxes or a smaller house.
  4. If you have gaps in your employment in the past two years, provide documentation and a letter to explain the absences.

The 4 C’s of Credit Analysis: Credit

You knew this one was coming, right? Your credit score follows you around like a ray of sunshine. (Or a rain cloud, depending upon your numbers.)

Lenders pull your credit reports and score to see if you’ve been naughty or nice. And much like Santa Claus, they can determine if you deserve a loan based on your previous actions. 

Credit Reports and History. Lenders want to see if you’ve had late payments and all of the debts you’ve had before. They need to know your history – otherwise, how can they be sure you understand how to handle debt?

The main pieces they’re looking for are late payments, outstanding loans, and defaults. They want to know that when you’ve been trusted with money before, that you’ve acted responsibly.

Credit Score. What’s in a credit score? These scores dictate the type of financing available, as well as how much of a down payment is required.

Even though there are now loans with super low down payments, if your credit score is trash, they’re not going to let you apply for these. 

To-Dos: How to Boost Your Credit

Before you apply for a loan, pull your credit reports from the three big reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) and go over them with a fine-tooth comb. 

  1. Anything that comes back as incorrect, you’ll need to start a dispute with that agency to get it removed from your record.
  2. Check your credit score for free through a service like Credit Sesame. If your credit score is low, read up on how to boost it quickly.
  3. Contact any companies that you have outstanding debts with and set up a payment plan to get the debt current and stop the late payment strikes on your record.

While cleaning up your credit report is easy to do, it does take time. The sooner you start, the better everything will look to lenders when you decide to apply for your loan.

The 4 C’s of Credit Analysis: Capital

Much like a flaky ex, lenders want to know what you’re worth. They need proof that you can afford the down payment, as well as the closing costs and additional fees associated with the loan. 

You’ll Need to Provide Financial Statements. Yes, it can feel intrusive to just lay your financial information out like that, but lenders need to know that you’re not living paycheck to paycheck. Lenders will ask to see:

  • Checking and savings statements
  • Retirement and investment accounts

They want to see that you have accounts you can quickly get into if you need to make that mortgage payment after getting laid off. While no one wants to tap their 401k to make a mortgage payment, loan companies need to know that you have back up if things go pear-shaped.

Having a down payment signals to lenders that you’re serious about doing this right and paying this loan off. It can also help save you money because you’re able to avoid PMI (private mortgage insurance). This form of capital can also affect your rates and terms of the loan, so consider waiting to build a more significant down payment if possible.

Other means of capital can also include gifts from family members, down payment assistance programs, and grants or matching fund programs.

To-Dos: How to Boost Your Capital

Boosting your capital is essentially one step: build your savings. If you choose to receive a gift from a family member, you will need to provide documentation proving it’s a gift and not a loan. 

The 4 C’s of Credit Analysis: Collateral

When you’re buying a house or car, those items become the collateral for the loan. These are called secured loans, and these debts are less risky because the lender can repossess the item if you don’t pay. 

The other bright side to a secured loan is that you can also get lower interest rates and better terms because you have that collateral available if you can’t make the payments. (It’s a strange win-win, but I’ll take it.)

Knowing that loan companies see houses and cars as collateral, they want to make sure the property is worth the purchase price. Assessing collateral involves a couple of steps by third parties:

Home Inspection. Depending upon where you’re buying, a home inspection might not be required. However, it’s an excellent idea to get one anyway.

Unless you’re a contractor and know the ins and outs of housing, hire a home inspector to check for mold, termites, and the like. Both you and the mortgage company need to know what you’re signing up to take on. 

Home Appraisal. This step is non-negotiable, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a lender that doesn’t require it. An appraiser will review the house and the neighborhood, while also looking at recent sales.

They’ll come up with comps that determine if the fair market value of the property and the house’s condition, which means any issues have to be fixed before the sale is complete.

Loan-to-value ratio. For cars, there’s LTV, which is the loan-to-value ratio. This ratio is how much you’re borrowing versus how much the car is worth. Clearly, the loan company doesn’t want to lose their shirts if things go south, right?

If the LTV is too high, you might be required to provide a downpayment. By doing so, you’ll lower the LTV and make the loan company more comfortable with handing over that cash.

To-Dos: How to Boost Your Collateral

There’s not much you can do proactively to boost your collateral. If a lender feels the property you want to buy isn’t up to snuff, chances are you’ll have to provide a larger down payment, or you’ll have to keep looking for a different house/car. 

In all seriousness, though – do you want to want to go upside down on a loan? It might be time to rethink things if the house/car doesn’t appraise for what you’re willing to pay for it. 

Additional C’s of Credit Analysis

What, wait? Didn’t I say there were four? What’s this craziness?

Depending upon the loan situation, there can be up to four more c’s of credit. I know, I know – you’re thinking, what the heck else could they possibly need to know about me? I’m not telling anyone about my underwear size. Some things should just remain a mystery.

Underwear size aside, there are two more pieces to the credit puzzle that are worth mentioning.

Bonus C’s of Credit Analysis: Character

No, we’re not talking about what your Harry Potter character name should be (though mine’s The Grey Lady of Warrington, FYI). Lenders want to know your character, as in your reputation.

This one’s not as measurable as the other C’s and isn’t entirely as black and white either. It can also be an important deciding factor if the lender’s decision isn’t clear enough.

Your character is a snapshot of your creditworthiness and is assessed by looking at your credit reports. Loan companies want to see that you’ve paid loans back in entirety and that you’re trustworthy.

Now is when your squeaky clean credit reports will come into play, as well as your FICO score. The better each are, the better your chances of getting a loan.

To-Dos: How to Boost Your Character

Again, this is your credit score and reports, so you need to make sure they’re clean. Dispute anything that you don’t think belongs, and start cleaning up anything questionable, such as:

    • Late payments
    • Collection accounts
    • Charge-offs 
    • Judgments
    • Bankruptcies
    • Foreclosures
    • Delinquent accounts

Bonus C’s of Credit Analysis: Conditions

Conditions refer to the lending terms, state of the economy, and intent of the loan. Some of these you can influence, but some you can’t. 

Lending terms. The lending terms include the interest rate and amount of the loan. The better your other C’s of credit are, the better the conditions you’re offered. 

The economy. Unfortunately, no one can predict the economy, and when it might take a turn for better or worse. When the housing market collapsed in 2008, it became much harder to get a loan. Loan companies cracked down on the requirements needed to get approved because they had tons of homeowners defaulting on loans. 

Intention for the loan. Loans for things like houses, cars, and home improvement have a specific intent. Personal loans, however, don’t since you can use them for just about anything. Lenders like to know if a loan is secured or not, and if there’s potential collateral to back it up.

To-Dos: How to Boost Your Conditions

While you can’t control all the conditions (side-eyeing you, economy), you can control the items that influence your lending terms.

  1. Make sure your debt’s paid down, and your DTI ratio is excellent.
  2. Build your capital by having a larger down payment.
  3. Review and clean up your credit report.

Now that you know more about how to crush the 4 c’s of credit when buying a home or car, get to work! Remember that cleaning up credit reports, saving down payments, and boosting your credit score is going to take some time. So get to it!

 

Introverts, Rejoice! 27 Jobs Where You Can Work Alone

coffee cups on a table

We’ve all had those horrific days at work that leave you googling “jobs where you can work alone” during your lunch break, eating canned soup at your desk for the third time this week to avoid hanging out with coworkers.

Sure, we all have ups and downs with work, but what if this is more than just a lousy workday? Do you find yourself thinking, “I hate people!” more days than not?

Maybe you’re like me – an introvert – and you function better at a job where you aren’t regularly required to attend company meetings or play hacky sack in bullpen cubicles.

And that’s totally ok – there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert or functioning better with less cowokers (or none at all).

I’ve been working from home full-time for over ten years – by far the longest I’ve ever held any job. With the same company. And the same coworkers (more or less).

So what’s the secret to my success? 

While being able to work in my pajamas makes up at least 65% of my success at longevity, the rest is because I function better when I have some space to focus on tasks and get my work done. 

I am horribly awkward at office politics and am easily distracted, especially since having kids. Being in an office environment makes it just too easy to get pulled into gossip, not get any work done, and spend way too much money on coffee and lunches out. (At least that was the story for me!)

Even if you’re not a fellow introvert, maybe you’ve had it with the guy that burns popcorn in the break room every day at 2:30. Or the painfully long presentations, and pre-meetings to your meetings.  

So if you have a permanent case of the Mondays, keep reading for my favorite jobs where you can work alone. 

via GIPHY

The Best Jobs that Don’t Involve Working with People

Let’s be straight here. There is no job out there where you don’t interact with anyone, ever. Unless it’s in a scientific research station at the South Pole. (And then you have the start of a bad horror movie, which I’m not sure is worth the trade-off. Just saying.)

Since we have that out of the way, there are plenty of jobs where you can avoid a considerable majority of the population, and counts out any retail or restaurant work. I know most of us would prefer to make money without a job – but if you have to have one, these are some of the best full-time jobs and side hustles for introverts.

coffee cups on a tableCreative Jobs Where You Work Alone

Flip Flea Market Items

If you love rehabbing old items into something new, consider flipping flea market finds to sell. Everything from dressers to antique armchairs can be refurbished or restored and sold at a higher return. 

This job is perfect if you’re creative and love to refinish wood, paint, or reupholster to bring out the beauty in an old piece.

With some education, you can even learn how to sell your items on Craigslist or eBay. Rob and Melissa have supported their family with just flipping flea market items. It’s all about knowing what to look for and where to find the folks who want it.

Learn more about how Rob and Melissa learned to earn a profit from flipping yard sale and flea market items.

Sell Your Handy Work on Etsy

Whether you love to craft, carve wood, or create Cricut printables, you can sell just about anything creative and crafty on Etsy. It’s a wonderland of farmhouse decor and resin coffee tables.

If you have a passion for a particular craft, this is a job that won’t feel like a job. It takes about 10 minutes to set up an Etsy store, and then you’re off! 

Even better – Etsy handles all the hard stuff, like charging different tax rates per state, so you don’t have to worry about it. Plus, there’s no sitting in a hot high school gym at a craft show, feeling awkward as folks shuffle past your booth. Win-win!

Sell Discounted Items on Amazon or eBay

My aunt has this insane knack for finding the most amazing deals. Seriously, it’s crazily impressive. I like to think that just a smidge of her greatness rubbed off on me, but I can still only pull off a fraction of her deal sleuthing.

If you’re more like my aunt than I am, and are great at finding clearance items, you can easily scoop them up and resell them at a higher price on eBay. It’s a decent amount of research to make sure that you can sell the items and the correct pricing to make a decent profit.

However, once you get into the swing of it, you’ll be sniffing out clearance sales like it’s your job. (Because it is.) Want to learn more about selling on eBay? Read up on how to get started selling on eBay here.

Jobs Where You Work Alone From Home

Everyone wants to know where to find jobs where you work from home. I don’t blame them; I work from home and love it. To not have to commute or do trust fall exercises as a team-building exercise anymore? Count me in!

A note of warning: working from home is not for everyone. It does involve self-discipline to stay focused and get your work done since your boss can’t see if you are wasting time. If you can balance the lure of being at home with getting your projects done, then finding a job where you work from home might be the ticket!

Become a virtual assistant

The job of a virtual assistant, or VA, can vary greatly depending upon the industry you’re in. The beauty of becoming a virtual assistant is that you get to pick what tasks you enjoy doing and offer just those services. Some ideas might include:

  • Answering emails
  • Returning phone calls
  • Creating graphics
  • Social Media content and scheduling
  • Research for blog posts or articles
  • Organizing files or calendars
  • Publishing and promoting blog content

If organization is your middle name and you enjoy checking tasks off your to-do list, becoming a VA might be for you. There are a lot of courses out there to help you learn how to package and price your skillset. You can then find jobs on sites like FlexJobs, which focuses solely on remote work.

Or, if you’re ok with doing some networking, find clients through developers, bloggers, writers, social media specialists, and proofreaders. Chances are they know someone that needs a VA, or they do. 

Social Media or PPC Specialist

If you eat, sleep, and breathe social media and are always on the bleeding edge of trends, this one’s for you.

A social media manager will manage social media campaigns by creating or pulling together content and a schedule. They will sometimes work with an ads specialist to purchases ads or will do it themselves, depending upon the client’s needs.

A bachelor’s degree is helpful, usually in something like English or Communications, but generally isn’t required. Understanding marketing strategies and the client’s target audience are crucial to being a successful social media specialist.

Teach English Online

Ok, so this one does involve a bit more human interaction – but it’s one-on-one, teaching kids English. It’s not like being stuck in a two-hour meeting with a bunch of cranky adults, right?

Companies like VIPKid, Education First and QKids offer you the ability to teach English online. You set your hours, how often you want to work, and earn up to $22 an hour. 

There are no minimum required hours, and you can work where ever you have internet access. The best part? You don’t have to create lesson plans or do a lot of work upfront for your lessons. 

Learn more about how to get started with VIPKid here.

Provide Proofreading or Editing

The vast majority of people struggle with grammar, English, and stringing words into a sentence. (Even after a vat of coffee, it’s still a struggle for me.)

Everything from resumes to blog posts, online articles to job postings needs to be proofed and edited. If you have a great love of the English language and love to bust out a red pen, give proofreading a try.

The beauty of proofreading is that it’s a necessity in any industry, making it a very fruitful endeavor. To get started, try freelance sites like Fiverr, ZipRecruiter, or FlexJobs to score your first job.

Transcriptionist

My mom did some transcription when I was a kid. I was always fascinated by her foot pedal and sweet, sweet headphones – not to mention her ability to type at an incredible speed.

Transcription services are becoming easier to do with continually changing technology. Companies pay anywhere from $15 – $30, depending upon your accuracy and typing speed. Check out REV.com to learn more about audio to text and closed caption transcription.

If you’ve specialized in medical coding and jargon for any reason, you can also niche down into medical transcription, which pays even more. 

Bookkeeping

Bookkeepers create invoicing, handle payroll, maintaining a general ledger, and balance credits/debits in software like Quickbooks. Bookkeeping is one job where you need to have specific education and have experience in this field before branching out to do freelance.

Since most clients won’t take up an entire 40 hours every week, you can take on multiple clients to beef up your income and provide job security.

Again, companies like ZipRecruiter, FlexJobs, and Thumbtack can help you find clients remotely as well. Seriously, FlexJobs is fantastic for finding freelance work or anything remote!

Blogging

It’d be lame if I left blogging off this list of jobs where you work alone, right? 

If you have a passionate topic that you want to share with the world, starting a blog can be a great way to find like-minded people and make some money as well.

Blogging can be the perfect job for someone who’s driven, creative, and loves to learn. It does involve writing (obviously), creating graphics, and social media posting. There are tons of great resources to get started with blogging, including this one, which is my favorite.

Entry-level or Part-Time Jobs where You Work Alone

A lot of the jobs in this post are ones that require schooling or massive hours of training. If you’ve already had that type of education – great! 

But what if you haven’t? And you don’t have the time/energy/income to get it?

Cue the entry-level or part-time jobs. These are jobs that don’t require a ton of effort or education to get started – not to mention, and they’re still jobs where you work alone. Done and done!

Dog Walking or Housesitting

When you need a job that doesn’t require human interaction, try housesitting or dog walking. Animals are (clearly) much easier to get along with than humans most days, so why not spend more time with them?

Apply with services like Rover.com, which provide you with a background check and give you greater access to clients. You’ll be able to find more jobs this way, rather than having to network yourself.

You set your schedule and pricing and choose what type of services you offer. Plus, you can set your pet preferences (size, age, etc.), so you aren’t stuck taking care of a dog that’s twice the size of you.

You’ll also have the opportunity to do more than dog walking – they offer dog boarding (in your house), house sitting, drop-in visits, doggy daycare services, and dog walking. 

With such great flexibility, you’ll be able to pick up work when you have extra time and work on your schedule.

Ready to get started? Click here to learn more about Rover.com.

Another great dog and housesitting option is TrustedHousesitters. The big difference with TrustedHousesitters is that you can house and petsit anywhere in the world. It’s a great way to travel and find a way to stay in new cities cheap. Learn more about the unique opportunities with TrustedHousesitters here.

Data Entry Operator

Data entry can be done in an office or from home, making it a coveted job for just about anyone. 

Data entry operators enter data from forms, audio files, or documents into a computer system. They either type the data in or sometimes scan the documents to transfer the data. 

While you will need to pass a test, generally, data entry jobs only require a high school diploma or one to five years of clerical or data entry experience. 

Data entry is another excellent remote job that you can find on FlexJobs.com.

Pick up trash. (No, seriously.)

Becoming a janitor, office cleaner, or house cleaner with a company still means dealing with people. However, office cleaners or janitors often work after hours, so you’re less likely to have to deal with anyone.

But what if you’re tired of working for someone else for minimum wage? You could start a house cleaning service, but that has a lot of start-up expenses. Plus, chances are the owners will be home, and possibly bugging you while you work.

Why not start a company picking up parking lot trash? Brian Winch of CleanLots makes $650,000 a year (say what?!) doing just that. With just a broom and scoop tool (think of a dustpan with a bag on it), he walks properties in the evenings picking up the day’s trash.

It almost sounds too simple, right? He focuses his work on shopping centers and industrial parks, where property managers don’t want to have to deal with cleaning up the trash themselves. And he’s been doing it for over thirty years!

Who knew trash could be such treasure? Learn more about CleanLots and Brian’s work here.

Online Jobs Where You Work Alone

Again, you’re going to have to deal with clients, eventually – but for the most part, you can do your actual work all by your lonesome, and no one telling you ZZ Top isn’t appropriate to jam to at work.

If you can brave clients, you can find all sorts of online freelance work, including:

  • Graphic design
  • Web design and development
  • Software development
  • Copywriting
  • Project management
  • Voice over work
  • Translation
  • Digital marketing
  • Animation
  • Podcast editing
  • Sound engineer
  • And tons more!

For these jobs and more, I recommend any of the following job sites. Depending upon what criteria you’re looking for will dictate which of the sites will be best to try out:

Fiverr

Fiverr is where you go if you want gig work done. Work here is generally one-off, single jobs that are freelance positions. You create your profile and post your talent – or gig – that you want to offer as a service.

You set your rates, service packages, and can upsell your gig with extras before, during, and after the order. You can also offer customized offers for specific buyers.

Fiverr is an easy way to get found for work, without all the networking or marketing. Pricing ranges from $5 – $995 for gig work and more for custom work.

Even better, your payment is deposited in your account as soon as you complete a customer’s order. There’s no chasing down clients to get your paycheck. 

To learn more about gig work at Fiverr, click here.

FlexJobs

FlexJobs offers both employee and freelance positions – all of which are remote or flexible. If you’re looking to skip out on your office job, this is the place to go!

FlexJobs doesn’t just help you find a remote position. They also offer one-on-one career coaching, resume review, expert skills tests, and more. 

They also hand-screen and curate every job, so there’s no more digging through those “too good to be true” scammy jobs that are all over other sites. 

Learn more about FlexJobs and how they can help you find the perfect remote job.

ZipRecruiter

ZipRecruiter is similar to FlexJobs but has on-site jobs as well as remote work. They essentially work as a headhunter for helping you find that perfect full-time job.

Once you create your profile, you’ll upload your resume. ZipRecruiter then shares your profile with employers who are looking for your skillset. 

Next, you’ll receive jobs that they think will catch your interest. You rate them, letting ZipRecruiter know what your preferences are so they can match you with the right opportunities. 

Then you’ll receive notifications as employers reach out to you. It’s as easy as that! No dealing with combing through the same job postings over and over, hoping for something new each week.

Click here to learn more about how ZipRecruiter can get your resume in front of the right companies.

Delivery Jobs that Allow You to Work Alone

Last but not least, the ultimate job where you can work alone: delivery driver.

Whether you’re driving a truck on a long haul, or serving up some yummy hot egg drop soup on a scooter, doing deliveries is the ultimate job for working alone.

There are tons, and I mean tons, of delivery jobs out there. Most of them don’t involve training, except for truck driving. If you choose to go this route (hahaha, pun intended), you’ll need a CDL (a commercial driver’s license).

If you want to go the cheaper/easier route, you can do meal delivery, grocery delivery, or become a rideshare driver. Some of the easiest delivery jobs to start are:

Instacart Shopper

There are two types of jobs available with Instacart. A full-service shopper is someone who chooses their hours and shops and delivers orders. Because you’re doing the delivery, you need access to a vehicle. You’re also an independent contractor and able to choose the hours that work for you.

The other option available with Instacart is an in-store shopper. This job entails pulling together shopping orders in the store – no delivery involved, so no vehicle required. This position is part-time with a flexible schedule and is perfect if you just want something seasonal or a super easy side hustles for introverts.

Both positions require a smartphone since you’ll need to download their app to pull together shopping orders. 

If this sounds like your kind of side hustle, click here to learn more about becoming an Instacart shopper

Bike Messenger (or Courier)

Bike messengers are much more common in metropolitan areas, which means the dangers of traffic and car doors randomly opening is much higher as well.

If you have a bike, you’re fast, and can carry 30+ pounds, being a bike messenger might be for you.

Some companies that offer work as a bike messenger are:

Rideshare Services

Does a rideshare job count as working alone? You don’t have coworkers, and if you’re good at politely avoiding conversations with customers, then you’re all set.

It’s your call if this job makes sense on this list or not. The few times I’ve taken an Uber or Lyft, there wasn’t much conversation with the driver, mostly because my friends and I were talking amongst ourselves. 

Lyft has some exciting new benefits for their drivers, such as a no-fee bank account where your earnings can be deposited immediately after a job. Drivers can earn cashback on gas (2%), groceries (1%), and selecting dining (4%).

At select locations across the US, brand new Lyft Driver Centers are being built. These community spaces offer 50% faster service on car maintenance with low-cost services to save you money. They’ve also rolled out a mobile maintenance service as well, available in specific locations.

Don’t have a car? Lyft is also expanding it’s Express Drive service. This service provides vehicles that you can use to work with Lyft, some of which are hybrid or electric.

Eligible drivers with GEICO’s all-in-one rideshare insurance policy can earn more for each ride – up to an additional $500 every six months!

If it passes the “working alone” test for you, click here to learn more about working with Lyft.

Food Delivery

Thanks to the various food delivery companies available now, restaurants can provide meal delivery services without having to deal with the hassle of employing drivers directly.

Some of the most popular food delivery companies to work for are:

When you pick up a side gig as a delivery person through any of these companies, you never having to deal with a cruddy boss dictating your schedule or working the weather’s bad.

It’s a great way to make some extra dough while delivering some dough! (#dadjoke) 

With so many jobs where you can work alone, why deal with slogging it to an office every day? If you cringe inwardly every time there’s a birthday party in the break room, give one of these jobs a try. Never having to utter the term “team-building exercise” will be reward enough.

Have you tried any of these jobs where you can work alone? Which ones do you love? Comment below and let me know! If you’re looking for more work ideas, check out this ultimate list of side hustles.

The Ultimate List of Legit Side Hustles Idea for 2020

Colorful graphics for 2020

The easiest way to pay off debt is by finding the best legit side hustles that fit your schedule. There are a billion great side hustles out there, everything from proofreading to delivering pizzas. Some involve learning a new skillset, while many others have costly start-up fees to get going.

The key to finding legit side hustles that work are to focus on ones that fit into your life. If you have a 9 to 5, or do shift work, you’re most likely to find success with finding somewhat unusual ways to make money. Finding an MLM isn’t likely to work, seeing as how their success rates are stastically dismal at best.

Note: This article has been updated to reflect the best legit side hustles of 2020. If you have more ideas, post them in the comments below and I’ll update the article!

What are the most profitable side hustles (that aren’t MLMs)?

Colorful logo for 2020MLMs (multi-level marketing) are side hustle jobs that are dependent upon your commission from sales, but also on getting others to sign up underneath you, so you’re earning a bit of their profits as well. They usually involve some sort of in-home or online party where a friend hosts it to make money towards their purchases. It usually involves products from leggings to face creams to kitchen products to kids books to food. You know what I’m talking about, right? There’s one for just about any type of product you can imagine.

While I’m not personally against MLMs (as I’ve said before), they work for such a small percentage of people. Why? Because not everyone’s built to be a salesperson. If you don’t have the right skillset or personality (or an insanely HUGE friend/family group to sell to), it’s almost impossible to make back the start-up money that you invested. Not only have you lost our on your time and energy, but you’ve lost out on even more money than if you’d done nothing at all.

On top of that, we’ve recently run into a rash of bizarre and ridiculous news stories in which women (typically) are being pushed into buying more product to sell, even when sales are down. When they try to step away from the business, they end up stuck with a ton of merchandise they can’t offload and no way to recoup that cost.

While I believe that you have to invest money to make money, starting the best side hustle for you shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. It also shouldn’t be a steep learning curve to getting yourself up to snuff in order to make money. When choosing the best side hustle to make money, you need to think about your return on investment. If you’re looking for a part time businesses to supplement your income, and just need to make quick money, remember to keep things simple. There are plenty of ways to make money with little to no money to get started.

I’ve gathered a list of easy and best paying side jobs that aren’t MLMs to get you started quickly on your path to debt repayment or making $1000 fast for your emergency fund!

Can't find a great side hustle that's legit? Use these side hustle ideas to find one that fits your schedule and pays you well! #sidehustle #sidegig #financialfreedom #debt #debtrepayment

Work from Home and Online Side Hustles

I love finding online jobs for extra income – they tend to be the best side hustles and can be done while watching TV in the evenings. There are a ton of side jobs you can do from home out there, but unfortunately a lot of them can be scams. Be careful with anything that sounds too good to be true!

  • Create printables on Etsy/Crafty (if you already have the software and skills)
  • Get paid to test websites at Usertesting.com (this is my go-to side hustle when I need easy ways to make money!)
  • Teach English through a company like VIPKid, which pays $14 – $22 an hour and lets you set your own schedule. Other companies to consider include Education First and QKids.
  • Do affiliate marketing. You don’t need a website, you can do this through Pinterest or landing pages at ConvertKit
  • Edit videos with software
  • Digital bills/paperwork organization
  • Offer budgeting services and help others organize their bills and get started on their debt snowball
  • Plan vacations/seek out vacation deals for others
  • Find deals for others on particular items, get paid a percentage of the savings
  • Write blog posts for other bloggers
  • Proofreading / editing
  • Pick up spare freelance jobs on Fiverr
  • Do surveys on Swagbucks, Opinion Outpost, MySoapBox, or other paid survey sites
  • Participate in in-home testing of products through companies like Swagbucks
  • Become a VA (Virtual Assistant)
  • Become a Social Media Manager
  • Be a coach or consultant in something you’re passionate about
  • Publish an ebook
  • Sell your photos on stock photography sites
  • Trade in old gift cards
  • Become a voiceover actor
  • Become a video game / app tester
  • Get paid to do research
  • Review and edit resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles
  • Provide translation services
  • Become a personal assistant
  • Data entry services
  • Become a customer service rep (there are many opportunities to be your own boss and work from home here!)
  • Sell items you no longer want online through Facebook Marketplace, eBay, LetGo, or Craiglist
  • Help family members or friends sell their household items online and earn a percentage of the sale
  • Start a blog
  • Create and sell crafts online through Etsy
  • Offer personal styling coaching
  • Become a brand ambassador for your favorite products
  • Create fonts and graphics to sell on design sites like Creative Market
  • Gather and sell used electronics to Decluttr

Get Paid to Drive

Driving or delivery side hustles are a great way to get out of the house and make some money. It’s not all about delivering pizzas, as Dave Ramsey would suggest.

Thanks to technology, there are so many more options to get paid to drive now. 10 years ago, your options were to deliver pizzas or find seasonal work with the post office, UPS or FedEx.

Now, there are many possibilities to make money driving. You might be able to use your own car, or even bike or scooter depending on your location. Here are just a few popular options:

    • Deliver meals with DoorDash. DoorDash is a food delivery service that has partnered with local restaurants in over 300 cities across the U.S. Be your own boss, work on your own schedule, and make great money doing it! Learn More about DoorDash
    • Drive for Lyft. Lyft provides a great opportunity to earn some extra money. With increased prime time pricing and the ability to keep your tips, means you’ll make more in less time. Learn More about Lyft
    • Make deliveries with Postmates Not only is it quick and easy to get signed up, but you get 100% of your commissions for each delivery. Work when you want without fees! Learn More about Postmates

    Physical and Outdoor Side Hustle Ideas

    A lot of these easy hustles for cash are things that some people can’t do anymore themselves. Look for opportunities in your neighborhood, church or with family friends. They’re great, creative ideas to make money outside of your normal work hours as well:

    • Dog/house sitter. Join TrustedHousesitters to get a background check and exposure to more clients.
    • Dog walker. Get even more work by signing up with Rover, where you’ll have access to even more clients.
    • Start a paper route
    • Shovel snow
    • Delivery work
    • Wash cars or windows
    • Offer power washing services
    • Sell vegetables, flowers, or bulbs from your garden
    • Do laundry for those without access to washers/dryers
    • Flip furniture
    • Run errands for others
    • Clean carpets
    • Read to people who are physically unable to
    • Haul things for others
    • Pick up/trade in scrap metal
    • Help people move
    • Meal planning for busy parents and families
    • Offer latch key hours for kids in the neighborhood until their parents get home
    • Bartend / Waiter / Waitress
    • Seasonal work with USPS, FedEx or UPS
    • Provide elder care so that family members can run errands or get a break
    • Set up and take down outdoor holiday decorations
    • Batch cook food and sell the meals
    • Sell holiday baked goods at church, work or elsewhere
    • Groom pets, clip nails (assuming you already have experience)
    • Provide chauffer services to those that can’t drive
    • Offer grocery buying services
    • Offer gift wrapping services
    • Help with seasonal work around the house (changing furnance filters, winterizing, covering A/C, etc.)
    • Babysit, and join a site like Care.com to expand your clientele and earn more!

    Turn Your Current Job into an Easy Side Hustle

    Don’t forget to look to your current job for additional easy ideas to make money. It can be easier to land one of these because you’ve already established yourself as a reliable worker and you’re already on the payroll:

    • Ask for a raise
    • Ask for additional duties at your main job for additional compensation
    • Pick up a better paying shift and/or holiday hours
    • Pick up extra shifts/hours
    • Figure out how to do your current job in a freelance capacity
    • Look around for your position at another company – get paid more for the same work!
    • See where you can earn referral fees for networking you already do
    • Teach classes about your skillset online or in person
    • Create a course online that focuses on the skills used in your current job
    • Set up a coffee cart or snack bar at work to sell goodies
    • Sell your craft items at work
    • Pick up an after hours job cleaning at your workplace

    Remember, you already have the skillset, so your learning curve would be minimal as well as your financial investment. Going with a job that you already currently do – but in a different capacity – is one of the best side jobs for extra money out there.

    Start a Small, Part-Time Business to Earn Extra Income from Home

    If you’re looking for a bit more than side gig ideas, consider creating your own business. It doesn’t have to be formal and difficult, just find ways to make money on the side that involve having a clientele base you want to grow:

    • Small engine repair (if you already have the know-how and tools)
    • Landscaping / mow lawns
    • Gutter cleaning
    • Handyman
    • Starting a cleaning service
    • Repair computers
    • Hauling services to the dump
    • Digitize and organize documents for people and businesses
    • Teach music, art or computer lessons
    • Teach others the ins and outs of your favorite hobbies
    • Do nails (assuming you’re already a licensed technican)
    • Cut hair (assuming you’re already a licensed technican)
    • Clean pools
    • Start a painting service
    • Start an organization service to help people with clutter and cleaning out their homes
    • Become an event planner
    • Rent a room to do massage therapy (assuming you are a licensed massage therapist already)
    • Babysit or start an in-home daycare
    • Become a sleep training guru for toddlers (I would have handed over my retirement funds for this one, seriously!)
    • Create and sell crafts at craft shows or through a friend’s storefront. Anything you can possibly make can be sold, including:
      • Soaps, lotions, scrubs, and candles
      • Knitted, crocheted and sewn items
      • Painted signs, furniture, and picture frames
      • T-shirts, signs, or mugs with Cricut vinyl sayings ironed on
      • Embroidery or needlework, or printed and framed graphics
      • Birdhouses, work carvings
      • Scrapbooks, handmade cards, bullet journals or planners
      • Drawings, paintings, or graphics files
      • Hair bows, headbands, tutus, or toys for kids
      • Wreaths, swags, floral arrangements, and table arrangements
      • Home decor or holiday decor
    • Offer professional photography services at family/friend events
    • DJ for parties and weddings (without all the crazy equipment)
    • Become a wedding organizer that helps the couple arrange details, complete tasks, and ensures the day runs smoothly
    • Help with organizing tax paperwork or help file taxes (if you know how)
    • Tailor / seamstress services
    • Bake and sell treats and cakes for parties and special occasions
    • Buy flowers wholesale, then create and sell flower arrangements
    • Tutor kids with reading, math or other classes
    • Provide coaching for job interviews

    Turn Legit Side Hustles into Passive Income

    One of the absolute best ways to make money is through passive income, hands down. Passive income is money that you make while sleeping. Ok, not really – but I got your attention, right? 😉

    Active income is money that you earn by doing an active job, such as your 9 – 5 office job. Passive income is income that’s created by investing either time or money into an income stream, and then reaping the benefits further down the line, once all of your work is done.

    There are a ton of great passive income ideas to explore – but here are a few just to get you started:

    • Rent out a room
    • Use your home for AirBnB
    • Rent out your car
    • Rent out your possesions, such as tools, movies or books
    • Wrap your car in advertising
    • Start a blog
    • Design and sell t-shirts, mugs and signs through Amazon or CafePress
    • Dropship on Amazon
    • Create a YouTube channel and earn money off of the ads
    • Write an ebook
    • Sell stock photos
    • Earn referral fees for products you use, such as Ibotta or Ebates.

    If you’re interested in learning more about other passive income ideas, check out The Best Passive Income Ideas to Boost Your Income.

    How Do You Figure Out the Best Side Hustle?

    The best advice I can give is to find side hustles that match your skillset. By picking jobs that you already know how to do, you’ll feel more confident when applying for them, and will be able to have a larger return on your investment by shortening your start-up costs and time.

    Making money on the side doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. It’s about finding different hustles that fit your needs. When you figure out what you need, and take a look, you’ll find tons of great ways to make extra money.

    Speeding up the debt repayment process doesn’t have to be difficult, costly or overly time consuming. What it really takes is figuring out your “why” and putting yourself out there. If you’re willing to work harder and smarter, you’ll find yourself debt free in no time!

    Have you figured out the best side hustle for you that fits with your schedule and family? Or do you have more to add? Post them in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

    Hands holding money

    It can be tricky to find the best side hustles that don't have huge startup fees. Here's the complete list of the best side hustles that aren't MLMs #sidehustle #debt #financialfreedom The ultimate list of best side hustles that arent MLMs #debt #sidehustle #debtpayoffCan't find a great side hustle that's low stress? Use these side hustle ideas to find one that fits your schedule and pays you well! #sidehustle #sidegig #financialfreedom #debt #debtrepayment

    Is IBotta Legit? A Thorough Review + $10 Bonus Code

    Woman's hand on shopping cart with text

    Ever try a new cashback app only to find out you have to bend over backward while juggling plates and singing the Star Spangled Banner to average making about…4 cents?

    Yeah, no thanks.

    So when I mention Ibotta to my friends, most ask – is Ibotta legit? Or am I gonna have to start stretching and get out the plates?

    I’ve been using Ibotta for over four years, but only got serious about using it recently. During that time, I’ve earned over $440! Even with earning over $400, is Ibotta legit? Let’s walk through how it works, the types of offers available, and the different ways to redeem these offers.

    Hand on grocery cart

    What is Ibotta and How Does Work?

    Ibotta originally started as an app for your smartphone. The primary way to get money from Ibotta while using the app is to:

    1. Review the offers available for the store you are shopping at
    2. Make your purchases
    3. Scan your receipt and barcodes on the products
    4. Submit and earn cashback

    It’s that easy! 

    Even better, Ibotta has expanded to include saving your loyalty cards to the app (think CVS ExtraCare or Kroger Plus Card). When you use that loyalty card at the register, Ibotta picks up on it, and there are no receipts involved.

    Ibotta can also be used for mobile purchases. By clicking through a link in the app to do your online shopping, the purchase is recorded automatically. Again, no need for receipts!

    New in 2019, Ibotta also offers a brand new browser plugin so that saving while shopping online is a no-brainer.

    With so many ways to save, what’s not to love?

    Does Ibotta really give you money? 

    Yes, Ibotta does really give you money! Each offer varies from 25 cents to upwards of $10. Some of the online offers are a precentage of your total purchase, such as 2%. 

    If you want to know if Ibotta’s legit, I’ve earned over $440 and have cashed my account out several times through Paypal. It’s an easy way to make some extra cash for Christmas, birthday presents, or vacations. 

    Here’s a screenshot of my earnings from Ibotta, the majority of which have been in the past year and a half:

    Screenshot of earnings from Ibotta app

    How does Ibotta pay me my money? 

    When researching if an app is legit (specifically, if Ibotta is legit), it’s important to see what the payout threshold is, and how the app pays you.

    Ibotta pays out several ways once you hit the $20 threshold:

    1. Through your linked PayPal account
    2. Through your linked Venmo account
    3. Purchase a gift card through the app (some have a $25 minimum)

    There are currently over 65 gift card options to use when cashing out – including Target, Chiptole, Whole Foods, Bath and Body Works, and everything in between. 

    What’s the catch with Ibotta? How does Ibotta make money?

    Since you’re wondering is Ibotta legit, chances are you’re expecting a catch. But there really is no catch with Ibotta. Ibotta makes money through affiliate partnerships. By driving users to these offers, they earn money. They also get paid for playing short video clips and polls when you unlock an offer.

    It only takes seconds to do and is probably the only downside to Ibotta. The good news is, both are legal, and neither cost you anything. 

    All the Different Ways to Use Ibotta: App vs. Mobile vs. Browser

    To get started, sign up for Ibotta here. By using this link (you don’t even need an Ibotta referral code), you can get a $10 bonus. Easy money!

    Next, you’ll want to install the app. Even if you end up purchasing through the other methods, having the app is great because it’s easier to check your bonuses, earnings, and submit customer service requests.

    How Ibotta works In-Store with the app

    In the app, you’ll start by looking at the store you’ll be shopping at. One thing to note is that not all offers are available at all stores. They vary by store, so you’ll want to make sure that the items you wish to buy are available where you shop.

    There are about 300 stores that are currently available to shop at, so you have a wide variety of places to shop at.

    I like to unlock my offers before I shop. That way, I know what I need to do to get that rebate. 

    For example, there might be a restriction where you have to purchase two of an item to get the cashback. Or, it might only apply to items that are 11oz or larger in that brand. It can vary, so it’s essential to pay attention to the details on each offer.

    You may have to watch a video or take a short poll, but it’s seconds to do and super easy.

    Now that you have your cash back rebates picked at the store of your choice, do your shopping as usual.

    After you’ve done your shopping, now it’s time to scan your receipt. (Which really means you’ll just take pictures of your receipt.) Often, it takes more than a couple to get the entire receipt. There are guides to show you how to line it up and to add multiple images.

    Now that you’ve submitted your receipt, you’ll be asked to scan the barcodes on the products you’ve purchased and are filing for cashback.

    Pro Tip: Scan your receipt and purchases as soon as you get home. Don’t wait! Otherwise, the chances of the packaging being damaged or thrown out are high. Without that barcode, it’s difficult (not impossible) to claim that offer.

    And that’s it! Don’t forget to check out the bonuses to see if those apply as well.

    How Ibotta works In-Store with Loyalty Cards

    By linking your loyal cards to your app, you can really shorten the submittal process.

    Start by adding all of your loyalty cards to the app. You’ll find the retailer and add your loyalty card number, store account number, or phone number, depending upon the retailer.

    Next, you’ll unlock the offers you want to purchase and do your usual shopping.

    When you check out, make sure to use your loyalty card (or provide your phone number, in some cases). This notifies Ibotta that you’ve made the purchase.

    The best part about this is there’s no need to scan a receipt or barcodes! By linking your rewards card, Ibotta sees what you’ve purchased and can verify it without the extra work. 

    How Ibotta works with Mobile Purchases

    It just keeps getting easier to make purchases with Ibotta! In 2018 or so (maybe earlier? I can’t quite remember…), they added the ability to shop online with your phone.

    Awesome, right?

    Just find the online retailer you want to buy from, and look through the offers available. Some offer a flat percentage back on all purchases. Others offer cashback on specific items. It varies, so you’ll have to take the time to look through and decide which are worth your time.

    For example, they currently offer a 1% cashback with an online purchase at Lowes. 

    But online at The Home Depot, they are currently offering 1.5% cashback on furniture and home decor.

    Again, make sure to check the offers thoroughly before you make your purchase. 

    Once you’ve decided on a retailer and offer, just click through the link that Ibotta offers and your shopping trip is recorded. Make your purchase, and your job is done. No submitting receipts!

    Please note that the processing time can be longer on these types of cashback offers. Often they wait for the order to process, ship and make sure it isn’t returned before the money shows up in your account.

    How Ibotta works with the Browser Plugin

    New in 2019, Ibotta has released a browser plugin for Chrome. This makes it easy to see when an offer is available and that you’ll never forget to get cashback on any purchase!

    This works a little bit differently than the app. You’ll install the browser plugin for Chrome and sign in to your account.

    To use this, you’ll need to link a debit or credit card to your Ibotta account (I recommend credit for better security). 

    When you load a retailer’s website, a small pop-up appears in the corner of the page. It has exact instructions on how to get cashback.

    You’ll add items to your cart, and when you’re ready to check out, you’ll pay with the plugin rather than putting in your credit card information. This ensures that you get credit for your purchase and receive your cashback offer.

    I’ve often used Rakuten for this (formerly Ebates), but I’m excited to try out the Ibotta browser plugin now!

    Stores that Ibotta Works At

    There are over 300 stores that Ibotta works at. When you create your account, you’ll be asked to add any stores that you’re interested in seeing offers for.

    You can always edit or add to this list. Also, Ibotta will show you these stores (and more!) whenever you open the app. This way you can browse offers for places you love, as well as others that are similar.

    Stores are also organized by category, so if you know you need to make a travel purchase, you can compare the offers and figure out which is best.

    The current categories available include:

    • Grocery
    • Online Shopping
    • Beer, Wine, and Spirits
    • Pharmacy
    • Clothing
    • Beauty and Wellness
    • Specialty
    • Restaurants and Bars
    • Convenience Stores
    • Crafts and Gifts
    • Travel
    • Home and Electronics

    As of September 2019, there are over 300 retail chains, restaurants, movie theaters, convenience stores, home improvement centers, pet stores, and pharmacies nationwide. The app caters to your location and shows you offers and stores available in your area, rather than a bunch of suggestions for stores you’ll never visit.

    Tips and tricks to using Ibotta

    After using Ibotta for a while, it’s easy to pick up tips and tricks to maximize your savings. These are the hacks I’ve found to be the easiest and quickest to use:

    1. Take advantage of the “Any Brand” offers. These offers are easy savings since it’s for things like eggs, milk, cereal, or other staples just about everyone buys. There are usually no restrictions on these, just as long as they fall into that category, they qualify!
    2. Make sure the offer isn’t going to expire. The thing I love about Ibotta is that it has a visual reminder to let you know that the offer is going to expire soon. With other apps, I’ve struggled with making the purchase only to find out it’s expired by the time I try to submit it. Which leads to the next tip…
    3. Submit your receipt as soon as you get home from the store. Just make it a habit. Otherwise, a week will slip by, and either the offers will expire, or Ibotta will no longer accept your receipt. Just do it as soon as possible and get it off your plate!
    4. Check the offer details. I’ve been snagged on this a couple of items. I didn’t check the offer details, and found out I needed to purchase three, but only got two. Or, I got the wrong size that wasn’t covered by the offer.
    5. Scan as you shop. I love this! If I’m not sure if an offer covers a specific variation of an offer, you’ll select the offer, and then scan the barcode to see if it will accept it. No getting home and finding out you grabbed the wrong thing!
    6. Check out the bonuses. Make sure to check out the bonuses. They vary greatly and can be a great way to boost your savings. Some types of offers include:
      • A bonus for purchasing a certain number of items from a brand
      • A bonus for buying a combination of multiple brands
      • Bonuses for cashing in on a certain amount of offers (for example, $3 bonus for claiming 10 offers in a time period)
      • Weekend bonuses
      • Monthly bonuses for your team
      • Holiday/seasonal bonuses
      • Referral bonuses 
    7. Don’t buy what you don’t need. It’s easy to fall into the cashback trap of trying to snag every offer you can find. Don’t do it. Only get what you’d typically buy. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a ton of stuff you don’t need.
    8. Build your team for bonuses. You can connect your Ibotta account with Facebook or Google. When you do this, your friends that are using Ibotta will be on your team, and you’ll reach monthly bonuses faster.
    9. Use your referral code to earn extra cash. Once you’ve tried Ibotta, send your Ibotta referral code to friends and family. Both you and they will get a bonus (usually $10 each!) when they sign up and claim their first offer.
    10. Stack Ibotta savings with sales, other apps, and coupons. This takes a little planning, but in doing so, I’ve been able to get items for free. You can learn more about stacking apps and coupons in this article. Just make sure you don’t do anything questionable and end up getting banned from Ibotta!

    New Ibotta Functionality in 2019

    Recently, Ibotta has done a big round of updates to its functionality and added new ways to save, which puts the “Is Ibotta legit?” question to rest, once and for all. While I’ve covered them a bit already, here’s a quick rundown of what’s new in 2019:

    • Ibotta browser extension. This browser extension for Chrome allows you to shop online without missing a discount. A small pop-up shows you exactly how to save and what offers are available at that retailer.
    • Pay with Ibotta. When you add a debit or credit card to Ibotta, you can use Ibotta to pay at your favorite retailers. It simplifies the purchase process by combining the offer and payment method, making it easier to spend and save.
    • Walmart Grocery Pick up (HOOORAY!). If you haven’t tried Walmart grocery pick up yet, what are you waiting for? It’s so easy, and I love that I can shop online while getting the kids to bed, and pick up the groceries in the morning. No more fighting two kids over an hour to get groceries. Even better? Now you can get money back through Ibotta for using the grocery pick up. Win-win!
    • Register loyalty cards. Now you can register your loyalty cards with Ibotta so that you can redeem offers without having to scan receipts. It makes it even easier to grab those offers!

    Final Verdict: Is Ibotta Legit?

    So, is Ibotta legit? Yes! The pros majorly outweigh the cons. Now you don’t need a smartphone to use it, which is excellent. I love that it offers so many ways to save. Add sales and coupon stacking, and it’s a great way to shave even more money off of your grocery budget.

    There are only a few cons to using Ibotta. There are restrictions and expiration dates on offers. I’ve run into issues where my receipt wouldn’t scan correctly, but their customer service is exceptional and quick to help solve the problem. Overall, I have very few complaints about Ibotta, and none of those keep me from questioning is Ibotta legit.

    Pro Tip: Don’t forget to use this link to sign up and your $10 bonus!

    Is Ibotta Legit? Pros & Cons of the App
    Pros:

    • Can earn cash back through the app, mobile, or on desktop
    • Plenty of offers that you’ll actually use, at stores you like
    • Pays out through gift cards, Paypal, or Venmo
    • Get a $10 bonus just for signing up
    Cons:

    • Must be careful to review offer details
    • Offers do expire
    • Must submit receipt within a week or so

    Similar Apps like Ibotta

    Now that we’ve answered is Ibotta legit…are you interested in learning more about similar cashback and rebate apps? Here are the ones I’ve tried and recommend:

    Learn more about my favorite cash back apps here.

    woman's hand on grocery cart

    Secrets to Where I Change My Coins for Cash for Free

    Secrets to where I change coins for cash - for free! Hands holding coins

    If you’re getting ready for vacation, the holidays, or want to splurge without breaking your budget, the perfect go-to is to cash in coins you’ve been saving. Which means you’re wondering, where can I change my coins for cash for free?

    There are plenty of options to try to cash in coins for free without paying a ridiculous fee. These are the best places to take your spare change and walk out with dollar dollar bills, y’all.

    What Banks have Free Coin Counting Machines?

    Each bank varies so much that you need to call ahead to make sure you’re not wasting your time. Even between branches of the same bank, you can find differences in their policies.

    When you call ahead, here’s what you should ask about coin cashing:

    1. Do they have a coin counting machine?
    2. Is it free?
    3. Do you need to be a member of the bank to use it?

    If your local bank doesn’t have a free coin counting machine, you can ask if they’ll accept rolled coins. Again, if this is the case, ask:

    1. Is there a fee?
    2. Do you need to be a member to bring in rolled change?

    Usually, banks without a coin counting machine will accept rolled change. However, don’t bank on it (see what I did there?).

    A lot of the bigger banks have gotten rid of their coin counting machines altogether, including Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, Citibank, Chase, PNC Bank, TD Bank, and more. You’ll mostly still find coin counting machines at community banks and credit unions.

    If you choose to roll your coins, you can try cashing in small amounts at various banks. Again, the policies will vary so always call ahead before you lug your mountain of change in and risk hurting your back for nothing!

    Consider Opening an Account

    Depending upon how much change you have and how often you need to exchange it, it could be worth it to open an account with a bank that accepts loose change.

    If it saves your time and energy and you get to avoid fighting with coin wrappers, go for it. Just be sure that they don’t charge any monthly fees and don’t need a minimum amount in the account to keep it open. Those items could negate any advantages of opening and using the account.

    Where can I change my coins for cash for free?

    Bank Need to be a Customer Accepts Coins or Rolls Fee
    US Bank Yes Coins, not rolls No fee
    Wells Fargo Yes Coin rolls No fee
    Bank of America Yes Coin rolls No fee
    Citibank Depends on state Coin rolls Charges fee at different locations; call for more info
    Credit Unions Yes Varies; call ahead Varies; call ahead
    Local Banks Varies Varies; call ahead Varies; call ahead

    Where to Get Coin Wrappers

    If you’ve found a local bank or credit union that will take your rolled coins, ask them for coin wrappers. Most banks will give free coin wrappers to just anyone, whether they’re a member or not.

    If you can’t find a bank that gives coin wrappers out for free by some weird twist of fate, you can always hit up a Dollar Tree or Dollar Store for them. While it’s an additional cost, it shouldn’t be much.

    Dollar Stores sell them in packs of 36 for a dollar. Plus, they’re the nicer ones that have that are round and not flattened, so they’re much less difficult to fill.

    Other Free Coin Counting Options

    Get your Kids in on the Action

    When I was in high school, my parents owned a vending machine business. Before they bought a coin counter for use at home, my siblings and I would count and roll the change.

    I didn’t mind it, but it was time-consuming. And, my parents didn’t pay us, so I guess you could say that that’s another free option. Make it into a game and have your kids roll your coins. Or, offer them a percentage of the take for their help.

    Try Visiting the Casino

    Some casinos will take coins at the cage, no questions asked. You might have to dump your change into one of their coin cups, but they’re usually lying around everywhere anyway. Just make sure you don’t end up turning around and spending it on the slot machines!

    What to do if You Can’t Find a Bank that will Accept Change

    With fewer and fewer banks accepting change these days, you might want to find an alternative. The one that’s most commonly known as Coinstar.

    Coinstar’s coin-counting machines are in the lobbies of various groceries, retail stores, drug stores, and even some banks.

    Currently, Coinstar charges a painfully whopping 11.9% fee if you want to cash out your coins for paper money. Ouch.

    However – don’t despair. Coinstar also offers gift card options that allow you to avoid that fee. The gift cards are for popular places, so you don’t have to worry about getting stuck with a card you’ll never use.

    To use Coinstar, throw your change into the Coinstar machine. Then, once your coins are processed, you’ll be given the following options:

    1. Cash-out and get paper money (which will include Coinstar fee)
    2. Choose an egift card that will print out on paper (no fee)
    3. Apply your amount to your Amazon Balance (you can use this instead of a debit or credit card at Amazon)
    4. Donate your change to a charity (Coinstar has several different charities you can directly donate to)

    If you choose the second or third option, you will be able to change your coins for cash for free. The following gift card options should be available at any Coinstar locations:

    Gift Card Minimum Amount Maximum Amount
    AMC Theatres $10.00 $100.00
    Amazon.com $5.00 $1000.00
    Applebee’s $5.00 $500.00
    Cabela’s $5.00 $500.00
    Chili’s Grill & Bar $5.00 $100.00
    Domino’s $10.00 $100.00
    GameStop $5.00 $500.00
    Gap (can be redeemed at Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta stores) $10.00 $500.00
    Hotels.com $10.00 $500.00
    IHOP $5.00 $200.00
    Lowe’s $5.00 $1000.00
    Nike $5.00 $500.00
    Regal Cinemas $5.00 $100.00
    Showtime $25.00 $200.00
    Sephora $10.00 $500.00
    Southwest Airlines $25.00 $500.00
    Steam $10.00 $100.00
    The Home Depot $5.00 $2000.00
    iTunes $5.00 $500.00

    Coinstar Locations

    Some of the stores where you can find Coinstar include:

    • Acme
    • Albertsons
    • Cash Wise
    • City Markets
    • CVS
    • Food 4 Less
    • Food Lion
    • Foodland
    • Giant Eagle
    • Harris Teeter
    • Hannaford
    • H.E.B.
    • Hy-Vee
    • Jewel
    • King Soopers
    • Kmart
    • Kroger
    • Lowe’s
    • Meijer
    • Pavilions
    • Ralphs
    • Safeway
    • Shop ‘N Save
    • ShopRite
    • Target
    • The Food Emporium
    • Tom Thumb
    • Vons
    • Walmart
    • Winn Dixie

    While this is in no way an extensive list of all of the CoinStar locations, you can quickly find the nearest Coinstar by using the locator on their website here.

    Coinstar Alternatives

    Strangely, it’s nearly impossible to find any Coinstart competitors, possibly due to consumers moving away from using cash.

    The only Coinstar alteratives I could find were banks, and they seem to be handling coins to cash less often.

    Other Ideas for Your Spare Change

    Spend it.
    Make sure to keep change with you and use it at self-checkout kiosks. There are still a lot of places where you can use quarters to make a purchase, like air machines for tires, candy machines, vending machines, and the like.

    Donate it.
    There are always many opportunities where you can drop some change for charity. Think Salvation Army at Christmas or the change jars at checkout counters. Coinstar also has an option to donate your change to charities when you cash it in.

    Coinstar’s available charities will vary by the machine’s locations, but they can include:

    • American Red Cross
    • Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
    • Feeding America
    • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
    • The Humane Society
    • Unicef USA
    • United Way
    • World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

    Make some art or gift your coins to someone else.
    When I was in high school, my grandma went through a phase where every present she gave us was a piece of art made out of change.

    She did all sorts of crazy designs by arranging and gluing down change to cardboard and using bills folded into various shapes. (I’m pretty sure it took me longer to pick the coins off and soak the glue off than it did for her to come up with a design and create it though!)

    While you don’t have to be crazy creative to gift your change, it’s one way to get rid of it and give a gift at the same time. Two birds with one stone, right?

    Now that you know your options for cashing in your coins, make sure to use them for something good – like debt payoff, a vacation, or starting an emergency fund.

    Did I miss any places where can I change my coins for cash for free? If so, let me know in the comments below!

    Hands holding coins Text reads Secrets to where I change coins for cash - for free!

    Free Stuff on Your Birthday: How to Cash In 170+ Deals

    Free stuff on your birthday: How to cash in on 170+ deals!

    Birthdays only come once a year – so why not take advantage of some freebies while you’re celebrating? There’s so much free stuff on your birthday that you can grab that it’d be crazy not to jump on these offers.

    While I’m not suggesting you run out and buy everything you get a 15% off coupon for, birthdays are an excellent time to treat yourself a little sumthin’ special at the places you usually shop.

    Free birthday gift from SephoraMany companies offer birthday rewards if you sign up for their email list or rewards club. I did find some that don’t require an email sign up to cash in, but most do.

    For example, for my birthday this year, I snagged this fantastic gift Kat Von Dee beauty gift from Sephora. It included 3 shades of lipstick, a setting powder, and tattoo eyeliner (my fav anyway!). All for being a rewards member and just showing up during my birthday month. Sweet!

    There are a lot of opportunities to grab free birthday makeup, but there’s also a lot of free food as well. Some of the restaurants I found give an entirely free birthday meal.

    Seriously, an entire meal!

    If you’re looking for free stuff on your birthday, you won’t be disappointed – though you might want to prioritize which ones you really want to get since it’d be impossible to get them all!

    Free and Discounted Birthday Meals

    From free appetizers with purchase to an entire free meal, restaurants love to give stuff away to help you celebrate your birthday.

    90% of them will ask that you sign up for their email list or rewards club. If you’re worried about too much spam, set up a separate free email address that you can use just for email sign up offers. Then you can check it whenver you need a coupon for places that you shop.

    Store Birthday Freebie Link Sign-Up Bonus
    99 Restaurant and Pub Special offer that varies Special offer that varies
    Abuelo’s Special offer that varies Special offer that varies
    A&W Root Beer Float
    Applebee’s Free treat like an appetizer, entree or dessert Free appetizer with purchase of entree
    Arby’s Free milkshake Free roast beef classic sandwich with purchase of drink
    Argo Tea Free drink (depending upon level) $3 credit when you download the app
    Atlanta Bread Free cookie Free bakery item
    Au Bon Pain Free birthday lunch Free travel mug
    Auntie Anne’s Free pretzel Free pretzel when you spend $1
    Baja Fresh Special offer that varies Free taco
    Baskin Robbins Free ice cream
    bd’s Mongolian Grill Free meal on your birthday $5 coupon
    Benihana’s $30 gift certificate, plus kids get a freebie
    Big Boy Free dessert
    Biggby Coffee Free drink up to 24 oz
    BJ’s Brewhouse Free pizookie Another free pizookie!
    Black Angus Free steak dinner Free dessert
    Bojangle’s Free Bo-Berry Biscuit with purchase Free 1/2 gallon of iced tea with purchase
    Bonefish Grill Special offer that can vary
    Boston Market Special offer that can vary
    Brio Tuscan Grille Special offer that can vary
    Brugger’s Bagels Free treat Bagel with cream cheese
    Bruster’s Ice Cream Free birthday treat $3 off next purchase
    Bucca di Beppo $20 birthday gift (we got a huge brownie sundae!) Pasta dish
    BurgerFi Special offer that can vary Free fries
    California Pizza Kitchen Free dessert or entree, depending upon your benefits level Free small plate
    Cantina Laredo Free dessert
    Captain D’s Free birthday dessert with purchase Coupon for a free dessert or appetizer with purchase
    Caribou Coffee Free birthday treat Free drink after first visit
    Carrabba’s Italian Grill Special offer that can vary
    Carrino’s Free dessert $5 off next visit
    Carvel Free birthday treat
    Chevy’s Fresh Mex Birthday surprise Free appetizer with purchase of two entrees
    Chick-fil-A Special offer that varies; check locations for availability
    Chili’s Free dessert Free chips & salsa or non-alcoholic drink with every visit
    Chuck E. Cheese’s Free birthday treat Free personal one-topping pizza on next visit
    Cinnabon Special offer that varies Free minibon
    Cold Stone Creamery BOGO coupon BOGO coupon
    Cracker Barrel Free dessert
    Culver’s Free birthday treat Free scoop of ice cream
    Dairy Queen Birthday coupon BOGO Blizzard coupon
    Del Taco Free regular size premium milkshake Free taco
    Denny’s Free build your own Grand Slam on your birthday
    Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Special offer that varies Special offer that varies
    Dippin’ Dots Free Dippin’ Dots
    Dunkin’ Donuts Free drink Free drink
    Dunn Brothers Coffee $5 to spend on a drink $3 credit when you download the app
    Edible Arrangements Free 12 count chocolate dipped birthday box during your birthday month
    Einstein Bros Bagels Free egg sandwich with purchase Free bagel and shmear with purchase
    El Pollo Loco Birthday reward Free Pollo Bowl
    Famous Dave’s Special offer that varies
    Firehouse Subs Free medium sub the week of your birthday
    First Watch Free entree BOGO offer
    Friendly’s Free birthday sundaes for you + your kids
    Fuddruckers Free birthday burger
    Gneghis Grill Free bowl Free appetizer or dessert
    Godiva Birthday gift
    Great American Cookies Special offer that varies $3 coupon
    Habit Burger Grill Special offer that varies
    Hard Rock Cafe Special offer that varies
    Hooters Free wings
    Houlihan’s Free entree $10 off
    IHOP Free meal Free meal
    Jack in the Box Two free tacos with purchase
    Jamba Juice Free juice or smoothie $3 off next order
    Jason’s Deli $5 coupon
    Jersey Mike’s Subs Free sub & 22 oz drink
    Joe’s Crab Shack Special offer that varies Free appetizer
    Johnny Rockets Special offer that varies Free appetizer
    Kirby’s Grill & Steakhouse Free steak dinner $5 coupon
    Krispy Kreme Free birthday treat Free donut
    La Madeleine Free birthday bakery treat Free lemon madeleine or butter croissant
    Longhorn Steakhouse Free dessert 100 bonus points (which is enough for four free sides, salads or soup upgrades)
    Lennys’ Grilled Subs Free 7.5 inch sub Free chips and drink
    Marble Slab Creamery / Maggie Moo’s Sweet treat $5 reward after signing up and first purchase
    Marie Callender’s Special offer that varies; also gives special offers for wedding anniversary! Special offer for next dine-in purchase
    Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt $5 menchie’s money 25 bonus smiles for registering; $5 and 2x smiles for 60 daysfor downloading the app
    Moe’s Southwest Grill Free burrito Free nachos with drink purchase
    Noodles & Company Special offer that varies; must sign up 60 days before birthday
    Noodles World Kitchen Special treat
    Not Your Average Joe’s Kitchen and Bar Birthday surprise
    Nothing Bundt Cake Free Bundtlet
    O’Charley’s Free birthday surprise
    Olive Garden Free appetizer or dessert Free appetizer or dessert
    On the Border Free queso Order of sopapillas
    Orange Julius Free smoothie BOGO coupon
    Orange Leaf $3 off
    Outback Steakhouse Free dessert
    Panda Express Birthday surprise
    Panera Bread Free pastry or cookie Free treat
    Pei Wei Choose one of five freebies
    Peet’s Coffee & Tea Any size of your favorite beverage Free beverage after first check-in
    Perkins Special offer that varies 20% off coupon
    P.F. Changs Free appetizer or dessert
    Pinkberry Free yogurt
    Pita Pit Free pita
    Pizza Hut Special offer that varies
    PizzaExpress Birthday surprise
    Planet Smoothie Free smoothie
    Red Lobster Surprise birthday offer; must join at least 10 days prior to your birthday
    Red Mango $5 reward $2 reward
    Red Robin Free birthday burger
    Shari’s Free slice of pie Free slice of pie
    Rita’s Italian Ice Free birthday treat
    Romano’s Macaroni Grill Free dessert
    Ruby Tuesday Free burger or garden entree Free appetizer
    Sbarro Special offer that varies Free XL NY slice with purchase of beverage within 24 hours of joining
    Smokey Bones Free dessert $10 off your next $25 purchase
    Sonic Special offer that varies
    Sonny’s BBQ Free Big Deal Meal $5 coupon
    Souper Salad Free meal during your birthday week $3 coupon
    Spaghetti Warehouse Free meal during your birthday week Free appetizer with entree purchase
    Sprinkles Free cupcake on your birthday
    Starbucks Free birthday treat
    Steak ‘N Shake Free specialty milkshake Free Double ‘n Cheese ‘n Fries
    Subway Receive 20 points (good for a 21 oz fountain drink, bag of chips, or 2 free cookies)
    Taco Bueno Birthday surprise
    TCBY Birthday surprise
    Texas Roadhouse Special offer that varies
    TGI Friday’s Free dessert Free dessert or appetizer
    The Cheesecake Factory Free sundae
    The Melting Pot Free box of six chocolate-covered strawberries Free dessert or appetizer
    Tijuana Flats Free birthday treat Free Tijuana Trio
    Tommy Bahama Free dessert on your birthday $10 restaurant credit
    Tony Roma’s BOGO entree
    Tropical Smoothie Cafe Birthday surprise
    Tucanos Free birthday meal
    Uno Pizzeria & Grill Free dessert with purchase of an entree Free appetizer with purchase of an entree
    Waffle House Free waffle
    Wienerschnitzel Coupon for your birthday Free chili dog
    Wingstop Free gift
    Yogurt Mountain Free yogurt Free sandwich meal
    Zaxby’s Free Nibbler Free sandwich meal

    Free Birthday Gifts from Retail Stores

    Again, most retail stores will want you to sign up for their rewards club or email list to in order to get your free coupon. Many offer great coupons that make it worthwhile though.

    I like to save up any new clothes shopping for right around my birthday. There’s usually a ton of summer sales going on, plus the coupons boost my savings. I can’t resist a good coupon stack with a sale!

    Store Birthday Freebie Link Sign-Up Bonus
    Ace Hardware $5 coupon  
    AMC Theaters Large popcorn r large popcorn and fountain drink (depending upon level)  
    American Eagle Outfitters & Aerie 15% off coupon  
    Anthropologie Free birthday gift  
    Aveda Free birthday gift valued at $23; double points 15% off first purchase
    bareMinerals Special offer that varies  
    Banana Republic Special birthday offer  
    Barnes & Noble Free cupcake for kids 30% off any kids’ book or toy
    Benefit Boutiques Free birthday brow arch
    Bliss Free birthday surprise 30% off any kids’ book or toy
    Clarins Free birthday gift  
    Columbia Free birthday gift  
    Container Store Special & anniversary offers 15% off
    CVS Free birthday gift Free welcome gift
    Dave & Buster’s $5 game play $10 FREE Game Play with $10 game play purchase
    Disney Movie Rewards 100 points  
    DSW $5 or $10 to spend depending on level  
    Famous Footwear $5 coupon plus 2x points on purchases during your birthday month Download the app and get 50 points (halfway to $5 coupon)
    Gamestop Free birthday offer Buy 2 Get 1 Free pre-owned games (depending on level)
    Hallmark Free card and discount (unable to verify this offer) $5 off your next purchase of $10 or more
    IKEA $15 coupon; no minimum purchase
    J. Crew 20% off and free shipping 15% off next purchase
    JC Penney Birthday gift  
    Journeys Special birthday offer (as well as ones specifically for kids)  
    Kiehl’s Free lip balm or travel sized product (depending on level)  
    Kohl’s Special birthday gift 50 points when you download the Yes2You app
    Madewell $25 off a purchase (minimum purchase of $26)
    Nyx Professional Makeup Special birthday gift  
    Old Navy Special birthday gift 20% off your first purchase
    Pet Supplies Plus Free birthday present for your pet (limit 1 per month & 3 per year)  
    Petco Free birthday present for your pet  
    RedBox One free DVD rental during your birthday month Free 1 night DVD rental
    Regal Cinemas Free birthday reward  
    Sephora Choice of 2 – 4 birthday gifts depending upon level  
    Showcase Cinemas Free regular popcorn  
    Smashbox Free birthday gift  
    Tarte Cosmetics Free birthday gift  
    The Body Shop $10 discount  
    Ulta Beauty Free birthday gift  
    Urban Decay Free birthday gift  
    World Market Birthday gift 15% off coupon

    Now that you’ve seen the possibilities of free stuff on your birthday, which ones are you going to cash in on? Let me know in the comments below!

    Don’t forget to check out this great list of free things to do to go with your free birthday deals! Enjoy, and happy birthday!

    Cupcake with sparkler

    Cupcakes and text that says "Free stuff on your birthday: How to cash in on 170+ deals!"

    How to Make Money on eBay: The Ultimate Guide

    How to make money on eBay: A step-by-step guide

    Learning how to make money on eBay was a personal goal that I decided to try at the beginning of the year. With so much stuff lying around that needed to get Marie Kondo’d, I decided to give eBay a shot.

    And thankfully, it did not disappoint! I am still looking for stuff around the house to get listed and am challenging myself to double my sales in the next month.

    I love a good side hustle, and even better, one that doesn’t involve a huge hurdle to get started. It’s easy to learn how to make money on eBay. There’s a low start-up cost, small learning curve, and it’s only as time-consuming as you want it to be. That’s what makes it a fun side hustle for just about anyone!

    Everyone knows that you can buy anything off of eBay, but most people don’t know how to make money on eBay. This ultimate step-by-step guide covers all the ins and out of selling on eBay. Learn how to find items to sell as well as how to price, list, and ship them to make some easy money!

    Types of Sellers on eBay

    While anyone can learn how to sell stuff on eBay, people tend to fall into a couple of different categories with their sales.

    First, there’s the person who is decluttering and wants to get stuff out of their house. They tend to list small, one-off items like clothes, home decor, and electronics to get rid of them. It’s a great way to make a little extra cash to help pump up debt repayment or save up for a vacation.

    Next, there are the side hustlers who make selling on eBay a part-time gig. These folks are proactively out looking for items to sell at garage sales, Goodwill, or combing their family’s attics for goodies. Chances are if you start as a declutter, you’ll move up to a side hustler. Selling on eBay is addictive!

    Last, there are the big dogs – these are the dropshippers and people who open an eBay store. They purchase things in bulk on clearance or wholesale. Or they sell items that require freight shipping (like flipped furniture). Dropshipping takes a lot of study and work, but they’ve mastered how to make money dropshipping on eBay and have the sales to prove it!

    You don’t have to decide right away, which you want to do, but be aware of the levels of commitment. Maybe you already know that you’re beyond decluttering and wish to take it more seriously. Or, perhaps the idea of dropshipping is too much fo a commitment.

    Whatever you decide, let’s get started on the tactics it takes to be a successful seller on eBay.

    What to Sell on eBay

    Everyone immediately wants to know what the best selling items on eBay (not that I blame them!). We all want the quickest and biggest bang for our buck.

    If you’re looking to make quick sales on eBay, these are some highly recommended categories of items to start with:

    • Clothes (like jeans) / Designer clothes
    • Home decor
    • Collectibles
    • Electronics (watches, smartphones, video games)
    • Handbags
    • Baby items
    • Fitness equipment
    • Shoes (who knew?)

    These are all items you can find around the house, at the thrift store, or a garage sale. Easy to find, easy to sell!

    A screenshot of the advanced search properties on eBayAlso, don’t forget to ask yourself if there’s a market for this item. If you’re not sure, do some research on eBay. Besides just searching the active listings, you can also do some more digging to see if anyone’s buying these items.

    In the advanced search features, you can check the “Sold Listings” to see how many sales there have been for that type of product recently.

    You can also try checking the “Completed Listings” option. In the results, if the listing price is green, it’s sold. If it’s not, then that’s an item that didn’t sell.

    This research can give you an idea if the eBay market is saturated, or if that type of item is selling quickly and at a decent price. It can also be helpful when actively looking for things to sell at garage sales or thrift stores.

    Where to Find Items to Sell

    • Garage sales
    • Thrift stores
    • Clearance at stores
    • Your basement, attic, closets, etc.
    • Freebie sections on Craigslist
    • Local Facebook groups
    • Nextdoor website
    • Letgo app
    • OfferUp app
    • VarageSale app
    • Shop at the curb/dumpster dive (if you’re brave enough!)
    • Make items to sell (if you’re crafty)
    • Wholesale companies (this applies specifically to dropshippers)

    How to Price Items to Sell on eBay

    Now that we know what to sell and where to find it let’s get into how to make money on eBay.

    Next, you’ll want to do some research on how to price these items to sell. You want the pricing to be competitive, but you don’t want to get stiffed after fees and shipping. It’s a bit tricky, but with some practice, pricing gets easier.

    There are a couple of different recommended places to do some pricing research.

    1. Google Shopping is a great way to quickly price items between multiple vendors to see what the average cost is. Usually, this is pricing for brand new items, so make sure to adjust if the item is used or has wear and tear.
    2. Use eBay Advanced Search to see what prices others have sold the same (or similar) things. Used those advanced search features to how others have priced their items.

    Costs and fees for selling on eBay

    eBay promotions
    Don’t forget to check the promotions that are running on eBay. This can help you save on fees!

    When pricing items to sell, don’t forget the additional fees tacked on by eBay. These include:

    1. Insertion or listing fee: This fee is charged just for creating a listing. Depending upon how much the opening bid or reserve price is, these are anywhere from free to $2.00. eBay then tacks on additional costs if you opt into subtitles, bolding, extra photos (more than 6), multiple categories, and so on.
    2. A final value fee: Once your item sells, a fee is charged, which is a percentage of the final sale. It’s anywhere from 8% to 15% and is tiered depending upon how much the buyer paid. Also, each category has a different percentage as well. Rates also vary based on if the item sold as an auction item versus a fixed-price item.
    3. Shipping: You can choose to pay for the shipping yourself, or pass the cost on to the buyer. If you decide to foot the shipping bill, don’t forget to factor that into your price.

    For more specifics on the percentages of the fees, you can review them here.

    Once you have a price figured out, it’s time to learn the ins and outs of listing them.

    Tips to make your eBay listings stand out

    There are millions of active listings eBay right now with sales happening every second, which means that you have to figure out how to get consumers to buy your shoes versus someone else’s.

    There are several key pieces to your listing that will help you stand out and make the sale:

    1. Take amazing photos. For the love of Pete, take good pictures. Make or buy a lightbox if you need to. Make sure the lighting is excellent, the item is staged, and everything looks fantastic. No one is going to click on something they can barely see, much less tell how worn it is.
    2. Make your listing title is descriptive. If your product is a brand name, put it in the title. Make the title descriptive and use the allotted title length to create a descriptive title. Point out anything that makes the product unique. Do a Google shopping search and read the descriptions of the product. Use those details to paint a thorough and enticing story.
    3. Offer free shipping. Be honest – are you more likely to buy something that’s $9.99 + $3 shipping, or $12.99 with free shipping? I’m a sucker for free shipping and will deter from buying something if I know I have to pay for shipping. Just make sure to factor in that cost as well.
    4. Make sure you have an excellent seller rating. Ask for positive feedback from your buyers. People are more likely to purchase from someone with a higher grade than someone with a poor rating, especially if they’re teeter-tottering between two similar items.
    5. Try grouping items. If you’re selling kids clothes, for example, group certain brands together to sell them as a group. You’re more likely to make a sale than if you were to sell them by the piece.
      Now that you have items to sell, have the listing built, you’re ready to post it. There are a couple of different options as to how you want to sell.

    How to Make Money on eBay with your First Sale

    If you know the value of your item, and it’s not a collectible or unique, it’s recommended to go with a fixed-price sale, often called the Buy It Now option. It’s more likely to sell, and it saves you the hassle of waiting through an auction. You’re more likely to know what you’ll get for the item and won’t be disappointed.

    If you have an item that’s a collectible, is rare or unique, it’s recommended to sell it as an auction instead. Chances are you’ll get more for it since no one knows what it’s worth, and there can be competing bidders to drive up the cost.

    Make sure to start the bid low to drum up some responses. Don’t worry. You can set a hidden minimum reserve price so that if the price doesn’t go above that amount by auction’s end, you don’t have to sell it.

    Next, you will choose how long to list the item. Again, there are two trains of thought on listing time.

    You can either create a sense of urgency by only listing the item for 3 – 5 days. I know I get panicky when I see a sale’s going to be over soon and I’m afraid of missing out. This tactic counts on the fact that a lot of people often feel that way.

    The other option is to list the product for ten days, which is the maximum time available. If you do this, it’s recommended to list the item on a Thursday or Friday. That way, the product will be available throughout two weekends, when eBay shoppers are more active. Sunday nights are often the highest traffic time and can lead to a lot more eyeballs on your items.

    Once you decide how long to run the listing, now it’s time to sit back and rack in cash!

    How to Handle Product Shipping

    Now that your product has sold on eBay, it’s essential to ship it correctly.

    For shipping, you can find free shipping supplies on sites like Craigslist. Or, you can get the 13 oz first class padded envelopes for free from the post office. The only catch is that you have to order them a couple of weeks before needing them since they can take a bit to show up (yes, I do see the irony there…!).

    When you process an order on eBay, it allows you to purchase shipping online. Do it! You’ll save about 20% on the shipping costs by buying it online and printing your labels.

    You don’t need any special label paper, print it on regular paper and tape that to the box or envelope. You can even schedule a pick up by the USPS if you want to streamline the process even more.

    Take the time to review the different shipping methods and pricing so that you aren’t surprised. Luckily, it has a pretty nifty interactive shipping page where you can play with the settings before purchasing to make sure you get what you want.

    Don’t forget to get proof of postage. It’s essential so that if there are any issues with the buyer not receiving the package, you have documentation that shows you mailed it. Then, pack it up and ship it out!

    Customer Service Tips for eBay

    Now that you know how to make money on eBay, make sure to offer excellent customer service so that buyers will come back.

    • Be prompt. Whether you’re answering a question about a listing or shipping out products, do so quickly.
    • Use Paypal. Use PayPal to receive payments. It can offer additional protection in case of issues.
    • Set up your account’s return rules. You can set return rules for your seller account, which creates clear cut rules to protect both you and the buyer.
    • Disclose any issues. If you are selling an item with a defection or imperfection, disclose it upfront. It’s not worth the knock to your rating when they discover the problem after receiving the product.
    • Add in a note. When you ship out a package, add a personal note, freebie, or a business card to help the buyer to remember you and leave a positive impression.
    • Have an inventory system. If you’re juggling a lot of products, have a spreadsheet or other inventory system so that you can keep track of when listings expire, what has already sold, and what hasn’t.
    • Have your supplies ready. Be prepared with shipping materials before you even create your first listing. It’s a lot less work and stress when you already have all of the supplies you need.

    When you have happy customers, it’s more comfortable to ask for feedback to build up that positive rating. It reflects better on you, your standing, and your sales when you are organized and have provided excellent customer service.

    For even more great tips, check out this free hour long webinar!

    Go Pro: How to Dropship on eBay or sell Freight Items

    Once you’ve gotten a taste of eBay sales and you’re ready to go pro, it’s time to step up to dropshipping. eBay dropshipping is a popular way to make money, and many people have turned it into a side hustle.

    It’s mostly the same method, but on a grander scale. For items to sell, you’re going to want to find a wholesaler that can provide products to you.

    You create the listings, then when the item sells, the wholesaler ships it for you to the buyer. The product never touches your hands, and you don’t have to worry about having a warehouse to store your stock.

    With dropshipping, there are some additional aspects to keep an eye on. You need to make sure that the product is in stock before selling it. Also, you’ll need to provide tracking for the shipment as well.

    eBay has recently changed it’s policy on dropshipping and seems to be tightening the reins on what they’ll allow. Before you decide to go this route, you will want to do a lot of research to make sure you’re not doing anything to jeopardize your seller’s account with eBay.

    Whether you’re selling stuff from your closet or setting up a dropshipping business, it’s easy to learn how to make money on eBay. The key is to be consistent with these tasks and your customer service, and you can’t go wrong.

    Now that you know how to make money on eBay start searching those closets, garage sales, and apps to see what you can find!

    Are you looking for other side hustle ideas? Read more about the ultimate list of legit side hustle ideas. Or, check out these side hustles resources.

    How to make money on eBay

    The Best Cheap Places to Eat when You Don’t Want to Cook

    The best cheap places to eat when you don't feel like cooking

    Having a handy list of cheap places to eat might not sound like a frugal hack at first. But being prepared for those days when you can’t stand to cook can be a great way to avoid blowing your food budget for the month.

    Meal planning is a great way to save money, but sometimes, schedules can get thrown off track. Surprise guests, bad days, or late work nights are all culprits to pushing the best-laid plans aside.

    There are tons of great cheap places to eat – so how to pick? I’ve asked some fellow bloggers to send me their favorites.

    While some offered up local eateries, and other chain restaurants, all of them had terrific tips on where to find a great cheap meal. Many even threw in tips for additional savings!

    Here are the best cheapest places to eat out when you’re too tired to cook.

    Cheap Places to Eat with Friends

    Try the local supermarket. Back when I was in high school, my friends and I used to sometimes go to the local supermarket on our lunch break and gather ingredients for some ‘mega subs.’ A few baguettes, some deli meat, cheese, and lettuce split between 5 of us came out to something like $4-$5 a person…and that left you with an awesome sub that was more than a foot long. Not exactly a chain or typical restaurant experience, but it was a fun way to make a tasty lunch! – Tom Blake from This Online World

    Share a drink. My wife and I enjoy eating at McDonald’s for breakfast because the coffee only costs $1 for any size. Depending on the day, we might split their largest coffee and then each of us have a breakfast item off the value menu. We usually get fed and caffeinated for under $5! – Riley Adams from The Young and Invested

    Make sure to bring your coupons. We love eating at the Outback steakhouse. You can get some really great steaks for bargain prices there and they even have coupons to get the steaks for an ever lower cost! – Russell Barbour from Unconventional Prosperity

    Use loyalty programs at your favorite restuarants. Red Robin’s royalty program is bottomless source of free food. Most notably, every 10th food item (burger, salad, sandwich, entree) is free. You will also get exclusive deals sent to your email, as well as one free burger on your birthday. And don’t forget to take advantage of their bottomless fries that come *free* with your burger! Evan Sutherland from Budgeting Couple

    Try out local fast food. I’m from California, and every time friends come to visit they are shocked by how expensive the restaurants are…until they go to In-N-Out! California food, at a great price! I recommend splurging to make your fries animal style. – Sally French from Wire Cutter

    Check out the lounge. The airports! I’ve visited over 35 lounges in the last 6 months and I always eat free and often come home with leftovers thanks to the restaurants that have been added. My favorite lounge are the Centurions and my favorite priority pass restaurant airport is Portland. – Justin Taylor from Saving Sherpa

    Cheap Foods for Families

    Put your Costco membership to good use. If you really need to eat on the cheap and you’re a Costco member, then definitely their $5 Rotisserie Chicken….$5 and it feeds the whole family of 4. – Pinyo Bhulipongsanon

    Pick up a pizza. Instead of going out to a restaurant, getting a “take and bake” pizza is a big hit with our kids! Our local Aldi has huge take and bake pizzas that are priced around $5 each. Last time, we invited a neighbor kid to share the pizza, too. I instantly became the cool mom in the neighborhood! It’s our new favorite way to feel like we’re eating out. – Jamie Gibbs from Bubbling Brook Budgets

    Add some ice cream. Our go to cheap place to eat is Dairy Queen for their $5 buck lunches. It helps that we both have flexible schedules that let us eat out for lunch rather than dinner. You get a burger or chicken strips, fries, a sundae and drink all for $5. You can even upgrade to a small Blizzard for $1 more. You can upgrade the ice cream to a larger size for the difference in cost between the small and the size you want. We use this hack to get a large sundae for just $0.69 cents more so we can split it with our son. If we bought another sundae on our own, it’d cost an additional $4. – Lance Cothern from Money Manifesto

    Try a vegetarian option. We love Waffle House, Qdoba and Taco Bell. We are both vegetarian so those three places never let us down with the meatless options and we always spend less than $15 for both of us. – Danielle Flores from I Like to Dabble

    Go to a restaurants where kids eat free. We love to eat out at the chain Cafe Rio. They have huge portions and all kids under age six get a free kids quesadilla. My husband and I can easily split one of their entrees and then our kids eat free. For under $10 it is a steal! – McKinzie Bean from Moms Make Cents

    Visit the food court. My favorite place to get a cheap bite to eat is Costco. There’s plenty of pre-made food that’s pretty cheap including the famous rotisserie chicken. However, beyond that, if you’re just looking for a quick bite, you can rock the sample carts and try a variety of great foods. If you’re a bit hungrier, the food court is awesome too as you can get some cheap pizza or a hotdog at very affordable prices. Hell, even the bottle of water in the vending machine is 25 cents. Those are prices you can’t beat for the quantity and quality of food. Also, if you’re in a place like Hawaii where the weather is nice, you can rock the outdoor food court without even being a member. – Jarek from Time in the Market

    Sign up to get free shakes and other discounts. My kids and I love eating at Ruby’s Diner, especially on Tuesdays when kids eat free after 4pm! You can also sign up for their rewards program and get free shakes, and discounts! – Lauren Mochizucki from Casa Mochi

    Use a gift card. My family likes IHOP. My daughter and son love pancakes, and the rest of us like omelletes. We’d use our $10 OFF $25 coupon from Restaurant.com, which I only bought for $1 or $2. We order two meals and split those to four people. Since pancakes are included in the price of the meals, we only pay for those two meals. Sometimes, we go there when kids can eat free. With the coupon, we always end up spending less than $12 for a family of 6. It’s not bad at all since we have leftovers to take home. – Allen Liwanag from The Practical Saver

    Grab a bite while shopping. I know this may sound crazy, but one of my favorite places for cheap eats is IKEA. While most people go there strictly for furniture shopping, I’d stop in there just to get a cheap bite to eat. They have a restaurant inside most of their stores where you can buy their pretty well known Swedish meatballs meal that comes with mashed potatoes and a veggie side for under $6. They also have several other options available in the restaurant, including a salmon dinner, but the meatballs are my favorite. And if you have kids, they have kids meals starting at $2.99. Now if you want to get really cheap, IKEA also has a small food counter by the exit where you can buy a hot dog for about a $1, or for about $3 you can get 2 hot dogs and a drink. – GP from Entirely Money

    College Food Hacks / Cheap Student Meals

    Take advantage of BOGO specials. I’m not sure if Chipotle is considered “cheap”, but I make it cheap by always answering the “how was your visit today” survey on the receipt. By answering it, I get a buy-one-get-one-free burrito or bowl on my next visit. So sure enough, I’m able to get Chipotle at basically 50% off every time I go in. I eat one burrito or bowl while I’m there and then save the other one in the fridge for the next day. I’m pretty sure this strategy isn’t unique to Chipotle and that a lot of fast food places have these deals for completing the survey on the receipt, but I was surprised at how few of my friends take advantage of these deals! – Logan Allec from Money Done Right

    Try something new. Our favorite thing to eat when we’re in the mood for cheap for are Banh Mi’s. Most vietnamese restaurants offer them and they’re usually less than $6 and plenty of food to eat. Depending on your appetite, you could easily stretch them into two meals. – Richmond Howard from PF Geeks

    Split a meal. We love to split a chicken finger sub from the Publix grocery store deli. The thing is MASSIVE. We get it sliced in half so that we can each pick our own toppings. It’s a super tasty $8 dinner for two. – Clint Proctor from Wallet Wise Guy

    Use the restaurant’s app for discounts. I would say Mc.Donalds. I downloaded the Mc Donalds app, that alerts me of sales, shows the current menu, and most importantly it gives you all the current coupons that can be scanned right from my phone. – Swati Chalumuri from Hear Me Folks

    Order off the value menu. I love Wendy’s. They have the 4 for $4 deal.You can get a combo of sandwiches, wraps, brugers, nugges, fries and a drink for 4 bucks. You can’t beat that. – Jason Butler from My Money Chronicles

    Take a survey for a discount. Wendy’s and Panda Express offer free sandwiches and entrees, respectively, for guests who take the time to fill respond to simple surveys on the back of their receipts. It’s a quick and easy way to save several dollars! – David Cahill from Finance Superhero

    Don’t forget your doggie bag. One of my favorite cheap (but still healthy) places to eat is Chipotle. And if you know a few Chipotle tricks you can eat for even less! I always get a bowl because the portion sizes are larger, and if you ask for half chicken/half steak (or some other combo), more often than not you get a decent amount of extra meat vs. asking for just a single option. You can also get a tortilla on the side as an extra bonus! I usually get 2 meals out of one bowl this way. – Andrew from Wealthy Nickel

    Local Cheap Restaurants

    Try the local noodle shop. My favorite cheap place to eat is Umaido it is a Japanese Noodle Shop here in Atlanta and it has some of the best food for very low prices. You can get a ton of food for under $20.00. – Sa El from Simply Insurance

    Visit a food truck. It might be only prevalent in southern California, but one of my favorite cheap eats are authentic Mexican taco trucks that serve a variety of simple meat tacos. Each taco may be small, but the flavors are usually fantastic and the prices are catered to locals. One of my favorite in Orange County is Tacos Manuel. Their tacos start at a dollar each. – Jonathan Huang from Mr. Centsible

    Try a local grocery. If you’ve ever been to Texas, you might have seen H-E-B around—it’s the local grocery chain that’s named after the initials of the founder, although it’s also said to stand for “Here, everything’s better.” The local H-E-B near me used to offer an “orange plate special” at their deli/prepared foods section. With this special, you were able to pick one entree and two sides for $6 to $8. (Pricing varied based on the choice of protein featured in your entree.) The service person would heat up your plate if you wanted, and there was even a small dining area in the store so you could enjoy it immediately. The portions were also quite generous, so you could have reasonably split the plate into two meals or at least one and a half. Unfortunately, this special was discontinued—likely because it was too good of a deal—but I used to love grabbing a quick and affordable meal there! – Joyce Chou from Financial Impulse

    Hit up happy hour. My favorite cheap place to eat is this rooftop sushi bar in downtown Baton Rouge, La. On Tuesdays, they have happy hour all day (Half off sushi rolls and Sake). I usually order a tasty shrimp tempura roll and a large, cold pineapple sake for $7. The bill ends up being $9 because I leave a $2 dollar tip. – Jerry Brown from Peerless Money Mentor

    Use your frequent buyer card. I love Rosita’s Fine Mexican, which is very small local chain in metro Phoenix that’s been around since the 60s. It’s awesome because the food is delicious, there are unlimited fresh chips & salsa, and they have what I call a frequent eater card that gets you free meals when it’s full. So in addition to the already cheap prices, you save even more by getting that card stamped. – Jackie Beck from JackieBeck.com

    Earn cash back with your credit card. We have a local restaurant that has amazing food. The prices on lunch specials are always a steal at around $7. I then use my credit card to earn cash back and they are a partner with Swagbucks so I earn cash back there too. – Jon Dulin from Money Smart Guides

    Try street food. For traveling, eating street food is a great way to save money rather than going out to eat at restaurants, especially in touristy areas! I always look for places that are busy and have a lot of locals eating there. You can easily pay half the price for street food compared to eating out at a restaurant and still get the same quantity of food. – Dale from Wander Her Way

    Ask around about local gems when traveling. The place is called Lucky’s Golden Phenix and Lucky (yes, singular) has been around for 45 years in North Park, a trendy suburb of San Diego. I have been going here for over 20 years and they have only served breakfast during that time but I read he started out serving Chinese food.

    Here’s the two crazy things about this place, #1) It literally is the cheapest place you can get breakfast in San Diego. You can eat a complete coffee, egg, bacon, hashbrown breakfast for under $5. #2) Lucky is a one man show. He takes your order, he brings you your drinks, he makes your food, he brings you your food, he then cleans up the table and the process starts again. It can take quite a while to get breakfast at Lucky’s but the entire experience is pretty unique and cool. – Mark B. Huntley from Credit Knocks

    Do you have any other cheap places to eat to add to the list? Add them to the comments below!

    The best cheap places to eat when you don't feel like cooking