How to Earn Money Without Committing to a Job

Seven side hustles for the busy student.
November 14, 2017
7 mins read

It’s no secret that college students could use some extra cash. Student loans are rising higher than ever, and most undergrads also need money to purchase anything from a toothbrush to a birthday gift.

Whether it’s a little help paying those hefty tuition bills or money for buying a meal not provided by the dining hall, there’s always room in the wallet for more money.

But students are, first and foremost, students, and they need to dedicate time to studies, so if you’re not lucky enough to get an eBay discount code, then you’re going to need to find a low-effort way of making money.

If committing to a job is too much or that work-study job isn’t making a dent in the tuition bill, here are some good side hustles to fatten up your wallet as you pursue a degree.

1. Get paid to spend time with animals

Dog-walking apps
Dog-walking is probably the cutest job ever. (Image via Dogs on the go)

Channel your inner “Daniel Radcliffe Walking Too Many Dogs” and get paid to spend time with other people’s pets. Dog walking or cat sitting is the perfect way to make money and relieve stress or get exercise at the same time. isn’t just for babysitting. The website also connects pet-owners with pet-sitters.

Other apps also exist exclusively for connecting pet-owners and pet sitters, such as Wag! and Rover. After completing the application to be a dog walker for Wag!, a user can control his or her own schedule, which is much similar to that of an Uber driver. If being away at school makes you miss your furry friends, this option kills two birds with one stone (don’t use that phrase when speaking with pet owners about taking care of their beloved animals, though).

2. Say what you really think

Who doesn’t like sharing their opinion? Market researchers want to know how individuals view specific products, so they pay groups of people to tell them just that.

Find focus groups through websites such as Test out products and get paid by brands for your time and opinions. A few sessions a week can equal a few hundred dollars a week.

3. Participate in psychological experiments

Most universities with psychology departments run regular experiments and they need people from all walks of life to participate. Psychology departments pay people to participate in these experiments, which can consist of one-time trials or multiple visits. Depending on the gig, they pay anywhere from tens to hundreds of dollars.

As an experimentee, your responsibilities include taking surveys or participating in hypothetical decision making. The only required skill for this job is having a brain, literally. Schools don’t require their test subjects to come from the same school, so even if your school lacks a psychology department, a nearby one may provide these opportunities. In any case, psychology experiments are a way for anyone to help medical research without requiring any physical pain or risk.

4. Have 15 minutes of fame

If your campus lacks a psychology department that conducts experiments, it might have film students looking for actors. Many thesis project directors put out casting calls that promise money in return for a few hours of acting.

While the money isn’t near Hollywood level, the experience required is minimal. Casting calls may be put out on websites such as or on a school’s Facebook group. Some students even offer money to those willing to model. Acting and modeling for other students is a great way to meet people and earn money without stressing, so keep your eyes peeled for any casting calls!

5. Flip that textbook

Unless the book was published yesterday, there’s no reason not to buy a textbook used. Before going straight to the campus bookstore, check out websites such as Amazon, Thrift Books and Chegg. Compare prices to save money on textbooks.

Some school bookstores have a policy where they will match a price found online, so search for the cheapest option. After saving on textbooks, treat them with care to ensure you can sell them back at the end of the semester. Profit may not always happen this way, but it’s better than having books laying around that will never be opened again.

6. Sell old stuff

Depop for students
Poshmark is a helping hand in cleaning your closet. (Image via Business Insider)

In addition to old textbooks, odds are you have a shirt or DVD that you haven’t used in five years. Selling clothes on apps such as Depop and Poshmark is as quick and easy as posting a photo on Instagram. While Poshmark is ideal for brand-name clothing, Depop’s buyers want something that looks like it was stolen out of a ’90s TV show.

There’s no point in keeping your homecoming dress from freshman year of high school, so you may as well sell it now. Some jewelry can even be sold on Ebay. Actually, almost anything can be sold on Ebay, including old electronics and video games. If quick cash is needed, though, selling to a store such as Gamestop can help out.

7. Get paid to do homework

Some schools pay work-study money to students willing to take notes in class. Likewise, freelance websites such as UpWork and Fiverr pay for essay writing among other skills. With jobs ranging from academic papers to college essays or blog posts, any level of talent can comfortably freelance write.

More of a visual person? Try selling stock photos. Someone has to take and edit those ridiculous stock photos. With time in between classes, freelancing is a more lucrative alternative to browsing social media sites or catching up on television. In addition to making a resume stand out, freelancing allows for you to complete meaningful work in your pajamas.

Keep money meant for paying off tuition in its own account because once you start dipping into savings, it’s difficult to stop. Everyone has different money habits, but the most basic piece of advice is to keep spending money separate from saving money. Taking stock photos shouldn’t be your only source of money to pay off college loans.

Budgeting as a student proves problematic with no fixed income and no fixed list of expenses. Any supplemental money helps, though, so keep an open mind to options available. Just try to make more money than you spend, and be comforted by the fact that you’re not alone in being a broke college student.

If you are going to do any of the part-time gigs mentioned, you will have an alternative income that will make you eligible for emergency cash loans for unemployed. For your short-term financial problems, emergency cash loans can be helpful and you can get it right after the lender’s approval.

Bethany Knickerbocker, Emerson College

Writer Profile

Bethany Knickerbocker

Emerson College
Creative Writing

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