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We all know the expression “time is money” — but maybe we don’t take it literally enough. If you use your spare time wisely, it can lead to more money in the bank.
I spoke to experts across a number of fields to get their tips for making the most money with your free time. Here’s how to turn that time outside of your 9-to-5 into a significant amount of extra cash.
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“Get on YouTube or TikTok and start making videos,” said Jaspreet Singh, founder of Minority Mindset. “As your audience gets bigger, you can make money through advertisements [and] sponsorship deals, or start a business and promote it to your loyal audience. Everyone needs a personal brand in this economy.”
Stacia Williams, founder and wealth advisor at Williams Financial Group, recommends investing in a business “that will earn you money in your sleep.”
“This can include a wide array of industries spanning from real estate to a laundromat,” she said. “If it’s real estate, hire a property management company to find tenants and deal with the day-to-day maintenance.”
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Matthew McIntyre, founder and chief executive officer at Peak American Financial Companies, recommends spending one day a week making money outside of your full-time job, ideally doing something you love.
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“For example, a client of mine loves to fix and repair go-carts on the weekends,” he said. “This little hobby is something that he not only enjoys, but also nets him an extra $500 monthly. Finding ways to profit from your hobbies can be a great way to make money in your spare time.”
And when you genuinely enjoy your side hustle, you are more likely to keep it going.
“If you start a side hustle, you’ll be pouring a lot of your spare time into it, so being intrinsically motivated will help you get you out of bed in the morning and stick to it,” said Misty Larkins, president of Relevance. “The old adage still applies: ‘Do what you love, and the money will follow.’”
“We can get our money working by investing,” said Eszylfie Taylor, financial advisor and founder of the Mind. Body. Money. app. “The idea here is to allow your money to earn a rate of return without your physical efforts.”
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Use your free time to research investments that can pay off in the long term.
“Focus on cash flow assets that not only produce cash, but which act as a hedge against runaway inflation, such as ‘bread and butter’ dividend-paying stocks,” said Toby Mathis, author of “Infinity Investing: How the Rich Get Richer and How You Can Do the Same.” “Stay away from growth stocks, as the Federal Reserve’s promise to raise interest rates this year could cause an emotional reaction in the market when such rate hikes occur. It is better to focus on a handful of solid ‘been there, done that’ companies that have proven over the years that they can generate profits in any market than to speculate on companies that either do not pay out profits to shareholders or that have wild price-to-earning ratios.”
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“When my clients need a quick cash injection, I immediately recommend decluttering their home and selling unused clothes, shoes and household items,” said Dr. Lakisha L. Simmons, FIRE coach and author of “The Unlikely AchieveHer.” “It’s easy to sell unwanted and unused items on a customer-to-customer marketplace such as Facebook, or one of the many easy-to-use mobile apps such as OfferUp.”
Use your spare time to gain skills that make you a more valuable employee.
“Focus on getting a promotion at work to boost your earning potential and reach your financial freedom goals faster,” Simmons said. “LinkedIn Learning offers 30 days of free access to over 16,000 online courses.”
Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown.org, added, “Expanding your knowledge and skills is a proven winning investment.”
You can also acquire skills that will help you earn money doing a side gig.
“Look for lists of what freelance work is most in demand,” said Bobbi Rebell, CFP, personal finance expert at Tally. “For example, right now SEO managers are in high demand, so it might make sense to invest the time to learn that skill so that you can turn around and command top dollar for your time going forward.”
Deacon Hayes, founder of Well Kept Wallet, added, “People are willing to pay for quality talent, so if you can improve your abilities in a certain field, you then become more valuable and make even more money.”
When choosing a skill to hone, look for a specific niche you can become an expert in.
“The more highly specialized, the better, as there is a direct correlation between skill set and compensation,” said Becca Williams, writer at SmallBizTechnology.com.
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“A good use of your free time is to look for better deals on everything — cellphone contract, car insurance, cable TV, internet, credit cards and the like,” said personal finance journalist Donna Freedman. “Set aside half an hour once or twice a week to look for better prices. This could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year — and you could invest those bucks.”
The more money you have to invest, the more money you can make over time thanks to compounding interest.
“Start reading biographies of people who turned simple ideas into huge corporations,” said Steve Gickling, founder of ETLrobot. “Biographies of successful people can provide tremendous food for thought and inspiration as you begin pursuing additional sources of income. Don’t stop reading biographies once you become successful, either. It’s easy to get stuck inside your own head, and the best way to counteract inside-the-box thinking is to consider yourself a lifelong student of success.”
Reselling can be a lucrative use of your free time when done right. Chalmers Brown, former CTO at Due, was able to up his monthly income significantly by reselling outside of his full-time job.
“[I started going to my] normal job a little earlier. This helped me to get off a few hours earlier to work on my side hustle,” he said. “I would use the Amazon app [while shopping] at Walmart [to find] sale items that were 50% off the lowest price on Amazon. I would purchase them and resell them on Amazon. I was able to make an extra $1,300 a month.”
Instead of offering a service and seeking out clients, it can be a smart decision to go to a potential client directly and see what help they may need. John Rampton, CEO at Calendar, said his now-successful business stemmed from cold calls.
“When first starting out, I would cold call CEOs and ask if I could take over their dead leads and try to close them,” he said. “
I then called all of them over and over until someone answered. The leads were free and I made commissions when I sold them. This turned into a seven-figure business over four years.”
Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.
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