Five (Legal) Ways to Make Money from Home This Weekend

By Shannon Serpette, Contributor

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Were you relying on your side hustle as a professional cuddler (yes, that's a real thing) to make ends meet before the pandemic began? 

Whether you need some extra cash to make up for a lost job or to pay cartel prices for a single roll of toilet paper, you don’t have to leave your house to make money right this second. You might, however, have to leave your couch. Don’t worry —  I feel your pain. I think I’ve been sitting on mine so much that the fabric has grafted itself onto my skin. 

Here are five (legal) ways to make money 

1.  Find Unclaimed Money

Why work when you can get it for free? You could earn hundreds of dollars just by doing a simple search of your name on your state treasurer’s website. If you have a refund coming and a company can’t reach you, that money goes to the treasurer of your state for safekeeping.

Sound too good to be true? Consider this: In Illinois alone, the state treasurer is holding 2.5 BILLION dollars that haven’t been claimed by their rightful owners. If you’re thinking this kind of thing doesn’t happen to you, here’s what happened when I searched my family’s name. I found money for four of my close relations —  my dad, two brothers, and my sister-in-law. It was less than $100 for each of them, but it’s still “free” money.

So, technically, I didn’t earn anything by searching my own name, but maybe my family members will give me a finder’s fee after they get their windfall (hint, hint). At any rate, what do you have to lose? A three-minute internet search? You probably spent more time than that last month cyberstalking your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend. And, you’re right, she’s not as awesome/pretty/smart/accomplished as you are. 

Did you find money with your name attached to it? Figuring out the claim process is easy. My octagenarian dad —  who likes to send messages IN ALL CAPS to everyone — told me he was able to figure it out just fine all on his own, thank you very much.

To find the site for your state, go to your state treasurer’s website. Make sure to search every city you’ve lived in —  even if it seems like it was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. 

2.  Clean Out Your Closet, Attic, or Basement

You might be sitting on a lot of money in your home without even realizing it. You could have knickknacks, books, clothes, video games, or old toys that could be worth something. 

There are plenty of sites where you can unload your merchandise. If you’re using a site like Craigslist that requires you to leave your home and meet up with someone, be sure it’s not in violation of your state or city quarantine laws. And, be careful. You’re trying to earn a few bucks, not get a starring role as the victim on a Forensic Files episode. Don’t become a statistic.

There are so many platforms to choose from, you might be smarter to choose ones like eBay or Mercari that doesn’t require face-to-face meetings, a hidden canister of pepper spray, and a friend hiding in the bushes as back-up. 

With Mercari, you’ll earn money right from the start — you get $5 just for listing your first item. One caveat though, you’ll need to list things that are in great, new-like condition. 

Even if you’ve tried selling items in the past with limited success, you might want to give it another look. With so many people strapped for funds and bored at home, online shopping avenues are booming. 

Just be sure when sending or receiving packages to wash your hands, be smart, and limit any contact you have with others. To err on the side of caution, treat all incoming packages as if the virus can live for up to seven days on the surface. Because it can.

3.  Chase Your Dream

Do you secretly harbor a desire to be a writer, photographer, freelance graphic design artist, or have some other work from home career that lets you be your own boss? If you start pursuing your dream gig on a Friday night, you can actually make money at it by Sunday afternoon. 

When I first started moonlighting while I was still working my newspaper journalism job, I didn’t think I would sell anything as a freelance writer right away. I was as wrong as the hairstylist responsible for Joe Exotic’s multi-colored mullet. 

One day, though, I decided to woman-up and give it a try. I wrote and sent an article to a magazine, thinking I’d never hear back from them. Low and behold, less than three hours later, I received an acceptance email. That article took less than two hours to write, and I earned $100 for it. 

Shortly after that, I joined Upwork and was approved and sending off proposals to potential clients all within the span of one day. I quickly landed my first clients on that platform. Just a few months later, I started out-earning my newspaper job and was able to quit. I’ve been my own boss ever since, happily typing away at home (although it still feels like my kids are my boss sometimes). 

Whether you’re a writer or you’re looking for some other side gig for the weekends, there are loads of options if you’re willing to give it a real shot. Just make sure your side gig work doesn’t disqualify you from receiving any CARES Act benefits or unemployment. 

Still interested? Check out Fiverr, Shutterstock, Toptal, or JustAnswer. Some of the sites will require a short wait before you get started. With others, you can start earning right away.

4.  Sell Your Old Tech

That unused tech lying around your house could fetch you hundreds of dollars. To be honest, most of it is probably junk. But you might have a few hidden treasures in there. If you’re not sure what your items are worth, sites like Amazon and Decluttr make it easy for you. 

Not convinced your tech is worth anything? These facts might change your mind.

  • As many as 9 in 10 Americans currently have tech or mobile phones that they no longer use in their homes.
  • On average, a household could earn $199 by parting with their dust-collecting tech. 
  • Old iPhones are a hot commodity on lots of buy-back sites. 
  • Nearly one-third of Americans don’t know they can get cash for their old tech. 

In my house, closet and drawer space is a hot commodity. There’s never enough room. Instead of allowing your old gadgets and phones to take up all that valuable real estate in your storage areas, why not cash in on it? You’ll be freeing up space and getting some extra money. That’s what I call a win-win.  

What you do with your new windfall is up to you. You can use it for groceries or buy more stuff to fill that closet. No judgment from this gal —  I can barely shut my own closet doors. 

5.  Line Up Gigs That Help Others

If you don’t mind occasionally venturing outside to earn a buck, sites like TaskRabbit might be a godsend for you right now. You’ll be helping people with some of the things they need for survival, like grocery shopping. 

You’ll decide which jobs you want to complete, set up the fee amount and details with your customer, do the work, and get paid. The biggest downside to TaskRabbit is that you’ll have to live in a major city to use it. Oh, and you might have to get dressed and go outside.

Or if you want to help the youngest generation, you could become an online tutor. Thanks to all the lock-down orders, parents are trying to take on the burden of teaching their kids while trying to work at home. It’s making us want to curl up with a bottle of wine and assume the fetal position in a dark room. 

Many parents are now hiring online tutors to keep their child’s education -- and their own sanity -- on track. If you have the credentials and a free weekend, why not help out while lining your own pocket?

Ready to take the plunge? Check out sites like VIP Kid and Tutor.com. And earn the undying gratitude of old-school parents who aren’t well-versed on today’s learning standards. 

So there you go, five ways to make money right now that don’t involve showing off your naked feet to people with weird foot fetish’s or trying to resell all that toilet paper you’ve been hoarding for the past few months. You’re welcome.