How To Earn Extra Money in a Down Economy

By Allison O'Connor

Young Girl Holding Some CashAs a single-minded woman or a single mom, you may be solely responsible for providing for yourself and your children. However,  downsizing, furloughs and overall job insecurity is leading many single women to rethink ways in which they can earn extra money.

Here are some easy ways to bring in some extra cash, even in a down economy:

1. Resell used clothing, books, CDs, furniture, and other gently used household itemsE-BayCraigsList and consignment shops are a great way to sell old clothing, furniture and household accessories. But for just getting rid of your gently used items quickly, a tag sale is worth considering. You get cash at the time of the sale, and the satisfaction that your personal items are going to someone that really needs and wants them.

2. Work overtime at your job or ask to take on special project for a fee. Many companies are in the midst of layoffs and furloughs, and your company may be one of them. But it never hurts to ask if there is a special budget for an unexpected project that just came up. If not, at least you raised your hand to take on more work and maybe will have secured your job through the next round of layoffs.

3. Work a part-time job in addition to your 9-to-5 job. For many single moms, this may not be an option. But if you are a single woman with some spare time, check out This site has a wide range of full and part-time telecommuting jobs that just might be perfect for you. And, don’t forget to use the special SMW code (SAVE30) for your membership discount. Browse jobs here.

4. Become a sales representative for a cosmetic or jewelry company. There are a variety of companies like Avon, Mary Kay, Lia Sophia and Silpada that are looking for sales representatives to host in-home parties. Not only can they be fun and a great excuse to get your gal pals together, but depending on your business arrangement, you may even be eligible for discounts and free products that you can give as gifts.

5. Start a side business for light housekeeping, yard work and other chores. There are plenty of people willing to pay for reliable help around the house. Be professional and have business cards made up. You can find inexpensive business cards on the web for next to nothing. Advertise on CraigsList and tell all your friends to spread the word.

6. Start an errands business. Earlier this year we profiled Pat Tull of Phoenix, Arizona who started an errands service business after her corporate position was eliminated. In just a few short months, Pat was earning more money running errands than she did as a corporate administrator. Her advice, find a niche. Pat focuses her service on elderly homeowners and retirement community residents. Read Pat ‘s story here.

7.  Turn your skills into a side tutoring business. Are you good at math or a foreign language? Can you sew, knit or are you a computer whiz? If you have a special talent and are patient, then consider tutoring or consulting. People hire tutors to help not only improve their educational skills, but to also teach them a new skill. Whether it’s learning to play an instrument, improve reading and math skills or help set up a new computer, find your area of expertise and offer it for a fee.

8. House sitting and dog sitting. This is a wonderful way to pick up some extra cash without a lot of effort, if you don’t mind living in someone else’s home for a short time. You may even find very little disruption to your normal life. Tip: prospective clients may want to run a background check and ask for references. Make sure your reputation is solid and don’t promote yourself as a pet lover if you hate pets. Remember, animals gravitate toward animal lovers. And as in any business, reliability and honesty goes a long way in securing new and repeat business. One time I discovered (after the fact from a neighbor) a house sitter threw a pool party while I was away. That was the last time they ever stepped foot in our home.

9. Turn your credit cards into reward cards. Many banks are now offering rewards programs when you open a new credit card. In some cases you can even convert your existing credit cards to a rewards credit card. The interest rate doesn’t change but the programs are a great way to earn cash back as long as you continue to charge. Some programs also allow you to convert points earned for gift cards at major retailers and other items in lieu of cash back. Check with your bank to see if they have a similar program.

10.  Sell your home made craft items at craft fairs. Crafting is all the rage, especially this time of year. If you love to knit, quilt, sew, make pottery or other handmade items, consider selling them at crafts fairs. Craft fairs are a wonderful way to meet new people who share common interests and also a terrific way to make some spare money doing something you love.

11. Turn a passion into a side business. If you love to cook and always dreamed of opening up your own catering business, why not try it part time. Host a party featuring some of your specialty dishes and tell everyone you are available for hire. You can do the same with flower arrangements, baking (cakes and cookies for special occasions) and I’m sure a few other things that we haven’t thought about. Here’s how one woman turned her love of building birdhouses into a lucrative full-time business.

12. Set up your own online store. If you have a skill with crafts (knitting, embroidery, jewelry) or an eye for what others have to buy, like vintage clothing, start your own store on a commercial site that has a public marketplace, such as, or

Bottom Line: Hard times call for creative solutions. And earning is more fun than spending. Green is the new black!

Other SMW Money Articles:

Why Single Women Need Life Insurance

A Single-Minded Savings Plan

You’ve Been Downsized! Tips for Financial Survival