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by Dana George | Published on Sept. 28, 2022
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Earning extra funds does not have to upend your life.
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When President Biden first pushed for the expanded Child Tax Credit, his hope was that it would continue through 2025 (at least). A deeply divided Congress put the kibosh on the program at the end of 2021, leaving millions of families without funds to feed and clothe their children.
If you’re caring for children and miss the monthly income the expanded Child Tax Credit provided, here are some uncomplicated ways to work some (or all) of that money back into your budget. Several may be impractical, while others may be right up your alley. But hopefully, at least one or two will work for you.
We Americans have a habit of collecting “stuff,” and all those possessions must be stored somewhere. If you have a shed, parking spot, garage, basement, attic, or driveway just sitting there, turn it into passive income by renting it out. Who knows? Someone may want to store an extra vehicle on your driveway or keep their extensive collection of Beanie Babies in your basement.
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To get started, sign up at Neighbor.com, post a photo of your unused space, and the rental cost per month. People who live in your area will type in their zip code to learn more about the spaces available. Once someone chooses your space, you have a monthly income without having to work for it.
Here’s how it works: Money is deposited into your bank account automatically, and renters move their belongings in and out of the space on their own. And, by working through Neighbor.com, you receive up to $1 million in liability insurance.
Rocket Money offers a free basic service, but the one we’re referring to here will cost you between $3 and $12 per month (you choose the amount). While there is a fee associated, you may find that Rocket Money saves you money each month. That’s because the company goes through your monthly budget to find subscriptions and cancels those you no longer want. That means dropping the fees you pay to Acorn TV, Britbox, the NFL package, GQ men’s box, fruit-of-the-month club, or any other subscription currently pulling money from your bank account.
Rocket Money also negotiates bills on your behalf. Rather than sit on hold with your cable or water company for hours, the company makes calls for you. You pay only if Rocket Money successfully negotiates your bill. When you submit a negotiation request, you choose any amount you’re willing to pay — from 30% to 60% of your first year’s savings. Let’s say Rocket Money saves you $25 per month on your cellphone bill or $300 per year. You’ll pay between $90 and $180 the first year and nothing after that.
One of the heaviest financial responsibilities a working parent faces is the cost of childcare. Why not minimize the expense by trading off with another working parent? Let’s say you work during the day and a friend works evenings. Let the friend watch your children during the day, and you watch theirs at night. Not only will you save money, but your children may enjoy having someone to play with.
Not everyone enjoys shopping, and for the elderly or disabled, it can be tough to get out. Set an hourly wage and let people around your neighborhood know that you’re available to shop. While you’re picking up your own groceries, take the opportunity to make extra money by purchasing groceries for a client.
Don’t limit yourself. Offer to shop for hardware supplies, home goods, and even clothes. As long as you’re willing to return anything that doesn’t work out for the client, everyone will be happy. Put your own stamp on this small business venture.
Auto and homeowners rates can vary wildly. If you haven’t done so recently, now is the time to call around to learn what other insurance companies have to offer. You could be wasting $500 or more annually simply because you’re with the wrong company. This process will be particularly easy for you if you have a healthy credit score and have made very few insurance claims.
Whether you make a call directly to an insurance office or fill out a form online, it takes only minutes to learn if you have the best deal on the market or if you can do better by switching.
Most people have stuff lying around their house that they would love to sell. The problem is, few people have the time they need to organize a tag sale. Why not become the middle person? Advertise on your neighborhood website that you’ll be holding a monthly tag sale and are happy to include items others would like to get rid of. Set a percentage as your “take” if you sell the items in question. For example, you dust off items and set them up for display, then charge 25% of the sales price for your trouble.
Ideally, you will land on a money-making idea you enjoy, a job that does not add stress to your life. Consider ways to make it a family activity. For example, if you’re shopping for someone else, your kids can help you pick up everything on the list. If you’re reselling items for others, allow the kids to help you set up shop.
While the expanded Child Tax Credit is currently on the back burner, some members of Congress still push to revive monthly payments under a new name. In the meantime, you may just come across another way to make life easier for you and your kids.
Dana has been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years, specializing in loans, debt management, investments, and business.
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