Friday, August 27, 2010

How to Live Cheaply in New York: Making More Money

This is part of a series of living cheaply in New York. See previous posts: Grocery shopping, Housing, Entertainment, Transportation, Dining Out, Personal Care

As many personal finance gurus point out, it's not enough to cut expenses -- every good personal finance plan will include methods to increase income as well. New York is a great place to have side gigs for bringing in extra cash. Unlike other places, though, it's harder to do things like moonlight as a bartender -- bartenders and service staff in New York have to have extensive experience in New York City restaurants to get hired (how you ever get started, I'm not sure). But here are some other options:

Craigslist has a lot of side jobs posted, and many of them are totally legitimate. I was an extra in a music video, auditioned to be an artist's model, and know of friends who've picked up dog-walking, personal assistant, and bookkeeping jobs from there as well.

Also, mystery shopping is abundant here in New York. There are so many stores, and so many opportunities to get a free meal and a few bucks for something you'd be doing anyway. See the mystery shopping field guide I wrote a few years ago for more information!

The biggest easy moneymaker is focus groups. Large major metro areas have a lot of focus groups and I'd say New York probably has the most. You just go and talk about what you think about a product for an hour and get paid cash (usually) that's way better than anything you can get working part-time. The only downside is that most firms have a limit on how frequently you participate, usually every six months or so. Still, it doesn't hurt! I'm registered with a couple of places, but Probe, Recruit and Field and Focus Point Global contact me the most frequently.

I also managed to find a way to turn a hobby into a paying enterprise -- and I think that's fairly easy to do here in New York. If you have a hobby or skill that someone else will pay for (dancing, performing anything, computer knowledge, programming, animation, etc) it's pretty easy to find side work doing exactly that.

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