Incredibly, “back to school” is coming once again. Many of you may have quit your job in the past year, or at the very least cut back on your hours substantially.
Now, it’s crunch time. How am I going to pay for back-to-school shopping?
No worries! I have rounded up several ways to make money for back-to-school clothes and supplies that will have you in cash in no time. These are a few good ones to keep in play year-round in case of a financial emergency or to fund your holiday shopping.
Cambly allows you to make money from home teaching English online. You don’t need a teaching certificate or teaching degree.
This site pays $0.17 per minute. That is $10.20 for each full hour you are chatting with students. It may not be stellar pay, but the scheduling is flexible. Log in anytime you have a few minutes and start taking calls. You can also work from anywhere!
Clickworker is what we often refer to as a “micro job site.” The tasks here are often bite-size pieces of larger projects that don’t take long to complete and don’t require a lot of skill or onboarding.
The tasks available on Clickworker include small writing projects, categorization, proofreading, web research, surveys, app testing and more. As with most small task sites, the pay here isn’t going to cover all your bills. However, getting started is simple and payments are made weekly or monthly via SEPA or PayPal.
3. Field Agent
If you are familiar with mystery shopping, Field Agent may be an app you are interested in. Agents use their smartphones to collect information like prices or photos of displays or products at local businesses.
Once you become an Agent, available jobs will be visible on the app’s map. Jobs typically pay between $1 and $12. Completed jobs need to be approved before you will receive payment. That’s usually pretty fast but can take a few days at times. You can cash out once those funds hit your Field Agent account. Payment is available by Dwolla or direct deposit.
This app is similar to Field Agent in that you are paid to complete small jobs around town. Everything is done within the app. No need to go home and fill out any reports or send any emails.
These Gigs pay from $3 up to $200 depending on the complexity and time required. Once a job is finished, payment is sent to your PayPal account.
If you have some clothing that’s in great condition but no longer fits you or your style, sell it. You can list it on eBay, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. You can also use one of my favorite apps, Poshmark.
The process is simple. Download the app (Android or iOS). Snap a photo of your items to sell. Write a description. Wait for a sale or offer. Print the Poshmark-provided shipping label. Package it. Drop it in the mailbox. In a few days, get paid. You can then request payment by direct deposit or check.
You aren’t going to make any money unless your items sell, however. If you need to unload your items quickly, ThredUp may be the way to go though your earnings will likely be significantly less than if you sold them yourself.
Picking up rides as an independent driver has been an increasingly popular side gig in recent years. These positions allow you a lot of flexibility. There are no minimum commitments. Just log in and go to work when you feel like it. Or when you need the cash!
These opportunities can pay a lot better than some of the small tasks mentioned above. I would caution you about this number a little. The earnings potential is often dictated by location and day of the week or hour of the day. Peak hours tend to be Friday nights and weekends. That can be awesome for those of you in large metro areas looking to make extra cash during those hours. Learn more about Lyft here.
mTurk, or Mechanical Turk, is a micro job site offered by Amazon. This site has been around since before I started working from home in 2007. It was one of my first exposures to remote work as I frequently picked up HITs during my lunch hour.
The tasks available here are the usual; transcription, surveys, categorization, etc. There are tests you can take to become “qualified” for higher-paying HITs. I highly recommend this.
There is an initial hold period for new Turkers. You have to wait 10 days before cashing out your first earnings. During those first 10 days, you also need to complete at least one HIT per day and no more than 100. After your first 10 days, you can cash out your earnings every day if you wish.
This is another English tutoring position. You only need to be a native English speaker to apply, though a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate and experience are preferred.
The pay is only $10 per hour here. You can log in and work whenever you are available. Payments are made weekly by PayPal with a $20 minimum.
Rev.com is a transcription site that welcomes those without prior experience. Once you are accepted, you can start picking up work right after completing their transcription tutorial – which only takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Like most transcription jobs, pay is based on production. Every file is assigned a flat fee that you are paid regardless of how long it takes you to type it out. That’s why speed and accuracy are so important in this industry. According to the site, fast typists generally earn around $8 to $15 per hour.
Payments are made every Monday by PayPal. Work as much or as little as you like – provided files are available, of course.
Swagbucks is one of my favorite ways to earn a little extra cash. I usually let the earnings roll throughout the year and only cash them out when it’s time for a little shopping on Amazon.
This is another one that isn’t going to pay the bills. It’s what I refer to as “commercial break cash.” It’s just a little something to do during commercial breaks in the evening. You can earn Swagbucks, or SB, by watching videos, completing surveys, searching the web, shopping online, playing games, redeeming special offers, referring friends, and more.
Many users report an average of 20 to 40 SB per day. That’s around 10,000 per year. That will get you a $100 gift card at one of their partner stores or some sweet PayPal cash. The site says it takes about 10 days for payment to arrive once cashing out, but I have found it to usually be three or four days.
Textbroker contracts freelance writers. I’ll be honest and say this is a rough place to make a go as a writer, but it is a place to start if you don’t have any experience.
Those just starting out on the platform usually have a 2-star rating. You will only be paid 0.7 cents per word. That’s only $7 for a 1,000-word article. Not good. If you can make it up to a 5-star rating, you will be paid 5.0 cents per word. That’s $50 per 1,000 words. Still not great, but it’s a site where you can pick up work as you feel like it. And they pay weekly by PayPal with a $10 minimum.
TranscribeMe is another transcription site open to beginners. Their base pay rate is $15 per audio hour. This is where that speed and accuracy we talked about earlier really come into play.
That being said, it is a place to cut your teeth on if you are new to transcription. It’s also a place to find out if you even like transcription before investing in a course like TranscribeAnywhere or purchase helpful equipment like a foot pedal.
This site pays once per week via PayPal with a $20 minimum.
13. Start a Business
You can make easy money by offering your services in the back-to-school season — like shopping for other families’ school supplies or starting a small chauffering business. Here are 10 back-to-school-related business ideas!
These are just a few ways to make some fast back-to-school money. Even if you don’t need any of these gigs now, I recommend putting them in place before you do. (You can thank me later!)
Published July 2019. Updated May 2021.