Give Me Back My Five Bucks

5 ways to diversify your income this year

We all know that it’s important to diversify your investments, but diversification isn’t just for your retirement portfolio – I’ve always been a fan of diversifying your income as well. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, since a friend of mine is desperately trying to figure out a way she can bring in extra income each month.

April will mark 10 years since I graduated from college, and I can’t believe I’ve been in the work force for a decade already. In that time, I’ve held 8 full-time jobs over a variety of different industries. EIGHT JOBS. Some of those jobs only lasted a few months, while others I was at for a couple of years. None of them really relate to each other, but what remained constant over those eight full-time jobs was the fact that I always had multiple ways I was making money on the side.

Related: Are you a job hopper?

Benefits of diversifying your income

Not only do you increase your disposable income, but it can make you feel more secure against a job loss or emergency situation. Working above and beyond the 9-to-5 has always part of my routine because it provides me with additional cash to throw at my financial goals (whether it was getting out of debt, saving for a down payment, funding my future retirement, or going on an awesome vacation).

Related: How I saved for my down payment

Here are 5 ways I’ve been able to diversify my income over the years:

1. Offer a service

photo 1(1)Think about what kind of service you can provide to people. This can be anything from walking dogs, tutoring, babysitting, painting, consulting, mowing lawns, or maybe shoveling snow. :)

Love to cook? Did you know people will pay you to make them a home cooked meal? Try or to earn extra money doing what you love – and share your love of food with interesting guests.

When I first started getting serious about my debt, I started to do a bit of freelance graphic and web design. I didn’t make a lot of money in the beginning, but within a couple of years I was able to charge between $40-60/hour.

This may seem like a weird service to offer, but I’m going to throw it out there because it’s unique: an ex-boyfriend would carry the backpacks of people who wanted to camp overnight in the wilderness, but didn’t have the capacity to carry their own gear. He loved this because he basically got paid to go hiking, and he was able to share remote areas of BC with people who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to experience it on their own.

2. Sell a product

Now I’ve never actually sold a product before, but I’ve often thought about putting my graphic design skills to work and selling cards or prints on websites like Etsy. I’ve also had co-workers who sell their knitting, cross-stitching, and other crafts online. It doesn’t make them a lot of money, but it’s a way for them to turn their hobby into a little bit of cash.

3. Get a part-time job

I’ve had part-time jobs for years. None of them paid particularly well, but they offered me a steady income when I desperately needed as much money coming in as possible. The great thing about part-time jobs is they’re often flexible and can work around your current schedule. While in college, I worked two part-time jobs, and while I was getting out of debt, I worked two part-time jobs and a full-time job. It’s not often glamorous work, but it could help you get out of a tough financial situation.

4. Rent out your property

carIf you’re a homeowner, consider renting out your spare bedroom or your basement suite to bring in extra income. I’m also a fan of AirBnB as an option as long as you’re careful about who you rent to. An ex-boyfriend used to rent out his downtown Vancouver apartment every time we left town on vacation. It brought in over $100 per day and he was very happy for the extra income.

There are also people who rent out space in their vegetable garden, an area in their garage, and even their parking spaces. When I was a homeowner, I had an extra parking stall that I wasn’t using, and would rent it out for $50/month. It wasn’t a lot, but $50 extra each month is better than nothing – especially for a space I never used.

5. Blogging

This might be the hardest way to make money for someone who isn’t already a blogger – because you actually have to start a website from scratch. :) Having a website can be quite lucrative – I know some bloggers who make over $10,000/month just through advertisements. That’s quit-your-day-job type of money, but for the rest of us, you can make anywhere from a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars a month once you figure out what your niche is, and once you get the right connections.

Related: How I became a freelancer

Diversifying your income stream can be hard work at first. But it’s my experience that the benefits outweigh the extra hours you have to put in each week. And now? It is completely worth it and just seems normal to work an extra 8-10 hours a week above and beyond my normal full-time job.

What are some ways you’ve diversified your income?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Chris says:

    Hi Krystal – how is your advertising revenue affected by those of us using ad blockers? If the ads are blocked do you earn nothing? If so, how do you feel about how ad blocking is started to become the default setting in browsers?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      To be honest, I haven’t really given much thought to ad blockers since I just don’t make that much money from ads. Maybe in a good month I’ll earn $500, but most of the time I’m earning less than $200. Most of my freelance income is from working with brands – whether it’s speaking on a panel, participating in a Twitter chat, or even a sponsored post on this blog every now and then.

  2. Catwoman73 says:

    There are some great ideas here! I’ve been trying to figure out ways of bringing in extra cash, and it’s been tough, because my job is very specialized, and I work ridiculous hours. Since I’ve been doing my job for 17 years, you can imagine that it’s been a challenge to imagine what else I can do to earn money! But I’m a great cook, and to make money blogging would be a dream! Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Kayla says:

    I am currently about to start a full time job with benefits and a pension, but even then, my take home pay will be under $2750 a month. I’ve been thinking of ways to diversify my income a bit and due to my skills (I’m a social worker) the only “sellable” thing I think I have is working in retail or at a restaurant. Even 1 8 hour shift every weekend could bring in an extra $300 though, so its worth a try!

    • Kayla says:

      I live in BC, where minimum wage is about $10.50. With taxes and such taken off it could be an extra $300!

      However, sometimes I wonder if, I am not in serious debt, if it is worth it. I’ve worked 3 jobs before and it drove me slightly insane. How has this experience/balance been for other people?

  4. Peter says:

    I am going freelance as my 2nd source of income in the book keeping field. It’s tough after a hard 8 hours in your day, job and then doing 4 hours book keeping but it works.

    I like your ideas tho, will keep them in mind and once in a while visit your blog to remind myself that it can be done.

  5. Love this! Great ideas. Currently I’m trying to get there by writing a blog although it’s proving much much harder than I thought. I’ve made $18 in three months and spent about $80 getting the design, url etc that I wanted. Hopefully I’ll start to see some real results soon!

  6. Cass says:

    It’s important to consider the tax implications too though. I had a friend who was struggling so he got a second job at a grocery store making about $12.50/hr for about 15-20 hrs per week. It was enough to just bump him up to a new tax bracket and in the end he really didn’t make more money….Just something else to consider.

  7. Charlie says:

    Thanks for the ideas. Never heard of meal sharing before – that’s sounds really interesting!
    I agree with Madi that blogging is difficult to make money from. I haven’t earned even a dollar from mine LOL.
    You mentioned getting the right connections – can you elaborate on how you do it?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yep for the first few years I was blogging, I didn’t make any money. But slowly I started integrating myself into the PF community. This can be through commenting on other blogs, guest blogging, and through social media. Most of my freelance income these days is through working with brands – while others make income selling products or through blog advertising or freelance writing. I’m probably not the best person to give advice about making money online, as what I make in a year is what others make in a month. :)

  8. fehmeen says:

    I’ve never invested in stocks but I’m seriously contemplating doing so this year. I have been keeping my eye on a particular share and have noticed that it gives a pretty good premium during market booms. I’m not very good at taking risks – I do take them, but I like to minimize the chance of failure – so I’m actually waiting for the next market crash or depression, which is when I plan to purchase a small bucket of those shares and forget about them for a few months…

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