At some point, most of us have been in a situation where we've needed (or at least wanted) a little extra money to get over a hump. If you haven't been in that situation, then you should absolutely contact us about ways to sponsor BlakeWrites.

For those of us who have been in the position where some extra cash would be beneficial, it's not uncommon to turn to our friend the Internet and do a quick search. "How to make more money" and "how to make extra money" are incredibly popular searches, and there are thousands of articles that proclaim to give you insights into bringing in extra cash.

Unfortunately, the methods they describe are typically garbage. Dozens of blogs recommend things like taking online surveys, starting blogs, becoming a photographer, or selling your belongings.

Can you make money doing these things? Sure. Is it going to be very much or in a time frame that's beneficial for you? Nope.

Online surveys and selling your belongings typically return a very low profit in comparison to the time and work that you have to put into it. Most online surveys pay pennies– literally, pennies– for surveys that take anywhere from five to twenty minutes to complete. On top of that, most online survey platforms have strict requirements about who can take what survey, and they seem to continually dangle high-paying surveys in front of you while restricting you to low paying ones. In a nutshell, they make it very easy to gather a lot of data from you but very difficult for you to actually earn a noticeable chunk of change. Selling your belongings is quite similar– whether you're using an app or having a yard sale, it takes quite a bit of time and effort to coordinate, and the prices you charge are typically far less than whatever you initially paid. That $50 shirt you don't wear anymore? Good luck getting $5 at a yard sale.

The other suggestions, like starting a blog or becoming a photographer, are even more ludicrous. Photography, for example, is a really difficult skill to develop. People get four-year degrees in photography so that they can learn the ins-and-outs of the art form. If you have a nice camera, you can take decent photos, but there's a difference between a good photo and a professional one. Nobody is realistically going to pay to have a brand-new, fresh off the streets amateur with a camera to take their photo for a special occasion.

Blogging, like photography, is a difficult skill to develop. Building blog traffic requires creating good content on a regular basis, and it can take years consistent work to develop the amount of traffic needed for a blogger to successfully monetize their website. If you need cash in a pinch, you can't just sit down at the computer and expect to strike gold.

The majority of the methods these articles outline aren't going to make a significant impact on your income, and they're not going to lead you to financial freedom. Instead, they're going to entrap you in a lot of time-consuming effort with very little pay. If you're wanting to have an impact on your financial stability, you've got to look for opportunities that will net you a decent sum of money in a reasonable amount of time. While you don't want to get caught in a get rich quick scheme that's going to do more harm than good, there are opportunities you can look into to add a little extra cash in your pocket.

How to Actually Make Extra Money

When it comes to financial prosperity, you need to keep a few important details in mind. First, don't expect to be able to get a lot of money with very little effort. We all dream of a situation where we can get paid tons of cash without working, but for most of us, that's not the reality.

Second, it's important to be realistic about what kind of money you can and should make. An extra $5,000 per month would be amazing, but it's not realistic for most of us. How much time do you actually have to devote to a side hustle? What is the average pay for the type of work that you would be doing? I advise drafting up a monthly budget that subtracts your average expenses from your current income. It's okay to estimate here because what you'll then want to do is get a rough estimate of how much money you would need per month to break even. Or, if you're saving up for something large, like a trip or a car, figure out how much you would need to net a profit of $100 per month; if you can save at least $100 per month, that's a minimum of $1,200 by the end of the year, which is a significant chunk of change.

With these goals in mind, consider the following options for increasing your monthly profits realistically– no scammy surveys or selling your lil' swimmers necessary.

1. Find Places to Cut Back on Your Current Spending

Rather than taking on a second job and working yourself threadbare, start by considering ways in which you could cut back on your current expenses. You'd be surprised how often we end up spending hundreds of dollars each month on things that we ultimately aren't even using.

For example, every time I've ever signed up for Internet service, the provider has also offered to bundle in a television and/or phone subscription along with it. They promote this bundle by pushing how much money I'd be saving– even though the $100 per month bundle is more than the $45 I'd be paying for Internet alone, it's still cheaper than if I got phone and television services elsewhere and had to pay for it on top of my Internet subscription. The thing is, these bundled deals typically increase in cost after the first 6-12 months (sometimes by a lot), and if I choose to just use Netflix and YouTube for my TV-watching needs, I can stick with just the Internet. So, consider your current subscriptions and recurring expenses– can they be pared down into what you need? Can some of the "wants" be jettisoned to save you money on your monthly bill?

Similarly, eating out is another huge expense. According to The Simple Dollar, the average American spends $232 per month, or about $12.75 per meal for 18 meals per month, eating out. By comparison, I added up how much I spend per month on groceries and protein supplements and divided that amount by the number of meals I eat at home per month. The total came out to about $4.75 per meal. That $8 difference in the price per meal between eating out and cooking your own food can add up and have a massive impact on your monthly budget.

You can make your current income last much longer and cover a wider variety of expenses by being honest with yourself about how you're currently spending your money and ways you can cut back. While it is time consuming and maybe even inconvenient to do things like cooking your own meals or relying on YouTube for entertainment, it's not as time consuming or inconvenient as taking on a second, part-time job, but it can have almost the same impact on your income.

2. Utilize Your Current Network

Consider your strengths and the type of work that you might enjoy doing for a few hours each week. Did you excel at algebra in school and think you might be a good fit as a tutor? Do you love doggos and want to walk more in a given day? Don't mind pulling some weeds? While tasks like tutoring, dog walking, and lawn care may sound like odd jobs teenagers do in the Summer to earn extra spending money, they're still very feasible ways of boosting your income, especially if you utilize your network of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances to get these gigs.

The benefit of reaching out to your current network is that you'll typically find that you have more flexibility and committed clientele than if you use an app or just put up flyers around town. While it can be awkward (and even quite complicated) to ask people you know on a personal level to pay you, as long as you're upfront and consistent with your rates, you shouldn't have any issues. Plus, one happy acquaintance can easily turn into two or three or five or ten happy clients as people you know are more likely to refer you to people they know who are in a similar position.

3. Work Part-Time as a Virtual Assistant, Transcriptionist, or Doing Data Entry

Be cautious about the gigs that you apply for when you're looking for remote work opportunities. There are a plethora of less-than-honest job postings out there that make big promises about the money you can earn in just a few weeks; often, multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes are positioned this way, and unfortunately, the majority of folks who get involved with an MLM end up losing money rather than earning money.

However, there are also legitimate work from home opportunities that can significantly boost your income. Some of them require minimal formal training to get started, which is ideal for something you're looking to do in your free time. Virtual assistants, for example, typically help busy folks with clerical tasks like booking flights and hotels or clearing email inboxes; most people have some exposure to the skills needed to do these tasks, and you can make $10 to $15 per hour doing so. Similarly, if you're detail-oriented and a decently fast typist, transcription or data entry work can also be a decent way to pad your wallet. Each of these jobs can be done at your computer as long as you have a quiet working place and reliable internet connection. Since you're usually contracted through a third-party company to do this work, it's less flexible than if you were doing something on your own through your personal network, but the pay here is often more consistent.

If you're looking for remote work, consider using a platform like Remote.Co instead of a general Google search or a broader job board like Indeed. In my experience, Remote.Co may have fewer job postings overall, but the jobs that are posted there are thoroughly vetted and legitimate rather than pyramid schemes.

Increasing Your Income is Possible

While it's possible to increase your income, it's going to take some work to do so. But, by making smart choices and being committed to them, you can free up some spare cash to put toward that next vacation, get yourself out of debt, or finally get that tattoo sleeve you've been wanting.

Remember to be cautious to not take on new credit card debt or mistake financial flexibility with buying on credit, as this will only stretch your money thinner in the long run. Additionally, keep in mind that it's important to have balance in your life, so if making extra cash to have on hand requires working 18 hours a day between two or three different jobs, it's probably not going to be worth it unless you're in dire straits.

Have you ever used any of these strategies to boost your income? Have you ever been burned by less reputable methods to make extra cash? Let us know in the comments below!