by Lyle Daly | Dec. 2, 2018
It's popular advice for anyone who wants to improve their financial situation -- get a side hustle. After all, you can only cut costs so much, and if you make more money instead, you don't need to sacrifice your quality of life.
There's no shortage of potential side jobs out there, but a few of them aren't worth the hustle.
If you're active on social media, you've probably seen at least one person hocking a product, whether it's makeup, essential oils, skincare regimens, or something different. No matter the product, it will likely be overpriced relative to its competition.
These multi-level marketing businesses, or MLMs, are the new-age pyramid scheme, legal because they technically have a product they're selling. But make no mistake about it, the only people earning money are the ones at the top who got in early. Here's a general idea of how the MLM experience works:
Don't be fooled by distributors talking about how much money they've made. They're often encouraged to follow the "fake it 'til you make it" philosophy to convince others to sign on. The numbers prove otherwise, as an FTC analysis of hundreds of MLMs found that 99.6% of participants lost money.
There's no shortage of sites where you can make money by performing menial tasks, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk, Clickworker, and Microworkers. These sites allow clients to post tasks that require few, if any, special skills. Workers can then select tasks, complete them, and get paid.
The problem is that it's extremely difficult to earn even the equivalent of minimum wage, as many tasks pay less than $1. It's not always easy to find tasks worth doing, and the time you spend searching will just reduce your hourly rate.
Having tried these types of sites in the past, I can attest to the fact that they're not worth the time. The work is dull, and whenever you finish one task, you need to hunt for another one and hope it doesn't take you too long.
When I was 15, a man at the mall asked me if I wanted to complete a survey and told me there'd be some money in it for me. Being young and naïve, I agreed, and spent half an hour providing my opinion on different fragrances. I remember wondering in my head how much I'd bank from this job -- $40? $50?
After I was done, he pulled out a $5 bill, and all my hopes of getting rich through surveys evaporated.
You can complete surveys online now, but the pay certainly hasn't gone up since I tried to make a career of it. You'll get a couple bucks or less for surveys that take you 20 minutes, so survey sites present the same problem as task sites. You'll be doing something monotonous and making a pittance for it.
Mystery shopper jobs can be a decent way to earn some cash on the side, but there are two common types of scams to look out for with this side hustle:
The first type of scam involves companies requiring payment before you can access their mystery shopper jobs. They often say this is for a certification, but you don't need a special certification to be a mystery shopper. Legitimate mystery shopping companies don't charge their employees.
The second is a variation on the old fake check scam. You receive a check in the mail from the company and deposit it into your bank account. They then tell you to send them a smaller amount via Western Union or another money-wiring service, supposedly to test that service. The check turns out to be a fraud, so the bank takes that money out of your account, and you lose whatever amount you sent the company.
A side hustle can be just what you need to boost your income and either get out of debt or start saving more money. You need to separate the good side hustles from the bad ones, though. Here's how to do that:
There are plenty of lousy side hustles, but once you know how to spot them, you can filter them out and find ways to make real money.
Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. Our picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 12x the national average savings account rate. Click here to uncover the best-in-class picks that landed a spot on our shortlist of the best savings accounts for 2021.
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from Bank CD rates editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.
Best CD Rates service that rates and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters.
Copyright © 2018 - 2021 The Ascent. All rights reserved.