RelayRides blogger Amanda L. Grossman explains how to finance your education easily with these great tips.
I had a lot of “odd jobs” in college. The most normal one was my federal work study job as a library desk assistant at $5.15 per hour. Then on Saturdays, I would pick up a group of Amish people and drive them to and from a local market where they sold goods (my most lucrative job at a whopping $120/day). In the summertime, I worked as a substitute teacher assistant for special needs children at $12 per hour. I also interned with my Uncle—he’s a cartoonist—and had occasional gigs as a pet-sitter and house-sitter for professors on campus. Did I mention my stint at a Migrant Ministry where I helped to translate immigration forms and applications for migrant workers?
Having each of these jobs really helped me. By the time I graduated college, I had over $2,000 in my savings account to help with startup costs (first apartment deposit, groceries, an occasional piece of build-yourself IKEA furniture) as well as had paid cash for several trips to Japan to visit my boyfriend-turned-husband.
These side jobs enabled me to live the kind of life that I wanted to at a time when money was scarce. I’d like to help you do the same by highlighting four ways you can make extra cash while in college.
I sort of had my own pet-sitting service in college. My boss at the library and I became close, and she asked if I would be willing to dog-sit for her over a weekend. She lived only a few miles away, and I was free to use her laundry and stay at her home. Once I had dog sat for her over several weekends, the word spread. Eventually, I was dog-sitting for the president of the college and got to stay in their beautiful presidential home on the waterfront. What a great way to make extra money, get some exercise, and experience a mini weekend away from dorm life! For each of these weekends, I made between $60 and $250.
To start your own pet sitting service on the side you need to find that first customer who will be a great referral for you. Start by posting an ad around campus, on campus forums, and getting the word out among pet-owning personnel.
I quickly learned that professors like to travel when they are not teaching. If you are stuck on campus for spring break, or want to summer in your college town instead of going home, then post an ad around campus offering your services as a house sitter. Tasks could include watering plants, bringing in mail, keeping an eye on the property and updating the owner, taking care of animals, etc. Again, I earned between $60 and $250 (largely dependent on whether or not there were animals to take care of as well).
Rent Out Your Idle Vehicle
As a person who used their vehicle on the weekends and then basically parked it for the entire work week, I can honestly say that I wish a service like RelayRides would have been around when I was in college. Through this website you can list your personal vehicle and vet qualified renters at whatever price you set on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis. Not only are you in complete control of when your car is rented, but each rental is insured up to $1 million by the company in the event that something goes wrong. The average renter makes around $250 per month (cha-ching!), but some people make in excess of $500!
Your college campus needs a legion of young, enthusiastic people to host on occasion. And most likely, they will pay for it. Hosting can include allowing a prospect to hang out with you around campus for two days as well as spend the night in your dorm room. Perhaps you can be on the welcoming committee to foreign exchange students, and even sign-up to take one home for a weekend to show them around. Check in with both your admissions center as well as your foreign exchange program coordinator to ask about paid hosting opportunities.
One of the great things about the first three in this list is that you can do them while simultaneously working a job. For example,I worked at a library while I drove Amish on Saturdays, and occasionally house/pet sat. It worked out beautifully!
This post originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.