Flisolo.com is a blogsite dedicated to student life and everything it entails. Their current “issue” features an article I’ve written about subversive ways of making a little extra cash. It can be found here and you can digg it here.
*edit* 23.04.2009 – archive of the text can be found below:
Unusual Ways Students Make Money
by Shreena Soomarah
Every year thousands of students in the UK find they need to make money when their student loans don’t stretch far enough. The most obvious solution is a part-time job, but they often require too much flexibility or time spent away from the books. So what are the alternatives?
- We are not suggesting you pawn all of your possessions, although moving from home to university, you will soon find you no longer need some of your school-era trinkets. Old textbooks, clothes, and magazines are all fit for auction on eBay. Photograph your items well, and make sure the descriptions are detailed. It is also worth doing research on the item you are selling – that seemingly useless issue of Q magazine may be priceless to an avid fan of the cover artist. If you are worried about being ripped off, open a Paypal account, as this is run by eBay and provides seller protection. Beware of eBay’s listing fees, which may reduce your earnings somewhat – watch out for free listings days!
- Cashback websites
- Are you the sort that buys your books from Amazon, gets all your music from play.com, or loves to seek out a bargain using kellkoo? Websites such as Google earn money through a process called affiliation – for example, if you use Google to find the Amazon website, and then spend £10 there, Google earns a percentage from that purchase. Several cashback websites such as Rpoints and Cashbag have sprung up in recent years, whereby the consumer can collect any affiliate payments generated by their purchases. A 1% return on a CD purchase may not sound like a lot, but over the course of a year, you may end up earning yourself ten free CDs, for no extra effort. Brenna from Suffolk, who uses Rpoints, says: “It does take a few weeks between clicking on a link and getting money I can withdraw but it is free money with no boss on your back.” Payment is usually through Paypal, cheque, or direct to your bank account.
- Online Surveys
- Many reputable companies ask for help with surveys, and offer a small remuneration. Yougov is perhaps the most well-known. Its website states: “Each time you take part in a survey, you will have your virtual YouGov account credited with cash amounts depending on the survey’s length, or you may be entered into a prize draw. When you reach £50 in your account, YouGov will send you a cheque for that amount.” Each survey pays 50p -£2 – again, it does not seem much at first, but the surveys only last around ten minutes each, and the earnings soon add up. Globaltestmarket is an American company that operates in a similar way, offering points for survey completion, and a payout on earning 1000 points (usually around £30, depending on the exchange rate).
- While most recruitment sites seek temps to work in boring office jobs for a few weeks, Gumtree adverts usually offer more short-term employment, which is frequently more interesting, and far more flexible. Advertisements at the time of writing include two hours a week helping an injured autobiographer type her book, an evening as an events assistant, and an afternoon’s exam invigilation. Perfect for some last-minute cash!
- Want to take matters into your own hands? Starting a business is an increasingly feasible option for students. Charles Elwood, a Computing student at the University of Leeds, offered to install internet networks in his friends’ houses, thereby earning money, contributing to his career, and preventing his fellow students from having to resort to expensive ‘professionals’. Similarly, art student Jenny Archer decided to actualise her creativity by making and selling handmade greetings cards, which were sold in local shops: “I sold some in a shop where I worked (where they sold like lamps and vases and stuff), and then a little art gallery bought a job lot from me. I also sold a few on e-Bay.”
- The university
- Quite often, your university will need help with open days, exams, and tests. My university would send out emails asking for short-term help, and the pay was often quite reasonable. Saba from the University of Alberta in Canada says: “The linguistics department at my university offers paid psycholinguistic experimentation sessions, where they hook you up to machines and study the processes of speech neurologically and physiologically”.
- At your own risk!
- Several students have earned money through casinos and medical trials, but it must be noted that these avenues must be pursued with extreme caution – never invest more than you can afford, and always make sure you are using reputable companies. One of the less risky medical endeavours is that of sperm donation. Marcus Proctor from the University of Texas at Austin ‘donated plasma and sperm for money in college’. He adds: “I got paid well for the sperm!”
- If all else fails…
- If you have tried several money-making ideas, but still find yourself short of enough cash, why not cut out the middle man and scout out some freebies? www.bobsfreestuff.co.uk is an excellent starting point for finding free bags of pasta, shampoo samples, and even free DVDs.