While the cost of living keeps going up, most wages have remained fairly stagnant, confirms a 2015 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report, which analyzed American’s wage pattern from 2007 to 2014, shared that the bottom 80 percent of workers had stagnant or declining hourly wages over that seven-year period while the bottom 88 percent of workers saw total compensation and wages drop.
And we wonder why frustration over wages and equality is at an all-time high. Sadly, working a full-time job isn’t always enough these days. To get ahead, a lot of us have taken on side jobs or “hustles” in our spare time. And by leveraging those extra dollars, many people have bucked the system and found a way to “create their own raise.”
Eight Money-Making Summer Side Hustles
If you’ve been considering a part-time job or “side hustle,” your timing is impeccable. Across most of the country, the summer season brings an explosion of extra work you can get hired to do or seek out on your own.
Whether you want to pay down debt, raise money to pay for school, save up for a down payment on a house, or build up a stash of “fun money,” a warm-weather side hustle might provide the answer you’re looking for.
Interested? Here are a few options to consider:
Start a lawn mowing business.
Mowing lawns is a smart summertime side hustle for anyone with a mower and a weed wacker, a way to transport them, and some random daytime hours to kill. And if you’re able to build up a roster of steady clients, you could earn quite a handsome sum through the end of summer and early fall.
If you live in an established neighborhood (and in a region where grass lawns are the norm), it’s fairly easy to start your own mowing business on the side. To spread the word on foot, simply create a flyer and take it door to door and tack it (with your information) to public message boards at the library or grocery store. Or, take advantage of social media and online community message boards and post ads online. (Better yet, do all of the above.)
While there aren’t any hard and fast rules for how much you can charge and it depends a lot on the size of each lawn anyway, you can generally expect to earn $30 per hour or more — although that doesn’t include travel time. How did we come up with that figure? According to contractor-review site Angie’s List, “the average lawn costs $35 to $40, and includes mowing, trimming, sidewalk edging, removal of limbs and debris.” As the site notes, the more “extras” you can throw in, the more you can charge clients.
Get in on the gig economy.
A wave of new app-based startups have made it easier for anyone to patch together a part-time job with flexible hours. These startups include rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft, along with TaskRabbit (a service that hires out errands), Instacart (a grocery delivery service), and Postmates (a technology-based delivery service), and many more.
As I’m sure you can imagine, wages for these jobs vary widely based on the specific assignment, location, and the type of job. Still, working for one of these startups provides a type of flexibility that many part-time jobs don’t.
“Unlike in traditional summer jobs,” the Wall Street Journal notes, “students can set their own schedule, and they don’t have to sell themselves to neighbors or managers to get work—the on-demand jobs are largely there for the asking.”
Work as a lifeguard.
If you live near a beach, a neighborhood pool, an outdoor public pool, or even a YMCA or recreational center, you’re probably closer to a lifeguard job than you think.
Obviously, there are some physical requirements for this job, and you must be CPR-certified. According to minimum requirements listed by the Red Cross, lifeguards must be 15 years old by the time they finish training, and be able to pass several physical fitness and swimming tests that can vary from job to job.
Seasonal lifeguards can make anywhere between $16 to $20 per hour, according to Salary.com, while full-time (year-round) lifeguards can make up to $27 an hour.
Watch kids all summer long.
While you can generally find babysitting jobs year-round, summer brings exceptional need for childcare. With the kids out of school, many parents seek out either part-time or full-time care in their homes to save everyone the stress of enrolling in childcare programs or weeks of expensive summer camps.
While babysitting can earn you up to $15 per hour (or even higher in certain parts of the country), wages for full-time or part-time care during daytime hours is all over the map and highly dependent on your experience and where you live.
If you want to see how much you might earn or be able to charge in your area, this wage calculator from Care.com can help.
Wait tables in a posh resort area.
If you live in an area with seasonal tourism (think beach resorts, mountains, destination cities, or near a national park or theme park), local restaurants and resorts might be hiring seasonal help to handle the influx of tourists. And depending on where the restaurant is and how expensive the average check tends to be, you really could make a mint this summer.
How much you’ll earn depends on a wide range of variables, including whether you can land a prime shift like Saturday night, but the most important is the price of the place. Since most people tip (and most waiters and waitresses earn) 15% to 20% on their bill, higher prices generally mean higher pay for waitstaff. Of course, other factors play a role as well – things like “tipping out,” how fast you can turn your tables, and how busy your restaurant stays all summer long.
Since most waiters and waitresses don’t report all of their tips for tax purposes, it’s hard to estimate exactly how much you might earn. A recent report from Payscale.com gives a glimpse into restaurant pay, however. According to their 2015 study of 15,000 restaurant workers, the average waiter or waitress earned a base salary of $5.00 per hour $8.20 per hour in tips.
Watch or walk dogs (lots of dogs).
Thanks to social media and new startups like Rover.com — which is a little bit like Airbnb for pets — earning side income watching people’s beloved pets has never been easier.
With Rover.com specifically, you can get started by creating a profile that people in your neighborhood can find online: Showcase your personality and your experience with pets, include any positive references, and set your rates. While prices vary, most people typically charge between $20 and $45 per dog, per night.
If you have a home with a fenced-in yard and plenty of free time, it’s feasible to imagine watching at least two dogs at once. Even at just $25 per night, per dog, that could easily add up to an extra $100 per week if you managed to watch two dogs at a time just two nights per week.
Of course, there may be extra expenses to consider if you provide toys, treats, or food for the dogs in your care. And if you use Rover.com to find jobs, you’ll have to fork over 15% of your earnings.
Work as a tutor.
If you’re a college student especially, tutoring might be the perfect way to earn extra money over the summer. As a tutor, you can generally work flexible hours, work when you want to work, and charge a rate that is higher than you would work at a traditional part-time job.
A high level of knowledge in an especially difficult subject like math or science can help you land jobs as well. If you’re not sure where to look, check out tutoring job boards on sites like Care.com and the Princeton Review’s Tutor.com.
According to Angie’s List, in-person tutoring sessions generally cost between $45 and $60, while online tutors tend to charge around $20 an hour.
House sit while others travel.
With the kids out of school, summer is one of the busiest travel seasons of the year. As a result, jobs for house sitters tend to be more plentiful than in any other season.
Several top websites promise to connect house sitters with families in need for a small fee. Included on that list are HouseSitter.com, HouseSittersAmerica.com, and MindMyHouse.com.
Pay ranges depending on the home and its location, and whether other home care duties are included and expected. In the case of long-term arrangements, house sitting is sometimes exchanged for free living expenses instead of actual pay. According to the House Sitters America website, pay varies and is 100% negotiable on behalf of both the home owner and the house sitter.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a way to earn extra money and your regular 9-to-5 job isn’t offering overtime or the prospect of a raise, it might be time to take more control with a side hustle. And if you’re a college or high school student, a summer side hustle presents the perfect opportunity to earn some extra cash while you’re not in school.
In a perfect world, we would all get the raise we deserve. But in the real world, you sometimes have to eat what you kill. With a seasonal side hustle or a part-time job, you take some of the power back by putting your earning potential in your own hands.
What is your favorite seasonal side hustle? How do you plan to earn extra cash this summer?
- How to Make Money
- The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Getting Jobs, Getting Paid, and Getting Ahead
- 13 Great Part-Time Jobs for College Students
- 50 Side Businesses You Can Start on Your Own