Making Cents: How to get moderately better off quick!

Mathew Carrick / Columnist

In previous columns, I focused on how to save money through budgeting and smart money choices. Personal finance is really much more dynamic than that, and includes managing your income as much as controlling expenses.

While other sources can teach you personal habits that lead to long-term career success, I’ll focus here on simpler, easier things to do that can help boost income now. Thinking about making money can be difficult, but there’s a whole world of opportunities if you know how to look! So, without further ado, here are some ideas:

  • Sell your unused stuff (and clean your living space at the same time). You’d be amazed how much stuff gets accumulated from who-knows-where. Chances are, you have some piles of things you don’t need or want anymore. Why not sell them? It will take you about 5 minutes to start an Amazon Marketplace account (for free!) or an eBay listing and start getting your unused items out the door. If you’re a real pack rat, this can get you a few hundred dollars easily.

  • Look for volunteer opportunities that pay. As an example, New Student Orientation and Student Ambassadors both come with scholarship opportunities. The money received isn’t the point of the activities of course, but if you were already thinking of applying the scholarships are an added bonus.

  • Be a tutor. You don’t need a tutoring job—just take a class or skill you know, print out some simple flyers and hang up your advertisements around campus. Got a good grade in your Accounting class? Calculus? Offer your services for $20 an hour. Some students prefer the flexibility of working with an independent tutor to going over to an official lab, so check this out for some side money.

  • Fix things. If you know how to fix anything, offer your services by the same method listed above. If you don’t, buy a manual from Amazon and learn.

  • Get a student job. Obviously this is more time-intensive than any of the other options here, but I highly recommend it. As someone who’s seen “behind the scenes” for some hirings, I can also tell you that many perfectly good student jobs have few or no applicants. Plus, they work around your schedule and will help you learn new skills!

Although it’s hard to think of new ways to make money at first, once you get into the habit you’ll find you have more ideas than you have time to pursue them. Don’t be discouraged if someone else is doing the same thing—the world is big and there’s room enough for competition, even in Fairbanks.

On a final note, I caution you that there is no reliable way to “get rich quick.” If someone tries to tell you otherwise, they’re probably trying to scam you or being scammed themselves. But there are plenty of ways to make some money with a little bit of time and thought, then work!

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