5 side hustles to help you repay your debt

pay-debt-side-hustle

Debt used to be a four-letter word, but for many Canadians today, it's just a fact of life. However, just because it's commonplace doesn't mean it's OK to have it.

If you're looking for ways to pay down your debt, consider a "side hustle" - something outside your day job that brings in a little extra cash. It's easier than ever, thanks to the sharing economy.

Here are some side hustle ideas that you may be able to try.

1. Rent your home or spare room.
Do you have a spare bedroom in your home? Put it to good use and start earning some extra income with short-term rental websites, such as Airbnb or HomeAway.

You can rent out your entire place while you're on vacation, or a room or two year-round - it's up to you.

Even if you don't want to rent year-round, consider renting out your place during high-traffic times, such as festivals and sporting events. Bonus: you may be able to earn more for your rental during peak times.

If you're worried about strangers in your home, the short-term rental websites help screen potential guests.

"You can review a guest's rating before letting them stay at your place," Noel D'Souza, money coach at Money Coaches Canada, said in an emailed response to questions. "Guests can also see your rating as a landlord. It's a win-win situation."

2. Open a home restaurant.
Are you passionate about cooking? Thanks to the sharing economy, it's easier than ever to open your own home-based restaurant.

Websites such as EatWith and Feastly help put you in touch with hungry customers looking for a dinner out at an affordable price.

"If you live in a condo or townhouse, make sure you're allowed to run a meal sharing service out of your place," said D'Souza. "The last thing you want is to break any rules. You'll also want to let your home insurance company know, otherwise it could void your policy."

If you're not too keen on entertaining guests at your home, you can still partake in the sharing economy. Websites such as MealSurfers let you cook delicious food at home available for pick up.

3. Make money from your vehicle.
No, we don't mean Lincoln Lawyer-style. But you can put your car to work. If you have some spare time during evenings and on weekends, consider becoming a driver for a ridesharing company, such as Uber.

"You probably chauffeur your family around for free, so why not get paid for it?" said D'Souza.

Don't want to spend your spare time driving strangers around town? With car rental websites, such as Turo, you can rent out your vehicle when you're not using it.

4. Take up teaching.
Do you possess a unique skill or talent? Then you may be able to earn money off it.

Full-time teaching jobs may be hard to come by, but you may be able to teach a course part-time at the local community college, without attending teachers college.

For instance, if you have a knack for web marketing or web design, you can approach schools that specialize on those topics to see if your services are needed.

You don't even have to necessarily leave your home to make money from teaching, either. You can teach English as a second language to students in a foreign country using a program such as Skype.

"I taught English to students in South Korea for two years," Jennie MacCosham, a part-time English as a second language teacher, said in an emailed response to questions. After she returned home to Canada, MacCosham kept the gig in her spare time, using an online tool.

You may also be able to tutor local students, either in-home or via Skype.

5. Use your skills.
Why not get paid to do what you love?

For instance, one American woman drew her way out of debt: she literally drew prints of the items she bought on credit, then sold them. She now has a regular illustration business.

Have a crafty side? Try opening an Etsy shop, where you can sell almost anything handmade. If you're good at wrapping gifts, advertise gift wrapping services around the holidays.

Also, don't be ashamed to tackle "teen" jobs, such as babysitting or mowing lawns - some people may prefer to have an adult take care of those tasks, anyway, so you may be surprised to get lots of business. Try apps such as TaskRabbit, in which you can connect with people looking for someone to do odd jobs.  Work from home? Offer to walk your neighbor's dog at lunchtime so you both get some exercise.

Bottom line: if you have a skill, use it. When you're done paying down your existing debt, you can use any cash from your side hustle to build up your emergency fund or save up for a big-ticket item - so you can avoid starting the debt cycle again.

See related: Should you use your inheritance to pay down debt?, 6 creative ways to pay your debt, How to clear debt with bank tools
Updated September 13, 2017

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