How to Earn Money as a College Student

While your college years can be some of the best of your life, college can also be a tough time when it comes to your finances. Many people embrace living the “broke college student” lifestyle, which usually involves living off of Ramen noodles and microwavable taquitos. But your college experience doesn’t have to be this way; there are plenty of ways to earn cash to support yourself through college – without taking on a typical job that demands many hours of your time outside of the classroom.

In this article, we’re going to discuss ways you can make money on your own schedule using skills you already have. Let’s dive in!

Driving

Driving for a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft can be a great way to earn some extra cash on your own time. If you drive during peak times, you can earn significantly more money per ride. For example, if you drive people to or from a concert, sporting event, or bars and restaurants on weekends, your pay will usually be much higher. The only downside here is that your specific vehicle usually has to be approved by the rideshare platform you’re using, and you might have to deal with some unruly customers in your car once in a while. Of course, your car is your property and you always have the option to end a ride early if you feel uncomfortable.

Babysitting, House Sitting, and Dog Sitting

These can be a great way to earn money while still having time to get schoolwork done. Especially with house sitting and dog sitting, the job will likely not be terribly demanding and you can spend most of your time studying or doing homework. Babysitting is usually a little more labor intensive, but can still be rewarding if you’re good with kids!

Tutoring and Private Lessons

If you’re good at a specific subject, sport, or skill, giving private lessons can earn you a lot of money as a college student. When I was in college, I did private tutoring and private swim lessons, both of which paid a dollar a minute; that’s $60 an hour just for teaching someone else to do something you enjoy! Keep in mind here that some jobs might require you to have a special certification so that you can legally teach others.

Selling on eBay / Amazon

Selling some of your old and unused stuff on an online marketplace is a quick way to earn a couple hundred dollars. For example, if you have house decorations, gaming consoles, or sports equipment, you can likely unload them pretty quickly if you charge a fair price. If you find that you like selling online, you can actually start a whole business out of it; you can find valuable items at garage sales and flip them on eBay for huge profits or buy basic items in bulk from a wholesaler and flip them at a higher per-unit price on Amazon!

Delivering Food and Groceries

If you enjoy driving but you don’t want to deal with strangers sitting in your car, delivering food is the way to go. Platforms like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Instacart pay you to drive to restaurants or stores, pick up food and groceries, and deliver them to customers. Not every trip on these apps is worth your time, but once you get started you’ll quickly learn which deliveries to accept and which to pass on. The best part about doing delivery is the tips; I drove for UberEats and DoorDash one summer in college and would regularly receive tips of 50% or more when I drove in the right areas.

Selling Your Crafts

Some people are just incredibly skilled at creating crafts. While this is not me at all, I know that some creators have very successful Etsy stores that have grown from a hobby, to a side hustle, to a full-time job. If you know how to work with your hands and can create crafts that people want to buy, then Etsy is the place for you. Etsy allows you to buy and sell everything from candles to clothing to couches.

Freelance Writing

Freelance writing is how I started my adult career. I’ve always enjoyed writing and I had a few topics I knew enough about to write informative articles that could be helpful to others. I didn’t think I’d have a shot at becoming a full-time writer for a big-name news company, so I decided that I would offer freelance writing services. It was an incredibly flexible job; I got to choose which job offers I wanted to accept or deny and when I did take a job, I got to do it on my own schedule. If you’re a skilled writer and you have some time outside of school, I would highly recommend spending a few hours a week doing freelance writing. You can often earn $0.05 or $0.10 per word when you start out, with the potential for higher pay if you can find some regular clients who like your work.

Investing

If you haven’t started investing yet, there’s no better time to get started than RIGHT NOW. Your college years are a great time to be aggressive and make some risky investments that could end up paying off bigtime. In fact, I had a friend who paid his way through college by investing and was able to graduate without having to take on debt. 

In many other articles and videos from Wall Street Survivor, we recommend opening a Roth IRA as soon as possible. This is certainly true if you have no intention of touching your investments until retirement. But if your goal is to invest money that you can withdraw as you need to use it in college, then you won’t want to deal with the penalties that come with early Roth IRA withdrawals. In this case, you should open a regular brokerage account. (But still open a Roth IRA if you have some extra cash you don’t mind putting away for the long term!) I use Robinhood for my brokerage account since it’s simple, sleek, and offers commission-free trading on stocks, ETFs, fractional shares, and even cryptocurrencies.

If you’re looking to start your investing journey in college but you don’t have the time or desire to do the necessary research to decide what stocks to invest in, you’ll need the help of a stock picking list. The Motley Fool has a list called Stock Advisor that has beaten the market by almost 500% since its inception. We’ve been making every trade that Stock Advisor has recommended for the past 5 years, and our returns have been through the roof. If you want to learn more about the Motley Fool, you can read our review here.

Zacks Investment Research has another great list called Zacks #1 Strong Buy. Essentially, Zacks rates every stock, and the top 5% of stocks receive the #1 Strong Buy rating. The #1 Strong Buy list has beaten the market for 26 of the past 31 years with a 25.6% average annual return. Zacks is currently offering a free report called “5 Stocks Set to Double” as well as a $1 free trial to Zacks Ultimate (which includes the #1 Strong Buy list) when you sign up now. You can learn more about the Zacks #1 Strong Buy list by reading our review.

Credit Card Rewards

While owning a credit card comes with a significant amount of responsibility, it can also be a very easy way to make money. Many credit cards offer sign-on deals that state that if you spend a few thousand dollars with the card within the first few months of owning it, you will get a few hundred dollars deposited into your account, no strings attached. If you don’t have any expenses coming up that are worth thousands of dollars, you can do some “credit card arbitrage” to take advantage of these bonuses. For example, if you have a friend or family member who is planning to purchase furniture, make a rent payment, or pay for a home repair in the near future, you can offer to put their expense on your credit card and have them give you the money. Then, you can use the money to immediately pay off the credit card expense, and then boom! You’ve earned yourself hundreds of dollars just by clicking a few buttons. 

Many credit cards also have ongoing rewards programs that can earn you special perks. For example you might get cashback or rewards points for using your credit card to buy food, gas, or groceries. If your credit card uses a rewards points system, you can usually use these points to buy flights, hotels, or gadgets.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of credit card options out there or you’re not sure what kind of credit card you can get with your credit score, I recommend checking out Credit Karma. Credit Karma gives you a weekly report on your credit score for free and give you tips on how to improve your credit. You can also see credit card recommendations tailored specifically to you based on your credit score.

Final Thoughts

These are just some basic ideas to help you earn extra cash or even start a regular side hustle. Whatever you choose to do with your free time in college, just be sure to network, take advantage of good business opportunities that come your way, and work hard to earn the lifestyle you want to live!