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Legal Ways to Make Money Fast

There are a lot of people out there offering ways to get rich quick, and pretty much all of them are scams. That doesn't mean it's not possible to get some money fast. You may not get rich, but you can put some dollars in your pocket that you didn't have yesterday.

The first rule of making money fast is an adage: if it sounds too good to be true, it's not true. We should all know this, but scams still proliferate, and millions of people who think they are going to make money fast end up losing their shirts every year. Consumer Reports notes that phone scams alone cost Americans $7.4 billion dollars between 2014 and 2015.[1] Again, that's just phone scams, the most obvious and recognizable type of fraud. Still, one in ten adults was a victim, a stark reminder of the need to be skeptical and think twice, or three times. If it sounds like it's a dream, it probably is. Nevertheless, millions of people fall for them each year.

Once the scams are off the table, we get down to the real world options. Here are several ways to get money fast, without breaking the law or having to worry about finding yourself involved immersed in the next record-breaking Ponzi scheme.

Option 1: Sell Something You Own
Most Americans have more stuff than they're using, and some of that stuff may be worth money. We're not talking just standard yard or garage sale here. While there are certainly ways you can make money from this time-honored suburban tradition, modern technology offers up better ways to turn unused items into cash.

Use eBay to sell used goods. Ebay has been going strong as an online platform for selling goods since 1995. The best part of eBay? The auction. You can use the platform to sell anything from that old hand-me-down Christmas sweater to old videos games you didn't know you had. Nostalgia is particularly in fashion these days, so if it's old and in good condition, you'll likely find a buyer.

Use an app designed for reselling specific items. There are applications designed for specific types of reselling, including clothing resale apps like Poshmark, Tradesy, Threadflip, or Vinted. You also have more generic options, such as OfferUp and Gone.

Use Craigslist (with discretion). Craigslist can be a seedy place that's especially rife with fraud, but there are good resellers on Craigslist, and you can be one of them. You'll want to make sure you're on the lookout for Craigslist buyer scams, however, which do occur with some frequency.

Option 2: Share Your Home with AirBnB
AirBnB is a dream for anyone who keeps a clean home and has some extra room. If that's you (or if it can be you), consider turning your spare room into a guest room with AirBnB. Almost anyone can be an AirBnB host, and you never know how valuable your spare room might be. You can list your rooms at any price, although chances are you might have some neighbors already listing their rooms, so it's best to see what the going rate is in your area. You could earn several hundred extra dollars each month, or more, depending on where you live.

AirBnB also includes the option to earn money while sharing your passions. Although not as widely advertised, Airbnb also has a platform for sharing "experiences". Are you a master chef? An expert climber? A mountain biker who knows no limits? You can share those experiences (for a fee, or course) with others. Combine that with your AirBnB room service, and you have yourself a full-course meal of repurposed living space, room for personal passions, and added income on top of it all.

Option 3: Drive for Uber
For those who live in somewhat suburban and urban areas, Uber is one of the best ways to earn a little spare cash on the side these days. You can start driving for Uber in just about a week in most cases and start earning almost immediately. Uber drivers can earn anywhere between $8.00/hour to $20/hr on average, with your location, time of day and day of the week having the largest impact on how much you might earn. If you happen to have a car that fits the desired profile, you may even get a gig driving for the more upscale Uber X, which typically pays even higher rates for drivers. It's a good way to put some extra cash in your pocket if you have spare time, a decent ride and a good driving record.

Option 4: Sell Your Skills
If you have a full-time job, you've probably developed quite a few skills that your employer currently enjoys. If you've trained in anything that you can do with a computer, you could be putting those skills to use right now to earn a bit of extra cash. Websites like UpWork, Toptal, and PeoplePerHour post millions of jobs from companies and individuals that need all kinds of work done, from online tutoring to editing to creating and managing spreadsheets. You can earn a few dollars on a quick job, or develop clients for long-term earnings, or both. Many studies show the "gig economy" (which includes Uber and Airbnb) is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy, and one where your potential for extra cash based on your talents is almost guaranteed if you're willing to put in the effort.

Keep it Real
There's no real "get rich quick" scheme out there that will hand big gains immediately and without effort. If there were, we'd all be rich. However, don't think of "fast" as another way of saying "today." Getting extra money the legal way is always going to require a bit of planning, preparation, time, and effort. The investment does pay off, though, and the thing that delays the process the most is not getting started. Think about it, make a plan, put the plan into action, and enjoy your earnings!