How to Supplement Your Income

by Katy on March 6, 2012 · 52 comments

Goodbye, Morris chair! It turns out it’s more important to feel good than to look good.

As an experienced labor and delivery nurse, I make a good living. True, my sixteen-hour-per-week schedule will never make me wealthy, but it’s enough to pay the bills and have a little leftover for my Goodwill addiction habit.

But what about when I need money for extras like a trip to Japan or home improvement projects?

Well . . .  there’s always the option of extra work shifts, but I’ve learned that a key component in not burning out in my stressful job is to work enough, but not too much.

But an aversion to overtime does not mean that I can’t supplement my income. In fact, I really enjoy figuring out little tricks to bring in extra money.

Here’s how I supplement my income:

I keep an eye out at thrift stores for vastly underpriced items that have resale value. Examples include:

I also am a big fan of selling our unused household items rather than have them gather dust and clutter up our home. Examples include:

  • Our antique Morris chair, which looks fantastic in our living room, yet is so stiff and uncomfortable that no one ever sits on it. I bought it on Craigslist in 2006 for $250, and someone is coming by today to buy it for $250. (I probably should have asked more, as I got a number of immediate eager replies.) I am through with form over function if that particular item takes up a significant amount of space.
  • A stack of old Mary Engelbreit magazines that I sold for $41.00 on eBay.
  • A vintage tandem bicycle that my husband and I bought in 1990, and only rode occasionally. I forget how much we paid, but I sold it for $125.
  • Selling books at Powell’s bookstore. (Which you can also do online.)
  • Holding garage sales.
  • Listing unused sporting equipment on Craigslist.

I also help my mother run her Guest Cottage business. Mostly playing the role of cleaning lady between tenants, but lately also doing general management tasks. I think an important lesson here is that even though I’m a skilled nurse and mildly successful blogger, (not to be confused with “mild mannered” 😉 ) I am not too fine and mighty to earn money as a housekeeper.

We’re also currently renting out our spare bedroom to a Japanese college student. And even though we don’t charge much, it still adds to our Japan trip fund.

Money is money no matter how you earn it. Did you notice that nothing that I do requires any special skill or talent? Just the work and a willingness to put in the time.

What do you do to earn extra money? Please share your ideas with the Non-Consumer Advocate community in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.

Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.


{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy M March 6, 2012 at 10:20 am

When I clean my closet each season, I sell my items at a local consignment shop. I also pet sit and people sit (kids and elders) and provide transportation for a little boy to go to daycare. None of it pays huge amounts but it is surprising how it all adds up.


Katy March 6, 2012 at 10:22 am

I forgot to mention how I take stuff to both a kid’s consignment shop, but also a hipster consignment shop in the neighborhood, which takes household stuff.



marianne March 6, 2012 at 10:30 am

I don’t have any good suggestions on this post but just wanted to let you know i liked it!


Katy March 6, 2012 at 11:03 am




Mary Kate March 6, 2012 at 10:35 am

I sell items we no longer use on eBay and Amazon. I have also bought a few underpriced items to resell. We occasionally have a yard sale as well.


Dogs or Dollars March 6, 2012 at 10:36 am

My Husband has become the go-to handy man for our group of friends. In the last week he has, done drawings for a friends new garage to save him from hiring an architect, cut fence posts and dug up stumps, and today he is looking at a potential roof leak at another friends.

I recently sold childhood memorabilia for a tidy profit on ebay, bartered for eggs, moonlighted at a business in exchange for handy store credit, and Im raising someone else’s chicks along with my own to offset my feed and equipment costs.

If it werent for this pesky day job, I bet I could figure out all kinds of things. 😉


Katy March 6, 2012 at 11:02 am

Ah . . . the pesky day job. 🙂



Dianna @ practicing frugal March 6, 2012 at 11:02 am

I like to sell on ebay, yard sales every couple years. I also like to look for things I can purchase, clean it up a bit and re sell.


Heather March 6, 2012 at 11:14 am

can you share a bit about how you sold the marble? We have a bunch of antique marbles, but wasn’t sure of the best way to research how to get the best price for them.


Katy March 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I got a book from the library, which helped me to identify the marbles. I forget the name of the book, but you could just search for one through your library.



Heather March 10, 2012 at 6:58 pm

thanks! Did you sell them individually, or a couple at a time?


Katy March 10, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I mostly sold them as “lots,” althoughI think I sold a few individually. I watched “Completed Listings” on eBay for awhile to get a sense of what sells well.



EcoCatLady March 6, 2012 at 11:17 am

Well… I actually support myself through internet ads. I do graphic design and photography, post my photos/designs/cliparts on one of my 6 websites, and earn my living from the ads. I live very frugally, but comfortably. I’ve had to learn a lot about server management, php programming, web design and SEO optimization along the way… and it’s taken me a while to build up a big enough catalog of stuff (I have about 25,000 images/designs), but the lifestyle gives me a huge amount of freedom.

I think the key is to find a way to make money doing something you love. For you it’s thrifting, for me it’s graphics & photography. When I was younger and enjoyed hanging out in bars more, I actually made a chunk of my income as a performing musician, then later when I got deeply into collecting books, I made money selling them online. My boyfriend, who is the ubergeek, brings in extra money writing little computer programs that he sells as shareware, my best friend makes and sells custom stained glass, and I have other friends who make extra money making and selling, quilts, rag rugs and other hand made items, and even one friend who buys broken musical instruments, fixes them up and sells them.

The thing is, there are zillions of ways to make money, you just have to look at your interests and skills a bit differently. I, for example, would have NO CLUE what a Pottery Barn rug is, let alone that it might be valuable! But you obviously knew it was worth something. And once you lose the idea that you have to make a ton of money at everything you do, the possibilities really start to open up!


Melissaink March 6, 2012 at 11:34 am

Yesterday, my husband and I made $25 off two items we picked up on the curb. My husband makes good money, but this side hustle is fun and pads our “fun” money! Selling off outgrown kids clothes today – one appointment made me $15. Lovin’ it!


Janinne March 6, 2012 at 11:40 am

I’ve worked for the US Census in 1990, 2000, 2009 (mapwork) and 2010. That’s my favorite part time job. Otherwise, with my full time job and volunteer activities at 2 non-profits, I really can’t fit in extra money-making things. But I buy nearly everything used, don’t have a coffee shop habit or book buying addiction, am not a slave to tobacco or soda, and I hate malls. I sew my own curtains and other household items, mend and alter my own clothes, line dry my laundry, rarely eat out, and use my makeup until the stubs are too small to hold. I like knowing that though I spend more time earning money than Katy does, I do use my free time (sometimes sacrificially) for the betterment of my community and the heritage of my state.


Katy March 6, 2012 at 11:44 am

Wow, that’s great!

Your community and state are lucky to have you. 🙂



Megg March 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I worked on the census in 2010 too! It was so fun and, being unemployed at the time, great to make a little extra and get out of the house!


Ellen March 6, 2012 at 11:59 am

Oh ~ and selling homemade dog cookies at the dog park. That only works if you commit to doing it regularly, or you’ll find people don’t bring cash along when walking the dog. They have to anticipate when you’ll be there.


emmer March 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm

dh and i both took early retirement for medical reasons. so, the pension money is steady, but not so large. we have found reducing wants is the biggest saver and the first to tackle…rather like insulating your house and changing to fluorescent bulbs before you tackle solar voltaics. (and we’ve done those things, too.)
we have found barter to be a community builder and money saver and use this “informal eonomy” whenever we can. dh loves live theater and the oregon symphony, so he volunteers at various theaters as usher, ticket taker, or house manager and gets to see many first rate live productions for free.
we both use skills we have developed during our lives to produce income. i worked as a registered nurse, which has not translated to retirement income. but my sewing skill has. i do alterations and repairs and i teach sewing. i sell my handknitted caps and several other original “sustainable” products at craftshows. dh sharpens knives and scissors, repairs vacuum cleaners, carpet shampooers and lawn mowers. his big gig is bicycle servicing and fitting.
because we have developed many nearby contacts from these little jobs, we have put together a bulk foods buying group to make access to high quality foods just a little better for our community. that has grown into a preservation day each summer when an osu extension service educator teaches safe food preservation techniques. this summer we will learn to make salsas and fruit pie fillings. we have developed a network in which we notify each other when we find fresh local foods at a good price–or, free as in last year’s score of a plum tree loaded with fruit whose owner couldn’t use it all. eaingt local and seasonal is a $ saver too. no flown in from the tropics fruit in winter, just the peaches i canned and the berries i froze.
we have put our entire townhouse backyard into a fruit and veggie garden and have a community garden plot as well. we enjoy trolling a secondhand for “gems” that we can use, sell, or gift. we have sold quite a lot of furniture we no longer need on craigs list and parted with more on freecycle. we read more than watch tv. i think that is a good way to loose interest in fashion–less bombardment with ads blatant and subtle… altho, i can’t wait for the next season of downton abbey. what will happen to mr bates? 🙂


Katy March 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Wow, I am super impressed with all that you do! It sounds like there’s not much sitting in the rocking chair in your retirement.



AnnW March 6, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Emmer, I wish I could be your neighbor!


Elizabeth B March 8, 2012 at 11:43 am

Emmer, you’re inspiring! You sound like the best neighbor ever. 😀


Rachel March 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Great timing! I just spoke with a rep yesterday about starting to sell Avon. I am really considering it for some extra money, but haven’t decided for sure yet.

The idea of selling stuff on ebay and craigslist is good also. I just have to get around to actually doing it!


JoeAnne March 7, 2012 at 5:26 am

I think Avon can be good if you 1) treat it like a business and not a hobby 2) Do not buy a ton of inventory (those “daily deals” can really add up 3) do not become your own best customer. In other words, do the opposite of what I did 😉 Good luck if you decide to do it!


Emily March 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm

I use Swagbucks for my internet searching. With hardly any extra effort I earned almost $100 in Amazon credit last year. It provides me with a little money for fun things or to subsidize more expensive needs (paid for half of a much-needed new pair of Keens for work).


diane March 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Online surveys bring in a small amount every once in awhile. I used to do mystery shopping too. I sell my handcrafts at 2 small shops and I could probably branch out to sell more, but then it would be WORK, not fun. Also, in my city there are 2 companies that advertise every winter for college grads to score the high school high stakes test essays. The work is usually for 2 months in the spring 5 days a week, paying about $12.00 per hour.


Megg March 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I babysit (such easy money!) I also sell stuff online that I don’t need. I set a goal of $1,000 this year and already made over $500! Guess I undershot!
I’ve also been known to pick up free/cheap furniture, refinish it, and sell it on craigslist. I like it because I enjoy refinishing the stuff, so it’s not a hassle, even if it usually takes me ages to do it!


Katie March 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Remember the “Corn on the Cow” figurine I sold on eBay? It sold for $26! I was so surprised! Also sold a bass and amp to a friend of a friend, avoiding an annoying Craigslist transaction. I think I’m running out of things to sell that are worth money to other people, though.

I used to do a lot of overnight house/petsitting. It’s a great option for people who can relocate their lives to someone else’s house for a few days/weeks.


mairsydoats March 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I sell books, dvds and vhs movies I no longer need to a shop where I get credit (satisfying that need for a new movie without an outlay of $$), and mend and hem pieces of clothing for my landlady to chip away at my rent.

I sold some stuff on ebay when we cleaned out my mom and dad’s house 5 years ago (the big win was the vintage pebbles and bam bam dolls – crazy big win!!), but I find that to be too much work for me, and I’m not great at guessing how much folk will (or will not) want something.


Katy March 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I rely on looking at “Completed Listings” on eBay. This is under “Advanced Searches” and shows you how much a certain item is actually selling for.



Becky March 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm

My neighbor owns a plant nursery, and I run her booth selling seedlings, annuals, perennials, and produce at our town farmer’s market on summer Saturdays, since she has to be at her retail location. I earn some money and it’s a fun way to stay involved our little rural town.

My husband is great at barter. He’s swapped architectural services (his profession) for custom cabinetry, massages, Web design services, and farm produce. He even let his wife get most of the massages!


Sally March 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Great ideas!! I’ve tried breaking into the selling stuff niche, but nobody seems to want my stuff. Eh. I’ll keep trying!!
I have made money doing alterations, tutoring, cleaning a friends house, and *saved* money by trading time worked for a gym membership. I am always on the lookout for things people want done…I’ll do them! It’s refreshing to read blog posts such as this – when I mention the ways I earn money (I’m a full-time teacher, but always looking for extra income!) to people they look at me like I’ve grown an extra head. Glad I’m not the only one willing to work for a bit extra in my life!


AnnW March 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm

In my town a teacher or someone who can stay over with kids when the parents go out of town for business is in high demand. You can practically name your price.


Kelli March 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Husband and I donated plasma for years—you are paid for your time…right now he is getting $50 a week. I no longer donate plasma (my veins are small and I built up scar tissue) so I am selling on eBay. We like to thrift shop and purchase items we know will sell well. All this goes into our “extra” fund—this funds our daughter’s private cello lessons and a vacation—probably driving to the Black Hills with the kiddos this summer.


Bauunny March 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Clothing consignment – for my own clothes and for my daughter and son’s clothing ( high school and college age). I consider it “free money” and usually use it as store credit. I’m not a big couponer, but do look for reward cards and coupons for practical things I would buy anyway. I have one credit card that gives a 20% off groceries and general merchandise once you accumulate a certain dollar level. So once every two months or so I “score” a lot of savings because I deliberately wait to do a mega stock up on certain items, if I can wait.


Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land March 6, 2012 at 5:23 pm

When I was a kid, I sold candy to the other kids at school. I’m not sure I could get away with that now.

I have a YouTube channel that I have ads on. A few weeks ago I got a check for $142. I get about $1 per day from my YouTube channel.


Anna March 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Love this post! I sell on Ebay and love it. As my second son outgrows clothes, especially church clothes, I sell them. I use the extra money to buy clothes, toys, etc on Ebay or to fund special activities. My husband buys gaited pleasure horses and resells them online. He rides them and trains and then resells them. Sometimes they just need to be cleaned up and fattened up. Since starting this “side job” he has shipped horses all over the country and had such fun doing it.


Carla March 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I am always on the lookout for things that I can do to earn a bit of money, it’s never tons, but it’s some – I consign children’s clothing, jewellery and household goods, I have sold cloth diapers on Ebay, furniture and other household things on Kijiji. I have rescued a couple of things from the curb that I am planning to sell, but have procrastinated on it, and as I write I am thinking that maybe it’s because I feel slightly odd to sell something I found on the street.

But, a question for you Katy, how do you know something has value? I am often looking for things to sell, but I am not a shopper, so I have no idea what people would spend lots of money on. Like I would never have identified that expensive rug to flip and sell. How do you know a marble is expensive for example?


Zee March 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm


You have mentioned a number of times where you have sold something on eBay. I’m interested in what you think of all the fees they sting you with.

I recently sold a mobile phone on eBay for $154. I then had to pay a 7.9% ‘final value’ fee of $13. Not to mention having to also pay for the privilege of using Paypal – Whom eBay own! It is absolutely ridiculous and has pretty much put me off using eBay in the future.

I think I will turn to other options such as Gumtree, or specialised forums.

Or do you think the increased exposure of using eBay will still give you a good enough price to offset the high fees?



JoeAnne March 7, 2012 at 5:43 am

Oh, I love me some craigslist for (buying and) selling! I call our house “the house that craigslist built” as many (most?) of our furnishings have come from there but I have also sold many items through cl. I have sold on eBay, but it’s better for some things than others. I consign to a huge kids sale that is held twice a year in our area. When I had my van, I would also pick up baby/kids gear at curb, clean them up and sell them there as well but sadly the van is gone (darn you NY state gas prices!) I list most of my girls’ outgrown clothing in “lots”on craigslist and price them to sell. We have held several garage sales over the past 10 years. While I do buy things new (on sale or clearance) I love to buy an item used, use the item, then sell it for cost or better whenever possible. One example, a Step 2 kids wagon purchased at garage sale for $6, used for 2 years sold for $20 on craigslist 🙂


Katy March 7, 2012 at 6:08 am

It is rather wonderful to buy an item secondhand, use it for years and then later sell it for more than you paid. I have done this countless times as well. 🙂



Renee CA March 7, 2012 at 7:39 am

Years ago we bought a single wide mobile home to live in on our property for one year while building a house. We sold it for what we paid for it which means we lived rent free for that year. It was great!


Katy March 7, 2012 at 8:00 am




emmer March 7, 2012 at 6:54 am

mairseydoats, i have no shopping sense, either, as i don’t like to shop. but craig’s list has worked well for me because a friend of a friend IS knowledgeable. he sets up the ads and gets a percentage. i email pix and the basic info. i tell him what i think it is worth. he always says it is worth more, from a little to a lot. he’s right. just put the word out that you need help/want to learn/will pay. and craig’s list costs nothing.


Mistress Bliss March 7, 2012 at 9:26 am

I think I have done or am doing all the things you have mentioned at one time or another. I love finding things at thrift stores that I know I can resell in my Etsy store or on Ebay for a profit. I am not too good about taking my clothes to consignment, preferring to just donate, but if I have an “investment” piece, I will re-sell it. My husband is trying to get a part-time window cleaning business going this Spring and I really like the other commenter’s idea of elder sitting…I would love that!


Leenie Hobbie March 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Right now I am learning to weave. I was gifted with a wonderful antique 1949 Sabina floor loom that had been sitting in a garage for over a decade. Then I put out a call for scrap yarns to our local freecycle group and friends who knit or crochet. I got an avalanche. I bartered (catered an event in exchange) for a beginner’s weaving workshop. I really hope this becomes something that contributes to our family eventually but for now it is the fulfillment of a decades long dream and it hasn’t cost anything. I grow herbs that I sell (Lots of herbs love poor soil and little attention.) and I have a tiny greenhouse (built from salvaged materials) that I grow and sell bedding plants from. I make a variety of herbal items that I sell locally. I sometimes cater events, bake bread, whatever comes up.


Steve March 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm

What I noticed was that all of the ways you list to earn money are “Own (or acquire) something and then sell it”.


Katy March 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm

That’s commerce, baby!

Also, you must have missed that I also work managing and cleaning rental cottages.



Adrian March 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

Wow, lots of interest in this post. I’m a big fan of supplementing my income too. Even though I work full time, I’ve was an Ebay seller for about 5 years, til I got tired of the fees and hassles. I still occasionally sell books on Amazon and other things on Craigslist. My husband and son do landscaping and general handyman work (they both work full time too) and I also have a mildly successful rubber stamping business through Stampin’ Up! (like Pampered Chef, but stamps). I teach monthly classes in stamping and digital scrapbooking and take a few orders here and there. It isn’t as much as I’d like for the time investment, but it’s also a hobby and a social outlet for me. I also have some oil leases from the 1940’s my father left me. They’re tiny, but they generate between $400 and $600 per month in royalty income. Makes me not be so depressed when the gas prices go up. I recently got a call from someone who wants to put our St. Bernard in a movie – The 12 Dogs of Christmas. They pay $200 a day, so I’m all over it. He has an audition next week – go figure!


Cindy March 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm

I suplement my main source of income with several sources of income mainly

#Tutoring. If you have a expertise in an areas of demand, you can earn a nice income from tutoring. One of my friends has turned her online tutoring gig into a full-time income. Now she works from home working only 20 hours per week.

#Start a micro business online such as eBay or selling articles you have written on I have squidoo lens & hub pages that are earning me a passive income though they are not enough to provide me a fulltime income yet.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: