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Financial Education

5 Ways to Build Your Emergency Fund with a Side Gig

Woman standing in front of classroom, tutoring math, as a side-gig.
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You’ve heard it a thousand times: Everyone needs to have an emergency fund. Experts keep saying it because a lot of people still don’t have enough—or any money—set aside for that inevitable rainy day.

If your emergency fund has been depleted by a cash crisis or it never existed in the first place, don’t panic. Even if you can’t wring another dime out of your current paycheck or handle canceling another subscription service, you can still make the extra cash to pad your savings. The answer is a side gig.

It’s never been easier to pick up an online side hustle, but there are also flexible ways to make additional money in the physical world at times and ways that are convenient for you.

Drive in Your Spare Time

If you have a car and time on your hands after work, you can use these things to make money rather than spend it.

It’s always fun to go out with friends or family in the evenings or over the weekends. But if the thought of an unexpected major expense stresses you out because you can’t afford anything other than your monthly bills, it’s worth it to spare a few evenings a week or a Saturday or two a month to make some extra cash.

Your options include:

  • Working as a ride-share driver: Help others get safely to and fro by driving for Uber or Lyft.
  • Delivering food and more: Don’t want people in your car? You can deliver takeout or groceries instead by signing up with DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates or Instacart.

Lend a Helping Hand

There are lots of people out there who don’t have the time or the skills to take care of their household or personal chores. And they’re willing to pay other people—like you—to do it.

Maybe you’re really good at fixing, assembling or installing things around the house. You can offer your handyman services to friends or neighbors through word-of-mouth efforts or on a neighborhood website or social page. Or keep it strictly business by signing up to provide your specialty through a site like Thumbtack.

Some of us love to clean and organize. Others not so much. If you fall into the first category, help those who aren’t by becoming a tasker for TaskRabbit.

Care for the Young, the Old or the Furry

Babysitting has been a tried-and-true money maker for teenagers for years. Now with the demand for reliable childcare growing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it could be your cash cow, too.

Know a parent who could use some time to his or herself? Offer your babysitting services one night a week or on the weekends. If your schedule allows, you could even suggest driving them to their extracurricular activities every afternoon for a reasonable rate. If you like this idea, but don’t know anyone who needs this kind of help, use a babysitting app like Zum to find potential customers.

Kids aren’t the only ones who might need a sitter. Many in the sandwich generation would welcome help taking care of their elder parents. can connect you to both child care and senior care opportunities.

Don’t forget about pets. It’s expensive to leave your pets at the vet when you go out of town. Plus, people often prefer to leave their “best friends” with a human friend. You can use apps like Wag and Rover to help you find paying gigs to sit or walk pets.

Spread Some Knowledge

Are you an algebra or grammar whiz? Is physics or chemistry your thing?

For every natural in a subject, there’s an elementary, middle or high school student that just doesn’t get it. Tutoring is a great side gig for teachers, but it isn’t just for them. With so many students now learning online, parents are willing to pay a pretty penny to the individual who can explain long division or the periodic table of elements to their kids.

And guess what? You don’t have to limit this idea to core subjects. If you’re more the creative type, share your love of music, drawing or photography by offering lessons in your art of choice.

Make Room for (Paying) Guests

You may not have free time, a special talent or knack for knowledge, but you can still make some extra dough off of spare space in your home. You’re in luck if you have a finished basement, mother-in-law suite or unused room. You can potentially rent it out as a host on Homestay or Airbnb especially if it has a separate entrance.

Watch Your Emergency Fund Grow

There’s a side hustle for everyone, even if it’s just selling your clothes for cash. Once you find your ideal gig, set aside all you earn from it in your emergency fund until you reach your goal. Shoot for at least three to six months’ worth of expenses.

After that, it’s up to you. Continue to build your financial cushion, treat yourself to something special or just take a break.

Editor’s note: Quorum is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this article and derives no benefit from these businesses for placement in this article.

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CUNA 2023 diamond award trophy icon

CUNA 2023 Diamond Award Winner

Financial Education

Quorum derives no benefit from businesses in return for placement in this blog.

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