8 Easy Side Hustles that Really Pay [Updated]

Originally published June 13, 2016. Updated March 20, 2018.

Angie and I have been side-hustling for years. We’ve done everything from swap out the displays on top of gas pumps all across Colorado to sit on a mock jury to earn a little extra cash. Once we even mystery shopped our meals on vacation. While we love the added income, I sometimes think we do it more for the fun of it than anything else.

That’s one packed Peanut!

After a few months off from side-hustling, we decided to pick it back up last week. Our goal is twofold. First, we want to buy a car-top cargo carrier for Peanut. As our primary mode of transportation and occasional overnight accommodations on road-trips, Peanut can only hold so much. The cargo bag will allow us to put the soft stuff (sleeping bag, pads, pillows and clothes) on top of the car, leaving room inside for the tent, cooler, and food. Second, we want to use said car-top carrier for a really awesome road trip in April and well, we could use a bit of extra cash for campgrounds and sightseeing.

So back to side-hustling we went. And this time we added a few noteworthy sources of income to our growing list of Easy Side Hustles.

Field Agent 
field agentIt is very easy to sign up and easy to use. Within an hour, we were off on our first assignment…to test and take pictures of the coin counting machine in a local grocery store. Since we were driving toward Nashville anyway, we decided to do a few other assignments along the way. With Field Agent, you only have a 2-hour window to complete an assignment once you claim it, so it’s best to search while you’re on the go. In just a week, we’ve earned $27 (7 assignments) while we were out and about on our regular errands. Field Agent pays quickly, setting your earnings aside in an account that you can cash out at any time.

easy-shift-appEasy Shift
By far, this is my favorite of all the side hustling apps we use. It has the same easy to use interface as Field Agent. With Easy Shift though, you have 10-24 hours to complete accepted assignments, depending on the assignment. At times, we’ve had a little difficulty with capturing photos in the app but nothing that wasn’t easily fixed with a quick reset of the phone. Easy Shift pays very quickly via PayPal. We completed 4 assignments with Easy Shift over the past week, earning $20.25. That money was deposited within 3 days into our PayPal account.

Surveys on the Go
ongosurveyI’m still on the fence with this app. The surveys are easy enough but there are very, very few of them and the earnings are small. When a survey is available in your location, you will receive a push notification; however, you have to be quick to get in on the survey. So far this year, we’ve earned $12.45. When I discussed deleting this app with Angie, she waxed philosophical and said, “You wouldn’t step over a dime on the ground, now would you? No. A dime is a dime and ten add up to a dollar.” I couldn’t argue with that logic. So for the time being, we’ll keep this app to see how many dimes we collect.

Merchandiser by Survey
This is the companion app to Surveys to Go. Instead of 10 cent surveys though, you can apply for actual in-store merchandising jobs. This one was our big money maker of the week, bringing in $39. We counted Nabisco products at Target and Food Lion, Skinny Almonds in Target, and took photos of various displays in Publix. None of the assignments took more than 20 minutes. Once our work was approved, the payment posted to an account (like Field Agent) that we can cash out after earning a minimum of $7.50.

I tried Gigwalk back when it first came out and immediately deleted the app. Back then it was a points based payment system and let’s face it, when we do work, most of us prefer to be paid in cash not points. Last week, we reinstalled the app and gave it a second chance. That “chance” has netted us $12 so far (and another $5 when we complete an assignment later today). The drawback of Gigwalk is that there are not many assignments near us. The upside though is that they pay very quickly through PayPal.

The Source
Trendsource is not a standalone mobile app like the others. They are a legitimate merchandising and mystery shopping company and as such, there’s an application process. We’ve been contractors with Trendsource for nearly a decade. They offer easy monthly grocery store audits, restaurant mystery shops, and on-site business inspections that pay between $5-$25 per location, along with reimbursement for your purchase. Though they don’t pay immediately, they do have a set payment schedule and direct deposit options.

BestMark_BlueLogoSquareI couldn’t find an app for Bestmark but I wanted to mention them because, like Trendsource, they are a legitimate mystery shopping company. Both Angie and I are contractors with them. What I like most about Bestmark is that you can find easy internet or phone assignments that don’t require you to go anywhere. These assignments only pay $3-$5 but they also only take 15-20 minutes to do. Bestmark also offers on-site mystery shops, including opportunities for oil changes and other automotive services. Bestmark pays by check on a set monthly schedule.

My good friend Linda reminded me about this one via Facebook recently. She has been a long time shopper with them and I used to do a few theater audits every now and then. MarketForce is also a legitimate mystery shopping company. Their app and their online portal for selecting jobs is super easy to use and there are jobs all over the place. So far, we’ve only completed on grocery shop but we’ve signed up for 5 other shops in April, ranging from restaurants to retails stores. Like Trendsource and Bestmark, you will need to complete an application to become a shopper.

Food Waste Update

Still no food finds but sadly, we did add 12 ounces of burnt beans to our food waste list because someone (me) left the crock pot on high all day while we were playing outside. **sigh**

  • Wasted Food this week: 12 ounces
  • Total Wasted Food in 2018: 50 ounces
  • Rescued Food this week:   0 US pounds
  • Total Food Rescued this year:  184.39 US pounds

Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.

Tiny House, Big Questions

The “Gothic Castle” tiny house that was featured on Tiny House Nation in 2015 is up for sale. It was only a few months ago that we found the house. It wasn’t exactly hiding, it just isn’t in a neighborhood where one might expect to find a tiny house. The asking price is $99,900, which includes the lot, a beautiful privacy fence, and a nice storage shed. I haven’t toured the house but from the video, it looks quite nice…if you’re into the medieval vibe. Take a look…

What you can’t see in the video though is that this gorgeous little house is in an awful neighborhood. I sincerely apologize if I offend anyone who lives in this neighborhood but seriously, this is at the end of the street…

All of the windows look like this and people actually live here.

And this is the house to the left of the Gothic Castle…

The tiny house is right next to the City’s recycling drop-off center. We go there every week and never knew the tiny house was there until a former police officer told us about it. He was just as surprised as we were that it was located in such a run-down part of town.

So I got to thinking…maybe the land was cheap. I looked at the tax records and the lot was purchased in 2014 for $9,000. To me, that’s not all that cheap. Maybe they put it there because it’s close to the bypass to Nashville. Maybe they thought the neighborhood would improve if they built there. Who knows! Whatever the reason, I’m now find myself pondering, what happened to the family who was so excited to build this tiny dream castle? Did they simply decide to upsize again? Or did the neighborhood get the best of them?

And better yet, who will be next to buy this semi-famous piece of real estate?

I’ve always heard that it’s better to buy the worst house in the best neighborhood than the best house in the worst neighborhood. What do you think? Would you build your dream home in the worst neighborhood in town if the price was right?

Food Waste Update

The grocery store next door is still under construction so once again, we have a week with no dumpster finds (though we did check twice). 

  • Wasted Food this week: 0 ounces
  • Total Wasted Food in 2018: 38 ounces
  • Rescued Food this week:   0 US pounds
  • Total Food Rescued this year:  184.39 US pounds

Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.