I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published June 1st 2012
With every year that passes, life seems to be getting more and more expensive. The price of petrol, children's school fees, and the steadily increasing price of basic food items all leave an indelible impression on our back pockets. As basic living expenses skyrocket, a few extra dollars is something which most of us gladly welcome. Therefore, whether you're a student, a pensioner or a typical Aussie family struggling to make ends meet, hopefully you'll gain some inspiration from the following list which contains some quirky and creative ideas about how to earn a few extra dollars.
Local newspaper run Although the pay for this is very minimal, this is a great 'starter' job for children who want part-time work, but who are too young for any other kind of employment. However, it's definitely not just for the kids. Many older people enjoy the social contact that it brings, as well as the impetus that it provides for exercise. As some catalogue companies declare: 'Get paid to walk'. Finally, although the pay isn't great, it's a great regular source of a few extra dollars (perhaps for Christmas presents or a much-needed holiday), jobs are always available, and there are no strict prerequisites, except honesty.
Mystery shopping is a form of market research in which an individual poses as a regular shopper at a store in order to observe its level of customer service, presentation and cleanliness. The specific 'assignment' is allocated by the mystery shopping company, which provides the 'mystery shopper' with a 'survey', a list of questions which the shopper must fill in, based on his or her observations. Anonymity is crucial, as the team members need to provide a realistic sample of the typical level of service, etc, which the average customer receives at that particular store. If you enjoy shopping, this is definitely a job for you. Although the pay isn't particularly great (on average, between $15 and $25 for each survey which is satisfactorily completed), it is fun. Although the work is very casual (it's definitely just a source of pocket money), it all adds up. Essential qualities for a good mystery shopper include honesty, a good memory and above-average writing skills.
Dog walking Our very busy modern lifestyles often mean that time-poor pet-owners struggle to find the time to provide daily exercise for their beloved family pooch. This is great news for potential dog-walkers, as work is available in practically every city and town. To make this viable, good advertising is essential. Print up small flyers on your home computer and distribute them in letterboxes around your neighbourhood. Public noticeboards are another good place to advertise free of charge, or for a small fee you could place a small advertisement in your local newspaper.
If you're a talented musician or performer, a great way to earn a few extra dollars is to go busking. Although it's definitely not for the shy, busking is great fun, and provides terrific exposure on a very grass-roots level if you choose a busy location such as a city mall or outside a bustling market. Whatever your talent is, or your age, it's possible to perform in this way. However, don't forget to approach your local council for the appropriate permit. I've observed a wide range of street performers in my local malls including opera singers, country musicians, performers of classic oriental music, comedians, and school students playing their instruments. Shoppers are always appreciative, and although you probably won't get rich, it's a unique forum to share your talents with the world.
Television commercials / movie extra work Advertising agencies are regularly on the look-out for new faces who can appear in various television and magazine advertisements, and as extras in locally-produced movies. People of all age groups, ethnic backgrounds, shapes and sizes are required, so look up some local agencies and see what they have to say. Please note, however, that if they're interested, reputable companies won't ask you to spend a fortune on a portfolio or a photo-shoot before they take you on. Beware of scammers. Work isn't guaranteed, but if you do appear in a commercial, advertisement or movie, the pay is often quite good. Apart from that, it's an interesting experience: a creative way to earn a few extra dollars.
Promotions Once again, if you're outgoing and bubbly by nature, working in promotions may be for you. Work is casual and can range from just a couple of hours to several weeks. However, its flexibility is an appealing quality for many people (such as students and mothers), as you can work around your other commitments. Work can include promoting brands at expos and trade shows, flyer distribution or 'suit work', in which you dress up as a character in order to promote a brand, event or company. Although work isn't necessarily regular, this kind of work is a lot of fun, has very few prerequisites, and pays quite well.
Vacation childcare During school holidays, vacation care providers everywhere are desperately looking for staff. If you have a love for children, a Working with Children card and a Police Clearance, this can be a very rewarding short-term job opportunity. Although priority is naturally given to qualified childcare staff or people with a background in teaching or nursing, many centres are also willing to take on untrained staff or individuals who are working towards a relevant qualification. It's especially good work for holidaying TAFE students, as their holidays generally correspond to those of most schools.
Royal Perth Show or regional agricultural shows
Although it's only in town for eight days, the Royal Perth Show is a terrific source of short-term jobs, some of which are extremely creative and quirky. Last year I worked as a performer in a ghost train and maze in roles which included a witch, a vampire and an 'un-dead' bride. More conventional employment includes ticket-selling and scanning, promotions, and selling show-bags. During the weeks leading up to the event, regularly check websites such as gumtree.com and local newspapers to see what's available. Don't leave it too late or you may miss out.
Reader contribution magazines Although this definitely couldn't be counted on as a regular source of income, submitting stories, photos, letters or household tips to reader contribution magazines such as Take 5 or That's life can be rather rewarding. Buy a few copies and see what other people have sent in, as this may give you a few ideas. It's a real buzz to see your treasured photos in print, and there are various other categories which you may also feel inspired to contribute for.
Lolly-pop lady or man As you're quite probably aware, lolly-pop ladies and men are those people who hold the 'stop' signs for children at level crossings as they walk to school in the mornings and return home in the afternoon. Although it's definitely not a glamorous job, it's regular paid work which also serves a valuable function in society. Some time ago I was reading that there is a shortage of these special folks, so now might be a good time to wander down to your local police station and make some enquiries. It's only two hours of work a day, but many pensioners find that is quite enough to provide some much-needed extra cash. In addition, they're a much-loved part of our communities, and many dedicated lolly-pop people love the social interaction and positive feedback which their work provides.