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Ask HN: Are there 'dumb' ways to make money as a developer in your spare time?
110 points by mabbo on Feb 12, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 111 comments
As a 30-something, I've suddenly come to realize that retirement savings are important, and that small amounts of extra savings can add up. Suddenly an extra $100/week actually sounds worth thinking about.

Are there simple ways to earn a few extra bucks as a developer in your spare time? Or is it just down to 'invent some SaaS offering and hope people like it'?

What simple things have you do that have brought in a small bit of extra income?

Focus on cutting unnecessary expenses... As that serves double duty: saves that $100 and simultaneously reduces the savings burden to retire.

As for "dumb" things you can do: cook more at home, pregame before going out, do activities that are cheap or free (eg bike rides instead of theaters), bike more instead of driving everywhere, read library books, etc

(The benefit of these over "do consulting" answers also lies in the added quality time with family rather than more work.)

This actually works even better than you think. My father explained to me once: 'Earning an extra $100, you have to pay half[0] to the government. Saving an extra $100, you get to keep all of it.'

Still, I'm a pretty dull guy, don't spend much, and have most of my savings in order. My goal is mainly to see if there's easy ways to better use the time I currently waste on video games, use my craft to make some money.

[0] I'm in the 47% tax bracket (Canada), so any extra income is hit at that rate, if I'm not dumping it into a tax-deferred account, which I totally would be.

You've already paid the tax on the amount you are saving.

Yes, but $100 feels like $100. It feels equivalent, but it's not.

Saving $100 is worth a lot more than earning $100, is the point.

Frugality is great, but, repeating myself from below, I assume that effort is already there and the OP is trying to generate additional revenues beyond his or her primary income.

> pregame before going out

Or just don't drink alcohol, it's is stupid expensive for something you're just going to pee out. Plus, it's empty calories.

Tea is cheap and good, milk is cheap and good for you, (tap) water is basically free.

Regardless on your opinion on drinking alcohol, it's folly to ignore the perceived effects people use it for. Tea, milk nor water affect the mind in the same way.

The OP is trying to save for retirement, when I think he's assuming he will have zero income. Slashing expenses and living frugally is always a good idea. But if you're trying to save up a nest egg, you can't cut your way to savings.

I think the idea is to save the money that you cut? If your income stays the same but your monthly expenses drop $x per month, that would be the same savingswise as earning x dollars more per month and keeping your expenses the same.

Ain't no law that says you have to spend everything you earn.

I'm with you on that. But if your goal is to have savings set aside so that one day you can afford to live on those savings (in "retirement"), then savings alone won't get you there. you need to have actual savings.

That last sentence seems a bit tautological. Can we settle on "your income has to exceed your expenses" as the best way to build up savings?

EDIT: spelling

Ok, yes I get what you're saying now. Trim expenses and pocket the incremental short-term savings into longer-term savings. Sure that can work every bit as much as finding additional income assuming expenses don't change. My tautology referred to different usages of the word "savings". In one case it referred to saving money on something, vs. storing money in a long-term savings account. The problem with English is that savings is used in different contexts here. But yes you're right!

I think the simplest is doing small consulting projects. There are often people looking to launch an app or build a prototype or whatever it is where you can work a couple hours a week on it and make a pretty good rate.

In my experience if you are a pretty good developer and good at communicating, you can find small bits of work without much effort. Now I'm doing a lot of consulting so charge more, but previously I would pick low stress / low mental fatigue projects, with people I enjoy working with (often pre funding prototypes), and charge between $65-$85/hr which could be another $500-600 / month at 2 hours per week.

I also never used any of the freelancing sites, and always found work through personal connections, since it dramatically lowered the risk of getting a bad fit for me.

How did you get these connections? Where do you get to know so many people who would pay to get software prototypes done?

It's not always prototypes necessarily but mostly it's about reaching out to people you already know and letting them know you are helping people on the side with software work.

I was very lucky in that I happened to be good friends with a super-connector type person who always has people asking him for help. If you know other people who are doing consulting work, you can talk to them, if they are good they won't be particularly protective because good people always have more work than they can do.

In general, it can take time to build this up but in my experience it's valuable to see how you can help / give to others around you, and it will come back to you at some point. You have to learn to avoid the time wasting clients and people who look for you to do spec work, but after you've learned to spot them it's not so hard.

Good advice. What is spec work? Read the term somewhere recently, but forgot what it means.

spec = specifications. This could be 1. requirements gathering (use case focussed in words of client) -> 2. functional specifications (use case focussed in terms of developer / exhaustive) -> 3. technical specifications (low level plan on how to implement). Often 3. and sometimes 2. aren't done explicitly, but are part of iterative / agile methodologies. 1. however, must still be done imho

Thanks. I did know that spec by itself is short for specifications - I'm a developer, and also have software engineering experience, so knew abut your points 1 to 3. My point was that spec work seemed like something else. Also see my other reply to a child comment to yours.

I think in this case, the parent meant working speculatively [0] which can be seen as risky for some, but also a way to get some reputation & awareness.

[0] http://www.nospec.com/what-is-spec

Thanks. Yes, I think this is what the original comment meant that I was asking about. Now I remember where I read the term "spec work" - it was some weeks ago on avc.com, Fred Wilson's blog. And someone gave the same answer there as you, IIRC.

It's not specifically a tech term, e.g. spec scripts in the entertainment business:


On this topic, I've always wondered how profitable it is to develop a site meant to make ad money. People love to talk about their interesting, cutting edge projects on HN, but no one talks about making websites whose main purpose is ad revenue. The web is littered with clickbait sites and sites that just make money off of Amazon affiliate links. The people that create them usually don't share their revenue, although sites like buzzfeed make a ton of money.

It makes me wonder if it's a good idea (in regards to passive side-income) to make a benevolent site that appeals to the general population or a niche with targeted, unobtrusive ads, rather than trying to make the next amazing service or killer app.

I can't speak for other niches, but the travel and personal finance crowd have a large number of such sites. Given that they always appear to start as "one dude's thoughts on travel" and turn into multiple people writing for the site, I think the answer to your question is, "you can make money at it".

From your question, I think you already knowthe reason you don't hear about it on here. An Amazon affiliate powered blog doesn't have to be written in Haskell, use microservices, invent some new AI technique, and Change The World™ with a self-driving basic income. It just makes money with well-understood technologies and business models.

I make a decent amount of money from ad revenue for Indie Hackers every month. You can see a breakdown of my traffic and revenue stats for January in this blog post: https://www.indiehackers.com/blog/month-in-review-2017-01. After focusing on this type of revenue for about 3-4 months, here are my takeaways:

* If you're going to use affiliate links, e.g. Amazon, then you really need the content on your site to appeal to people who have an intent to buy. For example, nobody really comes to Indie Hackers to buy hosting, so affiliate links for hosting companies don't do well. However, people come to learn more about building profitable online businesses, so links to websites and books and other educational resources in that area get lots of clicks. (This is true of any business, really: understand your customer and provide what they want, not what you want to sell.)

* I haven't tried Google Adsense, because I find the ads ugly. But I do use BuySellAds, and the revenue isn't great. I make something like $1 per 1000 visits. It probably doesn't help that ad-blockers tend to block these ads (unless you render them server-side).

* If your audience fits into a valuable niche, individual advertisers are often willing to pay quite a lot for some real estate. Of course, this requires some manual upfront outreach on your part, but it's easier to do than it sounds. I've had 20 minute phone calls that resulted in $1000 or $2000 ad buys.

EDIT: Also, if you're going to run a content site, create a newsletter that visitors can subscribe to. Make sure it goes out at least twice a month, so people don't forget who you are and unsubscribe. (You can completely automate it if you don't want to spend time maintaining it.) Newsletters are valuable real estate for ad revenue, and they also help you build an audience that you can potentially sell to if you ever create a product in the future. In fact, a newsletter can be your entire business: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13630163

Congrats on your recent 100 posts

Which makes me bring the question, is it worth it?

$3.500 / 100 posts = $35 / post (per month) = $420 / post (per year)

I understand it's a marathon though and that value compounds. When you had 10 posts you were probably not making $350 and when you have 1000 posts you will probably be making a lot more than $35.000.

I'd love to see the associated human costs and how many hours/week you are spending here, doing what and how that has evolved from the beginning (more automation, new challenges, etc).

I do some time tracking in my monthly blog post (scroll down to the chart), so you can actually see exactly how much time I'm spending.

Is the revenue so far worth the time I put into it? No, not by itself. But everything that I've done so far is really a launching pad for more, bigger, and better things, so I see it as an investment. At the very least, I've reached a point where I can survive on my own and work on my own projects indefinitely. Beyond that, I've built up an audience and community that I love, and I've got lots of plans in the works to try and deliver even more value to them + generate revenue in a more scalable way.

I totally didn't mean it in a bad way, I'm an open-source person ( https://github.com/franciscop/ ) and do it because I love it, both writing code, learning and the community. I'm curious because I'm thinking on how to get some money out of it to be able to keep doing what I love. I'll read more about it, thanks!

>You can completely automate it if you don't want to spend time maintaining it.

What do you mean by "completely automate". MailChimp or similar tools, or something more automated?

I mean automate the content. So you write it once for your main website, then you've got a script that simply compiles and formats it so you can copy/paste it into your newsletter. MailChimp/ConvertKit might have APIs for automatically sending it, too, and if not Zapier can certainly help.

I put up a site that is nothing but affiliate linking to Amazon. It is selling programming books but I actually am putting work into it to ensure that only highly rated programming books are listed as well as highly rated books on newer programming languages. In the first week I've made 5 sales, though none of them have shipped yet, which will net me around $5 which is enough to cover server costs. I figured that even if I don't make money I'm learning a lot about deploying Phoenix/Elixir applications as well as just web config in general as this is my first actual website (if you don't count my Diablo guild website from back in the mid 90s)

People have been doing this for years and years. It's a grind and it's very boring and usually done by people that don't have that much technical skill. Go check out the Wicked Fire forums if you're interested.

Last I heard, the majority of those sites don't make enough money to cover the expense of the domain name (ie $10/year). Note that with most ad networks, you need to deliver a minimum number of clicks or impressions per month or you won't get paid anything.

I've interviewed about 100 developers on https://IndieHackers.com about how they're making money online. Based on what I've seen and what I've done myself, here's what I would do if I wanted to quickly ramp up some side income:

1. Pick a topic I'm interested in, or that I would like to be interested in and follow regularly. It could be anything from sci-fi to front-end web dev. My only requirement would be that I know where to find other people who are interested in that topic, and that they're a group that's comfortable with email.

2. Start a regular newsletter where I'd aggregate content around that topic and maybe editorialize a little bit by adding my own summaries. I'd keep it short and simple and send it out 3-5x a week.

3. I'd throw up a simple landing page where people can subscribe to the newsletter, then advertise it by sharing my insights on Twitter and in various online communities every now and then. If this is your only focus, you should be able to sign up at least 250-500 ppl/mo. If you can't get that, then your content probably isn't compelling.

4. Sell ad spots in the newsletter to advertisers, specifically advertisers who are in the same niche that your newsletter is. You should be able to make at least $50-100 per 1000 subscribers for each email you send out, which is one of two reasons to send frequently. (The other is that high frequency helps people become familiar with you and turn into regular readers.)

Ideally it's a win-win-win. You get motivation to keep yourself up-to-date with a topic that you care about, and you also make money. Your advertisers make sales. (Hopefully they're good companies that you hand-picked.) And your readers get free high quality info on a topic they care about without having to do the research themselves.

Good tips, but I'd add one more requirement: the group who are interested in what you're writing about should be a group with money to spend.

Advertisers generally have a lot less interest placing ads with audiences who will never pay them.

There are certain niches where you can passionately write about stuff, amass a large audience, and discover that audience is very poorly monetisable. Best to avoid that if you're looking for income.

Great tip, definitely helps to have an audience that advertisers consider valuable.

That's exactly what I've recently done, and I'm sharing all the journey on my blog which is also getting interest. See http://www.milesburke.com.au/blog/2017/02/12/my-weekly-curat...

Very cool writeup, you should come on Indie Hackers and do an interview with me! (text and/or podcast) I'm sure lots of people in my audience would love your newsletter.

I've hired a bunch of people through fiverr to do small gigs for my writing (eg copyedit, add a few jokes, do illustrations). One "dumb" way to make a bit of extra cash for programmers could be to take on gigs like that. Depending on your skills, there are plenty of web design/automation gigs that you could offer there. This doesn't need you doing time-consuming marketing or sales, or chasing consulting clients. It also doesn't require you to come up with a SaaS product. On the other hand, the gig market tends to be a race to the bottom in terms of prices, so the income won't be that amazing, but then again you asked about dumb income ideas.

a slightly less dumb idea is to write a book. it's more upfront/unpaid work than when doing gigs, and more risk because it's up to you to create a good story, but significantly less risk than building a SaaS system. I've self-published five books so far, and books have three benefits over the gig economy idea:

1) you get to learn a ton of new stuff while researching for the book. writing a book is effectively forcing yourself to learn

2) even if books do moderately well, when you self-publish you retain most of the profit. my passive income from previously published books is roughly 3-4K USD per month now

3) books have an extra effect that they tend to bring name recognition and incoming work for consulting, and that can last a few years even if you don't plan to freelance and work as a consultant at the moment.

If I were going to do a small gig at a low pay rate to earn a little extra money, it would be something using a technology that I didn't have any on the job experience with that would increase my marketability.

For instance if I were interested in getting into mobile development and had spent some time studying but hadn't done it for a job, I would take a low paying gig as long as I had the right to show off samples of the work for future employment.

What kind of books do you write?

I wrote one on how to use an opensource testing tool for which there was lots of interest but not a lot of documentation at the time. That was quite popular for a while (almost 11 years ago).

Another book was on an emerging technique for collaborative analysis for software projects, that started becoming popular some time back in 2008-9 but was still not well understood.

Two more were on practical tips for how to work with user stories and how to come up with good testing ideas.

Interesting. If you don't mind saying, do you self-publish on sites like Gumroad, Leanpub, Softcover, on your own site, or both? If on your own site, you would need some system to accept payments, right?

I publish using leanpub and KDP (amazon kindle) for ebooks and using Lightning Source for paper books. I used Lulu 10 years ago but their customer service was appalling back then so I moved to LS, which gets the print book in almost all good online stores anyway.

I used to sell books on my own site as well until a few years back when EU created the stupid VAT on private electronic purchases that requires stores to adjust price according to the country of the buyer. I figured it's less hassle to just use leanpub for that.

Thanks for the info.

Another side of the coin is at $100/week that's $5k a year. What if you 'worked on your career' and got a $5k raise? Do that once and that $5k will be there every year from that point on.

At what point does that stop panning out, though? My pay is somewhat above average and management is unlikely to give me a big raise going forward without a promotion. (And at my work the next promotion would be a sort of 'team lead' position, which I'm uninterested in.)

I guess that was just a long winded way of saying: I understand where this is coming from, but in some situations the logical next step may actually be a side gig :-).

It's often the case that one needs to leave and get a job at a different organization to get a non-trivial increase in salary.

I'm in a similar spot (earning the high end for my title; promotion is feasible, but some politics at play within the org, so I'm gonna end up putting some time in at my current level). I have free time and enjoy writing code, so I pick up little consulting gigs here and there for play money (I'm an avid homebrewer, so money is always well spent)

Absolutely true. You can learn a lot from contracting / consulting. Advancing one's career definitely doesn't mean working harder at one's current job or trying to get promoted.

I'd recommend you try side gigs. Pick the one that offers you the best learning experience. Then consider trying consulting full time. If you want to break the wage ceiling, consulting is a great low-risk business.

If a raise is truly unfeasible, it's time to look for another job.

I assume that effort is already there and the OP is trying to generate additional revenues beyond his or her primary income.

On the other hand $100/wk now + interest is worth more than a $5k bump some months from now distributed over the following 12 months.

Especially with the amazing interest rates these days...

At some point though, isn't better to get paid more per hour than working more hours? The average senior developer in the area I live - a major metropolitan city on the east coast that isn't NYC - can easily charge $60-$75 hour as a W2 contractor, probably 30% more as a corp-to-corp contractor. It would be a better long term investment to keep learning and gaining skills that make your hourly rate of your salary higher. You can only work so many hours a day.

A side benefit is that the more marketable skills you have, the easier/faster it is to get another job if you get laid off. My quickest time between looking for a job and getting an offer has been 4 days.

What interest are you referring to? Honestly we haven't had interest rates worth considering for years (at least 8 years since a savings rate above 1%). Now you get a rounding error level of interest on savings such that finding coins on the street probably doubles your effective interest rate on savings.

This isn't true on the span of a single year due to market volatility.

I think sidlls is really pointing out the present/future value of money calcations. It's 100% accurate if you invested in a flat rate, guaranteed interest, investment.

The $5k bump has to be figured over more than one year, unless of course it's an instant raise.

I'm assuming the commenter is referring to interest on savings. Which of course is quite laughable these days.

Why is it so low? I think I read it happened after the 2008 recession, but why so low, and still? seems extra unusual.

Quantitative Easing and the US Fiscal policy. Look it up.


Well, I made dumb website just for fun. I thought it will be fun only to me and few other people. Then after one year I decided to put ads there, just to cover hosting. Now it is making 35$ monthly, completely passive and growing. Not much, but it's paying Linode server and domain cost for all other websites I have. http://random.country/

Off the top of my head:

1. Consulting

2. Small SaaS (few hours per week for maintenance, bug fixes & new features) - more challenging than (1)

3. Teaching - only if you're naturally inclined/extrovert (this is a big space and I'm starting to believe that even a medium resume is enough to teach to people who never saw a command prompt before)

4. Blog in a semi-professional way (requires passion/research)

5. Write a book (novel, howto or technical). This is probably the most challenging and less profitable solution, but IMHO it could be something that matters (if you're going to novels, theatrical plays, etc.)

>Blog in a semi-professional way (requires passion/research)

What are some examples of this?

>What are some examples of this?

A friend of mine makes a pretty decent living wage in CA (not bay area however) running a relatively small blog https://opentrackers.org/

It's pretty easy to make decent amount of money running blogs if you're willing to do a bit of research first.

One classic example would be to spend time teaching others. Whether this is generating an online course or tutoring/teaching in person, $100 a week is a pretty realistic goal if you're willing to spend the time.

Still, it's probably a more efficient use of time to either work towards a better paying career move for long term income, or just cut expenses.

Good suggestion. It's pretty easy to get $100/wk for one to two hours of tutoring. Figure you'll need a few months of earning less hourly to (a) learn how to teach and (b) build a reputation. Once you've got an idea of what you're doing, you can make a good amount with little effort. I do some CS tutoring on the side. I don't prep, and the hour with the kids is generally enjoyable. Easy hundred bucks.

While one-to-one teaching/tutoring probably isn't much a career boost, it can be rewarding in other ways.

> Whether this is generating an online course

Seems like an incredible amount of work for not a lot of payoff. I attempted to create an online course before and stopped around 3 months in because I couldn't see an end in sight. The amount of research and planning that goes into a quality online course is massive. This is why most online courses are through larger organizations where professors are teaching an already existing curriculum.

I got the sense that the OP was looking for "dumb" easy ways to generate $100/week.

It really depends on what type of online course you're talking about. A MOOC-style course is certainly all the rage these days, but a good old fashioned text course is still marketable, whether you promote it as a book or a blog-style site.

Make a website that focuses on making a certain part of an upcoming videogame easier. Add ads. Make a Reddit post. $$$.

Personal example:

http://cases.goaggro.com/ (CS:GO case opening simulator)

Other examples:

http://www.survive-ark.com/taming-calculator/ (ARK taming calculator)

http://www.wowhead.com/ (World of Warcraft loot database)

Any of the wikias that popup for a game are also good examples. I feel someone could make a targeted wiki for a game, add their own ads, and become #1 community resource for a game by doing it early enough. Who doesn't want to be #1 on Google for "<Game> Guide" with an ad per page?

Your personal example seems simple enough, the other 2 seem like massive undertakings for one person though. I'm sure they started simpler. Are you willing to share any profit or traffic stats about your site?


Posted on Reddit twice, (first initial spike once I finished it, second spike when I added more of the cases.) That's about the extent. Got me all the Google-juice I need to ride it out.

Total work probably around... 40 hours, at most. I stopped supporting it in 2014. HTML + Canvas. Used images hosted by VALVe instead of hosting my own. Never had the motivation to make it better. Hosting was provided for free by a friend.

Was at the top of Google for a while. Got knocked down by a much more active developer (which is monetized even better than mine.) I only display 1 banner ad instead of an aggressive 3. I didn't improve it at all since then. However, I feel I had a technical advantage over the Flash-based competitor, as mine ran great on mobile. I assume the competitor has since improved that aspect of theirs.

I get ~$100 payout every 4 months now (~$25 per month)

Spikes in January 2015 and Sept 2015 coincide with new CS:GO game updates. They added new cases to the game, which I never got around to implementing in the simulator. No doubt missed opportunities.

Things I could've done better:

- Actually keep working on it. (New cases, new features, better backend, trade-up simulator)

- Better monetization (Only 1 banner ad, when Google allows 3 on one page)

What went right:

- First person on the playing field. (Still was delayed, since cases were released in Aug 2013 and I released it on March 2014)

On the subject of the others: They're just aggregating data about the game. You can start with the smallest, easiest bit and slowly build up from it.

For Wowhead it was: Aggregate item data. Then quests. Then zones w/ maps. Resource spawn points. Raid information and guides. Etc. etc. They were one of the first information providers for World of Warcraft and then they got acquired by Curse.

In the case of the Ark calculator, it started as: "This algorithm in the game is mysterious to players, I'll recreate it in the browser." Then they added stuff like "this Dino destroys X stuff", "this Dino can do Y"

Teach people on CodeMentor. If you're not quite up to that level (or just want to scale up faster), then offer to tutor people on Fiverr.

Run a monthly tech meetup. Find a sponsor. Make sure you're getting at least $100+ more in sponsorship than your costs (in your case, maybe 2-3 sponsors @ $200 each per month). It's as easy as it looks. If you have connections to potential sponsors, even better.

This may sound basic, but get your finances and investments in order. There may be free cash in the couch cushions so to speak.

Due to various life events I got behind on that this past year. As a result, a decent sum (for me at least) piled up in my checking account earning a lovely .05% interest rate. My savings account earns 1%. Needless to say, a few mouse clicks later and I earn much more interest every month. Enough where I want to punch myself for not making it a priority earlier in the year for something so stupidly simple.

The next step is to complete my final 401k rollover (god do they make that tedious) before rebalancing my investment allocations and opening a Roth. Those tasks will earn me considerably more than $100/mo on average, particularly with the magic of compound interest over a span of decades.

My whole point is, don't just focus on jobs/SaaS/whatever while ignoring basic management and optimization of your personal finances. For many who do not actively manage their finances, pulling a few of those levers can add up to significant amounts and the actual work involved outside of research is (typically) less painful than doing something like starting a SaaS business.

> There may be free cash in the couch cushions so to speak.

There's always money in the banana stand.

I know a dev who moonlights as a cycle courier.

Aside from the extra cash, it's a good way to mentally decompress away from tech, and to get the sort of exercise you tend not to get in an IT job.

> I know a dev who moonlights as a cycle courier.

Like, on weekends? I can't imagine the demand for bicycle couriers after 5PM is really that large.

I've often seen bicycle couriers in my city and wondered what it would be like to do that part time to get away from the stress of work. Then I see them from the tram on days when it's raining, snowing, windy...

The product I've most commonly seen being delivered by bike courier was high quality medicinal cannabis. I think there's a considerable demand for bike couriers after 5PM.

  Like, on weekends? I can't imagine the demand for bicycle couriers after 5PM is really that large.
I guess maybe "courier" wasn't quite the right word - I think he does more along the lines of food delivery - Deliveroo, Uber Eats, etc.

One thing I wished I had done earlier is study money enough to have figured out my favored investment vehicle and how to best utilize it, preferably before my first dollar earned at any job/trade. That and the tax code (incentives) of my country/state (US).

Of the main three (building businesses, real estate, and paper assets/commodities/derivatives) I figured out that I personally favor real estate. So that is where I choose to focus and feel most comfortable.

I also learned that an over-funded whole life insurance policy can be used as a savings account with benefits (thanks Grandpa!). Depending on the company (and there are specific criteria), I found one that is paying 4% on amounts I over-fund, as well as on distributions (it has to be a mutual company), which I can borrow against for down payments on the next property, while still having Life Insurance addressed for my spouse/other survivors. They (I have more than one) are also the foundation for a family trust my partner and I are setting up for our families.

Finding mentors who have already walked the road that fits is key for me. She or he can point out things I am missing, help with obstacles, suggest areas to study, etc. For example, there are many Life Insurance policy types, and the one that I favor is not well known or recommended by most insurance brokers (they stand to make quite a bit less commission). It is also at times railed against by the Ramsey/Orman crowd, not always for the right reasons based on my values/strengths (everyone is different). With real estate, there are so many markets and sub-markets, figuring out what best suits can take a bit of effort. Same with paper assets/commodities/derivatives, and obviously (as this community is fairly well familiar with) businesses that are grown into IPO/sale/other-exit-plan candidates. And a good CPA is constantly studying the tax code (it is always in flux) so they can be a great source of planning information for the various financial endeavors I get into. Oh, additionally a knowledgeable attorney can assist with the right entity and liability limitation planning, among other facets.

For what it is worth, of course.

You need a lot of capital to get involved in the above, no?

We purchased a single family home in Florida for $11K down, so not necessarily. It currently cash flows for around $200 a month (all expenses paid, including property management - we live in California).

There are also ways to partner with others to combine a down payment, as well as putting together a deal with no money down (funded by others). It is incredibly important to study/investigate ahead of time before creating a deal with more than one partner, as there are financing rules that may apply (for example, the SEC can be involved with syndication, if it gets to that).

There is quite a bit of money in the world looking for good investments, so if you can become someone who puts together good investment deals, attracting capital will not be an issue. Some have started by creating a deal where they had no money down but instead received 10% or 20% for putting the deal together and making it happen. The next deal can be a higher percentage (success builds trust), until eventually you have built up enough capital to be doing your own deals, if that is your preference.

The team you build is more important - Attorneys, CPAs, Property Managers, Insurance Brokers, etc.

So this was one of my last year's goal. Here is how I achieved that $XXX/week extra in saving.

1. Switch to debit card and pre-assign how much you want to spend/month: A translation I made on Credit card was paid automatically in full by the end of the next month (due date), that made me not think about what I am spending on at all. Using debit card (simple.com) made me think after every transaction.

2. Set goals if you want to buy something non essential: I use simple.com for this. If I wanted to buy something, I would first set a goal that I want to save up $300 in N days. This reduced by impulsive buying habit. I still buy few books randomly but you can cheat at times (try BookBub.com, really saves money on ebooks).

3. Map out your cashflow: Just create a note of your incoming cash (after tax). Now send x% of high yield saving account (I use barclays bank), x% of monthly expenses (rent/mortgage/food etc), keep a little in your checking account. This helps you understand where your money is going. Its ok if you are not able to save much, the key is first tracking it manually (mint.com etc is great but start with a simple note).

4. Invest a part of your cashflow: I am not a huge fan of investing all my savings (after 401k): So I invest about 10% of my cash after tax to an index fund on Vanguard (you can use betterment/wealthfront too).

These 4 things gave a much better overview of my finances and where my money is going. This doesn't mean stop spending less (difference b/w being frugal vs being cheap) but at-least start understanding how to deal with money.

Hope it helps.

Work in a bar.

Make some extra change, develop your social skills.

Teach math. SAT prep or other forms of "higher level" math such as AP calculus is best. That said, go over to one of the math name brand teaching places and find out what you earn from them an hour (half what you make on your own.)

Donate plasma. While donating read (instead of during your "work" time).

EDIT: This assumes the time and distance to travel to and from the center is short.

It would be cool to know how to regenerate one's plasma very fast in order to be able to donate plasma more often. But even if those methods exist, they probably cost money too thus decreasing overall profit.

Platelets.. more money

Contracting is by far the most efficient way to make money in your spare time as a developer. Make sure it's okay with your employer, but you can generally find plenty of small projects to do (~5-10 hours a week) which will bring in a large amount of extra savings.

If it would be easy to make $100 per month, then it would be easy to repeat the process 1000 times and become rich.

There's no such things as easy when it comes to making money. You'd have to put time and energy into it.

Generalization doesn't help.

Define "easy". For me it's relative. Some stuff are easier than others. There is not an "absolute" easy. My job is 100x easier than most jobs I know. But I know many people making more money with less effort doing other tasks that are not necessarily jobs.

Then of course morality and legality enter in the equation. Very often, making something illegal or immoral increase the ratio pay/effort in your favor. E.G: spam or drugs.

He used the word "dumb", which make me think he's talking about something anyone can do. If anyone can generate $100/month then we should all be rich by now.

Dumb = "simplifying or reducing the intellectual content of something to make it accessible to a larger number of people."

Or "dumb" in developer terms? There are things that are easier for developers than the general population and there are also things that are easier for developers with experience in a particular niche.

Also, not everyone has the capacity, time or even desire to pick low hanging fruit. For some the extra additional effort, even if small, is just not worth it outside of a full-time job and other commitments.

This is just a sub group. Same rule applies. We, developers, would all be rich by now if we knew a dumb way to make money. to make money as developers we need to sell something. The selling part is the non-trivial aspect I'm refering to.

No we would not. I could make easily tons of money by doing spam, advertising, selling viagra only and phishing idiots at macdonalds. I don't do it because it's not the way I want to make money.

Last week a friend of mine came around. He had too much money sitting on his bank account and was looking to spend it on a flat. He is a terrible programmer. He just spams. He make 10 times what I do.

Makes sense.

1000 months = "Get rich in only 83 years!" Also, making an extra $100/month is pretty trivial.


Not "developer" specific but worth mentioning at a general level.

If by "investing" you mean picking and trading stocks, this is terrible advice.

If by "picking and trading stocks" you mean putting money on type A funds when the market is trending, it can be quite profitable at a lower volatility rate.

I've been doing small consulting projects off and on for the past 20 years. It brings in between $10k to $50k/year in additional income. Average is probably closer to $20k.

How do you find work? Word of mouth, or something else?

The prevailing wisdom on HN is going to say networking and word of mouth.

If you don't have an existing network freelancing/consulting is going to be very difficult. I've tried the online freelance website method before while I was in college. It sucks. The clients don't want to pay even a reasonable amount and they're usually pretty shitty clients to work for.

If you have a network I'd suggest consulting. If you don't then I'd say steer clear.

Though I guess the beauty of it being something on the side when you have a job is you can advertise your services and not worry if nothing come through.

Word of mouth. If I actually cared to look for work, I could find a lot more.

An honest question, what would it take for you to pass on leads and/or generate leads for others? I'm thinking of a blockchain based venture to support payments for finder's fees. Thanks.

That's what I'm trying to do with http://startupdigger.com

I'm on the run to build something not only attracts people's interest but also runs maybe not completely but mostly on auto-pilot.

IMHO, building a SaaS product takes so much time which is quite hard to give if you're trying to run it as a side project. I've tried it before.

I also was an active AdSense publisher until a few years ago and made a decent money out of it and then sold my websites.

Let's see what will happen with Startup Digger.

Bring a bag lunch, and make coffee at home. If I go out for lunch every day, and get a coffee on the way in in the morning, that can add up to $15-$20 a day.

I've found that holding down two jobs isn't unbearable for short periods of time. You need the right positions, lots of experience in a couple fields and a good resume and references. Small company FT flex/remote SA or devops and SA/TS on call is a good combo, but you need to have a good track record and be honest about your commitments. Security and development remote or flex are also good combinations for this approach. Wouldn't recommend it as a a way of life.

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