Author Katrina Shanks, CEO Financial Advice NZ. Article originally published in

OPINION: A financial expert says giving up even an hour of doom-scrolling at night could help people boost their income and offset the pain of recent and unrelenting price increases.

The past year has been brutal with the cost of nearly everything skyrocketing. But Financial Advice NZ CEO Katrina Shanks said if people are willing to give up just a few hours of their free time, they could easily top up their income with a side hustle.

And before you say, “But I’ve got no time and I already work 40-plus hours a week”. Shanks is one step ahead, telling Newshub there are several ways to make money with minimal time and effort.

“People spend so much time on their devices now and if you carved a bit of time out of your device at night, you could find some time to be creative and find some of these solutions to meet the needs of the people around you,” Shanks told Newshub.

One of the easiest examples of this is selling things you no longer need or use.

Think of the treadmill you bought three years ago when you were certain you were going to get into running, but which has sat unused and growing dust in the garage ever since.

Or the surfboard you got last summer because you were convinced this was going to be the year you learned to surf.

Perhaps during the pandemic, you decided you were someone who would make fresh sourdough every week. But it’s been months or even years since you last thought about the breadmaker which is shoved deep into a kitchen cupboard.

Finding and selling unused and unneeded household items like these is an easy way to make some extra cash when times are tough, Shanks said.

Plus this option gives you the added bonus of helping you declutter your house ahead of spring.

“Going through everything and getting what you don’t use in your own household and putting it on TradeMe and selling it… is a good way to boost your income in the short term,” she said.

But if you already got caught up in the Marie Kondo craze in 2019, there are other options.

Increasing mortgage rates have been hitting recent homeowners particularly hard and many are due to refix in the latter half of this year.

Shanks said people who are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments actually have a myriad of options, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Rent out a room

The easiest solution is to rent out a room or host an international student, she said.

“Boarders and international students are a good example, if you have got a spare room that’s a good way to do it,” Shanks said.

“Many schools have people just coming from out of the area and are looking for accommodation for these students who aren’t international. So there’s also that option.

“If you have a room that’s available for [international students] and the schools pay for that accommodation and some of the costs for having those students in your home… that’s another good way of using some of your space in your house to be more effective.”

But if you’re not keen on having flatmates again, or a teenager in the house, Airbnb could be another option to make some extra money.

Shanks suggested listing your house or even just a room on Airbnb when you’re planning a trip. Or even getting together with some friends and staying in one house and renting out the other.

“If you’re going away for the weekend, you may be able to Airbnb part or all of the home. Or even going in with some friends and saying you’re going to share a house for a month and putting one of your properties on Airbnb and sharing that income,” she said.

Rent your car

Shanks said Airbnb can be a great way to make some extra money quickly. But even if you’re not a homeowner, there are still assets you can rent out. For example, Shanks said several websites now let you rent out your car.

“If you’ve got two vehicles, maybe you should look at putting one of your vehicles as a rental over the weekends, so you’re getting your asset working for you when you’re not using it. That’s another good way to generate a little business on the side as well.”

Make the most of your veggie garden

If you’re known more for your green thumb than your hosting prowess, selling produce from your veggie garden is another great way to top up your income – especially with the price of food soaring in the past year.

“There are many people out there that put buckets on the front of the properties and sell their produce, especially in the hot areas. You see a lot of avocados in the summer being sold at the front of the property. Lemons, oranges, all those types of easy-to-grow fruit is a good way of raising alternative funds,” she said. “Many people have the ability to do that and it’s also more affordable for people who are looking to save money on their fruit and vegetables as opposed to going to the supermarket.”

Bake cakes

If you’re not a gardener or don’t have the space, baking cakes and sweet treats is another option. Although Shanks warned people will need to make sure they are meeting the necessary health and safety and food hygiene rules.

Get creative

If baking and gardening aren’t in your skill set, sewing kids’ costumes or even ironing clothes for people is another option. Shanks said this is a particularly good option if you have a few hours spare in the evenings which you would normally spend glued to your device.

“I know someone who has picked up ironing and put a lot of flyers around their community offering ironing services. They are getting inundated because people want to support you and your community and everybody hates ironing.”

Plus if you have a Cricut machine, printing logos for school sports teams can be an easy way to make money, she said.

“There are a lot of people that do branding on T-shirts now and you can do quite professional types of branding on clothing. A lot of people are doing that for sports teams, they’ve been given the t-shirts and are just putting the designs on them and giving them back and charging for that. It’s a really easy way to raise money on the side and it is much cheaper for the sports clubs and the schools if it’s not done commercially.”

Shanks said the key to making extra money is finding the gap in your community.

“So what do people use and spend their money on and how can you fill that gap? Find the need then develop the solution,” she said. “Look around you at what people do need in their everyday lives and what they’re spending their money on and how can you fit into that to find a solution that is more affordable for them than how they’re spending their money? Then you’ve got a market.”

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