Besides spreading the word locally, would-be tutors can post their offerings on websites like Tutorspree.com or Wyzant.com. And people who are strong in math, science, or other sought-after school subjects can teach individual students online through websites like Tutor.com.
Share your home. One way to lower monthly housing costs is to take a renter into your home. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 6.2 million adults lived with someone who wasn't a relative in 2010 (the most recent figures), up from 5.3 million in 2007.
When her marriage ended and her women's clothing business went on the rocks two years ago, Beth Gross-Santos decided to rent out two bedrooms in the five-bedroom, Portsmouth, N.H., house that she shares with her teenage sons. Thanks to the Indian, Polish, and Peruvian natives she has rented to so far, the living arrangement not only pays nearly half of her mortgage and home equity loan, which she took out to try to save her business, Gross-Santos says, but it has also turned her home "into a mini-United Nations, which has been great for my boys."
City dwellers who don't want to take on a long-term tenant can consider hosting tourists passing through town. Mikey Rox and Everett Morrow regularly rent the guest bedroom in their New York City condo to visitors who pay nearly $90 a night. In three years, they've made more than $75,000 by advertising on Craigslist, and Airbnb.com and roomorama.com, which both take a percentage of the total booking fee paid by the guest. Rox and Morrow tend to prefer guests referred through the latter two sites because they gather more information on travelers, which seems to invite better behavior. They have had a couple of unpleasant experiences over the years of petty theft, says Rox, but ultimately, "the pros outweigh the cons."
Be sure your rental complies with local laws and your condo or homeowner association rules, cautions Annamarie Pluhar, author of Sharing Housing: a Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates. You will have to pay taxes on the income, but you can deduct a percentage of your mortgage or rent, electric bill, and maintenance costs based on the size of the space you're renting and how many days it was occupied. Before anyone moves in for longer than a weekend, everyone should agree on shared living rules, including cleanliness standards, chore distribution, guest policies, daily routines, and acceptable noise levels, Pluhar says.
If it's a more permanent arrangement that you're looking for, potential roommates can be found through Craigslist or paid services like Roommates.com, which match landlords with would-be tenants registered on the sites.
Turn a hobby into cash. Craft sites like Etsy and ArtFire aren't just for artists selling their works; people make money selling a wide range of products, including handmade furniture and purses. Two years ago, Dennis and Sylvia Lai of South Florida decided to turn the wedding favor they had created for their own nuptials two years earlier into an offering on Etsy and other sites. The Lais mix and design unique blends of spices and seasonings, then personalize the bottles with photos and descriptions of the bride and groom.
So far, they've brought in $7,500; not enough to quit their day jobs (yet), but "we get to express our creativity and also bring in bonus income," Dennis says. Etsy takes a cut from each sale amounting to 3.5 percent of the sale price; ArtFire charges sellers $12.95 per month.
In some cases, you can cut out the middleman and sell from your own website. Although Jennifer James McCollum bought her first camera only five years ago, the executive director of the nonprofit Oklahomans for the Arts, in Oklahoma City, has turned her budding love of photography into a profitable side business. The thousand dollars she averages each month taking commissioned photos for various organizations around the state, as well as selling notecards through her personal blog and online sales page, "has been enough to pay the monthly mortgage for the past three years," she says.