How to Side Hustle Your Way Out of a Personal Financial Crisis

How to Side Hustle Your Way Out of a Personal Financial CrisisMy husband and I got ourselves in a bit of a financial pickle during this tax season.

We’re both self-employed, which means that, instead of receiving 2 sweet tax refund cheques, we parted ways with a 5-figure dollar amount nearly all at once for GST/HST remittance and income taxes.

As you can imagine, seeing our savings drained was painful.

Around the same time, my husband finds himself with oodles of free time on his hands. So he came up with an idea to tackle both problems: he’ll try his hands on side hustling

His goal is to fill his time productively and make a quick buck in the process.

It’s his first-time side hustling, so I thought it would be interesting to document his journey so you can see that it’s not as intimidating or time-consuming as it might seem.

Selling stuff on Kijiji

We live in a decent-sized home, with no shortage of storage space for two people. We’re also cautious about buying things we don’t actually need.

But we each brought stuff into this marriage that we no longer feel attached to. So my husband volunteered to get rid of them on Kijiji.

He knew that posting an ad on Kijiji isn’t challenging, but you have to put some thought behind it to attract the most offers.

For each of his ads, my husband made sure to include a clear ad title, an image of the product, and a description that contained technical specifications. He also conducted price research to see what similar products are priced at and priced his items slightly below theirs.

Here’s everything that we’re currently selling:

  1. 11 trade paperbacks, CA$10 each
  2. 6 library-edition comics, CA$30 each
  3. Bento box, CA$30
  4. French coffee press, CA$40
  5. 3D pen (lightly used), CA$35
  6. Season 5 of Desperate Housewives, CA$30
  7. Season 1 of Six Feet Under, CA$10
  8. A pair of 5kg dumbbells, CA$25

None of these are big-ticket items, but if we were to sell everything on this list, we’d make 460 bucks. Hooray!

Getting paid for online surveys

Filling out surveys for money sounds wonderful in theory. You can do it from the comfort of your home, or anywhere with Wifi access. There is no learning curve and no experience required. It’s easy and kind of fun. And businesses of all sizes need to conduct market research, so shouldn’t there be a never-ending stream of surveys to be filled?

For all the above reasons, doing surveys has definitely earned its place as the “starter side hustle.”

So, of course, my husband had to try it out.

After creating profiles on 8 different online survey sites, here’s what he has to say about the whole experience:

The quality of survey sites varies significantly from one to another. Some sites bombard you with surveys left and right, while others barely provide any opportunities.

What you could earn depends exclusively on the number of surveys you qualify for and your availability.

My husband qualified for roughly 1 out of every 10 surveys he attempted, so he was less than thrilled. But theoretically, it is entirely possible to make a couple hundred bucks per month if you’re willing to put in the time.

My husband’s favorite survey sites are i-Say, Daily Rewards, and SurveyClub.

Usability testing

If a business owner wants to find out if people can easily navigate their website or app, usability testing is the answer.

As such, being a usability tester is a viable side hustle, as it shares many of the same advantages as filling out surveys — can be done almost anywhere, no experience is required, plenty of demand for this type of service — tends to pay better but requires more of your time.

The platform my husband recommends for usability testing is UserTesting.

Here’s how it works: you’re given exact instructions to visit either a website or an app, complete pre-defined tasks while providing ongoing feedback about your experience. Each test takes roughly 20 minutes to complete and earns you $10.

The site is reliable and pays on time, so my husband plans to pursue this gig for a long time.

Extra yard work

Yard work is not our forte, so we usually hire people to take care of work that people ordinarily do themselves.

Now that my husband has more time on his hands, he has taken on all the yard maintenance tasks himself, effectively saving money.

In the past 2 months, he has:

  • Trimmed overgrown bushes
  • Cut down branches
  • Tidied up our front yard (throwing away old cement boards and removed slabs)
  • Cleaned up a “trouble spot” in our backyard
  • Removed dead tree trunks

He’s in the process of:

  • Weeding more regularly
  • Mowing the lawn more regularly
  • Cleaning up debris in the yard (that were left by the previous owners of the house)

Our front and back yards have never looked better, and I’m really grateful.

Final Thoughts

When you’re in a personal financial crisis, the best way to move forward is to keep yourself busy with money-making projects that fulfill you.

As long as you’re making progress, however slowly, you will feel better, and your wallet will thank you.

The atmosphere of growth is a wonderful thing.

With that in mind, I’m going to leave you with a brief list of side hustle ideas that you can try:

  • Drive for Uber or Lyft
  • Teach English abroad or online
  • Start your own blog
  • Complete simple tasks online through Amazon Mechanical Turk
  • Complete everyday tasks offline through TaskRabbit
  • Sell your creations on Etsy
  • Sell online services on Fiverr
  • Become a virtual assistant
  • Rent out a spare room on Airbnb

Good luck!

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Category: EarningMoney For Beginners


  1. Have you also tried mystery shopping? Toronto must be a great market for that side hustle?
    The User testing gig may be good for my kids. Any issues with some of the site/apps with viruses?

    1. Hi Caroline! We haven’t tried mystery shopping yet, though it does sound like a lot of fun. Thank you for the suggestion.

      There is zero issues with User Testing as far as we have seen (between the two of us, we did about 5 tests, so not a huge sample size).

  2. Glad you’re having success with Usertesting! We’ve used it through a previous job of mine (as a company looking for testers) and earlier this year I signed up as a tester personally. Unfortunately I have yet to actually qualify for any tests! I’ve also signed up for a few other usability testing sites but I think of all them I’ve only ever done ONE test in the months since.

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Article by: Flora Pang

Flora Pang aspires to become someone who plants trees in their spare time, writes thank-you notes to strangers, and serves in UN peacekeeping operations around the world. But to date, blogging about personal finance remains her only contribution to society. You can catch her rambling about money on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and (to a lesser extent) Pinterest.