Boost your bank balance and have a little fun
By Lola Augustine Brown
If you’d like to make a little extra cash, there are plenty of fun ways to do it. Thanks to a myriad of websites and apps, it has become easy to find interesting ways to supplement your income. Some methods, such as renting out a spare room on Airbnb and teaching English to schoolchildren in Asia via video calls, are excellent ways to form connections with others; they can also bring a great deal of personal satisfaction to your life. Not all options require computer use, so don’t let a lack of technological know-how hold you back. Here are some side-hustle considerations to help get you started.
Join the sharing economy
It’s never been easier to rent out accommodations such as spare rooms and unused cottages, thanks to Airbnb (airbnb.ca). Setting yourself up on the site is simple, with Airbnb providing insurance and support in return for a percentage of your rental proceeds. David Corkum, who’s been renting out a studio cottage on his property in Chester Basin, NS, for the past few years, says that it’s been a wonderful experience. In addition to the extra income, Corkum and his wife have loved meeting interesting people from all around the world. “There’s always someone different: We had a landed immigrant from China stay with us for just short of a year, and we became good friends with a renting couple from North Carolina who were looking for a property in the area,” Corkum says.
Negatives for Corkum have been few, but he says having to turn over the house between guests can be a hassle. Plus, he remembers one particular guest who arrived drunk. “We turned him away and called Airbnb, who dealt with the issue,” he says. If instead you’re looking to rent out your RV, motorhome or travel trailer, the website RVEzy.com can help. Membership includes insurance and all the support you need for a successful rental. The same goes for boats, with Boatsetter.com, and cars, with Turo.com.
Sell off your old stuff
Many of us have attics and closets bursting with items we no longer need. Luckily there’s now a host of online ways to sell unwanted items without having to resort to the perennial yard sale. Online forums such as Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji, and apps including VarageSale provide the opportunity to list your unique offerings. For instance, you can offload used fitness wear—Lululemon items, for one, enjoy a healthy resale value—fishing gear, collectibles, vehicles and just about anything else for which you no longer have use.
Of course, personal safety is a must when selling highvalue items to veritable strangers. It’s best to meet the potential buyer in a public place, especially one that’s well-lit and where other people are within easy reach. It’s also a good idea to take a friend with you or, at the very least, tell someone where you’re going, who you’re meeting and when you expect to return home. In addition, many police stations offer safe spaces to make these types of sales, so inquire with your local force. Keep in mind that you should never disclose personal information or bank details to a potential buyer, other than perhaps a secure link to send funds to your PayPal or another such online account, or an email address for receipt of a bank or Interac e-transfer. If you trust your instincts and act cautiously, you’ll more likely than not have a positive experience offloading your stuff online.
Teach via video calls
From her home in Montreal, Megan Tolbert teaches English to children in Beijing via 30-minute-long video classes.
Many language schools employ online children’s tutors— all that’s required is a bachelor’s degree and an interest in teaching kids. Tolbert explains that this gig not only supplements her income—she says she makes between US$14 and US$20 an hour—but that she considers it a blessing. “On days when I’m teaching, I wake up super-energized to see these kids—who are funny and excited and interested,” Tolbert says. Of course, there are possible downsides, too. For example, because of the time-zone differences between Beijing and Montreal, and because most classes take place after the kids’ school day ends, Tolbert’s gig can require early starts. “I usually have to be up well before the sun,” Tolbert says. “I’m not really a morning person.”
Regardless, there are plenty of online language schools looking for Canadian teachers—these include VIPKid.com, DaDa (dadaabc.com) and GoGoKid (teacher.gogokid.com). They typically use web-based platforms, which Tolbert says are easy to master, and provide all the required course- and teaching-related materials. “Much of that curriculum is delivered through fun games that you guide the kids through,” Tolbert says. “Sometimes you get a student who may need an extra push to stay engaged, but for the most part, they’re pretty eager to learn.”
If you have a more extensive educational background, you can join online sites such as Wize (wizeprep.com) and TutorMe.com that connect instructors with students looking for help with homework and exam prep.
Offer child- and pet-care services
Wherever you live, you can bet there are parents struggling to find the time to pick up their kids from school and/or to keep them busy before or after classes; others simply could use the occasional break from the demands of parenting. So if you love spending time with children and have the energy to care for them, consider offering your services as a babysitter. Let people know you’re available by word of mouth among friends and acquaintances, and even via social-media postings.
If dogs, cats and other animals are closer to your speed, part-time pet care might be for you. Not only are reliable dog-walkers and pet-sitters in high demand, but such side gigs can offer bonuses such as regular exercise and contact with other animal-lovers. To help potential clients find you, simply print up business cards and leave them with local pet stores and veterinary offices. However, keep in mind that you’ll likely need to provide character and other references; pet-sitting insurance, too, can help protect both you and your human clients should the unexpected happen.
Showcase your talents at a local community market
Whether baking is your forte, you knit beautifully or you have impressive lathe skills, consider selling your wares at local farmers’ markets, craft fairs and holiday bazaars. Start visiting these locations to see where and how your products might best fit, to determine the prices you could charge for your special skills and talents, and to find out whether you’ll need to rent a vendor’s stall or kiosk. Besides making a few extra bucks, you’ll get to meet lots of lovely people who may also share your passions.
Keep tax implications in mind
As minimal as it may sometimes be, even side-hustle money is taxable income. So keep track of your profits, which you’ll need to declare to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and, where relevant, your provincial or territorial tax authority. This will help keep you from being hit with a huge tax bill at the end of the fiscal year, should the government get wind of any undeclared sums.
Record your business expenses, too, as these may allow for tax-saving deductions. For instance, if you’ve been renting out your cottage or part of your home, any associated costs—e.g., cleaning materials, advertising, membership fees for online rental platforms, insurance—count as business expenses. The same applies to the cost of craft supplies and stall rentals if you’ve been selling homemade goods at a market, for example.
Before you set out on your side hustle, it could be well worth conferring with your accountant to determine how best to keep track of all the business and tax details of your venture. Once everything is in order and you’re ready to set out on your side hustle, there are just two things left to keep in mind, inspired somewhat by Vulcan lore: Have fun and prosper.