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Everyday Cheapskate: Weird Ways to Earn Money on the Side

Mary Hunt on

Recently, while brainstorming with a reader who needed to supplement her full-time job, I made a quick list of the ways I've done that in my life. I wanted to help her discover what she does well that others might pay her to do.


I worked as an independent process server for a company that attorneys hire to have subpoenas delivered in their civil cases. My mission was to locate the defendant and then address said person by name ("Laura ... Laura Smith?"). By law, I was required to make sure I had eye contact, wait for that look of knowing and then hand off the document. Even if the person refused it, turning to walk (run) away, I could legally assert that I had completed the mission.

The best part? I got paid $35 per attempt to serve. That means if I knocked on the door and no one was home, the attempt was complete, and back into the stack that document would go for a future attempt.

I could easily "attempt to serve" two or three subpoenas per hour. The attorney service company I worked for loved me because I was available at odd times.

Process servers are required by law to serve papers in the correct manner determined by their state. Process-serving laws differ by state. But basically, if you are an adult, have not been convicted of a crime and can engage strangers in a warm and friendly way, it's possible that you, too, could be a process server in your spare time.


I got started young, at age 15, as a student teacher in a music academy. I loved it -- not so much the teaching but the $5 per lesson. My little students did well, and soon I was teaching on my own, at home after school.

You may not play the piano, but I'll bet you're really good at something. Cooking, organization, gardening, cleaning, sewing, knitting, computing, driving -- the list could go on and on. Figure out how you can teach that skill to others. The greater your need to earn extra money, the more creative and the better teacher you'll become.



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