Making ends meet can be tough. But if you've got a special skill set, a good eye or just a good idea, you can turn that into extra cash.
Find something you like to do, and you just might figure out how to make money doing it on the side.
For example, I sell my artwork at 2nd Saturdays, a monthly arts festival downtown, and photograph weddings and portraits when I can. My husband has a passion for music, so he's a mobile DJ.
I have friends who sell candles, makeup or jewelry for multilevel marketing companies like Premier Jewelry, Avon or Scentsy.
If you have a creative side, you could make stuff to sell. Sarah Cañez Zurheide, a local hairstylist, makes bracelets out of soda tabs and sells them in the salon, on Etsy.com, an online marketplace for artisans, and to Facebook friends. She's also sold them on consignment at Razorz Edge, 427 N. Fourth Ave.
Zurheide said at first all of the money would go into supplies, but once she stocked up, she started making profits.
"It's nice because I've been able to save up for things I need, or just have extra money," she said. Zurheide's bracelets sell for $8.99 to $15.99 a piece.
Love shopping at yard sales and estate sales?
The resale business is huge right now. You can shop at yard sales and estate sales and resell through Etsy, eBay or an antique mall. It's amazing what people will buy.
Recycling is a good way to help the environment and make some extra money.
Amy Rodriguez, a Tucson mother of two, said she and her husband recycle scrap metal left over from her husband's jobs.
"We do it when we need money for food or bills," she said. They recycle every couple of months and usually bring in an extra $200 to $400, depending on how much metal they get in.
Speaking of recycling, you can also collect cans or plastic bottles to recycle for money.
I remember my grandma doing this when I was a kid. She'd see a can and say, "Angela, get out and get that can for me." I'd, of course, roll my eyes and quickly get out and grab it. When she had a few garbage bags full, we'd take them to be recycled and get money.
Desert Metals Recycling, 3119 E. Pennsylvania St., pays 60 cents a pound for aluminum cans. It takes about 30 cans to make a pound.
If you have a knack for cleaning, why not start up a housecleaning or office-cleaning business?
That's what Tucsonan Stephanie Landon did. She started her side business to help pay for small bills and gas while she goes to school.
She's especially busy during the holidays.
"People really want their houses clean for their relatives," she said.
It usually takes her about three to four hours to clean a house. She charges $55 for three hours. Each additional hour is $20.
Once you have an idea, you'll need to get word out. Not much money for advertising? That's OK. Try the newspaper classifieds or Craigslist. Landon said a lot of her business comes from online ads.
Or, some places around town will let you put a business card or small flier advertising your business on their bulletin boards. Word-of-mouth and social media can get you lots of business as well.
Mystery or secret shopping - in which companies pay you to report on how customers are treated, for example - can be a fun way to make a few extra dollars if you like to shop or eat at restaurants.
"I had some shoppers who really liked eating out," said Nova Sipe, who owned a mystery-shopping business before closing it a year ago. "Doing this was their way of justifying eating out." They'd get reimbursed for their meal, and a payment from her.
Basic jobs pay in the $5 to $10 range, plus your meal if it's a restaurant job. Go to mysteryshop.org or iasemysteryshop.com to find legitimate companies.
Sipe said it's important to do your research when looking for a mystery-shopping job, since scams run rampant on the Internet.
"The first and primary red flag is if they want money from you," she said. "When have you ever paid anybody for you to work for them?" Sipe asked.
I couldn't agree more. It should be the other way around.
When it comes to making extra money, it boils down to finding what works for you. Find your niche, go for it and enjoy it.
More money-making ideas
None of these things will make you rich, but they sure can help out on the side.
• Fill out online surveys that offer rewards: Inboxdollars.com and Mysurvey.com are both free to sign up for.
• Ad-wrap your car.
• Sell crafts at farmers markets or craft fairs.
• Post to social-media sites.
• Cash in unused gift cards at Plasticjungle.com or Giftcardrescue.com
• Run errands for seniors.
• Clean yards.
• Put together scrapbooks
• Be a handyperson
• Pass out samples or demonstrate merchandise. Search jobs at National Association for Retail Marketing's website, www.narms.com
• Write for blogs. Go to jobs.problogger.net to find opportunities
• Have a yard sale.
• Get a paper route.
• Stage homes for sale.
• Sell produce from your garden at a farmers market.
• Put up seasonal decorations for people.
• Plan parties.
• Decorate cakes.
• Make soaps and candles and sell them.
When times are tough, it's easy to fall victim to claims made online that you can make a ton of money doing next to nothing. Nick LaFleur, spokesman for the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona, offers the following advice:
• On job postings, keep an eye out for grammatical errors, misspellings, lots of exclamation points, phrases like "no experience needed" and claims that you can make a lot of money. Things that sound too good to be true usually are.
• Look out for job postings that ask you to share personal information or hand over money. "Any job that you have to pay money up front to get, you need to take a very hard look at," LaFleur said.
• The fake-check scam is popular on mystery-shopper sites. They'll send a check for you to deposit and ask that you wire part of it back to them to pay for supplies, etc. Once that is done, and the bank realizes it was a fake, you're out your money.
• Go to bbb.org to see the Better Business Bureau's national database. If there are no complaints there, Google the company to find its corporate website and make sure the job opening is posted there because scammers often impersonate legitimate companies.