In the first part of this series we offered seven tips on how to avoid financial ruin by reigning your holiday spending. Whether you followed our advice or not, by now the holidays are over and the damage they visited on your finances has already been done. It is now time to deploy the second lever of financial fitness – generate some extra income. Needless to say, this is easier said than done. Yet creative ways of bringing home extra $$s do exist. Here are some of the “out-of-the-box” opportunities.

Participate in surveys or join focus groups. Marketers are looking for people who can help them evaluate products or services. Earnings are not huge (typically, under $100), but the hours are flexible and the qualification requirements are minimal. Surveys can almost always be done on-line, while focus groups may sometimes require participation in person. Google “paid surveys” or “paid focus groups” to find companies offering these opportunities

Serve as a virtual juror. In preparation to high-stakes cases, lawyers often like to test their arguments in front of a mock jury. For each verdict rendered, virtual jurors are paid $5 – $10 depending on the length of the case. You certainly won’t get rich serving as a virtual juror, but hey, it could even be fun. Google “virtual jury” to find these opportunities; be careful to avoid any sites requiring enrollment fees

Mystery shop. Retail and food companies need unbiased feedback about performance of their retail sites and restaurants. Mystery shoppers are hired to do just that. Don’t expect an immediate invitation to a Gucci boutique, though. More often than not, you will start out doing $8-10 gigs for ordering and evaluating a fast food meal. Qualification requirements are not too onerous; however to be invited to high-end stores and restaurants, you will need to get certified

Drive for Uber or Lyft. If you want to be a part of the emerging “sharing economy” and would like to make some $$ in the process, join Uber or Lyft. According to its website, Uber guarantees $1,600 per week in fares; but to become a part of Uber’s UberX program, you will need to have a relatively new four-door car and a clean driver’s license. You should also be willing to complete at least 75 rides a week — so it is a serious commitment. Lyft’s requirements are lower: owning a car, truck, scooter, motorcycle, or even a bike plus an upbeat and positive attitude is all you need. Lyft’s website (Postmates program) is offering $25/hr and flexible hours

Become an Airbnb host. Have a spare room and like meeting people? Whether it is a mansion, a modest apartment, or a vacant room, list your abode with Airbnb, an on-line service matching visitors with the available housing. According to Airbnb’s website, prices in Greater Boston range from $30 per night (room sharing in Brighton) to well over $500 per night (townhouse in Beacon Hill)

Sign up for a clinical trial. No, this is not advice to be a guinea pig for some mad scientist’s experiment! This is an opportunity to help advance new medications and earn a few perks in the process. Participants get free access to new research treatments (often not yet available to the general public) and receive a lot of individual medical attention for the conditions being studied. In addition, participants commonly receive $50-$100 or more per visit. Clinical trials conducted at specialized research centers and hospitals are federally regulated with built-in safeguards to protect participants.

These are just a handful of ideas on supplementing your income. While none of these gigs (with a possible exception of UberX) will earn you a fulltime pay, the extra money may be just what your need to shed the post-holiday financial blues. Do you know other creative ways to earn extra income? Please share your ideas – we’d love to hear from you!

To learn more about Boston Clinical Trials and the studies we conduct, please click here.