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Besides finding ways to lower your expenses so you have more money to save for investing, the other side of the coin is find ways to increase your income.
The more income you can earn, the more you can set aside for investments to grow your wealth. And what better way to earn extra income than to make money with the things you already love to do: hobbies!
Hobbies grow alongside our wealth. And by that, I mean they get more expensive! But while many of us think of such lifestyle choices as being purely a cost, it doesn’t have to be. Some hobbies can be monetised quite effectively, with the right amount of time and effort:
Stamps are one of the best alternative investments next to classic cars. Stanley Gibbons, one of the world’s biggest alternative investment firms, even has a stamp fund for investors (although it may be a bit out of reach at a minimum investment of USD $100,000).
The reasons that stamps do well is scarcity. Post offices are dwindling in the age of digital communications and nobody’s making any more stamps commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth or for a now non-existent Soviet Union. Each stamp is, or has the potential, to become a historic artifact which reflects on a different era. In this capacity, they can be very much the equivalent to antiques and there is a thriving resale market.
If you start collecting today, you might leave an album that auctions for hundreds of thousands for your grandchildren or your retirement.
Many travel websites and magazines suffer from one serious problem: the cost of sending their writers abroad is tremendous, and many “cheat” and just resort to desktop research. You can provide an alternative and make some cash to boot.
If you hone your skills, you can write travel pieces based on your visits. Cover major events like dance festivals, review restaurants, even interview prominent locals. Come back with pictures and an article, and you may be able to sell it to a magazine or website (higher-end businesses will pay 50 to 70 cents per word).
This is not something you can do overnight – it will take a while to establish a reputation, and you may face rejection many times. However, once you get the ball rolling it’s an effective way to subsidise your travels, and sometimes come out ahead cash-wise.
It also helps to lower costs by using an air miles credit card as a mode of payment (but don’t spend on credit and pay back in full right after you use it). Your expenses will accumulate air miles which can be used for free seat upgrades and over time can net you a whole bonus flight. The less you spend, the higher your margins on travel articles.
You can find the best credit card for travelling with the comparison tools at SingSaver.
If you like pets but can’t own one, try playing with other people’s pets for money. In Singapore, this is one of the most “under-the-radar” services in terms of profitability. There is tremendous demand, as almost every pet owner eventually needs a pet-sitter when they are going on holiday, working abroad, spending long hours at work, etc.
If your idea of fun is playing fetch, getting cats to chase your hand, etc. then you might as well monetise your time doing it. Some of the top pet sitters can charge up to S$70 an hour (although these are very high-end, established services that may include extras like obedience training).
It’s best to hook up with someone in the industry first or with a company that provides the service. This is where you’ll learn about the licenses you need, appropriate care standards, liability contracts, etc.
Whether it’s logos, book covers, or infographics, there is usually someone out there who needs illustrations of some kind. Commissioned projects can range from S$5 logos to fine portraits and murals, which range in the tens of thousands.
The good thing about this hobby is that, if you’re even moderately good, you can usually start selling your services almost immediately. It’s not so much about qualifications but just what you can draw. Get a nice portfolio set up and you won’t have to worry too much about experience or formal arts schooling.
Remember that even simple line or vector art sees demand, so you don’t need to be Van Gogh to pull this off.
If you are a competent amateur photographer, you can make a fair amount from selling stock photos. There are plenty of sites where you can place images for sale or display, such as Flickr or Shutterstock. Just be sure you familiarise yourself with the process of how stock photography works.
The key is to cater to the right areas – for example, you may want a few pictures of graphs or sales meetings, as many websites are short on such images. If your shots are well taken, they may prefer to pay you for the rights than spend the time setting up a proper shoot.
Now, you won’t make the kind of money a fulltime professional photographer does, but you can get small amounts like S$20 a picture. As your reputation grows, that can lead to bigger things.
So there you have it — five ways to monetise your hobbies to earn some extra income for yourself. Remember, with the power of compound interest, every small amount can grow to something huge with time. For example, just an extra $300 a month from your hobbies can grow to $1.7 million over 25 years if you invest it at 20% per annum.
So start saving, making more and invest your way to wealth!