In 1931, historian James Truslow Adams was the first to define the American Dream in his book, “Epic of America.” His often-quoted definition states that: “The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
This “American Dream” continues to be what we aspire to, holding fast the belief that anyone—regardless of which country or what social class they were born into—can achieve success in a society where upward mobility and prosperity is possible through hard work, determination, and initiative.
If this is true, then how come so many hard-working, ambitious people always feel broke, even when they earn a higher-than-average salary? Whether they’re “living the dream” or not, Americans are not experts at managing their finances and end up in a cycle of overspending that leaves them destitute, even if their income means they are above the poverty line.
The frustrating reality is that most people are struggling financially, living paycheck-to-paycheck and sinking into credit card debt with less than $1,000 in their savings account—even the ones considered to be in a higher income bracket, earning $75,000 or more per year.
Revealing your financial challenges used to be a forbidden topic that would diminish your social status in the eyes of friends and neighbors—now, the struggle is so common that people freely divulge how bad their situation is to anyone who will listen.
There is also a lot of speculation about the “vanishing middle class,” as the economy is increasingly divided between the prosperous and the poor. The chances are that unless you’re independently wealthy, you will feel an inevitable sense of dread whenever you hear that catchphrase that speaks to an uncertain economic future because when money is tight, you already feel poor.
There is a point where you get tired of researching all the reasons why you are broke, having already admitted to yourself that you’re trapped in the cycle of debt, that you can’t stick to a budget, and that you spend more than you make, prioritizing today’s happiness over tomorrow’s needs.
You need to find a way to make more money. But how? You’re already working 40+ hours per week and all you want to do when you get home is have dinner and watch some TV before bed.
Let’s face it, a lot of “side hustle” prospects can seem quite bleak depending on your personality. For example, an introvert will probably cringe at the idea of Uber-driving because it means having to make small-talk with strangers, just as someone who has zero patience for the antics of children would not exactly be an ideal weekend babysitter. When researching ways to make money, a lot of sites will recommend thing like taking a survey for $5 or trying out shopping tracker apps in exchange for a $10 gift card. Let’s face it that won’t get you anywhere. At the very least, you need an extra $200-$500 per month even to make a slight dent in your bills.
Instead of immersing yourself for 10-15 hours a week at a part-time job, why not approach your situation with a “divide and conquer” freelancer mindset? If you have multiple ways to generate revenue, then it doesn’t matter if you have a slow month here and there. There will always be money coming in.
Here are The Top 3 Fun Ways to Make Money
EARN EXTRA MONEY BY USING YOUR VOICE
Do people ever tell you that you’ve got a great voice? Whether your cadence is calm and precise or energetic and boisterous, it’s entirely possible to turn a profit from the way you sound. There are plenty of voice-over agencies that cast for TV and radio commercials as well as film and animation projects, but if you’re already working full-time, you probably won’t have time to run around to auditions. The good news is that there are multiple online platforms geared towards voice actors and actresses.
Voices.com is a major marketplace for voice-over talent. Voice actors and actresses can join at either the guest or premium levels (approximately $33 per month), which lets you create your own profile on the site and audition for publicly posted jobs.
The Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) is a platform that connects authors with professional narrators to create an audio version of their book. Narrators can either accept a flat fee for projects or offer their voice in exchange for a percentage of future royalties which could have a greater payoff from residual income if you build up a library of best-sellers.
Almost every event uses the services of professional speakers, and SpeakerMatch specializes in pairing business leaders, technical gurus, educators, seasoned public speakers, and other subject-matter experts with gigs. There is an annual fee for joining, but since a professional speaker can earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars per event, this marketplace might be worth checking out.
GET PAID TO (MYSTERY) SHOP
While you won’t make bank from tasks that pay only $3-$12, Field Agent is an app that pairs secret shoppers with tasks at a nearby location, such as checking a store for certain products, photographing a display, or asking a store employee a question. If you’re already in the neighborhood, the amount of effort required is minimal.
Gigwalk is another app that lets you look for local in-person “gigs” that can generally be completed in just a few minutes with your smartphone. Tasks range from marketing research to make sure that the display shelves in certain stores are adequately stocked.
Instacart is an increasingly popular grocery and drugstore delivery platform for people who don’t feel like going to the store. Customers select groceries from various retailers and can communicate with their shopper in real-time if there’s anything to add to the list, or approving replacement recommendations if something is out of stock. The shopper receives a tip that ranges anywhere from $5-$30+ depending on the grocery bill.
BestMark is an industry leader in mystery shopping, and therefore they have a more stringent vetting process to make sure that they choose the right shopper for their Fortune and Global 500 clients, which include restaurants, retail stores, casinos, financial institutions, hotels, and resorts. You’ll have to follow instructions and write detailed reports carefully, but the pay is fair for the effort that’s required.
BECOME A LOCAL TOUR GUIDE
Do you live in a bustling metropolis or a popular tourist destination? Is your town famous for its ghost stories (think Sleepy Hollow or the numerous spirits that haunt Charlotte, North Carolina)? Or maybe you live in a place with an abundance of natural beauty and wildlife sanctuaries or hiking trails. Regardless of where you live, there is an absolute thrill of introducing a new place or experience to someone for the first time, and there are countless visitors who would gladly pay to explore a destination through the eyes of a local.
To give you an idea of the going rates and potential profits, a “Street Art Walk” in San Francisco is priced at $49, a “Bike Wine Country” ride costs $109, a “Historic House Boat” tour is $70, and an “urban hiking” tour costs approximately $50 per person! Here are some of the best ways to create and promote a tour.
Vayable is like the AirBnB of travel experiences, a personable marketplace driven by local insiders offering fun tours in more than 900 destinations worldwide. If you have a passion for your city, love meeting new people, and are intrigued by the idea of providing cultural enrichment, then you should consider creating a tour.
GetYourGuide is a booking platform that markets professional tours, attraction tickets, and travel experiences to millions of customers in more than 2300 locations around the world. They assign you a dedicated account manager and only take a cut of your successful bookings, but their experiences are fueled more by the activity than the personality of the person hosting it.
ToursByLocals focuses primarily on professional, local tour guides who provide shore excursions for cruise ship travelers seeking an authentic cultural experience.
Having additional income coming in every month is a surefire way to relieve the stress of living in an uncertain economy. Thankfully, there are many creative ways for you to make some extra cash on the side to supplement your full-time job and make your future feel brighter.
Earning extra income will improve your quality of life as you:
• Pay off your debt.
• Save for big purchases, such as a vacation.
• Stop living paycheck to paycheck.
• Help you reach retirement sooner.
• Figure out a business idea.
• Become more diversified with your income streams.
Today’s version of the “American Dream” doesn’t automatically include the 2.5 kids, white picket fence, and a massive house with a guest room in the suburbs. It focuses on reducing worries rather than providing comforts.
The American Dream still exists as a touch-point of idealism where hard work is rewarded, but it has taken on a new form of being able to graduate from college with a minimum of debt, secure a job with benefits in your chosen field, be able to afford health care costs, retirement savings, and paying down loans while still managing to live a comfortable life.
Schedule a free consultation today for a risk-free debt assessment. The only thing you have to lose is your debt.