Live in Illinois? 12 Flexible Ways to Make Money in the Land of Lincoln

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder
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For much of America, Illinois is just Chicago.

But honestly, Chicago is a bit of an outlier compared to the rest of the state. Sure, we love the Windy City as much as the next person, but it’s not necessarily representative of the entire state.

As Illinois residents, you know that.

You can’t discount the other large cities: Joliet, Rockford, Naperville or even the state capital, Springfield. You’ve also got Champaign, named after our favorite beverage (err, from a county in Ohio), as well as some of the more hidden gems like the Amish village of Arthur and Alton, Illinois, which just won a bid to host to a reality TV show.

All of this is to say: Illinois hosts a ton of flexible money-making opportunities.

12 Flexible Jobs in Illinois

Ready to make money in Illinois? (Ahem, it’s not all about you, Chicago.)

1. Find a Flexible Work-From-Home Job

Erin Routzahn spends an evening with her daughter Evelyn Routzahn.
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Although many work-from-home jobs have state restrictions, we’ve found that Illinois is typically included in national work-from-home opportunities — like the ever-so popular Amazon opportunity.

More recently, we stumbled across a work-from-home gig with Legacy. You know, it’s the website that publishes memorials. It needs content screeners — only in Illinois and Indiana — who can check condolence messages to ensure they’re in line with the site’s guidelines.

If you’re reading this now and the job has already closed, hop on over to The Penny Hoarder’s Jobs page on Facebook. There you’ll find more flexible work-from-home opportunities.

2. Invest in Real Estate (From Your Computer)

view of an old building
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Real estate is hot, hot, hot right now, and everyone’s saying invest, invest, invest.

But investing in real estate isn’t all that simple — at least in the traditional sense. There’s the mortgage thing. And landlording part. And maintaining. Ick.

But there’s a new way to invest — with as little as $500. It’s through a company called Fundrise.

With the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that support private real estate around the United States.

This isn’t an obscure investment, though. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios, including hotels, apartment complexes and townhomes.

You can earn money through quarterly dividend payments and potential appreciation in the value of your shares, just like a stock. Cash flow typically comes from interest payments and property income (e.g. rent).

(But remember: Investments come with risk. While Fundrise has paid distributions every quarter since at least Q2 2016, dividend and principal payments are never guaranteed.)

You’ll pay a 0.85% annual asset management fee and a 0.15% annual investment advisory fee.

Interested? Get started with Fundrise here.

3. Go Mystery Shopping at Your Favorite Breweries

Beer in focus with people out of focus around
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

The craft beer industry is hoppin’, so take advantage of it by, well, getting paid to visit breweries.

When you sign up as a mystery shopper, it’s your job to go to a grocery store, gas station, restaurant or, in this case, a breweries, and provide anonymous feedback.

Now, you can get paid to mystery shop — and drink — at breweries in your area through Secret Hopper. (Clever, right?)

The company is looking for detail-oriented beer-drinkers to hop around to different breweries and objectively rate and review their experiences. One Penny Hoarder gave the gig a try. He paid $16 on his visit to a local brewery. Secret Hopper paid him $20 via PayPal within a few days.

So, no, you’re not going to get rich, but you will get free beer, and that makes us hoppy.

All you have to do is sign up, then it’ll contact you when you’re needed.

4. Sign Up to Drive With Lyft

Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

Need a fun, flexible way to earn money while also meeting lots of new people?

Try driving with Lyft!

Demand for ride-sharing has been growing like crazy, and it shows no signs of slowing down. To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.

We talked to Anthony Ponce. He quit his job as a Chicago news anchor to drive for Lyft and start a podcast: Backseat Rider. He drives two to three days a week and says he makes about $100 a day.

Best of all, he does it on his own time. You can work days, nights or weekends — it’s up to you!

5. List Your Space on Airbnb

Have a spare room? Might as well try to earn some money by listing it on Airbnb.

If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.

And there’s no reason you can’t be creative. Take notes from this creative Airbnb listing in Plano, Illinois; it’s a train!)

A few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one.

Here are some tips:

  • Make your space available during high-demand times in your area. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events.
  • Be a good host, and stock your place with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
  • Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.

Here’s the link to sign up as an Airbnb host.

(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)

6. Tutor — From Anywhere With Internet

woman on laptop
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

If a classroom full of grimy squealing kids isn’t your scene… we get it. You can still work as a teacher. Better yet: You work as a teacher, set your own hours and work from home.

There are several online-learning platforms focused on teaching English as a second language to students in other countries.

Angela Brumbaugh is a QKids teacher. She teaches 36 half-hour sessions a week and makes up to $20 an hour.

“The curriculum is set for you before class, and your job is to simply guide the children through the lesson, offering guidance, smiles and tons of encouragement,” she says. That’s a big perk for many: No lesson planning.

“The students are hard-working, curious and light up the classroom with their smiles,” she says. “Class time actually goes by fast, and the only con I can see is sometimes I wish I had more time to spend with them!”

7. Start Your Own Work-From-Home Business

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Working from home sounds great, but maybe you want to set your own schedule, too. That’s where an online course can come in handy, like Bookkeeper Business Launch.

If you’re interested in bookkeeping, take notes from Daniel Honan. The former military officer decided to start his own virtual business, so he signed up for the free Bookkeeper Business Launch course. It helps folks start and grow their business — no experience required — in 10 weeks or less.

Honan finished the courses in about three months. When we talked with him, he had about 10 clients spanning the U.S. and worked 40-hour weeks. He estimated he’d gross about $50,000 during his first year in business.

The first courses are free, so be sure to check them out.

8. Get Paid to Hang out in Someone Else’s House

Working from home is wonderful, but sometimes it’s nice just to experience a new space — perhaps in a new town or a new country.

Consider house sitting. You can make big bucks keeping someone’s home company. There are tons of websites out there that’ll help you find the perfect gig. Check out a few of these house-sitting marketplaces.

9. Conduct Car Inspections

Did you know you could get paid to take photos of vehicles on your phone? In late 2016, one of our readers, Maryellen Honkomp reached out to let us know about one of her favorite ways to make extra money: performing car inspections through OnSource.

The 60-year-old St. Louis resident says she can make an extra $150 a month — typically about $40 for 20 minutes of work — through OnSource. In fact, she said she takes gigs in southern Illinois, if the pay is worth it.

And, no, she didn’t need to have extensive car knowledge to get started.

For more information about Honkomp’s experience, read our OnSource review.

10. Rent out Your RV

Young Woman Using a Laptop Inside a luxury Motorhome on a campground on a rainy day. Vintage look and grain added in post process.
Onfokus/Getty Images

RV owners: Remember that time you thought you’d travel all across country with the kids? And then it happened maybe once or twice, and now you’re down to every other year?

Don’t worry. You’re not the only RV owners in this boat (err, camper?). Put that idle vehicle to work by renting it out to other travelers through RVshare.

RVshare is a peer-to-peer rental marketplace. What you earn is based on your location and type of vehicle, but we’ve run hypotheticals in the past and have found that you could make around $400 a night — if not more.

Basically, you’re making your RV pay for itself so you can still break it out when the kids decide they’re not too good for mom and dad. Or for when they head off to college and you retire. Yeah, that works, too.

Get an estimate on how much you could earn.

11. Play Trivia — Each Night at 9 p.m.

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

If you’re one of those people who can pull useless pieces of knowledge from out of nowhere, you’ll want to download this app.

It’s called HQ Trivia. With at times more than a million players logging on at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. EST each day to play, you might’ve heard of it.

“Quiz Daddy” Scott Rogowski is the game’s main host. He asks 12 questions. You’ve got three multiple-choice options and 10 seconds to answer. If you get all 12 questions correct, you’ll split the grand prize (around $2,000 lately, though up to $25,000 on randomly chosen special occasions) amongst the other winners.

The HQ Trivia app is available for iPhone and Android.

Pro tip: Share your personalized referral code with friends and family to get an extra life. Trust us: You’ll want it.

12. Become an Online Mock Juror

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Like every other person these days, we’ve become obsessed with true-crime podcasts. “My Favorite Murder,” anyone?

If you want an insider look at what happens when a case hits the courtroom, you can serve as an online mock juror. You’ll help lawyers prepare for real cases. You can earn $10 to $60 for about an hour of your time.

From your computer, you’ll review evidence including documents, videos and photos.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She once drove through the southern tip of Illinois.