How to make a few more dollars

MORE MONEY: Look for odd jobs, contracts or think about selling stuff if you want to bring home a bit more bacon.
MORE MONEY: Look for odd jobs, contracts or think about selling stuff if you want to bring home a bit more bacon.

The closer we get to Christmas the more stressed our wallets come under. Essential Mums takes a look at ways to bring in a few extra dollars.

Sell, sell, sell

Party plans and direct sales have been around for decades. If you're comfortable hosting sales parties or knocking on doors, they could be good little money spinners.

Party plans involve hosting parties and taking a commission from the sales - think along the lines of Tupperware, Nutrimetics, Emma Page.

Another option is direct sales - think Avon - where you either knock on doors or distribute pamphlets throughout a designated neighbourhood.

Visit the Direct Selling Association of New Zealand's website for details of which companies operate in New Zealand. Before committing to becoming a sales rep make sure you understand what you're committing to and if there are any up-front costs. Ie do you need to buy stock first? How many parties are you expected to hold?

If you don't like the idea of face-to-face sales, then maybe online is a better outlet for you. Millions of people are buying and selling on the home-grown auction site Trade Me. The site has over 3 million active members, with over 2 million listings a month.

You might just want to have a clear-out and have the online equivalent of a garage sale, but if you want to look at generating an ongoing income stream, then setting up an online store on Trade Me might be an option

If you are artistically-inclined another online selling alternative is - which puts your hand-crafted goods in front of a global audience. Etsy has over 15 million members and an easy process to set up your own online store.

Buy, buy, buy

There are also opportunities to make money from shopping, in the form of mystery shopping. Retailers and other service organisations employ mystery or phantom shoppers to anonymously test the quality of their customer services.

This could range from fashion and other retail stores to shopping malls, banks, or even hospitality providers at places like big stadiums or zoos.

Richard Potton from mystery shopping firm HOED says a lot of mystery shoppers are stay-at-home parents. "Because of where they are at in their lives they tend to be quite frugal, they're looking for a bargain, they're looking for good products and they want good service."

The beauty of mystery shopping is you can often take your children along with you (depending on the kind of place you're reviewing) and there's generally a good degree of flexibility in the hours of work and projects you take on.

Warren Myers, general manager of marketing and mystery shopping firms Malcove and Fieldforce, says to be a good mystery shopper you need to be reliable, personable and a good communicator. You have to be able to chat to the people you're evaluating and then write up a comprehensive report of the visit.

"We brief the shoppers beforehand and provide them with a checklist of what they need to look out for and also give them a document that needs to filled out after the visit. The mum needs to be dedicated in terms of writing constructive feedback and following the brief."

Jobs are generally assigned two to four weeks out and there's a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to completion.

"The way mystery shops are done is there's normally a two-week period where it needs to be completed by, so if bubs is sick one day then Mum can get out the following day," Myers says.

Myers says Malcove's and Fieldforce's hourly rate for mystery shopping works out to be between $16 and $20, plus any incremental expenses that are incurred. Big purchases are generally not required to be made, and on the rare occasion that they are the company would put the money into the mystery shopper's account first.

Potton says HOED's payment depends on the assignment - in some cases there might be reimbursement for purchases plus a fee, or it might just be a flat fee.

The time commitment also varies depending on the assignment. "We cover restaurants which can take a few hours, service stations which could take 10 minutes or retail stores that might take half an hour because you have to try something on," Potton says.

Dip in, dip out

If buying or selling don't float your boat, then keep an eye out for odd-jobs or freelance work. The most obvious first port of call is to evaluate your skill-set and tap into your professional network. Are there any opportunities to do some freelance work in your field? Are there any small projects or tasks your boss (or former boss) would be happy to have you do from home for a few hours a week?


If you're working or on parental leave and plan on eventually returning to your role, make sure you don't do any work that is likely to compromise your permanent position. It's probably better to chat with your boss before agreeing to take on work from anyone else, to make sure there are no conflicts of interest. You also need to be careful about undertaking work while you are on paid parental leave to make sure you won't jeopardise your payments.

Beware of scams

If you believe the ads that litter the internet and are pasted on lamp-posts throughout the country then it's easy to make big money, for very little effort while working from home for a few hours a week. If that sounds too good to be true it because it probably is.

While there are some legitimate work-from-home opportunities out there, if you're dealing with people you don't know then you need to do your homework. Don't fall for pie-in-the-sky promises, make sure the company and people you are dealing with are legitimate.

Here are some common characteristics of dodgy work-from-home offers:

  • The company's contact details don't include a physical address or landline, just emails, mobile phones or a PO Box.
  • There are no details of exactly what is involved with the scheme.
  • They promise large amounts of money for little work.
  • You are asked to pay an up-front fee before you receive any more details of what the job involves.
  • You are asked to transfer money into and from your bank account - this is thinly disguised money laundering.

Source: Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

The Ministry Consumer Affairs has more information about the kinds of scams that New Zealanders have fallen victim to, and tips on how to avoid getting sucked in.

Taking care of business

If you're generating income you need to make sure you're taking care of your tax obligations

What are your tips for boosting your income?


Essential Mums