13 Clever Ways to Earn Money for a Down Payment on Your First Home

If a big down payment on a house is keeping you from becoming a homeowner, consider these creative ways to raise the funds you need.
Last updated May 26, 2021 | By Ben Walker
Young couple in first home

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If you are dreaming of buying your first home, you’re likely well aware of what kind of money you’ll need to save up for a down payment. In many cases, the down payment is one of the biggest obstacles for potential homeowners because of its hefty price tag. Not everyone has thousands or tens of thousands of dollars available in a spare bank account.

But your homeownership goals don’t have to seem impossible. Consider different ways to make money that can help you hit your down payment savings goal. Here are a few ways to get started.

Walk dogs on the weekends

If you’re a fan of canine companions and like to go on walks, consider being a dog walker in your spare time with a service like Rover. You get to set your own hours and prices, which is a hallmark of many of the best side hustles.

Rover also offers other services like dog or cat boarding, housesitting, and doggy day care to give you more options for earning money. The amount of money you can earn with Rover depends on where you live and how often you work, but it’s possible to earn around $1,000 per month with this service. Rover advises that offering boarding services can help you make twice the amount of money than not offering those services.

Find out more about earning money with Rover.

Rover Benefits

  • Get paid to play with dogs
  • Choose if you want to pet sit or walk dogs (or both!)
  • Set your own schedule and prices

Deliver food on your own schedule

If you have a reliable vehicle and some spare time, consider applying to become a delivery person for different companies. This could include making food deliveries for Uber Eats or grocery deliveries for Instacart.

Each type of delivery service will have its own payments model, but the result is basically the same: make deliveries and earn a base pay plus tips. For example, an Uber Eats delivery person is paid flat fees for picking up orders and dropping them off, as well as a per-mile rate for the distance from a restaurant to a customer’s location. Customers can also tip their delivery people and it’s possible to earn higher rates during busier times.

The exact amount of money you can make delivering food or groceries will depend on where you live and how much time you devote to making deliveries.

Instacart Benefits

  • Make your own schedule and work when you want
  • Get paid within an hour through instant cash out
  • Choose between just shopping or shopping and delivering

Make your car work for you

Your car might not be getting much use if you’ve shifted to a remote work lifestyle, which could be just the opportunity you need to earn some extra cash. Car rental marketplaces like Getaround and Turo make it easy for you to rent out your vehicle when you aren’t using it.

If you already own a vehicle, getting started with either company is as easy as going through the sign-up process and then listing your car. Getaround says you can make “hundreds of dollars each month” with a well-priced car. Turo breaks down the best rental vehicles for you and includes a calculator to see how well a certain car would perform in different markets. Jeep Wranglers come out on top, with average earnings of more than $850 per month.

Earn big cash back with the right credit card

For many people, credit cards have unfortunately become associated with debt. But when the correct credit products are used responsibly, they can be used to make money in addition to building your credit.

For example, cashback cards like the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express and the Chase Freedom Unlimited make it easy to earn cash back on everyday purchases. Because you’re going to be making these purchases anyway, such as paying for gas and groceries, you might as well earn rewards at the same time.

If you’re spending thousands of dollars on everyday expenses each year, that’s likely hundreds of dollars of cash back you could be earning.

#1 Cash Back at Supermarkets

Benefits

  • Earn $150 cash back after spending $3,000 in the first 6 months
  • Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months, for up to $200 back
  • 6% cash back on U.S. streaming services and at U.S. supermarkets
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit
  • $95 annual fee. Terms apply.
  • See rates and fees

Take surveys in your spare time

Online surveys are a way for you to make money in your spare time and can typically be done from anywhere you have internet access. Companies like Survey Junkie say you won’t get rich from taking online surveys, but it’s still a legitimate way to earn some extra cash from home.

Every survey you take with Survey Junkie will net you a certain number of points and points can be redeemed for PayPal deposits, bank transfers, or e-gift cards. You need a minimum of 500 points, which is worth $5, to make a redemption. Surveys take about 15 minutes to complete, though some may be longer. Typically, the longer the survey time frame, the more points you earn.

SurveyJunkie Benefits

  • Make money in your spare time
  • Get paid instantly via PayPal for filling out surveys and surfing the web
  • Join over 6 million members

Use money-saving apps

Money-saving apps like Honey, Ibotta, and Fetch can help you save money on the purchases you make daily. For example, Honey can help you find coupon codes while you’re shopping online. Ibotta can be helpful for finding great in-person deals at popular stores, including Walmart, Target, and Kroger.

Fetch allows you to scan virtually any receipt and receive in-app rewards. Once you earn enough rewards, redeem them for hundreds of gift card options, which could save you money on things you were planning to buy anyway.

Ibotta Benefits

  • Earn $10 for signing up and redeeming your first receipt
  • Get cash back on normal, every day purchases
  • Works great at grocery stores and pharmacies!

Cut your bills

An excellent way to find money in your budget is to cut expenses in a specific area. Companies like Truebill can help you save money on expensive bills. This includes cell phone bills, internet bills, cable TV bills, and more.

Truebill representatives will look over your existing bills and then work to find you better rates. If they have to wait on hold and negotiate with customer service representatives, they will. Truebill will only charge you for successfully negotiating a better price on a bill, which would amount to your choice between 30 to 60 percent of the savings. If Truebill doesn’t save you anything, you aren’t charged.

Truebill Benefits

  • Automatically find and cancel subscriptions
  • Slash your monthly phone, cable, and internet bills
  • Save an average of up to $720 a year

Automate your savings

You might not know how much money you can save until you don’t have to think about it. With an app like Digit, your savings goals become automatic. This makes it easy to work toward and achieve your goals because you don’t have to think about them.

Rather, you set up a goal with how much money you want to save and when you need it, and then Digit will do the rest. Digit analyzes your finances and calculates how much money you can afford to put toward your savings goals. Then Digit will automatically move the calculated amount of money from your linked account to your savings goal account.

Digit Benefits

  • Save the perfect amount every day without having to think about it
  • Try Digit free for 30 days
  • Build your savings without changing your lifestyle
  • Over $1,000,000,000 securely saved

Run errands for others

Taskers, as they’re called on TaskRabbit, can earn money helping people in their local communities with everyday tasks. This could include putting together furniture, helping someone move, or cleaning a room.

If you have some spare time and useful skills, you could become a Tasker and start earning extra cash. Even if you don’t think you have useful skills, many tasks don’t require professionals. Making a delivery or helping someone move furniture doesn’t require years of experience. And it can pay a fair amount.

For example, an experienced Tasker could make more than $40 per hour helping people move. Another Tasker might make over $60 per hour helping with home repairs.

Sell your old stuff

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” That’s how the saying goes, and it often proves to be true. If you have old stuff lying around or are upgrading a piece of furniture or another item in your house, consider selling it online or at a garage sale before trashing it.

It barely takes any effort to snap a few photos of an old couch with your phone and post a listing for it on Facebook Marketplace or another website. Then it’s a matter of waiting to see whether you get any bites on your listings. If you don’t, it might make sense to adjust the price of the listing or try to give the item away for free.

Best-case scenario: You make money on something you were going to get rid of. This could end up being hundreds of dollars if you have a lot of stuff to sell. Worst-case scenario: You trash the item that was headed to the dump anyway, or someone gets an item for free and it’s out of your house.

Housesit for others

People sometimes leave their house vacant whether it’s traveling or because they own multiple homes. So how can they make sure their home and any furry friends are taken care of while they’re away? The answer is housesitting.

Companies like TrustedHousesitters offer an online marketplace where you can find sitters for your houses and pets worldwide. For travelers, this could be a clever way to save money on lodging during your trips. Sitters don’t typically get paid, but they get to stay in homes for free, which can be a huge travel expense taken care of.

Resell on Amazon

Reselling products is a global business, and one you can tap into using Amazon, the world’s most popular online marketplace. If you’ve ever used Amazon and have seen a product that doesn’t say “sold by Amazon.com,” it’s likely sold by a private seller. Many of these sellers are small businesses that resell items on Amazon. Reselling involves buying products from one location and then selling them at another.

You can opt to resell items on Amazon, as long as you follow the company’s rules and guidelines. And the sky's the limit for how much you can earn. Figuring out how to resell successfully can come with a steep learning curve, but many individuals have turned their Amazon reselling business into their primary income after initially starting out as a small side hustle. This has meant tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars earned each year for some people.

Become a tour guide in your own town

If you have good people skills and live in a location someone might find interesting, consider becoming a tour guide in your town. These days, you don’t have to physically walk a group of people around your town to be a tour guide. With technology and new opportunities largely brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, virtual tours have become popular.

Companies like Airbnb and Amazon have included virtual experiences as part of their lineup of services. Check out Airbnb Experiences and Amazon Explore to see whether this type of side gig could work for you.

The bottom line

If you want to learn how to make money through side hustles and side gigs, consider the different ways we’ve listed here. Each strategy has its pros and cons and some might suit you more than others. But they can all either help you earn money or save money as you look to raise funds for a down payment on a home.

Keep in mind that some of these ideas could be more profitable than others. For example, selling your old stuff could net you a nice influx of cash in a shorter amount of time than taking dozens of online surveys. But you’ll eventually run out of old stuff and you might never run out of surveys.

Be sure to be open-minded with these ideas, but choose the ones that make the most sense for your lifestyle and situation.

Instacart Benefits

  • Make your own schedule and work when you want
  • Get paid within an hour through instant cash out
  • Choose between just shopping or shopping and delivering

Author Details

Ben Walker Ben Walker is a credit cards and travel writer at FinanceBuzz who loves helping others achieve their travel goals through financially-sound decisions. For nearly a decade, he has been using credit card points and miles for the sole purpose of traveling the world. Ben has been featured in The Washington Post, MSN, Debt.com, and Finder.com.