6 ways to boost your income in a big way

Find a roommate

This is a tough one if you're raising three kids, but if you live alone, you might consider renting out your spare bedroom or basement. Depending on where you live and the amenities in your home, you could bring in an extra $500 to $1,500 a month without lifting a finger. Just be sure to screen your candidates carefully. Do a criminal-background check. Get referrals from prior landlords, check their credit score and independently confirm their employment.

Create passive income

To truly attain financial freedom, you'll have to pursue passive sources of income, meaning investments that generate wealth with little ongoing involvement from you. Examples include publishing royalties, profit from business partnerships, dividends from equities and rental income. Purchasing a rental property requires a significant upfront investment, but the potential payoff is huge. Focus on buying several multifamily units rather than one single-family home, says Robert Cain, publisher of the Rental Property Reporter.

"If you buy four units (rental apartments) you can make $400 to $600 a month, depending on your market, whereas you'll likely make $100 to $150 a month after expenses on a single-family rental -- and that's if you buy smart," he says. Over time, says Cain, your rental fees will climb, while your expenses remain the same (if you get a fixed-rate loan). And don't forget, you have someone else helping you pay off an appreciating asset.

Speak for success

Afraid of public speaking? You'd better get over it, and fast. Those able to draw a crowd, like best-selling authors, politicians and celebrities, can command $30,000, $50,000 -- even $100,000 per engagement. Without the benefit of notoriety, however, the rest of us are more likely to fetch from $500 to $5,000 per gig -- but only if you bring something fresh to the table. (You may also have to start off speaking for free.) Troll your areas of expertise for subject matter and start organizing your message. And don't limit yourself to financial workshops or motivation lectures. Consider your hobbies as fodder for seminars. Speakers bureaus can connect you with venues, but they'll also take a cut of your profit -- as much as 30 percent.

In today's economy where job security is uncertain, the importance of diversifying your income cannot be overstated. Some business ventures, however, have a bigger potential payoff than others. Your available assets and appetite for risk will determine which course of action is right for you.


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