How to make money fast (without getting caught in a scam)

Ramit Sethi Ramit Sethi · January 20th, 2017

I’ve taught thousands of students how to make money fast (all with different talents & levels of experience) and I can show you how to do the same.

Hi, I’m Ramit Sethi, and I’m going to show you how to make more money. Legitimately (I’m a Stanford grad and New York Times best-selling author), and as quickly as you want.

I’m going to break down 9 proven methods of making more money:

We will be AVOIDING ridiculous money-making schemes like the ones you typically find online. These four are perfect examples…

The top 4 ridiculous money-making schemes

Top 4 ridiculous money-making schemes

Panhandling? Selling your hair? These ludicrous (and hilarious) ideas are REAL suggestions given by so-called “experts.”

That’s frustrating, because I believe most of us are willing to do the work IF we know that there’s a payoff.

I’ve taught thousands of students how to make money fast (all with different talents, levels of experience, and even in different countries) — and I want to show you how you can do the same.

I’ve included 3 different timelines and 6 different tactics to help you make money quickly. Each of these tactics for making money has worked with thousands and thousands of people. Remember, you can take it at your own pace.


“I need $100 RIGHT NOW”

1. Negotiate your bills & save money with one phone call

It’s sad that most of us are never taught how to negotiate. The truth is that most things CAN be negotiated…and we can save a ton of money doing it. What would it mean for you if you had $100 less to pay on your bills this month?

Your cell phone bill is the perfect place to start. Cell phone companies have this wildly curious business model of acquiring tons of customers through very expensive means (e.g., national advertising), then churning through them by treating them horribly. Yet even they know that it’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. You can use this “customer acquisition cost” in your favor. Here’s how:

Step 1: Find comparable plans for your usage on other cell phone networks. For example, I’m with AT&T, so I’ll investigate Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint by going to their websites. Write down how much they each cost, how many minutes you get, and any other benefits.

Step 2: Call your current cellphone company. To make it easy, here are the phone numbers:

Step 3: The key is be nice. Ask them what better plans they have to offer you.

You: “Hi, I was looking at my plan and it’s getting pretty expensive. Could you tell me what other plans you have that would save me money?”
Them: Blah blah same plans as on the website blah blah
You: “What about any plans not listed on the website?”
Them: No, what we have is listed on the website. Plus, you’re on a contract and have an early cancellation fee of $XXX
You: “Well, I understand that, but I’d be saving $XXX even with that cancellation fee. Look, you know times are tough so I’m thinking of switching to [COMPETITOR COMPANY]. Unless there are any other plans you have…? No? Ok, can you switch me to your cancellation department, please?”

Note: They won’t cancel without your final word! Plus, you’re in a much stronger position if you’re willing to walk away. What you really want is to be switched to their “customer retention” department, which is the group that has the ability to retain you by giving you a bunch of free deals. You can either ask to be switched directly to the customer retention department, or play a game and hope that by asking for “cancellation,” you’re actually transferred to retention. Play around with a few phone calls and see what works best.

Your goal is to get to the retention department
Your goal is to get to the retention department


When you get to the customer-retention department, ask for the same thing. This is when you pull out your competitive intel on the other services being offered. If Verizon is offering something for $10 less, tell them that. That’s $120 savings / year right there. But you can do more.

You: “Listen, you know times are tough and I need to get a better deal to stick with you guys. You know and I know that your customer acquisition cost is hundreds of dollars. It just makes sense to keep me as a customer, so what can you do to offer me this plan for less money?”

Notice that you didn’t say, “Can you give me a cheaper plan?” because yes/no questions always get a “no” answer when speaking to wireless customer-service reps. Ask leading questions. You also invoked the customer-acquisition cost, which is meaningful to retention reps. Finally, it really helps if you’re a valued customer who’s stuck around for a long time and actually deserves to be treated well. If you jump around from carrier to carrier, you’re not a worthwhile customer to carriers.

Bonus: Tapping into “hidden income” – money you’re throwing away every month – is part of my huge free guide to personal finance. Download your copy of my 6-part guide now.

2. Make money fast by selling on eBay

A few years ago, I was skeptical when it came to selling things on eBay. Can you really make money doing that? But then I tested selling a few things on eBay… and I made over $1,000. We ALL have things laying around the house that we can sell. Maybe…

  • There’s a pair of nice shoes in your closet that you never wear
  • In your attic, you have some old baseball cards, pogs or classic video games collecting dust
  • You recently upgraded your laptop and don’t know what to do with your old one

All of these things — and thousands more — can make you money on eBay. I created an in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to make money off of eBay in just 37 minutes. I also include real life examples from my students who make $1,000+ selling on eBay EVERY MONTH. Click here for my free guide to making real money on eBay.


3. Monetize your social media

I’ve always been skeptical of social media — a lot of people look at vanity metrics such as likes and shares and think it means that social media is doing big things for their business, when it really isn’t.

But there’s another way to use social media that can that have a direct impact on your income: Build a healthy following on a popular app and then monetize your account. This works because social media has gone mainstream in 2017 – check out the Pew Research below.


The two best platforms for monetizing social media in 2017 are Instagram and Snapchat. Advertisers and brands are looking for ways to connect with Instagram and Snapchat users.

Get paid per Instagram or Snap

Top Instagram influencers charge $10,000 or more for a single photograph promoting a product. This means they can make more than most people by just doing one or two of those a month. Crazy.

Building a following on social media isn’t about luck or looks (although the latter doesn’t hurt) — if you understand the system, you can replicate other people’s success. Check out this fascinating article on how a marketing agency turned journalist Max Chafkin into an Instragram influencer in only a month using tactics like bots and strategic hashtags. This is stuff anyone with a knack for social media can do.

Companies also pay people to promote their brand on Snapchat. Virginia Salas Kastilio, also know as ginicanbreathe, charges $2,800 per sponsored story. This is a great example of using a Snapchat following as an asset.


Influencer Agencies Accepting Applications

  • GOsnap for Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter power users
  • avowire by HIREINFLUENCE seeks Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat creators
  • TR|BE is a marketplace that connects Facebook, Instagram and Twitter users with brands
  • instaBRAND connects Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter influencers with advertisers

Don’t worry – you don’t need a huge following like Virginia or the help of professionals like Max to get started. You can start with some of the platforms above like TR|BE or use an affiliate program. These programs pay you to sell products on you social media accounts – just like the Amazon affiliate program pays you to sell books.

Look through these affiliate offers for Snapchat featured on OfferVault. Some pay per a flat rate per lead, some pay per sale. This is the easiest way to test if Instagram or Snapchat marketing is right for you while also making money fast.

“I need $1,000 in the next few weeks”

4. Negotiate your salary and make thousands with one meeting

Ah, salary negotiation. When you ask people if they negotiated before joining their current company, they usually fall into one of two categories:

  • Utter denial: “The economy is tough, and I didn’t want to be annoying. I’ll try some time in the future, you know?”
  • Embarrassing failed attempt: “I didn’t know what to say, so I just asked if there was wiggle room, they said no…and then I didn’t ask again”

Getting a raise is the easiest and fastest way to make more money. A single salary increase can boost your salary by thousands of dollars.

And that’s just the first year. A one-time salary increase of $5,000 — properly invested — adds up to over $1,300,000 by the time you retire. Talk about a Big Win.

With just one conversation, you can boost your income for life, but it’s a HUGE missed opportunity for most people. We hate to negotiate — what if our boss says no? What we have scheduled reviews and ours isn’t for another 8 months? What if we’re just no good at that sort of thing?

The key is that 80 percent of the work is done before you ever set foot in your bosses office. I can show you how.

I collected years of my best articles and case studies on salary negotiation and getting paid what you’re worth into a massive free guide.

It goes into even more detail on the strategies described here. Plus you can download the free ebook to read and study wherever you like.

Check out the Ultimate Guide to Getting a Raise and Boosting Your Salary Now

Check out the Ultimate Guide to Getting a Raise and Boosting Your Salary now »


5. Take my “Save $1,000 in One Week” challenge

There’s a big misconception that we need to make HUGE sacrifices to get money fast (like getting our forehead tattooed).

But actually, we can focus on what we already have to save money.

My “Save $1,000 in One Week” challenge walks you step-by-step through a week full of tips on how to save money on everyday things.

You’ll learn:

  • The 4 words that lower cable bills by at least $30/month ($360/yr) with one phone call
  • How to cut $20-$100/month out of your spending without sacrificing anything
  • My 4-step system that all but automates shopping so you spend less and get higher quality
  • Exactly how to get 3%-20% back on just about every purchase (NO, it isn’t a credit card, and it only takes 8 minutes to set up and seconds to use)
  • And much more — all in just 1 week.

Join the Save $1,000 in One Week challenge

Thousands of my students have already used these tips successfully. How much could you save?


“I need to make $10,000 this year”

6. Earn extra money by freelancing on the side

I recently asked readers what’s stopping them from creating a side business. Their feedback was surprising:

What's stopping you from making money surveyThe surprising #1 result: “I don’t have an idea”

I was expecting a lot of “I’m scared” or “I’m not good enough” answers…but instead, the #1 answer was “I don’t have an idea.”

Freelancing on the side is something anyone can do. You don’t have to have tech skills — students of mine have found success as professional dog walkers, caricature artists, violin instructors, marketing consultants, and much more.

It’s easier than you think to get started and you can make money fast. Despite what most people do, you don’t need to buy business cards, set up an LLC, or build a website to start making money on the side.

I’ll show you how you can take the skills you already have (no matter how weird) and make money off of them. You’ll learn the exact process of how to go from no idea to getting the market to pay you for your skills.

See my step-by-step, in-depth article that shows you how to earn more money by turning your skills into profit.

7. Triple your hourly rate

Let’s say you already make money on the side with freelance work (see option #5). With just a few tweaks, you can triple your hourly rate.

Here’s how to earn even more money as a freelancer:

Step 1: Raise your rates through referrals

Don’t ditch a client the second you realize you’re not being paid what you’re worth. Instead, use that client as a source for valuable referrals, then negotiate higher with your new clients. Many people make the mistake of thinking that the referrer will reveal what they’re paying you. They won’t, so don’t fall into the trap of matching (or even going lower) than your current rate.

A project manager friend of mine was getting paid $25/hour. Her client referred her to someone else, and I told her to raise her hourly rate to $50. When she said her price, the guy she was pitching didn’t even flinch. She couldn’t believe how easy it was to double her hourly rate — she never lowballed her rates again.

Step 2: Be strategic about how you package your services

Another mistake lots of freelancers make is only offering one type of service at a flat rate. Instead, offer a baseline service at an hourly rate and then offer two higher-tier options.

Offer Multiple Packages with Increasing Prices
Offer Multiple Packages with Increasing Prices

Let’s say you’re a freelance project manager like the friend I mentioned, and you charge $50/hour for your baseline services. You could then include marketing services for $60/hour or manage the entire project for $75/hour.

You should adapt this to your industry and skills — the important point is to offer increasingly valuable options.

This works for two reason:

  1. Your client might surprise you by picking a higher tier (many do).
  2. By offering three options, you’ve shifted the prospect’s decision from “Should I buy your services?” to “Which package should I buy?” Fascinating, right?

Implementing just one of these techniques could boost your earning power forever.

8. Make money online by starting your own business

When you crack the code of starting an online business, you can take what you love, bottle it up, and share it with the world — automatically — for years to come.

Incoming payment notification from PayPalThis $690 payment came while I was eating a late lunch on Friday.
My systems handled the marketing, sales, even customer support. All automatically.

And the best part?

You can do this on your own. For the first time ever (and especially in the last couple of years), you can implement systems so powerful, they let you find the right idea, build traffic, convert visitors to subscribers, and sell — all automatically, and all on your own.

Some people take years to make real money online because they focus on all the wrong things. You can avoid focusing on the minutiae. I’ll show you everything you need to get started. Click here for the 6 essential steps to making money online.

Bonus: So many of you wanted to learn more about business that I created a massive 7-part guide to making money online. From finding an idea, to your technology toolbox — it’s all covered. Get your copy now.

* * *

I’ve shown you 6 ways how to make money fast. But, as we’ve covered, it sucks to be in this position to begin with. Money doesn’t have to be this stressful.

With that in mind, I put together a special bonus for you.

In this 11-minute video, I’ll show you how you can create the perfect system to automatically take care of your money every month.

11 minute personal finance makeover

No more panicking if you have enough in your checking account to pay the bills — it’s my gift to you. This system took me 10 years to perfect and it’s being used by thousands of my students successfully.


Ramit Sethi
New York Times best-selling author

p.s. This post was updated on January 20, 2017 to bring it up to date. Let me know if you have a tactic we should add.

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