How to Earn Extra Money in the Military
Most of us didn’t join the military to get rich.
That being said, a surprising number of service members have a second job, or hustle, to make some extra money.
I have dabbled in several military side hustles throughout my career. I have done a lot of the ideas listed below, and have friends that have done the rest of them!
This guide will help you determine which military side hustle(s) will best fit your occupation and provide the best return on your invested time!
Can I have a second job in the military?
Believe it or not, you are actually required to get permission from your command in order to work a second job.
You’re in the military 24/7, and your command needs to ensure that your part-time job will not interfere with mission obligations.
They also need to verify that you aren’t working in a job that could pose a potential security risk.
Finally, they need to verify there are no ethical concerns with the part-time job. For example, if you’re an acquisition manager for the military and you get a job with a defense contractor, that could create a conflict of interest.
Getting approved to work a side hustle isn’t too difficult, as long as you’re able to articulate that your second job understands the military takes priority over their hours and you can show that it does not present any security or ethical concerns.
Every branch of service has a different process for approval, but I have generally just asked my Officer in Charge (OIC) for approval. They will run it by the Commanding Officer for approval.
For more information on the approval process, check out my friend’s post on MilDollar.
Technological advances have brought many new opportunities. Many of these involve job opportunities with companies that disrupted existing markets. Think of how Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry or how Uber disrupted the taxi industry!
Luckily, you can take advantage of these opportunities in your quest to find the perfect military side hustle to supplement your income.
Uber and Lyft are popular “rideshare” apps. The basic premise of rideshare is that you are operating as an independent taxi driver.
A passenger requests to be picked up from his or her location and taken to a specified destination. Then you, the driver, can accept this “mission” and whisk them away to their destination. You don’t need to blare the James Bond theme song and drive tactically…but it is acceptable!
This is a good way to earn extra cash, meet cool people, and get intimately familiar with local neighborhoods, a bonus for real estate investors. Make sure you download MileIQ in order to track all of your business mileage so you can write it off your taxes at the end of the year!
Do you enjoy grocery shopping?
Yeah, me neither!
I do, however, enjoy getting paid to grocery shop for other people!
Instacart allows you to buy groceries for people and deliver them to their homes. The nice thing about this app is that you can earn a solid income without requiring passengers to ride in your car. Simply walk through the store to buy the groceries they requested (the app makes this really simple) and then deliver them.
You can listen to audiobooks while doing this and may earn some pretty solid tips. Also, a lot of successful people pay for this service, so you might make some great networking connections!
I love Turo!
Do you have a car that doesn’t get driven every week? Why not rent your vehicle out on Turo to earn extra income?
Turo allows you to become a rental car agency.
I have listed my wife’s car for rent on Turo a couple of times when she was out of town and would gladly rent mine out when I’m not using it.
You can easily cover all of your monthly automobile expenses this way and might even find yourself making a decent profit.
I know of somebody who at one point owned six vehicles that he turned into a Turo rental fleet!
You could do this with the entire family!
Rover and Wag both make it painless for you to get paid for walking our furry, four-legged friends! As an added bonus, you can get a little exercise doing this one too!
A part-time job is essentially any job you take on periodically. I differentiate these from side hustles because you’re an employee and not necessarily in charge of your own schedule.
Not all part-time jobs are created equal, so do your due diligence.
I delivered pizzas for Domino’s in high school and really enjoyed it. If I were to pick one of these jobs, it would definitely be that one!
- Delivering pizza
- Be a bouncer
- Officiate sports
Make Money Online
Just like apps, there are a million ways you can make money online.
Odds are good that you are passionate about something that could be monetized online, one way or another.
Writing a book is a great way to build authority.
It has never before been easier to write a book! Hell, I have even written an E-book that you can download for free.
The great thing about E-books is that you can self-publish them and sell them on Amazon. There is very little (or no) overhead with this approach, and it is a great way to earn some passive income and get your name out there!
Build a Website or Blog
This is not a “get rich quick” scheme. Of all the side hustles I’ve talked about for military members so far, this is the least likely to make you any money when you start. You would likely get a book written, published, and sold long before you would make decent revenue from blogging.
That being said, I think blogging is therapeutic. Writing is therapeutic, and blogging is just as beneficial, but you get to share your message with the world.
My website started as a place for me to improve my writing skills and has blossomed into a full-blown hobby. That being said, I’ve been blogging for almost two years and have not made very much money.
This is partially because I didn’t monetize anything for the first 18+ months that I was blogging and partially because I was learning everything the hard way.
There are many ways to monetize a website/blog, and this is something worth looking into as a long-play.
Affiliate marketing is a good way to earn extra income. This is simply linking to products and services from other companies you like and recommending them to your audience. If people buy what you recommended through your link, you get paid!
For example, if I say “OMG if you go download Audible now, you will get your first book for free!!!” and you click the link, I will make a few dollars. Yes, that is an actual affiliate link for Audible, haha. This is not extremely lucrative (about 4% of the sale), which on a book is usually less than a dollar, but it is a nice bonus for recommending books/items that I would recommend to people anyway!
YouTube is a great way to reach your audience if you have a good niche. They are owned by Google and are the second largest search engine on the internet.
It takes time to get monetized on YouTube. I’ve had a channel for over a year and haven’t earned a penny through it. You can monetize through sponsorships and affiliate codes, even if your channel isn’t officially monetized yet. That being said, it is a fun platform, and when it starts growing, it can become a great source of authority too!
Starting a podcast is a great way to network and build authority. I have loved hosting The Military Millionaire Podcast for many reasons, but the best is that I’ve been able to have 45-minute conversations with very successful people. Some of these people are so busy and successful that I never would have gotten 45 minutes of their time without the podcast.
Once you have an established audience, you can earn money by selling sponsorship slots on your show(s) or by having listeners support the show through monthly Patreon donations.
Coaching and consulting are good ways to earn some extra money. You could consult in virtually any industry, so find something you’re good at and help other people achieve success!
Build an Online Course
I am building my first online course as I write this. The idea behind an online course is that you add as much value as possible for a reasonable price in order to teach somebody a skill. For example, my course is designed to take you from “I’ve decided I want to invest in real estate” to “I own a cash-flowing rental property.”
The more value you add, the more you can charge, in theory. The goal should always be to help as many people as possible.
Become a Freelancer
I have hired many freelancers before. A good way to make some extra income is to get paid for helping people with tasks online. Freelancer, Fiverr, and Upwork are all good websites to work on as a freelancer. If you can edit videos, help with graphic design, or do any number of skills, you can get paid for them here!
Become a Freelance Writer
Freelance writing is a subcategory of freelancing, but I broke it out because writing is a specific skill set that can be much more marketable than other freelance opportunities. You can be an editor, write blog posts for people, transcribe audio, or even be a ghostwriter. Ghostwriting is a cool niche that I have known many people to use. Essentially a ghostwriter will write a book (or whatever you need to be written) for you by interviewing you about the content.
Become a Virtual Assistant
I currently utilize two virtual assistants (VAs). One of them does all of my editings, copywriting, and various other life-saving skills, while the other edit my podcast. These two VAs have saved me countless hours of work and simultaneously helped me produce better content!
I suppose that a virtual assistant is similar to a freelancer, but one that you use more frequently. I may use a freelancer once for a specific project, but I work with my VA every week. My editor, especially, is a life-saver for me!
The other difference is that as a VA, you are essentially a 1099 employee but can work at your own pace!
I have never flipped a website, but I have some friends who have done quite well this way. Think of this as flipping houses but with web-domains. You buy a domain with a great name and then sell that name for a higher price down the road.
The high-end version of website flipping is to buy an active account (or one that was active) and fix it up to generate more revenue. You can then turn around and sell this account for profit or enjoy the cash flow!
Run Someone’s Social Media Accounts
This has become a popular side hustle nowadays. If you understand the social media algorithm(s) and have some experience growing your accounts, this could be a good way to earn some monthly, recurring income.
Be a Tutor
If you’re good at a specific academic subject, you could easily sign up to help tutor some students. This could be done with one-time sessions or as recurring events, depending on how much assistance the student needs.
If you’re reading this (which you are), it is a result of one of my side hustles. The Military Millionaire community started as a blogging hobby and has quickly grown into one of the largest communities of military real estate investors in the world!
Side hustles are fun because you can earn extra money in virtually any way that comes to mind. You would be surprised how far a little creativity will take you!
Starting a lawn-mowing business is super cliché, but it works! You can start this job at a young age and quickly hire other people to help you scale.
*As a side note, this could be a good side hustle to have your kid(s) start in high school to help teach them about money and entrepreneurship.*
Shovel Sidewalks and Driveways in the Winter
This is often referred to as “back-breaking” labor because it is hard. That means it can double as your workout AND an extra source of income!
Offer to watch a friend’s house/pets when they are out of town or utilize a website like Mindmyhouse.com to find house-sitting jobs.
An added bonus is you could potentially Airbnb your house while house sitting in someone else’s house! This is assuming they are cool with you staying over there, as opposed to just popping in periodically.
Rent Bouncy Houses
A friend of mine bought a bouncy house for one year. People started asking to borrow it, and he was charging a small rental fee (just to cover any damage that occurred). After a little while, he realized that if friends were willing to pay a little bit to rent from him, other people would probably be willing to as well.
First, he listed his bouncy house on Craigslist and rented it out all the time. Then, he would rent it by the day and made a substantial amount of money for simply dropping off and picking up his bouncy house(s). He even gave a small discount if people picked it up from him and almost fully automated this business!
Rent Photo Booths
I recently met somebody, who is operating a photo booth company in Southern California. He is an active-duty Marine Corps recruiter who found a side hustle and is making it work!
This is a new development, but companies like Bird and Lime will pay you to pick up scooters at night and charge them in your garage. Bird, for example, pays you $5.00 per scooter, for up to twenty scooters a night. You could earn $100/night by simply charging scooters!
This one takes time.
You’ll be hard-pressed to get paid for speaking right off the bat. You need to build some authority in order to get paid speaking gigs, but it can be quite lucrative. The best advice I can give you is to start practicing now. Volunteer to speak at as many locations as possible and perfect your delivery!
I have recently joined a local Toastmaster’s club in order to become a better speaker. From there I will volunteer for as many speaking gigs as possible in order to gain experience and authority while perfecting my delivery.
I plan to be a paid speaker within the next five years.
Become an Extra on Television
No, I’m not joking. I was an extra on Hawaii 5-0 in Hawaii (last episode of season eight, the one with the submarine).
I worked with them for a day and a half and made $480! In addition to that, we were provided with a large, complimentary buffet on both days, and I got to meet some of the actors from a show that I enjoy watching anyway!
Check with local production studios to see how you can get involved.
Task Rabbit (sign up to run errands)
If you are handy, check out Task Rabbit. People list random errands and handyman requests on this website, and you can take jobs as desired.
Run a Stand at a Farmer’s Market
You can set up a stand at a farmer’s market for virtually anything. It doesn’t need to be produce-related, as long as you’re willing to rent the booth space and hang out in the street with people!
Sell Things You No Longer Need
Garage sales are an age-old way to make a little extra cash while cleaning up around the house a little. You can also sell items on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or another online buy/sell/trade sites!
*Hack* You can donate items you didn’t sell and write the donation off as a tax deduction.
This might be better suited for your older children, but many people need the assistance of a good babysitter from time to time. Why not earn a little cash playing with kiddos?
Detailing cars is an art form.
If you can master the art of making somebody’s car glisten, they will pay you handsomely for it. I have several friends who have detailed cars for extra money. One of them did so well that he does it full time now!
The key to increasing your income with detailing is to be the best you can and specialize in detailing high-end cars!
My neighbor in Hawaii did this quite successfully. She donated a large portion of the proceeds to her unit’s Marine Corps Ball fund, but she still had money left over.
She got really good at mounting medals and then did simple marketing around the base, such as Facebook groups and word of mouth.
Selling a product is a good way to earn some extra cash. Just be sure you have a high enough margin to justify the amount of time you’re spending on product production.
License / Sell Creative Work
Are you artistic?
If you can paint, print T-shirts, make shadow boxes, create plaques for going-away presents, build furniture, or any other creative endeavor…why not sell it?
I have known people to successfully sell all of these items, and if you’re talented, you can do quite well for yourself on base!
Garage Sale Flip
Gary Vaynerchuk calls his videos on this strategy “Trash Talk.” I have done this, somewhat successfully, and had a lot of fun messing around with it. Essentially, you go to garage sales, negotiate great deals, and then sell the items for a profit on eBay.
My best garage sale flip was 16000%! I bought a printer for $0.50 and sold it for $82.00.
This requires you to spend time ransacking garage sales, but it is actually pretty fun too!
You may not think of investing as a side hustle. However, when you consider that your money is now working to generate passive income for you, I think it definitely counts!
It is fine if you disagree, but you need to be investing in order to build wealth exponentially.
Peer-to-peer lending (P2P) is the practice of lending money to individuals or businesses through online services.
Basically, you can lend money through these apps, such as UpStart, and LendingClub in order to receive interest payments. This is similar to private lending on real estate investments but through service. You could also be lending on personal loans or business loans too.
You’re acting like the bank!
If you aren’t utilizing the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), you’re wrong!
This is one of the best 401K funds available, and you should absolutely be taking advantage of it.
This is especially true if you have opted into the Blended Retirement System. You need to be contributing 5% in order to reap the benefit of the full matching contribution. This is essentially free money from the government, so you need to take advantage of it!
The Thrift Savings Plan isn’t going to provide you income at the moment, but it will compound for years and be worth a lot when you retire!
Download my FREE E-book First Term Wealth to learn more about this!
Index funds are a great place to stash your money until you’re ready to spend it.
Compound interest will work its magic in order to multiply the money you invest in your index fund.
This is just another way to increase your net worth.
How to Earn Extra Money Through Real Estate Investing
It’s no secret that real estate investing is my favorite way to make extra money in the military.
There are so many strategies and benefits to military real estate investing.
Not only are there a ton of ways to build wealth through real estate, but you can also slash expenses and mitigate taxes!
House hacking is the first real estate investment strategy you should look to execute!
There are many ways to house hack, but the premise is renting portions of your home out to pay your mortgage. You could buy a duplex, triplex, or four-plex and rent the other units out. Or you could rent rooms of your house out individually. You could even combine these strategies!
This strategy is so powerful because you can eliminate your mortgage payment and even get paid to live in your home!
Airbnb hosting can be a lucrative way to house hack, even if you are renting!
Rentals (Especially when you PCS)
Rental properties are a great way to take advantage of cash flow, equity recapture, depreciation, and appreciation.
Assuming your property cash flows and doesn’t cost anything to hold onto when you move out, I absolutely recommend renting it. The benefits of renting your home after you PCS are too great to pass up, and I would recommend this always be your first planned course of action.
If you have questions about renting your property, shoot me a message on Instagram @frommilitarytomillionaire, and I’ll help you out!
Wholesaling is a way you can make money in real estate without spending much, if any, money. You basically hunt down really good deals and then sell them at a mark-up to another investor.
This is an easy way to make a couple of thousand dollars, and I’ve seen wholesalers make $20-$30k on really good deals!
Not bad for such a short turnaround!
Wholesaling takes time, but it is a great way to start building capital.
I hate to break it to you, but this is nothing like HGTV.
Flipping houses is hard work and difficult to automate. There is no passive income, and it takes a lot of time.
You can make a substantial amount of money flipping houses, and it is a natural progression from wholesaling.
If you wholesale some real estate deals and build up some capital, it only makes sense to keep a house for yourself. You can fix it up, flip it, and make a killing since you purchased the property at such an affordable price!
My friend Mike does a lot of private lending. He earns great, passive returns by investing in deals with real estate investors he trusts.
When you act as a private lender, you typically provide the money to purchase the deal in return for a promissory note with an agreed-upon amount of interest coming back to you. This is a great way to earn passive returns as opposed to letting your money sit in a savings account while you wait to invest it!
Build a Business
Building a business is the riskiest way to make extra money in the military.
There are no guaranteed returns, and you may work for years before ever receiving a paycheck. As an entrepreneur, you are only guaranteed one…it won’t be easy.
Building a business could also be the most lucrative option. Think of the richest men in the world—they all built businesses.
If you like the idea of gambling on a big risk, big reward scenario, then becoming a true entrepreneur could be just the thing.
Be careful though, you may not have the bandwidth required to build a business while you’re still on active duty.
How to Earn Extra Money in the Military
With this many side hustles available, how do you choose which is right for you?
I recommend that you choose two or three that sound like you would enjoy them and test them all out.
You can always add in more passive ones as you go. For example, I use Turo whenever we are out of town without the car. I like to drive for Uber if I’m new to an area and want to get familiar with the local real estate scene.
There are so many ways to mix and match side hustles to earn extra income.
Go try something new and have fun hustling your way to military millionaire status!