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Five fun ways to make quick cash
Let your passion lead you to part-time jobs that are exciting, flexible and lucrative.
March 15, 2002: 3:07 PM EST
By Leslie Haggin Geary, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - You're a little short on cash and you've been meaning to pick up extra work. But the usual job leads -- data entry, babysitting, telemarketing -- sound about as appealing as root canal.

The good news: There are other ways.

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In fact, you might be surprised at the kind of jobs you can get if you put your creativity to work. To get your imagination and job search rolling, we've tracked down five great moonlighting gigs:  graphic

Deliver new vehicles to dealerships

Manufacturers deliver new cars to dealerships by way of truck. But large specialty vehicles, such as RV's, vans, school buses, ambulances and limousines are driven to dealerships.

That's where money-making opportunities abound. In fact, delivering new cars is "the perfect hidden profession," said Craig Chilton, author of "How to Get Paid $30,000 a Year to Travel Without Selling Anything" and editor of

"People drive new vehicles to dealerships every day. We see it, but don't realize it's happening," said Chilton, who was in the business more than a decade and who estimates there are 100,000 drivers today. Half of them work part-time.  graphic

Pay runs about 35 cents a mile, plus air transportation home for drivers once deliveries are made. Trip lengths vary from quick 150-mile gigs to cross-country jaunts. You don't need a commercial driver's license to be a driver, but some states require a chauffeur's license, which you can get after taking a simple written test. Your driving record also must be fairly clean; a speeding ticket may be ok, but drunk driving is not, said Chilton.

Be a movie extra

The best way to get your smiling face on the Silver Screen -- and earn extra bucks to boot -- is to register with a casting agent. Many film producers select extras from an album of headshots. Check out Cenex Casting, which charges extras a $20 photo/electronic image fee or, which charges potential actors $14.99.

You don't have to be in a union to land a gig. In fact, it's hard to get into the Screen Actors Guild, but union members do earn more than non-union extras -- up to $200 for eight hours of work if they make it into the movie, television show or commercial. Non-union members can pick up about $50 a day.

Walk a dog

Love animals? Dog walkers typically earn $10 to $15 an hour -- per pooch, so this is a great way to earn quick cash and get some exercise, too. Of course, it helps if you're skilled at handling a pack of dogs.

One quick way to gain experience -- and potential references -- is to volunteer at dog obedience classes, said Dianne Eibner, author of "The Face in the Window: A Guide to Professional Dogwalking."

"When I started, I offered to take dogs to a trainer because the owners didn't have the time to do it and they wanted their dogs walked to calm them down. I was able to get experience and I didn't have to pay for the classes," Eibner said. She encourages new dog walkers to join the Professional Dog Walkers Association, which posts advice and training tips on its Web site. Membership requires a one-time fee of $20.  graphic

Be a personal chef

There's good reason fast-food is so popular; most people nowadays don't have time to cook. But not everyone is heading to the local drive-through window.

These days, 72,000 clients now rely on personal chefs for convenient, fresh food, according to the American Personal Chef Association and Institute. Many are double-income families with more disposable income than spare time.

"This is a really popular second career for people who don't want to go to culinary school," said Candy Wallace, executive director of APCAI. "We have one gal who's an opera singer. She cooks three days a week, studies voice two days a week and sings professionally on the weekends."  graphic

In most cases, you work with clients to set a mutually convenient schedule. Personal chef positions are best suited for people whose full-time job offers some degree of flexibility. That includes teachers, real estate agents and freelance writers.

Wallace began her own career by cooking three days a week -- and earning $35,000 in her first year. She now leads APCAI seminars nationwide, where personal chefs learn tips on how to get their businesses off the ground.

"It can be hard work," said Wallace. "But if you're thrilled at the prospect of fresh ingredients and the tastes and colors of fresh food, this is an absolute joy.

Be a personal organizer or assistant

Are you super organized? Do you have a knack for creating great filing systems or making your home run efficiently? Then why not put your talents up for sale as a professional organizer? You could make $40 to $200 an hour, according to the National Association of Professional Organizers.

"There are lots of ways people get into the business, but most professional organizers are people who have been organized in their lives and have experience organizing others -- either at work or in a home environment," said K.J. McCorry, public relations director of NAPO.

Want to know more about the business? NAPO has a referral program that puts potential organizers in touch with pros who can answer questions about getting started.  graphic

If you'd rather be a second pair of hands to someone, then offer your services as a personal assistant. You may be asked to schedule appointments, meet repairmen, pick up cleaning, make travel plans or help organize an event. You can let your skills dictate the kind of services you offer. Check out the American Errand Runners Association online discussion groups for ideas and information.

Earnings potential for personal assistants can be comparable to personal organizers depending on your experience and skill level.

Want more ideas?

Let your imagination run wild. Ask yourself what you enjoy doing. What are you good at? You may end up knitting beautiful sweaters for big bucks or renting out your lakeside home for photography shoots -- or, yes -- doing a little data entry if that's what you love.

For more ideas, see our story on unusual summer jobs. Or, check out Web sites that post freelance work such as, and

If you're planning on saving your extra earnings for something special, use our Savings Calculator to see how long it will take to reach your goal.  graphic