Help Desk

Need a few extra bucks? We look at the tech world's latest apps you can use to supplement your income.

Help Desk

:( Help!

In our last column, we responded to a letter from Can't Afford to Live Among Digital Yuppies (CATLADY) about Austin's affordability problem. We offered tech-savvy advice for cutting expenses. This week, we're looking at new ways to make money.


Central Texas in the 2010s is a historically good place to get rich. Many are cashing in on the values of their homes – the median home sale price in 78703, for instance, rose by about $300,000 in the past year. Others have found ingenious ways to profit from the population boom or the fracking bonanza. The biggest boom of all, however, has been in computing. Every week, a new four-dollar-signs-on-Yelp restaurant seems to pop up somewhere near Downtown. Go inside and ask the clientele what they do for a living, and most will condense a complex job description into a single word: tech.

Our first recommendation, CATLADY, is to come up with a brilliant algorithm, find investors, and quickly take your start-up public for billions of dollars. If that's not in the cards, you might still be able to work the tech boom to your advantage. Here are some tips to stay nimble, make a few bucks on the side, and at least not get washed out of town by the flood of easy tech money:

Try a little hospitality. The best way to strike gold in the sharing economy remains Airbnb. If you own a house or have a good relationship with your landlord, you can make thousands of dollars renting your space, particularly during festival season. But the tourism "sharing economy" doesn't end there. Rent your bike to out-of-towners on Spinlister. Petsit on DogVacay. Sell "experiences" to tourists on Vayable. Lend out your car on Getaround. Sell a home-cooked meal on EatWith. Is your neighborhood suddenly too crowded to park? Rent your driveway by the hour on JustPark – lemons, meet lemonade. (Weirdly, there's no app for lemonade stands ... yet.)

Join the digital service class. You won't get rich running errands for the same tech elite who are running you out of town. But you can supplement your primary income with a second gig that pays out best on evenings and weekends. You know the big names: Uber and Lyft. You might also look into delivery services Favor and Postmates. Expect to take home $20-25 ridesharing and a bit less than that as a delivery driver. Field Agent lets you be a freelance data miner for market research; TaskRabbit and Fiverr are all-purpose courier services; Instacart focuses just on grocery shopping.

Slackers wanted? If you're dead-set on living the Austin good life job-free, you still have a few options. No, you can't make $10,000 a month from home, as many comment-thread scams promise. But you might be able to squeeze out $5 an hour in gift cards taking surveys and user-testing websites. (Google it.) If you're a budding Instagram artiste, sell your photos as stock on Foap. Sell crocheted beer koozies and taxidermied grackles on Etsy. If you're not gonna finish that burrito, you can even now sell your leftovers on LeftoverSwap. How's that for Austin-style disruption? :) HD


Have a favorite app, website, or device that helps you keep costs down or income up? Post in the comments or email helpdesk@austinchronicle.com. We may include your tips in a future column.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Help Desk, social media etiquette, affordability, Airbnb, DogVacay, Vayable, Getaround, JustPark, Uber, Lyft, Favor, Postmates, TaskRabbit, Fiverr, Field Agent, Instacart, Foap, Etsy, LeftoverSwap

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