The easiest money I’ve ever made…ever!

I’ve been pretty fortunate to happen across some pretty easy money throughout my life. I started tutoring my Senior year of college at a rate of $20/hour. Within a few short months I was able to charge upwards of $50/hour. Then there was the time I house-sat for one of the families I tutored and they paid me $750 for three days of watching their TV and eating their food. Who pays for that? Being able to make money blogging is also pretty rad, but nothing, NOTHING, comes close to the time I was a television background extra on Veronica Mars.

My mom really loved Veronica Mars and when she found out they did their filming in San Diego, she basically forced me to apply to the company that casts the background extras for the show. To appease my mother I applied. A few months had passed and I heard nothing. Then, one day, my phone rang. It was someone from the production company telling me I was picked to be an extra on Veronica Mars. I was instructed to bring a nice suit and to show up at noon to an old business complex in the area.

Once I got to the set, I was told to suit up as I’d be playing a FBI agent. They took my picture, made me a fake FBI badge, and corralled all us extras in to a big conference room for holding. Every 30 minutes or so a casting director would come in to the holding area and describe the next scene. He would round-up a group of us extras and take us to where they were filming. Once the cameras started rolling we pretended to do “backgroundy” type things. In one scene I was suppose to look like I was flipping through a bunch of paperwork. In another, I had to pretend I was listening to a lecture in an auditorium. In another, I walked out of an elevator. Highly technical stuff, I know. After a few takes of each scene, the extras were sent back to the holding room, until we were needed again for another scene. It was a long day. Exciting at times, and really boring at others. Filming ended just after 2am.

As I was driving back to my college campus, I realized I had no idea how much I would be getting paid for 10 hours of background work. I figured it would be around $10/hour, so I was expecting a $100-ish payday. Boy was I wrong. A few weeks after filming  I got my paycheck in the mail, opened it up, and my jaw dropped when I saw the payment: $1,200. That means I got paid $120/hour to do nothing more than sit in a big holding room, and walk past the camera a few times. This was definitely the easiest money I’ve ever made.

Why don’t you take a minute out of your busy Friday, and leave a comment sharing the easiest money you’ve ever made. The more details the better, maybe we can use these stories as ideas to increase our side income 🙂

p.s. Yes, that is actually me in the pictures above.

48 thoughts on “The easiest money I’ve ever made…ever!

  1. The easiest money I ever made was winning on a very well known game show. $24,800 was my winnings the first day (I was there from 8 am till about 4pm) and $1000 the second day (I placed third in the first taping of the day) when I was from 8 am till about 11 am.

  2. Uh-oh. Now we’re seeing what you look like without those black bars over your eyes. What was the name of your episode?

    I’m trying to think of a suitable answer to your question. Nothing comes up so far.

  3. That is amazing!! I wish I didn’t live in Canada so we could have the possiblity to make that kind of money (well I live in a city that they would never do a movie in anyway…!)

    So does this mean that you are public now that we all know what you look like?

  4. Okay, now I’m confused because I loved the show Veronica Mars, but that looks like Walton Goggins in that top shot and he’s my favorite actor ever and I do not remember him ever showing up in a Veronica Mars episode. I really think I would have remembered that. What is going on here?

    • According to Wikipedia, Walton Goggins filmed an never-aired pilot for Season 4 of VM in 2007. Does this mean our good friend here was never seen on the airwaves? Talk about a failed career as an actor!

      • Larry is correct. It was for the season four trailer, that never aired on TV. But it is on YouTube and did make it on the Season 3 DVD set as a bonus feature. That’s gotta count for something right?

  5. All my easy money jobs were $10/hr work-study jobs in undergrad:
    1) ID Checker at the gym: got paid to sit at a desk and do my homework
    2) Information Desk at rec center: got paid to sit at a desk and do my homework
    3) Ball girl for home football games: I couldn’t do my homework, but got to watch the games for free from the sidelines, learned to throw a nice, spiral, underhand toss to the refs… and got paid.

  6. I had a friend that was an extra in the movie “Cocktail” with Tom Cruise… she was in a couple of scenes where she was almost front and center of the camera… she’s my closest brush with a celebrity! LOL! Working a stint for my Mom’s company was a pretty sweet deal; I got to drive all over Ontario, Canada, visit various stores that carried their product, and left updated brochures and laminated application boards with the Parts Dept. Mgr… loved that job! Setting my own hours/schedule was the best part about it, and in the crappy winter months, there were other things I could do (ie: mass mailings) to occupy my time.

  7. I was thinking about that the other day. For extras and commercials, I’m sure there are plenty of people who are willing to do that stuff for free (just for the exposure to kick off their acting careers). Why would anyone pay those people?

    • I actually asked my friend who works at Universal Studios this awhile ago. The answer is: you don’t want someone who is going to giggle or freak out when a “celebrity” appears in-shot. You want someone level-headed and reliable, and paying someone is the easiest way to at least keep someone on set for as long as you need them. It’s also a matter of rights. You know in some scenes in live TV you have blurred out people in the background? You need to get permission to use someone’s image/likeness. At least that’s what I got from the conversation.

      • “You need to get permission to use someone’s image/likeness.”

        That may depend on whether the person can be individually identified or part of a crowd. Several times I’ve been interviewed or filmed when walking into museums in NY or Boston, and I was given a consent form to sign. (Nah, my likeness was never used, but once my voice was used on a promo for a Boston hotel.) In large crowd situations, they can’t have everyone sign. Walking around Manhattan once or twice, I have seen signs saying these streets are being used as a live film set, and by entering I am consenting to have my image filmed. At other times when I’ve been seated at a play or concert that is being televised, my ticket tells me that my presence is considered implied consent for my image to be used.

  8. I think walking out of an elevator is easily worth $120 an hour:)
    Eh, easy money…dealing black jack for HS grad nights when I was a freshman in college. Got to hang out with my vb teammates, get some cash and then go out and spend it!
    @Larry, I love your comments. Seriously, all of them!

  9. Mine would have to be my side gig. I do computer/networking support for individuals and companies on the side. One guy is an insurance ceo, and pays me nicely to fix easy problems. Usually I’m offered $50 plus bottles of wine, beer, dinner, and sometimes free mlb tickets. Side gigs kick azz.

  10. I was an extra on Walker: Texas Ranger once. I rode my bike in the background of a shot and got paid like $100 for an hour’s work. Not shabby! Then Chuck Norris gave me a thumbs up. Ever since then I’ve had super-human strength… very peculiar.

  11. I was asked one time to help out from a former boss.
    I donned a $350 suit, and went to the workplace. I was then instructed to sit in the back living room to ‘watch the dog’. I read the newspaper, sleeping dog at my feet and listened to the dog snore for 45 minutes. They paid me $125 for my time. Easiest money I ever made, bar none!

  12. Shopping! I know my designer items and my price points at what they sell for. I know what is most wanted, etc because I naturally love doing all the research and staying up to date with what’s in trend.

    I do this often – I buy something I really love, wear it for a couple months, then sell it on ebay for a profit. Shoes work best. My favorite one were these Chloe ankle boots that I bought for $300 off a French website. Sold them for $700+shipping on eBay after a year of wearing them! 🙂

  13. 1. Did economics and finance games in college (made anywhere from $100 – $1000 depending on how well I did).

    2. Coat Checker for a friend of my grandmother. I made like $200 for a night and did about 20 minutes of actual work. The rest of the time I drooled over his collection of Packard Cars.

    3. Sleep study. $200 a night to sleep in a room that was dead silent. Not sure what there were studying but I slept fine.

  14. Easiest money I ever made? When I was in high school I got a modeling gig where I made about $200 for an hours work or so.

    What was I modeling for? Turns out I was modeling for the brochure for Hazelton Drug treatment centers – the before (sad) and after (happy) shots of a drug addicted teenager who gets his life back on track..

    Gotta love it.

  15. Hey Ninja,
    Not only was that the easiest money you’ve made, but it also has the coolest bragging rights!
    The easiest money I ever made was when my husband, (boyfriend at the time) modeled wedding gowns and tuxes for bridal shows. We both got paid $200 a show (shows only lasted about 3 hours) to literally just stand wherever they wanted us. They called us live mannequins. I called it awesome!
    Humbly Yours,
    The Mayor

  16. I submitted the email address of a guy who I knew from my first job for a position at my second job. He got hired, and I got a $5,000 bonus for saving our company the hassle of recruiting someone.

  17. A friend of mine in Los Angeles has been a background extra on NCIS a total of four times. She’s friends with one of the set assistants (I’m not clear on his job, but I know his name) so can either be on set or in a shot whenever she calls up and needs some extra $$. It’s not much money, but if you can actually see yourself on tv (I spotted my friend twice without her having to tell me what scenes she was in) then it’s pretty cool. Awesome, ninja!

    Easiest money I ever made? Hm. I listed some freebies I got at a convention on ebay and got $35 bucks for them. Booyah!

  18. I was an extra in the movie “Up in the Air” with George Clooney. I only made minimum wage ($7+/hr?) and it was soooo boring.

  19. That’s awesome!!! I always wanted to do extra work but I don’t stay put in one place long enough! I’m heading to NZ in Jan so maybe if I don’t shave or cut my hair until then I can get some Hobbit extra work.

  20. Easiest money was in 2000 and the internet bubble. It was ridiculous! One stock went from $3K to $180K in 2 months. Didn’t sell at the top, but did well. That was the easiest money ever made and I wish I had more then to invest! lol

  21. I get paid for filling out surveys online, so I think that counts as pretty easy money. I usually do them on my iphone while on break from work.

  22. Easiest mula I ever came across? “Watching” NBA, NFL & MLB star players sign sports cards. About 4-6 times per year I get gigs as a Topps rep and get to go to athletes mansions and penthouses. I chat it up with them, some invite me to food, video games and even some free swag! After 1-2 hours I get paid between $200-$300.
    Pretty cool I think.

  23. BTW Ninja did you get any action in the elevator from Veronica while you waited for the Director’s queue?? 😉

  24. CRAZY!! I’ve never made money that was that easy. I used to own a business where basically all I did was get emails and then send them to the correct person. That was pretty easy and I made a lot of money doing that. But it took a lot of time and money to set up and the liability was fairly high.

  25. That’s awesome you were an extra. Even though being an extra pays well, I wonder what the real “earnings per hour is” if you add in the time it takes to apply to the positions, and the days you don’t actually work.

    The easiest money I ever made was participating in a research study at a local university. Every time I went in for the study I got $50 in grocery giftcards. The only bad part was I had to take an unknown drug combination which ended up making me all moody, and I had to leave the study.

  26. That’s such a cool experience! Sometimes it’s the times when you least expect it (or even want it) when good things just fall into your lap.

    The easiest money I ever made was when my boss asked me to watch their house/dogs for the weekend. I got access to the pool, the game room and they paid me…overtime. It was fantastic!

  27. I spent 10-15 minutes answering questions about what I thought about a Netflix commercial. They gave me $80 for my time. If only they needed me for one hour… That’d be $320. 😀

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