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What to do to make money when you’re totally broke

6 ways I made money when I was broke

In 2012 I was broke. I’d left an abusive marriage, had 2 young daughters both needing speech therapy, got robbed of everything including my underwear and we ended up homeless. It was a rough time but somehow I managed to make enough money to pay for our needs and get back on our feet. Here is exactly what I did.

1. Went to Centrelink

I felt like a failure walking in and asking for help. Being on the single parenting pension was the only way I could see to cover most of my expenses. It didn’t cover all of them but it helped so much. Family tax benefit, rent assistance and a carers payment meant I got around $1,400 a fortnight.

This sounds like a lot but when you are paying for multiple speech therapy sessions, getting no child support, have a mortgage for a home you cannot live in while also paying rent for a house no longer safe, it’s not a lot. I needed to make more. To be clear, I greatly appreciated this money though!

2. Online surveys

Living in survival mode I could barely think. Online surveys were easy enough to do and the weeks I cashed out they paid for groceries or a session of speech therapy. The best ones I have found now are Swagbucks and Octopus Group for me but I have a full list of online survey sites for Aussies here.

3. Buy things to resell

At the time I sold mostly books. I could buy them for $1 or less and usually sell them for $10 to $30 online. Clothing was also easy. I lived in Western Sydney and could get some good brand name clothes for around $1. I once picked up a few brand new maternity jeans which I was able to sell for $20 to $50 a pair. A couple of years ago I decided to track it all and see how much I could make. In my first month, I made almost $3,000 and by my fourth month, I made over $10,000.

4. Odd jobs

I reached out to my networks and let them know I was available to do anything – mainly freelance writing and mentoring as those were the two things I already did. But I took on babysitting and anything else that came up. Now, it is much easier to find ways to make money. Check out 43 ways for single mums to make money or 99 side hustles for Aussies for ideas and how to do it all. Last year I tracked my side hustles each month and shared all my updates. It totalled $33,277 in 12 months!

5. Market Research, Mystery Shopping and Reviews

Paying $100 a session, any market research opportunities that came up I jumped on. They were few and far between but worth it. Mystery shopping didn’t pay a lot but it sometimes meant I got clothes or food for my kids plus a small amount of money. Back then, some sites paid you to write reviews. When I couldn’t sleep or I had to wait for something I would quickly write a few reviews. The pay was only 20cents to $1 per review, so quite small but it was something I could do.

6. Enter competitions

While it isn’t directly making money it did see me win hampers, clothes, DVD’s, movie tickets and other things which were not in my budget and helped. 

I’ve written about where to find the best Aussie giveaway and competitions

Saving money

Making money isn’t the only important thing. I also had to learn to budget better, cut back all my spending in every possible way and still look to the future. Here are some articles which will help:

How to create a budget and stick to it
How this couple paid off $90,000 debt in 12 months (starting unemployed)
How to become a millionaire even as a single mum
Complete list of things you can use your healthcare/pension cards for (check your area to see what applies. This post is a few years old).
12 ways to get coupons and discounts in Australia

How have you made or saved money when you were broke?

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