This is probably not going to work for people who find themselves unable to get any kind of bank account. Those people can get Amazon gift cards through Mechanical Turk, or just use the balance on Amazon. Did you know Amazon has a grocery section (affiliate link)? Save up $25, get some non-perishables without a shipping cost, and save a lot of money over the ripoff grocery stores you’re stuck with. You can get 96 ounces of crunchy peanut butter for 15 cents an ounce. That’s a loaf of peanut butter sandwiches for the payout from an average 1-5 minute task on Mechanical Turk. Run out the 5 year clock banks make you suffer through, then follow this guide.
For everyone else, get Mint and link your bank account. Mint is how I got my own finances and spending habits in order, and I don’t think I could have done it otherwise. I did eventually get the habits fixed and could do without it, but why would I? It’s helpful to have someone else processing and charting my spending and earning so I know where I am at a glance. And it’s free. They make their money with upsells for savings and investment accounts.
Get going on Mechanical Turk. Get in the habit of working each day, even if it’s just one job. You’ll have to do one job a day for ten days before Amazon will pay you. You can pull your money out in increments of $1, but I recommend building it to $10 before transferring it to your bank account. Sometimes I’ll go and earn a dollar or two real quick if I want to get something at the grocery store and I’m near the end of the month’s budget.
There are important tools and resources that make Mechanical Turk work and you need to know about them or you will ruin your chances. I linked my guide to Mechanical Turk earlier (twice!), but these are the essential elements: Get Turkopticon, then bookmark /r/HITsWorthTurkingFor.
Set a target of earning $5 a day on Mechanical Turk. It’s ok to miss it, even frequently. Work more when you feel like it. Work less when you don’t. This is a marathon, not a race.
Set a savings goal of $500 in Mint. This is arbitrary, but it’s a good target. It gives you a $40/month budget for a full year for whatever you want to do. If you get to working and find you can’t keep up the $5/day pace, lower your daily target. If you get to working and find it’s too slow for you, aim higher.
So now you have a way to make some extra money even if you don’t have much spare time. Have fun.