How to make passive income as a full-time student

As college students, our busy schedules don’t always allow us to additionally take on jobs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a little passive income on the side. According to Investopedia, passive income is defined as “earnings derived from a rental property, limited partnership or other enterprises in which a person is not actively involved.” Earning income through a rental property seems less plausible for a college student, but there are many apps and websites that make it easy to make money without putting a lot on your plate.



Investing seems intimidating, especially if you have never done it before or don’t have a whole lot of money to begin with, but with the rise of technology, many apps have made investing a walk in the park. 



Acorns is a spare-change investing app that rounds your purchases to the nearest dollar, investing the spare change for your future. It’s a great app for those who want to begin investing but don’t know where to start. With five different portfolio types, ranging from conservative to aggressive, you can select and set aside, making money hands-off. Acorns also offers Acorns Later for those wanting to begin saving for retirement and other accounts that will benefit you in the long run. 



For the advanced investor, Robinhood is a free online stock trading app that allows you to invest as much and as little as you want without any recurring fees. While it doesn’t offer the option of opening a retirement account or investing in mutual funds, you can buy and sell individual stocks. Robinhood is easy to use and gives you the full experience of stock brokerage on your phone. 


Create a digital product

For the artist in all of us, selling art is a great way to make some passive income. If you like to make digital art on Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator or draw and want to digitize your art, print-on-demand sites are an easy way to not only get your design out there but make some money while you’re at it. 



Redbubble is a global online marketplace that allows artists to submit designs and have them placed on a variety of products ranging from stickers and T-shirts to comforters and shower curtains. Unlike other similar platforms, Redbubble lets you choose the profit margin and prices of your design on products. Since it is a heavily trafficked site, the more designs you upload, the higher your chances are of getting purchases and making more income. However, you do have to wait until you reach $20 to cash out. 



Like Redbubble, Society6 is another platform that allows you to upload your digital art and let passive income flow in. Very user-friendly, Society6 gives you more flexibility on where you want your design placed on products and sizing. It also offers products that are not available on other platforms. Unlike Redbubble, Society6 is less competitive, but does give you predetermined prices, limiting your ability to control how much you want your design to sell for.


Get cashback

It’s a nice feeling to get some money back on something you had to spend money on anyway. It’s like making a purchase with a delayed sale price. Here are some apps that offer cashback and are a good avenue for passive income. 



Ibotta is an app that gives you cashback for everyday purchases ranging from food and drinks to cleaning products. Ibotta is free to download and gives you a $10 sign-up bonus when you upload your first receipt. It not only lets you decide how you want to cashout — via PayPay or Venmo — but gives you the option of getting gift cards for select retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and eBay instead. If none of those suit your fancy, Ibotta also offers three-months of Apple Music as a payout option. 



If you have a car, gas is a necessity. GetUpside is an app that gives you cashback for putting gas at select gas stations when you upload your receipt. Unlike other gas cashback apps, when you refer a friend and they sign up, you both get cashback with each other’s receipt uploads. GetUpside is easy to use and lets you choose from a wide variety of gas stations, including the Mobil gas station on University Drive and Griffin Road. 

Photo: P. Stojanovski

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