Active Income Gets ESL Teachers Out Of DebtNo one ever leaves home when they’re 18 saying I can’t wait to be an adult riddled with debt. Sadly, that is what happens to so many of us whether it is college, credit card, car, house, travel, etc. debt. We find ourselves in a situation of treading in financial water barely able to keep our heads above to breathe, all the while wondering how the heck we got there in the first place.

All we have to do is follow our steps backwards to see where our money is hemorrhaging out of our pockets. In the back of our minds, we might even have some inkling of what did happen to our money but the thought of even thinking about it makes us a little sick to our stomach, so we don’t.

The reason you are probably here is that you are in debt. Or you know someone who is or both and you want to get help. First, let me just tell you that I think you are simply a rock star. So many people don’t even admit that they do need to make financial changes in their lives, so taking that first step is a humongous deal. Second, you may have realized that you needed to step it up a while ago or maybe you just realized that today, both of which are fabulous, but wonderinghow do I accomplish this? Uhm. Well…

Biting the Bullet: Earning Active Income on the Side

I’m going to point out the obvious way, which is working a second job. Yep. Working a second job on the side will bring in extra cash. We call this kind of earning ‘active’ income. Active income gets ESL teachers out of debt. Burning the midnight oil or the after-my-first-job oil puts you ahead of the game because you are making more and as a bonus have less time in the day to spend your money. Ha! There you go.

Active vs. Passive Income

I suppose I should clarify the difference between active money and passive money before we go on here. Active income is money earned through a job. You have to go work or do work to earn this money. Passive income is the money you earn while you are not even lifting a finger or least not lifting much for that matter. For instance, dividend or interest earnings on your index fund(s) or income earned on a rental property. Think of it like an investment you have set up which pays you just for being the awesome person you are. (Disclaimer: These are simplified definitions. Please click on the little blue links in this paragraph to gain a better understanding of active vs. passive income. I know that you most likely have already done this, but just in case..). Now, what you’ve all been waiting for! (cue circus music)

The Usual Suspects: Jobs ESL Teachers Tend To Work

ESL teachers many times tend to gravitate towards certain side-jobs, whether it is because of our natural instinct or because we feel that we can’t do anything else (totally bogus though, right? Did I just say bogus? Somebody, please, shake me back to 21st century slang, please.) There’s no right or wrong here people. Main point is that you are bringing in extra cash to pay off that nasty ol’ debt you have accumulated. That’s what matters. Anywho, the following jobs are some of those traditional side-jobs that I was talking about a second ago.

  1. Tutoring: This is really the biggie, isn’t it? We all know it and love it and have probably done it at some point. Realistically, this is a tidy, little money-maker. Tutor some kids on the side (make sure it is legal whatever country you’re hanging out in…or at least don’t get caught. Bad Brandy! Please note I’m not encouraging you to work illegally. Ok, then…)
  1. Essay Grading: Online or in-person, essay grading is another way to help earn money. It isn’t going to make you rich beyond your wildest dreams, but still it is an easy little pick-me-up.
  1. Test Grading: I have found that certain companies train ESL teachers to be test graders for tests like TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC. You have to go through pretty rigorous training and it’s quite possible that you may not make the cut, but if you do it can be a handy side income.
  1. Summer School / Summer Camp: Yes, I know. Working in the summer instead of taking extra vacation time is like covering up with a wet blanket, but the money you earn that is burning holes in your pocket will surely warm that blanket up.

The list really goes on and Carolyn at The Penny Hoarder published a beautiful list of summer jobs specifically for teachers that you can check out: 8 Summer Jobs for Teachers: How to Make Extra Money When School’s Out. The summer is at an end, but you can use many ideas in this list all year round. (Some of the ideas there should not solely be listed in the ‘Usual Suspects’ section, but in the ‘Unusual Suspects’ section below.)

The Unusual Suspects: Jobs ESL Teachers Don’t Think About but CAN Do

  1. Airbnb: People like to travel and some people even like the comforts of home when doing so. By renting out a room or your entire place, you are giving them that taste of home that would otherwise be lacking in their trip. My husband and I rented out our one bedroom apartment during the weekends of the university’s football season and in two months we had made close to $1000.*

Bonus tip: Make sure you offer coffee or tea and at least toast (bagels are better) and the guest will love you.

Bonus freebie for you: $25 Airbnb Credit   Brandy & Stephen’s Credit for You!

  1. Farmer’s Market: What a novel concept. Making wares and selling them. Can you knit, crochet, wood or metal work? Why not sell the stuff you make for some extra cash? Perhaps you are quite handy at creating sumptuous desserts. Selling your cookies or pies at a farmer’s market is a great way to make other people so happy. Just remember to follow all rules and regulations of the farmer’s market in your area. I can tell you that after looking at our local handbook, there ARE quite a lot of laws that you need to abide by, but don’t let a little legwork stop you!
  1. Garage Rental: Since you are frugal and plan on using your bicycle more often, you may consider renting out your garage space or your parking space. This endeavor could prove a nice little earner for you each month. Just make sure that you get a good renter. You can find a plethora of tips on how to find good renters online.
  1. Poker in Vegas: Just kidding.
  1. Flipping Houses or Becoming a Landlord: Yikes! These are a big ones. I would lie if I said I was an expert on either, but I do know some landlords and they claim they are able to make a tidy sum on the side. Granted they do not own huge apartment complexes, but single-family homes.

If you seriously consider flipping a house, please do your research before you begin. Is it the right market to flip in your area? Will getting a loan from the bank be possible for you? Does working nights and weekends for a month on the house entice you (cheap option if you are handy) or would you prefer to hire a professional (much more expensive)?

Lording over lands (or houses) will take up your time. Are you will to fix leaky faucets, broken windows, perhaps change a lightbulb, etc. on the weekends? You will always be on call if you manage the place yourself. Before you even buy a place to rent out, make sure that it will offer you a profit and not suck all of your money out of your pockets.

Both of these ideas are not for the faint of heart, but doing your research and listening to other seasoned professionals will help guide you. One place you can start is with Mark Ferguson’s blog called He writes in layman’s terms and answers more real estate questions that I knew even existed.

Once again, Carolyn at The Penny Hoarder has published a very useful article for people just like us who want have more control of their financial lives: 29 Smart Ways To Make Money On The Side In 2015. You will find a few items belong in the previous section of my article, but I’m sure it’s not that confusing, right?


No matter which way you look at it, finding extra cash is just around the corner.All you need is a little gumption and you will have paid off more or all of the debt that is holding you down. I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg here. Get creative and get going. The sooner you earn some active income, the sooner you will reach that awesome landmark in your life when you have your first debt-free day.

How do you make extra active income on the side?

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