What Advice Do You Have So I Can Avoid Side Hustle Scams?


Dear Steve,

Currently looking into partial disability due to surgery earlier this year and some chronic health issues that are preventing me from working “normal jobs,” we are dependent on my husband’s income.

Still, he is also dealing with chronic health issues that are beginning to take their toll, and we are only just able to make ends meet. We have just started following your PennyStupid YouTube channel and have subscribed to email updates 🙂

Our question is, and it is more based on the research you and Damon are doing on side hustles (hopefully, it’s okay to ask this here)

Based on our current situation, we have both been hunting for legitimate work-from-home jobs rather than side hustles. Unfortunately, they do not work for us now, as we are currently stuck in a small apartment with little storage space for resale items. We don’t have extra money to invest, even on clearance items to try and resell.

We keep running into many “work from home” job listings on several sites, like Indeed, FlexJobs, etc., that ultimately end up either being what appears to be a bogus listing (as though the job never existed) or some scam.

My husband applied for a couple of customer service-oriented jobs with what were also researched as legitimate companies. He even got an email stating he qualified for an interview, but then he never heard anything back and couldn’t get any direct communication/response from them.

Would there be any way you would consider researching this area of legitimate work-from-home jobs (?), or if you already have resources available, that would be fantastic! There has to be more out there than just being a disposable Amazon drone.

Thank you so much, and thank you to you and Damon for all you guys do!



Dear Jenn,

Thank you so much for subscribing to the YouTube channel and emails. If you want to follow The Penny Stupid Project on Facebook, there’s that as well. Every follow, subscribe, and like is a blessing at this stage.

Your situation is exactly why we embarked on this project.

When dealing with debt, you can either reduce expenses, increase income, or combine both.

But what is a real opportunity among all the scams out there? Work-at-home people have been the target of scams as far back as I can remember. That employment opportunity sounds a lot like a scam I wrote about a few years ago.

Like you, I’ve been very frustrated for years about what is a money pit and what can generate $550 to $2,000 extra dollars a month.

Keep in mind Damon and I agreed when we started the Penny Stupid Project that this was a test and report back effort. We are not selling anything, so we can remain unbiased.

It is still early days, but some legitimate side hustles might fit what you are looking for.

Even if I directed you towards a side hustle that we found a winner, the unknown factors are always emotional.

For example, I have a friend that thinks the sky is falling all the time, and they struggle to find opportunities in anything. I get it, and life has dealt them a bad hand, and things are not that fun at the moment. Everything sucks.

The odds are pretty good, even presented with a great side hustle, they would still be able to grab defeat out of the jaws of victory.

From experience, the absolute most challenging hurdle in finding that side hustle cash is the initial stages of getting going. If you are down, this process can pound you further into the ground and force you to quit.

Retail arbitrage is a good example of this. The process to be successful is more complicated than you would assume, and the time delays are long between product acquisition and sale. It would not fit the requirements you mentioned.

Some other side hustle opportunities involve nothing more than a computer and the internet, such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon Merch, Mechanical Turk, and others. A previous test of Amazon Merch was not great.

I have not yet had a chance to try some of the work-from-home items on our testing list. We have Swagbucks, User Testing, Surveys, and others to test. You can suggest a side hustle to test or vote for one on the list to try first.

Those kinds of home side hustles on the testing list would be good for you, considering your health situation and ability to invest in something up front, which I would discourage.

Here is one suggestion, Amazon Mechanical Turk is backed by Amazon. It’s been around for more than a decade. I wrote about it in 2011. You can read that post here.

It would not require any expense to try, and you already have a computer and internet connection.

This will probably be tedious work, but if you can move quickly through the tasks, I’d love to know what you can make daily. Come back and post an update and share your experience.

I’m looking forward to testing Amazon Mechanical Turk myself, but I’m not that far yet.


7 thoughts on “What Advice Do You Have So I Can Avoid Side Hustle Scams?”

  1. Thank you so much for your response and all the information! We will be looking into some of the options, like Amazon Mechanical Turk, Swagsbuck, and Surveys and keep you apprised of any results we get.
    I also forgot to mention, we had started doing a bit of research into helium farming that you and Damon had mentioned in the podcast, and, while it would be an investment, we think it may be a viable option for us, as well. We would like to learn more about it, as you explore it further. (Neither of us are overly tech savvy, and trying to glean enough comprehensible information is a little overwhelming.) Thank you again!! 🙂

    • Jenn,

      I have two Helium hotspots, and Damon has one. I just bought a new RAK miner off eBay for $175. I paid $1,000 for my first one. But back then, they were in limited supply, and I had a location that was generating about $250 to $300 a month. It was a unique metro location with nobody around me. Actually, it was on top of a hangar at the international airport.

      It was a good location, and HNT was trading for $20 then. I no longer have that location.

      Now my current location is only doing a few HNT a month, and it is now trading in the $4 range.

      You can get a good idea of how many miners are in your area and see what they are producing by going to going to the Helium Explorer.

      My gut reaction is that a Helium miner will not produce significant money for you. It will probably take years to recoup the initial investment.

      If you want to post a reply with your actual address, I’ll happily do some research on the viability of where you would operate it. I won’t approve your address in the comment. It’s just the easiest way to reach me.


      • Hi Steve!
        Again, thank you for all your time and help! I think we were misunderstanding what we read about helium farming and didn’t realize it works better as far as earning potential to be in a more remote area, but (and only when you have a moment, there isn’t any immediate rush) we’d be grateful if you could check to see if our area would be worthwhile.

        Here is our address: XXXXXX

        Also, if I might ask one more question on the Surveys you mentioned, is there a specific website, or do we just do a general search? Just wanting to make sure we don’t end up signing up for any of the scams out there on accident. I signed up for Turk today and should receive the invitation within three business days. And also started doing a few surveys on Swagsbuck this afternoon!

        Thank you!!

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