CNBC make it 2024-04-03 02:00:56

How side hustles helped a 26-year-old earn $11,000 in just 100 days

Jackie Mitchell’s goal of saving up for a down payment on her first home might be a common money move, but her method of achieving it wasn’t nearly as conventional.

Mitchell challenged herself to make an extra $100 a day for 100 days, and documented her journey on TikTok.

When she wasn’t working her day job in the nonprofit sector, the 26-year-old turned to side hustles and passive income streams like surveys, focus groups and even playing online games to reach her goal. Over the course of the challenge, she tried more than a dozen different options.

Mitchell and her husband, who hail from Columbus, Ohio, were already saving up for their down payment when she chose $10,000 as a savings goal to tackle what was left. To make that number less daunting, she broke it down into a daily goal — $100 per day.

DON’T MISS: The ultimate guide to earning passive income online

Not only did she succeed, but Mitchell ended up completing her challenge 11 days early and made an average of $110 a day, for a grand total of almost $11,000 in 100 days.

“It’s just been so surprising reminding myself that little bits of money make a big difference,” Mitchell tells CNBC Make It. “It’s kind of an encouragement to think that even if you make $5 a day, $5 is way better than $0.”

Here’s what Mitchell learned from her many side hustles, as well as tips and tricks on how to pick a hustle that’s right for you.

How to choose the right side hustle

If you have a specific amount of money you want to earn through a side hustle, the No. 1 thing Mitchell recommends is breaking a big goal down into a small one.

“If you’ve got a goal of paying off a car loan that’s $8,000, try to calculate how much you can reasonably do in six months,” she says. “What does that look like every month, every week, every day?”

While she began posting the challenge to hold herself accountable, Mitchell’s posts have inspired a number of her 125,000 TikTok followers to start their own challenges.

“I really do believe that at least some of the information I’ve been giving can be helpful to at least one person, one single mom, one stay-at-home mom or one college student,” she says. “And if I can help one person earn an extra $100 a month, why would I not post that?”

Find Mitchell’s three tips on how to snag a good side hustle below.

1. Consult side hustle communities

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number of opportunities that are available to earn extra cash. For Mitchell, determining which side hustles were worth her time was “definitely trial and error.”

Sites like Reddit proved helpful for learning about other people’s experiences with different side hustles, from what they enjoyed and didn’t enjoy to any barriers to entry.

“There’s a really good Reddit called r/beermoney and it’s just what it sounds like — it’s not going to be anything like a remote work from home job that’s going to pay the full-time bills, but it is going to give you a little bit of extra money on the side,” she says.

Through Reddit, Mitchell found survey site Prolific and focus group side hustles. She also used the platform to choose what game offers to use on Swagbucks, an app that pays you to play games.

2. Play to your strengths

Mitchell recommends taking other people’s experiences with a grain of salt. Users in her TikTok comments often hate side hustles she loves, or love the ones she hates. 

In many of her videos, Mitchell does data annotation as a side gig before or after her day job. While it pays well, she says it’s one of the more difficult hustles and might not be for everyone. Requirements include passing an assessment that Mitchell says screens many people out and then editing, tagging and comprehending large sets of data.

“Understanding that everyone is different is really helpful when you get into things like side hustles, because it’s not one size fits all,” she says. “Otherwise, everyone would be earning the same amount at the same rate.”

If you have strong grammar and writing skills, data annotation could be for you. But other side hustles Mitchell used aren’t as demanding, like Swagbucks. She credits her Swagbucks earnings with helping pay for her and her husband’s flights to and from Paris last March. 

“I can do it laying in bed while I hang out, watch TV, do whatever. I think it’s just so easy,” she says. “If you’re going to play a game, why not get paid a little bit for it?” 

3. Be realistic with your time

Making nearly $11,000 in 100 days might sound amazing, but the challenge didn’t come without sacrifices. Mitchell says she was often working on her side hustles an extra three to four hours each day — time that she could have spent with friends or relaxing.

Committing to making side hustle income requires getting serious about how much time you’re willing to put in, she says. If you’ve only got one hour a day, you probably won’t be able to make $100 in extra income, and that’s OK.

“Understand that the trade-off is always either time or money and you can’t always get both,” Mitchell says. “It’s really not bad to value your time over money. Finances are a part of life, but they’re not the point of life.”

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My family’s from a Greek island where people often live to 100: The 12 foods we always eat

On Ikaria, the Greek island where people “forget to die,” as one centenarian told longevity expert Dan Buettner, is one of a handful of Blue Zones around the globe where people live an inordinately long time. 

In 2009, Greek physicians and researchers found that 13% of Ikarians in their study were over 80, compared to about 1.5% of the global population and about 4% in North America and Europe. People on the island were 10 times more likely to live to 100 than Americans.

I have deep family roots on Ikaria, and for almost two decades, I’ve been running a cooking school out of the kitchen and garden of my village home. My pantry is culled from the traditions of the Mediterranean: chock-full of all the things that have long given food its flavor in this part of the world.

Here’s what’s in an Ikaria-inspired pantry:

Beans and legumes

These are among the seminal ingredients of the Ikarian way of eating. Adding them to your everyday meal plan is proven to increase longevity and can help you phase meat out of your diet. Try:

  • Broad beans (aka, fava beans)
  • Chickpeas
  • Gigantes (giant beans)
  • Lentils
  • Split peas


I couldn’t imagine my life or kitchen without garlic! It’s the ultimate flavor-packing, healthproviding natural ingredient. There’s a virtual pharmacopeia of goodness in every clove.

Modern-day Ikarians swear by it. My daughter makes a preventive infusion of raw garlic, mountain or sage tea, ginger, and honey, which she consumes when the temperature drops or she feels a cold coming on — advice taken from our friend, Yiorgos Stenos, 91.

Garlic makes almost everything taste better. It sweetens up as it softens and cooks, lending an almost caramelized flavor to so many different foods.


Whole grains are an integral part of the Ikaria diet. Here are a few different types to keep on hand:

  • Bulgur
  • Farro
  • Pasta, especially whole wheat pasta and gluten-free, high-protein, bean-based pastas, such as chickpea and lentil pastas


On Ikaria, myriad herbs grow wild and most of us can grow a few pots of fresh herbs at home, even if it’s just on the windowsill. I use herbs with abandon in many of my recipes.

Most families have a cupboard packed with dried herbs, the therapeutic qualities of which are contained in the knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Basic dried herbs include: 

  • Bay leaves
  • Oregano
  • Savory
  • Thyme
  • Mint


Nuts are an important ingredient in many of my plant-based recipes and traditionally are an important ingredient in Greek regional cooking. They grow abundantly throughout the country.

Here are a few of the most popular — and healthiest:

  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Sesame seeds and tahini
  • Walnuts


Olives have been a staple in the Greek diet since prehistoric times, and they’re one of the many preserves I always keep stocked.

In Greece, they’re traditionally eaten on their own or in salads. I love to pair them with pantry staples like beans or pasta and other grains.

Olive oil

Olive oil is the defining food of the Mediterranean diet and an absolute must in the pantry. 

Many of the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet, and, by extension, the Ikaria diet, are attributed to the health properties of olive oil. I only use extra virgin oil, which simply means the oil is unrefined.

Sea salt

On Ikaria, many people, myself included, use sea salt that collects in the small natural salt basins that have formed along the island’s rocky coastline over eons. It tastes better than regular table salt, which comes from mines and is heavily processed.  


This is one of my personal favorites. Consuming honey daily is one of the longevity secrets of the islanders. Honey is antibacterial, rich in antioxidants including flavonoids, and — unlike white sugar or artificial sweeteners — helps the body to regulate blood sugar levels. Many people here eat a spoonful every morning. 

You can add a liberal drizzle to your tea or a breakfast smoothie bowl, or whisk it into dressings.

Dried fruits

Figs and raisins are two dried fruits I always have on hand to use in all sorts of savory dishes, especially in salads and rice dishes.


Yogurt is a fermented food that has been part of the culinary tapestry of the Eastern Mediterranean for thousands of years. The traditional yogurt on Ikaria is produced with goat’s milk and has a delicious sour flavor and creamy texture.

If goat’s milk yogurt isn’t to your liking, you might prefer the Greek yogurt commonly found in American supermarkets, which is similarly rich in probiotics.

Feta and similar cheeses

Almost all the cheese Ikarians make and eat is produced with goat’s milk or sheep’s milk, like feta. Much of it is naturally fermented.

Over the years of teaching mostly Americans who come to my classes, I’ve had many guests who are lactose intolerant but are able to enjoy the island’s traditional goat’s milk cheeses and even a glass or two of fresh goat’s milk without a problem.

Diane Kochilas is the host and co-executive producer of ”My Greek Table,” runs the Glorious Greek Cooking School on her native island Ikaria, and is the author of 18 books on Greek cuisine, including most recently, ”The Ikaria Way: 100 Delicious Plant-Based Recipes Inspired by My Homeland, the Greek Island of Longevity.”

Want to make extra money outside of your day job? Sign up for CNBC’s new online course How to Earn Passive Income Online to learn about common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories. Register today and save 50% with discount code EARLYBIRD.

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From ”The Ikaria Way: 100 Delicious Plant-Based Recipes Inspired By My Homeland, the Greek Island of Longevity,” by Diane Kochilas, Copyright © 2024 by the author, and reprinted with permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

The highest-paying in-demand tech skill, according to Indeed—it can pay over $150,000 a year

Employers are ushering in the age of AI. Nearly half, 45% of high level execs say they are actively upskilling and training their workforces in AI, according to a January 2024 Deloitte survey of 100 corporate executives. About the same amount, 44%, say they’re currently hiring for it.

It should come as no surprise, then, that among the highest paid tech skills, generative AI comes in at No. 1. That’s according to a recent report by job search site Indeed, which calculated which tech skills make the biggest difference in salary. When a job included generative AI as a desired skill, its salary was 47% higher, Indeed found.

“We are seeing a continued interest in AI-related jobs and skills,” says Maggie Hulce, executive vice president and general manager at the job seeker division at the company. “Searches for generative AI jobs on Indeed have surged nearly 4,000% in the last year, and job postings for generative AI roles have seen a remarkable 306% increase since September 2022.”

Here’s what employers are looking for, specifically, and how to gain some generative AI skills yourself.

The average salary potential is $174,727

When it comes to hiring, some employers are looking for experts who can help them build AI tools for their business.

Among the job titles that include this type of skill are machine learning engineer, which designs computer programs for solving problems, and software engineer, Indeed found. The average salary potential for a job that includes generative AI is $174,727.

Other employers may simply be looking for people who know how to use generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot themselves to cut work time on administrative tasks, for example. Fiverr experts who offer to create images using generative AI tool Midjourney charge as much as $300 per project.

‘Consider taking advantage of resources your employer has to offer’

If you’re keen to either improve your generative AI skills or are even starting from scratch, there are many ways to go about it.

“Some effective methods for learning these tech skills include enrolling in online courses, attending boot camps, or participating in other training programs tailored to AI development,” says Hulce. “These resources provide practical experience and can accommodate busy schedules.” Various colleges and universities offer courses, as well as companies like Google and Udemy.

“If you’re interested in upskilling within your current company, consider taking advantage of resources your employer has to offer, or asking what options for upskilling may be available,” she says. “Lean into your network. Your co-workers and peers can often serve as additional resources to discover new tools, trainings and opportunities to upskill.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

This couple spent $30,000 converting a school bus they found on Facebook into a tiny home

In 2021, Tanya Nestoruk, 31, and Arya Touserkani, 38, were living in a four-bedroom house in Canada when they decided to sell it and move into a van.

“I love the simplicity and versatility of being able to live and travel wherever you want, have minimal impact, and explore new places,” Nestoruk tells CNBC Make It.

Nestoruk, an environmental educator, and Touserkani, a photographer, lived in the van for several months when they realized they wanted something bigger. They decided on a school bus.

“We wanted to do something more adventurous and we thought the school bus would be a fun way to give a second life to a retired vehicle,” Nestoruk says.

Nestoruk found the retired school bus on Facebook Marketplace. The seller was a school bus contractor, which the couple says was a blessing in disguise because it meant the bus would have up-to-date- maintenance records and be relatively well taken care of.

“Someone drove it on its last school run and then we took it home right then and there,” she says.

The couple bought the school bus for $7,200, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.

The two agreed they wanted to renovate within six months of their big purchase. During the renovation, Nestoruk and Touserkani tried to recycle everything they could from the bus, including donating the seats to a local kids camp and selling the luggage racks to someone who was going to repurpose them for their garage.

The couple wanted to renovate the school bus outdoors, but the Canadian weather had other ideas. They rented a workshop where they could consistently work on the bus.

Because they wanted to DIY the renovation, Touserkani tells CNBC Make It the two spent their days building and their nights googling and watching YouTube videos on how to do stuff for the next day.

“It was nonstop and we worked on it as much as we could,” he says. “I got so obsessed with everything that needed to be done with that bus.”

“It was a challenge because we weren’t able to disconnect because we had to plan for the next steps while trying to do the current steps,” he added.

The couple needed to stick to their six-month timeline because they wanted to escape the Canadian winter and travel to Baja California, Mexico.

“We were following the warm weather as snowbirds in training,” Nestoruk says, laughing.

The couple spent roughly $30,000 and one year turning the school bus into their home. The bus has a bedroom with a king-sized bed, a living room with a custom pullout couch, a kitchen with a three-burner stovetop and oven, and a bathroom. They also found an RV washer and dryer on Facebook Marketplace.

There is hidden storage for food, an on-demand hot water heater, the couple’s belongings, and much more.

Nestoruk and Touserkani say the thing people love most about their school bus are the two skylights they installed — Touserkani is 6′1″ and wouldn’t be able to stand up straight on the bus without them.

“They provide so much natural light, and it really makes the space special for us,” he says.

Nestoruk adds that the skylights were also a cost-effective way for them to raise the roof in key areas without having to do the entire thing.

The school bus has solar panels so the couple can be completely off the grid.

Nestoruk and Touserkani built stairs that lead up to the roof and had a friend weld a rear hitch deck that holds their motorcycles, which they use as their everyday transportation. There’s also a table on the outside of the bus that they use for barbecues and whenever they have guests.

The two say they don’t think renovations on the bus will ever really be finished, but they did stop work on it in November 2022 to head down to Mexico.

“We found there was a certain type of energy that the bus attracted and it was just fun,” Touserkani says. “Everyone always had a strong connection to it. It’s been a lot of fun interacting with people who are attracted to the bus.”

The couple has been living on and off the school bus for over a year now and says that like with every living situation, there are pros and cons.

“You have to be proactive in your everyday chores which is good and bad. There’s a freedom with that too, which is great, and we love, and then just the reality of it is that sometimes it can require more work,” Nestoruk says.

“If you’re signing up for living in any sort of a vehicle, there is always going to be some level of maintenance work that needs to happen. It’s not as carefree as living in a house,” Touserkani says.

The biggest concern for the couple is being environmentally conscious while on the road.

“We want to have as minimal impact as possible,” Nestoruk says. “We want to promote environmentally friendly living to others, too.”

The couple is currently on a break from life on their school bus and plans to eventually sell it and explore other tiny living options. They also want to build their dream home on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

“We’re hoping to enjoy the bus as long as we can and we hope that the next owners will take it on new adventures,” Nestoruk says. “It has lots of life left.”

Want to make extra money outside of your day job? Sign up for CNBC’s new online course How to Earn Passive Income Online to learn about common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories. Register today and save 50% with discount code EARLYBIRD.

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I’m a CEO in Finland, the happiest country in the world: 3 phrases we use at work every day

Finland is the happiest country in the world for the seventh year running, according to the latest World Happiness Report.

Two major factors help Finns find happiness at work: a high level of trust in institutions and colleagues, as well as a strong focus on work-life balance, says Miika Makitalo, CEO of HappyOrNot.

The Finland-based company makes the smiley-faced feedback buttons used in airports and other retail spaces around the world. It employs 56 people in Finland, who are of 15 different nationalities, as well as some 15 people in the U.S. and around 5 workers in the U.K.

As a business leader, Makitalo says there are three phrases in particular that capture the Finnish mentality around finding happiness and contentment at work.

‘No one is born a smith’

Essentially, this phrase underscores that “no one is born as a professional,” and “there’s always things to learn,” Makitalo says.

The phrase is meant to empower people to aspire to do great work, even if they’re still learning on the job.

“If you dream of something, go for it,” he says. “Apply for the positions you aspire to. And when you land something, learn how to do it.”

Experts agree that having a growth mindset at work, or believing that you can improve your skills with practice, is an attractive quality in a star worker.

The Finnish phrase also emphasizes that it’s OK to make mistakes in the learning process, as long as you use those experiences and any constructive feedback to improve.

It’s a comforting idea, Makitalo says, that “it’s not required or expected to master [something] on day one. Have mercy on oneself.”

‘Serious business matters are taken care of; otherwise, we’ll be like Mary’s chickens on the loose’

This phrase comes from the classic Finnish novel, “The Unknown Soldier,” and is used to say that a team of soldiers will take care of matters expected of them, Makitalo says. After accomplishing the task, they’ll take it easy with the idea of being “chickens on the loose” as a positive thing: They’ve done their job and will use the rest of their time as they see fit.

Funny imagery aside, Makitalo says this phrase is meant to highlight the flat hierarchies common in Finnish work cultures. The main takeaway is, “Anything that is urgent will be taken care of. But we don’t care about structures, bosses — don’t come here telling me what to do,” Makitalo says. “I know what I should be doing. And I’m setting the priorities.”

As CEO, Makitalo says he supports hearing feedback directly from his employees. “Anyone in the organization can come to me and say, ‘Miika that doesn’t make any sense. Correct the strategy.’”

“I think that’s good feedback, especially if it’s based in facts,” he says.

Finnish workers may have different roles and supervisory responsibilities, but “we are all equal contributors, and this amplifies that,” Makitalo says.

It also prevents micromanaging behaviors and can empower workers to take ownership of their work. “When everyone in the organization knows the strategy and vision, they can act on their own and they don’t need to be told what is required,” he adds.

‘Forward, said the granny in the snow’

Another visual metaphor, this phrase is meant to help people work through challenges.

“There’s this playful idea that, even in four feet of snow, even a granny can say, ‘Hey this is not a big deal,’” Makitalo says.

There’s a mindset of: Let’s not worry, let’s not dwell on it, it will be taken care of when starting moving forward.
Miika Makitalo
CEO of HappyOrNot

This phrase might come up during a long meeting where people can’t decide on the next point of action. At a certain point, Makitalo says, you have to move forward and address the unknowns as they come up.

“The idea is, let’s get things done,” he says. “So there’s a mindset of: Let’s not worry, let’s not dwell on it, it will be taken care of when starting moving forward.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.