Short on cash? There are many ways to make small irregular amounts of money, if you are willing to put the time and creativity into finding opportunities that literally pay off.

The first thought that comes to mind when you think of making extra money is working overtime or taking an extra job.

But there are many reasons why additional hours or a new job may not be practical or even allowed based on your contractual limitations with your employer.

Plus, you might want to make additional money here and there to afford something nice or save a little extra without the commitment of having a second job.

That is why it is good to have some ways that can help you bridge gaps in your budget or bring extra income. These might not be as reliable as your full-time job, but they are certainly legitimate ways to make money, when you need it.

1. Find research studies

Companies — big and small — realise the importance of consumer feedback on their products. You can look for companies that are looking for people to try their products, respond to surveys or test something new — from a video game to a service.

Although it often might sound like a scam, there are many real opportunities to take part in research studies. The only thing you need to figure out is how to join the list of people who might be called upon when needed.

You certainly won’t be making a lot of money by being on any list, but you should make some occasional money that is relatively easy. But sure that you do what’s required (completing surveys or answering questions, for example) as accurately as possible to be called upon again.

Some research and quality control efforts also look for mystery shoppers, who could visit a store or a service provider and complete a questionnaire regarding their experience.

Again, verify the legitimacy of any company you work with to avoid scammers, and weigh the gratuity offered versus the time and effort involved.

2. Help advertisers

Companies also look for people who can spread the word on their behalf.

If you don’t mind add a company sticker to your car or doing any other legitimate advertising for a company in your spare time, that could be an easy way to get money — and much less involved than taking a part-time job.

The only trick is to find those opportunities. If you’re active on social media, you might come across them as soon as they are available.

And you must be able and willing to do what the company requires you to do, which could be sending referrals, driving in a branded car for a certain number of kilometres, etc.

3. Get your friends to pay

Offering your services to friends and family initially could be awkward, but you might be surprised how many people would absolutely appreciate the help. How about babysitting the kids while your best friends go out on a date night?

Won’t they be thrilled to know that the children are in safe hands? How about helping out with house sitting or pet sitting, while they are away on vacation.

Again, this might be somehow awkward to ask, but people are often more comfortable with services from their friends than from strangers. Just ask and you are more likely to make money in the process.

Are you skilled in cooking? You can start a side gig of providing home-cooked meals for people who are too busy to cook for themselves.

The couple who just got home from the hospital with a newborn definitely will appreciate home-cooked meals, especially if they are priced lower than a restaurant delivery and come in a much higher quality.

How to make money quickly

■ Join a research study
■ Become a mystery shopper
■ Help with product advertising
■ Offer services to your friends and family

— The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.