6 Ways to Significantly Boost Your Income

Budgets and penny-pinching are all well and good, but if you're looking to give your income a serious lift, there is no substitute for entrepreneurial grit.

Many turn talent and expertise into a second source of income, providing consulting services on the side, for example, while maintaining their full-time jobs.

Others put more skin in the game, making major investments to start local franchise operations or purchase rental property in pursuit of passive income.

But all who call themselves successful share similar character traits: a rock-solid work ethic and a willingness to roll up their sleeves.

If you count yourself among them, the following money-making opportunities might help give you the raise you deserve.

Share knowledge for profits

The obvious first step is to use what you know to create part-time gigs you can do on nights and weekends. Speak a second language? Offer classes at your local library or community center. Great at math? Start tutoring, which can command up to $60 per hour. Start a home decorating service, become a fly-fishing guide, offer workshops on creative writing, cake decorating, wedding photography -- the opportunities are limitless and those who differentiate themselves can generate an extra $500 per month. You can double that figure if you're handy with computers. IT consultants charge $80 per hour or more, while Web designers charge anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars to create company websites.

Franchise to freedom

You could also make a bundle by buying a franchise, in which you pay for the right to use a company's trademark and name. That includes food chains, health clubs, hair care studios, cleaning services and financial support service firms. Typically, the franchisor provides startup expertise, marketing strategies, management guidance, financial assistance and training -- making it easy to hit the ground running. But most also require minimum cash on hand to even start the discussion -- which can come from savings, home equity, 401(k)s or stock portfolios.

Subway sandwich shop, for example, requires franchisees to have $12,500 in available cash, according to Franchise Solutions, and estimates the overall investment to establish a restaurant ranges from $92,050 to $222,800, which can come from cash and business loans. Some franchises, including YoNaturals, which stocks organic snack vending machines, even cater to the home-based crowd. Just be sure to do your homework before signing on and find a product you can sell. It's hardly a sure thing, but successful franchisees can easily clear six figures a year.

Drive for money

A less conventional, but potentially lucrative way to generate extra cash is to drive recreational and specialty vehicles to the dealerships where they're sold -- including school buses, RVs, Greyhound buses, armored vehicles and ambulances, which don't fit on the back of car carriers. Most manufacturers that hire drivers require a commercial driver's license, which requires a small investment of time and money on your part. Full-time drivers can earn upward of $50,000, says Craig Chilton, founder of TravelForPay.org, which connects drivers with hiring companies. But, the estimated 10,000 drivers who make Saturday and Sunday deliveries can pocket $300 per weekend. The job is particularly well-suited to college students and teachers who have summers off, as well as retirees, says Chilton.

Find a roommate

This is a tough one if you're raising three kids, but if you live alone, you might consider renting out your spare bedroom or basement. Depending on where you live and the amenities in your home, you could bring in an extra $500 to $1,500 a month without lifting a finger. Just be sure to screen your candidates carefully. Do a criminal-background check. Get referrals from prior landlords, check their credit score and independently confirm their employment.

Create passive income

To truly attain financial freedom, you'll have to pursue passive sources of income, meaning investments that generate wealth with little ongoing involvement from you. Examples include publishing royalties, profit from business partnerships, dividends from equities and rental income. Purchasing a rental property requires a significant upfront investment, but the potential payoff is huge. Focus on buying several multifamily units rather than one single-family home, says Robert Cain, publisher of the Rental Property Reporter.

"If you buy four units (rental apartments) you can make $400 to $600 a month, depending on your market, whereas you'll likely make $100 to $150 a month after expenses on a single-family rental -- and that's if you buy smart," he says. Over time, says Cain, your rental fees will climb, while your expenses remain the same (if you get a fixed-rate loan). And don't forget, you have someone else helping you pay off an appreciating asset.

Speak for success

Afraid of public speaking? You'd better get over it, and fast. Those able to draw a crowd, like best-selling authors, politicians and celebrities, can command $30,000, $50,000 -- even $100,000 per engagement. Without the benefit of notoriety, however, the rest of us are more likely to fetch from $500 to $5,000 per gig -- but only if you bring something fresh to the table. (You may also have to start off speaking for free.) Troll your areas of expertise for subject matter and start organizing your message. And don't limit yourself to financial workshops or motivation lectures. Consider your hobbies as fodder for seminars. Speakers bureaus can connect you with venues, but they'll also take a cut of your profit -- as much as 30 percent.

In today's economy where job security is uncertain, the importance of diversifying your income cannot be overstated. Some business ventures, however, have a bigger potential payoff than others. Your available assets and appetite for risk will determine which course of action is right for you.

Copyright 2014, Bankrate Inc.