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Earning Money vs Making Money: Know the Difference to Create Wealth

Making money is different from earning money because it's an alternative to having a job to earn a paycheck.

There is a difference between “earning” money and “making” money. Although the words are interchangeably used, they are not the same thing. Knowing the difference helps you understand how to support your journey towards financial wellness.

Earning money is a result of exchanging your time for cash, payment, or a paycheck. You earn money by performing work for someone else–a business owner, employer, or client. In the gig economy, you earn money by performing tasks for others, designing logos, or using your car to drive people or deliver packages.

Making money is different from earning money because it’s an alternative to earning a paycheck. Typically, making money is associated with MLM (multi-level-marketing), get-rich-quick, or other make-money fast schemes. But there are legitimate ways to make money that I’ll discuss later.

Let’s start with the basics and explore the difference between earning and making money.

How do you earn money

Earning money requires exchanging your time and skills for money. You’re paid based on the number of hours worked. Whether you’re paid based on the actual hours you’ve worked or a set salary–you’re earning money.

When you earn money, you’re dependent on someone else or another company to earn your living. How much you earn is limited by the number of hours you work, regardless of your hourly wage.

Remember, time is finite, and therefore the only way to earn more is to become more valuable–getting paid more per hour or with a higher salary. Learn how to ask for a pay raise and get it with another article I wrote.

Read >> 50+ Active Income Ideas to Earn More Money

Earning money is important because money is central to how our society works.

You need money to pay for necessities and some luxuries, and overall living expenses. Additionally, earning money is necessary to pay for debt and student loans.

David Carlson’s founder of YoungAdultMoney.com and author of Hustle Away Debt writes about the multiple ways to earn extra money to pay off debt, save money, and build wealth. It’s a great book about side hustling while continuing to earn money with a primary job. (Audible version | Kindle version)

To achieve your earnings goals, read our article on how to supplement your income. I listed 40+ creative ways to earn extra cash from starting a blog to completing paid online surveys.

How do you make money

Making money is using your time to create a product or service that continues to make money for you. It’s not dependent on exchanging more of your time for money. In fact, you’re not limited to how much you can make.

Making money can include income from licensing creative work, rental property, dividends from investments, advertising revenues from a blog, or a business that generates revenues.

You can make money by creating a product that people need.

For example, a book or a course can sell over and over again. These products earn money for you. Of course, you’ll spend some time promoting the products, but you’re not limited to how many products you can sell.

Read >> 14 Passive Income Ideas

Chris Guillebeau’s bestselling book Side Hustle defines a side hustle as an opportunity to make money by turning a skill or talent into a business. He describes the process of identifying your skill and making a profit within 27 days. (Audible version | Kindle version)

To start making money with money, read our guide on how to start investing with $100.

Can you make money from an activity associated with earning money?

Yes. For example, you started designing logos and built a large clientele. Instead of designing all the logos yourself, you hire another designer to do the work for you. With this example, you charge your clients $100 and pay your logo designer $60. You’ve made $40.

Some people refer to making money as passive income or earnings from a business. The truth is making money requires time and work too.

Can you make money from other people’s money?

Yes, it’s called leverage when you borrow money from someone else or a financial institution. Leverage is when you use credit to make a purchase that makes you money. For example, you bought a second home using a mortgage and flipped the house to another buyer for $20,000 more than your purchase price. You’ve just made $20,000.

Passive Income Active Income Portfolio Income phroogal

Why is it important to know the difference between earning money and making money?

When you make enough money to cover monthly living expenses, you’ve entered financial independence. Financial independence means work is completely voluntary and optional. Your goal should be to find ways to make money to regain back your time. If you believe it takes money to make money, then you’ll need to create a plan to use your earned money on money-making activities.

Want to learn more? Tanja Hester’s book, Work Optional, is a practical action guide for financial independence and early retirement to make working a choice. It’s a great read for those seeking to reclaim their time to do more meaningful work. (Audible version | Kindle version)

Further reading on income strategies:

Need more? Visit the financial marketplace to find the best products and services to help you make more money.

Jason Vitug

Jason Vitug is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and founder of phroogal.com and thesmilelifestyle.com. His purpose to help others live their best lives through experiential and purposeful living. Jason is also a certified yoga teacher and breathwork specialist and has traveled to over 40 countries.

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