Friday, March 4, 2011

Finding a few extra cents...

I promised a few ideas just for those who are really desperate. So if you feel confident you never will be and just aren't interested in reading about truly penny-pinching ideas, skip this one.

***Make sure you check into local ordinances and state laws before you do any of this*** 

Been unemployed for a while, and the job prospects in your area still look bleak and you're financially against the wall? Then it's time to step into more drastic territory. The one thing you have in abundance is free time, so making ANY money from your time is good. Cut out everything that is not an absolute necessity (I'll go into ideas on that on other days), then start with an inventory of your resources.

What day-to-day skills do you have? Can you sew, clean, tell a story, fix a flat tire, paint trim, weed, anything? What assets do you have that you could part with? Does your area have lots of yard sales? A recycling center that will pay for metal or glass?

If you can fix a flat tire, you could make up a small (1/4 page size) flyer, and pass them out in the parking lot of a grocery store, or, if that's not allowed, a church, advertising your skill and willingness to drive out and change flat tires and help them get the damaged one repaired or replaced if needed. State rates and when you are available and give a cell phone number. Don't say "any time of night or day" unless you really mean it, though. Get help with the flyer if you don't know how, and make it as cheaply as possibly. If you repeat the flyer 4 times on a sheet of paper, you can make 25 copies and have 100 flyers to pass out for a pretty small investment. Keep the rates cheap enough that it seems worth their while, especially if the local auto assistance group tends to take an hour or two to show up. If you get even a couple of calls a month, that's still extra money in your pocket.

If your area has lots of yard sales, this could be either a source of raw materials or items for resale IF you know a lot about the items and have the knack of selling on EBay, for instance. Most yard sales have lots of clothes that no one buys. If you can pick up old pants at the end of the day for $.05-.25, you can make shopping bags that should sell for a couple of bucks. If you can quilt, even better. But don't make full sized quilts. Make quilt blocks that you turn into purses and totes and backpacks. These are faster and require less matching fabric. Your dollar-per-hour return will probably be below minimum wage, but your time isn't earning ANYTHING if you don't.

You may even be able to get bags of ruined clothes that weren't worth donating to a charity for free (and most charities get items too unusable to resell that they'll give away). Ruined clothes often have small areas of useable fabric. These can be washed and cut into quilt pieces or made into scrunchy hair bands (that's a great use for t-shirt fabric, by the way).

If you have no skills except the ability to scrub, advertise yourself to do jobs too small or dirty for the regular cleaning crews (or more cheaply). Use the same strategy as for changing tires.

The point here is: think creatively. And keep in mind that getting SOME return for your time is better than getting none. Working 40 hours for a return of $2 an hour gets you $80 you wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

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