Friday, March 23, 2012

101 Weird and Crazy Ways to Bulk Up Your Emergency Fund

I was reading this post over at Barb's blog and she made an excellent point.  It really is hard to bulk up your emergency fund when you are on a fixed income.  Actually whether you have a fixed income or a low income, your income is usually budgeted down to the last penny before you even get your check so trying to squeeze anything else out of it is nearly impossible.  Of all of the changes we have undergone since we changed our entire lifestyle, I miss having big checks coming in regularly the most.  It's nice to know that there is more money on the horizon (I especially miss the big bonuses I used to I have to work for every little penny!) so I wracked my brain and came up with these weird and crazy ideas to make some extra money for your emergency fund:
  1. Sell blood and plasma.
  2. Sell your hair (wig makers pay big bucks for long hair I have been told).
  3. Sell semen (obviously you have to have the moral proclivity, and the requisite body parts, to do so).
  4. Sell your eggs (young, educated women can make about $8000 a pop selling their eggs to fertility clinics but I heard it is a pretty long and involved process).
  5. Participate in medical experiments (there are usually opportunities to do this in large cities where medical trials are being held).
  6. Rent out the attic, the basement, or a spare room in your house.
  7. Move to the attic or basement of your house and rent out the main part of your house.
  8. Rent out your garage to someone who needs a cheap place to store things.
  9. Rent our parking spaces (this is especially lucrative if you live in a city where parking is limited or if you live near where big events are staged--such as a fair--where people would pay you to park in your yard).
  10. Walk dogs (I was surprised there is such a big market for this).
  11. Pet sit (I was shocked when some co workers in the past told me how much they paid for their daily pet sitters!)
  12. People sit (consider babysitting or being a care provider for the elderly).
  13. Hire out your muscles and your truck (my friend advertises on CraigsList and people have hired him to haul all kinds of things).
  14. Hire out your skills (the same friend makes extra cash doing odd jobs such as plumbing, simple car repairs, yard clean up, etc).
  15. Put your graphics skills to work: make logos for small businesses, design window displays or paint windows for businesses based on the season, design marketing materials for small businesses, etc.
  16. Stand on a busy corner with a sign asking for cash (obviously many people won't be comfortable doing this--either morally or ethically--but a guy the hubby used to play poker with would be on a certain street corner each weekday morning at rush hour and collect up enough funds to play poker in the afternoon).
  17. Go trashpicking, clean up the items you find, and resell them on CraigsList or at your garage sale (this 14 year old did just that...then bought a house!).
  18. Have a garage sale.
  19. Sell better items on CraigsList.
  20. Become an eBay goddess like my friend Lorraine (there is an art and a science to being a successful eBayer but many people create good side businesses this way).
  21. Make your blog/website create an income stream for you (either like this talented lady does with her interesting blog posts and sewing business or like this family does with a combination of book sales and advertisements on their website).
  22. Go to garage sales then resell the items at your own garage sale or on CraigsList (back when we were having a garage sale each week to empty out our house, there were a whole group of regulars who came early each morning of the sale. Turns out they went to every sale they could in order to find things to resell).
  23. Sell stuff online.  Besides CraigsList, you can sell stuff online at etsy (hand crafts), Freelance Switch (freelance articles), and Amazon (either books you own or books your write like this girl did).
  24. Sell weird things online (this girl made money selling her underwear online--eeuuwww, my friend's son made money selling online gaming characters online that he created out of thin air--wow, and one lady sold tumbleweeds on CraigsList--who knew they are so in demand?!)
  25. Try a temp job.  Sometimes CraigsList "gigs" has some interesting one-time jobs.  Temp agencies can be interesting too.  Also you can position yourself to work only on certain busy days (ie: deliver flowers for the local flower shop on Mother's Day, work at the polls on voting day, etc).
  26. Get a, referral fee.  Sometimes business owners will give you a "kickback" if you bring them customers (my old car dealer would give a customer $100 for referring another customer to him who bought a car, nightclubs in Las Vegas give kickbacks to taxi drivers who steer clients to their clubs, etc).
  27. Sell your old gold (I made a bunch of money doing this before we moved; I sold broken chains and other gold jewelry that I no longer wanted).
  28. Find a marketing research company and give them your opinion (I used to be cornered by these people at the mall all the time.  For a bit of my time I usually was given $7 but other companies pay considerably more).
  29. Check and see if you have missing money.
  30. Enter contests (some people do this as a nearly full time job, entering small online contests, others audition for American Idol or Amazing Race in the hopes of winning a million dollars).
  31. Make money online (you can do everything from taking surveys to being part of an e jury).
  32. Get a part time job or a full time, short-term job (I've known people who worked on a cruise ship or worked fishing in Alaska in order to make a lot of cash in a short period of time--usually room and board are provided for free with these types of jobs so you can bank your whole pay check during the term of the work).
  33. Look around your area and figure out what would sell well (ie: people sell firewood on the road to  a campground near our old home, one kid used to sell worms by a lake where the fishermen would congregate, and, when the whales came into Puget Sound and drew tourists, some enterprising guys ran to the screen printing shop and had t shirts made up quickly in order to sell them to the tourists).
  34. Make money from your hobby--write an article, teach a class, sell products related to your hobby, sell the items you make doing your hobby.
  35. Go to a u-pick farm or out in the woods and glean items to sell (berries, nuts, fruit, etc).
  36. Buy food in bulk, break up the containers, and sell the times with a small profit for yourself (ie: buy a 100 pound bag of potatoes or onions, divide them up by the pound, and sell them at a street-side stand).
  37. Do something morally questionable (this could range from stripping to selling your homemade pornos online.  Not that I agree with such a thing because I don't think I could ever do anything like that but many people do and make a lot of money).
  38. Be a tutor (if you are good at math, science, history, etc).
  39. Invent something (the lady that invented Spanx is worth more than a billion dollars now!).
  40. Run errands for people in your neighborhood.
  41. Choose a hobby that pays (one friend likes to golf and would collect up all of the stray golf balls he could find them sell them, another friend ended up "adopting" her kid's 4H chickens--and made money from selling their eggs, my granddad used to find all kind of cool--and valuable--things with his metal detector).
  42. Create a small business based on a need in your area (you could be a party planner, a scrapbook maker, a family photographer, etc).
  43. Drive cars (some people will pay you to move their car from one location to another--usually quite a distance away; also years ago, a local car dealership would pay me to drive cars either to other dealerships or to their customers).
  44. House sit (you can either do this by living at the house in question or just stopping by daily or weekly to make sure all is well).
  45. If you have some land, grow a garden then either sell the produce at a roadside stand or open your garden up for u-pickers (my grandparents did this for years with strawberries, raspberries, and grapes).
  46. Recycle (aluminum cans, metals, newspapers...whatever your local recycling company will pay for).
  47. Try busking (this is especially popular in Las Vegas and other tourist areas where street performers hustle for cash).
  48. Bring food to sell (I used to do this in college--I would buy pizza in bulk for a low price then cart it over to the university on weekend nights and walk through the dorms selling the pizza for a profit. This also works when selling baked goods at offices and lunch items near construction sites).
  49. Become a walking advertisement or do this with your car (people have made money by plastering their car--or themselves--with paid advertising).
  50. Sell your used stuff through a consignment store (this works well with high end clothes and purses as well as with gently used baby things).
  51. Give lessons (this can be anything from piano and violin to driving and language lessons).
  52. Do stuff that other people find repulsive (ie: cleaning up the back yard for people who have dogs, specializing in cleaning bathrooms, cleaning up repo homes that have been trashed, cleaning up crime scenes, etc).
  53. Drive people around (you may specialize in driving tourists around your city, driving the elderly to their appointments, or driving kids to after school activities).
  54. Offer a mobile grooming service (ie: pet washing and grooming, mobile haircuts if you are licensed to do so, mobile car washing, etc).
  55. Home services are big business in Las Vegas.  People do everything on a daily work/daily pay basis from home or office cleaning to landscaping, to painting, to carpet installation to fence building, etc.
  56. Deliver newspapers (my sister did this for years as a second job, she could bring her baby along with her and complete the work before her regular job each morning).
  57. Sign up to work for annual/seasonal events--you can deliver phone books, be a census worker, be a dealer at a World Poker Tour event...fortunately in Las Vegas there are so many annual events that you can work in the tech industry one week (CES) then the rodeo industry another week (National Finals Rodeo).
  58. Take a short-term training course then get a side job (ie: lifeguard, EMT, medical assistant, phlebotomist, etc).
  59. Charge people to help them fill out forms (I have done this by helping people fill out job applications, scholarship applications, immigration forms, apartment rental applications, doing their taxes, etc.  Note that being bi-lingual can really help bring in clients for this).
  60. If you are a naturally organized person, help others to organize their home, office, or processes...for a fee of course.
  61. Be a sales associate (my mom used to sell Avon, Tupperware, candles, and all other sorts of "home party" items).
  62. Beautify people (do haircuts, manicures and pedicures, massage, facials, make up for special occasions, hair styling/coloring/braiding, personal shopping, etc. Note that some of these things require licenses).
  63. Sew.  If you are good at sewing your can do everything from tailoring and dressmaking to specializing in unique sewing projects (my friend is known for sewing covers for barbecues, hot tubs, and awnings. She is now moving into specialized sewing for RV items).
  64. Be a guide.  You can show people around your city or take people to the best hunting and fishing locations in your area.
  65. Put your tech talents to work. People will pay for all kinds of tech services, from setting up new computers and installing software to putting together a wi fi network, creating websites, setting up social media accounts, installing Wordpress blogs, etc.
  66. Teach something unusual (among the unusual classes I have heard of: dumpster diving, how to process an entire animal carcass for your freezer, sex classes, how to forage for mushrooms, etc).
  67. Teach specialized classes (I have a friend who is a nurse who specializes in teaching continuing ed classes for paramedics; another friend is a renowned cardiac surgeon who makes money on the side by teaching at the local university, giving presentations at conferences, and working as a consultant to the military).
  68. Expand on your regular job (this guy, for example, started out as a doctor who liked the outdoors, he ended up creating a multi-faceted business based on his passions).
  69. Put together a side business that you can run via the local farmer's market or fairs (I have friends that started selling crafts at a small farmer's market and now do this at ALL of the fairs in the state.  Ditto for a guy who makes candy).
  70. Cook for people (you can be a personal chef for a busy family or, as a friend of mine does, she specializes in making desserts from her home country--the Philippines--and people buy her yummy creations in bulk for parties and holidays).
  71. Be a coach (you can coach the local baseball or volleyball team or use your skills and motivational spirit to be a life coach or job coach).
  72. Work from home using your phone (phone sex operator, telemarketer, triage nurse, etc).
  73. If you are a certified educator, consider teaching courses online through an online high school or university.
  74. If you have the knowledge and skill--and that's a big IF--consider online trading or other forms of gambling with a fairly high rate of return (such as poker). 
  75. Get paid for your opinion--this can range from being a mystery shopper to being a paid reviewer (restaurants, software, books, etc).
  76. Consider the real estate business.  This could be anything from actually selling real estate to cleaning up repossessed homes for the banks that own them to buying and flipping homes.
  77. Check out the possibility of an import or export business.  If you can get products at a super low price from a foreign country (plus learn your way around import regulations), or the opposite, you have products here that would sell well overseas, consider such a side business.
  78. Use your detective skills to: find missing pets for a reward, hunt down long lost relatives (genealogy research), reposes cars, be a skip tracer, etc.
  79. Gather up your spare change, roll the change, and deposit it into your bank account (it helps if you have a jar or jug that you drop your leftover change into daily; when it comes time to roll the change up you will be pleasantly surprised).
  80. Look for products you can develop that relate to popular new items (ie: while you may not have developed the iPad, you can certainly develop apps, covers, and other peripheral items for it).
  81. Go commercial with your talents (some people keep up fish tanks for banks and offices, others keep up flowers or gardens for commercial businesses still others do freelance merchandising for products in stores).
  82. Find an on-call or substitute position (substitute teacher, substitute bus driver, on-call nurse, on-call server for a catering company, etc).
  83. Join an organization that will give you an income, pay off your student loans, or both (ie: National Guard, Teach for America, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, etc).
  84. Turn your home into a Bed and Breakfast.
  85. Target the senior market. The senior population is huge these days. Help them out and make some money by teaching at a senior center (activities, exercise, computer classes, etc) or retrofitting their homes (security system, grab bar installation).
  86. Ask for work.  Send messages out via email, Twitter, FaceBook, and all of your other social media contacts literally asking for side work.
  87. Let the season dictate the work you seek: summer--lawn mowing, fall--fruit and vegetable harvesting, raking leaves, winter--shoveling snow, spring--planting and other farm/yard work.
  88. Use your locations to dictate the work you seek: take/sell photos of celebs (Los Angeles), teach skiing (Aspen), take tourists out on your boat (Seattle), scalp tickets for shows and sporting events (New York).
  89. Make your own homemade products to sell: jams, jellies, canned salsa, pickles, lotions, soaps, etc.  Some people sell these right at the end of their driveway, others via farmers markets and stores that feature locally-made products.
  90. Make memories for people: research their genealogy, put together scrapbooks, record interviews with elderly family members, put together PowerPoint presentations for funerals/weddings/family reunions, etc.
  91. Join the day labor pool.  Many cities have areas where day laborers hang out waiting for someone to drive by and ask them to work (around Las Vegas it seems to be in the parking lot of the Home Depot stores; note this is one of the less safe ways to find work).  You can also apply through day labor agencies such as Labor Ready.
  92. Solve a crime.  Crime Stoppers and other organizations offer rewards to people who help solve crimes of find people who are wanted by the police.
  93. Volunteer.  While this won't immediately put money into your emergency fund, this is a great way to learn skills that can set you up for future employment (ie: volunteering for the local ambulance will set you up to be an EMT in the future; volunteering to write a grant or make a website for a non profit will give you a professional reference and something to put in your portfolio).
  94. Look for treasures (this is a huge area including: panning for gold, finding old coins that are still in circulation, going to auctions or estate sales with your knowledge of antique furniture, diving ship wrecks, etc).
  95. Lend money.  Obviously this is very high risk (which is why loan sharks charge such high interest rates) but if someone asks for a loan and you absolutely know they will pay you back, you may want to loan money, with a bit extra for you as part of the payback).
  96. Look at different marketing schemes, from affiliate marketing to multi-level marketing programs.  While many of these are scammy, some are legitimate and can make you money either by in-person sales or via links on your website.
  97. Be an assistant, either online as a virtual assistant or in person as a personal assistant.
  98. Re-purpose things (I have a friend that can find a market for anything.  I told him that a local fire department was throwing away some old backboards so he picked them up, made them into silhouettes, and sold them to the local shooting range for target shooting).
  99. Barter.  Again this won't put money in your pocket immediately but as this guy shows, you can start with a paper clip (red), barter it, and end up with a house (which you could sell and then put the money in your bank account).
  100. Rent out items that you own (think about tools, yard maintenance items, an engine hoist, a chainsaw...basically items that are expensive to purchase that others would want to rent rather than buy).
  101. Add value to an item...then sell it (ie: take a baseball to your local MLB game, have a famous baseball player sign it, then sell it!).
Whew!  Brain. Wracked.


  1. Great ideas! Thanks for the mention at #20! I'm not nearly as successful as other sellers on Ebay. You can really cash in big if you're a good picker. I have met people who have quit their day jobs to become Ebay sellers and they do very very well. Re #29: I found money for my inlaws (in a state that they had moved from) and it was a few hundred dollars! They were thrilled!

  2. "Teach Something unusual: Sex lessons"... Bahahaha!! Needless to say I won't be trying ths one out... ;) lol!

    Great list though!! Wow! :)

  3. What a great list!!!!!!

  4. you know what I thought when I started reading your list, "I don't think so," but the more I read the list, the more I thought, "there are some good ideas there."

    Thanks for thinking of them,


  5. Lorraine--I like how you describe how you find things to sell and how you market them on ebay--lots of good lessons for people in your blog!
    Carla--I got the idea from the Museum of Sex here in Las Vegas--they actually teach classes on sex with live demonstrations! Yikes!
    Gil--Actually there are a few things on the list that even I wouldn't try but I do need to get my emergency fund back to fat and fluffy so I will probably give a few of these ideas a shot!