This post is inspired by a link my friend Charlotte sent me, which can be found here. The main thing I got from this article is to never give up experimenting — whether you are an inventor, an artistic type, or an entrepreneur. After all, how many tries in the lab does it take to find the perfect combination? I probably would have gotten more out of it if I wasn’t already almost a master of trying everything in every way possible.
I am by no means picking on The Penny Hoarder specifically but, rather, I would like to offer some practical and hopefully amusing advice from someone who has been there and done that.
The Truth About Making Some Extra Cash in 24 Hours
It just doesn’t happen during times of desperation without prior planning.
Here are some of the ideas presented by bloggers that they didn’t investigate in depth.
This is a site where you can sign up to do other peoples’ chores for them, like packing, unpacking, helping them move, or putting together unassembled furniture.
The Reality: After you have gone through the pages to fill out your contact info and the real or imagined skills you possess, the site will request your card number for a $20 registration fee.
2. Sell Some Clothes
The Reality: It is really hard to sell used clothes these days when most people just let them be put them out front for the donation truck or drop them off at the local thrift store.
Plato’s Closet DOES buy name brand clothing, but they are extremely picky. The first time I tried to sell to them, I drove halfway across town toting clothing and they did not even accept one piece. The second time I had five bags of high- end well-kept clothing and they accepted only five pieces because of what sells well from their particular store or what is trendy at the moment (high-waist skinny jeans only, no bold colors). Granted, they gave me $27 for those five things, which made it worth the trip. It might be wise to call first to see what they will take.
3. Clinical Trials
Do you really want to do this? They make horror movies about this stuff.
4. Pawn Shop
They buy gold and silver, DVDs, tools, weapons, vacuum cleaners, surfboards, toys… .
The Reality: The pawn shop is probably the most depressing place on the planet next to animal shelters and government offices of any kind. They will give you almost nothing on the dollar and charge a very high interest rate if you ever want your stuff back.
Sell furniture, clothing, household items, services, or find a local job or gig.
The Reality: Again, it depends on what people are buying. You may wait weeks for a response on your items. Then there is the hassle of lugging the items to a safe meeting place or having strangers tromp through your house only to have the item rejected. You might get lucky, though. I sold a barely used long cloak to a nice lady for her daughter to wear to the Renaissance Fair.
I only ever had two people respond to my ad for services and they were both shady. These days you are expected to have a license and insurance just to clean someone’s home. Also, “cleaning” on Craigslist is evidently a catchphrase for prostitution.
Legitimate companies are offering actual jobs on Craigslist now. Forget the “gigs” section altogether as it is populated by scammers and weirdos.
6. Rent out part of Your Home
Having someone to help with the rent and bills, and maybe even share Walking Dead night with you, sounds ideal.
The Reality: Renting out a room is possibly the single dumbest thing I ever did. I imagine it can work if you are in a college town or know the renter personally. Even that doesn’t always work. Just make sure they have good references.
My experience with this scenario extends into the realm of science fiction.
The first roommate was a German guy who I found browsing the apartment ads outside McDonalds after weeks of advertising the room. He DID pay for the room. He also talked to himself angrily in German at night and followed me to the beach and back while my friend hummed the theme to “The Bodyguard”. He asked for my hand in marriage for immigration purposes, saying he wanted to ship out to sea and send me money.
He was arrested for exposing himself on the beach. Meanwhile, the German consulate in Miami started calling to say my roommate needed to leave the country immediately. After his release from jail, he did leave the country, leaving behind some strange lists for ingredients he wanted to buy. I was working at the lab at the time, and one of the chemists pointed out that there were several nitrates on the list.
“Oh, my God, he really DID want to blow something up!” the chemist said.
The next renter was no better, and he was referred to me by an acquaintance.
I don’t know how scammers and petty criminals do it. I’ve never tried their methods of making a living, but it seems like they expend an awful lot of time and effort for something that provides little return and will land you in prison. Not to mention they obviously have no conscience. It is easier just to take some mind-numbing stable job. But there will be times when that doesn’t make ends meet or you can’t get hired.
So what does work? Opportunity. Sometimes you don’t know what people will pay for until you hear about it. For example, I got a tip the other day that someone I know is looking for a person to drive her high schooler to school and back three days a week, using her vehicle, for $400 a month. Pretty generous for a couple of hours a week!
Then, there is freelancing.
7. Freelance Work
Quick money bloggers suggest that you can just go out and make quick money doing freelance work.
The Reality: You need a portfolio of work, whether you are an artist, designer, programmer, or writer. Suppose you hold a doctorate in psychology or animal husbandry or whatever. Then you are an expert in your subject and should have no problem finding work. But, if you have a doctorate, you probably don’t need the money anyway. Or suppose you are really good at sewing or some other skill… you stand a chance at finding work.
If you are building a freelance business, then you will need a portfolio. The good thing about freelancing is it requires little overhead. But it does take time. I started building my portfolio doing website content and social media content for free. After that, I slowly began building a client list for paid projects. It requires a lot of marketing and patience and waiting for payment. Eventually you will need to invest in furthering your skills, building a business website, business cards, etc. The biggest investment is time.
In other words, there is no quick money.