So you’ve been exploring avenues to make money online, but you find yourself a bit overwhelmed. Which idea should you start with?
Which ones are scams or simply aren’t worth it? How much time should you spend researching before you jump in to earn money?
Or perhaps you’re so stressed out about making ends meet, you can’t get your thoughts organized enough to proceed with setting up accounts and profiles, not to mention learning insider tricks and tips.
Plus, to make matters worse, you needmoney right now. You don’t have weeks to accrue earnings. Your bank account is nearly overdrawn, the electricity bill is already overdue, and you’re down to your last box of Kraft Mac & Cheese or package of Ramen Noodles. Sound familiar?
Don’t despair! Whether you’re sweating things out till your next payday, or still looking for employment, here are 5 ways to generate enough money to ease your stressed mind by keeping you productively busy while putting cash in your wallettoday.
1) Go outside with a tote or plastic bag, take a walk and look down.
Not only will you most likely come across a penny or two, you’ll find loads of other “free money” for the taking. What you’re really looking for is scrap metal to recycle: soda cans and tops, rusted nails, washers, bolts, screws, latches, hinges, copper wire, auto parts, etc.
If it’s any form of metal, pick it up and put it in your bag (make sure if you’re using a plastic bag to check for holes first, or double bag to prevent rips.Wearing gloves is also recommended).
Before you head out on your mission, check the phone book or internet for your closest scrap metal recycling center and find out their hours of operation. Hunt around your house for any aluminum, steel cans, or bits of metal for your collection as well.
It’s also a good idea to double check for any coupons in the phone book. In the area I live, my favorite center has a coupon for 5 cents extra per pound on aluminum can recycling.
Focus your search on parking lots, sidewalks, ends of driveways (and what people have put for curbside pick up), in and around dumpsters, businesses (fast food places, home improvement, hardware, grocery and convenience stores are great for this), construction or industrial areas.
Ask neighbors if they have anything they’d like to recycle or scrap. With any luck, they might simply hand things over as their part in going green, or they might expect some money in return.
If so, offer them a small bit of what you earn, but don’t give away the farm (after all, you’re the one taking the time and effort to collect the items and drive there). If they’re too pesky, tell them never mind and be on your way.
Depending on where you live and what’s close to you, you might want to jump on your bike, or in the car and explore a bit further. If you opt to drive a bit, keep it a very short distance because otherwise you’re spending more on gas than what you’re earning.
Try to match up any car time with an errand you already have to run, or even better, while on your way to the recycling center.
When out and about, you might run into local business people. Feel free to ask if they have any spare scrap metal they’d like to get rid of.
Also, if anyone asks suspiciously why you’re searching around their parking lot, let them know you’re on a mission to recycle and that you’re actually saving their customers the headache of flat tires from nails and sharp metal.
Most importantly, only do this in the daylight hours when the weather is decent, wear light-colored clothing, stay aware of your surroundings (it’s easy to get zoned out while searching), and avoid areas that are either too remote, or have too much traffic. If you’ve got a cell phone, take it with you. In other words, stay safe. And, of course, never ever steal!
2) Go through your house or apartment and start pulling out anything that might be of value to someone.
Start with little things that you can sell for 50 cents to less than 10 dollars. Items to consider are unused candles, ceramic pots, new or gently used books, videos, CDs or DVDs, storage containers, moving boxes, unused cleaning supplies, plant stands, baskets, jars, glassware, decorations, gift wrap/bows, holiday items, greeting cards, matted prints, photo frames, Igloos, luggage, handbags, gently used or never worn clothing or shoes, baby items, small appliances, lamps, pots & pans, kitchen supplies, office & computer supplies, unused light bulbs and batteries, decorative boxes, pet supplies, tools, crafting supplies (yarn, material, thread, needles, etc.), unopened bath toiletries (gift packs of cologne and shower gel, lotions or perfumes).
Begin setting the items aside in a place that won’t get disturbed.
Now, type or handwrite a one page flyer that says “MUST SELL!” at the top, with a subtitle of “Most Items Under $10” then create a paragraph listing the types of items you’re selling with asterisks or bullet points between each item. If you don’t mind having your phone number listed, include it at the bottom on the “contact fringe” area.
If not, use your email address (or set up a temporary one just for this purpose) and ask that people email you to set up a time to come by and look with the date/time frame of the sale (“Saturday and Sunday only”), and the general location of where you live. Specify cash only and that all sales are final.
Make about 5-10 copies (keep one for yourself). Pin one or two copies up at your closest grocery store, Wal-Mart and/or Target. (While you’re at the store, take whatever bit of cash you have on hand and get change in dollar bills and quarters). If you live in an apartment complex, post a copy by the mailboxes or on the community board.
Then hop on the internet and post an ad to Craigslist (CL) in your city. It’s free, fast, and no account set up is required. Come up with a good, catchy title (I love to include the fact I have a lot of different items and that most everything is under $10). Write a short description, similar to your flyer.
Since you know people who use CL have access to a computer, I highly recommend not including your phone number and just asking them to email you when they want to come by.
Tips to keep in mind when using Craigslist: Only deal locally, be wary of scam artists, payment in anything other than cash, rambling or odd replies (“would you be interested in a free TV?”, “I can help you make money in your spare time”) and anything else that sounds suspicious.
Take the time to read their warnings and scam examples. Although it depends on where you live and what you’re selling, you should expect to receive about 5-10 replies from legitimate people. Out of those, you’ll probably only wind up selling to 2-3 folks. But remember, it only takes one person to buy a few things to get you back on track.
In my experience, people can be very flaky on CL (the more miles they live from you, the flakier they get it seems). Be willing to negotiate on prices, or offer a discount if they buy a certain number of items. Remember: You can always mark it down, but you can’t mark it back up.
You’ll have to be flexible with your times, as people always seem to run late, or they want to come “right now.” Keep meetings to the daylight hours. Greet the person outside your door if possible. Have a friend come over if you’re alone or nervous about strangers coming to visit.
Usually, by the time you meet someone in person, there’s a bit of back and forth conversation online (and possible phone calls by then) and you’ll get a feel for the person. Do not give out your exact address until you feel comfortable with who you’re dealing with. If you’re in doubt, cancel the meeting and make up an excuse.
3) Borrow someone else’s garage sale.
This is especially handy for apartment dwellers without a garage, or for neighborhoods with garage sale restrictions. While you could luck out and know someone who’s having a garage sale right now that you could hitch your wagon to, chances are life just isn’t that perfect.
Get on the internet and browse for current or upcoming garage sales that are in or close to your neighborhood. Check Craigslist and your local newspaper online. Since most garage sales happen on the weekend, this might not be ideal if it’s say, Tuesday.
However, some people do like to get a jump on other sellers and start mid-week, or they might be moving and are clearing things out before a weekend.
If you can find something that fits your time limit, contact the person by phone or email and briefly explain your situation.
You could also drive around looking for sales and stop by in person. At any rate, be honest and friendly, focus on the “win-win” situation for both of you, and see if you could bring over a few boxes of items to sell (avoid any bulky or large items).
Sweeten the deal by offering to bring your own table and a chair (maybe even extras for them), but most importantly, offer them a small percentage of your sales. Plus, your items might help attract other customers.
Depending on your schedule and theirs, you can tell them you’ll only be around for a matter of hours on one particular day (if they seem like the “don’t want to be bothered” type), or offer to stick around longer to help them out in addition to, or in lieu of, a commission.
If they agree, be sure to be pleasant and friendly while you’re there and don’t overshadow their sale in any way. Be visible, but remember they were gracious enough to let you be involved. Offer your help whenever possible (i.e. loading something to someone’s car, “minding the store” when they go inside for a restroom break or a bite to eat, etc).
If all goes well, you might just be invited back to sell more items the following day or at their next sale. Another tip: Early mornings are usually the best times to sell.
4) Call your nearest pawn shop.
Find out if they’d be willing to purchase some of your pricier items (electronics, tools, watches, jewelry, musical instruments, etc). Remember that you can pawn items or you can sell them outright, which is what I always do.
I never seem to have anything of interest to them in the more expensive range, and if I did, I probably wouldn’t be willing to part with it, so here’s what I do instead: I sell them my unwanted DVDs.
Policies vary from store to store, but the one I go to buys DVDs in good shape for $1 (they sell them for $2). This particular store also doesn’t accept DVDs in cardboard cases, only plastic.
While it was hard at first to part with movies I paid a pretty penny for years ago, when I walk out with $10-$20 so I can fill up my gas tank and buy food at the store, that Oscar winning flick that I only watched once or twice suddenly doesn’t matter to me any longer.
It’s also taught me to never pay retail prices for movies. In fact, I haven’t bought a DVD in nearly two years. Signing up for Netflix was a big money saver for me, although I’ve suspended my account until I get back on my feet (very easy to do online as a way to save your queue and pick up where you left off!)
And one more tip to keep in mind: While you’ve got your phonebook out, search for pawn shop coupons as well. The place I go to has a coupon to get a free watch battery and replacement, so next time I head that way, I’ll get a little bonus and be able to wear my cheap watch again.
5) Ask friends or neighbors if they need any help.
If they don’t, maybe they know someone who does. Tasks might include mowing the lawn, raking leaves, changing light bulbs or filters, fixing things around the house, typing, tutoring, clearing gutters, painting, washing cars, babysitting, pet sitting or walking, running errands, or cleaning and organizing.
If you tell them you’re in a bit of a bind and need some quick cash, they might very well toss you an opportunity or pass along some tasks they’d rather not tackle themselves.
No matter which solution(s) you choose, you’ll find there’s money to be earned around every corner. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative or be bold. At this point, you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain!