admin Posted on 2:26 pm

10 ways to make money right now

My oldest son, Matthew, called me a loser the other day. He is 16 years old. He’s fine, he didn’t call me a “loser” specifically, but he was talking to a nurse in the ER about how he planned to go into politics when he grew up. He wants to be president, he said.

“Hey,” I said after the nurse had left, “I was going to be president when I grew up.”

He was really going to be president. He had every intention of going into politics when I was between 14 and 18 years old. My intention was to complete college, maybe go to law school, and then run for office, with the White House in sight. Long story short, I went to college in DC and, in essence, found that I enjoyed writing about politics and being an activist more than I wanted to run for office, and as I pointed out to my son, who was looking with a lot of pity – I still have time to run for office if I so choose. At 34 years old, I’m not even eligible to run for president…although time is running stronger now than ever.

“I know, mom,” he said. “But I’m actually going to do it.” The way she said it, it hurt a little. She said it with such disdain, as if she had thrown away my dream. Did she see Me simply as a wife and mother, with no other accomplishments to my credit? Did she think that I somehow failed because my dreams at 14 or 15 weren’t the dreams I achieved?

He did.

That saddened me. She didn’t say it to be mean, she knew it, she just said it as a fact. He had chosen a life that he saw as “normal”, but if he really looked at it, he would see that my life has been the complete opposite.

My path down the “road less traveled” has forced me to think creatively about income from time to time, well most of the time. After trying life in the suburbs as a two-income family, each with a steady “regular” job, I quickly learned that a regular job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In addition to the added burdens on your time and income, stable jobs are not so stable anymore. Although I left my newspaper six months before it folded, it folded. And they would have fired me. My husband, a computer guru and expert in his field, has seen jobs come and go as the “Internet bubble” shrinks and expands. He has worked for small companies and large corporations that succumb to some type of merger, consolidation or downsizing pressure.

Tired of living paycheck to paycheck, we searched for a simpler lifestyle, and we found it on my childhood farm in Vermont. Vermont is abundant with beauty, solitude, and tranquility. What it does not abound in is job opportunities. To make up for the hard times when my writing hasn’t paid very well, or my husband’s consulting is going through a slump, I’ve learned that there are many ways one can make money right away. And some of these things can be turned into businesses if you like them enough. Each one I suggest can be done with a minimal cash outlay, because if you need cash, you usually can’t invest in a business opportunity…they can also be done with kids in tow. I’m a stay-at-home mom and I’m happy to be, but I’m also smart and creative and I don’t think one has to replace the other. You can do something nice and stay home with your kids (which is nice too). Also, I’ve done at least a week of shopping with each of these suggestions at some point in my life…and some of them were my income for that year.

1. Used books. Do you have a large collection of books? Even a small collection? People are always looking for books. And used bookstores, eBay, and your local classifieds paper are a great way to make some money and clear out a shelf or two, too. I know of several farm families who maintain their cash needs by selling their used books. I wouldn’t invest in a store, but if you have a large collection of books, particularly in a specific area or two, you should have no problem getting started on eBay or a regular website. If you don’t have your own books to sell right now, you can usually get great books at yard sales, local thrift stores, or libraries (your scraps, don’t go with them). A lot of times, people are willing to practically give away books, if you’ll just get them out of their house.

2. Extra vegetables or fruits from the garden? Why not set up a roadside stand or purchase a stand at a local farmers market? You don’t have to be an official farmer to sell your vegetables. If tomatoes are growing out of your ears, but you don’t have cash for canning supplies, set up a “store.” You’ll be surprised how many people will stop by and be grateful for your local efforts.

3. Bake bread or other pastries. Are you a good cook? You don’t have to be, yet. But with a little effort and a desire to bake you could keep your town on cookies, brownies, whoopie pies, and homemade breads. I did this when I had my last $5 a month left! It had a ton of flour, but very little else. I baked all kinds of breads (cinnamon, sandwich, herb round loaves) and asked at the local farmers market if I could sell what I baked. I sold everything before the market closed that day, earning enough to put gas in my car, buy food for the week, and more flour and other ingredients so I could come back the following weekend. I supported myself and my three children for quite some time with my bakery business, a business I enjoyed immensely.

4. Type. You can write? I don’t mean fast. You don’t have to type 100 words per minute to earn a few bucks writing. You just have to be willing to spend time writing when someone else isn’t. I had no idea how to type when I put an ad in the paper saying I’d be willing to write resumes, term papers, business proposals, whatever. But I met another girl who was charging $2 per page. I got paid $1.50 a page and even though I’m sure my hourly rate was terrible, I made a lot of extra money, writing…and was able to stay home with my new baby and listen to NPR at the same time!

5. Tutoring. Were you brilliant at algebra as a kid? Well, he wasn’t, but he was the local grammarian. He was a whiz at English grammar, spelling, and history and he made $10 an hour helping local high school and college students study for their SATs, editing papers, you name it. This is a great way to feel useful and make money at the same time! And again, all you need is a brochure and your phone number. Offer to tutor at your local public library or local YMCA.

6. Give lessons. Play the piano? Can you spin a spinning wheel, knit, or decorate a cake? Secure a location (a church basement, community center room, or library are all great places to start) and put up a few signs and fliers around town. You’ll be surprised how happy some people will be to pay $25 or $30 to learn what you know! You can take one class or a series of classes. Be sure to research how much others are charging for similar classes in your area, don’t underestimate yourself, but unless you have a lot of teaching experience, don’t overcharge, especially on your first round.

7. Write and publish a brochure. This could easily complement your class or lessons, or work well on its own. While most people are in favor of getting initial information from the web, myself included, writing a brochure on your subject matter and then marketing it in the appropriate publications could earn you, not millions, but a nice steady income. Remember, in this type of writing, being more specific is better. Don’t write a “how to fix your car” brochure. Write the authoritative guide to “fixing the 1970 Volvo truck”. Or whatever. An alternative, or extension to publishing the brochure, is to write it up and then publish it as a .PDF, which interested people can download from your website. Of course, they would have to pay $5 or whatever you think your brochure is worth, in order to download it. Offering these types of services is much easier than I initially thought. PayPal is a great source for these types of transactions.

8. Run bums for people. This is so simple that I was surprised I hadn’t thought of it years before, especially when I was in high school and had bought my first car. This service would be wonderful no matter where you live: rural, urban, or suburban. Put up flyers, place ads in the local newspaper. Run all kinds of errands: pick up the dry cleaning, buy groceries, pick up prescriptions, drop off movies, take a dog to the groomer. You’d be surprised at the kinds of things people would pay you to do. I once got paid to drive two children to school every morning! This is also the type of service you might offer to a local nursing home or senior center. Seniors may need someone to ride for them, or may want to accompany them on the trip. Obviously, you’ll need to do a fee schedule – if you’re just picking up a prescription, you might charge $5 or $10, but a full shopping list will be a bit more. Calculate an “per hour” rate (how much it costs you to run the errand, taking into account time spent, gas, etc.) and make sure you can combine errands. And keep your cell phone handy (if you have one, I didn’t and it worked fine).

9. Walking dogs, taking care of pets, taking care of houses, taking care of children. Do all four, or just one or two. These are self-explanatory, but there is always a market for them. Now, I’m not saying open a home daycare. If you’re not sure what you want to do as a career, then don’t do it. But how many of us babysat as teenagers just for extra money? You can do that too. Put your name down and babysit for a night or a day or two. House sitting can be almost like a paid vacation and my kids loved the jobs I took on as a pet sitter – cleaning cages, feeding cats and dogs, it was like having pets without having pets!

10. Do something. Before polar fleece home accessories were available at Wal-Mart, I made quite a living sewing baby blankets, booties, pillows, and other items out of polar fleece fabric. Right now, if I had to, I would knit a bunch of wristbands (fingerless gloves) and take them to my local craft fair, gift shop, or consignment shop. Are you good at doing something? Maybe you make the best tartar sauce in the world. Or you make beautiful hats for babies. Golden wooden spoons. Whatever it is, I guarantee that if you do it right and offer it at a fair price, someone will like it and buy it. Be creative. I started with baby blankets because I made some for my first two babies and my friends started asking me to make one for them. The wristbands happened the same way and although I don’t sell them now, I do make them as Christmas gifts and save on shopping!

There you have it: 10 things you could start doing right now to make money. Would Matthew be proud that he did all these things to make money, instead, as he would say, to achieve my original dream of being president? Probably not. But he is 16 years old and very little of his parents impresses him at the moment! But you know what? I am proud of myself. I am proud that I used my creative skills to earn money when I needed it, or when I wanted a little more, or when I just wanted to try something new. Matt can be dismissive, but he’s never been hungry, and considering some of the hard times we’ve been through, that’s something else to be proud of. I also didn’t have to work for someone else if I didn’t choose, which not many people can say these days.

But am I president? Well, no… not yet, anyway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *