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How do you make money fast?

“Furlough” is a much nicer f-word than “fired,” but it’s still one most people would rather not hear. The company I work for is making everyone take at least a 1-week furlough this quarter, which means you get a week off but you’re not paid for it. Thankfully, after having financial problems in my early 20’s, I have built up a savings account which I guard more vigilantly than any secret stash of Oreos. Some of my work friends are not so lucky and are looking for ways to make up the difference in their paychecks. Which is why I’ve been brainstorming ways to make extra money quickly.

1) Sell your blood plasma

If you’re not scared of needles, you can donate your blood plasma for about $25 a pop. I had a friend in college who did this when she was tight on cash. It does seem a bit icky to be selling your body fluids for money, but if every dollar counts it’s an option

2) Sell stuff on ebay or Craig’s list

Most people have stuff lying around their house that they aren’t using. I’ve got a huge box of CD’s I haven’t touched for years since I ripped everything to MP3s. I keep meaning to sell them at the Half-Price Bookstore near here for whatever pittance they’ll give me. Some people make stuff to sell, like all the crafters on Etsy.com, but I doubt all the time it would take a novice like me to make something sellable wouldn’t be worth the money I’d get :)

3) Get a second job

It can be hard to find a first job in this economy, but if you can manage to get a part-time job it can help cover the rent. Of course, you’ll probably be out of the house so much it barely makes sense to be paying rent :) Searching for freelance work might also be an option depending on your career field.

And that’s where I ran out of ideas. Anyone else have advice, serious or silly, on how to make some quick cash without selling your body on the street?

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Tricia • March 31, 2009 at 10:03 am

You can sell Mary Kay, it’s super fun and you can work as little or as much as you need to.


Dee • March 31, 2009 at 10:21 am

I sell on craigslist when it’s a big item, I sell books, cds etc. on half.com because unlike Ebay where they require to pay “fees” before posting half.com takes their fees when you sell. So unless you KNOW it’s going to sell on ebay, I wouldn’t put it up there and pay the fees, as minimal as they are.


Caitlin • March 31, 2009 at 10:31 am

I agree with the second job. That’s probably the easiest way to make extra money.

A yard sale is a good way to. Same as selling on ebay, but without that internet part. I had a yard sale a few years ago with my parents and we made almost $1,000. Well worth my Saturday afternoon. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure =)

Plus, with a yard sale you don’t have to worry about shipping the item to a person and waiting for the money. And everyone has stuff around their house they dont need anymore.


DAna • March 31, 2009 at 10:31 am

I have become an Exfuze distributor. I sell a great super food juice that ROCKS. I have better mobility and I have lost 17 lbs in a month. I am doing WW as well, but I need all the help I can get! Good luck to all job hunters. Makes me grateful I have a job. Better get to work!


Forthright Fattie • March 31, 2009 at 10:48 am

Look for under the table jobs–hang signs in coffeeshops in affluent areas advertising your services as a babysitter, tutor, lawnmower, etc.

This one isn’t about earning money, but about not spending. Go super-lean on groceries for a week. Eat oatmeal (not instant) for breakfast, peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, and rice and beans for dinner. It’ll get old fast, but do it for a week and, as pastaqueen says, if every dollar counts, you could probably save $50 bucks from your weekly grocery bill.


Cathleen • March 31, 2009 at 10:49 am

In my state (that would be New York) you get paid for serving jury duty if you’re unemployed.


Debbi • March 31, 2009 at 11:05 am

Good for you for having that personal savings back-up. Enjoy your furlough! Heh.

When I want to make money fast, eBay works best for me. (I sell quite a bit of yarn, and almost everything sells, so fees aren’t an issue for me.) I’m in the middle of nowhere; Craigslist isn’t even an option. I’m trying to talk my husband into doing a yard sale – that would be faster than eBay.

My auction winners usually pay instantly the day the auction closes. I use PayPal for payments and have the money transferred to my checking account, which is about a two-day process. All in all, as long as I plan ahead a little bit (a week to 10 days), I can have as much cash in hand as I need.


Melissa • March 31, 2009 at 11:10 am

I’m fortunately working for a company that’s going against the odds and still hiring, still adding new business … but for my own personal savings and satisfaction, I became a Lia Sophia jewerly consultant. I love it — I’ve gotten to meet new people, and I can control how many shows I do. And I literally made $300 in one night, doing what I love: socializing!!

(If anyone’s interested in hosting a catalog show, let me know — you can find my email addy on my blog)


heidi • March 31, 2009 at 11:22 am

figure model for art classes. all shapes all sizes are welcome (infact, more is better, no one takes a class to learn how to draw stick figures)

generally 3 hours time paid but you don’t sit whole time. everyone is respectful and you are in a safe environment acting merely as a bowl of fruit. your comfort is the concern, are you warm?, do you need a break? – anything to help keep you sitting still and in a pose you can return to.

check the local colleges/univeristies/community programs.


jkd • March 31, 2009 at 11:34 am

If you have a college degree (and sometimes if you don’t, depending on the state or district) you can sign up to be a substitute teacher.


Boots • March 31, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Sign up with a whole bunch of temp agencies and tell them you can only do really short-term assignments, and then call them every morning to ask politely if anything’s available (they will get annoyed but sometimes they give you work just to stop you from calling!).

Also, this sounds silly, but once my husband and I were dead broke and we got through till payday by finding all the change in our cars, old bags, purses, couch, pockets, etc and taking it to a coin-counting machine.


Becky • March 31, 2009 at 1:22 pm

In the last month or so I’ve gotten interested in the frugality movement. It’s truly amazing what you can save if you’re willing to do the research and spend a little time. And there’s no need to be shy about it. The frugality people overlap pretty heavily with the green earth people, so if you’re uncomfortable sounding “cheap”, just push the green angle and suddenly you’re stylish! Although, I think being cheap has become more interesting to a lot of people. Even those who don’t have any immediate expectation of losing their jobs are trying to save more, because suddenly that “what if” seems a lot more possible.

Food is one place that many people can really cut back without suffering. I’ve really tried to shop my pantry first lately, and it’s amazing how often I’m able to put together a meal when there was “nothing to eat.” Make a game of it. If you can cut out even one grocery run you’ll save money.

Sometimes you just have to make more money. But a close look at what you’re spending and how you could save might put more money in your pocket than an extra job.


Leigh Anne • March 31, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Instead of trying to earn extra money, they could work right now to decrease the money they spend and put those savings aside to hold them over for that week. Cut back or cancel cable, use up the food you already have and slash your grocery budget, Only drive if absolutely necessary and run all your errands on the same day to save on gas. Look at increasing deductibles to save on insurance. Cut back on restaurant eating. There are tons of ideas out there that could easily net you a couple hundred dollars a month in savings that could go towards funding the furlough.


Elty • March 31, 2009 at 1:41 pm

As for donating blood, I went a couple weeks ago and discovered that I am permanently ineligible to donate any fluids because I spent more than a total of three months in Great Britain between 1980 and 1996, and thus at risk for Mad Cow. I guess that would also prevent me from donating a kidney to pay off student loans?


Tina • March 31, 2009 at 1:57 pm

My advice:

Take advantage of the crap economy. Colleges are not filling vacancies for professors, instead choosing to hire an adjunct. Typically you need a master’s degree in the field you’d teach in. The gig can be worth $1000+ for teaching 1 summer or semester-long class.

Write. Magazines and newspapers are laying off writers, graphic artists and editors. Many times they replace these with freelancers. Pay varies.

The reason more of these types of job opportunities pop up is because employers save money by not hiring full-time staff whom they’d be obligated to pay for health care benefits, retirement plans, vacation days, etc.

Also, when the economy dips and unemployment rises, many people choose to go to grad school. Perhaps Kaplan or other test-prep agencies will need more proctors or instructors for their test prep classes.


caroline • March 31, 2009 at 3:14 pm

If you’re on a bi-weekly pay schedule, you get the occasional “bonus” paycheck in some 5-Friday months. I don’t think you really notice the money until the following month, but it still drastically changes the monthly budget. Try stashing that paycheck until your furlough. If you’re used to having two paychecks a month, that third one can be a nice little jump.


Kyle • March 31, 2009 at 3:25 pm

I mean, my suggestion sort of relates to selling your body on the street. But I’d say donating an egg or two isn’t a bad idea…pays really well. I’m actually considering it.


Merry • March 31, 2009 at 3:33 pm

When my company furloughed us last year, I used up all my vacation days to cover the difference. Now I’m afraid to take a day off for fear they’ll do the same thing again. Definitely time to go find a Sugar Daddy.


Amy • March 31, 2009 at 3:39 pm

I once was a lab chemist by day, pizza delivery person by night. I did it to save money to buy my first house. It was great–free pizza (less food cost!), flexible schedule (they were willing to work with me since I was smart, reliable, and available evenings), and huge tips if I happened to deliver to someone who worked at my day job and felt sorry for me! I will say I lived in a small, safe town at the time. I don’t think I’d deliver pizza in the big city now. It was a pretty entertaining gig too… met all kinds of crazy folks. Now I’m really good at finding addresses too!


tikna • March 31, 2009 at 4:01 pm

If it is not an ethical problem for you, you can donate eggs and help out infertile women. You have to take fertility drugs and there are risk, but you are compensated $6000-$8000 for your time.


EG • March 31, 2009 at 4:07 pm

HELLO, sell your Bananapus! Is that what it was called? The thing from the Denny’s commercial that your crocheted.

It’s easier to save than to increase income (to an extent, anyway). Most of us have a lot of fluff spending we can eliminate.

I’m about to do some standardized test scoring, too. It’s a seasonal job of course, and it took them 2 years after I first applied to need me, but it’s extra bucks that might come in handy some day. It’s all online.


Lex • March 31, 2009 at 4:28 pm

If you’re furloughed or otherwise forced to take time off without pay, you may be eligible for unemployment compensation. Usually you have to be out of work for 5 or more consecutive days, but it’s worth looking into. Call your state unemployment division or Google “[your state] unemployment furlough” to find out if you’re eligible.


Sarah • March 31, 2009 at 4:34 pm

@Tina – Hear ye, hear ye! That’s the truth. I just applied for medical school and got rejected. There were more than a 1000 extra applicants at the school I wanted to go to and that’s just a state school. I’m in a Kaplan class now getting ready to reapply and they’ve papered our school in flyers for new teachers. I think our teacher makes like $30 an hour or something. Plus gas. Plus food.


Quix • March 31, 2009 at 4:54 pm

My fiance talked to a neighbor who owns his own gardening company and he paid him to help with a few jobs and to pass out fliers and put up ads/posts on neighborhood sites. Maybe someone around your neighborhood might need some help with their yard or doing odd jobs? Not really a long term solution, but for a week of furlough it might help out.


PurpleGirl • March 31, 2009 at 5:06 pm

My old roommate used to do the blood plasma donating thing; we’d be sitting around and she’d announce “I’m going to go prostitute my blood, see you later!” :)


Jay • March 31, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Busking. I have a friend who is an obnoxiously-talented musician, when he used to find himself lean for the rent at the end of the month, a day busking in the city centre would do the trick.

Clinical Trials Volunteers. If you have the spare time, and are fit and healthy, these pay very good money — with only a very small risk associated. The longer the drug trial, the more cash you get for it. Plus, you can feel all warm and fuzzy about helping medical science while you’re still alive.

I tried getting a second job, but now I feel bad about myself that I couldn’t even get a job delivering pizza for Dominos. I also tried selling my art on Etsy, but nobody wanted it. I got one enquiry when I listed a piece on Facebook, but I think they were money laundering.


Skippy • March 31, 2009 at 6:18 pm

I was an egg donor…once. First you have to pass some medical/genetic tests and psychological screening, and then you have to be chosen by a recipient. After that, you have to make it through two stages of hormone therapy without being downed by side effects (if you have to stop part way, they pay you up to a certain point). Towards the end, you have to go to the doctor nearly every day, and then there is a final appointment where you get “extracted.” The final stage of hormones gave me the equivalent of hyper PMS. I couldn’t work for 3 days after the “extraction” because, ow. And after all that, it was 2 months before I got the money I was due.

They compensate egg donors because it takes so much freakin’ time!!! If you have a full time job, I recommend being an ovum donor only if you aren’t in desperate need of a quick financial fix, and if you have a) some vacation time saved up b) the related doctor’s offices around the corner from where I worked and c) a very patient partner or no partner.

Good luck!


bisous • March 31, 2009 at 7:06 pm

A lot of owners of nurseries need seasonal workers, and most pay under the table. After school nanny kind of jobs are also good to find (on craiglist) if you have a job that ends at 2-3 and you like kids, you can get some more hours from 3-6 or so for professional working moms.


Small Steps to Health • March 31, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Though my company is not talking about furloughs yet, I am sure that might be the case in 3 months at the start of the next budget year. I would love to say that blogging is a profitable side income for me, but that is not yet the case. However, I do have a little savings just like you do. But it is difficult to guard it since my husband likes dipping his hands into the cookie jar.

@Skippy – what about weight gain? I heard that since you have so many hormones floating around that most women end up gaining weight when they donate eggs.


Kari • March 31, 2009 at 8:08 pm

@Lex – In Indiana, you have a 1-week waiting period before you can receive unemployment benefits so I’m guessing that’s probably why they chose a 1-week furlough.


PastaQueen • March 31, 2009 at 9:52 pm

@Kari – We had a furlough in the first quarter too and I filed for unemployment that week. Which means I’ll get unemployment on my furlough this time!


Laura P • April 1, 2009 at 1:52 am

I have a shop on Etsy.com, but let’s just say I won’t be showing up in Forbes any time soon!

I’ve been thinking about selling craft supplies that I don’t use anymore on Craig’s List. I’m also contemplating finding some freelance writing gigs, but haven’t done it before. I’m not sure how realistic that is.

Good luck to everyone looking for a way to make extra cash!


Saevae • April 1, 2009 at 2:30 am

Actually, donating plasma is tougher than you think. You have to be within a particular BMI for them to accept you, at least around the Phoenix area.


deenie • April 1, 2009 at 3:04 am

My sisters used to tutor and type term papers for extra cash. My sweetie does lawn work and powerwashing. I used to babysit.

I agree that it’s easier to cut spending than to generate income, especially in this economy. Turn your cable off – or downgrade – for the summer. Who watches TV during rerun season anyway?

Do you have to take your week all at once? Maybe take a day off every pay period to lessen the blow. Or maybe change your withholding allowance, if you get a tax refund, so you get a little at a time instead of a big payout once a year.


Christine • April 1, 2009 at 7:46 am

ok, usually I just read and don’t post.

I actually work for a plasma company, and have for the last 15 years. I agree it can be creepy to think of selling your plasma, but get over it and help people already!

The plasma center I work for has an Adopt-A-Patient program to put a face on the need for plasma. Our patient Jessica has an immune defiency that requires 390 donations each month to make the medications she needs just for her to live. Considering that a person is only allowed a maximum amount of two donations every seven days, Jessica relies on almost 50 people making the maximum eight donations a month just so she can live. There are over a hundred thousand people like her in the United States, not to mention needs in countries that are unable to produce plasma products for themselves.

So check out the plasma thing, doesn’t matter which company (we’re all regulated by FDA) and help some people while you help yourself to some extra cash. :-)


Christine • April 1, 2009 at 7:53 am

@Saevae –

I know our company tracks and monitors a donor’s weight as an early sign of possible infection/disease (like HIV/AIDS) as a FDA requirement. FDA sets the minimum weight as 110 # and our policies are to accept donors to the maximum calibrated capacity of the scale. We used to use scales that only went to 300 until we noticed how many donors we were turning away (as I weigh over 350 myself) and made a change to buy new scales that could be calibrated up to 400 pounds.


Rachel • April 1, 2009 at 8:00 am

I’ve worked for temp nanny agencies providing short term (evening or weekend) babysitting. It was a great gig and was all cash transactions. Also, you can also get your name put on lists at hotels as a babysitting contact so that when people in town ask the concierge, your name is there.

Another option is to get your substitute teaching license. In most states, if you have a college degree you can qualify for this. Subs can make $100+ a day.

Just my two cents :)


Amy • April 1, 2009 at 3:51 pm

A friend of ours lost her job. We’ve hired her for housecleaning and yardwork here and there. It’s cheap for us since it’s all cash based and she’s not a pro, plus we trust her to have access to our home. She does petsitting too.


Kari • April 1, 2009 at 6:04 pm

@PastaQueen – That’s good :) I wondered if the 1-week waiting period was a 1-time deal as long as you are on the same “claim” for the year. Guess so.


K • April 2, 2009 at 1:44 pm

@Elty – You can’t even make your fortune donating in Britain – they don’t pay for it here… all you get is a cup of tea and a Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer if you’re lucky.


Rachael • April 2, 2009 at 2:58 pm

@Rachel – Except in my area where they make $60 a day. And it’s still almost impossible to land a gig because everyone without a job is trying to sub.


psychsarah • April 3, 2009 at 9:15 am

For the non-squeamish who live in cold climates that are now getting warm: offer your services to pick up dog poop in people’s backyards. As the snow thaws and spring arrives, things can get, well, icky. Some smart entrepeneurial types in my old neighborhood charged about $40 for an average yard, which took them 45 min to an hour to finish, hence about $40 an hour. Not a fun job, by any means, but if you plug your nose and get over yourself, it can be some quick cash!


Anna • April 6, 2009 at 7:33 pm

@K – oooohhhh!!! You guys get a caramel wafer?!?!? I love tunnocks!!! All we get here in Australian is a glass of cordial and a cracker with a slice of tomato on the top (made up hours beforehand so that they have merged into a soggy mess before you get to them). That said, I am now offically part of the mad-cow club, having spent a good part of my life in the UK, so not allowed to donate either :(


oolala53 • August 15, 2009 at 3:46 pm

I recommend cutting down on spending and using down time to pursue developing a talent you don’t get to use in your work. There have been many good suggestions but I also recommend shopping thrift stores. I get compliments all the time for clothes I have found at thrift stores, some of them with the tags still on them. I have two pairs of sandals that had absolutely no wear on them; got ’em for $7 each. Later I found that two different friends had the same sandals and had paid

$100 a pair for them! Regarding not eating out so much, get a plastic container with sections in it. I’ve gotten into the habit of using these for lunch and I have snacks, too, so I don’t end up getting starved and getting fast food on the way home. I figure I spend about $2-3 for a day of better quality food and snacks than I can buy out and there is not so much waste of containers and such.


Mary • December 13, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Market research groups. Seriously – call about being a focus group. You won’t always qualify, but the money ranges from good to fantastic. And it’s cash.

I made $50 one night listening to 100 song snippets and delivering my opinion on how tired I was of that song. And I made $200 one afternoon in a focus group on gas-powered generators (something I know too much about, unfortunately!)


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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