More Unusual Money Ideas - Platinum recycling, paper jewelry...

 Here is another small collection of unusual money ideas. By the way, if any of you have some I haven't covered, feel free to send your ideas to me. I will use them on the website.

Bicycle Recycling

This one was covered briefly in the issue on businesses for children. But it works well for at least one adult I met. In fact, at the time I met him years ago, he had 50 bicycles piled up on a trailer behind his truck. That was his first haul of the day. It was at a collection point for a township clean-up day, where residents could bring anything to throw away. Many brought bicycles, and this guy took them before they were put into the crushers.

He said that he fixes them up and resells them out of his yard. He gets a couple hundred each year. I didn't ask how many he sold or for how much, but he had been doing this for years, so I guess it was worth the effort.

Platinum Recycling

One man found that he could pay a reasonable fee for each catalytic converter at auto salvage yards, and then extract the platinum to resell. He had to remove the converters himself, but the cars were lined up close to one another in the junk yards, so he could collect many quickly, and make a few dollars profit on each. You'll have to look up the details of how to process these, and find a buyer for the platinum.


Bulletin Board Service

You may have seen bulletin boards in stores, apartment buildings and other places, which look more professional than normal. They are. They are placed there by companies which sell space on them. The property owner appreciates a neat board, typically available for his use as well.

This isn't a complicated business. You do have to buy the boards (or make them, as I read about one man doing), and they should have a plastic locking cover. Once you have say, eight of them placed around the city, you charge $6 per month for a small ad on each, or discount it to $50 for placement on all ten. Advertise the service on the board, of course: "Your ad here for just $6 per month. Call..." If you can eventually sell 50 spaces per board, eight boards would gross $2,000 or more per month.

Paper Jewelry

I had never heard about paper jewelry until I recently read how one woman has made a business making and selling it. She displays it in beauty parlors. Earrings, pins and more can be made by intricately folding and gluing and preparing various colored papers. There are even books on the subject (at least one at last time I looked).

Junk Recycling

The man who recycles bicycles (above) also collected the used bikes from the curbside during a nearby city's spring clean-up. I have seen others coming down the streets with trailers full of furniture they have "junk picked." It is amazing how many useful things are thrown away in this country, and especially in the wealthier communities. I assume these "regulars" who show up every year to collect their goodies are selling them. A used furniture store could be completely stocked for free in a day during some spring-clean-ups.

Metals Recycling

A mechanic once broke the aluminum wheel on my car. The good news is that after he replaced it, he put the broken wheel in the trunk, and I sold it for $5 to a metal recycling place on the way home. This was many years ago, so I imagine I would get even more for it now.

Now the question this suggests, is how many people have junk items in their garages and basements that are made of aluminum, copper, and other valuable metals. If you learned the values well, and perhaps carried a small scale, you might make some money going to rummage sales looking for things, and asking about any scrap metal the home owner has. This occurred to me after my parents hired a man to tear down an old building and I noticed that he was carefully separating out the copper tubing and aluminum storm-door frames from the junk. He had a little bonus planned for himself.


I would never recommend that anyone try to make a living gambling unless they really know what they are doing. Having worked in a casino years ago, I have seen what people's delusions about their luck or skills can do to their finances. On the other hand, I have also seen the occasional consistent winner. Poker, in particular, is the game where it is most possible to overcome the casino "cut" and put the odds in your favor.

I read a book once about a man who made a living playing poker. This wasn't in a casino, but in his home or others. He was making (annually) what would be the equivalent of about $140,000 in today's dollars. But if you read the work and study he put into this "career," you might not want to follow his lead. He kept a book of detailed notes on every player, learned everything about probabilities, distracted players with food to improve the odds, and more.

Of course, this isn't really a very unusual money idea any longer, and many people are trying to make money with online poker games as well. But be careful! This may be one of the easiest ways to lose money as well.