Showing posts with label Weirdest Money Ideas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Weirdest Money Ideas. Show all posts
Weirdest Money Ideas : What myself and others have done to make a buck

Weirdest Money Ideas : What myself and others have done to make a buck

 I have always been fascinated by the more unusual ways to make money. My own list of jobs and businesses I’ve had in my life includes selling rocks, tracking people down to serve court papers, and writing about carpet stains.

Here are some other odd things that people have done to make money. A few might be worth trying, and the others, well… they will entertain us if nothing else.    

Pet Detective

This is not just an invention for the sake of a Jim Carrey movie (or two). There really are pet detectives out there that will track down lost cats and dogs and otherwise investigate animal-related mysteries. There is even a “pet detective university” to help you get credentials.

Breath Odor Evaluator

The bad news is that only a few people are needed in the whole country to sniff other peoples exhalations. Well maybe that’s not such bad news. In any case, the job involves testing the effectiveness of various breath-freshening products ranging from chewing gum to mouthwash.

Dog Food Tester

I just recently saw this one in a book of odd jobs. There was a nice photo of a woman biting into a juicy chunk of dog food. I’m not sure how humans can tell what a dog will like, but I suppose there are worse jobs (it’s a tossup between this and sniffing bad breath).


Pond Treasure Scavenging

When they emptied the pond in a local park here in our town, there were coins all over. I found two old pennies and a nickel while talking to a man who was searching the mud with his metal detector. His pockets were bulging with his discoveries. Apparently the pond had not been emptied in eighty years, and along with the bread people threw into it for the ducks, they also tossed in coins for good luck. It was good luck for that treasure hunter. Look for any ponds or lakes being emptied near you.

Focus Group Jobs

People get paid to sit around and watch videos, talk about products, and express their opinions. It used to be tough to find these temporary jobs, but now there are a few websites online that list openings or give information on who to contact.

Dog Mannequins

Yes, people buy dog mannequins. In fact, there are two distinct markets here. Some are sold to pet stores and other businesses that need puppies to display products. Then there are the ones that are used for veterinary and emergency responder training. The latter are very realistic (organs and veins even), and they sell for up to thousands of dollars each.

Human Guinea Pig Jobs

Of all the weird ways to make money listed here, this is perhaps the most dangerous. Then again, not all research volunteers have to try new medicines. Some get paid hundreds of dollars just to eat a different diet for a five or six weeks. Of course even those positions involve having your blood drawn a few times, so skip this one of you are afraid of needles.



Weirdest Money Ideas : Selling Fame to the Dead

Weirdest Money Ideas : Selling Fame to the Dead

You may recall my report a few years back about the sale of the crypt above that of Marilyn Monroe. The crypt was occupied already by the body of a man who wanted to be face down above Monroe for eternity. But his wife, who had originally put his body there, had second thoughts, and decided it would be nice to pay off her mortgage, so she decided to auction the not-so-final resting place on eBay.

The winning bid was $4,600,000. Yes, you read that correctly. Someone paid over $4 million for a crypt just because it is over that of Marilyn Monroe. However, the Japanese buyer didn't come through with the money. It isn't clear whether another of the bidders bought the crypt, and the story was quickly dropped from the news.

But recently the Huffington Post reported that there was a crypt for sale in the same row as Marilyn Monroe's at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles. It is a few places over and just above hers, and it was selling for a more modest $250,000. It may have sold by now, but again the story has faded away.

In any case, this is an odd enough way to make money that I thought I should report on it again and see what ideas it suggests. The basic concept is that of selling fame to the dead (or perhaps as much to those left behind). Sell a crypt near a famous person, or a grave site next to one. The buyers of these homes for the dead apparently want to spend eternity next to their favorite celebrities, or just want to latch on to their fame as a way to be remembered.

A natural question (well, it's natural for me) is whether there's a way for others to make money at this. Of course anyone who already owns prime death real estate can give it a try, but what if you don't already own a grave site next to a famous person? One simple solution is to buy one. Buy cheap and sell it for more. Okay, here is a more complete, if speculative, business plan, just in case you want to attempt to do this.

How to Sell Fame to the Dead

The first step is to search out and find the burial locations of as many dead celebrities as possible. Starting with those closest to you might make this more practical. A website like will get you started (now there's an odd way to make money as well).

The second step is to see if there are empty grave sites or crypts next to or above any of them. You could also try to get people to move their loved ones from adjacent spots for a one-time payment, but that might be too ghoulish.

The third step is to list the great locations are empty. You'll have to do some research to get the phone numbers of whoever manages the graveyards and crypts, so you can ask about this. Of course, if you are near the place you can drive over and check the situation out for yourself.

The fourth step is to locate the owners and start negotiating. If a person has paid $20,000 for a site, he or she might be happy to get a new one before they die, if you pay $40,000 for the one they have. Naturally you are hoping to sell the spot for $60,000 or more.

I imagine that many readers are thinking at this point, "How can I predict what a grave site or crypt will sell for, so I don't lose my investment the first time I try this?" There may be ways to predict that with some accuracy if you teamed up with an auctioneer. But you don't have to be too precise. Instead, you just make an educated guess about a few of these "prime properties" and make sure your offer to buy includes a way out.

For example, you can include in your contract the right to cancel the deal if you cannot raise the money for the purchase within thirty days. Sellers typically will have been holding onto these grave sites or crypts for years, so they might be okay with this stipulation when they know they can make a great profit should the deal go through.

The fifth step is to list theses homes for the dead on eBay and see what kind of offers you get. Just be sure to set a reserve price that allows you a profit (you don't have to sell if your reserve is not met). If you don't get a bid that is high enough, you didn't raise the money necessary for the purchase within 30 days, so you can cancel the contract. But who knows? You might find a gravesite that you can buy for $40,000 for and sell for $400,000. Try for one next to John Wayne or Ronald Reagan or Lassie perhaps.

How likely is success with this plan? I have no idea. But selling fame to the dead (or to the living who want to plan ahead for fame when they are dead) is an interesting way to make money, and a fun concept to play with. Let me know if you make a profit selling prime real estate next to the remaining bones of a famous movie star or political leader.




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

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.



Unusual Money Ideas & Odd ideas that have actually been profitable

Unusual Money Ideas & Odd ideas that have actually been profitable

The following is a selection of unusual money ideas. You'll notice that some of these have actually worked, while others are unproven. Maybe you can be the first to give those a try.

Fetal Greetings

I recently read the true story of a woman who has a business online selling "fetal greeting" cards. They have a picture of a fetus announcing his or her coming entry intro the world. She got the idea while looking for a unique way to tell family and friends that she was pregnant. A friend drew pictures for her, and she liked the results so much that she decided to make a business out of it. Since her site has been online for seven years now, I assume she has had some success.



Make Your Auto a Billboard

Using one's vehicle for advertising is certainly not new. Many small businesses use their vehicles to promote themselves. But why not try renting space to businesses on your personal car? You should probably document how many miles you normally drive it and where, so the advertisers will know their ads are being seen, and by their target audience.

From Garage Sale to Ebay

You have undoubtedly heard about people buying things at garage sales that they then have sold on Ebay for big profits. I once met a man who bought some old jeans for $2 and sold them on Ebay for over $250. I had to look that night and see the bids (some higher than that) to believe him.

The problem, of course, is knowing what will sell and for how much. But what if you have a laptop computer with a satellite internet connection? You could take it with you to garage sales, and buy things only after seeing that they are selling on Ebay - and seeing what the current bids are. This almost guarantees you won't guess wrong and lose money too often.

Gas Station Target Practice

I recently visited a money-making blog and saw a hilarious idea. The author wanted to set up a gas station that gave away free gas. The catch? The gas came out very slowly, and mounted cameras with paintball guns attached gave people online the opportunity to shoot at the customers for a fee.

This may not work, of course, and he said that the city wouldn't allow him to do it. But the general idea of interactive cameras and devices for use online is full of potential. People might pay to see people walking by, for example, if they could also say what they wanted to them through a speaker, as they passed. And there are certainly some better ideas than this out there.

At Home Grocery Store

When I used to rent room in my home years ago, I also sold groceries to the renters out of a closet. They simply took what they needed and marked it on a sheet of paper. The cost was added to rent. This was one of several extra sources of income I made from my tenants.

Now, to expand on this, what about the general idea of groceries being available to people for purchase at home? Perhaps a mobile grocery store in a truck or van would work. Like an ice cream truck, you run a route with your store, playing music or some announcement to get attention, and then you stop on each street to see who wants to go shopping. Or maybe there's a way to put a grocery store in an apartment building (an oversized vending machine) and stock it once a week?

Check out the page More Unusual Money Ideas as well.



Make Money Finding Things

Make Money Finding Things

 Treasure Hunting Begins at Home

Yes, you can make money finding things - if you know where to look and what to look for. There are many things you can find that can be sold. Gold and precious stones come to mind, but it doesn't end there. Get up into that attic to see what treasures you find, and then check out some of the more unusual ways to go treasure hunting below.


Hunting Diamonds in Parking Lots

The temperature changes your jewelry experiences getting in and out of cars and buildings cause diamonds to come loose from their settings. This makes parking lots one of the most common places that diamonds are lost. One older couple I read about become so good at telling the difference (from a distance!) between the sparkle of a diamond and bits of glass that they regularly take early morning walks in mall parking lots for a second income.


Treasure Hunting in The Desert

An older Native American we met at a hot spring in Arizona showed us how to find arrowheads and metates (using for grinding corn or mesquite beans) laying out in the desert. They are hundreds of years old. He has sold at least one of his metates for $200 during a yard sale. For non-Native Americans this may be illegal, so check with authorities on this one.

Hunting for Natural Treasures

We have sold sea shells that we collected from beaches in Florida, and giant pine cones from California. We've also sold a lot of rocks that we collected all over the country. We sell them at flea markets and craft shows, as is, or made into something crafty.

Treasure Hunting in the Garbage

In our town the city collects all large junk for free during a week in April or May. You'll see perfectly good bicycles, furniture, games, toys, chairs, etc., in piles in front of almost every house. At least several people come by with trucks and trailers to pick out good things to sell at flea markets or auctions. It is a regular source of income each spring for some of them. I'm sure this happens in other cities.

Treasure in Vacuum Cleaner Dust

A man in California offered to take the shag carpet when a large old theater was being remodeled, saving the new owners the cost of disposal. The theater had been closed for years, but during the thirties it was a place where the wealthy went for entertainment. The wealthy, like all of us, lose things, but more valuable things perhaps.

When the old carpet was cut up and carefully shook out, it was found to contain over $2,000 worth of precious stones, rings, and coins. Wondering what may be caught by vacuum cleaners, the man then arranged to take the full cleaner bags from several cleaning companies each week. It saves them disposal costs, and he regularly finds coins and small jewelry when he digs through the dirt.

Hunting Treasure With a Metal Detector

For less than $200 you can buy a metal detector and begin looking for buried treasure. I've only found about 200 coins myself (mostly at the beach), and none of them have been valuable ones. A woman in our town, however, used her detector to find coins when the city tore up the old sidewalks. She sold one of them to a local coin shop for $700. A woman I worked with tells me that her husband and her have found many pieces of gold jewelry at the beach with their detector. It is also common now to use metal detectors to find gold nuggets in the southwest.

Panning for Gold

For less than $10 you can buy a gold pan, and become a prospector. I like the dark-green plastic ones best, as it is easier to see the gold. Most federal lands are open to prospecting without a permit. The only place I've seen gold in my pan is in Canada (there isn't much gold in Michigan), but people have better luck panning for gold in the mountain streams of the southeast and southwest, and it is always a nice way to spend an afternoon in any case.

Treasure Hunting in the Streets

Maybe you've seen homeless people collecting cans to sell as aluminum scrap - tough way to make a living. In Michigan (and other states), however, there is a 10 cent deposit on every beverage can. During festivals I have seen people with bags full of hundreds of cans and bottles they collected in the parks and garbage containers. Some of them travel here every year during the Cherry Festival, just to collect returnable bottles and cans that week.

I also once spoke to a man who went to the big concerts in the area to collect all the beer and pop cans in the parking areas. He told me he can make over $100 in a few hours (plus the time to take them to the store). Collecting "returnables" can be a dirty, even embarrassing way to make money, but an old guy in town here tells me he pays the rent doing this.

Treasures in the River

Criminals and kids throw things off of bridges routinely (a quick way to get rid of evidence). Several times as a child I saw bicycles in rivers. One man I read about makes a living using magnets and other tools to retrieve guns, money, and other things of value from the bottom of murky rivers (near bridges).

Human Guinea Pigs Get Paid -  Be a research trial volunteer for cash

Human Guinea Pigs Get Paid - Be a research trial volunteer for cash

Yes, it's true. Professional human guinea pigs get paid for participating in medical experiments. It reminds me of the scene from the movie Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life, in which the father explains to his 50 children that he can't afford to feed them any longer. "It's medical experiments for the lot of you," he announces, and all the children are sad (after singing the infamous "sperm" song).

In real life it isn't so bad according to those that do this for a living. You take a drug and get paid. That sounds easy enough.


Medical, health and psychological research requires a steady supply of humans for testing. Trials and experiments can be for testing of new drugs, new medical devices, or even new psychological therapies. They can also be general research into various diets, exercise routines or other things related to health or medicine. Volunteers - the human guinea pigs - who participate in the various trials, tests and experiments get paid.


For example, there recently was a study done on the benefits of a diet based on what the ancient hunter-gatherers ate. Volunteers were paid $200 and given all the food they were to eat for the three weeks of the study. Daily blood testing was one of the requirements, but subjects were otherwise free to live their lives normally.

Now, that is an example of a relatively low-paying job for research participants (a nice term for guinea pigs). Every study, trial or test has its own budget and pay-scale. Sometimes it will hardly seem worth your while. On the other hand, there are some people that make a living at this.


For example, in another study, subjects were paid $9,000 for participating in three weeks of asthma research. This was much more intrusive, requiring having a tube down the throat for most of the time. You probably couldn't do this one if you had a regular job. But $3,000 per week isn't all that bad. The requirements of various tests will obviously vary, and the pay varies greatly as well.

The website (guinea pigs get paid) has info on drug trials and other studies that you can get paid to participate in. What other ways can you find these opportunities? Here are a few:

1. Try calling major research facilities.

2. Search online by typing in the various types into a search engine ("dietary research volunteers," or "cancer drug trials").

3. Find a group of people that participates in these trials and experiments regularly if you want to do this more than once. Hanging out with the other human guinea pigs (at least in an online forum) is a great way to hear about new opportunities.