Make or Save Money: More Unusual Ways
There are unusual ways to make money, which are reported on
regularly here. But there are also some uncommon ways to save
money. You'll find a few good examples of both below, starting
with a true story about how to turn a problem into a fortune.
As a child Tina Aldatz-Norris stepped on hot coals from a
fire on the beach, and suffered third-degree burns. The injury
resulted in tender areas that often blistered when she became
an adult. Existing food pads and gels were ugly, and she wanted
something better, so she created it herself.
In 2001, at age 32, she invented "Foot Petals."
These are pads which fit under the ball and heel of the foot.
Shaped like flowers, they are sold for a few dollars per pair,
and are peeled and stuck to the insides of shoes. It is a simple
and attractive solution for making woman's shoes more comfortable.
By 2007, her company did $9 million in annual sales, netting
almost $2 million before taxes.
Write Greeting Cards
If you have talent as a poet or with prose you might be able
to freelance as a greeting card writer. Cards generally have
to say something that touches people, make them laugh, or otherwise
convey emotion. But the key is to be able to do it in very few
words (there isn't much room on a greeting card). You can find
a list of greeting card companies that might license your work
You may have heard of the company "Fetal Greetings,"
which sells pregnancy announcement cards with cartoons of babies
in the womb on them. A niche might be the way to go if you decide
to create new cards.
Fraser Doherty had been playing with various ways to make
some extra cash since he was eight years old. At the age of 14
he started a jam-making business after his grandmother gave him
her secret jam recipe. He started by going door-to-door to make
sales, but soon he was selling the jams at farmers' markets and
delicatessens and other stores.
Within a year he had won an "Enterprising Young Brit"
award, and started to appear on television shows and in newspaper
interviews. While still making the jams in his kitchen at home,
he had already built sales to almost 1000 jars per week.
Save on Closing Costs
It may sound unusual to ask a lender if they will simply skip
the appraisal when you are borrowing to buy a house, but I didn't
know better on my first home. I explained that the tax assessment
figures were usually pretty accurate in the town we were in.
The assessment showed a value a little higher than the price
I was paying, and I had a down payment of 25% of the sale's price,
so "can we just skip the appraisal?" I asked. The loan
officer actually agreed, saving me $350.
It can't hurt to ask. I suspect this will never work with
those lenders who sell the mortgage loans. But you might try
it with local banks or those that keep their own loans and so
have more discretion in how they do things.
Save Money Moving
Don't expect a moving company to tell you this, but you might
save money by selling things instead of moving them. A friend
of mine needed to have a large garage sale a year after moving
into his new home. He had moved hundreds of things that he didn't
need, and had to rent a larger, more expensive truck just to
do so - then he sold all those things he had paid to move.
Have the rummage sale before you move, to save money and trouble
moving. You might even get your movable possessions down to a
quantity that you can move by yourself. Then, between the money
you make selling off stuff and the money you save on moving costs
(potentially thousands of dollars), you may be able to buy better
furniture for the new home.
Virtual Real Estate
Did you know that some people are making upwards of $100,000
per year dealing in "virtual real estate" on games
like Second Life, or building and selling characters in
online games like World of Warcraft? In a good week, they
might be sitting on a beach in the Bahamas, or hunched over a
laptop on a balcony of a hotel in Katmandu. You get a lot of
freedom with certain internet-based businesses.
I wrote about this in my book 101
Weird Ways to Make Money.
Human Powered Generator
At Simon Fraser University, Max Donelan has invented a device
that is strapped to your leg and generates power as you walk.
It weighs less than four pounds and with one on each knee you
can generate about five watts of power, which could power up
to a dozen cell phones. I'm not sure when it will be for sale,
or who will get the profits, or how much they'll make.
Free Money Search
Sometimes people forget accounts, or they die without telling
anyone about them. For all sorts of reasons, money that is unclaimed
gets turned over to the states. Go to unclaimed.org,
and follow the links to your state web site. You'll be surprised
when you type in the names of people you know, how many unclaimed
monies you'll see.
By the way, this little item was #89 from the "More Secrets"
section of my ebook:
Supposed to Know - A Book of Secrets
I passed this information on to my father a while back, and
he did a search, finding an old insurance policy refund that
my mother had forgotten about. It was from many years earlier,
and it took him just a letter or two to get the $900 sent to
my mother. This shows us the value of good information.