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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.

Foot Petals

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 here:


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.

Selling Jam

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:

You Aren't 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.

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