Ways to insulate oneself from the economic downturn?
March 11, 2009 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Ways to make extra cash during the economic downturn?

The thing about this economic downturn is that it's harder to do the usual things people used to do when they were worried about finances. In the past, maybe you'd get a part-time job in addition to your regular job...but many of these are in short supply. Maybe you'd sell things on Ebay...but who's buying nowadays?

I'm wondering if you guys would be willing to share all of your money-making ideas for the economic downturn--creative way to make extra cash on a part-time basis. Things that people may not have thought of.
posted by mintchip to Work & Money (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Selling crap from under your bed on eBay is no longer viable, but the sale of antiques and collectables is still exceptionally healthy.
posted by fire&wings at 6:52 PM on March 11, 2009

Exotic dancing.

Really, the best thing is to save 20% or so of every paycheck. Stuff it away and cut back on eating out, etc. Don't take on some other responsibility which might put your main job in jeopardy by making you too tired etc. Stability is the key in these times.
posted by caddis at 6:52 PM on March 11, 2009

If possible, stop thinking cash and start thinking wealth.

The monetary system is broken right now. In time, it will correct, but right now, a lot of skilled labourers - who can produce wealth that the world desires - are currently sitting idle, unemployed, a vast resource going to waste, because the system is broken.

That is the fallow and fertile ground that you should be tapping if possible, rather than chasing cash at a time when it is evaporating, and everyone else is chasing it too, with rising desperation.

A twist on the "victory garden" example - a guy is going around asking people if he can use their yard to grow food, in exchange for some of the food. A lot of people are delighted by this idea - they do nothing except give him permission to use their yard, and they get free food. He is delighted - he pays nothing, and gets permission to use enough yards that he can grow a pretty significant crop!

Wealth is being generated that bypassed the monetary system, and frees up cash that would otherwise need to be spent.

See if you can come up with schemes like that. Especially ones that involve skilled labour. Yours, or that of others.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:15 PM on March 11, 2009 [19 favorites]

One or several able-bodied persons can look for work mowing lawns, spring cleaning, home repair, etc. That need is still there, particularly for workers who are strong, dedicated, and reliable.

Learn a skill like welding - something that will take a few weeks.

Offer your services to banks that need to get rid of the crap left behind after foreclosures.
posted by yclipse at 7:52 PM on March 11, 2009

Consider focusing on how you can do with less, rather than needing to increase wealth to sustain your current lifestyle. It may or may not be a viable suggestion for you, but for many reading this it certainly is.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 7:59 PM on March 11, 2009

I think the answer to the question depends entirely on what your (or some other hypothetical person's) skills are. Any idea that is general enough that anybody can do it probably won't be worth much, because it's unlikely that you'll have any comparative advantage versus everybody else.

So I think you need to begin with a blank slate, and list all the skills you have. This might include formal training and qualifications, but also things that you're just naturally good at, or things you're interested enough in to get better at than the average person. Then, look at the entire list and try to decide which are most likely to be useful or desired by the largest number of people. I think it's entirely possible that in the current climate, a onetime side-interest or hobby could be more marketable than something you have a terminal degree in.

But just to toss out one specific idea that might be in demand: clothes alteration and repair. There are a lot of people who know how to sew, but only do it as a recreational activity or maybe just to alter or mend their own / their family's clothes. Getting alterations done at professional shops can be surprisingly expensive, especially in cities. I think there's an opportunity there for anyone who knows how to do a few basic things on a sewing machine and is willing to undercut the local dry cleaners (or work for barter / favors), and can advertise by word-of-mouth or Craigslist.

That's really just an example, though; I think there are probably similar untapped markets for a lot of "domestic" skills that are a lot more rare today than they were during previous recessions/depressions.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:11 PM on March 11, 2009

The restaurant I work at hired two people last week.
posted by salvia at 10:27 PM on March 11, 2009

It depends on where you are.

Extra cash? Drugs. If you can identify a small-amounts market and identify a large-amounts market, then you can make a lot of money by buying in bulk and selling small amounts.

Drug prohibition benefits the little entrepreneurs. It takes some personality skills, though.

Likewise, identify situations that are going to be in demand or areas that are going to get a government infusion. Working with the developlemtnally disabled or the elderly (or the homeless). It surprises me that the (Canadian) government gives people deemed "disabled***" a monthly allowance to spend on pretty much anyone who can help them cope with their disability.

Stupid*? Pay someone to help you enroll in the local University's adult edu program and also help you with your homework**. Spoiled*? Have your non-caaring parents hire someone to parent** you.

*no, not really, but as long as you have a doctor's note
**friend of mine got paid from said allowance for exactly that, mother had a pt job doing just that until she got sick of the stupid 'parent's' shit
***a very large variety of different conditions ranging from stupid to valid

posted by porpoise at 10:53 PM on March 11, 2009

There's opportunity in stuff that's a cheaper alternative to other stuff - fixing versus replacing, fast food vs. causal dining, etc.

Auto mechanics are busy fixing older cars that owners would have replaced during a boom. As mentioned, clothing alteration/repair people are busy fixing clothes that would have been replaced. Our local shoe repair guy's business is booming.

You may not need a special skill, or even lower pricing to get some interest. yclipse mentioned lawn care, etc. If you're the little guy, you may get business because customers may just assume you're cheaper than the big lawn service chain. I wouldn't just assume they'll think that, but you could base any marketing/advertising on that premise.
posted by altcountryman at 7:38 AM on March 12, 2009


Offer to clean someone's house or do their yard in exchange for getting your hair cut. Trade housesitting or feeding pets while someone's out of town for free food out of their fridge. Have people come over and do potlucks at your house instead of going out on weekends. Find a coworker you get along with and start commuting together. Stop buying things and cruise Freecycle for the things you need. Don't buy books, check them out from the library. Drop your gym membership if you have one and take up jogging, hiking, cycling or yoga. Trade DVDs with friends instead of renting them. Take your old clothes to Buffalo Exchange, if you have one in your city, and don't take the cash, take the trade to get a discount on clothes that are "new to you."

Do you have an extra room where you live? Rent it out to people visiting for the weekend on Craigslist or get a roommate.

Another Craigslist idea; offer to help people pack and move their things if they're selling their houses in exchange for a day's worth of free meals and taking anything they don't want and selling it (clothes go to Buffalo Exchange, books and records and CD's go to Half Price Books, everything else you donate to Goodwill for a tax write-off at the end of the year).

Make flyers and put them on every door on the street you live on offering to babysit. People always need last-minute sitters and being in the neighborhood, you will be more trustworthy than a teenaged girl (if you're a guy, I'm not sure, this might come off as creepy, but surely you know someone with children?).

You can always sell your blood or your eggs (if you're female and in the correct age range). A lot of nightclubs end up needing a door person; go to all your favorite bars/clubs and see if they have a dead night during the week, especially, and offer to cover it even if they are staffed up. People always call in sick/don't show up at those jobs and it's high turnover; cover those shifts.

I think in times like this it's less about making money than saving what you have; you can't get blood from a stone, but you can reduce the amount you spend by being creative...
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:23 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

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