When the 2008 economy cratered, so did my family’s income and net worth. Staring down the barrel of possibly losing our home, our family had to get creative with money. Fast.
Left with only one income and the job and real estate markets in shambles, we scrambled. To make matters tougher, we lived in a high-income, and high-cost, region. Our oldest was only a couple of years away from college. We put our house on the market, looked for a cheaper alternative and awaited the worst.
But as the old saying goes, necessity breeds invention — especially when it comes to building up savings and paying off debt. And in a year’s time, we were back on our feet, having learned important money lessons in the process. Here’s what we did.
Unconventional Ways to Make Money
Here's the scoop on unconventional way to make money.
1. Buy and sell depreciating assets on secondary markets
Buying that hot new handbag or sports sedan seems like a great idea when you’re rolling in the dough. But there’s no bigger waste of money than purchasing brand new luxury goods whose value plummets the moment you take them out of the showroom.
“The lesson? Always buy used when it comes to depreciating assets.”
By mining our belongings for high-value goods we no longer needed, we helped pay for college by replenishing our 529 plan with thousands of “found” dollars we earned by selling on eBay.
Want free money?
We’re still riding the circular economy train. Not only do we leverage reseller platforms to offload unwanted goods, we also buy authenticated luxury goods on the cheap. Beautifully constructed, pre-loved clothing costs less, lasts longer and looks better. Plus, we can support environmental and fair labor causes, too.
These markets are also a great way to earn extra cash. As you explore, you’ll come across sellers who are dumping goods at too-low prices. Fortune favors the bold, so don’t hesitate to scoop those up and resell them yourself for a profit.
2. Tap into your creative side
“Side hustle” may be the hot new terminology but millennials aren’t the first generation to popularize earning extra money. Remember Tupperware?
Now’s a great time to dial up the volume on your hidden talents. Love sewing? Start your own shop on Etsy, where ambition and creativity meet. Textiles, jewelry, leather goods, home wares — they’re all on Etsy. And if you have the skills, you can be there, too.
3. Bartering isn’t just for the ancient Mesopotamians
The barter economy dates back thousands of years and it turns out the ancient Mesopotamians were onto something. Can you trade a valuable skill — such as spackling and painting — for something you need, like a car repair? If so, you can make the barter economy work for you. Businesses are getting in on the action, too.
4. Never shop online without a cash back browser add-on
“Last year, we used cashback browser add-ons to pay for our daughter’s roundtrip airfare to and from college, books for two semesters and a spring break trip to Florida. Those purchases added up to over $4,000 in savings, just for using a browser extension.”
5. Give help during the holidays
Love the side gig idea but don’t have a special skill? Consider offering a service like gift wrapping, addressing and mailing holiday cards, or installing exterior lights and decorations.
6. Don’t overlook scholarship income
Our family depended heavily on scholarship income because we earned too much money to qualify for need-based aid. Even if your teen isn’t a star athlete or student, there are still many easy scholarships that can defray the cost of attendance enough to make college affordable.
The last word
For our family, the hustle didn’t end after 2008. The good habits we learned have helped us thrive during these virus-laden times, too.
The lessons are simple. Set clear money goals and don’t be afraid to get creative. Because frankly, there’s no better tonic for tough times than financial security.