If you ever have a free afternoon, I invite you to sit down with me and I’ll tell you about my long line of entrepreneurial ventures, self-employment investments, and so-called “brilliant” ideas. I started small, with my neighbor, Danielle Brideau at my side, a lemonade (and “goodies”) stand on the side of an old mountain road where we employed our minions –err– I mean our mothers — to be the bakers while we embarked on painting a catchy sign and practicing our marketing pitch.
The success story of the lemonade stand had us holding board meetings, committee pow-wows, and executive planning sessions where we hashed out our future goals and budgeted for the upcoming fiscal year. Even when we returned to grade school, as the season changed and that market shifted, we worked hard hours whilst sipping hot chocolate and practicing dances to Ace of Base so we could charge our family and friends to come watch our haute choreography.
As we entered middle school, we each parted ways, due to her taking an excessive interest in boys, and my desire to continue building forts in the woods with my brothers (we didn’t have none schoolin’ back in that them there days). Even though my imagination was bigger than my head, I never swayed from being able to spot money a mile away and setting about to have it within my grasp in the most difficult way possible. For example, when my family took our first plane trip to the land of savannahs and peaches (Georgia, for those of you who failed Geography), I discovered a “wishing well” at the airport which was laden with coins of all shapes and sizes. Being the sensible, hard-working gal that I am and always was, I dove in head first and partook of some of the bounty. Sorry about all those wishes that may not come true folks, but don’t worry….karma got me later.
My dad made me return the money to the fountain of course, but no one could steal my gusto. Plus, I made like 20 wishes while pouring everyone’s money back in there, and I KNOW they all came true.
A few more side businesses came and went, literally side, one involved selling railroad spikes, sea shells, and rocks on the SIDE of the road as “Antiques”. I was always looking for ways to work and get paid for it, and I longed for the day when I could get my first “real job”. It was on that day, I proudly gave up my dog leashes (from my dog-walking business), the diaper bags (from my babysitting career), and my grocery wagon (from my gopher service), and began slinging pepperoni pizzas at the Jaffrey Pizza Barn (pretty sure they have the same website they had 12 years ago…..).
As I said, it would take all afternoon for me to talk about all my work-related, life-supporting endeavors, because stories from my “6-Woman Concierge Service” would alone go on for hours. So, in the name of sparing you my long-winded chatter, I will just share with you the some of the common methods of financial growth that have stuck with me by and large for all of these years, in good times and bad times, in sickness and in health, for richer, and definitely for poorer.
I have to hand all the credit to my former college roommate, Tara, for this one. She taught me the ways of selling books on Amazon and then kicking it up a notch, and selling not just our own books but the ones that professors set outside of their department doors labeled: “Free”, as well as the ones on the shelves at the library labeled: “Free”, and of course the ones in the bookstore in a bin labeled: “Free”. Anyway we could get out hands on books, we would. I brought home backpacks heavier than I could carry full of books which we would check to see if their ISBN came up with a big winner. Sometimes, we felt as though we had won the lottery, “$25.19!!!” and other times, it was a complete wash, “$0.01”. On Amazon Marketplace, everyone wins! You’re doing the environment a favor by buying a used book, and you’re doing the seller a solid by helping support their Ramen noodle diet. The seller of course wins, the CASH. Directly deposited into their bank account on a rolling basis. It’s hard work. We spent long nights wrapping books in paper grocery bags that we turned inside out. We spent millions on packing tape when it was all said and done. But we paid our entire share of rent with that money. And we slept like babies.
This is where the magic happens. Missed connections, stories of long lost loves, job postings and best of all….THE CLASSIFIEDS! I’ve listed everything you can imagine on Craigslist: Cameras, punching bags, beds, furniture, computers, even massage tables. You name it, I’ve listed it, it’s sold. At prices that will have you paying rent in no time. Or splurging on wine night with the gals!
We all know how a restaurant works: you sit down, you chow, you pay, and you tip your server. Wait, you DO tip your server, don’t you? By now, I hope the world knows that the people who bring you your plates in a restaurant are making a pitiful hourly wage. They depend on your tipping (20% gratuity is the perfect amount to spare yourself from looking like a jerk) to pay their auto mo-bills. It’s nice to tip at times when your heart leads you to, at coffee shops, massage therapists, or hair salons (I have NEVER thought that was OK, but they have me trained to do it now), but it’s not really ok to NOT tip when you go to a restaurant. Just think, if you didn’t have someone set your table, pour your drinks, take your order, make your food, bring your food out, keep your drink constantly full, get you any condiment your heart desires, and then clean up after you when it was all said and done….you would’ve been at home, ordering take out, still would’ve had to tip the pizza guy and clean up your own darn mess. Also, trust me on this one, a tip is a server’s pride and joy, so if they did well and made you laugh once or twice, make them smile and make it worth it for them. What goes around comes around.
4. The Random Odd Job
I usually resort to these only in a pickle. The last hurrah, the final countdown. If the electric bill is due is 7.7 hours and I have 7.7 dollars in my bank account, I will likely offer my “odd job” services which include, but are not limited to: childcare, delivering, grocery shopping, meal preparation, cleaning, dog walking, fly catching, organizing, painting, laundry, and any other skill I can pull outta my butt and make appealing to someone to pay me for.
5. Coin Collecting
A less promising, though widely available job…coin-collecting simply involves scavenging for ALL of your loose change, pockets, couches, behind your ears, and elsewhere with the goal of bringing it to the bank or Coinstar (a machine which heartlessly devours 8% of it) and at least cash in for a coffee at Starbucks with the $2.11 cents you score. Don’t ask me how an entire Mason Jar is worth so little, I’ve scratched my head in befuddlement many a time. Then again, it’s amazing how far you can get on $1.95 worth of gasoline.
Well, now that I’ve shared with you my hard-earned, hard-earnings secrets…get out there and make some cash! And don’t come crying to me if you break a nail or get dirt on your face. And while you’re chasing Ben Franklins, always keep his words close to heart:
“Early to bed and early to rise makes and man healthy, wealthy and wise.”