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Raise Money For Investing Using 11 Poor Man Strategies
Unlike many of my fellow financial bloggers, I have street cred (credentials) when it comes to being poor. When we first arrived in San Jose, CA in the early 1980s, my family lived with another family until my parents were able to save up to rent an apartment. The house we lived in was a typical three bedroom, two bathroom house located along McLaughlin Avenue. My parents were friends of the adults who rented this house. They met in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Things didn’t get any easier once my parents were able to rent an apartment. All they could afford, despite both working full-time, was a one-bedroom in Sunny Court. My sister and I slept in the living room. Food was not always plentiful. I remember many times that there was not much to eat and school was where I had my only solid meals. The dress was bought on a necessary basis in the thrift store. The shoes were handed down from friends or if the money was saved, from Payless Shoes.
Life from month to month in those days was stressful, even for a child. There is nothing worse than your parents visibly trying to make ends meet and you not being able to help them. Back in Mexico, I would go to the streets and sell gum or polished shoes to bring in money. But in the United States, there are laws… child labor laws. You also need to be able to speak the language in most cases. At that time, he had just started learning English.
I’m not embarrassed to admit that, as a child, I used to dive into dumpsters, steal from supermarkets, and work cleaning jobs for adults in the neighborhood. Something to help my family. I am not proud of the acts that were illegal, seeing as avoidable now with adult eyes, but as necessary for me in those days. Life without regrets is no life at all.
From my experience, I am able to offer today ways of raising money that may be widely known among poor people, but not so much among middle class people. Okay, maybe my middle-class brothers know about the following ways that they too can raise money, but they may see it as “beneath” them.
Most people do these actions because they need money to pay bills, eat and survive. I did these only because I wanted to invest money and I was not willing to use leverage (debt).
1) Keep aluminum cans and glass bottles instead of putting them in my recycling bin. After four months, I took these to the recycling plant in Oceanside, CA and sold them, making $15 to $25. I don’t know much, but multiply by 3, and you get anywhere from $45 to $75 extra year. The poor do not recycle; they are looking for cans, plastic and glass bottles, and sell them!
2) Sell anything of value to the pawn shop for quick cash. I sold watches that I didn’t wear (gifts given to me for birthdays/Christmas) and electronics. Saves a lot of time.
3) Sell stuff on Craigslist. Don’t use your bike anymore? Post a Craigslist ad and sell at a private party. Find things around the house that you no longer need and are of value to sell on Craigslist. If you have a lot of stuff but not much value then do #4.
4) Garage or yard sale. Jessica and I have a garage sale at least twice a year. Rake in from our junk sold about $100 each time.
5) Sell a gift card for cash. Which one !? Yes… do you ever get a gift card with cash value and know you won’t use it? Sell it to a friend or go to the place and scalp it. Have the person take the card and get a balance check if they don’t trust you.
6) Sell blood (I’ve never done this… too much chicken). Find your local blood bank and sell plasma!
7) Sell your hair on eBay. Yes, you can sell your hair online. I’ve never done it because no one wants my hair, but if I had Fabio’s locks…
8) Do you have coins? Look under your couch cushions, your bed, dusty utility drawers, under your car mat, wherever. If you’ve saved up spare change, then it’s time to hit the supermarket and find your nearest Coin Star machine. It is easy to use. Just throw in all your change and the machine will count every penny, print a receipt that you can take to the line and cash out, just like a casino!
9) Start using coupons and take a break on organic. The poor have no choice when it comes to buying preservatives and junk food from the grocery store. For them, the price is the selling point. But for us, we can opt for healthier foods from Trader Joe’s, for example. Not telling you to eat below your means, but if you want to save a little extra for a few months, this can be an option.
10) Take the bus or walk to work. This is an option that we have that the poor do not have. A bus ride will cost you about $30-$45, depending on the city you live in. You probably spend twice that amount, even with gas prices falling, driving to work and back home every day. Like #8 above, this would also be a temporary strategy. I don’t want to sit among the poor? Convince a co-worker to take your savings plan. Or if you haven’t sold your bike, go to work for a month.
11) Buy cheap wine. I bought $11-15 Cabernet Sauvignon. I drink about two bottles a month. Then I found Sutter Home Moscato and Cab’s on sale for $3.99! Back in the hood, drinking malt liquor and dirty beer. Now I’m all about the tasty wine on the cheap and the micro/craft beer. In any case, I found myself sometimes on the last when on a savings to invest “program”. You can make your own!
Being poor once gave me an insight that most people at my level of wealth don’t have. I can do many of the above options without feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed. I’m pretty sure with my circumstances that for me, the above scenarios are optional ways to raise money for investment purposes only. But what about the people who have to rely on these money-raising strategies to survive? I can imagine. If this is your life, I can tell you a great advice: Stop blaming others and feel sorry for yourself! This will not help you one bit. Instead, start by creating a list of ways you can improve. Improve what? Here are some of the lists you need to make and brainstorm on:
1) Free ways I can improve (what I know and am able to do).
2) Ways to improve my decision making.
3) Ways to improve what you spend money on.
4) Free ways that I can improve who I know (the focus is on finding smart money, “better”, people to have as part of your network). You can count me as part of your network!
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