Things You Can Do To NOT Make Money

This post was written by Marie. 

Good financial planning calls for not only saving money, but also building multiple streams of income for yourself. This may sound like a great idea to you, but what can you do to get those multiple streams going? I’m not sure I have the greatest answer to that, but here are some things we tried that did NOT work out for us – at all.

Raise Quail in Your Backyard to Sell

This was hubby’s hobby, but I thought maybe we could sell the birds (quail is good eating!).

We bought quail eggs through mail order to put in an incubator about as big around as a pizza pan and about 6 inches high. We converted the non-working shower off our bedroom into the incubator/baby quail chick spot. Hubby built an 8 x 10 fenced enclosure in the way back of the back yard. We bought feed and pans to hold the feed and water.

It was great fun watching the eggs hatch and seeing the baby chicks run around. At least one of the kids had a great show and tell out of the process while he was in kindergarten. The grown birds also provided entertainment and exercise the day a neighborhood dog broke into the enclosure and the birds scattered all over the neighborhood. We all went chasing after them with a bird net. Now that I think back, that probably provided the neighbors with quite a bit of entertainment as well.

We never sold one (and we never ate one either).

Have you ever done backyard farming to raise money? Were you successful?

Write Short Stories and Try to Publish Them

Back before the internet was invented, I used to write short fiction stories and try to get them published. It kept me busy and out of trouble, used up a lot of stamp money, but never yielded a dime. I’m hoping my talent lies with non-fiction!

I’m betting that some of you folks may be writers – have you ever tried to have fiction published in a printed media? I’d love to hear about it!

Enter Contests and Giveaways

Hubby used to be way into contests and giveaways. Back then, we were Publisher Clearing House’s best customer! He spent hours, days, weeks, months and several years filling out 3 x 5 index cards to submit multiple entries to various contests. He bought newsletters that had contests to enter in them and spent a bunch of postage money to mail off the entries.

He did win several things, the largest being a bike (medium priced, nothing fancy) which we gave to our youngest kid. We never calculated his return on time and postage, but I’m pretty sure he was well into a hole on it.

Contests are cheaper to enter now, all you have to do is give away some information – like your email id, and put up with some clutter in your email box (the item you just subscribed to).

What success have you had with winning contests and giveaways? Was it worth your time?

Deliver Neighborhood Newspapers

When my oldest was a baby on a papoose board on my back, I went out delivering neighborhood news and paper ads. They had to be picked up, wrapped, put in my car trunk, then delivered and placed on the doorknob.

I think I earned $20 a week to deliver once a week.

The cost of gas and my time were the only expenses. I lost weight that fall and winter – walking through multiple neighborhoods with a kid strapped to my back, a newspaper pouch dangling in the front and the pet dogs nipping at my heels. That job ended the day the old ’63 Buick Special broke down in mid-delivery, the baby was crying the whole time, it was freezing out and it was my birthday!

What less than satisfactory part time jobs have you done to try to make a buck?

Run an Antique Booth in an Antique Mall

I’ve always loved going to sales – garage sales, estate sales, auctions, moving sales – no matter. A few years back, I decided I could make it pay by selling antiques and collectibles. I rented a booth in an antique mall in a neat old building out in a small town close by us and went out after antiques to fill it.

It was great fun. I learned how to bargain a bit better. I learned how to arrange articles for display. I learned how to be a clerk in an antique mall (most places require booth renters to put in a day of labor once a month!). I learned a lot about restoring antique furniture, and then carrying it up two flights of stairs.

I suppose some folks make money selling antiques. I didn’t. I did manage to (almost) break even – if you don’t count my time and the unsold inventory I still have!

To be successful, I think you need access to free or really cheap bulk sale items. It’s always prudent to weigh the benefits of a cash advance, if you are in need quick cash to cover any quality bulk items you discover. In every case, you need to be the gal going in after the neighborhood garage sales and hauling everything left away – for free.

You need to be an extreme bargainer. I never could bring myself to really drill down the prices of the families trying to sell their dear departed one’s prized possessions.

You need to have a popular space that YOU own (and charge others to rent space) to display and sell your goods.

You need to be prepared to tie up your money for a good long time – you never know when a one of a kind antique whatyamagizzit is going to sell (anybody need a hundred year old white iron baby crib – only $90 plus shipping?).

My observations led me to believe that the little old ladies (wait…is that me???) and gentlemen selling the antiques didn’t track what they paid for their items – otherwise why else would they keep on doing it? They only knew that ‘Hey I sold enough to cover the rent for my space this month’. Ignorance is bliss. I did track what I paid. I wasn’t blissful.

Every weekend I would find the sales, use up gas and time driving around to them, and looking for old things. Most garage sales don’t have many antiques – or even collectibles. Estate sales are pretty expensive if you are trying to make a profit. You have to go on the last sale day which is traditionally half price day. Moving sales usually have just a few big pieces.

Then I would haul home my wonderful finds, clean them up, list them in my spreadsheet, research on the internet what I thought I could get for them, make up a tag or a sign, put them back in the car, haul them out to the booth, unpack them and put them on display.

In between times, I would go up to the booth to dust and re-arrange (to make it look like I had new stuff when I really didn’t), and work my required days in the mall.

I paid rent to the antique mall owner, the mall owner took a percentage of each sale, I had to contribute labor days, I had the cost of gas, booth supplies (tags, shelving, signs, etc) and I had a lot of time invested.

If you are a successful (i.e. you actually make money) antique dealer or booth owner, let me know – I still think I might want to try this whole experience again some day – there’s gotta be a way to make it pay!

One of these days soon, I will probably be able to add Buy a Vacation Condo for Nightly Rental Profit – but for now, I am still hoping to actually make this one pay.

What jobs and businesses would you recommend avoiding – because they are money suckers instead of money makers?


Things You Can Do To NOT Make Money — 8 Comments

  1. It does help to know your stuff. I could also see where carrying something mobile to connect to the internet to check out values as you go to sales would help!

  2. My relative who used to buy & sometimes sell antiques says the market for antiques is almost nil during the recession.

    I heard of a family who raised angora rabbits & would sit in the living room plucking their excess fur day & night. I don’t know if they made a profit, but when my mom visited she was expected to pluck while visiting. I doubt they made much from it.

    My dad tried to start a flower nursery years ago because he loved flowers so much. He said people just didn’t want to part with their money for flowers. At least not in the small town where he lived. They were pretty tight with their money there back in the 1950’s.

  3. One can always try freelance writing on the internet. pays it’s contributors $650 a month starting out if they pass preliminary screening process. Searching on the web, there’s a lot of sites out there that pay for content. You make your own hours and pick your own topics, worth trying?

  4. Great post! At least you gave these things a shot!

    I had a friend who dabbled in selling absolute tat on eBay. He ‘had a feeling’ that these poxy mirrors were going to make an absolute killing, so he bought them by the truck load.

    Neither to say I think 7 years on and he’s still saddled with tons of the mirrors still!

  5. My husband and I have tried a bunch of different ideas as well. A few have made money, like selling flowers on a street corner on Mother’s Day or taking Polaroid photos at a club and selling them on New Year’s Eve. While others have not been so profitable, ie. creating a mobile homepage for smartphones or selling items on eBay through a drop shipper. But from those failures we’ve learned some valuable lessons.

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