Oh crap! You racked up a mountain of debt going to college/shopping like a maniac/taking care of that medical emergency. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.
You want to get rid of that debt — and quickly, if you want to avoid those pesky interest fees. But if you’re already chugging away at your 9-to-5, how can you make extra money on the side?
Sure, you could mow lawns and sell things you own like a normal person, but where’s the fun in that? Here are 10 bizarrely brilliant, creative ways to make money to pay down your debt.
1. Bag and Sell Air From Concerts
People used to think bottled water was a ridiculous idea when companies started selling it, so I can only imagine what they’d say about bagged air.
Apparently, the most valuable bagged air comes from concerts featuring A-list musicians and artists. One eBay user sold air from a Kanye West concert in a zippered plastic bag after bidders pushed the price upwards of $60,000.
2. Turn Your Yard into a Parking Lot
If you live within reasonable walking distance of places that host large events, such as college football stadiums or convention centers, you could very easily make money by letting people park their cars on your property.
Back when I lived in Tallahassee as a student at Florida State, nearly every house within a half-mile radius of Doak Campbell stadium offered up parking on their lawns during football games, with some fetching upwards of $20 a car. Not bad for a job where you just sit and point!
However, make sure the practice is legal in your area. Some cities have banned homeowners from selling yard parking due to “public safety” concerns.
3. Start an Unusual Mail Delivery Service
If you know how to set up a simple ecommerce website and can use the postal service, you could make decent money sending people ridiculous things in the mail.
For example, people pay the team behind RuinDays.com (warning: contains profane language) to send their enemies spring-loaded packages filled with glitter, poop or glitter-covered poop.
You don’t have to go to such extremes, but you get the idea: You could find at least a small handful of people willing to pay for weird things delivered via snail mail.
4. Release Your Inner Poet
If you’re a superstar with stanzas and synecdoches, channel your inner Shelley and write some poetry!
If you hop on Fiverr, there’s an entire section for wordsmiths willing to crank out $5 poems, short stories and other creative writing services.
5. Collect and Sell Scrap Metal
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Collecting and selling scrap metal is a relatively quick and easy way to make a few extra dollars.
Various metals can fetch anywhere from around 10 cents per pound to upwards of $2.85 per pound. So if anyone you know has metal junk just lying around, like a rusty swingset or a broken washing machine, you could offer to take it off their hands and split the profit.
Think of all the residual benefits, too: You’re cleaning up your neighborhood AND getting a decent workout by hauling heavy metals around. Not too shabby!
6. Be a Friend-for-Hire
If you’ve got an outgoing personality and get along with people just fine, you may have what it takes to rent out your friendship.
If you sign up to be a “friend” through RentAFriend.com, you could charge people to hang out with you. You could be a wingman/woman, activity partner, study buddy, tour guide … the list goes on.
If you charge $20 an hour and hang out with people for four hours each weekend, that’s an extra $4,160 a year — just for being a friend!
7. Sell Your Unwanted Gift Cards
Have you ever had someone give you a gift card to a store or restaurant you never visit? While the gesture is nice, you may not be sure what to do with it.
You could instead turn those unwanted gift cards into cash by selling them on sites like Gift Card Granny, GiftCards.com or CardCash. Some of these sites will buy your unwanted gift cards for up to 92% of their face value, which is 92% better than letting that money sit in a drawer somewhere. (Here’s a comparison between the different websites for selling gift cards.)
You don’t hurt anyone’s feelings and you get to enjoy the gift more than you would otherwise by using it to pay down your debt — everybody wins.
8. Sell Your Used Underwear
This one is definitely not for the faint-of-heart. You could potentially have a small gold mine in your dresser if you’re willing to sell your used underwear online.
One Reddit user gave a fairly detailed account of her adventures selling her used underwear online. She says she made her first sale ($75!) within an hour of posting a couple of pictures.
If you’re weirded out by the idea, just remember that you can conceal your identity the entire time. (Or rejoice in the fact that there are nine other options on this list.)
9. Become a Human Billboard
Companies love as much advertising as they can get, so what better advertising platform than a flesh-and-blood human?
There are varying degrees to which you can become a walking advertisement. You could be like entrepreneur Jason Sadler and offer to wear company T-shirts — he claims to have earned $66,795 within just a couple months.
Or, if you’re really desperate, you could get company logos tattooed on your face. This is obviously much more lucrative, earning one man $100,000.
10. Sell Your Hair
If you’ve got lots of locks to go around, you could sell your hair online. People on sites like hairsellon.com charge several hundred dollars for their discarded hair.
The longer and fuller your hair, the higher price you’ll probably receive. People also pay a premium for “virgin” hair, or hair that hasn’t been processed by chemicals or unnaturally altered.
It might take a few years to grow back, but so will your credit score if you miss any payments.
Your Turn: What’s the weirdest way you’ve ever made money?
Steven Richmond worked as a government and business journalist before becoming Editor-in-Chief of BadCredit.org, a leading website for consumer credit and debt news and advice, and CardRates.com, a comprehensive guide to credit card rates, deals and information.