Laura Agadoni - The Penny Hoarder

While it might seem weird at first, once you get past the shock factor of selling your own breast milk, you'll probably realize it's a great idea for everyone involved. You can make some extra money while helping babies (or others) in need.

I first heard about selling breast milk in the "general comments" area of a writer's chat room I sometimes attend.

One woman wanted our opinion on whether she should sell her breast milk -- she was concerned about it being a "taboo" topic. She was expecting her third child, always produced too much milk (which resulted in a freezer full of milk, she said), and she needed some extra money.

Why Is There a Market for Breast Milk?

[caption id="attachment_44612" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Selling breast milk onebluelight/Getty Images[/caption]

Many medical doctors recommend breastfeeding as the ideal way to feed a baby. Babies digest and absorb breast milk better than they do formula, which helps them become healthier.

In fact, some studies link three childhood health issues to formula-fed babies: atopy (which includes asthma, eczema and allergies), diabetes and obesity.

Babies and overproducing moms are not the only people who benefit from breast milk sales. Athletes are increasingly buying it for the extra energy it provides, as are people who need an immune booster, according to New York Magazine’s The Cut.

Breast milk contains the "perfect combination of proteins, fats, vitamins and carbohydrates," according to the American Pregnancy Association. It also contains leukocytes, living cells that help fight infection.

Buying Breast Milk from a Stranger

Wet nurses -- women who breastfeed another woman's child -- were commonplace once upon a time in America. However, around the time the bottle and formula were developed, society took a negative view of the concept, and by 1900, the wet-nursing profession ended.

These days, wet nursing is making somewhat of a comeback, but what’s happening on a larger scale is mothers selling their breast milk online.

How to Sell Breast Milk Online

[caption id="attachment_44613" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Selling breast milk PeopleImages/Getty Images[/caption]

If you are the perfect candidate to sell breast milk -- a healthy mom who produces more milk than your baby needs -- there's a website just for you.

Wired Magazine compared Only The Breast to Craigslist; women can post a free classified ad for their "liquid gold." Craigslist itself offers ads about buying and selling breast milk, but its terms of use prohibit the sale of "body parts/fluids." (eBay also doesn't let people sell bodily fluids.)

The ads on Only The Breast are categorized by the age of the baby: from zero to 2 months, 2 to 6 months and 6 to 12 months. That’s because breast milk composition changes based on the time since birth.

Mothers can also choose to sell in other categories, such as “milk bank certified,” “selling locally” and “willing to sell to men.” You'll see ads like "Breast milk for sale from a young, healthy, overproducing mom of one."

Moms sell the breast milk for an average of $2.50 an ounce. Some people sell it for more than that, and some sell it for less. Others freeze a bulk supply, such as 2,500 ounces, and sell it for $350.

Babies need between 19 and 30 ounces of breast milk daily between the ages of 1 to 6 months, so selling milk can be quite lucrative. For example, if you sold 25 ounces of breast milk per day at $2.50 an ounce for a year, you'd make almost $23,000.

To create your own ad, simply register for a free account with the Only The Breast. You’ll need to determine ahead of time whether you want to sell locally to exchange the breast milk and cash in person, or whether you’d prefer to ship frozen breast milk.

Selling or Donating Your Breast Milk to Milk Banks

[caption id="attachment_44615" align="aligncenter" width="1197"]Selling breast milk nerissa's ring under Creative Commons[/caption]

Another option is a milk bank, a company that collects milk and processes it. Some milk banks, such as Mothers Milk Cooperative, pay donors $1 an ounce.

If you have extra breast milk and are not interested in selling it, you can donate it at National Milk Bank or the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

I spoke with a mom, Amber Taufen, who used to buy milk from a milk bank. But at $4 an ounce, Taufen said she could not afford to buy the milk for long and eventually switched to formula.

The advantage of milk banks is that they screen the milk for pharmaceuticals and other drugs, which was important to Taufen.

Taufen said that meeting with a local seller, however, "might be more reassuring than using a milk bank."

Lee Uehara, who runs PumpMama, agrees. She meets with woman in person and donates her breast milk to them. Uehara prefers this method to donating to milk banks that pasteurize the milk, which reduces breast milk's benefits.

Your Turn: Have you ever bought or sold breast milk?

Laura Agadoni has a background in credit union marketing. Her articles appear in various financial publications such as The Houston Chronicle's small business section, The Motley Fool, Yahoo! Finance, San Francisco Gate's real estate section, Zacks, Arizona Central's small business section and InsuranceQuote.com.

I’ve never forgotten this comic I once read in the newspaper: A man walks outside to find his dog, Fang, talking with another dog, Mitzi. "Hello. I'm Fang's master," says the man, to which Mitzi replies, "His what?" Fang looks at Mitzi and says, "He's the guy who picks up my poop."

If you already pick up your own dog’s poop, or if you don't own a dog but want an easy way to make some money, you could actually get paid to pick up dog poop.

A pooper-scooper can make $40 to $45 per hour if he works with an average of four clients per hour, says Matthew Osborn, former professional pooper-scooper and author of The Professional Pooper-Scooper.

Interested? Here’s what you’ll need to know to break into the poop-scooping business.

Getting Started as a Pooper-Scooper

Aspiring pooper-scoopers can take several paths.

If you want to ease into this line of work to see how it suits you, you can test it out without much risk. You just need a vehicle to get you to your clients' homes, a pooper-scooper tool and some plastic poop bags. When you get your first client, it's typical to charge $45 per month for a once-a-week visit, according to Tim Stone of the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists.

But there are other factors that help you set your rates. If a client wants you to visit twice a week, has multiple dogs or other variables that make the job tougher than average, you should adjust your price accordingly. You can also charge by the visit instead of charging by the month. Just make sure you show up when you say you will, or you won't last long in this business.

Plenty of Demand

"There are at least a couple hundred scoopers in the U.S., and there is still room for additional services in lots of cities," says Osborn.

If you decide to get serious and establish your own business, you could make well over $50,000 or $60,000 a year once you gather a few hundred weekly clients and several employees to help you manage the workload (translation: pick up the poop).

Consider a Franchise

Another option is to buy one of many franchise opportunities. Pet Butler, Doody Calls and Poop 911 are three possibilities. You typically need to be approved to be able to buy a franchise, and you need to have some access to funds. At Pet Butler, for example, the franchise cost is $15,000 or $38,950 if you want to include a service vehicle, and franchises take a cut of your earnings.

But franchises provide training based on a proven business model. They also take care of marketing and typically offer a support team.

"In order for someone to grow a business to the point where they can have employees out doing the work, they need to have systems in place," explained Jerrod Sessler, CEO of Pet Butler. "That can be extremely costly and time-consuming for a small owner, and in most cases, just isn't possible."

Legalities and Paperwork

If you don't have $15,000 to buy a franchise, you’re still in luck. You can start this business on your own with a little legwork.

Go to the U.S. Small Business Administration to determine which licenses and permits you might need to start this kind of business. Once you start billing more than a few people per month, think about getting yourself an automated system. Square is one place to check out for online invoicing and appointment scheduling. Wave offers another option for billing clients and being paid, and it allows you to accept credit cards from your smartphone.

Marketing

When you get ready to market your business, don't make the mistake of thinking only affluent customers will be interested. That's what Osborn initially thought, but he found that to be untrue. Customers from all economic levels paid for this service; most of Osborn’s clients were middle-class families.

Emphasize the benefits of your services: convenience, a clean yard, no stinky poop bin, even preventing family arguments regarding who should have picked up the dog poop!

Are There Job Requirements?

Although there are no formal skills you need to be a pooper-scooper, you do need to understand a little about dog psychology to protect yourself.

If you run into a growling dog in a yard with its hair up, its tail up but not wagging, its ears back and its lips pulled over its teeth, the dog is not ready to play. Back out of the backyard slowly, and then quickly arrange with your client to keep the dog inside before you come over again.

Your Turn: Would you work as a pooper-scooper?

Laura Agadoni has a background in credit union marketing. Her articles appear in various financial publications such as The Houston Chronicle’s small business section, The Motley Fool, Yahoo! Finance, San Francisco Gate’s real estate section, Zacks, Arizona Central’s small business section and InsuranceQuote.com. Follow her on Twitter @LauraAgadoni.

You know how etiquette books say to never discuss politics at the dinner table? Well, if you love a good political discussion and need an outlet -- or if you just want a way to earn money working from home -- consider working for one of two grassroots advocacy groups that offer work-from-home opportunities.

Next Wave Advocacy, LLC, and DDC Advocacy both have "@home" operations. These advocacy groups run grassroots political campaigns on issues such as healthcare, energy, defense and taxes. They hire people (which is where you would come in) to call constituents or advocates, folks who might be interested in the issue at hand. Your job is to help those people communicate their opinions by writing letters on their behalf to Members of Congress.

Of course, people can always write to a senator or congressperson on their own, but most people don't. That's what Next Wave and DDC have figured out, and where your earning opportunity begins.

What Does the Job Involve?

If you work for either NextWave@Home or DDC’s OnPoint@Home, both bipartisan companies, you’ll be assigned to a particular campaign. Your job is to study the issue and understand which side the client represents. Clients vary, as do the campaigns; for example, your client could be a lobbying group or a special interest group. After studying the issue and learning who you would be representing, you have the chance to accept or turn down the campaign. So if you prefer to only work on campaigns that jive with your personal views, you can.

Once you’re on the campaign, you’ll receive a list of potential advocates to call -- people who have already indicated their interest in the topic at hand, or groups who would likely be interested in the issue, like trade associations, corporations or doctors' offices. The fact that individuals have already expressed their interest in the issue makes this different from a telemarketing job -- you’re not cold calling.

When you call someone, you’ll talk to them about their reasons for wanting or not wanting legislation passed (or whatever the call to action might be). There’s no pre-written script, so you’ll have unique conversations with each person. Then you’ll use that information to draft a letter on the person's behalf.

After you write the letter, the person receives a copy and either approves or rejects it. If it’s approved, the advocacy company you work with sends the letter out to the applicable Member of Congress.

How Much Can You Make?

Several years ago, as a stay-at-home mom, I did this work to earn extra money. Both companies like you to work 20 to 25 hours a week during a project, but some people work full-time hours. Campaigns usually last from a couple of weeks to a few months, depending on what the political issue is. Once you complete a campaign, you'll likely be offered more. Some campaigns require calling during regular business hours, and some have night and weekend work available.

Pay varies, and rates can be hourly or per-project. You should earn about $12 to $15 an hour or more. You must have Internet connectivity and a computer workstation that meets the requirements to integrate with the companies' systems. Both companies list the specific technical requirements on their websites: NextWave technical requirements and OnPoint technical requirements. Unfortunately, neither company is set up to work with Macs.

No Special Skills Required

You don't need any special skills or training for either company. For OnPoint, you need to be a good communicator who can discuss often-complex issues with the people you call. You must be a good listener, so you can accurately communicate constituents' thoughts. Finally, you must be a good writer who can put those thoughts on paper.

NextWave divides the job: you could be a caller or a writer. Writers for NextWave make no calls themselves. They listen to recorded conversations and draft letters that way.

You don't need to be Hemingway, but you do need to be able to write a letter (unless you are only a caller with NextWave). The company I worked with asked me to edit letters, so there are people to clean up writing roughness. But it doesn't hurt to brush up on basic letter-writing skills before you apply.

If you're the type who enjoys striking up a conversation with strangers, this job could be a perfect fit for you. Just be prepared to hear some strong opinions.

Your Turn: Would you try helping others express their political opinions?

Laura Agadoni has a background in credit union marketing. Her articles appear in various financial publications such as The Houston Chronicle's small business section, The Motley Fool, Yahoo! Finance, San Francisco Gate's real estate section, Zacks, Arizona Central's small business section and InsuranceQuote.com. Follow her on Twitter @LauraAgadoni.

You’ve started earning extra cash on the side and saving money on your regular purchases, and you’re finally seeing that bank balance rise -- congratulations! (And let us know if any of our advice helped -- we love reader feedback.)

However, if your friends and family haven’t reached that point, they might turn to you when they need financial help. Helping a loved one out with a loan is a great gesture, but if you’re not careful, your generosity could turn into resentment on both ends of the deal.

That's just what happened to a friend of mine. She and her husband once loaned $10,000 to the husband's niece, who promised to pay them back -- but it was a verbal transaction. After a year went by with no repayment, my friend was frustrated with her husband and they were both mad at the niece, who now considered the loan a gift. They never did get the money back, and their relationship with the niece has never recovered.

If you’re thinking of helping a friend out -- and even earning a little interest in the process -- follow these simple rules to make sure the deal goes smoothly. Here’s how to make sure you get your money back and keep your friendship.

Put it in Writing

A funny thing happens when one person lends money to another: the borrower often remembers the transaction differently than the lender does. The loan might suddenly become a gift in the borrower's mind, or the borrower might remember borrowing less than the actual amount.

This is nothing new: as Benjamin Franklin once said, "Creditors have better memories than debtors."

A loan shouldn’t depend on anyone’s memory. Always put the transaction in writing. Some people think this formality is unnecessary among friends and family, that a verbal agreement and maybe a handshake are enough. Those people risk losing the relationship altogether when the deal sours. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it!).

Lending money is always a business transaction, so you need to draw up paperwork to keep emotions out of it. Here's what you should put in your contract:

  • Both names: the lender and the borrower
  • The amount loaned
  • The date you loaned the money
  • The interest rate (more on this later)
  • The date the loan is due to be paid in full
  • The date the payments will begin
  • The minimum payment and payment schedule
  • How payments will be made (PayPal, check or automatic deduction from the borrower's bank account)
  • What the late fees will be (optional)
  • What action you will take if the borrower defaults

Circumstances vary, so you should do your own research before drawing up a contract. RocketLawyer offers a free loan agreement template if you want to do it on your own, though consulting an attorney may be a good idea as well.

Sample Contract

[Your name] is lending money to [borrower's name] in the amount of [amount of loan] on [date] at an interest rate of [interest rate] per annum.

Payments of [minimum payment] will begin on [date] and will be due in regular monthly installments on the [date] of each month and will continue until [date of calculated payoff]. Payments will be made by [payment method].

A late fee of [amount] will be charged if the payment is [how many days] or more days late.

[Borrower's name] can pay the loan off at any time with no prepayment penalty.

If [borrower's name] defaults on the loan, [lender's name] will take legal action and [borrower's name] will pay any collection costs.

You will have more legal standing if you have this document notarized, which could cost a few dollars. Find a notary service by searching for "notary + [your city]" or go to the American Society of Notaries.

Charge Interest

Many people wouldn't think of charging interest to a friend or family member. However, charging interest, despite what you might first think, is a good idea for two reasons:

  1. If you lend a large sum of money without charging interest ($14,000 or more, as of 2014), the IRS will tax the borrower, viewing the money as a gift. Charging interest helps show the IRS that the transaction is a loan.
  1. Loaning any amount of money to a friend or family member without charging interest can result in resentment; the relationship no longer feels equal. But if the borrower is paying you interest, he’ll feel less dependent on you -- which levels the psychological playing field.

So how much interest should you charge? There's no need to enter the loan shark business. Charge enough to satisfy the IRS requirements, called the Applicable Federal Rate, and a little more than what you'd earn if you had the money in a savings account.

Now that you have everything set up, don't comment or gossip about how the borrower is spending money. That’s not your concern. But don't accept not being paid. If the borrower cannot fulfill the agreement, draw up a new repayment plan or take the action you specified in your contract. Stand firm and be understanding, but professional. Let the borrower know that this loan is important.

If you still feel that you cannot write a contract or charge interest, consider just giving the money away. Lending money without a contract can ruin a relationship -- one that might be worth more than any amount of money.

Your Turn: Have you ever loaned money to a friend or family member? What happened?

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice; the author and The Penny Hoarder are not lawyers. For further information, please consult an attorney.

Laura Agadoni has a background in credit union marketing. Her articles appear in various financial publications such as The Houston Chronicle's small business section, The Motley Fool, Yahoo! Finance, San Francisco Gate's real estate section, Zacks, Arizona Central's small business section and InsuranceQuote.com.

Itching to be part of the magic of Hollywood? While you may not be in the spotlight, being an extra in movies or TV shows could fulfill your dream -- and fill your pockets.

An extra is one of those people you see in the background of your favorite films and shows. Sometimes they look like regular people, such as shoppers in a mall scene, and other times they’re dressed up to fit the theme, like zombies, cops or random people in scrubs in the background of any episode of Grey’s Anatomy. You won’t get a speaking role, but you will earn about $8 per hour. If you’re in the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) union, you'll earn $18.50 per hour.

Born and raised in Southern California, I always wanted to try acting. Though I moved away before I had the chance, I later realized I could find work as an extra just about anywhere. I finally seized my opportunity one sweltering August day in “Hotlanta” on the set of TV show Necessary Roughness -- making money doing something truly fun.

Ready to try being an extra? Here’s how to do it.

1. Sign Up With a Casting Company

Find casting companies in your local area by searching for “casting company + [your city],” or sign up with a national firm, such as Backstage. Also check Facebook, which is where I connected with a local casting company,Catrett Locke Casting. I “Liked” their page and signed up to be on their email list, and that’s where I found the ad for my job.

2. Apply For Jobs

Casting companies post the types of roles they need to cast, and there’s something for people of all ages and backgrounds. You might see posts such as "females, 18 plus, any ethnicity," "males and females, 25 to 40," or "bullies, male, 18 to 25." The company will specify what to include in your application -- follow these directions carefully!

When I found a role that suited me perfectly, a tennis fan, I sent in a few photos: one headshot and one of me playing tennis. I also provided the required stats, such as my age, height and weight.

3. Be Responsible

You don't need any experience to be an extra. But you do need to be responsible, meaning you need to show up on time, not cancel at the last minute and follow directions once on set. That's about it. The production assistants and other staff tell you what to do every step of the way, from where to sit or stand to which direction to look.

4. Be Prepared

You’ll likely be on set all day -- the casting company told me that filming would take "anywhere from six to 14-plus hours and sometimes even longer." While lunch is often provided, it’s a good idea to bring some snacks and a drink. Remember to bring something to keep you from being bored, like a book or your tablet.

5. Network

There's lots of down time when you're an extra. While you could stay glued to your phone or computer the whole time, use this time to your advantage by connecting with your fellow extras. Like in so many fields, networking is big in showbiz.

When I was on set, I was the only newbie. The experienced extras were happy to share insider info, such as which casting companies were the best to work with and what upcoming gigs I might like. Plus, during a break from shooting, the casting directors announced that a movie was filming the next day and they were signing people up on the spot. A few minutes of chatting lined up all sorts of additional work to choose from!

6. Have Realistic Expectations

Being an extra in a movie or TV show is a fun way to earn some money. You won't get rich, but if you're just going to sit around the house anyway, you might as well sit around the set and be paid. Plus, it's fun to watch the finished film or show and try to find yourself in the crowd!

Some extras work full time, and others take a job from time to time as the mood strikes or when they need to boost their bank accounts.

Just don't get the idea that you’ll suddenly make it big in showbiz. "Extra work rarely gets one anything but more extra work," says my neighbor, Frank Brennan, who has appeared in many films, such as Looper, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Need for Speed. If all you’re looking for is a taste of the bright lights and a little more cash in your pocket, extra work could be perfect.

Your Turn: Have you ever worked or considered working as an extra?

Laura Agadoni has a background in credit union marketing. Her articles appear in various financial publications such as The Houston Chronicle's small business section, The Motley Fool, Yahoo! Finance, San Francisco Gate's real estate section, Zacks, Arizona Central's small business section and InsuranceQuote.com.