Steve Gillman - The Penny Hoarder

I was on Western Union’s website trying to send $350 to a friend. I knew the “money in minutes” online option would be expensive, but I was still shocked by the $35 charge.

Just before I clicked the button to pay, I saw the little box that said “Promo Code.” That’s when I remembered you can save a lot of money with online coupon codes.

I opened another window, searched for “Western Union discount codes,” and tried the codes from several websites. The first five didn’t work — no surprise there.

Then I found a four-letter, four-digit code from RetailMeNot. I entered that and updated the payment page.

Bingo! The deal was even better than a discount — it eliminated the fee completely! I didn’t really believe I could send the money for free until I completed the transaction, but it was true.

What Kinds of Discounts Can You Get With Online Coupon Codes?

What are you looking for? If you’re shopping online with a major retailer, chances are good there’s a coupon code available.

Just a few I’ve seen…

Renting a car? Some online coupon codes can save you 20% or more.

Buying lawn furniture? Save 10% at several different stores, and if you want, you can pay online and pick up your items locally.

Renewing a domain name? I recently saved 20% by finding discount codes.

Ordering food from a restaurant? I once saw a 25% discount code for online delivery orders from Papa John’s Pizza.

Where to Find Online Coupon Codes

You can find coupons for most of what you buy — and no need to clip and carry them. Just get the codes online.

Here are a few popular websites to check:

This Sounds Too Easy. What’s the Catch?

The problem with all of these sites is, often, the codes just don’t work.

My experience is around one coupon code in 10 actually gives you the promised discount.

Sometimes the retailer won’t honor the coupon code for sale items, or certain products are excluded. Often the code is just expired and hasn’t been removed from the coupon website.

This isn’t as much of a problem as you might think, though. The solution is simple: Just keep trying new codes until you find the ones that work.

Some couponing sites show a success rate for their codes, based on user feedback. I often see a 40% or 50% success rate.

Note that these rates are not necessarily accurate or scientific. They’re based on user feedback, so the results could be skewed like any review site. But they’re probably better than nothing, so look for coupon codes with a high success rate.

How to Make the Most of Online Coupon Codes

As much as coupon websites would like your loyalty as a user, don’t bother to go directly to them when you want a discount. They’re not always easy to use, and each has different offers.

Instead, shop first. When you’re ready to check out, open a new browser window to search for online coupon codes.

Search the name of the company and “coupons,” “coupon codes” or “discount codes.” I used the latter when looking for that Western Union code.

In the search results, you’ll often find websites that have a dozen or more codes to try. Try the ones offering the biggest discounts and with the highest success rates.

Yes, you’ll find a lot of codes that don’t work. But you can test a bunch of them quickly, and you might save a few dollars — or even $35 like I did. That’s not bad for a few minutes of effort.

To make your life even easier, you can automate your savings by adding these browser extensions to find discounts for you while you shop.

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

If you’re like me, you love to learn -- but find college a tedious and boring way to do it.

And perhaps you don't want to wait years to start making a living. Then there’s the average student debt to consider, now above $35,000.

College isn't the right choice for everyone.

What if instead of expensive classes, years of waiting and starting work under a mountain of debt, you could get a paycheck now, while having interesting experiences and learning new things?

If that sounds good to you, keep reading. Here are six ways to get paid to learn valuable skills.

1. Be a Paid Apprentice

The Department of Labor's Office of Apprenticeship funds various apprenticeship programs at companies across the country, including CVS and UPS.

"Registered Apprenticeships are innovative work-based learning and postsecondary earn-and-learn models that meet national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor (or federally recognized State Apprenticeship Agencies)," the DOL website explains.

You’re paid from day one, making an average $15 per hour, with "incremental wage increases" as you become more proficient.

The DOL estimates you can make an annual $50,000 once you complete an apprenticeship.

You receive a nationally recognized credential from the DOL, and you might even get college credit, depending on the program.

There are over 1,000 potential career areas accessible through the DOL's Registered Apprenticeship program, but these are their top occupations:

  • Able seaman
  • Carpenter
  • Chef
  • Child care development specialist
  • Construction craft laborer
  • Dental assistant
  • Electrician
  • Elevator constructor
  • Fire medic
  • Law enforcement agent
  • Over-the-road truck driver
  • Pipefitter

You may apprentice for up to six years, but most people complete programs in four.

In addition to 2,000 hours of work each year, you'll typically spend at least 144 hours in a classroom -- though this may be unpaid time.

2. Serve and Learn

Want to help people and learn new skills while earning a modest stipend?

Consider one of these volunteer service options:

The Peace Corps

As previously explained on The Penny Hoarder, you’ll get training, a living expense stipend, health benefits and a payment (currently $8,000) upon completion of a 27-month assignment.

Then you get job placement help and preference applying for any federal position.

What are the qualifications?

The Peace Corps website says 90% of positions go to volunteers with a bachelor's degree, but they also consider an applicant's "work, hobbies and volunteer experiences."

AmeriCorps

Sometimes referred to as the "Domestic Peace Corps," AmeriCorps is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

As a volunteer, you work on projects in the U.S., first receiving general training and then assignment-specific training.

The CNCS FAQ page makes it clear your "pay" is minimal. You get a living expense stipend, and possibly housing.

But once you complete a term of service (10-12 months), you also receive an AmeriCorps Education Award to help pay for college.

AmeriCorps is actually a "national network of hundreds of programs throughout the U.S.," and you’ll need special skills or a bachelor's degree for some assignments.

For other programs, you don't even need a high school diploma. But, you do have to be between 18-24 years old when you start your service.

Volunteering for service organizations is an opportunity to do some good, learn new skills and make some money -- plus it looks good on your resume.

3. Be an Intern

Serving as an intern is a common way to learn skills and get job experience.

You can even search for paid internships on websites like Internships.com. For many of these positions you need to be a college student, but not necessarily a graduate.

Kristen Pope's recent post lists a dozen internships that pay more than $5,400 per month, so enrolling in college for a while might make sense if that's what it takes to qualify.

4. Use a Job as Business Training

One of the most effective ways to get paid to learn valuable skills is finding employment in the industry in which you’d like to do business.

For more on this idea, see my post on how to use a job as training to start your own business.

5. Get Selected for the Thiel Fellowship

Yes, you can still get paid $100,000 to drop out of college.

Billionaire Peter Thiel's foundation has been offering the Thiel Fellowships for years.

If qualified, you’ll get $100,000 over the course of two years -- if you're willing to leave school and work on something visionary and/or entrepreneurial.

Past fellows include Eden Full, who invented a tool that uses solar energy to provide clean water to off-grid communities, and Paul Gu, who created online lending platform Upstart.

6. Look for On-the-Job Training Opportunities

Almost all jobs involve some on-the-job training, so you might want to look at job prospects related to what you want to learn.

For example, as part of a job working with adults with developmental disabilities, I was paid to learn how to de-escalate situations and restrain people without harming them.

I received certification, just as I did when I was trained as a highway flagger by a temp agency, and when I learned CPR as a security officer.

To find jobs that offer valuable skills training, use the big job websites.

On Indeed, a search for "paid training" (no location specified) turns up more than 100,000 jobs.

For Sarasota, Florida (near me), the results included Red Cross positions, a company willing to train you to add captions to videos and no-experience-necessary cable installation jobs.

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

After burning through dozens of jobs in my life, I consider myself a job-quitting expert.

I've written about how to make more money at work and what to do before you decide to quit, but my favorite is how to quit your job.

So when I saw a WiseBread article titled "The 4 Jobs People Quit the Most," I was curious.

Here's its list:

  1. Most jobs at Amazon
  2. Jobs in the life insurance industry
  3. Registered Nurses (RNs)
  4. Jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry

How Bad Are These Jobs?

An Amazon worker told the New York Times employees regularly cry at their desks because of the stress.

Selling life insurance, like other commission-based jobs, can be tough.

Nurses face long hours and stressful situations.

And jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry often come with low wages.

But if you work in any of these fields, don’t put in your two-week notice just yet: The data doesn't really back up the "quit the most" claim.

The first two jobs were plucked from a PayScale.com list of "most and least loyal employees” based on "median employee tenure." Amazon's is one year, making it number 464 out of 466 companies. Several insurance companies also show up near the bottom of the list.

But is that a fair measurement of how often employees quit, of "loyalty" or of how bad a job is?

After all, if a company with amazing jobs had launched six months before the survey and hired 1,000 employees, it would be at the bottom of the list due to its median employee tenure.

A more relevant example: Amazon hired 120,000 employees for the holiday season, which shortened its median employee tenure in a major way.

Some companies routinely hire temporary workers and then lay them off. It's not about "quitting," nor does it say much about loyalty or work conditions.

And consider this interesting fact: Eastman Kodak tops the loyalty list (median employee tenure of 20 years) but only 45% of its employees report high job satisfaction.

Meanwhile, Amazon and many others near the bottom of the list get high job satisfaction ratings from more than 70% of employees.

Clearly, data can tell a lot of different stories. The high turnover rate for nurses probably is due to stress and working conditions, but the list doesn’t address how or why.

And those leisure and hospitality industry jobs may be staffed largely by young workers who quit even good jobs more often -- or work temporarily while they’re in school.

Which Jobs Are Really the Worst?

Which jobs are so bad you should quit, or never consider in the first place?

You can’t always trust lists and ratings, and any company can get bad reviews.

Consider Amazon, which has a bad reputation and a poor showing on the "employee loyalty" list. But Leena Rao's investigation turned up many workers who loved their jobs, despite the high-pressure atmosphere.

If you've ever had a job you hated, you can probably recall a few employees who loved the work and the workplace. And if you've ever had a job you really loved, someone else probably hated it.

How you feel about your job is personal.

For example, if you hate stressful work, like I do, you'll probably want to avoid the careers on this list of the most stressful jobs.

This post on the lowest paying jobs also has some positions you may want to avoid, like day laborer and fast food worker. Of course, the former may give you experience you need for a better job -- and the latter can offer fast advancement.

Then there’s our list of careers with the highest divorce rates. If you have one of those jobs, your spouse might want you to quit.

If you have a hard time dealing with supervisors, you should probably avoid working for anyone on the New York Post's list of the "worst bosses of all time.”

Theater and film producer Scott Rudin apparently screams at and throws things at employees, while Dish Network co-founder Charlie Ergen is said to have created a "culture of horror."

Finally, there are the truly dirty jobs. No matter how excellent your employer, you might consider quitting if you work as a sheep castrator or septic tank cleaner. But then again, you might love that work.

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

Driving up to a construction zone one day, I watched a worker listen to music and drink some Gatorade.

After a couple cars passed, he casually turned the sign from "Stop" to "Slow," so I could proceed. “Now there's an easy, low-stress job,” I thought.

I needed an occasional job, so I spent two hours getting certified as a flagger and went to work. This was 26 years ago.

But I didn't get the quiet, six-cars-per-hour highway I’d hoped for. I was assigned to the busiest intersection in the county, directing non-stop lines of traffic through chaotic road work.

Correction: Trying to direct traffic.

My lack of experience made it difficult, but the unexplainable (and inexcusable) lack of two-way radios made it nearly impossible.

The other flaggers were a mile away in three directions, so they couldn't tell me which car they let through last. So I never knew for sure when to let traffic flow the other way.

I spent eight hours watching near-accidents and tolerating obscenities and honking horns directed at me. That was my first loooong day as a highway flagger. It was also my last.

How Stressful is Your Job?

You can't always predict how stressful a job will be. It depends on the particular assignment, and also on your employer’s decisions (seriously, no radios?!).

But some jobs are more predictable, and we can rate them according to how stressful they are.

CareerCast uses various "stress factors" for their ratings. The site says work demands like deadlines, competitiveness and being responsible for other people's lives "can reasonably be expected to evoke stress."

If these are a big part of the job, they contribute more points to the stress score. Based on this methodology, CareerCast put together a list of the most and least stressful jobs.

The 10 Most Stressful Jobs

Here are CareerCast's 10 most stressful jobs, starting with the highest stress score, and including the median annual salary -- your reward for putting up with all that stress:

  1. Enlisted Military Personnel ($27,936)
  2. Firefighter ($48,030)
  3. Airline Pilot ($105,720)
  4. Police Officer ($61,600)
  5. Event Coordinator ($47,350)
  6. Newspaper Reporter ($37,820)
  7. Senior Corporate Executive ($102,690)
  8. Public Relations Executive ($107,320)
  9. Taxi Driver ($24,300)
  10. Broadcaster ($38,870)

The 10 Least Stressful Jobs

Here are CareerCast's least stressful jobs, including the median annual salary, starting with the job that got the lowest stress score:

  1. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer ($64,280)
  2. Compliance Officer ($66,278)
  3. Hair Stylist ($23,710)
  4. Audiologist ($75,222)
  5. University Professor ($72,416)
  6. Medical Records Technician ($37,254)
  7. Jeweler ($37,060)
  8. Operations research analyst ($78,630)
  9. Pharmacy Technician ($30,410)
  10. Medical Laboratory Technician ($61,200)

The ratings are based on reasonable assumptions, which may not be applicable in all cases.

And with so many different jobs out there (the BLS tracks more than 800 occupations), there is the question of which ones to include in the ratings.

For example, how did "event coordinator" make the most-stressful list, but not "air traffic controller"?

It seems the latter employees “coordinate events" with much more frequency, and always with potential life-and-death consequences. Now that's stressful!

And, regardless of holding the top spot as least stressful, I would find cutting people's hair very stressful, which brings us to...

What Makes a Job Stressful: Personal Factors

I was totally stressed out as a real estate agent.

I hated having any responsibility for the biggest financial decision of people's lives. But some of my fellow agents were the most relaxed people I knew.

We're all different, so it makes sense to consider your own personality when determining which jobs might be more or less stressful.

Maybe you're at ease making decisions alone, but stressed out when making decisions as part of a group. You might love working with numbers or be completely uncomfortable with them.

The physical requirements of some jobs are refreshing exercise for some and stressful for others.

When considering a job, list all the tasks and situations that are a regular part of the workday (as far as you can tell). Then consider how each will make you feel.

And before you get tempted to take a stressful job just because it pays well, consider...

The Health Effects of Job-Related Stress

"Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than are any other life stressor -- more so than even financial problems or family problems," says a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report on stress at work.

They list these "early warning signs" of work-related stress:

  • Headache
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Short temper
  • Upset stomach
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Low morale

The report also says research shows stress at work may increase the risk of...

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Psychological disorders
  • Workplace injuries
  • Suicide
  • Cancer
  • Ulcers
  • Impaired immune function

The NIOSH report doesn’t mention an increased risk of divorce due to work-related stress, but it seems like a reasonable assumption. We’ve previously reported on careers with the highest divorce rates, and the list includes some pretty stressful jobs.

Create Your Own Stress Ratings for Jobs

A list of stressful or less-stressful jobs is interesting, but it’s just a starting point.

When considering a job, you have to look at its working conditions, including your supervisors.

Then you have to take those personal factors into account.

Finally, you have to consider how much stress you'll tolerate for how much pay.

I get stressed just thinking about the whole process, so I think I'll stay home and continue to avoid jobs.

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

America currently has more than $1.3 trillion of student loan debt.

Louisiana’s Grambling State University tops the list of colleges where graduates have the most debt. The average there is more than $50,000! Who wants to start their work years with that kind of a burden?

A degree can be expensive! But help is here.

The Penny Hoarder has previously explained how Starbucks gives free college tuition to workers, and how to go to college free overseas. You also might be eligible for some of these 100 awesome scholarships.

What if none of those options fit your plans?

Fortunately, you can get a free college education without slinging coffee, leaving the country or applying for a Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship.

Here are nine colleges that will automatically cover your tuition once you enroll.

1. Berea College

Located in Kentucky, Berea College offers the Tuition Promise Scholarship to every student admitted.

The amount is adjusted according to other aid you receive, so that, "The actual cost to students and their families is $0."

With tuition costing more than $25,000 per year, that saves you almost $100,000 over four years.

2. Deep Springs College

An accredited two-year liberal arts college located on a cattle ranch and alfalfa farm in the high desert of California is unusual enough.

But this financial arrangement is even more uncommon.

Every student accepted by Deep Springs College receives a full scholarship worth over $50,000, along with room and board. You’re required to do 20 hours of labor each week, and the school only accepts about a dozen new students each year.

3. Curtis Institute of Music

Located in Philadelphia, the Curtis Institute of Music "provides full-tuition scholarships to all of its students, ensuring that admissions are based solely on artistic promise."

You're expected to first apply for aid from other sources, and then Curtis covers the remaining tuition.

This scholarship is valued at more than $41,087 for undergraduate students and more than $51,924 for graduate students.

4. U.S. Service Academies

There are five U.S. service academies associated with the various military branches.

They all offer a bachelor of science and cover your tuition, TodaysMilitary.com explains, but with a catch: You have to serve at least five years in the military upon graduation.

Of course, not many other colleges offer free tuition and a guarantee of a job for five years.

5. Barclay College

Located in Kansas, Barclay College has undergraduate and graduate programs for Christian students from "all evangelical faith traditions."

Resident students "automatically receive a $14,000 full-tuition scholarship upon acceptance."

Most degrees are in Christian-related fields (example: master of arts in spiritual formation), but the school also offers business management and psychology degrees.

6. Webb Institute

A small New York college with about 90 students, the Webb Institute offers a bachelor of science program in naval architecture and marine engineering.

It also offers U.S. citizens and permanent residents full-tuition scholarships, valued at $48,350 as of this academic year.

7. College of the Ozarks

Missouri Christian liberal arts school College of the Ozarks advertises on its homepage, "Don't Pay Tuition" and "Work for an Education."

You have to put in 15 hours of weekly work, plus two 40-hour work weeks each school year.

You might be outdoors doing landscaping, or in the kitchen, or another of the "over 80 diverse and fulfilling work areas."

8. Macaulay Honors College

Although the competition for admission is fierce, if you make it into Macaulay Honors College in New York City (part of CUNY), your tuition is covered -- and it'll even give you a laptop and some help with housing.

The college offers 475 majors across eight campuses. But you have to be a New York resident to qualify.

9. Alice Lloyd College

Alice Lloyd College guarantees it'll cover your tuition if you live in one of the 108 counties it serves in the central Appalachian mountains (in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia) -- and you're a full-time student.

The school offers bachelor of arts and science degrees.

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

Have you seen kids at carnivals and similar events with flowers, mermaids and other designs painted on their faces?

If so -- and especially if some of them were your children -- you know getting these temporary tattoos applied costs a couple of dollars. But did you know you can buy them for less than 10 cents each?

You’ll pay closer to a dollar for the materials needed to apply airbrush tattoos, but they sell for $5 to $20, and they’re more popular with adults. Clearly, a temporary tattoo business would have high profit margins.

Selling and applying temporary tattoos is primarily a weekend business, since most application opportunities will be at community events. That makes tattooing a good part-time business if your weekdays are full.

Curious about this potential side business? Let's look at the two most common types of temporary tattoos, as well as each one’s business advantages.

Stick-On Tattoos

It's easiest to start with stick-on or "wet-and-press" tattoos. Many YouTube videos demonstrate how to apply them, and it's a skill you can learn in minutes.

The other big advantage with stick-on tattoos is this business costs very little to start. You don’t need any special equipment; a wet cloth and a spray bottle are enough for most brands. Some tattoo varieties require isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), which costs about a dollar per bottle. Of course, you'll also need a table and a sign, or you can use your own face to advertise your service.

Supplies are inexpensive as well. You can start with tattoos from dollar stores, but buying in bulk online will substantially lower your cost. For example, OrientalTrading.com has tattoos for less than 7 cents each when you buy in bulk. It carries pirates, flowers, monsters and hundreds of other designs. CustomTattoos.com has more elaborate designs starting at 35 cents each, with a $125 minimum order.

If your target market is kids (which is common with these easy-to-apply tattoos), set up a table or booth at school functions, street markets and any other events that are full of families. You’ll probably want to price your tattoos between $1 and $3, and you can offer a discount for more than one, since it takes very little extra time to apply a second or third tattoo.

Go to events and note which temporary tattoo sellers are busy, and see what they do to get noticed. If you bring your own kids when you set up, put tattoos on their faces to make them walking billboards.

The simple wet-and-press tattoos are not just for kids, and you can get creative with them if you design your own. At TattooSales.com, you can upload an image to make custom temporary tattoos. Use your imagination! One woman created a temporary tattoo of a music festival schedule, reported Gizmodo.com. Buyers put it on their forearms so they didn't lose track of which band was playing at a particular time and stage.

If you buy into a franchise, you get support and a name to use. For example, BodyGraphics.com sells a starter kit for as little as $129, which includes 250 tattoos and the one-year franchise fee. Its website says: "Some of our franchisees are earning over $100,000 in just six months!"

Airbrush Tattoos

Airbrush tattoos look more like real tattoos. They’re often more elaborate than wet-and-press types, so they sell for more money. Prices average around $10, and the materials cost from 14 cents to about a dollar, according to EuropeanBodyArt.com. The business claims you can make $300 per hour over an eight-hour day. The higher price and profit margin is the biggest advantage to doing this type of tattoo.

The biggest drawback to airbrushing is that it costs more to get started. You need an airbrush, a compressor (get the silent studio type), a tank, hoses, couplers, paint and tools for unclogging the brush tip. Starting an airbrush tattoo business could cost you thousands of dollars.

It takes more time to learn the techniques as well. Fortunately, you can turn to airbrush tattoo YouTube videos to get your basic training.

If you want to start quickly and more easily, buy a kit. For example, TribalInkProducts.com sells a starter kit for a regular price of $1,299. When you buy a complete kit, sellers usually provide support by phone if you run into problems.

How Much Can You Make Selling Temporary Tattoos?

If you're willing to invest the additional money and time to get started, airbrush tattoos are probably the way to go, because they're more profitable. Actual figures for temporary tattoo businesses of either type are hard to come by, which is common with cash operations of any sort. But apart from the claims of the suppliers, you can find some information in tattoo-selling forums.

In one forum in 2015, those in the temporary tattoo business described a range of experiences. One said he averages $850 per day at fairs and festivals. He also reported working 10 to 12 hours, and on bad weather days his take would drop to $200. Another said he made $1,600 on a typical Saturday, but he had employees to pay. Yet another said his event income ranged wildly from $50 to $700 per day.

One contributor said that after six years of doing temporary tattoos part time, he grossed over $100,000 in a year, for a profit of about $62,000 after paying for an employee and other expenses. That's not bad for a part-time business.

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror and roulette croupier; but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

If you invest $400 a month and make 7% annually, you’ll have nearly $1 million in 40 years.

Let’s say you’re 30 years old and you give up movies, Starbucks and dinners out for four decades to save that $400 each month. At 70, you’ll have a million bucks and be ready to retire, right?

But wait! One million dollars today has the spending power of about $240,900 in 1977 dollars. If we experience similar inflation in the next 40 years, your future million will also be worth just $240,900 in today’s dollars.

So you’ll be a millionaire, but it won’t be quite like you imagined.

What if you don’t want to wait 40 years to make your first $1 million? What if you don’t want to wait even 10 years?

Here’s how to make a million dollars quickly — with a little luck.

1. How to Make a Million Dollars Selling Something

Maybe you didn’t want to hear this, but it could be time to learn how to sell. One of the surest ways to wealth is to see what people need or want and provide it. But you still have to convince them it’s your something they need. That’s what sales is all about.

That’s how Dani Johnson went from being homeless to a millionaire in less than two years.

At first she rejected the idea of selling a weight loss program, as if it were beneath her. Then she realized she was homeless, drinking and using drugs — so why not sell something?

She didn’t even have a phone, but with a $15 voicemail service and a handmade flyer put up in a post office, she started getting orders for the program. When she ordered her inventory from the manufacturer, she had to borrow the address of a liquor store because she had no place to accept delivery.

From that start, she built her business and later sold it, becoming a multi-millionaire in the process.

Other examples of people who made $1 million fast by selling something include:

Fraser Doherty

He was 14 years old when he started making and selling “SuperJam,” and within a few years he had annual sales in the millions.

Cameron Johnson

He sold greeting cards at age 9, then moved on to selling Beanie Babies, software and advertising. By age 15, he was making more than $300,000 per month.

Alicia Shaffer

Within three years of opening her shop on Etsy, Shaffer was making close to $1 million annually selling handmade clothing and accessories.

2. Invest in Real Estate, and Retire Early

When Julie Broad and her husband decided to buy their first income property, they had only $16,000 in savings. Seven years later, they were millionaires, and she retired — at age 31.

Broad says one of the things she likes about real estate is the potential leverage.

“If you have $16,000 to invest (which is what I started with seven years ago), you can buy $16,000 worth of stocks and bonds,” she wrote at MyWifeQuitHerJob.com.

“But, if you buy real estate, you can buy a property worth $160,000 (which is exactly what I did). If your stocks go up in value by 5%, you’ve made $800. But if your property goes up by 5% you’ve made $8,000!”

You make money with income property from rents, appreciation and equity gains from the tenant’s rent paying down your mortgage. You also get to exercise creativity and control with real estate investments.

Broad points out if your stocks drop in value, your options are limited to buying more or selling more, but with real estate, “there are plenty of creative techniques to try.”

For example, rent out the garage separate from the house, add vending machines or laundry facilities, change the usage of the property and sell it.

“There are dozens of ways to turn a simple house into a money-making machine with creativity,” says Broad.

Many real estate investors have similar stories to tell.

For example, in his book “2 Years to a Million in Real Estate,” Matthew Martinez relates how he made his fortune in rental properties after quitting his 9-to-5 job.

3. Gamble… Without Too Much Risk

Mortgaging the house and betting $29,000 on number 17 on the roulette table probably isn’t a good plan. But not all gambles have to be that crazy.

Consider poker.

The Mirror profiled seven people who made more than $1 million playing poker in 2014. Poker comes with risk but also requires skill, and you can parlay your profits into bigger ones without risking much to start.

Another option is gambling on the popularity of new currencies.

Using $1,000 he got as a gift, Erik Finman made $100,000 on Bitcoin at age 15. At age 18, he now owns 403 bitcoins — worth more than $1 million.

And yes, buying a lottery ticket is a terrible bet. But it is one of the fastest ways to make millions — and buying a ticket or two each year probably won’t break you.

Just don’t add yourself to the long list of lottery winners who lost everything.

4. How to Make Millions With YouTube Videos

The internet may be the most obvious platform for making $1 million quickly. Of all the possibilities, creating videos for YouTube is perhaps one of the most fun.

Here are just a few profitable types of videos you could create:

Comedy Videos

You may not have heard of him, but comedian Ray William Johnson made $1 million per year with his funny videos.

Toy Reviews

You read it right: The three EvanTube channels make an estimated $1 million annually for their 9-year-old founder and his family.

Cat Videos

Grumpy Cat may not have made $100 million, but her owner Tabatha Bundesen admits, “I was able to quit my job as a waitress within days of her first appearance on social media, and the phone simply hasn’t stopped ringing since.”

5. Sell Millions of Self-Publish Kindle Ebooks

You can set up an account for free and start selling Kindle books on Amazon’s ebook platform this week.

You’ve probably heard about authors who have hit it big on Kindle. John Locke, for example, sold a million Kindle ebooks in five months, and Mark Dawson earned $450,000 in 2014 from his self-published ebooks.

But you don’t even have to write your own book to make $1 million on Kindle.

You can publish other people’s books. Bob Mayer and Jen Talty say they “built a seven-figure indie publishing house in just two years.”

6. Teach People (Outside of the Classroom)

Do you like to teach people? You won’t make a million doing it in a classroom. But perhaps you can go online.

The top 10 instructors on Udemy pulled in $17 million between them — and that’s just for one year. What could you teach in an online course — even a short pilot version?

Then there is teacher Deanna Jump, who became a millionaire in less than three years by selling lesson plans to other teachers on Teachers Pay Teachers.

7. How to Make a Million Dollars Trading Stocks

It might take 40 years to make your first million in stocks if you go for that slow and steady 7% return. But trading isn’t the same as investing. And volatile penny stocks aren’t your slow and steady investments…

The SEC says, “Investors in penny stocks should be prepared for the possibility that they may lose their whole investment.”

Trader Tim Grittani agrees that trading in and out of these low-cost stocks like he does, often within minutes, is risky. But his $1,500 became a portfolio worth more than $1 million within three years — when he was only 24.

That might get you thinking about trading.

8. Invent a New Way to Make Millions

Not sure you’re ready to commit to making a million with any of the ways above? Then why not invent your own way to make money?

For inspiration, here are some examples of people who did just that:

Alex Tew

Tew created The Million Dollar Homepage (the first of its kind) and sold one million pixels of advertising space for $1 per pixel to fund his college education.

Zhang Yin

Yin started with $3,800, buying cheap cardboard from the U.S. to recycle into boxes in China, and is now worth nearly $2 billion.

Alan Jenkins and Pat Burke

They have shipped more than $1 million in Irish dirt to the United States, for nostalgic transplants to use on their Irish roses or caskets.

Many other weird businesses might inspire you to invent your own way to make a fast $1 million.

Of course, even if you give it a shot, you might also want to do the usual saving and investing.

Forty years from now, you might thank your former self for putting aside $400 per month to provide some extra income in retirement.

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror and roulette croupier; but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

I've always been a dollar-store shopper, but I never bought food there.

Then our local dollar store started carrying the exact same brand of whole wheat bread I normally buy for $2.49. It might be two days closer to the expiration date, but not past it. So now I save $1.49 on every loaf of bread.

But you have to be careful. I once bought a screwdriver at a dollar store and it fell to pieces the first time I used it.

So what should you buy at dollar stores, and what should you avoid?

I looked at what the experts say in interviews with MoneyTalksNews and Today. Based on their advice and my own experience, here are 20 things to buy at dollar stores and 10 things to avoid.

Buy These Dollar Store Items

Why pay more when you don’t have to?

1. Greeting Cards

Everyone seems to agree on this one. Why pay several dollars for a card when you can get it for a buck?

2. Socks

Socks in dollar stores are often of decent quality, and the kids' socks sometimes come two pairs to a package, making them much cheaper than most other stores.

The experts say to look for socks made with acrylic or spandex for comfort.

3. Vases

You can include decorative bowls, too. The dollar-store versions are about the same as the cheapest vases in other stores, which will typically run you $3 or more.

I've found decent vases made of glass and plastic in dollar stores.

4. Gift Bags and Wrapping Paper

Gift bags cost more everyplace else, and they’re going to be thrown away anyhow. I wouldn't buy them anywhere else.

Wrapping paper is usually a good deal too, but the rolls are short.

5. Party Supplies

Once again, we're talking about disposable items. Why pay twice as much for streamers and plastic tablecloths, or five times as much for Mylar balloons?

A trip to the dollar store can easily save you $20 if you're planning a party.

6. Grooming Items

Hair ties and bobby pins eventually get lost, so why pay more for them?

Some name-brand shampoos show up in dollar stores too, for half of what they normally sell for.

But if you buy combs, avoid the flimsy ones in packages of 10 or more -- I bent one the first time I used it.

7. Some Food

I don't trust generic imported food yet, but now I'll buy well-known brands I’ve seen elsewhere, and that bread saves me some serious cash.

Still, make careful comparisons; many canned foods actually cost less at regular grocery stores.

8. Picture Frames

My wife and I have pictures on our walls in wooden frames we bought at a dollar store. The same frames cost $5 or more in any other store where we've seen them.

Just check to be sure the bracket or hook for hanging is securely attached.

9. Storage Containers

You'll find food storage containers on the "don't buy" list below, but for storing cleaning supplies, hardware items and many other things, I use plastic tubs and containers from the dollar store.

They cost at least twice as much in most other stores.

10. Some Kitchenware

Yeah, dollar store silverware is flimsy, but still, how would I break a fork or spoon?

Drinking glasses are a good deal too.

What Else Should You Buy at the Dollar Store?

Considering only things that save me at least 50% and have worked just fine, here are some other things I buy at the dollar store:

  1. Rope and twine, for uses that don't require high-quality tying
  2. Kids' coloring books, but not the low-quality crayons
  3. Bags of balloons, good for water balloons and party decorations
  4. Bandanas, for various uses
  5. Candles, for emergencies
  6. Dish towels, in two-packs. They wear out quickly, but they're still worth it
  7. Plungers: Throw them away when they break; you get seven for the price of one.
  8. Cleaning supplies: Some are OK, and they're much cheaper.
  9. Sponges, for cleaning other than dishes
  10. Duct tape: It’s low-quality but perfect for some uses.

Don't Buy These Dollar Store Items

Here’s when it’s not worth the savings.

1. Toys

With some exceptions, most dollar store toys are low-quality and will break quickly, if they work at all.

Some experts also say that parts and paints used for dollar store toys might not meet standards for safety.

2. Batteries

The experts say the battery life is so short that you're better off getting batteries elsewhere.

They're mostly right, but I'll buy batteries at a dollar store for uses where I don’t need much power, like remote controls. I figure they last half as long but cost a fourth as much, so it still makes sense.

3. Medications and Vitamins

These show up on many "don't buy" lists for dollars stores. I wouldn't trust any supplements or drugs that are made for this market.

One exception is aspirin from a known brand, but often the containers are so small that you might be paying more per pill than you would at the drug store.

4. Paper Products

It is tempting to pick up that four-roll package of toilet paper or those paper towels for a dollar, but look again.

Usually the rolls are much smaller than normal, and the experts point out that the quality is about as low as it can be.

5. Plastic and Aluminum Wraps

These are usually low-quality, and again, they're made to sell cheap by making the rolls very short.

6. School Supplies

The low quality of pens, paper, binders and such is one reason to avoid getting school supplies at a dollar store.

The other reason is that if you wait for back-to-school sales, you can save a lot more money at Walmart, Target and other stores.

7. Pet Food

Experts warn about the lack of standards with dollar-store pet food.

Then there is the size issue. Those small packages may cost more per ounce than the bigger bags you buy elsewhere.

8. Power Cords

Extension cords and power strips found in dollar stores are low quality and are sometimes dangerous, according to the experts.

9. Tools

Most tools found in dollar stores are barely functional, in my experience.

10. Food Containers

Low quality is a problem with these food containers, but safety is also an issue, according to a recent report on the hazardous chemicals in dollar store items.

I'm not too worried about the chemicals in the dollar-store tubs that organize my stuff in the garage, but I stay away from putting food in dollar-store plastic.

One last bit of advice: Be sure you're in a dollar store.

Dollar Tree keeps everything at a dollar, but other stores that use "dollar" in their names, like Dollar General, may have higher-priced items.

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

If you buy a duplex and live in one side, you have a home and rent coming in from the other side to help pay it.

Investment real estate also offers tax advantages. And what could be easier than managing a rental next door?

You've probably heard the arguments for buying a duplex instead of a single-family home. But is it really a good idea for you?

Maybe.

Recently, after four years of Florida’s heat and humidity, my wife and I moved back to Colorado to buy a duplex in the small town of Florence.

We've only lived here for a short while, so I can't offer a comprehensive guide to buying a duplex as a home. But a lot can happen in a couple months, so maybe you can learn a few lessons from our experience.

Maybe even enough to decide if you’re ready for this lifestyle/investment…

Buying at a Distance

My wife was busy, so I flew out to Colorado alone for four days to look for our new home and investment.

Once I was back in Florida, we tried to buy a multiunit property -- my favorite of the seven properties I’d seen. We discovered a few problems and the deal fell through, so we made an offer on a duplex I’d been in for just 10 minutes.

Buying a property you’ve only been in for a few minutes isn’t as risky as it sounds, as long as you have an inspection contingency in your contract.

If the inspector had found any major problems, we could’ve backed out. Both units were occupied, as well, so we also could have backed out after reviewing the leases, if the rent was less than stated in the listing information.

Real estate is selling quickly in Colorado, and prices are rising, but we didn't have to buy something. So we offered $119,000, about $8,000 less than the asking price.

The seller said yes.

Meanwhile, my wife was asking me questions I couldn't answer, like whether the bedrooms were carpeted, what color the walls were, and where the washer and dryer were located.

Fortunately, the inspector answered some of those questions.

More importantly, he happened to have structural engineering experience. The duplex was built in 1900, but he assured us the cracks in the walls (most of which I didn't recall) were nothing serious.

Lessons:

  1. Don't get too attached to a property.
  2. Have alternatives in mind.
  3. Try offering less than the asking price.
  4. Take your time looking at a property if you're interested in it.
  5. Hire an inspector with building or engineering experience.

Negotiating the Deal

The duplex had no major functional problems.

After we got the inspection report, we asked for some minor repairs, and the seller agreed. He also assured us one unit would be empty by the time we moved.

Our contract allowed us to cancel the deal if we didn't find acceptable insurance. And by acceptable, it meant almost anything -- from the price to even what could be covered or excluded (such as earthquakes or floods).

The language of the contract said we could cancel the contract “based on any unsatisfactory provision of the Property Insurance, in Buyer’s sole subjective discretion.” Of course, there’s a deadline, as with all contingencies.

The insurance agent asked us questions, which we passed on to our real estate agent, who passed them on to the selling agent, who passed them on to the seller, who answered his agent, who then contacted our agent, who then contacted us, and we contacted our insurance agent, who then had another question.

The process was tedious and slow. And insurance was expensive, which we discovered the day after our insurance contingency deadline.

Fortunately, after questioning our insurance agent, we found we could substantially lower the cost by raising the deductible, paying a year in advance and getting our car insurance through the same company.

The listing information said the units were rented for $650 per month, but I suddenly recalled the tenant on one side telling me she paid $600.

We got copies of the leases emailed to us, and the rent was $650, but was discounted $50 if she kept the place looking good for showings while it was for sale.

Lessons:

  1. Inspections are an opportunity to renegotiate or back out of a deal.
  2. Watch deadlines in the contract.
  3. Ask your insurance agent how you can lower your annual premium.
  4. Ask tenants questions when you see a place.
  5. Always ask for rental agreement copies and other contracts

Closing the Deal

As soon as we were past our contract deadlines, we listed our home in Florida for sale.

It sold the next day for more than the asking price -- crazy times are back in Florida! We closed the sale 16 days later, a few days after closing on the duplex.

Meanwhile, we discovered the tenant in the unit we planned to occupy was still there.

We pondered the possibility of being homeless after closing in Florida, and decided we needed more information. Emails and phone calls went through the typical maze of real estate agents and we couldn't get a clear picture of the situation.

My wife found the solution.

She located the seller's personal phone number on a lease, and we called him directly. The tenant in "our" unit was more or less moved out and would vacate four days before we arrived.

Real estate agents don't like being bypassed, and some sellers would rather not talk to the buyers at all, but in this case it was one of our best decisions. The seller was very helpful -- he even came over after we settled in to answer any questions we had.

We’d mentioned we could close earlier than planned, but we hadn't heard from the title company. At some point I called them and they said, "Oh yes, we moved up the closing and the papers will be there in a couple days."

Thanks for telling us -- apparently it wasn't important for us to know when the closing was! We quickly wired the money so it would be there in time. I have never met a title company I like.

Lessons:

  1. It can help to talk to the seller directly if possible.
  2. Follow up on everything -- you may not be notified of important changes.

How to Make Money With Your Home

We closed early in the month.

Since rent is paid in advance, we were credited at closing with the rent already collected. If you're tight on money for closing costs, this can help a lot. Essentially, we were making money before we even moved in.

That was the good news.

Five days after we arrived at our new home (with everything we owned and two cats in our minivan), the tenants in the other side announced they were leaving in a week -- and one of their three dogs had torn a hole in the carpet.

Fortunately, the previous owner had collected an extra $500 deposit for pet damages.

It was bad news and good news. I wasn't thrilled to have to prepare the other side for new tenants while still settling in and painting our side. On the other hand, we’d probably find better tenants and could start fresh with our own rules.

We decided to use a placement service to find a renter.

For 75% of the first month's rent, they took photos, advertised in several places, took applications, did credit and background checks, and made a recommendation.

So we had that unexpected expense, a couple thousand dollars in repairs, painting and other preparation, and some vacant time shortly after moving in.

But now we have new tenants in place, and for $50 more per month than anticipated. We hope they'll stay for years.

Lessons:

  1. Close the purchase early in the month to collect prepaid rent at closing.
  2. Expect rental-preparation expenses and loss of income from vacancies.
  3. Be sure to collect a larger or extra deposit if you allow pets.
  4. Have a management company find tenants if you're uncertain how to proceed.

Financing a Duplex

We were fortunate enough to be able to pay cash for our duplex, but you can also finance them.

Bankrate.com explains there are some special advantages to financing a duplex when you live in it.

For example, unlike non-occupant investors, you can get a Federal Housing Administration or Veterans Administration loan.

And even though it’s your home, you can sometimes use the income from the other side to help you qualify for the loan.

But be sure the numbers still make sense once you add in those loan payments.

For example, if the units are similar in size, allocate half of each mortgage payment to the investment unit, along with half of the common expenses and all expenses specific to that side.

You should aim to have at least some positive cash flow (on that unit) after all of those costs.

Tax Advantages of Owning a Duplex

You may have to read up on the tax advantages of owning and living in a duplex.

But basically, anything you spend on the rental unit is an expense that reduces the income you report and the taxes you pay. This includes advertising, paint, flowers for the front yard -- anything to help you keep the place rented.

Expenses for the entire property are generally split down the middle.

For example, half of the tax and insurance bills are rental expenses. But talk to an accountant if you have a unique property, like if one side is much larger than the other.

You also get other benefits to further lower your tax bill, such as claiming depreciation as an expense. And you can still qualify for the capital gains tax exclusion on half of the property when you sell, since you live in it.

Duplex Disadvantages

The disadvantages of owning a duplex are about what you’d guess.

Here's a short list of the potential problems you could face:

  1. Tenants who don't pay on time: Be ready to start evictions quickly.
  2. Pet damage to your property: We may limit the number of pets.
  3. Potential liability for accidents on the property: Get insurance.
  4. Expensive surprises like broken furnaces: Ours are 30 years old, fingers crossed.
  5. Lots of maintenance work: It won’t be all the time, but probably when you least expect it.

For me, the biggest drawback is the stress of constant decisions.

Do I fix the shower myself or pay five times as much for a professional?

Do I allow the renters to have a garden?

Do I ask for rent on time, even if it means the tenant won't have money for her baby's medicine? (That one actually came up on a previous rental I owned.)

These problems are not unique to duplexes. They come with any residential rental property.

Special Duplex Advantages

As an investment, rental real estate has clear advantages.

For example, rents usually go up over time, but your mortgage payment remains the same (assuming you got a fixed rate), so your income rises. But some advantages are specific to owner-occupied duplexes.

For example, a duplex provides an opportunity to invest less in your own home. Our duplex has two 1,100-square-foot units and we paid $119,000, while small houses on the same street cost about the same.

We ended up putting $3,000 into fixing the place up. Coupled with $1,000 in closing costs, we spent $123,000 -- $61,500 for our home and $61,500 for a rental, much less than we would’ve paid for a single-family home for either purpose.

We don't like being landlords, especially after weeks of work preparing the place. I don't even like real estate. But where else can we get our expected 7% return?

And that's not even the whole story.

If we’d bought a single-family home for ourselves (our backup plan for moving back to Colorado) we would’ve moved farther from the town center to find something cheaper. We still would’ve paid more than $90,000, instead of $61,500.

Now we get to invest the $30,000 we saved.

We paid cash, but the advantage is there if you borrow, too. By investing less in your own living space, you save thousands in interest over the years.

Another advantage of buying a duplex as a home is you live next door to your tenants, so you can keep track of what's going on with your investment.

Being on-site, you can more easily deal with little problems before they become big ones.

And the rent check is only a few steps away.

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

I love people, appreciate the uniqueness of individuals and enjoy a good conversation or party. In some ways, I'm a very social person.

But I confess: I really don't like "networking," being part of a "team," or any other situations where I have to sell myself or share responsibility with others. At heart, I'm a loner and nonconformist.

Some of you can relate to this. You feel uncomfortable with books on how to market yourself. You don't want to spend your time trying to win friends or influence people. And so you may have wondered: How can you make money working alone?

Fortunately, you don't have to spend your workday interacting with other people or sharing decision-making responsibility. Here are some of the best businesses, investments and jobs for introverts.

Best Jobs for Introverts

Most jobs involve working with others, and all jobs require some degree of interaction with your employer or supervisor, if not other employees or clients. But clearly some positions involve less teamwork than others.

Here are some of the best options for introverts:

1. Archivist

The median annual wage of an archivist is $50,500, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You'll spend your day organizing and maintaining historical documents in quiet rooms with few interruptions. What's not to like?

2. Court Reporter

A courtroom is full of people, but as a court reporter, you rarely interact with others. And you do, it’s only to read back a few lines of testimony. The median annual wage of $51,320 isn't bad either.

3. Caretaker

CBS’s Sunday Morning recently profiled Steve Fuller, the winter caretaker of Yellowstone National Park.  Fuller enjoys being alone for months and hours away from the nearest store (by snowmobile), but he says when he explains his job, "I usually start off with caretaker, and their immediate response is, 'Have you seen 'The Shining'?"

You can find all kinds of caretaking positions. Some are just house-sitting jobs and others involve working with the public. But some positions let you live alone and quietly care for a lodge or other facility in the off-season.

Pay varies greatly. You’ll find these positions on websites like CaretakerJobs.com and in the Caretaker Gazette.

4. Astronomer

How would you like to work by yourself much of the time, observing the skies or interpreting data? You'll be well-paid for your loneliness, as the median annual wage of astronomers is $104,740.

Here are some other jobs where you'll have minimal interaction with others:

  1. Medical Records Technician
  2. Industrial Machine Repairer
  3. Night Security Guard
  4. Night Shelf Stocker
  5. Appraiser
  6. Forest Fire Lookout

Businesses for Introverts

Jobs aren't the only option for introverts and nonconformists. Some businesses also give you the freedom to do things your own way and without too much interaction with others.

For example, my wife and I have spent the last 11 years creating websites about anything that interests us (backpacking, metaphors, poetry, money, etc.) and put Google AdSense on the pages. People find our sites, read the articles and essays, and click on ads, then Google automatically deposits our share of the per-click advertising revenue in our bank account every month.

At one point, we were making over $10,000 per month from Google. Our AdSense income has now dropped to less than $1,000 monthly, so I can no longer say it's an easy way to make money. But if you can figure out a way to get enough visitors to your blogs or websites, all you need to do is sign up and put the code on your pages.

Here’s the part introverts might like: In all these years, we’ve never talked to any of the advertisers or anyone at Google, and answering emails from visitors to our sites is optional.

Here are a few of the many ways you can be self-employed and conduct your business mostly by yourself.

11. Write Books

When I was contracted to write 101 Weird Ways to Make Money, I hated the tedious negotiations and editing discussions that went into getting the contract and writing the book. To avoid much of this hassle, write the book first and then submit it to publishers. (However, going the traditional publishing route isn’t easy -- but that’s a story for another post.)

12. Self-Publish Ebooks

It costs nothing but your time to write and publish a book on Kindle, Amazon's ebook platform. I made $2,000 with a book on ultralight backpacking I wrote in less than a week. I even made a few bucks with my nonconformist, opinionated essay-books. I've never had to talk to anyone to sell these books.

13. Start a Vending Machine Route

Fill the machines with whatever you sell and take the money to the bank. It's a routine you can do alone, and if you want to avoid the "sales" part of placing the machines, you can hire a company that finds vending machine locations to do it for you.

Here are a few more businesses you can operate on your own and without much customer interaction:

  1. Scrap Metal Recycling
  2. Treasure Hunting
  3. Inventing Things

Investments to Manage On Your Own

You’ll have to negotiate for some investments, but at least you can make your decisions on your own.Here are some of the best investments that let you work alone.

17. Stocks

You can open an account and trade stocks online from the comfort and anonymity of your home, without ever talking to another person.

18. Income Real Estate

When you are the homeowner, all the crucial decisions are yours alone. And if you're an introvert to the point you don't even want to deal with tenants, hire management. My wife and I have rented out a condo, and we've never seen or talked to our tenant.

19. Resale Real Estate

Flipping houses -- buying homes to fix them up and resell them -- can be very lucrative. If you're handy with a hammer and paintbrush, you can even do most of the work yourself.

Let a real estate agent do the selling and handle everything by email. My wife and I have bought and sold several properties without ever meeting the buyers or sellers.

Here are a few more investments that don't require much, if any, direct interactions with others:

  1. Lending Club Loans
  2. Music Royalties
  3. Options Investing

Should You Go it Alone?

Naturally, collaboration with others can lead to better ideas and bigger profits in business and investments. And even a lonely archivist or author could probably negotiate a better wage or sell more books if they learned how to market themself.

But money isn't always the most important consideration. If you like independence and time alone, it's good to know you can have those and still earn enough income to pay the bills.

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

Can you sum up a product in a sentence? Think of something funny -- and not another joke about too many candles -- to put on a birthday card? Make a point in few concise words?

If so, you might be able to make money writing slogans.

Companies sometimes need new corporate taglines, advertising slogans and jingles. Bumper sticker and greeting card makers want cute, endearing or funny thoughts to put on their products. When these businesses need help, they sometimes collect submissions from freelance writers or run contests that anyone can enter -- including you!

Writing Corporate Slogans and Taglines

Product slogans can be very short, like Nike's “Just Do It.” They’re rarely much longer than Hallmark's "When you care enough to send the very best."

Although companies usually have their own teams of writers and marketers, they often run competitions that pay big prizes to outsiders who can come up with a catchy line. Watch for these opportunities on television and in print, but your best chance of finding them may be online. Try one or more of these platforms:

  • Slogan Slingers helps companies create slogan contests in which their registered writers compete. It's free to sign up as a writer, and the company claims you can “make up to $999 per contest (minus our small admin fee).”
  • Get a Slogan is a "crowd-sourcing platform that brings in custom, creative and catchy slogans from a variety of sloganeers." Companies come to them for help, and writers submit their ideas. It's free to sign up, but you initially have only "qualifying" status. Once you obtain "qualified" status, you’ll receive $50 for each of your winning slogans.
  • Freelancer.com has a section devoted to slogan-writing projects. The projects are  sometimes run as contests.

For ideas about how to craft a catchy tagline, look over lists of some of the best advertising slogans and think about what makes each one work.

If you Google "slogan contest" plus the current or upcoming year (to weed out expired contests from the results), you'll notice that government and nonprofit organizations may have even more slogan contests than companies. Many of these are open to children as well, so get your kids writing!

For example, Kentucky’s Secretary of State holds an annual slogan contest for students in grades 6 through 8. The kids have to write a slogan about voting or elections. The 2014 first-place winner earned $1,000 for "Don't stay home and think you might. Go vote now, the time is right!" Even the third-place winner received $400 for "There's nothing sweeter than to elect your leader!"

Writing Greeting Card and Novelty Slogans

Nadia Ali wrote the slogan, "Nicotine Challenged," for use on lighters -- and earned $100. That's $50 per word!

Ali wrote the slogan for Kalan, a gift and novelty seller that mostly does edgy stuff I can't repeat here. However, their unusual products might be good writing opportunities for you! The Kalan Idea Factory accepts submissions through their Facebook page. Most recently, they were looking for greeting card ideas for next Valentine's Day.

Oatmeal Studios is a card company that pays for outside submissions -- and you don't even have to be able to draw. Describe the visual elements of the card, and their artists will take it from there. Their submission guidelines include the following tips:

If you find yourself wondering whether a line is funny or not, read it to a few friends and see if they laugh. From a creative perspective, go wild! Keep in mind your target list of people you send cards to.

Here are the occasions you’ll want to consider:

  • Birthdays (especially 21st, 30th, 40th, 50th and 60th)
  • Belated birthday
  • Get well
  • Thank you
  • Miss you
  • Congratulations
  • Anniversary
  • Retirement

Unlike some card makers, Oatmeal Studios doesn’t want puns, poetry, gross ideas or mean ideas, so keep it clean for your best chance of a payday.

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

Financial guru Dave Ramsey says, "Responsible use of a credit card does not exist." He advises using cash instead.

While he may have good advice to offer in other areas, here Ramsey is just plain wrong. I never pay interest on my eight cards, I don't spend more just because I'm not paying cash, and I'm measurably better off financially thanks to credit cards.

Yes, some people can't handle credit and should use cash, but plenty of people use their cards responsibly, and there are many great reasons to use credit cards instead of cash.

10 Reasons Why You May Want to Use Credit Cards Instead of Cash

Here are 10 reasons you might want to ignore Ramsey’s advice and use credit cards.

1. Protection on No-Return Items

A few months ago I was overbilled for a computer repair. Only when I disputed the charge with my credit card company did the manager of the business finally adjust the charge. I like having a credit card company to help me out at times like this.

Some stores don't allow returns, or specify that clearance items are non-refundable. If you pay cash for these items and have a problem, you're usually out of luck.

But if you pay with a credit card, you can file a dispute. Just because the company says "no refunds" doesn't mean you should pay for something that doesn't work, so never pay cash for items that can't be returned -- use a card.

The Fair Credit Billing Act lets you withhold payment on things that are damaged or of poor quality -- it’s not enough that you change your mind or bought the wrong size.

It’s important to note, as BankRate.com points out, that there are a few catches. You have to first try to resolve the matter with the seller, the item has to cost $50 or more and the law says it has to be bought within 100 miles of your home.

Fortunately, credit card companies rarely enforce the last two stipulations so you can usually dispute charges for items that cost less than $50 and those bought far away or online.

2. Cash-Back Rewards

I just received a $25 check for points I redeemed on one of my cards. But it can be difficult to keep track of all the rules for cash-back rewards, so I use my PayPal Business Debit card for most purchases.

I never have to make a phone call or fill out a form online; the 1% cash back is deposited automatically in my PayPal account every month.

When it's that easy, why would I want to pay cash and give up the extra money?

If you can keep up on the rules and revolving categories that some rewards programs have, you can do much better.

Some cards pay up to 5% for certain types of purchases one month, and switch the reward to another category the next month.

You can also get creative with rewards cards to boost the balance and earn more.

3. Signup Bonuses

My wife and I made $800 from credit card signup bonuses this year. We had to spend a certain amount to qualify, but we use a card for all our normal purchases until we hit the mark and get the bonus; then we retire the card.

Here's a question for Ramsey: If we never pay interest (we pay our bill in full every month), and we never buy too much just because it's on a credit card, are we really better off financially by paying cash and giving up the $1,000 we'll make this year in bonuses and rewards?

If you do chase after bonuses, you might be tempted to cancel your cards after getting your cash. But closing accounts can hurt your credit score. I close them anyhow, because the score bounces back in time and we aren't planning to get a mortgage loan, so having a perfect score isn't important.

But if you do worry about those dings to your score, just keep the cards but stop using them instead of cancelling them. Or, if they have fees, cancel them just before the annual fees are due -- in my experience, when you give the reason for canceling, the credit card companies often drop the fee.

4. Extended Warranties

Some cards offer extended warranties on the items you buy. For example, my American Express card offers up to an additional year on many items.

When blogger Xin Lu’s PlayStation 3 died just after the manufacturer's warranty period had ended, American Express picked up the cost of repairs. “AMEX's extended warranty saved us several hundred dollars,” she wrote on WiseBread.

It's a good reason to use the right credit card to purchase electronics, appliances and anything that has a short warranty period (five years or less). Keep the original receipts in case you need to file a claim.

5. Safer Travel

Having been robbed in Mexico, and having once lost five $20 bills on an Ecuadorian dance floor, I now carry very little cash when traveling.

Cash makes you a target for criminals, and if it's lost or stolen you'll never see it again. If a credit card is lost or stolen you'll be liable for $50 at most, as long as you report the theft within two days. Some cards offer zero liability.

Also, who wants to run around the streets of some unfamiliar place looking for a place to trade in those dollars? Credit cards are safer and more convenient in many places.

6. Better Exchange Rates

When my wife recently visited Spain, she exchanged some dollars for euros at the airport. Ouch!

Airport kiosks often offer poor exchange rates and charge high fees. Credit cards offer better rates of exchange, according to a recent study.

To avoid extra costs, choose a card with no foreign transaction fees. Here’s a list of some of the best travel cards.

7. Rental Car Insurance

When I traveled to Colorado last month, I rented a car for a week. The rental company's collision damage waiver would have cost me $140 for the week, but I declined. Instead, I put the rental charge on one of my credit cards that offers car rental insurance as a free benefit.

You’ll want to read the rules carefully if you use your credit card rental car insurance instead of buying that damage waiver. Not all types of rentals are covered, and you still could be liable for some damages even if you do have this insurance. But it works for me, and saves me a lot of money.

8. Other Travel Benefits

There are many other benefits to using a credit card when traveling, at least if you have the right one. Here are some of the travel-related benefits offered by various credit cards, according to WiseBread:

  • Extra baggage loss insurance
  • Emergency interpretation services
  • Medical emergency transportation assistance
  • Credit card loss protection
  • No baggage fees
  • Tracking assistance for lost luggage

Of course you can also get airline miles for booking flights with a card. You can even use credit cards to get free access to airport lounges. Check out the benefit guides that came with your cards to see what's available.

9. Expense Tracking

Credit cards give you a way to track expenses. Receipts can easily get lost, so it's nice to have online statements as a backup. Some card issuers keep those records around for a long time. Discover Card statements stay online for seven years.

Tracking business expenses for tax deductions is an obvious advantage of paying by credit card, but there are other expenditures you might want to track. For example, you’ll need to track any charitable contributions to deduct on your tax return, so use a credit card. You’ll also need to document expenses for a rental property, if you have one.

If you ever lose a box of old receipts during a move (or worse, a fire), get online and print out copies of those old credit card statements while they're still available.

10. Convenience

If you pay cash for everything, you have to make sure you always have enough currency on you. That means repeatedly stopping at the bank to replenish your funds when they get low. It also means keeping track of how much is in your wallet so you don't have an embarrassing moment at the cash register.

Plus, you have to make sure you get the correct change -- mistakes can happen. It’s simply easier to whip out a credit card and swipe it.

Cash or Credit: The Verdict Is In

To sum up the case for credit cards, here are the benefits of using cards instead of cash, based on my experience this year:

  • About $800 in credit card signup bonuses
  • About $200 in cash rewards from credit cards
  • Savings of $140 on a car rental
  • Successfully disputed a charge because I paid with a credit card
  • Safer overseas travel for my wife thanks to her credit cards
  • Better currency exchange rates because of her credit cards
  • Easier tracking of expenses
  • Extended warranties on several purchases
  • No interest paid on my credit cards
  • No fees for my credit cards (except one -- but that gets me a free night at a Hyatt)
  • No extra purchases versus what we would have bought for cash
  • Convenience

And yet Ramsey says, "There is no positive side to credit card use." He thinks credit cards are nothing but trouble, but I think the guru has failed to make his case. The verdict is in on credit cards: Not guilty.

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).