Congratulations to Adam Olson from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for winning $2,000 in The Penny Hoarder’s “Frugal Student” scholarship contest!
We asked applicants to share their weirdest, most unusual ways to save or make extra money.
Making Money With… Peepholes?
Here’s Olson’s entertaining entry:
In my senior year of high school, I once bought a box full of peepholes at a yard sale, and I went door to door of every house in my neighborhood that didn’t have a peephole. I’d knock, and when they would open I’d say, “Now, how are you going to feel comfortable opening that door to some stranger without knowing who they are?”
And, using my dad’s drill, I’d offer to install these peepholes in people’s houses for just 20 bucks each.
A lot of my neighbors were pretty hip to the idea, and there was a surprising majority of people without peepholes. I went beyond my neighborhood to a couple other communities, and in a few days I installed over 50 peepholes and made close to $1,000 in profit.
In a few days I installed over 50 peepholes and made close to $1,000 in profit.
When we notified Olson his story won, he responded:
My education in the arts largely thrives off the aid of others. Sometimes it is not much, but I find that if I make the most of what I have, there is always room to progress.
A hundred thanks to The Penny Hoarder for granting me this scholarship. Their assistance allows myself and other students the energy and tools that we need to pursue our education and dreams.
A resident of Asheville, North Carolina, Olson studies drama and plans to graduate in 2018.
Get Inspired by These Finalists
Olson won the big prize, but we loved these finalist entries, too. We’re going to call on these savvy students next time we’re short on penny-hoarding inspiration!
In the spring of 2012, I found myself unemployed and attending college courses full time. After many failed attempts at alleviating my financial stress, complacency set in.
One spring morning however, while perusing the aisles of a pet supply store, I formulated an ingenious plan to sell driftwood. I live within 100 yards of a highly trafficked river, which has abundant amounts of useless driftwood along its shores.
“If people buy it from the store, they’ll buy it from me,” I thought.
So I drove to the river and filled both the back seat and trunk of my car with quality pieces of driftwood, photographed each piece, and posted them for sale on eBay as furnishings for terrariums and aquariums.
Large driftwood pieces ranged in price from $90-$120, medium pieces ranged in price from $50-$80, and small pieces sold between $20-$40.
Needless to say, this plan worked out marvelously! All in all, I made nearly $3,500 from the sale of driftwood that was free to obtain and very easily accessible. This business venture was so successful, in fact, that I still do it from time to time for extra cash.
A walk outside and I can hear all my girls hard at work, and no, I am not talking about my children; I am talking about my bees! They go around to all the flowers collecting nectar, pollinating my herbs and vegetables, and making honey!
Not only do they save my money by giving me honey, but you can also sell honey at a local farmers market! Honey is not cheap! For one pound of fresh and local honey, I sell it for $15.
All I have to do is take care and check on the bees all throughout the season. Once I bought the materials that I would need years ago, I only spend $5 a hive a season.
Each hive will make about 60 lbs. of honey a season, that’s $900 in my pocket per season, on just one hive! Of course, you might get stung in the process.
I built a tiny house on wheels with solar panels and rainwater collection tanks so that I don’t have any bills. I no longer need to pay for rent, electricity, or water.
I sold all my unnecessary possessions and now live an extremely simple, frugal life where I can focus on school and things that are actually important.
Fayetteville, North Carolina
I currently work as a welder, and about two years ago I needed new tires for my truck and didn’t have enough [money]. One day, I came up with an idea and ask the owners of the company for their permission. Once it was given, I started collecting my tire money.
You see, where the welding wire exits the welding gun is a tip, called the contact tip. These tips wear out and need to be replaced.
All we did with the used tips was throw them away, so instead of throwing them away, I collected them for scrap.
It didn’t take long to collect enough for my tires because these tips are made out of copper. It took about a month and I had enough. To this day, I still collect them and use it as rainy day money.
Rochester, New York
When I needed some gas and grocery money, I took the house Keurig coffee machine to work.
I had bought a 120-count Peet’s coffee from Costco for $65 two weeks prior. Knowing that K-Cups are the new thing and that the nearest Starbucks or gas station is at least 10 minutes away from work, I decided to bring my K-cups and sell each cup at $1.25.
At first, my co-workers thought that the price was too high. My co-workers wanted to negotiate and even said they would bring in their own K-cups. I kept to my guns and said my machine, my K-cups, my price.
By the end of the week, I had sold out of my K-cups and made double the price of my original purchase price. I had enough money to purchase more coffee, creamer, drop the price, and get gas and groceries.
I was born and raised in rural, poor and insecure areas of Turkey where there is a lack of work and education opportunities for many people, especially for girls. My mom had to work from home by knitting for living.
When I was in middle school, she thought me well how to knit baby booties, beanie hats, and cute little things for hope chest collections. And I started to knit for my neighbors and make money.
Knitting was wonderful not only for the pleasure of creating something beautiful, but also seeing the appreciation in people’s eyes was something fulfilling.
The most interesting part of it was, people always thought that my mom is the one who is doing the all work, because they were not expecting such a great job from a little girl. I was knitting for people’s hope chests and for my hopes for my future.
Thanks for sharing all your strategies, Penny Hoarders!