- Personal Finance
5 Interesting Ways to Make Money
1. Unclaimed Property & Funds
NAUPA, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, is an organization that works to help individals claim unclaimed funds and property. Unclaimed funds, or missing money, comes from companies that have money that belongs to an individual--but have no way of contacting or reaching that person. This can include paychecks from a previous job, money from a closed bank account, checks, refunds, and various other instances--though the laws on this vary from state to state.
The Office of Unclaimed Funds in each state holds on to this money and waits for the rightful owners to come and retrieve their money. It is extremely important to note, the Office of Unclaimed Funds will never approach anyone about money they have in their name. If you have been contacted by someone claiming to be the Comptroller, this is most definitely a scam!
If you live in New York, or have lived in New York, You can easily browse NY OUF's website to see if you have any unclaimed funds. For those outside the state of New York, try searching "Office of Unclaimed Funds" and add your state to see if you have the option to search online. Even if the search is not available online, you should still be able to mail-in requests or visit an office to request information.
NAUPA's Resource Page has links to help people find unclaimed property statewide and internationally. It also has resources for veterans and victims of the Holocaust.
In addition to searching unclaimed property in your name, you may search for relatives you are heir to in order to find out if you have any sort of unclaimed inheritance.
You may be surprised by what you find! I didn't find anything under my name, but my husband found over $500 for a check sent to an old address from a job he used to have. It only takes a couple minutes to search, and it may be well worth it.
2. Coins & Gift Cards
Okay, you probably already know about the Coinstar machines. You put coins in, it takes a percentage, and gives you cash for the rest. They're usually found in supermarkets and some banks have them.
Did you know that you could avoid getting the percentage taken out of your coins by choosing store credit for places like Amazon.com, instead?
Or maybe you've had enough of gift cards and credit and would just like cash. You can take all of those unwanted gift card you received for Christmas and trade them in for cash at participating kiosks.
Perhaps you've thought about selling your stuff online or yard sale or at a flea market or on Craigslist. While this can be fruitful, it is also very time consuming and straining.
A month or so ago, a friend of mine did something very clever. Using her Square Up account she created a raffle to get rid of her large collection of yarn. She was moving and wanted to down size, but did not want to go through the task of selling her yarn skein by skein. She considered just giving it away, but--when you're moving--it's always nice to have a little extra cash. So she sold $5 tickets for a week, then was able to give away the whole lot before she had to move.
Raffles are a great option for you if you don't have time or space to set up, sell, and haggle with people. They're also great if you have new, or like-new products or materials, or if you can offer a service like creating custom gift baskets or designing parties. Depending on how well your raffle goes, you could may even make more money than you would've if you sold items piece by piece.
I got this idea from my husband. When in college he required a cover charge for people to get in to his house parties. If you have really popular house parties, this may work out for you.
This idea isn't limited to music and dancing either. It can be applied to poker parties, Super Bowl parties, or really anything that suits your interests. For example, another friend of mine lived in a house where everyone knew how to cook. So every so often they would cook a huge dinner and sell it to the gen. pop. on-campus for $5 a plate.
If you're someone who enjoys socializing and party-planning, this idea could really work for you. Just make sure you budget accordingly. It's counterproductive for the cost of the party to outweigh what you make from having the party. This could be a bit of a balancing act and sometimes you may fall a bit short if the turn-out is not what you expected.
Set a fair price for your parties. $5 is good, $10 is a bit high. Don't pick random numbers like $7. If the pretense is that they are chipping in for food or whatever $10 - $25 is good, then you can pocket the difference.
If you're having a dance party, give the girls a deal. Generally speaking, guys don't like to go to parties where there are no girls and girls do not feel comfortable at parties where there are mostly guys. You may lose a few dollars, initially, but more people will show up.
Don't be a swindler. If you cheat people, you may get away with it the first time--but don't expect anyone to trust you again. If you throw a good party, serve good food, and people leave your event feeling like they had a great time--then you could potentially make money doing this every couple of weeks.
If you do have a successful event, don't plan the next one right away. I wouldn't recommend doing it more than once a month. People will appreciate the break, but they may not be interested in doing it every week.
Keep in mind what's going on in the community. Try not to plan your events at the same time other things are happening. Even if you're more popular than whatever else is happening, your turn out won't be as great.
5. Consignment and Second Hand Sales
Resale is something I have never done before, honestly, but I'm considering doing it now. Usually I donate unwanted clothes or items, but lately I've been thinking about reselling them instead. You can check out the article I've listed above to learn detailed information about various venues of resale.
While I don't have much experience with resale, I do have some experience with consignment stores, since this is a popular way for artists to sell their work. These type of consignment stores can work in a few different ways. They may charge "rent" for the space your items take up, but allow you to take 100% of the profits. They may take a percentage of the profits but allow you to put your stuff in the shop for free. Or they may have a combination of the two (usually if it's a combination they take a lower percentage of the profits). Take this into consideration when deciding if you would like to consign or not:
- Will the profit justify the cost of rent?
- How fast will my items sell?
- Is the percentage split fair?
- Will I have to adjust the price of my items to make a real profit?
- Is the shop located in an accessible area?
- Does the shop have many customers?
- Do items like mine sell?
I've had great experiences with consignment, and not so lucrative experiences, but I wouldn't say I've ever had a bad experience. The nice thing about consignment is if it doesn't work for you, or you find a better venue, you can always pull your items. The risk is very minimal--and if you don't have to pay rent, then there really isn't much of a risk at all. Just make sure you partner with a trustworthy and honest establishment.
Etsy is not only great for selling and buying unique gifts, it is also home to a wonderful and supportive online community. The Etsy staff are also incredibly supportive and often offer meet-ups and free workshops for anyone interested.
Money Making Ideas
BONUS: Doing Business
I added this as a bonus because it's one that is often talked about, but something that many think they are not capable of doing.
Shintaro Tsuji, the Founder of Sanrio (the parent company of the famous Hello Kitty), started his journey to build an empire on modest beginnings. He bought a bunch of wholesale flip-flops and fake flowers, glued the flowers to the flip flops, and sold the decorated flip flops at a profitable price.
You don't have to be particularly crafty or artistically talented to start a mini business, even kids with lemonade stands know that. What you do need is cleverness, innovation, determination, and charisma.
If you have talents, use them! Many crafters and artists sit on their talents because they don't believe anyone would be interested in paying for what they have to offer. However, you will never know until you try. You may not make enough money to quit your day job, but you might just make enough to have dinner and a movie (and in NYC that's a pretty big deal).
If you aren't particularly skilled (or, as I like to say, have yet to discover your artistic side) be smart. Be aware of trends, consider needs that aren't met, think about how to make things more fun/cute/cool. Kids and women are an easy target audience, but since boys and men are largely underrepresented in retail it may be more profitable to target them. Think, think, think!
Most importantly, when deciding on a price be fair to your customer and be fair to yourself. Tsuji's business philosophy was to sell his products at a price that was low enough for the average customer to buy, but high enough that the gift would be appreciated by the recipient and the giver would feel proud about presenting it. Do not undervalue your work.
Deciding on a good price can be a bit difficult, so it may take some trial and error. Research what people are charging for products similar to yours and also evaluate their quality. This will help give you an idea of what your work is worth.
Who knows, with some hard work and a creative mind, your little side business could lead you down the road to creating your own empire.
Everyone has to start somewhere.