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Raise Money For Investing Using 11 Poor Man Strategies
Unlike many of my fellow financial bloggers, I’ve got credentials (credentials) when it comes to being poor. When we first came to San Jose, CA in the early 1980s, my family lived with another family until my parents could save up to rent an apartment. The house we lived in was a typical three-bedroom, two-bath house, located along McLaughlin Avenue. My parents were friends of the adults who rented this house. They met in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Things didn’t get any easier when my parents were able to rent an apartment. All they could afford despite both working full-time was a room at Sunny Court. My sister and I slept in the living room. Food was not always plentiful. I remember many times that there wasn’t much to eat and school was where I had my only consistent meals. Clothes were bought from the thrift store as needed. The shoes were given by friends or if money was spared, by Payless Shoes.
Living month to month in those days was stressful, even for a child. There is nothing worse than your parents visibly trying to make ends meet and you not being able to help. Back in Mexico, he would have gone out into the street to sell chewing gum or polished shoes to bring in money. But in the United States, there are laws… child labor laws. You also need to be able to speak the language in most cases. At that time, I had just started learning English.
I’m not ashamed to admit that as a kid I was trash diving, shoplifting, and working cleaning jobs for adults in the neighborhood. Anything to help my family. I am not proud of the acts that were illegal, I see them now as avoidable with adult eyes, but as necessary for me in those days. Life without regrets is no life at all.
From my experience, today I can offer you ways to raise money that may be well known among poor people, but not so much among middle class people. Okay, maybe my middle-class brothers know the following ways they can raise money too, but they may see it as “below”.
Most people take these actions because they need money to pay bills, eat and survive. I did this simply because I wanted to invest money and was unwilling to use leverage (debt).
1) Save aluminum cans and glass bottles instead of putting them in my recycling bin. After four months, I take them to the recycling plant in Oceanside, CA and sell them, making between $15 and $25. I don’t know much, but multiply that by 3 and you have an extra $45-$75 a year. The poor don’t recycle; they look for cans, plastic and glass bottles, and sell them!
2) Sell something of value at the pawn shop for quick cash. I’ve sold watches I didn’t wear (gifts I got for birthdays/Christmas) and electronics. It saves a lot of time.
3) Sell stuff on Craigslist. Don’t use your bike anymore? Post a Craigslist ad and sell it to a private party. Find things around the house that you no longer need and have value to sell on Craigslist. If you have a lot of stuff but not a lot of value, do #4.
4) Garage or yard sale. Jessica and I have a garage sale at least twice a year. We get about $100 each time from our junk sold.
5) Sell a gift card for cash. What!? Yes… Have you ever received a gift card with cash value and knew you weren’t going to use it? Sell it to a friend or go to the place and run it. Have the person take the card and give you a balance check if they don’t trust you.
6) Sell blood (never done this… also chicken). Find your local blood bank and sell that plasma.
7) Sell your hair on eBay. Yes, you can sell your hair online. I never did because no one wants my hair, but if I had Fabio’s locks…
8) Do you have coins? Look under the couch cushions, the bed, dusty drawers, under the car carpet, wherever. If you’ve been saving up spare change, it’s time to hit the grocery store and find your nearest Coin Star machine. It is easy to use. You just have to throw in all your change and the machine will count every penny, print you a receipt that you can take to the queue and withdraw money, just like in a casino.
9) Start using coupons and take a break from organic. Poor people have no choice when it comes to buying preservatives and junk food at the grocery store. For them, the price is the selling point. But for us, we can opt for healthier foods from Trader Joe’s, for example. It’s not telling you to eat below your means, but if you want to save a little more for a few months, this might be an option.
10) Take the bus or go to work. This is an option we have that the poor may not have. A bus pass will cost between $30 and $45, depending on the city you live in. You probably spend twice that amount, even with lower gas prices, driving you to work and back home every day. Like #8 above, this would also be a temporary strategy. Don’t you want to sit among the poor? Convince a co-worker to join your savings plan. Or, if you haven’t sold your bike, ride it to work for a month.
11) Buy cheap wine. I used to buy Cabernet Sauvignon between $11 and $15. I would drink about two bottles a month. Then I found the Sutter Home Moscato and Cab on sale for $3.99. Back in the hood, he was drinking malt liquor and nasty beer. Now I’m all about cheap tasty wines and micro/craft beers. However, I have reduced the latter at times when I save for “program” investing. You could craft your own!
Being once poor has given me an insight that most people at my level of wealth don’t have. I can start making several of the above choices without feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed. I am confident enough in my circumstances that for me, the above scenarios are optional ways to raise money for investment purposes only. But what about the people who have to rely on these money-raising strategies to survive? I can imagine it. If this is your life, I can give you some great advice: stop blaming others and feeling sorry for yourself! This will not help you one bit. Instead, start by creating a list of ways to improve. Improve what? Here are some to-do lists and brainstorming ideas:
1) Free ways I can improve (what I know and am able to do).
2) Ways to improve decision-making.
3) Ways to improve what I spend money on.
4) Free ways I can improve who I know (emphasis on finding smart money, “better” people to have as part of your network). You can count on me as part of your network!
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