My Story: Need a Few Bucks?

contributed by Chris

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A Few Extra Dollars

When Opportunity Knocks

I know we have all thought "I wish I could get money for just sitting there" at some time or another. Well, sometimes it really is possible. You may have to live in the right area, but you can make money doing literally nothing! Okay, it is not as great as it sounds, but if you want some extra cash to maybe buy a Christmas present for your sweetheart, there are some great opportunities that come up once in a while.

Become a Guinea Pig!

If you live near a medical school (I happen to work for one at my second job) or a college with a nursing/EMT program, guinea pigs are in high demand. You should try to contact these schools to get in touch with the professors. They could tell you of upcoming opportunities that are as simple as breathing. At the medical college I work at, I was given a free luncheon and a $50 gas card to let graduate students listen to my heartbeat for four hours.

Another time I made extra cash as a guinea pig was when my local technical school needed volunteers for a phlebotomy (blood drawing) class. They practiced inserting needles into my veins without actually taking pints of blood. Yes, I was poked with a lot of needles and I had some track marks from the inexperienced nurses, but not only did I contribute to the medical community, but also I earned $40 for only an hour of my time!

You can also join paid psychological studies, drug trials, or bed studies. These usually pay much better, but take up more time and have strict requirements such as age, sex, a certain physiological or psychological disease or disorder. There are any number of variable requirements for these studies. For more information on these studies, visit the Office of Human Subjects Research at

Become a Pack Rat!

To become a great scavenger, you need not live anywhere specific, but have a keen eye for treasure. You probably heard a million times "Someone's trash is someone else's treasure." This has proven true time and time again. Also, you must remember that if it is in the trash, it is public domain. Therefore, you can take it. But, it helps if you have permission first.

When I was younger, I lived near a shipping company that would pay $3 to $5 for a good wooden pallet. This shipping company was on the end of an industrial park. So, I would grab myself a wagon or wheelbarrow, a hammer, and fistful of nails and wander around this industrial park looking for discarded and broken pallets. I would simply put them back together or turn two broken pallets into one good pallet. Then I would sell them and make about $20 every time.

Later, I applied this same idea of finding garbage, fixing it, and selling it. I sold things like appliances, hairdryers, furniture, etc.

Another good scavenging technique is recycling. You don't have to go out of your way, but just wait for opportunity to come your way. Collecting small things like aluminum and plastics is okay and makes small returns, but it's the big things that really count. Every now and then, you can spot copper pipe, copper wire, aluminum wheels, or steel re-bar in the trash and turn it in to your local recycling plant and get real money for it.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by email to

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