Surviving Tough Times:

Cashing in on the Crumbling Economy

by Shaunna Privratsky


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How would you like to earn some extra cash? Whether you need more income to cover your bills or to beef up your emergency savings in this uncertain economy, most of us could use some extra money. Having eight months of savings not only increases your bottom line, it provides stability and peace of mind.

Look for odd jobs for some quick cash. Supermarket bulletin boards, asking around your church or child's school or just keeping your ear to the ground will yield some surprising jobs. Try lawn care, snow removal, pet grooming, house sitting, babysitting, helping people move or dog walking.

With the housing market in a slump, there are some great opportunities. Contact a local realtor and offer your services. You could offer to clean up foreclosed houses, keep the lawns neat or the sidewalks shoveled, or house sit in vacant properties to thwart vandalism. Or just offer to drive by occasionally and keep an eye on the place. With many houses sitting on the market for months or even years, this could be a lucrative gig.

The food industry typically needs extra workers around holidays. Keep an application on file at all your favorite restaurants and be willing to work the less popular shifts. Waitresses and busboys can earn $50 to $100 in tips on a busy day.

Two or three times a year, the phone book company hires people to deliver their new directories. I did this for three years and made about $200 each time. All you do is watch a fifteen minute instructional video, have a clean driving record and an insured vehicle, and they load you up with phone books. You are paid by the load and you can choose when you want to deliver. You can also pick the neighborhoods you want to deliver in. Call your phone company for more information.

Floral companies also need extra delivery drivers around the holidays, especially Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Christmas and Thanksgiving. Again, you just need a clean driving record and proof of insurance to qualify.

For a more steady delivery job, try paper routes. If you don't want to commit to a daily route, be a substitute. Even going out once or twice a week can net you $75 a week, according to an ad in "The Forum," our local paper. Check with your newspaper for more information.

Hospital gift shops often need people to deliver gifts, flowers and balloons to patients. Volunteers staff some shops, but you could ask and see if they offer a paid position. Besides a paycheck, imagine the smiles and joy you will deliver.

Department stores are often looking for staff to clean up dressing rooms, restock racks, tagging new merchandise or just straightening up clearance racks. They typically need workers willing to staff the late night or early morning shifts, so if this fits your schedule, this could be an easy way to bring in some extra income.

What are you good at? Can you sew? Are you a whiz at interior design? Have a passion for landscaping? Offer your services and watch the money roll in. Other ideas include furniture placement, organizing, painting, stuffing envelopes, tutoring or music lessons. You decide how much work to take on, so it can be a lucrative venture without overwhelming you.

Don't forget about the cash sitting around your home. I'm talking about all those items you no longer use or want. Today's online auctions make it easy to sell items. If you need help getting started, most cities have stores where you drop off your things and get cash. Or hold a garage sale and watch the money roll in. You'll get cash for getting rid of your clutter.

Our economy will recover. We will climb out of the recession and emerge stronger than before. If you are willing to be creative, you can discover opportunities, cash in on the crumbling economy and secure a rosy financial future.

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