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Raise Money For Investing Using 11 Poor Man Strategies
Unlike many of my financial blogging peers, I have achieved street credibility (credentials) when it comes to having been poor. When we arrived in San Jose, California in the early 1980s, my family lived with another family until my parents managed to save up to rent an apartment. The house we lived in was a typical three-bedroom, two-bathroom house, located along McLaughlin Avenue. My parents were friends of the adults who rented this house. They knew each other in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Things weren’t any easier once my parents were able to rent an apartment. All they could afford despite both working full time was a bedroom on Sunny Court. My sister and I slept in the living room. Food was not always plentiful. I remember many times when there wasn’t much to eat and school was where I ate my only regular meals. Clothes were bought as needed at the thrift store. The shoes came from friends or if the money had been saved, from Payless Shoes.
Living from month to month in those days was stressful, even for a child. There’s nothing worse than your parents visibly trying to make ends meet and you can’t help them. Back in Mexico, I would have taken to the streets and sold gum or polished shoes to make money. But in the United States, there are laws… child labor laws. You must also be able to speak the language in most cases. At that time, I had just started to learn English.
I’m not embarrassed to admit that, as a kid, I dove into trash cans, robbed supermarkets, and did cleaning jobs for neighborhood adults. Anything to help my family. I’m not proud of acts that were illegal, viewing them as avoidable now with adult eyes, but necessary to me back then. Life without regrets is no life at all.
From my experience, I am able to suggest to you today ways of fundraising that are perhaps widely known among the poor, but not so much among the middle class people. Okay, maybe my middle-class brothers know the following ways they, too, can raise money, but may see it as “beneath” them.
Most people perform these actions because they need money to pay bills, eat, and survive. I did this simply because I wanted money to invest and was unwilling to use leverage (debt).
1) Store 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, California, and sell them, earning $15 to $25. It’s not a lot, I know, but multiply it by 3, and you have between $45 and $75 more per year. The poor do not recycle; they look for cans, plastic and glass bottles, and resell them!
2) Sell something of value to the pawnshop for quick cash. I sold watches that I didn’t wear (gifts given to me for birthdays/Christmas) and electronics. Saves a lot of time.
3) Sell stuff on Craigslist. You no longer use your bike? Make a Craigslist ad and sell it to a private party. Find things around the house that you no longer need that have value to sell on Craigslist. If you have a lot of stuff but not much value, do #4.
4) Yard or yard sale. Jessica and I have a garage sale at least twice a year. We collect about $100 from our sold waste each time.
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 out there and scalp it. Ask the person to take the card and get a balance check if they don’t trust you.
6) Sell blood (never done that…too much chicken). Find your local blood bank and sell that plasma!
7) Sell your hair on eBay. Yes, you can sell your hair online. I’ve never done it because nobody wants my hair, but if I had Fabio’s locks…
8) Do you have parts? Look under your sofa cushions, your bed, your dusty utility drawers, under your car carpet, wherever you are. If you’ve been saving some change, it’s time to head to the supermarket and find the nearest Coin Star machine. It’s easy to use. Simply deposit all your change and the machine will count every penny, print you a receipt which you can then take to the line and cash out, just like a casino!
9) Start using coupons and take a break from organic. The poor have no choice when it comes to buying preservatives and poop-free foods at the grocery store. For them, price is the selling point. But for us, we can opt for healthier foods at Trader Joe’s, for example. I’m not telling you to eat below your means, but if you want to save a little extra for a few months, that might be an option.
10) Take the bus or go to work. It’s an option we have that the poor may not have. A bus pass will cost you around $30-45, depending on which city you live in. You’re probably spending double that amount, even with lower gas prices driving you to work and home every day. Like #8 above, this would also be a temporary strategy. You don’t want to sit among the poor? Convince a colleague to participate in 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 $11-15 Cabernet Sauvignon. I would drink about two bottles a month. Then I found Sutter Home Moscato and Cab’s selling for $3.99! Back in the hood, I was drinking malt liquor and bad beer. Now I’m all about good cheap wine and micro/craft beers. However, I sometimes reduced the latter when it was a savings “program” to invest. You could brew your own!
Being poor has given me insight that most people at my level of wealth don’t have. I can get into many of the above options without feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed. I am secure enough with my situation 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 fundraising strategies to survive? I can imagine it. If this is your life, I can give you one huge piece of advice: stop blaming others and feeling sorry for yourself! It won’t help you at all. Instead, start by creating a list of ways you can improve. Improve what? Here are some of the lists you need to make and think about:
1) Free ways to improve myself (what I know and am able to do).
2) How I can improve my decision making.
3) Ways to improve my spending.
4) Free ways to improve the ones I know (emphasis on finding smart money, “better off”, people to have in your network). You can count me in your network!
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