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6 simple ways to make money while job seeking (don’t laugh, they work!)

be strategic in your job search, improving your job search, making money while unemployed
I was really good at scraping together money here and there when I was unemployed.

Maybe you can use some of the tactics I tried to tide you over until you can find a job.

For example, try these money-making tips:

1) Sell your unneeded items for free on Craigslist (www.craigslist.org).

  • Research what prices others are seeking for their similar items before setting your price.
  • Provide accurate, compelling information in your product description.
  • Repair and clean items so they look and function at their best.
  • Show and provide original packaging, if available.
  • Include photos of each item taken in a well lit, clutter-free area.
  • Beware of e-mail responses that include a web link … they may lead to a phishing site.
  • Don’t provide your phone number until you have a level of trust with a potential buyer.
  • Meet purchasers in a public place or have someone with you during the sale.
  • Stick to local buyers.
  • Have people pay in cash.
  • Be ready to deal with people who want to bargain. Nearly every buyer will try to get you to lower your price.

Additional options: Sell items on Amazon or eBay.

2) Buy distressed items, improve them and sell them for more

  • Are you gifted at refinishing, carpentry or upholstery? Buy furniture at garage sales, fix them up and sell them on Craigslist, Ebay, through consignment stores, or to collectors.
  • Focus on buying low cost items that just need light repair or cosmetic improvements.
  • Make sure you have the right tools and a properly ventilated area where you can work.
  • Desks, chairs and bookshelves are particularly good sellers.
  • Stick to furniture that has “good bones,” rather than those made of particle board or plywood, or that have a cheap veneer.

3) Sell your collectibles.

  • Consider selling your antiques or collections of baseball cards, record albums, stamps, coins, etc.
  • Research the going prices for such items online or at your local library.
  • Contact consignment shops, collectors, or dealers who specialize in your collectibles.
  • Get offers from at least three people to get the highest possible offers.

4) Have a garage sale.

  • Designate a spot where you stash items all year long in anticipation of your sale.
  • Buy pre-printed price stickers at a dollar store and price every item.
  • Be ruthless in getting rid of unnecessary stuff. Look through every drawer and closet. If you haven’t used or worn things for a year, sell it.
  • Invite neighbors or friends to sell their items at your sale to make it bigger and more impressive.
  • If you live near a main street, avoid purchasing a newspaper ad. Just use good signage in multiple places to lead people to your sale. Your sale signs should include a directional arrow, words like “Huge Sale,” Multi-Family Sale,” or “Mother of All Sales.” Include the day, date, and starting and ending time.
  • Display items at their best. Affix earrings to cardboard squares; package multiple, related items together, clean and repair items, etc.
  • Promote your sale on Craigslist.

5) Sell your unwanted gold and sterling silver.

Do you have old or broken gold or silver chains, an old high school ring, sterling silver serving pieces, silver dollars, or heirloom jewelry? Selling them can be the best way to make needed money. At the time of this writing, gold buyers are paying $1,250 per ounce for gold. Silver sells for around $21. Prices change daily.

I encouraged my sister to take a small baggy of jewelry to a gold store. The clerk totaled it up and told my sister he’d pay “two fifty.” My sister said, “$2.50?” (thinking the tiny amount she brought had little or no value). The clerk said, no “$250” … that’s how crazy gold prices are.

  • Use a magnifying glass to find markings on your jewelry or silver pieces. Gold will be marked by “14k”, “18k”, or “24k”. Sterling silver will either say “Sterling” or “925,” which denotes the percentage of silver in the silver alloy. Note that many items that appear to be silver may just be silver plated (which silver buyers do not want).
  • If you are not sure if your item is real gold or silver, take them to the store anyway. They have resources to test them.
  • Get prices from at least three different buyers before selling. Note that the buyers typically will group your items and give you a total price for all of the items, so it won’t always be clear how much each piece is worth, unless you specifically ask them. Get their prices in writing and come back to the highest bidder if need be.
  • Choose reputable buying stores that are well established in your community. Do not mail your items to online buyers or sell to those that sell at a hotel for one day.

6) Look down.

  • I often take walks and am amazed by how often I find money, small tools, or other useful or valuable items just lying around on busy streets near my home or work. Pocket the change, bag up the soda cans for selling to aluminum recycling centers; and collect and package the newer nuts, bolts, screws, etc. that you find for future garage sales.
  • Purchase an inexpensive metal detector, such as the National Geographic brand one for kids, and you will find even more items. Dig up items the detector finds with a small shovel, like you would use for hand gardening.

OK, I admit some of these ideas may sound squirrely, but they can help tide you over if you’re short of money during a prolonged job search. So give them a try and let me know if I can be of help to you in your job hunt.

What ways have you tried to make money while unemployed? Your ideas can help others, so please share!


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  1. Flipping items has always been a tried and true source of income.

  2. My uncle flips homes in hard times.


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