The first time I heard about an old couple that went diamond hunting in parking lots, I knew there were more ways to make money than my scheming mind could imagine. By twelve years old I was taking Playboy magazines out of newspaper recycling bins to sell for a dollar each in school. I also sold ammunition to both sides in my brother’s paper-wad war, so I had a taste for the more unusual ways to make money. I still do. Here are some of the stranger money making stories I’ve collected.
The old couple mentioned above can recognize the sparkle of a diamond amidst pieces of glass, from a hundred feet away! Parking lots are where most diamonds pop out of there settings, due to the temperature changes when people get out of their cars. Wandering mall parking lots has become their second retirement income. Treasure hunting obviously goes beyond the common conception.
A man in California took the shag carpet from a large theater being remodeled, saving the owners the cost of disposal. During the thirties the theater was a place where the wealthy went, and the wealthy, like all of us, lose things, but more valuable things perhaps. When the man cut up and carefully shook out the old carpet, it was found to contain over $2,000 worth of precious stones, rings, and rare coins.
At a campfire near a desert hot spring one winter, my wife and I met a man who sells stuffed animals on the side of the highway. When we saw him again, in his van full of stuffed animals, I pressed him for details. He buys used stuffed animals at thrift stores in bulk and then sells them alongside the highway. Early on, he even got the stores to give him the animals, with the agreement that he would return with the money or the animals the next week.
In some small towns he can get a vendor’s permit cheaply ($18/year, for example). Otherwise he just sells until they chase him out of the county. He says he hasn’t been fined yet, and he claims he sold $4,000 worth his first month. I think he was exagerating, but because of him we include used stuffed animals in our flea market stands with some success.
Beating The Casino
I worked at a casino for years and I saw a lot of people foolishly writing down the numbers that came up on the roulette wheel. Foolishly, I say, because their their theories were nonsense. Casinos will always welcome these players and even hand them the pen and paper.
One player, however, was actually scientific about it. By finding a bias in the wheel, after “charting” it for 5,000 spins, he made thousands betting on just one or two numbers. When a number comes up, it pays 35 to 1. One of the numbers, because of manufacturing imperfections or whatever reason, was coming up 1 in 27 spins, instead of the average 1 in 38 spins.
He bet $10 a spin, and he profited $80 for every 27 spins of the wheel in the long run. That’s about $100 per hour. The ups and downs were dramatic though, so this is not for the faint-hearted. I saw this player lose as much as $700 in a night, but he later confided that he profitted over $80,000 before the casino changed the wheel.
Making Money With Real Estate
Making money with real estate isn’t unusual, of course, but there are less common ways to do it. There was a man, for example, who went around optioning hilltops. If the owner wanted $30,000 for the land, this invester might offer $300 for an option to buy the property at full price ($30,000) within six months. The sellers liked the idea of getting full price, or just keeping the $300.
Next, he contacted radio stations, police departments, and cell phone companies that might need a hill to put a radio tower on. It is common practice to lease the properties on ten-year or longer leases, for tax reasons. Once the investor got a lease signed, it was relatively simple to get a bank to lend the money for the purchase.
He might have payments of $200 per month until the loan is paid. The radio station puts up the tower, and rents the hilltop for $350 per month. Total risk? If he doesn’t find an interested party, he walks away, losing the $300 option fee. He succeeded often enough to afford a few losses.
More Strange Ways To Make Money
You can, of course have a strange job as a way to make money. I wouldn’t want to be an “Odor Judger,” who gets to smell armpits all day to help make deodorants that work. Being a “Chicken Sexer,” isn’t as bad as it sounds, however. This jobs just involves sorting through baby chicks to determine if they are male or female. Now, being a recliner tester for the Lazy Boy Company – that sounds like a great job.
About the author
Steve Gillman has had an interest in all the many ways to make money since childhood. You can read about more strange businesses and jobs at his website: http://www.UnusualWaysToMakeMoney.com