Pickin’ up bucks

Ah, graduation—the culmination of all your hard work. You’ve busted your ass throughout your years, you’ve made ends meet, you’ve had to either work jobs you probably hated or have been living (relatively) cushy off student loans and grants.

Ah, graduation—the culmination of all your hard work. You’ve busted your ass throughout your years, you’ve made ends meet, you’ve had to either work jobs you probably hated or have been living (relatively) cushy off student loans and grants. Your parents are flying in from out of town to witness your metamorphosis from Taco Bell employee to a Taco Bell employee with a degree in arts and letters. You are likely used to supplementing your income with the Pell Grant and student loans, and now that gravy train is being derailed. What are you going to do now that you’re too qualified to work many retail jobs? How do those cool kids with all the tattoos and bullet belts scrape together the cash to live? They improvise. Need a jumping-off point? Very well. Sorry bulletbelters, I’m about to ruin your secrets. What follows is a short list of ways you can scam some extra dollars until you can find a job worthy of your new degree.

1. Learn a trade

Believe it or not, you’re a book away from being some weird specialized odd jobber. Several lucrative fields require only surface knowledge, and thanks to Powell’s, we have an endless source of cheap books. The key to wring the most money out of this endeavor is learning the ins and outs of a field born out of cheap income—personal electronics are a good place to start.

Furthermore, soldering is a very handy technique to pick up—it can open all kinds of doors because people see it as this magical divine interplay between human and celestial body. Truth is, soldering is extremely simple to learn and pays off in so many ways, and learning to recognize a cold solder joint is key to many types of electronics repair (hint: they’re not shiny). The reason soldering is held in such high regard is because it carries a slight element of danger. Liquid metal? High temperatures? You must be some kind of madman!

Books about TV repair can be had for really cheap, and for 99 percent of amateur repairs, you only need to crack the first couple chapters. If you’re not into televisions, there are literally hundreds of cursory repair books, and even more general electronics repair books, out there. Voltage and current laws haven’t changed in quite a while, and neither have basic electronic components. That said, the age of the book isn’t that big of an issue when it comes to general repair books. For everything else, you’re going to need books about current technology. Don’t hurt yourself. This is electricity, after all.

2. Clothes

If you call yourself a “thrifter” and haven’t been to the bins, I have news for you. You’re not a thrifter—yet.

However, if you have been to the bins, you’ve likely noticed that the crowd is an equal mix of college age hipsters and middle-aged folks with pugs. There’s a reason that the hip flock to this place, and it isn’t the inherent danger of reaching your hand into the abyss.

A little background information: the Goodwill Outlet, more affectionately known as “the bins,” is pretty much what the nickname sounds like—a giant warehouse filled with blue bins. In each bin is a mishmash of junk, organized in a slipshod manner. The building is essentially a treasure trove of stuff on its last stop before incineration. This is where you come in.

Simply put, the hip are here for the clothes. Funnily enough, you’ll see the hipsters decked out in all the best stuff they’ve found here. And because of the way the clothes are brought out (one bin at a time until a row of bins is assembled), you’ll see a huge free-for-all erupt when a new bin comes out.

The reason they’re all there for the clothes is that it’s super lucrative to be in the know (personal anecdote: I once made over $250 from a single haul from the bins).

But what clothes are worth money? Well, that’s up to your own research. You’re better off specializing in one area; women’s clothes can be a tricky area to get into, and a man selling women’s clothes to resale shops looks a little weird.

There are several vintage tag databases online for your browsing pleasure. However, my personal advice? Use your hands. If you feel paper-thin fabric, pull it out no matter what. Obviously, if you don’t like it, you can just toss it back. Also, be on the lookout for anything faded black. Music t-shirts are very lucrative, and were most often made black. Always reach for black.

Afterwards, sell them. If you don’t look “hip,” find a friend that is and make them sell the clothes. Trust me, it makes a huge difference. Also, Red Light pays more.

3. Get to know Craig and his brother Thrift

Everything in the world is worth money, from handkerchiefs to common baseball cards to knives and spoons. Whether or not these things are worth much, however, is in the fickle eyes of the consumer.

The way this works to your advantage is that there is not some huge universal price guide for everything in the world. That said, many things out there are undervalued, and if you want some of that, you’re going to have to do a little legwork. If you have a smartphone, you will benefit immensely here.

Spend a couple days thrifting and looking up literally anything that looks old on eBay. Certain old board games (Milton Bradley Dark Tower, et al) are worth a lot of dough, as are certain toys. Do you know what circuit bending is? It’s the “art” of intentionally short-circuiting electronic toys to make weird noises. A lot of people use them in recording studios—Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails even has a few.

That said, certain toys are more desirable than others—old Speak and Spells, Casio SK-1s, Yamaha VSS-30s and others are worth much more than they’re usually priced.

Likewise, spend a day on Craigslist pricing disposable income things that are constantly undervalued, i.e. musical instruments and video games. Compare them to eBay prices, and check your shame at the door.

4. Give the gift of self

It almost goes without saying, but a tried and true method of cash grabbing is donating plasma. Just remember to be safe while doing it. You’re permitted to donate plasma twice a week with the donation dates occurring more than two days apart. Don’t even think about going to a different clinic, either. Plasma clinics don’t have these rules in place so they don’t have to keep giving you money. They’re for your own safety. Stay out of the hospital; a trip to the E.R. is expensive. ?