If you are just getting started in the prepping world, one significant issue is how to earn or save enough money. Survival strategies can be expensive to implement, but I will try and tell you about the system that will help you get it done. We will briefly touch on 7 ways you can earn a little extra to help you make those purchases. In another post, I will give you unique ways to save money on purchases.
If any of the things I mention interest you. Leave a comment, and I will expand on the topic as each of these are things I have done.
I wrote this several years ago. I have just edited it to make some grammatical changes and a very small number of updates. If you want to see new methods or learn more about one of the specific things I talk about below leave a comment.
Assuming you have a job like the rest of us. You head to work every day and get a paycheck at the end of the week. You can do four things in the evenings and on weekends to make money.
1. Scrap Cars
One of the ways I earned several hundred to a thousand extra dollars a month was by scraping cars. Check on Craigslist and keep your eyes open for really cheap cars.
Once you buy one, the truck to make money is not to run off directly to the scrap yard and dump the whole thing. The intelligent thing to do is:
- Find a cheap and easy-to-fix car
This first step seems pretty apparent, but I have bought many cars that the owners assumed were goners only to find a new battery, replaced fuel pump, or other minor repair straightened the car out. Now a car you paid $200-400 for is suddenly worth $1,000-1,500. There is always someone looking for cheap transportation; typically, these cars sell in a day or two.
- If not, what parts are in demand
This next step takes a little more detective work but can help distinguish between the bottom barrel guy that scrapes by or making enough money to make something happen.
To do this is simple enough. The easiest way to check is by looking on eBay, craigslist, and your local papers. You want to get baseline pricing. Bonus I made a program that searched eBay and would tell me which car parts are in demand.
- Separate the good from the “junk.”
Once you know what is good, you will start to understand junk. Take the “waste” and start storing it until you have a truckload. You can take each truckload to your local scrapyard for extra pay. I used to store these items up when I needed the money. But more recently, I have not been in a situation this works.
* Recent changes in the market have made it very hard to find these very cheap cars. You need to travel further and look harder; however, the rewards are more significant with many car lots buying them up site-unseen and condition unimproved. Let them do the dirty work, and you can collect easy profits.
2. Handy Man Work
If you want to homestead, prep, or otherwise detach from the system, an important skill you need is anything handyman-related. Fixing things in the home, remodeling, and other general tasks can keep you busy, learning, and filling your pockets.
Start by telling the people you know what abilities you have in these areas. I have gotten some extra cash because I know how to do tile, drywall, framing, and general building. I was able to get jobs by simply talking to people and integrating it into conversation goes something like the following.
“Hey, how was your weekend?” Co-worker wanting to have a small chat.
“Good,” I start with, “I replaced all the tile floor at my grandparents’ home this weekend.” It is a stretch since I did it three years ago, but now my co-worker knows I can do it, and I do it for others.
Often this conversation evolves into “what else can you do?” Allowing you to share a phone number or email.
Warning to you if you are new. The easiest way to start is to order all materials and add 20-30% on top. You may lose money on the first job(s) if you are very green, but you have options to learn something and gain a better understanding.
Knowing these skills will make your loved ones more at ease too. Now they know you can truly take care of them. In my mind, the next step is to teach them as well. And this is the other benefit of handyman work. You can bring along children or a spouse as a helper, guiding them as you go.
- Check your laws – other handymen will get mad if you don’t follow the law and get any needed permits, etc. They will turn you in.
- A good book is worth more than gold. Find some older home repair books along with 1 or 2 new ones. These resources can be a life saver to keep in your truck. You get stuck now; you visit your vehicle for a moment to check your manual, and you don’t need to rely on a good cell signal or be “the guy standing around looking at things on his phone.”
- Don’t get paid by the hour. Work fast and hard. Don’t get trapped.
It seems more complex than it was ten years ago. Many people want you not to do this in the evening these days. However, if you’re going to break into landscaping and lawn care, doing it on the weekends and evenings might be the best option.
Getting started like this is very simple. Go around to neighbors and other places close to you. Bid on mowing or other tasks as you see them. Keep your eyes open for opportunities such as removing old debris, trees, rocks, etc.
Landscaping work is straightforward. People pay $50 to spend less than 30 minutes removing logs (5-10 ft length), and I find easy work like this all the time. Landscaping and handyman have the unique benefit that you will likely end up with the materials you need. I used to take all the leaves, mulch, and plants to my compost. Logs I would turn into firewood. And building materials. I have gotten more building materials from doing lawn work than handyman work.
A limiting factor for me is terrible allergies. Even with the P95 mask (I wrote this long before the P95 shortages), I will not breathe well after cutting the grass. I will be out for a week or more if I touch poison ivy or oak. So you must know yourself and know your plants and surroundings.
4. Moonlight Machanic, Machinist, Programmer, Other
These things listed nearly fall into the “specialized work,” however, they are all easy-to-learn skills and things that will help you in your prepping life. I also tried to keep this first part of the list all things that require you to be active and do not require too much money to get started. The following section is about something different.
Everyone is always looking for a discount on these services. With the lack of overhead of a shop and other expenses, you can do these jobs in a way that will make you lots of extra money with the shallow risk of losing anything.
Let’s examine each of these to give you some ideas.
If you are already out on your own land, you have a few tools and don’t mind traveling and replacing starters, alternators, batteries, air filters, etc.; these are all things you can do without a lift. Some car starters can get questionable, but I have never had an issue. Get the $50-100 ramps from the auto store; they work for the smaller cars, and when it comes to trucks, they are generally high enough off the ground.
People are willing to pay a pretty penny to anyone doing these tasks. For a while, I let my customer pick up the oil and filter for their car, and I would do the oil change for $35 in their driveway. Auto stores and mechanic shops have to take your used oil for you. Some will pay others might charge. However, you can build a shop heater and several other things that can use the oil meaningfully.
Working in a machine and fabrication shop was a great experience in my life. One thing I learned is skills that will never leave demand. I also met many people doing what I’m going to describe to you now.
It is prevalent in machining to find shops that want to run a second shift but are not there yet to hire full-time people. Something you can offer is pice-mill work. You can get paid anywhere from $0.25 per part on a fast process to as high as possible. The most I made per part was $45, but each piece took 2 hours.
Suppose you have a mill or lathe (they can be ancient and still work). You might have a learning curve to using these, especially for setting them up for accuracy. But if you do it correctly, the sky is the limit. I have been in a one-man moonlighting shop built in a backyard shed. Six machines and one guy 15 x 15 garden shed. He was able to make $2,000 a day in there by himself. He could do this because he had many processes automated and was making 1 part for a company.
I have noticed that many companies have outdated and inefficient processes to make things, but since it gets the job done, they keep doing it that way. It is straightforward to learn the basics and start getting jobs by taking a different approach.
I had a mill setup to drill holes for a seatbelt training device in the airline industry; this paid me $145 /part and took about 17 min each. Good jobs like this are out there. Sadly this job was capped at three months and a specific number of parts, but I could get all of them done and ready in the first week freeing me to do other things and only shipping them on the supply dates.
Another job type that might seem intimidating. But this is not too bad. Here I was thinking about programming CNC machines. I did this and taught myself to do it over six months. If I had been very focused, I think I could have learned in under a month, but I only spent 1 or 2 nights a week on this issue. You can find jobs that pay $35 /hr to program CNCs for companies.
You can also get paid much more than that to optimize existing programs.
On a side note, this title is not CNC Programmer because once you understand the basics of CNC programming. It is now elementary to get a good look at another programming language.
The point of this section is that there is always a way to make some more money and move away from the system, even if you cannot do the other works listed. We have touched on some things that I feel anyone can do with dedication and hard work. You may have noticed these are all things that pay you for the job, and that is it.
Now let’s talk about what you could do and get paid more than once.
We call everything listed to this point “regular work” because you get paid (99 times out of 100) on job completion, but that is it. Once the transaction is over, that is it, but there is a way to get paid more than once. Now we will look at those methods.
5. Website or App Builder (Ads and partnership)
Suppose you have something helpful you can make. Maybe you are very good at digging wells on your own (Drill Your Own Well Site). If you can build a good guide with good pictures, you can make extra money from a website or app. The site linked above is an excellent resource for digging a well. I plan to do this soon and post about it.
So if you have specific knowledge, then you can do the same. I talked about learning to make money online in a recent post about where I was recently (Where Was I 2-3/4 Year Explained). Anyone visiting here three years ago knows the sidebars didn’t exist then. But now I know how to make money online, and I will make some income from this site.
The idea is simple. The content explains what skills people would like to learn, and ads show as they read it. I plan to outline this process at some point, but I was able to pull in an extra $500 /mo which is enough to make a land payment and then some.
If you do not like ads, you can do partnerships. I had one on this site many years ago. The coalition did not go well because I was new to the process, and the person I was partnering with, was also unique. We know better now and have a better plan for the future.
Recently I helped a friend publish a book on Amazon. This process was straightforward, and I was amazed at the income from this book just living. Each month it is easy to see $50-100 coming. Publishing this book happened over one year ago, and the book still brings this consistent income payment.
Most of the more challenging work was formatting the book, but I found a method that made this very easy. For most, once you have published, the hardest thing to do is marketing. My friend made a website and went on 20 or so podcasts to talk about his book. Enough people are listening to the podcasts and finding his website to increase the book’s sales.
Getting on podcasts was also not easy up-front. It involved both of us listening to hundreds if not thousands of podcasts and building lists of what we thought would be a good fit. This work is not for the faint of heart, but if you already make a website with helpful information, it is not hard to turn that into a book.
7. Finding Cracks in the Gig Economy
Last on my list, here is something that might be hard to explain, which takes technical knowledge.
However, people could do many digital tasks very quickly, but they would rather pay to have someone do the work, and sometimes they don’t know how to do it themselves.
For this reason, you can find these tasks on Fiverr, Upwork, etc., add some automation and then have a system paying you for the value you provide and not for the time you spend.
Many types of posts for social media, blog posts, and other content on Fiverr are recycled. The need for technical knowledge comes from knowing how to hook up a spreadsheet of “sayings” to photoshop or gimp. Or another method we tried is using quotes. We were able to sell the quotes as a spreadsheet and take them, adding them to pictures for “inspiration posts.”
Often these gigs, once set up, will pay you much better than you think. The first one we set up is making almost $800 monthly.
The process on this gig is that we are selling inspirational social media posts. We have a rotation of 300 stock photos and a spreadsheet of over 500,000 quotes. I have hooked gimp to a python script that will randomly select from the 300 photos and 500,000 quotes. Once the stock photo is randomly selected, my script adds the text of the quote, overlaying it on the picture.
This gig sells in a package for a $45 30-day package. I have the program make 40 total outputs, delete the worst five and give five extra. We have several people that order each month.
Now that you know a few ideas, you might have some questions. Let’s look.
But Which Should I do?
Sometimes you can get analysis paralysis. Knowing too many things can be more harmful if you don’t take action. My solution for you is to start with the things that pay you right away for the work you did. If you do not know how to do some more advanced stuff, you can pay someone.
For instance, I get this domain and website from Easy To Get My Dot Com. They sell me the domains and set up WordPress, so I need to know how to upload pictures and type (I don’t even need to know how to type because I can use speech-to-text).
So earning money with something you can do gives you the chance to pay someone or have the time to learn what you need to do.
Another essential thing to watch for is scams. People have run a fair share of cons on me; many involve working much harder and longer than the person said. No, it was not 1 hour a day to make money. It was more like 10 hours, etc…
Honestly, there is no way to easily avoid this other than to learn what you are good at doing. You will be most successful if you are willing to put the extra time in to learn whatever you try, and this is why I like the first four items so much. If you can get passionate about these first four items, you can learn the skills you will need to live on your own off the land.