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When There Are No Jobs
This area will be developed extensively in the coming months. We will present practical information on finding your talents and skills to start your own business, the value of your own business, skills and items to barter with, and where to find cash in a pinch.

Not all of these ideas will fit every individual and circumstance.  Before things get really bad, you might want to try a few of these out in your area to see how practical they are for you and your family's needs. If you're someone who has a lot of pride - when eyebrows go up, you can always tell your neighbors that you're doing research. You are. You're researching subsistence survival.

Fast Food

While everything else is crashing around us, the Dollar Menu is thriving.  Businesses like McDonald's, Burger King, and KFC/Taco Bell are all doing exceptionally well. Some even have programs that will help with college. They all have management programs.  If you're too embarrassed to work at one in your town - look a little further away. Just be sure that the cost of travel doesn't cancel the benefits of working there. If you have a car, running pizzas for Dominos or Papa John's will also earn you some tips.


As the threat of theft increases, security jobs have become more plentiful. They don't pay much more than minimum wage to start, but if you've got nothing else, give it a try. Get some friends together and offer to keep an eye on homes when people are on vacation specializing in overnight drive through's.

Liquor Store Clerks

Liquor stores always do well, especially in a recession/depression. Do whatever you can to snag one of these jobs and you can be sure that you'll always have some work.

Mow Lawns - Shovel Snow - Clean Gutters

In some communities you'll need a permit and insurance to do these types of jobs. In others, all you need are some business cards or flyers. Or, just stroll down the street and knock on doors. After a big snow storm when everyone's inside - or in a rush to get out to work - chances are they'll be happy to pay you to take care of things. Contact realtors and offer to spruce up front yards.

"Green" Gardens

Advertise in upscale neighborhoods -- the ones who can afford to buy "green" - and provide an eco-friendly gardening service. Mow with push mowers. Get rid of yard debris with a rake, not a blower. Fertilize with manure tea and other concoctions that don't use chemicals.  If you're really ambitious, sell "trendy" Victory Garden lawnscapes - goodbye impatiens, hello tomato plants - right on the front lawn.  Offer to plan and plant organic kitchen or herb gardens. Sell organic herbs and vegetables to local restaurants.

Clean Out Service

If you have a truck or van and a strong back, approach real estate companies with the offer to do clean outs. Prices for a small apartment that just needs a little vacuuming up might only be $25-50, but big old houses can bring $500-1,000 and you can keep items that have resale value. Put them on eBay or Craigslist. You can also offer to board up vacant houses. Lots of business in that line of work these days. Get the plywood (with permission) from construction sites.

Dog Walking - Dog Sitting - Poop Clean Up

These are pretty self-explanatory. Just make sure you love animals and that you have a safe environment in which to keep them. Lots of people have yards and just let their dogs out to take care of business when they don't have time to walk them. They also don't have time to clean up after them.

Entertainment for Seniors

Many senior citizen programs and nursing homes have state mandated entertainment programs. If you have a karaoke machine, can play the piano, or do simple magic tricks or make balloon animals, you might have a job!

Firewood and Lumber

If you have a truck and a chainsaw, get a permit from your state park to collect downed trees at the beginning of the park season or after a storm. Visit homes that have fallen trees or large limbs and who need a clean up.  The first guy on the scene gets the job. If you have the room, split the wood -- good exercise, too! -- and cure it for a year then sell as firewood.  With bigger trees, keep your eye open for nicely grained cross sections that can be cut into 1/2" slices with a band saw. Sand them for use as a clock face or to wood burn as personalized homeowner or house number plaques. Or just sell them to crafts people and artisans. If you're lucky enough to own or acquire a good cross saw -- and lucky enough to come across a solid downed tree that is 3-5' in diameter, get a friend to help you cut 1-2" thick slices of wood for table tops. The tops alone can bring $500-$1000 before they're finished. A friend of ours lost a very old cherry tree in a storm, and we were horrified to learn that she actually paid someone to take it away! Keep the outside cuts with the bark still on to make attractive rustic furnishings or arbors. If you have a chipper, make mulch. Chip up apple, cherry, pecan or other fragrant woods for use in smokers and barbecues. Sell them online or sell wholesale to propane tank refillers to offer to their customers.

A Fortune in Scrap Metal

If you have a truck or van and some storage space, cruise around the neighborhood to look for old bed frames, stoves, metal tables, bicycles, brake shoes, lawn chairs, pots, pans, and even cans. We live on Long Island, NY -- one of the wealthiest areas in the nation (although you'd never know it in our home).  I was shocked a few months ago to read a story about a white collar worker who lost his job and now was surviving by collecting and selling scrap metal.  Then I recalled an old van that I purchased at an auction. It turned out that it was beyond repair and I was annoyed that I'd have to pay to have it hauled away. Imagine my surprise when I was paid almost $500 by the tow truck driver who said he'd be selling it for scrap. I began to notice scrap metal advertisements on television. Prices have fallen a bit since China has slowed their purchase of American scrap metal, but you can expect it to pick up steadily as tiny bits of manufacturing return to the USA. Just a few months ago, scrap metal brought $500 a ton. It has since fallen to $40. Here's one story about the once lucrative street business. In the meanwhile, if you have room, hang on to it and wait for prices to come up.  And if you have some old junk cars laying around, get them hauled away for cash. One man I know is making good money breaking down old mobile homes. Just be aware that scrap metal hunting has become very competitive and you might face some angry competition.

Money in Cars

There is a lot of money to be had in old car parts, especially from MOPAR collectors.  I found an old Turbo Charger in the trash and sold it on eBay for over $1000.  If you know what you're doing, research going prices and tear those old cars apart to sell for parts. BMWs and Mercedes are particularly valuable down to the nuts and bolts. Visit car auctions, but proceed with caution.  We live outside New York City and all of our vehicles have come from marshall's auctions.  We learned about them from a former neighbor who actually paid off his mortgage by buying and selling old cars. (I'm still kicking myself about letting an old mini school bus slip through my fingers. It sold for about $200). Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Invest in Carfax and check out what you're looking at.

Curbside Shopping

You just never know what you're going to find.  A couple of months ago my husband and I were walking our dog and we passed by some "interesting" trash.  My eye was originally drawn to a framed poster, and as I moved it into the light I discovered a brand new Foodsaver behind it. Never used. The box was open, but everything was sealed.  Last year someone was cleaning out mountains of books. Day after day, week after week, there were boxes and boxes of them. I hate throwing out books, so they all came home with me. I won't go into detail about what I found in those boxes, but suffice it to say, I sold a single beat up old volume on parrots for almost $300.  Everything you find isn't going to be that good. But, everything you find will be free. Go "shopping" towards the end of the month before people move out of their homes. Read the local newspaper and make note of garage and tag sales. Go "shopping" when they're over. People often throw out what they haven't sold. Upscale neighborhoods often have a couple of designated days for bulk trash pickup. Find out when they are and go get your treasures. Hold a garage sale and enjoy pure profit.  If you don't want to hang onto your stuff for the next sale, put it out and watch it disappear!

Sell Your Expertise

Are you an expert in anything? Are you passionate about a hobby?  Why not teach or tutor? Write a book about it and sell it on www.cafepress.com or www.lulu.com. Become a tutor.

Home Parties with a Twist

Oh, how I dread getting invitations to these. Tupperware. Avon. Candles. What other stuff do I not need and can't afford? My friends are selling it. Here's a new twist on those home parties that everyone will want to come to: a gold selling party. Yes, that's right. Your guest go home with money! And you get a commission. All you need to do is clean the house, put out coffee, cake or maybe a little wine and cheese and everyone goes home happy. Don't have a lot of friends with gold? No problem. Visit a local restaurant -- they can all use the extra business these days -- and offer to organize a gold selling party. You can split the commission with them and make a deal for a percent of their take for the night.


It's a sign of the times. People are spending old coins. Those jars and jugs that once collected loose change are being emptied and the coins are now back in circulation.  Pick up a couple of books on coin collecting and learn what to look for. Go to the bank with $20-50 and ask for rolls of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and take a look to see what you've got. Our son was working a part time job at Dairy Barn and someone paid with a buffalo nickel. Is it worth anything? Who knows? But this might be a way to find something worthwhile if you're so inclined.

Waiting Tables

Always a great option if you can get the work. Make sure you look good and have a big smile on when you go to interview. You'll make more if you work where alcohol is served.  If you're not having any luck, start out by bussing or running and work your way up. You can also make a nice piece of change by offering to do other people's side work at the end of the night when everyone is dog tired. Charge $8-10 depending on the job. One enterprising fellow we know make an extra $30-50 a night on top of his tips.

Clean Windows and Sidewalks

Visit local businesses to see if they need their windows cleaned on a regular basis. Try to line up several customers in the same strip mall. If you have a power washer or steamer, offer to clean grease and gum from their sidewalks.

Sell Hot Dogs, Soda, Ice Cream, Popcorn, Grilled Turkey and Corn

If you can get a permit and invest in a cart, it's a great way to earn a living. People have to eat, and cheap food will always sell. Find out about selling at fairs and in parks. One man my husband knows invested in a huge roaster and sells rotisseries turkey -- drumsticks, sandwiches, etc. -- at fairs. He works hard for his money, but he does make lots of money and has been hired for parties and events. On the downside, if you're rained out, you're out of luck unless you make a deal with someone to buy your food.


There doesn't seem to be a shortage of welding jobs. Learn to weld or sell welding materials wholesale. Build a website about welding - where the jobs are, how to do it, where to learn to do it, how to break into welding, and sell the stuff there.

Blacksmithing and Farrier Work

No one knows how to do these jobs these days, but they're still needed. I just saw an ad for a farrier in the Sunday employment section.


Become a licensed daycare provider. Most moms need to go back to work or stay at work. Many aren't comfortable with larger daycare facilities. Watch a small number of children in your own home. Or watch them in your customer's homes.


Retail jobs don't pay much at all, but there are benefits. You might be able to snag health insurance. You might find one that offers commissions on items sold, like jewelry or cell phone service. One of the best benefits is working at a shop that sells things you are very familiar with and snagging hot items at a low price by combining coupons and your employee discount. Then, unless it is specifically forbidden, resell for a profit. Retail is also worthwhile in some regards because you can learn a lot about suppliers.


Become a caretaker for people who own vacation homes, multiple homes or seasonal camps. Take a look at The Caretaker Gazette to find jobs. Be careful. Check backgrounds of property owners before you take on any work to avoid unwittingly becoming involved with a criminal or nut case.


OK, this one is a little ghoulish, but always keep a camera with you.  If you see a car crash, take photos. Be sure you get photos of skid marks and of the vehicles on all sides. Give your business card to each party and offer to sell them the photos. Similarly, if you see a fire or any other type of newsworthy event, photograph or videotape it and contact local newspapers and news agencies to offer it for sale. Keep your eye open for celebs, too.

Learn How to Cut and Color Hair - Do it in your home. Do it at hair parties. Bring a friend who can give manicures and pedicures.

Learn Auto Repair. Well worth the investment.

Be A Personal Assistant

There are lots of people who still have some wealth. They might need someone a few days a week to organize schedules, purchase theatre tickets, make reservations, renew their auto insurance, etc. We know one woman who is typing up a socialite's memoires. That is, when she's not busy ordering a new wardrobe for her next cruise.

Mystery Shopping

You won't make a fortune doing this, but if you're desperate, or just depressed and need to get out of the house, this is for you. There's a wide range of jobs and you'll have to be prepared before you apply, but you can make a little money on this. Do fast food mystery shops and bring along a cooler - you'll have dinner or lunch for your family for a week if you do enough and you'll get paid, too. I've taken my dog to the vet for free, dined out at nice restaurants, gone to the movies, and even filled up my gas tank for free plus a fee. You can find audit jobs that pay between $130-160 for two days work, too.

More to come. Including a way to make money while you look for a "real" job.

In the meanwhile, please continue to the next section.

Copyright 2008 Christine Hirschfeld Catholic Home and Garden All Rights Reserved