Cash-Only Jobs and Underground Ways to Make Cash in 2012

I’ve written here before about the underground economy, “dirty” cheap ways to start a business, and also cash-only jobs. And don’t forget the secret that Mark Cuban told me when I asked him what the secret to success really was. Those were perhaps good posts at the time, but it’s interesting that the climate in the USA has changed a bit – making the things I wrote four years ago even more applicable today. There is now more of a need to make extra cash due to the economy, and there’s also mainstream awareness of the need that people have for cash-only jobs and work that pays “under the table”.

Money Hand Holding Bankroll Girls February 08, 20117As one very obvious example of this new mindset that Americans are beginning to have, I’m seeing that “regular” people are increasingly becoming part of the “prepper” movement. Self-reliance now seems to be everywhere I look and on everyone’s mind. (Everyone who reads a newspaper or watches the news, that is.) I hear ads for survival seeds on the radio. I see commercials about buying and selling gold on TV. I read articles about surging gun and ammo sales. I see news reports about people who are building bunkers and buying land to make survival retreats. I see shows like Doomsday Preppers and The Colony gaining popularity. Modern cities are seeing an increase on urban farming, “guerilla gardening”, keeping beehives to make honey, and backyard chicken raising. And books like Patriots and movies such as Hunger Games (which was originally a book) aren’t relegated to literature tables at gun shows – they’re sold at your local Barnes & Noble – and are totally mainstream. We’re not at the point of The Road or The Book of Eli just yet, but with gas prices rising as quickly as they are, I won’t be surprised if I see Mad Max rolling down the street someday soon.

My point is this: the reality is that in 2012 things are looking scary. It’s no secret that our currency is (possibly very soon) on the verge of collapse. Unemployment is high, the future is uncertain, and we know that things can change very fast. Because of that, you probably want to have a few options available to you – other than your 9 to 5 office job that may go “poof” one day. If that were to happen, what would your options be?

I want to give you a few. You need some options to at least think about your next move.

These are low-investment, easy-learning-curve ways to supplement your current existing income. They also lean towards putting something on your table, in your home larder, or otherwise add to and build up your resources. I hope these suggestions inspire you and give you some ideas.

Beekeeping
The initial investment is low – maybe a few hundred dollars. The learning curve isn’t too high either, and there are numerous books and many beekeeping websites that can teach you what you need to know. You don’t need a lot of land (your backyard might be enough). The supplies can be built or ordered in a kit - both for cheap. But the payoff can be big: bees pollinate plants which can benefit your garden (and you should have a garden, by the way), and bees make honey – which is expensive, healthy, and delicious. Urban beekeeping is more and more accepted these days, and you might even find a local Meetup group of beekeepers. Of course, you will be able to harvest totally organic honey. What to do with it? Jar it and use it, or (if your bees produce enough) sell it. Most cities have farmer’s markets which are perfect venues to sell or barter goods. If you become very knowledgeable and proficient, you can expand this into a beehive removal service or related business.

Vermiculture
What is vermiculture? Worm-raising. Sounds gross, perhaps. But worms are amazing creatures – highly useful, very beneficial for soil and gardening, and easy to raise. You can very easily raise worms in nothing more than a plastic storage bin kept in your backyard. Feed them scraps – fruit cores, bread crusts, potato peels – and they will turn it into amazingly healthy fertilizer. You will be amazed at what one handful of worms can do. How to use them? Raise a lot of them, and you could sell bait. You can sell the fertilizer. You can of course use the fertilizer in your garden as well. No one should ever throw organic matter into the garbage. Worms allow you to compost that valuable biomass and put it back into the earth.

Lawn Care
This one is obvious, but I had to mention it. A lawncare business can take up your weekends but earn you a lot of extra cash when you need it. The equipment you need is minimal: a lawnmower and weed wacker. Get your equipment at the pawn shop, print up some flyers, and get to work. It will be cash money in your pocket, whenever you work. If you build up a regular clientele, you will have a regular influx of cash in your hands.

Wine Making/Homebrewing
In most localities you cannot sell home-brewed alcohol (such as beer or wine). But you can often barter it. Of course you can also consume it (as I am right now with home-made Apfelwien), and you can give it as gifts. Homemade Apfelwein is very easy and very good (such as the celebrated Edwort’s Apfelwein recipe), and only requires about $30 to $50 in equipment. Get your bottles free from FreeCycle or Craigslist – or save your own beer bottles. For something very simple like Apfelwein you just need applejuice, corn sugar, and brewer’s yeast (I use Montrachet) and a five gallon container. Five gallons goes a long way. It’s especially economical when it costs just a few bucks to make each time. Beer is fairly easy as well, and you can order everything in an easy beer brewing kit or buy supplies locally if your town has a home-brew shop.

Soap Making
The very best soap you will ever use (I promise) is soap you make at home with all natural ingredients. I don’t even like Dove or Ivory anymore – I use homemade peppermint soap. It’s very simple to make (it’s made of vegetable oils and lye) and you don’t need special equipment. I used a hand-mixer, a big cooking pot, and shoe boxes for the soap forms. You can make a bunch at a time and it will last the whole year. It’s a perfect item to sell. You can ship it easily as well, in case you wanted to sell on eBay or your own website. There are many instructional videos and soapmaking websites to show you how to make the soap, and you can probably find all the ingredients at your local grocery store except for the food-grade lye (which you can order here – the same place I use for my supplies).

Gardening
Our vegetable gardenIt used to be that every household had a garden next to their kitchen. Victory gardens were once common. Gardening gave way to supermarket shopping…but now backyard gardening is making a comeback. People now appreciate the taste of homegrown vegetables and fruit, they’re more educated about the harmful GMO crops in stores, and of course they appreciate benefit of gardening and growing your own food. I am starting to see more people planting things they can eat as opposed to things that are merely ornamental.

On a small scale, you can supplement your food needs. On a larger scale, you can eliminate your dependence on the grocery store. On an even larger scale, you’ve got a farmer’s market or roadside stand business. Again, you will largely deal in cash. All you need is dirt, some fertilizer (remember the worms), and some good seeds. I recommend heirloom, non-GMO (meaning, non-genetically-modified or non-transgenic) seeds from a reputable supplier.

Canning
This is a general topic, because you can can almost any food. Again, think of both feeding yourself and a possible farmer’s market table where you sell the canned goods you produce. By canning, I mean old-time canning in glass Mason jars. Nowadays you can buy all the supplies at Wal-Mart, and you can even order BPA-free lids for your cans. (This is a good idea, as BPA is present in every store-bought can, and BPA is extremely harmful.) I’ve made canned pickled okra, kumquat marmalade, pickles, and will can or pickle everything else my garden produces this year. Tomato sauce for instance. The online resources to teach you what to do are numerous, and the supplies are readily available. You just need to do it. Before you know it, you could have a table selling salsa, pickles, jams or preserves, and whatever else you can think of – all for cash on the table. If you’re not aiming to make money from it, you can store it and feed your family healthy, delicious, BPA- and preservative-free foods year-round.

There are numerous small businesses you can start in short order that can provide you with cash.Need to raise a grand in a month? You can do that with some of these ideas. I haven’t even mentioned some of the other possibilities such as being a weekend Mover or doing House Painting (which is a very easy-to-start business with a low investment, and is always an in-demand service).

Whatever situation you’re in, and however bleak the economy might seem, you should always know that you have options. You can hold on to your dignity and go make some money for yourself. You don’t have to stand in line or sign up for a government hand out. You can make it – the opportunities are out there.

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3 thoughts on “Cash-Only Jobs and Underground Ways to Make Cash in 2012”

  1. Haha, these are crazy ways to earn extra money, not for a lazy like me… I have to say you have great ideas though!

  2. This sounded like a blackhat strategy to me. But not until I read the whole post. We call this home business. And usually undeground busineness need not to pay taxes right? This is good.

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