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Cash Only Jobs in the Underground Economy

June 8th, 2007 by rosie · 5 Comments

When I was in junior high school, I did what my brothers and sister had done before me: I started a lucrative (for a kid, anyway) candy-selling business. We did not get any allowance and so we all had other ways of earning money; this was one that we all dabbled in for a bit. My mom would bring us to the local K-Mart or Wal-Mart and buy us a “starter bag” of Blow-Pops and some candy bars, which we would then mark-up and sell at school.

Call it gray-market candy if you will. I was an underground capitalist, making cash in the seedy underbelly of the junior-high market for illicit goods.
Selling candy like this was not allowed by the school because it competed with the school vending machines. And if we were ever caught (as was bound to happen) then the teacher would confiscate all our candy and pocket our money, which was usually between $10 and $30 on any given day – depending on if we had sold all our inventory or not. I did that for two years and then other kids caught on and the competition made it less profitable, especially when your 13-year old competitor tattled on you so they could put you out of business for a day!

So I moved on to tutoring and babysitting – more conventional and socially acceptable ways of earning a few bucks. In New Orleans ever’body gotta have a lil side-hustle. I knew a few others who also were hustling for a few dollars; there were quite a few boys mowing lawns (I tried doing that, too, but nobody wanted to hire a girl!), and a friend of mine was busing tables at a Chinese restaurant and making some money under the table. All of us were young entrepreneurs earning cash in on the underground economy.

And by the way that’s what all these jobs had in common – they were all CASH ONLY jobs. But cash only jobs aren’t just for kids. There are lots of different people who do all sorts of things to make some extra CASH.

1. Childcare. The old standby. And it’s not just for kids. Many women and men (I met a man today who does daycare) are out there doing part-time babysitting or regular, full-time daycare. I have known several stay-at-home-parents who took on one or two more kids to make some extra cash. And the money you earn for yourself can add up, too, depending on how many children you watch and for how long. Depending on the laws where you live, though, at some point you may have to get a license and comply with local laws to stay out of trouble. But, if you keep your numbers down then you won’t have a problem.

2. Housecleaning/office cleaning. While many won’t even consider this for a job, you can make a pretty penny doing light housecleaning or even the heavier stuff. Rich old women, office buildings, wealthy busy moms, and other people all need their places cleaned. Again, it can just be a few extra dollars or you can build up your clientele and really make some cash.

3. Yard work. So common, it’s probably the first one you think of when you think of cash-only jobs. Sure, it’s hard work – but remember you can make some money for yourself and usually get paid in cash.

4. Running errands. This is becoming more popular as people seem to be getting busier by the year. Busy people need everything from their dry cleaning picked up, to groceries being bought, to having their fish tanks cleaned!

5. Actually, cleaning fish tanks can be it’s own category. I worked in a pet store for a bit and saw how much people spent to purchase, set up, and stock a nice saltwater aquarium. And maintaining it can be a hassle, especially if you do not have a “blue” thumb. The “fish guy” at our store was always talking about how he was going to quit and start this exact business since he already knew so many salt water fish enthusiasts who thought nothing of dropping $100-$400 every week for supplies or new fish (if they were really bad at maintaining such a fragile ecosystem). He never did do it, but it’s a totally doable and needed service.

6. Walking dogs. And other pet-related duties, like grooming. If you like animals, this might actually be fun. But I don’t like animals that much, myself.

7. Haircuts, hairstyling. Years ago a friend of mine brought me along with her to get a haircut at someone’s home; this woman (the stylist) used to work in an upscale salon but now cuts hair from her house for a more reasonable price and at her convenience. It cost me $20 for a $50 haircut, and she was done with us both in an hour. Everyone was happy.

8. Massage. Last year I really wanted a massage, but shelling out $75 for a one hour massage and going to a stuffy day spa was not going to happen. Then I found an ad for a woman who does massage from her home and later that week I had a great 1 hour massage for $40, sans the snobby spa experience. She had a room set up in her home that was just like at any spa and she did a great job.

9. Food service/prep. Food is a big industry, so why not take a piece of the cake for yourself? I knew of a guy in Louisiana who was Cajun and a great cook, so he made up lunches every day and then drove to the local shipyards and sold his edible wares to the hungry workers. Similarly, a stay-at-home mom did the same: she made up lunches and would sell them to office workers down her street. People need to eat and get tired of fast food or of paying too much for restaurant food. And most people don’t pack their own lunches every day.

10. Cakes & pastries. Another avenue of the food industry is selling cakes. I don’t know about you, but I hate paying those bakery prices for a decent cake. Well, you don’t have to. There are people (like my sister) who are professionally trained bakers and can make a beautiful and delicious cake and who are happy to have a paying customer. Start-up costs are pretty low, too.

11. Auto mechanic. We recently needed a vehicle serviced. Since we did not have any references, I went to Craig’s List and found a hippie-guy who did the job and did it well- in spite of having a duct tape bandage on a finger that had the tip severed the day before. Our car was fixed the next day at a great cash price. I was just glad he didn’t have any other accidents!

12. Computer services. If you have any knowledge of computers – networking, repairing, programming, web design, etc. then you have highly marketable skills. Why not use those skills to make some extra cash?

13. Painting. Another cash job stand-by is painting. There will always be people needing rooms painted in their homes, businesses needing offices painted, and apartment buildings needing units freshly painted for new residents.

14. Junk hauler. I am not exactly sure what these junk traders do with the stuff they get, but it works for them and those wanting to get rid of stuff the trash man won’t haul away. Maybe they sell it on eBay. Use your imagination. And be aware that what some people call “junk,” other people call “collectibles”.

15. Market peddler. Maybe you can grow produce/plants and sell them at the local farmer’s market. Or maybe you can sell miscellaneous wares at the local flea market. Either way, it’s all good clean cash.

Well, I think 15 is a good number to stop at. Of course, there are many other things people do to earn cash, and maybe you know of one that most people aren’t familiar with. But the truth is that anyone with any type of skill and/or goods and a bit of gumption can easily make a little or a lot of extra CASH.

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    2008-05-20 08:15:38

    [...] I found this great article. You can read rest of it here : here [...]

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    Comment by Hobert Lents
    2011-08-28 23:21:45

    Many thanks for the information on massage therapy. I have searched all over and finally found this site. Many thanks again for the article on massage therapy.

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    Comment by gables estates
    2011-10-01 18:05:23

    Reading this post made me recall my childhood days. I’ve also tried making some money using my allowance but it didn’t go too far. The jobs you’ve listed really works, all of us need people doing those jobs. Walking dogs is fun, we just have to be careful if the dogs are on retractable leashes.

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