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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Find Cash to Reach a Goal

"Everybody likes more cash," according to a current TV commercial. No surprise there. And most people get excited about a tax refund, even though it's their own money they're getting back. But it feels like "found money" – money that isn't part of our usual budget and isn't already earmarked for dull things like groceries or rent. It's a lump sum that we feel that we have complete control over. We can use it to achieve a goal like paying off a debt, jump-starting saving , or making a major purchase.

What would you do if you came into some extra money? Seriously, stop and think for a second. What would you do if you had an unexpected $50? $100? $1000? Write that idea down. Or better yet, click the comment button at the end of this post and commit to that idea by sharing it with me and with other readers of this blog.

Now, let's talk about ways that you could generate the income to put toward that goal.

I recently led a brainstorming exercise about ways to increase income. Here are some of the ideas they came up with:

  • Have a yard sale
  • Take clothing to a resale shop
  • Recycle aluminum cans
  • Sell old gold
  • Teach something you know
  • Be an election judge
  • Be an extra in a movie
  • File an amended tax return to claim deduction or credits you missed
  • Jury duty
  • Sell plasma
  • Participate in a marketing focus group
  • Be in a medical study
  • Look around the house and in the car for loose change
  • Make crafts to sell
  • Pet sit
  • Sell items on Craigslist, Ebay, etc.
  • Help older adults with activities of daily living
  • Provide adult care
  • Trade services – barter
  • Tutor
  • Apply for food stamps or public aid
  • Make invitations, stationery
  • Collect money other people owe you
  • Contribute to you 401(k) and get the company matching money

I bet there's at least one thing on this list that you could do. And there are lots more ideas where those came from. For years, I've done this brainstorming activity as part of a train-the-trainer program from University of Illinois Extension called All My Money. I've collected more than 300 ideas – and that's after I eliminated the ones I was pretty sure were illegal. Check the complete list to get more ideas.

Don't forget to click "Leave a Comment" below to tell me how you want to use that extra money. Then, go for it!

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Great thought here. I'm always trying to brainstorm to come up with ways for some quick money. Usually the first thing that comes to mind is: Ebay. Oh, and that one above about amending/re-filing your previous year's tax return. That's a great idea. I actually got a few thousands dollars back by doing that last year! Anyways, great article and I look forward to future stuff. Cheers, Joe
by Joe Karns on Monday 4/16/2012

Joe, thanks for the feedback. I hope you'll find ideas in other posts that will work for you as well.
by Karen Chan on Thursday 4/19/2012