Another Collection of Money Ideas

By - July 27, 2013

Here are a few thoughts about new ways to make some money, spend less of it, and think about it. We start with a look at a different way to measure the cost of things we buy, and then move on to questions of charity and how to make money with strange lodgings. It is, perhaps, an odd collection of money ideas, but one that might inspire you or make you think.

The Price in Time

Would you like to have a new perspective that may change your thinking, working and shopping habits? Then measure the cost of things in terms of hours worked instead of dollars or other currencies. So, for example, if that riding lawn mower costs a man $2,800, and he makes $14 per hour after all taxes, he'll have to work 200 hours to pay for it. That's 5 weeks of work if he puts in 40-hour weeks. Maybe he thought he couldn't afford three weeks off to take the family on a summer vacation, but this little exercise proves otherwise.

What if your regular income is already eaten up by household expenses? Then you might have work an extra day each week to pay for something you want. A boat, for example, might cost a couple years of six-day weeks. Is two years of long weeks a fair price to pay to have a boat that will then require more long hours to pay for its operation and maintenance? Maybe, but you have to at least know what you are paying before you can make that decision wisely, right?

Money From Garbage

A couple years ago an organization here in Naples, Florida, replaced two long boardwalks that were getting old (together they covered about two-thirds of a mile). The wood, which was a beautiful Brazilian hardwood, was being stacked up to be thrown away, but much of it was still in good shape. A young man who worked there asked his employer for permission to take it, and they agreed. He arranged for a large shipping container to be dropped off and then loaded it up with the best of the wood. After shipping it to Haiti, where he originally came from, and selling it there, he was seen driving a nice new car.

This how the story was told to me in any case, and I love a good story like this whether or not all the specific details are accurate (I do know the entrepreneur and he does still work for this organization). It made me wonder if there are other items that can be obtained cheaply or for free, and where they might be shipped to be sold. There are more ways to make a profit than we can ever imagine.

Wise Giving

Sadly, at least in my experience, it is difficult to help people with money alone. Except in poor societies, many "money problems" cannot be resolved by giving money to those who are suffering. For example, if a man is late on his home payment because he bought more house than he could afford, financial assistance will often only help delay the inevitable, and will usually make the end result even worse. If a parent loans money to adult children for a down payment on a car, the children are "helped" into a debt that will usually overwhelm those who apparently cannot even save enough for a down payment.

If you look at the actual results of your giving you may not like what you see, but at least in doing so you'll learn to be more careful in trying to help people with cash. In general it makes more sense to use money to help people become able to help themselves, than to bail them out of situations that they are likely to recreate again and again. Sometimes our help just gets in the way of the necessary hard lessons of life.

Retirement Secret

Of course it is no secret that putting a little aside each month can add up to a lot of money for retirement. But sometimes we forget just how little it takes, and what our options are. For example, suppose you drink a $3 cup of coffee each workday. If you drank water for free instead, and put that money into an IRA that yielded an average 8% annual return, you would have almost $300,000 in the account in 40 years.

Repurposing Things to Spend Less

One way to spend less is to look for other uses for things you already have, especially those things that you might otherwise throw in the garbage. For example, you can use self-adhesive address labels in place of staples, or to remove cat hair from a shirt or sweater, or to label possessions or travel items. Plastic newspaper bags make great disposable mitts, and jars that used to have peanut butter or other foods in them can be used for storage containers for a variety of items.

Odd Lodgings Business

I recently read an article about various odd lodgings where travelers can lay their heads for a price. The one that immediately caught my attention was a business in California that rents out yurts with an ocean view and other unusual rooms. Can you make money with fabric rooms and tree nests made of sticks? Well, they seem to still be around, and according to their website the yurts start at $199 per night, with a two-night minimum. Visitors have the use of a pool and hot tub, and there are (of course) shower and restroom facilities. I'm not sure what the "human nest" rents for per night, but it is just a little cave made of tree branches (not waterproof if it rains), and a camping site alone costs $85 for the nights I checked. Here is their website if you want to see what the yurts and nest look like:

Makes you wonder what other types of lodgings people will pay good money for, doesn't it? My own ideas in the last few minutes include:

=> Buy up old RVs and parking them on public land out west to rent to winter vacationers.

=> Build small pyramid-shaped rooms so people can have "pyramid power" weekends.

=> Convert ten old school busses into "cabins" for rent.

=> Buy property that has caves and create the "Caveman Inn."

=> Store people's boats and RVs for free with the agreement that you can rent them out to travelers as rooms for the night.

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