I haven't had to resort to eating rice or sending postcards to make a few extra bucks, but as a freelance writer and editor I've worked on plenty of stories to help pay the bills. And for anyone looking for truly odd jobs to keep life interesting while still bringing in some cash, there are plenty of places on the Internet to find such work.
And I'm not talking about the sort of "odd jobs" that fugitives get at low-budget motels because they can't find other work while on the lam. These are legitimate jobs that you may need a resume for, or at least some experience and interest.
Everyone knows about Craigslist, so finding odd jobs in your geographic area is easy. But for a national directory of odd jobs, many of which can be done online, I'd recommend the first stop being OddJobNation. Its recent job postings include a long hair volunteer willing to get a trim, $20 to write a boyfriend a poem, beer pong organizer, and an exercise cheerleader. OddJobNation's blog rounds up the oddest jobs each week.
Even if the unemployment checks are still coming in and you don't really need the immediate money from an odd job, the irregular work can be a good way to network and get yourself out in the marketplace.
"An object in motion stays in motion," said Jeremy Redleaf, CEO of OddJobNation, where jobs pay from $5 for a quick task to $1,000 for having a haircut on a music video shoot.
Rene, who didn't want her last name used, turned a friend's request to help clean out her dad's airplane hangar into a fulltime job. She did the odd job and found out that he owned a banner plane company and airplane repair station. She stayed on as a "ground dog" to help set up banners for pilots to swoop down and take out to the beaches of Southern California. That job led to her being hired there as manager.
Odd jobs can also be a good stopgap between full-time jobs, or can just help retirees make extra money, Redleaf said.
"There's always going to be people who need odd jobs," he said.
Candice Broom, 30, of Birmingham, Alabama, and her husband, Nick, found odd jobs through a friend of a friend after becoming unemployed in 2008 right before the birth of their second child. He worked as an industrial paper shredder destroying documents for businesses and hospitals, and she assembled jewelry for a local artist in preparation for a trunk show for $10 an hour. In August 2009 they again found full-time jobs as teachers.
A place to advertise jobs for a flat fee is Fiverr.com, where for -- you guessed it -- $5 you can offer your services. It looks like more of a site to find a service that you'd pay $5 for than a place to find work, but you can throw your service out there and see what sticks.
There's also JustAnswer.com, where you can be an expert and get paid to answer questions live online.
OddJobNation's Redleaf, who has held his share of odd jobs as a personal assistant, film maker and doing voice-overs, says the best thing about odd jobs may be that they won't leave you dreading going to work.
"Every day's an adventure," he said, "if you're an odd jobber. It makes for an interesting day."
Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area.