A few years ago -- back during that other economic crisis -- I wrote a piece about the most disgusting ways to save money. At the time, the piece was something of a joke, a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the extremes that people could go to to trim expenses and increase income. Not long afterward, the unemployment rate started dropping, the economy's slow recovery chugged along, and suddenlyusing fingernail clippings to scrub your pots or eating rodents seemed a little ... well, extreme.
Fast forward five years: Unemployment is still high, wages are depressed, and the benefits of the recovery have largely accrued to the nation's wealthiest citizens. And now, even with the government shutdown over and a debt default dodged -- for now -- it's clear that we can't always count on the social safety net programs of the federal government. To put it mildly, extreme savings techniques are starting to seem a little more relevant.
Other commodities' values may rise and fall, but there's one that tends to retain its worth: the human body. And, while it's illegal to sell one's organs in this country, several other parts of you can fetch a pretty penny on the open market. In a recent piece for Salon.com, Victoria Stillwell looked at some of the top methods people are using to raise money. For anyone familiar with "Les Miserables," some of the top items shouldn't seem all that surprising: some of Stillwell's interviewees reported selling their hair, a few considered selling their breast milk, and she noted that thousands of women have looked into selling their eggs.
While not as invasive as selling, say, a kidney, all of these are fairly intense ways to make a buck. At the least, they involve collecting breast milk and putting it in the mail; at the most, they involve a series of uncomfortable hormone treatments and painful ovum collection procedures. Even so, all three methods are gaining popularity as it's getting harder and harder to make money through more traditional means.
It's unclear how much longer Stillwell's big three methods for raising cash will continue to grow in popularity. Indeed, we should all hope that, before long, they'll seem anachronistic, unnecessary, and, well, a little extreme.
Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings Editor. You can reach him by e-mail at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.
Take the first steps to building your portfolio.View Course »