This is a guest article by D. Allen Johnson -   Simon Barrett (Editor)

I have been writing a lot lately on employment issues, and I have been doing some informal coaching to help folks in my Linked-In group find a job. When I suggested that a woman take a trip to see a CEO about employment, she let me know right then that she was broke, so my advice was useless. (I hate it when women tell me I’m useless.)

That’s when I realized that the biggest problem of long term unemployment is a lack of money. Duh! No really. When you don’t get a paycheck for months, you burn through your savings, payment deadlines get missed, and then, inevitably you have a minor emergency, like your car breaks.

But that’s not the worst thing. When you have no money you can’t launch your quest for a good job. You can’t afford to fly out to a conference, or drive to a job fair, or even buy lunch so that you can network at Rotary.

So how can you find or earn some money today? It could be that you need to make a car payment or pay your rent. You’ve been unemployed for several months now, and the bill collectors are hounding you and threatening you with repossession or eviction. Or maybe you need to make a payment to keep your credit score from tanking into the 300’s.

There is only one surefire way to get money today.


Since mankind started bartering with each other, the ability to sell products has been the key to profit and cash flow. The ancient fisherman would come to the dock in the early morning after fishing all night, knowing he had to sell his catch before noon or his fish would begin to rot.

In later years the baker had one day to sell his bread or it became too stale to sell for full price.

Americans’ sales abilities started to atrophy in the 50’s and 60’s when the corporate business model came to prominence. Television and newspaper advertising pushed people into buying mass produced junk, and we lost that survival skill of selling.

But the world has grown weary of advertising, and so the salesman is once again coming into prominence. Newspapers are becoming like stone tablets, artifacts of an earlier age. Television ads are muted at best, or zipped through when a show is played back on the DVR. Why do people buy now?

Personal recommendations and good salesmen.

When was the last time you encountered a really good salesperson? Didn’t he or she make you feel like royalty? I bought a couple of suits a few months ago, and I know I paid too much. But the salesman was knowledgeable, had a great sense of style, and made me feel good about buying high quality clothes.

What does this have to do with the unemployed? I want to convince you that the world, both buyers and sellers, is seeking out good sales people. And you can get money today by selling.

Find Items to Sell

We are talking creativity here. From my experience, creativity expands as my checking account contracts. I had a friend named Jim Danielson who could sell an airplane in one day when he was broke. He told me that when he was desperate (out of brandy) he would focus and live on the phone until he sold something. He never owned an airplane. He sold other dealer’s inventory, earning two to ten thousand dollars commission.

When I was broke, I could sell a remodeling job for a contractor in one day, collect the deposit check right then, and take home a good chunk of cash. The balance of my commission was then due at the completion of the project. At other times, I would buy a load of surplus aircraft parts on credit, haul them to San Antonio, and sell them for a profit. Either activity could earn me a thousand to four thousand dollars.

The easiest items to sell are usually in your storage unit or garage. Do you really need that second or third car? How about that woodworking lathe and drill press? Or that piece of exercise equipment. (I know, if you sell that, where will you hang your clothes?)

It should be easy to generate 300 to 500 dollars or even multiples of that in a couple of days. But don’t take the easy route and under price your merchandise and by all means stay away from the pawn shops. They are some of the fiercest negotiators in the world. Sell one-on-one to the end user for top dollar.

Next, look to your relatives and friends. Do they have unwanted items that they are too busy to sell? Cars, motorcycles, boats, scrap metal, building supplies, hunting equipment, golf carts, and doll collections. Offer to sell them for a 15% or 20% commission.

Last, look to your neighbors, or even strangers. I knew a man who watched the obituaries. The day after the funeral, he would go to the home of the deceased and offer to sell the furniture and/or vehicles on commission for the survivors who lived out of town. He had excellent references and was very successful.

You might know of a cluttered warehouse. Go to the owner and offer to sell the contents and clean up the place making it ready to rent. Earn a commission on sales and more money for cleaning. You take care of the sales and pay your unemployed buddies to man the mops and brooms. It’s all about creativity. Where can you give valuable service?

Sell from Someone Else’s Inventory

Lots of small stores can’t afford a salaried salesman, but will gladly pay you a commission for anything you sell. But be sure that you pick something with a high enough value so that your commission will be worth the effort. Jewelry, collectables, art, and high end furniture come to mind. But you can use your imagination.

Just because you are out of money does not mean you are out of options. Get out of the house, walk around your city, and see the opportunities out there. Get a couple of thousand dollars quickly so that you can continue stalking your dream job. You’ll look good in your new clothes when you go to your next interview. Plus you’ll have the confidence from earning good money by your own resourcefulness and hard work.

D. Alan Johnson

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