Thursday, April 16, 2009

Monetizing the kids.

Don't come whining to me about the added burden of raising children in this economy. The truth is, having kids can be quite advantageous right about now. There are the obvious tax and welfare benefits, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. How often have I watched a friend's child unicycling through a park to the delight of the passerbyers and thought to myself, 'damn, give that kid a tin cup and you'd never have to work again.' Most parents have no idea the little treasures they've got on their hands.


Unless your baby has a birthmark in the shape of Christ, or can memorize a 30 second script and enunciate, infants and toddlers are pretty useless except as a prop for begging for money/help/assistance/patience. However, if you have five or more babies in this age bracket, you could qualify for a reality show, fame and fortune. Your odds of selling to a network are better the more kids you have, so concentrate on quantity rather than quality. Since each child you spawn increases your welfare benefits, you may not have to even cut back on your collagen treatments if you get busy now. If you’re not particularly fertile and only have one or two kids in this age range, casting calls and frequent postings on youtube will increase the chances that your little angel will be able to pull his or her financial weight in the near future.

An idea: with the pressure of PETA and animal rights groups, horse and greyhound racetracks are closing down everywhere. Consider holding baby races to satisfy the public's betting needs. Charge admission, set up betting and watch the profits roll in.


At this age, your kid is probably writing to the tooth fairy begging for a Blackberry Storm. But think about it: any kid who still believes in the tooth fairy can easily be convinced that a squeegee, rake, plunger or shovel are equally rewarding toys. They'll be washing windows, ironing, cleaning the pool, folding the laundry and plunging the backed up toilet in no time. And unlike you, most children have the attention span to get the job done. Economically speaking, this means your kid can do the work your ex-cleaning lady used to do. There's also earning potential by sending your kid out to do odd jobs around the neighborhood. Who can resist an adorable child holding an over sized garden tool? My niece earned $5.00 cleaning a rich neighbor's pool despite the fact that the lady didn't ask for it. That's right, a seven year old girl brought home the equivalent of two Kraft macaroni and cheese dinners for her family. It was the first time my loins ever ached for a child (I think it was my loins, but it could have been my stomach). At this age, even if the kid botches the job, they'll be rewarded for trying. Now's the time to capitalize on that cuteness factor. Send your child out to play with the right "toys" and he or she will be bringing home the bacon in no time.


It's critical to nurture and exploit your child's burgeoning talents, interests and skills before they become gawky and unattractive. At this age, children have established multi-million dollar careers, sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of crappy cookies and lemonade and signed lucrative endorsement deals. Even if your kid only qualifies for babysitting, a paper route, or bullying other kids for their lunch money, every little bit helps. If your child shows no talent at raising money, at the very least you'll have a free bag of candy once a year to show for it.

By now, if your child has shown no talent, skill or work ethic you have two choices. You can have those attributes surgically implanted and package your child as a recording artist. Or simply put your teen into a juvenile detention center until they're legal adults and you're no longer responsible for them. You save money on school, clothes, books, healthcare, shrinks, bail money and much more. And there's no reason to feel guilty. Your child won't suffer. In fact, depending on where you live, detention center facilities are often better than the university's. By making your teen a ward of the state, you bear no responsibility for their development or behavior. If they emerge from the facility more screwed up than when they entered, lucrative lawsuit opportunities are available. And if you're worried about the social stigma of having a child in juvenile prison, call it "the academy" and nobody will be the wiser.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Summer vacation ideas to fit your budget.

Just because your unemployment is about to run out doesn't mean you shouldn't be making vacation plans. On the contrary, being broke and unemployed is stressful. A change of setting, new experiences and emotional distance will help you face life refreshed and ready to do nothing with renewed vigor. It's easy to recreate your favorite summer sojourn for a tiny fraction of the price of the vacations you’ve been enjoying all these years. You just need to know your options.

Spa vacations:
There’s nothing like a trip to a spa to soothe and restore an achy psyche. Well, almost nothing. You can get the same benefits for virtually nothing by taking a short trip through your local car wash. Like spas, car washes offer aqua therapy, exfoliation, massage, buffing, and sauna all at one destination. Just put some new age music on your iPod and you're good to go. You'll emerge buffed, polished and relaxed like a noodle. And if you feel like going all out, take your car through for a cleaning when you're done. It deserves a little R&R too.

Dude ranches:

You may not be shelling out for a temporary home on the range this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy horseback riding in the great outdoors. Even if you don’t have a local merry-go-round in your region, every town has a coin operated horse. If you're feeling flush, spend a quarter to experience the horse's lulling gait and the wind in your hair. But just sitting on the stationary horse and rocking back and forth rhythmically can also be extremely soothing.

Beach vacations:

You don't have to travel to some expensive tropical retreat in order to bury your feet in warm sand and enjoy the soothing sounds of the water lapping on the shore. All you really need is a box of cat litter, a deck chair and a garden hose. Let the litter warm up a bit, turn on the hose, kick back, dip your toes in in the sand, close your eyes and it's just like you're on your favorite beach. Don't forget to put on some imaginary sunblock!

Adventure vacations:

You can still experience
the thrill and exhiliration of high risk activities without spending a cent. Try a pulse pounding sojourn in
your bathtub while holding a toaster. Test your endurance and see how long you can hold it above water. Other possibilities include texting while driving 60mph or more (a favorite vacation for the younger generation) or walking through a really bad neighborhood while
wearing headphones. Sure, it may not have the cachet of river rafting in Zambia, but at least if you don't survive, you'll spare you your loved ones the heartbreak and expense of shipping your body home .

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

There must be something left you can sell.

You probably think you’ve already sold everything you own that had any financial value. But chances are, you’ve still got a few possessions that you can really cash in on if you auction them off on eBay.

Unlike a garage sale, eBay keeps personal interaction down to a minimum and spares you the shame of alerting the neighbors that you’re broke. EBay sells everything from baseball cards to virginity to Korans etched into the head of pins. And even in this economy, there always seems to be someone out there who wants to buy them.

So take a look around you with a fresh eye. Maybe you have a potato that looks like Abraham Lincoln (or Jesus on anything works). An old piece of ABC gum that was chewed by someone two degrees separated from Kevin Bacon. An ancient Roman coin dated 214 BC. A plot of swampland in Florida. A body part you're not using. Think outside the box.

Once you’ve decided on something to sell, how it’s presented is critical to the price you get. Writing the listing may be one of the rare instances in life where having writing skills can pay off.

Say you've decided to put one of your kidneys on the market. Here's the wrong way to list it:

One slightly used 45 year old kidney.

Opening bid: $9.99.

Shipping and handling: $86.95 in the US (first class mail).

In good working condition. Current owner has had no major illnesses or addictions since entering rehab in 1999. Kidney benefits from a calm lifestyle and a healthy diet rich in kidney beans. One of the best kidneys I've ever had. Will hate to part with it.

There are several glaring mistakes here. First of all, the subject line. The product has to sound enticing. Romance the kidney. Make it sound desirable. Secondly, anything over 40 years old should be referred to as “vintage” or “antique”. It sounds more appealing than “old” or “used”.

When listing a vital organ, humor is not always appreciated. Those in the market are generally in the mood for facts, not jokes. Lose the kidney bean comment. Potential buyers won't think you're serious.

Remember to include all important information (like your blood type). It’ll weed out responses from kidney shoppers who you’ll never be able to convert into buyers (unless you find a really dumb one). Make sure you leave no room for misunderstanding on your listing. Spell everything out. Clearly state your policy on returns and refunds.

The $9.99 opening bid seems a little low. Hospital expenses, missed work days and shipping costs must be factored in. If you don’t want to include the contingent costs in the opening price for fear of scaring off potential buyers, consider including them in the price of shipping. The added advantage of this method is the shipping and handling costs aren’t taxed.

Honesty is good, but the 1999 rehab mention could be handled more deftly. Give it a positive spin.

Photographs work better than illustrations. People think you're hiding something if you don't post a photo.

Make sure your words inspire action.. The more urgent, the better. Phrases like "I'm going to hate parting with it." raises doubts and nobody really believes it anyways.

Here’s the right way to list your kidney:

WOW! One rare vintage kidney—in flawless working order!

Opening bid: $9.99

Shipping and handling: $9,999,999.99

Highly sought after o+ blood type. Kidney underwent renovation and refurbishment in the 90s, so it’s like new!!! One look and you won’t be able to live without it!!! Left or right kidney available. Hurry, before it's too late. No returns, exchanges or refunds.