Some of the Latest Weird Ways to Make Money

By - October 19, 2013

Here is a roundup of some of the stranger ways people are making a living (or trying to) as of the fall of 2013. We start with one that is perhaps a bit controversial; charging for "homeless tours" in Seattle. From there we move on to cremation jewelry, cheese sculpting, and spiritual house cleansing, among others.

Homeless Tours

Referring to it as "poverty tourism," critics have said that Mike Momany's new business is tasteless at best. But the former web developer, who is himself homeless, thinks he is giving a voice to the homeless. What he offers is a "homeless experience" for $2,000, for those who want to spend three days on the streets. No photos are allowed, but customers can have GPS trackers so that in case of an emergency they can be tracked down. No word yet on whether Momany has any paying customers.

Cremation Jewelry

Artist Michele Palenik says she has "20 years of experience as a jeweler, a fine jewelry background, a funeral director husband, two kids, a crazy dog and a Marine Biology Degree." Among her other artistic creations you'll find jewelry with human remains in it. Send her a half-teaspoon of the ashes of a loved one and she'll make it into something you can wear. She calls her business the Purple Cloud Studio.

Cheese Sculptor

Yes, you read that right, and the profession is real, at least for Sarah “The Cheese Lady” Kaufmann. She travels around carving blocks of cheese into all sorts of intricate sculptures for various events. She supplements her cheese carving income by doing seminars on cheese making. You can see some of her creations and find out where her works will be displayed next, on her website:

Bacon Flavored Products

Want to try some bacon-flavored lip balm? Now there is a place to buy it, along with sunflower seeds and other products that are have been made to taste like bacon. J&D's Foods was started in 2007 by a couple friends who love the taste of bacon. If you want to make money with a new concept you can go get your inspiration (and bacon-flavored mayonnaise) at their website:

Speaking From the Grave

It would be nice to hear from our loved ones after they have passed on, and now we can. A company called Immortum allows customers to record their memories and advice and more in various formats, and then delivers these to specified family and friends after death. Many years ago I imagined a similar concept and wrote about it online, calling my service "Letters From the Dead." The idea was that birthday and anniversary cards and letters could keep going to one's family and friends for years after one dies.

Mobile Wedding Chapel

Las Vegas is known for instant (and cheap) weddings, so it is no surprise that the "Wedding Wagon" started there. This company will rush right over to your resort or hotel or wherever you like (within reason -- call for locations) when you feel the need to get married right now (before you sober up?). Their prices start at just $129, and that includes not only the minister and witnesses, but a photo album as well.

Body Farm Caretaker

Scientists and criminologists need to learn how bodies decompose, so they bury dead humans in various ways and then dig them up again after a while to study the remains. Of course someone has to tend to these macabre gardens to be sure that nobody tampers with the bodies planted there. This is not a job for the squeamish.

Other Strange Ways to make Money

Here are a few more notes on some of the stranger ways people get a paycheck or turn a profit.

A "cuddle cafe" recently opened in Tokyo, Japan, where customers can be cuddled, have there heads patted, and otherwise be treated like a mother comforting her baby.

One Google worker reportedly has the job of watching porn, or rather watching videos that might be pornographic, in order to identify and remove repulsive photos and videos from Google properties (like YouTube).

Lisa Miller does "spiritual house cleansing" starting at $300 per house, and has many testimonials on her website from satisfied customers.

One of my own recent unusual jobs was driving an electric tram that runs people from their high-end condos to the beach restaurants and bars at an exclusive community here in Florida. I had to stop more than once to allow passengers to watch alligators eating birds, a possum, and even another alligator.

I have read that cleaning IMAX theater screens is a specialized job; not sure what that entails.

Finally, you can, of course, find many more odd ways to make a living or some extra income in my book, 101 Weird Ways to Make Money: Cricket Farming, Repossessing Cars, and Other Jobs With Big Upside and Not Much Competition. The good news is that the jobs and businesses covered in the book are not at all speculative. At least a few people have succeeded from each of them, and sometimes they make more than just enough to pay the bills.

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