The Fifty Buck Challenge.

I had a fabulous idea. I’m calling it The Fifty Buck Challenge.

Those of us who are lucky enough to not only work regularly, but who actually love what we do, never really have to ask ourselves the one question that troubles so many other people:

money2How hard is it to make money?

In our neighborhood, we have four guys sleeping rough. Unwashed, unkempt, thoroughly disgusting to look at, and you never want to stand downwind of them, the smell is outrageous. They don’t do anything, these people. They spend all day sitting on walls, sprawled under trees tanning, or they just keep busy yelling at traffic – a favorite pastime, apparently. Such is their rage at the calamity that’s befallen them.

Nevertheless, I pass by every day, feeling incredibly sorry for them. Beyond sorry, guilty. Enough to slip them cash.

At the same time, though, I find myself thinking two things: first, please god, let this never happen to me. I could NOT live outside; I have special needs – dietary, hygiene, comfort. I mean, if I’m sleeping behind a hedge, where am I going to find a mirror so I can put my contact lenses in? Won’t the goat’s milk for my hemp cereal go bad without refrigeration? How can I spray my teeth with grapefruit seed extract last thing at night if there’s no power for my Water Pic? These things concern me deeply.

Oh, and by the way, I’ve decided that, if the worst ever comes to the portapottyworst and I wind up homeless – sometimes, when you work in public radio, this seems like a distinct possibility – I would instantly commandeer one of those portable toilet thingies that builders use (portapotties), clean it out, turn it on its side, and sleep in that, so that my stuff is secure and the coyotes don’t get me. Then, next morning, refreshed, I’d simply put my lenses in, tidy up the place, lock the door, and go. Within twenty minutes I can be panhandling outside Starbucks or yelling at traffic. The day’s my own.   

The second thing I think of when I see the local bums is this: “Why are you just sitting, sprawling, yelling there like that? Why not use your free time – and it’s all free  time – more fruitfully? If you just gave half a day each week over to some kind of work, you could earn a few dollars, and that would then buy you a haircut, food, blankets, a Water Pic, whatever you need.” Right? 

Okay, maybe this isn’t realistic. When you’re at the bottom of the heap, it must seem like a virtual impossibility to get yourself back on your feet again. Plus, some of them have drug or mental problems, which makes things worse. All the same, the question is still valid: how hard is it to make money?

Gripped by fascination, I decided I would find out. 

Maybe you want to try this too, see what happens. 

Most people, when you mention making more money, envision something life-changing, a whopping raise of thousands of dollars, say. But what if you just kept it modest? How about $50 extra in one week to begin with? It’s not a lot, but it’s still fifty bucks. And everyone can use fifty bucks, right? You could even take it and give it to the homeless, basically doing their work for them. It’s up to you.

Then, the next week, or whenever you try the experiment again, you up the stakes to $100, then $200. You can make the money any way you like, but it has to be:

  1. Above board. No peddling drugs or going on the game, or selling your eyes to science while you’re still alive, anything stupid like that;
  2. Unconnected with your usual line of work, if you have one; and
  3. Something that doesn’t involve theft or anything shady. That means not fishing through public fountains for coins after dark. And there’s something in the rules about not staging bank-raids or breaking into cars either. Keep your nose clean.

money2This week, then, just for fun, I embarked on The Fifty Buck Challenge: that is to say, I set out to make a straight $50 over and above anything else I might normally bring in. 


Right out of the gate I sold a lovely piece of artwork on Ebay. That was twenty bucks right there. Then I made a grapefruit tart, which was so absolutely scrumptious that I almost ate it myself, screw the challenge! But no, I’m on a 100 days of raw food at the moment, I couldn’t – so I sold it to someone else, a woman who was having a party. She paid $45.

And that was that. Simple. I almost wished I’d set the first week’s target a bit higher, because I made $65 with practically zero effort, just a little ingenuity. 

Of course there’s tax to pay, I guess (something the homeless don’t have to consider), and I like to give a percentage away too. (In fact, I’m making that an integral part of the challenge: 10% of whatever you make has to be given away to someone who needs it right now, as seed money for future efforts. It’s good karma, people.) Plus, the ingredients for the tart cost a fortune. Still, not bad, eh? And that is just the first attempt to get the wheels rolling.

Also, let’s not forget – money’s green, which is very much in tune with the spirit of the times.

Anyway, incredibly buoyed up by this – who knew that making pocket money could be so exciting? – I plan to do it again very soon. Next time it will be $10o, though. Enough for a downpayment on my portapotty. Well, you never know. Radio’s a fickle business.



Filed under Television commentary

2 responses to “The Fifty Buck Challenge.

  1. voolavex

    Well, I for one, thing this is a perfect exercise in self reliance. Ebay is always a good start. (I paid rent with Ebay in the good old days). I liked the tart thing. Another one is the change hunt in the confines of your own home. I can usually dig up about $40 clams in loose change. So cheers for that part.

    BUT – here is the fallacy in your theory about people who sit and grouse about how life has fucked them over. They love what they do. This is their life. Near an old employ of mine we had a chap – Kenny – who was a smart and clean loafer (that’s what they are BTW- loafers) who loafed around my job site. He collected good money and read books and slept rough. A co-worker of mine who had fallen through the looking glass into wonderland early on – referred to this slug as a Renaissance Man. One year he tried to make everyone on the job chip in for a nice warm coat (from Patagonia or somewhere pricey) for Kenny. You may still hear my laughter out by the moons of Jupiter. Smart Kenny asked for the money instead – and I really started to convulse. So much for the Renaissance Man – this was the Bernie Madoff of loafers. Which brings me to my belief that these whining loafs love what they do and that without any responsibility or taxes or overhead they live quite well. The Free Clinic provides edical care AND showers 5 days a week, thrift stores donate clothes and idiots like my co-worker will treat them to Patagonia. Oh my Swami – you have missed the point. Why would they want to change a thing? You worked for your $50 – they loaf for theirs. And the best part of this tale is Kenny – who is still living his DaVinci lifestyle at my old job site – doing what he does best. Who’s the fool?

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