Yesterday one of my favorite bloggers, Mr. Money Mustache, wrote about what he would do if he woke up broke. (Check out his site, it’s well worth it.) Three years ago, I not only woke up broke, but was 25k in the hole. What would I do if it happened again? Even worse, what if I lost everything, and was dropped into a new city with nothing but the clothes on my back?
For the sake of brevity, I’m going start myself off in a cheap apartment that conveniently has a washer and dryer hookup. I have no cell phone, no car, no bike, and since I am now living in a new city, no friends. I have no computer and no internet access at home. Most importantly, I have no cash and no access to credit. I’m starting from zero.
Goal #1 Get a bike with a trailer
If you are going to be buying and selling goods, you need to be able to move them around, and a bike and trailer is the cheapest way to start. So the first thing I would do is head to the local library. They have free internet access. I would begin emailing 20-30 mountain bike owners and offer to work for the bike they are selling. I would tell them I don’t have a lot of extra cash at the moment, and was just wondering if they had any yard projects or other work that needed to be done. People are skeptical of straight charity, especially when it’s directly asked for. Eventually someone would accept the offer. It might take a lot of emails, but I’m confident I could land a bike within the first day or two at the most.
I would then repeat the process to obtain a trailer for the bike. If I had to, I could always pick up a few smaller items from the free section, resell them, and then use the cash to purchase the trailer. I wouldn’t have a camera, so I would have to ask a neighbor with a smartphone to take a picture of my items and email them to me. I would offer free delivery to help sell the items quicker. I would repeat the process until I had a trailer.
Goal #2 Get a mobile computer (also known also as a smartphone)
With my transportation situation now in place, I would get busy picking up and reselling free items until I had enough cash to buy a cheap smartphone and a one month prepaid phone and data plan. Once this was in place, I could say goodbye to the local library for internet and also could begin listing my phone number in the Craigslist postings.
Goal #3 Obtain the essential tools for repair electric dryers
I would go to Home Depot and purchase a $5 all-in-one screwdriver. This incredible little tool also serves as a 1/4 and 5/16 inch hex set and would be sufficient for 95% of dryer repairs. If there was a surplus of funds, I would buy little scraper/all in one tool and a pair of needle nose pliers. I would also buy the cheapest, lightest hand truck I could find. Dryer’s only weigh 100 pounds, but a hand truck would be extremely helpful with moving them around. Some sort of vacuum would be nice as well for cleaning the dryers out.
Goal #4 Start acquiring appliances
This is where I would jump headfirst back into buying,fixing and selling appliances. With a bike, trailer, hand truck, phone and a couple of tools, I would be in business. For replacement dryer parts, I would either use one machine as a part machine or I would find the local parts supplier to buy replacement parts. Eventually I would start ordering parts from online to save money.
Very quickly I would be back to a healthy income, especially if I saved up for a week or two and purchased a small truck. It would be a lot of work at first, but you have to be willing to work hard and hustle if you want to dig yourself out of a financial hole.
What if I don’t know how to fix appliances?
Then learn. Watch youtube video’s at the library or at home on the smartphone after you get it. Check out an appliance repair book from the library, I’m sure they have one. You could also find another niche. There are hundreds of micro-businesses that could be started on Craigslist. You can add value by simply picking up items that people want to get rid of and getting them into the hands of someone else for a little profit. Just find a way to help people! If you can find a way to help people solve a problem, you will make money.
Obstacles are going to come. Maybe they’ve already come. How will you respond? How have you responded? I’d love to hear your stories and questions!