How to Make Money When You’re Broke in Philly

Donating your sperm isn't as easy as you think, guys.

If we’re starting to see an improvement in the number of jobs out there, I ain’t seeing it. President Obama’s latest jobs numbers tout an impressive (by today’s standards) unemployment rate of just 7.8 percent, matching that of when he first entered office back in 2008. But with Philly’s unemployment rate of 11.5 percent, from where I’m looking it seems like everyone could use a little help making ends meet—or at least a new way to scrounge up some beer money. Sometimes cutting back just doesn’t work anymore, so here are some, shall we say, more alternative means to get some extra scratch together:

Sell—Err, “Donate”—Your Blood
As many millennials can tell you—hey, unemployment for us stands at 12 percent nationwide—few things are as profitable as your own bodily fluids. Sure, you could sell clean urine and saliva to those of us trying to beat those pesky drug tests, but why not go a more legitimate route? The American Red Cross unfortunately doesn’t pay, but CorCell and Interstate Blood Bank do. As long as you don’t have a blood or needle phobia, the process from prick to cash is actually pretty simple and only takes about a half hour. From the initial health screening to the ol’ jab and suck, to the juice and cookies is virtually painless, but be sure that you eat beforehand and get some sleep. Wouldn’t want to pass out like a noob in front of the other donors. If you can stand it, you can donate plasma multiple times at a shot with a session cap of 12 times per year. With a standard reward of $15 to $20 per donation, this route offers a great time-investment-to-payoff ratio.

Learn the Art of Scrap Metal
During my bout of unemployment after I graduated from school last year (and before President Obama made me quit smoking), I scrapped metal constantly at Atlas Traders in Sharon Hill to support my now-dead cigarette habit and eat food. Unless you’re a fan of dirty work and heavy lifting, you’re going to want to stay away from scrap steel—it’s simply just not worth the effort and requires a pickup truck to take to the scrap yard. Instead, go for copper; there’s a reason that people steal it from construction sites and vacant houses. Don’t steal it, but instead strip trash wires, electrical motors and, if you can find them, welding cables for copper wire. No muss, no fuss, and you can fit about $100 worth in a small plastic bucket for the trip to the scrap yard. Check the daily exchange data for the worth of different metals to make sure the yard is giving you a fair shake.

Get Paid for Your Sperm (Sorry, Ladies)
By far the most difficult (and most gender-specific!) route on this list, sperm donation is a remarkably arduous process for something that involves a whole lot of jerking off. If you’re comfortable with the thought of being someone’s father—or, in some cases, many children’s father—and you love lubeless masturbation, then this is a good option. Be warned, though: They’re going to ask you prying questions about everything from your sex life to your family history and everything in between. Once you get into a program, expect to make a donation at least once a week for six months. Unfortunately, that’s the only “donation” you’ll be able to make all week, so make it count. And no cheating! The bank needs a strong specimen, and they’ll know if you’ve broken the contract. Given that level of will power in the face of abstention, you can stand to make hundreds of dollars per donation in some cases. If you’re still interested, and between the ages of 18 and 39, the Fairfax Cryobank on Market is your best bet.

Become a Professional Guinea Pig
Sure, signing up for a behavioral or medical research study at a long-standing university sounds like the start to a lazy H.P. Lovecraft ripoff, but rarely are they that creepy. If you’d like to avoid the more invasive medical and drug studies that can be found with a bit of digging, a good alternative is Penn’s Wharton Behavioral Lab. Founded in 2005, the WBL collects data and conducts studies for business and marketing-related topics. Each survey typically lasts 30 to 60 minutes and pays about $10 a pop on average. Unfortunately, you can only participate in one survey a week, so this route isn’t he most lucrative around unless you couple it with similar studies elsewhere. If you don’t mind a little poking and prodding (or sketchy ads on Backpage), though, clinical trials might be more up your alley. Here again, Penn is your best bet: Their PennMed site offers a great search tool for picking your own poison (so to speak). Payouts differ on a case-by-case basis, so be sure to go in asking questions.