Wacky Ways to Win Wages in the Recession

After a steady diet of pricey Prada pumps, $400 hair appointments and personal trainer visits at $100 a pop, Bosnak found herself with more than $20,000 in debt. When she lost her job in television production last November and took another project that paid only half her previous salary, Bosnak realized that paying off her credit card debt was going to be a tough prospect, indeed.

So she set up a Web site called savekaryn.com asking readers to each pitch in $1 to help her pay off her debt.

"If you have an extra buck or two, please send it my way!" her site reads. "All I need is $1 from 20,000 people, or $2 from 10,000 people, or $5 from 4,000 people … Together, we can banish credit card debt from my life!"

Now in its 13th week, Bosnak's site — which includes a chipper weekly update from its creator, as well as links to eBay auctions selling off some of the designer indulgences that got her into her debt spiral — has raised more than $10,000 so far.

"I've learned that people are really kind," she says.

Pest Control

Others are finding themselves doing something they never thought they'd do. Jim Orebaugh, who decided to take advantage of an early retirement offer from his former employer Unisys, has found himself in a radically different field from computers. He now helps business get rid of pesky birds by installing sonic bird expellers and cleaning up after the birds when they're gone.

While at Unisys, Orebaugh already had a Web site where he sold telephone headsets when another company, Chicago-based Bird-X, approached him to sell their bird repelling products on his site. When someone from the Oklahoma City council asked him to recommend a product to help the city get rid of birds, Orebaugh referred them to Bird-X. But the company told him since he was on the site to go ahead and bid for the job himself.

That gave Orebaugh the idea to start up a service installing Bird-X products while also providing the additional clean-up service. Since starting the business with a partner in January, his new company has picked up 41 clients.

At an average price of $850 to $1,000 for an initial cleaning and a monthly $200 to $250 maintenance fee for his services, Orebaugh hopes to more than make up for his former corporate salary.

"I would say within 18 months, we could probably double what we were making in the high-tech industry," he predicts.

Foydl, who is now making a mere 10 percent of what she made at WorldCom is also optimistic. She says she's seen examples of people making six-figure incomes with dog poop scooping services across the country, and she expects to eventually earn her previous salary. She charges $34 a month for a "single doodie" (cleaning up after one dog) and $10 more for each additional dog (double and triple doodies.)

But Foydl says her business also gives her something more valuable than money — a sense of stability and control that's comforting after working at a company brought down by corporate scandal.

"In the corporate world you walk in every day and you're not sure what you're going to face," she says. "I know exactly what I'm going to face when I come into work now."

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