The Guide to Getting By 

A cheat sheet to making ends meet in Missoula

How to earn extra cash

How to sell your plasma

When you donate blood, you get a warm and fuzzy feeling—and a sticker. When you donate plasma, you get the same exact feeling—and some cash. Missoula's BioLife Medical Services gives plasma donors $20 for lounging in a chair for 90 minutes with a needle in their arm. What's plasma? It's the pale yellow liquid portion of the blood that makes up about 55 percent of blood volume and carries minerals, hormones, vitamins and antibodies. The body easily replaces it. So easily, in fact, that you can donate plasma twice a week. That's $40 a week for about three hours of reading a book or surfing your iPad. Not everyone is eligible to donate, of course. You have to be between 18 and 65 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and pass a medical screening. BioLife says the plasma is processed into a wide variety of life-saving therapies. You can watch a video about the plasma extraction process, known as plasmapheresis, at, or for more information call Missoula's BioLife location (3050 Great Northern Avenue) at 721-2584.

How to sell your sperm

Gentlemen, wouldn't it be nice to be paid for something you're already doing anyway? The NW Andrology & Cryobank inside Community Hospital (2831 Fort Missoula Road) offers a spankin' good deal on donated sperm. Lab manager Marty Guthrie explains the details: Once you're accepted into the program (more on that in a sec), the lab pays between $40 and $70 per viable donation. Viable donations are required two to three times per week over the course of six to 12 months. At minimum, that's about $2,000 after six months. Plus, you earn another $10 for every donation upon completion of the program. To qualify, you have to be between 18 and 35 years old, pass a physical, complete a bunch of paperwork, and prove that you produce sperm of good quality and motility that comes back to life after being frozen. The catch? Well, accepting the fact that your sperm may very well be used to produce babies. That might take a little of the fantasy out of your self-stimulation. For more information call Guthrie at 549-0958.

How to sell your body—legally

We would never recommend you sell your body for sex—eww. But it doesn't mean you can't use those ripped abs and buns of steel to make a little extra loot. The Fox Club Cabaret (2006 Ernest Avenue) offers amateur night the last Sunday of every month at 9 p.m. Amateur night usually draws a raucous crowd, as women of various shapes, sizes and attitudes take to the cabaret's shiny stripper pole to accept tips, drinks and compliments in exchange for shaking their moneymakers. If you've got the guts to take it all off—and we mean all of it, even those pink skivvies—the Fox pays cash prizes for the top three crowd pleasers. The opportunity isn't solely limited to women, either. Coming up Sept. 12, the club will give guys the chance to get in on the action—and up on the pole—during a male amateur night.

How to flip stuff on eBay

Countries like Japan and Sweden go coo-coo for cowboys. Those $20 worn-in bull-hide cowboy boots you picked up in a small Montana thrift store might seem merely rustic to you, but to people around the world they're part of an American legend. Keep that in mind as you shine them up and snap a photo of them against a backdrop of blue sky and tumbleweed. The secret to making money on eBay is to sell the idea behind the object as much as the object itself—and people love the idea of Montana.

How to sell your hair

Yes, hair. If financial ruin has you shunning the barber and growing a mane like Fabio, put those golden locks to work. Sites like, the somewhat sketchy and the once reputable, currently offline invite sellers to auction off their precious tresses for cash. Current bids at Online Hair Affair include 13 inches of "virgin dark brown Native American hair (some grays)" for $500 and "two long Asian girls" for $250. To make the cut, grow your hair at least 10 inches, don't smoke or shoot up (it damages your hair, among other things) and don't treat your hair in any way (color, perm, etc.). Then post some pics and pray they're purchased by an enterprising wigmaker and not some trichophiliac.

How to sell your used underwear

Yes, underwear. Even if you've lost your shirt, you should still have your skivvies—and they can earn you cash money online. Visit or to post your items for bid, just like you would on eBay. Be warned: These sites were created because eBay doesn't allow the peddling of mature items, so the content skews raunchy. That said, used boxer briefs could go for as much as $10 and women's lingerie for upwards of $60.

click to enlarge Used underwear could fetch anywhere from $10 (men’s) to $60 (women’s) at certain online sites. - PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER
  • Photo by Chad Harder
  • Used underwear could fetch anywhere from $10 (men’s) to $60 (women’s) at certain online sites.

How to make money in a garage sale

Missoula residents are as accustomed to garage sales as they are to harsh winters, which means if you're going to get in on the game, you've got to set yourself apart. And if HGTV teaches us anything, it's that display is everything. Want someone to buy your collection of John Grisham novels? Don't just throw them in a box; organize them on a bookshelf with a "Courtroom Thriller" label, just like a bookstore. Hang your YMCA soccer T-shirt from the 1980s on a hanger, alongside your now-too-small Poison shirt from the 1989 Open Up and Say Ahh! tour, and you have a vintage clothing section. Lastly, make sure you price everything a little above what you want to make on the item—bargain hunters like to bargain, and love to feel as if they've won.

How to make money off your old CDs and vinyl

In the era of XM Radio, iPods and, the value of classic vinyl and still-mint CDs can be a mystery. That's where Rockin Rudy's (237 Blaine Street) comes in. They can determine just how resale worthy your aged collection is, and they'll offer you store credit for the stuff they can use. Credit for CDs varies—50 cents for the junk, $2 to $3 for the not-so-junk, $5 for the real treasures—but if your milk crate's full, you should have enough to snag some new tunes. Hastings (2501 Brooks Street) also offers store credit for used CDs, but more importantly, they'll give you the option to take cash. The store takes in between 30 and 50 CDs a day for anywhere from two cents to $5 each. Ear Candy Music (624 S. Higgins Avenue) will also put cash in your hand, for CDs and records alike. In all cases, value will vary depending on condition and your taste in music.

How to cruise for cougars

As Time's John Cloud reported in his story, "The Science of Cougar Sex: Why Older Women Lust," a University of Texas psychologist recently found that women in their 30s and early 40s are significantly more sexual than younger women. "Women ages 27 through 45 report not only having more sexual fantasies (and more intense sexual fantasies) than women ages 18 through 26 but also having more sex, period," Cloud wrote of the study's findings. "And they are more willing than younger women to have casual sex, even one-night stands." What does this mean? Well, for you young men looking for a sugar mama, it might be time to cruise for cougars. Missoula has plenty of well-to-do and detached (or not) middle-aged women eager to hook up with some strapping, tanned fishing guide. And no doubt she'll pick up the check for dinner and drinks, if not loan you a couple hundred bucks for rent. Is this wrong? Probably. But, as the study posits, it's evolution, not you, that's encouraged women to be more sexually active as their fertility begins to decline and as menopause approaches. So think of falling prey to a rich cougar as evolutionary symbiosis. Whatever gets you through the night.

How to grow and sell marijuana

If you want to grow marijuana without landing in jail, register first as a caregiver with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. It's free. If you stick to rules dictated by the state's 2004 Medical Marijuana Act—grow fewer than six plants per patient you serve, keep less than an ounce of marijuana on hand, etc.—growing pot can be lucrative and legal.

It's also a challenge. Lifelong caregivers continue to tweak their methods and improve their product, but here's how to at least get started: Once your paperwork's in order, you'll need some seeds. Various online outlets are happy to ship indica and sativa strains in an unassuming package to Montana, but that's illegal. Your safest bet is to score seeds locally from a friend or established caregiver. Raising marijuana indoors requires significant light, so we recommend buying a "high-intensity discharge" lamp, which runs roughly $200. Fluorescent lights are cheaper, but experts say they aren't optimal for budding plants. Paint the walls of your growing room white or cover them with aluminum foil, to better reflect light. Make sure you have a fan, too, because baby marijuana plants like lots of fresh air. You'll also need pots and a combination of soil and perlite, all of which you can find at a garden supply store with your special lamp. The initial investment may seem steep to some lowbaggers, but it could pay off quickly. An ounce of medical-quality marijuana brings in about $225.

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