Top 10 Ways to Earn Gas Money

With gas prices reaching unheard-of heights, driving your friends to the mall, the movies and the club is getting increasingly costly. Here are 10 things you can do to ease the strain on your wallet so you don't end up in the poor house.

Find Yourself a Mole

Everyone has at least a few friends with a conscience — you know, the ones who insist on compensating you after every ride. If you're in a packed car, their offer to help pay for gas makes others grimace, eventually obligating them to cough up a few bucks too. The problem is that these friends are few and far between. So instead of waiting to find one, hire yourself an actor to help guilt your friends out of their dough. "Hey dude, thanks for the 1-mile ride to the mall! Isn't Bobby the best friend ever? We owe him so much!" Just remember: If the mole is caught, you don't know him.

Give Non-Paying Friends 'The Mark'

While "The Scarlet Letter" is a telling story about judgment and intolerance, it also offers a good idea of how to make your friends pay for gas. If you've given them enough of a warning that failing to donate to your gas coffer is shameful, then it's time to give moochers "the mark." Create your own scarlet letter — maybe a letter "O," for oil — and make anyone who doesn't pay wear it while in the car. The subsequent chastising and heckling should do the rest.

Drop the One-Way Ticket Ultimatum

Remember, as the chauffeur for all your excursions, you get final say on who comes. If you don't want to exclude anyone, let everybody come, just get gas money out of them by threatening not to bring them home after you've gotten to your destination. Trust me, they'll pay you.

Start a Carpool Pyramid Scheme

Don't want to drive or pay for gas at all anymore? Well, it's time you started thinking about carpooling. Mention to your friends that carpooling is a fantastic way to save money, and that all each person has to do is dedicate a little of their time to driving other friends around. Everyone wins — especially you, as you can simply keep adding more friends into the system and confusing everyone else about whose turn it is to drive (hint: never yours). Sure, it's not sustainable — but, honestly, what is?

Charge for Extras, Like an Airline

Sure, let your freeloading friends bum a ride, just get the money out of them by charging for extras. Bathroom stops, air conditioning, windows rolled down, you name it. The more cash flow you need, the more creative you'll have to get.

Turn Your Car Into a Taxi

At first, your friends will think it's funny that you installed a meter in your car — until you tell them they have to pay the fare or you'll lose your operating license.

Drill for Oil in Your Backyard

If you saw "There Will Be Blood," you know there's nothing to this oil business thing. All you need is two shoulders, a shovel and some elbow grease. Check for oil seepage in the backyard; if you find some, build the derrick there. If the neighbors ask what's going on, tell them it's for an above-ground pool.

Cry Every Time You Pass a Gas Station

Mention how expensive gas is a couple of times and you might get a few murmurs and a couple bucks. Cry emphatically every time you pass a gas station and shout, "How will I afford to eat!?" and you'll probably get some results.

Create Pay and Non-Pay Areas in Your Car

Piggybacking off the other airline innovation, try creating first- and second-class areas in your car. If you have a minivan or SUV, this is easy: Install a curtain in the back row and cram 50 friends into that area. Watch as they look longingly at the two or three people in first class with their warm cookies and milk.

Sell Non-Vital Parts of Your Vehicle

There's a lot of useless junk in your car that you don't use. Who needs fancy running boards or a spoiler? You don't — so sell them! How about those fenders, side panels, radio head unit and lighted vanity mirrors? As per policy, of course, I can't directly condone selling your $500-$2,000 airbags or your $200 catalytic converter.

© 6/23/09