NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Before the Great Recession the word 'income' used to be solely associated with one's salary at a part-time or full-time job. However, since the onset of the recession five years ago, many Americans are reassessing how they generate income.

Here are four income-generating options that have stepped out the shadows as Americans have felt the pinch in their pocketbooks.

The Plasma Plan

Donating plasma for money used to be a practice isolated for the outskirts of 'normal' society, which included drifters and poor college students. Now, plasma donation centers have seen an increase in professionals donating for additional income. The hour-long process is sedentary and those who donate enjoy using the time to balance checkbooks, complete work assignments and homework. While receiving the income you are helping assist with the hundreds of medical procedures that utilize blood plasma.

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"We saw an over 50% increase in donations over a few months after the recession hit," says Phil Maher, founder of "This is an alternative for a lot of people because it requires minimal skill and time. This is an alternative for a lot of people because it requires minimal skill and time."

What it Pays: You can donate plasma twice a week, and payment is often a tiered system, meaning that you can receive more the second time than the first time. Payments range between $20 to $60 per donation for an average of about $300 per month.

Generating Green From Your Genes

Sperm donation used to be a comedy punch line and hush-hush topic, until recent years.

"The increased interest we have seen from the general population is unlikely due to the economic environment but rater due to more readily information and media coverage regarding the topic," says Angelo Allard, a spokesperson for the Seattle Sperm Bank.

The standard demographic is men, ages 18 to 39 with some form of higher education and healthy family history. 90% of potential donors are screened out the acceptance process after their first semen analysis, based on their overall semen quality. Donations can occur twice a week, with a preferred span of 72 hours in between, while abstaining from sex, alcohol and drugs.

"Donors are reevaluated through laboratory screening, medical history update and physical examinations twice a year," says Amanda Mershon, spokesperson for XytexCro International. "A donor who remains in good health can continue to participate until age 40."

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What it Pays: Donors can make anywhere from $65 to $100 per sample, if you give three times a week your could be up to $1200 monthly. Many places have a referral program that can pay over $200 for a sperm donor referral.

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The Reinvention of Recycling

For the last generation recycling has been a part of mainstream America, but many people are rediscovering the economic benefits as well as the environmental impact. Public places such as parks, basketball courts, busy metropolitan areas, baseball and softball fields can be a 'gold mine' to find bottles and cans. Recycled materials are paid by the pound, and 26 cans equal a pound.

What it Pays: On the average, if it takes a person three to five hours to walk around a large park or field area, you can collect about $25-50 of recycled cans and bottles every night. Do that three times a week during the busy summer season and that quickly adds up...

Diving for Dollars...Sort Of

Perhaps the least acceptable form of generating income or revenue is dumpster diving, which is largely frowned upon in most social circles. Despite the stigma, new beverage food and clothing items can be found in public trash dumpsters.

"As more Americans are losing their jobs, income, unemployment benefits and their dignity, dumpster driving has become more mainstream," says the author of the Urban Dumpster Diver blog who did not want to be identified by name. "For every free item of food, produce, or non-food item I find in the trash, that is one more thing I do not have to purchase. Dumpster divers are falsely misconstrued as homeless drunken schizophrenics who enjoy digging in the trash."

The best practices for dumpster diving is to establish a routine and return to the dumpsters with the most valuable items over and over again.

What it Pays: The sky (or trash) is the limit!

Rodric J. Hurdle-Bradford, APR is a freelance writer based out of Scottsdale, Ariz. He covers casino gaming, personal finance and real estate topics for several publications. He can be reached at

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