Hustle is recession proof. These days, everyone can use some fast money. Whether you're employed and want to earn some extra coin, or are interested in parlaying your talking skills into some money-making, you can learn to find a good hustle and make it work for you.


Finding a Hustle

  1. Resell cheap items for profit. The classic hustle? Buy low, sell high, or at least a little higher. If you've got a reliable way of getting cheap merchandise and selling it somewhere people will need to buy it, you've got a readymade hustle.
    • Candy, cigarettes, bottles of water, towels, white t-shirts, and even CDs or books are all common hustles, depending on where and who you want to sell to.
    • Find a good place to sell. Street fairs? Outside ball games? Outside concert venues? On busy streets on a Friday night? Depending on what you want to sell, find a good place full of people who want to buy it.
    • Big event coming to your town? Scrounge up as many tickets as you can, then hold on to them until the day of the big event. When people are desperate for a seat, they'll be much more willing to pay a higher price.
  2. Make something and sell it. You don't have to buy stuff to sell. If you've got the skill to make something, you can price out the materials and then price your goods so you'll be making a good profit. Pick something simple that you can produce a lot of. Pick something that's good enough people will want to buy it.
    • Food items, like fresh juice, tacos or tamales, grilled cheese sandwiches, lemonade, or barbecue are all good street-side hustles. People have to eat.[1]
    • Make something creative, like drawings or caricatures, or play music. Baskets, knitted hats, and jewelry are also commonly sold on the street.
  3. Open a Professional Carnival. Carnivals are great hustles, in a variety of ways. If you can hook up with a carnival, you've got lots of different options, from food carts to games, and a steady stream of suckers who are willing to be parted from their money. Usually, to join a carnival, you'll need to be on the road basically April through August, traveling on your own dime.[2]
    • The great thing about carnivals is that people expect the hot dogs to be pretty overpriced, and expect to pay more than usual, because they're at a carnival and it's fun. It's a good situation to be in for a hustler.
    • Carnival games work because the operators never fully explain the rules ahead of time, because there really are no rules. Nobody wins those giant stuffed animals at the game without negotiating, or spending enough money to buy one outright.
  4. Hustle pool, or other games. One of the classic hustles is to work a scheme over a common game found in bars. Shuffleboard, darts, and especially billiards are all really common hustles to work against the slightly inebriated. The basics of the pool hustle involve playing someone poorly and helping build their confidence, then challenging them to a higher-stakes game and bringing out your real skills.
    • Alternatively, some hustles exist that involve lots of different people. You can work a group hustle, in which you pretend to not know your friend, and work to set up shots for each other throughout the game. This is much more difficult to detect.
    • The catch to this hustle is that you have to be really good at pool. Good enough to look like you can play poorly, and then ratchet up the skills when it's absolutely necessary.
    • Most pool halls won't let you actually play for money, so it's important to do this quietly, under the table. In general, pool hustles can be pretty dangerous.
  5. Work a change hustle. Possibly the most dangerous and confrontational hustle, a change hustle involves master-talking skills and the ability to confuse your mark quickly, to fleece them of their money. Basically, you want to throw a really elaborate story at the person as an excuse for why you need some money, or change, then keep talking so much the person gets confused about the math.
    • Try to get a look in the person's wallet to see what you've got, then fudge your math: "Right, so I gave you the five, but all I needs the ten so give me back those two tens and the twenty."
    • There are lots of different change hustles, and the change hustle is kind of a gray area, somewhere between straight-up thieving somebody and panhandling. Be extremely careful if you try to get someone to give you more money than they intended.
  6. Consider your own personal talents. Anything can be a hustle, if you've got the talent for it. If you're good at basketball, you can build a basketball hustle around playing guys down at the park. If you're really good at video games, a video game hustle might be in the cards. Speaking of cards, the ability to play a good hand of poker is a hustle in and of itself. If you have an ability that exceeds the norm, turn it into a hustle.

Working a Hustle

  1. Find a mark. A sucker's born every minute, and it's a hustler's job to find one. Good marks will depend on the type of hustle that you're running, but there are some good things to keep an eye out for when you're scanning around. You want marks generally to be timid, susceptible to suggestion, and maybe as if they're out of their element. Look for:
    • College students
    • Quiet types
    • Young guys with their girlfriends
    • Older people
    • Middle class (avoid rich-looking folks)
  2. Get the conversation started. Pull the person aside and talk to them one-on-one. It makes it a lot more difficult to ignore you and leave when you've entered into an actual conversation. Turn on the magnets and get them to come over to you. It doesn't need to be fancy: "Excuse me sir, a moment of your time" is just fine.
    • Be persistent, but know when to lay off. If somebody says, "I don't need any tickets," you can't just give up. Keep pushing them to Try to make the sale: "But look at what a beautiful day it is today outside to spend watching this ballgame. And this pretty girl you're with, she wants to go to the game, I bet. Great seats, too."
  3. Build confidence. Hustling is a confidence game. The person you hustle needs to believe that you're doing them a favor, even if what you're trying to do is separate them from their hard-earned cash. Building confidence involves being complimentary and friendly, as well as allowing them to believe they've got a shot at coming out ahead.
    • Be well-groomed and smile broadly when you approach someone. Talk to them as if you've known them for years: "Looking good today sir. Like that hat. If I may be so bold, you look like the kind of guy who appreciates a good sound-system, am I right? What kind of a music you listen to?"
    • Let the mark feel confident by building up their confidence. Each one will be different. If you're running a pool hustle, you can't do it in one game. You've got to play a couple of competitive games that you lose, and buy the mark a few beers to get his confidence up before you go in for the kill.
  4. Talk quickly. Most people assume the best in people. We naturally trust others. Hustlers work that to their advantage. Part of any good hustle is being a little confusing, so your mark will be caught of guard.
    • The rules of the interaction should always be a little unclear for the mark. At a carnival, you're never quite sure what you're actually going to win if you do win, and sometimes you're not even actually sure how you win. Make it up as you go along.
    • Make every reason for everything you say as convoluted as possible: Talk about how your mom's stuck in a car across town with your pregnant wife's sister who's really sick with glaucoma and you have to catch the bus over to your friend's house so you can get the gas can, but he's not home, so you gotta catch another bus, and that's why you need change for a $5 to work the jukebox.
  5. Close the deal. If you've got someone interested, you'll be able to tell. Most people will just brush you off quickly, but if you get someone to stay around and consider it, you've got to take that mark for what he's worth. Close the deal by negotiating in the moment, offering a momentary discount to get it done.
    • If you're selling a sandwich that cost a total of .15 to make in the first place, cutting the price from $6 to $4 is still making out pretty well on your part. Price accordingly.
    • Once you've got them on the line, take what you can and get out of there as quickly as possible. It's important to take what you can get and not worry about negotiating too much, or trying to get more out of someone. If you got some money.
  6. Get out of dodge. It's good to keep moving and not stick around in the same place, once you've hit a couple of people with your hustle. If you're hustling pool, move around to different pool halls, and different bars that have pool tables. Make sure you don't see any of the same people you saw last time, and certainly make sure you don't try to hit up the same marks. A hustler needs a good memory for faces.
    • Move around regularly, too. A town can quickly get played out, making it important that you hit the road regularly if you want to make a hustle your lifestyle.
  7. Become a Peddler. Street performers, street vendors, and other types of people making money outside of a brick and mortar establishment all need to be registered to avoid being hassled by cops and other business owners. If you're going to sell food, or sell some other kind of good, you need to get registered with the proper tax permits and other business forms from your local government.
    • Get in touch with the Chamber of Commerce in the town that you live in, and be honest with them about what you're selling, and what you hope to do.
    • If you're trying to run a pool hustle, remember that it's illegal to gamble and to bet on games.


  • Charge people a fair but profitable price in order to have a good reputation and repeat customers.
  • Buy things out of season for a lower price and then sell them in season.
  • Buy Christmas cards and gifts right after Christmas and sell them the next year at regular prices.
  • Costco or Walmart is a good place to buy stuff to sell.


  • Be smart and follow the steps and you will always have money to spend.
  • Do not sell illegal substances.

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Sources and Citations

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