I Made $180 Simply Waiting in Line at the DMV

Make Money at the DMV
Could this be your ticket to extra cash?

The Department of Motor Vehicles. There are few places in this world that are more dreaded.

Last Thursday, I had an expired out of state registration that needed updating and I was forced to make a visit. Just moving from Florida to Connecticut, I’ve had to go to the DMV a few times; each time worse than the previous. This last time however…what a blast.

I’m not sure how the DMV is set up in other states, but here in Connecticut the process is fairly streamlined. When you enter, you immediately get into a line where you are given a waiting number. This ticket is actually four characters; a letter followed by a three digit number. The letter is either A, B, C, D or E depending on what you need to take care of and the most common letter is D. This is the letter that represents registrations of all kinds, and when I arrived last Thursday, I received D-657.

Foolishly, I waited all month to take care of this out of state transfer and chose the day that was likely the most packed. Because the DMV was closed on Good Friday and it was the end of the month, there were only a couple of empty seats. With my laptop, I grabbed a seat and planned for around 90 minutes of people watching / work.

Before I knew it, a full hour had passed and I was a handful of numbers away from being called. Normally, this brings me excitement, knowing I’m that close to getting out of the DMV but I was kind of enjoying it this time around. You see, I work from home and rarely get a chance to get out of the house. Work was getting done, and I was in no rush to go back home so I developed a quick plan to make money that would ensure an eventful day.

How to Make Money at the DMV

I took a quick scan of the DMV and noticed mostly somber people. Some were on their cell phones, others were just staring into space and knowing the feeling I have sometimes when I have a two hour wait ahead of me, I decided to take action. When D-655 was called, I had about five minutes to sell (and trade) my spot in line. A few things crossed my mind when I decided to do this:

  1. Would I be asked to leave the DMV? Is what I’ve chosen to do somehow breaking the law or ethically wrong? I thought if I was someone else at the DMV, would I be affected in any way by someone selling their spot in line. The answer was no to all questions.
  2. Would I have the stones to do this? To get maximum value, I’d have to stand up where everyone could see me and announce that I was next in line, and anyone that wanted to buy that spot (and give me their ticket as well) could pay me cash to do so. Never been too afraid of public speaking, so this wasn’t a problem either.

So, I put my laptop down on the ground, stood on top of my chair and said loudly

“I have ticket D-657. If anyone wants to be trade their ticket with me for a little coin, come on over before they call my number”.

I had the attention of the room and even the DMV workers helping others looked at me. For a few seconds, I saw only blank stares and smiles; and then I had a heavy set fellow walk over to me with ticket D-680 and a $20 bill. I looked around to see if there was any other interest; and we swapped. I said thank you, he was called up in a couple of minutes and I sat back down knowing in about an hour, I would do the whole thing again.

Truth be told I had a lot of tension leading up to the first ticket sale. As I did this a few times more, it got easier and easier. I would simply sit in my chair waiting for my number to approach and repeat the auction process with a new group of tired DMV patrons. After the second time, I took my new number and left the DMV for 45 minutes (Burger King down the road) and returned in plenty of time.

The whole day just flew by and before I knew it, I had traded my number for a 6th time, and had amassed a total of $180. (The best trade being a $50 one). With only about an hour left before the DMV closed, I decided to simply wait out my turn in line, get my vehicle registered and call it a day.

My registration costs were $130, so when I left the DMV, I was one Ulysses S. Grant richer with a “free” registration. Not only that, I was able to tackle a good amount of work while just waiting my turn so it’s not as if I have to factor in “opportunity cost” to my revenues at the DMV. I had fun, I made money, and I was able to knock out one of the most annoying errands anyone has to accomplish.

I hope my tale invigorates you to think of new ways to make money!

Editor’s note: What do you think of Michael’s money making hustle? Do you think it’s ethical? Would you try something so daring?

Image by Andres Rueda

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  1. Avatar Doing Fine says:

    Money Life and More 
    Hey here is an idea try this at the bus stations too also go grocery stores during holiday’s like thanksgiving when people are ordering turkey dinners and such and stand in line especially if they have the number system so you can trade and sell your number to the customer that just walked up. Think of how great full this person would be to be #99 when counter is on #94 than #154 this could turn into hours standing and waiting not counting the wait at other counters or check out lines they maybe willing to pay more than $50 also at this time as things are winding down and the rush is on just be careful and make it somewhat a fun type activity with announcements like “The Next Highest Bidder gets a lucky spot #99 in line of 154 people.” just be prepared to be slammed by all of those standing at the end of the line and You will make out like a Queen/King for a day even if You didn’t buy a dinner at all take a number and sell it for a day see what happens. I work in a deli at a grocery store which is kind of high end and I see people all the time pay people to stand in line for them at the meat counter during the holidays especially while they do other shopping great way to make a few dollars, I would but My employer would fire Me for it due to store policy but I am going to try it other places. Good idea and how about Parking? I am in a space closer so when I am ready to leave if you want my space $20 cash and I will let you have it and make arrangements so no one else can slip in to steal might try this too where I work because I will be off the clock and parking lot is packed during holidays thought of this actually several years ago but may start no raise from employer has to lead to other sources of income right?!!!

  2. Avatar PatriciaCVanDyke says:

    Very clever! Well done.

  3. Avatar doug428raymond says:

    Genius idea. I’m not sure I would have the guts to do this, but it’s certainly creative!

  4. Avatar SkintintheCity says:

    Ha, my jaw is hanging open at the sheer nerve of this. I wouldn’t do it but it’s opened my eyes to identifying money-making possibilities in new and strange places! Michael, what you did is really no different from what the budget airlines make tons of cash from – allowing people to pay to jump the queue. And why should they get all the cash? Top idea. 
    I think it would be especially fun to do it in the bank!

  5. Avatar BudgetBlonde says:

    Haha you are such a genius!

  6. Okay….that is a seriously AWESOME idea!!!!  Wish I had the guts to do that!!!  🙂

  7. Avatar ontargetcoach says:

    How creative and took some guts to do that. I wonder if you just did that everyday at a different location if that could turn into a business. I bet you could even make more money writing and doing surveys while you wait.

  8. Avatar GregatClubThrifty says:

    This story made me giggle. Thanks Michael!

  9. Avatar CommonCentsWealth says:

    Awesome idea.  I just had to go last month and had to wait in theose long lines.  With free Wifi and something you need to get done, why not try this out.

  10. Avatar donacollins says:

    beatingbroke ptmoney Great idea! Very clever.

  11. Avatar BudgetsAreSexy says:

    tammycrowley barbfriedberg ClubThrifty Thanks friends 🙂

    1. Avatar ClubThrifty says:

      BudgetsAreSexy tammycrowley barbfriedberg I’m not sure what I did, but you’re welcome:) Have a great weekend J! (and Barb and Tammy)

      1. Avatar BudgetsAreSexy says:

        ClubThrifty you too, bud 🙂

  12. Avatar moteviolence says:

    This is such an awesome idea! If I had the time, why NOT do it? Heck, you could do it if you had a day free and didn’t really even need to go to the DMV! ;o)

  13. Avatar bucksprout says:

    30SomeStudent Po_st sweet! next time I find myself at the DMV maybe I can make a profit also

    1. Avatar 30SomeStudent says:

      bucksprout No kidding! That story was really great.

  14. Avatar IanThe30SomeStudent says:

    Ahh, this is great! Now I’m brainstorming long lines. Good stuff!

  15. Avatar Save Outside the Box says:

    Michael. That is ingenious man! I can’t wait to try this at my local Atlanta DMV. With how uber slow they are I’ll definitely make a killing.

  16. BudgetsAreSexy Thanks, my man.

    1. Avatar PFinmario says:

      ptmoney BudgetsAreSexy This story is awesome!

    2. Avatar PFinmario says:

      ptmoney BudgetsAreSexy This is a big thing on Cap Hill too; lobbies pay folks to wait in line for committee hearings so clients get seats

      1. Avatar BudgetsAreSexy says:

        PFinmario I bet!

  17. Where on earth do you people live where the DMV isn’t busy???
    This is an EXCELLENT story! With 2 kids, this isn’t feasible for me right now, but the next time I have to go, I might just sell my ticket once or twice, depending on how my kids are behaving.
    I hope that teacher who read this to the students hears back from any who do this. Illinois DMVs are particularly slow…
    Thanks for this story. You made me smile.

    1. Avatar IanThe30SomeStudent says:

      Mrs1500 I can attest to the slowness of the Illinois DMV.

  18. Avatar Shane from Beating Broke says:

    Way to go Michael.  Is it ethical or not?  I don’t see any reason it isn’t.  
    I’ve always thought that the problem with people is that they don’t fight the norms enough.  Not that you were doing any fighting, per se.  But, the norm is to go in, get your ticket, wait for your turn and go.  The DMV has no real reason to change the system because everyone just does it.  If enough people start auctioning off their tickets in line like you did, maybe it could force them to change the system somehow.  And maybe that change would be for the better!  
    Or, maybe they’ll just make it illegal and go back to business as usual…

    1. @Shane from Beating Broke

    2. @Shane from Beating Broke I say “It is your civic duty to misbehave.”

  19. Avatar yesiamcheap says:

    I need to do this in Midtown Manhattan.  I would make a KILLING!

  20. I just read this article to my high school students….you should have seen the wheels turning in their heads.

    1. Avatar Philip Taylor says:

      jebbym Kids…all the time in the world.

  21. Avatar Christy Ann says:

    I love this!!  Totally something I would do, but my DMV isn’t usually so crowded.  Congrats on being resourceful and making some cash in an unexpected way!

  22. Avatar Money Life and More says:

    That is a pretty awesome story! I don’t think our DMVs are quite as busy down here but when I was in Northern Virginia I bet you could make a killing doing this. I bet if you went back every day the DMV would ask you to leave though.

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