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May 06, 2021

Michiganians selling hair, blood to avoid awful economy

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

No matter how bad things seem to get, the general sentiment continues to be, Well, at least we’re not living in Michigan.

Yet despite the blue-collar state’s being ravaged by the despondent auto industry, damnit if they’re going to take it lying down.

In February, we used this space to discuss people who had turned to tattooing advertisements on their faces to earn a little extra cash. The Detroit News reports a similar money-seeking trend is helping Michiganians get through its depressing economy, as well.

According to the newspaper, more and more are now donating parts of their body or offering themselves as “medical guinea pigs” to pay down the bills.

While some even resort to becoming egg donors (which takes about two months and can get you $4,000), the most common forms of cashing in on your body seem to stem from donating hair and plasma.

Donations of plasma, the clear liquid portion of blood used to treat victims of trauma and burns, can fetch you about $50 a week for your troubles. The paper claims the amount of donations has skyrocketed since the economy tanked, at about 17.5 million instances last year, up from just 10 million in 2005.

“With so many people losing work, I would be more surprised if they didn’t donate plasma,” said a homeless man the Detroit News interviewed. “It’s like free money, and it’s for a good cause.”

Apparently there’s an entire eBay-like underworld for selling hair online, too – a venture that advertises it can get you hundreds of bucks for chopping off your locks. is one of the sites out there, and even though buyers use hair to make wigs, extensions and plugs for antique dolls (so says the Detroit News), this place is, well, genuinely creepy.

But if listings like “30 Inches of Black Polynesian Hair” – complete with descriptions promising, “I am a non smoker and drug free. I have never colored, straightened, or blow (dried) my hair. I always air dried my hair and put it up in a bun or in a braided ponytail. Please only serious buyers.” – is something that sounds like a genuine economic prospect to you, we won’t judge you here.

And if Michiganians need to resort to this to make ends meet, hey, all the power to them. Any state that can produce George “The Animal” Steele, Steven Seagal’s ponytail and Madonna’s unshaven 80s armpits obviously knows their hair, anyway.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...