Project Buy a House is all about personal finance for the right-brained. It’s my family’s three-year-plan for buying a house. I hope you’ll come along for the ride, even if you have a different goal. Click the button above if you’d like to sign up for an email notice of new posts and get your free copy of the 23-page C.H.a.O.S. Binder Quick Start Guide.
Last week, we talked about figuring out where exactly our starting points are. How much money do we have coming in and how much goes out every month. We made an action plan for starting to bring the outgo inline with the income. This week is going to be much more fun, because we’re going to talk about bringing more income in so that we don’t have to cut back on the outgo quite so much. We’re going to talk about income streams, side hustles, and making the most of our day jobs.
The number one item on our action plan is to cut how much we spend on groceries and eating out by nearly half. We did pretty well–we stayed inside the $125 budget (for four adults and one nine-year-old) we set for ourselves. We also have some small things on our list. We’re going to close out our account at a bank that charges us $4 a month. We don’t even keep money in it anymore! We’re also going to cut out the DVD delivery service from Netflix, which costs $8 a month. We almost always send those DVDs back unwatched, so this is totally painless. If things get tighter during the winter and we can’t stay in the 90 percent of income range, we’re prepared to cancel our gym membership.
How did your look at your income and outgo turn out?
For our purposes, an income stream is a flow of money into your life. Hopefully you have more than one income stream. If you don’t, I hope you’re open to thinking about establishing at least one more. Here’s why: Another term for only having one income stream is putting all of your eggs in one basket. If all of your monthly income comes from one place and something happens to that one place? Yikes. Having multiple income streams is safer. In fact, it’s a relief when you realize that a lay-off or illness won’t completely wipe out every drop of income.
Your job is an obvious income stream. Other streams might come from selling things, side jobs (or side hustles, which we’ll talk about in a minute), passive income from investments, any revenue that comes in from your blog. You get the point. You made a list of your current income streams last week with this worksheet. Pull that out now and let’s talk about how you can build up those streams.
There are two types of income streams. Active income streams are money that comes in as a result of work. Passive income streams are money that comes in without you having to contribute any additional work.
If you have a regular 9-to-5 job, babysit on the weekends, make something to sell, maintain an Etsy store, write a blog that’s monetized, or freelance in any capacity, you’ve got active income streams.
If you have interest coming in from investments, earn royalties on books or songs that you’ve written, or a static blog that earns money without you having to update it, you have passive income streams. These are harder to get, but obviously are nice because you get some income without having to work for it.
Basically, side hustles are what you do outside your day job to bring in some extra cash. Side hustles are often non-traditional jobs, although they don’t have to be. They can be passive or active, but we’re going to mostly talk about active side hustles today.
I am the queen of side hustles. For a long time I was single mother of two with one kid who was nearly impossible to leave in daycare. I developed a knack for earning money in non-traditional ways to supplement what I made working part-time for my dad. These days pretty much everything I do to bring in money could be considered a side hustle, since I don’t have a 9-to5.
Here’s a list of some of my past side hustles.
- I’ve provided in-home daycare. Living in Las Vegas, I was able to find as many clients as I wanted for over-night care.
- I’ve owned an online vintage clothing store, first on eBay and then on Etsy.
- I’ve sold my blood plasma.
- I started a document preparation business and filled out family court documents (divorces, annulments, name changes) for people.
- I did the same thing for simple do-it-yourself bankruptcies. (Bankruptcies aren’t so simple anymore. I’d never do this now.)
- I filed legal documents for people who hired me to prepare them.
- I became a notary and put an ad in the Nifty Nickle, offering to travel to clients who needed documents notarized.
- I prepared resumes.
- I wrote freelance for anyone who would pay me any amount of money.
- I bought books cheap and resold them.
- I sold Avon and Tupperware.
I write novels, for which I’m paid an advance against royalties (and have some hope for someday getting passive income from further royalties.) I teach writing classes at my local community college, and I work as an editor for a small hybrid publisher. I take in other editing and critique work as well. I still freelance as a writer, although I’m pickier now. When I start to sell real estate, probably early next year, that will be my first regular job in several years.
There are lists all over the internet of ways to make some extra money. Broke Girl Rich has a great post of 114 Side Hustles that I particularly like. Go over it and see if anything tickles your fancy. Get out a piece of paper. It’s list making time!
What are you good at?
Are you a good writer? Can you sew? Do you play a musical instrument? Are you a decent photographer? Do you have patience with other people’s children? Do you have a green thumb? Are you good with cars? You get the idea. Make a list of everything you’re good at–whether or not it feels like an employable skill at this moment. Think about what you really enjoy doing. Also, what do you do that other people comment on?
Is there some aspect of your day job that you can turn into a freelance gig on the side?
Think about your day job. Do you do something that could become a side hustle? Obviously, you don’t want to risk your employment by becoming a competitor, but some day jobs lend themselves to moonlighting. If you’re a teacher, for instance, could you pick up a tutoring gig? If you work in an office, could you pick up a virtual assistant gig? Is there something about your day job that you could teach to other people?
What kind of things can you think of that anybody could do, but most people don’t want to and would be happy to pay you to do for them?
My son Nick made $200 in two afternoons this winter, shoveling driveways for people. Four out of five neighbors he asked said yes and paid him well. The next time it snowed he went back and they paid him again. One of the neighbors kept him busy all winter and spring helping them with yard work. Think about the things that you wish someone would knock on your door and offer to do for you.
What could you sell (not a garage sale–as an ongoing thing)?
This could be anything from reselling vintage clothes, like I’ve done, to selling Avon or Tupperware (both of which I’ve also done), to selling your handmade jewelry on Etsy. If your town has a plasma donation center, you can make $250 a month or so selling that. My dad makes some money every year selling the peaches from his trees to a local market and collecting firewood that he sells on the honor system (i.e. an old coffee sitting by the pile) from the front of his house. I just came back from the Reno balloon races, where we saw several people selling hot chocolate and coffee from their driveways. This isn’t really selling, but could you rent some space out in your house? Taking in a roommate is a relatively passive form of income.
Think about your community and what services are lacking. Can you provide one of them?
I made more money providing daycare because I was willing to take kids whose parents’ worked swing shift or graveyard shift in a 24-hour town. There are so many fruit trees that go unpicked in my neighborhood that it makes me want to cry. Some entrepreneurial soul could probably make some money offering to pick and can that fruit for the homeowners. We lived in a tiny rural town before moving to Reno that had almost no daycare and also zero taxi cabs. Someone could have made a living providing either of those services. If you live in a place that has a high level of tourism, and a lack of affordable hotels, consider offering a room in your house via Airbnb.
What can you teach?
Contact your local community college and see if they have a program for offering community classes. These are non-credit and can be on any topic under the sun. If you have a college degree you might look into substitute teaching through your public school system. You’ll probably have to get licensed, which takes some upfront money, but it’s a nice deal. You get paid by the day and you get to pick and choose when to work. If you’re a decent writer, you can write ebooks teaching what you know to other people and sell them online.
My Side Hustle Plan (You Know, Until I Become a Bestseller)
My family’s focus, right now, is on getting out of debt. And also getting through this winter without using credit cards. To bring in some extra money toward those goals, I have a side hustle plan. My hope is that I can get these running smoothly so that they can stay my side hustles to one extent or the other after I get my real estate license.
Teach writing classes at my local community college
I’m already on the schedule for the fall and winter semesters, so this is happening for sure.
Start teaching some writing classes at home
I’m nervous about this one, but I’m pretty sure I can make it happen. I have it all planned out. I just need to get the nerve to actually do it.
Take on virtual assistant jobs
Making other people’s lives easier and creative problem-solving are things I really enjoy. If I could make a little money doing them, that would be incredibly awesome. I’ve applied at Zirtual.com, so keep your fingers crossed for me, okay?
Up my freelance writing
I’ve let this slide lately, but I could make some money if I ramped up my efforts again.
Re-start my Etsy store
I am not joking when I say that I have enough vintage clothing in my garage to stock a brick-and-mortar store. It’s just sitting there. I’ve opened a store on Etsy and I’m committed to adding three things a day until it’s stocked.
Take on more editing work
This is just a matter of getting out there and finding clients. Which makes my inner introvert want to cry. (See the whole ‘teach classes at my house’ thing. But I did put up a ‘hire me’ page here, which is a step in the right direction. Check it out if you need any editing work done!)
4 Tips for Making the Most of Your Day Job
Side hustles are cool, but there are things you can do to make the most of your main income stream if you have a day job.
Basically, you can work more hours or you can ask for a raise so that you’re making more money for the hours you work. Or you can do both, of course. The real key, I think, is figuring out how to get to a point where you can honestly say that you love your job. Some of it is attitude, or faking it until you make it. Some of it might be actually getting out there and finding work you can love.
And a big, ginormous part of it is being happy with how you are compensated for your work.
Other than just asking for a raise and having your boss say ‘sure thing’ and giving it to you, I don’t have any ’30-days to a raise’ ideas. If you’re not already in a position to ask for more money–meaning you have the longevity and can make a case for your time being worth more to your employer (obviously it’s worth more to you!), then I can offer you some ideas for getting there. Maybe not in 30 days, although you never know!
1. Work better than everyone else. This doesn’t necessarily mean harder, although it might. Just go the extra step. Every single time.
2. Be pleasant to be around. Don’t complain about your job! At least not at work. Make yourself the person that whoever decides who gets extra hours wants to spend those extra hours around.
3. Learn to do something that adds value to your job. Take a class or ask if you can learn a new skill on the job.
4. Evaluate your potential for advancement within in your company to a position that offers better pay, and make an action plan for working toward that advancement. In my experience, having a plan instantly ups the happiness quotient.
5. Leave your job behind when you go home. I know this one is hard, but it’s a skill worth cultivating, because it will help you avoid burnout.
Pretty much all of those steps boil down to one idea: be proactive. Take some time this week and really think about your day job if you have one. Do you like it? Did you used to like it, but now it’s just stressing you out? Think about how you can like it again. Think about what you can do to start building your reputation as the person who works better than everyone else and that everyone else wants to spend time working with.
Another option, of course, is to look for a new job. Are you holding on to a job that doesn’t work for your life because the thought of change upsets you? I know a young woman like this. She’s worked for three years at a job she likes, but that doesn’t pay her enough. She’s qualified for better jobs, but the idea of giving up her bird in the hand–a job she really likes–and risking the chance that she’ll be unhappy at her next job (or she won’t be good at it, or it won’t be permanent, or . . .) keeps her spinning her wheels. If that sounds like you, do some soul-searching this week. And maybe spruce up your resume.
(Click Here for a printable version of this week’s action plan)
Make a list of your current income streams, if you didn’t do that last week.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What are you good at?
- What part of your day job could you turn into a side hustle?
- What can you do for people that they could do for themselves, but don’t want to?
- What can you sell?
- What can you teach?
- What services are needed in your community that you could offer?
Use your answers to those questions to make a list of possible side hustles.
Evaluate your list, thinking about things like start-up costs and whether or not you already have access to people willing to pay for what you have to offer.
Choose your top two or three possible side hustles and make an action plan for each one. Start to take those steps.
Spend some time thinking about your day job. Make a list of how you could work better, make yourself more indispensable, and learn new skills to increase your chances of being paid more.
If you decide that you could benefit from a new job, start brainstorming possibilities.
Update your Resume.
From Broke Girl Rich: 114 Side Hustles: Ways to make more money
From The Simple Dollar: Multiple Income Streams: How They Can Work For You
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This post is linked at these awesome blogs:
Tumbleweed Contessa, Salt and Light, Sunday Showcase, Manic Monday, Monday Handmade, You’re Gonna Love it Tuesday, The Scoop, Mommy Monday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Feeding Big, Turn it Up Tuesdays, Hip Homeschool Hop, A Bowl Full of Lemons, The Maker’s Link Party, Inspire Us Tuesday, Joy Dare, Whimsy Wednesday, Mommy Club Link Up, Wow Me Wednesday, Mom’s Morning Coffee, What You Wish Wednesday