Monday, August 7, 2017

Cutting Expenses -- When You Think You Can't , Part VII: How to Get Those Extra $$

I hope you've been enjoying our ongoing series, "Cutting Expenses -- When You Think You Can't." So far, everything basic's been covered, including food, shelter, insurance -- even death and taxes! 

You've been saving everywhere you can, but it's still not enough. What you need is more income. Yes, a second or even a third job is possible. (Not fun, but possible.) But are there other opportunities?

YES. Yes, there are.

*Rent a spot in your home.  It doesn't have to be just a room, though Airbnb and Craigslist can be very helpful in that respect.  (So can, a neighborhood sharing app that's all over in our part of Colorado. Look to see if a similar program covers your area.)
     What about your garage? A space in the backyard? Many a person is looking for a reasonably-priced area to work on his or her hobby...or store things. You could be of help.

*Do surveys or testing groups. Craigslist will occasionally have requests for people who have some kind of health problem, or are interested in finding out more about certain cars or household products. Join that group, and you've automatically picked up $10, $20 or even $50-75 for yourself. It will mean a few hours away -- and hopefully you'll get to keep samples of whatever you're testing.
     My favorite is still the restaurant chain that tests burger combinations on its group. I've been part of this three or four times now, and walk away stuffed with a $50 gift card in my hand!
     There are plenty of online survey groups out there. But the best one for me consistently has been Pinecone Research. Their surveys are fairly regular, take only a few minutes to finish -- and you're paid $3 for every one. (You do have to periodically fill out a 'household questions' post, as well.) That can be redeemed for cash or merchandise. (I take the cash every time.)

*Anything you can do short-term will help. Take care of a pet.  Bake a birthday cake -- or offer to serve or clean up at a neighborhood birthday party. Wash a car, or water plants. Pick up the mail...or the drycleaning. Do ironing. Babysit. Be clean, honest, charge reasonably and do the job you promised.

Maybe a gingerbread house at Christmastime? People love these -- hate to build them.

     Do your work well, and you'll have repeat requests and referrals. Use NextDoor and Craigslist to publicize what you're offering. Maybe signs in your neighborhood, too. (Frankly, the latter never worked for me, except for garage sales.)  .Which brings me to:

*Hold a garage sale. Advertise it as a moving or estate sale, if that's what it is -- buyers will have even more interest. Yes, you can also sell on Craigslist or Ebay. Or:

*Use your hobby to start a business on Etsy. That extra yarn? Perfect for scarves, mittens or even scrubbing household cloths. The point is not to go out and buy all sorts of extra materials or equipment; it's to use up what you've already got.

*Teach something. Piano, voice, cooking, sewing -- all you have to do is use your skill, and advertise it. You don't have to be a music major to teach something like piano, either -- this writer and teacher has been doing it, off and on, for years.
     Keep your prices reasonable, and you'll have enough student opportunities to choose from.

*Take a part- part-time job. Maybe your local childcare only needs extra help a few times a year, when their regular employees go on vacation. Or someone calls in sick.
     Substitute teaching jobs operate like this...but so do other businesses that work with the public, and need people who are friendly, reliable, and quick to learn. Someday I am going to our local Little Caesar's Pizza place, which seems to be constantly looking for help, and offer my services for one day a week...or a weekend a month. I'll bet they'll jump at it.

*Do something few others will. Cleaning up dog poop. Snow shoveling. Waving a sign at an intersection. These jobs can actually pay quite well -- and they're almost always in demand. Yes, your dignity may be offended by scrubbing out a public toilet. What do you care, if it gets you away from the humiliation of not being able to pay your bills? Many of these jobs are low-profile, anyways, done while other people are not around. And they don't demand unusual equipment or above-rate intelligence...just gloves and a willingness to work. You can always take a shower, afterwards.
*Here are 50 more ideas, thanks to the Penny Hoarder.

Now,  some other things you can do to generate extra income: 
      (They don't specifically pay $$, but let you save in other areas.)

*Volunteer at places and events that offer extra food. Banquets are one possibility. Thrift shops and food banks are another. Senior lunches and social events are yet another. Never say no to any leftovers -- even if you can't use them, your neighbors (see below) or pets can.

*Swap your skills and available stuff with friends and neighbors. They may fix supper, if you offer to do their ironing for the week. Offer a ride to the grocery store when you're headed there, anyways -- and you may get a free ride next time, or your gas paid for on this trip.
     Our wonderful neighbors will feed our dogs and chickens when we're out of town -- a once-a-day job that nets them extra eggs, as well as the chance for us to reciprocate when they're gone. This has an additional benefit: it becomes an informal Neighborhood Watch of sorts, and helps increase the activity at your home if someone unsavory is watching.

Ask them over for a cup of coffee to discuss possibilities. 

*Rent equipment together -- or offer yours, in return for a favor down the road from them. Our Large Orange Friend certainly came in handy this way, with grateful neighbors sharing extra garden produce, and even a gift card.

*Ask. Do it with politeness -- and a smile. You'll be amazed at the arrangements you can work out. It's a 50/50 risk; they may say no -- but then again, they may say yes.

You're not going to waste that extra $$$ you've just earned or saved -- are you?

 If you absolutely must, go ahead and spend 10% on something frivolous. (New socks. A DVD. Or go out for a snack.) Shovel the rest into savings or debt payments, so you can take a deep breath. 

There. Feel better?

Next Time: Bits & Pieces -- And the Conclusion

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