“You always seem to find a way to make an extra buck,” my friend Chris told me over a drink. I had just finished telling him a new idea I had for making some money on the side. I’ll assume he was complimenting me.
The truth is, we were stuck. Andi had given me a copy of The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey for Valentine's Day and I listened to his radio show daily. Yet we hadn't made any traction in our own finances. We were creating a budget every month; we just weren't following it. There were two things we had to do: increase our income and decrease our spending.
Cutting our spending was a quick fix that yielded amazing results. We created a budget, set an amount for each category, and made sure that we didn't go over. If we didn't have enough to cover that last trip to the grocery store, we had to decide together what other category had the funds to cover it. By cutting our lifestyle, we were able to find an extra $600-$800 per month.
This took care of decreasing our spending, but we were laser-focused on getting out of debt. We had to find a way to increase our income.
1.We Worked Overtime
This seemed like the most obvious option for Andi and I when we started brainstorming ways to make extra money. Sitting across from me at our dining room table, she looked at me and said, "I'll start putting in an extra hour or two each day at work."
Her job had just started offering the opportunity for overtime to the employees. As you know, overtime is a great way to boost that monthly income. Employers are required to pay overtime to all hourly employees that work over 40 hours in a workweek. Andi put in long, exhausting hours at work in order to accomplish our goal sooner. Her willingness to sacrifice for our family is what got to us to where we are now.
2. We Drove for Uber
No, that title wasn't click bait. We did in fact Uber our way out of debt. As a teacher, overtime wasn't available to me. I had to find a way to bring in some money after my work day was over.
Uber is a ride sharing company that offers rides to people for a small fee. It's basically a taxi service for the modern era. Becoming a driver was simple- I just had to fill out some paperwork, pass a background check, and ensure that my vehicle met their standards.
Once I was accepted as an Uber driver, my earning potential was endless. If I wanted to make some money, I would log into the Uber app, pick up a few rides, and cash was deposited into our bank account the following week. It was easy money and I highly recommend it to anyone on the debt-free journey.
3. We Purged
We got to a point that when we looked at some of our belongings, we saw dollar signs. We didn't have a lot of stuff anyway (clutter drives us crazy), but there was still a lot of things that we weren't using.
Our closet got cut in half. I finally gave up on those clothes that I swore I would fit into again and decided to get rid of them. We took all the things we didn't wear anymore and sold them at a thrift store. It was quick money and it got rid of the clutter in our closet. Not to mention we finally had some empty hangers!
Then, we took appliances, serving bowls, electronics, tools, and anything else we could find and sold them in a garage sale. I even took a couple of old smartphones and posted them on eBay. Purging your unused items can bring in a lot of extra money.
4. We Sold our Bodies to Science
Ok, I didn't necessarily sell my body to science; I sold my opinions. In order to gain some easy money, I signed up for a local market research company to participate in focus groups. These focus groups typically involved little effort and time on my part. They would call me to go over some screening questions, and if I fit their profile, they'd ask me to participate in the study.
The studies usually paid between $200-$300 and lasted a couple of hours. They'd ask me to come into their office and give my opinion on certain products or services. For example, one study had me visit a department store and log what I noticed. Then, in our focus group, I shared what I observed, answered some questions, and left with cash in hand. It's a quick and easy way to get money fast.
Andi was a little more daring than I was. She sold plasma to bring in a little extra money. A couple of times a week she would go to the local plasma center and get hooked up to a machine. She was able to bring home $40 a week doing this. She not only made some money, but also gained satisfaction knowing that she was helping people!
5. We Used our Hobbies for Profit
Music is a passion of mine. I've been playing bass and singing for over 10 years and have started generating income by playing in a 90s cover band. I've been able to turn a hobby into a small side job.
After our band had successfully played multiple weddings, my friend Mike and I decided to become wedding DJs. We already had the equipment and experience working weddings, so we considered this as another opportunity to bring in money.
What is something you enjoy doing? Try and find ways to turn it into a side business. If you can knit, make scarves and sell them on Etsy or at craft shows. If you are good at writing or graphic design, offer those as a freelance service. Find ways to turn your passion into money.
There are hundreds of ways to make money; you just have to find them. Doing those extra things doesn't have to last forever. Andi no longer gives plasma and I stopped driving for Uber a while ago. We knew these sacrifices were only temporary and would yield great results. There is plenty of work available if you are willing to do it. Yards will always need to be cut and pizza will always need to be delivered. Stop waiting for your money problems to fix themselves. It's time to roll up your sleeves and do some work!
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