Monday, April 14, 2008

Earning Extra Money

Lots of sites talk about earning extra money. I thought I would try it from a real person's perspective. I searched web sites, collected ideas, and thought about what would work for me, my schedule, my goals, and my life in general. Here are the ideas that I came up with to start, focusing on jobs that do not require too much skill, and how I executed each or didn't:

Babysitting- I rejected it. I was an au pair right after college in Germany for a year, but I chose not to pursue it now for two reasons- when people need babysitters (evenings and weekends) is when clients are available for my "real" job- real estate and six cats and kids just won't mix well.

Bamboo- it is taking over my backyard. I am going to research what to do with it and how I can sell it off.

Clean houses- I rejected it. However, I have several friends who do well with their own cleaning businesses.

Collecting pine cones- it seems these are in demand for crafts. I found that a basket of 100 would sell for about $10. If I find a place to collect them, I'll give this a try.

Consignment- I pulled all the clothes out of my closets and drawers. I was diagnosed with a thyroid problem about a year ago and have lost a lot of weight since getting on medication. Some clothes can be donated, generating a tax write-off, or sold at consignment. I sent a St. Johns outfit to Rodeo Resale for consignment. The other stuff, I'll try to sell locally or donate.

Freelance writing- I tabled it for now. I'd like to try this blogging thing first and see how it develops.

Gardening- I had high hopes to sell produce when I started my garden this year. We moved from DC to Alabama and now have space to put a square foot garden. I worked it out on an Excel spreadsheet and found that I'll have enough to feed my family for a year and some to give away as client gifts and to friends and neighbors, but not enough to produce a farmer's market. I got a little wild on this one :). I'll take a look at what I have in yield at the end of the year and see how I can better plan for next year.

Merchandising- I have two companies that I signed up with. That provides flexible scheduling and better money than most local places pay. The best list of merchandising companies is at I'll bring home $1,600 next month with this one. This is largely due to a reset at a local drug store that will take 32 hours for five weeks. I also picked up a smaller ongoing job for 10 hours/month total.

Mystery shopping- Fun stuff, but not much work in my immediate area. I signed up and if something comes up, I'll take it. I'll get $15 pluse lunch from a shop done last month. Not much, but it helps. I did find out that my roommate paid $100 to sign up with a company. No way! You can sign up for free. As with merchandising, go to for a great list.

Paper route- Tabled it for now, but still considering it. Do I really want to get up that early? I made a note on my calendar that if I don't have a real estate listing by mid-May that I will pick this up.

Pet sit- I posted an ad on I registered at I bookmarked these sites for future reference: I also make ten flyers to post around town, using a template for used cars. I thought this is a good article on pet sitting business,,h1zm-3,00.html

Survey Sites- Excellent for snowflaking. I have had the most success with MySurvey and Pinecone Research. MySurvey sends a check. Pinecone Research pays by PayPal. I get about $10-25 from each per quarter. Just got $5 from PayPal this morning for about 10 minutes of work.

What I'll do with the extra money- meet my monthly budget while rebuilding my real estate business in a new city and snowflake my debt with anything extra

What have you done to earn extra money? Was it successful? What was the outcome?

First Post for Best Finances

It is said that a blog has a greater chance of success if you know from the beginning what you hope to accomplish with it. My goals are to share my ideas about personal finance, promote myself and my businesses (as appropriate), and have 500 readers by September 1, 2008. I'll include personal thoughts, consumer commentary, ecommerce (as appropriate).