Summer is expensive. No, I’m not talking about a cruise to the Bahamas or a visit to Disney World. I’m not even talking about summer camps or swim lessons. I’m talking about the cost of having kids home all day, every day during the summer. What’s so expensive? The internet, electricity, and food. And bug spray – flea and tick products for the pets, fly spray for the goats and endless cans of Off for the rest of us!
The internet bill has more than doubled as the kids are online longer hours and are streaming more video (we’ve long since graduated from the initial 6-month cheap rate deal and now the only way to keep costs down is to strictly limit the amount of data streamed). We don’t have cable so the internet is used not only for web browsing, my daughter’s AP Biology and English summer homework, email, blogging, and facebook but also for video streaming.
The electricity bill is up because we are home all day and we finally have a small air conditioner unit that has been running non-stop during the day to bring the temperature down to a livable level in the living room. We each have a fan going in our rooms that moves around the warmer air and provides the semblance of a breeze as well.
The food bill is up because the kids are all growing teenagers and the very proximity to food seems to trigger an urge to eat! Nibble, nibble, nibble.
Additionally my various professional development activities, while in some cases providing a stipend to cover expenses, generally require some outlay up front. The rocks and mineral conference was completely paid for, including hotel and meals, but the other three workshop/conferences are a pay and get reimbursed several weeks later deal.
Unfortunately my income is still the same (insufficient) so I’ve been looking for opportunities to make some extra cash. As you know my eBay venture was less than successful as what I have to sell isn’t what other people want to buy. It turned out to be quite a bit of effort with little return. I have a few things on eBay now but with no way of getting new product to sell it’s going to stay a small endeavor.
Since most of what I have are books I looked into different ways to sell them, bookscouter.com for instance. The best market is in up-to-date textbooks or antiquarian books, of which I have neither. I was able to send a few books to Amazon.com for credit. It’s always nice to have a little money to spend at Amazon but it doesn’t pay the electric bill.
The Penny Hoarder (which has over 3 million active subscribers) has a lot of suggestions on how to make extra cash, so many in fact that it seems impossible not to be making hundreds of dollars every month on the side doing fun and rewarding things! Officiating weddings, selling crafts, writing ebooks, reviewing movies, carving walking sticks, babysitting, participating in clinical trials… the list is endless.
I could be a mystery shopper. I actually did this once while living in California and got money to spend at a clothing store – Christopher and Banks or Talbot or some such place – in return for filling out a survey about the displays and service. But I think this job is more suited to an urban dweller living in the midst of large chain stores. I don’t think Bear Hardware needs mystery shoppers! If, however, you live on the East Coast Ben and Jerry will pay you to eat ice cream.
I could answer surveys that purport to take 20 to 30 minutes each. Surveys on the brands of cat litter I use (least expensive) or the make and model of my next car (what next car?) or my investment strategy (high yield or risk averse?), with the possibility of earning $2.50 or maybe more per survey. I’ve done this as well but somehow I seem to end up spending 18 minutes answering the preliminary questions only to be weeded out (“I’m sorry, you don’t qualify for this survey”) in the end earning only .25 for my time. I’m not sure how long it will take me to reach the cash out threshold at this rate; I currently have $2.75 in my account.
I could watch videos, clip coupons, shop online (not the best way to MAKE money) and earn Swagbucks which I could then (eventually) redeem for gift cards. Once I have enough. But again, it won’t pay the electric bill.
So enough with the gimmicks – what about a real work from home via the internet job? The best (for me) thing that I’ve seen is the WEM – writing for the education market – blog that a Boxcarkids supporter told me about. It is much more relevant to my interests, skills and experience. Jobs are regularly posted for curriculum development, assessment and lesson plan writers and editors. Unfortunately I haven’t been selected for any of the jobs for which I’ve applied so far.
I could put more ads on the blog (thanks everyone who shops Amazon through one of my links) to earn more ad revenue but that only works if I write frequently and you all click on ads (and if you are like me you probably don’t).
I could see if the plasma center would take me – it’s been over a year since I had my hospital stay so I might pass muster but I’m not sure if my file there has been flagged. I’m not spending money on a doctor visit to get cleared for donations. It’s probably worth a try.
In the meantime summer is winding down – school starts for me on August 3rd and on the 10th for the kids. In August, for some reason that appears to make sense to the HR people (who say it’s something to do with the fiscal year and Fridays) but not to me, I will only have one paycheck with 3 tight weeks on either side. Hopefully by then one or another of these side jobs will have actually paid off!