The high cost of summer

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, 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 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!


This entry was posted in Amazon, blogging, internet, Job, monetizing blog, money, summer, work and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The high cost of summer

  1. Have you called up your internet provider and asked if you can get a discount? Often they will just give you whatever their sign-up rate is if you just ask.

    There are jobs paying $30-$60 for going to testing places as mystery shopper to see if they follow rules.

    How about tutoring? I get $20/hr and tutor in library but have tutored in Hardee’s. You cannot tutor your own students, but there should be something for you.

    • boxcarkids says:

      I did sign up for mystery shopping. So far the only job is visiting a bar with a young companion to see if they get carded. It pays $45 but you have to purchase two drinks, an appetizer and an entre so I doubt you would make money. Hoping for a job buying school supplies!

  3. Laurie says:

    I enjoy reading your blog. I am a single mom of 2 girls adopted from China who are now 8&12. Since you are willing to share your life with your readers I have a few questions. I know you live in the country,but would it not make more sense to move closer to your job? Would it cut down on your traveling and the wear and tear on your car? Could your teenager then find a job where she could use public transportation to get from 1 point to another. As far as your living situation: do you not qualify for low income housing in the city? I live in the midwest and we have low income housing all over out city. We have quite a few houses in my neighborhood. We are talking 3 bedroom homes,water, heat and a/c. The govt subsidized it and you pay very little for a nice home. Are you not eligible for food stamps and assistance with your utilities? Here in Nebraska you would get all of this with your income level and number of kids. I do not see how you can continue on this way especially with having children. Does anyone question that you do not have running water? I would think as a mother I would want way more for my kids. Your kids deserve better. WE even have a free programs where your internet is free based on poverty level. If you did everything I am talking about you would not need to get a 2nd job. Are the kids not on medicaid for insr and dental insurance? I do not know if you have addressed this publicly on your blog,but I know many readers are thinking the same thing. I am not writing to berate you and bring you down,but I am trying to wrap my head around why you choose to be in this position when there is help. Forget the goats escaping and having chickens they cost money and money you do not have. You have such a passion for your job. Have that passion for your children to make things better for them.

    • boxcarkids says:

      We don’t pay rent, we live very close to family, my kids go to “A” schools while I teach at a D school. We have insurance. We like living in the country and having animals. We don’t like cities or apartment life or being close enough to spit on your neighbor from your window. Part of life should be about living where you feel like you belong and this is as close as I can get to that now. My kids are independent, resilient, creative and strong. It would be nice iif they paid teachers as if they valued the work we do.

  4. J says:

    Kids sure are pricey in the summer! I take them to the local library for free air conditioning, Internet, and of course books. I also can have a little peace and quiet to get some paperwork done!

  5. Holly says:

    That sounds super stressful.

    My 9-yo has been talking about getting a job lately “to help his dad out with his bills and retirement.” (His dad got laid off in 2011 and never fully recovered; he’s very in debt now, and working low-wage jobs that will probably never pull him out of it. Not an unfamiliar story.) However his idea of a job is freelance photography — pics of his toys, the yard, etc. I think he overestimates the market for that, but he’s such a sweet kid that I don’t have the heart to explain reality to him. 🙂

    On the subject of kids though — I don’t know much about yours (ages/etc.), but would they be able to do basic lawn care for people in your town?? Or babysitting? Both of those seem like the most lucrative options for kids around 12 yo+. The challenges would be equipment and transportation.

    You’re a super creative person and have probably thought of this already; but I thought I’d throw it out there in case. Best wishes to you. And congratulations on your new role. 🙂

    • boxcarkids says:

      Holly – selling photos was one of the things Penny Hoarder listed! I don’t have a good camera so my photos aren’t worth it but have your son check out this link (may need to cut and paste it)

      My youngest daughter (13) is working on getting her babysitter certificate from the Red Cross but of course I’d have to drive her to and from any jobs. I told her I’d advertise her services among the teachers and let her sit on Saturdays this fall. Yard care isn’t feasible as we live out in the country where everyone has riding mowers (and seem to like to do it themselves – I think it gives the guys an excuse to get out of the house). Last year my now 15 year old had a job in a bakery but it went out of business. With my out of town trips for workshops it’s hard to fit into a teen work schedule since I’m the only driver at home now.

      • bogart says:

        Would parents not be willing to pick up the babysitter? As a parent who occasionally hires babysitters, I understand this to be my responsibility.

      • boxcarkids says:

        We live some distance from the towns so I’m not sure anyone would want to hire her if they had to get her!

Leave a Reply to boxcarkids Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.