January...the month everyone vows to make a change in their life. The month people anxiously await their W2's. The month you sit down and review last year's budget, and come up with a plan to make this year's budget better.
Our budget goal is always the same, payoff credit card debt. It seems every year we make a little headway, then life catches up, medical debt comes into play, an unexpected car repair, a really awesome homeschool class comes along, and before we know it this year's numbers look the same as last year's numbers.
Now that we are in our permanent house, we can focus on not only paying off debt, but in the case of credit cards, closing them off as we do it. We really don't need to rely on a credit score for at least a few years (hopefully the car lasts that long), so this is our time to get serious. House repairs can wait, because we aren't trying to sell the house, and we can make do with what we have for the moment.
That being said, while we wait for our W2's and other tax documents, we are finding other ways to expedite our debt payoff. Here are some of the options we have utilized.
What does everyone do with their change? We have a large glass bottle sitting in our living room. The girls are always finding random change laying around. When we packed up everything in our old house, change ended up wherever, so it is slowly being collected as we unpack.
Luke had his own separate stash in his laptop bag. Taking flights to Atlanta for work, he uses a lot of change for snacks and drinks at the airports. We decided to cash his stash in, and it ended up being over $50!!
Do you use it? Basically you answer a poll or watch a short video, and unlock a few cents on certain items you may buy at the grocery store. Go buy those items, scan a receipt in, and you get the credit. It's nice because there are times when they just have generic items, like milk, eggs, onions. No specific brands needed, and they are basic items you almost always buy. Over the past year of doing it (there was probably 6 months that I paid no attention to it), I ended up cashing out $37.80. Considering our membership to The Wilderness Center is $40 a year, and they have homeschooling classes each month, I basically got that membership for free this year.
Luke's photography business is at a stand still. His day job has been so busy, he has no time to schedule shoots and edit photos. Instead, he pairs up with two local photographers to be the second photographer at weddings. He gives up a Saturday or Sunday, but for $200-$250 a wedding, and he doesn't have to edit photographs, it certainly helps out. So far we have 12 weddings on the calendar he is second shooting, and one wedding that he has booked. My goal for this income is to pay off 2 credit cards. I know for sure we can pay off one entirely, and probably half of the other, but I'm sure more weddings will pop up as the year progresses.
After moving, I have realized that we have entirely way too much. We still have many boxes out in the garage that need to be unpacked and sorted, and I have no idea where we would even fit anymore into this house. We are designating boxes to place items we no longer have a use for, and we will first try to sell them on Facebook in the local buy and sell groups. It may only be a few dollars a month, but it will certainly add up.
It's not something that will take off right away, but we have the opportunity to make a few extra dollars with our current set up. Currently the hens are on strike since it's been so cold, and it gets dark so early, but when the weather changes, a dozen eggs can go for $2. If I have a broody hen that sits on some eggs and hatches them, we have the opportunity to sell the chicks for a few bucks a piece. Duck eggs can go for $3/dozen. We have a male and female rabbit living together, and if we end up with kits, we could sell them. We also plan to have a garden, so we may end up with extra produce. I could freeze or can the extras, but I guess that depends on if I unbury my pressure canner and jars out of the garage this year.
One of Luke's hobbies is working on his Fieros. One of the main reasons we wanted this property was because of The Shop, a 32x40 pole barn. He has a lot of tools, and knows a decent amount about cars, so friends are always asking for car advice. We have done oil changes, brake jobs, and even changed a motor for friends. I've told Luke that we need to put up a donation jar in the shop since people like to come over and borrow the area to work on their cars. It would help fund the insulating the shop project to keep it warmer next winter.
Any suggestions? What do you do to bring in extra money? Crafts? Babysitting? Yard work? What works for you?