was invited to be a part of Women’s Money Week by WiseBread blogger Elizabeth Lang. It’s an online event designed to encourage women to take control of their finances and their lives as a way to celebrate International Women’s Day on Friday, March 8th.
I debated sharing these posts on my blog, but since my voice carries farther here on Couponlab and it would give me the ability to help more women, I decided to share my experiences here instead. I invite you to follow this series throughout the week as we share ways to increase income, productivity, family and money, happiness, and planning for the future.
Today’s Women’s Money Week topic is Increasing Income.
MY ENTREPRENEURIAL CATALYST
Once upon a time, we had just bought our first house, scraping together every cent earned, borrowed, and begged for our down payment. Our oldest was a chubby little one-year-old, and I was a stay-at-home mom. My husband had a good (although not great) job, which we soon found out.
1924 two-and-a-half bedroom bungalow was a total dump when we bought it. Seriously. My mom cried when she saw it. But it had passed the home inspection and was within our budget, and my husband and I saw its potential. It had hardwood floors hidden beneath stinky pet stained and stale cigarette smoke saturated carpeting, French doors in the dining room, and a fenced-in yard for our daughter and future kids.
My grandparents gave us a much appreciated $5,000 gift as a housewarming present. We used to buy appliances and a lawnmower and fund our many trips to Lowe’s and Home Depot for supplies we needed to make the house livable.
I worked for a month, morning until night, with my daughter in her playpen, pulling hundreds of thousands (millions, I’m sure) staples out of the floors and stripping yellowed smoke-stained wallpaper from the crumbly plaster walls. My husband would come after work to help me. We’d enjoy a dinner picnic on a blanket in the backyard and then work all night until we were exhausted. It was amazing when we finished putting that final coat of polyurethane on our glowing wood floors and locking up the house to leave for a weekend at our family’s cabin. I SO wanted to move in immediately, but the floors needed to harden before we brought in the furniture.
We came back from our mini-vacation, excited to move in and start our life, only to find out my husband’s hours had been majorly cut at work, and we only had enough left in savings from my grandparent’s gift to make our first mortgage payment.
MAKING MONEY FROM HOME
So, I got a job putting my art degree to work as a designer at a furniture store while my mom watched our daughter. After six months, I was so homesick for my baby and hated leaving her every morning. We decided I needed to find a way to earn enough money to stay home with her.
My husband helped me take inventory of my skills, and we started networking with family and friends to see if they knew anyone who needed what I could do.
From photographing nipple prosthetics for a brochure for a doctor with mastectomy patients to babysitting, I did just about everything (legal) to earn extra money, so I could continue to stay home through the ups and downs of my husband’s hours:
- I built a simple website with a contact form and sold candy bar wrappers as wedding favors and birth announcements
- I worked with my mom on the weekends as a bridal consultant and decorated weddings
- I went garage sale-ing with my girlfriend to buy things to sell on eBay
- I sewed curtains and dance recital costumes, reupholstered furniture, and embroidered things for people
- I worked as a virtual assistant, sending out e-newsletters and managing websites
- I built a home-based business with Arbonne
- I learned how to market myself online and built a business teaching others how to do the same.
Before I did, I didn’t know how to do any of the above things. We live in a time where we can learn how to do just about anything. We don’t need a lot in the way of financial resources to start a side gig to earn extra money. We need to be resourceful.
All of these escapades gave me so much more than extra money. They gave me confidence in myself. They strengthened our marriage, teaching us that we can work as a team to overcome financial difficulties, which has also helped us overcome other challenges—everything I did allow me to make a difference for others somehow, which was very fulfilling. Plus, I stayed home with our three kids for 13 years, and these past experiences helped me learn the skills to do what I do now, working as the social media manager for Couponlab.
THE PITFALLS OF GETTING TOO COMFORTABLE
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and become blinded to the limitless options we have to change our family’s financial status. I’ve seen my cycle of laziness and boredom when times were good and the satisfaction of the hustle when times were tough. We’re much more likely to work harder to avoid pain than to gain pleasure.
We grow the most through our struggles, and in my experience, it is best to stay in that place of being hungry for change. What helps me keep from getting too comfortable is continuously setting goals and attaching pain to not accomplishing them.
My husband and I could be comfortable living on two full-time salaries and the residual income from my home business, but we’re not. Instead, I’ve continued to use my skills outside of work to help others get their blogs started, and we’ve put ourselves on the Dave Ramsey plan to become financially free. So far this year (it’s only the beginning of March), we’ve paid off just under $4K in debt, and we’re on track for our goals.
Here’s my process for setting a goal and sticking to it:
- Write out my goal and state it positively (not negatively). How will I know when I will accomplish it.
- Why is this goal important to me? What are the reasons this goal matters?
- How will it change my life to accomplish it? How will I feel?
- What will I give up if I don’t accomplish it? How will I feel?
- What challenges will I face in accomplishing this goal? Who or what can help me overcome them?
- Who or what will help me stay accountable for this goal?
- What will my first action steps be?
What have you done in the past to increase your Income? What potentially profitable skills, talents, or gifts do you have to offer others? What hobbies do you have that you could potentially use to earn extra money? Make a list; your experiences are probably worth more than you think.