How I’m Side Hustling Differently (& Happier!)

I’m still all about Side Hustles – but I’ve noticed a change in approach, especially since my last big foray with Side Hustles back in October.  Here’s what I’m doing differently that’s working for me:

Narrowing Focus

Back when I did the #1khustle Challenge in October I was all over the place – I wanted to make money on every site and open about 100 different businesses in the process.  I have always loved a lot of projects and especially love a challenge, but having that many different ideas meant that I wasn’t focused on any of them.

Now I’m focused on not just the projects that make the most money, but the ones I enjoy the most (and there’s clearly a correlation there).  I’m working on my Etsy shop and my Poshmark boutique, and taking a break from things that seem like a chore, like survey sites and eBaying (god I loathe printing my own shipping labels).  My Etsy and Poshmark sales are both better than ever because I’m spending more time perfecting these projects instead of trying to make money however I can!

Investing More (Both Time & Money)

Since I’m spending more time on the side hustles that are the most profitable and the most fun for me, I’m also putting a little bit more time and money into those projects – and I don’t feel bad about it, because it’s not just an expense – it’s an investment.

Instead of spending time clicking through surveys I’m not qualified to complete or scrolling through social media, I’m reading blogs on how to get Etsy traffic and how to get into wholesaling on Poshmark.  I’ve spent some money on upgrading my Etsy products too, finally leaping into manufacturing for my vinyl stickers instead of printing and hand-cutting each one – a slight increase in expense but a huge upgrade in quality and in the amount of time I’ll be spending on each purchase!  I have put some money into learning more about Etsy too, including paying for some expert shop critiques and short-term online courses about things like SEO and marketing that I don’t know too much about.  I have definitely seen a return so far so it has been time and money well spent!

Making it Social

Because I think that my ventures are fun, I’m happy to spend time in Facebook groups or on Twitter or on blogs learning more about how to do these things well, and connecting with others who have similar interests.  Social media and engagement is a huge part of any business, and being genuine in my interest for my side hustles and my desire for my customers to be happy really comes across.

Side hustles are not just get rich quick schemes, and I have found that by treating them as the businesses that they are, however small the scale for now, has helped me grow them and helps me not get burnt out from spending the time on them!

23

How to Start Couponing: A Beginner’s Guide

What is couponing?a-beginners-guide-to-couponing

Couponing is exactly what it sounds like – using coupons to get a better price on items in a particular store. There are coupons for virtually any store and any type of item, and it is particularly effective for household goods, groceries, and personal care items.

The key to couponing is to combine a coupon or other specific deal with an existing sale or cash back offer. By combining multiple offers, you get the best price on items. It takes some time and preparation, but it’s sort of like putting together a puzzle where the prize is 50 cent shampoo.

Here’s an example: Tresemme Shampoo is available at CVS for $6, but is on sale for 2 for $8. There’s also a deal on Tresemme products where you get $5 Extra Bucks for spending $15 or more. I would buy 6 Tresemme shampoos for $16, and get $5 back for my next visit, essentially meaning I spend $11 for 4 shampoos. If I also had a $4 off of 2 Tresemme products coupon, I would spend $7 on the 4 shampoos, or $1.75 per shampoo. I also wouldn’t have to buy shampoo for a while.

Where to Get Coupons

  • Weekend Local Newspaper: The weekend paper generally has 1-3 of the major coupon inserts (Red Plum, SmartSource, or Procter & Gamble). You can also find inserts for specific stores – I usually save Michael’s and Staples as places I usually go to. I try to buy a newspaper on Saturday because it’s cheaper than the Sunday paper but has all of the inserts.
  • Online: Many brand websites offer coupons for specific products – if you find a good deal at a store, try checking the brand’s site for an additional coupon. You can typically combine manufacturer’s coupons with specific store coupons, even if they apply to the same product.  Ebatesalso has an in-store option where you can link your credit card to your account to get up to 10% cash back when you use that card in stores.
  • On Your Phone: Many stores have apps that make their coupons available to you – some of my favorites are Michael’sCVS, and Cartwheel by Target. You can often save on specific products or on a product category. There are also money saving apps that get you cash back on your purchase.  One of my favorites is Ibotta, which offers cash back on a wide array of products, especially grocery products.
  • In Stores: Some places print coupons on receipts for your next visit, or have a coupon station in store where you can scan a rewards card and get a stack of coupons. CVS is one of the best places to coupon because of the availability of different offers – there are usually a comical amount of coupons on the end of the receipt, and they have an Extra Bucks station in-store to print coupons there too.
  • Mailings: Sign up for rewards programs and e-mail lists to get coupons both in the postal mail and in your e-mail. These are often off of your whole purchase, which can really supplement your savings.

Where To Shop 

You can go just about anywhere to use coupons – whatever is local to you.

My favorite place to go is CVS, as I mentioned, because of all of the in-store coupons and rewards. They also offer Extra Bucks both on specific products and on a percentage of your spending over each year, and have a really easy to use website to plan your visit.

Target is another one of my favorites because of the Cartwheel app – you can scan products while you’re in store to see if there are additional offers available, or search for them in the app to plan your trip in advance.

Other Resources

There are several excellent and thorough blogs that focus on couponing that I use as a resource when I go. Krazy Coupon Lady is one of my favorites, and she lists a huge number of deals by store so you can plan your trip. She links to a lot of online coupons as well, which is helpful so you don’t have to go searching.

Another one of my favorite blogs is Raining Hot Coupons, where she posts exceptionally good deals across the internet or in stores on particular items. I got a Kitchenaid mixer for my mom for about $120 because of a great deal that she posted!

I also like to use store gift cards to pay for couponing adventures – it helps me limit how much I’m going to spend so I don’t get carried away, and there are lots of opportunities to get discounted gift cards or cash back on gift cards that will save you even more money in the long run. Raise is a gift card-reselling platform where you can get discounted cards (I get CVS cards for 11% off). I also use MyGiftCardsPlus, which is partnered with Swagbucks, to get cash back on gift card purchases, essentially putting more money in your pocket.

When online shopping, I use the Chrome plug in Honey. When you go to check out, Honey will scan their database for eligible coupons so you don’t have to – I have gotten free shipping or a percentage off that I never would have found otherwise thanks to Honey, and it’s totally free.

Good luck couponing! Any tips for couponing newbies?

 

 

5 Places To Shop Secondhand This Summer

We are approaching what I believe to be the peak time to find some of the best things that people are getting rid of!  The summer is prime moving time for people who are selling homes or switching apartments.  Many leases end at the end of May, June, or July, particularly in college areas.  The summer is also the tiSecondhandme when the weather is best to sell things outside!

First of all, I absolutely believe that buying things is a huge part of personal finance – knowing when and how to be frugal is a huge asset when you’re trying to put away money.  Collectively, consumers in the US owe about $733 billion in credit card debt, which indicates two things – consumers are spending more than they have to on items because they are (most likely) accumulating interest over time, and consumers are using credit cards to live outside of their means.  While sometimes people encounter expenses where it is necessary to take on debt, household goods should never be one of them – especially when there are so many ways to get those goods for less.

If you are in need of things over the next few months, why not save a few bucks on a perfectly nice used version of the same item instead of paying full price for something brand new?  Here are a few suggestions for seeking out used items this summer:

YARD SALES

Finding and going to yard sales is one of my favorite summer hobbies – you get to spend some time outside in the sunshine, and find some great deals in the process.

Yard sales are a great way to find home decor, appliances, and kids’ stuff at a reasonable price.  If you want to maximize your time out at the sales, flag sales that are multi-family or billed as moving sales, as those will typically have the greatest variety.

Make sure to get there early, especially if there is something specifically being advertised in the listing that you want.  People get to yard sales very early – there is definitely a weirdly competitive culture to it, but even a few hours after the start time most of the stuff will be thoroughly picked through.

The best place to find yard sales is on Craigslist – my favorite tool for yard saling is the Yard Sale Mapper app, which pulls all of the listings from Craigslist and places them on a map, so you can see which sales you’re close to once you’re out and about.

FOR SALE GROUPS

Facebook has a special setting for groups based on sales – similar to Craigslist listings where you can put a price and location alongside a photo post or description.

Chances are, there is at least one selling group in your area – trying searching for any of the following terms to find one (don’t forget to try your town name as well as neighboring towns):

[Town Name] Tag Sale Group
[Town Name] Free and For Sale
[Town Name] Garage Sale

You also may have the option to search for all sale groups under “Favorites” on the lefthand menu – for me, the bottom one is a green dollar sign symbol that says “Sale Groups,” and it displays all of the sale groups in my geographic area.

If you live in a college area, also try searching for [College Name] Free and For Sale.

If you find something in one of these groups that you want to move forward with purchasing (and the rules of the group don’t state otherwise!), you should both message the person and comment on their post – they will likely get a notification from the comment but not from your message, since Facebook settings on messages seem to be constantly changing.

“DUMPSTER DIVING”

Now I don’t like things that are particularly yucky so I have never been inside of a dumpster.

However, I have found some great stuff on the side of the road or outside of trash areas that have not entailed me touching actual garbage at all – hence why dumpster diving is in quotes.

Take a drive through some apartment-heavy areas to see what people are throwing out, especially at the end of the month when many leases end.  If there are complexes in your area, look for one or more dumpsters, often in the back of the complex, where people will often leave furniture items they don’t want.  If an item is a little worn out but has good bones, you can always paint it or stain it to give it a new look.

In addition to furniture, packaging supplies are also plentiful in dumpster areas at the end of the month – so if you are in need of bubble wrap or boxes, look no further.

I personally stray away from clothes or upholstered furniture but if you are cool with it, they can always be cleaned!

College campuses are also full of items that are easier to throw away than to take home at the end of the academic year – you can look up the residence hall closing date and graduation date on your local university’s website, and time a drive around campus to see what is being left behind.  I have gotten shelves, lamps, unopened food, and even a North Face jacket that was new with tags!

THRIFT STORES

The end of the month is also a great time to check out furniture and household goods, as people use a move as a major opportunity to purge some of their belongings.  I regularly swing through Goodwill and Salvation Army when I’m near them just to see what is available and the selection is definitely the best at the end of May and the beginning of June.

Keep in mind that most things can be cleaned up, painted, and otherwise spruced up, so try to see the “bones” of the item rather than taking it at face value – there is a Pinterest solution for just about any aesthetic irregularity.  (And spoiler: in future blogs I’ll share some of my updates on some thrift store and even dumpster finds!)

SECONDHAND WEBSITES

If you’re a big online shopper there are a number of great places to find secondhand items online!  While eBay is often a go-to, the shipping costs can sometimes negate the cost savings, and sellers frequently overcharge for shipping (since it doesn’t add to the fees they need to pay once an item is sold).  I reserve eBay more for collectibles or books, but there are other options for household goods and clothes:

  • Amazon has secondhand options on a huge number of their products – on any listing, you can find options from additional sellers that say “used from [price].”  Several of these items are Prime shipping eligible (and even though Amazon Prime is an expense, it more than pays for itself once you take advantage of free shipping the first couple of times).
  • ThredUp is a great resource for stylish secondhand women’s clothing in a variety of sizes.  You can also send in your clothes for cash if you are trying to get rid of stuff – I have used it several times and will do a review in a future post!  And, if you use my link to sign up (available above and also on the right), you get a free $10 to spend.
  • Craigslist is an oldie but a classic – particularly if you want larger items that can be picked up locally.  It saves on shipping and usually allows you to communicate with the seller before you commit to a purchase.

What are your tips for shopping secondhand?  What have been your best finds?