Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Side hustles June 2020

The great thing about doing side hustles to generate extra income is that you can hustle on your own terms.  The more hard work, time, and creative effort you put in, the more extra money you can make.  You can hustle as little or as much as you want, whenever you want.  It’s your extra money, and you can choose how you want to spend it.  Instead of focusing on what ideas don’t apply to you, try focusing on different side hustle ideas that you can implement to work for your situation.

Once a month (usually on the 1st), I like to post a short summary of our personal and financial situation for the previous month.  While I don’t often post articles, I am committed to documenting all of my side hustle income.  Here I’ll share some of what’s been going on with our lives and our side hustles. 

Welcome to July! Did you have a good June?  This past month, our son turned 5 years old!  Originally we had reserved a venue to have a birthday party with all of his friends.  Due to the shutdown, we had a nice Zoom celebration party at home instead. 
Recently the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific reopened with new strict safety policies including: temperature screening at entrance, required reservations, required masks, one way traffic and staff constantly sanitizing surfaces.  We reserved the earliest spot right when the aquarium opened and had a fun time visiting.  We felt comfortable visiting with the new safety protocols and the aquarium was quite empty.
My son started a summer program at his private school and he’s been so happy that he can interact with other kids again.  Being home the last few months has been very hard on his mental health.  My daughter’s daycare has opened up as well and we are glad that she can play and learn with other kids.  While we understand there is some risk with sending our children out, these centers have many safety protocols in place to reduce risk of infection.
While our anxiety levels regarding the coronavirus have calmed down somewhat, we still remain very vigilant and cautious when we are out. 
Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of June.
Cash Back
On 6.29, I received a $4.99 statement credit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card for dining credit with DoorDash.
On 6.30, my wife received a $10 statement credit on her AMEX Gold card.  This was for ordering food as a gift through Yelp and GrubHub.

Rental Income
On 6.5, we received a net profit of $450 from our rental property.  Our tenants income situation has improved and they were able to make a full rental payment this month.

Monthly Totals:
We earned $14.99 from cash back income
We earned $450 from rental income

All of this totals $464.99 from our side hustles for the month of June!  We continue to save and invest quite a bit of money each month due to our reduced spending.  Keep at it everyone!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

FWOTW: buying used clothing

Our growing kids change sizes so often and so quickly that they always need new clothes.  While some families see this as a new opportunity to go shopping, we try to approach the situation from a frugal mindset.  Buying new clothing is expensive, even if it’s on sale.  My wife does a great job scouring online marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, LetGo and 5Miles looking for deals on used clothing.  We are also thankful to have friends with kids just a little bit older than ours that are happy to donate their used clothing to our kids. 
This week, my wife scored 2 great deals on used clothing for our kids.  My wife picked up 88 pieces of clothing total for $140!  This comes out to be about $1.60 per item of clothing.  She purchased all this clothing from sellers on Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp.  The clothing is in great condition and many items are unworn with tags!  The sellers mentioned that since their kids have grown so fast, they never had the opportunity to start wearing their new clothes.
My wife always tries to buy our kids clothing second-hand and always kindly accepts hand-me-down clothing – it’s such a huge money saver.  The monetary value of clothing depreciates extremely quickly.  Children (unlike adults) may end up only wearing an outfit a handful of times before they grow out of those clothes.  My wife will often look to buy clothing for our kids the next size up so we won’t be scrambling for more clothes as they grow.  Even if these clothes don’t end up getting worn, purchasing used still saves far more money than buying new.  And we can pass on those items to another frugal family.    
Purchasing used clothing is great for the environment and reduces unnecessary waste.  Such waste can include fuel costs to pick up or deliver the items, packaging costs, manufacturing labor and pollution.  The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluting industries in the world; production and distribution of fashion materials contributes to water, air and soil pollution.  Buying new clothing is terrible for our environment. 
We buy used clothing and this has saved us thousands of dollars over time!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Side hustles May 2020

The great thing about doing side hustles to generate extra income is that you can hustle on your own terms.  The more hard work, time, and creative effort you put in, the more extra money you can make.  You can hustle as little or as much as you want, whenever you want.  It’s your extra money, and you can choose how you want to spend it.  Instead of focusing on what ideas don’t apply to you, try focusing on different side hustle ideas that you can implement to work for your situation.

Once a month (usually on the 1st), I like to post a short summary of our personal and financial situation for the previous month.  While I don’t often post articles, I am committed to documenting all of my side hustle income.  Here I’ll share some of what’s been going on with our lives and our side hustles. 

Welcome to June! How are you holding up in these broken times?  It’s been a very emotional time for the world.  While I usually avoid seeking out the news (we don’t have live TV), it’s hard to avoid seeing and reacting to what’s been going on.  We continue to do what we can to live our best lives and try to stay positive while we move forward. 
Our kids have found all sorts of fun ways to play with each other.  They’ve turned the dirt patch in our backyard into the beach.  
They pretend our neighborhood is a jungle full of fun creatures to watch (birds, squirrels, lizards, insects, dogs, cats, etc).  I’m very glad that our kids have each other. 
Our son loves drawing pictures and his skills are steadily improving.   
Our dog loves all this extra attention she’s getting every day.
Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of May.
Cash Back
On 5.8, I received a $4 statement credit on my Chase Freedom credit card from Chase Offers for getting 5% cash back on purchases made at Petsmart (dog food).

Rental Income
We still have not received any rental income profits this past month due to our tenants being unemployed suddenly due to the covid19 outbreak and shutdown of non-essential businesses.  We do have a healthy emergency fund for our property and understand that this is one of the risks of owning an investment property.  Our tenants are hopeful that they will be resuming work again soon.  The income we have received from our tenants so far does cover our expenses, so that’s good.
 
Side Job IncomeSince the local university is closed due to the coronavirus shut down, I have not had any opportunities to teach in April.

Survey Income
On 5.1, I received a $10 check from Kantar Media for completing a survey.
On 5.4, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from the Vision Council for completing a survey.
On 5.11, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from the Vision Council for completing a survey.
On 5.26, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from the Vision Council for completing a survey.
On 5.26, I received a $25 virtual Visa gift card from E-Rewards Medical for completing a medical survey.

Monthly Totals:
We earned $4 from cash back
I earned $50 for completing online surveys

All of this totals $54 from our side hustles for the month of May.  This may be the month with our lowest side hustle income to date!  Since everything has been closed, we have been saving much more money than usual.  Our gas expenses, travel expenses, and dining expenses have all dropped significantly and we are not sure when we will increase spending in those categories again.  Stay safe everyone.      

Thursday, May 7, 2020

FWOTW: Dog grooming at home

Abby is getting pretty shaggy
This week we gave our dog Abby a full grooming at home.  This included cutting her hair, cleaning her ears, trimming her nails, brushing her teeth and finishing up with a nice bath.  Regular grooming is important for dogs to make sure their hair doesn’t get matted, ears and eyes don’t get infected, teeth don’t rot and nails don’t get too long.  This wasn’t the first time we groomed Abby at home.  In fact, we’ve been doing our own dog grooming for almost 6 years now!
Taking your dog to a pet groomer can be a very expensive ($35+ per session!) recurring expense.  It can also be extremely stressful for your furry loved one.  When we first got our dog, she was always scared to go to the groomer.  After 3 visits to the groomer, we decided to groom her ourselves.  Abby trusts her parents more than anyone in the whole world, and we should be the ones grooming her.  Today I want to share our dog grooming routine and favorite products.

Cutting hairCurrently we cut Abby’s hair with dog grooming scissors that have a blunted end.  We give her a nice relaxing haircut outside.  We don’t always cut all of her hair in one sitting; we may split it up over several days.  I’ve found the best time to cut her facial hair is when she’s resting on the couch.  Don’t forget to trim the hair between the paws! 
Brushing teethJust as we brush our own teeth daily, it’s extremely important to brush your dog’s teeth.  Poor mouth hygiene has been associated with tooth decay, gum disease, painful infections, heart disease, kidney disease and other serious health conditions not to mention bad breath.  We brush our dog’s teeth with a 3 sided dog toothbrush and enzymatic poultry flavor dog toothpaste.  We used to give our dog Greenies, designed to clean a dog’s teeth and gums as they chew.  However, our vet did not recommend Greenies due to risk of dental fracture, choking, upset stomach and intestinal obstruction.    
Trimming nailsWe use a guillotine style nail clipper, which works very quickly at clipping the nails.  I lay Abby on her back, gently hold each paw and then clip away.  It’s very important to start slow and cut just a tiny amount to avoid hitting the kwik.  In the event that bleeding occurs, it’s important to keep styptic powder nearby – we use Kwik Stop.  I have previously tried the dremel/rotary/grinder type devices for nails, but found that it took too long and my dog did not like the noises these devices made.  Regularly trimming dog nails prevents the quick (blood supply of the nail) from growing too long.
Washing furWe wash our dog in the bathtub with Pet Head brand of dog shampoo because it’s easy to use and smells great.  Since our dog suffers from allergies, we use Pet Head Life’s An Itch Soothing Shampoo.  The shampoo helps prevent our dog from getting too itchy.  Make sure you wash around the eyes and ears gently.  It’s easy to bathe our dog because she is small.  We use a towel to dry her afterwards.    
Have you thought about grooming your own dog?I’m no expert at grooming different dog breeds, but there are plenty of video tutorials on YouTube to watch and learn from.  Some dog breeds require specialty care – you can’t just take a pair of scissors to every dog’s fur.  If you own a dog and are staying at home, now is the perfect time to try your hand at dog grooming.  Even if you give your dog a bad haircut, the hair will grow back on its own.  We find that grooming our dog is stress free, relaxing and fun.  Saving $35 a month is also nice! 

Friday, May 1, 2020

Side hustles April 2020

The great thing about doing side hustles to generate extra income is that you can hustle on your own terms.  The more hard work, time, and creative effort you put in, the more extra money you can make.  You can hustle as little or as much as you want, whenever you want.  It’s your extra money, and you can choose how you want to spend it.  Instead of focusing on what ideas don’t apply to you, try focusing on different side hustle ideas that you can implement to work for your situation.

Once a month (usually on the 1st), I like to post a short summary of our personal and financial situation for the previous month.  While I don’t often post articles, I am committed to documenting all of my side hustle income.  Here I’ll share some of what’s been going on with our lives and our side hustles. 

Welcome to May! Did you have a good April?  We have been adjusting well to our new stay at home routines.  My wife has been working from home for almost 2 months now.  Our kids are home and we are trying our best at home schooling.  We are trying to teach our kids with every opportunity that we have.  We are working on handwriting and reading comprehension with our son.  We are working on the alphabet with our daughter.   
Everyday the kids run around the house using their imagination as they play games with each other.  We try to get the kids outdoors at least 30 minutes to an hour each day for walks.  On our walks we look for different kinds of creatures like bees, slugs, snails, birds and lizards.  The kids are gaining a respect for nature and they know not to touch the creatures they encounter on our walks.  

We love reading books to our kids, and they are up to 6-10 books everyday!  One fun activity we have been doing is freezing some miniature sea creature toys in blocks of ice and having the kids rescue the creatures from the ice.    
Another fun activity we have been doing is have the kids create their own crafts with construction paper, glue, popsicle sticks and stickers.
Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of April.
Cash Back
We did not earn any cash back in April.

Rental Income
We did not receive any rental income profits this month due to our tenants being unemployed suddenly due to the covid19 outbreak and shutdown of non-essential businesses.  Our tenants have been great all these years and it is a difficult time for them right now.  We will be setting up a repayment plan with our tenants to catch up on missed rents.  We are not charging any late fees at this point.  Thankfully we have a big emergency fund for our rental property and the monthly mortgage on the property is low.

Side Job IncomeSince the local university is closed due to the coronavirus shut down, I have not had any opportunities to teach in April.

Survey Income
On 4.6, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from the Vision Council for completing a survey.
On 4.9, I received a $10 Amazon gift card from MNOW for completing a medical survey.
On 4.14, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from the Vision Council for completing a survey.
On 4.14, I received a $10 Amazon gift card from MNOW for completing a medical survey.
On 4.20, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from the Vision Council for completing a survey.
On 4.21, I received a $55 check from My Impact Network for completing a medical survey.
On 4.23, I received a $50 direct deposit into my bank from GLG for completing a medical survey.
On 4.24, I received a $35 check from M3 Global Research for completing a medical survey.
On 4.27, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from the Vision Council for completing a survey.
On 4.27, I received a $10 Amazon gift card from MNOW for completing a medical survey.
On 4.27, I received a $10 Amazon gift card from MNOW for completing a medical survey.

Blog Income
On 4.29, I received a direct deposit of $11.85 from blog income as a member of Amazon Associates.


Miscellaneous Income
On 4.3, I received a check for $63 from our kids’ dental practice.  There was an insurance issue where a claim was not billed properly and we were charged the difference.  After I made a few calls to the insurance company, I was able to get the dental claim paid out properly, resulting in a refund. 
On 4.6, I received a $0.48 Amazon gift card from the Job Spotter app, by Indeed.  With this app, you basically take pictures of businesses that are hiring and upload photos.  A month ago, I had dinner with friends at a restaurant and when I saw the “now hiring” sign, I took a few pictures and earned 48 cents!
On 4.8, I received a check for $62.25 from the Takata Airbag settlement class action lawsuit.
On 4.8, my wife received a check for $62.25 from the Takata Airbag settlement class action lawsuit.
On 4.15, I redeemed 480 points for a $3 Amazon gift card from
On 4.23, I received a $204.30 refund to my credit card from Geico.  Since my wife has been working from home for the last 6 weeks and I’ve been going to the office only 2 days a week, we have not been driving very much at all during this lockdown.  I called Geico to ask nicely for a discount and the customer service rep was nice enough to offer one to me!  I wrote about it here.
On 4.30, we received a direct deposit of $3,223.90 from the IRS as our stimulus check.  I list this as a side hustle because our income qualifies for the stimulus check only after taking into account tax deductions on our gross income.  These deductions include two maxed out 401Ks ($19,500 each), a maxed out Dependent Care FSA ($5,000), a maxed out HSA ($7,000) and a Medical FSA deduction of $1,000. 

Monthly Totals:
I earned $200 for completing online surveys
We earned $11.85 from blog income
We earned $3,619.18 of miscellaneous income

All of this totals $3,831.03 from our side hustles for the month of April!  This lockdown has given us time to reflect on what is really important in life.  This has been an interesting month for us and we are really enjoying the time that we have at home.  My office is looking to reopen full time starting May 11th, and I may never get this chance to spend so much time with my kids again anytime soon.  Keep saving.  Keep investing.  And be safe.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

FWOTW: Saving money on car insurance

Very few vehicles are on the road these days.
As the current stay at home quarantine continues, we have been looking for different ways to get organized and be productive with our extra free time.  With the vast majority of people staying home and limiting the amount of driving that they are doing, insurance accident claims have dropped tremendously.  Many car insurance companies are automatically refunding portions of paid premiums during the coronavirus outbreak.  Allstate is crediting customers with 15%, Progressive customers are receiving 20%, while Farmers and State Farm are reducing monthly premiums by 25%. 
We have been Geico customers for 7 years now, as they have consistently offered us the best deal on auto insurance.  Geico is currently offering a 15% credit on our next policy term.  While this is great, I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to call Geico to ask if they could offer us any additional discounts.  My wife has been working from home for the last 6 weeks and I have been going to the office only 2-3 days a week.  My commute is 6 miles each way.  I’ve read of some people calling their insurance companies to put their car insurance on hold (for at least 30 days) to save money.  This was an option we considered but I like the idea of having both vehicles accessible in case of emergency.
I set aside time to call Geico to ask for a discount to keep us as happy customers.  To avoid excessive telephone wait times, I used the automated system to connect me to the cancellation department.  I would consider cancelling our policy with Geico if they would not lower our rates.  I nicely explained our new driving situation to the customer service representative and asked if Geico could offer us a discount now, instead of at our policy renewal in a few months.  The Geico rep was very understanding and didn’t hesitate to recalculate our insurance rate due to our reduced driving and long 7-year history with the company.   
After a short conversation, the Geico rep offered me a refund of $204.30!  I accepted the offer right away.  My credit card account received this refund earlier this week. 
I’m glad I made a short phone call to save some extra money.  Are you willing to make a phone call to save money?

Friday, April 17, 2020

Atomic Habits

James Clear is an author, entrepreneur and one of the leading experts on habits.   James Clear writes on JamesClear.com and read his email newsletter on a routine basis.  I found his new book Atomic Habits to be helpful and enjoyable.  Atomic Habits is designed to help anyone improve any aspect of their lives including health, productivity, finance, relationships and more.
What is a habit?James Clear defines a habit as “a routine or behavior that is performed regularly – and, in many cases, automatically.”
“Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years.  We all deal with setbacks but in the long run, the quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our habits.  With the same habits, you’ll end up with the same results.  But with better habits, anything is possible.”
The core of the Atomic Habits book is going through the four-step model of habits and then going through the four laws of behavior change.  James Clear lays out his guidelines in a clear and concise manner.
The four-step loop of habits that underlies all of human behavior are: cue, craving, response, and reward.  The cue triggers your brain to notice a reward and initiate a specific behavior.  A craving is the motivational force behind every habit – our reason to act based on motivation or desire.  The response is the habit that we perform, which can either be a thought or an action.  The reward is the end goal of every habit – the reward satisfies the craving and tells our brain which actions are worth repeating in the future.    
How can small habits make a big difference?James Clear emphasizes the importance of the aggregation of marginal gains, a philosophy of striving for just a tiny bit of improvement in everything you do.
“It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.  Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action. … Meanwhile, improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable – sometimes it isn’t even noticeable – but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run.  The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. 
Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.  Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero.  What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.”
While daily habits may not seem much on their own, James Clear describes habits as “the compound interest of self-improvement.”  The effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them, with huge impacts over time.  Because huge results don’t seem to happen right away when implementing small changes in routine, many people give up and go back to unproductive routines.
“A single decision is easy to dismiss.  But when we repeat 1 percent errors, day after day, by replicating poor decisions, duplicating tiny mistakes, and rationalizing little excuses, our small choices compound into toxic results.  It’s the accumulation of many missteps – a 1 percent decline here and there – that eventually leads to a problem.”
“Making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse seems insignificant in the moment, but over the span of moments that make up a lifetime these choices determine the difference between who you are and who you could be.  Success is the product of daily habits – not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”
The importance of setting up good systemsJames Clear wants you to know that no matter how successful you are now, the most important thing to know about your habits is whether they are putting you on a trajectory of success or failure.  The journey is more important than your current results.  Tiny improvements, even 1 percent improvements will push you towards the results you want to achieve.  While setting goals can help define the results you want to achieve, James Clear stresses that one should focus on systems and processes instead of goals.  Developing and sticking to good systems is much better for making progress than just having a goal.
“If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you.  The problem is your system.  Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change.
You do not rise to the level of your goals.  You fall to the level of your systems.”
Choose behaviors that align with the type of person you wish to be“Behavior that is incongruent with the self will not last.  You may want more money, but if your identity is someone who consumes rather than creates, then you’ll continue to be pulled toward spending rather than earning.  You may want better health, but if you continue to prioritize comfort over accomplishment, you’ll be drawn to relaxing rather than training.  It’s hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior.  You have a new goal and a new plan, but you haven’t changed who you are.
The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity.  It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this.  It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this. 
True behavior change is identity change.  You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you’ll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity.  Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are.”
How does one create a good habit?
Make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy and make it satisfying.  James Clear goes into extreme detail with the steps involved with creating a habit and making sure that habit sticks.  In the beginning, small changes seem meaningless.  But over time as small changes continue to stack on top of each other, a tipping point is reached and the habits compound.  At some point, your system keeps you consistently sticking to your good habits.  The process is continuous as you always look for the next step to get 1 percent better.Breaking a bad habit involves doing the opposite of creating a good habit
Make it invisible, make it unattractive, make it difficult, and make it unsatisfying.  Bad habits “repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change.”
Applying principles from Atomic Habits to your finances
1. Make good financial habits obvious.  You can start improving your finances by first tracking your spending.  This can be done manually with ClearCheckbook or automatically with Mint and Personal Capital.  You can implement intentions such as “I will save 20% of my income.”

Make bad financial habits invisible.  Unsubscribe from all mailing lists from retailers and deal sites.  Saving 20% off something is often spending 80% on something you don’t need.

2. Make good financial habits attractive.  Join a culture where saving and investing is considered normal behavior.  This includes following financial bloggers such as Mr. Money Mustache and JL Collins.  This includes listening to financial podcasts such as ChooseFI and Afford Anything.  You can join online financial communities such as Bogleheads.  Saving and investing consistently is easier when everyone around you is doing it.

Make bad financial habits unattractive.  Reframe your mindset.  Think about how having a low savings account balance or a high credit card balance can make you feel like you have lost control of your finances.  The benefits of financial peace outweigh the detriment of financial stress.

3.  Make good financial habits easy.  Automating your saving and investing locks in consistent behavior.  Investing in your 401K is a perfect example of sticking to a great financial habit with zero effort.  Every time you get a paycheck, a portion of money is automatically taken out and invested in your 401K – you don’t even see that amount on your paycheck so there is no temptation to spend it.  You can set up automatic transfers into a savings account as well as contributions into an IRA.  Setting up autopay for your bills ensures that you never miss a payment. 
Make bad financial habits difficult.  If your savings and investments are automatically taken out of your checking account, your account balance will be lower.  You will be less likely to spend money if you have less money in your account.  Consider moving your savings account into an online bank, which typically offer much higher yields.  When you link your checking account to an online savings account, it takes longer to access that money.  By increasing the friction of access to your online savings account, you will be less tempted to access the money.

4.  Make good financial habits satisfying.  Watching your savings and investment accounts grow can be extremely satisfying.  Having a large amount of savings can provide a great deal of comfort and safety, especially in times of financial uncertainty.  Keeping your credit card balances at $0 can provide excellent peace of mind.
Make bad financial habits unsatisfying.  Having an accountability partner such as your spouse or significant other can help keep an eye on your financial behavior. 
Atomic Habits makes it crystal clear on how to create and maintain good habits.  James Clear is an excellent writer.  He provides plenty of science and research behind his claims.  His storytelling is fluid and easy to read.  The best part of this book was the chapter summaries that really helped to concisely tie everything together.  I’ve been able to slowly integrate many of his strategies into my daily life.  Atomic Habits is the most influential book I’ve read in a long time; I highly recommend it.  You can pick up your copy of Atomic Habits from Amazon here or check to see if your local library offers a digital copy for loan.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

FWOTW: My wife continues to cut my hair at home

It’s time for another frugal win of the week (FWOTW) post – quarantine edition!  Since everyone is now staying at home and non-essential businesses are closed, I’ve had several friends and coworkers complain that they can’t get their hair cut anywhere.  After 3 weeks of quarantine, one friend has resorted to shaving his head!
My wonderful wife has been cutting my hair at home since May 2013 and she just cut my hair today while the kids were napping.  The entire process took about 15 minutes.  Afterwards, I hopped into the shower to wash away all the leftover prickly bits of hair.  There’s just something so refreshing about getting a haircut.  In the past, I’ve paid $28 per haircut twice a month!  Getting my haircut at home saves time, money, and fuel. 
If any readers are quarantined and cut their own hair or have a significant other do it - awesome, keep it up!  If you are quarantined and need a haircut, now is the perfect time to start practicing.  Even if you mess up, your hair will grow back.
Once you eliminate an expense, it is gone forever.  It’s not just about saving an amount for one time or one year, but saving that amount every year for the rest of your life!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Side hustles March 2020

The great thing about doing side hustles to generate extra income is that you can hustle on your own terms.  The more hard work, time, and creative effort you put in, the more extra money you can make.  You can hustle as little or as much as you want, whenever you want.  It’s your extra money, and you can choose how you want to spend it.  Instead of focusing on what ideas don’t apply to you, try focusing on different side hustle ideas that you can implement to work for your situation.

Once a month (usually on the 1st), I like to post a short summary of our personal and financial situation for the previous month.  While I don’t often post articles, I am committed to documenting all of my side hustle income.  Here I’ll share some of what’s been going on with our lives and our side hustles. 
Welcome to April!  April Fools is cancelled this year.  How is everyone adjusting to the “new normal” way of life? This past month has been the scariest and strangest month that we have lived through.  This new coronavirus pandemic has hit the world hard and fast, effectively causing everything to shut down.  A couple weeks ago, California residents were asked to shelter at home.  There has been a complete closure of all non-essential businesses.  Citizens are asked to isolate at home to keep the number of new disease cases at manageable levels for medical doctors and staff without overwhelming hospitals all at the same time.  Doctors, nurses, medical assistants and hospital staff have been working nonstop to fight this novel new virus.  Grocery workers are also working nonstop to restock shelves and deal with panic buying of groceries and toiletries.    

With much of the U.S. in lockdown, businesses have ground to a halt.  All amusement parks, schools, libraries, movie theatres and malls are closed.  Sporting events and concerts are cancelled.  Children are now homeschooled.  While some companies can continue to move forward with employees working from home, others have had to lay off their workers.  A record 3.3 million Americans have filed for unemployment with estimates of 30% unemployment rates.  Many of our friends have filed for unemployment.  The stock market dropped ~35%, the fastest crash in the history. Many small businesses may not survive this ordeal.  People are dying.  And things could get much worse before they get better.     
This situation is unprecedented.  The U.S. has passed a $2 trillion (that’s $2,000,000,000,000) stimulus package, which includes loans to businesses and even checks to citizens.  World governments are throwing money at their economies to keep everything running while scientists around the world are working to develop treatments for this new coronavirus.   
Here at home, we have been trying our best to adjust to this new normal.  We’ve never had to avoid handshakes, high fives and hugs.  We’ve never had to wait in line before entering a grocery store due to social distancing.  My wife has been working from home for the last 2 weeks and she’s been extremely productive.  She says she’s getting more work done now at home because there are fewer distractions.  She does need to split up her work time between the early morning (before kids are awake), kids naptime, and after the kids go to sleep.  We are grateful that she is still bringing home a steady paycheck.  Everyday that I am off work during the week feels like the weekend.  We are trying our best to keep our kids mentally stimulated and physically fit.      
It’s amazing that just a few weeks ago, I was working on setting up a bonus structure in my clinic and ramping up my schedule.  My work has cut my hours significantly, where I’ve been only working 2 days a week for the last 2 weeks.  In the future, I may be down to working 1 day a week for the next month.  I am thankful that I am a partner of my practice and I have 7 weeks of PTO (paid time off) to burn through before I need to consider applying for unemployment benefits.
We are thankful that we get to spend more quality time with our family.  We may never again have the opportunity to be able to slow down from our busy lives and stay put at home.  This is a moment to reflect on what is truly most important in our lives.  We now have all this extra time to do the things we’ve always wanted to do: exercise more, read more, spend more time with family, be a better cook, catch up with friends, pick up a new hobby, etc.   
Our kids are so used to going out to fun and exciting places every weekend that it’s been a hard adjustment staying home.  It’s hard to explain to our 4 year old son why everything is currently closed when he asks us why he can’t go anywhere “fun” anymore.  We try to stick to a schedule of various activities, games, plenty of reading and daily outdoor walks around our neighborhood.  It’s been nice to see both of our children play together and use their imagination.  I’m glad that our kids have each other.  They’ve turned our neighborhood walks into “jungle exploration” trips.  On our walks we watch out for birds, lizards, squirrels, ants, caterpillars and other insects.
I made a fishing game for the kids so they can fish off the "couch ship".
During uncertain times like this, I am glad that we have 6 months worth of expenses set aside in our emergency fund.  There have been times in the past where I’ve been tempted to invest part or our entire emergency fund to try to chase some extra returns – I’m glad we didn’t do that.  An emergency fund is designed for one purpose – emergencies.  Due to the coronavirus, our rental property tenants have informed us that they will have difficulty paying rent during the next few months.  They have been great tenants for the last ~4 years and we will work with them to get past this difficult time. 
We have also been saving up plenty of Chase Ultimate Rewards points for an international family trip later in the year – looks like we aren’t going to travel outside the U.S. anytime soon.  Our 517,767 Ultimate Rewards points balance can serve as a cash amount of $5,177.67 if we need it.  We would rather use it for business class tickets on an international flight though! 
While the world economy and our personal lives have taken a huge hit, I remain positive that we will get through this difficult time.  Scientists are working hard to come up with treatment protocols for the coronavirus, while multiple companies are testing new vaccines.  This storm will pass.  Once people get back to working again, I expect companies will continue to be profitable.  The stock market will bounce back and continue to be the best way to earn money.
If you are hurting financially or mentally right now, you are not alone.  Almost every industry is affected right now, some much worse than others.  Stimulus checks are coming, and I am hopeful that there’s going to be more checks after that until the economy stabilizes.  The most important thing for all of us to do right now is to stay home and try to flatten the curve of new infections, preventing our hospital systems from getting slammed with too many cases all at once.  We should try to embrace this extra time while we have it.  We can boost our immune systems with daily exercise, stress reduction, healthy eating, and increased restful sleep.  While staying informed is important, it’s also important to give yourself a mental and emotional break by turning off the news once in a while.
Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of March.
Cash Back
On 3.3, I received a $0.37 statement credit from my Discover Cashback checking account. 
On 3.4, I received a $5 deposit in my Chase Savings account for completing a promotion from Chase for selecting automatic savings transfer of $30 a month into my Chase Savings account.  I got notified of this deal from Doctor of Credit here (expired now).  I get all of my random deals from the Doctor of Credit newsletter.

Rental Income
On 3.5, we received a net profit of $450 from our rental property.

Side Job IncomeOn 3.14, I received a direct deposit of $187.50 for teaching at the local university.

Survey Income
On 3.9, I received a $20 check from E-Rewards Medical for completing a medical survey.
On 3.24, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from the Vision Council for completing a survey.
On 3.30, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from the Vision Council for completing a survey.

Miscellaneous IncomeOn 3.1, I sold a rarely worn Rolex watch of mine to a watch dealer for $8,200 cash.  At the time, I was sure we would be seeing an economic recession.  China is one of the world’s leading purchasers of Swiss watches and I could see that their economy was going to temporarily shut down.  It’s amazing that the watch has held its value (and increased in value slightly) since I purchased it in 2012 for $7400.  I probably could have sold the watch for an extra $1,000 in a private sale, but I did not want to risk any fraud or online scams.
Cash is king right now!
On 3.10, my wife received a $50 Amazon gift card for participating in the California Regional Exposure (CARE) Study.  Basically she provided a blood and urine sample to help measure levels of chemicals in people across California.  My chance to participate in the study got postponed due to the coronavirus shut down.

Monthly Totals:
We earned $5.37 from cash back
We earned $450 from rental income
I earned $187.50 from teaching at the local university
I earned $30 for completing online surveys
We earned $8,250 of miscellaneous income

All of this totals $8,922.87 from our side hustles for the month of March!  It’s important for us to continue to hold extra cash in our emergency fund during this time.  I’m glad we shifted our investment portfolio to a more conservative one earlier this month.  From an emotional standpoint, this helps me sleep better at night.  We are taking small bites out of the stock market, but I expect volatility to continue in the near term.  All our new 401K and IRA contributions continue to purchase US and International stock index funds.       

Stay healthy my friends - mentally, physically and financially.  We will get through this.  
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