by Damon Carr, For New Pittsburgh Courier
If you’re a regular reader of my column, you’d know that I spend a lot of time discussing ideas on how to create wiggle room in your budget. Living paycheck to paycheck indefinitely with no end in sight is stressful and a pathway to financial ruin. Income doesn’t matter! You can be making $5,000 per year, $50,000 per year, or $5 million per year—you cannot get ahead financially if there’s no margin between your income and your expenses. There’s three ways to create wiggle room. Reduce expenses, increase your income, do a better job managing your money. The best method is to do all the above.
Benjamin Franklin, the guy whose face graces the $100 bill, said that a dollar saved is a dollar earned. It requires less sacrifice, time, blood, sweat, and tears to reduce expenses than it does to create additional income. As a result, I devote more time covering topics revolving around reducing expenses and reducing debt than I do the other two topics. I devote the second most time to topics that will help us do a better job of managing our money. I spend the least amount of time talking about topics that focus on “increasing your income.”
The reality is, I’ve yet to come across ANYONE who was content with their current income. Everyone with whom I’ve discussed the intimate details of personal finances welcomes the idea of bringing additional income into their household. People whose income level is low-to-moderate and are struggling to get ahead financially, the answer is obvious: You need to increase your household income. People whose income is good to great are oftentimes getting by but not getting ahead financially. They struggle because of their inability to consistently save money. The answer here is—if you want to save more money without reducing your expenses and/or changing your lifestyle, you need to increase your income. People who frown upon the idea of budgeting, thinking a budget is restricting… I tell them, it’s not your budget that is restricting you, it’s your income. If you want to spend more, travel more, save more, have more, you need to increase your income.
How do you increase your income?
• Overtime? Sure! If it’s available.
• Job Promotion? Sure! If there’s an open slot.
• New Job? Sure! If you’re willing to give up tenure and you can command a higher wage elsewhere.
• Second Job? Sure! Especially if you’re a nurse, police officer, construction worker, or teacher. There’s plenty of part-time/second job opportunities available in these fields that pay a decent wage.
• Side Hustle? Sure! If you have the talent, skill, work ethic, and knowhow to create consistent, bankable income.
• Open up your own business? Sure! If you have the start-up capital, talent, skill, work ethic, knowhow, and resources to create consistent, bankable income.
What if I shared an idea with you that allowed you to increase your income as well as:
• Keep your current job
• Own your own business
• Startup cost under $50
• Work when you want to
• Earn a respectable wage
• No college degree required
What I’m about to reveal to you isn’t anything new. Albeit, you may have overlooked it. I consider this dummy proof income generator to be “the great equalizer.” For you can use this income source to patch any hole in your wallet. I view it as legally printing your own money. It’s stealing money. It’s akin to taking candy from a baby. No skill or talent required. Just a good work ethic.
In 2018 I had an opportunity to enroll my sons in a school in my hometown in Ohio. I work from home. I can set up shop and work from anywhere. I decided to get an apartment in Austintown, Ohio, near the school. What that meant is I had a mortgage and all the household expenses associated with it in Pittsburgh. I had rent and all the household expenses associated with it in Austintown. I’m talking double utility bills, double cable and Internet. I ran the numbers before we made the move. It all worked out on paper. However, I forgot to include one important piece of detail on my back of the napkin math calculations. My wife was still living and working in Pittsburgh. I had zero help with the kids. I got a glimpse of what it felt like to be a single parent. Single parents, I salute you! That required me to cook EVERYDAY among other daily parental tasks. Who got time for that? We ate out practically everyday. These newly-created expenses coupled with dining out daily made the budget tight.
I’m claustrophobic, both literally and figuratively. I don’t like tight spaces or tight wallets. I wasn’t about to change my lifestyle. I only needed an extra $500 per month to make it all flow smoothly. I had to find something that was flexible. It had to work around my busy work schedule, my kids school schedule and my kids after school activity schedule.
I had to take my own medicine and implement the advice I’ve advised others to do. I entered the “Gig Economy.” I started doing Uber Eats after the kids went to sleep. Remember, I only needed an extra $500 per month. FIRST WEEK, I grossed $900 working four hours each night. I thought to myself, “This is a franchise business” with zero risk! I’ve created a couple of businesses from scratch. Never have I come across a ready-set-go, paint by the number, as easy as 1-2-3 business models as this. Let me explain. The two primary barriers to building and growing a business are “Startup cost” and “Marketing”—(generating business). Startup capital can be upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. Marketing is a trial-and-error process that costs thousands of dollars. Even if your marketing is successful at getting potential buyers to your place of business, it doesn’t mean they’re going to buy.
With these “Gig Economy” business models such as Uber, Uber Eats, Lyft, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Instacart—startup cost is a tank of gas. Once you hit the go button, they’re sending you buyers who have already paid. They’ve already absorbed the marketing cost. You simply partner with them to provide a service to the end buyer.
I was looking for an extra $500 per month. That’s $6,000 over the course of a year. First year, I grossed nearly $40,000 doing Uber Eats. Second year, I did even more. All while maintaining my full-time job and attending all my kid’s activities. I did it when I had time. I did it when I wanted to, mainly while the family slept.
If you’re looking for a foolproof, no-fail, no stress way to earn some extra money and start your own business, consider something in the “Gig Economy.” Should you go the Uber or Uber Eats route, use my referral code DAMONC2788UE.
(Damon Carr, Money Coach can be reached @ 412-216-1013 or @ www.damonmoneycoach.com)