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No Income!?!

Three months into my leave. (How did that happen!?) Short term disability exhausted. Vacation time spent. I am officially without an incoming paycheck. In fact, I have been for a couple weeks. For the first time ever in my adult life, there is no check in the mail with my name on it. No anticipated direct deposit. What an odd feeling. It really shouldn’t ‘feel’ any way. But it does have connotations. A little vertigo perhaps, due to a missing safety net.

Fear not! I saved for this! Money set aside that can seamlessly slide into the place of those missing checks. Whew! Except…Well, except I hate spending savings. Or anything remotely resembling savings. Anything residing in a savings like account. Under certain circumstances, I will just have to. It will be unavoidable. Those circumstances have not yet arrived. (Read: The Husband is gainfully employed. Cross your fingers, toes, eyes, double appendages, and knock on all things wood it remains that way.) In the meantime, I vow to protect those savings, erm “that money”. I will strive to add to it. To not take it for granted. To respect it for what it represents: hard work, time, and a finite resource.

Without being employed, how does one do that?

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Some of these methods, I’ve already mentioned. They are nothing new. My line drying revolution continues. Even with the advent of Seattle rains, I’ve expanded my indoor operation by “investing” in some additional square footage. This adds to the existing 40ft I’ve had in my basement for a couple years. They don’t smell as nice indoors. They take longer, but my little set-up can accommodate 1+ loads of laundry. Since I’ve got a bunch of time, I can handle one load a day, thereby avoiding the dryer entirely. Almost. It’s a fine laundry dance, but I consider it just that, an art form. A money-saving, cloth diapering, clothespin, efficiency art.

But, can I stop talking about clotheslines already?! Damp clothes don’t actually generate income, no matter how you dry them. Using my time is great, but actual money in? Even better.

Sell Your Stuff. In all the ways. If you want money, look around your house. I do this in fits and starts. In times of crisis (obvious income drop or loss), I go through a mass purge evaluating items and avenues for selling. Depending on what you’ve got, you may not net much. However, I’m a firm believer that cash is cash. So, I’ll take the $75 for those shoes that have been in my closet. Happily. Course I’ll also take $4 for the 2 books sitting in my purgatory cupboard for the last 6 months. This time around, I’m exploring other options on both the where and the what of selling. Amazon and Powell’s offer postage paid selling options for good books in good shape. I’m averaging about $2 a book for what they will buy. Shabby? None too. Not for Life of Pi (I couldn’t get into it) or The Night Circus (pretty, but not a multi-read for me). Especially, when I got these books used or with a gift card in the first place. As my baby gets bigger, I’m just entering the lucrative world of baby resale. So far, I’ve sold outgrown diaper covers to recoup more than 1/2 my cost. There’s a small stock pile of clothes and equipment that will also be sold – mostly via Craiglist. In addition, I am delving into parts unknown: The Husband’s garage. It needs cleaning and I have a strange feeling there’s money hidden in his rat’s nest of disorganization. Money Made: $129 cash (and counting). $9 in Amazon credit from book sales. But, can I sustain it?

Swagbucks. I am embarrassed to admit this. It seems awful. Contrary to my anti-consumer ways. And it certainly can be. You can spend money on a bunch of crap and expose yourself to advertising, for pennies. Literally, pennies! But, as with all small change, it adds up. I mindlessly browsed my way into $25 of Amazon bucks last month. Up in the middle of the night feeding a baby? Swagbucks! Waking up slowly with hot coffee and the computer after that interrupted sleep? Yes, Swagbucks. Keeping an eye on offers where you spend $1 and get $5 Amazon bucks? Oh alright, Swagbucks. Killing time while you are waiting on hold? Come on, Swagbucks. Refer friends, neighbors, and blog readers? That’s what all those links above do. I’ll get points for that too (please, thankyou). And those Amazon dollars come at a slightly better rate. 450 points to $5. As opposed to 500 for $5 for all other vendors. I’ve resisted the call of such sites for years. But, I’m broadening my horizons. $25 adds to my stash of big boy diapers. And it buys dog supplements. I try to minimize the damage. I multi-task. I stare out the window during commercial content. I keep the volume to a dull roar. There’s still a little part of my life being sold very, very cheaply.

Dogs FOR Dollars. No, the dogs are not getting that paper route. Yet. But, this space here, it could pull its weight a little more. The good news is it’ll get me writing. The medium news is I will answer to the swan song of paid blogging a little more. This blog has never made much in the way of actual money. Nor has that ever really been my intent. Something might be nice though. So, maybe not ads, (another yet) but more affiliate links. Some review posts. Much like the ones I’ve already done on applicable products. A tip jar may be coming to a blog near you. Those swagbucks links above. Any support thrown our way, I’ll take it. And appreciate it muchly. If you find the content here worthwhile, thought provoking, humorous, or you’d like to pay me to go away, consider using an affiliate link. It doesn’t have to be for the product linked. Anything in that shopping session, I’ll get a small chunk of. Or trying your hand at becoming a Swagbuckler, for no particular reason.

Little bits of money. Pieced together. I’ve heard it described as an income quilt. I’d accept a potholder at this juncture. As scary as the loss of my Corporate Sponsors is, I remind myself I’ve done this before. That wasn’t voluntary. It was a scramble. This time I’m out in front of it. Staring it down, with a cushy job to go back to (should I so choose) in a few months. But won’t it be interesting to see how well I can make this work?

How would you handle a loss of income? Practically? Emotionally? What are your go-to money-making tricks?

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Comments

Nicoleandmaggie
Reply

We’re still working on this, 3 months into DH leaving his job. The nice thing about spending on almost one salary when you’re making two is that when the salary gets cut, you’re almost ok. Mostly we’ve been eating out a lot less and saving a lot less. And I’ve been worrying a lot more.

When I’ve had a temporary cut (because of taking an unpaid job opportunity that takes time away from the usual paid work), I actually have spent down the earmarked savings, and without remorse. Not as much as I’d earmarked, mind you, but some.

dogsordollars
Reply

‘Almost ok ‘ basically defines it doesn’t it? Check. Check. Check. On all the other fronts too. More worry, less savings.

Good for you on spending the savings. I tell myself its what they are there for. I’ve even started tricking myself by just keeping it as padding in my checking account. Its not like the interest rate is any great boon anyway. That seems to help. Once it becomes separate money in a savings account though, oh the pain!

Jenny N.
Reply

Since I’ve returned to my (not as cushy) job, I’ve only been able to work part-time. I’m slowly working back to my normal hours – it’s so hard to get a schedule pinned down with 2 kids! – but until then we’re living on less. I wish I were better at identifying things to make a little extra money, things I’d probably be happier doing, anyway. I’ve never been good at making myself do something productive after bedtime, even before #2 when only one child was keeping me exhausted. Good for you to be able to stay home so long with your baby! I had 6 weeks of leave and I barely made it to the end in tact.

dogsordollars
Reply

I can’t imagine doing even this with 2 kids! And after bedtime, heck no! For now, as soon as that boy sleeps, so do I! Even if thats at 730!

I have a limited repertoire of money making activities, but I’m always on the look out to expand them.

Debbie M
Reply

I am currently handling a lack of income due to having quit a high-stress job. Emotionally handling the loss is easy because I have savings and I have less stress–I am so happy to be out of that job. However, like you, I don’t want to spend all my savings. I actually can last until my pension kicks in by spending down my Roth IRA contributions, but of course I’d rather increase the contributions. Although my pension will cover all my living expenses, I can’t count on it to keep up with inflation and I can’t count on my expenses to stay low as I age–and I do plan/hope to age quite a bit. Still, I have it super easy. (Plus no dependents.)

Financially my main strategy has been job hunting. I got three consulting contracts. When those dried up, I applied for unemployment. After a month of no interviews, I signed up for a tax preparation class. You are not guaranteed work afterward, but you almost are. And now I’ve signed up for temp work. One way or another, I expect to get some more income of some kind.

In the frugality area, I have kept doing what I’ve been doing. Like you, I dry my laundry on racks inside. Unlike you, I prefer the indoor smell. (To me, the fresh outdoor aroma just smells like wet dogs.) I’ve learned that keeping a fan on can really speed up the drying and reduce the chance of mildew. I also have no trouble never using a dryer because I don’t have a dryer or even dryer hook-ups.

I do my own cooking, eating out only socially–and I’m never the one to suggest eating out. I have a roommate. I make laundry detergent. Grate my own cheese, even parmesan. Keep the A/C as hot as I can stand it. Combine errands and drive conservatively to save gas. Focus on cheaper foods–not the low quality ones so much as things that are just cheaper to make. So I sub TVP (soy) for half the hamburger in chili and spaghetti, eat lots of whole-grain pasta, rice, and bread and make my own cookies–even with whole wheat pastry flour and organic chocolate chips, they are cheaper than store-bought. Just got Groupons for my favorite movie theatre. Read library books and try out library exercise videos. So I’m still living in the manner to which I’ve become accustomed because I’d rather use up my savings than change my living style.

I do have other money coming in, but not much. I also use swagbucks (which I’m also embarrassed about–I don’t recommend it to my friends). That’s $60 so far this year–I do have a little more time now, so I check more often for swag codes. I use my rewards credit card for most purchases. And the same company got me to open a savings account for a big reward, and I keep that account open because it increases my rewards (so now I get 1.1% + 10 cents per purchase). That’s added up to $141.25 so far this year. I bring re-usable bags to the store–some stores pay for that. That’s $1.80 so far this year. And I sold some books to Half-Price. That’s $3.50 more. I also try to return purchases that don’t work out ASAP. And there is also interest, dividends, and capital gains.

Selling my stuff is not ideal because generally by the time I don’t want it anymore, neither does anyone else!

Lilypad
Reply

This post and your next one about the baby (mazel tov, by the way!) compel me to share this idea with you: consider your family complete with just one child. No offense to anyone who has more kids, but as the mom of one son (my baby is 12 now, how can this be??!!), I can tell you that parenting a singleton is awesome. Our little family of three is so close, and we have so much fun together. My friends who went on to have a second child spend most of their time pulling them off of each other and mediating disputes all day long. That would drive me insane. I have so much more time for frugal pursuits (like scratch cooking, which is fun to me) and I am a much calmer, happier person, which makes me a much better mother. My son is bright, happy, social and knows that he is truly loved. So many people blithely have another child thinking they are doing the best for their first child—I’m asking every mom of one out there to at least consider that one child is enough for them. Lauren Sandler just wrote a book called “One and Only” bashing some of the myths of the only child; while I do have some quibbles with the book, it is worth the read. We also live in the Seattle area and honestly, I do not know how people can afford to have more than one child here! So there’s my frugal tip for you. Best of luck, and enjoy this amazing time at home with your new son.

Van
Reply

You’ve inspired me to do the little things to get income up! Fired up the swag bucks account I never touched again and weeded through the book collection for more to trade in to the used book store ;)

On income shrink, it was hard for me at first when I was spoiled by my full time income. Now my income is WAAAAAY less but I couldn’t be happier. I was working 60+ hours a week and killing myself for that money, not worth it! I’ll taker doing what I love and more free time/flexible schedule and being poor over those riches anyday. I’m working hard to get my income higher than it was when I worked for the man, though :D You’ll get used to it, don’t let it get to you. Keep on selling and being creative. This period of lower earnings (for now!) has me getting total expenditure lower than ever so I’ll be saving more when income increases. I’m down to $816 per month for EVERYTHING and could go even lower if I reeaaally had to/wanted to.

I do have to dip into my savings sometimes and it buuuuurns but that motivates me to get sales better than ever when that happens.

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