I posted recently how we’ve been cutting monthly expenses, so I figured I would post a compliment to that showing some of the things I’ve done to bring a few bucks into the household each month as well.

sidegigs

Clinical Trials/Studies

I sat down and added up the clinical trials and other items studies I’ve been a part of, and up until now it’s only amounted to about $800. But $800 is $800. Just last week, I was selected for another clinical trial. This one will amount to about 50 “work” hours and it will pay $1,325. Not bad, and it will help to cover about what we need to cover a months of expenses (including Nicole’s income).

The same facility I do the clinical trials does other studies and food taste tests as well. Their taste tastes pay between $20-$30 for about a half hour of your time. Couple some of the other studies and taste tests with the higher paid clinical studies and this has been a decent way to add some money each month for me.

Unemployment Compensation

This isn’t so much a side gig, but it is a way to have monthly income while you’re out of work. This should be a given if you lost your job. Regardless of if you were laid off or terminated for cause, apply for unemployment regardless. The worst they can say is “no”. Here in Illinois, you can collect for unemployment for 26 weeks, you just need to certify every two weeks that you looked for positions etc.

Craigslist

Perusing the Gigs section of Craigslist, you can often find a few side gigs that are just a few hours or a day. Best part is that they’re pretty much all cash. Some may be odd jobs like cleaning a yard or tossing stuff out of a garage. Depending on your skill set, this can include some computer work such as networking or hardware repair. If you’ve marketed yourself well enough, you can make a couple or few hundred bucks a month just from this and word of mouth. Don’t discount a little effort into checking Craigslist postings to generate some few extra dollars each month especially if you’re good with doing some manual labor.

Misc

I was able to get a few gigs doing some home networking/audio/video work as well. If you have an area of expertise or something you’re good at, it’s likely someone will pay you to help them. I was able to get about $50/hour for this type of work. It would be awesome if I was able to get this amount full-time, but it definitely helps supplement what is coming in, albeit inconsistent.

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Since my unforeseen departure from my job in February, we’ve done a pretty good job (IMO) at cutting as many of our monthly expenses as we can. I thought I would outline the things we’ve done to accomplish that.

cuttingourexpenses

Landline

Okay, I’m taking a little latitude with this one since we switched to Magicjack a while ago, but it deserves to be mentioned! For less than $4 a month, it’s hard to beat unless you do away with a landline altogether. We could just cut the landline totally, but for me, having the comfort of a landline is worth the few bucks a month.

Car Insurance

In the category of it doesn’t hurt to ask, Nicole called our auto insurance agent and basically said, hey we’re driving much less now because Joe is out of work and I don’t drive much and we can’t afford what we have. What happened? They were able to drop our insurance by about $80 every 6 months. Call and ask, it doesn’t hurt!

Cell Phone

We switched to Ting Wireless back in April. Switching to Ting Wireless has by far been the best cost savings thing we have done so far. I wish we would have done it long ago. We used such little data and voice back in August, our bill was just over $30. That’s for two smartphones for a month! Compared to our $135/month AT&T bill, it makes me feel like I was getting robbed by AT&T. Check out Ting Wireless here.

Those are the ones that come to mind first. There have been several others which have definitely helped us save a few dollars over the last few months. We’ve wrote about several other things which may not add up to much right away, but they do contribute to our “blow” money. We use different reward programs such as Discover cashback, Shopkick, Bing, Swagbucks and survey places like Harris Polls and Pinecone research.

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How’s your Tuesday going? Not too shabby here I suppose. See, Tuesday for me is cleaning day. Since being out of work I’ve taken on the bulk of the cleaning and cooking duties. I mean, rightfully so – I’m not working. Whomever is at home more should take on more weight of the household maintenance. And I don’t mind doing it; I have the cleaning down to an art, almost. I’m finishing up some laundry and I’m pretty much done for the day. BTW, dinner tonight is pesto salmon with rice and broccoli. If you haven’t tried the frozen salmon from Costco, you’re missing out.

I’ve had a couple of calls for interviews over the last two weeks. Both were for similar jobs to the last one I had. Two phone interviews so far at one company and a phone and a face-to-face at another. Haven’t heard back from either one yet, but that doesn’t surprise me. Sometimes the process can take some time. Even if it doesn’t work out, so be it. I’m not the type of person to get frustrated. To me, if it doesn’t work out that just means there’s something better on its way.

Unemployment compensation has run dry, and that really sucks. I’m still looking for jobs and applying on a near daily basis. I mentioned before I’ve been able to get in a couple of clinical studies in the past, and I was able to get into another one that starts next week. Those tend to pay pretty decent considering the number of hours invested. This one is about 50 total hours for $1,325. Not bad. I’m also considering contacting a former colleague whose SO has a company I think I can get a part-time gig with.

We’re going to be taking advantage of me being out of work and visit my family in Arizona next month. We haven’t seen them in some time, and I am really looking forward to it. My parents, sister, niece and her family are out there. We’re going to be spending about 8 days hanging out in the valley of the sun.

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It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned anything going on with me and my work hunt. Well, my unemployment compensation is going to run out in about a month. That little tidbit has been really driving me to look a little harder and apply for more positions than I was previously.

JoesUnemploymentUpdate

We’ve been fortunate so far, in that between unemployment, Nicole’s job, and cutting back as much as we can on expenses, we haven’t had to dip into what savings we do have to make it through the month. But that opportunity is going to run out in about a month when unemployment goes away.

I’ve been able to score some survey and clinical trial work here and there. That’s helped a bit, especially the one trial that scored $625. But those are really just side hustles; I need to find something more permanent.

I’ve been updating my LinkedIn, searching Indeed, CareerBuilder, and Monster every day. Since not all businesses use one of these websites, I also started checking the websites of all the businesses in the area. I found a pretty easy method to do this. I pull up Google Maps of my local area. Clicking on a business on the map brings up that business’ information in the sidebar, including their website if they have one. Easy peasy. Then I just pan around the area clicking on the businesses and checking their website for postings. I was able to run through a few mile radius on the map of many businesses in a short time.

So the hunt continues!

Joe-

I’m not sure about you guys, but this month just flew by for me. The beginning of September marks 6 months I’ve been out of work. I’ve been able to get a few side gigs for a few bucks here and there to help supplement my unemployment compensation. Mostly in the form of surveys and market research studies. I’ve been getting more aggressive with my job hunt lately as well as making changes to my resume in order to try and help bring in more interest.

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I’m kind of ready for autumn, my favorite time of the year. The cooler weather, the fall colors, football, and hockey too! It also means we’ll be able to keep the windows open more frequently saving some money not running the AC or heat.

Here’s a recap of postings we had for August:

Garage Sale – Recap

It’s Not A Treat If You Have It Every Day

Social Security Numbers

College Costs

Joe’s Top Movies

A little something different for the start of the weekend. I’m a huge movie guy, all sorts of movie genres. I often joke that I could hold conversations just using movie quotes (I think the same applies to song lyrics too). I think it goes back to my childhood. I grew up in a typical lower-middle class home where we rarely ate out. Probably because of not wanting to spend the money more than anything. I did, however, go to the movies. My dad and aunt managed to take me when I was little and through my pre-teen years. As I got older movies were a regular form of entertainment through my teenage years. I have fond memories of those times, so it makes sense to me I have such a tie to movies. It’s not just about the movie, but the memories of that time in my life.

Here’s my list of a few of my favorite movies. While I still have several (dozen) more favorites, these I could say (today) are some of my faves.

The Goonies (1985)


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“Goonies never say die!”, love that line! Maybe it’s because I grew up in the 80’s, or maybe this movie just appeals to the kid in me. I’ll date myself a bit, but I actually saw this when it came out in the movie theater. This is a great movie with adventure, romance, comedy, drama, and awesome bad guys. It also has good character building, a solid cast of unknowns at the time, and a semi-believable premise. This movie has it all. I can watch this one over and over, and I do when I see it come on TV.


Almost Famous (2000)


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I have a handful of movies which are the pinnacle of all movies for me and Almost Famous is one of them. This coming of age movie follows a high school boy posing as an adult in order to start writing for Rolling Stone. He follows Stillwater in order to write an article about the up and coming band. Semi-autobiographical, its based on director Cameron Crowe’s early days as a writer for Rolling Stone. The cast is what makes this move for me: newcomer Patrick Fugit playing the would-be Rolling Stone reporter, Billy Crudup and Jason Lee as musicians in the band Stillwater, Frances McDormand as Fugit’s overprotective mom, Zooey Deschanel as his rebellious sister, Kate Hudson as a groupie who is a love interest for both Crudup’s and Fugit’s characters, and just a touch of Philip Seymour Hoffman playing a sort of mentor to Fugit. It’s funny, heartbreaking, smart, and honest. I can’t say enough about Almost Famous. If you haven’t seen it yet, go now. Get it, stream it, I’ll wait. Go. : )


Rockstar (2001)


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While on the music theme, let’s toss one more in there – Rockstar – inspired by the story of Judas Priest and the departure of Rob Halford and his replacement Tim “Ripper” Owens who was singing in a Judas Priest cover band. I don’t know if situations like in the movie really happen when bands tour, but wow. The movie walks us through this unknown cover band singer played by Mark Wahlberg who is flung into a lead singer job for Steel Dragon. In the end, this is a love story; love of a girl and music. The final scene is great!


The Shawshank Redemption (1994)


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This is one of those movies (all of these movies are actually) where if I’m flipping channels and I come across it, I need to watch the rest of it regardless of what point in the movie it is. The movie follows Tim Robbin’s character through life in prison where finding redemption and peace isn’t always the easiest. Andy befriends Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, and through the years they bond, becoming the best of friends.


Snatch (2000)


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Snatch is one of those movies where you need to pay careful attention. The dialog and delivery by the actors makes this movie one of my favorites. I really like Brad Pitt’s character in particular. Pitt plays a gypsy whose conversations you’ll barely understand. You may have to replay his scenes a few times or turn on subtitles. Yep, subtitles are an option so you can understand him. The movie has some really memorable scenes. All the characters are brought together in order to locate a priceless (stolen) diamond. All of whom are obviously in it for themselves. In the end it feels more like a movie about revenge.

Just some randomness:

Video Games


Far Cry 4 – I got into FC4 after taking it out from the library and really got into it. This was a pretty good obsession as I just kept taking it out from the library and didn’t have to buy a copy for myself. Once I finished a game, I rarely go back to play more.
FC4

Disney Tsum Tsum – Say what you want, this game is highly addictive. I play every day. It’s a good time waster if you’re bored.
TsumTsum


Food


Eggs – I’ve always liked eggs, but with really watching my diet and exercising, I’ve been careful with how much protein I take in on a daily basis. In addition to whey protein, I’ve been eating eggs like it’s no ones business. There was a point in time a couple weeks ago when I had 9 dozen in the refrigerator. Yes, 9 dozen! And I didn’t waste any; I ate all of them. I like to keep a carton of hard boiled in the fridge for a breakfast addition or a quick snack. It’s a cheap way to help out your diet. Costco typically has really good prices on their eggs. Our local Costco recently changed their eggs up a bit. They used to be 3 dozen for $1.69. Recently they changed them to a different brand and there’s only 2 dozen for more. Our local produce markets always have good prices, though, so we switch where we buy them as needed.
eggs


Exercising


Biking – for the last couple months I’ve been biking longer distances. I’m really digging getting out on the bike. I started out with just a few miles here and there. Now, I go out a couple times a week and knock out 15-20 miles each time. Great cardio!

Weights – I had thought I found a good routine with lifting every three days. I found a good combination of exercises and stretches I really like. As I get older, I find that I’m a bit more prone to injury, so I’ve been really careful to take it slow and back off at any sign of injury. It’s happened a few times where something gets more sore than from a typical workout, so I press the pause button and go back to it when I feel better. See, I really jacked up my shoulder a while back in addition to my elbow, to the point where it took nearly a year to feel normal again. Crazy right? But that’s been a while now so I’ve been lifting now for months without any real “injury”. It’s been great. But last week I tweaked my elbow again and it’s been just a little sore every day since. I backed off lifting just in case. I’m hoping it goes away soon so I can get back to it. But when you find the right routine, you get excited to lift. I have to adjust my routine, but I still look forward to getting my lifting in.


Electronics/Gadgets


Google Play Music – I may have mentioned Google Play Music before, but it’s still part of my every day routine. Tons of different playlists to choose from no matter what you’re in the mood for. My faves include: Today’s Country Hits and 2016 Summer Dance Party

MPOW Bluetooth Adapter – My car is just old enough to not have any of the Bluetooth integration. So we’ve been using a cord to connect a cell phone to the radio for trips and such. Not that the cord is a big PITA, but it kind of is. So we picked this up on Amazon after getting tired of having a cord all over to connect to my auxiliary port in the car. The reviews are great at 4.5 stars with nearly 4k reviews. So far, so good! This device works like a charm. And only $15.99! If you don’t have Bluetooth in your vehicle but have the auxiliary port, this device works really well.

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I tried four new recipes over the last week and have to say, Pinterest never fails me. I think they all turned out really good and I’ll definitely put these into the regular rotation. It’s funny though, there aren’t too many meal recipes I’ve made twice since being out of work. Why? There are so many recipes to try out there! There are a handful which I’ve made a few times; those are our go-to meals. But there has been far more new recipes I’ve made.

All the recipes can be found on our Pinterest board.
Extrapolate This!


Chocolate Chip Scones

I haven’t tried baking much since being out of work, and I’ve been wanting to give scones a try. I found this low calorie scone recipe that looked really good and easy. What’s nice about this scone recipe is that it comes in at only 155 calories because there really isn’t much sweetener involved. Aside from the chocolate chips, the only other sweet ingredient is the maple syrup. But don’t worry, you won’t miss it. There is just enough sweetness. These scones were great with a hot cup of coffee.
New Recipes


Next up: Easy Baked Taco Pie. Another fast recipe to make. Just one pot and pan. The only adjustment I made was to the chili powder. I didn’t use any; instead I used Ortega taco seasoning as we have a bunch in the pantry. I also baked it in a 9″ square baking pan instead of a round one. We ended up getting 2 1/2 meals out of it. Not bad for what amounts to about $6 in ingredients.

New Recipes


Malibu chicken

I didn’t snag a picture of this one, the pic below is from Pinterest. I changed this recipe more than any of the others. I didn’t end up breading these at all. I just baked the chicken breasts with some salt and pepper. Once done, I topped them with ham and baked them in the broiler for just a minute to crisp up the ends of the ham. Then I added cheese and put them back under the broiler for about half a minute. Pretty simple. The thing I liked about this recipe most was the dipping sauce, mmm. I would make that again to use with other recipes.

New Recipes


Marinated Baked Pork Chops

This one we had last week. We were a little skeptical at first because the ingredients in the glaze seemed a little basic and the ketchup threw me a little. But the glaze was great. I’ll end up using it in other recipes just like the sauce from the Malibu chicken. Note – if you’re buying canned green beans, grab some fresh ones from the produce market. They’re not only a good price, but so much better and worth the extra effort. We haven’t had canned green beans in a long time.

New Recipes

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