A couple of weeks ago I met up with a friend for dinner at the mall food court. After dinner we decided to walk around the mall for a bit and found ourselves in a Bath & Body Works. I’ve always liked their products even though I feel they are overpriced. I only purchase them occasionally when I can get a hefty discount. The last time I bought anything was in December 2015 when I placed a fairly large order online for several foaming hand soaps and other assorted items and received a $20 discount. The soaps came out to under $2 each, which to me, while still not cheap, were reasonable compared to the $6.50 sticker price. I’m one of those people who finds pleasure in even the smallest of things so these soaps bring me joy every time I wash my hands. Luckily, I still haven’t gone through all the soaps because I add water to them to make them last longer. That didn’t stop me from wanting some new ones, however, especially when I came across a new scent I really liked (Sparkling Mint Blossom in case you’re curious). I didn’t buy anything, however, because I don’t need any new soaps, I just wanted some. But with Joe still out of work (and our Marketplace insurance doubling in price for 2017 – more on that in another post) I really don’t want to spend any money since we’re short every month as it is (thank goodness for savings).
Psychologically speaking it’s been really tough dealing with curbing our non-essential purchases even though when we were both working and could have easily blown money on whatever we wanted I still wouldn’t have purchased that soap anyway just because $3.50 (the current sale price) is still too much for a small bottle of soap. It’s simply the fact that I “can’t” buy what I want verses choosing not to that is starting to get to me. It’s funny how that works. I’m struggling to keep things in perspective but I’m not gonna lie – I will be so much more relaxed when we have enough money coming in again.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sunday was our 11 year wedding anniversary. Since money is tight we agreed not to exchange gifts but we did order an electronic gift card for Claim Jumper thanks to our Discover cash back rewards. We love their steaks so we tend to eat there once every few years, typically on our anniversary.
Then inertia struck. Sunday evening rolled around and we didn’t feel like going out so we ordered pizza (using our Lou Malnati’s gift card) and decided we’d visit Claim Jumper on Monday evening instead. We reasoned it wouldn’t be as crowded and since we had errands to run that day we’d already be out. Except on Monday we got up early, got our errands out of the way, and when dinnertime rolled around were busy with stuff around the house and didn’t feel like going out again.
So that’s how we did absolutely nothing to celebrate our anniversary. Woo hoo, marriage!
On the plus side when we are in the mood for a good steak we have the $50 gift card and shouldn’t spend too much out of pocket if we split a nice filet and another entree.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I remember when I was growing up – I had a passbook savings account. Some of you may not be old enough to remember those “passport” like books which you used as your savings account. I would collect $10 or $20 and go with my mom or dad to the bank so I could deposit my money and have my passbook updated showing my money grow. Of course then I didn’t have the appreciation for saving money, or money in general for that matter. But I can still remember how cool the feeling was to see my money in the passbook increase. That little nugget of a feeling still helps me today.
I’m not sure the options that were available back then to get a kid started with saving or investing. The passbook and savings bonds were all I had. They taught me some valuable lessons about interest and saving for things you want down the road.
Read More →
Happy Sunday Morning!
If you’re a DD Perks card holder with Dunkin’ Donuts, starting today (9/25) and for the whole week, you can get a free item each day. The freebie will drop into your DD Perks app and is redeemable at participating DDs. A pretty sweet deal. Yes, there’s mostly free coffee or tea, but if you’re a coffee/tea lover like me that’s perfect!
We’ll be heading out shortly to take advantage of today’s free item, an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich.
Don’t have a DD Perks card? No worries, you can pick one up at the store and add money to the card. Or even better, just download the app and you can join right from there. Note: in order to receive the freebies, you’ll need the DD Perks app as they put the free item into your “perks” section of the app. The app is pretty sweet though. You can add money directly to the app and use the QR code on the app to pay for your items. The best part is if you use the app regularly, you build points which are redeemed for drinks. Not a bad deal. Plus, they drop in some pretty sweet deals from time to time.
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.
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!