Goals, Goals, Goals!

I love goals. I also love Bruno Mars. Did anyone see his fabulous Halftime show yesterday? Mmm!

But back to the goals. For me to accomplish something big, I need a specific goal so that I can shape a plan to ensure that I do what needs to be done to reach said goal. I’ve been putting off posting my 2014 goals here for no big reason (at first it was to avoid the myriad of New Year’s Resolutions posts, after that I’ve just been pushing it back). So it happens today!

Personal

1. Run my very first marathon. I signed up for one last year but jumped into training too quickly, hurt my knee and couldn’t get over the injury. I did PT and am fine now, but I still really want to run a marathon (just one, I actually really dislike running).
2. Knit a pair of socks. I’ve been knitting since the 11th grade but have stuck mainly to scarves. I’ve tried socks several time previously but have not been able to master them. This year!
3. Be intentional (family, friends and work).
4. Complete 2 Whole30s.
5. Read 15 books.

Financial

1. Average $3,700 a month in student loan payments.
2. Put $250 a month in savings.
3. Set up and make $500 from my Etsy shop.

Blog:

1. Reach 100,000 Alexa World Ranking.
2. Reach 1,500 unique visitors monthly.

Anddd brand new to the blog this month: Monthly Goals. To get to the big goal, you’ve got to have a solid action plan!

Personal:

1. Increase running to run a 5k comfortably.
2. 26 days of VERY clean eating (I typically eat Paleo but have been slacking a little bit lately and have been feeling lousy because of it).
3. Go to CrossFit 2x a week.
4. Sell at least one item on Etsy.

Financial:

1. Pay $3,500 to student loans.
2. Save $100 for best friend’s destination wedding.
3. Save $50 for upcoming Mexico City trip (post on this to come).

Blog:

1. Reach 500,000 in Alexa World Ranking.
2. Reach 500 unique visitors monthly.
3. Feature 2 guest posts. If you’re interested, please email me!

Glad to have these typed up and out there for the world to help keep me accountable. Please feel free to hold me to these goals throughout as we progress through the year.

Lastly, to help you start your Tuesday off right, please enjoy the following. It is 150% worth a minute of your time. Really, really worth your time

What are your February goals?

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Dealing with Unexpected Expenses

Fridays are pretty long days. I’m at school from about 8:30-4:10, then drive straight to work a dinner theater shift at the restaurant and am there until about 10:30pm. This past Friday, I ended up spending some time with a very dear friend (and spent $11, whoops) who is moving to Louisiana next week, so I didn’t get home until about 1am. No complaints, just a long day.

I walk into my bedroom to find my mail on my bed with a little post it note from my Dad attached. I turned on my bedroom light and picked up the note which read “please pay this soon, it’s in my name”.

Oh boy.

I proceeded to open the envelope and it was a $75 charge for running a red light. Dang it red light camera! 

Life’s unexpected expenses like this one seem to always get us at the wrong time, too. Now that I am an adult and am working toward financial freedom, I need to have solid back up plans for little “oops” moments like this one and for serious emergencies. As of this year, here are the two ways that I currently deal with unexpected expenses.

Side Hustle Money

In the case of the red light ticket, it’s not that I don’t have the $75, but it is definitely an expense that puts a wrench in my financial plans. I would much prefer to put that $75 towards a loan or to my wedding travel savings account (for all those destination weddings this year). However, I don’t like straying off budget too much, so instead of taking this out of money I attribute to gas, groceries, crossfit, etc, it means that I need to make an extra $75 this  month to cover it. If we’re going to be really realistic here, this means that I’ll need to pick up two expo shifts (running food to tables, not actually waiting tables) at the restaurant  or get this tutoring gig really up and running and complete 4 hours of tutoring sessions. Or, I could just win the lottery and pay off the red light ticket and all my student loans (just kidding, who wastes money on that?).

Thankfully, it’s a small enough amount that even though it will be more work, I will be able to cover the expense. At this point in my life, if the emergency or the “oops” is reasonable enough, I’ll just work harder to make the money to cover it instead of spending money from any budget category to cover it. That way, I’m not “out” any money, just time.

The Emergency Fund

This past summer I had to get my brakes replaced and buy new tires within about two weeks of each other. Then a week later, the AC in my car went out. I was willing to endure the 100+ degree weather for a 45 minute commute to work, but it was not so easy. The AC broke in such a way that pieces of metal were actually getting into the engine and if left alone, it would do some serious damage to the car. When it was all said and done the tires, brakes and AC cost just over $2,000. In that particular month, I had already spent my salary on loan payments and there was no way I could have waited enough tables to come up with the  money in time, so I had to use about $500 from my checking and $1,500 from savings. Not fun.

How I felt when the dealership told me how much it would cost to fix my car.

Let me add in here that my emergency fund is by no means large. I am following Dave Ramsey’s “7 Baby Steps” and have not yet  made it to the “Save 3-6 months expenses”. After this month, my current savings will be $2,750. This would cover all my minimum loan payments for three months, but leave very little for gas, groceries and everything else. It’s a work in progress. If this is where you are at too, don’t fret too much, as long as you have a plan and are working towards that goal. I put $250 a month towards savings and at the end of the year, that will be an additional $2,750. It’s nothing fancy, but it works for me.

How do you cover life’s unexpected expenses?

Do the Hustle… The Side Hustle That Is

A simple look at the hashtag #sidehustle on Twitter will yield a variable mezlca (mix) of answers ranging from something you might find on UrbanDictionary.com, to dance moves, to what us PF bloggers consistently strive to find and make time for in our busy schedules.

Because how does this picture not make this post that much better?

Almost every PF blogger has posted about it. Michelle at Making Sense of Cents has a whole page dedicated to extra income. Melanie at Dear Debt talks about the lifestyle of side hustling. Michelle at Shop My Closet Project talks about what brought her extra income in 2013 and Art of Manliness gives us 37 very creative ideas for earning some extra dough. I’m not going to try and re-invent the wheel with this post, but I will give you my strategies for making time for some side hustling and what side hustles are currently helping me pay down my debt.

the tried and true

Waitressing

I have been waitressing for a local restaurant for over a year now and it has been my main source of side hustle income. Waiting tables at the restaurant looks a little different depending on the day and time that I’m working because the restaurant is also a sports bar. During lunch and dinner, I wait tables, just like at any other restaurant.  After 10pm, the place turns more into a “club” type atmosphere and I run cocktails until 2am. Waiting tables/running cocktails is something that I typically only do on the occasional Saturday/Sunday lunch shift or when I am on breaks from school (Christmas and summer), because we also share a patio with another building that our owner also owns and employs that houses a murder  mystery dinner theater. So, on Friday and Saturday nights, I wait tables at the dinner theater (and I get to enjoy all the shows!). I prefer to work Friday/Saturday at the theater because we get off at 10:30pm instead of 2am at the bar and we make the same amount in tips! To top that off, working at the dinner theater I make $8 an hour, so I also receive a check every two weeks for about $100.

Right now I work every Friday and Saturday night at the dinner theater and will pick up occasional Sunday afternoon shifts at the restaurant. I am SO thankful for this job because it has been a steady source of income this past year. Plus, since I’ve been there for so long (there is a pretty high turnover rate for waitresses) they essentially let me work whenever I ask. HUGE plus.

My advice: I had no waitressing experience prior to getting hired, so don’t let that hold you back from trying to wait tables. My biggest advice in this area is to find a local “home owned” type place. These places are nicer than the big chain restaurants because you get to know the staff/management/owner a bit better, have more “regular” locals and (in my experience) they are much more willing to work with your schedule.

Being an Arbonne Consultant

Last February, a friend invited me to attend an Arbonne holiday party with her. She had no intention of getting me to become a consultant, but needed a friend to attend the party with her because she would be the youngest one there by about 20 years and was a little nervous. After attending the party and learning about the company, I was hooked.

Arbonne works much like Mary Kay, except we specialize in clean, botanical skin care products. There is a network marketing side to the company (where you can get others to “sign up” under you), but Arbonne is a very open and honest company that I fully believe in. I do not use the network marketing aspect of the company, but I do sell the products and will occasionally have parties.

On months that I host/throw parties, I earn upwards of $100 while on months without parties I make between $30-70 from clients re-orders. For the time that I put into Arbonne (hardly any) I think it is very worth my time.

My advice: **Please note- I know that many people have mixed feelings about network marketing companies. I am not advocating that everyone go out and join some type of company. If you like it, great. If not, that’s okay too!**

in the works

Tutoring

As of Saturday, I am now a Spanish Tutor with a local tutoring company. The company has told me that I can take as many or as few hours as I would like each week and that I am starting at $20 an hour. Not too shabby! My goal is to tutor for 5 hours each week which would bring in an extra $400 a month. For me, that is a worthy time investment.

My advice: If you have extra time and like working with students, try going the tutoring route. You can tutor in almost any subject and even SAT/ACT/GRE test prep. Most tutoring companies pay in the $15-25 range. Several popular and nationally known companies to work with are WyzAnt, Varsity Tutors or Sylvan.

Etsy

At dinner theater, we go through about 10-15 bottles of wine a night and we simply throw away the cork and empty bottle. This past weekend it hit me- why not save the bottles and corks and make something crafty like wine cork wreaths/bulliten boards or wine bottle lamps? The investment in making the craft would be minimal as the bottle and corks are free. Selling on Etsy seems like it could be a fairly lucrative side income, but I do not know of anyone personally who is selling on the site. If you sell on Etsy or have friends who do, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

My advice: Why not give it a try? It only costs 20 cents to list an item which will not break the bank. Etsy does charge a 3.5% transaction fee on the listed price of the product, but you can easily adjust to include this in your shipping and handling price. I will keep you posted on my Etsy adventures here in the upcoming weeks.

overall

Just like when investing, diversify your side hustle! That way, if one side hustle falls through, you still have other sources of extra revenue coming in until you find another side hustle to replace it. Side hustling is not always easy. It requires you to put in time and effort, so when deciding on a side hustle, make sure the income you’ll be receiving will be worth your time and energy. With that being said, make sure that no matter how many extra hours of work you put in a week on your side hustle, you have to have some “me” time. Whether it be reading a book, catching up on your favorite TV shows, cooking with friends or a game night. Schedule your “me” time in your calendar if you have to and fight to keep it. You need personal time to run at 100%.

What kind of side hustling do you do? What do you find works best? What doesn’t work?

When in doubt, keep calm and do your side hustle.