The word, “budget” for many invokes feelings of tension, restriction and even emotional claustrophobia.
However, ironically, a good working household budget can actually give you much freedom from worry, as well as the ability to plan and even to save for special things.
It doesn’t have to be the taskmaster! Instead, when used well a budget can be your servant, a great tool to help you determine and execute your financial goals – even if that is simply to keep a roof over your head and everyone in the household fed.
With Covid-19’s effect on the economy and high unemployment, the household budget has become more critical than ever!
In our last column we discussed several ways to cut down on expenses. Today, however, we want to concentrate on the other side of the ledger – finding ways to make money.
Once again we’re relying on the expertise of Julie Galligan, the in-house expert on budgeting, here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor. Julie is able to help individuals and families create budgets. After years of working with families, she knows just where to look for both ways to save and ways to earn more money.
Feel free to call Julie at (360) 533-7828 extension 102 to make a phone appointment to discuss your budgeting questions and concerns. We are a nonprofit organization and her budgeting services are free of charge!
Increasing income during a pandemic
After determining how much money you have coming in and what your monthly expenses are, then you simply take a look at what is coming in and what is going out – and do what you can to increase your income and decrease your expenses.
Creativity comes into play
Have you or your spouse lost their job during this pandemic? Or perhaps work hours have been cut down or furlough days have been added?
“It’s important to find anything you can to make extra money,” said Julie. “And the sooner, the better. You don’t want to fall behind in your bills.”
Even if it’s not the pay you are used to, pick up a side job; people are still hiring. Begin to see what’s out there, write up your resume and make some calls.
“Look into industries that might be hiring,” she said.
“For instance perhaps you can deliver pizza at night, or work a shift at a fast-food restaurant or coffee stand,” she said.
In addition, get creative! Take a quick inventory of your skills and abilities. People pay to have their houses cleaned, their lawns mowed, their windows washed, their garden weeded.
What about watching kids or doing errands for older adults? Perhaps you can cook meals, tutor students, sew rips, proofread papers, clean gutters, housesit or walk dogs. Can you cut and stack firewood or paint a fence or a deck? Maybe you are house-rich and could earn some money by renting out a room to a local college student.
“It’s just a time where we all have to get creative and think creatively in a variety of different aspects,” Julie said.
Some people have talent in creating arts and crafts, using their hands to make something beautiful or practical – or both! Maybe it’s time to take that hobby to the next level by selling your wares at a local farmer’s market or even on Etsy or Amazon Marketplace.
The proliferation of homemade fabric facemasks is a good example of entrepreneurs with a talent quickly jumping in where there is a hot market.
These days if you have computer skills, you could be a great resource to help others get set up for online meetings, install cameras and give computer tune-ups. Can you build websites or help others market their things?
“And you can always work on call for a local temp agency,” Julie added. “It allows you to see different work environments and get an idea of what kind of part or full-time work you might be interested in in the future.”
Examine your stuff!
In addition to an inventory of your family’s gifts, talents and abilities, take a look at your stuff with a critical eye!
Things are, after all, just things. Look with fresh eyes at what you have in your closets, garage, attics and basement. Is there something you can sell?
Is it time for a big garage sale, perhaps organized with your neighbors?
Or do you have something major to sell – a car, a boat, RV, appliance, or major piece of furniture or jewelry? Do your research to determine a fair price and offer it up.
Even smaller items such as tools, décor, books, clothes, games, plants and household items sell every day through the newspaper classified ads, E-bay, Craig’s List, Offer-up or myriads of other internet or App platforms. Some are quite broad and others specialize. For instance, designer clothes can be sold through Poshmark or ThredUp and many other places.
Did you know that there are even places online that will take your unused gift card (even if it’s partly used) and resell it for you for a small fee? Raise.com and Cardpool.com are among those that offer that service.
If you have something of true value, you may want to get a more specified audience. For instance there are special sites for collectibles, cars, wedding dresses and musical instruments.
Our advice: Do a little research online and by talking to friends before dipping your toe in the water. (You can just type in, “Where can I sell a ___ online?)
Secondly, start out with only one or two sites or apps until you feel comfortable with how each works. Most are relatively easy, but each is a little different so start slowly.
Thirdly, at least to begin with, stick to selling what you already own instead of buying new stuff to sell.