I read several personal finance blogs, and their basic advice is very similar: Spend less than you earn. That’s the best way to stay out of debt and build savings. Given that, there are two ways that you can achieve that goal: spend less, or earn more.
I drew up my new tentative budget, although I still don’t know for sure what my take home is going to be starting July 1. It’s got everything covered, though, whereas before I didn’t. I didn’t have a monthly amount budgeted for kennel expenses, for instance. When I had to be out of town and Ralph had to go to the spa for a few days, I’d just take it out of savings. Now, I have an amount to set aside per month for the kennel. When a big trip comes along, I’ll already have a large chunk of change saved up to give Ralph a good vacation as well.
There were several other categories like that, where it seemed I often had expenses, but no budget for it. I’ve fixed that now. I think it will keep my spending well under control, and I won’t have to dip into savings nearly as often to cover unexpected things.
Earning more is a little more problematic. Due to the budgetary problems in Florida, we didn’t get raises last year or this year, and it’s very likely we won’t get them for 2010-11. My next chance at a raise will be July 2011, when I come up for promotion again. (We have a set schedule for faculty promotions. I was hired at the instructor level, so after three years I was eligible for promotion to assistant professor, where I am now. I’ve been at this level for two years, and after two more years I can be promoted to associate professor. With a promotion comes an automatic raise.)
In the meantime, the cost of everything keeps sneaking up. Gas prices are climbing slowly again, which means that food prices will follow before long.
So, I’ve been thinking about other ways to earn more. Interestingly enough, there was a related post at Frugal Dad this week called Everybody Needs a Side Hustle. It’s a good post. One of his points is that when considering a second
income stream, it should be related to what you already do. Well, what do I already do? I do research. I edit most of my boss’s letters. I proofread our departmental documents before they go out or get printed. I help students find sources for their papers, and help them write their works cited or bibliography pages.
All of those are things that I can do from home, or from anywhere, any time. All I need is my computer. So what I’ve decided to do is set up a website, and do research/editing/proofreading/citations/etc. for people who need those services. There are a lot of sites out there that write term papers for students; I’m NOT going to do that! But I can fix grammar, spelling, wording, paragraphs, citation style, whatever for them, and they’ll get better grades. I can do research for people who are working on their dissertations (I already do this for our faculty at work). I can help people with books, theses, proposals or presentations for work, whatever.
I’m working on building the website now. It’s going to be called A+ Research Services. It may go nowhere; it may not bring in a penny. But I’m going to give it a try.