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Request for Advice: Subsidizing my Paycheck

I graduated college two years ago, was unemployed for a year, but now that I have a full time job, it seems like the student loans and bill payments are still a little suffocating.  I've been thinking about money for a few months now--thinking of what I can cut or reduce from my budget--and now I've been thinking of ways to subsidize my paycheck.  A couple of hundred dollars a month would be nice, but even fifty bucks a month would be a hell of an improvement.  Right now I'm just on the cusp of being in the black.

Once things settle down with my life in a couple of weeks I'll put out a general call for commissions, but I'm not expecting much to come from that.  I'm a writer, and I know what writers are worth, so I'll be charging 1/2 cent per word.  I don’t have a very large following in the furry community, so I doubt story commissions are a viable and reliable source of income, even if I do manage to get a couple of bites from it.

So, here’s my question to all of you who have opened this journal article: would you be so kind to share some advice on how to make a few dollars more each month?  Even advice on how to spend a little less would help.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

Viewed: 3 times
Added: 8 years, 2 months ago
8 years, 2 months ago
I'm not an expert on making extra money, but I'm OK at cutting it . . .

Make a list that contains where the money goes, including all the little things like coffee, lunch etc. Now, do you need everything on there?
* If you don't, try cutting it. Clothes, electronics, travel, delicacies, booze/cigarettes/drugs, you name it. Especially things that cost a lot and lose value immediately, or which make you less healthy.
* If you do, try cutting it anyway.

If you find it's truly necessary, consider substituting a cheaper alternative. Examples:
* Bringing a sandwich to rather than buying lunch
* Drinking water or your own tea rather than a Starbucks coffee
* Pay-per-use or Skype rather than a cell phone with a monthly plan
* Biking or walking rather than driving
* Internet rather than any other form of entertainment
* Renting a room from a friend rather than renting/buying your own entire apartment
* Store-brand cheese rather than Tilamook
* More vegetables, less meat
* Second-hand car rather than shiny new car
* Driving or taking the train or bus rather than flying (YMMV)

I bet you'll find something. Maybe a few things. Consider taking the money you save and, well, saving it. Or better yet, investing! You'd need a better return than repaying your loans, of course, and a savings account wouldn't do that.

If you're working at a place which has a 401k plan with a match, make sure to take advantage of it too, at least up to the match point. Not much better than an immediate 50-100% return! And the IRS might even give you some more back at the end of the year.
8 years, 2 months ago
I do miss Tilamook Cheddar.  If I had it available at the grocery stores here it would be an aweful(ly wonderfuly) temptation to get a baby loaf or two a week and just pig out.  Vermont and New York State cheddar is just subpar compared to Oregon's delicious gold.
8 years, 2 months ago
Note: if this response sounds confusing, rambling, or otherwise convoluted, it is because I am responding to multiple answers on multiple sites.

I didn’t phrase this right, by my trade isn’t writing (well, it kind of is and isn’t), my hobby is writing.  I’m an engineer by trade, but I do a lot more technical writing than actual quantitative analysis.  I would be doing very well monetarily if my manager would just pay me for the overtime I put in.  *bitch bitch bitch* 50+ hour weeks *bitch bitch bitch*.  

I would like to get my loans paid off quickly, so I would rather not defer any payments as long as that’s possible.  I do take a small portion of my salary and hide it away into a couple of savings accounts, and of course I participate in my company’s 401k program.  It’s good advice for anyone: if you don’t start saving for retirement  in your early twenties, you will never have enough money to retire (assuming you’re making an average American salary and don’t win the lotto or become the CEO of a large corporation or anything like that).

I live all of 2.5 miles from work, so I bike there when the weather is decent enough.  Right now that is not the case.  I really don’t do a lot of driving, so that’s not something easily cut.  

Another one of my hobbies is cooking, so, even though I have been eating out more often than I have in the past (working on reducing that number right now), on a day to day basis I cook my own meals and bring my lunch into work instead of buying the overpriced filth served there.  When at the grocery store I choose the store brand items, and completely avoid higher priced items as much as possible (like delicious cheese, unless it’s specifically required in a recipe).  Because of a medical condition I need to eat healthily (fats, especially, wreak havoc), but also make sure I get enough protein and iron, which brings me to my next point:

A substantial portion of my paycheck goes to medical costs, but that is unavoidable.  While the medicine is covered substantially with health insurance ($25 a month vice $4000), vitamins and supplements not covered in my insurance add $50-$100 a month on top of that.  

I do spend a lot more on alcohol than I ought to.  I’ve begun to brew my own beer (my name IS BunnyHops, after all), so, even though it’s a large initial investment, it’s cheaper per beer and should start to have a good return on investment right there, especially since I’m going to get some supplies/ingredients for my birthday in a week.  Woo.

As for driving or taking the train as opposed to flying, I used to fly all the time to go back and forth from my parent’s house and college.  2800 miles is a lot cheaper to do flying than driving, and I never considered taking the train because of the time consideration.  But that’s all in the past.  The last time I flew was for work, so they paid for it, and I got a nice per diem.  

I do need to cut my cable, since I don’t watch it nearly as much as I used to.

Once again, thanks for all the advice.  I really should work on writing more, honing that skill set for work and as a hobby, and try to get some stories published or do some freelance work.  It doesn’t add much money to my bank account, but it will at least make me feel like I’m doing something.
8 years, 2 months ago
Hmm. You might be paying a little too much for vitamins and supplements. My cost for a multivitamin+fish oil comes out to about $5 a month, assuming I actually take them every day. But perhaps you have special requirements . . .

Cable cutting sounds good. I have a TV+360, never really use it (should probably sell it, but it's nice for the occasional HD-DVD).

Perhaps you can get a lift to work? I don't have a car at all for this reason. Probably not realistic for you, just throwing it out there.

Bear in mind that interest on savings is abyssimal right now. After you've got a small emergency fund, you might do better paying your loans at an accellerated rate, assuming that is possible.

If you don't already, consider getting a rewards credit card or two, and put everything on them. I use Discover for whatever's on 5%, and Amazon Visa for the rest. It's good for a $50 check every few months, and there's no real downside as long as you pay them off regularly.

Freelance work can be cool. It's tricky when you're a foreigner like myself, though. :-)
8 years, 2 months ago
Multivitamins are cheap, and I buy fish oil in bulk to save some money, but probiotics are rediculously expensive.  I think I probably go a month without spending anything on them, but then some months are a lot when I end up buying everything in bulk.  I think what would be good for me right now is get post some extraneous items I have on craigslist.  It'll get me a little bit of cash, but it will make me feel a lot better to get rid of some of the clutter finding its way into my apartment.

Thanks for the advice GreenReaper, and for just letting me put some thoughts down in writing.
8 years, 2 months ago
Good luck with it!
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