Your Turn

I'm writing this post because my boss made a request and who am I to say NO to the lady with the power? Umm, not risking my job- especially in this economy- so here we go...

Last year when Lawrence was in school and I was at home with Charlotte- things were tight. We were living off student loans, the small wage + tips that Lawrence was bring in, and the little bits of cash that I would get for random jobs (ie: helping out at the B.O. *my work*, helping friends reorganize etc...) it wasn't much, but we were surviving and everything seemed to be fine.

Then Christmas happened. Now between the gifts we bought, the money we spent on gas driving home and back, and the week Lawrence had off work- come January, we literally had no money. It freaked me out. Here I was, a SAHM with a student/part time working husband and a tiny baby that needed me for everything...and no money to pay my rent, buy food...no money for anything. I cried, it sucked and I wanted to go back to September and start working more and saving better and spending less and being smarter...retrospect...kwim?! We needed money and fast. I refused to use our credit cards for things, because they are evil and should die. I didn't want to spend money that we didn't have because then you just end up digging yourself into this huge hole that takes you FOREVER to get out of. Clearly, since I was the one at home, I needed to find a way to make money. No one was really hiring at the time- trust me I looked everywhere- and with the specific hours I needed it was literally impossible to find a job that would cater to me.

So what did I do?

I sold stuff on Kijiji. I went through our house and sold everything that we weren't using, things we didn't need, things that were taking up space. I had people coming to my house almost every day, picking up things that they purchased from me. I was able to pay our rent. I was able to buy groceries, I was able to provide for my family for one month. Then we were out of things to sell and rent was still going to be due and we still needed to eat, so I needed to find more work.

So what did I do?

I thought of things that I was good at, and things that people had hired and paid me for in the past. Cleaning. I'm a good cleaner, a bit neurotic at times, but can you really blame me? So I posted on Kijiji again, offering my cleaning services. Within an hour of posting my ad, I had 5 potential clients and by the end of the second day, I had to remove the ad because I had over 20 people looking for someone to help them clean. So I started cleaning. My dear friends (who I would have been lost without) took Charlotte and I would clean 2 times a week. I made $20/hour. We were doing alright. We could afford another months rent and we continued to eat. But we needed something more...

So what did I do?

I called the Lethbridge Herald and got us a paper route. Is it desirable? No. Did we (Lawrence and I took turns) like it? No. We were making $600 extra a month? Yes. Could we continue to live? Yes. So we did it. From April - July we did papers every morning. I was able to do it because Charlotte would still be sleeping and Lawrence could do it because he didn't have class until 11am. We did it, and it wasn't really all that bad. I wouldn't go back to doing it...but it got us through some hard times. We were able to save a lot of what we made doing papers, as it was supplementing what we were already making.

I also got a childcare job. I started looking after a family out of town 2 days a week. That really helped and since I was able to bring Charlotte along, it worked out perfectly. I worked for this family from February - August, and was able to support my family and still be a SAHM. Almost all the money I made doing this went into savings.

Where are we now?

We are ALL good. I work, Lawrence works, and I still clean every other weekend. We made it through the hard times together, and we are stronger for it. If I thought I was frugal before that, I knew nothing. I am frugal now, because at one point, I had no other choice. We have enough money in savings now so that if this ever happens again, we are covered completely (all bills, rent, groceries etc...) for 3 months. This makes me feel confident. We didn't rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt- because we knew there were other ways...and I rarely take the easy way out.

So I open this up to you. How do you make extra money on the side? What are ways that you create extra revenue for your family? If you don't, do you plan for this? What would you do if you suddenly needed money fast? I would really like to hear what you have to say...so please comment on this post.

Frugally Yours,
Erin B.


  1. Erin -just wanted to say that I truly admire your hard-work!

    I have no real advice because I'm still working on the extra money thing but I figure use what you've got is a good idea. Since I'm a certified teacher I could offer to tutor.

  2. I am a teacher. When I was a SAHM I taught preschool-teenage cooking classes in my home. I offered special 1 afternoon sessions at Christmas time. I babysat, and bartered/exchanged partial cost of piano lessons with both tutoring and babysitting the piano teacher's son. Tutoring would be lucrative. I hear tutors are charging $55.00 for math/hour. We also went down to being a one car family for a year. That was a huge savings. Much bigger than a person realizes, but as my husband needed the car every day it was exceptionally isolating. Hope that helps. Erin you are a dynamo and continue to inspire.


  3. Oh Erin!

    I so love your posts!
    I can honestly say that until I was hired to sub... I didn't have to worry about my financial situation! Even when I graduated I was under this illusion that I would have sub jobs the first oh... MONTH (I know right?). It was during this time I started putting myself out there and letting my friends (who are parents) inform their friends that I can babysit! It worked out really well because most of the time I was watching the kids when the Mom didn't HAVE to be anywhere and there was a standing agreement that if I was called into work that morning I would let them know and I would be taking that job over babysitting!

    One other thing that I have done for a few years now to save money is make about 90% of my Christmas gifts! (And have recently discovered that I could sell half of them on etsy if things got super tight!)

  4. This was such a wonderful post to read for me this year as we are coming up the very same ordeal (ish). I serve at a local restaurant two nights a week and before Christmas was even on the radar we decided that whatever I saved from tips would be our Christmas fund, so we knew from the get go that we had limits. We are doing our shopping in cash so we know exactly what we have spent and where. Ryan's paychecks cover our monthly expense and we refuse to live on money that we don't have. We are also trying to save for our Wedding so our purchases are always thought through...

    I have a new recipe for you too! I made it the other night and it was delicious!

    Its called a burrito bake.

    First off you need

    1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
    1 medium onion
    1 red or green pepper
    taco/burrito seasoning
    corn tortilla's
    1 can beans (I've used refried or mixed it doesn't matter)
    shredded cheese

    First off brown the meat add the onion, peppers, seasoning and beans and saute together.

    Then cut the tortilla's into strips
    Spray your crock pot with Pam
    In your crock pot put a few teaspoons of salsa in the bottom,
    then layer tortilla's
    then add a layer of your meat and beans
    then add cheese

    Layer that until you have no more meat,
    end with salsa
    bake on high in the crock pot for 5-6 hours.

    mmmmmm soo good.

    You are a very strong, well thought out individual Erin. It is always fun to read what you have to say!


  5. Amy- we are going to try that recipe next week! Thanks for sharing it!