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Monday, 21 January 2013

Multiple sources of income

About a year and a half ago our family was in a very rough financial spot. After a string of poor luck with my daycare I had lost all but one child.  Everyone seemed to be moving, getting laid off or transitioning from day care age to school age and entering the public school system.
Audrey was still under two months old, and since I do not get any paid maternity leave because I am self-employed we had decided That Guy would take some parental leave to give me a hand until I got into the swing of things as the mother of two.
So there we were trying to live on an income level less than half of what we normally struggle with.

Making use of coupons, price matching and store specials as well as reaching deep into the cupboards for all  those long forgotten canned goods we were able to get by feeding ourselves and daycare (admittedly only one daycare child) for little over $20/week.
We cancelled cable, the long distance plan on our home phone as well as call waiting.
We shopped for new cell phone plans and companies and cut our costs by a little over 50% there.
We re-discovered our local library as a great source of socialization for myself and entertainment for the kids.
It wasn't even close to enough.  That Guy had to cut his parental leave short and go back to work.

Very fortunately it did not take long for me to fill my empty daycare spaces. Our income became more in line with what was typical for us, but now we had to fight against the  bills on our credit cards and line of credit we were forced to use- we still were not in the clear.

So I got online and started researching ways other families handle their debts and pull through messes like the one we were trying to climb out of.  (No, we had not cancelled our internet to save money.  I am a very firm believer that having internet access saves tons of money and is a very wise investment. Case in point: researching how to save money!)   I came across a website that pointed out that the more sources of income one has the less devastating it is if one source is lost.  Well....DUH!! And I rolled my eyes at my computer screen. "That's all good and holy in THEORY" I told my screen "but there are only so many hours in a day. And really, how understanding do you expect employers to be about the schedules of your three other jobs? Plus! Lets not forget I have to consider childcare costs too!"  My computer screen just stared back at me, and said nothing.  Clearly that meant the screen thought I was right. *smirk*

And I was very happy in my superior knowledge of real life over that of my computer screen....
Until recently when someone was asking me about my children participating in beauty pageants. They asked if it was expensive.  Since "expensive:" is a relative term I outlined the costs for them.  Entry fees, up to date photos, outfits and costumes plus special snacks and treats to keep the kids happy the day of.  "But how does someone so frugal justify that sort of strain on your family budget?" asked my logical friend. So I explained how these costs don't come out of our family budget.  There are times during the year that I am casually employed to do some sewing for people. Since sewing is something that I do from home with no over head costs and something I enjoy all the money I earn from that gets stashed away to pay for the kids pageants. If a pageant is approaching and there is no money, or not enough, in that envelope then we do not enter the kids - simple as that. But wait.... that might make my occasional sewing employ a "source of income" like that website was talking about....    Sure, its casual and inconsistent but its still money coming in.

Once i got to really reflecting on it I realized that my small handmade gift item business would cont as a source of income too.  The income is small, but it is pretty regular.  So lets see here.... That Guy works full time outside of the home bringing in a modest but respectable income for our family. My sources of income are smaller, but more numerous...daycare, sewing and handmade gifts.  Additionally I am in the process of starting up a private home school.  School would eventually take the place of daycare so it would not be an additional source of income. But since private homeschooling commands a slightly higher cost to parents it would be an additional amount of income.   Maybe this website actually was on to something..... I'm not usually wrong but I suppose there are first times for everything ;)
That's not saying that I have the option right now of closing day care and living off the small and inconsistent incomes of these other enterprises. What I'm saying is that maybe finding more source of income isn't really about holding down more jobs....its more about working smarter than working harder.

If you like walking, why not look into a paper route? Not a lot of money in it, but its something. It will also force you to get up and get out as we start to fall into "hibernation" mode of the winter. Its a GREAT way to meet your neighbors, too!
Offer up your talents (sewing? fluent francophone? great ballroom dancer? best coupon clipper?) to friends, on social networking sites and free classified ad websites. It does not have to be employment that would carry you in the same way your full time job does now, but something you can do with a bit of flexibility,   Or maybe even offer your talents for trade. (you clip coupons for a family, and organize them in an easy to use way for x amount of time and in exchange a member of that family will babysit for you, teach you to build something you were going to buy, or teach you a marketable skill - like plumbing- so you never have to hire out for it again)

Turns out there are as many ways to increase sources of income as there are personality types.
I suppose I owe my computer screen an apology.

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