Hustling to Make Extra Money

by Katy on August 2, 2015 · 46 comments

Broken Fiestaware

As much as I put my efforts into saving money, I put an equal effort into bringing in lots of income. Because unless you’re a professional couch surfer and food forager, you can’t have one without the other. I call it my “my hustle,” and baby, I am always hustling!

I’ve written about my money making hacks over the years and always get readers wondering why I don’t simply work more hours in my day job as a labor and delivery nurse. It’s a good question, and I can see why people ask it. The answer is that with my family, life gets too complicated when my husband and I both work the same days. We work 12-hour shifts which keep us away from the house for around 14 hours, and there is simply always something at home that needs adult attention. We’ll be empty nesters sooner than we care to admit, so why not spend time with our sons now while they’re still within arm’s reach? Sniff . . .

My people matter more to me than my money.

Having said that, money does matter. Not just money for life’s daily expenditures, but money set aside for retirement and for our sons to graduate college without soul crushing student loan debt. (Both my teenage sons hold jobs, but it isn’t enough to pay for college.)

It’s a delicate balance. Work enough to save and stay out of debt, yet also spend the apparently massive amounts of time I like to hang out with my kids.

So I hustle.

Here’s how my hustle breaks down:

  • I work as a hospital based labor and delivery nurse. However, it’s an on-call position, which means that I pick and choose my schedule, although I’m required to work a certain number of hours per month. Sometimes I work two days per week, sometimes less. (I used to have a regular part-time staff position, but my husband’s work week is based on an eight-day week, which was impossible to schedule around.)
  • I help my mother run her VRBO guest cottage business. This mostly means that I help to clean and maintain the two houses between tenants, which runs from twice a week or once a month. I’m very good at it, and always make jokes about how “the cobbler’s children have no shoes” as I certainly do not keep my house at the 100% immaculate standard that we keep for the guest cottages. This is work I can do despite running the kids across town or managing my own household. My mother pays me enough to make it worth my time. Plus she often takes me to lunch. Thanks, mom!
  • I sell stuff on Craigslist. This runs the gamut from soccer tickets, to unwanted personal possessions to things fellow Portlanders put out for free. I almost always have at least three listings going at a time, and I start to scour the house when my inventory gets low. Over the past week I’ve sold a vintage plant stand I found next to a dumpster, ($20) half of a Subaru trailer hitch that went with our sadly totaled Outback, ($10) and an antique claw foot bathtub that’s been sitting in our basement for ten years. ($625) Just yesterday a free pile gifted me a vintage hand painted floor cloth and a wonderful small desk/dresser combo. The former is already on Craigslist, and I’ll put together an ad for the latter as soon as I’m done writing this blog post.
  • I sell stuff on eBay. This is not as frequent as it used to be, but certain items do better on eBay than on Craigslist. (Larger customer base.) I have a listing ready to start tonight that is nothing more than a lot of broken vintage Fiestaware. I’d thought I would use it for a mosaic kitchen backsplash, but it’s been sitting in my basement for almost twenty years, so I’ll let some other crafty type take over the project.
  • I find money on the ground. Okay, this hustle may seem a bit of a stretch, but it seriously adds up. Last year I found over $35 on the ground, and I’m on track for a much higher amount this year as I’ve already found $27 in paper money alone!
  • I use Swagbucks to order up $25 PayPal gift cards. I know a lot of people use Swagbucks to earn gift cards for Amazon or Starbucks, but since the bucks can be used to earn straight-up cash, that’s my first choice. You know . . . money! My goal is to earn one per month. ($25 X 12 = $300.)
  • I blog. I know this one may seem obvious, but it’s something that I’ve done almost every single day since May 20, 2008. (A loooong time in the blogging world.) I turn down probably 99% of money making opportunities related to the blog, as it would hypocritical to write about not buying useless crap while simultaneously writing sponsored posts, although I do have a few advertisers to keep the lights on. The blog earns around $10 per day, which adds up. But I don’t do it for the money, I do it because it’s extremely satisfying and fulfilling. I feel like it’s helped to create an amazing community, and it may sound hokey, but I get more from blogging than my readers do. I love my readers! You should see what kind of amazing stuff that goes down over at The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group!

Together it adds up. We have enough money for everything we need and although we don’t have fully funded college accounts, we’re going to muddle through. I’ll work more once both kids are in college, but I’ll continue my hustle either way. Cause baby . . . my hustle is a thing of beauty.

Do you hustle to piece together a patchwork income? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen August 2, 2015 at 11:34 am

Yup! Always have, probably always will. I have a part-time music job, and then I have eleventy-bazillion patchwork kind of things that go on with my blog. None of them are gonna fund my retirement on their own, but a bunch of smallish things add up pretty nicely.


Katy August 2, 2015 at 11:51 am

This makes sense as you are my secret identical twin!


gloria August 2, 2015 at 11:52 am

I blog, I write freelance, I have my own VRBO rental business (I pay other people to clean), I sell stuff on eBay and craigslist, I have two books in print so I get royalties, and I’m trying to sell a TV script. I’m always hustling for money.


A. Marie August 2, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Another way of looking at this subject is to look at things that one *doesn’t* do that *would* burn money. This is a little harder to compute–and certainly harder to translate into hard cash at the university bursar’s office–but it does add up. For instance, I telecommute, so that eliminates a lot of gas money and the need for a specialized work wardrobe. I garden, so that rules out a lot of store-bought vegetables. (Of course, since I’m older than dirt, I’m no longer sinking $$ into a lot of tools and supplies.) And I dry everything except sheets on racks salvaged from long-ago rental properties. I know that Katy and all of you do a lot of these things as well, but don’t forget to factor them in.


Katy August 2, 2015 at 1:26 pm

True. It’s hard to quantify, but it’s definitely part of the equation.


Kim from Philadelphia August 2, 2015 at 12:59 pm

You’re a clever woman, Katie, and smart to spend quality time with your two teenage boys. It took me a long time to figure this out. Working a lot was ok before kids, but I’ve cut back my hours to spend time with my 9 year old. I know many people can’t do this, so I feel very fortunate to have this be an option.


Gloria from CA August 2, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Katy you are my non-consumer mentor. I have for several years tried to rein in my spending and consumption of unneeded items. The journey has been a bit like a roller coaster ride. I was fortunate enough to come across your group over at Facebook. You and the group have inspired me and helped me focus my direction. For that I am very thankful. Please keep up all the good work!


Katy August 2, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Aww, thank you!


Shannon August 2, 2015 at 1:53 pm

We just sold 2 trash picked items from a dumpster area behind a liquor store at our garage sale …

1) a working cash register for $10
2) a cigar humidor for $15

That’s my first “trash to cash” experience. Love it!


Katy August 2, 2015 at 2:07 pm

“Trash to Cash?!” I love it!


lori August 2, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Hey Katy
Your hustling is also teaching your kids about money and not wasting it. After reading your blog last year we started a found change jar and last year we found about $37.00 (Canadian, so not worth a lot right now, haha). Finding money was very exciting for a 7 year old and that money is being deposited into her bank account. Now we have started a new jar for this year.


Jackie August 2, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Yep! My family is famous for their side hustles. We even joke about getting tshirts printed that say “Side Hustling since 1947” – the year my grandparents married. I work 3 days a week as a post partum nurse and my husband works on call as a home health nurse. This allows us to not use childcare which is outrageous where we live. It also gives is the flexibility to be with our families.


Kathy August 2, 2015 at 3:25 pm

I think everyone has to find their own balance. In our household our free time is precious due to our work travel schedules. No way would we spend the time to patchwork our jobs. We are on call and everything changes every day, sometimes more than once. Try driving to Coos Bay on short notice only to be told that you are now needed in Longview or Seattle halfway into the trip. We get paid very well for what we do, but 12 to 16 hour days can be the norm. We also pay for outside help for lawn care and other things. We have to. If we were gone for several months (which can and does happen) my home would appear vacant and open to theft. After a 16 hour day out of town the lawn is the last thing I am doing.

I so admire how you and others make the hustle work for your life. If things ever change for us or we retire then I am sure we will find a new normal and balance for us. I admit to freely spending as needed and most likely I could save a lot more with more effort, but this works for us for now. I do combine my trips, make and take much of our own food (special diets) when possible, prefer not to eat out. I have to be pretty organized to pull it off on very short notice, not always successful but better than nothing. We have no debt, we drive nice cars and live in beautiful houses. I am blessed. No complaints. We have found what currently works for us.

I have always wondered (forgive me if this is too nosy), do you pay taxes on your profits and gains on the freebies you sell? I am assuming you do, right?


Isabelle August 2, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Hmm, let’s see…

I work part time in a hospital, for a really good hourly salary, and hubby works full time at as a public servant, which also pays well and offers medical insurance for the whole family.
Except this, I do online surveys that gives me gas gift cards (amounts to about 10$/month), and we put all of our expenses on credit cards – fully paids each month and without fees – that let’s us redeem points for free groceries (amounts to about 500$/year).
That’s about it for the “money making” part.
I am more of a “saver”: looking for sales, stock pilling on lost leaders, using coupons, buying used, looking for free stuff, asking for practical gifts at Christmas and birthdays, using groupons to eat out, looking for free activities, etc. You get the picture. Small things do add-up. I’d be curious to know how much I’m saving us each year.


Adriana August 3, 2015 at 3:26 am

Isabelle..could you pls share the credit card you use that’ gives you free groceries thru rewards?


Ruby August 2, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Boy, Katy, you were not kidding when you were going to have a look around the basement for stuff to sell. Way to go, girl!

My only side hustle of the moment is selling used books, movies and music CDs to Amazon. The main goal was to declutter our house, but for a short stretch there I was making about $50 a week while decluttering. The more valuable thing I’m doing with my time is finishing up some renovations and painting our house has needed for three years.


Isabelle August 2, 2015 at 4:01 pm

And I am totally with you about the “working less to spend time with the kids”. I decided to work part time, mornings only, (since we could afford it) so that the rest of the day I can squeeze in all the “to-do list” (groceries, laundry, meal prepping, cleaning, appointments to the garage/dentist/doctor, errands, etc). That way, I can pick up the kids at 3h30-4h, all is done and it’s a relaxed evening, quality family time, And our weekends are not jam packed with “to-do” stuff. I could go on call and work every day, make double the money, but we would all end up stressed, tired, cranky, etc What’s the point? (Then again, I am stressing out the point that this is because we can afford it and is not at all a judgment on those who need to work full time in order to put food on the table. I am not taking it for granted).


Betty Winslow August 2, 2015 at 4:39 pm

I work as a school librarian two days a week, I write a book review column for a magazine and occasionally sell other writing elsewhere, I make and sell jewelry in several local venues plus in my Etsy stores (Betty’s Bead Soup, where I sell my own work, and Faye’s Fabulous Finds, where I sell vintage stuff and craft supplies), I have a book store on, I sell stuff on FB and Craigslist, and I do jewelry refurbs and repairs. I also use Swagbucks and pick up money off the ground (although Katy’s got me beat) and turn in unwanted books for credit at the local used book store.

The school money pays bills (which I charge and pay off once a month, using the points garnered for gift cards) , the rest of it goes into a bank account for future needs (from which I’ve already bought a needed new frig and washer, my first “I paid for them myself” appliances EVER!)

Swagbucks hasn’t paid off yet, but I’ll use that for Paypal. The found money goes in a baby bottle in my wardrobe, and when it’s full, it will go to the local crisis pregnancy center, in memory of my oldest daughter, who was a crisis pregnancy herself, grew up calling herself “Mommy’s oopsy baby”, and was a big supporter of the center. (She died at 21 in a car wreck in 93.)

I’m so glad to have found this group – support is important when you’re swimming upstream!


Isabelle August 3, 2015 at 3:24 am

Sorry for your loss, losing a child is the worst. You are honoring her in a good way.


Mariana Cisowska August 2, 2015 at 5:28 pm

I like this post and really respect how honest you are about turning down sponsored posts if you know that you would not buy / use a product yourself in a real life.
I have stumbled upon many blogs where every other post (or more) is a sponsored post. Not only makes me doubt the real intentions of the ‘helpful’ blogger but it also makes the blog look like a full on advertising campaign.


Patti August 2, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Well, I guess I hustle as I work part-time for my church as the Leisure Director. Happily I can work more some weeks and be off others so that I am able to schedule around my family. I also sell on eBay but mostly use my skills to save money; i.e.: gardening, sewing, cooking, etc. I am always “open” for a good deal that will save us money – found mainly by reading the newspaper closely or Facebook or the encouragement of this group.


Beth August 2, 2015 at 9:22 pm

1. Full-time day job at local school district.

2. Part-time professional dog walker/sitter.

3. Sell at local consignment shop.

4.Mom 2 Mom sales seller, although I believe this is done as my daughter is getting to old and know one will buy kids clothes in the larger sizes I am finding. 🙁

5. Garage sales – one the end of the summer in August, stop by 🙂

6. Swagbucks.


Beth August 2, 2015 at 9:37 pm

PS – need some new money maker ideas, can’t wait to read more posts 🙂


K D August 3, 2015 at 5:51 am

The truth is that my husband makes enough that I don’t need to work, so I don’t We are both happy with that. I feel as though I should leave paid employment to those that need it more than I do. I do a few things:

I have sold things on eBay and still sell on Amazon, and we have held many yard sales over the years.

I play the credit card rewards game. We have scored a lot of gift cards and free flights over the years.

I use Swag Bucks (sometimes).

I fill out surveys on e-Rewards and use the points for Southwest miles.

I also volunteer at least four mornings a week, give many things away on, and most of all work to make sure our finances are wisely deployed (retirement savings, charitable donations, house and vehicles are properly maintained, our spending is minimized, etc.).


LatteLaura August 3, 2015 at 6:31 am

One of the reasons I no longer follow a lot of blogs that claim to be about frugality or money saving is b/c it seems like they’ve all sold out to highlighting deals for junk one doesn’t need. That’s why I was so excited to find your blog- you seem relatable, real and I like your non-consumeristic values!

My side hustles:

1. Swagbucks- $60 dollars per month in Amazon gift cards. We have 2 accounts (one for me & one for hubby)

2. Ebay and Craigslist- a little here and there. My favorite recent sale was a WaveMaster punching bag wit gloves I bought at garage sale for $10 and sold on CL for $90!

3. Staples deals, rewards and rebates- I recycle my ink cartridges for $2 each and haven’t paid more than a dollar for a ream of paper in a few years.

4. Part-time job at our public library- only work a few hours and don’t make much, but every bit helps and I enjoy it!

5. Bing Rewards, Mypoints, Pinecone surveys brings in about another $25 per month.

I wish our city had free piles and I could regularly find random money on the ground, but I can live vicariously through hearing about your earnings in these areas! 🙂


Karen August 3, 2015 at 7:34 am

I wondered why I liked this blog so much compared to other blogs I have read and dropped over the years and I finally figured it out reading the above comments.
Yes, it does seem a bit disingenuous to write a blog talking about simple frugal life and then pushing everything under the sun and thinking it is OK because you disclose it is a sponsored post. Just my 2 cents.

I have made up my own job. I work for 3 different companies doing merchandising work in different stores.

I love to barter with my friends and family.

And I try to save money where ever I can. Which I admit it harder to quantify.


Tina S. August 3, 2015 at 7:41 am

Here is a question I have had for a while: how do people account for income from their side hustles in their taxes? Are there some things you report as income and some you don’t bother reporting? I’m interested to hear how people do this.


Marilyn August 3, 2015 at 7:50 am

I earn extra money at my regular part-time job by volunteering to take on out-of-town projects which involve travel. Since my husband and I are now empty-nesters, I am in a good position to do this. The mileage and per diem really add up. I am also happy to pick up pennies, nickels and dimes which I find. Do you know the rhyme: “See a dime, pick it up. All the day, you’ll have good luck.”


Vickie August 3, 2015 at 8:04 am

I’ve worked as many as 3 part time jobs at once. Back in the late 90s I helped my daughter out with my grandson, while she took college classes. He was a preemie and we didn’t want him in daycare.
I worked mornings as an intake coordinator in a hospital day surgery, I was a massage therapist/esthetician – I rented a room in a beauty salon and I sold Arbonne skin care products. Which eventually led to me working as therapist for chiropractor.
It was awesome. I could arrange my afternoon schedule to help my daughter and I still had paychecks coming in.
In my opinion this is called being an entrepreneur!


LatteLaura August 3, 2015 at 10:50 am

Also, this might seem silly, but I like how Katy looks naturally pretty & smiley as opposed to caked in make-up and “styled.”

For me, living a less consumerist & better life has involved embracing natural beauty enhanced by smiling, confidence & a healthy lifestyle.


Katy August 3, 2015 at 11:03 am

Yeah . . . I’ve never been able to sustain an interest in hair and makeup.


tina August 3, 2015 at 10:52 am

I can relate to the college fund as I have a 16 year old starting dual enrollment next month (1 class at her H.S. and 3 classes at community college; tuition is covered but we still have fees, books, etc) and I have a 11 year old as well.

* sell what I can ~ before it goes to goodwill I often try to sell the item (ebay, craigslist or local facebook site)
* grocery saving programs (saving star, ibotta, checkout51, etc…). I like that Ibotta is offering more produce rebates too!
* swagbucks
* I knew I would need to buy some school supplies so I bought a discounted gift card (not much but it all helps)
* enter contests ~ i’ve won everything from movie tickets to a trip!


Leslie Dye August 3, 2015 at 11:14 am


You may have addressed this in a prior blog post but, do you have a daily Swagbucks routine that you follow? For example, do you set a goal to watch a certain number of videos or take a certain number of surveys each day? I love your idea of earning having a goal of earning a $25 Paypal gift card every month. How do you do it? Thanks for your input!


cathy August 4, 2015 at 10:34 am

I’m curious too. I just don’t seem to get how to earn more than 2 SB at a time without spending hours upon hours online. Would love any tips Katy or anyone else has.


tina August 4, 2015 at 10:35 am

I find the quickest way to earn swagbucks is surveys


Beth August 4, 2015 at 11:02 am

As Dory would say from Nemo “just keep clicking, clicking,….”, lol, that’s the best way.

Seriously, I am now up to my third $25 payout. This is what i do, would love to hear how others succeed. I have had no luck with surveys, recently spent 45 minutes doing survey stuff and earned 1 point, big waste of time for me.

* I prefer to watch nGage, I do Ncrave, Daily Crave, and used to earn a lot from the Special Offers videos under the Discover section but have not figured out where that has gone to with the redesign. 🙁

*Earn 10 game points on the free dino game (you have to switch back and forth) as its really weird now and for me I only earn points every other game so I watch nGage in between. Do not play it just let him die for the fastest approach, does not matter what your score is.

*I used to watch the videos but now the new Watch section seems to take FOREVER for me because of all of the clicking back and forth.

*I also use the search tool bar exclusively and earn 7-25 plus points a day – I use this for going into my email, EveryDollar, Facebook every time.

*I am now using Bing too – do 15 searches and earn 15 points a day, once you reach 500 points you can convert them to Swagbucks. I also earn 2-3 extra points a day clicking on the other daily search things they offer.

*Coupons! Just printed off coupons from the site – could earn 200 points if I end up redeeming them all at the store today (10 pts per redeemed coupon.)


cathy August 4, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Maybe my problem is that I just don’t have enough time. I don’t play games online, and I’ve also found that the surveys take an extraordinary amount of time and then I get maybe 2 SB. I also can’t figure out how doing searches nets me any points at all. I’ve tried logging in to Swagbucks and doing searches from there, but I never get any points for my searches. Clearly I’m not doing it right.


Beth August 4, 2015 at 6:37 pm

I hear ya Cathy. I just do it when I can i.e. we have two computers so I will work on one and keep the other nearby and click as I work or as I watch tv. I also watched the videos on my daughters Kindle BUT since they redid the site this is harder as I find I have to click a lot more between pages then previously. Others use their Smart phones but mine is dumb i.e. only texts and calls so I can’t do that.


Kate August 3, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Thank you for not trying to sell items (that really no one needs) on your blog! Seriously bugs me when I read a money saving blog and they try to sell people stuff that pretty much no one needs (ugh).


Wadia August 4, 2015 at 1:44 am

I work part time online, for a well paying free lancer, and as a lecturer full time that has also good salary for me to cater for the basic need of my whole family of four, Apart from this I do community statistics and predicts on different views of the society in future and solve oncoming problems, I invest a lot in vast number of businesses and keep me well. Hustling keeps me fit and cool always for empowerment and growth from one glory to the next.


Joanna August 4, 2015 at 10:27 am

Swagbucks is great but I feel like it takes FOREVER to get enough points for a gift card! Any tips?


Joanna August 4, 2015 at 11:17 am

Duh, I just saw the comments above!!


Rachel in Portland August 4, 2015 at 6:22 pm

Great post, as always, Katy. I work full time (I worked part-time until the children were fully in school), do freelance writing, editing, and consulting, as does my husband. There are always 10 places to put every penny, but we managed to pay off our house and still travel and enjoy life. The main thing we have done, however, is pay in-state tuition and use 529 accounts for our daughters, who are both in college now. They both received many scholarship offers to expensive private liberal arts colleges, but when we did the math, it did not pencil out in a way that we could avoid debt. By sending them to an in-state school, they have the freedom to study what they want, we have enough money to send them abroad, and they will graduate debt-free.


Jane F October 30, 2015 at 8:00 am

Will you update us if the broken fiestaware sells, please?


Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: