Planting My Income Crops

by Katy on August 26, 2015 · 22 comments

I work as a hospital based labor and delivery nurse, which I do between one and two days per week. It pays well, but it’s unbelievably stressful and eats up a good 14 hours per day, which means I’m completely unavailable to run my household or be available as a parent or daughter. We only have another year before both my sons are in college, (*sob*) so I’m prioritizing time with them. I’ve worked more in years past, like when my husband was in school and the year that we were working on our house and paid rent plus a mortgage. (Shudder . . . that was no fun!)

However, I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire which means that I’m constantly bringing in additional income. Sometimes it’s fast and easy, but oftentimes it takes awhile to pay off. Take Craigslist as an example. It takes between five and ten minutes to put together an online listing, and occasionally items sell immediately, but usually I need to renew the listing three or four times, sometimes more. This is because I’m not selling my finds for pennies on the dollar, I’m trying to bring in as much money as possible. However, it only takes around twenty seconds to renew a listing, so it’s no big to be patient. Plant the seed and then wait.

Today I went in for an in-person consumer survey panel, which was scheduled to pay $125 and take an hour-and-a-half from my day. And since it started at 8:30, I’d be home before my sons even woke up. (Teenagers . . .  ya’ know!) But an amazing, wonderful, stupendous, spectacular and splendiferous thing happened, which was that they’d overbooked the session and didn’t need me. But they still paid me $125, simply because I’d jumped through the hoops to qualify for the survey and I’d actually shown up! Plus, while I was sitting drinking my free coffee and munching on a free granola bar, I received a Craigslist e-mail from someone who wants to buy a cute curbside chair that I swear I’ve relisted at least a dozen times.

That chair buyer is now coming on Friday morning. To hand me money. For stuff I found for free.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t planted my income seeds around town. A little here and a little there, which I then get to sit back and harvest at my leisure.

I work tomorrow, which keeps the paychecks coming, (and my 403b funded!) but I’ll always have my crops.

Just call me the frugal gentlewoman farmer.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Sherri Irvine August 26, 2015 at 10:20 am

Love this lol


K D August 26, 2015 at 12:10 pm

A great way to look at it. You are a master of both income generation and money conservation. It is too bad that more people do not have the hustle that you have. What a great legacy to pass on to your kids, that there are so many ways to have a great life without a super-high income job.

I am more of a money conserver as our income is adequate, but I do like to pick up small income generators.


A. Marie August 26, 2015 at 1:12 pm

I agree with KD re: admiration for your approach. Our own approach here at Tightwad Acres is this: I make good money as a full-time, on-staff telecommuter for a small company, and DH has his SS plus another very good income stream (for the next 10 years) in his retirement–but we’re both always looking for ways we can either make more money or save money. In my case, the active income streams include picking up NYS deposit cans/bottles and selling “thrift shop mistakes” at a local consignment shop; DH is always alert to the possibilities of odd handyman jobs and occasional sales on Craigslist. For us both, the passive income streams include the cash value of produce and herbs given as gifts (in my case) and firewood reclaimed off curbs and out of neighbors’ yards (in DH’s). So we’ve all got our various hustles, and I think we can all learn from each other.


Diane C August 26, 2015 at 1:11 pm

For nearly a decade, I had the cutest tenant in my retirement community rental. He’d say to me with a twinkle in his eye and a trace of a burr,
“I’m Scottish and I’m Jewish, do you know what that means?”
“No, Jack, what does that mean?”
“I know how to make it and I know how to keep it.”
He lived happily in that house until he drew his very last breath, just as he wished. RIP Jack, I miss you.


A. Marie August 26, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Awww, that’s sweet!


AFS August 26, 2015 at 3:16 pm

when my mother passed away I sold her cold pack canner on craig’slist. it sold immediately for $10, so when I saw one for $3 at a G Sale I bought and resold it. I bought another and sold it. When they didn’t move I filled them with jars (20 cents at Goodwill) and canning tools (always under a dollar) changed my ad to Canning Kit $30. I just sold the 12th one yesterday. I have 4 on hand right now I never pay more than $5. I have tried other items with less predictable success so I’m sticking with what works for me, but still I wish I had your eye for diamonds in the rough.


Marcia August 26, 2015 at 3:27 pm

We also have an adequate income–mostly because when we were working, we never spent as much as we earned. My husband knew he would have no pension after retirement, so we saved the maximum each year in his 401k. We also saved a smaller amount in mine–but I knew I would have a pension on retirement, and I also carried the medical insurance for us both–and it only cost me 20 years of my life. (Both the retirement and the medical were items I contributed to during most of my career with the county.) Medical insurance costs us NOTHING per month -a perk of my employment for 20 years–and includes prescriptions with a low co-pay but not dental, optical or hearing aids. We have substantial dental bills, and my husband has two hearing aids. Medical is a small balance after what medicare and my private insurance pays.
My role these days is to make sure no one runs off with what we have so carefully acquired!! My granddaughter is 15 months past college graduation and not “fully and fairly” employed. She works full time but doesn’t make much. She has to maintain her residence in the nearest city for any hope of a job in her field. I pay her rent, her student loans, any car maintenance and her Mastercard bill. Her mother pays for her phone and her car insurance. What does she pay for? Not nearly enough. Clothes, entertainment, gifts, food, gas, household things are SUPPOSED to come from her wages. The mastercard is for emergencies or any expenses that occur when she doesn’t have the cash to cover them. (She lives an hour away from her mother and grandparents.) Her bio father died recently–both her mother and step-father are totally disabled at this time. Neither is expected to improve to the point of being able to work again. I kind of got the raw end of this deal, since I originally paid some of her expenses to get her through college. Her step-Dad paid for more until he recently had to stop working altogether–he’s been injured and had surgery for past 2 years or so, and the injuries occurred at work. She may inherit some from her bio Dad but it’s too soon to say for sure, and it won’t be a lot. Mom and Dad just can’t afford any more, and have told her that she will have to negotiate a new phone contract and pay for it when her current one runs out. So I continue to pay and to try to encourage thrift. (She does have a roommate–so I’m only paying half the rent. That’s ENOUGH!)

Besides my grand-daughter spending our money, my husband has two antique cars which he fixes and shows occasionally. We attend shows and sometimes end up paying for more expensive hotels than we would choose for ourselves, because that’s where the shows are. The parts can get expensive too, although he’s been doing it quite a while now and is buying parts from friends quite often, instead of paying retail.

Husband and I also like to travel and at least a couple weeks in Florida are essential to HIM when it’s deep winter here. We prefer driving as I hate to fly.

My role is to run around turning lights off, buying bargains, gifting inexpensively, and attempting to teach granddaughter the importance of budgeting. Oh, and cooking from scratch and doing everyones’s mending. I have a small veggie garden and some flowers but at 72, can barely keep up with it.

My husband is very handy and is able to do most repairs and maintenance on our 110 year old home, a fairly constant need! We seldom hire anyone to do anything, and if we do, husband is right there in the middle of it, watching and learning so that next time he can do it himself. He has a stash of car parts, nuts and bolts, scrap wood, and scrap metal (his former employers were generous with their scrap pile and employees were allowed to take what they could use.)
and has been known to make new parts or redesign something so it can continue to work a lot longer.
So we’re quite the experienced do-it ourselfers, and the concept of make do or do without is one we are very familiar with. We are quite happy with this lifestyle, too—it keeps our days fully occupied and we are never bored. We also like to read a lot and have time for that.

And that’s what I mean by my role is to keep everyone else from spending our money!!


Susan August 26, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Wow, you are a nice grandma! I have a 4 year old grand daughter and can see from your example that all the indulging I am doing now may not be such a great idea. I do buy most of her clothes-all at thrift stores as well as toys there too. But still the idea of getting so much stuff from me is maybe something I need to look at.

I love the analogy of planting income seeds. After becoming a widow, then working a sales job where I had to travel, I more or less had a meltdown. I learned to sell stuff. Put ads in the little papers at first and sold a lot of stuff. Then I discovered eBay and started selling all my husbands “collections” of vitage and antique doo dads. I got hooked and now scour thrift stores for things to sell, mostly clothing, on eBay. Its fairly labor intensive but I try to “plant a few seeds” daily by listing things. I was near to losing my house and was so broke before I started. The travel drained me physically and financially and I didn’t make enough to offset all the expense. Now most months I can make my house payment, pay all the bills, buy food and put some in savings every month. I am not wasting tons of gasoline, dress in comfy clothes that I have had forever and replace from my thrift store finds. Life is easier and simpler and I am slowing learning to make do and not to throw so much away and waste so much. I have really enjoyed being here and learning from all of you.


Lee August 26, 2015 at 7:03 pm

You are a good person to do so much for your family. Did you co-sign your granddaughter’s loans? If not, I wouldn’t pay them. It sounds like she won’t learn how to budget (read: live within her income as you have done, and as so many others who don’t make as much as she does do) as long as she has the safety net of you paying for anything that, if it doesn’t get paid, means serious trouble for her. If you did co-sign the loans, I’d pay those and not the rent. Make her responsible if you want her to act responsibly.

If she’s not “fully employed”, how is it that she works full-time? At any rate, I assume full-time is 40 hours/week. As we all know there are plenty of other ways she can earn additional money: babysitting, tutoring would bring in a lot since she has a college degree, picking up seasonal retail shifts, etc.

That’s completely unsolicited advice, I know, and I’m sorry, but it seems like she’s taking advantage of you– perhaps without even realizing she’s doing it, because she’s young and thoughtless.


K D August 27, 2015 at 4:05 am


To this outsider it sounds to me like you are enabling your granddaughter. If she works full time and shares an apartment I can’t imagine she can’t afford to pay a lot more of her expenses. Clothes, entertainment, gifts, etc. are discretionary. It sounds like they are things you go without. It is possible that the job hunt that would lead to being “fully and fairly” employed would be hastened if her life style were impacted by losing some/all of her support. I believe some people call that “tough love”.


Diane C August 27, 2015 at 5:56 am

K D and Lee put it in much nicer terms than I might have…
I have so much confidence in my ability to support myself, because I figured out how to do it on my own. I retired at 54, which isn’t all that early, but I doubt I would have achieved this goal if someone had sent me out in the world without removing the training wheels. Time to consider some loving changes, grandma.


aspen August 27, 2015 at 9:43 am

You’re an amazingly generous grandmother! But I have to agree with the other commenters. It sounds as if your granddaughter–who’s nearly a year-and-a-half out of COLLEGE is still paying for the sorts of things she was expected to cover when she was in high school. She’s an adult now, and it sounds like she needs to learn how to prioritize what she purchases and how she allocates HER money based on her true expenses and not just the optional ones. For instance, if she can’t afford to pay her own rent, then maybe she can’t afford to be generous and give gifts to other people at this time. Clearly, I don’t know what field she’s in, but for virtually any type of work there is more than one place in the world one can live. Maybe she needs consider looking for work in a less expensive area.
I think what caught my eye about your comment was that you said you “make do or do without” but it doesn’t sound like your granddaughter has to do the same. I can tell you from experience that the longer you pay for everything, the greater the chance she will never be able to pay her own expenses. My parents always helped out my younger sister. It wasn’t until she was 50 that she started to take greater control of her finances.


Michele August 26, 2015 at 7:56 pm

I love this idea! You’ve inspired me. I keep thinking selling stuff online is, SIGH….tiresome and often fruitless….but I should be ‘planting the seeds’ with the same mindset I use when I plant my gardens. I don’t expect to plop a squash seed in the dirt and wake up the next day to a bumper crop… takes time. The Bible says (paraphrasing here) ‘as long as the Earth remains there will be seedtime and harvest….” I think we understand the ‘seed’ and the ‘harvest’….but we don’t understand the ‘time’. I may just list some stuff! I have sold 2 college text books (2 kids in college) in the last few days!


DIane August 27, 2015 at 3:47 am

Kudos on the free $125! Also, be on the lookout on craigslist for mock juries, sometimes labeled as focus groups. These pay really well, but do take a full day usually. The last one I participated in paid $300 for the day in cash! They usually come up in the etc section of craigslist. And it is very interesting to listen to the cases and give your opinion.


Bettypants August 27, 2015 at 6:52 am

I have an antique desk sitting in our garage that needs one more coat of paint before I can list it on CL. A children’s rocker sits ripped apart in our dining room, waiting to be reupholstered and then sold.

I greatly enjoy buying cheap/junky to refurbish and sell. It’s a very satisfying process.


Katy August 27, 2015 at 6:55 am

I agree 100%!


JD August 27, 2015 at 7:32 am

I so need to do this. I live in such a small town, it’s hard to sell things on Craig’s List — the nearest large town is almost 60 miles away, and that drive, and a safe place to meet in the great backside of nowhere between our towns make selling an issue. I do better with yard sales, but I have some items I don’t want to yard sale. I need to buck up and list stuff.
I’ve been trying to think of income streams besides my job. So far, no good ideas, and in a tiny town, it’s hard to come up with much of a client/customer base for sales or services, but I’ll keep trying! Katy inspires me.


Susanne g August 27, 2015 at 8:19 am

JD, I understand after recently moving from a large urban are to a small town, there aren’t as many opportunities. Or maybe the opportunities are completely different, not sure yet. Worth exploring! And sharing ideas!


Susanne g August 27, 2015 at 8:20 am

Urban area


marie August 27, 2015 at 8:59 am

As i’m unable to work right now, I’ve been doing farmer’s markets selling produce and perennials.
It’s great fun, but I need to find more extra income. I’m the master at saving, find any deal I can to save us some. Example: My newest pup needed spayed and I found a non-profit that does low-income spay\neuter. My out of pocket was $30 which included a rabies shot. All they asked was for a thank you and to pass it on.
I’ve tried craigslist and the local facebook sites, but I too am in a small community


Kim August 27, 2015 at 2:24 pm

Sadly I assume anyone answering my potential Craigslist ad is an ax murder.
And yard sales yield pennies on the dollar (isn’t that why we love to stop at them?)
I’ve found that simply donating items that are worth having, to charity and deducting them at tax time. The less than wonderful stuff goes out on the lawn with a “free” sign.
Guess I’m not ambitious enough. This Katy, is your superpower!


Kim August 27, 2015 at 3:30 pm

In addition to my part time job I also add income a few other ways. The first is by selling on Amazon which I started after losing my job a few years ago. Over time I have developed my niche areas that I focus on after developing my expertise over time and with research. Two weeks ago I bought a book for 25¢ and sold it in less than 2 days for almost $40. Please know that is not normal but it is fun when it happens. Today I shipped an item that I bought for a dollar as part of set and sold for $8 before fees. I will end up with about $5 in profit which is my minimum profit margin in order to make it worth my time.

I also sell on my local Facebook yard sale group. This past weekend I sold a new Jansport backpack for $22 that I had picked up at GW for $4 last spring. I held onto it because I knew I would get a better price at back to school time. I sold a rotating desktop organizer for $4. It had cost me nothing because someone who was giving me some folders had added it to the box. This is how I sell things that I know I can make some money from but Amazon isn’t the right place to sell it.

I also recycle cable that my husband brings home from his job as an IT specialist for 55 unit company. It would get thrown away normally after he replaces cables in the course of his work. I also say all our aluminum cans and just today picked up a smashed can that was next to my car in a parking lot. I do not go hunting cans on the side of the road but will pick them up if I came across them on the ground in my travels. I take them to the recycle place about every 2 months and normally get between $25-$40 for what many consider trash.

I also use several coupon/rebate apps for things that I am going to buy anyway. I have about $250-300 sitting in my accounts right now to cash out which I will do closer to the holidays.


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