Side Hustle Income Report, 2018: Part Two – $1,969.11

As ever, I’m late to the party. 2019 is – ahem – more than halfway finished, and I’m only now finishing up the side-hustle income report for 2018. Click here for part one, a tidy haul of $1662.20

Of course, my general attitude is markedly different than when I first started this blog; what was once my bread and butter (“Every minute not spent working or sleeping is a minute for side-hustling! Leisure and relaxation are not words I know!”) has now become a once-in-a-while thing.

Two things:

  1. I just don’t have the time anymore. When I first started this blog, I wasn’t working full-time. Once I started the daily grind, 40 previously unaccounted hours per week really got in the way of the hustle.
  2. I got a raise at work last year! For absolutely no extra effort on my part, the extra cash replaced what was my monthly side-hustle income. Not only that, but I fiddled around with my health insurance and federal allowances, which padded out each paycheck as well. I also expect another merit raise this year.

This isn’t to say I’ve quit side-hustling completely. I’d never. Instead, I focus on what yields the largest returns for the least amount of work. For me, it’s one of three things:

  • Dog-sitting – $1045.20
  • Face-painting – $555
  • Penny collecting – $368.91

Dog-sitting income: $1,045.20

It’s what I’m here for. I whined wrote last time how badly I want a dog (specifically, a basset hound, if anyone knows a guy). But, now’s not the time… even though I did have a moment of feverish whimsy recently:

Spoiler: I did not get this cutie. He went to a good home, and for that I’m thankful but also like 9% bitter.

Oh, well. For now, dog-sitting in my home is a good (enough) substitute.
I wrote in my previous report how I wanted to break $1,000 in dog-sitting income for the second half of the year. I made it!

Sylvia’s Dog Hotel in the latter half of 2018 saw the following guests:

Okay this might be my favorite picture of any dog ever.

Look at that good boy! You’ve seen him quite a few times throughout my side-hustle income reports. He’s been a repeat guest since 2017, whose human I originally met through Rover.com – small friggin’ world, though, because she turned out to be the summer intern in my mother’s office.

It was a great fit. She traveled frequently for fun, and I never left my house (also for fun). All good things do come to an end, however. She moved across the country for graduate school, and, of course, took her dear sweet pup with her. Oh, well. Maybe one day they’ll return and need a place to crash.

How absolutely thrilled does he look to be shipped off to a stranger’s house.

This farty, grumpy pitty. He spent the weekend camped out by my front-door, waiting for his humans to come back. He had a lot of deep, heavy sighs that made it very clear what he thought about me and my house. I tried not to take it personally.

We stayed like this for literal hours. I couldn’t move, but it’s a good thing you can call out to Alexa and have her play your Audible library, hands-free.

Speaking of pitties, we also had this small, sweet, brindled good girl. Pitties (unfairly) get a bad rap for being aggressive, but the only thing about this baby girl was her aggressive demand for snuggles.

Coincidentally, this was another Rover.com meeting turned “Hey wait you actually share a desk at work with someone closely related to me…” I’ve now been over to her place twice for board game night, watched sweet girl five times, and whoops I guess we’re all friends now.

Side-hustles enrich your lives in more ways than one, people.

Yes I spend a lot of time on my couch. Also yes my living room is BRIGHT ASS YELLOW on purpose. Sue me.

And our last guest of the year was this sweet Labradoodle during the week of Christmas. She was another return guest from last year, and I can only cross all my fingers and toes that they’ll need me to watch her again for Christmas 2019. She’s the best present anyone could hope for!

Final dog thoughts?

I really hit the jack-pot with dog guests in 2018. Wow. There was no one pup that I regretted letting into my house. Truly, everybody was the perfect house-guest.

If you have the space and time for it, I definitely recommend dog-sitting as a side-hustle. If you’re a dog-lover at heart, it’s a good fit. Just make sure that your safety comes first – never accept a dog-boarding request without first doing a meet & greet.

I really really really wish I could accept more dog-sitting gigs. I get quite a number of requests these days through Rover.com, but I feel that I can only watch dogs on the weekends. During the week, I’m out of my house from 7:30AM – 6PM, and ten hours is just too long to go without a potty-break. I do have an electronic door lock with a code, so sometimes I’ll let whomever drop off or pick up their pup on Friday or Monday afternoons, but that’s about as big as I’ll let my dog-boarding window get.

Reason #10938598435 to reach for FIRE? To have the time and means to be at home, hanging out with mine and other people’s fur-babies all day.

Want to try it out for yourself? Use my referral link to get started!

Face-painting income: $555

I took it easy with face-painting gigs for the latter half of 2018. Naturally, once summer ends and kids start school, the frequency of face-painting gigs declines (it’s a seasonal sport, really).

I had written in my last report that I wanted to break $3,000 in face-painting income for the year. Well… that’s a fail. Total face-painting income for the year was $1,706.

I don’t feel so bad about it – I really can’t say I put my heart and soul into it; the gigs I did take were repeat clients or acting as a last minute substitute for someone else.

I’ve talked before about Thumbtack.com and how I used it to land gigs fairly frequently. However, it underwent changes in 2018 that rendered it, to me, completely useless:

  1. For whatever reason, after their structural changes the number of gig leads have dropped off massively.
  2. The price to bid on leads has risen exponentially.

Don’t ask me how the system currently works. I have no fucking clue. Every time I log in to the site, everything seems to have changed. For someone who’s just a casual, it’s not worth the price or the headache anymore. I can find gigs elsewhere for less of a finder’s fee (if one at all).

The $555 in face-painting income was from three gigs total, which puts my average pay per gig at $185. As I mentioned in my last income report, I never spend more than 2-3 hours at each gig, and I don’t take any that are more than 30 miles from my house (I hate driving. So much).

Anecdotally, a lot of the face-painters I know are retired. One day, I will join the Dosh Khaleen of face-painters. Until then, we work our day jobs.

Penny Collecting Income: $368.91

What does ‘penny collecting’ mean to me?

spongebob squarepants money GIF

I mean: that I made money through apps and gigs that don’t amount to much over the course of a year on their own, but, combined, they add up. As a bonus, most are passive or take extremely little time and effort.

*Oh, and what did I use all the money from penny-collecting on, you ask? The Black Friday Spiderman Playstation 4 bundle, of course.

Let’s start with the, ahem, sketchier side of things:

$150 – selling tradelines

If you’re unfamiliar, selling a tradeline means the act of selling an authorized user spot on your credit card. Why? The most popular reason is to boost someone else’s credit score. There are ‘credit repair companies’ out there that will take on credit-card holders as independent contractors. They do the leg-work of finding clients, and you are tasked with adding these clients on as an authorized user to your credit card (a ‘tradeline’, that is).

Illegal? No. Sketchy and against the terms of service of almost every credit-card provider out there? You betcha. Immoral? I won’t say either way (waityesIwill) and let you decide for yourself.

So, $150. One was sold via a (reputable) credit repair company, the other I sold privately. Perhaps I would have sold more, but I only just started the hustle toward the end of the year, in November. In 2019, I suspect there will be a bigger haul from selling tradelines, since I’ll have started from jump.

$109.17 – credit card rewards

Even though we’ve established my feelings about the credit industry with that subtly-inserted link above, I won’t say no to free money from it. Credit card rewards are about as easy of a ‘hustle’ as they come, if you care to categorize it as such, and your credit card should always be working for you in some way.

Congrats, Sylvia ‘insert my whole damn name for some reason why don’t you’ D!

Even though I have quite the glut of cards, my biggest haul in 2018 came from the the Chase Freedom card. They offer 1% cash back on every purchase plus an extra 5% on rotating categories, which I took advantage of as often as possible. For a little bit of extra mental energy and organization, I reaped $109.17 at the end of the year.

I’ve noticed from similar cards that the bonus cash-back categories are sometimes not that useful… if not altogether stupid (sorry, but how many times am I going to order from Flowers.com in one quarter? That’s not how I’m hacking the system, here). Chase, I find, is worthwhile.

In 2018, the 5% bonus categories were:

  • Gas stations (two separate times)
  • Internet, cable and phone service providers (hey, I use those!)
  • Mobile wallets, including Chase Pay®, Google Pay, Apple Pay® and Samsung Pay®
  • PayPal
  • Grocery stores (both bricks-and-mortar and online delivery services)
  • Walgreens
  • Lyft
  • Department stores
  • Wholesale clubs

Of this list, only department stores and wholesale clubs were the ones I didn’t make use of. For everything else, they were goods and services I’d pay for anyway, so it was nice to get a 5% coupon for it. The inclusion of mobile wallets and PayPal was also nice, because that essentially turns almost any purchase into a 5% cash back opportunity if you remember to use it.

If you are in the market for a new credit card, here’s a few more perks to a Chase Freedom Card (at the time of this writing):

  • $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Low intro APR – 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.

Click here for full details and to get your own.

I personally find 0% APR the most beneficial credit card perk across the board. I treat it as an interest-free loan for big purchases. Nothing indulgent, unless car repairs and property tax bills and dishwasher installations sound sexy to you. My promotional period has long since ended on this particular card, so I use it exclusively for the 5% cash back categories these days.

For that sweet sweet 0% APR, I recently opened a Discover IT card. This card is functionally the same as the Chase Freedom in that both offer 1% cash back, 5% bonus on rotating categories each quarter. The main differences, as of this writing:

  • Instead of the $150 bonus, they’ll do a dollar-for-dollar match of your after one year of your opening the card. In just one quarter, I’ve already surpassed $150, so this seems to be a better deal if you’re a heavy-spender.
  • 0% APR is only for 14 months instead of 15 months. Whatever, I’ll live.
  • Fewer 5% rewards categories. In 2018, they were:
  1. Gas stations
  2. Wholesale clubs (twice)
  3. Grocery stores
  4. Restaurants
  5. Amazon.com

Even though there’s fewer categories, at least they are still useful. Aside from those damn wholesale clubs. No I do not have time to listen about our lord and savior Costco, no matter how many $1 churros you tempt me with.

If you use my referral link to get your own Discover IT card, you’ll get a $50 statement credit after you make your first purchase (within three months). That plus the cash-back match means this can be a tidily lucrative little card that works hard for you.

$45.40 – JobSpotter

I’ve written about this handy app before, but it’s worth singing its praises again. Credit to Financial Panther for first introducing me. How it works: whenever you see a ‘now hiring’ or ‘help wanted’ sign, snap a live pic of both the sign and storefront. Get paid for it (in Amazon gift cards). That’s it. It’s that easy.

The payout per hiring sign can vary widely – I’ve gotten as little as a nickel and as much as $1.40, but it’s so quick and easy that the pennies add up quickly. I live in a college town whose entire economy depends on student workers; i.e. the turnaround is constant and the hiring signs are plentiful. When the weather is nice, it’s easy to turn a 2-mile jaunt about town into a profitable venture. Even though it’s paid out in Amazon gift cards, I consider that as good as cash.

$27.07 – Interest on Savings Account

From December 2018 statement

I opened my first savings account in 2008 and spared no other thought about it for a decade. However, in that time, I have earned less than $10 on interest for all the money I’ve parked in my savings account. The interest rate was pathetic and piddly (currently, it looks to be about 0.03% APY), but I didn’t know enough to be offended by it.

Whelp, better late than never.

‘High-yield savings accounts’ finally entered my orbit (this is why I read other #FIRE blogs!) I poked around a bit and found that Discover Bank was offering 1.75% APY. Sounded good to me, so I dumped some money into my shiny new savings account. Interestingly, the interest added up, but the rate itself kept increasing, too! As I write this, we’re currently at 2.1% APY.

$30 extra bucks just for the effort of creating a new bank account? Why not?

$20.88 – iBotta

If you’re unfamiliar, iBotta is an app where they offer rebates on products and pay out when you snap pictures of your receipt (and sometimes the barcode on the product itself).

It’s as quick and easy as any of the other apps on this list; most rebates are from things I would purchase regardless, so I might as well collect some pennies while I do it. The only drawback being that they have a cash-out threshold of $20, and it can certainly take a long time to accumulate enough credit to actually get money in hand.

Try it out for yourself with my referral link! Join my team and we can get more cash-back together.

$10.39 – Dividends

While I do keep a portion of my money parked in a high-yield savings account, I also allot a bit of fun-money (<$500) for day-trading because I am a wild lady who knows how to have fun.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on where you should invest your money and why – all I know is that I like collecting pennies, and I like being able to do so from a variety of sources. Dividends, to me, is the literal definition of penny-collecting, and if I can also score some capital gains alongside, then great!

Any-hoo, these are the companies that paid me some sweet, sweet pennies in 2018:

Don’t take investing advice from me.

I use the app Robinhood for all of this! Does parking hundreds of dollars for pennies sound like fun to you? Then here’s my referral link to get started. You’ll get a free stock just for signing up!

$6 – Receipt Pal

Another painlessly easy app; with Receipt Pal you snap pictures of your receipts and receive points, which can then be churned into Amazon Gift Cards. You can also connect your email and Amazon accounts, and it will automatically track your e-receipts for you.

It used to be that you could cash in your points for payouts in $1 increments, but it seems that in recent era, they’ve increased the payout threshold to enough points for a $5 payout. Oh, well. Stay diligent and you’ll reap the rewards!

Not a bad haul…

So there you have it! $1,969.11 of side hustle income in the latter half of 2018. Add this together with the $1,662.20 I made in the first half of 2018, and you have a grand total of $3,631.31 of side hustle income for the year! Not a bad haul at all, especially when I focus on side hustles that take very little time & effort or are hobbies that I enjoy doing.

What do you think? Will you give dog-sitting and face-painting a go? Got other hustles up your sleeve? What’s in store for 2019?

.+++.

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