Side Hustle Income Report, 2019 – $6,647.77

*Affiliate and referral links abound! Read my disclaimer here

Happy New Year! I’m trying to not be as atrociously late to post this year as I was in 2018, but, if I get this posted before, ahem, July, then I say we’re ahead of schedule.

Some suggested pre-requisite reading:

In 2019, I earned $6,647.77 outside of my day-job!

Investing returns: $1,900.47

I don’t talk much about how I invest my money because, well, I don’t have much to say. I dump my money into a Vanguard brokerage account and buy a 70-30 mix of their domestic & international stocks & bonds ETFs. I swear to dog, that’s what everyone on the Internet says to do, so that’s what I’ve been doing since 2015.

It hasn’t always been bountiful, and this is not where 100% of my liquid cash lives, but I’m lazy and this is easy. Also, when there’s a dip, I don’t panic and sell, I buy more and weather the storm.

Don’t take investing advice from me. I’m here for the side-hustles.

Selling tradelines: $1,725

As I predicted in my last income report, I definitely had a bigger haul this year when it came to selling tradelines.

A quick definition: selling a tradeline is selling an authorized user spot on your credit card for the purpose of boosting someone else’s 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 AU to your card. The company then pays you.

One year and change later, here are my notes:

  • I haven’t had any issues with credit cards going anywhere except my home address, except:

1) USPS just never delivered a card one time, so the bank canceled and reissued a new card to me, and overnighted it via FedEx. So, fine.

2) One time, the customer service representative (for Chase) on the phone misunderstood me and changed my home address to the AU’s home address. Luckily I caught it immediately before a card had been mailed out, but now it’s left me paranoid and I triple check my account after adding an AU.

  • None of my cards have been shut down… yet. I know it’s only a matter of time.
  • I’ve been rolling tradelines together with credit-card churning and opening up a credit card every six months or so for even more pocket change.

Some people have a problem with it, but luckily for me, I’m not one of them. If you have some old, high-limit credit cards laying around that you want to start putting to work, drop me a line for a referral.

Dog-sitting income: $1,689.40

This is now my third year of dog-sitting, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. While I love dogs with all my heart, I know I’m not ready for the commitment and responsibility (and vet bills) that come with having my own fur-baby. Borrowing other people’s dogs is a much better racket for the time being.

Most of my business is either through word-of-mouth or through Rover.com; as I’ve mentioned before, it’s not for everyone, and I have some factors working in my favor: home-owner in the country, live alone, and I don’t have other pets or children. As far as DogBnB’s go, I’m pretty desirable.

In 2019, Sylvia’s Dog Hotel™ saw the following guests:

It was 99% a good year in terms of doggos! I think it is fair to illustrate some occupational hazards, though, just to provide perspective if you’re thinking about a dog-sitting hustle for yourself:

  • One of those puppers got super stressed out at being away from home and urinated 4x on my white carpets and I had to pay to get them cleaned professionally and there’s still a stain there. Whelp.
  • Also, one of these pupper’s owner was a damn nut who, the first time, didn’t bring any food (literally just dropped off the dog and the leash) and, the second time, forgot pupper’s collar. Pup was fine, but you have to remember that you deal with the pup and their human.
  • One dog had the actual worst breath of life, to the point where I declined a repeat visit because of her poison breath.
  • The composition of my house is 93% dog-fur, now.

Shrug. If it’s important to you, then you adapt and overcome. It’s that simple.

Besides, look at them! D’aww.

Ready to start getting paid to play with dogs? I’ve been on Rover.com for three years now and will continue to do it for as long as possible. It’s an all-inclusive platform and makes it so easy to message, schedule, and get paid.

Also, if you’re in the metro-Detroit area and need a dog-sitter, uh, hit me up?

Credit-card churning: $672.47

I’ve been churning for years, now. I use cash-back credit cards throughout the year to pay all my bills (except my mortgage), so garnering nearly $700 for the simple act of paying my bills (something I would do regardless) seems like a pretty good deal to me. There are risks to take into consideration, however.

The cards that worked for me this year were:

Discover IT Cash Back Credit Card: $419.86

I love this card!

  • First and most importantly, they let me pick what color I wanted (royal purple, obviously)
  • 0% interest for the first 14 months
  • 5% cash back on purchases in rotating categories each quarter (on up to $1500 in purchases each quarter).
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • $50 statement credit when you use a friend’s referral (like, say, mine?) and make your first purchase within 90 days:
  • And, most importantly: “We’ll automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much we’ll match”

That turned out pretty all right for me at $369.86

Capital One Quicksilver Card: $202.55

Not as exciting as Discover, but what can you do.

  1. This one doesn’t have the 5% rotating categories, but it is 1.5% back on every purchase (as opposed to the 1% of Discover & Chase Freedom)
  2. A bonus $150 if you spent $500 within the first 3 months after opening. Which, as soon as I got this card, I went out and bought myself a dishwasher (absolutely life-changing, btw.)

$150 + $52.55 in regular cash back (sorry, I don’t have a screenshot for this) = $202.55 total for this card in 2019.

Click here to use my referral for your own Capital One Quicksilver card. And your own dishwasher.

Miscellaneous Cards: $50.06

  • Chase Freedom: $20.55
  • Barclays CashForward: $17.37
  • Bank of America Signature Visa: $12.14

Naturally, since I was spending and busy racking up points on my other cards, my Chase, Barclays, and BoA cards didn’t get much use this year. I still like them, though.

Chase Freedom is similar to the Discover IT card in that it has 5% cashback on rotating categories (and it’s nice because the Discover categories are different from the Chase categories, so you’re not bumping heads)

New cardmembers can get $200 back after spending $500 in the first three months. ALSO, maybe this was obvious to others but not me, they also have these kind-of hidden cash-back incentives going on right now (Jan. 2020). Seems kind of cool:

(Yes, fine, I’m antithetical to every #FIRE blogger out there since I buy Starbucks, like, ever)

It’s a pretty solid card, one that I’ve had for eight years; my goal for 2020 is to be a little more organized about which 5% categories are active – I left literal cash on the table this year with gas, utilities, and sundry. 2020, onward.

Click to get your own Chase Freedom card!

I’d talk about the Barclays Card, but apparently it is a zombie now. And, I got the application for my Bank of America credit card through my Alumni Association, so… I don’t have a referral for that one, either. Oh, well. Discover, Capital One, and Chase are all very solid choices, though!

Face-painting income: $180

Yes, okay. I know I started this whole blog because I was a face-painter and making that sweet side-hustle cash from it, but…

Things change.

More importantly: I’ve changed. In the past year or so, I’ve realized some things:

  • I don’t really like kids that much.
  • I don’t like driving that much.
  • I don’t like giving up my weekends that much.

Also, Thumbtack.com, where I did a lot of my marketing, is terrible now.

I did one gig, which was a repeat event from last year, because the organizer was super lovely, it was at a cider-mill (and I got paid handsomely in donuts), and $180 for two hours is higher than I would normally net for a gig.

All that to say, don’t expect to see much or any face-painting income in 2020. Maybe this will be my side-hustle when I’m retired early and need a hobby-job.

Mystery-shopping income: $133.90

I love mystery shopping! It’s especially great when the jobs are close to my office, so it’s a quick $20 I can score on my lunch break or right after work before I head home. My shops this year included:

  • Groceries – got reimbursed for purchases and paid on top of it. Free food!
  • Casual dining – since millennials are killing the casual dining franchises of yester-year (and I’m all about it), I can understand why these places would want to invest in market research. Whatever, I get free food (plus leftovers) at a restaurant I wouldn’t normally go to and, same as above, paid on top of it.
  • Retail shop – this one was great. It was no purchase required and a simple canned evaluation form with almost no narrative.

I only take on mystery shops when I’m ‘in the mood’ because they really don’t tend to pay that well for the amount of time and effort required (some of these have you fill out multiple pages of narrative, which can tend to feel like homework, which I’m not about). However, on occasion, you’ll get panicked schedulers reaching out to you because they have deadlines to meet, which I’ll usually respond with, “Sure, I’ll do it, for an extra $20.”

And, I’ve never been told no.

sesame street idk GIF

Be bold, people. Gotta ask for what you want in life.

Want to give mystery shopping a go? Drop me a line for a referral to the companies I use.

Miscellaneous income: $198

Miscellaneous income because, well, that’s exactly what it was. Two opportunities came along at the right time:

Visible – $100

This past year, I switched cell phone providers from Verizon to their child company, Visible. It’s worked well for me so far: $40 / mo., no contract, and unlimited data is pretty swanky. They were / still are running a promotion where if you switched and paid for two months of service, they’d send you a $100 Visa card. Seemed like a no-brainer to me.

Their new racket is Party Pay:

If you want to join my party, well, go right ahead.

Class action lawsuit settlement – $98

I don’t really know what to say about this one. A post-card from a law office came in the mail, said they were suing “X company” and that I was eligible for a pay-out if I met “Y & Z criteria.” I did meet those criteria, so I filled out my information and mailed it back, and forgot about it until I got a check for $98 six months later.

Pay attention to your junk mail, I guess?

Twitch streaming income: $73.85

Yes, I’ve taken the next logical step that one takes after #FIRE-blogging for three years: start streaming video games on Twitch.

(“Income” is a bit of a misnomer, since Twitch doesn’t pay out until you hit $100, but that’ll happen sooner or later.)

 mcdonalds grimace GIF
me on stream

It’s a fun hobby, for sure, but receiving money for the act of playing a video game (The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past randomizers, for those interested) and rambling about what a sad and depressed person I am weirds me out to the point that I’ll likely donate some / all of my Twitch money to the basset hounds. They deserve it more.

Anyway, subscribe?

Dividends & Interest: $66.24

Bank Account Interest – $36.77

My second year with a high-yield savings account at Discover bank (current APY is 1.7%, but for a while there it was over 2%). Extra pocket change literally just for parking some of my emergency fund in a savings account? Easy.

Dividends – $27.43

Same as last year, I day-trade on Robinhood because I know how to have fun. This is more than double what I made in dividends last year! Who knows, maybe the growth is exponential and we can break $60 for 2020. (I aim big, I know).

Apps – $8.44

I’ve started caring less and less about cash-back apps, to be honest. They are a lot of time and tedium for not that much reward.

Ibotta in the past worked well for me, but they implemented a new “inactivity fee” where they deducted $4(!) per month from your account unless you redeemed one rebate per month (now the TOS says every six months, so I guess that’s better).

Receipt Pal was also a handy way to collect $1 Amazon Gift Cards, but they increased their redemption threshold to $5 minimum, which takes way longer.

Anyway, what little effort I put in throughout the year at least netted me:

  • $6.44JobSpotter; this handy little app is probably still my favorite. You take pics of ‘Now Hiring’ signs and they pay out in Amazon Gift Cards.
  • $2.00 – Receipt Pal; take pictures of your receipts, get points, cash in points for Amazon Gift Cards.

.+++.

And there you have it…

$6,647.77 for a year’s worth of work. Not even hard work, at that.

  • Investing, CC tradelines, churning, and dividend hunting requires just a few minutes of clicking around on a bank website / app.
  • Dog-sitting, 99% of the time, goes like: “Nice couch. I’m gonna snooze here for 20 hours now, cool? Rub my belly til I fall asleep and then wake me up when it’s time to eat. Thx.”
  • Twitch streaming is literally just playing video games.

Anyhoodles, what’d you do this year?

.+++.

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