Thursday, January 22, 2015

Make Money and Save Money by Doing the Things You Love

Make Money by doing the things you love - Stacy Snyder - Parentunplugged
Before we get into the down and dirty money-saving concepts of what I call Living Large, I want to remind you of the basic concept, which is balancing the ideas of living comfortably within your means and whole-heartedly enjoying those things in life that are most important to you. 

My wife loves her job and truly “lives to work” in the service industry.  She’s been with the same company for almost fifteen years and never gets tired of a Potbelly Sandwich.  Conversely, for five years, I was simply “working to live” in real estate sales.  While schlepping anything from a house, a job opening, or even a date is in my bones, making it impossible for me NOT to make money in sales, I derived zero pleasure from the day to day work of a real estate agent, not even from the rockin’ financial payoff, except when I used it as a vehicle to pay down debt. 

I’ve always believed in the idea that if you love what you do, the money just naturally comes.  This is more of a soft approach than a hard-core job search for a specific position you love.  Basically it’s the mind-set that the more time you make for yourself to do the things you actually enjoy, even be it just as a hobby or project, the more opportunities you’ll come across to make money doing what you love.

Case in point:  a person who volunteers time to others to do the things he loves, such as teaching people how to do things, fixing broken stuff, preparing tax returns, teaching roller skating, baking sweet treats, heck, even writing, can often pick up paying job requests simply by showing up and doing what he does.  Experience shows over and over that people gravitate towards other people that are passionate about what they’re doing and will think of that guy first and reach out to him when another need arises.

By being a natural efficiency helper, i.e. I like to help people do things more easily and in the shortest amount of time possible, I’ve had job offers galore.  Yes I'm good at it, but the job offers come because I'm passionate about it and that rubs off on people.  Because I grew up in a hoarder household, I love to go through and purge stuff….my stuff, your stuff, it doesn’t matter…I just like to clear it.  In doing so, I’ve picked up gigs to clear and organize other people’s homes.  Take it a step further to note that because I’m also a long-time fan of garage sales, I’m a natural craigslister, ebayer, virtual garage-seller, and free-cycler.  Just by talking about selling and purging things, or sometimes just by chance that other people view my posts, I’m often asked to sell or clear other people’s stuff for a fee.  I don’t set out to necessarily make money doing these random things that I am passionate (or obsessive, depending on how you look at it) about, but it simply comes naturally, creating a new source of income.  Imagine what could happen if you actually set out with a business plan to market the things that you do or make well?  Could you supplement or even replace your current income?  Of course you could.

When I wanted out of the real estate industry so bad I couldn’t see straight, my gut instinct was to look for another high-paying gig, no matter what it was.  But instead, I happened upon a business opportunity with a jewelry company by a fluke.  I had met a friend for lunch and she was wearing a super cool black onyx ring.  I love unique pieces of jewelry.  I don’t wear a ton of bling, but when I do, I only rely on pieces that I absolutely adore.  When I asked my friend about the ring, she told that she had purchased it at a home jewelry party, and that she was so impressed with the rest of the jewelry that the company makes and the high profits from the sales, that she decided to start selling it herself to make some extra income.  She asked me if I wanted to have a party to help her out.  I one-upped her and not only said sure, but asked if I could sell it too, as I wanted a way to afford to buy jewelry!  By the end of that first party, my friend and I had sold tons of jewelry, earning her a big commission, earned loads of free jewelry for ourselves, and I had booked 6 future jewelry parties from my more-than-willing guests.  I had set out just to find a new black ring and ended up with a full-time salary from a part-time gig.  Again, I didn’t set out to consciously make money selling jewelry, but simply because I allowed myself to do what I enjoy, wearing jewelry, even though I couldn’t really afford to buy it, I created a new source of revenue.   

Additional sources of income can be generated on a much smaller scale too.  I LOVE to give my opinion on things – shocker.  So for the past 15 years, I’ve participated in Market Research Study groups, where my input actually gets heard by companies whose products I use in exchange for a financial payout, usually anywhere from $75 - $300 for a 1-2 hour study.  This is different than giving blood, plasma, or sperm for cash in college so you could go out to the bars that evening, which I also used to do.  No, what I’m suggesting is choosing only those opportunities that actually appeal to you, as you’ll not only enjoy what you’re doing, but make extra money at the same time.  Here’s a few of the market research groups in Chicago:
·         Matrix Research
·         Smith Research
·         FocusScope 

One final example of making money doing the things you love, and I have hundreds of them, is to be a beta tester.  I love new technology.  I love to hear about it, get people’s feedback on it, and of course, try it myself.  Over the years I’ve been a default beta tester for at least 25 new ventures, from deal-saving apps to baby product websites to accounting software.  Again, I really like to give my opinion on things, AND I use all sorts of technology, so it’s a good match.  Sometimes beta testers are granted compensation, in the form of money, products, or services.  It’s a great way to keep your mind fresh, help companies out by giving your input on usability, and to make money or save costs on something you’d buy anyway.  Want to get started?  Beta test a new app called Payyourselfie which doesn’t offer compensation for the actual testing, but because it is designed under an emerging app category of "apps that pay money," which is an idea in itself in making extra money, it pays its users simply for taking selfies.  Simply visit the website and request to beta test.   

You can also save money appreciating those things that bring you joy.  While Groupon, Living Social, and have been out there saving folks money for some time now by selling discounted products and services in exchange for consumers buying them in advance, a whole new line of apps that save you money are out there ripe for the pickin’.  Snap by Groupon is a new app that allows you to browse and choose grocery and household items from a list of products you plan on buying in the future.  You then buy the promoted items at any store (I always recommend ALDI for best savings), snap a photo of your receipt, and accumulate a cash balance in your snap account.  It works on repeated use, so you have to hit $20 in your account before you can request a payout.  Genius. It's available for free download.   
Saving Money doing the things you love - Stacy Snyder - Parentunplugged

Saving money can be as simple a concept as enjoying eating doughnuts and coffee.  By being a doughnut lover, you probably pay attention to a social media post about donuts or notice if your favorite doughnut shop is offering a special or has a job opening. While it’s on a much smaller scale, than say, a full-time job’s salary, getting free donuts and coffee for a week is truly not only sheer happiness for a doughnut fiend, but also a true savings.  If you eat breakfast and drink coffee every day, that could add up to $5/day or more, totally $25 in savings.  If you like that idea, steal it, as Glazed & Infused is actually offering a FREE cup of coffee and doughnut holes at each of its five locations to every customer this week through Monday, January 26th.  They’d love a little social love in return, but it’s not required. 

As parents, we often forget to take time to figure out what is currently important to each of us.  Sure we can all point to family and security and friends and maybe even work, but what about those ancillary things that you truly love like, playing or watching a sport, road-tripping, or feeling good about the impact you can make by giving your time to an organization or a person.  These are the things that get swept under the rug and often forgotten, yet these are the things that can bring you back to being true to yourself.  And if you’re out doing the things that you already love on a regular basis, one of the by-products can be making and saving money.  Live Large folks!

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