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Working for Yourself

Create your own financial freedom by earning money with your unique talents. There are several myths about earning more that prevent too many intelligent and capable people from making the leap.

Sometimes we feel that wee need a ton of time or money to build an income stream, but that’s simply not true. You can increase your income from home in your spare hours, provided you work smarter. It’s not just about working as a freelancer (which when done effectively can bring in a lot of money), it’s about aligning your talents with a potential client’s need.

Whether you’re looking to start a side business or build a business from the ground up, I share resources, stories, and reviews that will help you generate an idea, test it out, and start making more money. I hope the posts below help you get started today!




Developing a Money Making Hobby

Learn how you can make money with these three easy and fun hobbies.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I admit that I have been guilty of vegging out in front of the screen. Not the TV, but the computer. But I realized that after getting sucked into a game or Netflix, I wasted too much of my time.

A few years ago we decided to try and home brew our own beers and eventually meads. If you haven’t done it, I want you to know it’s not complicated (just watch your temps and make sure everything is properly sanitized) and it was a fantastic way to unwind.

And the best part was at the end of the process, we had something we could sit back and enjoy by ourselves or with friends. (People tend to like free beer!)

Have Some Fun and Make Some Money

So what does this have to do with the Summer of Savings?

I want you to find a new (or rediscover an old)  hobby that you love and will make you some money on the side. (Sorry while I highly recommend home brewing as a hobby, you can’t sell your brews :( )

I’ve came up with some hobbies you can try out where you can tap into your creative powers, provide something useful, and make some money on the side. I narrowed them down to skills that you can learn online or with a short weekend class in town.

That money can be used to build up your savings, pay down down debt, or seed money to start your own business. The choice is yours.

Computer Repair and Building

When my mom told me how much those big box tech services were charging her to get programs installed and removed, it drove me crazy. Fortunately she was in that windows of free coverage, but I worried about what would happen after that.

Since we’re not in the same town, we can’t help out sometimes. Using YouTube though, my mom has gotten much better with computer maintenance and she now helps others with their tablets and laptops. Go mom!

It goes to show that there is a need for technical help and you can teach yourself the essentials.

Besides software, there are also hardware repairs like cracked screens on phones that can be terribly expensive that you can do at home at a fraction of the cost.

If you know some basics, you can be a neighborhood tech guru and earn some cash being a hero.

Where to Hone Your Skills

Upgrade your own computer and extend its life as you get some practice. There is so much available online that you can pretty much get everything you need without leaving your home. Sites like IFixIt can be an incredible resource for you.

Restoring and Refinishing Furniture

Furniture can be pricey so if you can help others keep their stuff lasting longer and looking good, you’ll be saving them a ton of money.

While you may think that you have to be a master craftman or woman, some pieces, especially wood furniture just need a little TLC.

You can start with small projects around your house to update your space. You can offer your help with neighbors or you can pick up pieces from yard sales or buy them cheap, restore, and sell on Craigslist.

Where to Hone Your Skills

The great news for those starting out is that there a ton of free and cheap resources you can tap into when it comes to DIY furniture restoration. Many home improvement stores have classes throughout the year. YouTube has lifetime amount of video tips to give you ideas and techniques on home improvement. I also like subscribing to channels like Mike and Lauren and see what projects they come up with.

Meal Prep

Are you a pretty decent cook? Can you get great deals on groceries? You might want to combine those two skills and make some cash.

Since eating out every day can drain wallets, offering some gourmet style meals that your neighbors can take to work is a win-win for everyone.

Buy and cook in bulk and you can cut costs down, allowing you to make a profit with your convenient meals.

Where to Hone Your Skills

Practice and improve your skills right in your own kitchen. There are also a ridiculous amount of cookbooks, videos, and sites you cna borrow or buy to learn more. If you’re looking at mastering the essentials fairly quickly, try out the Meta and Domestic section of The Four Hour Chef.

Thoughts on Productive Hobbies

Will you be masters overnight? No, but you’ll have a practical skill that people could use which can earn you some cash on the side.

How many of you have a talent that you use to help others and make some cash? How did you learn to do it? Any tips for those just starting?

Launching a Business as a Creative Entrepreneur

How to use your creativity to start your business

Besides financial independence, I have discovered many couples also want creative freedom when it comes to their careers. For some, getting their financial freedom leads to have the resources to make the leap while others take the opposite approach – they use their creative talents to work their way towards financial independence. Whether it’s with hobby that becomes a business or a side projects that leads to a new career, more and more couples are looking to gaining more options with their time and money.

Using Your Creativity to Launch Your Career

I’ve written a few times about the joys and work of freelancing and on occasion, I’ve shared resources that I think those looking to start their business would appreciate.  One of my favorite freelancers – Chris Gullbeau has taken it one step further by not only writing on how he made the leap, but he’s also been collaborating with others to dissect how to start a profitable business.

Ever since publishing his book The $100 Start-Up, Guillbeau has been working on projects and guides on specific niches including publishing,

Designed to Sell is the most recent release and Jen Adrion and Omar Noory, the illustration duo and owners of These Are Things, are the voices behind it. They are a great choice to head this new project as they have personally have started a thriving business that has included international clients such as 3M, American Greetings, Rodale, and T. Rowe Price.

Jen Adrion Omar Noory

Starting with their modern world map, the creative pair have grown and developed their business to suit their needs.

What’s Included in Designed to Sell?

Jen and Omar have compiled and organized resources to create a thorough guide for the creative entrepreneur.

  • Designed to Sell  – A 130 page manual that walks you through you from finding a profitable business idea that aligns with your talents, starting a business, and expanding it at your pace.  You can preview the book here.
  • Roadmap to Creative Freedom  -A handy checklist to help you stay on top of your tasks.
  • Creative Business Directory – No business is an island Jen and Omar share some wonderful tools, services, and suppliers to start and grow your business.

For those looking for even more material, there are even more resources including audio interviews, video interview where Jen and Omar share all their mistakes so you can avoid repeating them, pricing toolkit, pitch samples and templates, and more.

If you’re interested, please check it out here and choose the edition that fits your needs.

Designed to Sell Guide Overview

The main guide is divided in five sections.

  • Your Big Idea: The first section dives into refining your idea and turning it into a viable business.
  • Creativity and Cash: Setting up the business means making it official with proper bank accounts, budgets, and fundraising in some cases.
  • Open for Business: Jen and Omar go into e-commerce business platforms and getting the launch ready.
  • Spread the Word: With your product or service polished for launch, it’s time to spread the word.
  • The Road Ahead: The last section covers expanding your business without losing control.

As you can see this from the topics covered, Omar and Jen give a fairly detailed road-map on starting a profitable and creatively oriented business.

Is Designed to Sell Right for You?

Like most of Chris’ projects, this guide is not everyone. Designed to Sell is for entrepreneurs who are willing to put in the effort to start a real and sustainable business. It’s more than’ find your passion, start a business'; it is about using your talents in a way that fills a specific need that customers are willing to pay for. That success takes careful thought and it means making significant efforts.

There is really no way around – you have to be willing to work to start a business and grow it. Designed to Sell is a guide that can help you make the transition. It’s not the only way to be a creative entrepreneur, I just think it’s a concise guide that can help you. If you do want to grab a copy for yourself, you can do so here.

For those who are on a smaller budget or you just want to test out the waters, you may want to check out The $100 Start-Up. It’s  a wonderful book that can help you jump start your side business. You may be able to get it at your local library, which makes it an even better deal.

Thoughts on Building a Business

How many of you are thinking of starting a business this year?

Disclosure: If you purchase the guide through our affliate links, you’re supporting Couple Money; thank you!

Want to Get Paid for Your Writing?

how to make money with freelance writing

When I’ve mentioned to family and friends that some of my income comes from writing, there’s an element of surprise. After all, aren’t writers broke? My response is that earning income from writing has a lot in common with earning money in other careers – working smart and being willing to hustle can help open doors.  It’s not luck, it’s having a system that makes it more likely that ‘big breaks’ or opportunities pop up.

Earning Money with Freelance Writing

I know that some Couple Money readers are looking at earning more on the side and freelance writing is one way to do so. Unfortunately some people wonder how to make the transition into being a freelance writer. Unconventional Guides came out with a new release that delves into the nuts and bolts of building a business from writing, aptly titled The Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing.

What’s Included in the Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing?

Like other Unconventional Guides, this newest release has several components to it.Get Paid for Your Writing

  • The Ultimate Freelancers Guide:  Amber Adrian, 10 year freelance writing veteran, created a 55-page guide with practical steps for crafting a pitch, sample rates for a variety of writing projects, and how to manage yourself as a business professional. She also goes into topics like when and how to raise your rates.
  • The Big List or Links and Resources: A comprehensive list of vetted resources and online tools every freelancer should have on speed dial.
  • “Rejection Be Damned” Tools for Success: Within the half dozen smaller and more targeted guides,  topics like overcoming writer’s block and being an introverted freelancer are covered.

If you decide to plunge in with the Editor in Chief package you get some big bonuses, including:

  • Sample Pitches and Letters of Introduction. You’ll get your hands on actual pitch letters and LOIs that have successfully landed freelance writing work in legit publications.
  • Bonus Author Interviews. You’ll get the transcripts of eight Q&A’s with successful freelance writers from all genres. Each interviewee shares their personal secrets on how they land their best business, how they got their first gig, and what unconventional methods they use to get their writing out to the world.
  •  44 minute audio interview with seasoned travel writer Kristin Luna who lands bylines in heavy-hitting publications including Newsweek, Forbes, Redbook, Self and Glamour, and has contributed to several Frommer’s travel guidebooks.

Depending on how much time, you’re investing into freelance writing, you may opt for the Pen for Hire edition to test the waters out. Either edition you decide to go with, once you buy an Unconventional Guide you get lifetime updates.

Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing– Overview

Interested in learning more? Let me give you an overview of the 55 page guide that serves as the backbone.

Getting Started and Setting Yourself Up

Adrian opens up with the mindset of becoming a successful freelance writer and quickly jumps into getting started by creating a very basic site to serve as your online presence, finding a niche to gain some experience, and sending your first pitch. The idea is not to simply think about being a writer, it’s about getting work and building up your resume and skills from day one.

Speaking of pitches, they and letters of introductions are covered in the first section. Adrian gets into how to pitch and how to research for different publications. She also jumps into how to find and hook clients by doing interviews with other experienced freelancers. After all each writer has a different style, you may find that you are more phone networker or perhaps you like using online social media tools like LinkedIn.

The guide gives a bird’s eye level view of the different types of writing opportunities available to freelance writers including blogging, content marketing, and magazines. Adrian finishes up the section with how to nail your job – vetting and interviewing sources, making your deadlines, and working with editors.

Getting Paid and Other Practicalities

Paying the bills is usually a big concern for writers and Adrian address it in her next section. Making the transitions varies from person to person, but most test the waters out before taking the plunge into full time writing. This section goes over how to figure out how to charge – by hour, project, or retainer, and how much to charge.

Once you’ve become established and you’ve built up your portfolio, you inevitably wonder how to raise rates, which is included in the guide as well. The section also discusses taxes and contracts, both huge and important to a freelance writer.

Getting Out of Bed Every Morning and Facing Your Fears

This section tackles the realities of being a freelance writer on a daily basis. How do you stay motivated and productive when you’re the boss? How do you overcome fears and writer’s block when you’re working on a deadline?

One of the biggest challenges with being self employed is dealing with the ebb and flow of projects. Sometimes you are just swamped with business and then it seems like it’s been forever since you got a new client. Adrian shares tips and advice on how to deal with the slow periods.

Thoughts on Earning Money as a Freelance Writer

I found The Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing an informative guide for those considering making the transition into becoming a full-time freelance writer. If you want to grab a copy, please click here and pick the edition that works for your situation. If you’re curious about starting a business, but you know writing is not for you, please check out the complete list of all the Unconventional Guides on his site.

There is much more to the multimedia, I only wanted to give you an overview of the main guide so you can get an idea if this is for you. I hope you find my review helpful. Whatever you decide, I wish you success on your freelance writing. If you have any questions about the guide, please email me.

Disclaimer: This post has affiliate links.

Repair It Yourself, Save Money, & Be a Ninja :)

Is there a way you can keep your electronics lasting longer, give you something fun to do (while helping you learn something new), and save you a ton of money? I think there is – fixing your own electronics.

Getting Back to Repairing Things

Back in my high school and college days, I learned how to assembly a desktop and handle basic repairs not because I was particularly savvy with technology, but because I was broke.

After I graduated and was working full-time, I found myself too tired (aka lazy) to do all those projects I had to do. Basically it was more complicated then popping the case and inserting a battery or chip, I passed on fixing it.

One reason is definitely laziness and the other reason was I was afraid of breaking it. Some devices (looking at your iPod!) are pretty much designed not to be opened by users.

As we’ve been tackling projects around the house, I’ve gain some confidence and I’ve started to do some more repairs and upgrades. I’ve helped some friends get some more life out of their laptops. It feels great and as an added bonus it saves money.

The Joys of Fixing Your Own Electronics

If you’re on the fence about getting into repairing your electronics, I want to just point out a few big benefits.

  • Saves you money. Since this is a personal finance site, I’m going to start it off with the financial benefits.
  • Learn a skill. With every repair, you can new skills and appreciation for how things aren’t built.
  • Help the environment. The better you maintain what you buy, the less you have to consume.
  • Makes you money. As you get more skilled, you may find yourself with a nice relatively easy way to earn some extra money by fixing your friend’s and neighbors’ electronics.

You also don’t have to jump into the complicated repairs and upgrades, like finances, starting with the small stuff tasks can encourage you to move to the bigger projects.

Learning to Fix Your Own Electronics

Maybe you’re excited to learn and have the perfect project to take on, but you don’t know where to start. I got that covered! I have some suggestions on which sites can help you learn some handy new skills.

  • IFixIt: I first heard about them on a CBS Sunday Morning piece. It is fantastically handy site with some of the best guides I’ve seen on some common repairs on popular devices including Apple products. It’s community based, so some guides are made by regular people like you and me.
  • YouTube: This is my next stop as there is usually some video tutorial created. The quality varies, but most of the time, those who post try to get clear shots of how to preform the fixes. There was a good video on replacing the  broken lens on our old flip cam.
  • WikiHow: You can sometimes find some tutorials on fixing electronics, but the quality varies greatly and for some, pictures aren’t enough. Still, it can be a useful resource.

And of course, when you’re in doubt you can always google it. One note, some sites that offer the free guides make their money selling the replacement parts which is fine by me, provided the prices are competitive. So take a little bit of time to make sure you’re getting a good deal on the parts.

Most times, I’ve found really good deals and saved quite a bit since I don’t have to buy a new computer, just a new part.

 Thoughts on Getting Handy with Gadgets

I’m curious – do any of you repair your own gadgets? What hobbies to you enjoy that also saves or makes you a bit of money? Where did you pick up that skill? What hobby do you wish to pick up?

Photo Credit:  Janitors

Unconventional Guides


Making Money By Renting Out

One of my favorite things about being a personal finance blogger is getting to discover and read some great books. This week I want to share some wonderful stories and experiences I read from Clark Howard’s new book, Living Large for the Long Haul. It’s a wonderful read that you should check out!

In it he shares the stories of over 50 different people from all socio-economic backgrounds who have improved their finances even through The Great Recession.  Included among the numerous stories are couples, young and old, who are working together to get out of debt, build their wealth, and invest in their futures.

Renting Out Your Space for Money

There are many ways to increase your income, one woman found a way to use her condo to generate money for herself. When the real estate market tanked a few years ago, Samantha found herself with a condo that had fell in value. In addition to that distressing problem, she discovered that her condo association had specific rules and she couldn’t get a long time renter for the place as the cap had been met in her development.

She read the bylaws carefully and found a way to keep compliant AND give herself a way to make some money by doing short term rentals.  Working with Airbnb, she was able to list her condo and has made around $1,500 a month. This income covers her condo’s expenses and still gives her a little extra income. She has visitors from all around the globe staying at her place in Atlanta.

Earning More on By Renting Out

If you’re considering getting a renter for a room or your place, Mike from  Renting Out Rooms shared some great tips on finding the best renters. Thanks to renting out his rooms, he managed to:

  • Paid for Graduate School (about $34,000)
  • Paid off his 30-year second mortgage in 6 years
  • Built a sizable emergency fund

Before you go out and rent your space, please check to make sure you’re legally able to. For Samantha, she found that she could only do short rentals with her condo. You may also want to check on your insurance policy to see exactly what it covers.

While renting out your space may not be for everybody, the idea of increasing your income can help you reach your financial goals quicker. I’d love to hear from you about growing the gap between your income and expenses. Please share your family’s successes with earning more and how you’re using your money now to plan for the future.

Photo Credit: Prinsotel la Dorada 

Unconventional Guides