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!)
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.
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.
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.
The year is halfway through and this has been one of the busiest we’ve had in awhile. We had our second started at the beginning of the year and with her arrival came LOTS of bills. It took a few months, but we finally got them squared away.
I’m still trying to adjust to my new work routine as I take care of both girls during the day. So far I’ve settled into a split shift schedule where I take care of work in the early mornings and wrap things up in the evenings.
We’re also in the process of selling our current home and hopefully buying another place more conveniently located. Oh, and we’re taking the 2015 Moneystepper Savings Challenge with goals to increase our net worth by 30% and have a 20% savings rate by the end of the year. 😛
Watching Our Money
As you can see we have a lot going on, so now would be a great time to do a Mid-Year Financial check up. Doing these check-up regularly has some wonderful benefits to your marriage and finances.
Net worth reviews gives an opportunity to talk. These reviews don’t have to be massive sit down, crunch the number sessions. It’s just a reason to get to together and chat about your numbers.
Comparing the budget to actual spending is valuable. Life happens and our finances can be a reflection. Maybe an adjustment has to be made so the budget is more realistic.
See progress (or lack of) on financial goals for the year. It’s handy tool for checking up on annual and long term goals.
While I share how we’re doing so far, I’ll also show which tools we use to stay on top of our finances.
Staying on Top of Your Budget
We’ve been doing a pretty good job taking care of our bills, paying down that student loan, and keeping a buffer with our joint accounts. However I think it’s never a bad idea to review spending to see if there are any money leaks that we may have missed or an expense we can optimize.
I know for many couple the thought of going through a ton of transactions seems daunting and can be enough to push you away from running the number, but there are plenty of ways you can do this quickly and easily.
Our current favorite is using Mint. We’ve used them for years (you may remember their charts showing up on our old net worth reviews). Setting it up was a cinch – it took about 20 minutes or so to get all of our accounts imported and organized. Now I can log on, go to the trends section, and see where our money has been going without any hassle.
Looking at Mint, we’re doing well sending in the extra payments for the student loans, but I noticed that our vet bills have been higher than normal. I also see we could do a better job with our grocery bills. I’ll look at planning our meals for the next few months and see if we can used the money saved to speed up the debt pay off.
Staying on Top of Your Investing
If you are looking at getting a snapshot of how your investments are doing, Personal Capital has some wonderful tools to get you ready. We have several investing accounts between us and so it’s handy to have all this information at our finger tips.
Personal Capital offers a free portfolio review so you can check up on your portfolio to make sure things are truly squared away. Besides making sure that your asset allocation meets your plan, you should also see if there is a way you can lower your fees.
Reviewing our accounts, I’ve noticed that we have to go over my husband’s 401(k) to see if we can find investments with lower fees. the benchmark Personal Capital gives is .5% and right now we are at 1.03%. Definitely room for improvement.
Thoughts on Financial Check-Ups
So you know how we’re doing with our money; how about you? How are you guys doing so far in 2015? Any unexpected bonuses or setbacks?