I Made Over $1K Last Month Taking Care of Pets

Dog sitting is one of my favorite side hustles. There are many positive aspects to dog sitting that make it a great side gig. (I share my favorite pros, as well as cons, in this post below.) The best thing about dog sitting is that I get to hang out with cool canines and make decent additional income for it. Essentially, I get paid to do something I already love to do! In May of 2022, I made over $1k taking care of pets. I foresee the same revenue in June, which is already mostly booked. In this post, I share why I chose dog-sitting as a side-hustle and the pros and cons of dog-sitting. I also included a simple start-up guide at the end of this post which will walk you through how I created a profitable side-hustle from my love of animals with zero capital and zero experience.

Why I Chose Dog Sitting As a Side Hustle

Taking care of people and things has always been my strong suit, and pets are no different! I have always loved animals. In particular, I love how affectionate and loyal dogs are. Plus, I like to get to know their personalities. My parents currently have a 14-year old female yellow Labrador. As the child who always lived close by, the responsibility for taking care of her when my parents went on vacation usually fell on me. She was my inspiration for creating a business out of dog-sitting.

My First Dog Sitting Experience

It was the summer after graduating from dental school when I got my first booking. I had a three month gap between passing the national boards and getting my state license to practice dentistry, and I was hurting for money. I had moved back home for a month and was watching my parent’s dog while they went away for a week long vacation. One of my friends saw on Instagram that I was taking care of a dog and asked about his own. I offered to watch his dog for a week while he was away.

The dog’s name was Bixby. Bixby is an adopted dog who is cautious and defensive around humans. His owner was nervous to leave him alone for the first time, but he did really well with me and my dog. In fact, he was very loyal and loved to sit by my feet. Whenever I moved to a different chair, he would follow. I enjoyed watching him roll his back in the grass, although I always had to stop him from eating it.

I thought to myself, I could get used to walking dogs and watching over them while their families are away, especially dogs with special needs or who have difficulty socializing. There are many dogs who would not do well in a day care facility because of trauma or anxiety. There are also many dog owners who do not want to kennel their dogs for weeks at a time. I could provide love, attention and care, adopting these dogs as my own while their parents were away.

However, I did not start my dog sitting journey then. After a month, Mike and I moved in together, renting a live/work loft. We did not want to bother the landlord for permission to have pets. We did not buy our own place until two and a half years later. My dog sitting business began three years after I watched Bixby. A year into dog sitting, the world shut down. I didn’t take care of dogs for a year-and-a-half.

Flash forward to today. I rebuilt my dog sitting business, RMV Tail & Paws, after moving to a new neighborhood (our second home) six months ago. Last month, I made over $1k taking care of canines within our community. I care for each one as if they were mine and Mikey’s. Plus, I got to meet a lot of great, kind families along the way. It was an awesome way for me to integrate into our new neighborhood!

Side note: I believe in turning hobbies and passions into income-producing side hustles. I think that we all have certain talents and strengths that we can share with the world, and those talents and strengths show up in our hobbies and passions. Side-hustles built around things I love make it feel like I am not working at all, but also, end up being the most successful businesses. I have done many side-hustles, mostly in the early mornings when I am most creative and have the most energy. Check out these early morning side hustle ideas for inspiration!

Pros of Dog Sitting

There are many positive aspects to dog sitting. Here are a few of the reasons why I enjoy taking care of dogs!

  • I get the benefits of a dog’s company, love and affection. Mike and I view each pet as one of our own. We end up forming really great bonds with the dogs we watch, who in return gives us a sense of purpose and meaning in life. So many of our pets rush to the front door and get excited when they know they will stay with us. I really love that.
  • We get to meet our neighbors and make friends with people in our community. The pawrents of these pups have been really nice. They care about their dogs a lot, and we build relationships with them. It really helped us settle down in our new space.
  • I get to spend more time with my husband. Mike and I enjoy creating ‘vacation plans’ for the pets. It forces us to have a ‘stay-cation’ too. We try to plan a fun event every few days for the dog. Whether that’s a hike, a beach trip, or a dog park play date – it ends up being a great time for Mike and I to connect with the dog and each other. There are no phones on these outdoor activities and long walks.
  • The dogs get me outside. I have to walk them a few times a day, which is beneficial for me. I get some sun, listen to the birds, breathe fresh air, observe plants and wild life… pretty much absorb all the good things nature has to offer.
  • Dog sitting gets me up very early. It is one of the many early morning jobs I have taken up. I feed the cat and the dog at the same time at 5:30am. Then as the cat finishes up his food, I take the dog out on a walk. I love having a productive morning and this ensures that before I even make a cup of coffee, I do something that gives to others and to myself too. Walking is rejuvenating for the soul and one of my favorite things to do when I walk or meditate and observe my surroundings. I used to listen to podcasts when I walk dogs because it made me productive, but I have found productivity in the walk itself, too. This part of dog sitting had really improved my mental health.
  • I set my own schedule. I book my dog sitting days and dog walking days when I can, but not every time I am asked. I can always say no to a booking for whatever reason. It could be because I am too busy with my other jobs, I want some relaxation time for myself, or even because I don’t think the dog is a good fit with my lifestyle, home, family, or cat.
  • I set my own prices. I am able to call the shots when it comes to fees. I do charge extra for dogs who have special needs, or for additional services. I also charge extra for holidays and for inconveniences.
  • I get to go through my regular day without too much extra work. The thing with dog-sitting is that, aside from feeding them and walking them, it’s pretty much a regular day for us. I can work on my blog or bake in the kitchen. I can also do billing and accounting for the bakery, or enjoy a good book. Dog-sitting isn’t active work all the time.

Cons of Dog Sitting

As with anything, there are a few things to note about dog sitting. For example, I have to be more flexible with dogs around. Here are a few cons.

  • I have to be okay with messes in the house. I am a pretty neat and tidy person, and for the most part, most dogs have been okay. If a dog is especially messy or tends to break things, I offer to watch them at their house instead. Or I offer drop-in visits where I simple check-in on them, walk them, and feed them in their home.
  • Sometimes, there are accidents. Dogs can pee when they get excited or scared. Which means we have to roll up our Nordic rugs every time we have a dog over – just in case. It’s not too much of a hassle, but it is an inconvenience.
  • After every doggy stay, I have to clean the home. Kind of like AirBNB visitors, doggy visitors can leave a bit of a mess. The cleaning time if part of the job.
  • We have to be home more often. We don’t like to leave the dogs at home alone especially because their parents are already away. I am sure they miss them dearly, so we try to spend every moment with the dogs. With Mr. Debtist working from home, there is always someone here during the weekday. On weekends, we limit the errands we have to do.
  • We can’t schedule impromptu date nights or socializing events. This works out okay with me since I am a heavy planner. Planning ahead is actually how I am able to juggle all my side-hustles! (If planning is habit you want to take up, check out my top 5 favorite planners for productivity). However, there have been occasions where we were invited to something last minute and were not able to attend. One has to be okay with missing opportunities like that.

How I Built A Dog Sitting Business

I built a dog sitting business for FREE and built up my clientele on my own. It was quick, easy, and simple. Dog sitting was something I was able to get off the ground right away. I made profit with the first booking, and built up from there. I created this guide to walk people through how I built my dog sitting business from scratch with zero capital and zero experience. If you want to start making additional income taking care of pets, this download will definitely be useful for you. It contains tips and tricks I wish I had when I started on my journey! Within six months, I was successful and earning over $1k per month. I believe you can, too.

The Secret to Success

I think what made my dog sitting business successful is my dedication to the pets, as well as my excitement whenever I meet someone new. I care deeply about each one. Being genuinely passionate about your work show others that they can entrust you with their pets, which are like family members. As with all types of work, love what you do and it won’t feel like a means to earn money. It will legitimately make you feel happy and accomplished. Convince people of your own happiness and you will be successful at what you do.

The Best 2022 Birthday Freebies

Back in 2020, I wrote a post about celebrating our quarantine birthdays by collecting as many birthday freebies as possible. It started off as a request for Mike’s birthday. Since then, it’s definitely become a thing. I made fun of him for it at the time, but I secretly enjoy it. My birthday is in June. Which means, I recently signed up for as many freebies as I want. It took me about fifteen minutes, because I did a majority of the work last year. (Every club membership keeps giving back year after year). You kind of just build onto your repertoire of freebies, y’know?

Birthday freebies are a major giggle. Imagine zooming around town on your birthday month, just picking and choosing from a list of desserts, drinks, and food. I definitely recommend trying it – especially for the little ones!

There are hundreds of birthday freebies to be had out there, including local hidden gems. I only sign up for the ones I want to pick up. I don’t always get around to all of them, but at least the option is there. Had a bad day at work? Grab a freebie! Have a busy week? Pick up a freebie for dinner. Running late and couldn’t pack a lunch… you get the gist. Birthday freebies are a great pick-me-up and add a little extra support to make your birthday month more enjoyable. Here are a list of my favorites across the U.S.

The Best 2022 Birthday Freebies

  1. Denny’s – Free Grand Slam on the birthday month
  2. Chili’s – Free dessert for the birthday week plus free chips and salsa anytime you dine in
  3. Red Robin – Free birthday burger
  4. Sprinkles – Free cupcake, redeemable until the month after your birthday
  5. Auntie Annie’s – Free pretzel, redeemable until two months after your birthday
  6. Wetzel’s Pretzel’s – Free pretzel for downloading the app, and another free pretzel on your birthday
  7. Baja Fresh – Free Burrito (with purchase of beverage) , valid until the month after your birthday
  8. The Habit – Free Charburger, valid for two weeks
  9. Jersey Mike’s – Free Sub and 22 oz. drink
  10. Baskin Robbins – Free ice cream scoop or soft-serve, plus $3 off an ice-cream cake
  11. Ben N Jerry – Free ice cream scoop, plus $3 off an ice-cream cake
  12. Buffalo Wild Wings – Free birthday wings valid until end of the month
  13. BJs – Free Pizookie for signing up for rewards and also for your birthday
  14. Breugger’s Bagels – Free bagel with cream cheese for signing up and also on your birthday
  15. Einstein Bagels – Free bagel egg sandwich with purchase on your birthday – usable for 14 days
  16. Nothing Bundt Cakes – Free Bundtlet valid for one week
  17. Buca Di Beppo – Free pasta after signing up and a $20 birthday gift voucher
  18. Chipotle – Free chips and guacamole with $5 purchase
  19. Cinnabon – Free Iced Coffee on your birthday and free BonBites for signing up (must download app)
  20. Chick Fil A – Free ‘birthday surprise’ when you download the app
  21. Cold Stone Creamery – BOGO coupon for your birthday and for signing-up.
  22. A & W – Free root beer float for your birthday
  23. Acapulco – Free entree on your birthday and free appetizer for signing up with entree purchase.
  24. Del Taco – Free regular size premium shake
  25. Dunkin Donuts – free beverage on your birthday
  26. Edible Arrangements – Free 12-count chocolate dipped fruit box during birthday month as long as you’ve spent $29 in the past calendar year as a member
  27. Godiva – free birthday chocolate
  28. Hooters – 10 free boneless birthday wings
  29. Ihop – Free shortstack pancakes on your birthday
  30. Krispy Kreme – Free doughnut
  31. Marie Calendar’s – ‘exclusive offer’ for your birthday and wedding anniversary – slice of pie and $5 off your check
  32. Olive Garden – complimentary dessert on your birthday – no sign-up needed
  33. On the Border – “special surprise” on your birthday plus free dessert with purchase of an entree
  34. Pinkberry – Free yogurt if you download the app
  35. Starbucks – Free beverage or food item as a member of Starbucks Rewards
  36. PF Changs – Free dessert or appetizer on your birthday month
  37. Applebees – Free dessert on your birthday when you dine-in, plus if you sign up for their EClub, you receive a coupon for a free entree
  38. Benihana – Free $30 gift certificate redeemable any time during your birthday month
  39. Corner Bakery Cafe – free baked good
  40. El Pollo Loco – Free 2 piece chicken meal or a free chicken tostada salad
  41. Yogurtland – free 3 oz yogurt if you sign up for their rewards
  42. El Torito Grill – Free entree for your birthday plus a free appetizer when you sign-up for their EClub
  43. Jamba Juice – Free smoothie
  44. Johnny Rockets – Free hamburger when you purchase an entree and a drink
  45. Panera Bread – Free pastry

I randomized it so that they aren’t presented in any particular order. To be honest, we usually pick places that are closest to us to save on gas money. I would not recommend driving far just to get a $5 freebie, especially considering the gas prices. You can make it more efficient by going on one endeavor and mapping out the best route to take in order to hit the most number of stops. I prefer to spread them out throughout the month. The best part is that Mike and I are two weeks apart, but our birthdays are in different months. So for some rewards, we overlap and we both get free food. For others, we do a back-to-back trip and split the treat.

I hope you nab freebies for your special day!

What You Need To Know About I Bonds: The Inflation-Protected Asset

It is May 17, 2022, and the current market is down, down, down. This applies to both stocks and crypto. Putting money in the market can be scary for short-term holders (although it’s a sale for long-term holders!). Plus, buyers in the housing market are slowing down with interest rates at nearly 6%, double what it was for the past two years. Meanwhile, the inflation rate is up, with an April-to-April rate change of over 4%, which makes holding onto cash unideal. For those near retirement (5 years out or less) or those saving for shorter term goals and want their wealth to grow, there is a solution in I Bonds! I Bonds are low-risk, inflation-protected assets that are currently yielding a 9.6% annual return until October 2022. This makes I Bonds a great investment option right now. Here is what you need to know about I Bonds.

What You Need to Know About I Bonds

I Bonds are an inflation-protected asset. While inflation remains high, I Bonds will likely continue to see high interest rates. In November 2021, the I Bonds had a guaranteed 7% interest rate. Just this month, the interest rate bumped up to 9.6% and will remain at that rate until October 2022.

The I Bond interest rate is determined by a fixed rate and the inflation rate. Currently, the fixed rate is at 0%, and the inflation rate is at 4.3% for the next 6 months. This is how we get to 9.6% annual rate of return. The interest rate renews every 6 months. It will remain at 9.6% until October, when the rate will change. If inflation goes up, then the rate will go up, too.

I think everyone should be considering I Bonds right now. But before you buy, here are a few things to note.

Facts About I Bonds

  • You can invest $10k per person/entity per calendar year into I Bonds. I have also heard that you can invest an additional $5k in paper bonds directly from your tax return.
  • Per entity means if you own a business or a living trust, you can invest $10k in I Bonds on behalf of those entities as well.
  • The interest rate is redetermined every 6 months.
  • I bonds cannot be cashed for at least 12 months (1 year). Do not tie up money that you need in 6 months, for example. Do not tie up your emergency fund into an I Bond either. Look at it as a short-term investment. If you are looking to buy a house at a moment’s notice, I Bonds are not the option for you. However, if you wish to buy a house next year, then definitely consider it!
  • The life of the investment is 30 years. But the money can be pulled out any time after 12 months.
  • There are no penalties for pulling the money out before the 30 years are up if it has been in the I Bond for at least 5 years.
  • If the money is pulled out between years 1 and 5, you lose the interest gained from the last three months. This doesn’t sound terrible to me. For example, I can buy $10k in I bonds right now with the plan to pull it out in a year. I will gain 6 months of interest at 9.6% and 3 months of interest at the percent determined in November 2022. I can still beat the current market.
  • There is no state tax on I Bonds.
  • There is a federal tax on the gains, but one way it can be federal tax exempt is if you use the money from your I Bond to pay off higher education costs from a list of approved institutions, including paying off your student loans! However, there are requirements. For example, you cannot file married filing separately. Income requirements also apply. Single tax filers must have an adjusted gross income less than $94,550. Married tax filers must have an adjusted gross income less than $149,300. I would definitely check out the rules on this page.

Who Could Benefit from I Bonds

I Bonds can be a useful tool for multiple financial situations. Whether you are a college graduate looking to pay off student debt, a high school graduate just starting college, parents who want to start a college fund, a young couple saving up for a home, an almost retiree looking to earn in your last five years of working, or a short-term investor unhappy with the current state of the market – all of these people may want to consider I Bonds.

Learn more about I Bonds at the Treasure Direct Website.

Trying to decide what to do with the rest of your cash? Why not consider a High Yield Savings Account? If you happen to choose to open a Marcus High Yield Savings Account using my referral link, you can receive an additional 0.20% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on your Online Savings Accounts for 3 months. Learn more about HYSA in my post below.

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

When it comes to keeping a low budget, one of the first questions I get asked is how I am able to do so and still eat healthy. Let’s face it. Healthier foods tend to be more expensive. Or at least, that’s how it appears. However, I have proven over the past five years that healthy eating can be achieved with a very low budget! Here I will share my secrets on how to eat healthy on a budget.

But first, have you created your budget? Do you struggle sticking to it? Check out my FREE course on how to create a budgeting tool that works for you and your family.

Healthy Foods Are Expensive is a Myth

Firstly, I would like to debunk the myth that healthy foods cost more money. There is a discerning factor that makes it so, and that is the availability of the foods you are buying. It is more accurate to say that convenient healthy foods are more expensive. Convenient foods include pre-made, pre-packaged, frozen, or bottled foods at the grocery store. It also includes foods that you buy when dining out or at a farmer’s market. Since healthy foods are increasingly popular, the companies that make them can charge more because there is a perceived value associated with them.

However, REAL healthy foods need only take up more time, not more money. The truth is, pre-packaged foods are less healthy than if you made them from scratch. Take any product in the grocery store and look at the ingredient label. If there are big, scientific words on there that you have trouble pronouncing, then I would wager it is less healthy than if you made that same product in your home kitchen.

The first time I noticed this was when I was making my own sourdough bread. Sourdough bread has three ingredients. Flour, Water, Salt. Even the starter that makes it rise is made of flour and water. Yet every ‘healthy’ sourdough bread at my grocery store had complicated, unpronounceable words on their labels that made me wary to eat it.

The second time I noticed this was when we nixed plastic from our home. We wanted to create less waste so we experimented with avoiding buying anything packaged in plastic when we went to the grocery store. If you’ve ever tried this yourself, you would know that the grocery store is an unfriendly place. By doing this we had to make our foods from scratch. We could not buy a majority of snacks (yay for healthy!), frozen foods (yay again!), most dairy products and pre-made sauces. Instead, we had to buy produce and make our own sauces from scratch.

Once we started doing this, I learned how few ingredients it really takes to make a product. I learned that 75% of the ingredients listed on a product label are unnecessary, which begs the question, ‘why do we ingest it?’ I learned the importance of sourcing good ingredients to create the foundation for healthy food. And most importantly, I learned that healthy food is not expensive. Only pre-made industrialized food is.

Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

With that myth debunked, here are more than ten ways to eat healthy on a budget.

Avoid dining out.

This is our number one way to stay on a budget. A co-worker once told me that him and his wife spent $800 a month dining out. If you are shocked at that number, then you would be devastated to hear that some millennials I know spend over $1000 a month on dining out. If you want to be frugal, limit dining out to a minimum. The shocking truth is that making your own food from whole, simple ingredients is healthier than some ‘healthy’ restaurant items out there. And it will be a much cheaper, too!

Avoid pre-packaged foods.

Pre-packaged foods include chips, snacks, granola bars, frozen foods, sauces and dips, and anything already cooked and prepared. All of these foods will be priced higher. Think of it as a convenience fee. These foods will also have unnecessary ingredients that our bodies do not need. Have you ever eaten these things and not felt satiated? A lot of these foods contain empty carbs or are heavy in salt, both of which makes us want to eat more and buy more. And even though they are deemed healthy, if the ingredient label is complicated, I would just skip it. I prefer to control what I ingest anyway.

Avoid buying packaged snacks.

Have you noticed that the foods that call out to you at a grocery store are generally unhealthy snack items? When I was in college, I ingrained it into my mind that snacks are unnecessary. I did this to cut my spending to $25 a week. I convinced myself that snacks are a waste of money, because they are empty carbs that do not nourish my body. They taste good, sure. But instead of helping support me, it actually is bad for my health.

I always bring it back to health because, as a medical professional, I know how expensive medical treatments are. Eating unhealthy snacks today not only makes me spend money now, but also in the future when an unhealthy body may lead to more health problems, which require treatment. Even the snacks that claim they are healthy contain a long ingredient list with words I can’t pronounce.

As always, go back to the ingredient label. If there’s anything unnatural sounding on there, I would question how healthy the food really is. When it comes to snacking, I opt for whole foods such as nuts, fruits, or veggies with a home-made hummus dip.

Avoid plastic.

On the heels of the previous two sections, I just want to drive the moral of the story home. Avoid pre-packaged stuff. One of the ways to do that is to avoid buying any plastic when grocery shopping. It will cut out a lot of options. But it will also point you towards the more healthy food choices.

Mike and I get asked a lot how we are able to maintain our weights. This was back in our late twenties when we did not work out. We joked and said we followed a simple diet plan – it was called the ZERO-PLASTIC diet. Do you know that 80% of your physique is based on what you eat, and only 20% is based on your physical activities? We stayed skinny because we were avoiding plastic waste. Which meant we were forced to make our foods from scratch, without preservatives, high amounts of sugar or much salt!. Since my thirties, I have started to work out too, but I don’t really attribute my skinniness to that. It’s what we eat that counts!

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Avoid dairy.

We grew up consuming a lot of dairy. Our parents told us to drink milk for good bone health and growth. We ate cereal and grilled cheese, had milk with our cookies, and watched as our favorite celebrity doused their upper lip in ‘Got Milk?’ ads. However, we now know that dairy isn’t exactly good for our gut health. We are the only species that drinks another species’ milk. Our guts are not evolutionarily developed to process cow’s milk and it wasn’t until the Industrialized Revolution that we started to drink a lot of it. This explains why many of us feel discomfort, bloated, or gassy after having dairy. Some of us are lactose-intolerant altogether. Avoiding dairy is good news for your wallet as it is one of the most costly items you can buy at the market and it doesn’t even have a long shelf-life.

Less red meat, same protein.

Some red meats are more difficult for our guts to digest than others. I started to eat less meat in my 30’s after learning that red meat tends to stick around (up to 48 hours) after ingestion. I felt more energetic, lighter, and comfortable when I significantly reduced my meat diet.

However, meat has it’s important qualities too so we shouldn’t get rid of it all. The protein structure of meats provide necessary collagen which our bodies significantly make less of as we age. If you don’t want to eat meat, I would still suggest making broths from meat bones and carcass to drink. You’re skin will really thank you! Meat is also touted for being high in protein. Even if you eat less meat, I recommend eating the same amount of protein. Substitutes to red meat include fish, beans, legumes, tofu and eggs.

Personally, once I switched to these substitutes, I really did not crave much meat anymore. I found meat to be less flavorful than these other options. But also, these alternatives are way kinder to my bank account. Fish might be more expensive than meat, but I eat way less of it. Alternating with beans, legumes and tofu makes it worth it.

Opt for whole ingredients.

The more whole an ingredient is, the cheaper it will be. I learned this when I started baking bread and bought a mill for my bakery. The mill turns grain into flour. While I always thought flour was cheap, I realized how much cheaper it was to buy grain! Now, not everyone has a mill, but let’s take the example of tomatoes. Whole tomatoes are cheaper than canned tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, or tomato sauce. Whole heads of lettuce are cheaper than the pre-washed, pre-cut, pre-packaged tub. Dried beans are cheaper than canned beans. Well, you get the picture. In general, buying whole ingredients are cheaper, because you are not paying for the convenience of having it partly prepared.

Make foods from scratch.

Making foods from scratch can save you a lot of money. Once again, it’s that convenience fee you are paying for. I can make a loaf of gut-friendly, amazing sourdough bread for $1. This same loaf sells at a farmer’s market for $10! We can also make a tub of guacamole for $2.50, but a small serving of guac and chips at a restaurant costs $5-$8. Even spaghetti sauce is pricey! A jar of tomato sauce now runs for $5-$8. But for the same price, Mike and I can batch produce 8 jars of tomato sauce.

My favorite savings is on broth. We used to pay $5 for boxed broth, but now we just throw left over veggies, meats, and bones into water in our crockpot and let it simmer for 8 hours to get the most delicious and healthy broths!

Our plight to reduce plastic waste led us to the realization that the convenience really does comes at a premium. To our delight, we found that we have been eating better tasting and healthier foods simply by making foods from scratch!

Cook simple meals.

This one is for all the people out there looking to experiment and make fancy meals at home. While that is super fun (we love doing that too!), it is not necessarily sustainable. When I go online and look for recipes, I see a plethora of complicated, difficult, but pretty posts. I think that Instagram has changed the way we consume food, in that the image of food has taken center-stage.

Unfortunately, these same recipes require one-off ingredients, fancy garnishes, and a bit of decor. When did food get so… fashionable? Granted, we do make fancy meals on special occasions. But after doing this for a long time (I have been eating with a budget since my early 20’s!), my one advice is to keep it simple.

Food should be nourishing. It should energize us and help our bodies thrive during the day. It can taste good, sure, but it doesn’t have to be Michelin Star status. Foods are made to look good online because looking good sells people on making that particular recipe or dining at that restaurant. But in the home kitchen, it doesn’t really have to look that good.

I watch the way my mom prepares meals. This year, in fact, I have made it a point to learn one traditional Filipina recipe from my mom every month. Her recipes are memorized, and she does not look at cookbooks. The reason is because the ingredients are simple and few. The rightness of the recipe comes from taste. ‘Timpla‘ is a tagalog word that means ‘mixture’. She just bases the doneness of her cooking based on the taste of the ‘timpla‘. It’s such a common expression in cooking that she uses it as a verb sometimes too.

So you see, cooking simple meals not only limits the number of ingredients you have to buy, but also the stress involved with cooking. My favorite things to cook are meals that don’t need much editing of natural ingredients. I also like to toss together things (quite literally) in a bowl or pot. I like stews left on to simmer, or veggies that I throw into the ovens for long periods of time. It lets me get other things done while dinner cooks.

Volunteer at a farm or subscribe to a farm.

I have the privilege of living in a community with a few community farms. The residents can volunteer to work at the farms as often as they want (up to four days a week!) and each time they do, they can opt to harvest food. I try to volunteer once a week and gather the seasonal produce from there in order to cut our grocery bill. Each week, I harvest about 10 pounds of produce. I know this is not available to everyone but there are farms all around. Prior to working at our community farm, we were subscribed to receiving a farm box for $25 a week. We received local seasonal fruits and veggies and used that instead to cook with. There have been some weeks where all we needed to buy was the protein.

Create a list before going to the grocery store.

Have you ever gone to the groceries to buy a handful of things only to walk out with a full cart? This is most likely because you did not have a dedicated list. The grocery store is like any other store. Sometimes, it gets you to shop. I like to go in with a list so that I remain focused during my shopping. I know exactly what I need and go directly to the aisles that contain those needs. This way, I avoid meandering down rows that contain foods I might also want. My trick to avoiding extra is to get the shopping done, and then get out of there.

Never shop hungry.

My final advice is my most important. Never shop hungry. If I shop hungry, I spend more and will usually gravitate towards the salty, sugary, ‘yummy’ addictive foods. It’s amazing how much hunger can trigger our survival mode in our brains. This is a part of our evolution and is difficult to overcome. If you think about it, food has only been readily available in large quantities to our species for maybe 100 years. Our parents and grandparents still went through times of not having enough food for the family. Evolutionarily speaking, we still have a strong instinct to grab the saltiest, sugariest foods when we feel hungry. So eat something before doing your groceries.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

15 Early Morning Jobs To Jump-Start Your Day

By nature, I am not an early riser. But I became one after learning that the most successful people have a common trait: waking up before dawn. There are many things you can do in the early mornings. You can do something creative, learn something new, or be more productive. I personally take advantage of the extra hours with early morning jobs to earn extra money while other people sleep. There are many early morning jobs to jump-start the day that one can choose from. Not all of them require leaving home. This blog post covers 15 early morning jobs for different kinds of people and personalities. Find one that is right for you!

15 Early Morning Jobs to Jump-Start The Day

Early morning baker

Bakeries need early morning bakers to prepare pastries and bread in time for opening hour at pastry and coffee shops. This shift usually begins a little after midnight and run until the shops open at 7:00am. It is the perfect shift for someone who likes physical work that has some creativity to it. I wrote about my personal experience as an early morning baker here. I loved this job, and I got to take home freshly baked goods at the end of my shift, too!

Dog Walker / Rover

Dog walking is a great job for those who like to be active and outdoors, bright and early. It’s also perfect for those who like animals or take care of pets. Technically, this job doubles are getting exercise in. And if you wake up five minutes earlier, you can also get a cup of coffee in, too!

I dog sit while pet parents are on holiday, which means part of the job is walking the dogs bright and early. Rover is a great app that connects dog walkers with dog sitters for FREE. The app charges a 20% fee for each booking, but you get to set your rates. If you want to see if taking care of dogs is the right thing for you, check out this post on how to make money dog-sitting with Rover.

Blogger

Blogging is a great early morning job for those who want a slower start to their day. Earning extra money while staying in pajamas sounds extra nice, doesn’t it? It is also a great option for the more creative person who does not mind being independent. You have full control of what, how, and when to write.

Blogging, however, is more than just writing. Creative content such as images need to be made. Statistics needs to be analyzed. And strategies need to be implemented in order to make money off of a blog. I started with learning about affiliate marketing. I highly recommend this affiliate marketing course if you wish to make money with the blog. (Yes, this is an affiliate link!)

You can also check out my extra income reports. In it, I outline how much I earn each month and where I earn the money from. So far, I have made over $5,900 by blogging from home.

Freelancer

Freelancing is essentially connecting to different employers and making extra money on the side doing different things. Writing for other blogs is a form of freelancing and can be an option for those who don’t want to deal with the business side of blogging.

Other freelancing fields include:

  • Accounting and Financing
  • Administrative
  • Customer Service
  • Computer and IT
  • Translations
  • Editing
  • HR & Recruiting
  • Education & Training

From this list, you can see that freelancing can supplement many professions. It spans many fields, and there are definitely options for everyone.

Online Survey Taker

This is yet another early morning job that you can do in your pajamas. It is also a great job for busy people in general. It’s very difficult to get an extra job when one is balancing school and work, or parenthood and work. Online surveys have the flexibility to be done anywhere, at the times that work best.

I am blown away by the bloggers who make good money taking surveys online. If you don’t mind the tedious work, you could earn up a few dollars per survey! The best way to do this is to sign up for as any survey companies as possible. While I have not tried it before, I do think it would be an easy, low-stress way to make extra cash.

Personal Assistant

Most people are over-stretched and over-whelmed these days. A personal assistant is a fulfilling job that can help alleviate someone from their work. Similar to free-lancing, being a personal assistant is a broad job position. In the early mornings, you can check emails for someone. You can organize their daily calendar. Or you can run errands before the day starts.

Fitness Instructor

Working out before work is very popular these days. Why not work out AND earn money? Being a fitness instructor would be a great option for those who want flexibility. My best friend used to teach yoga classes before and after going to her classes at the University. You can either work at a gym, studio, or at home. Some personal trainers like to help their clients at their home, especially if they own the equipment. Either way, this is a great job for those who like physical activity or working out.

Rideshare Driver

Rideshare drivers are needed to bring people on their commutes to work, school, or the airport. Early morning flights usually start at 6:00am sharp. If you are an early riser, this would be a great way to increase your savings. Just make yourself a cup of coffee before heading out the door!

Cleaner

Having a cleaning company is surprisingly lucrative business. Many offices and schools look for cleaners to come in the early morning so that the space is clean when doors open. We have cleaners clean our dental office once a week. If you don’t mind the physical work, this could be a great job! It is mostly solitary work, perfect for listening to music or a podcast!

Barista

Working at a coffee shop is a great way to start the day. Serve other people their coffees while they start their day. If you have a later start to your day job or school, why not get a quick shift in? A four hour shift could end as early as 10am. Plus, you may get perks at your coffee shop! Free coffee, anyone?

International Tutor

After-school hours in Europe equate to early morning hours in California. If you are good at teaching a certain topic, why not do some international tutoring. Many kids across the globe want to learn English as a second language. You can also tutor math or science. This is a perfect side-hustle for teachers looking to make extra cash. When I was a college student myself, I tutored high-school kids as one of my three college jobs!

Visual Designs Specialist for Retail Stores

A previous job I had entailed doing visual design for a retail store. My shifts started at 6 am, since I needed to finish the store displays before the mall opened at 10 am. I took new, incoming merchandise and displayed them according to the retail store’s guidebook. I also styled mannequins and hung displays on the walls. Posters and signage regarding current styles and sales needed to go up as well. The work was perfect for me, since I liked to be creative and work solitarily as well.

Stockist

Working as a stockist means you are unpacking deliveries at stores and placing them on the shelves. Stockists do a lot of behind-the-scenes work where we do our shopping. I worked at the same time as stockists in my previously mentioned retail job. Early morning truck deliveries mean stocking starts around 4:00am. The gals in the back of the store unboxed and unwrapped new clothing styles, and then placed them on racks for me to display on the sales floor.

Farmer

If you like to work outdoors and with your hands, farming might be a great option for you. Many farmers like to start their days bright and early, as there are plenty of things to do. I volunteer my time at a local farm and work before my day job begins. Of course, you can work at a farm and get paid. Usually, shifts start as the sun rises, which would be around 6 am.

Gardener

This might sound silly, but there are plenty of people out there who need help maintaining their front lawns, backyards, and gardens. You can easily post a Craigslist ad or Facebook ad to get a maintenance gig. Most people who work on maintaining outdoor spaces work in the early mornings, because it gets too hot. Since this job allows you to choose your own hours, why not set it up so that you mow a lawn or trim a few hedges before your work day?

There you have it. A list of my best 15 early morning job ideas that can boost your savings in no time. You can start any of these jobs NOW, without any additional degrees or training. All you have to do is be willing to wake up a little bit earlier than everyone else. If you want to read about my own personal experience with early morning jobs, here are 3 Early Morning Jobs I’ve Done to Earn Extra Money.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

How I Made $466.34 in January 2022 Blogging From Home

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

In this post, I go through how I made $466.34 in extra income blogging from home. Admittedly, I am quite pleased with this year’s start. January was quite the busy month for me. I am just now catching up on sponsored posts, having gone away for a camping trip hosted by Texino. I somehow managed to stay on top of my workout goals, as well as watch over a few dogs. The healthcare industry is a wee bit stretched these days, so energy definitely ran low as I focused on my mental health over blog productivity.

That’s the great thing about blogs and why I continue to run one. Blogs are a source of passive income. It provides for others as it does for me. Blogs are a great side hustle because it does not require active work to make money (see all of my side hustles here). Eventually, blogs can run on their own. As long as it provides value for someone in the community, it is valid.

In January 2022, I earned $466.34 blogging from home. The main way I earn extra income is through affiliate marketing. Before I go into the nitty gritty details of this month’s Extra Income Report, which you are always welcome to skip to below, here is a little summary as to how I make money blogging, as well as a few recommended posts if you want to increase your income.

I started blogging right after graduating from dental school without ever thinking I’d earn money from it. At the time, I turned to this blog as a place to record my daily life. Ever since teenhood, I have kept some sort of journal or diary, which has evolved over time from paper to Xanga to Melodramatic, and now onto WordPress. For almost twenty years, I’ve processed information through writing, but never once did I think I would earn money from it.

It’s been three years since owning this site but I am happy to say that it is now getting a little bit of traction and has started to earn me a little income. If I wasn’t working as a dentist during the day, I could see how this could become a steady day job. Still, even with my day job, it had turned into a fun side-hustle for me. I decided to log my earnings for my own personal tracking but also to share publicly how much one can make blogging from home.

Now that remote work seems to be in the near future for many, I do think that blogging is a good option for people who wish to work from home. Likewise, it is an opportunity to be your own boss and have your own space. Since you are writing your own content, you have the flexibility to work whenever you want to, which I know can be a good or bad thing. Of course, you can always practice habits that will separate work from home. Lastly, this is a great hobby or job for creative people. You have autonomy over how to execute your ideas and thoughts, making this a very freeing experience for those who don’t quite fall neatly into a traditional work environment or big company hierarchy.

But first, how did I start to monetize the blog?

If you are new to blogging, you may not know that you can earn income from owning such a space. I certainly didn’t. But then I took this course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketingand it changed my life.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is working with brands that you love in order to spread the word about their products and in return receiving commissions for any referred patrons. Sometimes these are physical products from almost any company you can think of. Other times, they are intellectual products such as courses or services that help improve other people’s lives. The best part is that you don’t have to “sell out” to do affiliate marketing. You don’t have to scheme or cheat people. For me, it’s really just promoting companies that I believe in. For example, the companies I choose to partner with are those that promote sustainably sourced products using fair trade and ethical factory conditions. I like to promote small name businesses trying to create social or environmental impact. I try to keep it to an exclusive few even though I’ve been approved for over 2,000 different companies (so far).

There are a few nuances to affiliate marketing and I didn’t know much about it prior to the course. But the course helped me to learn A LOT and it’s just another case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” You could learn it all yourself, but it’s hard to without a guide to get you through the basics.

I highly recommend this course if you wish to monetize your blog but don’t know where to start.

Extra Income Report

Now, onto the numbers. In January 2022, I made $466.34 in extra income.

Of that, this is the breakdown:

  • $338 is from sponsored posts. I count the monetary value of products that I receive as “income”. I do not accept products for review without first learning about the company and product. As a minimalist, I also only look for products that we currently need. I am honest in all my product reviews and list both pros and cons because I want to be as helpful to the consumer and the company, both. Companies that have supported the blog this month include Misona, Sort Joy, Balmuda, and W&P.
  • $124 of the income is via a partially sponsored trip by Texino. I have wanted to try campervan living for a while now, and Texino helped make my dream a reality. Interested in alternative modes of frugal and simple living, I was impressed with the outfittings of Texino’s vans and could definitely see how fellow frugalists have made a living out of automotive vehicles.
  • The rest of the income was due to affiliate link commissions. These are links that I have posted throughout my blog prior which continually earn me commission for every successful sale.

So far, since March of 2020, I have earned $6,419.03!! 

I know it doesn’t seem like much, but as something I do for fun, I think it’s a nice little additional income. Over time, I hope to continue posting more income reports. Maybe it will help others looking for a side-hustle get a feel for whether blogging could become an alternative for them.

As always, my goal with this blog is to promote intentional living. Writing is a way to create a lifestyle that is in tune with what you want to do. Sure, it may not be the perfect job, but if working from home and having flexibility help allow you to live your dream life (one that includes traveling the world or becoming a stay-at-home parent), then I hope this space brings you that value.

If you are interested in starting a blog, I use WordPress. Feel free to sign up using my affiliate link.

If you already have a blog, I want to refer you to the course that helped me monetize mine. It’s a really great starting point. It’s called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

3 Early Morning Jobs I’ve Done to Earn Extra Money

As a child, I have never been an early riser. To be honest, I really loved my sleep. Stories from my childhood entailed snoring away at restaurants, my head dipping into food, or sleeping through the afternoons. It also included tantrums and melt-downs when I didn’t get my rest. I continued afternoon naps through my teen years, not that it helped me to grow taller. But all that changed when I learned that the most successful people in life woke up early. Which is why I wanted to share how I earn extra money with early morning jobs.

Early morning jobs are the best-kept money-making secret.

There are many reasons why I think early morning jobs are the secret to catapulting you to your financial goals. As I mentioned earlier, I am not naturally an early morning person. However, even though I could choose to take a late-night job, I decided that early morning ones are better. Why?

Getting up early in the morning is really a form of discipline for me. If I can make myself consistently do it, then I am training myself to conquer the difficult parts in life. This builds resilience, a trait that is necessary when the going gets tough.

Secondly, as long as I sleep enough hours, I know that my energy will be highest in the morning before my day job. I have had both early morning and late night jobs before. But when I add a day job to the equation, I am just too tired to really do night shifts anymore. So I use early day jobs to earn extra money, taking advantage of the time of day when I have high energy.

Lastly, I am motivated by checking things off my list. If feels good to start work at my day job having accomplished so much more than the average person. Early morning jobs give me that triumphant boost, which then inspires me to keep going with the rest of my day.

My 3 Noteworthy Early Morning Jobs

I have had 3 noteworthy early morning jobs that increased my savings. I LOVED all three of them, because they were jobs that I enjoyed. It is very important to choose jobs that you truly enjoy to earn extra income. Day jobs are hard enough. Usually, day jobs are our professions and careers. They aren’t always fun. However, if you choose an early morning job that you are passionate about, you may be surprised to get mind-blowing results. More importantly, you will stick with it for longer. I wanted to share with you my 3 early morning jobs in the hopes that it would give you an idea of the lifestyle entailed.

My first early morning job: Retail.

When I was going to college, I was paying for my own tuition. This led me to working three jobs at the same time, one of which was in the early mornings. My first early morning job was at a retail store when I was 18 years old. The position I held was Design Specialist. The job description included displaying incoming products. I also styled mannequins in the windows, changed out displays, and hung artwork. I maneuvered ladders on heels, and I moved shelving – all before the mall opened. My four-hour shift started at 6:00am.

I didn’t drink coffee back then, and I remember the bleary mornings when my alarm clock would rudely awake me at 5:30am. Dressing up was a challenge in the dark, especially since I was performing the task with half-shut eyes. I snuck out the door, into the freezing cold car parked in our driveway.

Once inside the store, I would get to work. In place of caffeine was adrenaline. I loved setting displays. Other than a guide book outlining the areas where new clothes would go, I had creative control. I worked solitarily, while other people unpacked products in the back. This was before airpods, where I was left drowning in my thoughts. It was physical work. The mannequins were taller than me and weighed half as much. The wall displays required use of tools and hardware. I learned how to balance on a ladder carrying fragile items and I learned how to stick a nail in the wall.

I left each early morning shift feeling accomplished, energized, and extremely happy. Sometimes, I would walk away with a bruised finger or two. Never anything worthy of dwelling. I had to rush on to get to class at the University.

(For the curious, this was on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I also worked at the retail store on weekends, fixing all that customers ruffled. After my early morning shift, I went to school, and then I tutored high-school students in the evenings. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and every other Saturday, I worked as a dental assistant. If it was finals week, I would squeeze in emergency tutoring sessions somehow. This was life in my late teens through early twenties.)

My second early morning job: Baker

Fast forward to my thirties when I decided to become a baker. I really got into sourdough, and wanted to learn more about the craft. I asked to help out a local cottage bakery who was, at the time, operating from their garage. They were slinging the best bread and pastry in OC. In February 2022, I was hired by Rye Goods as their early morning baker. It was a dream job.

The early morning bakers make sure that bread and pastry are ready for the shops when doors open. Since most cafes and bakeries open at 7:00am, the early morning baker must start their shift at 2:00 a.m. At the time, we were living in the heart of downtown next to a club that closed at the same time I was waking up. They said I was crazy to take the job, but I was also crazy about bread. My romantic experience as an early morning baker is detailed in this post.

I eventually left the bread baker position to start my own bread bakery. I still had to wake early and throw bread babies into the ovens at an early hour. Local deliveries were at 7:00am sharp, and breads needed 35 minutes in the oven. By the time I clocked in for my shift at the dental office, people were eating Avocado toast on my bread. Unfortunately, I closed the bakery when the pandemic started.

My current early morning job: Blogger

Nowadays, my early morning job is this blog space. I wake up with the cat, make a cup of coffee, and proceed to write. Sometimes I send emails. Other times, I work on creative content. It isn’t a steady pay-check, but it’s a job of my choosing and making. That makes it worth it. It feels amazing to get something out there into the world before the world wakes.

I never expected to make money with blogging. But after sharing my student debt repayment story a few times, I started to gain an audience of my own. My work today entails sharing my experiences (such as these early morning jobs) in the hopes of helping others out there in similar situations. If you like to write, this job is a great option. Blogging lets me work from home, at my own pace, and on my own time. Since writing is also a hobby, it never feels like ‘work’. Although there are days where I have to do the non-writing business side of things, too.

Of course, this is just my story. Early morning jobs work for me, but I know other people who catapult their way to financial freedom by taking on night shifts. Either way, there are many solutions to increasing one’s income. Don’t be afraid to traverse unexplored avenues of increasing your savings. I believe that nothing is negligible. With determination and hard-work, anyone can achieve their financial goals.

Photo by Íris Juana on Unsplash