• Happiness, hobbies and money

    This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2013.

    A couple of years ago I wrote about the cost of hobbies. Luckily, I’m not into pricey pursuits like snowboarding or scuba diving – most of my hobbies (reading, blogging etc) are pretty close to free, or as close as you can get.

    There are two areas where I do channel my money, though.

    Food

    It’s really hard to stick to our grocery/eating out budget sometimes (the latter of which also basically comprises our entertainment budget). We both love to eat and live to eat rather than eat to live. Yet with other necessities like housing and transport being so expensive, keeping food costs down is important.

    When we go over budget (like we have for the past few weeks) I find it hard to feel terribly guilty. I’ll happily splurge on good cheese/ice cream (heck, almost any dairy product), for example. And we celebrate basically all occasions with a meal out.

    Travel

    We spent a slightly ridiculous amount travelling the South Island for two weeks last spring (things like a fishing charter, ski day and river cruise will do that to you) and I didn’t regret a single cent of it. I like my life just fine, but the absolute happiest memories I’ve ever had are those when I’m travelling. Hence, why we’re hitting the road for the rest of the year after the wedding. I know people who go to the same place every year on holiday, but I like variety.

    Experiences, not stuff, has always been my thing. Good food and seeing new places make me happy.

    What do your hobbies cost you?

  • Ways I’ve made money: a rundown of the highlights

    6 ways I've made money on the side

    This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2013.

    To kick off Women’s Money Week 2013, we’re talking about increasing income. I’ve had multiple gigs going on for most of my working life, and done a lot of odd jobs from waitressing at events to tutoring, mystery shopping and taking part in all kinds of market research. Here’s a sample of the highlights…

    The weirdest way I’ve made extra money

    I’ve done a few strange things in the name of market research. For the sake of cold hard cash, I’ve eaten KFC, sampled a range of margarines, and even had electrodes attached to my head. That took place in a downtown hotel conference room, where we all sat still for a couple of hours and watched a lot of Mr Bean, interspersed with a few ads, while they monitored our brain activity.

    The easiest way I’ve made extra money

    Running around putting up flyers on university campuses was probably the cruisiest thing I’ve ever done. And it paid pretty well at the time – something like $15 an hour plus mileage.

    The most flexible way I’ve made extra money

    It’s basically impossible to beat working from home for flexibility. For me, freelancing in spare time has been the most convenient way of increasing income.

    The most efficient way I’ve made extra money

    I’ve pulled back from mystery shopping as it just isn’t worth the time anymore, but back in the day one of the companies I worked for paid $10 per bus survey, and they were dead easy. I lived near a transport hub and could catch any number of buses between my house and town, and I had an unlimited bus pass. I’d catch different routes every day, earning a few bucks just for commuting, and when I had free time (lunchtime, or at the end of the day, or sometimes even on weekends) I’d just hop and off 3-4 buses an hour, going back and forth along key arterial routes.

    The hardest way I’ve made extra money

    In my last year of school, I worked for a local family doing babysitting/tutoring and homework help, 2 hours a week, 3-4 times a week. I was paid $15 cash for two hours (basically the equivalent of the minimum youth wage at the time. Thankfully, later on I progressed to proper grownup tutoring at $20-30 an hour). As with most people/service oriented gigs, it was incredibly hard graft, incredibly frustrating at times, but also incredibly gratifying when I actually got through to the kids.

    The easiest AND hardest way I’ve made extra money

    I can negotiate an ad deal or put together a sponsored post worth hundreds of dollars in under an hour. But it’s taken hundreds (maybe thousands? My sense of time ain’t so good) of hours to get this wee blog to the point where this is possible.

    What are some weird, wacky, or otherwise interesting ways you’ve increased your income?