So you’re an independent contractor, but you’re not (yet) independently wealthy. Or perhaps you have a steady gig (you fancy huh? you fancy!) but your cash flow isn’t quite where you want it to be. That sucks.
I wish I could tell you magical ways to get your ATM receipts to reveal an account balance that doesn’t make you weep outside of Chase bank, but I think the visual of people weeping outside of Chase bank is too hilarious. (Thank God for those tiny victorious moments when you find another persons abandoned bank receipt at the ATM and their balance is lower than yours.)
Here’s the thing: I, perhaps like some of you, really like money but I’m not so great with money. Wait, don’t tell Rhonda Byrne that – according to The Secret (which I have been obsessively listening to on my iPod), if I say I am bad with money, than so it shall be. So let’s edit – I AM AMAZING-ish WITH MONEY.
I’m also an artist/freelancer/professional dreamer, so my expenses don’t always compliment my income. Overall, my work life is pretty cool – I get to make my own hours, work from home and be my own boss. And the best part of being your own boss is having sex with your boss! Zing!
What’s not so cool is those months when I’m freaking out because I didn’t budget correctly, or a check I’m depending on comes late, or as my own boss I gave myself too many vacation (watching TV and eating bed) days. That’s when the game begins. While I don’t quite feel cozy yet screaming that I’m a financial genius, I do feel certain that I’m a damn good hustler. Somehow, some way, I always get by. It’s like a contest between me and the universe: “Will Giulia make enough money in four days to pay her credit card minimum? Stay tuned and see on today’s episode of America’s favorite new game show, Get Your Life Together, Rozzi!”
So while I can’t tell you how to get rich, I can give you tips on what to do in a pinch (AND I CAN RHYME, SORTA!).
*eBay it up: You guys, people will buy anything! That whole “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” saying is so true, especially since being a hoarder is like, so in right now. Do you know how to read? How about how to use the post office? Boom! You can sell on eBay! Check out the guide on the eBay site explaining how to get started. After a few good sales, you’ll get some good feedback (assuming you list the item correctly and ship on time), then your seller rating will rise then you’ll be an online selling machine!
*Take it to the streets: As mentioned above, people will buy anything! I use eBay for my higher ticket items (nice clothes, items still in the box or with the tag) because eBay takes a small percent and it doesn’t feel worth it to me to go through the trouble of photographing, listing and shipping something and only making a few dollars. Outdoor sales, however, are no-holds-bar. Literally, get all of your unwanted s**t and set up shop on your front lawn or stoop (or the lawn or stoop of a friend who lives in a high foot traffic hood). The trick is in the presentation. If you’re selling clothes, display them as they would be displayed in a store. Don’t just toss a cute dress into a pile to go unseen, hang it on a hanger, drape a necklace over the neck, display shoes below it and let the potential buyers see the item at its best. And don’t put price tags on anything, just know in your head what the lowest you’ll sell stuff for, then negotiate. Get a few friends together to host the sale, that way you have more products to offer and you’ll have someone to watch your goods while you go pee. How many times do I have say it – people will buy anything!
*Focus: This summer, I did 9 focus groups where I got paid (anywhere from $75 to $250 for an hour or two) to talk about topics such as ice cream, cars and those scary sporty shoes that look like ape feet. Go online and simply research “focus groups” + your city, then sign up for all their mailing lists (findfocusgroups.com is a good resource). You’ll get weekly surveys to see if you qualify. A few tips: say you have a full time job (they never seem to call me when I say I am self employed), say you haven’t participated in a group in over 6 months and always answer yes to the “Are you comfortable sharing your opinions with others?” question (duh!).
*Go beyond Craig: I used to run to his lists whenever I was in need of fast cash, but then I started seeing other people. While you can sometimes find some great last minute legitimate gigs on Craigslist, the deep dark sea of creepy propositions and scammers becomes too much for me to sift through. Recently I’ve discovered lots of cool independent, more closely monitored lists that require users to join the group, which helps block the weirdos. These lists often feature great one off or short term gigs (running a merch booth for a band, working a trade show, making photocopies for a rich lady) when you’re in a pinch. A great place to find such lists is Facebook (that’s where I found the fantastic Janelle’s List) because when people post in these group lists, you can see their profile pic, which can help determine if they are a creep. Unless of course their profile pic is of Tweety Bird smoking a joint, then you know they are just dumb.
* Pimp yo self: Last but not least, there’s the ol’ mass email or Facebook post approach. A simple “Hey guys, I’m looking for a side gig this week. If you or anyone you know needs help doing some errands, projects, etc. Let me know!” can sometimes reap some nice rewards. I’d suggest against posting such an offer on Twitter, your blog, a message board or anywhere else where strangers can read it since from that, you’ll most likely only reap unsexy sexy requests.
Good luck, dear readers, and may your next sob session outside the bank be because you’re weeping tears of joy over how much cash you have stashed in savings.