22 May 2011

Will You Be Wanting Popsicles with Your Pizza?

I have a very busy life. Just in case you didn't know that, it's true. Very busy.
I work weekends at a weird little government gig. I just started a second contractor position at another company. I have a website that is doing well enough that I need to have it redesigned and rebuilt in the next several months in order for it to continue to grow and expand. (Er, not to be confused with making money or covering its costs. NO to either on that question!) These three things alone poke big holes in my day, not to mention my bank account.
Yessirree, I'm busy for about 16 to 18 hours out of every day.
Oh, and I work out like a nutcase to make sure that I am healthy enough for all this insanity. Yes, I am busy.

But I also like financial health. My mother commented recently (in that dotty-random-outburst-at-a-party-given-by-their-daughter way that old ladies acquire in their seventies) that "Marti's cheap." I'll admit when she made that comment combined with one other, what I really wanted was to excuse myself for a check of her bathroom cabinet to see if she was off her meds. Or if I could borrow a few. Ugh.

Anyway, whether I am or am not cheap doesn't matter. I know a lot of people who are worried about money these days. And here's my tip for what YOU can do about it.

Do something extra. Do. Something. Extra. Why? To make money for yourself, of course! And not just for your life currently, which no doubt sucks every nickel out of your pocket, but for your future financial health. (If you're in debt, obviously, then use the money to pay down the debt first. I'm not in debt, therefore, I save.) And the best news is it doesn't have to be big.

For instance in the last year, I was contacted by an online group about writing for them. For several months toward the end of 2010 and in early 2011, I did their online writing. It only required a couple of hours per week. But in fact, I had so much of writing work that I couldn't do it all when combined at the time with my weekend job, website operation and making a full-time job of looking for a full-time job, right? Right. So I hired someone else to do a little of the writing. I passed one subject that I knew little about to a favorite friend who herself wanted to pick up some supplemental funds every month.

That work agreement ended a few months ago and in the newly restored "glut" of time, my mind cast about again for what else I could do to make money. I didn't have to look far. I went to auctions with a couple of guy friends and considered re-selling things I could buy there. I pondered putting up a website to do more online writing. (Still mulling that one over) Heck, I even considered taking a waitress job and pouring coffee at some breakfast diner. Perhaps. (That mental journey didn't go very far) I ruled that one out. Kind of fast, matter of fact.

What I came up with instead was expanding on a favorite hobby, adding some extra knowledge (that's called "value added") that I had gained years back, putting in a little financial outlay to buy supplies and getting busy on it. Altogether, that's hobby+added value knowledge+cash investment+sweat equity.

To that end, I now have a living room that is... unlivable at the moment. It's been a small, bearable bit of a downside as large amounts of fabric and quilt batting started piling up. Some weird smelly things are stashed in the front closet. And an etsy account awaits which already amuses me and I hope to start filling later this week.

I make this "extra" suggestion knowing that some of you will say "Oh, I'm already so busy doing such-and-such. I really can't take on anything new." I think you should reconsider. What I'm talking about isn't converting YOUR living room into a sewing workshop with a huge mess of fabrics, fluff and stuff strewn everywhere. (That seems to be my personal passion and only within the abilities of those of us that live alone.) But you can do something. You can find something. Skip any "collecting aluminum cans" ideas. You'll lose money on the price of gas, driving to and from the recycling center. You want something you can do along your life's regular circuit with a small bit of extra effort.

What will you get out of it? I expect to end up with is enough cash to cover my costs, my annual IRA donation and maybe buy a few popsicles this summer.

Personally, I like popsicles. Don't want popsicles? You might make a few extra mortgage payments. You could put some money in a fund to pay for a few extra textbooks for a favorite college student. You could take the hubs out for pizza once a month and probably afford to pay for a gym to work it off again. Whatever you want, including debt, IRA, popsicles or pizza after taxes.
I'm not saying you're not already working harder than ever, but you probably can squeak something else in, which might help you shake out better at the end of the year. And with a little extra moola, who knows what you could do, right? Maybe you'll only make enough dough for the pizza (or in my case popsicles), but we all prefer life with pizza and popsicles rather than without, right?
So what are your solutions to making a little extra money for the pizza/popsicles of your life?

(Disclaimer: all photos today were chosen with abject weirdness in mind and may or may not have actual relevance to the subject. But... I do like popsicles.)

06 May 2011

Cake. C-A-K-E. CAKE!!!!

It's my birthday again this coming week. I thought it was a good time for us to talk about The Cake.

I've been eating The Cake for a long time. I make it for my birthday every year, as I have since I was 16 and found the original recipe in one of the Salt Lake City newspapers. I try not to eat it in between. (Otherwise too many people find out about it and they whine. A lot. "When are you going to make us another cake, Marti." Bah. Whiners. Never.)

The Cake has changed since I was sixteen. The recipe has evolved. It's de-evolved. And then re-evolved and "gone foodie." And even then, it varies greatly.

There's "The Picnic Cake" which is pretty similar to "The Church Party cake." (Cool Whip. Ugh. "I'll just have a sliver. I brought this for you, anyway, right?" Right.)

There's a "Marti Doesn't know the Oven Cake" version. (See the darkly browned sides and bottom? Yeah. No!)

Also a "My Friend's Kids Are Diving In Cake" version. (There's something wonderfully "Dr. Seuss" about this particular shot, don't you think?)

There is "Dinner with College BFF and Hubs Who Are Also Foodies Cake" and as well as a "Dinner with People Who Will Eat ANYTHING" (my grade school pals in March) version.

It was spectacular watching them eat The Cake because, well, it was just so darned great to see them all again. I love a good "Happily Ever After," so having a whole room of them was swell. Just swell.

There is "Houseguests Feel The Love Cake," as modeled here by Greg. Still in his jammies. He was leaving the next day. Very little of this cake ever goes to waist. Er, waste. Freudian.

This was the "Best Family I Ever Shacked Up With Cake" version (long story involving short-term housing) which was very well received. Great lighting, eh? As if their household had some sort of inner light.

This was one of my favorites: "The Cake with Beloved College Roommate" who, after figuring out what leaving me alone in her kitchen on my birthday would mean, regularly left me alone in her kitchen on my birthday. Suh-weet!

When I started to write this post, I thought I would fit some metaphor of life into this blog. But as I got into writing it, turned out it I just like posting pictures of The Cake. Other than that, the subject of my birth is about as deep as, well, The Cake, but without the whipped cream and berries.

01 May 2011

HELP! I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

I have a bit of conundrum right now and I thought I should get your advice. I'm in a sort of "Chinese Finger Trap" in my world, and struggling to get out.
A few posts back, I mentioned I was given a "second chance," and felt deeply touched by the generosity of it.
Here's where it landed me: I've become involved in a professional project where I am expected to produce something (which I very much want to produce), but so far, am unable to offer the expected results.
I should state upfront that the people who gave me this chance have been continually patient and helpful and supportive. Every question has been answered with a generosity of spirit that I've rarely seen. These people are kindness itself to me.
Part of the conundrum is that the more patient they are with my efforts, the more determined I become to succeed and the harder I try. But so far, success eludes me. Seriously, I've not been so frustrated with something in a very long time.
It's a bit like this:
I feel caught in a vise from which I desperately want to escape into the ease of reporting I've previously enjoyed. But instead, I struggle, study and practice for hours, and am trying harder than I have tried, or ever had to try, in the course of my career. And yet... I sort of stink at it.
In a "Chinese Finger Trap," the answer is to relax and let go. But so far, I've found myself unable to do that and the harder I try, whether to study or work harder or even to "let go," the more strained and painful my product seems to become. Which is not helpful.
I've often been told that one of the best parts of my work in journalism was that I made it look effortless. I've always inwardly laughed because my "effortless delivery" came from studying the material to internalize it. And then would I relax. I could relax and effortlessly talk about what I knew because I had done the due diligence and I did know it.
This latest isn't coming easily. It isn't coming with study. It hasn't arrived after hours of struggling. And not only am I frustrated, but so are those who have been so generous with their own time and efforts to help me. So...