The second Frugal Fam value is saving money, but an equally valid view of this value is making money. One thing that has struck me on this visit to the US is the small seller market. Each Saturday when we go to the park for my son’s baseball games, there are dozen of men (and the occasional woman) who are selling things: ice cream, corn, chips, and balls/balloons. The prizes appear reasonable but in a day their profits are probably substantially more than they would make during a shift at Wal-Mart.
My former partner’s mother too exemplifies this value. Although she is retired from her career as a nurse, she makes a bit of extra income by making the scrubs tops and selling them to nurses at nursing homes and the like. She sews during the day while her grandchildren are in school. Then on the weekend, she has her son load the car with a suitcase on wheels and goes from place to place selling them. The wonderful thing is that she is providing a service that large manufacturers do not. There is the woman that is about a XXXXX. Where would she find tops that fit her? Or the male nurse for whom she makes NASCAR tops. What manufacturer would make such a specialized item?
It has gotten me thinking. How many of those women and men who feel forced to return to work for the second income have hidden skills that they could utilize to make almost as much money at home? For me, those skills include my consulting, writing and doula work, but I am also bringing home a large selection of scraps from my former partner’s mother. It has been over a decade since I tried but once upon a time I was a rather gifted quilter. I think that there is a market for quality quilts in London.
As I said before, my family has learned to get by on my husband’s salary…most of the time. It is things like this trip and my son’s visit to London each summer that is beyond those means. I would also like a touch of extra money with which to take a few day trips this summer: to the sea shore or perhaps Leggo Land. We cannot do that without going into debt…or me bringing in the tad extra.
To me it harkens back to the stories I heard growing up of the Great Depression. I remember Mrs McCall talking about making hundreds of jars of apple jelly from the crab apples that were too bitter to be eaten otherwise. My own great-grandmother took in other people’s children during that time. Of course, other women took in sewing or ironing. The men too found work outside of the job market: roofs to be re-shingled, fields to be prepared or stumps to be pulled up. I remember stories of men that would go door to door looking for any work to be done; sometimes even for food. Yes, we live in a different time. The idea of a stranger coming to the door asking about work for food might sound frightening, but is it that different from the occasional work and even barter system that operates online at sites such as Gumtree and Craigslist.
So do you have talents that you could be using to make extra money? And help others? Do you sew? Do you cook? Do you clean? How about gardening? Maybe you could care for other people’s children either as a childminder or a foster carer? The general concensus is that after taxes, travel costs, lunches, clothing and childcare that second income that we all feel we simply can’t live without actually amounts to only a few hundred pounds/dollars. Aren’t there things that you could be doing from home that would bring in just as much money…and allow you to put family first?