It’s Time to Talk More About Making More

Workin' It

Putting our new NYC budget together for 2015 was a hard pill to swallow. With our rent more than doubling and with the rest of our expenses being a bit more expensive, we were left staring at a much smaller projected savings rate for 2015 than what we had in 2014. Despite that, we still have a goal of saving 50% of our net income. While slightly lofty and very intimidating, the beautiful thing with this goal (as well as all other financial goals) is that there are really only two ways to make it a reality: spending less or making more.

In the “spending less” department, we’re determined to make backwards budgeting a priority, which put simply, is creating a budget around your financial goals. We’re intent on giving every dollar a name, sacrificing some wants (bye, cable), and maximizing the (few) financial perks NYC has to offer. But despite all of that, Johnny and I could live off ramen this year, nix ALL our personal spending, switch to cloth diapers, and force Persie to scavenge for mice off the NYC streets, and we still wouldn’t be anywhere close to our goal of a 50% net savings. Which brings us to option numero dos: making more dough.

Whether it’s getting out of debt, paying off a mortgage, saving for retirement, building an emergency fund, or finally putting enough away for that European vacation, most of us usually ask ourselves, “How can we save more money?” It’s a lot easier to find a few extra bucks here and there by cutting back than it is to find ways to bring in more income. In fact, most of our posts focus on the spending less aspect — budgeting and saving. And while budgeting will probably continue to be the theme of this blog, we’d love to find more opportunities to balance the saving with the earning.

Over the years, we’ve fielded lots of emails from folks asking about how we go about making more money. So for the first time, we’re going to touch on those topics this year. We’re certainly not experts, high-rollers, or very knowledgable about this stuff, but maybe a few of you will find our experiences helpful. And at the very least, it will lend some insight into what’s going on behind the scenes of all the weirdness that’s us.

In case you didn’t know, Johnny and I have a blog. Oh, you knew that? Shoot. We’ve had this blog/site/Sally photobook for two years now, and it’s become a big part of what we do in our time not spent working full-time jobs or Sallying. The Internets are chock full of tips, posts, pins, and e-books on ways to make money blogging (ORDER TODAY!!!), and after two years of blood, sweat and time (LOTS of time, like thousands upon thousands of hours of time), we’re making money blogging. But it’s probably not in the way you’d imagine.

Our blog itself makes a small percentage of our side income, literally pennies on the hours we spend working on it. The majority of our side income has come from freelance opportunities that have sprung from having our blog — mostly in the form of writing gigs, design projects, consulting, etc. We can get into all of that jazz in a future post. In a lot of ways, our blog serves as a business card, resume, and cover letter, all rolled up into one. And in order to find new opportunities, we need to continue investing our time and energy into writing here.

Don’t think for a second that’s why we started this or continue to do this. We love it. We love sharing what we’ve learned through our own experiences, interacting with a community of like-minded people trying to make sense of all this money mumbo jumbo, and getting to hear the best, most awesome stories of debt freedom and other financial victories. Without that reward, it’d mean nothing to us. I’m gonna give this next part to you straight: if you’re planning to start a blog to make money, don’t do it. Do it because you love it. And if you ever do make any money, consider that a cherry on top. Blogging is not a path to making money. And there’s not one surefire blogging plan that a new blogger can follow to make money. Anyone who says differently is trying to make money off of you. Most bloggers will never see a dime. Others might see a few dimes after a long slog of really hard work. And even then, it probably won’t be the actual blog making money but the opportunities that spring from having it.

So in 2015, we plan to keep pursuing those opportunities, and we’ll see how far we get in our goal of saving 50% of our net income. We might be a bit coy about getting into all the specifics, but we’d certainly like to be more open about how we’re trying to tackle that goal.

We’d also like to do a post every month or so that focuses on ways people can make that extra money on the side by honing in on skills they already have. It will focus on skills you already have and ways you can market them so they make money for you. Anything specific you’d like to see covered? We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions!

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  • Reply Taylor Lee January 23, 2015 at 7:47 am

    I love this! I’ve been finding that my primary job is the best way to earn more because I get paid hourly, but if that weren’t the case, I’d probably take up some affluent tutoring/college prep clients (who often pay anywhere in the range from 25-100/hour).

    • Reply Joanna January 24, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      It’s great to have options like that in your back pocket if you ever needed another option. We’re hoping to help people realize we all have that back pocket option, even if we aren’t aware of what it is yet!

  • Reply January 23, 2015 at 8:11 am

    yeah! European vacation! in Italy you would know where to stay (is this too creepy?)

    • Reply Joanna January 24, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      Haha, nope! Although, I can promise you’d regret it as soon as the tornado that is Sally entered your home :).

  • Reply Suzanne January 23, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Great post! I don’t think anyone could, would or indeed should (!) accuse you and Johnny of doing your blog for monetary gain! Anyone can see that you both put a lot of effort and hard work into it and it comes across in your posts! Of course, your little sidekick Sally helps too…is there such a thing of being too cute??!! I think the backwards budgeting is a great idea.. What I’ve started to do every week (as I’m paid weekly) is after I’ve put money aside for various monthly bills, whatever is left over after savings, debt repayments etc, I lodge that into my credit card. It may be only less than €5.00 or €10.00 but it seems to be adding up so if I have to use my credit card, I have a positive balance, as I call it, and it softens the blow somewhat!

    • Reply Joanna January 24, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      That’s awesome, Suzanee. I don’t think any of our current cards allow that option (since we can’t pay more than we owe on them), but what a smart idea! Way to give yourself a little boost from week to week.

  • Reply Ry January 23, 2015 at 10:45 am

    “In a lot of ways, our blogs serves as a business card, resume, and cover letter all rolled into one.” *suddenly realizes she has been thinking about blogs all wrong*
    No, not really all wrong. I’ve had blogs in the past that were mostly personal and way for me to organize my impressions in a way that challenged me to look at them differently (because other people will be reading my convoluted thought processes). And that’s a great reason to blog, and running into people that Get You on the internets is another great reason. But I’d always abandon them after six months or so because they had no real structure or goal and the theme would get too narrow and confining if there was one. It never really occurred to me that a blog could ALSO be a way to craft your online reputation (however small) and image, consciously and deliberately, in a way that was connected to more to my professional persona. This seems like a massive oversight in retrospect, and I’m sure people have written directly about just that and I’ve read it, and I know all about online portfolios and such. I just….I may be developing a new project over the next few months. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Reply Joanna January 24, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      It’s crazy how everything we do online serves as part of our professional persona since anyone (bosses, coworkers, potential clients) can see it. And blogs can be the most powerful tool of them all because of the sheer content they contain and because of the complete control you have over it. I hope you move forward with your new project… it sounds like you’ve already got some ideas up your sleeve!

  • Reply Matthew Jones January 23, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Great Post. I always enjoy reading your posts and this one is no different! I find budgeting really tough myself, so the advice given is really handy. I look forward to the posts in the future! 🙂

    • Reply Joanna January 24, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      Glad to hear it!

  • Reply Melody January 23, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    I’d be curious to hear more thoughts on professional freelancing. Is it something you’d ever want to do full-time? Are there tips and tricks you’ve built up? Any special ways to find/keep/deal with clients?

    • Reply Joanna January 24, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      I think we’d both be open to the idea of freelancing full time. But, as you mentioned, one of the trickiest parts is having clients you can rely on for steady work. I think one thing we’ve learned in the past two years is that there’s no harm in pitching yourself. You can’t wait for others to find you, although they will from time to time. You also need to do the finding.

  • Reply Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank January 25, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Hi Joana, I’d like you to cover skills in writing or copyediting. I hope you consider these two. Good luck on your saving 50% of your net income.

    • Reply Joanna January 27, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks, Jayson!

  • Reply Tiare January 27, 2015 at 11:19 am

    You’re right – blogging isn’t the best way to make money. But blogging as a business can make bank.

    The best money advice is “live within your means”. I interpret this as “decrease your costs while increasing your income”. Our family’s answer to becoming debt-free came from this two-tiered approach of cutting our costs while growing our gains. We budgeted while we freelanced and bootstrapped our mini businesses and threw all of our extra money at our debt, all of which helped us become debt-free far faster than just budgeting our current employer income. Entrepreneurship is a powerful tool but the difference is that most wannabe entrepreneurs don’t treat their business as a business.

    With so much focus on decreasing debt (and having built a loyal following around the topic), it’d be great to also explore increasing income. Freelancing seems like a natural step.

    • Reply Johnny January 27, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      You’re right — blogging as a business can make bank. But what percentage of blogs are willing to put in the time to make it a business? A fraction of a percent. And those are never ever overnight success stories. But I think we’re saying the same thing.

      I like the “decrease your costs while increasing your income” mantra. I’d much rather both things be moving in the right direction.

      • Reply Tiare January 28, 2015 at 12:39 pm

        You called it – it’s the hard work and perseverance part of running a business that gets most folks down. You gotta really love a challenge, and even rejection, to be a successful entrepreneur.

        I thought about what I said about freelancing being the next step – maybe but not necessarily so. There are tons of ways to make some side cash, especially online. Perhaps the two biggest perks of working online is 1) The internet is the great equalizer and 2) You can make passive income.

        Self-publishing an e-book (Kindle?), creating an online course (Udemy?), opening a shirt shop (Skreened?) are all choices for passive (“evergreen”) income. With your experience with personal finance apps, you probably have some good ideas for a new app. Creating software is a huge opportunity and not as hard as it may seem. You don’t even have to stay in the same space as personal finance. I have about 2,000 interests (give or take 😉 ) and my online businesses allow me to entertain all of them (give or take 😉 ).

        Of course, there are also less-passive income methods, such as physical product sales, affiliate marketing (depending on the method), personalized services such as coaching, surveys, shopping, user testing, freelancing, etc.

        Point is, it’s not that hard to consistently make an extra $250 – $500 per month online or offline. While that might seem too menial for a full-fledged business (although the IRS considers any income over $400/year as a “business”; anything less is a “hobby”), $3,000 – $6,000 extra per year can make a big difference for a family who is living paycheck to paycheck or trying to pay off debt or just needs a vacation!

  • Reply James January 27, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Wow, this is a great site. I only found it recently today and have been reading it with vigor. I am really big into personal finance and am quite influential in certain financing circles and have really wanted to start a blog, but I have never blogged before. Mostly I am passionate about babies being a source of income. Well not just babies, children in general, but I say babies because of a blog name I have thought up, “babies bringing back bank.” I think this is a good name because of all of the b’s. It is crazy we live in a society where people spend so much money on their kids, but don’t expect their kids to contribute to family finances-at all! And I am not alone, the babies bring back bank (bbbb) movement has really been spreading in certain regions of the country. Some would argue all the regions of the country, but I guess that depends on your definitions of “regions” and “spreading.” My own son, aged 3.7 years, brings home roughly 300 dollars a month to the family finances. I was going to recommend this site to him to see if it would lead to an increase in his income, but decided against it because of certain expletives (freaking) in your name. I think that you could be a real asset to the babies bring back bank blog (bbbbb) movement, which has not yet been created. We would be partners and split everything percantegly. But even though you have three people in your family it wouldn’t be split four ways; like Joanna gets x%, Johnny gets x%, Sally gets x%, I get x%. That would be too confusing. Instead it would be you all as a group get x% and I as a group get x%. If you wanted to divide the percentages up among yourselves privately that would be fine. Here’s to a bright bbbbb future!

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