Things that make me happy

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June 2012: How I make extra money

Every month, I keep track of how much extra money I made through what I affectionately call “The Side Hustle.” I already met my 2012 goal by making $2,500 in side hustle income this year. I hope to double my goal, or make $5,000, by the end of the year.

In January 2012, I made $515.41
In February 2012, I made $891.34
In March 2012, I made $636.26
In April 2012, I made $740.76
In May 2012, I made $1,156.66
In June 2012, I made $676.49

I have made $4,616.92 in extra money this year.

How I made extra money this month:

Advertising: $349.92
Staff Writing: $120
Mystery Shopping: $200.57
Surveys: $6

The Future of the Side Hustle

I don’t think I’m going to mystery shop anymore. As much as I loved it, I’m kind of worn out by it. I would rather focus my time on some other stuff. I may do a shop here or there, but I’m not as gungho about it as I used to be. In fact, I think I only did one shop this month.

How the side hustle has been used

Of course I don’t just have $4600 laying in a bank account. In late May, Eric and I went to Vegas for a few days just to get away. We spent money from the Side Hustle (which is reserved for vacation trips) to pay for it, and it was a good feeling knowing we weren’t accumulating any debt and could pay for it with cash!

We also recently bought a Groupon for a two-night getaway in Temecula (where we went for our mini-moon after we got married)!

Of course, these trips are just teases until we can go on our real honeymoon. Eric keeps promising me he’ll set a date any day now, but I’m not holding my breath.


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Getting Pinspired

All the way back in April, I decided I wanted to make a lemon and lime wreath via my Pinspiration, seen here:

This version is $156.

Yeah, not exactly an item for these newlyweds on a budget. So I made it my mission to create my own.

I started out with:

Wire wreath from craft store: $3.99

Lemons and limes: (already had these on hand, but I spent $8 on two packs a while back)

Fake leaves from craft store: $7 with 40% off coupon

Total cost for project: $11

(Plus I had to buy a glue gun, $6.97 at Walmart, and glue sticks, $3.97 at Walmart but I also used this for other projects)

 

I then began gluing leaves and the lemons and limes to the wreath, just kind of winging it as I went.

The thing with craft projects if you’re always a little bit worried it’s going to turn out like crap.

However, I kind of just flew by the seat of my pants and hoped for the best.

I actually think it didn’t turn out too bad.

This is the finished product on our door.

For $11, as opposed to $156, I am quite the happy camper.

I now have visions of making more wreaths for the fall with apples, and maybe another one with grapes and wine corks.

Are there any Pinterest projects you’ve completed lately?

Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest!

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Is an online degree worth less?

I need your advice.

I have decided to return to grad school to get my Masters in Public Administration. My bachelor’s is in English and Italian Studies. When I graduated college, I worked as a journalist but eventually switched to public relations.

The reason I am pursuing this degree is so that I can be considered for management positions in the future. Out of seven people in my department, three will be retiring within the next three to seven years. There will be a lot of job titles shifting and I want to be qualified.

My company is one of those that really value education. While I have about 5 years in PR experience, I have only worked in this particular field for about a year and a half (when I started this job). I think a master’s will give me that edge to stay competitive when compared to other qualified outside candidates.

The cost of a higher education

I still have about $21,000 in student loans left from my bachelor’s–what the hell am I doing considering taking on more debt for higher education?

Well, I’m lucky in that my company will pay up to 75% for my degree, in addition to a stipend for books. If I play my cards right, I can actually pay for my degree as I go, since my company reimburses after each semester. Of course, this will cause sacrifices in other areas, such as saving and paying off debt, but I truly believe this will be an investment in my future.I could essentially get my master’s degree for as little as $5,000-10,000. With $10,000 being on the high side.

Managers in my department can easily make six figures. And I know that as soon as I get my master’s, I will get a bump in pay no matter what.

Options, options, options

So with the whole “Is it worth it to go back to school?” question out of the way, here is where my real dilemma stands. As of right now, I am narrowing it down to TWO options.

Option 1

Option 1 would have me waiting until March 2013 to start school. I would be attending a “distance learner” program at a CalState University. I would only have to go to campus (a 30 minute drive) on the first and last Saturday of each six-week class session. Online classes are held every Monday and Wednesday for three hours, and assignments are turned in each week.

Option 2

I would attend an adult learner program beginning in late August from a pretty new university, that is affiliated with a well-respected local university. However, the diploma would have the name of the new university, which is not very well-known. Essentially, this school is known as an online program, but you do attend classes once a week with assignments online.

Pros and Cons

Age

Everything in me wants to do Option 2. I want to start school as soon as possible before I lose motivation. And if I’m really being truthful, if I do Option 1, I will be almost 31 by the time I graduate, as opposed to 29/30 with Option 2. I don’t want my master’s degree to be a reason we delay starting a family.

WINNER: Option 2

Cost-wise

Both programs would be about the same amount of money, with Option 2 costing $70 more per unit, or about $2500 more over the course of the program. I don’t think that’s enough of a difference to choose one school over the other.

WINNER: Tie

Distance

Option 2 would require driving two minutes from where I currently work. It is literally right down the street. So I would get the class experience as well as the online component. Option 1, I would have to drive 30 minutes and pay for parking but I would only do this 4 times over 12 weeks–albeit on Saturday mornings!

WINNER: Option 2

Prestige

While neither school will have the prestige of my bachelor’s degree, I am not dumb to the fact that some employers regard some degrees better than others. However, since I don’t plan on leaving my job and want to continue growing in my company, I feel like it wouldn’t or shouldn’t matter as much where I get my degree, as long as I have it.

Option 1 is definitely more well-known in our area than Option 2.

WINNER: Option 1

Which should I choose?

And this is where I ask your advice. Which one should I choose? Should I wait it out and go for the degree at the well known school even though I don’t like anything else about it? Or should I follow what I want and settle for the “online program” which is super close and I can get my degree done faster?

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Things that make me happy

We received a letter from our homeowners’ association saying we needed to have our tree clipped. Our landlord got a quote from a tree clipping service for $65, but he offered to let us do it ourselves and said we could take the money off next month’s rent.

Discount on rent? Yes, please!

While Eric was clipping the trees, I was clipping the overgrown Butterfly bush seen in the picture above. I was able to make this bouquet for the living room for FREE.

As part of our effort to refresh our marriage and do more fun things, especially on weekends, we decided to make our first trip of the summer to the beach.

Bentley always has a fabulous time and wears himself out at the beach.It makes us feel like good doggie parents.

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