Monday, December 19, 2011

Do What You Would Anyway: Secrets of a VPT Job

It is the holiday season, which means that the sustainability and frugality blogosphere is full of discussions of whether to tighten our belts or find ways to earn more money for gift-giving.  This is, of course, an individual choice.  And while I'm never going to tell you to live outside your means, there are times (holidays and vacations come to mind) when we all would like to extend our means just a little bit.

That means more money.

Here at FC&G, we spend most of our time trying to live within the resources that we have.  Often that is money, but it is often also resources like food or energy or time.  But we also talk about extending those resources, such as when we grow more veggies in a small space.  And I want to talk today about my theory on earning more money the FC&G way.

As you all know, Mr. FC&G and I run Carrot Creations, our shop dedicated to providing sustainable living gear that we hand-make.  As you also know, I have a full-time job with Hilltop Communications and the second-shift job at the college.  Mr. FC&G is similarly over-extended.  About the last thing we need is another job, but I love Carrot Creations.

Last week, the store made its 52nd sale for the year (not all of them appear on the Etsy tally, if you are checking up on me, because we sell face-to-face too), which averages one sale a week. Although many people sell much more, I am very happy with this, and here are some of my keys to success of a very-part-time (VPT) money making endeavor:

Make it something you would do anyway:  I love to crochet, knit, and sew fleece.  I would do it regardless of whether it would sell.  I have made many dozen pairs of fleece socks for myself, Mr.. FC&G, and family.  Having a way to sell these items gives me an excuse to make them without feeling guilty that I'm just buying lots of fleece and yarn to make items we don't really need.  The work doesn't feel like a job, someone else gets cozy feet and lower heating bills, and I make a couple of bucks.  It feels like a win-win.

Make it scalable:  Your VPT money maker can't hold you down, or it destroys your quality of life.  If I have a lull in either my writing work or the second shift, I can make socks and cowls to my heart's content and have them ready for future sales.  If I am swamped, I can ignore the production side and just ship orders.  If I'm on vacation, I can close the store.  Carrot Creations doesn't hamper our lifestyle. 

If making hand-made items isn't your thing, remember that there are a number of scalable and temporary part-time jobs out there.  More than once, I have had part-time jobs that involved subbing for regular staff, so the organization would call me when needed and I could say yes or no to the shift according to my own schedule.  I have also long intended to one year try a seasonal job, like a Christmas retail job or an Easter ham store job.  Some people regularly work the polls on election day and otherwise take one-day jobs.  If you look, these little jobs are out there.

Make it part of your dream:  Yes, many of us occasionally hit a point at which all income, even little extras, needs to be earmarked for living expenses.  But if yours doesn't, don't be afraid to tie your efforts with your VPT job to a dream.  Put the profits in a vacation fund, a home-improvement fund, or even your garden seed fund.  It is so much fun to get to buy one of these treats without dipping into your regular income, and it makes it that much more enjoyable to work your VPT job.

What do you do for a little extra income?
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