Frugal Fall Activies

The Hunt for the IRA Funding Side Hustle

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To take back my life I need to come up with a good plan. I definitely don’t want to be limited to 23 days off per year and working 40 hours each week. I have skills as a civil engineer, unfortunately these skills don’t translate immediately into an engineering consulting side hustle due to my contract. That’d be the easiest way to make a high hourly wage.

A day in the life. This day I was in the Control Room.

I know it’s very cliché for a millennial to be hunting for extra ways to make money. Many of my friends find other ways to make money, whether through substitute teaching, teaching summer school, designing websites, or hustling on Fiverr. I’ve found a few easy, zero cost to entry ways to earn extra money:

  • Selling stuff we don’t use on (this is easily how I’ve made the most money, but I feel like I’ve now sold the big ticket items)
  • Shopping online through
  • Taking surveys/watching videos on
  • Dumpster diving (well Mr. Kiwi does the diving, I’m the lookout/driver – I have a post to come on our secrets to dumpster diving success)

    I sold this on Craigslist for $40!
  • Our household utility company sends out surveys/has programs where they will pay you in gift cards to participate. We just signed up for the peak savers credit. In the summer our AC will cycle off during high energy demand days/times. We got a $25 gift card for participating, and we will have access to cheaper energy rates/discounts throughout the year. Seeing as it is July 2, and we haven’t turned on our AC yet, I’d say this is a great deal.
  • Signing up for a new credit card every 6 months or so
  • Picking up all the spare change I see on the sidewalk


I’m looking for a more reliable way to consistently make money as I’m considering taking a sabbatical from the 9-5. I’m hoping to enjoy this gig more than my current day job, and hopefully it will align with one of my passions. When I think about my passions, the engineer in me says that I won’t be able to make a great living following my passions, but let’s see where they can go:

Wouldn’t it be nice to be paid to hike here?
  • Homes, architecture, furniture
  • Crafting
  • Cooking
  • Young kids
  • Helping people (wow, that’s vague) – I guess I like altruism, and I’d love to help people manage their money, learn about FIRE, or at least save some money
  • Travel


One of the many Crafts

I think that I want a creative job, that helps others and works to protect the environment. I also want a job that features flexible hours and allows me to occasionally get outside and be active. And of course I want this career path to not trap me into working for the rest of my life, and for it to allow me to have some sense of financial security in the future. Finally, of course, it should help me achieve early retirement.


My financial goal at this point is to make enough each year to fund my traditional IRA (at of 2017, that number is $5,500). As of now, if I stop working Mr. Kiwi should still be able to fully fund his 401k and 457s, but there wouldn’t be much extra money for the IRAs, much less a taxable savings account. The secret to retiring early is your savings rate. It’s really about controlling spending, not about any fancy investing strategies. So I’m now maxing out my 401k, 457, and IRA.

I took this week off of work to try out and research a few options for the hustle. As of now these are the ideas that at least have a chance of sticking:

This Dog would Love to Host others to Play with
  • Find more stuff to sell on craigslist, there’s always more stuff! Clean the house, make some money.
  • Dog walking/overnight dog sitting on Rover
  • Etsy shop for one of my many crafts
  • YouTube cooking channel
  • Nannying/day care
  • Substitute Teaching
  • Searching for a job
  • Virtual Assistant gigs
  • Grocery shopper through one of those fancy apps
  • Barista
  • Teaching yoga (for the people that don’t fit the traditional yoga mold)
  • Selling our second vehicle that is driven 2-3 times per month at this point

I’m excited to try out a side hustle (or full time hustle) like this. I loved babysitting, working at the local ice cream shop, and getting paid to do random events when I was in middle/high school. Then going off to engineering school, many of these activities were demonized. I mean, who would work at the ice cream shop for $1 over minimum wage, when I could find an internship the paid $19/hour (ha! that’s more than my first “real” job)?

I got caught up in chasing wealth, that I lost sight of what really matters in life. Then I found personal finance sites like Dollar Sprout which helped show me how to make money, save money, and be smart with my money. Now, I’m trying to put the pieces back.


What side hustle do you use to make extra money?

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