My divorce didn’t end in financial bliss. In fact, when the mortgage payment, electric, gas, cable and phone bills came all at once, I would immediately become numb: that is until the panic set in. I remember sitting at my kitchen table staring at the array of bills that had begun to take on a life of their own. I would cast the envelopes including thier contents aside and watch them pile up. (this was pre-online bill payments). My bill tree was growing and slightly resemebled a cherry blossom tree as more and more pink disconnect notices got added to the pile.
One morning, while enjoying a deliciously hot shower, the water suddenly felt like icy shards of glass falling on me. Uh oh! I guess they meant business when they sent that disconnect notice. Cold showers do wonders for reality checks. It was time to dismantle my bill tree and find a way to pay.
I was already teaching full time but that wasn’t cutting it. I did cut back on all the frivolities which were few and far between, but at this point every penny counted. No more trips to get frozen yogurt with all the toppings; we would have the store bought version in the freezer. I even went as far as getting some food at the “99” and was surprised at all the bargains one can find there. (Just always check the dates on the items).
Even though I was making my Grandma Fanny proud (may she rest in peace) I decided that I needed to earn more money. But how? I was already teaching full time and exhausted by the end of the day.
5 Things That Helped:
1. Focus Groups: I searched online for focus groups. I wound up finding at least ten companies that needed moms, kids, teachers, women, people who like the color red, who have a washing machine to do these groups. You name it, there is a focus group for it. I am currently doing a study about liquid detergent. They send me three bottles of detergent plus money for giving my opinion. I feel like I am getting paid to do laundry! Now if they would only send someone to put it away.
2. I Used My Words: And by that I mean be assertive. I found myself asking for help and ignoring the voice that continually said, “Aren’t you embarrassed that they know you need more money?” I asked my boss at the time if there was anything extra I could do to earn more money. I wound up typing the catalogue for the after school programs. Had I never asked, I never would have been offered that opportunity. That led to another job doing the same thing for another schoool.
It wasn’t always easy to earn extra money and I have done some wacky things as well.
3. Head Lice: Ahh, those tenacious creatures that seem to visit every elementary school in California. Well, I joined a lice team and became a lice technician. It was very lucrative but in all honesty, I didn’t stick with it.
4. Host Family: This has proven to be a great income source and wonderful opportunity for my children. There are many students that come to the states for a few weeks or months to study abroad. They like to stay in a home rather than a dorm or student facility. There are plenty of home-stay opportunities for those with an extra bedroom. We have had students stay with us from Japan, Columbia and Rio de Janero. The students ( as well as my family) were screened and interviewed. I must say we keep in touch with all of our “international friends” and sharing our culture with them and vice -versa proved to be an amazing, educational and rewarding experience for myself and my children.
5. Child Care: I made myself available to watch, babysit, tutor other people’s children. Many times, if it was “my night” I would watch children at my house. It was like a playdate for my own children. I spread the word by being assertive and once again “using my words”.
Life by no means became a walk in the park and still, to this day I visit the 99 cents store and pinch pennies. I learned an important lesson through my financial struggle. I learned to quiet the voice that tells you not to ask because of how others might judge you. I learned that the ego can be a dangerous, self defeating voice that needs to be quieted.
I also learned that I am able and capable. Money issues are challenging. Those who say money doesn’t matter must have a lot of it. It matters, it makes life a bit easier.
And I must confess, I have found my way back to the yogurt shop- more sprinkles please!!