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Finding Odd Jobs…


A reader asked how my husband and I find odd jobs.

First, and most important, we rarely do work for people we, or someone close to us, doesn’t know. I do not trust Craigslist for anything other than used doggie kennels and throw rugs. My husband mainly does work for friends and family – someone always needs a sink fixed or a toilet repaired. Let people around you know you’re willing to help.

I do accounting work for the company I worked for a few years ago. They are often short staffed and need an extra hand. I let them know I’m always available. It makes it easy when they already have my tax reporting information and I don’t have to keep records.

Second, if we do work for someone we don’t know, we keep it under $100. My husband is sometimes approached by fellow customers in home repair stores. There’s something about him that radiates honesty and good heartedness – maybe it’s because he is. If the job is too large, he refers them to a reputable company. It’s not worth the risk of not getting paid.

Third, be good at what you do, stay on top of trends in your industry, and be honest. My husband is extremely talented and is always reading construction magazines. He is never dishonest and will likely throw in work for free. Ninety percent of his work is from referrals. Happy people will tell their friends about you.

Fourth, pay close attention to the laws about certain types of work. California is stringent on almost everything. Working here without some sort of licensing is illegal for many trades. For example, construction work is limited to $500 (including material) if you do not have a contractor’s license. It’s also important to report all income when tax time rolls around. Nothing is worth the risk or penalties of an IRS audit. Also, if you are on unemployment, money from side work MUST be reported and will likely result in a reduction of benefits.

Fifth, don’t expect to make a ton of money. Usually, we make just enough for groceries or to cover what we’re short on an electric bill. It takes a lot of time and the money is little.

Again, I’m no expert. Before doing any type of side work, check with your local government authority and your tax advisor.


  • Reply Kate |

    Do you have a degree? I tutor 3 hours a night, 4 nights a week for $30/hour. (In addition to my full time job.)

    I do jr high and high school math, but tutors are needed for every subject.

    I asked around to get my first few students and then offered a discount if they brought a friend and/or referred me. I now have more students than time and contract it out to other tutors.

    ON average, in addition to my full-time job, I make about $700/mo tutoring. I don’t have a life, but I’m 11 months away from being consumer debt free. 🙂 (I’ll still have student loans.)

  • Reply sandra jensen |

    Wow, Beks, I wish you were here in So. Dakota. Lowe’s wants $160 to install a $300 dishwasher. What’s wrong with that picture? I may cruise the hardware store and look for someone who “radiates honesty and good heartedness”.

    Gotta tell you – when I check my email, I read your posts FIRST! You always make me laugh and give me good ideas.

  • Reply My Frugal Miser |

    Have you thought about donating plasma? I hope I haven’t sunk to a new low, but I did this for the first time today. Back when I was employed I balked at the $30 payment. Not now.

  • Reply Nicole |

    That’s awesome that your hubby is a hard-working, honest guy. There aren’t many of those around anymore but I’m grateful I got one too : ) Glad you’re able to find side work!

  • Reply Kate |

    I also donated my eggs for $7k a few months ago. I didn’t need the money, and did it for altruistic reasons, but the money definitely didn’t hurt. 😉

    Email me if you want more info. It was nearly painless and I had ZERO side effects. I was shopping about an hour after my retrieval, and giving myself shots (which I was SUPER paranoid about) is a piece of cake now. My doc lets me do my own injections now. 🙂

  • Reply Beks |

    Kate – I do! I didn’t even think of that option. I’m a school nerd, that’s a fabulous idea!

    Sandra – I wish we were local. I’d make him put it in for free! Thanks for being so sweet!

    Mr Frugal – Hadn’t thought of it but it’s a good idea. Unfortunately I struggle with severe anemia and I haven’t been able to donate.

    Scheng1 – So true!

    Kate – It’s a good idea but we’re looking to have our own kids soon.

  • Reply Kyle Taylor |

    I don’t blame you for your hesitance with regards to Craigslist, but I have to let you know that I have found it to be a great place to make some extra money. I have found a few jobs under the gigs section like wrapping presents around Christmas or flyering for a local pizza company. Easy work and I’ve always been paid.

So, what do you think ?