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Side Hustle: Back to the Drawing Board


I am so grateful for all the insights and encouragement provided by the BAD Community to my decision to attempt to sell dog food as an on-going side hustle. Based on those comments and my subsequent research, to my chagrin, I decided not to pursue selling homemade dog food.

While the other ideas for making extra money are good, they are not as sustainable in my mind as the dog food idea was. It’s back to the drawing board.

drawing board

(Substitute teaching is definitely still a viable option, but I have not heard anything back from my application.)

Help Me Brainstorm

My ideas have run dry.

Crafts are just not sustainable for me. First because of the time requirement. And second because of the supplies, I will have to restock to make it sustainable. Not to mention, I don’t believe the return on investment is substantial enough to make it worth it.

Soap is kind of the same thing. I cannot compete with the artisans who make scented, colorful soap. And while my friends would loyally purchase from me, it’s just not a sustainable endeavor as a side hustle for me.

Selling Online is going to run dry quickly. Most every “extra” we have now has already been sold or is listed for sale currently.  I know someone mentioned garage sales and thrift stores and then re-selling. Has anyone ever done this? Words of wisdom?

A few other ideas have come to mind:

  • Dog walking, pet sitting: Not sure I could balance this with all my different online client expectations.
  • Running errands for people: grocery shopping, etc. With a steady clientele I could schedule this around my current online clients.

As you can see, I’m dry. Help me. I need a steady side hustle.




  • Reply Den |

    Shipt is a grocery shopping service in our area and I think nationally. People who don’t like to – or physically can’t – grocery shop, order online and then Shipt shoppers go grocery shopping for them and delivery the food right to their door.

    I’ve heard that people love being their shoppers as it’s easy, flexible, and well paying.

    • Reply debtor |

      was literally just coming here to say try shipt. Love the flexibility of no minimum hours and being able to stop when you feel like. your gas costs will go up – but you can write it off tax time.

      • Reply Hope |

        I had checking shipt out on my to do list today. I have applied and completed the online interview.
        The only two cities near me are an hour away, but if I can make a day of it, perhaps it will be worth it.
        Definitely worth checking out.
        Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Reply JayP |

    Being that you don’t have any savings, unfortunately you need to work a regular job for now. If its another city, you have to do it. It seems like you have quite a deficit of funds, how long will this last before things go bad? Hope is not a strategy. If you have the skills you say, you should be able to land a job, maybe not in your town, but somewhere. I don’t think selling household items or working a day or two here or there as a sub is going to produce a dependable income. If you do get another job, you CANT tell them when you are going to work, they tell you, and you do it. This probably sounds harsh. I would find a couple of trusted friends, tell them your finances and details, and also ask for advice. I think you are going to need to hear this from someone close to you before you will listen. You seem like a real caring person who went above and beyond to adopt some needy kids but financially its a mess. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is lunacy.

    On another note, I think they should add some more bloggers. I think the idea of this site was to watch people get out of debt and encourage them while seeing their progress and rooting for them. I haven’t heard much from Ashley on debt paydowns and mostly its become a site about interesting tidbits of saving money here or there, crafts, and personal family stories. I like that, but it would be nice to see some real finances laid out and progress made – I mean its called bloggingawaydebt.

    • Reply Hope |

      I realize being a full time contractor is not what the BAD community would like, but it is what I do.
      And as of this week, I now have contracted out full time hours.

      • Reply Angie |

        You are convinced everyone on this site have a bias against contracting. Not so. We are just offering you other options and trying to bring you down a notch from being so gung-ho about contracting. It has bit you in the butt a bunch of times already and it can’t pay the bills consistently. Even when you did have full-time contracting hours you still weren’t paying the bills! I get that you love to work from home, have flexible hours, writeoff some of your expenses on taxes, and wear sweatpants whenever you want. Sounds perfect. But it’s not fully supporting you. That is why everyone is suggesting other options.

        You’re telling the story that full-time contracting won’t balance your budget by asking for advice on side hustles. You don’t need a side hustle. You need more contracted billable hours and savings. If you insist that’s your bread and butter, and the reason why it didn’t work before was that you had divided goals. Then why are you again trying to split your energy by making pennies selling dog food and soaps?

    • Reply amy |

      the problem with blogging here is that you put in a ton of time and effort to make someone else money

  • Reply Reece |

    I agree with JayP, I think you need to drive to the closest town and get a retail job or something to bring in steady income while you’re working to increase your other customer base. Full or part time, whatever they have. This needs to be your side hustle.

    • Reply Hope |

      Making $10 a hour for random hours would actually be counter productive.
      As of this week, I have contracted out full time hours. So a sporadically scheduled part time job is not feasible.
      I have clients on both the east and west coast, so my time frame for availability runs throughout the day.

      • Reply drmaddog2020 |

        full time would be fine, if you weren’t in a hole. And $10 per hour isn’t counter productive because its $10 more than the $0 you would have gotten by doing nothing.

    • Reply Laura |

      I think you need a regular job for the benefits too. Health insurance will be incredibly expensive when you have to start paying for it again.

      • Reply Hope |

        I appreciate the feedback, but I really must stay the course. I believe my divided goals has been the primary cause for my failed job searches the last few years. Focusing on my job type is already paying off.

  • Reply margann34 |

    Have You considered baking? My mother in law was baking and selling at the farmer’s market. Regulations are not as strict for baked goods.

    • Reply Hope |

      To be honest, I am not much of a baker (unless it’s out of a tube or box.) And the competition is fierce. The dog food idea was so ideal because of the lack of local competition and it’s not so different from cooking for my kids.

  • Reply Jax |

    Have you tried mystery shopping? It’s good because you can accept shops that fit your schedule. You can often find shops for the things you’re already buying (like groceries!) It won’t make you rich and it won’t take the place of a “real” job, but it can help earn you some extra money (for example, this week I ordered a bed frame. It will be assembled in my extra bed room and then a week later I will return it. The company will cover any of the cost that isn’t refunded, in addition to $400 writing out the report. Most shops AREN’T like this, but man! What a gig!)

    Trendsource is a good company for grocery stores.

    You might find that you will get bonus on shops because of the small town you live in-people often don’t want to travel to the smaller towns to do the shops so they have to price them higher to get them shopped.

    Feel free to email me/contact me if you want more advice or information about mystery shopping!

    • Reply Hope |

      Great idea, Jax! I did mystery shop some when the kids were little. I had forgotten all about it. I know I used to get free oil changes out of it, and once I got a weekend stay at a beachfront hotel. Any companies you recommend?
      I will check out Trendsource as I definitely am a regular at grocery stores.

  • Reply JP |

    You ask for ideas, people give them and then you have one excuse after the other when it’s something you don’t want to do (get a real part time job). Can you even begin to understand how frustrating this is? I also miss the days of bloggers who actually want to make changes and be out of debt. We no longer see any real posts about finances

    • Reply Hope |

      It’s not an excuse. It’s the reality of doing contract work. I have clients on the east and west coast. I must be available from early in the morning until 8pm at night on most days.
      When I first brought up the idea of a side hustle, it was in conjunction with making more money to get out of debt more quickly. I also specified: I am specifically looking for opportunities that cost no money, use things already have on hand, are not tied to my consulting business and are not labor intensive.
      Because of the enormous amount of time it takes to build a business, taking on a part time job at minimum wage or $10 per hour would be counterproductive. It’s not an excuse, it’s math. It’s something I’ve learned here from the BAD community.

  • Reply Ashley |

    What about posting items for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers? I thought at one point you were teaching a homeschool co op elective class (or maybe I’m remembering wrong?). If you made original content for that, I’d post it to sell. Other home school parents might be interested. The only real start up cost would be tome.

    • Reply Hope |

      This is a great idea. I think I’ve heard of this before but not recently.
      I have tons of school curriculum and compilations. I will check it out.

  • Reply Jan |

    You could try Upwork. A few years ago I used to do work there writing articles, doing article rewrites, data entry etc to make ends meet. The pay can be low to start but it can develop into regular, good work once you get a good reputation. It got us out of a tough spot when we needed it. I agree with the teachers for teachers idea too, creating resources once & being able to sell them over and over is another good option.

    • Reply Hope |

      I will have to check out teachers for teachers.
      I’ve been applying with Upwork as part of building my consulting business and have landed my first client from that platform this week!
      Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Reply Anonymous |

    Side hustles are fine providing you have a regular full time job that you are able to live on and pay all of the bills. Until that point, side hustles are a waste of time. Focus on getting the best full time job that you can with full benefits. That will give you the best return on your investment right now. I can appreciate you wanting to work and I can appreciate you wanting to be in business for yourself however the bottom line is you have to get a full time job that pays the bills. All of your energy should be put on that. Good luck. We are rooting for you.

    • Reply Hope |

      My contracting is now paying the bills.
      The idea for the side hustle is to make more money is my now freer time (since gymnastics is no more) to get out of debt more quickly.
      Because the side hustle is secondary to my primary income, it must be more flexible and less time consuming. And maybe give me a break from computer work.

  • Reply Drmaddog |

    Hope, you were offered a part time with a newspaper. What happened with that? That was steady income that would help feed your kids.

    • Reply Hope |

      A newspaper?
      I did get a a contracted position for 20 hours a week an hour from my house, paying $17 per hour. It was for an Etsy shop owner.
      After 4 weeks of working for him, he refused to pay me. When I told him I would report him, he said “if you tell anyone I will come to your house and kick you a**” I ran out of there and reported it to the police.
      He called me the next day to ask for work help. But I never went back. He did end up mailing my last check. And I let the matter drop, after getting a PO Box so I didn’t have to put my home address on invoices anymore.
      I’m not sure if that’s the one you were referring too, but that’s what happened to that one.

      • Reply drmaddog |

        I don’t know if that was it or not. IT was a job that was an hour away an you were concerned about the drive.

        But yeah, this guy is insane.

      • Reply Reece |

        In your April 3 post you specifically state you interviewed for a position at a localish newspaper and that they called and offered you a job.

        • Reply Hope |

          It actually says “job in the local newspaper” – it was a job advertised in the local newspaper, not with the newspaper. And yes, that was the one with the Etsy store owner. Thanks for finding that, I was at a loss.

          • Reece |

            Ohhhh I see. It does say “in” the newspaper as an office manager and not “at” the newspaper. At the time I read it as you were working *at* the newspaper. At least I wasn’t the only one!

  • Reply Anon |

    I get so much anxiety when I read your posts. Is it simply that you cannot stand having a boss or being held accountable on someone else’s schedule? I believe there are people who chafe against authority and cannot hold down a job because of that. I just don’t see any other way forward when you have four children, no savings, no health insurance. To me, being an entrepreneur is a privilege that is not for ppl like us, with dependents/no inherited wealth/no fall backs. I wish you would reconsider.

    • Reply Hope |

      As someone who has been an entrepreneur for 12 years since, I do not see it as a privilege. I think anyone who puts their mind to it can do it.
      And I am once again proving that.
      I’m sorry my life makes you anxious. It’s definitely not a ride everyone is cut out for, but then again, if we were all the same, the world would be pretty boring.

  • Reply Melissa |

    Hope I think we are just tired of the 1/2 truths and nonsense. How could you possibly have not done any research into Dog Food before you blogged???

    • Reply Hope |

      To be honest, I just didn’t think the government would require so many fees for a “out of my kitchen” small business. I think it’s just insane that our government has so many regulations on these type of mom and pop setups.
      As it truly was to be a side hustle, not something I would turn into a full time job. Just something to expedite paying off debt now that I have almost 30 hours back since gymnastics is over. I guess, I just didn’t think, which is what you are accusing me of, I guess.

  • Reply TK |

    I think it’s time to add a new blogger to this site. Hope, you’re a lost cause. Stop asking for advice just to shut it down with a million excuses. You are just beyond frustrating with all the excuses. You will never be out of debt, period. Half truths, half-budgets, excuses, I don’t understand.

    This has nothing to do with people being against working for yourself, I’m a huge supporter of it, when it works. The problem is that you have proven that it is NOT a reliable source of income for you. Clients come and go. You need a stable job that offers benefits. What is so difficult about that? You’re not homeschooling anymore, you don’t need to be home 24/7. Taking on even a part-time job on the weekends would be a decent “side hustle”.

    Site admins – can we please get some new writers here? The entire point is getting out of debt. That isn’t happening here.

  • Reply Anon |

    I don’t want to argue, but I don’t understand how you are proving that you are making it work as an entrepreneur. You have no savings or health insurance, and you’ve been nearly homeless in the recent past. I understand that all people are not the same and that’s a good thing, but how would anyone NOT have anxiety living like that?

So, what do you think ?