When we started planning this crazy trip, we knew we'd have to really buckle down and save some cash. In the beginning, that meant going out to eat less and trying to remember to turn off the air conditioning when we left the house.
But as we got closer and closer to our leave date, we realized it would take more than just reducing our expenses to hit our goal of saving $75,000. So we decided to kick it up a notch and make money however we could (without obviously compromising our morals or like... stealing).
Here are the top 6 weirdest ways we did that:
1. I sold a dresser I found in our alley.
Oh yes. On a nice Summer morning, I was walking Lily through our back alley when I spotted a beautiful, yet discarded dresser. It was missing a few pulls but otherwise seemed to be in good shape, and I knew from the bright teal color it had been painted that it would probably be appealing to someone who liked "vintagey" things and maybe had a top bun. So I went inside and asked Nate if he wanted to go shopping with me in the alley. He wasn't as excited as I was, but agreed to help me haul it into the center of our living room, where I remarked, "Holy shit, it's huge." Nevertheless, I was dedicated to my mission. I snapped a few photos, uploaded them to Craigslist and priced it at $35. Within a day, I had four emails. The following night, a lovely, young 20-something came by the apartment to take a look and proceeded to ask me 1,000 questions about where I got it and what about the pulls and did I paint it the nice teal color. I fudged and said it was "a hand-me-down from a friend" and that it came pre-painted. I did not mention that I also pulled it from the back alley not 24 hours before. She paid cash and hauled it away.
2. Nate did a voice over ad for Alka Seltzer Fruit Chews.
I will forever be indebted to this random product that I've never tried. In addition to doing corporate presenting and team building work, Nate works as a voice over actor. Most of the time that means recording auditions from home and booking a few regional radio or TV commercials. But back in 2014, Nate landed a national TV spot for Alka Seltzer. He recorded the tag line at the end of the spot. His exact words were, "Alka Seltzer Fruit Chews. Enjoy the relief." We got royalty checks for MONTHS. All told, I think he made close to $30,000 on that one commercial.
3. We did a professional photoshoot with our dog.
This little endeavor got us $400 and a great story. It was so weird and random that I wrote it up in its own post here.
4. We babysat dogs for strangers.
This one's related to the dog photoshoot. I was in a bar one night chatting with a friend of a friend about how weirdly obsessed we are about our dogs when she mentioned a website I'd never heard of- Dogvacay.com. I immediately went home and researched it only to find that it's basically airbnb for dogs. You can create a little profile and upload pictures and then set a price at which you'll watch someone else's dog for a night. We set ours at $35/night and immediately started getting requests from young, childless millennials. Most of the dogs were great!
5. We hosted strangers in our guest bedroom.
Technically we live in a two-bedroom apartment, but we've always used the second bedroom for Nate's office since he works from home. As we got closer to leaving, though, we started to think about how much additional income we could bring in by listing the room on airbnb.com. We spoke with a couple of friends that use the site and have had good experiences with guests. Like dogvacay, we created a profile, set a price and took some nice photos of our apartment. We found a bed for sale on Craigslist, and the listing looked like it was in our neighborhood (which was great because we didn't want to spend more money renting a truck to haul it). I messaged the person listing the bed, and it turned out to be our upstairs neighbor, Johnny! Such a small world. We bought the bed and some new bedding and fixed up the room. Pretty immediately after posting it online, we got a bunch of requests and have bookings pretty solidly through the Fall.
Here's a bit more on what it was like to be airbnb hosts.
6. I taught people how to make pasta from scratch.
In addition to my day job, I also run a company called tipsycooks. The basic premise is I bring ingredients and cooking tools over to people's homes and teach them how to cook. My primary class is a Fresh Pasta Workshop, and I do a lot of bachelorette parties and girls' nights. It's been a great way to earn extra income and have fun at the same time!