April Life Update – I Got My Braces Off

I Got My Braces Off!

Something to smile about - I finally got my braces off

Image by Sias van Schalkwyk

Not too many people know this, but one of the reasons we’ve remained stateside, and spent so much time in South Florida is because I’ve been wearing Chinese torture devices braces on my teeth.  It’s a funny story because 3 years ago, Chris was helping to deliver a boat from the Bahamas to Norfolk. While he was gone, I went to get a consultation for braces. I had toyed with the idea of getting them for awhile but kept putting it off because I didn’t want the hassle, the expense, and even because I was afraid I would be more self conscious with them. Let’s face it – vanity can be a nasty thing.

Well, the orthodontist said I was a perfect candidate for braces and said, “We can even put them on today if you want!”. So me, being a sucker spontaneous and all , paid a hefty deposit and an hour later had a mouthful of wires and brackets and an oh-shit-what-did-I-just-do look on my face.  Keep in mind that Chris was a hundred miles offshore and had no idea that when he got home, he would not be greeted by his smiling girlfriend, but instead by Brace-Face. When he did see me, he loved them and told me how beautiful I was. Which is why he’s a keeper. However, I was pretty disappointed because I thought having braces would make me look younger and that for sure I would get carded when buying alcohol… no such luck. Dammit.

Fast forward a year and we decided to move onto our boat. Finding another orthodontist, especially one while we were traveling, proved to be difficult, but I did find the amazing Dr. Brilliant in Miami. Isn’t that just an awesome name for someone who works on your smile? Well, as my luck would have it, I ended up having to wear my braces for a lot longer than my original ortho had anticipated. When we went up to the Chesapeake last year, guess who had to fly to Miami for orthodontist appointments? This girl. How’s that for high falutin! Well, the other day, April 1st, I went in for what I thought would be a regular appointment, and to my amazement, she said we were finally done, and took those awful things off right then and there!  I was texting Chris from the chair to tell him the great news and he thought I was playing an April Fools joke on him. I honestly thought I might do cartwheels in their lobby. Anyway, I can now say that the long, torturous and expensive 3 years was worth it. I’m totally stoked with my new smile, not to mention the fact that I’m no longer paying hundreds of dollars a month for these things. It’s definitely not very cost prohibitive to switch orthodontists mid-treatment – overall, I paid well over $6k for these babies. Oh the things we could do on the boat for six grand!

Now that I’ve got an extra $200+ a  month that I’m not spending on my braces, I want to put the money towards something else… maybe set it aside for new rigging? Put it in savings? More wine? Who knows… I’m just glad to have it, but in the end, every penny spent was worth it. And I can eat beef jerky again. Whew. Sometimes it’s the little things you miss the most.

Have you ever had braces? Any other people out there who waited until they were adults to get them? What would you do with an extra couple hundred a month? Would you save it? Invest it? Put it towards a boat project? Leave a comment and let me know!

Side Income Summary – March – Spring Has Sprung

Side income summary - March 2014 - $330 in extra incomeI can’t believe it’s already April! The time is flying faster than ever, and it seems like there’s still so much to do on the boat before we head up to spend the summer on the Chesapeake. I’m sure for those of you that have been in colder climates would say that this winter has totally creeped along, but never fear, Spring is finally here and I hope you’re enjoying the warmer weather that you deserve after such a harsh season.

March was really slow for side income, but I was still crazy busy. I was working non-stop overtime at my day job (I work for a promotional marketing company and am able to work from the boat which is awesome), plus we had two very dear friends fly down to hang out with us for a weekend. We went sailing and just had a wonderful time hanging out. Don’t you love those kind of nights with good friends, where you get drunk on wine and stay up late philosophizing on life and dreams? Those are special nights.

My First Guest Post

March was a busy and exciting month on other fronts, too. I had my first guest post on a blog – which would be exciting in itself, since it means someone liked my writing enough to trust me to write a post for their audience –  but even way cooler was that I was guest posting on one of my very favorite financial blogs, Budgets Are Sexy! J. Money is a guy with a mohawk who writes a fun and light-hearted, informative blog aimed at a younger audience, and he’s been seen in the L.A. Times, Time Magazine, Kiplinger, and more. Even cooler, he’s such a nice guy. My “Dirty Old Man” blog post was the inspiration behind the guest post, in which I talked about being a virtual assistant. It’s chock full of useful info on the pros and cons of doing virtual assistant work as a side hustle. You can check it out here.

March Madness

After such a killer month for side income in February, I was totally stoked for March because the higher number from February’s side income gave me a good goal for March. I gotta admit though, after all that side-hustle work in February, on top of a full-time job that had me working overtime almost every day, I was exhausted. I just didn’t have the fire or energy in me to actively seek side hustle work in March and the numbers definitely show. It’s a little disappointing, but this month, I’m vowing to put in less overtime at my full-time job so I can spend more time doing what I love, and I will continue to set new, higher goals!

SIDE INCOME IN MARCH:  $330.94

Miscellaneous Sales / Commissions: $238.14
Virtual Assistant Work: $0
Affiliate Income: $92.80

TOTAL: $330.94

That totally blows compared to last month, but it is what it is, I suppose. April is already looking to be much better. Ever since my guest-post came out, I’ve been contacted by several people inquiring about me doing all sorts of things, from building a website, to a blog re-design, and even some podcast transcription and writing! In addition, I landed an ongoing side gig as a ghost writer for a company blog.  If anyone wants to hire me for any virtual assistant or writing work, just contact me!

Oh, and some of you may have noticed that I am in the process of updating the design of this blog. It’s a work in progress, but somehow when changing themes, I deleted a plugin which apparently contained my subscriber list? I’m hoping they are saved somewhere and that you’ll still get these posts via email, but just in case, you can always re-subscribe.

Do you have any interesting side income jobs you’ve done? Any topics you’d like to see? Share them in the comments!

How I Found Out I Was Homeless (and it was news to me)

post-office-box-homelessWhen we decided to sell all our worldly possessions to do something crazy like move onto a boat to go cruising, I prepared myself as much as possible for all the things I knew would change.  Smaller spaces… no problem. One pot meals… got my The Boat Galley Cookbook right here! You get the idea.

Then there were things that I had to experience first-hand in order to really understand just how much my world was changing. I learned what it really meant to conserve water after I used 45 gallons in 3 days because I was washing dishes “the old way”. I learned just how lucky I was in my former life, when all I had to do was push a little chrome lever to make my poop disappear instantly into the abyss that was the city sewer system, never to be dealt with again. And I learned firsthand that the U.S. Post Office discriminates against homeless people… including me.

Oh… you didn’t know I was homeless?  Huh. Neither did I.

You see, at the time, we had been cruising for about 6 months when we pulled into Fort Lauderdale, which would be our haven for the winter. Chris had some freelance work there and we were excited to be somewhere warm for the winter, not to mention I had never been to South Florida before. The beaches were stunning, we found a great dock with a million dollar view, and we made some awesome friends shortly after our arrival here. Life was fantastic.

One of the things that had been difficult was getting our mail. We had a Post Office box back in Nashville where we had moved from, and every few weeks, one of my dear friends would check it for us and send our mail to whatever marina we were at during those first several months. However, I hated asking her to drive out of her way to check our mail, and I really wanted to find a better solution. Because I knew we would be in Fort Lauderdale for several months, I decided to rent a PO Box locally so that I could get mail sent there without putting anybody out.

Not So Fast

I drove down to the closest Post Office branch – it was December and there was a pretty long line of holiday gift-givers, so I went to a wall where they had an array of forms available and picked out the one to fill out to apply for a PO Box.  I got out my pen and filled out the form and hummed Christmas tunes as I waited in line for my turn.  (Ok, I lie. I didn’t hum Christmas tunes while standing in line… I played Candy Crush on my phone.)

After about 20 minutes, I reached the front of the line and told the very jovial, older woman behind the counter what I was there for.  She smiled and said, “Alright, honey – let me see your paperwork and we’ll get you all taken care of!”  I handed her my form and she said, “Oh, you forgot to fill out your address – we just need your local address.”  I explained to her that I was in town temporarily and didn’t really have a local address and could I use my Nashville PO Box in the address spot? She explained very kindly that it needed to be an actual street address, “so you can just put the address of the place you’re staying… friend’s house, hotel, whatever, as long as it’s local.”  I didn’t know the address of the place we were docked at off-hand, so I said, “Well, I’m here on my boat. I live on my boat – I don’t have an address.”  To which she laughed, rather heartily, and exclaimed, “Oh honey! According to the United States Post Office, you are homeless!” And she then explained that she couldn’t rent me a PO Box without an address.

Now, if I were smart, I would have just made up a damn address and gotten my PO Box, but I’m not able to think on my feet that quickly, and I’m too damn honest for my own good sometimes. So don’t ever ask me if your jeans make your ass look big, because I might accidentally on purpose say yes.

So here we have the US Post Office – who lost a record $16 Billion in 2012 – refusing my money because to them, I was homeless. How does that make sense?

Shortly after that, we discovered a mail service called St. Brendan’s Isle, based just outside of Jacksonville, FL. They cater to cruisers, RVers and people who live a mobile lifestyle, and  they even have an optional service in which they’ll scan your mail so you can view your mail online.  They’ll ship your mail as often as you want, anywhere you are. The best thing about it is that you can use it as your permanent mailing address, meaning you can establish residency in Florida, which would allow you to get a driver’s license, register to vote, renew your Coast Guard documentation, and yes, even get a Post Office box.

But I won’t be doing that anytime soon ever.  

Side Income Series – The Story of the Dirty Old Man

The Story of the Dirty Old ManA decent portion of my side income is from virtual assistant work. This can be many things, but basically someone hires me for a task that, while not always glamorous, allows me to make extra money, wherever I am, using just my laptop. I’ve done several things, from acquiring sales leads for a fashion-based business, to installing WordPress and building a series of one-page websites for another client, to typing someone’s X-rated novel.

Yep. I went there.

50 Shades of Grey (Hair, That Is)

You see, it all started with Craigslist.   (I bet lots of interesting stories begin like that.)

I responded to an ad in the computer gigs section from a guy who needed someone to type his novel. His ad explained that he was not tech-savvy so he hand writes everything and needed someone to type it up in a word document, and upon completion, he’d pay extra to format for e-book. I figured it sounded easy enough. I gave him a quote and he gave me the gig.  Before I started, I asked him to send over a writing sample so I could make sure I was able to read his handwriting. His handwriting was easy to read so we agreed upon the price and turnaround time. At this point he mentioned that his book was an erotic novel.

Ok, so I read 50 Shades – so what? I mean we’re all adults here. He sent the pages and I cashed the check.  The funny thing is, he included a business card in the package, and it had his photo as well as a website for his sculptures. He looked like a friendly fella. He also looked like he was pushing 70.

I giggled because I didn’t expect this man who looked like he could be my Grampa to be writing erotic fiction. A dirty old man indeed.

Good for him, I thought!

Then I started typing… and let’s just say that the kink was in full effect. But that didn’t bother me. What bothered me was the fact that the book was poorly written. I mean, it was terrible! It had inconsistencies, and things that just weren’t right. Names didn’t match up, and for someone who is totally Type A, well, this was a major problem.

Keep in mind I was getting paid only to type. I would not be doing any editing. However, once I began, the OCD in me wanted to correct things. But how do you call Gramps and say, “No way could she take off her underwear because earlier you said she wasn’t wearing any!”

I emailed him and asked politely if he would be willing to pay extra for me to take the liberty of doing some basic editing, and he said, “No. That’s why I don’t let my wife type these for me, because she goes around and changes stuff.” Smart woman.

So there I am, typing bad porn… and after finishing the 8 chapters he sent, I just couldn’t do it anymore. Not only was it just bad, I had underestimated the time it would take per page, and after doing the math, I was only making about $10/hr. Sorry, I’m a hustler, but my time is more valuable than that, so I sent him his book and turned down more work from him.

I felt kind of bad because he said he had already gone through 2 people who hadn’t worked out, but honestly, if you want someone to do your dirty work, ya gotta be willing to pay for it. And get an editor, for cryin’ out loud! But I still gotta give it to the old guy. Bad writing or not, his mind was still young, that’s for sure!

What’s the weirdest or most embarrassing job you’ve done?  Leave it in the comments! If you have anything really good, I may ask you to guest post!

Side Income Summary – February 2014. I’m A Hustler, Baby!

vegas hooker on valentine's dayI am pretty excited about this side income summary because February ended up being my best month yet for side hustles!  It came at a price though, because I stayed busier than a Vegas hooker on Valentine’s Day*. So here’s a little bit about last month.

My Honey Wrote A Book!

Yep. It’s kind of a funny story, because January rolled around and because he does freelance work for an ad agency, he sometimes goes for stretches where he doesn’t get work (although when he’s not working, he’s constantly working on the boat or other projects). He tries to stay out of my hair during the day since I work from the boat, and I was trying to encourage him to go to the local library and write… you know, maybe a blog post or something.

One day he comes back and asks me to read the book he’s written… screeeeeeeech… what the wha? So like any good girlfriend would, I read it. And I loved it. It’s a story of how we came to the decision, in a terrible economy, to quit our jobs and fulfill our dream of moving onto a boat, because we were merely complacent with the life we were living. Something needed to change. Although it does talk about sailing (after all, how can you write a book about living on a sailboat and not talk about sailing), the book is essentially a testament to the fact that it is possible to make a change in your life if you’re unhappy… to live your dream, whatever it may be.

Once we launched the book, OH. MY.  I cannot tell you how amazing the sailing community is. They supported us like we never expected. We hit the #1 Best Seller in the Sailing category on Amazon the day after we released the book.  Now, the sailing genre is a small(ish) niche so it’s not like we’ve sold thousands of books in a month, but the response has been wonderful, and we have some things on the horizon that we’re excited about. This book was meant to encourage and inspire, and we’ve gotten emails from people around the world that tell us that this book has done that, and there is nothing that makes us happier than hearing that.

That being said, I won’t be publishing the book numbers or income from the book on here.  There are several reasons for not wanting to do this, and I hope you understand. But we’re really proud and excited for how well it’s doing. One thing I’ve learned is that when you launch something like a book, promoting it is a LOT. OF. WORK. It can be pretty daunting. You want the message to get out there so that people know it’s there, but without being annoying. It was really hard to really push it because self-promoting is uncomfortable sometimes, but I have a friend who is a very successful jewelry designer and she once told me, if you make something that you believe in, don’t be ashamed to tell people about it. And she’s right! So there ya go. If you want to buy the book, you can get it here.

Secondly, I want some of you to realize that this is another way that you can earn a side income, or even a living. We know of several self-published authors out there who bring in extra money by writing and self-publishing books. It’s hard work, and the Field of Dreams rule does not apply here. If you build it, they will not come. You have to work really really hard to bring them in, but it can be done. We are proof of that. So if you haven’t read the book and you’d like to check it out, you can get it here: You Gotta Go To Know.

SO WHERE’S THE MONEY TALK?

Ok, ok – so I’m really excited because even without the book sales, it’s still my highest side income month yet, so without further ado, here are the numbers. These numbers reflect side income only and do not count the salary from my full-time job, and this is also the amount before I take out PayPal fees, taxes, or other expenses.

SIDE INCOME IN FEBRUARY:

Maggie & Milly (my online jewelry shop): $387.00
Virtual Assistant Work: $550.00
Affiliate Income: $61.12
Adsense: $3.45

TOTAL: $1001.57

That’s over triple the amount of January’s side income! I’m very pleased with this number. I don’t think I slept much in February, between promoting the book, making jewelry, building websites and doing a little website consulting, typing part of an e-book for a customer, on top of a 40+ hour full-time job, but it’s nice to know that cutting the proverbial employment umbilical cord one day is doable. Truth be told, if I didn’t have my full-time job, I might be able to make more money because I’d have so much more time to dedicate to the above things, but I’m not quite ready just yet.

So we’ll see how March goes – I’m pretty competitive, so I always want to beat myself at my own game, but this one might be tough. However, I did have a talk with my boss at work about my workload and they are redistributing some things (I was putting in a LOT of overtime), so this month I’ll have more me-time to dedicate to side hustles and enjoying life. If anyone wants to hire me for any virtual assistant work, just contact me!

Got some tips or side income ideas? Any topics you’d like to see? Share them in the comments!  Peace out, y’all!

TOPICS IN THE WORKS:

Eating Healthy on a Budget
Blogging Tips
Why I Told Someone To Stop Paying Me

*I don’t really know how busy a Vegas hooker is on Valentine’s Day. I just figure she’s probably pretty busy? Who knows. Maybe New Year’s is busier. Hmmm… can anyone out there shed some light on this?