Earning Extra Money

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I'm 10 years into my downshifting experience and am just about settling my head down to what it is and how to get by. I've done some very good thing's and I've slipped up in many.

Achieving 'a roof over my head and food in my belly' has become an
art of being on the button, looking for new ways, new idea's and a purpectual change to the current situation. I went into this with no trade and no firm commitment of 'profession'.

I brought a van, lot's of gardening equipment, loads of packets of seeds and an assortment of tools. So, if you're reading this with idea's of making loads of money - read no further !!! Although saying that, I reckon I could, if you catch my drift.

One week after I left my management job on the railway, the Landlord  of the local pub asked me to cut the grass in his garden (about a third of an acre). This led into 'I know a bloke who lives down the lane' who could do that.
Before I knew it, I was quite busy with general gardening work.

Next came a large 17th. century 24 room house which needed complete re-decoration and the garden done. Being a weekend house, there was to be no rush and indeed I'm still working there about 10 - 30 hours a week 4years on, albeit nowadays when I can. 

In 2002, the gardening side was taking it's toll a little, heavy work, weather permitting and coming home to doing my own !
I decided to get a part time job during the summer and just do the big house, the pub garden and one other customer close by. I sold the van and got a car.
By 'an act of God', I got a most ideal job for me; Dressing Room Attendant for Kent County Cricket Club. Match days and a bit more only, long hours but a chance to work with, eat with and chat with some of my hero's past and present. It was about the best summer of my life (and I've been asked back this season !).

What I had been doing, maybe wrong, was I had found 'the hole in the market' for odd gardening jobs. Most contractors and building / decorating people only want two weeks work, not two hours here and there.
I had loads of work, but was out the house for 12 hours to earn 8 hours pay. The 4 hours being spent loading the van, clearing the rubbish and driving around. OK if you're a highly paid commuter, but not if you're basically odd jobbing.
If you can afford to do that, great and so be it. But with a small pension and bills to pay, I was struggling with a capital 'S'.

So nowadays my sources of income are  as follows; Kent Cricket employee, decorating, grass cutting, Mystery Shopping, selling Garden produce, buying and selling small stuff (ebay), a little bit from the web site (commission on books etc) and anything else that comes
along. See the new Ideas for Extra Income page.

The combination of this with frugal living. It sounds a lot, but isn't really. I'm bringing in about half of what I was earning in 2001, but I see more of the family, feel more relaxed, can do my own thing more and certainly never get bored.It does scare me though should I win the lottery. Dread to think my outlook on life then !

Tips, thoughts and dangers

Maybe you have a master plan, you have an 'unreleased skill' and a business plan. That's great and I wish you well. But if you're like me, who just wants to get out of the formalities and business environment for a perhaps more laid back approach and still pay the bills, here are a few thing's to think about;

Even I surprise myself at things I never thought I could do!

What do I need financially to pay the bills , eat and have an occasional social evening and pay the Tax man? How will this affect my partner and family ? What are my overheads (insurance, expenses etc) ? What if I'm ill ? Am I living in the right environment to carry out 'my business ? What have I got to give up ? How can I save on what I like doing - can I still do it ? Who are my customers and where are they ? If it all goes upside down - what do I do ? If I've got a job that's going to take a month and invoice at the end of it - can I live that month without any pay ? When are they going to pay me ?

Sounds a bit simple, but if you're living virtually day by day and don't have a few grand in the bank, these are the thing's which give you a quick overdraft and bank charges. I know, got the tee-shirt !!
I had a few bad experiences with late payment, bounced cheques, so selection of customer is quite an important issue.

Also to make it clear that you are not a as such. My customers now know who I am and what my needs are and we have good working relationships. I have 4 sets of house-keys and use of the kettle - nice, I like that.

I could earn more money, a lot more, but you're going into the world of business, more hours, getting tied down and stress - you've gone into it to escape that !


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My first venture. One van and a load of gardening tools. Worked well, but wore me out !!
Lesson 1. Don't think too short term.




A tall story.......

Now, if I could breed them this big !