Sense & Centsibility Blog
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Increase Your Income to Balance Your Budget

Managing your household’s finances during this pandemic is difficult, especially if you’ve lost income because of a layoff, furlough or reduced hours. Fortunately, there are ways to increase your income to help balance your budget, even during uncertain economic times.

Get a Part-Time Job/Side Hustle/Gig

  • Traditionally, people who are strapped for cash pick up a part-time job. In a struggling economy, that can be more difficult, but some companies and organizations are hiring during the pandemic, particularly those that perform tasks considered “essential.”
  • Taking a part-time job outside the home does carry its own risks. You’ll have to weigh the benefit of adding to your income with the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. Child care and other caregiving responsibilities create challenges, too, especially if you are a single parent.
  • To reduce the risk to your health, check into opportunities that allow you to work from home. If you have creative skills, you can design and sell products online ranging from stickers to stock photos and make recurring, or “passive” income from the same product over time. Before signing up for anything, be sure it’s legitimate by looking at Better Business Bureau and other reviews. Check out the FTC website for information on how to spot work from home scams.
  • If flexibility is important, look into the “gig economy.” For instance, driving jobs with Lyft, Uber or delivery services allow you to work as much or as little as you want while providing greater control over your schedule.

Rent out space in your home

  • If you own a home and have a spare bedroom, this is a possibility. If you rent out your bedroom, be sure it’s someone you trust to pay the monthly rent, be in your home and who will be careful about protecting themselves and you from COVID-19.
  • Have extra room in your garage? Rent that to someone who needs storage space.
  • If you live in a condo, townhome or a similar type of community, always check with your association to make sure any room or space rentals are within its rules.

Make paycheck adjustments

  • If you receive a tax refund each year, consider increasing the number of exemptions you claim on your W-4 form at work. Even though you will see a reduced refund, it should increase your take-home pay. Discuss this with your tax advisor, or use the IRS’s withholding calculator; just make sure you choose the correct withholdings to avoid paying in each year.

Sell assets or unwanted items

  • Do you have books, records, clothes or appliances that you don’t need? Or even an extra vehicle or boat? List items on Craigslist, eBay or Facebook, as examples. Just be sure that you choose a safe/secure site if you’re selling online.
  • If selling online is not an option for you, consider “donating” clothing and other household items to consignment shops that give you a portion of the purchase price when your item is sold or that pay you for your “donations” up front.

Utilize special skills or talents

  • Is there expertise you could share by teaching a course? A website like Udemy.com or your local community education program can provide opportunities to educate others.
  • Do you know how to design websites or print materials, write and edit copy, have marketing talents or are expert in computer programming or other I.T. fields? Sites like Freelancer, Upwork or Fiverr can market your services to customers who cannot afford professional services at full price.
  • Be sure to research any websites you want to use to publicize your talents; verify that they are safe and legitimate.
  • Consider other skills you could share, such as repairing items for neighbors and friends, housecleaning, snow shoveling or personal shopping.

Not all the above suggestions are right for everyone, and be cautious of any associated costs. Whatever you decide, just make sure it’s realistic and it works for you and your family. The great news is that there are a lot of options.

If you still feel like you’re spinning your wheels trying to balance your budget or pay off debt, LSS Financial Counseling can help. We will create a realistic budget with you and provide an action plan so you can get back on track financially. Call us at 888.577.2227 for your free session, or get all your support online at your convenience. Don’t wait to take back control of your life again…start now!

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Author Ray McCoy is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling.