If your New Year’s resolutions or to-do list for 2019 include finally launching a side hustle, publishing a book, building an app or any other passion project, you’re probably going to need a little capital.
I’m not talking investors or business loans; I’m talking about just a little extra cash to cover the expenses that make the difference between a hobby and legitimate work you just happen to be doing from home: professional editing for your self-published book, a custom domain email address or web hosting, for example.
Here are some quick and easy ways to carve money out of your budget to support your side hustle (so it doesn’t fall by the wayside when you need to pay the bills).
1. Squirrel away a bit of each paycheck.
If you earn a regular paycheck, this is the simplest and first step to take. Set up your direct deposit to automatically stick part of your paycheck into a separate bank account. I recommend a second checking account separate from the one you use for everyday expenses. The money’s available when you need it, but not right in front of you where you’re tempted to spend it.
If you don’t have a regular paycheck or don’t think you can afford to lob off part of it, try an auto-savings app. They let you set aside tiny amounts of money more regularly, so you don’t feel the impact. Here are a couple I’ve tried:
Digit uses an algorithm to look at your spending and income and determine small amounts of money you can afford to save, then automatically pulls them into a savings account.
Acorns and Qapital connect to your credit and debit cards and round up your purchases to set aside the “digital change.” When I used Acorns, I saved about $35 a month without noticing.
Robinhood and other microinvesting apps let you invest in the stock market with regular small investments, as little as $1. You can typically withdraw your money without penalty anytime, or if you don’t need it, leave it to potentially grow in value.
2. Knock out quick freelance gigs.
If you’re working full time and trying to execute a passion project, you don’t have a ton of free time, I know. But if you can eke out a couple hours a month to bank a little extra cash, you’ll be thankful when those little surprise expenses creep up on your project.
Browse freelancer job sites like Fiverr and Upwork for quick and easy gigs that’ll let you bank an extra $20 or $50 here and there with minimum effort.
3. Cut your recurring bills.
Where can you trim your expenses each month? Take a look at last month’s bank statement to see where your money is (really) going. Find a spare $50 or $100, and stick it into your separate bank account.
Look for unnecessary expenses, such as subscriptions to magazines, apps or services you don’t use. Consider refinancing or consolidating debt to reduce your monthly payments. If you can muster the courage, call your cable/internet company to negotiate a lower rate.
4. Sell some stuff.
How are your closets looking? Got some junk taking up space in your garage? Now is a good time to declutter and make some quick cash off of the stuff you don’t need.
Clearing your space is a good way to clear your head and get a fresh start just in time to focus on your new project.
5. Keep your costs low.
When you can’t scrape one more cent out of your budget, figure out how to keep going for cheaper.
Whatever your project, the potential costs probably vary wildly. When I talked to authors to compare the costs of self-publishing our first books, our costs ranged from $150 to more than 10 times that, $1,650. That low end — you guessed it — involved a lot of DIY.
What you pay for depends on what you’re able (and willing) to do yourself or barter for. From building an app to social media marketing, doing it yourself can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
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