If I have one weakness, it’s for reading articles about debt. Specifically articles with titles like, “How I eliminated my student debt in X months.” It’s absolute clickbait for me.
Like most post grads, I have a considerable amount of student loan debt from my undergraduate education. Not all of it is in my name (though I pay my parents monthly for their share) and student loans are generally regarded as “healthy, low risk” debt by creditors as long as you’re paying it. But it’s still something that weighs on me, so I’m always on the lookout for new ways to alter my budget and add to my ability to pay down that debt. (And save for grad school now that I know I want to go! I definitely don’t need more loans.)
But nearly every one of these success story articles comes to the same conclusion: that housing costs are the biggest cuts a person can make. And most of the people who feature in these articles were blessed enough to cut their housing costs in at least one (sometimes two!) of the following ways:
- Living with their parents rent free.
- Living with a significant other in a 1 bedroom, split 2 ways.
- Living in a low rent town/city/area of the country.
At present, none of those situations is a viable option for me. My parents live in a different state, I can’t move my line of work to another area of the country, and despite my best efforts I’m still single. So I live in a group house outside of a major metropolitan city with three roommates and I’m still paying about 42% of my income on housing (rent plus utilities) alone.
But wait, didn’t I just post an article about moving into an apartment by myself? How will I be able to afford that? The answer is: with a little ingenuity and a side hustle that I can do in my pajamas.
When I first started my new job in November I told myself, “Don’t change your lifestyle just because you have more money now.” After scrimping and saving for two years in a job that barely paid me a livable wage in my city, it was very tempting to treat myself to a little comfort. And in fact I did treat myself by buying a few books I’d wanted and taking my parents out to a nice dinner. But I didn’t change my lifestyle. I stayed in my house, I still made my own meals and borrowed from the library. I changed almost nothing so that I could sock away nearly every bit of my raise. By doing so, I’ve been able to save almost a year’s worth of tuition for grad school. In seven months. While still paying my undergrad loans.
The relief in being able to do that, to have savings again, is absolutely incredible. In fact I think I get more joy from transferring money into my savings account once a month than I do from re-reading those few books I splurged on. It used to keep me up at night that I was living so close to my means. I hated it. So you can understand some of my financial hesitation about moving. While it wouldn’t entirely eat up my raise, it would significantly cut into my ability to save for school and pay down debt, something that’s as important to me as the privacy of living alone, if not more so. It’s one of the big factors that held me back. For my own sanity, I needed to find a way to help close the cost differential between the two apartments and, without any fat in my budget left to trim, that meant finding a way to increase my income.
There are lots of ways to make a little money on the side these days and I read up on all of them. Unfortunately I’m not qualified for most. I don’t have many creative skills that I can put up for sale and I can’t drive so I have no shot at being a part time Uber driver. I also have negligible experience with kids outside of some middle school babysitting so nannying is out of the picture. But do you know what I’m really good at? Listening and typing, two skills most writers (and bloggers) have in spades.
There’s a blog that frequently shows up with sponsored posts on my Facebook feed called The Penny Hoarder. And they published an article a while back all about different audio transcription sites and how to take it up freelance. I read up on each of the companies The Penny Hoarder advertised and settled on Rev. I liked it because it didn’t require any extra software (just a wifi connection), transmits payment through PayPal, came recommended by Forbes, and pays just over $30 per audio hour. And since it’s freelance, you can work anytime and anywhere you want for however much time you want. You only have to finish the projects you claim by their respective deadlines, all of which are published with the project at your time of selection.
It takes more than one actual hour to transcribe an audio hour. Exactly how long will depend on the quality of the audio, how fast you type, and the improvement of your transcription skills over time. But by doing just one audio hour a week (four audio hours a month) I can completely close the cost differential from my move. For the price of one Saturday morning or Wednesday afternoon a week that I usually spend watching Netflix, I can work from home, in my pajamas, and save myself a hell of a lot of financial stress from my move. It’s like it was meant to be.
Now if only I could find some recycled boxes for moving! Then I’d really be all set to go!
Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. Just an honest opinion from someone who is overall very satisfied with Rev as a company and the little bit of extra peace of mind it’s brought me.