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Old 02-01-2011, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,219 posts, read 45,899,992 times
Reputation: 11049
Question Any Ideas on How to Make Extra Cash in Pittsburgh?

Well, after doing some hard number-crunching I've come to the conclusion that with my current job in and of itself (plus the rare tip I receive) I'll be literally "breaking even" on my budget without a penny to spare. The problem?

1.) I don't currently have health benefits, yet I want to go to the dentist to pay out-of-pocket for a cleaning and a check-up.

2.) I want to get my car registered/inspected in PA as soon as possible, but I'm worried I'll have no cushion to pay for any necessary repairs that show up.

3.) I would like a "safety cushion" of savings in case of an emergency so I don't ever find myself in the position I'm in right now of living day-by-day.

Net income monthly $1,400.

Monthly expenses:
Rent: $550
Car Payment: $220
Student Loans: $230
Utilities: $150/month (which will probably go down once I have no need for heat, as I don't have A/C, and the electric will go down since I no longer have my Christmas lights up).
Car/Renter's Insurance: $115
Credit Cards: $50 (I'd like to pay more per month to take my balances down on my Best Buy and Discover cards).
Groceries: $100
Gas: $30

Total monthly expenses of $1,345 (closer to $1,400, actually, when I factor in "going out" with my partner/friends).

Anyhow, I was just wondering if anyone knew of any ways I (or anyone interested for that matter) could earn some extra cash? I'd love to pick up a second job waiting tables a couple days a week, as that would bring in at least several hundred dollars more per month, but given my need to have flexible availability for my current position that's difficult.

I still have no regrets about moving out of NoVA, though, where I was also just "breaking even", even with a higher salary, yet I also had to endure traffic congestion, mundane work, and rude people in sterile surroundings. I have toyed with the idea of selling my car, actually, and just relying on the bus to get me from Polish Hill to my job in East Liberty; however, I know I'll miss owning a car. On the plus side I went from filling up my tank weekly in NoVA to only filling it up monthly here.

I'm already learning how to become a guide for "ChaCha", the service where you can text a question and receive an answer within minutes. This will only bring in probably $50/month, though, at best. Since I'm such a speedy typist (accuracy of over 70 words per minute) I was hoping to secure a gig doing some sort of transcribing work, even for minimum wage, that offered flexible hours. I'm not looking to get rich quick. I just need a few hundred dollars more (net) per month to start building a savings safety cushion back up. I'm relying upon my $1,500 tax refund that I'll be getting soon to catch up on student loans and credit card debt. I'm relying upon 75% of my withdrawal from my former employer's retirement savings account to repay my sign-on bonus and will use the other 25% to further reduce my debt.

If anybody here has been in a financial bind in the past how did you manage to squeak out a few extra dollars? I'm going to review the "Frugal Living" forum next for help, too, but I was hoping for anything Pittsburgh-specific. Heck, I'd even mow lawns and shovel walks, as I love manual labor, but once again that relies on flexible scheduling around my current job that doesn't have a fixed schedule.
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:01 AM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 14,886,656 times
Reputation: 42329
I think you're being wise to pursue this idea, and best of luck to you. In addition to bringing in extra cash, it's good to have a backup source of money just in case the fruit delivery business doesn't have much work for you after Valentine's Day. I hope I'm wrong but I've known a few people who've done floral deliveries and after Feb 14th that sort of business sometimes lets people go.

Waiting tables or bartending might work. Tips at a restaurant are sometimes very good.
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:39 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
9,882 posts, read 9,519,958 times
Reputation: 4656
A second job or a higher paying job are the obvious things. You are still looking for a full-time job in the meantime, right? I'm guessing they won't be fun, but if you're willing to work in retail or restaurant you can almost always find someplace to sign on part time. There's a reasonable likelihood that you can arrange your current job's schedule around a second job's schedule.

Of course your free time will dwindle but that's the reality. In the meantime you would continue to look for a full-time position with benefits, presumably.

I am only speaking theoretically, though. I have been fortunate to not have to do this in 20 years.

Oh, I know another one that I DID do years ago, not here, but location no difference: inventory work. RGIS is always hiring, not the greatest outfit to work for ever, but the hourly pay rate is actually pretty high. The work is often evenings and weekends (and sometimes both, like Saturday evenings), but if you have daylight availability and are good they will put you on daylight jobs during the week. I used to go to 2 or 3 Sheetz stores a day, for example. You'll need your car for this generally, at least to drive to a meeting point if nothing else, or perhaps sometimes you could get a bus to a meeting point but they can run late into the evenings past last bus times. If I remember correctly there's an initial training and perhaps test you do, fairly brief, then at 2 months they do another stronger test. If you pass you get a raise, if you fail I think you don't get to stay. It's not hard, though. Don't you have some kind of accounting background? All you need to do is 10-key on a machine hanging at your side, ultimately without looking, and be able to do some arithmetic in your head. Bet you can do that. I worked for these guys for about 6 months almost 20 years ago.
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:59 AM
 
Location: Wilkinsburg
1,661 posts, read 1,258,800 times
Reputation: 956
Quote:
Originally Posted by RestonRunner86 View Post

Monthly expenses:
Rent: $550
Car Payment: $220
Student Loans: $230
Utilities: $150/month (which will probably go down once I have no need for heat, as I don't have A/C, and the electric will go down since I no longer have my Christmas lights up).
Car/Renter's Insurance: $115
Credit Cards: $50 (I'd like to pay more per month to take my balances down on my Best Buy and Discover cards).
Groceries: $100
Gas: $30

Total monthly expenses of $1,345 (closer to $1,400, actually, when I factor in "going out" with my partner/friends).
I'm coming up with $1445 in expenses when I add these up.

Car
If you have a critical need for cash in the short term, but are not sure about selling your car, check into cancelling your car insurance. Of course, you will not be able to drive, and you'll be paying $220/month for a parked car, but if you just need a couple hundred bucks in the next month or two, it may be a solution. Maybe cancel your insurance for a month, decide if you can go without driving, and then either re-insure or sell the car.

Utilities
There are a few places here to cut fat. Does $150/month include cable and internet? If it does, cancel them. Also, I recently discovered that Comcast has an "Economy Internet" package for $24 compared to the $47 that I was being charged. I haven't noticed any difference in performance. If you do have cable, and intend to keep it, be sure that you are turning off the cable box when not in use. These boxes require a surprising amount of power (~300-400w), and shutting them off when not in use can save around $5/month.

Also, do your utility providers offer a budget payment for your apartment? If so, you can budget your electric and gas bills to smooth out your cash flows. On an annualized basis you still pay the same amount, but you avoid spikes and shortages in your budget.

Spending
It's difficult to track your spending habits until you look at them closely. If you use a card for your transactions, each month export all this data into Excel and track it. Track each penny that you spend on gas, groceries, restaurants, etc. After you have a couple months of data, you'll be able to recognize your spending trends and identify places where further cuts can be possible. I got this tip from a personal finance blog called Consumerism Commentary.

Income
I've outlined a few ideas above, but as you had stated, you need to earn some additional income. A restaurant job could work out, also look into call centers. You may be able to pick up a shift opposite to your delivery job. Call centers usually pay at least a small premium to minimum wage, too, because the turnover rate is so high.


Hope some of these ideas may help. Good luck.
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
567 posts, read 645,858 times
Reputation: 302
I have made some extra cash over the summers doing research studies. Sometimes they're just an hour long but can get you $15-20. Other times they may be over a few days or weeks. I did one a couple years ago for like an hour or two over 8 days that I got paid $250 or so for. CMU has some listed under Experiments at Carnegie Mellon University There are also usually posters around campus at CMU and Pitt with others. Granted it's nothing long-term, but it can be helpful for a little extra cash...
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:08 AM
 
42,501 posts, read 47,596,826 times
Reputation: 28066
I sent you a private message with a small business idea that I think there is a demand for in the region.
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh's 'EAST SIDE'
2,043 posts, read 3,171,591 times
Reputation: 2601
Do some jitneying on the side..TAX FREE, FAST MONEY, whenever YOU feel up to doing it!

Downside: The wear and tear on your vehicle and it can be dangerous...
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:18 AM
 
Location: Wilkinsburg
1,661 posts, read 1,258,800 times
Reputation: 956
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Mizz Pittsburgh View Post
Do some jitneying on the side..TAX FREE, FAST MONEY, whenever YOU feel up to doing it!

Downside: The wear and tear on your vehicle and it can be dangerous...
I'm so glad you said this. In college, my buddy and I always talked about doing this but never did. I think there's a lot of money to be made by shuttling drunk Pitt and Duquesne students to and from the Southside.
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,219 posts, read 45,899,992 times
Reputation: 11049
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caladium View Post
I think you're being wise to pursue this idea, and best of luck to you. In addition to bringing in extra cash, it's good to have a backup source of money just in case the fruit delivery business doesn't have much work for you after Valentine's Day. I hope I'm wrong but I've known a few people who've done floral deliveries and after Feb 14th that sort of business sometimes lets people go.

Waiting tables or bartending might work. Tips at a restaurant are sometimes very good.
I don't believe I will be "let go" after Valentine's Day, as I'm currently our only full-time driver. Apparently it's not as easy as one might think to find someone reliable with no criminal record, open availability, and a (relatively) squeaky clean driving record (save for a speeding ticket or two, which they appreciated I was honest about up-front). I've just agreed to come in today on my day off to help out, so obviously that will only be of benefit to my chances of retention.

Thanks for the well-wish, though. What I did with quitting cold-turkey in DC and packing my bags to pursue my dreams here in Pittsburgh may seem quite unorthodox, but for the first time in my life I truly feel alive. I'm in love (and loved). I have great friends. I have a beautiful apartment. I'm surrounded by history. I couldn't possibly be any happier right now (perhaps if I had a few extra dollars, but I suppose we could ALL say that! LOL!)

I would actually like to wait tables. The only thing I wouldn't be great at is that I don't have an excellent sense of balance, so if I'm always going to be lifting trays loaded with dishes above my head with one hand the way I see most servers do I'm afraid I may be dropping them! I'm not afraid to work hard---very hard---though for an honest day's pay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greg42 View Post
A second job or a higher paying job are the obvious things. You are still looking for a full-time job in the meantime, right? I'm guessing they won't be fun, but if you're willing to work in retail or restaurant you can almost always find someplace to sign on part time. There's a reasonable likelihood that you can arrange your current job's schedule around a second job's schedule.

Of course your free time will dwindle but that's the reality. In the meantime you would continue to look for a full-time position with benefits, presumably.

I am only speaking theoretically, though. I have been fortunate to not have to do this in 20 years.

Oh, I know another one that I DID do years ago, not here, but location no difference: inventory work. RGIS is always hiring, not the greatest outfit to work for ever, but the hourly pay rate is actually pretty high. The work is often evenings and weekends (and sometimes both, like Saturday evenings), but if you have daylight availability and are good they will put you on daylight jobs during the week. I used to go to 2 or 3 Sheetz stores a day, for example. You'll need your car for this generally, at least to drive to a meeting point if nothing else, or perhaps sometimes you could get a bus to a meeting point but they can run late into the evenings past last bus times. If I remember correctly there's an initial training and perhaps test you do, fairly brief, then at 2 months they do another stronger test. If you pass you get a raise, if you fail I think you don't get to stay. It's not hard, though. Don't you have some kind of accounting background? All you need to do is 10-key on a machine hanging at your side, ultimately without looking, and be able to do some arithmetic in your head. Bet you can do that. I worked for these guys for about 6 months almost 20 years ago.
Well, I do have an appointment scheduled next Wednesday (my day off) to take a civil service exam with the city since I applied for a standard M-F 8-5 office position paying around $30,000. I would see if I could work flexible scheduling to work four longer days and then retain my delivery job on a Friday-Sunday basis (they have a relative who can fill in on most weekdays). Granted I'm probably going to be one of hundreds taking this exam for this position, so I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed. Everyone looks at me with my Bachelor's Degree and is shocked that I actually ENJOY doing what I do now---being a fruit who delivers fruit. LOL! I could live quite comfortably here if I was making a couple dollars per hour more and/or had one or two fewer monthly debt obligations.

I will also look into inventory accounting work. Thanks for the suggestion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ML North View Post
I'm coming up with $1445 in expenses when I add these up.

Car
If you have a critical need for cash in the short term, but are not sure about selling your car, check into cancelling your car insurance. Of course, you will not be able to drive, and you'll be paying $220/month for a parked car, but if you just need a couple hundred bucks in the next month or two, it may be a solution. Maybe cancel your insurance for a month, decide if you can go without driving, and then either re-insure or sell the car.

Utilities
There are a few places here to cut fat. Does $150/month include cable and internet? If it does, cancel them. Also, I recently discovered that Comcast has an "Economy Internet" package for $24 compared to the $47 that I was being charged. I haven't noticed any difference in performance. If you do have cable, and intend to keep it, be sure that you are turning off the cable box when not in use. These boxes require a surprising amount of power (~300-400w), and shutting them off when not in use can save around $5/month.

Also, do your utility providers offer a budget payment for your apartment? If so, you can budget your electric and gas bills to smooth out your cash flows. On an annualized basis you still pay the same amount, but you avoid spikes and shortages in your budget.

Spending
It's difficult to track your spending habits until you look at them closely. If you use a card for your transactions, each month export all this data into Excel and track it. Track each penny that you spend on gas, groceries, restaurants, etc. After you have a couple months of data, you'll be able to recognize your spending trends and identify places where further cuts can be possible. I got this tip from a personal finance blog called Consumerism Commentary.

Income
I've outlined a few ideas above, but as you had stated, you need to earn some additional income. A restaurant job could work out, also look into call centers. You may be able to pick up a shift opposite to your delivery job. Call centers usually pay at least a small premium to minimum wage, too, because the turnover rate is so high.


Hope some of these ideas may help. Good luck.
1.) You're right. $1,445 is correct (and it's actually probably closer to $1,500 in reality per month that I have going outwards). I rushed earlier and did a miscalculation. Sorry.

2.) Considering I drive for a living I'd like to retain my insurance (even though I'm currently on the company's insurance policy). I'd also like to retain my car. I know I could save roughly $350/month by getting rid of my vehicle, but I have not yet adjusted myself to the reality of being at the mercy exclusively of Zipcar, friends, or the bus.

3.) Thanks for the tip about turning off the cable box. I'm not canceling my Internet service, though. I live near the Hill District library, and although I've used it several times now because I don't own a printer the computers there are almost always all occupied (which is a pain). I'm considering canceling cable. I currently have the Xfinity bundle package through Comcast for $99/month. Otherwise I pay only gas and electric---both of which are sky-high right now and both of which will be next to nothing starting in a couple of months. My utility providers---Duquesne and Equitable---DO offer the budget option.

4.) I wouldn't mind working at a restaurant, but I'd have to find one where I could be "picky" enough to only work shifts around my other job (considering I sometimes work from 9 AM-7 PM at my current job on weekdays I'd have to find a place where I could work starting at 8 PM and/or just on Sunday afternoons/evenings).
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh's 'EAST SIDE'
2,043 posts, read 3,171,591 times
Reputation: 2601
Quote:
Originally Posted by ML North View Post
I'm so glad you said this. In college, my buddy and I always talked about doing this but never did. I think there's a lot of money to be made by shuttling drunk Pitt and Duquesne students to and from the Southside.
There is. My boyfriend does it on the side. He jitney's out of a jitney station plus he has his own personal customers, that call him directly on his cellphone, when they need rides. He can make between $80 and $150 a day but you have to keep at it for HOURS. If not for hours, hope and pray that you get good trips that day. Like a good trip would be going from Wilkinsburg to the Northside. That's about $15. Going from one street in Wilkinsburg to some other street in Wilkinsburg, is about $5 or $6. The maximum he ever made in one day was $250 on New Year's Eve a few years ago. He crushes them when its 'check day' too...people needing rides to the grocery stores and stuff.
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