Start Here: “The Ultimate Guide to Making Money”

I could give you 100 ways to earn more and it still wouldn’t matter

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All right…I want to proceed delicately with this one.

I was fascinated by an article I saw recently on MoneySavingMom.com. The piece featured a struggling reader asking for ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month. This person was already frugal (eats at home, economizes on utilities, only buys on sale, etc.) but still needed ways to earn more.

The comments section (with nearly 400 comments) is absolutely FASCINATING.

Why? Because it mirrors how most of us think about earning money. It contains random “tips” and “ideas” instead of a framework, strategy, and set of step-by-step guidelines.

So for example, you’ll see comments like this:

“I use Fiverr.com to make money from home. Check it out, there is a huge variety of things people do on there for $5 (the website keeps one so you get $4) but it can add up fast.

 

“I use survey spot…After doing surveys you can redeem your points for $10 to your paypal account, and then I put it right into savings. It is not much and definitely not the $1,000

 

“You could try buying things at yard sales and reselling them for $! You could definitely hit your $1000 goal! Good luck!”

I’d like you to go read the original blog post and some of the comments. Then I’d like to ask what you notice.

What’s different about the material on earning money that you find on that site, versus the material you find here at IWT?

Why do you think that difference exists?

Leave a comment with your observations here. I’ll analyze them in the next few days.

NOTE: This isn’t an invitation to bash people. Be respectful. Let’s try to figure out why different approaches work and don’t work.

 

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88 Comments

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  1. I actually subscribe to both these blogs. It’s worth pointing out that many of the women reading Krystal’s blog are very right wing evangelical Christians, often affiliated the Quiverfull movement. This is an American subculture of mostly lower class, conservative Christians who believe, among other things, that women are not to engage in economic labor outside the home before or after marriage and that couples are to eschew contraceptives. Gender roles are highly traditional, male headship is encouraged, and men are to lead the family with total authority. Many adherents were homeschooled or are planning to homeschool their children and poverty and poor education are fairly rampant.

    Krystal herself is unusual in being highly entreprenurial in mindset and very organized and systematic in her thinking. But, while QF girls and women are often encouraged to build home businesses (there’s some Bible verses to back them up), the culture usually pushes women to do things that are minimally skilled. I believe this is partly intended to prevent the wife from usurping her husband’s position as the main breadwinner. Thus, systematically developing a truly profitable business or career runs counter to the Quiverfull movement’s main aims, which are explicitly antifeminist. Most Quiverfull girls and women have handicrafts businesses (appalling margins there), teach very amateurish music lessons, provide childcare, and other similar types of very low paid, low skill occupations. And that, by and large, is the point. In the Quiverfull world, domestic labor is very high status, and profitable economic labor is not. What incentive do women working in this cultural mindset have to develop a profitable, highly sought after, skill. That isn’t going to bring you attention and the respect of likeminded peers. Homeschooling six children while selling tea cozies (I am not making this up) on an Etsy storefront will. People crave status and validation, and once you commit to the Quiverfull lifestyle, it’s pretty difficult to switch to another subculture. If you marry young and have three small children by the time you are 23, you are necessarily going to be cut off from your more secular agemates, so you will retreat into a circle of likeminded peers.

    I’ve noticed this happening with my own behavior, btw. I married at 21, and even though I am not a conservative Christian, I’ve felt more comfortable hanging out with other people from conservative cultures, simply because I have more in common with them than with most of the people who went to elite schools with me. I have noticed a corresponding rightward shift in my worldview.

    • This is probably one of the most interesting comments I’ve ever read in nearly 8 years of running this site. Thanks for leaving it, Meg.

    • You are thinking of Proverbs 31:10-31 [http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%2031:10-31&version=NIV]

    • This is absolutely fascinating! Thanks for the amazing insight!

    • Yes – I’ll second Ramit’s comment here – such a rarity to read a comment on the Internet that is actually well thought-out and written. Thanks for the insight, it absolutely makes sense. I have been sort of fascinated in a horrible way with the QF movement since seeing the Duggars on TLC.

    • Your psychological analysis of the QF culture is interest, more-so because you’re noticing a parallel set of effects in your own life. I also like that you weren’t judgmental when you explained their views, as people (myself included, though I work hard to stay objective and find I’m often counted on for it) can often be at times! Thank you for giving us all a better perspective of where these women are coming from. Curiously, do you take issue with your choices altering your preferred company and thereby altering your viewpoints?

    • Meg,
      You mention providing childcare as a low skill occupation to provide and clearly this could be one of the few scale-able options for someone in this culture to serious earning power. However it is typically highly regulated if you will scale up to serious earnings. For women in this culture I assume they are heavily invested in their budgets, but are they prevented from dealing with regulation in everyday life (Tax preparation, DMV, school registration, Health Insurance all examples of having to deal with paperwork). This is a foundation they can use to overcome researching the regulation for a true business, or would that be discouraged because it’s not ok to know the rules? I ask this because in typical male authoritarian role societies you usually see some model of Ducal decree. In the QF movement does everyone just “know their role” and nobody speaks of whats allowable? Would this be a factor in all the naysayers that talk about the regulation in the barriers? Seems to me if there is serious regulation it makes it easier to start the business as all the rules are there, it might take a while to know them all but they are not hidden so you have some idea of the cost certainty of your business and what you would need to charge to cover that cost. It just seems silly to me that you have a tried and true scale-able business model that’s marketable to not only your peers but the outside society as well but for some reason there’s a barrier to prevent these women from pursuing it. Is this barrier the same barrier we all face in terms of getting off our butts to do it, or is it actually a society enforced barrier as you mention?

    • Meg the fact that you think handicraft, teaching music, and childcare are “low skill” fields is incredibly ignorant and reeks of elite classism.

  2. It all sounds VERY time intensive for the amount of money- I am guessing many of the people are excited by being able to make money in their spare time (not thinking about how much it actually is an hour). I would rather pay slightly more for items (and not worry about being so frugal) and make more. Wonder if people just have a hard time wrapping their minds around the idea of charging more (esp for services) than what they would pay for an item- i.e. if they can’t imagine paying more than $10 an hour for babysitting, they might not realize that they could actually charge $20 an hour.

  3. Yes Meg very informative. You expressed that better than myself and I have a maters degree.

  4. What’s lacking overall is the voice of experience. “I do ChaCha for $30 per month.” Or if you have some qualifications: “I do JustAnswer for $20/hr.” That’s fine if you like it, but also too easy and poorly paid to take seriously, and someone with a broader vision is skimming lots of money off the top with those services.

    Rather, how do you put yourself out there, and what’s it like? Developing autonomy is a real emotional risk for someone who’s used to the idea of a “regular job”.

    Specific example: I see people asking an academic editor who charges $30/hr “How much do you charge per page?” It would be more useful to ask “how do you approach prospects?”

  5. I’ve done your freebie material and I have earned more.
    The psychological aspect of this all is very important but that aside, I dare you to post 100 more and see what happens.

  6. Thank you Meg. That is one of the top three blog comments I have ever read.

    Ramit, a post on status would be great

    • Thank you.

      I second this. Ramit, I’d love to see you write about how our choices push us into certain social groups and how maintaining group identity is an important determinant of how we act. This goes along with the stuff you’re already talked about re: invisible scripts.

    • Great point. The culture of my primary job strongly discourages side jobs–i.e., if you have energy for anything else, you’re not sufficiently dedicated and might not cut it. With so much competition and judgment from peers, it’s hard to give myself permission to entrepreneurial activities of any kind.

  7. For one obvious reason is that blog is for moms. Moms want to spend more time with their kids. They also tend to be more conserative with trying out new ideas. In other words they deem being entrepreniual is risky, unstable, and too much time. So anything that takes little time for some quick wins is in their bucket.

    Where as IWT’s core focus is on young people in their 20s and 30s. They not only have more time but these people are willing to go all out and try new things to claim their fame.

    • I’m not convinced. If anything, a (stay-at-home) mom might have more flexibility in trying new things because the other spouse could be earning enough for her to stay home.

    • “Perceived” flexibility is AT LEAST as important as “real” flexibility (whatever “real” means). This is a subtle point that is often missed in persuasion.

  8. Two things I notice right off the bat:
    1) The suggestions by and large are not systematic. Rather than testing ideas and failing quickly, there are a lot of ideas that are like, “Oh, you’ll have to spend a couple months building this up before you see any payoff” [like secret shopping or taking surveys], whereas IWT is about failing quickly so you can win big.
    2) Almost none of the suggestions are scalable. Assuming this person is able to make her extra $30 a month doing secret shopping/Etsy/surveys, there’s no way to systematically increase that rate so it can double, triple, and so on.

  9. Many of the comments propose a way to earn some amount of money as an exception. The thinking seems to be that if you need some cash, here is a way to get just enough to meet that need. However these comments do not discuss, and do not seem to envision, finding a sustainable way to increase income long term. They treat money as something to deal with once the need arises.

    This blog, on the other hand, focuses much attention on creating an ongoing, successful system for managing money. Perhaps the comments with the most similar mindset were those discussing how to scale a child care business that might be a long term activity.

  10. Since another commenter already tried daring Ramit to something, I guess I have to actually post about the question at hand. (And I already had the dare planned out and all…it involved peanut butter and a beer luge and pantyhose…nevermind)

    It seems to me that the biggest difference in thinking tends to be in their overall ideas about execution. While most of us realize that a good idea isn’t worth much without exhaustive preparation and careful execution, most of the comments seem to exhibit what I call “green blindness” where *any* money is good money.

    “Babysit or tutor or sell crap you find on the street!” All of those will make you money. Hell! Other people have done it before, but they seem to stop at that point, realizing their idea will make money, and accept the concept of money as its own success…rather than striving for the money itself or the lifestyle it would allow.

    I can do the same thing, rattle off hundreds of ideas that all make money, and on a certain level it is creatively satisfying to do, but it does nothing to actually answer the question at hand: how does she make an extra $1000 a month?

    I would work backwards. How much is she willing to work to make that extra $1000. If she says 50-100 hours a month, then babysitting is perfect, and I say go for it! If she wants to spend less time though she’ll need to spend more time focusing on what is unique about her. Uniqueness naturally drives prices. Can she knit, sew, sing, massage, design, build, translate, organize, etc? If she takes a single thing she’s good at and using the amount of time she wants to work a month for $1k, she’ll have a rough idea of the amount of differentiation she’ll need to do to reach that.

    Cheat sheet: The amount of time you want to work a month to earn a target amount is inversely proportional to the amount of differentiation you’ll need to achieve that.

    To me it seems like she doesn’t want to work much more than she is now, which means that she’s really going to have to break her own mold a bit and find something truly unique that she can offer.

    …barring that 100 hours of babysitting is always an option.

    • Like Meg, I also subscribe to both blogs. I’m a 36 year-old Mom of two but I’m 26 in my head – he he. I fit both demographics – I come to MSM for ideas on saving money and IWTY (or whatever the acronym is) for ideas on increasing earnings.

      What stood out to me about the original question is that the poster mentioned she already sold stuff online. I don’t have time to read all comments on both sites, but I’m surprised I have yet to see a commenter ask why the poster wasn’t already earning $1000 extra a month by selling online. Could she reach that goal by selling something different from what she is already selling? Is she selling products or services? Does she have her own blog or is she selling on ebay or craiglist? Would trying one over the other improve her profits? Does she enjoy selling stuff online or is it a chore for her? What are the poster’s interests and talents?

  11. As a woman myself (you may have already guessed this by my name!) and one who started out as a freelance writer with the initial motivation of wanting to earn a little extra money, I can see why short term gain is a winning formula for women. Especially when you have children.

    I never knew when I was going to have spare time to commit myself to a new venture. I had to take baby steps, build up my confidence, see how it would fit into my day and my life, whether it would have an impact on my children or my relationship (it did) and how it would change the overall dynamic of our household.

    I describe myself as a feminist and proud to be so. I am educated to a degree level, but as a stay at home mum (by choice) I had to consider all of these things before I took those first steps towards financial independence.

    I do not want to sound clichéd, but men are in privileged positions when it comes to fulfilling their entrepreneurial dreams and aspirations. Often they have a wife who will agree to look after the kids and the home while they follow those dreams. Women need to find other ways.

    I was lucky that I discovered a way which worked for me, but even now I cannot commit the same level of time I would like to. As an educated woman I have more options than most and the ability to see where I can add value.

    But I started out selling on Ebay, selling articles for £5 and each and every one of those achievements was propelling me towards what I am doing now – working as a successful freelance writer. It may be a slower road, but it isn’t until you try that you see what is really out there and what you are capable of.

    • Kudos! I’m glad to see someone bring this up. I sort of felt Ramit was fishing for compliments by setting his work up against a mommy blog — these blogs serve different audiences. (It’s kind of like asking fans at a country music concert whether they like country better than hard rock.)

      I think the post on the mom blog is symptomatic of people’s attitudes in general, though. A lot of people want a quick fix to earn more money, not another commitment that could take a lot of time and effort and not yield immediate returns. One of the benefits of having your finances in order is that you can think long term when it comes to earn additional income. If you need the cash upfront, people tend to look for cash grabs.

    • “…[M]en are in privileged positions when it comes to fulfilling their entrepreneurial dreams and aspirations. Often they have a wife who will agree to look after the kids and the home while they follow those dreams. Women need to find other ways.”

      No, women don’t. They just need to raise their standards in choosing partners if they decide that a career is important to them. There’s a long thread in the forums at the Chronicle of Higher Education of female academics with stay-at-home husbands. It can happen. My career is very important to me, and I won’t start a family with a man who expects me to compromise more. Fortunately, my boyfriend feels the same way.

    • To Anonymous above: ha ha. They do. That’s why so many well-educated women are single, or marry later.

      A quick google search turned up:
      http://www.sowi.uni-mannheim.de/lehrstuehle/lessm/papers/marriage.pdf

      http://www.csss.washington.edu/Papers/wp33.pdf

  12. The first difference i see is about approach. A lot of the readers posted ways to make an extra $1000; not $1000/month. The second is lack of techniques. A few of the posts are about turning your skills into a side business. Nothing i’ve seen on that post tells you the how, just the what. Plenty of post said “find clients” without any help on how to find them. This i think is the more important difference.

    The reason for the differences seems to be lack of knowledge. I’ve found most people don’t know how to do these things or don’t put it as a high enough priority to give the time needed to do them.

  13. The difference exists because you focus on 20 and 30 somethings WITH NO KIDS. You act like all 20-39 year olds aren’t even married yet.

    Moneysavingmom’s audience is for moms, and mostly moms who don’t work outside the home. Therefore, they need something they can do in their spare time which is usually at night or early morning or during naps. They need something passive and simple (like swagbucks) because they have other responsibilities that take up most of their time. Even if what they do only earns $5 here or $20 there, it’s more money.

    Ramit, I hope you are not trying to bash MoneySavingMom because it sure sounds like it. I hope I am wrong. I find it totally unprofessional and am disappointed in seeing this post.

    And as for Megan — not all homeschoolers are quiverfull or poor. Sounds like someone has an axe to grind.

    • No axe to grind at all. Yes, many homeschoolers are neither Quiverfull nor poor. But homeschooling is a fundamental part of the the Quiverfull movement (if you look at the writings of, say, Voddie Baucham oe Doug Phillips is becomes clear there is no other option in line with the movement’s philosophy) and the realities of Quiverfull life (early marriage, frequent childbearing, poor education for men and women, only ever having a single breadwinner) often, though not always, lead to poverty.

      You can not have an intelligent discussion about MoneySavingMom or her readership without bringing up the homeschooling aspect of their lifestyle.

    • No offense but did you read Ramit’s post? He definitely isn’t bashing MoneySavingMom, he isn’t even really talking about her in particular – he’s referring to the comments and how it reflects how a lot of people think about money. And it’s so true!

      I think it’s also worth noting that this isn’t about MoneySavingMom’s general readership – the specific reader asking for help in the post is struggling and wants to know how to make an extra $1000 A MONTH. It’s one thing to do surveys and fiverr if you just want a couple bucks here and there to cover your monthly beer bill or to treat yourself to a night out – and it’s totally great for that stuff if you’re happy doing it. But you’d have to spend an inordinate amount of time doing those things every day to make an extra thousand dollars a month – certainly more time than most mothers have on their hands. And don’t even get me started on buying stuff at yard sales and re-selling it – that would be so much work with very little pay off. If anything, mothers need to be MORE aware of effective ways to earn money on the side so that they can use their time more efficiently since their spare time is so limited.

      Take what I say with a grain though, since I’m not a mother and I don’t use survey sites/Fiverr/swagbucks type stuff because I find them boring as all hell and a waste of time. Maybe there is a magic bullet survey site out there that enables you make mad bank and I just don’t know about it. :P

  14. What’s different about the material on earning money that you find on that site, versus the material you find here at IWT?

    First of all, that site is not about earning money but saving money. Even under the category “Earning & Managing Money”, most of the posts are not about earning money.

    Secondly, the material in that post is “Ask the Reader” instead of “Ask the Expert”.

    You pretty much answered the question for us: “It contains random ‘tips’ and ‘ideas’ instead of a framework, strategy, and set of step-by-step guidelines.”

    That is like the difference between having kids memorize all infinite possible arithmetic combinations and teaching them how to do arithmetic.

    The material on IWT can be used by people to figure out how to earn money doing what they want to do and do best, not have what to specifically do suggested for them. The framework and psychology allow people to substitute specific subjects and sort of plug-in their own modules.

    Why do you think that difference exists?

    Meg’s comment helps with answering this question. That site is geared towards people with a specific restrictive lifestyle and values so it offers tips and ideas in line with that. IWT helps people perform better and create a business, whatever that may be, and welcomes creative and unintended uses of the material.

  15. Syd, I think you might have confused me with Meg. We are two different posters. I am from the UK and have never even heard of this Quiver thing. But I did find Meg’s post very interesting.

    As you will see from my post, I agree that working from home is something women do because it is often all they can do.

    I don’t think Ramit is trying to bash anything. Just trying to point out that if you want to earn more money you need to have a clear objective. My point is that this is easier said than done.

  16. The same reason why the majoriy of america is fat. There is plenty of information on how to lose weight, plenty of reasons why one would want to stay healthy, yet the problem still persists. Information overload, conflicting information and small fixes are the main problems I see. Someone doesn’t need 100 ways to earn a few more bucks a month, they need a few ways to earn a massive amount of money. Focusing on the big wins is what counts.. Instead of wasting time focusing on 100 small ways to make more, people would benefit much more from reading the 10 rules of a millionair couple article you mentioned in your previous blog post.

  17. The big difference here is that they want to earn money with very little commitment. If you stop taking surveys, no one is going to come knock on your door and ask where you’ve been the last few days. It’s a lot easier for moms with very often unpredictable schedules to earn money in spare minutes rather than collect these spare minutes to turn them into the many hours that are often necessary to develop stable and sizable income streams.
    I think the attitude on this site is to take on more risk than most people are comfortable with. Here you try to make the ambiguity of work less frightening. With this flexibility of self-definition, one’s job is that of a money earner, and one often does not fall under a role with a title like “Survey Taker.” In short, the system is already defined for them. They need not be creative and unsure of what they are doing.

  18. I read that blog post a few days ago after seeing it linked on GetRichSlowly. I read all the comments, just to see if there would be any new ideas for earning money that I haven’t heard. A lot of commenters would say, “I’ve been thinking about petsitting/babysitting/childcare/catering biz” and someone else would chime in with all the legalities of running a childcare business or selling food out of your kitchen, basically discouraging the other person while saying “not to discourage you”. The game’s over before they even got started.

    • Why do you think people might do that?

    • In a way, it makes it “Okay” for the commenter to be discouraged since he has social proof that “Hey, everyone else is discouraged”.

      If you go deeper, it would be a threat to this commenter if the OP DID start off petsitting/babysitting/etc, because the commenter no longer has the excuse: “Well anyone else in my situation would find this too risky, so it’s okay to stay right here like they do.”

    • Yeah, but that’s how it IS. You can’t just start a daycare without following all the regulations, or you’ll get fined and lose more then whatever meager profit you were going to have. In CO for instance, you have to wash your hands, wash the infant’s hands, wear gloves while changing the diaper, dispose of it with certain rules (you cannot, for instance, rinse the pants if they are dirty, you are required to bag it dirty and give it back to the parents that way). It’s not simple.

      I planned to sew and sell children’s clothing on Etsy, but it’s hardly a simple matter. You have to test each product for lead, or plastic phalates, and you also have to label which country you got your fabric from, including percents of fabrics. You can do this illegally and skip all that nonsense, but the fines are unreal if you get caught. It’s not simple to start a regulated business.

      Some businesses aren’t very regulated though, like violin lessons. I’m pretty sure you can do that without filling out numerous forms and documents.

  19. The largest difference I can see between the two sites is this:
    Their site prioritizes money, IWTYTBR prioritizes time.

    I mean we all were *attracted* to this site because of money, but in the end we think more in terms of dollars per hour instead of flat dollars.

    Fiverr.com and Survey sites will certainly net you money, but for the time you invest in it, you’re not achieving much.

    • I dunno…many of my 20-something readers have more time than they know what to do with. Some of them just really want more money. I’m not sure the time vs. money argument holds up.

    • I have to say, I disagree with this, too. That’s why Ramit’s always talking about how lazy we are – because we are, and we know it. We have the TIME to go out and make more money, we just don’t feel like actually doing it.

      Also, i realized that the time spent on making and selling things on etsy vs building your own client-based business is probably not all that different. One is just a lot scarier than the other.

  20. “Why do you think people might do that?”

    In many cases, people are trying to help by providing hard-won information that ultimately wore them down and discouraged them. They are hoping that by offering the info in an easy, upfront fashion, they are saving the other person some serious time finding things out the hard way (bureaucratic red tape always seems to take FOREVER to figure out, for no good reason). They’re also trying to help make sure the “new guy” knows what they’re getting into up front so they can do a decent cost/benefit analysis instead of wasting three months finding out it wouldn’t make enough money to be worth their time. Psychologically, people can only hit so many unexpected roadblocks or speed bumps in a new project before they give up in discouragement. By mapping these speed bumps early, many folk are trying to help the next guy get further than they did. The unfortunate side effect is that so much data (especially about obstructions!) can often be overwhelming and discouraging in itself.

    There’s also the possibility of a subconscious effort to make sure other people wind up just as discouraged, a “See, it’s not just me who couldn’t make it work” kind of thing, but I really don’t think that’s the primary reason people share the “don’t forget P, D, and Q” kinds of info with people looking to start new ventures.

  21. Great money making tips. I’m going to use them right away. God bless you

    • lol spam comment… unless you’re serious about making $4 for 15 minutes of effort without seriously considering the endurance required to keep making $16/hr for hours on end, days upon days.

  22. Some people focus on what can’t be done, while others focus on what can. My brother has been exploring a few different entrepreneurial pursuits, and when he encounters a barrier, he looks for and finds a workaround. If he can’t find a workaround, he restrategizes, rethinks what he’s doing. His plans have gone through many transformations as he grows and learns.

    Paula Deen started her cooking empire out of her kitchen making sandwiches. She is agoraphobic, and despite being confined to her home she started a home catering business with only $200. Her workaround? She had her sons deliver her homemade food, and didn’t let the fact that she was confined to her home stop her from pursuing her dream.

  23. Most of the material here in IWT is about building a business and being able to scale up and earn more for the time you put in(i.e. a higher hourly rate). Both of those options from the other site are not scalable whatsoever – Fiverr is based on the idea of earning $4 a pop and you’re never going to earn more than a few bucks an hour filling out surveys.

    Honestly, I think a lot of people believe they aren’t capable of achieving something more than this and really launching a side business on their own. That seems unattainable, but filling out surveys and using Fiverr have a low barrier to entry. Almost anyone can do these things.

  24. TIL about the Quiverfull movement.

    The difference to me is that IWT teaches use of your skills to thrive. The other site (probably in part due to the Movement and social status) prefers accessible opportunities and low-risk/low-reward situations.

    I wonder if they compared the approx. cost per child vs. approx. income per child cared for to make sure it is viable? I never ran a daycare but I am sure there are costs necessary for day to day (such as food, cleaning supplies, educational toys, diapers, etc) and thats not even considering if there are children with special needs or care. Never mind the legalities of the option, I would check to make sure it isn’t costing me more to run a daycare.

  25. When we were struggling mightily with funds (long story) we had a lot of this kind of advice. Get a job that pays low but, hey, its money! Sell some thing. Lower your spending.

    We realized we had nothing left to sell. Already lowered our income so there was nothing left. We realized we needed to make more money. and not nickel and dime money. But actual real, thousands of dollars cash money.

    We were in debt some 24 grand. A few nice surveys and some reselling of garage sale items was not going to make a dent in that. I had to change jobs, get one that brought home the bacon. My wife (a mostly stay-at-home mom) started a photography business, ramped it up, and it is now on track to bring in 40% of our income. Making it so we can be free from either of us working at a crappy job for crappy pay. Now, I quit my crappy job, am starting to freelance and work on some projects. And we are happy again.

    If I wanted to buy a nice lunch once a month, i’d do some surveys. I want to buy a nice life. one of freedom where we can really pursue what God wants for our lives, not a cushy job.

  26. God bless Megan for commenting that mothers have different obstacles to overcome. Women bear the brunt of childrearing and that is a definate game changer! That being said, it is very beneficial for EVERYONE to learn to think with the end in mind. I’m trying to raise my children to dispense with the age old question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and ask instead “How do you want to live when you grow up?” and “What kind of business do you want to start when you grow up?” This is the very important value that Ramit adds – getting people to change the way they think and adopt a new paradigm.

  27. Your target audience is someone like me who has a good job and is young enough to make stupid mistakes and understands the possibilities of what is out there. I think that several other personal finance sites are too general with their information and thus can’t provide the insight you can. You have a great niche, and valuable experience.
    I would rather spend the money and take away all that information even if I cannot come close to making an extra 1k a month, than sign up for 37 sites that will earn me a 92$.

  28. The advice given in the comments of this blog is not sustainable or scalable. Enough said!

  29. It’s attitude, it’s just a different way of thinking.

    It’s like compairing your goals right now vs your 5000 ft goals (a la david allen)

  30. It’s small thinking vs. big thinking. It’s easy to think small and have a garage sale. (I’m not knocking garage sales). It’s harder to get out of the comfort zone, think a bit bigger, and CREATE something. Small thinking is only rewarded with a small benefit: trade an hour get a dollar. Trading hours for dollars is really exhausting and doesn’t leave much mental energy left for getting off of that hours=dollars treadmill. Thinking bigger takes more time up front but has the potential to benefit you with increasingly less effort.

    Thinking small is actually MORE risky than the IWT style as small thinking gives you the feeling that you’re doing something without actually getting you anywhere.

  31. The comments mostly mention ways to earn A) a small amount of money per month, B) one-time earnings, C) cutting back expenses, or D) decent earnings for tons of extra hours/work.

    IWT focuses more on maximizing income while minimizing time with the potential for limitless income increases, making all of the above seem counterproductive. While you could argue that it’s a different audience, IWT’s principles could still be applied by a working mother.

    In the comments, the mom mentions she already works 40 hours a week… why not try to earn more money at work? Or find a better-paying job? Assuming she’s married, the same could also apply for her husband.

    • Yep. IWT focuses on the big wins and achieving 85% solutions, allowing you to get on with your life. It’s has none of this $5 grind until your ground to a pulp nonsense.

    • Correction of self: “you’re”, not “your”, and throw in a comma after “pulp.” 85%+, for the neurotic….

  32. Getting back to the question Ramit originally asked, it seems that the difference is in the questions posed: “How can I earn an extra $1000 per month” vs “How should I approach the task of earning an extra $1000 per month”. The first seeks tactics; the second, strategy.

    It’s a little like the old “give a man a fish” vs “teach a man to fish” thing.

  33. There’s something else that you’ve outlined in the past – people feel that they’ve done more if they read 100 tips than if they’ve implemented one strategy (be it automated their finances or called their banker to waive a fee). It feels like *more* work, and that’s rewarding.

    Also, if they meticulously weight minutiae and choose from a hundred tips, it feels like they’ve analyzed stuff, like they’ve done intellectual work. They don’t want to read a 100 times “automate your finances, and come back when you’ve done that!” even if it is the winning strategy. They want something that looks like *complicated* work, because that’s also rewarding.

    Going back day after day to fill in surveys is tedious. Maybe showing that you do *hard* work is also a badge of honor. Whining about work is after all a common way to make small talk and bond…

    Basically, these people (most people) don’t realize that there are secondary gains to their current strategy (sense of accomplishment, sense of belonging, social status), and that this is why they can’t shake off that strategy in exchange for one that actually brings in the results they say they want – real money.

    • Extremely good comment. This is layered with insight after insight.

    • When I read this comment, I was definitely reminded of Ramit’s insight at the beginning of his book regarding the whole deal with people being obsessed with the minutiae of our lives. We feel accomplished when we discuss and debate the most small and practically useless information pieces when we haven’t dealt with the core issue at hand.

  34. It is complicated being a working mom and I understand the Quiverfull mindset thanks to Meg’s post. But on the other hand freelancing is an incredible opportunity for moms. Like anything you have to want it to figure out child care and how much time you want to spend working, but I became a freelancer specifically so I could raise kids and still earn something. I can take as long a maternity leave as I can save up for, take time off if they’re sick, and it’s gratifying being an income earner and having an intellectual life of my own. Culture aside, if these moms wanted to become powerful earners it isn’t mutually exclusive with motherhood, it’s a question of being willing and prioritizing time.

  35. too much information often also leads to paralysis and in turn one ends up taking no action and giving up the thought of even getting started with whichever of the 1,000 ideas they just read about. a framework is critical, especially one that establishes concrete steps, guidelines and realistic milestones to expect. this is where the discouraged or overwhelmed get some hope back. most people need a leader to follow. whether they follow the path without distractions is something only the individual can control. the internet makes it easy to get distracted, as if the world isn’t too cluttered with garbage to begin with.

  36. I think the most important thing to learn from the comments is to read under the lines.

    Meaning understanding the poster’s psychology. I think most people are attracted to 100 ways to earn more money, or titles like 10 Things you Can do Now to Earn More, because it gives them a feeling of satisfication, even if the results are not optimal.

    For example, it’s similar to fat loss and body composition, I think what your blog I will Teach You to Be Rich vs other money blogs, is you change your readers focus from being a pennypinching saver, to a CEO, who will cut costs, earn more and optimize.

    Similar to being more healthy. There are many blogs and websites about “losing weight”, “shedding the pounds”, but that’s not people really want. What they want is to really “lose the fat “, and “shed the pounds of fat”.. It’s the fat people want off. Saying I want to lose 10 lbs, doesn’t mean much. You want to lose 10 lbs of what? muscle? water? Feces?

    I know one particular website that shifts the focus from losing weight to burning fat, and gaining muscle, and what he preaches is basically what you do, but on the health related niche. Cutting Calories, Exercising more, and Optimizing Food Nutrients… again CEO

  37. No big differences in theory…Both sites recommend freelancing. Only difference is one site has a niche for stay at home moms so of course you will see more kid-based ideas such as babysitting and tutoring. IWT is geared for young professionals so the advice is a bit more tech-based, not as specific.

  38. I read through/skimmed all the comments for that post and came away with a lot of respect for the posters. Sure, they tended to have views on frugality that I didn’t share. Most of the work they suggested was unskilled labor, and therefore very low-paying. Reading through the comments gave me a new appreciation of how tough it is to make a go of it without valuable skills/human capital. But what impressed me was that most of the suggestions for earning more or saving more came from posters who actually tried their suggestions. The posters, when faced with their own problem of needing/wanting more money, did something to make their situation better. The jobs they did (childcare, transcription, multi-level marketing, etc.) certainly weren’t glamorous or high-paying. Presumably, some of the posters could have done better for themselves. However, I still have an enormous appreciation for anyone who takes action (imperfect though it may be) to make their life better.

    • Ohhhh, this is an excellent point. The BIGGEST difference between IWTYTBR and that Mom blog is exactly that – one focuses on skilled labor, the other on unskilled labor.

      We are in a position of privilege here, and would do well to remember it.

  39. JeanSergeBaptise Link to this comment

    There’s no ambition to go beyond their current state. You can probably get $1000 from going the suggested route, but that’s about as far as you can go. Simply, you can’t automate the ideas once they become profitable.

    • Money Saving Mom had an in-depth post earlier in the year about how to earn money by being a transcriptionist. That is a high-skill profession.

  40. Ramit,
    I don’t have anything to add here, just wanted to thank you for posting this and meg’s comment. Aelle’s was pretty awesome too.

  41. I’ve been a reader at MoneySavingMom for probably at least 5 years.

    I am:
    -a stay at home mother to 6 children
    -we homeschool
    -we are conservative christians
    -not Quiverfull (honestly, I know many large families, but none will tell you they are quiverfull. The large homeschooling families I know have no interest in being lumped together with the movement.) but we do want more children
    -my husband’s income is a good bit above the national average salary
    -I’m 29 years old
    -I love lattes, good wine, gourmet food, and stylish clothes.

    I fit into both blog readerships, here and there, but cannot fully identify with either. I find trying to pinch every last penny tiresome, and have always been fascinated with earning money, big money.

    I currently am starting a consulting business following Ramit’s great advice in the emails he’s been sending out. A consultant to first time, high earning working mothers of newborn babies in their 30′s and early 40′s who don’t have a clue how to take care of a baby.

    Let me just say this. Mothering coupled with homeschooling is a BIG job. It’s not for the faint of heart, and uneducated, lazy women need not apply. While Meg listed off a long list of traits that make up the average reader at MSM, you will be hard pressed to find 1 single woman who that list completely describes. One woman may have 2 or 3 traits from that list, another woman a different 2 or 3. Your average homeschooling mother is not the beaten down, subservient, mindless baby machine, doormat, silly woman in a denim jumper.

    Organization and time management are the keys to being able to craft and execute a business plan that pays big, whether you are a SAHM or a 20 something without much responsibility.

    • Ashley,

      I was homeschooled from 2nd grade onward, and I agree with you that being a homeschooling mother is a demanding job requiring a lot of skills. In the vein of “big wins” for saving money, a woman can often save a ton of money by quitting a low-paying, low stimulation job to take care of kids and do all the housewife-ly things that used to be the norm. It’s not degrading. It makes sense, and it can often be the only way to teach children to share one’s values.

      Btw, great business idea. I’m hoping to someday start an all-purpose doula service for a similar market, but with a greater emphasis on pregnancy specific nutrition in the manner of WAPF traditional foods.

  42. When evaluating suggestions from random internet people, I always look for first-person experience. In this case I would look for a comment that says “I AM earning an extra $1,000 doing X.” Instead, all I see are “YOU COULD earn extra money doing X.”

    The internet is full of useless opinions and suggestions like the latter.

    And surveys, ugh. I looked into them a while ago out of curiosity. Signed up with the 2 biggest and most reputable companies. Most of the surveys pay an average of $1 for a 15-20 minute survey. Are you kidding me? For $3 an hour I’d pay THEM not to have to answer all those questions.

    • Surveys are not lucrative, it is true. However, in some situations they can provide helpful dribs and drabs of money. I have earned $191 over the past four months doing surveys during my “TV time” in the evenings. It wasn’t during time that I commit to my “real” money-making activities. That $191 is not going to change my life, but those $20 – $25 checks helped with groceries during a temporary financial crunch.

  43. Seems to me that most of the things listed are very very easy things to do, and that the more effort required (brush up on geometry and algebra!) the less likely anyone would be to do it.

  44. The fundamental reason why I read IWT is because it expands and enriches my model of the world. It challenges me to actually change my identity and how I think to enable me to take action that I was previously incapable of.

    The readers over at MoneySavingMom.com have a more limited view of their options. They suggest low risk, low yield solutions which lie within their comfort zones, but doesn’t challenge them to change their identities or their behavior.

  45. [...] and invisible scripts that “screen” out even the most sophisticated tactics. (For example, I could give you the best tips on earning more ever created, but if you don’t believe you deserve money, nothing matters — [...]

  46. My wife stopped working to take care of the baby.

    When it was time for day care, we looked around, did not find anything we liked.

    So, wifey got her certification and started a day care biz right at home. she interviewd and selected the kind of kids she thought would be a good mix for our child…different nationalities etc..

    Some observations:
    1) She earned a good 5k/month, taking care of 5 kids.
    2) She avoided going back to work..sitting in commute..
    3) She realized it was a lot of fun, but frikin lot of work too.
    4)for whatever reason,people start to look down on you, when in social circles. A person earning the same 5k a month to go and sit in a dilbert cube is given much more respect.
    5) We saved considerably on our kid’s day care expenses.
    6) Your kid starts to depnd on you a bit more, because of the close proximity at all times.
    7) She has a resource to sell, if she wants to opt out.

    • Jessica Rudder Link to this comment

      Mike,

      I have a friend that adopted a toddler of a different race.

      Because she is young looking and her son is not the same race as her, people often mistake her for the nanny.

      She is amazed at how poorly she is treated by people that assume she works in child care (often by moms at the park not making any money at all for doing the exact same thing – watching a kid at the park). The thing that she finds most odd is that she constantly has people asking her to watch their kids while they go to get coffee or what not. It’s as if they assume that because someone is paying her to watch one kid (which, again, is not the case, it’s her own son) then it’s alright to throw another kid in the mix without any payment at all.

      She always smiles kindly and tells them that she’d be happy to watch their child but her rate is $100/hr with a minimum payment of 3 hours. She figures it’s a win-win. Either they get the message and leave her alone or she makes $300 for 10 minutes of watching someone else’s kid while they go get coffee.

  47. I think it comes down to the overall mindset and lack of scalable thinking. Some of these ladies are falling victim to what I call the “Zero Theory” (the only difference between $1,000 and $10,000 is one zero–a change in the level of thinking.) A mentor of mine told me this one of the fundamental elements of his success. He realized it doesn’t take much more effort to build a $40,000 than a $4,000,000 home. And definitely not 100 times more effort. I think the $1,000 goal sets you up to limit what you could ever accomplish. “Shoot low boys, they’re riding Shetland Ponies.”

  48. The main thing that I notice is that the advice given shows how the majority of people think about making money on an hourly basis. When many people need a little extra money they think of things like filling out surveys or picking up a few more hours at the office, when instead they could be thinking in terms of passive income.
    While certainly more difficult to achieve (especially on your first try), passive income allows one the opportunity to make money “work for them” as stated in Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. Rather than being limited by the number of hours in a day (e.g. filling out surveys, working overtime, picking up another job etc.), they are limited by the creativeness an innovativeness of their mind. Additionally, once you have found a way to make passive income, it is generally not very time-demanding to maintain. For example, while a person may spend months setting up an on-line business selling T-shirts, very little time and effort is required afterwards. So each month they can continue to earn money from the website with very little work put in each month. If I was the person seeking an extra $1000 each month, I would be looking towards passive income.

  49. At the moment, very little. I really had no financial knowledge until about a year ago. As a school project (I’m 16) and as a way to help pay for flight lessons I started a small business called PlaneSpotterCards. So far I have made almost nothing somewhere around $70), which hasn’t even come close to the amount that I initially put in. However, it has been a fantastic learning experience. And, I am still very hopeful about my business and about future businesses. I am really tempted by the idea of passive income because it means that later in life I will be able to work on what I want to work on instead of what pays a great salary. After college I want to be, and have always wanted to be, a commercial pilot — something that usually, contrary to often popular belief, pays very little. Having passive income would allow me to take jobs that otherwise I otherwise would be unable or unwilling to accept.
    That being said, I understand the general concepts of passive income more than I understand how to apply those concepts. That, I believe, will just take time and effort.

  50. Wow, this is like one of the best Crossover Specials of two of my favorite blogs! I Will Teach You to Be Rich for wealth building (higher revenue) and Money Saving Mom for frugality (lower expenses).

    I remember this blog and thought of IWIYTBR instantly. In addition to the great comments already posted, the comments in the MSM did NOT answer the question. The reader needed a way to earn an extra $1k, and most of the replies would give a suggestion but then follow with the line “this will not earn you $1k.”

    Ugh, what bothers me more than an answer that does not solve the problem are “hindsight” answers (“you should had done this, that. etc). Learning and reflection are important, but only AFTER the crisis is contained!