In our last blog post we learned that being a notary can be a side hustle. This week we continue learning more about making money on your own outside of the typical 9 to 5 job. One of my dear friends, Kelly, has graciously agreed to be interviewed by me and explain to us how her side hustle actually became her full-time job! Read on!
Me: Would you please introduce yourself and give us a little background on how your side hustle became your full-time job?
My name is Kelly McCreary and I started working for myself just over 2 years ago. I have been doing administration work for the past 20 years in a wide variety of venues, and have also done occasional independent contractor work for about 15 years. When I was laid off from my job in administration in December of 2015, I decided to take my skills and experience into my own hands and offer my services directly to people who really needed them. The freedom to not only work for myself, but also be appreciated by my clients, has been amazing. I am also a mother of a beautiful 9 year old daughter and recently remarried.
Me: What is it that you do for your clients?
I provide a variety of business development services to clients who run small businesses and either do not need or cannot afford to hire someone full-time. My services range from anything to basic administrative support, running social media, and even managing finances. The services I provide depends on the needs of the individual client and my background and ability to help them with those needs.
Me: What got you into Business Development? How long have you been doing it?
When I got laid off from my job as an Administrative Assistant after only one year, and this job took over a year to get, I was encouraged by friends to consider going into business for myself. I had done some side work for people in the past in both graphic design and administration so I knew it was something I could do. I just never considered trying to make a living doing it. However finding a "real" job was proving to be extremely difficult, if not altogether impossible for me, especially with my unique background.
The first thing I did was reach out to a friend who is a business coach. In exchange for my administrative services he coached me in building my own business. It was in the process of working with my coach that I realized there was a lot of potential in providing my skills in administration and business development to small businesses. With him I worked out my fee scale and service packages. I have been doing it now for just over 2 years and have developed and refined my fees and services along the way.
Me: What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome when you started your business?
The biggest hurdle for me was knowing my value. It was hard for me to get comfortable with figuring out how much I should charge for my services. In the beginning I was definitely underselling myself, but I needed to start where I was comfortable and build up my confidence to charge a more equivalent market value for my services. As my confidence grew and I researched standard fees for the types of services I was providing, I was able to increase my fees with each new client I acquired.
Me: What surprised you most about going into business for yourself?
The biggest surprise is that it was not that hard to make it work. As long as I believe in myself, skills, and the services I provide I am able to confidently sell those services to my clients. Maybe even saying “sell” my services is an overstatement. I simply know my strengths and have honest conversations with potential clients about their needs. For me being simple and personable has gone a long way in not only making my business work, but my success in gaining and retaining clients.
Me: What are some common misconceptions that people may have when using your service?
I find that there have not really been any misconceptions in regards to my services because I strive to make it very clear what my clients needs are, and exactly how I can help them (or not). I do a consultation phone call with every client before I begin working with them. From there I write up a service agreement that is reviewed in detail with the client and signed by both myself and the client. This more intensive upfront effort proves to save tons of time in maintaining the working relationship. Also, because communication is an important component to the work I do for my clients, agreements do get changed and often times at my prompting because I suggest a new direction for our working relationship that will serve my clients better. I guess the keys to my success in this area are that all my work is always client focused, and good communication is established at the onset.
Me: What are some important facts people need to know when using your service?
While I try to have personal interactions with each of my clients, it is important to remember we are in a business contract first and foremost. However, because of the clarity of the service agreements I set up with clients, this too has not been too much of an issue. I even have a client who tells me all the time to make sure I am charging him for everything I do for him, haha.
Me: How can the reader learn more about your services and business?
The best place to learn more about my business and how I have structured it is my website: www.kjbusinessdevelopment.com.
Me: Great! Thank you so much Kelly! It was a pleasure.
As an accounting professional, I consider myself a life long learner and interested in learning more about difference aspects that make our world turn. Especially in the recent budgeting series, I wanted to use this time to demonstrate a few ways of making money outside of the typical 9 to 5 job; AKA, the side hustle in a gig economy. In this next series we turn to individuals within my network who are proven to be successful in their side hustle.
First up, a former colleague of mine who graciously agreed to be interviewed: meet Velincia Ellis. Velincia has performed notaries for over ten years, and she shares a few experiences with us. But, first, what is a notary?? Google dictionary defines notary as: a person authorized to perform certain legal formalities, especially to draw up or certify contracts, deeds, and other documents for use in other jurisdictions.
Me: Would you please introduce yourself?
My name is Velincia Lee Ellis. I was born and raised in Los Angeles California. I have two military sons and a daughter with a LVN pursuing her RN bachelor's degree. I currently work at Southern California Public Radio (KPCC 89.3) as a Financial Analyst.
Me: What is it that you do for your side hustle?
I wear lots of hats now: Financial Analyst, Accounts Payable Supervisor, but the most fulfilling is being a Notary Public. I obtained my commission on April 2005 and it is rewarding to me. I love helping people with their legal documents and see the smiles on individual faces when I perform the notary.
Sometimes people get confused on what a Notary Public can do. I have come across people who’ve wanted me to travel with them to jail to have the inmate sign over his life to someone that does not have their best interest in mind. I have had people come to me with a bus pass with their picture on it to perform a notary. A man with his supposed grandmother who was in a rest home and had no identification and no Power of Attorney, and he thought that’s what I provided. He didn’t have proper identification either. And the best one yet; a lady wanted me to perform a notary for a Power of Attorney for her mom who had dementia. I explained that I could do that, but I would have to come and observe her first. She stated that her Mom would be okay if I came at that time, but she goes in and out of reality. Since I kept reiterating the observation, she never came back to me for a notary.
Me: How do you balance working your full-time job and your side hustle?
Well it is a great balance. I use my Gmail Calendar and an app called Wunderlist. I set appointments so it does not interfere with my regular job. The same goes for when I’m at home. I do not carry my Notary Journal with me everyday, so that is why I have to schedule my appointments. You have to be real cautious when you are using Public Transportation. Taking or stealing my journal is like hacking your bank account. Identities can be stolen.
Me: What is the process for a Notary to be filed?
People have to keep in mind the process for a completed Notary to be filed. I request the following documents at the time of notarization: Current California ID, or California Driver’s License.. California will let you perform a Notary with an expired ID, no more than 5 years. Additionally, one could use a current Passport.
I also let individuals know that you may be fingerprinted in my Notary Journal depending on the type of document which includes:
The Notary Journal is where I document the notary performed. It consists of the individual's identification, type of notary performed, date and time. If fingerprints are needed, those are included as well. It is always good to keep a Notary Journal just in case the courts or legal matters arise and they need the information provided in the notary journal. Remember that we are always commissioned by our said state, and no we are not lawyers.
Me: Would you please let the readers know how they can get in contact with you if they need a notary?
I am not mobile as I would like to be, but that is in the works. If you are in need of a Professional and understanding Notary Public you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My prices align with the State of California, and I do offer senior discounts, and veterans are free.
Me: Thank you so much for your time, Ve!
The past two posts we have talked a lot about budgeting. If you have not read those, I would encourage you to go back and read them first as they provide the basis for this one. Visit them by clicking the links: Budgeting Part 1 and Budgeting Part 2. This post will be on the more practical side of things. Follow along, and you’ll be budgeting in no time!
Now that we have gotten this far in the blog, it’s time to share with you a basic budget template so that you can fill it in and carry it with you (electronically, of course). But, first, I want to walk through a bit more in depth of how to budget year-over-year.
First, once a baseline budget has been established, then it is good to go through it each month and line up what you have anticipated in your spending compared to what was actually spent. It is important and necessary to fine tune your budget by monitoring it each month because sometimes charges do not come through as we have anticipated. This can get a little tricky, especially if you have not listed all of your spending in your baseline budget. My rule of thumb here is to reevaluate your baseline budget every 3 months, until you feel you are at a point where you can trust your baseline budget against your actual spending.
Secondly, after the baseline budget has been compared against actual spending, then we can fine tune which line items where you might want to see savings. For example, you may think that your grocery line should be a total of $200 per month per person, but when it comes down to it you might be spending a little more than that. This would definitely be an area to keep an eye on. You will also want to keep your eye on frivolous spending associated with clothing, dining out, entertainment and miscellaneous amenities. These line items can quickly add up and have the ability to thwart any specific savings goals you have in mind.
Thirdly, after you have narrowed down areas of savings, then it is time to start considering future goals. Next month, will you increase your savings by 3%? Are you planning to buy a car in the future? Do you have plans to purchase a home? What will that look like as far as your budget is concerned? Did you take that into consideration already, or do you need to create a new budget line to accommodate for these goals? Once you are able to answer these questions, then it is time to download this template, and get to work! Let me know your progress as you go, I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below!
If you are stuck with any one of the questions above, or in the previous posts, because you feel like you have no money to create a functional budget, then it may be time to consider adding in a side hustle. Do you need to make more money outside of your normal 9 to 5 job? A lot of people are starting to realize the benefits of the side hustle and are flocking to jobs, like driving for Uber and Lyft. According to this podcast, if you do drive for Uber you are likely to get paid around $20 per hour. A side hustle can be a great added benefit to your life, especially if you have some spare time during the week. In the next series of blogs we will focus more on the side hustle…
So stick around!
How To Save To Your Google Drive:
Sign-in to your Gmail account.
Click this link.
Click File > Make a copy…
Rename your template however you like and save to "My Drive" folder.
Start typing in your budget template!
Photo credit by Katie Horning, follow her @gallivant.go.delight on Instagram
Interested in learning more about balancing your checkbook? Click here.
For this blog post I am focusing on 2 things: savings and credit card debt. With these being hot topics, I feel we need to explore them a little bit more. When I started writing this entry, I hoped to cover more topics. However, as I wrote I realized I had more to say on these two topics than I originally thought! I am not saying I have everything all together, but my life experiences have taught me a good deal. I feel like we could all use this opportunity to share and grow with each other. Let me know in the comments section if this is helpful information, or if you have another strategy for building savings or getting out of debt that you would like to share!
My rule of thumb is to consistently put money away into savings. That is the bottom line. The amount of money does not matter as long as it is being done on a consistent regular basis. Start small! $5 this week, maybe $10 next week… Or $25 this month, and $30 next month. Do not set yourself up for failure by having savings goals that are too large. The point is to create a habit of saving money. Set a goal that by the end of the year you will have saved $100 without touching it! Then, backtrack… If you think it is going to be hard to put money away this month set a goal to do $20 next month. If you set aside $10 a month, you will have surpassed your initial goal. See? It is not that hard! Once you accomplish a small goal, then you will feel encouraged to set your goal just a little bit higher next month or next year!
I realize debt is a very real thing for a lot of people. It is hard to shake. It is carried over from prior years, and sometimes we defer it and defer it and it becomes an even bigger hurdle to move past. The thought of it seems daunting and sometimes it seems easier to ignore. To which I say, do not ignore it!
Here's an exercise (Yes, I'm giving you homework on my blog!): For those who have credit card debt, look at the past 3 credit card statements and write down how much you have been charged in interest. Then add those 3 together and multiply the total times 4. That figure is an estimate of how much you will pay in interest in one year. This will not be a fun reality to face. But, I guarantee you that once you put pen to paper you will realize the amount of your burden, and how that burden is not worth carrying into another year. Start making strides NOW to pay it off.
These harsh realities are usually not taught in school but learned once we enter the real world. So, after you graduate high school and go into college and receive a credit card offer, and that offer looks really good to you, you may be thinking, “Hey, why not?! I could use this!”. I realize that there are some parents out there that are very good about training their high schoolers and college aged kids how to face the reality of these responsibilities. However, some parents might not even know how to best navigate these issues themselves, perhaps no one taught them either. Instead of looking at a credit card thinking, “I have $1,500 to spend”, the owner of that credit card needs to look at it as an obligation, something that needs to get paid back by the end of the statement cycle.
I know what I am proposing may seem challenging, especially when you already feel overwhelmed by the amount of expenses you are responsible for in any given month. The key is to prioritize. When I mention the word “prioritize” I am not talking about paying the rent and utilities first over going out to eat, although that is a very good practice! When I talk about prioritizing in your budget, I mean identify what you are paying for on a monthly or consistent basis that is simply not needed.
*Let's be real with each other here.* Do you have credit card debt and have a monthly subscription to a music service? When I say prioritize I mean get rid of the monthly subscription to the music service as a means of minimizing and eliminating things that are unnecessary. Instead put that extra $10 into your savings account each month and listen to the free version of Pandora. Other examples could be clothing, shoes, purses, electronics, the list really goes on. When it comes down to it, the stuff we have today can, and will, last us if we take proper care of it. So I encourage you to take a hard look at your purchases, and only buy the items you really need. Okay, maybe I lost some of you there because you are tethered to your electronics, and always feel like you need the best of the best. Or maybe that is your conscience seeping thru to you wanting to ignore the voice of reason . . .
Now, if your credit card debt has snowballed into an amount that is too large for you and your salary to swallow, then schedule your consultation with me immediately. Confidentially, we will see if you and I can figure out a plan to handle the payment or if you should go with a debt consolidation company. Use this handy-dandy credit card payment calculator to see how long it will take you to pay off your debt. Click here to use it.
At this point, you may be thinking… “Why even use credit cards to get yourself into trouble?”. When used appropriately credit cards can be a useful tool. Having a credit card can help build your credit and give you bonus points to get a bunch of *FREE* things. However, if you already know you are abusive with your credit cards, until you can create a healthy habit, use cash for your everyday purchases.
I know, I know; there’s a really cool TV show on right now that is way more entertaining! Well, there is no need to worry or stress about this topic. I am here to help! I am going to break this down as simple as possible.
Most would agree that it is essential to have a budget, and stick to it. But, do you really know WHY that is? As we journey through life and become more and more established, we must think through the role our finances play as we learn and grow. The future is rich with treasure for us to attain, are we financially prepared for it? Are you hoping to purchase a new car or a new home? Perhaps you are planning on getting married and having kids? How will you prepare yourself if you don’t start right away?!
When I speak with people about budgeting, they often tell me that they just want to know how much extra money they have for their own discretionary spending. Whether it is on coffee, fast food, getting your haircut or nails done, clothing, and the like. However, that’s not the place we should start when creating a budget.
To start, let’s look at setting up a basic budget, which is used to monitor your income and spending. When starting off on creating a new budget there are a few essential categories that you will need to take into consideration such as: fixed expenses, variable spending, and periodic spending.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… But, Edrina, I have credit card debt? How do I factor that into my budget? To that I would say, stop spending more than you make! But, seriously... I mean, of course we are all guilty of this at times. I just love to go shopping! But, having restrain and sticking to your budget is more fulfilling than being in debt. As you create the foundation to what your budget should be, this allows you to become more aware of your spending habits and how to create boundaries as a way of monitoring where your money goes. You end up on the forefront, becoming in charge of your finances, rather than allowing your finances to be in charge of you. You might also be thinking, so -- what should I do with that net balance? How do I manage that? Well, you are in luck! The focus of the next blog will be spent on topics such as creating and maintaining savings, as well as paying off and preventing debt!
Now, get to it, and happy budgeting!
Photo credit by Katie Horning, follow her @gallivant.go.delight on Instagram
My thoughts on numbers, spreadsheets, money, spending, forecasting, budgeting, and everything in between. Read on!
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