Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Private Tutor?

January 22, 2015 Permalink 0

tutorWhen I was in college I made some extra cash by grading English papers for a high school teacher and working as a private tutor to students in literature.

As an English minor in college, it was work that was right up my alley and was enjoyable.

Later in life as a full-time journalist, I volunteered to work as a tutor for non-English speaking students, teaching them how to read in English. I couldn’t imagine going through life not being able to read, especially being Spanish in an English-speaking and writing country, so I worked with an older Spanish woman for free twice a week to teach her how to read in English.

Both tutoring jobs were fulfilling. The college one helped me pay some bills, but the free tutoring help I offered was much more satisfying because I could see her advancement more rapidly.

Through both of these experiences, I learned some of what it takes to be a good tutor. Except for a quick class I was given about how to teach people how to read, I was left on my own in how to be the best tutor I could be.

Here are four things I discovered:

7 Ways to Start Increasing Your Income in 20 Minutes or Less (But You Probably Won’t Do Them)

December 1, 2014 Permalink 0

You want to make more money. That’s what you said, anyway.

Two Mondays ago, I asked my readers to do a survey which to help me with market research for a new project (launching January 5). How to make more money was an overwhelmingly common answer to one of my survey questions.

So you see me making a decent side income, and you want in. I can see why – it’s incredibly freeing to know that you can support yourself if necessary, or, failing that, it’s wonderful to see your savings and investments accounts grow without having to rely on your primary income.

I’ll give you a whole host of ways to make more money which take less than 20 minutes to start up. You probably won’t do any of them (read through to see why), but I’ll do it anyway, for the handful of people who will.

1. Negotiate a Raise at Your Day Job

Don’t just skim past this one. I know that’s what you are tempted to do, because these conversations are uncomfortable and you are probably talking yourself out of it because you are “no good at negotiating” or you’ve only been at your job for seven months or something.

This is the single easiest way to increase your income in an incredibly short period of time, and if you don’t at least try, then have fun watching everybody who is willing to negotiate soar past you in their careers, while you are rooted firmly to your cubicle chair.

If you aren’t willing to have a 20 minute conversation with your boss for potentially thousands of dollars extra each and every year, that’s just sad.

Not sure how to go about this? Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You To Be Rich has a great video on this. Find it here.

2. Post a Service on Craigslist

The idea here is to make your first dollar on the side. Post a service – any service will do. Whether it’s raking lawns, dog walking, proof reading, sewing lessons, home organization, house cleaning, tutoring, or whatever.

You’re probably thinking “well, I’m not an expert in any of these” or, “I don’t know.. I have a full-time job so I’ll be tired after work.”

The first job is the hardest, and after you break the seal, you’ll realize you were just making excuses.

And no, you don’t have to be the worlds smartest math expert to tutor a fourth grader in math. You just have to know more than he does, which you probably do.

It takes five minutes to post something and make a compelling ad. Just do it.

3. List a Craft or Product on Etsy

It takes maybe ten minutes to set up a basic Etsy shop and $0.20 to list your first item. Is that too much for you?

If you have any sort of ability – maybe you love to knit and have a knack for boot covers. Or maybe you are good at graphic design and can make wedding monograms.

And no, you don’t have to have 100 of the craft made before you list. You need to have ONE, so you can take a photo of it. I can assure you that unless you are a special unicorn, you probably aren’t going to get 100 sales with your first listing right away. When you make your first sale, you can make what the customer ordered.

Whatever it is, take a picture, create a listing, pin your photo to Pinterest and wait.

4. Baby or Dog Sit

Babysitting is one of the easiest and best side gigs out there. Not only is it relatively fun and easy money, but when the kids go to bed, you have time to work on other things. Plus, you generally eat what the kids are eating so you get a free dinner out of it, too.

Kids not your jam? Well, then offer dog sitting. Hate kids and dogs? House sitting. I don’t care what you are sitting, just sit something.

This is pretty easy. Throw up an ad on Craigslist, join your local equivalent of Canadian Nanny (it’s free for service providers), or just tell your friends.

Embarrassed that you want to make extra money? Tell everyone that you are doing it for practice.

5. Freelance

Freelancing is not just for writers. You can be a freelance photographer, graphic designer, assistant, videographer, editor, whatever.

There are a handful of great resources on how to start on this, but Ramit has another great resource on getting your first three paying clients here.

You may not be able to find your first client in less than 20 minutes, but what you can do is pitch to several potential clients in that amount of time, and that breaks the seal.

You don’t have to be the worlds best writer to become a freelance writer. Writing for somebody else will be difficult the first time because you’ll be naturally hard on yourself. But that’s okay and even expected, and it will make you better.

 6. Sell Your Crap

The point of selling your extra stuff isn’t to make a sustainable side income from this. That’s just stupid. You have to buy stuff that you don’t need to sell stuff you don’t need, and I don’t think I need to remind you how dumb that would be.

The point of selling the stuff that you don’t want anymore is to make your first dollar on the side and to get you used to selling something.

When I made my first listing on Craigslist to get rid of a pair of boots that were in great condition but I didn’t need anymore, I was so nervous to actually sell them and have somebody come to my house to pick them up, that I ignored potential buyers’ emails and made excuses for myself.

I was scared they’d come to my house and try on the boots and not like them. The thought of this, for some reason, made me feel as if that would be a personal attack on me.

Or maybe the person would find something wrong with the boots that I didn’t notice, and what if they tried to negotiate with me? I just couldn’t handle the thought.

How ridiculous is that?

I know I’m not alone in this, so look at the excuses that are jumping to your mind to talk you out of listing something that you don’t need. Almost everybody has something that they don’t want anymore, so just list it and see where it takes you.

Man vs. Debt has a guide on how to Sell Your Item on Craigslist in 24 Hours or Less if you need more information.

7. List a Service on Fiverr

If you don’t know what Fiverr is, it’s a marketplace where you can find almost any digital product or service that can be done online for $5.

Want a logo designed? You can get one on Fiverr for $5. Need something translated? Same deal.

On the flip side, you can list on Fiverr. You won’t come away with the entire $5, because the company takes around $1, but you can make you first $4 pretty quickly on this site.

Full disclosure: I have never listed on Fiverr. I have done all of the rest of my suggestions except for this one. I’m not above it, however, and you shouldn’t be either. I know $4 doesn’t seem like much, but you don’t have to do a ton of work for the $4 and it’s $4 more than you’re making on the side right now.

There’s a guest post at Single Mom’s Income about making money with Fiverr, so check that out for more information, but the point is to get your first service listed.

What I’m Not Going to Tell You To Do

I can’t tell you how many articles I read while researching outside resources for this post, that told readers to start a website or a blog and start raking in the cash.

This is terrible advice. In reality, you have to work hard and for free for months (sometimes even years) to make an income from a blog or a website.

Sure, you can slave away on building up an audience for your blog and then start selling out with sponsored posts and/or Google Adsense and make a tiny amount of money a few months in, but in reality, even those things take awhile to build and they are incredibly limiting and even shady.

The reason I listed the things that I listed is this:

They are simple, anybody can do them, and they take 20 minutes or less to get up and running.

You need something quick and easy to list or get started on. Otherwise, excuses start leaking in. These are so easy you can’t say no, which is one of James Clear’s 3 Surprisingly Simple Things You Do Right Now to Build Better Habits.

Everybody Wants to Make More Money (And It’s Not All That Hard to Do)

I posted in the summer about how I quadrupled my income. It was an overwhelmingly popular post, but I have a hunch that many of my readers read it, and then didn’t action anything or start anything because it would take too long or be too hard.

In a year, those people will still be making the same amount of money, or some pathetic 3% increase from their annual raise which will hardly help them get ahead because, well, inflation and an increase in the cost of living (which is the very point of those raises, by the way).

In that same year, the people that actually started something, the ones who got off their asses and spend the very small amount of time researching ways to making extra income and actually used it will probably be making far more than they initially set out to make.

That’s because, as I pointed out in my recent post: How to Fail at Your Big, Fat, Hairy, Audacious Goal, humans love progress and it keeps their brains happy and “motivated”. That’s why it’s easier to make $10,o00 than $1,000 of extra income. You have momentum on your side.

So you have a choice:

Are you going to read this and leave it, keeping all of your income sources to your day job, or are you going to shake the excuses off and actually do one of these things?

It’s up to you.

How We Travelled For a Month With No Income

November 24, 2014 Permalink 0

You want to travel but you don’t have enough vacation time from work, and you have a mortgage and other bills to pay. So you never end up going on that trip, and opt instead to go on short, week-long vacations to get away.

I hear this a lot from readers, friends, and family members. We had the same concerns when we booked our honeymoon in late 2013, not knowing whether we would be able to be paid for the time off.

My husband does not get much vacation time from his job each year (just the statutory minimum) and because we got married in our hometown, he needed to take some time off for the wedding.

I left my full-time job with excellent benefits and vacation time the week of the wedding for a temporary position offering me a raise but no benefits or vacation time at all.

This left both of us with no income from day jobs when we went on our trip.

I can also tell you that I worked very little on our trip. Because of the nature of the honeymoon – travelling to third world countries in South Asia and spending a large portion of the time trekking and/or travelling on unreliable busses, with our bags in the capable hands of strong young Nepali men – I did not bring my laptop. Any work that I did manage to get done was via my iPhone, through a weak and unreliable wifi signal.

prayer wheels

Despite our lack of income for the month we were gone, we still have a mortgage and bills to pay. It was surprisingly simple to prepare financially for no income for a month. Here’s how we did it:

Ramping Up the Side Income

Besides the day jobs, both J and I have side income. J runs a small eCommerce business that we built earlier this year, based on the things that I design, and I have some decent side income from my various side hustles.

When we knew that we’d be left without an income during our honeymoon, so we got to work making extra money. Between following up with clients, raising product prices, and working more, we were able to save even more than we’d normally be able to save.

We Sold Some Things We Weren’t Using

After our wedding and before we left on our trip, I spent the summer cleaning up several of our rooms and listing the things that we didn’t need on Craigslist.

We ended up selling some clothes that we no longer wear, some household items, books, DVDs, and electronics. I didn’t sell things just for money for our trip, but because we got many wedding gifts and we wanted to create space for everything.

I was also horrified when my husband started calling one of our spare rooms the “room that makes things disappear”, because we tended to put things in there and close the door, pretending they didn’t exist.

We ended up with just over $500.00 to bring on our trip, which we used for spending money for about half of our time in Kathmandu and Bali.

Cut Back and Check Priorities

When we initially booked our trek, we thought that we would be going away for twelve days. That’s how long our time in Nepal was, and we didn’t consider going anywhere else after that leg. A few weeks later, though, we noticed a good price on a flight to Bali, so we quickly booked it and extended our stay.

We knew that being away for a month would be expensive, both in opportunity and travel costs, we decided to cut back.

Instead of eating out each week like we had previously, we tried to have date nights at home. We watched our grocery spending more closely and cut expenses that we didn’t need but had somehow crept up on us.

This helped not only to provide us with a bigger financial buffer when we did leave, but also ensure that we weren’t charged more than necessary for services when we left.


If you travel to a country with a far lower cost of living, your expenses will be very low when you are travelling. With enough preparation, it’s really not that hard to take off somewhere without an income for a period of time and still come back with money in the bank and crisis free.