SMALL VICTORY: 401K INCREASE
FINANCIAL IMPLICATION: $2,400+
This past week, I increased 401k contribution from 6% to 10%. For the first three years I was working at my current job, I had very few expenses and no debt and so my 401k contribution was 20%. I definitely chose that number out of thin air on my first day of new hire orientation.
I had no idea what I was doing when I set it up, and so I never missed that money.Then, years passed, I got married and let my husband quit his job so he could go back to school full time, and we took on a lot of debt. At some point I decided to lower my 401k contribution to 6%. My employer matches 6% so I never want to drop below that. Well, now that I’m starting to get things back in order, I’m going to slowly increase it and see how it goes.*
I’ve also recently ramped up my emergency savings from 0 to 5%. It´s not a lot, but it´s a start. I´m going to reward myself–with each credit card I pay off (working on snowballing, here) I´m going to increase my 401k contribution and my emergency savings fund contribution. For me, these are small victories.
How am I making all this possible? I´ve taken on a pseudo-side hustle. It´s pseudo because it´s my full time hustle, too. To put it simply, I’ve started working 7 days a week. It sounds crazy, but it´s not that bad. It´s just been a change of mindset in that instead of having “days off” I think of it as “optional days.” The company I work for is extremely liberal with paying overtime, and so instead of working 40 hours/week, I´m now working about 55-60 hours/week.
I thought long and hard about what my side hustle should be when I started looking at my finances. My top picks were tutoring and mystery shopping. I used to tutor high school math and ACT/SAT prep when I was in college, and I loved it. I read about the potential in mystery shopping from The Penny Hoarder and got all excited.
And then I realized that I can’t really charge that much tutoring, maybe $15/hr–because I’m not accredited or licensed in any way, and even though I’m smart and good at teaching, I can’t really guarantee results, the way real tutoring companies do. And it would take a lot of effort to build up a good reputation and clientele. I don’t live where I went to college and I don’t really know anyone in high school or with kids in high school, so–I could do it, but I knew it would be a lot of work.
And then I signed up for 4 of the mystery shopping companies that Kyle recommended, and again realized how much work it really would be to make a substantial amount of money with this side hustle. Most shops pay around $10-$20 dollars, and are very specific about who qualifies to do which ones (I didn’t qualify for many), and they’re very specific with exactly when they have to be done. Working my crazy retail schedule, it was really tough for me to schedule the shops. They often send out alerts about last-minute shops posted and I definitely can’t do those… In order for me to get time off, I have to request it at least 4 weeks in advance, and so if the shops didn’t coincide with my scheduled days off, I couldn’t do them. Oh well.
And then a stroke of genius struck me. What if I just work extra hours at my current job?! HAHAHA. I’m an idiot. This should have been obvious to me from the start but for some reason I thought a side hustle had to be completely unrelated to my real job. I realized I’m looking to make more money, not to necessarily get a second (different) job.
This was really a breakthrough moment for me–because my overtime hours #40-50 pay 1.5x my normal hourly rate, and hours #50+ pay double my normal pay! So by default, this pseudo-side hustle is going to pay me more than my normal job. And on top of all that, I get paid commission on what I sell, so extra time at work means more time to sell stuff and boost my commission check.
I used to love taking long lunches and leaving early. “Down with the man!” I’d cry in my heart. But now… I feel like I’m really sticking it to the man by taking all his overtime extra-money hours. It makes me happy-borderline-giddy to have figured this out. Small victories.
*I will say I’m not at all savvy about how to properly invest my 401k contributions, but I’m committed to reasearching and improving what I have. Ashley at GoGirlFinance recently wrote about not being afraid to invest. “The best way to learn is often by doing.” And so I’m starting by contributing more to the fund, and then I’m going to start wiggling my money around in there to see if I can figure out how to start really growing my investment. More updates on this to come.