One of the biggest things that bothers me about traditional 9-5 employment is that you have an income ceiling. You can work your butt off and put in extreme hours, but at the end of the day, the decision of giving you a raise still rests in somebody else's hands. This is why I became an entrepreneur.
What I've discovered since deciding to be in charge of my own time is that it's all about working smart, not hard. When you're being paid hourly, you are incentivized to work slowly. On the other hand, when you're being paid for a specific task or service, the more efficient you are in getting that task completed, the more money you can make. I'm not saying you should prioritize speed over quality -- far from it. I think quality and efficiency go hand in hand.
Since I am my own boss, I am 100% in control control of my schedule. Because of that, I'm able to pick up some side jobs, such as dog sitting (which also includes home visits). I get paid $35/day to take care of someone's dog. For someone who has never taken care of animals, this might seem daunting, and they may not be suited for this. I've had all kinds of animals growing up so not having a pet right now is the more unnatural thing for me. I get paid a daily fee for minimal work - a few potty breaks a day, putting some kibble in a bowl, taking a walk (which I do anyway). Plus lots of puppy cuddles. I also do home visits - so while I'm already potentially getting paid a daily fee to take care of a dog at my house, I can visit another dog at their home and take them outside and make a "visit" fee (typically $20-$25 for a 30 minute visit). Almost doubling my daily rate... and I am able to do 3 visits a day (but don't like to as it is slightly more inconvenient).
What's even better is that this is something I can do on top of my "day job" as a real estate agent. I can write offers from my home office with a dog at my feet - happily! I don't have to give up anything or make any sacrifices. Just like that, I am giving myself a raise. No, I'm not going to get rich by dog-sitting. But for the incremental amount of effort it takes, I can boost my income by a few thousand bucks a year... who would say no to that!?
There are plenty of other ways to do this if caring for animals is not your thing. In fact, the sharing economy is amazing for this. You can rent out an extra bedroom in your home - boom, an extra $500-$1,000/month. You can rent out your car, if you live in a large city and don't drive as much. You can even rent out your driveway if you live close to a sports arena. Heck, you could even do all of these - that is my point.
Between my housemate and my dog-sitting, I make an extra $1,000/month. This is just icing and has nothing to do with my day job at all. I don't know about you, but an extra $1,000 per month is pretty fantastic! I use it to pay down debt and increase my savings. And if one of those income sources disappears temporarily, I know I will still be okay because a) it was extra to begin with and b) I have other income sources.
Layering income entails a little bit of creativity and maybe some risk taking, but to me it is way better than asking a boss for a raise.
Although many could argue that I may have missed out on the "college experience," I truly believe it was the hours I put in and the work experience I gained in college that catapulted the rest of my career. I remember the feeling... as a student, you'd do anything to have the feeling of earning enough money to support yourself, but your friends said you'd be crazy to give up your weeknights just to earn a few extra bucks.
I didn't listen to my classmates, peers, or even mentors who told me to "soak in" my time in college. I knew the earlier I started, the earlier I'd reach my goals. So I split my schedule into the following: Monday-Thursday was school time. I'd have class from about 9 or 10 to 3 pm, and when I was finished with class I would go back to my apartment and do schoolwork until bedtime. I tried to coordinate my schedule so that I'd have Fridays off and could then work that whole day. Some semesters I was successful, and others I wasn't. On Fridays and Saturdays, I would work at Chick-fil-A. Sundays, I would tutor. Rinse and repeat.
My parents had money set aside for college, but because I worked so hard (and had a few small scholarships), I barely touched that money... and instead used it for a down payment on a condo that I then rented out to other students during grad school... which got me into real estate (what I do now).
Here are 10 things any college student can do to earn more money (yes, even while taking a full course load).
1. Work a retail/customer service job
I got my food service job as a junior in high school. I worked 12-15 hours a week after school and on weekends, and full-time during the summers. Because I worked evenings while I was in high school, I was able to get priority scheduling during the summers when I was in college. Therefore I always had plenty of hours when I was back home for the summer (and by that point had worked my way up to a management position so was making $12+ an hour).
2. Flip textbooks
Arbitraging market prices was a great way to work smart and not hard. I would scour the campus lost and found and book sales. There seemed to be book sales all the time! I would load up on every textbook or technical book I could find - they were usually $1 or $2 a piece, and most people skipped over them cause books are BORING. I'd go home and list them on Amazon, often for $80+ per book.
You can get lucky through Craigslist, too. I bought 3 boxes of books for $10 per box off someone who was moving and just needed to get rid of his philosophy and science books. Again, I listed them online and made $30 after selling the first two.. so everything else after that was pure profit.
I tutored Spanish (my college major) for $15-$20/hour. It's possible to also tutor for college credit.
4. Become an RA
I didn't do this personally, but had plenty of friends that did. You get free housing (and sometimes even free or discounted meal plans) for being the 'Resident Advisor'. It meant you had to sometimes hold meetings for your floor and be on call in case anything happened... but if you're going to be living in the dorm anyway, this is a great way to save some money.
5. Work for the library/dorm security
My dorm had a front desk person in each building, to answer general questions, give out packages and monitor people going in and out. Most of the time they were either on their laptops or studying (rarely did anyone approach them unless it was to pick up a package). Getting paid $9/hour to do homework isn't a bad gig.
6. Get a paid internship
My junior year, I stumbled onto a Craigslist gig listing asking for help reconciling credit card statements/receipts and general administrative duties. I responded to the ad and within 30 minutes she'd called me and set up a time to meet. Once we met and realized we both had Taiwanese heritage, that was it... I was hired to mostly help with the company (an event company that put together barista competitions) but she also paid me $10/hour to help her with random tasks like cleaning her house.
7. Buy a house and rent out rooms
So buying a house tends to be more difficult for those with little to no income, but I was still able to buy a cheap condo with my mom co-signing on the loan. We had put together a business plan where I showed her I could rent out 3 bedrooms at $350/each, plus live in the 4th bedroom. I bought the condo at the tail end of the recession, so it was $100,000 and my mortgage including taxes & insurance was something like $497. Every month I collected ~$1,000, paid out $500 or so for the monthly mortgage payment, and kept the remaining $500 (unless there was a repair or something needed, which wasn't often). Plus I didn't have to pay rent.
8. Participate in research studies
I had a friend who worked in a lab on campus. He was doing research on how people perceive pain, and posted something on Facebook one day about needing more research study participants. All I had to do was show up, let them poke and prod me (nothing invasive, they would have tools to put pressure on my finger, neck, shoulders and I would rate it on a "pain" scale). Nothing actually hurt. After an hour and a half, they wrote me a check for $60!
Since I was living quite frugally in college (one of my goals was to eat free all week by finding local community dinners or club meetings to attend), a large portion of the money I earned was saved. Not only that, but I gained valuable work experience and contacts that could later vouch for my work quality down the road.
In the end, I'm really glad I carved out my own "college experience" for myself. I have no regrets, and I'm actually really glad I started so early because it means I have a better financial stronghold now to launch my various business pursuits.
Tutoring is a great way to earn extra money because usually you are paid cash and it can be fairly flexible. While the bulk of my tutoring experience has been in-person tutoring, now there a ton of resources out there where you can tutor students online. Tutoring gigs tend to pay between $10-$25+ an hour, depending on your speciality and level. If you can tutor for the SAT/ACT though, you can charge much higher rates.
Online tutoring is great because not only do you have to travel anywhere to meet someone (you could work from home!) you also are not limiting your customer base. You can actually have customers from all over the world as an online tutor. And more customers = more money :)
Here are some sites you can start with if you're interested in tutoring:
I am sure there a lot more sites out there, but these are the main ones I've seen around. Tutoring is a fun side hustle because not only is it decent money (compared to slaving at a minimum wage job), but it can be very fulfilling helping a student with their studies and watching them improve. It feels really good when you're able to see how you have had a direct impact on someone's life just by being there to teach them with knowledge that's already in your own head!
When most people think of accounting software, they think of manually entering numbers, desktop icons, licensing, and in some cases, hardware. The thought of accounting doesn't immediately conjure up images of efficiency and automation... but that all changed with the development of cloud accounting. Cloud accounting is just that - an accounting solution based in the cloud, not your personal computer. Through the cloud, not only can you access your accounting information from anywhere with an internet connection (and yes, on mobile too!) but you can also allow grant employees access. Not to mention most programs automatically sync with your bank accounts so it is always up-to-date.
As a busy entrepreneur and freelancer, I know the last thing I want to do is mindless data entry and keeping track of business expenses. Personally, it's usually a last minute scramble around tax time to figure out my numbers from the past year, and of course the estimated amounts in my head are usually off. But I put off updating my accounting spreadsheets because I could be using that time to reach out to new clients and generate more sales, and it's just tedious work. If you're anything like me, then you may want to look into a solution like this... I know I am.
One such cloud accounting solution is called Xero. Xero is a cloud accounting platform that offers a subscription-based service. Some of the features include a mobile app (invoicing from your smartphone which is a huge time saver), financial performance reports at the touch of a finger, and according to the website, integration with 500+ apps including inventory and time tracking. This could be extremely useful for any small business owner, but especially those who are also managing employees. In some of the service plans they offer, Xero also includes payroll. So you could potentially almost outsource your entire finance department to this one accounting solution.
After a 30 day free trial, you are able to choose from 3 options: 1) Starter ($9/month), 2) Standard ($30/month), and 3) Premium ($70/month). Of course the option you choose would be dependent on the size of your business. If you are a solopreneur, you'd likely be just fine with the Standard option. The Premium tier would be a better fit for a small business owner because it offers the Payroll function for up to 10 employees. (You can add up to 100 employees on the Payroll function for an additional $110/month). Even at $180/month for the top tier Premium option with 100 employees on payroll, that is significantly less than I pay for most of my subscriptions as a Realtor. For example, I just signed up for Realtor.com leads for $280+ per month, and I'm doing it as a trial because I am not convinced it will work!
If you are just starting out with your business, you may not initially need a cloud accounting solution... but when you do, keep Xero in mind. For those running small businesses with even an employee or two, using a cloud based accounting solution could be a great way to streamline the business finances and put systems in place for future growth!
*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Xero and contains affiliate links to their products/services. I was compensated for this review, though all opinions and experiences stated are my own and not influenced by Xero. Thank you for supporting Earn Like A Girl. I do my best to only post content that I think my audience will find useful, regardless of financial rewards.
As many of you may know, I attended the first ever #girlbossrally, held in sunny Los Angeles, California. It was hosted by Sophia Amoruso, Founder of Nasty Gal and the original #girlboss.
I must admit that I was a little skeptical about it all, as I found out days before I was supposed to leave that Nasty Gal had just declared bankruptcy. I found myself thinking, "Man, I wish I knew that before I bought my ticket.. I probably wouldn't have gone." Well, I'm so glad I did go. I was expecting the news of Nasty Gal's bumps to be brushed under the rug and the glitz and glam of the event. Imagine my surprise when during the morning's opening remarks, Sophia immediately brought up the fact that her company was struggling. It really set the stage (no pun intended) for the rest of the day, in the best way possible.
The event was incredibly humbling, and inspiring, all at the same time. Hearing from women who had "failed" yet persevered despite the challenges facing them was beyond empowering. Often, I am faced with "imposter syndrome" -- the feeling of not belonging, feeling like I am a fake amidst all the success surrounding me. I know it is a feeling shared by many - both men and women alike. But it was refreshing to once again be reminded that I wasn't alone.
Here are a few more nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from the event:
"Don't compare your hustle to someone else's highlight reel."
This really stuck with me, because it's something I used to do almost constantly. It's still a bad habit - comparing myself to others via social media. The social media world is completely different from reality. It's a virtual "keeping up with the Joneses" that leads to a lot of feelings of inadequacy and wondering why your life isn't "perfect". The thing is, most will share the great days, but will rarely allow a glimpse into the bad days in between.
"Having a Plan B means you're planning for your Plan A to fail."
Ok, so this truth bomb was actually dropped on me the night before in a conversation with my boyfriend, so when I heard it again the next morning it was a little bit like the skies opened up and the angels started singing.
I've always been the one to have a side business to my side business - in addition to my main business. I always had a fall back, a back up, in case things didn't work out. I think a little bit of paranoia for any business owner is a good thing, as it drives you forward to take new risks to grow your company. But letting that paranoia take over to the point where you are busier creating side businesses in case your main business fails THAN ACTUALLY WORKING ON THE MAIN BUSINESS ITSELF - that's when it becomes a problem. Point taken, universe.
The energy in the room the whole day was phenomenal. Ladies sharing their stories, some raw and painful, others joyful... it was such a treat to be there amongst such strong women (and a few men). I came back to North Carolina with a renewed sense of purpose. It's amazing what a community can do.
I've earned over $1,200 dog sitting in the past 4 months. $1,200 to cuddle pups. It's a pretty good gig.
Through Rover.com I have hosted dogs at my home while their owners are out of town. It can be a little intimidating to start at first, though, so I decided to write a guide for those who are thinking about it. Not only do I love dogs, but since I am self-employed I have a very flexible schedule which really helps me gain clients.
So here is your step-by-step guide to dog sitting on Rover!
1.) Go to Rover.com to create your profile.
2.) After filling out your basic info, hit 'Continue'. Rover will then ask what services you'd like to offer. Feel free to toggle on as many services as you'd like. Personally, I only offer dog boarding in my home and drop in visits. Though I've only had 1 request for a drop in visit, and 12+ dog boarding requests.
3.) On the next screen, you will be asked what rate you'd like to charge. A few things go into this: are you watching more than one dog at the same time? How experienced are you? What are other sitters in your area charging? You can charge a higher rate if you only take one dog at a time. If you have experience administering medication, that can call for a slightly higher rate as well. For example, I charge $35/night for boarding... it used to be $33/night, but I decided to experiment to see my optimal rate. I've been consistently getting bookings at $35/night, so I decided to leave it at that for now. Start low, then as you get a few bookings and reviews under your belt, increase slowly from there. Just keep in mind that Rover takes 20% as their commission.
4.) You will then be asked about your service options and dog preferences. Keep an open mind!
5.) Next is your Sitter Profile. You will be asked to fill in details about your home and upload photos. Make sure your photos are clear, show your house and include a few photos of you smiling. It makes a difference! The background check will cost $10 but it will add a badge to your profile, which helps with your credibility. More on that later.
6.) Your profile should then be complete. Make sure you share on your social media accounts that you now offer dog sitting/boarding services! I've gotten a few requests from Facebook alone.
7.) Get your first booking! It may take a few weeks, but once you get a booking request, the best thing to do is schedule a meet and greet with the dog. Usually the owner will want this to be in your home so they have an idea of where their dog will be staying. Make sure it is clean, leave out a bowl of water for the pup, and be friendly. Most meet and greets only take 10 minutes or so.
8.) Boarding time! Take care of the dog for the length of the reservation. Make sure to adhere to the owner's rules (usually they will write you instructions). They will provide food, toys, etc. I always err on the side of caution... i.e. if they don't specifically tell me if the dog can have table scraps, I don't give them to him. Your goal here should be to make sure the dog is happy and healthy. Give them attention/play time and a walk every day (if the owner requests).
Also make sure to provide the owner with updates on how their pet is doing! Photos go a long way.
Depending on the owner's instructions, the dog may prefer to sleep in your bedroom or in another room like the living room.
9.) Pick up. After your scheduled boarding stay, the owner will pick up their pet. I usually text them a few days before to confirm the pick up time.
10.) 2 days later: get paid! If you have your Paypal account set up, Rover will then send you the money 2 days after your reservation.
Dog sitting is a great side gig, especially for those with flexible schedules. I even know some sitters who do this full time!
If you prefer to host more than one dog per night, that's great! More money for you. However since I do not do so for liability reasons, I can't speak to what that experience is like.
Anytime along the way, if you have questions about what to do, ask away! I am here as a resource for you :)
As a business owner, it's easy to feel compelled to "do all the things," both personally and professionally. While that may work in the short term, it will eventually lead to feeling overworked, overstressed, and even potentially under-serving your clients. We've all heard "quality over quantity" and that's never been more important than now.
The quality of your work is your brand. You are jeopardizing it by wasting your time on clients that drag you around or don't value what you bring to the table.
Here are 5 lead-ins to saying 'no' when you feel it's necessary. Feel free to customize to each situation based on the dynamics of that particular relationship!
"I'm sorry, I'd love to _________ but I'm swamped right now. I will let you know when I can!"
(This response puts you back in control and the ball back in your court. Emphasize that YOU will reach out when you're ready. I usually use this one to politely decline coffee/lunch invitations.)
"I appreciate you contacting me, but I'm currently not looking for ________."
(Working in sales is tough, and sales calls are even tougher. Most people would probably just hang up, but I usually don't do that unless I've said 'no' multiple times and they're still not getting the message. Often a polite response saying you're not interested is clear without being too aggressive.)
"I don't handle _______ but I'm happy to refer you to someone who does."
(Sometimes a 'no' should be treated more as a 'not me.' I have some people contact me who would be better served by someone else (for instance, a rental lead in my real estate business). What I do is introduce them to a contact of mine who does work with rental leads. It then becomes a win-win: the potential client is taken care of, and I just helped my contact land more business. That's what I call a win-win!)
"I'd love to be involved but have a ton going on right now, can you add me to your newsletter list so I can still stay up-to-date on your activities?"
(Being proactive in my community is important to me, but there's only so much bandwidth for that. This message shows you are still interested and care, but for the short term can't help - it's more of a "not now" than a flat out no. Plus, it can be an easy let down if you're not sure you want to continue but need some time to decide... you can always unsubscribe from the newsletter if you decide not to pursue it.)
(Yes, even no response is a form of response, so don't feel guilty, especially if they are asking you for something you're unwilling to give. I've had strangers wanting me to connect them to someone in my circle or even creeps try to hit me up over LinkedIn... sometime the best response is none at all.)
We've got a celebrity in our midst, folks! Michelle has been kicking ass and taking names with her personal finance site Making Sense of Cents. She originally started writing as she was paying off $38,000 in student loans. However today she has far surpassed anyone's expectations -- if you look at her latest January income report, she earned $139,233 from her blog alone. Yes, in ONE month. Talk about earning like a girl!
Imagine my delight when she agreed to be interviewed (by such small potatoes like me). It truly shows what a generous person she is. Welcome Michelle!
Let's get started...
1. What was the driving force behind Making Sense of Cents?
I never thought I'd grow up and be a full time blogger, haha. I graduated from college in 2010, and again in 2012 with a Masters with an emphasis in Finance. I started out as a financial analyst, and worked in that position for 3 years.
Almost 6 years ago, my driving force for starting Making Sense of Cents is a little different from the average blogger. I started my blog with the hopes of teaching people how to save money after reading a magazine that featured a personal finance website in one of their articles. Due to that website, I became extremely interested in personal finance blogs, and my interest in blogging just grew from there. Before August of 2011, I didn't even know that blogs existed. I didn't know what they were, and I didn't know that they could make money or anything like that.
I did not create my blog with the intention of making money blogging. It was really all just a hobby. But, I came to really love blogging (and I still do!) and eventually left my financial analyst job so that I could blog full time.
This was the best decision I've probably ever made!
On Making Sense of Cents, I talk a lot about different ways to make extra income, money saving tips, living your dream life, RVing (me and my husband RV full time), and more. I love running Making Sense of Cents and I am very happy now that this is my full-time career, my business, and pretty much my life.
2. What are some challenges you had to face along the way, and how did you overcome them?
I believe my biggest challenge has been to manage a good work-life balance.
One of my top goals for 2017 is to finally manage the best work-life balance ever. I would like to be able to take a month off from my blog without thinking about it the whole time and go on a nice backpacking trip. I hardly ever go more than an hour without working (unless I'm sleeping, of course). I really love my blog and all of the work that goes into it, so it makes it hard for me to take a break, even for a small amount of time. This is still something that I'm working on, but I have definitely gotten better with it. Lately, I've been working ahead as much as I can, and I am currently 2 months ahead in content. This has helped me to feel not as stressed to write content and it makes everything much more enjoyable.
3. Let's say you wake up tomorrow morning, it's cold and dreary outside, and you just don't feel like working. What do you do to motivate yourself?
Cold and dreary days are actually my best days for working! I feel like that's great motivation to work on those days, because I can't go outside or really do much anyway. On days when I can't motivate myself to work, I usually just stop and don't force it. I find that when I try to force myself to write, that I just sit there for hours and hours and nothing productive will happen. So instead of wasting my time, I try to do something else. Thankfully I am my own boss so I don't really have any tight deadlines -- and I only work on things that I truly want to work on.
4. Have you ever faced criticism for what you do? How do you respond to it?
I don't know if it's criticism exactly, but it's more like a lot of people don't really understand what I do. And that's perfectly fine because blogging isn't exactly a well-known career or business choice, and the same goes for businesses that can be run online anyway. I don't try to engage with negativity - I just explain what I do and move on.
5. What is something that you don't see many female entrepreneurs and/or bloggers doing, but you think they should?
My best piece of advice that I'd give bloggers or entrepreneurs is to network as much as you can. One big blogging mistake that I've noticed many other bloggers make is not making the effort to network and/or they just can't see the point in it. Networking is so important as a blogger and/or entrepreneur. You should see others in the blogging world as your colleagues and friends, not your enemies or competition.
6. If you made half of what you make now blogging, would you still do it?
Yes, for sure! It would still be a great amount of income and definitely worth it. Blogging is a lot of fun and I love the doors that it has opened for me.
Let me tell you... Michelle is on top of it! For reference, it took me a week for me to get these questions over to her, and she responded within 5 hours....
Thank you Michelle!
If you're anything like me, the Superbowl has come to mean funny ads, fattening foods, and alternating between sitting on your bum and screaming at the television for 4 hours. Yet, it always amazes me how a well-crafted 30 second commercial spot can bring out ALL. THE. FEELS.
The commercial made by Audi that aired last night did just that. So many car commercials show the product racing around tight curves with mountains looming in the background or bobbing up and down over rough terrain. Now, I'm a car girl so I can appreciate certain features that the car may offer, but really these commercials aren't saying anything meaningful. They focus on WHAT rather than WHY. It's incredible how a small shift in perspective can make a significant impact. If you want to learn more about the WHY vs. WHAT mindset, author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek has written a great book on it called "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action."
I'm sure I'm not the only one who could identify with the little girl in the go-kart racing around. I never played with dolls, preferring my model horses instead. I didn't take ballet lessons, much to my mother's chagrin. Many may argue I "missed out on the college experience" (what, getting black out drunk and barfing all over myself? No, thank you) because when I wasn't studying, I was racing to my internships and part-time jobs, or scouting out textbooks to flip at the university lost and found sales.
In releasing this commercial, Audi is commenting on one aspect of gender equality, but in my opinion the struggle is more all encompassing, more entrenched, and more latent. The struggle is blatant when picking up my Model S at the Tesla store and having the assistant speak directly to my boyfriend while barely making eye contact with me. It is attending a networking event with prominent angel investors and having one older gentleman grab my hand and ask me why I don't have a ring on. I could go on and on...
Props to Audi for taking a stand. I'm normally a pretty shy and quiet girl, but after experiencing all that I have as a young woman in business, I am outraged. Not just for myself, but for my sisters, and daughters. America, you need to do better.
This month will be the first that I am able to cover my living expenses with side income only. That is a HUGE relief, because while my main job as a real estate agent is going well right now, the real estate market in general is cyclical and there's always the chance that income source can dry up.
This $2,906.37 is made up of $950.00 in freelance writing income, $367.35 in dog sitting income, $1,448.52 in rental income from a rental property and renting out a room in my primary residence, $22.50 in investment dividends, and $118 from random credits and/or gift cards.
My largest expenses this month were housing ($935.06), groceries ($284.82), car insurance ($152.53 every other month), date nights with the boyfriend ($155.64) and eating out ($123.42).
The key to achieving this, of course, is keeping your expenses super low (though as you can tell I spend a lot on food, whoops). You may notice there are some categories missing in my expenses, such as health insurance which is $338. Since I enrolled in health care at the end of 2016, the premium was due then, so I've already pre-paid for January. Even if I didn't though, I'd still be able to cover it easily this month as you can tell by my numbers.
I wrote for two clients this month. For one, I write one post each week for $100/article. I also wrote for another blogger for $75/article - I didn't mind charging her a little less since she needed shorter articles. My goal for next month is to gain one more writing client. Eventually I'd like to be able to make $2,000 per month from my writing - that's 20 articles at $100/article, so 5 per week which I think is totally doable. It really helps that I can write anytime and from pretty much anywhere. For example, I'm writing this post from my kitchen bartop while my boyfriend and his friend cook dinner :)
So far this month I've hosted 2 dogs. I dog sit through Rover.com (affiliate link - thank you!) I charge $35/night to host a dog at my home. That is a little high compared to other sitters, but because I only prefer to watch one dog at a time for liability reasons, owners with dogs that are not good with other pets tend to flock to me and are happy to pay the $35/night. I get enough requests that I don't feel like I need to lower my prices.
Rental income is from one rental property (~$800) and renting out a room at my house ($650 all inclusive). The rental property rents for $1,800 and after expenses (mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, property management fee) I net about $800 if there have been no needed repairs that month.
So there you have it. How one girl can cover expenses with just side income. The icing on the cake is that I also have two real estate closings this month for clients. I just wanted to show that with some hustle, it can be done. I have some large upcoming expenses that I will need to use that real estate commission income for, but otherwise I'd be able to bank that money. Not too shabby ;)