You may have heard the saying “those who can’t do teach” but I find that, when I really want to learn something new, the best way to approach it is to prepare to teach the topic or subject to someone else. Recently I was teaching financial education training skills to a group of financial counselors and one of the topics was “maximizing income” as a way to stabilize your financial life. As you can probably imagine, this group has heard (and taught) EVERY possible way to cut expenses and has more experience developing budgets than most people could ever fathom. But when it came down to talking about ways to maximize income or generate additional income, they had to stop and think.

We are often so caught up in the “expense” side of our balance sheets that we lose sight of the opportunity to increase our income to achieve a balanced household budget. It was quite interesting watching this group of highly skilled professionals grapple with ways to increase income. I could see that as they were discussing the options that their clients could consider (most serve low to moderate income individuals and families) they too were exploring ways to increase their income.

When we are looking at our financial lives there are really only three ways to improve our situations. We can: 1) make more, 2) spend less, or 3) a combination of the two. If you have already cut your spending in every way you can (or choose to) consider ways that you can increase your income. Here are a few ideas the group came up with:

  1. Turn your hobby into cash – sell your crafts (check out

  2. Offer your existing skills to others for a fee (cook, clean, write, read).

  3. Hold regular garage sales (repetition increases traffic) sell things you don’t need or want.

  4. Get a second job – talk with small business owners who may not be able to afford full time help but could use some short-term, part-time help.

As always, consider the impact of your choice on your ENTIRE financial life. Does the additional income impact your taxes? Is working a second job taking you away from your family more than is comfortable based on your values?

 You may be willing to work longer hours or a second job for a short time but, if this isn’t a long term solution, make sure you have a plan to either reduce expenses or stabilize the additional income for your longer term needs. 

In teaching about maximizing income I learned a valuable lesson. For the longest time I have been reluctant to sell my crafts (knitting and beading) because I felt like it took the joy out of the process. I know now that it is really all about perspective. I can offer my skill as a way to generate additional income AND enjoy doing it. I will take a few items and sell them on etsy to see how that works for me. I do have a few short term goals that could use an income boost. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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