It's all about the benjamins. Hell, a Lincoln or two would help, even.
March 2, 2006 3:06 PM   Subscribe

So I bought this rockin house last month. The mortgage and the title are in my name. It was pretty sweet. Domestic bliss and all.

Then my manfriend left me saturday. He's not coming back. He's staying somewhere else temporarily until he finds a place with a friend of his. His stuff is still here.

Because I'm on call for my sysadmin job every other week, getting a second job at say, Target or Starbucks for the weekends and evenings is out of the question. I've already started eliminating extraneous expenses. Is there any sort of legitimate part time work from home I could do that isn't stuffing envelopes or MLM like Mary Kay? An extra 75-150/week would help. Greatly.
posted by pieoverdone to Work & Money (43 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry about the breakup and rough timing.

What are your skills, and what days/hours are you free? I'm assuming that taking on a second sysadmin job isn't going to be possible either.

You might want to consider additional ways to supplement the income. Could you be on call for temp work on the days you're not on call for the main job? Or rent out a room?
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 3:20 PM on March 2, 2006

Ouch, pie, that really sucks. Could you possibly take in boarders?
posted by Malor at 3:20 PM on March 2, 2006

When I was in your position, I took on boarders. I wasn't thrilled about it, but it helped keep me afloat.
posted by adamrice at 3:22 PM on March 2, 2006

Boarders are out of the question as the only thing remotely close to a second bedroom I have is a finished basement room, and frankly, I don't think I could stand to live with someone right now.
posted by pieoverdone at 3:23 PM on March 2, 2006

Well if you get really desperate you can always sell your blood plasma. Just check the employment ads in the paper.
posted by 517 at 3:31 PM on March 2, 2006

ok, hypothetically speaking, if I were to take in boarders, how the hell would I do that?

My skills are theatre, tech support, and sysadmin work.
posted by pieoverdone at 3:33 PM on March 2, 2006

I'm also not averse to blood plasma, egg donation, or medical experimentation.

Fuck. I'm desperate.
posted by pieoverdone at 3:34 PM on March 2, 2006

elance sysadmin stuff? I'm sure there's folks out there that would pay you to install/configure stuff, depending on your area of expertise.

working with small biz and clients sucks, but it'll probably pay more than target.
posted by fishfucker at 3:37 PM on March 2, 2006

I'm thinking about taking on exchange students through the local state university. If you don't provide meals, and are just giving them a place to stay and a little bit of socializing, you can get up to $500 a month just for the bed and use of the kitchen/bathroom. Plus, the programs only last for a month or two at a time so, while you're guaranteed to have someone as long as you want the room filled, if you don't like the person they'll be gone soon and someone new (maybe a better fit?) will come along.

If you want to just rent a room, advertise on craigslist but make sure you get plenty of references.
posted by luriete at 3:45 PM on March 2, 2006

When I took on boarders, I basically cleared out the two bedrooms I wasn't using, found a standard lease contract on the Internet and modified it (from what I've learned since, a lease isn't necessarily a great thing for the landlord--month to month may be just as good), and placed ads in the alternative weekly and Craigslist. Interviewed applicants, took references, and found people who seemed like good bets.

Generally had good luck, although I had a few boarders I could have done without. You're welcome to track me down via e-mail if you want to discuss directly.

Good luck with whatever you decide on. If you can get freelance sysadmin gigs, go with that.
posted by adamrice at 3:53 PM on March 2, 2006

a while ago, someone posted something about amazon mechanical turk. i tagged it, but never looked at it, but it sounds like it may be something you can do.
posted by echo0720 at 3:54 PM on March 2, 2006

It sounds like you have computer skills, in which case you might do some freelance web design in your spare time. A single site can bring in a couple thousand dollars, but can also eat up a lot of your time and cause unwanted headaches... Of course, design and programming skills will be needed.

Definitely consider getting a roommate. That seems like the simplest way to bring in extra cash every month.
posted by knave at 3:59 PM on March 2, 2006

How about tupperware parties or candle parties, etc.?
posted by leapingsheep at 4:01 PM on March 2, 2006

Funny you mention theater. I recrntly occured to me that theater is the one place where I've never failed to be hired on the spot for something. Walk into any non-union theater, big or small, and they always seem to be short-handed for some kind of house staff or crew. That's come in handy on a couple hard times. Not that my past is predictive of your future, but worth a try. Maybe you could usher on your not-on-call weekends?

Is there any way you could get of the on-call, at least for a while? If your current job is threatening your ability to earn enough to hold on to your home, that's worth asking the boss about alternatives.

The flip side is to go for more income from the current job. Maybe ask for more work, longer hours, or extra on-call? If you haven't already gotten a raise in a while, maybe it's time to ask for a raise or bonus (making your case based on value to the company, not financial desperation, of course).

If the employer is big, check with HR. Sometimes there are employee assistance programs that can help.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:01 PM on March 2, 2006

Also, what proportion of your after tax income are you spending on the house? How long do you expect to stay in this state? Treading water for a significant amount of time might be worse than just cutting and running right now, into some more affordable housing. Think about your longterm happiness.
posted by knave at 4:02 PM on March 2, 2006

The magic search words for medical experiments are "research volunteer stipend". They like to pretend everyone would be just as happy being experimented on for free. But any study that pays decent money is going to have too many applicants, a time-consuming screening process (questionnaire, maybe interview or blood tests) and expect you to invest a chunk of time before you being paid. Not a great source of fast cash, and in the end your hourly take is probably less than minimum wage. Because we must, after all, maintain the pretense that money isn't motivating your participation.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:19 PM on March 2, 2006

Knave, she bought the house a month ago. The expenses of selling/moving would make it extremely hard to pay off the mortgage when there's zero appreciation/equity. She's only been "treading water" for four days. A little early to give up on covering an extra $75-150/wk.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:25 PM on March 2, 2006

Similar thing happened to me... except I wasn't in a house that I own, just a Manhattan apartment that I loved. Things I did to get cash:
1) Cleaned out a bunch of junk and sold it on e-Bay and Craigslist
2) Signed up for every focus group/marketing list I could find. I discovered these via Craigslist. Since you are in a decently large city, I am sure there are marketing firms doing these things. The groups are sporadic, but net between $85-150 (off the books) for 2 hours of bullshitting. I made about $600 in 6 months.
3) Through a friend, I got connected with a professor who needed massive amounts of help getting her apartment organized. Basically, I spent 10-15 hours a week scanning documents for her and burning them to DVD. $15 an hour. Very flexible hours (whenever she was home, and later, she just gave me a set of keys). I also did smaller jobs like this... just helping people sort through their crap. Many people need this kind of help, but places that provide this kind of service are scarce. Networking helps a lot... friends of friends were the people I worked for.

Happily, I got a big raise a few months later. Good luck!

posted by kimdog at 4:27 PM on March 2, 2006

the only thing remotely close to a second bedroom I have is a finished basement room

Could you move into that one yourself? Make the good bedroom the bread winner?
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:28 PM on March 2, 2006

Do you have any crap you could sell on eBay? I made a surprisingly large amount when I got rid of my old records. This wouldn't work long-term, of course, but it could be something.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:29 PM on March 2, 2006

Is there a small paper in your community that you can pitch on using you as a freelance writer? Maybe about theater or a computer help column?
posted by GaelFC at 4:47 PM on March 2, 2006

I've got a couple of friends who have done pretty well for themselves selling things on the Internet--one sells used books on Amazon, one sells little home-decoration trinkets on eBay. The hours are obviously as flexible as can be, and it's good for someone who has IT skills, since you can write programs to automate the tedious bits, check prices on particular items, et cetera.

I don't know how quickly it starts becoming usefully profitable--it seems to take a little while to figure out what sells, how to work out shipping, and so on, plus one has to build up one's seller feedback. But you could start out by selling some of your own old junk on eBay as others have suggested, and then start working in items that have a more sustainable supply.

As self-employment goes, it's got near-nil startup costs plus built-in advertising and clientele, so it's probably worth a shot.
posted by fermion at 4:51 PM on March 2, 2006

Did chudmonkey really just suggest becoming an escort? *jaw drops*

Moving into the finished basement and renting out the good bedroom is an idea -- you'd certainly get more money that way. But you still might get someone to move into the basement itself for $300+/mo. as well. Worth trying.

This IVF clinic in St. Louis pays $3000. It's not the easiest or quickest of options, but there's more info there for you to consider if you're 30 or under and in good health.

Sorry about all this, pie.
posted by scody at 5:02 PM on March 2, 2006

Hey, I don't know anything about pieoverdone or her thoughs on the escort industry, but I do know that donating/selling plasma takes more than an hour, hurts, and doesn't pay all that well. If pie's willing to consider that, perhaps an alternative that could conceivably take the same ammount of time, involve less physical discomfort (maybe) and pay better would be worth some thought as well.

I'd totally prostitute myself if I were better looking.
posted by chudmonkey at 5:23 PM on March 2, 2006

If you're on call every OTHER week, you could work two or three nights a week on those alternate weeks, right? Find a local bar or club that needs weekend help cocktailing -- you could make $300 or so for two nights' work. Also, it'd be in cash, which would help with liquidity (It could pay your grocery bills, say, leaving more in the bank for the mortgage and bills.) You might think no one would hire you if you could only work a couple of days every other week, but servers are a notoriously flighty bunch, and having someone willing to work "on-call" during at least some of the busy weekend shifts could be just what a busy bar owner needs. The hours are long, but the pay is good and there are drinkies after your shift!

Of course if you want to work from home, there's always phone sex.

hey, somebody already suggested escort service so I figured.....never mind.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:39 PM on March 2, 2006

I'd second the suggestion of market research groups, but be careful - there are limits on the number of times you can be a part of a group during a certain period of time. You think they'd just say that and not really keep track, but they do. I worked on a few of those things when I was at a large multi-national advertising agency. It's great money, but if you try to get around their rules, you can get blacklisted.

My assistant is an Avon lady, and she makes about $100 a month. She doesn't do much promotion or any real work outside of putting the catalogues out around our (somewhat large, admittedly) office. I'm sure if you pushed it more than she did you could make much more money.

Also, what about Surprise Parties or Tastefully Simple? If you have a outgoing, fun sort of "girl power" personality, it'd be perfect.
posted by MeetMegan at 5:54 PM on March 2, 2006

People almost touched on it above, but then sort of skated by this point: do the math. Sit down with paper or a spreadsheet, and honestly do the math, and figure out whether it is even possible to make income equal outgo. If it is not possible, you have to do something. You can even calculate how long you have to do something: I can make mortgage payments for _______ long before I run out of money. If I cancel cable TV and my cell phone, I can make mortgage payments for ____ long. If I eat only ramen noodles, I can make mortgage payments for ____ long. And so on.

I know you want to keep the house. But if it isn't possible, it isn't possible, and you need to know that as far in advance as possible. If you need to turn around and put the place up for sale again immediately in order to stay financially solvent, then that's what has to happen. Sorry if this is pessimistic, but people dig very large holes for themselves one shovelful at a time.
posted by jellicle at 6:24 PM on March 2, 2006

A second on focus groups, and also a vote for freelance catering staff - especially if you can bartend. Mentioned on some previous thread I'm too lazy to look up right now. But there have been some questions along these lines in the past, with some impressively creative suggestions.
posted by catesbie at 6:34 PM on March 2, 2006

If you're not shy about sex and can get along well with girls, I've heard good things about Passion Parties.
posted by anjamu at 7:04 PM on March 2, 2006

There are always companies looking to outsource work to competent sys admins. Take a look at the employment forums on You should easily be able to make $75 to $150 a week picking up the odd job there.
posted by richardhay at 7:08 PM on March 2, 2006

Second nakedcodemonkey that now is the time to try and pull more income out of your current position. You could try applying for other jobs, and using a better offer as leverage to raise your current salary. Actually switching companies could be problematic when things are so tight, with payroll lags and so forth. But it could be the best solution for you long-term. You can't go around selling your plasma forever!
posted by junkbox at 7:13 PM on March 2, 2006

If you rented the house would it cover the mortgage or close enough ? Then you could rent a room from a friend or move into a cheap apartment for a year and give yourself a bit of breathing room.
posted by fshgrl at 8:05 PM on March 2, 2006

Call the bank now and explain the situation to them. It's possible that they will be able to work something out, at least for the next few months. If you have a car loan, do the same; some banks will let you skip a payment or two.

Have you thought about selling some of your stuff? HIS stuff?

If it becomes desperate enough and you have any retirement accounts, this may be a good time to think about taking a loan or a withdrawal, and paying the penalties.

As a next-to-last resort, if you have any credit cards, and are paying more than the minimum, drop down to the minimum. If you're paying the minimum, considering stopping paying them entirely until you get back on your feet. At that point get on a payment plan through CCCS or similar organization. Credit cards are unsecured loans and all they can do is harass you and sue you -- they can't take away your house. If you've got some room left on your credit lines, you might want to take cash advances before you stop paying. This will totally ding your credit, but it can be tolerable if you aren't expecting to need new credit soon.

Did you put any money down? If not, and worse comes to worst, you might consider letting the bank foreclose on the house... you'll be out relatively little in that case.
posted by kindall at 9:03 PM on March 2, 2006

Apply to be a Host for a speed dating company. I host two events a month, and earn, umm... very good money at it. (You need to be personable, reliable, and reasonably attractive - not a model, just not repellent to the average member of the opposite sex.)
posted by Kololo at 10:34 PM on March 2, 2006

Do you have a friend or family member who could buy a share in the house as an investment (but not live there?) When the value of the house increases in x years you could sell, repay the investor and buy a new property solo.
posted by ceri richard at 10:41 PM on March 2, 2006

I've been a stay at home father for the last 1+ years and I've looked at this a lot (seriously, a lot a lot), and the conclusion I've come to is that there are no obvious, generally available work at home positions that can make you a significant extra income, with the possible exception of telemarketing (which I could never stomach). It's hard to just find straightforward "hours" the same way you could easily find, say, a cashier or receptionist or clerical temp job if you have the appropriate skills in a reasonable market.

You can indeed sell things over eBay or whatever but this is a lot of work and of course you have to have a line on some kind of product. I do a little and find it labor intensive, in other words it comes out to a pretty poor wage. It is also fraught with little expenses and tasks (following up emails, I had someone pull a dispute on me with PayPal, hassle hassle hassle).

There is legitimate work that can be done at home, however. I think you're most likely to get on to it through your personal and professional network rather than any service, site, or stranger on Metafilter (personal contacts are how I've ended up with a modest at home income, for example).

Here are the better links I found. But what can I say - I never got a job through this, I ended up getting something through a family connection and because of some specialized skills and knowledge on my part. Obviously, check anything very carefully before you sign on and never pay anyone for an opportunity to work, it's always bogus. I tried to weed out all scams but I can't vouche for any of this.

Work At Home Moms - keep an eye out for spammy ads and comments - these places are magnets for MLM types - but there is good content in there and the people that run it seem sincere in wanting to keep the scams out. Best place is the telecommuting job listings, there are a lot of legitimate offers (I considered/was considered for a few, everything seemed pretty above board, but a lot of potential bosses seemed to expect to get work pretty cheap in that venue.

Working Solutions seems legit but I never followed it up, its basically telecommuting temp work.

West At Home is a similar agency, as are LiveOps, and Cybersecretaries.

I'm a litte leary of this paid survey thing but I read some seemingly genuine testimonials for it at the WAHM site.

Mostly, though, what you're going to find is a lot of stuff like this.

Then there's always professional blogging; I make about 19 cents a month from Google Adsense

Oh and tell Manny that tomorrow you start charging his "stuff" rent unless he comes and picks it up. Men.
posted by nanojath at 11:09 PM on March 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

A few other people have said it, but I'll say it again. If you've got sysadmin skills, you can probably do a decent sideline with that doing one-off work once you figure out how to get hooked in. Check craiglist. I've seen people looking for one-time help on the forums. Rent-a-coder sometimes has sysadmin type of stuff, people have suggested a few, and I'm sure there are plenty more places where people are looking to pay $20-200 for stuff you already know how to do.
posted by Good Brain at 12:47 AM on March 3, 2006

If you move into your own basement and pimp out your upstairs bedroom as suggested above by the nice monkey, you might be able to use your theatre connections to get a sweet gig like my friends did. It's not a long-term commitment like taking on a roommate or individual boarder, but the pay's about the same.

They board cast members from out of town who appear in local theatre productions. If they plan to go out of town, need their extra bedroom, or just don't feel like wearing pants around the house for a while, they can skip a boarder and take the next one later.

Cons: strangers showing up every six weeks or so.
Pros: they're awfully interesting strangers who are hardly ever home, pay cash money, and they often supply my friends with show comps.
posted by Sallyfur at 1:22 AM on March 3, 2006

Basic computer skills should be able to get you $10-15/hr doing pickup work. Check craigslist -- at least on my local one, I see tons of ads for ebay listers and that kind of thing. I'd imagine you could posts ads on there, too, offering yourself for freelance tech support. There are tons of people out there who need little things done.
posted by ph00dz at 4:14 AM on March 3, 2006

This (except for the escort agency and candle party thing) has all been pretty cool advice. I'm going to look into the elance thing and I don't care if I have to underbid the bindis or the chinese for data entry, cash is cash.

I'm going to throw a few feelers out for freelance theatre work.

I don't think I'm in any danger of losing the house, nor do I need any sort of debt counseling, it's just the timing of him bolting 5 days before my house payment is due and leaving me high and dry has sort of thrown this month into me eating rice and putting gas and my car insurance on a credit card.

I'll bounce.
posted by pieoverdone at 4:54 AM on March 3, 2006

I came across this earlier today. Sounds like something that may benefit you.

The company's name is Ether. It looks like they are a new start up, so I don't know how popular they are or how much success you'll have. But essentially you tell them what skills/services you can offer (tech support, for example), when you are available, and how much your time is worth. If someone is looking for tech support and agree to pay your asking rate, the company will connect people with you.

Good luck.
posted by k1ng at 7:17 PM on March 3, 2006

Sorry to come in late but a lot of call centres (pizza chains, etc.) are now home-based. I know a guy who sat on his computer with a headset, taking pizza orders over the phone for a reasonable part-time wage.
posted by raider at 10:00 AM on March 5, 2006

I own a soy candle business in St. Louis, and I am willing to pay a percentage of any business that you bring to me. I am particularly interested in wholesale accounts at the moment, but if you want to have a candle party, or sell candles to your friends and relatives, that's cool too. My typical payout ranges from 15% - 20% of sales.
posted by Ostara at 9:13 PM on March 6, 2006

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