Save like Nana did. The side gig.

With economic times being more and more uncertain I have been thinking a lot how the trusty side gig, side hustle,  is a very important thing.  It is an economic "don't have all your eggs in one basket" plan.  

I love to refer to solid instruction and this verse "invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight;  you do not know what may come upon the land" is just perfect.   Now and then there is someone who says they plan to lay on their lounge and trust in God to provide.  I guess that is ok if you are running seven or eight ventures while laying down!  πŸ™„

The wise woman is also busy doing stuff.  Let us think... she is selling her wares to merchants,  makes an investment, is generous to the poor,  makes things for her household and she works into the night.  She has a few side gigs going on! 

Developing a side gig is a bit like growing a veggie garden.  It is not going to work to start digging, building up the soil,  learning to grow, planting seeds... when you urgently need food.  You want to have all the done,  many practices and much learning from failures,  so that your garden is always ready.   Starting a little business is something we need to do today.  Or preferably yesterday! 

Both of my Nanas made money before they were married by arranging flowers for wreaths and weddings. I guess this is where my love of flowers comes from!  I wish they were here to ask what other things they did during the war and depression years for cash.    My own parents started out with many side gigs.  When I was a kid Dad had chickens and sold eggs.  However I know he sold all of the manure from the chickens and I have memories of Mum and Dad dressing ducks all weekend and various other projects. 

Dad was booted out of school for being dyslexic when he was 13 or 14.  So he began to trap and sell rabbits door to door.  He saved up enough money to buy a sow (pregnant/pig) and she had nine piglets.  I don't know how Nan felt about this in her garden.  But he continued on in this fashion and was able to leave me this farm.   

Mum one the other hand grew up with their teenage years making bricks to build their house.  So when Mum and Dad married Mum was pretty used to hard work!

When I was in high school I joined a little craft shop.  It was like a coop where if you joined you could sell your crafts.  I can't even remember what I made... but I used to be thrilled with some cash at the end of each month which was handed over in a little paper bag! 

Before I had children I worked in a health food shop (amongst various other jobs) and my side gig was making cakes for a resort.  

When my girls were little I had more things going...  I supplied a local cafe with trays of Lasagne.   I embroidered and sewed,  especially embroidered baby blankets and pram sets.   I will show some photos with this post.  This really suited me as I was busy during the days and loved to work at night... (night owl.)

In the city when the girls were older I began to thrift shop and re sell vintage clothes and accessories.  This really started when I was in my teens I found a black lace wedding dress which I bought for $5 and later sold for $500.   After that I was hooked!   I supplied a gorgeous little Shabby Chic/vintage store with loads of clothes, hats, bags etc.   It was a way of amazing money and also great fun.    In the city people often sat furniture on the side of the road and I began to pick up old dressing tables, side tables and chests of drawers.  I made up my own paint colour in the palest milky pink you ever saw.  I painted and distressed everything, lined drawers with gorgeous perfumed papers.   They sold like hot cakes!   Eventually I made up jars of my pink paint and it sold in this store as "Annabel's pink paint."   This was pretty lucrative back then!   I also found big old mirrors with ornate frames and gave them paint treatments as well... they also sold amazingly.  

I went through a stage of making paper roses.

These days... I have developed a lot of things that we produce.  I knew I needed to be a producer.   These things give me something I could sell.   Currently I could sell eggs for sure!  I COULD sell freeze dried produce also.   My eyesight isn't as good as it was when I was selling embroidery...  but I could take in mending as I am pretty used to mending and repairs and have all the supplies.   I can also hatch chicks as I think chooks would be a hot commodity in hard times.

A friend of mine used to make the most beautiful Gingerbread houses every Christmas.   They even had little lights inside you could turn on.  This was an annual side gig for her. 

So lets brain storm.  Your side gig could be something you produce.   Knitting, crochet, sewing,  herbs, veggies,  seeds...    seedlings...   Kids in our area sell bags of pinecones,  kindling,  manure...  some of these kids are absolutely killing it!  

It could be a service.   You could take in ironing,  baby sitting,  pet sitting,  dog walking,  house sitting, window washing.

It could also be something you flip.. ie re selling,  making over and alterations to make something worth more.  Spotting valuables in thrift stores or garage sales and re selling them.

It seems around here every farmers wife has some kind of extra income.   Ones I can think of include... teaching painting/painting,   making cakes and biscuits,  cleaning,  there is a lady who every year plants hundreds of sunflowers and sells them in full bloom,  another that grows strawberries and poppies and sells them.  Many sew or knit for local craft shops and I am sure they also have direct orders.   Another lady makes sausage rolls.  One time my nephew ordered 100 from her!   I guess he liked them!  There is a lady in town who decorates cakes,  many sell plants.  

Find a need and fill it!   When I lived in a nearby beach town my neighbours house was right on the beach front where people would drive down to the water.   Pretty much every weekend someone would get bogged there and would come to my neighbours house, since it was closest, and ask for help.  On a long weekend this might happen half a dozen times.  My neighbour grew tired of this but also seized the ready made business of charging to pull out these cars.  He bought an old tractor that was up to the job and proceeded to charge $50.  The boggy beach turned out to be a gold mine for him.   As the tide was always coming in he saved so many people from losing their cars! 

Many times we have an asset and we don't realise it.  From browsing  ETSY I have found people sell pine cones, gum nuts, seed pods, feathers...  and people buy them!   Seriously, take a look!   You might have something that you think is boring but it might be a good seller!  

It would be great if every member of the family (provided they are old enough) has some kind of little money spinner.  Mow the neighbours lawns,  pot up succulents to sell... there is something for everyone.  My brother and me used to pot up all kinds of seedlings.  We had quite a little nursery.  A mini business is a great learning experience!  

In my Nanas kitchen she had an old fashioned dresser and on the top shelf she had a china container where her emergency stash of cash was kept.   I guess it wasn't a very good secret.  Having an emergency stash of cash is a very good thing.  The only thing better is to have a way to keep it coming in.  It is time to be shrewd.   Shrewdness is a good thing... to be astute, acute in perception and sound in judgement.  It has been added to my best words list... along with prudent,  vigilant,  stewardship...  they are all golden.  xxx


  1. I love this! I remember my mum cooking and I'd be right there with her, I don't think I was at school. She would make Christmas cakes and puddings and sell them. For a high school camp, I had to earn the money. Mum showed me how to make lamingtons- cook the sponge, cut the cake, make the icing. I sold hundreds of dozens of lamingtons to raise the money for that camp. When I was a teenager Mum started making baby clothes and knitting jumpers and cardigans and selling them at fairs and fetes. I helped her. She taught me how to make jams and relishes, yes, she sold some of what she made, and I do too. When she "retired" she would bake two days a week, making quiches to order. These paid for their holidays. She was a great example to me, but also to her grandchildren. They saw Grandma working, earning, well into her 80s, and they saw how happy and contented she was. I make and sell tea cosies, dishcloths and kitchen towels, they are usually gone before I can get photos done of them. I also sell my cards. Another side gig is my You Tube channel, I get so excited when I see $2.87 as income! Every little bit helps. Husband repairs model trains. Daughter cuts and colours hair at home, and sells her cards. One son sells his photos. Another one does design work on the side. We all have side gigs, they're a part of our life. My dad instilled in me the idea that I had to be able to look after and support myself, and that I had to be multi-skilled, not rely on just one skill or talent to support me for my lifetime. I had to have a back-up plan and a back-up for the back-up plan. xxx

  2. Your handcrafts are lovely and I am in awe of your hard work and ability to find ways to make money that also allow you to express your creativity and love of beauty! I am good at saving money but have never been able to figure out a good way to make money. I have never felt I ad anything to offer that people would pay for. I think that having multiple income sources is an excellent idea. You are fortunate to have had good examples in your parents and grandparents. My parents were not enterprising and to my knowledge none of my grandparents had any sorts of ‘side gigs’ either. I envy all you were able to observe and learn from your older family members. My mother hated cooking and all types of handcrafts. She wasn’t at all creative or artistic. I always enjoy reading your stories about your parents and grandparents.

  3. Timely post, Annabel!! Dave and I were just having our “financial report” (just the 2 of us) to assess where we were and ways we could improve. You know that 4-1/2 years ago, my daughter and I bought a used longarm quilting machine after lots of research. We pooled our money at the time- 75% mine, 25% hers ($6000 total price). We took the free classes offered by the quilt company as well as a Creating or Growing your own business course offered by our Church. Within 2 years, our profits had completely repaid our investment to the extent that in year 3, my daughter found a used longarm (same brand, but larger) and we invested in that (75% hers, 25% mine). We are now 4-1/2 years in and her machine has also repaid our investment and we are overwhelmed that the business continues to provide a steady stream of income. Over 400 quilts done for clients!
    But, we also take cuttings from our berry bushes and fig tree in the fall and sell them in the Spring. As our koi in the little pond reproduce, we sell extra koi. We have made wood furniture and decor using pallets. We have cleaned up construction on newly built houses. If it’s honest work, it’s honorable work at our house and people always seem to come to us with “opportunities “ to make money by serving or producing something! Funny how that happens!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

  4. Amen ! Great advice !

  5. Your embroidery is absolutely stunning. You could easily open an Ersy shop with your fabric talents.

  6. Wonderful post! Such beautiful embroidery, Annabel!
    This is so well timed. I am looking for a side gig. I have contacted a young mother my husband knows from work. I am hoping to help her with baby sitting. The baby is currently in daycare. πŸ˜”
    We shall see. Meanwhile I continue to get blessed by my bartering friend. And my husband has been adding to our pantry through finds at the local thrift shop. (They have food once a week).

    So many great ideas! Thank you.
    Blessings to all,

  7. Oh Annabel I love all these ideas and hearing about how industrious your family is, it’s encouraging and inspirational. I too use to do embroidery (baby clothing and blankets) and i also sold vintage fabric and vintage chenille on eBay, these jobs helped immensely when my twins were babies and I still had much older kids still at school and helped finance my youngest son off to university. I work part time at present with my husband but now need to start thinking many side hustles again as my husband is retiring next year and when he leaves my job also ends and I’m too young to receive a pension and also have to face the fact that being older I may find it hard to get another job, and he is quite set on us moving interstate, so portable business ideas are a definite need.
    You have given me inspiration as to what I must do, I’m making a list of my talents and gifts God has given me and will fine tune those and start sooner than later. I do like the growing flowers idea and plants. All such wonderful ideas you have wet my appetite with.
    Thank you for always being an inspiring teacher.

  8. This got me thinking about the side gigs that we have and have had over the years.
    Back on the farm we had a market garden. We grew passionfruit, pumpkin, heliconia flowers, cucumbers and sold all of these to a wholesaler. We had a gate stall at the front of the house, where heliconia and ginger flowers, eggs and extra veg were sold. Bluey and I took excess with us to our workplaces and sold our homegrown goods to our colleagues.
    I made costumes for the Calisthenics girls for individual or paired performances. I also made plain black leotards for the girls who needed some modifications to make their training leotards fit them properly. This was quite lucrative.
    The kids would organise sausage sizzles on weekends at the local shops to fundraise for their trips away for their sports. They would seek funding from local MLA's. This paid for the bread and sausages. They also sort out local businesses for small amounts of sponsorship.
    Since moving interstate, I set up a small online business where I sold children's clothing that I made. I shut that down a couple of years ago when Bluey got very ill and keeping up got too hard.
    I do mending and a bit of sewing for a few local widowers. They pay me in fresh caught fish. I also do some clothing modifications for a couple of friends. They pay me with clothing or fabric that they pick up at op shops. I have a group of gardening friends, where we share our extra seedlings or cuttings to. Each person does this regularly. It means we all end up with lots of extra plants in our gardens with no cost.
    Katie uses her Cricut machine to make labels, to fancy up drink bottles, cards and other items. She sells these to various friends and friends of friends.
    Francis uses his laser cutter machine to make tags for small businesses, leather patches for hats(which I sew on) and he sells at archery shoots. He also helps people to set up their bows to suit them.
    Bluey makes lazy Susan's and cheese boards in solid wood. He gets Francis to laser cut a design into them. These are good sellers and use up the bits of wood that Bluey has in his 'wait a bit' pile behind the shed.
    None of this has been difficult. We use what we have and the skills that we have. Having side gigs is such a great way of adding to your garden, pantry, wallet, and even your skills sets.

  9. No one in their right mind would pay good money (or even bad, LOL) for anything that I ever cooked or crafted, LOL. However, both my husband and I have degrees in journalism and at various times have made extra money with side gigs. I hired out as a freelance writer and editor for about 7 years when my kids were growing up. Usually I was paid in cash, but once I bartered a brochure for ski lessons.

    When we were first married, my husband (later with my help) produced a monthly newspaper for a professional organization. He made the contact through his day job at the time. This was done at our kitchen table, LOL. To give you an idea of how long ago this was, it paid $100 month from start to finish. Hint: 1967-68. When he went to graduate school and I worked on a newspaper, he worked part-time as a photographer for the paper. He retained the rights to the pictures and sold a few to a wire service.

    We also owned a couple of rental houses. We did most of the repairs ourselves. It takes a special person to enjoy landlording, and we aren't it! But we did this for over 15 years.

    In junior high and high school, our son mowed lawns. Now that he is a certified pedorthist (like an orthotist, but for feet only) in spends every October doing professional ski boot-fitting workshops all over the country. This pays very well and it's during the slow season at his regular job. For the past 6 or 7 years, he's been driving the supply truck from city to city. (A few years ago, it got stolen! But was recovered within 2 days). This year he and another guy drove from Vermont to Reno, NV (almost all the way across the USA) in 4 days. Then they drove it back to Denver, where we are meeting him in two days.

    His wife is a helicopter pilot who flies emergency medical service (air ambulance) one week on, one week off. They live in a resort area near two national parks. During the summer, on her weeks off, she picks up side gigs as a licensed massage therapist. She has been a LMT for about 25 years and it's how she supported herself while she was in flight school.

    At this stage of our lives (late 70s) we focus more on saving money vs. making more.

  10. Oops, that was me above. --Maxine, aka mikemax.

  11. Dear Annabel,
    Your embroidery is exquisite. It must have been really a fun gig selling vintage clothing.
    When I was a student in high school I made extra money by typing term papers for other students and also doing biology illustrations for them (Yes, in the days before the internet and technology.) When I went off to college to become a nurse I did the same thing, and put up little signs on bulletin boards and earned extra money doing the same thing . I worked in the field until I had children and then became a stay-at-home mom, but I made extra money by doing medical transcription at home. Transcription work required no outlay of cash and everything was profit. From there I extend it to court reporting companies and also doing legal transcription, but because of my background I began to special is medical malpractice case transcription. All this was done from the comfort of my home and all I had to do was pick up the tapes and deliver the finished product. Fast forward, and my side gig became my career as I decided to try bidding on government agency jobs. I started my own transcription company and eventually had nine other women who were stay-at-home moms with medical backgrounds that I trained. Everyone worked out of their own home.
    My other side gig, which came along quite by accident ,was decorative painting. For myself I loved doing faux finishing on found furniture for our home. I too would pick up disgarded furniture and rehab into something beautiful. Then along came Youtube and I learned how to paint all sorts of flowers, snowmen, scenes, landscapes etc. Friends would see my work and wanted to buy many of my items and encouraged me to do artisan shows to sell my work. I made quit a bit painting scenes, snowmen, flowers, etc. on old disgarded windows from when people were having window replacements done. Decorative painting to me is pure pleasure and also resultants in beautiful gifts for my gift closet. Cookie

    1. Just saw all the spelling and word errors in my post. Auto correct and spelling feature strikes again!! It certainly gave me a good laugh. Cookie

  12. Dear Annabel, Great post. You won't believe it, yesterday I was standing outside in my garden when my friend rang. She is wanting to make Christmas Wreaths - 100% with organic, dried flowers/material. She was saying poppy heads are sold in bunches of ten at this time for Christmas crafting purposes and no one has any as it was a bad year for poppy growing. I was literally standing looking at a place in my garden where - this year hundreds of poppies had seeded themselves and I had convinced my husband to have a "wild place". The flowers are all gone, just the poppy heads remain. It was on my to do list to pull them all out, I would have been throwing out money! So now this morning I am picking them and drying them upside down in bunches of 10. I loved seeing your embroidery - so beautiful. Love Clare

  13. What a great post. Husband repairs and sells lawnmowers, snow blowers etc. We have found a few free things at yard sales and resold them. We have also sold things we have bought for good price and made a profit. I'm thinking how I alone make money as a side gig and I guess it would be selling through Amazon but that makes me very little. I try though.
    I did enter the fair and that made me $22.00 (it all counts I guess). I like the thought of bartering but there is no one I know that does this. So I look for deals like our free mulch we got a couple of months ago. Like Maxine, I believe saving money on groceries, household, etc. and building up our pantry is mainly my side gig.

  14. Debby in Kansas USA27 October 2023 at 05:58

    I love all the ways that you've all created a side gig! I had one in the city in Los Angeles that worked well. Most women there worked FT and loved buying anything homemade. One woman I knew made a killing making caramel apples in fall. I planned to continue when we moved here, but this is what I discovered.... Kansas women are frugal, at least where I live. Not putting them down because I'm right there with them in the cheap seats lol. But the bigger thing is that many are housewives and grew up knowing how to do EVERYTHING from dressing a deer to making lace! They don't want to pay for anything, but they will barter. They know how valuable their knowledge and skills are. I'm working on a new side gig for next year that might work, but I won't know until I try. The funny is that I thought I was decently talented until I got here lol. And then I met women who could feed a baby, crochet a blanket, fry chicken, and sweep the kitchen...all while playing a harmonica!!!

  15. Dear Annabel (and everyone),

    What a good and thought-producing post this is. Your embroidery is just gorgeous, and so are those paper flowers!

    My first thought was that I don't know how to do anything that people would want to pay for - but after reflection I came up with a few things. I used to work as a science writer and editor, and also a contributing writer for an equine magazine - that gives an opening for working freelance or bartering editing skills for someone else's skills (doing resumes, CVs, or college application essays as well as book chapters and articles). I could probably tutor others in these subjects, and work adjunct teaching at one of the colleges in our area (there are a lot) in my degree fields. As a teenager, I made extra money giving horseback riding lessons to children. Possibly I could knit items to sell or swap, and do the same with jewelry pieces or the soap I make, possibly also hand-dyed embroidery threads and fabrics. My baking seems to be a hit so there might be an opportunity there. Extra seedlings in the spring and plant starts made from cuttings throughout the summer could also present an opportunity.

    Thank you everyone for the ideas. There is a lot to think about.

  16. I work part time around 15 + hours a week. In addition to this I focus on decluttering and selling unwanted items on my local buy/sell site. I love gardening and take cuttings of plants and propogate others. These sell really well too. When I have an abundance of eggs I also sell them. Also Rhubarb grown in the garden. I could also sell home made sausage rolls.


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