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3 Simple No-Cost Side Income Ideas We Used to Earn an Extra $54,448 in Less than 3 Years

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

3 Simple Side Income Ideas

It seems pretty obvious now…

…but it took some really dumb decisions and a lot of hard knocks for us to finally figure it out.
I’m just grateful that we’re able to share it with you now so that you and your family can benefit.
Based on what’s happened in our own marriage…
…as well as the experience we’ve gained by interacting with thousands of Engaged Marriage readers, we’ve come to a conclusion.

Every Couple Needs A Side Income

You may be wondering why the name of this post is so specific.

Well, $54,448 is a very memorable number for our family.  That’s the amount of (non-mortgage) debt we owed when we “woke up” several years ago pregnant with our son.

This was no doubt a scary time in our marriage, but it was also a very powerful turning point for us and our views on money.

We decided at that point that enough was enough, and we paid off all of our debts in less than 3 years in large part because we developed some really effective side income streams.

Extra Income Means Greater Freedom

This is still an important part of our marriage and our mission in helping other families.

Because we’ve built multiple side incomes (and full fledged businesses in some cases), Bethany is able to be a stay-at-home Mom to our three small kids, and we have a lot of financial freedom.

Your goals are probably different, but I bet you could find good use for $500 – $1,000 in extra income each month (and build it up from there)…in a way that doesn’t take up all of your spare time.

If you need a little more motivation for taking action, be sure to check out our article on the 7 Reasons Every Smart Couple Needs a Side Income.

I hope you agree that developing a side income is an awesome goal.  Now, let me share some ideas for making it happen with you that I think you’ll enjoy.

What’s The Best Way For You To Get Started Earning Some Extra Money On The Side?

Over the last several years, we’ve created at least 10 different side income sources.  But I want to focus on three main types to show you how simple this can be for you.

As you’re reading about our experiences with these side businesses, think through some similar ideas that could work for you.  I recommend you think in the context of our “Three Keys to Quick Side Income Success” for busy couples:

  • Start With What You Know
  • Go Low-Cost & Low-Time
  • Get Your Spouse & Family Involved

Let’s take a look at three types of side income opportunities and how we’ve applied them in our own marriage.

Big Idea #1: Buy/Sell Stuff (Arbitrage)

This is about as simple as it gets.  While the fancy term is “arbitrage” what we’re really talking about here is buying something for a lower price in a constrained market and then selling for a profit in a larger market.

This could be as simple as buying collectables at a garage sale and then selling them at a higher price at a flea market.

But we don’t want to forget our Three Keys to success, so we need to do this in a way that doesn’t bore us to death and scales to generate more income without taking a lot of time.

You’ll Scale Quickly With The Right Idea

For us, our biggest success came from our golf club reselling business.  I love golf and was buying different clubs on eBay to try out.

I realized that I could break even and sometimes make a little money by reselling the clubs I didn’t want to keep back on eBay.

The business really took off when I started buying clubs locally (mostly through craigslist), cleaned them up, and sold them nationally (sometimes internationally) through eBay.

I learned the typical sales price for popular clubs and could spot a deal easily, plus I became skilled in creating eBay listings that maximized my sales price.

This business generated net profits of over $1,000 per month quickly and peaked out at over $2,000 per month.  Here’s a screenshot of a few of my eBay orders:

This was a classic case of buying low in a local market and selling higher to a broader audience who will pay true market value.

You could replicate it easily, especially with the more efficient online markets (like Amazon’s Fulfilled By Amazon service) available today.

I only quit doing this because it was too time consuming for me to travel around the region buying the clubs.

While I could have hired someone else to do this for me, my interests turned to more passive online strategies like those below.

Big Idea #2: Solve a Simple, Recurring Problem

How many times each week do you encounter a problem and search for a solution?

I bet it’s a lot more often than you think, and there are thousands (probably millions) of people out there with the same issues.

When you develop the right mindset, you will see your problems as opportunities to help others…and make some income in the process.

The beauty of this approach is that it’s a matter of creating a solution one time and then selling it over and over again.

Recurring Income Rocks

I have two quick examples that I’d like to share from our own experiences.

The first was a problem I encountered when training for my first half marathon. I developed shin splints, and if you’ve ever had them you know what a painful and frustrating experience it is.

Well, I searched and tried many different treatments to make the pain go away.

Once I finally found a process of foam rolling, stretching, strengthening and icing that worked really well, I realized that there was nowhere to buy the different pieces of equipment as a kit.

Well, now there is!

I packaged up the foam roller, ice packs, foot massager (golf ball) and resistance band along with a brief instruction manual and now sell it as a Shin Splints Treatment Kit both on my own simple site AND on Amazon!

I created a single video on YouTube (for free) showing how to use the equipment and telling people where to find the kit.

I get several sales every week, and oftentimes multiple orders a day, for this little kit with no marketing:

The best part is my kids help me pack the boxes and Bethany fulfills the shipping, so it’s truly a family affair.

You may not know that anyone can list a product on Amazon and let them sell it for you.  They take a fee on each sale, but there’s no upfront cost.

The other example I’ll share here came from my trouble getting started when it came to writing a love letter to Bethany.

Help Others While You Help Your Family Thrive

I try to be romantic (I run Engaged Marriage after all!), but I kept falling into the trap of thinking “someday” I should write her a romantic letter.

After I finally wrote the letter and thought through the process, I realized there was a method to the madness.

I documented it and created templates to help you write the perfect love letter to your spouse.  Bethany and I recorded a session discussing the why and how-to of writing a great letter and packaged it with the templates.

The result was the Romance the Write Way love letter program.

This has become the best-selling product from Engaged Marriage.  It sells every single day, and we only created it one time.

That’s the beauty of passive income!

Big Idea #3: Teach (But Probably Not In School)

The last area I want to share with you is the absolute easiest to get started.

With a post on your Facebook profile or a quick free ad on craigslist, you can start earning some extra money right away.

It’s as simple as teaching others something valuable.

You may not consider yourself an expert at anything in particular, but you don’t need to be!

You’re An Expert To Many

If you are just one step ahead of someone when it comes to a specific skill, you are an expert TO THEM and you can add incredible value to their life.

Teaching in various forms is the main source of side income for our family nowadays. 

The simplest form of this for us is tutoring.  I have tutored high school students in math (children of neighbors), and Bethany has tutored several students in a variety of areas.

It’s not very passive (you trade time for dollars), but it’s something you can do right away.

What Can You Teach Others?

Piano lessons, Excel, public speaking, childcare, reading, art, sports…the possibilities are literally endless.

Did you know that you can be an author featured on Amazon?

It’s true, and the easiest way to get started is to write a short how-to book for the Kindle platform.

This IS passive income, and I currently have three books in the Amazon Kindle store that sell consistently with no marketing effort on my part.

You can see two of the books in the image below.  And the third?  Well, it’s a written version of my how-to process for fixing shin splint pain!

You can also create a course and sell it for free on the super-popular Udemy site.  I have a time management course that sells there very passively.

And of course for us, the biggest side income of all comes from our passion project – Engaged Marriage.  This will soon become our primary source of income, but for now it remains a “side gig” that we love dearly.

With The Right Approach You Don’t Need Much Time

I didn’t mention that all of our efforts so far have happened while I work a demanding “day job” as an engineering consultant.

With that and all the hustle that comes from having three kids under the age of ten, I hope you see that while our time is very limited we have found great success in building multiple streams of side income.

And I know that you can do the same!

Are You Ready To Get Started Creating Your OWN Side Income?

So, at this point you probably have some initial ideas for potential side income streams…or at least you can see it’s possible if you had a little help getting started.

Well, your timing is excellent!

This weekend we are opening the doors to our newly upgraded Side Income Success Club, which will guide you step-by-step to success.

And when you enroll right now, you can get literally get started for 30 cents a day.

Click the button below to get all the details and get started today!

Click Here for Side Income Success!

4 Signs Your Family is Committing Financial Suicide and Doesn’t Notice This

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

A successful and happy family is the unity of two people who are mature both emotionally and financially.

As for emotional readiness, it is quite an abstract concept that is almost impossible to measure.

However, as long as it comes to financial maturity, it is about your and your spouse’s ability to wisely handle your budget, both personal and shared.

What are the signs you two are failing to manage your finances properly?

You want to have children, but have no financial stability

There is no need to emphasize that financially secure parents have much more opportunities to give their children a chance for successful future than those who live in a rented apartment, need to pay off debts and have no substantial savings.

What is more, the chances are that your kids will inherit all your bad financial habits because after all, parents are the role models for their children.

Finally, having children is extremely expensive even if to save on everything – is your family budget ready for this?

You are financially dependent on others

It is great if you or your spouse have rich parents, but still try not to turn your family into their charity case. This is actually one of bad financial habits your children may inherit in the future and you probably don’t want to keep paying for them forever.

Even if you do not depend on any of your loved ones, make sure you do not also borrow money on a regular basis. Even if you need to do it this month, try to make your best to pay your debt as soon as possible and avoid getting into the same situation again.

You don’t diversify your income

Income diversification is the basic principle of personal finance management. Luckily, there are many opportunities to find a source of additional income – everything depends on your skills and time resources.

For example, you could ask your boss to give you an additional project or simply find some freelance-based job.

Apart from this, you could start offering some services like giving lessons, coaching or consulting, SMM or babysitting. This may even become your business one day.

Finally, you could get involved with direct sales – top sellers from Avon or Jamberry Nails make tons of money. At the same time, be realistic about your expectations, especially at the very beginning.

You spend more than you earn

This is very typical of people who have just found a good job but have not developed a skill to manage their earnings properly.

As a result, they spend a fortune during the payday week and then borrow money to stay afloat until the next salary. In order to avoid this, your family should know the amount of your common income and expenses, as well as financial goals and limits you should not overcome. A

part from this, it is very important to create an adequate budget plan and learn how to keep it.

In such a way, personal finance management is an art your family needs to master. You will probably need months to develop effective money-saving skills, but this is still a reachable goal.

After all, the hardest thing is just to start.

Top 5 Money Fights & How to Avoid Them in Your Marriage

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

Top 5 Money Fights & How to Avoid Them in Your MarriageIt’s no wonder that money is the number one cause of arguments among married couples, as money has enough power over us to be considered the root of all evil.

Money isn’t inherently good or bad — it’s just paper.

What money represents to us individually is the issue that can cause problems.

Let’s learn more about the five most common money fights affecting couples, and how you can avoid them in your marriage:

1. My spouse controls all the money, and I’m left in the dark.

It’s dangerous for one partner to control all the finances, as marriage is about partnership.  Even if one spouse is better with numbers, you both need to have a clear understanding of your total financial picture.

If you both know where you’re at financially, and where you want to go, you can make decisions together as a team.

Solution: Schedule monthly “Money Dates” with your partner. Use the time to review your spending, savings, and big picture money goals.

If talking about money leads to arguments, take a couple’s money course or hire a financial planner who can help you determine if you’re on the right track financially.

2. We don’t agree on how much money to spend on the kids.

This argument is more likely to happen when one parent is in charge of the household shopping and the other one only sees the statements.

These fights will be even more dramatic if one spouse is a natural saver and the other is a spender.

Solution: Switch shopping roles and have your spouse do the shopping for a couple weeks, so they can see how much items really cost. You can then sit down and brainstorm the best way to shop and save money in the future.

Remember, you’re on the same team, and you both just want what’s best for your kids.

3. I love to shop, but my spouse is a saver.  

A healthy marriage is based on trust which means couples shouldn’t micro-manage each other’s every purchase.

It’s also important that one spouse’s spending habits don’t sabotage the couple’s financial goals.

Solution: Set a spending limit. Choose an amount that you and your partner can each spend per month without having to talk to one another other first. If the potential purchase is more than your spending limit, talk about it first.

Remember to be flexible and open, and listen to each other’s points of view.

4. I have debt, but my spouse doesn’t. We can’t agree on how to pay it off.

It can be difficult to decide the best way to handle old debt, especially when one spouse comes into the marriage debt free.

It’s important to fully disclose your financial situation and make a plan together.

Solution: Stop thinking in terms of “yours” and “mine.” You’re married now and that means your financial lives are merging.

If your spouse is paying interest on old debt, that’s less money the two of you can save for the future. Sit down together and add up all of your debt and savings.

Make a plan to pay off the debt quickly and start working on your financial goals together.

5. I’m very conservative, but my partner is a risk taker.

Being opposites isn’t always bad because it can help you to have balance.

After all, you’re not likely to reach your big picture financial goals by hiding your money under a mattress or by gambling it away in Vegas.

However, you do need to take on a certain amount of “smart” risk in order to earn enough of a return to reach your money goals.

Solution: Find the balance between the conservative in you and the risk taker in your spouse. This is where a financial planner can help.

A financial planner can assist you in determining a “smart” level of risk that will allow you to both feel comfortable.  Or if you prefer a DIY approach, check out the Engaged Marriage Couple’s Money course that I co-created.

Merging love and money isn’t always easy, but we can help.

At Savvy Duo Financial Planning, Inc. we help couples tackle topics such as creating a shared budget, investing, saving for a child’s education, and planning for retirement.

We act as your money coach and financial planner, providing you and your partner the objective guidance and advice you need to reach your financial goals.

Based in Los Angeles, we work virtually with couples throughout the country.  Contact us today to schedule a free 30 Minute Introductory Meeting at

5 Money Moves Happy Couples Make

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

5 Money Moves Happy Couples MakeHave you ever seen one of those cheesy photos of a couple leaning over with their arms around each other, looking at a bank statement with big smiles on their faces?

Yeah, those are stock photos.  They aren’t real.

Unfortunately, for many married couples, the thought of money and finances brings up quite the opposite reaction.

In the early years of our marriage, we simply avoided the topic.  Denial seemed like a pretty good solution until we woke up $54,500 in debt with our first baby on the way.

How does money impact your marriage?  Does it create tension, stress, arguments and maybe even some dishonesty?

I hope that’s not the case, but the good news is that money doesn’t have to be a strain on your relationship.

Believe it or not, money can (and should) create happiness in your marriage when you handle it right.

Not creepy stock-photo happy, but coming together around your finances to achieve your dreams can actually be an awesome way to express your love and enthusiasm for your future together.

Just don’t smile at your bank statements…who has printed bank statements anymore anyhow?

[NOTE: Don’t miss the end of this post for some very exciting news! 🙂 ]

5 Simple Money Moves to Make in Your Marriage

It’s easier than you think to change the conversation around money with your spouse.  And if there is no conversation, that’s probably a good place to start.

Check out these 5 moves that are proven to bring happiness to couples who make them happen.

1. Create a Simple, Goal-Oriented Financial Plan

What are your dreams as a family?  What will it take financially to make it happen?

This is where a plan becomes essential.  It doesn’t require anything fancy, but it does require a good, open dialogue about what you actually want out of life and a goal-oriented game plan for how to take action to achieve the dreams you share.

In our case, it was a “money date” and a lot of conversation that helped us realize we both wanted deeply for Bethany to be a stay-at-home Mom for our kids.  Once we set that as a big goal, we were able to plan a path forward to make it a reality.

2. Make a Simple, Non-Boring Budget

If the “B-word” makes you cringe or throw up in your mouth a little, have no fear.

A budget (you can call it a family spending plan if you’d like) can actually be really simple and still be effective.  There are also lots of great tools to help you get going painlessly.

But the bottom line is you do need to get your income and spending down on paper so you can get real about your cash flow and where you’d like to direct it.

As our friend Dave Ramsey says, “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

3. Pay Off Debt & Save Money (Fast)

I know this one falls squarely in the “easier said than done” category, but it’s going to be easier than you think once you get going with a motivating plan (#1) and a simple budget (#2).

As freaked out as we were to realize how deep we had gotten into debt, we were also really pumped up to get it paid down so we could realize our new-found goals. And it truly made us happy (freakin’ ecstatic really) to kill debts as fast as possible and celebrate when we met that monster goal of debt freedom!

This is probably an area you’ll need more specific help with – more on that in a minute.

4. Start a Savings & Investment Plan to Support Your Future

I know investing isn’t exactly the sexiest topic, but it’s extremely important to your long-term success and happiness.

If you don’t already know why Albert Einstein called compound interest the most powerful force in the universe, you should look it up for some great motivation to start investing as soon as possible.

It’s never too late and never early enough to start putting some money into high-quality investments that will bring you peace of mind for all of those decades of awesome married life that’s ahead of you.

5. Discuss Money with Your Honey Regularly

Like so many important things, the key to successfully managing money in your marriage is good communication.

The happiest couples have an open and ongoing dialogue about their income, spending, saving, investing and their goals.

This very likely won’t come naturally, so it’s important to have regular “money dates” where you spend some time chatting about money…and more time drinking wine and enjoying the financial peace in your relationship!

Are You Ready to Take the Next Step with Your Money & Your Honey?

These 5 steps are pretty simple on the surface, but of course implementing them can be a challenge.  Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve teamed up Ann Arceo, an awesome couples financial planner from The Savvy Duo to create an easy-to-follow program called “How to Get Control of Your Money & Create the Future You Desire Together

We walk you through these 5 key money moves and showing you exactly how to make them happen in your marriage.

Plus, you’ll have the help you need to overcome the other money frustrations you’ve probably encountered…

…from trouble getting started (or staying on track) to a reluctant spouse.  And we’re giving you all the cool tools you need to make it as easy as possible!

Click Here to Start Your Money Makeover!

How to Get Control of Your Money and Create the Future You DesireTogether (1)

The best time to start your new smart money plan was yesterday – the next best is TODAY so don’t delay. 🙂

6 Tips for Creating a Household Budget

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

6 Tips for Creating a Household BudgetThey say opposites attract, but opposite views on finances can lead to dangerous territory in a marriage.

Many couples run into issues when they realize that one is a saver and the other is a spender.

One of the best ways to help lower financial stress in your marriage is to create a household budget.

Examine All Your Spending Habits

The first step to creating a household budget is to figure out exactly where you and your family are spending money.

When you’re writing down the categories you spend money on, don’t forget to include regular necessities that occur every month, such as groceries, mortgage or rent, utilities, credit card bills, and other loans.

Next, count in variable expenses such as emergency savings, vacations, and money for dining out. Once you’ve accounted for every expense you can think of, subtract the expenses from your household income.

It’s very possible that you’ll end up with a negative number at this point.

Find Categories Where You Can Cut Spending

If you do come up with a negative number, that means you’re spending more than you’re making. While it’s hard to do, you have to go back through your categories and figure out where you can cut spending.

The first categories you need to work with are the recreational ones.

While it’s not enjoyable, cutting back on money spent for vacations and meals out during the short term will help you reach stability in your budget for the long term.

Create a Weekly Budget

After you’ve decided where you can cut expenses, it’s time to create a weekly budget. Weekly budgets are better than monthly ones because they’re easier to create and they leave less room for error.

While you’re creating your weekly budget, don’t forget to plan for emergencies and put aside money for special occasions such as holidays and birthdays.

Make a Plan for Leftover Money

As your budget starts to become firmer, you should start to have some money remaining every month.

While you can certainly spend this money on the recreation categories that you had to cut from earlier, you should plan to save some of that money as well. After all, while one reason for setting a budget is to help you stay in the black, it’s also supposed to help you create a healthy savings.

Whether you invest this money in a mutual fund, add to your savings account, or make an additional contribution to your retirement fund, it’s important to create a plan and stick with it.

If you just let this money sit around, you’re less likely to save it and more likely to spend it.

Pay With Cash

One great way to stick with a budget is to prevent small expenses from adding up.

To do so, figure out how much you spend every week and take out just enough cash to cover those expenses. When you use cash to cover discretionary expenses, it’s easier to prevent overspending than with a debit card or credit card, where small expenses can add up before you even realize it.

When you see that you won’t have much cash left if you get that extra cup of coffee in the morning, you’re more likely to skip buying items that you don’t really need.

Sign Up With a Budget Website

If you’d like an online tool to help you create and balance your household budget, consider signing up for a website like or You Need A Budget.

To begin on this free money-management website, simply use a device like one of the best 2-in-1 laptops from Lenovo to link all your financial accounts. Since these PCs can convert into a laptop, tent, stand, or tablet, it’s easy to use these powerful tools to help you manage your money, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing.

Simply add your expenses in typical categories, including gas, groceries, and credit card payments and create a budget around your spending patterns.

To help prevent financial issues from entering your marriage and causing stress, it’s important to work together to create and follow a budget.

Use these tips to make your own household budget and see how you can change your spending and saving habits.


(photo credit)