That Hustle

Four coloured 6 sided dice arranged in an aest...

About 7 months ago, I chose to become a freelancer of sorts. I decided to earn my money through odd jobs and through selling jewelry, t-shirts, and a self-published book, all in the pursuit of allowing myself more time to write.

I think of it as being on the hustle. I’m hustling to get my money. And hustling ain’t easy.

If I think about it, I’ve been hustling most of my life. That’s how I made a lot of my money during junior high and high school. I worked in my mom’s daycare for twenty bucks a week. I worked in my cousin’s daycare for seventy-five bucks a week. I cleared junk off of lots for five bucks an hour. I saved what lunch money I didn’t spend. I collected change. I babysat. Hustling.

I don’t hustle as much when I’ve got a “real” job, aka, steady, official paycheck. But I still look for ways to make a little extra money. It’s like a habit I can’t break. Always hustling, trying to get my dime.

Like I said, the hustle isn’t always easy. I made twelve bucks in sales last month. That’s it. I scrapped up about thirty bucks doing what I call “spare change work”, which is quite literally doing little things for change. On a good day, I’d make four bucks. Not a lot, but it’s four bucks I didn’t have and four bucks I needed because I only sold a couple of things on Etsy and didn’t sell anything on eBay.

Tough luck.

Those bad months can be killers. I had two in a row, only selling fourteen dollars worth of stuff in February. That’s rough. The tax return kept me afloat during that time, but it would have been nice to get ahead, you know? That’s how I look at it. Get the money for the bills this month, I can start working on next month. The more time I have, the more likely it is that I’ll make my bills. There is no surplus. It’s all about thinking ahead and paying the bills.

I live poor on the hustle. I couldn’t do this if I had “real” bills, I know that. I’d be forced to work a job I hate to make ends meet. That idea has never appealed to me and I’ve done what I can to avoid it. This doesn’t mean I don’t like working a “real” job. I like the regular paycheck, for sure. I like having co-workers, most of the time. In fact, I’m looking for a part-time gig right now because that regular paycheck would be a nice boost and frankly, I need to get the hell out of this house a little more.

But I would still be hustling. I’d still be selling on Etsy and eBay and Spreadshirt and Amazon and Lulu and Nook. I’d still be looking for odd jobs and taking extra gigs. I’d still be trying to sell my short stories.

I can’t help it.

The hustle is in my blood.

The De-Cluttering Project

I have a problem with accumulating stuff. Not a hoarder-level accumulation problem, but it’s a pack rat problem, nonetheless.

I come from people that don’t get rid of things if there’s still some use for them. We drive cars until they won’t run anymore (mine’s a ’93 and I’ve had it ten years now). We’re the kind of people that wash out and save butter tubs for storage and keep cloth scraps just in case. We do our best not to rip the wrapping paper so we can use it again. And don’t forget to save the bows!

So, I acquire things that I end up eventually not needing or using, but I have trouble parting with them for various reasons. You know the ones. So-and-so gave this to me. What if I need it? I might use this eventually.

Last year, I started lightening this material load by selling most of my action figures on eBay. Yes, they were nice to have, but they were just sitting in some tubs upstairs. I had no room to display them. They were going to waste. So, I made the tough call to sell them. I cleared out some room in my storage, someone else got something they were looking for at a bargain price, and in the end, I realized I didn’t miss them.

I have once again begun de-cluttering the material portion of my life and I’m using eBay as my garage sale. Do I need the money? Sure. Do I need the space more? Yeah. There’s no sense in me keeping these things when someone else can get more use out of them. And there’s no reason to let these things continue to take up space in my life if I’m not going to make the most of them.

It’s a thought process that’s kind of hard for me to get used to, especially since I am such a pack rat by nature. There’s nothing wrong with saving things for later or trying to make the most out of what I have, but I need to put a limit on things. Consider it service-time limit. If I haven’t gotten my use out of it by a certain time, then I need to put it in the “get rid of” pile. And then follow through with the getting rid of it.

I’ve got a tub full of wrestling magazines. Stacks of writer magazines. DVDs I never watch. Books I’ll never read again. Clothes I’m holding on to for no good reason. Boxes in the basement filled with mystery contents. Why should I let this stuff rot in my house? I shouldn’t. And that’s the way I need to look at it, particularly with some of the items with some sort of sentimental value attached to it. I have to measure that value very carefully. What’s it really worth to me to keep this item?

Eventually (I’m hoping sooner rather than later), I’m going to get out of this house and move into my own place. I have to ask myself how much of this material life do I want to take with me? Do I want this stuff cluttering up my new world? Do I really want to move this stuff (the lazy person in me screams “no” when it comes to that question; I hate moving)?

It’s best that I start purging now. And it’s best that I get into the habit of purging now. I’ve got to get out of the rhythm of looking at something I’ve had for twenty years, forgot that I had, and then put away once again, just in case I might need it.

I won’t need it. But someone might.

Time to let it go.