No side-hustle here

melodramababs / Free Photos

For the last couple of weeks I’ve had side-hustles on my mind. There are lots of people out there who have another job (or two) in addition to their full time work. It’s a great way to get some extra income, which I would love to have. Every once and a while I’ve thrown around the idea of getting a side hustle, but I can’t seem to bring myself around to actually making any sort of plan or commitment.

I could certainly use some extra cash. I’m not in dire need by any means, but it would be nice to maximize my earning potential. Extra cash would help me pay down my mortgage, save up for my retirement, do more renos around the house and just give me some extra leeway in my budget. Unfortunately, the siren call of more moolah isn’t loud enough to drown out my brain conspiring against me. Here are my reasons (excuses?) for not having a side-hustle.

1. I have no idea what I would do. I’m a geographer by training and my geographic skills don’t seem to translate really well to a side-hustle, unless there is a demand for soil moisture modelling/analyzing that I don’t know about. I’m handy with computers, but not handy or creative enough that I could design wedding invitations or anything like that. I suppose the most logical idea for a side-hustle would be trying to make money off this here blog, but at the moment, I don’t feel like I’d be a very successful money-making blogger because…

2. I’m kind of busy. I work full time. I have two significant volunteer commitments – one a local history book project and the second working on exhibits for a local museum. This is in addition to weekly yoga and curling, a house to maintain, and oh yeah, blogging. I really enjoy my volunteer work, my sports and blogging. I already feel like I don’t give enough time to my blog, so it’s hard to imagine having something else on my plate to take up more of my precious time. I suppose I could always be better at time management, but when I’m out of the house for work for 10 hours a day, five days a week, it seems to leave me a bit short of time already.

3. I’m kind of lazy. There I’ve admitted it. I could be more efficient with my time, but I’m just not and right now, I’m not willing to put the effort into squeezing everything else so I can have more work to do. I like being able to sit and visit with people who stop in for a visit and not have to shoo them away because between 7 and 8:30 I’m supposed to be working on this, that or another thing. I can’t help but feel like I would burn out before too long.

4. Part-time jobs out here are few and far between. Working at a local shop is pretty much out of the question as everything but Tim Horton’s shuts down at 5 PM. Even the hours of a hired-hand on a farm wouldn’t fit into my schedule, unless I did an evening shift in a dairy barn – but that conflicts with my volunteer and sport stuff.

There you have it, my excuses for not having a side-hustle (I hope this doesn’t make me a bad personal finance blogger). Right now, a side-hustle just isn’t in the cards for me. I can’t motivate myself to change into a super efficient money making machine, so I’ll just have to accept that I have to make do with what I currently earn (that, or win the lottery or become a super-duper savvy investor). I feel a little guilty for not wanting/being able to convince myself to get a side-hustle, and as great as extra cash would be, I can’t seem to justify the time and effort it would require.

Do you have a side-hustle? Why/why not? What motivated you to get one or conversely, what are your reasons for not having one?

Categories: About Me, Personal, Work | Tags: | 17 Comments

A midsummer bonus: spending vs. saving.

I got a really great surprise with my last paycheque – a midyear bonus! Who-hoo!! What a fantastic way to start July, huh? I love that I work for a company that is willing to share profits with its employees throughout the year. Immediately after receiving the bonus, I’ve been mulling over what to do with my bonus. Here’s just some of things that came to mind:

  • Put some into my emergency fund (EF)
  • Make an extra mortgage payment
  • Buy a deck box
  • Buy new tires for my car
  • Use the money for my upcoming deck expansion
  • Use the money to get a will done

Unfortunately, my bonus isn’t big enough to let me do everything on my list. I would like my bonus to go as far as possible, so I’m going to try to do as much as possible with it. I have already set some money aside for my deck project, so there’s really no need to spend my bonus on that. I also ended up buying a deck box this weekend, when I found one on sale ($99) at Canadian Tire. I know, I know, I’m supposed to be on a shopping ban – but a horde of earwigs tried to move into the cushions for the deck chairs and it was frightening and gross. It was so bad, my Dad offered to buy me a deck box. My new deck box will hopefully keep my cushions earwig free.

That leaves: putting money into my EF, making an extra mortgage payment, buy new tires, or a get will. I’m leaning towards splitting the bonus in half and putting $500 into my EF and $498 against my mortgage. I’d love to get my EF to my goal of $10,000 and an extra $500 would put me closer to that goal. I figure I can wait on getting new summer tires for my car until maybe the fall and hopefully get some good ones on sale. As for the will, I know I should get one drawn up soon – right now I’m hoping it will happen in September. Being able to pay down some of my mortgage debt and get closer to a saving goal is really tempting.

What do you think I should do? When you get a bonus or some extra cash do you tend to put it into savings or spend it?


Categories: Goals, Spending, Work | Tags: , , | 35 Comments

Want to be a farmer? You’d better know something about everything.

My Dad is a farmer, if you want to get specific he’s a former dairy farmer and now exclusively a cash cropper. Growing up on the farm, I quickly realized that the term farmer is basically a synonym for the phrase jack of all trades. Farming, or at least successful farming, requires a wide range of skills and abilities and many of those skills are often associated with other professions. Here’s just a few that come to mind:

  • Animal Caretaker – this one is pretty obvious and covers everything from alpacas to water buffalo. I remember many a day spent trimming the hair on the ends of the cows’ tails to keep them neat and tidy, cleaning hooves, being an assistant midwife for a cow struggling with a big calf, tagging ears, rubbing in udder cream, and not to mention, bottle feeding calves.
  • Pharmacist – the fridge in the barn wasn’t a beer fridge. Most farmers are adept at administering necessary drugs or treatments to their animals when required. I still remember the mix ration for the colostrum supplement for new calves.
  • Soil Scientist – again, pretty obvious. Most farmers can identify soil composition (ever seen one rub the dirt on their teeth? It can roughly tell you how clayey the soil is) and have a really amazing understanding of nutrient cycles, nutrient deficiencies and soil moisture.
  • Mechanic – do you know how often something breaks on the farm? Basically everytime you want to use it. You’d better have a good understanding of engines, hydraulics, and all things mechanical if you want to get that $50,000 tractor started.
  • Carpenter – barns don’t repair themselves. Pens don’t make themselves. Bulls tend to break things.
  • QA/QC Controller – I think this one is especially true for dairy farmers. The milk has to be at a certain temperature and free of antibiotics or other drugs for the milk truck to even pick it up. Before we even started milking cows, we checked all the milk machines and cows. Any cows with abrasions or cuts on their teats were separated and milked either by hand or at the end so their milk wasn’t put into the bulk tank. Same went for cows on antibiotics, their milk never came close to getting into the bulk tank.
  • Heavy Equipment Operator – I am consistenly amazed by my Dad’s skill with his loader tractor. Whether he’s using it like a bulldzer, crane or high-hoe, there’s not much he can’t do with that machine. Other heavy equipment includes: combines, sprayers, tractor trailers and skidsteers.
  • Custodian – after the cows were milked, we spent the next hour cleaning: sweeping stalls, cleaning out the manager, sanitizing the milking equipment, and dealing with manure.
  • Nutritionist – our cows were fed a mixture of grass (ala the pasture), silage (corn), hay, and chop (grains). The feed changed depending on whether the cow was lactating or dry and what season it was. Fresh heifers were fed differently than older cows and calves.
  • Welder – see Mechanic. Everything breaks and it’s much more cost-efficient to fix it yourself than wait for someone else to fix it.
  • CEO – Every farmer is running a business. Some are big and some are small. Decisions have to made with respect to what crops to grow, what equipment to invest in, whether to grow the business or save for next year.

There’s more to farming than pitchforks and plaid ‘eh? Farming is stressful and hard work, and not just anyone can be a farmer. Most farmers are amazing problem solvers, inventive, and resourceful. I would argue that farming is one of the hardest professions out there, because there are no vacations from the farm, you’re never ‘off’ or ‘done work’, and it involves a lot of tough physical work. I think anyone who calls farmers slow, uneducated or dumb has obviously never met a farmer or had to work on a farm. Unfortunately, there’s still lots of people out there who assume farmers are simple country bumpkins, but I would like to challenge those folks to come out to the farm and try their hand at running a farm and see just how un-simple it is.

Does your job require you to be a jack of all trades or use skills associated with other professions? 

Categories: Farming, Work | 21 Comments

My Job Analysis

You’ve probably seen posts similar to this on a couple blogs this week. From Shopping to Saving wrote an excellent post on seven things to consider when assessing your happiness or satisfaction with your job. The post stuck with me for a couple reasons. First, I love reading about people’s jobs. There are so many different types of jobs out there, I find it really interesting to read about jobs that I’ve never heard of or that don’t exist around here. Secondly, the post made me stop and think about my own job. I’ve never really sat down and critically thought about my job. I thought it might be interesting to go through the seven factors and really think about my current position as an Environmental Planner.

  1. Salary – I make approximately $54,000/year. I am happy with my salary. I think it’s pretty well on par for a junior professional 2 years out of school with a Masters of Science. I receive bi-weekly paycheques, based on how much billed time I submit. I have consistently received raises (read about my latest raise) at the end of each year, in addition to a year end bonus. The bonus is a profit-sharing type bonus, so the amount varies depending on how much money the company makes. There’s also a 3% matched RRSP contribution program. In terms of benefits, we have medical/life/critical illness and disability insurance. Unfortunately, no dental or vision benefits.
  2. Job Duties – I’m a bit of a jack of all trades in my position, as I have a stronger science background than most planners, so I work on lots of different types of projects. I do some typical planner work, like environmental assessments, but I do get to do other jobs like development charges and work involved with environmental stewardship and monitoring programs. I’ve worked on developing websites, print material, given presentations, but also get called on to go to meetings all of sorts with all sorts of stakeholders. I generally enjoy what I do. It can be very challenging at times, as I’m still learning the ropes of dealing with all the politics that go along with municipal projects, but I’m getting more and more confident the more projects I get to work on.
  3. Location/Commute – I drive 30 minutes (in good weather) to work. It’s an easy commute (in good weather) on a quiet country highway, usually the only thing I worry about it is Bambi jumping out in front of my car. I love the town my office is in, it’s a beautiful small town with lots of historic buildings, an awesome beach and boardwalk and lots of great restaurants and shops. The office is just off the main centre of town, so it’s within walking distance of lots of the shops and restaurants. There’s a YMCA in town where I go during lunch to work out too. The office building itself is a former Victorian-style home, so it’s full of amazing architectural features – in fact, my office has a fireplace in it! The only thing I dislike about my office is that there’s only one shared bathroom on my floor and it can get pretty nasty sometimes.
  4. Co-workers – I work with a lot of great people. I get along with pretty well everyone at the office – my officemate is fun and in the same age group as myself, so we get along swimmingly. I’ve made some really great friends at the office and everyone is pretty cool. There’s only one person who makes my blood boil, but I don’t have to deal with him on a regular basis, so it’s ok. I’m lucky too that I have a great boss. I’ll admit that sometimes he overshares and can get on my nerves with his stubbornness, but overall he’s been a great mentor to me.
  5. Atmosphere – It’s generally pretty easy going. It’s a professional office, so aside from phones, it’s pretty quiet. I think my favourite thing about the office is how open it seems. Everyone always has their door open, people are welcome to go into other people’s offices for chats. Also, the company is very community-minded, so we participate as a group in community events like Hockeyville, which means tomorrow everyone is wearing hockey jerseys to work. I am beyond excited to wear my jersey to work. Comfiest work day ever!
  6. Flexibility – Generally, I work 8-5, with an hour for lunch. I do have the option of banking time and using it later. I can also work from home, which is so great because I’m not pressured to try and get to work when the weather is bad. Getting a day off isn’t hard either.
  7. Advancement – There are opportunities to advance in the company. A long term goal of mine is to actually become a partner in the company (if not the first female partner). In the shorter term, I can see myself working my way up to becoming a senior planner. While there’s no chance of further education (like getting a phd paid for), the company does send me away to conference, seminars and courses to keep me good and educated.


As you can probably tell, I’m pretty happy in my current job. I’m really fortunate that I was able to get into my field right out of school, with a great company, in the part of the country I wanted to be in. There are days when I’m bored silly and just want to go home, and there’s other days when people are threatening to sue me for suggesting that their town need sewers, but those days are few and far between. The challenge that comes with dealing with the public, municipal governments and other levels of government is something I really enjoy. Having the support around me to be able to do my job well really helps in maintaining my happiness (and sanity) in the office too.

How does your job treat you?

Have a good ‘un

Country Girl

Categories: Work | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

I got a bonus! And a raise!

January is off to a great start for me. I was pretty excited to get back to work after almost a two full weeks off. One of the most exciting things about going back to work was picking up my bonus check. I knew before Christmas that I was getting a bonus, but I wasn’t able to get into the office (thank you, flu-bug) and pick up the cheque. I nearly drove myself crazy over the Christmas break wondering how much my bonus would be.

Honestly, at first I was surprised to hear we were getting a bonus. Typically, the company gives all the employees a percentage of the total profits made that year, but last year a very untypical thing happened – the tornado. Thankfully, the company escaped the tornado unscathed and we actually ended up getting more work for our structural engineers because of it. Shortly after the tornado though, the company announced they were making a $100,000 donation to the disaster relief fund. When this was announced, I felt really proud to work for a company willing to give so much back to its community. Given that large donation though, I suspected that we might not get a Christmas bonus. I wasn’t really upset about that though, because I knew the donation was to a very worthy cause. After I decided that myself and the other employees weren’t going to get a bonus, I was pleasantly surprised when my boss emailed me to say my bonus check was waiting for me.

How much did I get? The initial amount was: $2,880.78, which when you take off the tax, leaves $1,733.33. Awesome!! I may have bounced up and down in my chair when I saw the amount. I put the entire amount in my emergency fund, which is only fun if you’re a personal finance blogger, I guess. It’s got me a fair bit closer to my goal of $10,000. I debated putting half in my EF and half into my RRSP, but decided that at the moment, I’d rather have a little more padding in my EF, just in case.

This week I had my yearly review at work as well. My yearly review consists of a sit down with my supervisor and the president of the company. The atmosphere of the meetings is usually pretty relaxed, but I still got a few butterflies in my stomach when the boss-men called me into the boardroom. Everything went really well though, I had no reason to be nervous. They’re really happy with my work and see lots of room for me move up in the company in the future. They were also happy to receive letters of recognition from the organizations I volunteer with. If you volunteer, I highly recommend that you ask a coordinator to send your boss a letter of recognition of your volunteer work. I came out of the review with a 10% raise in my salary, which blew me away. I was hoping for 7%, so I almost skipped out of the boardroom. The increase in pay means an extra $16.90 in my RRSP every two weeks. At first glance, it may not seem like much, but it’s an extra $439.40/year. That’s pretty cool. I’m also hoping to be able to save a little more per month for my house maintenance fund, RRSP and EF.

Aaah, if the year keeps up like this, I’ll be one happy cowgirl. Do you have yearly reviews at your work? How do you feel about your latest review?

Have a good ‘un

Country Girl

Categories: Review, Work | Tags: , , , | 17 Comments

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