My dad comes from the generation where if something is broke, you fix it; if you want to buy something, you work, save and buy it in cash; and if you want something done right, you do it yourself.
Because of his upbringing, my dad and Papaw can fix and build absolutely anything. I grew up watching them and mimicking their every move with my own set of Fisher Price plastic tools.
As I grew up, and driving was on the horizon, the issue of a car became an issue. My wants did not match my wallet, so my dad introduced me to the concept known as work. However, this was not your average “Get a job” solution; this had a twist. My dad’s solution to a vehicle was both unique, fun at times, and without a doubt brilliant.
My Love For Classic Cars
We both share a love for classic cars and trucks; we both appreciate the beauty and artisanship each model represents. So one afternoon my dad and I were driving down the road and I told him, I wanted an old truck to be my first car.
When I was little my dad rebuilt a 1965 Ford Falcon, it was red and white and I always thought it was the coolest. I had always wanted to drive something that I had invested tons of my time and efforts into just like my dad had with that Falcon especially after I saw how much enjoyment he got out of his hard work.
My dad was all for my idea, so we made a deal, he will pay for the initial investment of $1,200 to buy the truck and I have to cover the rest. That night we searched on Craigslist and found what we wanted immediately, nothing too far gone but not a shiny- it was a 1950 GMC. We picked it up a week later from just outside of Dallas, Texas and the restoration began!
Starting To Mow Lawns
Of course, as a 7th grader at the time my funds didn’t go very far so I started passing flyers out in my neighborhood for lawn mowing. It was good money, grass always grows, and I loved being outside so it was perfect! One yard led to another and soon we were able to buy parts and tools that we didn’t even know we existed or that we would ever need!
That tiny yard business from those 20 flyers became a booming business of 70 yards that helped us complete the truck with funding to spare! The truck is now finished, it’s a beautiful mat black with flaring fenders and an aggressive stance, and get this - yard business remains.
A Growing Business!
The business that started with 12 yards and 20 flyers has grown tremendously to 74 yards and in the winter, a firewood service. This side hustle has become the way that I pay for my gas, insurance and standard vehicle maintenance that comes with owning a 70 year old truck, which seems to be about every week.
It needs to be said that this side hustle takes place while I’m at full-time student at Captain Shreve High School, and my dad is a full-time public school teacher. This is what we do to make what we want to do possible.
I cut 15 yards on Saturday while my buddies sleep-in till noon, I find the dead tree, find the land owner, and cut it down for firewood.
Our experience, and my dad’s hands-on approach has taught me so much - so much that I can do, that I don’t need to pay someone else to do. We have branched out because of our customers’ needs and requests, and become more than just a little lawn business.
We do everything, from weeding flowerbeds to building fences and anything in between! I can even proudly say that I watch a ladies’ chickens quite frequently.
I'm Proud Of What I've Built
The business has been a fantastic way to bring my dad and me closer, for us to make money in the process, but it has also taught and instilled in me the pride that comes with hard work. I started this journey in seventh grade- age 12. I am now a Senior in high school, age 18, about to graduate.
I am not only proud of my truck, and my customers’ reviews, but also proud in knowing that I have helped-out my family. I detest those that expect things and money to be given to them- I now know how to hustle more yards, offer more services, to get what I need, and to think if I truly need it when I go to spend my hard earned money!
These past six years have made me value money, communicate with customers, plan a cutting schedule and manage my time. I will carry these lessons into my adult life, and I can guarantee you this, my children will have a side hustle as well!
Thank you for this opportunity to share my story, and for your generosity in supporting education.
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Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.