I’ve always found odd jobs to earn myself a little cash. First it was to buy candy bars, then Christmas gifts, but now all those funds go straight into college savings or my gas tank. In earlier years I earned my money in various ways; lemonade stands, pulling weeds, losing teeth. As I grew, my schemes shifted to fit my new budgets.
I’ve always been obsessed with working with animals, and when I first started working at a boarding stable for horses, my parents resigned to the fact that the obsession might last. The first few years I helped out with feeding horses and cleaning stalls in exchange for riding lessons from the owner of the stables. Once I reached high school, I began to work there over the summers, which has created the majority of my income and college savings. From that job, I became a jack-of-quite-a-few-trades.
The Beginning: Pet Sitting
My first money maker outside of the summers was simple; pet sitting animals for neighbors and friends over weekends and holidays. My parents didn’t appreciate the increase in pet hair in our house, but they liked that I was making my own money and was willing to work for it.
As soon as I got my driver’s license, my clientele expanded outside of my neighborhood. I also began to take on various babysitting jobs for neighbors.
I had gotten comfortable with my summer job and various pet and child watching gigs. Unfortunately, after my sophomore year, my family moved to another town. My old clients were lost, but more opportunities for side hustles soon arose.
Cleaning Up The Paddock
I was only a half hour from my old summer job, so I continued to work there. However, the majority of the funds I garnered were put straight into savings, leaving me precious little cash for gas, snacks, and gifts throughout the year.
A little searching and I soon found a once a week job cleaning out a barn and paddock for a couple with eleven rescue donkeys and two horses. Once a week I would go out, plug in my headphones, and fill their 72 square foot dumpster. The cash I got from the generous byproducts of those equines filled my gas tank each week with a little leftover for extras.
After a couple months of working, the unspent cash would join my summer savings in the college fund. I’ve had many people, including my parents, balk at the idea of scooping up turds every week, but the simple task has provided me within extra income, a little workout, and a chance to forget about school for a while.
Other Odd Jobs
A few good friends from my old town still bring me their dogs to watch, including one diabetic dog who’s always in need of insulin shots. I’ve also housesat for a family with a plethora of cats, some dogs, and a horse. Whether I go to their homes or they bring their animals to me, pet sitting has always been a successful source of income for me and provided me with plentiful opportunities to learn more about animals and put a little more money away for college.
On top of those, I have mowed lawns, walked dogs, found more kids to babysit, sold artwork, and helped in demolition and cleaning of my family’s vacation rental property. Each job, no matter how small, puts a little cash in my wallet and the rest gets sucked up into college savings.
Money Making Schemes
Despite their aversion to the animal waste I earn most of my money through, my parents have always supported my many money making schemes. Both of them came from large families with low budgets, and they have always encouraged work and independence, no matter what area or how much you earn. Their work ethics have helped me to build up my own, and to find joy in a job well done.
I plan to continue holding my odd jobs and exploring more options, all the while stashing away what I can. I’m currently working on finding ways to sell some of the paintings I have made, as well as searching out more baby and pet sitting opportunities.
All of the work that I have done with animals has all been to prepare me for my college studies. I plan to study for a major in wildlife biology and conservation, and the variety of jobs I have done and animals I have worked with will all help me to prepare for a range of future careers in that field.
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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 here and here.
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.