"Use what you've got" - But what if I have nothing?

Hello PH community, it’s been a while.

I’ve been trying to think of ways that I can still increase my income however incrementally. I’ve joined quite a few survey sites, cashback rebate apps like Ibotta & Fetch, & tried posting photos to stock photography websites. So far I’ve barely made any difference. It also takes more time than I realized for some of them, often with wasted time after not qualifying for this or that.

So I got to think about HOW other people make more money. I realized sadly that I might as well be homeless & jobless compared. I have one vehicle, one income, & I’m trying to keep my head above water unsuccessfully. I don’t want to be a ‘woe is me’ kind of person so I keep thinking maybe I’m missing something here. so many “easy” answers are not very viable options for me.

I love the company I work for & I am full time, but I’m not credentialled to move up positions unless I go back to school (& I have enough student loan debt). A second job is not very viable unless I want to sacrifice a lot mentally & physically. I live in a rural area so there’s not a lot of options as it is for jobs, so I almost feel lucky to have the job I have. I’ve cut back drinks, never get fast food, cut groceries down, switched phones to save $30/month, etc. Yet I’m STILL struggling.

I’ve come across blogs that boast making $500 extra a month by selling digital content on Etsy or the like. I’ve started to research this but it almost sounds like I need a fancy program or to spend each month to even be visible within the tangled mess of the internet. I’m fairly well versed with technology but I can’t figure out how these people are doing it. It seems like a scam.

I’m also artistic but can’t seem to sell my art. I don’t know how to load it online & make it look good despite my love of photography. I get denied for low resolution, high noise, etc. I’ve sold almost everything I can on eBay only netting about $500 for two years at the cost of selling my good camera & a part of my soul with it. I’m so grateful for the money I did make but it’s still not enough to keep me above water. Again, it seems there something I’m missing… Possibly something easy.

So I wanted to ask y’all: how do you do it? How do you “use what you’ve got” & actually increase income?


I live in a small (22K) ‘city’ in a very rural area. I also feel very lucky to have to job that I do. As a parent, I did not want to work more hours or a second job, because I want to spend time with the kids. They are only kids for a short time!

So, what I did, was take every advantage of training that work offered. I learned new skills and over time, developed a kind of specialty. And that increased my pay at work, pretty significantly. Now working in Human Services, I will never be rich, but it helps. (I work for a Housing Authority and have an amazing boss who encourages her employees to grow professionally. I’ve been here almost 10 years.)

What really helped me before the increase in income, was using sinking funds. Because what kept killing me was the kind of unbudgeted expenses. But you may already do that, and this is about increasing income.

I thought that maybe I will take on a PT job once the kids graduate, but I’m not sure. It would help the bottom line, but I value my time not at work, it recharges me.

It’s a tough spot to be in @mountainfan . I’m interested to hear what others are doing. Good luck!

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@mountainfan so glad to see you here! It’s been too long! What do you think of the new site??

Have you looked into Upwork and Fiverr or freelance photography gigs? You set your own prices and can slowly build a client base and portfolio. I tried it for composing music, but found it difficult to “get my foot in the door.” But that might be a good option.

Also, if there are limited options in your town, have you considered moving to a nearby city or suburb where there are more high paying jobs? Or looking at the remote jobs offered by big employers in nearby cities where you could commute in for meetings every now and then?


Thank you so much! I will definitely have to check out more training options at work. My degree is flexible & actually fits human resources perfectly, haha!

I technically live in a 4k town, but I work 10ish miles over in a small (17k) city. I might have to check job listings again or through another system. I mostly have used Indeed but maybe there’s a better way to search.

I’m going to look into sinking funds again. My budget is a mess due to similar reasons- like I forgot about renewing my vehicle registration! Oops, that’s almost $200 I didn’t budget for. :tired_face:

Thanks again! :slightly_smiling_face:


The new site is pretty great, honestly! I like it so far. :slightly_smiling_face:

I briefly looked into Upwork & Fiverr but I worry so much that I won’t meet the requirements. I don’t have fancy equipment anymore but I have a computer & an iPhone. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try though.

I actually work 10ish miles from my house. My town is 4k population & the city I work in is 17k. It took me about a year to find the job I have in this town, but that was during the pandemic too. I want to check job listings but being semi-rural I struggle to find accurate postings. (I had TONS of scam-y ones that all ghosted.) I have thought about moving to a lower cost of living state but the idea of moving with all my family & animals is a little terrifying, haha.


I read the replies posted and I don’t agree with the ingrained notion that you have to expand your horizons to make an extra earnings stream. When did remote WFH jobs become a “you must train” concept that you pay for in order to get a WFH position. I understand the need for certain technologies ( programming, connectivity, equipment etc.) but making getting the job ( if there is a job) a pay to get it sounds strongly like a fraud and only profits the one getting paid. I, myself, can do basic bookkeeping accounting because of my previous job experience so I don’t need to get a school certificate to do that but all WFH jobs like this require one to pay to be certified before you even see the companies that hire for this need. I don’t need a middleman to represent my skills so they can get a cut of my income. WFH jobs have become a scamming process for those who don’t actually give you anything and are as bad/ useless as “headhunter recruiters “. The internet has increased the pool of applicants who are applying for positions and also increased the number of fraudulent methods of getting jobs. The only cost that someone should be making in finding a good paying WFH job is their time exploring the opportunities and getting their internet connection ready to process the job needs.