Chris Gammell's Analog Life

Analog electronics and everything else between 1 and 0

Clueless About Income

I’ve been going over my personal finances lately. I’ve decided that I would like to increase my wealth (shocker, I’m sure). I’ve always been a bit of a cheapskate and I’ve cut back more thanks to the recession. And so I need to go in the other direction. And why not? Making more is just as effective as spending less on the road to wealth.

So how do I make money?

I’ve never really thought about that before. I guess there are the conventional routes:

  1. Ask for more money at my current job — We’re in a recession, remember? Try again.
  2. Get a new job — I could, but I like my current job and there are a lot of hidden costs with changing jobs. My move from Austin was pricey, and that was with help from my current employer. Not to mention I would have to win out over the many other qualified people out there who are currently employed. No thanks.
  3. Win the lottery — Ah yes, the illogical man’s backup plan. This wasn’t serious, I’m just trying to illustrate how little I’ve thought of making more money for myself in the past.

Wasn’t that a fun exercise? I’m not saying that’s all there is, I’m saying that’s all that came to mind before I really started thinking about it. So what other options are there?

Well, I’m sure at least one or two of you have noticed that I run a website. I could pretend that I could make money on here, selling links and putting up ads for people, but I just don’t think it will work; plus I usually hate how that stuff looks on websites. Aside from the fact that you really can’t make money with a blog, I’m not even sure I would want to. If you focus all your efforts on your one endeavor (such as writing), you lose the spice that makes your perspective so unique. Why else would an online comic artist go back to school for physics? (duh, to get good jokes about nerds!) I’d prefer to write AND continue working with analog electronics every day to be able to use skills I learn from one in the other.

Then there’s consulting. Ah, the money that can be made from consulting, so they say (you know…”they”). The thing is, I really don’t have that much experience yet nor do I have the contacts necessary (the most important part, so I hear). And this whole model is still dependent on others giving you a salary of sorts (albeit with more independence). While this is a possibility in the future, I just don’t see this as a possibility yet. (FYI: I also group “freelancing” in with this category. Freelancing is just consulting for a much lower price in my opinion).

Well why not make something? Selling a product has probably never been easier. The supply chain is set up, you can get prototypes up quickly and cheaply and there is a whole region of the world just waiting for you to send ideas their way that they can manufacture. The problem is, I said I want to make money, not spend it. And spend you will if you ever try to launch a product in any capacity. There’s always the homemade versions of electronics, such as kit manufactures and hobbyist board houses, but they’ve got those models down pat and I don’t have a lot of interest. So as of now, I’m counting the “product” idea out as well.

I wrote this post because I wanted to point out that there may be lots of ways to make money, but I’m stuck in a mode where I am dependent on others to give me a salary. That’s a dangerous position and one that will limit your earning potential over the life of your career. I’ve stated that one of my long term goals is to start my own company, but I’m thinking that I should perhaps start in sooner than later. That way I can get the mistakes out of the way early and decide if it’s a hobby or an actual money making endeavor. The main thing holding me back is that I have zero clue as to what I would do.

What about you? Have you broken out of the conventional model of going to work every day and earning a steady paycheck? I’m on the beginning steps of a long journey that could take many directions and having one or two people wave at me from down the path might make me feel a little better about thinking about finally leaving home.

7 Comments

  1. Buy real estate, rent it out, let the renters pay your mortgage, and slowly build up equity while enjoying a bit of positive cash flow. Like anything else, it requires study and effort, but it’s a workable solution.

    Or marry rich.

    • It’s a possibility, but I was thinking more along my technical competencies. Maybe you’re right though. Maybe my problem is looking at too narrow a subset of things I could do.

  2. Isn’t the purpose is to make more money and not to work harder? My brother has it all figured out. He works 3 days a week and makes 2-3x of what I make.

  3. Make your product and sell it on a small scale first. First goal is sell one, then $200 per month. If you get a steady couple hundred a month coming in then jumping off and starting your own thing is in range. Possibly even talk someone with money (angel investor) into funding your chinese production run of 1,000 units. If you found a market for the first hundred you made in your garage then you can sell 1,000 on the Internet/eBay/whatever.

    There’s always risk associated with going out on your own but the connections you make along the way will be worth it and will ensure your sucessful re-entry to the paycheck world if necessary. Koch did like 20 failed startups before McDonald’s took off.

  4. I don’t know if you are interested in taking business classes, but classes seem like a place to start. If you’re not interested in more school, business plan competitions also seem like a good crash course in starting a company and get you working with a team.

    This competition looks pretty interesting, and it doesn’t look like you have to be a student.

    My brother-in-law has started a business to develop a sensor that recently got venture capital funding. So it can be done!

  5. I don’t know if you are interested in taking business classes, but classes seem like a place to start. If you’re not interested in more school, business plan competitions also seem like a good crash course in starting a company and get you working with a team.

    This competition looks pretty interesting, and it doesn’t look like you have to be a student.

    My brother-in-law has started a business to develop a sensor that recently got venture capital funding. So it can be done!

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