Smart Money Podcast: No-Spend Month, and Making Money While Raising Kids

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Welcome to NerdWallet's Smart Money podcast, where we answer your real-world money questions.

This week’s episode starts with a discussion about how to make a no-spend month work for you.

Then we pivot to this week’s money question from a listener’s voicemail. Here it is:

"Hi, my name is Hannah, and I am calling because I was wondering if you guys had any tips or insight on to how to make money when you have a baby/toddler because right now, we are looking at finances and we can't take on a second job because of the fact then that would have to increase child care prices; so at the end of the day, we'd actually be paying more for us to be able to try and make more money. It just doesn't financially make any sense, so we're feeling very trapped right now. Both my husband and I [are] working — decent income, but we also live in a very large cost-of-living area. We live in San Diego and so we are really at a loss with how to make enough to keep ourselves afloat when it feels like we're already working 60-hour weeks and we can't buy another child care provider. That would essentially cancel out all of the extra profits we would make with an additional job. So if there's any other hints or tips or tricks that you've got, I'd love to know. Thank you for all that you do. Bye."

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Our take

The key to a successful no-spend month is knowing how to set yourself up for success. That means customizing the challenge to your own lifestyle and goals. Go through your spending and decide which discretionary expenses you will forgo for the month. And decide which spending categories you will give yourself certain allowances for.

Ask yourself what is motivating your no-spend month and what you want out of it. Maybe you want to rein in your impulse spending to save money for a summer vacation, for example. Also, give yourself grace if you end up spending money on something that you told yourself you would avoid. And tap the help of an accountability partner who can keep you on track, celebrate your wins and help you through difficult moments.

When it comes to making money while raising kids, realize that you may have to make some tough decisions. If your budget is tight and you are already working full time (or more than full time), it might be time to think big and make a major change in your budget. Moving to an area with a lower cost of living could be an option. And try to avoid side gigs that aren’t worth the effort, like online surveys or multi-level marketing schemes.

Our tips

  • Cut through the chaff: When it comes to "side gigs," keep expectations realistic, and beware of scams.

  • Know what you’re worth: Understand the hourly rate of any work you do, whether it’s selling items online, working a remote job or taking surveys.

  • Assess your overall picture: If your income is barely covering your needs (like child care), there may be a bigger problem. Dig into where, exactly, your money is going, and prepare to make some tough decisions.

More about money management on NerdWallet:

Have a money question? Text or call us at 901-730-6373. Or you can email us at [email protected]. To hear previous episodes, go to the podcast homepage.

Episode transcript

Liz Weston: Welcome to the NerdWallet Smart Money Podcast, where we answer your personal finance questions and help you feel a little smarter about what you do with your money. I'm Liz Weston.

Sean Pyles: And I'm Sean Pyles. Do you want the Nerds to answer your money questions? Well, hit us up on the Nerd hotline. Call or text us at 901-730-6373. That's 901-730-N-E-R-D, or email us at [email protected]; and to get new episodes delivered to your devices every Monday, be sure to subscribe. And if you like what you hear, leave us a review.

Liz: This episode, Sean and I answer a listener's question about how to earn more money while raising a family. One tip: While there may not be an easy answer, thinking big can help.

Sean: Before we get into that, in this episode's This Week in Your Money segment, Liz and I are kicking off our no-spend-month challenge. We've talked about no-spend months in the past, and now, we want to bring the challenge to life and get our listeners on board. Here is how it works: For the month of February, don't buy stuff that you don't need.

Liz: Simple. OK, we're done.

Sean: Easier said than done, yeah, that's for sure.

Liz: I've done this just about every year for quite a while now. And I started out when I was writing for MSN and we had this community board and people would share their victories, their challenges with this; but the whole point is to do a reset. With the holidays, you can start spending a lot, and then the bills come in in January and you feel bad about that. And the no-spend month is just a way to take a look at your spending, kick out some of the things that you don't need to do, and maybe save a little money. This year, you want to do it, right?

Sean: I'm planning on doing it, especially because I had a pretty expensive January, mostly through frivolous spending. I'm excited for it. But what's really important to start off with is knowing how to structure your no-spend month. One of the keys is customizing it for your lifestyle, your way of spending money. And there are no hard-and-fast rules for it. Make sure that you're setting this up so it's actually doable.

Liz: That's the key part. For us, we've got a little travel coming, and we have some situations where we may have to spend money. I'm just going to cut myself a lot of slack on that. But I am going to do the stuff that I normally do, which is unsubscribe from all those newsletters that want me to spend more. A lot of sites, basically, their whole purpose is to get you to spend. Take those bookmarks off, get rid of the email newsletters, and try to just think about, "What do I really need?" Because the core, I think, of a no-spend month, is to identify what your necessities are, and for me, we've got a whole pantry full of food. I'll need to get perishables, definitely, but I don't need to go out and do a big shop, that's just not going to be in my plan for the next month.

Sean: I think it could be really helpful to define what discretionary expenses are in your budget. This is the wants in terms of the 50/30/20 budget, where 50% of your income goes to cover things that are necessities like groceries; 30% goes to wants, like going out to eat, or maybe some random impulse purchase from something online; and then 20% goes towards debt payments and savings. If you go into that wants category, think about where your money is going. Is it all going to delivery? Is it going to an impulse purchase or whatever? That's where you can really dig in and see where you can cut these expenses.

Liz: Some of us have gotten into a habit of a lot of either takeout or delivery and it's not that hard to start making meals at home again, so that's one of the things I'm going to be doing is setting up some real simple meal plans so that I don't have to scramble at the last minute, try to find some food to feed my husband.

Sean: But like you said, it's important to give yourself certain allowances. If you know you have travel coming up, you can build that in. I have some travel coming up. I'm going to visit my mom in Florida in a couple of weeks for her birthday and I know I'm going to want a couple of souvenirs. I'm going to want to treat her to a nice dinner out. I'm building that into my budget for February so I'm not totally thrown off and I feel like I've wasted a week or so doing this no-spend month challenge that I didn't even do properly.

Liz: And, as you know, Sean, one of the most important things to do is to identify why you're doing this because if you don't have good motivation, if you don't have clear motivation, the first time that you make a mistake or spend when you didn't intend to, you might be tempted to just give it up. So having a goal, having a reason why you're doing it is super important.

Sean: This, again, will be really unique from one person to the next. Some people might want to save up some money so they can pay down debt they racked up over the holidays. That's pretty common. As we've talked about, it can be really handy simply to have a reset. That's largely how I'm approaching this because I've found over the past two years or so, whenever we've had a surge of bad news, whether it be a new variant or some other horrible thing happening in this world, I've found that my impulse shopping has gone up maybe to compensate for all the horrible things going on. I for sure had that in January. My purchase du jour was pants. I was all about getting pants that I would wear when I go back out into the world, whenever that is. It was a very aspirational purchase, I suppose, but I spent too much money on pants, so I got to cut it out. That's part of why I'm really eager to do this no-spend month.

Liz: Well, and you have an idea what your weaknesses are, and when you do this, you tend to find others. That's the thing that really struck me the first time and every time since that I've done this is that it takes a minute to stop and go, "OK, if I'm not going to buy the solution to whatever this problem is, what do I do instead?" I remember back in the day, there was a point where our Internet went out and my normal go-to would be go down to the coffee shop, go to a restaurant that has Wi-Fi, and work there. Well, how do I do this if that's not possible, if I can't spend money to sit somewhere and use their Wi-Fi? I remembered, "OK, public libraries. They have Wi-Fi." Again, this is not maybe something I would do in a pandemic, but that was my solution then, and just thinking a little harder about how to solve problems can really help you save some money.

Sean: I think that having some restraints can really make you get creative and also explore what your triggers are. Like you mentioned, if you're going down to the coffee shop, you're going to maybe buy a croissant and get a latte, and these things that seem cheap, but do add up over time. I am all for people buying their lattes, I'm not going to go down that path. But anyway, it's important to know what would make you want to spend money, and then try to redirect yourself. Like if I'm feeling that the world is collapsing and I want to buy some pants, maybe I'm just going to go for a walk or play with my dog or my cat or my gecko and not focus on the internet for a little bit.

Liz: I didn't know you had a gecko.

Sean: I've had a gecko for 20 years, Liz.

Liz: Oh, my God.

Sean: Yeah, I got him for my 10th birthday, little Ozzy.

Liz: Oh. Ah, I had no idea they live so long.

Sean: Me neither, but here he is, still kicking and chilling.

Liz: That's awesome. Well, if you do buy pants, don't beat yourself up for it.

Sean: Thank you.

Liz: That's the other part of this is you really don't want to make this a trial or make this another way to shame yourself. It's about discovering your patterns and finding different ways to do things, not making yourself feel bad.

Sean: It's important to give yourself some grace because no one is perfect. And yeah, you and might end up spending money on something that you told yourself that you wouldn't, and that's fine. It's not a reason to throw in the towel. Just jot down a note of, "Hey, I spent money on this, and here's why I maybe spent money on that," and move forward.

Liz: Maybe "What could I have done instead?" if you want to go that far, but mostly, it's important to just keep on keeping on.

Sean: I think what can help along this process, because it can be difficult to not spend money on things that you want to spend money on, is to find a support system. Here, we're talking about accountability partners. These are folks that you can turn to when you do want to spend money and they can say, "Hey, maybe don't do that." You can talk with them about your successes when you didn't spend money on something you really wanted to, and they can make all the difference when you are working through something challenging like this.

Liz: Yeah, and maybe we can be your support system.

Sean: Mmm hmm (affirmative). That's why I really wanted to do this with our listeners. So each week in February, we're actually going to do a little check-in for how the no-spend month is going: what challenges we've faced, how much money we've saved so far, how many days until it's over with, et cetera. So if you want to get in on the challenge, please feel free to do you so. Turn to the Nerds and call or text us on the Nerd hotline: 901-730-6373. Shoot us a text or a voicemail with how it's going for you. And always, you can write us at [email protected].

Liz: Sounds good.

Sean: One last thing before we get to this episode's money question. We are running a sweepstakes ahead of our new Nerdy Book Club series that we're launching in a few weeks. In our first Book Club episode, our very own personal finance Nerd Kim Palmer interviews Bola Sokunbi, author of the book "Clever Girl Finance," and you can enter for a chance to win a free copy of Bola Sokunbi's book. To enter for a chance to win, all you have to do is email [email protected] with the subject "book sweepstakes" during the sweepstakes period and include the following information: your first and last name, your email address, your ZIP code, and phone number.

Here is a brief disclosure about the sweepstakes, courtesy of the brilliant minds on the NerdWallet legal team: The Smart Money Podcast sweepstakes is sponsored by NerdWallet. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Must be a legal U.S. resident, 18 years or older. Entries must be received by Feb. 9, and you can visit nerdwallet.com/bookclub for more details. OK, and now we can get to this episode's money question.

Liz: All right.

Sean: This episode's money question comes from a listener's voicemail. Here it is.

Listener: Hi, my name is Hannah, and I am calling because I was wondering if you guys had any tips or insight on to how to make money when you have a baby/toddler because right now, we are looking at finances and we can't take on a second job because of the fact then that would have to increase child care prices; so at the end of the day, we'd actually be paying more for us to be able to try and make more money. It just doesn't financially make any sense, so we're feeling very trapped right now. Both my husband and I [are] working — decent income, but we also live in a very large cost-of-living area. We live in San Diego and so we are really at a loss with how to make enough to keep ourselves afloat when it feels like we're already working 60-hour weeks and we can't buy another child care provider. That would essentially cancel out all of the extra profits we would make with an additional job. So if there's any other hints or tips or tricks that you've got, I'd love to know. Thank you for all that you do. Bye.

Liz: To help us answer Hannah's question, we're joined by personal finance Nerd Laura McMullen.

Laura McMullen: Hey, Liz and Sean. And yes, I can definitely relate to this. I write about making money, but I also live in a very lovely and expensive city, Washington, D.C. And I also have a lovely and expensive daughter who's a toddler as well, so I get the financial and emotional burden of living in a high-cost-of-living area and having a kid.

Liz: The thing that really jumps out at me about this question, though, is the fact that these are two people already working 60-hour weeks. How much more can they be expected to work?

Laura: It sounds like their household income is just sort of barely covering their expenses, so I think it might be helpful to take about three giant steps back. What I would do is find a really straightforward budget app, or even a spreadsheet, or even a notebook and pencil here, and throw down all your income and write out all your expenses. Maybe print out your last financial statements and get the highlighter out and see where your money's going. Why is it that your income isn't really covering your expenses all that well?

I have to say, you're not alone. This is the case for a lot of people here. But I think actually printing this out or looking at a budget app will help you see some themes. For example: where you're spending your money. Maybe there are some obvious cuts you can make right off the bat. This might also prompt some kind of big questions — some big, scary questions. If you're living in a high-cost-of-living area and you're not really covering expenses particularly well, maybe there's some big questions you got to put out there about moving to a lower-cost-of-living area, like the suburbs, or to a more affordable house, if a lot of your income is going toward mortgage or rent payments.

Sean: It's a big, scary change, like you alluded to, but that can be one pretty drastic way to have some more cash in their budget to cover things so they don't have to work more.

Laura: Yes, exactly. I just spent the weekend in Pittsburgh, and I live in Washington, D.C., and I got a lot of big, fat, not-so-subtle nudges to move to the more affordable Pittsburgh area for this very reason. I get it. Are there other solutions? I would brainstorm with your partner when you're both in a good mood and think, are there ways we can get support from friends or family if they live somewhere else? Then I'll also throw it out there, if you're looking for more income, how's the job looking that you have right now? If you're already having open conversations, have one with your manager. Talk about negotiating a raise. Google that a little bit. I mean, maybe set up some goals for the first quarter to entice your manager to give you that raise.

Liz: As we've said over and over, this is a worker's market. It's a great time to negotiate a raise or look for a new, better-paying job, because there's definitely a labor shortage out there.

Sean: Yeah.

Laura: Totally. You are in demand. The other thing that might jump out, if you're looking at where your money's going, I think for many people, they'll see that a lot of their money might be going toward debts and credit card payments and such. I don't know, Liz and Sean, you're the experts. What would you do in that case?

Sean: Well, that's something that we didn't really get much from our listener about, so I would be curious to know how much they're putting toward debt payments monthly. This also would a chance to plug the 50/30/20 budget, where you put half of your income towards needs. That's things like rent and childcare. 30% goes to wants. That's maybe something fun for your kids or a night out. Then 20% of your income is allocated toward debt payments and savings. If you find that your debt payments are making it so you can't really save that much and it's beyond the 20%, that's when you might want to think about how you can make your debt more affordable. If you have credit card debt, that's a pretty high interest rate. You might want to look into a zero APR credit card that has a promotional period. You also might want to talk with a nonprofit credit counselor to see if you would be a good candidate for a debt management plan. But I would also say that it might be worth talking with a nonprofit credit counselor just to bounce some ideas off of someone.

Liz: Oh, yeah.

Sean: These folks offer free budgeting help, and it can be really beneficial to get a third party's perspective on where your money is going. They will get into the nitty-gritty with you.

Liz: We should also mention that bankruptcy is a possibility if you've got overwhelming debt. If you're in a situation where your total debt is half or more of your income, or you're borrowing from one source to pay another, or you're getting sued, or the collection calls are coming, when things get really bad, bankruptcy can be a way to legally erase a lot of your debt and give yourself a fresh start.

Sean: Yeah, absolutely. I also want to circle back to ways that our listener can make more money because that's what they are interested in right now. What are your tips for making money while raising young kids and likely working from home?

Laura: I suspect Hannah is looking for ways she can make money while on her phone or scrolling on her computer while her kid's toddling around. And, sure, you can find the low-hanging fruit. If you look online, you can find ways you can take surveys for money. Those are typically research groups that want your opinions and will pay you for them. You can also participate in user testing where you scroll around apps and websites and tell the developers what you think about it for money. You can also try freelance websites like Upwork or Fiverr. But I have to tell you, those don't typically pay a lot of money.

Sean: A few years back, didn't you do a number of those surveys for NerdWallet to see how much you can actually make?

Laura: Yes, yes. A few years ago, my colleagues and I spent about 50 hours taking paid surveys on some of the most popular websites and our total earnings combined didn't even break 90 bucks. That's over 50 hours worth.

Liz: Ah, wow.

Sean: Jeez.

Laura: It was not much, and it was not a particularly enjoyable experience.

Sean: Right, so it's not a very fruitful way to try to have a side hustle, or a way to make more money.

Laura: No, I would not say so.

Sean: Were there any other downsides to this sort of work besides it not really being worth your time at all?

Laura: It's more of staring at your phone, staring at your computer, which — I don't know about you, but I don't need to be doing more of that. There's also a lot of spammy spam. We actually created separate emails for the spam to go to. We were giving away a lot of private information. It wasn't anything too crazy, but you get kind of numb to the idea of these websites we don't even know asking many questions about where we're from and our names and other personal information. I'll tell you, when I sign off of work, the last thing I want to do is stare at my computer or phone more and take mindless surveys where I'm giving away private information. I want to be with my kid. So I don't know that I would recommend these types of ways to make more money.

Sean: One last thing I would like to tell our listener and anyone else to avoid is the multi-level marketing schemes. These are also called direct sales or pyramid schemes, basically. They tend to target working moms, especially moms that are working from home, maybe focused primarily on raising their kids, because they present themselves as a way for young women, young mothers, to be their own boss. But the vast majority of folks who get involved in them lose money. Actually, a 2017 report from the Federal Trade Commission found that 99% of MLM recruits lose money.

Liz: Hmm. 99%?

Sean: 99%. Because the way that people make money is by having what's called "down lines." They sign more people up, hence expanding the pyramid. You don't really make money selling whatever product it is — leggings, hair product, whatever. You make money by looping more people in and getting their commissions. It's not a great way to make money. It's a great way to lose money.

Liz: And lose friends.

Sean: Yeah, and lose friends, by trying to make them all boss babes. But if you want to learn more about this, I highly recommend this podcast called "The Dream," where they do a deep dive into MLMs and how they work and how nefarious they are, and why they particularly target women. So I would recommend that, too.

Laura: I also recommend simply doing some Google searching. Do your homework before you sign up for any of these websites. You could simply search the website name plus the word "scams." I also love checking out the Better Business Bureau website, bbb.org, and on that website, you can search the name of the company. You can also probably find a Reddit thread or two with people who've done it. And try to find some relatively unbiased sources who can talk you through what it's actually like, as opposed to the person who's going to be saying, "Hey, I made $50 million taking surveys." That's not going to be what I'm going to want to listen to.

Sean: Right. Well, how can people protect themselves when they are dabbling in this sort of work?

Laura: You want to take a step back and think about what your time and effort is worth. If you want to take surveys or do user testing or something like that, go for it, as long as you're safe about it and you do your research. I'd also take some notes, either in a notepad or on your phone, of all the time that you've been spending, say, taking surveys or doing user research. Just jot down timestamps of when you've been working on this kind of stuff. Then set a reminder, say, in your phone for, I don't know, six weeks from now, and go back and look at how much time you spent doing this work and how much money you made. That's some really easy math to figure out your hourly wage. It might turn out that you're happy with how much you made in that amount of time; and maybe you actually kind of enjoy it, or it feels like you're contributing something, and that feels good. But it also might turn out that you hardly made anything, and you might want to re-evaluate.

Sean: Yeah. I was listening to the woman who's the host of "The Dream" podcast. She was talking on another podcast about MLMs and all of this, and she was saying that one of her friends is still dabbling in MLMs. And her friend said that she makes enough to cover her cell phone bill, as if that was a great marker of the money she was making. And in fact, that's just covering a business expense.

Liz: Well, what are some of the more fruitful options that our listener could look into?

Laura: I'd take advantage of whatever money-making assets or skills or stuff you have now that you can leverage. It's early in the year. Maybe this is the time where you do a purge of all your clothes; and you can jump on a website like Poshmark, or even do a local site like Craigslist or Nextdoor and sell your stuff, sell clothes, sell your things. Or if you have some skills, put them to use. If you have experience in web design, if you're a pretty good writer, if you know how to code — shoot, jump on LinkedIn or Fiverr or Upwork or a website like that where you're doing more freelancing than you are kind of one-off odd jobs. I think that those opportunities tend to be more fruitful in the long run.

Sean: Yeah. They probably pay more, too, than surveys.

Laura: Mmm hmm (affirmative).

Liz: But I keep coming back to: This is a lot of extra work for two people who are already working too much. I mean, 60 hours regularly is too much. I know some people would look at this and go, "OK, one of them should stay home. Then they don't have the child care expenses anymore." I have a really hard time with that because when people stop working, they're saving on the child care, but they're losing all the other options they could have. They're losing the raises, they're losing the chances to save for retirement, and it really concerns me when people do that. How do you think of that, Laura?

Laura: Yeah. Plus, it might be harder to jump back into the workforce. Sean, Liz, and I are all writers. Man, if you jumped out of the workforce from 2000 to 2010, your whole job changed in that time as a writer. That's pretty tough. I can tell you from personal experience, my husband and I considered very briefly not sending our daughter to day care, particularly given that she's a COVID baby, but the math did not work out. I will also say — and this is a very personal opinion, everyone's going to be different here — after spending the last week or two with my daughter at home, not in day care, whew, I am very grateful for those day care workers.

Liz: Amen.

Laura: What we're paying is a lot, and it's worth it. I don't know that I would personally take a 60-hour work week with my daughter over a 60-hour work week of work-work. That was our perspective, but I could see why people have different opinions on this.

Sean: Given where we are in the job market right now, and the fact that so many people have been able to argue for raises or create their own more flexible working situations, I'm wondering if one of these parents might be able to work part time? I know that with my partner's sister, she works part time, and her son's father works full time, and she has the flexibility of being able to be there with her son for that amount of time that she's not working. She also works from home when she is working, so that makes it pretty easy overall, but that way you kind of can get a little bit of the best of both worlds. You are continuing to be in the workforce, you're getting career advancement, but you aren't working 40, 60 hours a week.

Liz: I'm hoping that more companies in the future will offer or soon will offer part-time options because a lot of them don't. But I think the current labor shortage is making a lot of companies rethink that, and think about ways that they can retain people. Again, I think if they worked part time, I don't think it would solve their particular issue because it does seem like their income is not meeting their expenses; so it might not really help that much to cut back on the child care. It's hard to know. I mean, we don't have a lot of the details of this, but I like the idea that you need to think out of the box, you need to think about different solutions.

Laura: I like that we're making this point right now; I think workers need to be pretty honest, respectful and honest with their managers. Like we've said a few different times with this labor market, you’ve got to speak up if you need something. I know a few different friends within my circle who have now started working four-day weeks rather than five. If you want that kind of stuff, whether it's to live in a less expensive city and work remotely, or if you want a shorter work week or more flexible work week, or some sort of stipend for child care, your employer is not just going to offer that up. But you do have leverage here, so speak up and be respectful. Put time on the calendar to try to make that happen.

Sean: There's something to be said about striking while the iron is hot. This conversation about the Great Resignation seems to be very active at the moment. We don't know what the world and the market will look like in six months. It seems likely that this moment's going to last for a little while, but you just don't know. Given that there is so much momentum and that a lot of people are having these conversations with their bosses, I would say do it sooner than later.

Laura: Mmm-hmm (affirmative).

Sean: Liz, I want to ask you about this too, because you worked while raising your daughter, right?

Liz: Oh, yeah.

Sean: What was that like for you? Did you have any sort of debate around, "Am I going to step back from the L.A. Times?", which is where you were working at the time, correct?

Liz: Actually, I had stopped working there and started working for MSN, so I'd switched to online at that point. And one of the reasons I did that is I wanted more flexibility. Working in a newsroom, it's very difficult to do that and raise a child. People do it all the time, but I just looked at what that would look like, and I didn't like it.

Sean: So, you pivoted your career.

Liz: But I never once thought about staying home full time. We were privileged and lucky enough to have a wonderful nanny that we inherited from a cousin, so she had been with the family for a long time, and it just made life possible. Because I don't know, Laura, now that you've tried to work from home with a kid, you know what that's like, right?

Laura: Oh, man. It is terrible. I'm sweating right now. There's 6 inches of snow outside, there's a bunch of snow outside, and I'm sweating because I just heard my daughter and husband walk in from outside and I'm just frazzled, just continually frazzled. I'm not my best worker self when I've got my daughter at home. That's the truth of it.

Sean: Well, that also could be one check in the column of moving closer to family, if possible. Because going back to how my partner's sister has her situation, she lives less than 10 minutes walking from her mom — from her son's grandmother. And let me tell you, Grandma's over there almost every day, dropping the kid off at preschool, getting snacks fixed up. Garrett's sister wouldn't be able to do it without her, I can tell you that.

Liz: Yeah. There's a lot of families like that that really provide a lot of help, and that can make all the difference in the world.

Sean: It seems like maybe the answer to our listener's question is that there aren't a ton of super easy ways to make more money given their current circumstances. But it might be best to look at ways to minimize costs where you can, maybe by moving, and also maybe get more help, if you can, from your family.

Liz: And get more money.

Sean: Yeah, and get more money. Well, thank you so much for talking with us, Laura.

Laura: Sure thing.

Sean: With that, let's get on to our takeaway tips. And I can kick us off. First up, cut through the chaff. When it comes to "side gigs," keep expectations realistic and beware of scams.

Liz: Next, know what you're worth. Understand the hourly rate of any work you do, whether it's selling items online, working a remote job or taking surveys.

Sean: Lastly, assess your overall picture. If your income is barely covering your needs, like child care, there may be a bigger problem. Dig into where exactly your money is going, and prepare to make some tough decisions. And that is all we have for this episode. Do you have a money question of your own? Turn to the Nerds and call or text us your questions at 901-730-6373. That's 901-730-N-E-R-D. You can also email us at [email protected]. And visit nerdwallet.com/podcast for more info on this episode. And remember to subscribe, rate and review us wherever you're getting this podcast.

Liz: Here's our brief disclaimer, thoughtfully crafted by NerdWallet's legal team: Your questions are answered by knowledgeable and talented finance writers, but we are not financial or investment advisers. This Nerdy info is provided for general educational and entertainment purposes and may not apply to your specific circumstances.

Sean: With that said, until next time, turn to the Nerds.