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Side Hustle Series: I’m a House Cleaner

by J. Money on Thursday, January 13, 2011

house cleaner boy
(Guest post by Ashley B. – as part of our Side Hustle Series)

I recently decided that I need additional income of about $1,000 a month. I wanted to start a business that had the 5 following qualities:

  • Low start up costs
  • I go to my customer (rather than my customer come to me)
  • Could run it out of my home
  • Could make $1,000 a month fairly quickly
  • Reasonable to eventually make $100,000 in profit per year

So I started cleaning houses.

My start-up costs were minimal. I got a few extra cleaning supplies, maybe $50 worth.  I also bought 500 postcard type flyers and business cards from Vista Print for $35.  I went ahead and got liability insurance and a bond.  This was kinda optional since a lot of housekeepers don’t carry it, but not only does it protect me and my clients, it also helps me stand out from the crowd.  Insurance and the bond cost me $280 to start, and then $90 a month.  So total start up costs were about $350.

I wanted to go to my customers for several reasons.  If you are having your customers come to you, let’s say you sell a product, then you need to be available to your customers at predetermined times.  For example, say I wanted to sell homemade candy.  I might decide to get a booth at the local flea market.  I have to be physically present at the flea market from noon to 4:00 every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I’m not guaranteed to sell any candy, but I still have to be there.  Also, what if it rains that day, or there is road construction, or another, way better, candy booth opens up next door to me?  I’m screwed.  Whereas, if you go to your customer you only have to be physically present at the time of the actual sale.  I only have to work when I’m actually making money. Not having a physical place of business also leads me to my next needed quality, running my business out of my home.

Everyone wants to work from home. I don’t need to tell you why I love it.  But the drawback is being isolated from the rest of the world.  Never leaving the house makes me insane, so being able to go to my customer solves that problem.  Of course, having a home office helps keep costs to a minimum, and therefore profits to a maximum.

I need to make $1,000 a month to meet my goals.  To do this I need to work 11 or 12 hours per week.  Totally reasonable, even my lazy butt can work 2-3 hours per day.  Plus housecleaning is a great calorie burn, on days I work I can skip the gym.

My ultimate goal for this business is to eventually make $100,000 per year. Doable?  Yeah, I think so.  If I charge $25 an hour and have costs of $15 an hour (payroll and overhead), then I would have $10 an hour profit.  Which means I would have to work 10,000 hours per year.   This works out to 192 hours per week, or 5 full time employees.  Of course, those are very rough numbers.  When/ if we get there we would have to see where we stand.  Maybe it works out to have to have 8 full time employees.  Or 10.  But still… I think it’s doable.  It’s not totally out of the question.

—————–
Guest post by Ashley B – a stay at home mom who scrubs toilets on the side.  It sure can be dirty work, but the extra cash helps her family reach their financial goals :)

Want to share YOUR hustle with us? Give me a shout.

(Photo by D’Arcy Norman)


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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff January 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Congrats on finding a side hustle that works for you!

My side hustle right now is blogging (I make $500-$750 a month right now). I’m growing that into my only hustle, lol. I am working towards $25,000 or more a year and then I’m working from home. When I want extra cash, I also dog sit and make $20 a night. I like dogs and am dependable and trustworthy, so it works great! :-)

Good luck on hitting your $100,000 a year dream!

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2 Money Reasons January 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I have a cousin that did this with her husband (back 10 years ago)!

They started out small (he work another job at night), and over the years they built it up and made it a successful business.

Kudos to you, I’m sure you’ll work your way up the $100,000 a year eventually too!

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3 Kiki January 13, 2011 at 3:14 pm

That’s a great idea. It’s always hard to think of a good side hustle!!! How do you plan on advertising?

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4 J. Money January 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm

@Budgeting in the Fun Stuff – Yeah blogging! The extra money def. is nice if you can get paid for it :) Nice surprise for all us who do it for fun anyways.
@Money Reasons – Tag team, I like it!
@Kiki – Ooooh good question. I bet it’s word of mouth, but I’ll ping her and see if she can answer some of these :)

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5 retirebyforty January 13, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Nice hustle. I like it that you can set your own hour.

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6 Cassie January 13, 2011 at 6:32 pm

If you used natural products like baking soda and lemon juice you could market it as a healthier version of house cleaning and could probably charge more for the service and meet your targets faster. You could actually do both with minimal additional start up cost, one price for conventional and another for natural. Depending on where you get your supplies it could cut down on your overhead too. Just a thought :)

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7 Ashley January 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm

@Kiki: I live near Phoenix so there are a lot of retirement neighborhoods in my area. Which works out perfectly because not only are they right in my target market, they leave in the summer when my kids are out of school… so I have been focusing my advertising there. They have community newsletters that I have been putting an ad in. I have also done Google Ads and postcards on doors.

@Cassie: I have thought about advertising as “green” but haven’t made that leap. I do love the natural products because they are cheaper. I just cleaned a whole house full of windows with vinegar and microfiber cloths. Just pennies of cost for me.

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8 Bobby January 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I would love to get a second job for the weekends as my side hustle. I don’t need the extra cash but it would be nice and it would give me something to do but I’m on call every few weeks which always throws a wrench into my plans.

One of these days I’ll figure something out.

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9 DD January 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm

just wondering how the side hustle has been doing for you? your post intrigued me!! also the followup comments by budgeting in the fun, left me wondering where i can supplement my household income? how does one make money blogging?????? ive tried reading some google links on that but to no avail. anyways, congrats again!

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10 NorCalRN January 14, 2011 at 3:04 am

Great post!! So I started a side hustle that unexpectedly turned into my only hustle… I’m a Doula. :)

Anyways, I was wondering if you are insured/bonded- does this mean you have a separate business license, etc? I’m wanting to make sure my hustle is legit with a license, etc but am totally lost on how to go about getting a biz license, accounting stuff, etc… can you J$ or BITFS help point me in the right direction?!!

Thx!

p.s. J$- wanna design me a biz logo?? ;)

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11 Travis @DebtChronicles January 14, 2011 at 6:21 am

Right now Blogging is my side gig. My sister-in-law quit her professional job when her daughter was born to be a stay at home mom. As the daughter has gotten a little older, she goes to pre-school a few days a week and mom has started cleaning houses as well. She has the ability to grow her business as much as she feels comfortable increasing her daughter’s time at daycare / preschool!

Great post, thanks for sharing, and good luck on your goal!

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12 Dee January 14, 2011 at 10:33 am

I started my own Lia Sophia jewelry business. I set my own schedule, work only about 3hours at a time and earn free jewelry and cash at the same time. Once you get started (for under $150) it’s very easy and fun! 30% commission to start, more when you build a team. Direct deposits every week into you account. no funny business whatsoever. It’s been a great opportunity for me so far and we’re always looking to help the next woman start herown business as well. There’s also an incentive trip every year…Punta Cana here I come.

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13 Ashley January 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

@Norcairn: Check out your state’s website. They will have a ton if info as far as what you need to make sure you are legit. Some state websites are better than others, but at the very least you can get a number to call. If that proves too frustrating you can check out your local SBA (small business administration) They provide free councling for all stages of business. Your accountant or insurance agent is also a good source of info. They deal with small businesses all the time (and probably are small businesses). You could also hire a small business consultant who will definately be able to answer all your questions. As far as accounting, I use Quickbooks and LOVE it. It’s kind of expensive but I can’t imagine running a business without it. After my first month of using it I looked around and found an accouting firm who would send a “quickbooks expert” to my “office” and make sure it was set up properly and that I knew how to use it. I think that cost about $100.

Good luck!!

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14 Catherine January 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

This is a really great idea, and a great guest post! She really knows what she’s doing and I think eventually she’s sure to hit that $100,000

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15 J. Money January 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Love seeing everyone else’s side gigs here – remember to give me a shout if you’re interested in sharing more in depth w/ a guest post later :)

@retirebyforty – Yeah, setting your own hours is a great one here. Same w/ other self-employment gigs. (*ahem* blogging)
@DD – Making money blogging is NOT easy – or fast. I’ve never met a person who’s successful starting out with the sole intention of making money – most of us fall upon it after we’ve been blogging and having fun. Of course, anything’s possible if you really get passionate and put your heart into it. Just give yourself at *least* 1 year and know that it’s going to take lots of hours :)
@NorCalRN – Up to my gills in work w/ Love Drop at the moment, but if not I’d help you :) You know who might be up for a logo design? Brad from EnemyOfDebt.com. He likes that stuff. And also Peter from BibleMoneyMatters.com does it on the side too – he’s created a lot of bloggers’ logos :) thanks for thinking of me though!

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16 Funny about Money January 16, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Hmmmm…. So at $25/hour, you’re charging $100 (bare minimum) per house? I live in Arizona, too — the going rate is around $80/house. I can’t imagine many people living in the Sun Cities (unless maybe Sun City Grand) or Sun Lakes could afford $100 a week or every two weeks to get their houses cleaned.

From what I understand, you can crank rates like that in McMansion country. But that will mean you’ll have to hustle work in Paradise Valley, North Scottsdale, or the Arrowhead area. If you’re on the west side, as your plan to approach residents of retirement communities suggests, it’s worth noting that Arrowhead has the highest per-capita number of millionaires in the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area, amazingly enough. Most of them got that way by operating service businesses. :-)

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17 Cat January 17, 2011 at 7:41 pm

When you start your own business like that, how do you file taxes appropriately? Because you didn’t incorporate or anything, how do you play by the rules at the end of the year? Do you just declare that you made money from various sources?

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18 J. Money January 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

That’s what I used to do. I just reported all blog money as income at the end of the year and whatever taxes were owed I’d pay (and I’d document the expenses related to that as well). It’s considered a “sole proprietorship” in MD if you’re not an LLC or Inc or anything, and I think in other states too?

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19 cat January 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm

hmmm…. that’s interesting… so you dont even have to start a business or have anything special you can just report money that you make at the end of the year and then start a business when it looks like its working out? I’m currently thinking about starting a business, but I keep saying, I’ll wait until I get customers, and then I don’t get any (it’s horse riding), but maybe come spring time. But then I’m scared to accept money and not have a “company” set up per say because I follow all the rules and then I’m confused as to how I will report it at the end of the year. Maybe I should stop worrying and just get started already!

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20 J. Money January 18, 2011 at 11:59 pm

haha, a couple things to note here:

1) Anyone can start a business at any time – you set up a popsicle stand outside and make 25 cents – Bam! A business. You create a website and blog about money and then an advertiser comes and wants to pay you $50 to have an ad up – Bam! business. (well, small business, but still a business). The thing that makes it a “business” is getting money in return from a service or product. (of course, doctors and lawyers and other professions require licenses and what not, but you get the point)

2) If you’re thinking that a “business” is one with an LLC or Inc., etc attached to it, then the difference there is Legal set up. My blog business and other online projects are pretty much the same business before I had an LLC and after I got my LLC (I have an LLC :)). Only now there is more legal protection than before. And more fees to pay and some tax stuff, but when you see LLC, Partnership, etc etc, it’s a legal difference more than a “business vs. non-business” We’re just used to seeing that alot from major businesses because it’s smart to do.

3) Yes, paying customers should be your most important factor right now :) Nothing else matters without them – no business cards, websites, store, etc etc. The most important thing you can do right now is to get people to pay for your services/products and THEN figure out how to manage it better and save money and get legal protection, etc etc. Anyone can give you money for something in return whether you’re a “business” or not – so think of it in those terms :)

Does this help? I hope so. I’m no lawyer or professional business person, but that’s the gist of it at least in my opinion.

— Oh, and when it comes time to file your taxes, you just enter in that you earned $XX amount and it will let you know if you owe taxes on it when all is said and done at the end. Think of it as a paycheck from your job, only the person paying you didn’t take out the taxes and social security, etc etc – so you’ll have to pay that at the end depending on your tax situation.

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21 cat January 19, 2011 at 8:03 am

WOW! Thanks J. Money!! That was an awesomely informative comment and a great lesson for me! It’s time for business… :D

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22 renae January 23, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I live in a high cost of living area and would never dream of spending $25/hr for someone to clean my house. Maybe if 2-3 people clean and can do it in 4 hrs and have their own supplies.

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23 Jen January 9, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I live in a high cost of living area, and I pay $70 to have a one-bedroom cleaned. I think the woman spends about three hours. It’s a deal to me, considering that I make $100/hr and like cleanliness. I’d pay even more if I could get someone who remembered to take out the recycling.

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