$823 in Extra Income and Life Updates

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. We didn’t do a whole lot, but it was a nice relaxing weekend. Our good friends (W has been good friends with the guy since first grade) are getting married this Friday and decided to plan a quick wedding so we have a lot to…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 26, 2023

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studentloansHey everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend.

We didn’t do a whole lot, but it was a nice relaxing weekend.

Our good friends (W has been good friends with the guy since first grade) are getting married this Friday and decided to plan a quick wedding so we have a lot to do this week to get ready for that and it’ll be a lot of fun!

I booked our engagement photography last week. She takes great photos and I’ve been stalking her wedding website and Facebook for years now so I’m glad I was able to book with her! We are of course taking our engagement photos with our dogs too and I’m really looking forward to it. W is really not looking forward to taking photos. Anyone else had this problem? I feel like I can’t convince him to do this at all haha. I’ve already paid though and it’s $400 for the engagement photos so he will for sure be coming.

Lately I’ve been talking a lot about how we want a new house. We figured that until we actually find the house and are 100% about to buy, then we really need to be doing little things around our house until then to prepare and not be overwhelmed at one time. Also, why not make our house perfect for while we’re leaving here? So we have a long list of things that we need to do. This past weekend I cleaned out my closet and had 2 large trash bags full of garbage to throw away. And this was pure trash: receipts, plastic bags, tags, paper, etc.

This upcoming weekend I plan on de-cluttering everything and getting rid of clothes in my closet. Hopefully I can actually get rid of some clothes and possibly make some extra money too!

So, quick question for all of you: What thing around your house did you improve before you tried selling it? I’m looking for all tips as we want to sell our house for as much as we can and also as quickly as we can. I have a long post dedicated to this in the future but am wondering if there’s anything that I’m leaving out!

I paid off one of my student loans, and it was my only private student loan! Back in 2007 I took out the loan and it totaled $6,000. I paid off the rest the other day and it looks like I accidentally overpaid by $0.01! It’s a nice feeling and I never honestly thought that eliminating student loans would be this exhilarating haha.


I don’t think we bought anything in the past week, at least nothing that I can think of. We have been doing really good with this and I’m proud. I guess you could of course count for engagement photography that I paid for, but I did budget for that awhile ago.

Also, we have some major expenses coming up. We are paying for W’s parents to go on a vacation. It’s going to be a present to them for being such great people and we’re really hoping that they enjoy it. We’ve saved up for quite some time and are covering the airfare and all-inclusive hotel. I don’t think they’ve ever been to the Caribbean so I’m super excited for them!

Extra income

Extra Income (does not include salary from our jobs)

I received $823 in payments in the past week. Still waiting on some more payments so I hope they come through soon.

Affiliate income is still my number 1 goal right now. I’m really working on that and hopefully it’ll be around 50% or more of my total extra income each month. Eventually though, my new side hustle will completely take over and hopefully become a larger part of my income. This side hustle will eventually take up a ton of time.

I wish I could tell you guys more! A couple of you asked me if it’s related to blogging, and it’s not at all. It is not related to writing, blogging, advertising, etc. Something completely new! If anyone wants to guess, I’ll take all guesses and confess if someone actually does come up with the right answer. And, if you already know what the new plan is, please don’t tell! I already told a couple of you. 🙂


We haven’t had a meal plan in forever, but we have been doing great with eating at home. We made dinner 5 days last week. The two days that we did eat out were super cheap. Thankfully our 2 favorite restaurants are right next door to each other and just right down the street. They are both super cheap and we spent a total of $35 on going out to restaurants to eat. That’s pretty cheap to me, less than $20 for each night!

We want to continue to eat in as much as we can. We have really enjoyed it. We have more time to relax and hang out since we aren’t in a busy restaurant.


As I said above, we booked our engagement photography to be done. We’re not taking them until May because we want everything to be blooming and colorful. Our photos will be a start park with lots of great hiking and pretty cliffs. Sounds like a disaster once you mix heels, dresses and 2 dogs but oh well 🙂

Being healthy

Having the treadmill in our basement has been great so far. I’ve run on it three times in the past week and it’s been great. I’m going to try and at least fit in a couple of miles here and there whenever I have 10 or 20 minutes to spare also.

How’s your spending, working out and extra income going?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. John S @ Frugal Rules

    I don't now if I can follow up on Glen's guesses. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Great work on getting that student loan paid off! We paid all of mine off just over a year ago and it was awesome to see that 0 balance after paying everything off!

    1. Haha I don't think anyone can follow up after Glen! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks John, I'm glad it's off. I can't wait until they are all at a 0 balance.
      My recent post $823 in Extra Income and Life Updates

  2. We just sold one of our properties ourselves to avoid the realtor commission. I am putting together a post on my experience. We ALWAYS made sure the house was spotless, decluttered, and smelled really nice. We went through a few fabreeze cans.

    1. YES! Exactly the post I am looking for. You'll have to let me know once it's live.
      My recent post $823 in Extra Income and Life Updates

  3. My advice on prepping you home for sale – update hardware on cabinet doors, door knobs, hinges… Even faucets and light fixtures if they are outdated. Make sure paint (especially on trim) is fresh & clean. De-personalize & lose any clutter. Also, price it right!

    1. Thanks Sam! I always love your advice ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post $823 in Extra Income and Life Updates

  4. Hahah oh my Glen, no that is thankfully not my side business! Selling deer-anything is a no.

    And nope, I'm not selling fudge ๐Ÿ™‚
    My recent post $823 in Extra Income and Life Updates

  5. plantingourpennies

    Mr. PoP hates pictures, too (I'm not big on them either, so it's not a big deal), but I can totally imagine him saying, "you paid for the engagement pictures, you go be in them!" =)

    1. That's exactly what W said! haha

  6. "It is not related to writing, blogging, advertising, etc. Something completely new! If anyone wants to guess, I’ll take all guesses and confess if someone actually does come up with the right answer."

    Hmmmm…what could it be….
    My recent post 5 Things I Wish I Had More Time For

    1. You can always guess ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. When my wife and I sold our first house we did the following:

    + Fresh coat of (neutral colored) paint in as many rooms as we could stand to paint.
    + Massive cleaning effort (including self-shampooing the carpets)
    + decluttered – EVERY personal picture removed from sight. Potential buyers want to see themselves in the home, and that's hard to do with someone else's pictures everywhere.
    + Ripped down all wallpaper (the home had some dated wallpaper).

    Good luck, and looking forward to following how it goes for you!
    My recent post Financial Peace Will Save My Marriage

    1. Luckily we have like no personal pictures up, so we won't have to do that! We do need to freshen up some things with paint though and do some cleaning.

  8. Anne – Unique Gifter

    My friend's house sold in one day in January, after he'd spend months doing all the little things, prior to listing. Let's see: gutting closets, like you've said, repainting anywhere that has dings in the wall/trim. – taking down personal photographs (& filling the holes), doing a deep clean, replacing anything that's quasi broken/cracked, checking that all of your lightbulbs work and are fairly bright; if you haven't painted ceilings in awhile, do at least your darkest room, it makes a huge difference.
    pressure wash your exteriors – driveway, sidewalks, patios; make sure your fence is standing straight and looking good. trim back any landscaping to ensure maximum brightness inside and tidiness outside. Clean your carpets.

    That should be a few to keep you going for a bit! Sorry for the terrible grammar with the list.

    1. Wow that's awesome! Great tips, thanks!

  9. Best thing you can do to your house is touch up all of the paint. That goes a long ways in the buyers mind.
    My recent post Personal Finance Week in Review for February 17, 2013

  10. The Blonde

    even though I haven´t any house of my own, my family has moved a lot. what I`d recommend is to declutter and remove a lot of your super personal stuff. If the house is full of nicknacks and pictures from your entire life, people might feel like their trespassing. you have to make your house feel like a warm and welcoming place where someone other could imagine living.

    1. You are very right. Thanks!

  11. Though you had a relaxing weekend, it still seems you are busy Michelle. While we are in the process of preparing our home to be listed, we are dealing with cleaning the house, replacing the carpet, getting rid of unwanted junk, staging, power washing, fixing anything broken, yard appeal, and all the good stuff. I have a long list on my whiteboard.

    1. These are all things that we really need to do. UGH so much work.

  12. SavvyFinancialLatina

    Engagement pictures are always super cute! Can't believe you are already selling your first house!

    1. I'm excited to take them! I will most likely share them on the blog. And yes I know, so soon.

  13. therandompath

    When you go to stage your house, make sure it's completely de-cluttered! No knick-nacks, magnets on the fridge, etc… Clean out closets, make sure people can see the space. Oh, and make sure there is nothing broken. Knobs, handles, etc…

    Congrats on paying off one of your student loans! And that is sooo sweet that you are sending W's parents on a vacation ๐Ÿ™‚
    My recent post Budget, Smudget!

  14. joesaulsehy

    On the house issue, my best advice: I hired a stager to walk through the house with me and point out changes. Rather than pay someone to do the whole job (expensive), hiring them for an hour was a way to find needed upgrades without breaking the bank.
    My recent post Average Joe vs. Upside Down Teacups and Other Nonsense

  15. Yes I'm pretty happy that we are able to send them on a vacation! And haha I've never had a family photo or anything taken, so I'm pretty excited. This will be my first professional photo ever.

  16. We definitely need to clean. I already told my mom to get her sh*t out ASAP. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I'm in suspense to find out what this new side hustle of yours is! Don't keep us guessing for too long!
    My recent post Starting the Next of My Extra Income Ideas – Building a Niche Website

    1. Haha you can always guess ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. christie

    RE : selling the house. Do you have a plan for the dogs ? Some realtors hate for dogs to be home during a showing. They can be distracting or worse the potential buyers are allergic to dogs. Also, you need to have some people tell you what your house smells like. Does it smell like doggy ? You probably won't smell anything because you live there. For someone coming from a pet free home it might smell a lot. Not a good thing. I think shampooing carpets would be a great thing. ~ Christie

    1. This is something that we are trying to think about. Our dogs go NUTS when people are anywhere near the house, so they would most likely have to come with us.

      Luckily, our house doesn't smell like dogs. We constantly have fans running and air fresheners in our house to prevent it. And we've asked people before and they have said it smells normal and good. We do plan on shampooing all the carpets and we are putting new carpet in the living room.

      Thanks! All good information.

  19. Anne – Unique Gifter

    Lots and lots of it is sold where I live, haha. We were friends with a contractor who was restocking our entire Canadian Tire and we joked that it was a major problem we couldn't buy cow elk urine!

  20. TimelessFinance

    Re: the extra income, excellent work. As for moving, I would get rid of debt and worry about upgrading later.

    1. Our debt will be gone next month and we're not moving until later in the year. Thanks!

  21. Haha it sucks! He will never take a picture with me.

  22. Make your closets look half full even if you have to store stuff elsewhere and keep everything clean. You can also never go wrong with new paint either.

    New venture must be something related to your degree, so I'm guessing financial planning. Or it could be online gambling!

    1. Good idea about the closets.

      And nope, your guesses are so wrong! ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Tie the Money Knot

    To your question on what was done before selling:

    1) Didn't have much clutter at all, but tried to keep any minimal clutter in the closet
    2) I had the house professionally cleaned (the only time I've ever done that)
    3) Spent a little bit of money on a few "staging" items. Like a small rug, candles, etc.

  24. Congrats on getting the wedding photographer you want. They are priceless and it sounds like you got an excellent photographer. A few years back we considered buying a new home, we did put our house for sale but ultimately decided to stay put. When we did one of the things we did was update our cabinet hardware in the kitchen and bathrooms. A small thing but made a huge difference.
    My recent post Children and Money: Don’t Turn It into a Taboo Topic

    1. That's something that we definitely plan on doing. thanks!
      My recent post $823 in Extra Income and Life Updates

  25. myfijourney

    Your side income is absolutely amazing.

    I despise having my photo taken. I just never look good in photos. W has my sympathy.

    In terms of side income, I did purchase some shares of NSC a little while ago, so that will increase my dividend income. Nothing major happening by me spending wise, but I know some expenses are coming down the pipe. And as for working out, I made gains on two of my lifts (bench and squat) this week. So far, pretty good.

    1. Sounds like you are doing great ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post $823 in Extra Income and Life Updates

  26. christineslittleblog

    I can't wait to hear about your new adventure! I'd eventually like to add a few more staff writing jobs in the future. I also can't wait to hear more about wedding planning! Now that mine is over I love hearing about other weddings! All the fun, none of the stress! LOL
    My recent post Happy Valentine’s Day!

  27. Thanks so much! I hope you get to the extra income amount you want ๐Ÿ™‚
    My recent post $823 in Extra Income and Life Updates

  28. SingleMomsIncome.com

    I have to get my guesses in here ๐Ÿ™‚ Could it be something to do with real estate…maybe flipping houses or buying rentals. My other guess would be something to do with fashion….Am I close? lol
    My recent post Life Update – A Little Catching Up!

    1. You are close. It has something to do with fashion ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post $823 in Extra Income and Life Updates

  29. Laurie

    Michelle, I think that's so sweet that you are paying for a vacation for W's parents. This is the whole point of being debt free and financially free, isn't it, so you can bless others. OH, and the very best thing we did in terms of selling our house quickly (within a week) was to de-personalize it (no pics, etc.) and de-clutter. When looking around the house, I would always think in terms of wanting it to look like a model home when people came through. It worked: we sold within 4 days and got full price!
    My recent post Beauty on the Cheap

    1. Thanks! I'm glad that we are able to send them on a vacation. And wow 4 days is quick!

  30. Kitchens and bathrooms have the greatest return on your investments when selling. They may not let you add more to the sale price but may be one thing that helps sell the house. You don't have to spend a ton to spruce up either of them. A refresh of fixtures and towel racks in the bathroom can bring a whole new look to it. You might have to spend a little more in the kitchen but flooring and countertops are important. Of course a fresh coat of paint works wonders in either room.
    My recent post Estate Planning – It’s Never Too Early

    1. I agree with all of this Jose. Thanks!

  31. Thanks Jordann! I'm not crazy about taking pictures either, but I've never had professional pictures done so I wanted to try it haha

  32. Christopher @ This that and the MBA

    cleaning out the closet and selling old stuff on craigslist???

    1. I'm not sure what your question is? Sorry Chris haha

  33. Nick @ AYoungPro.com

    One of the best things we did when trying to sell our house was clearing out extra clutter. In general, the less clutter you have the more space the potential buyer sees. Also, we did a few easy things like touch up paint and re-stain our decks.

  34. nichole c

    My husband wasn't dying to do e-pics, but he told other guy friends (when they had to do the same thing) that it was just something that had to be done and sucked it up. Honestly epics will also help you prepare for the big day and not feel so awkward in front of the camera. I know you don't really share photos so we won't get to see how lovely I assume they'll be but I hope you guys have fun with it! Planning and all these little things that come with wedding process are a lot of fun (even if they don't feel like it at the time!) and will be great memories for later ๐Ÿ™‚