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How To Make Money With Apps And Little EffortA little over 3 years ago I was desperate to exit the rat race. I decided that I would figure out how to retire at 29. I started cutting my budget to the bone (Spoiler Alert: bad idea...) and as a precaution, started compiling a list of ways I could make a little extra money remotely if needed. This list included transcription and small things I could do from my laptop, like surveys and trying out the gig economy. Luckily after I got my current job almost 3 years ago I came to my senses and realized I needed to base my retirement budget on what I'm spending now plus a little padding instead of doing everything I can to quit ASAP. So the document I created detailing possible side gigs faded from my memory UNTIL Michelle from Frugality & Freedom came to visit Seattle and excitedly talked about how she was making extra money with little to no effort (my favorite way to make dough ;) ). At first I was hesitant to join her. I had tried previously to download a few cash back apps that friends on Twitter recommended and found them annoying and unwieldy to even sign up for so I had deleted them. But watching Michelle's phone ping throughout the weekend with the cash back she was receiving while we were chilling by Puget Sound or eating at my favorite sushi spot got the wheels in my head turning. After she left and I had some time to reflect, I basically said fuck it and dove in. I downloaded all the apps she recommended (using her referral codes - I hope that helped Michelle!) and got to 'work.' Michelle had infected me with her enthusiasm and I'm happy to report I LOOOOVE this low effort app life. Here are details of the apps and sites that I used to make a little money on the side without sacrificing the lazy lifestyle I love: JOB SPOTTER Payout: $11.27 in Month 1 Payout Type: This app pays you in Amazon Gift Cards. I'll be using mine to pay for my next purple hair dye purchase (Manic Panic Ultraviolet Amplified is my dye of choice if you're curious). Effort Involved: Job spotting takes maybe 2 seconds per job. This is the amount of money I received for doing 19 of them - many of which were during the same walk. Also I might just be a weirdo, but I find job spotting to be really fun - it basically turns your city into a giant scavenger hunt, which helps me pay attention and see new things even on streets I've walked a million times. I never went out specifically to job spot or went out of the way to do so - I just kept my eyes open while walking where I was going. Job Spotting also has the added benefit of helping people. Job Spotter is owned by and the pictures we take are uploaded to their website so people can find jobs, specifically more obscure ones that don't have the money to advertise online. Money, fun and helping people all in one - it doesn't get better than that :) . If you're interested in trying it out you can download the Job Spotter app from the app store of your choosing. FREEBIRD Payout: $13 in Month 1 Payout Type: Cash Effort Involved: Essentially none. You just need to remember to book Ubers or Lyfts through the Freebird app. I forced myself to do so by replacing my Uber app on my phone's front screen with the Freebird app so I never forget. Otherwise it's the same experience. Freebird apparently also gives you cash back if you eat at certain restaurants near where you are dropped off in the ride share, but I haven't accidentally eaten in any of them yet. Another way to earn cash without trying! Promo: If you're interested you can sign up with the code l3575 to get $10 after your first two rides here. DROP Payout: $5.58 in Month 1 Payout Type: This app gives you points that you can redeem for Gift Cards to major brands and stores, such as Amazon, Starbucks and Groupon. Effort Involved: None. You link up your credit card and Drop gives you bonus points when you spend money at stores you select in advance. I selected Trader Joe's, Uber and a few others I don't remember (Oops...). PEI Payout: $8.12 in Month 1 Payout Type: This app lets you choose how they pay you, which includes PayPal, Gift Card or Bitcoin (yikes on the last one...) Effort Involved: None. You link your credit card, go about your business and earn cash back from thousands of stores. Promo: If you're interested you can get $2.50 back on your first linked purchase with referral code aa7ynk here. PATREON Payout: $8.55 in Month 1 Payout Type: Cash Effort Involved: In this instance I'm receiving patrons for something I have done in the past for free and would continue to do for free. Let me explain. The Ridiculous Backstory: A few months ago Angela from Tread Lightly, Retire Early mentioned on Twitter that she should work on a Transparency post for her blog. I offered my services as a highly organized and persistent (or some might say annoying...) person who likes to bother people until they achieve their goals. I lovingly call myself The Accountability Beast. I started bothering Angela every Wednesday until she completed her Transparency post! After that she mentioned another blog goal she had - which I also bothered her about until she completed it. After all this public bothering, people started taking notice of my efficient (*cough* annoying *cough*) methods and asked to be berated into completing their goals as well. This went on for a few weeks with more people coming out of the woodwork until I got up to 14 people I was bothering on a weekly basis. Angela kept ribbing me to set up a Patreon for my Accountability Beast ways, saying that people could then pledge money and that would give them extra incentives to reach their goals. I thought she was joking and let it go, but she kept asking and finally threatened to give me a taste of my own medicine and bother me until I set up a Patreon - uh oh! So under the threat of a taste of my own medicine, I figured out how to set one up, added a silly description about what I was doing and My Patreon Was Born! I was then shocked to discover that Angela, Ms. Mod from Modest Millionaires (who has been posting regularly after a 6 month hiatus since joining my bothering list!) and recently From One Geek To Another joined as patrons. That's how I accidentally started a Patreon and expanded my 'gig' economy ways. I mention this ridiculous chain of events to illustrate that you might have a skill or set of skills that you gladly share for free that others may be happy to pay you for. I never even considered that so don't make my mistake - expand your idea of how and with what money can be made. Conclusion I am forever grateful that spending a weekend with Michelle and watching her raking in some dough with little effort led to me doing the same. What began as a fun experiment ended up bringing in enough easy money to cover my monthly eating out budget. Sweet! I don't want to think about how much money I would have made if I hadn't been too lazy to become part of these sites when I first heard of them ;) . Thank you Michelle! Have you ever dipped your toe into the gig or app economy? If so, how did it go? Was it worth your time and effort?
Why I’m Never Getting MarriedMy partner and I recently celebrated a decade of being together and with Valentine's Day right around the corner, this seems like the perfect time to dive into another 'weird' (so I'm told) life choice of mine. My partner and I are never getting married. Fundamentally, we both just don't want to for a number of reasons. When I tell people this I often hear, Oh you don't want to get married? So you don't love him?? (Curiously, my partner has never received this response...) But for women, it seems like the assumption is that we must want to be married, that marriage is the natural completion of a relationship, and that it is just what you do if you love somebody. There's nothing fundamental about marriage in human relationships though - marriage is a cultural and legal institution that's a product of a specific history. A lot of what might seem fundamental about marriage is just commitment, and you don't need the government involved to be committed. We don't think it's *wrong* to get married, and we're not passing judgment on those who do. We just think it's fundamentally a choice, and it's important to be very careful making these kinds of big life choices. For many, marriage is the implicit next step in a life script, and we've found repeatedly that we're happier examining implicit life choices and carefully deciding whether we want to buy in - such as not having kids, not combining finances, not buying a house, not owning a car and even pursuing financial independence. As far as commitment goes, we personally don't feel like we need tradition and society to validate our commitment, or the law and the often high costs of divorce to enforce it. Marriage isn't the lifelong bond that some think it is with the possibility of divorce usually a statistical coin toss. We'd rather be open and honest about the possibility that our relationship might fall apart. Marriage isn't the finish line for a relationship. Relationships require a lot of continuous work. You have to sustain them to keep them healthy and worthwhile. And people change. If our partner wants to end things, we'd rather they were free to do so with as little trouble as possible. To be fair, there's a lot of good that can come with marriage (in general as a cultural practice, and specifically in US law), such as support for children, tax rights, fair restitution if one partner exited the work force to stay at home, and of course a big party ;) . But we're not going to have children, we earn about the same income so we wouldn't receive a tax break, and personally, planning a wedding/big party seems like a hassle (we're more of a chill at someone's house sipping a cheap whiskey kind of party goers). Maybe access to healthcare would be a reason we would get married in a really bad situation, but that's hardly a pro for marriage, that's just a con of the USA and its messed up healthcare system (don't get me started on that...). Marriage also comes with a lot of baggage and a sordid history that fills me with a lot of gross feelings. Historically, marriage (the institution) was often about controlling women and their reproductive rights (see the father handing a woman over to her husband in a wedding), and it was used to lock women into unfair or abusive relationships. For example, married women couldn't even have a line of credit without their husband's permission until 1974. That's fucking crazy. Further, a lot of people seem very invested in controlling who is and isn't allowed to get married. For example, I'm a black woman (SURPRISE!) and my partner is a white man. It was illegal for us to even get married in many states until 1967...52 years ago. My Mom was 8 years old. That is a surprisingly short time ago. The idea that it would be illegal for my partner and I to 'express our love' by legally binding ourselves together simply because my skin has more melanin than his honestly makes me sick. And of course, it was only 4 years ago that queer people were no longer excluded from the marriage club (and look at the vitriol on the part of those still fighting for 'traditional marriage' - that doesn't make me excited to join this club). Whatever marriage means to the people doing this exclusion, it's not just about love and commitment. All this doesn't mean that a modern idea of marriage can't be egalitarian and beautiful, but it sure hurts the image of marriage as a tradition. All those connotations are just impossible for me to avoid. So if marriage works for you, great! And if you want to gather your family and friends and have great food and dance together, awesome! We're not the first to have these kinds of criticisms of marriage, and I'm sure many married people have thought these things through carefully as well. However, after careful examination, it's just not for us. I don't feel the need to get married just to respect other people's desire that I get married so here we are: over a decade together and going strong without putting a ring on it. What do you think about all of this? I'm truly curious. Are you married? Did you always want to get married? If not, what changed your mind? 
Testing My Early Retirement ScheduleA common response when hearing my early retirement plans is to ask why I don't just insert the life I want to lead in retirement into NOW. I've explored how that doesn't work for me from a work perspective, but I'd like to explain how it doesn't work at its core. The career I've had (and all other six figure, white-collar jobs I've heard of) revolve around screens and being almost constantly reachable. I awaken, stare at a screen all day and if I take a few minutes for myself, to run an errand for example, I am tied to my phone. At the end of the day I have little energy - even if it wasn't a particularly trying day. All the creativity and curiosity I had when I awakened has been sapped away. The sensational book Your Money Or Your Life described this feeling best: How many people have you seen who are more alive at the end of the work day than they were at the beginning? Do we come home from our ‘making a living’ activity full of more life? … Where’s all the life we supposedly made at work? For many of us, isn’t the truth of it closer to ‘making a dying?'” I have all these things I want to do in my life and working a full-time job saps all the energy I have for those things. After work instead of watching the sunset, cooking delicious fresh food and taking long walks to photograph the beauty of the world I usually just read some mindless fiction (often that I've read before...) or watch a show. The extent of me using my remaining hours to pursue my actual passions is the time I take to write this blog (usually on the weekend though after I've recharged a little...) and the few times a month I practice my calligraphy and watercolor (and that's rare let me tell you). So instead of my current situation I have this idyllic idea of what I want my early retirement life to be like. I also have an idea of how I will use my days. I recently took a vacation to Costa Rica and decided to use that time to test out this early retirement schedule. This schedule also includes guidelines for how I use my time. Overall I want to be more in tune with the world around me. I want to awaken with the sun, watch the sunrise and generally go to bed a few hours after the sunset. I want to respond to a sunny day with a trip to the beach and a rainy one with a full day curled up on the couch with a good book. I want to limit my screen time to those few hours after the sun has set and use the time when it's high in the sky to explore this beautiful world of ours. I want to be fully present in the day and the moment with the people I love. So my guidelines for Costa Rica included: Watch every sunset and then contemplate the stars (we saw Mars and Venus as well!) Watch many sunrises (Yes 'many', not 'every'. They were at 5am - I can't promise to get up that early every day of vacation!) Limit screen time to after sunset Be fully present in the moment I'm excited to announce that I was able to stick to all of these guidelines and it was an amazing feeling! Outside of a few random 5 minute check-ins, while waiting for a bus for example, I kept screen time and general internet time to a few hours at night and sometimes not at all if I was sleepy right after sunset. I must admit I did miss my internet friends, but it was good to be fully there with my friends and family. I realized that those pings to my phone really do detract from those interactions. I thought I had a good balance, but fully switching off my phone notifications filled me with a weird kind of freedom. In fact sometimes I didn't even know where my phone was, which was a strange new feeling let me tell you! People often respond to my early retirement plans with But what will you do all day? Just doing the above with a little social time, exploration and curiosity for the world around me (which led to fun research!) was more than enough to fill my days. In fact, I didn't even get to everything I wanted to do! I ended up writing my blog post for last week two days before it was due, which is very unlike me. Busy busy! So there you have it. The schedule of a full-time job and its demands on my energy and curiosity make it incompatible with my ideal life. I wasn't sure if my ideal was possible or would make me a happier version of myself, but I can now report it definitely does. I'm looking forward to this schedule being my every day life. Only 1.5 years to go! What would your ideal schedule be? Does your job allow you to follow it?
What Does “A Purple Life” Mean?There is an idea in The Matrix that I find almost as interesting as the film's main premise. It's the idea of a Residual Self Image. If you haven't seen the film, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! Please go watch it now. It's one of my favorites and it forever changed my 9 year old heart. Go on - I'll wait... There Is No Spoon In the film, a Residual Self Image is a mental projection of your digital self. It's basically how you look in the matrix and it's why in the matrix Neo has a full head of hair while real world Neo does not. In actual world terms, it means that how you look in your mind might not match up with how you look in real life. For me that has always been the case - not in really large ways, but in small, strange ways. In My Mind's Eye For example, for years before my 16th birthday my mental image of myself had a nose and cartilage ring. It also had purple hair :) . Weird right? So after seeing this version of 'the real me' in my head for years, I made it a reality. I got my nose and cartilage pierced in an awesome piercing parlor in Portsmouth, NH. (Just a heads up: If you're getting a cartilage piercing, please go to an actual piercing parlor where they use real needles and not one of those mall kiosks. Those needle guns can shatter your cartilage and mess you up. Ok - piercing PSA over.) Taking The Red Pill I got these piercings and then I dyed my hair purple. For the first time, my outer self matched what I had seen in my head all these years and it was like breathing a sigh of relief (despite the fact that my grandmother refused to talk to me for a month because of what I had done...which was additionally awkward since she was living with us at the time...But I digress). My Hair Dyeing Journey Since I was 16, my hair has been a kaleidoscope of colors (sometimes literally - have you seen what the sun does to brightly colored hair?! It's fascinating). But despite exploring the entire color wheel with my hair choices, I continued coming back to purple. Purple All Over I've always been drawn to the color purple. A deep, rich purple. I have no idea why our brains latch onto specific colors. I didn't originally attribute any specific meaning to the color itself, but after living with it in my hair and at times in my eyes (I used to have purple contacts...yes, I'm obsessed!) the color purple has taken on additional meaning. What Purple Means To Me So when I started thinking about making this blog public, I latched onto the color. To me, A Purple Life means a slightly different life, a life that involves constant questioning instead of going with what you're given (such as brown hair in my case). It's doing what makes you happy even if that makes you stand out or seem weird to people. It's following what's in your heart even if that makes someone you love not talk to you for a month because of some deeply held propriety. Living A Purple Life So that's why this blog is called A Purple Life and that decision has had the unforeseen benefit of a few blogger friends actually calling me Purple for short in real life. I've become 'purple' in every way possible by questioning my life choices and meandering down this weird little path of mine. Thank you for joining me :) . Do you have a residual self image? Have you ever changed yourself to follow it? If so, what happened?