contemplating divorce silently (1) pinThis is the third installment in the GoGirl Finance series called “The Side Hustle,” showcasing different ways people make money in addition to their day jobs in order to pay down debt or save money. Have a side hustle? Share your story with us:

When my husband and I separated, I was forced to finance a new household with my two teenage daughters and our dog on a single income. It didn’t take long to realize that even with my income and child support payments, my finances were hanging by a thread.

Within just a few months, I began to seek additional ways to make ends meet.

Since then, I have been working two jobs.

Finding Jobs to Meet Your Needs

My first part-time job was working as a cashier at the neighborhood grocery store. It was fun and a bit of an outlet at a time when I couldn’t fit in much of a social life.

In addition to the social aspect, the positive parts of this job included the weekly paychecks, the proximity to home, and how different it was from my full time job. This was a good thing because it made it seem less like “real work.”

The biggest downside to this job was physical exhaustion. Working 7 days a week – or 60 hour weeks for weeks at a time –  took a physical toll. Retail jobs can be inconsistent in terms of income, and retail schedules can be difficult, inconvenient, and not family friendly. I needed the income from this part time job, but because of my exhaustion, my performance at my primary job suffered.

Becoming a Secret Shopper

Another source of part time income came from being a secret shopper, or mystery shopper. I registered with several companies and was able choose what type of evaluations I wished to do.  As a mystery shopper I knew I’d make extra cash and be reimbursed for things like fast food, casual dining, groceries, and oil changes. And why not be reimbursed for some things that I need or would like to do anyway?

I tried to choose shops that either had decent pay per shop ($10-$20), no expenses (or minimal expenses required), and I tried to schedule several at a time that were close together by location.  Additionally, shops allowed me to be reimbursed for things that I may not have been able to afford otherwise like tanning salons and going out to eat.

Unfortunately,  some shops are time consuming, some require fairly extensive writing, and some require more detailed observations than others. If you make an error in the shop, the company may not accept it and may not reimburse you. Lastly, most shops take more than a month to be paid. Depending on the company that you are working for, it may be paid via cash, check or PayPal.

I had taken a break from secret shops for a while, but have recently begun doing them again.

How I Financially Survived Divorce

Currently, I have a new part time job preparing title policies for a title company and I am paid per file. I can do this from home, I get to choose when to work, and it’s better money than the grocery store or secret shopping. The downside of this job is that the real estate market is still a bit inconsistent. My pay has been great some months and not so good in others. These inconsistencies wreak havoc with my finances- so things are still a bit shaky.

I wish I could say that I was using the money from my side hustle jobs to build up my savings, pay for my divorce, or even buy a new car. But in reality, I have needed the money to survive. Still, I’m working hard, going to school part time, taking care of my girls and dog, and making the best of things.

I feel that if I can financially survive divorce, anybody can.

If you want to follow my progress this year as I re-organize my finances and get ready to send one girl off to college, please feel free to follow me on twitter @nvalady1, or via my blog.

Other Side Hustle Posts:

How to Become a Mystery Shopper
IT Manager By Day, Movie Theater Cashier By Night: How One GoGirl is Paying Down $90k in Student Loans