Print Friendly and PDF
Agency seeks comments on how you’re impacted by the data companies collect about you
Check your water bills regularly to make sure you don’t have a leak

When you’re considering a side hustle, be realistic about what’s involved including the time commitment

As a fan of the FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement, I thought I’d try a side hustle, one of the FIRE recommendations.

Pinecones IMG_7850

Since I have pinecones that fall on my driveway all year around, I decided to collect them and sell them on craigslist.

I have two kinds of pinecones; those from European pine and Douglas fir trees.

I collected about a dozen boxes of pinecones, checked out what people were selling them for, and advertised them on craigslist. One woman came before Christmas and bought a small box. She was very happy to get them, saying the pinecones at hobby stores were extremely expensive.

I also received an email from a man that ran an animal sanctuary in Oregon. He said he’d like them to feed to some of his animals, but he didn’t follow through to come and get them.

Then, nothing.

Toilet Paper Rolls

I also decided I’d sell toilet paper and paper towel rolls. I began piling them up in boxes, checked out what people were selling them for, and advertised them on craigslist.

No one emailed me about them.

I looked into what it would take to sell the pinecones from a website and mail them to people. They’d need to be cleaned. One method is to bake them in the oven. I decided that would be too much work. I have other priorities including finishing my book and writing blog articles.

I also checked out selling toilet paper and paper towel rolls from a website and mailing them – again, too much work.

After about a year of collecting the stuff, I decided to get rid of it. I put notes on craigslist to give it away.

One woman from Seattle wanted the pinecones and said she’d come and get them. However, I called and told her it looked like white mold had grown on the pinecones since I’d collected them. Of course, she said she didn’t want them.

The pinecones went in the compost and I dumped the toilet paper and paper rolls in the recycling.

What should you do when trying to pick out a side hustle?

I read about a man decided to sell trees. He bought seeds and sold little trees for $6 when they were about 8 to 10 inches. His day job is in investing.

Here are tips for selecting a side hustle:

  • Consider your options. Find a side hustle that interests you or even excites you.
  • Do a cost-benefit analysis. Determine how much it will cost and estimate, realistically, what you can earn.
  • Make a business plan. Write down your goals, research the competition, and choose an operating model.
  • Figure out how much time and effort it will take. Time is precious and limited, so evaluate what you’re willing to do.
  • Take a look at the skills that will be needed. You may be able to use the skills you have or you may need to acquire the necessary skills.
  • Determine your startup costs and financing. Do you have the money to get started or will you need to borrow it?
  • Launch your side hustle. Determine how you’ll market your service or product.
  • Evaluate how you’re doing often as you go along. The purpose of a side hustle is to make passive income that doesn’t involve the stress associated with a 9 to 5 job. It should be an activity that brings you joy and offers an escape from your “day job.” If it’s stressful, it’s a second job.

See Budgets Are Sexy’s “80+ Ways to Make Extra Money on the Side (Real-life Side Hustle Stories)” for ideas on what side hustles might work for you.

Update: I’m trying two of the side hustles J. Money, the Budgets Are Sexy guy, recommends – focus groups and surveys. I did the first focus group on covid-19 over Zoom for $75. It was interesting, but I’m having problems getting paid. The surveys, too, are interesting, but you have to give a lot of personal which dozens of companies, including The Harris Poll and J.D. Power, say they’ll keep confidential. The pay for the surveys is very low.



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Carol Cassara

This is good advice. BTW, there is a big market for pinecones on Etsy. Crafters love them. I actually buy tiny ones for my candles.


Yes, there's a big market for pinecones if you're willing to clean them. I just wanted to pick them up from mt driveway and yard and have people buy them in bulk without cleaning and packaging.


Interesting, I didn't know you "clean" pinecones by baking them. That's interesting. I have several large ones that a friend brought me from North Carolina once. I don't know the tree species but I like them and use them as part of my decorations.


It's bugs that are a concern. Baking kills them.

Laurie Stone

Rita, At least you tried. We all learn from our mistakes and you came out of it knowing more than you did before. Hope you keep at it.


Yes, I'm glad I tried the side hustles. Then, as always, everything is material for a journalist.


I've had so many ideas. But not the courage to follow through.


Well, Diane, take the plunge. I didn't spend much time on mine, they were easy to do. As Carol said, there's a big market for pinecones on Etsy, but I didn't want to take the time to clean and package the pinecones. Maybe when I get my book done and retire from blogging.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)