Earning supplemental income: How to make money in your spare time?

Money. As much as I strive to enjoy life without focusing on it, I’m beginning to feel that it’s time to seek out more financial security. The global recession, New Year’s resolutions, and the very lucid realization that I’m now in my 30’s has been the cause of such thinking.

For the past seven years, I’ve lived in Jakarta on a decent salary, with sufficient housing provided, a car that’s paid off, maids that have cooked and cleaned, and have enjoyed much of the expat lifestyle defined by comfort and travel.

On the other hand, I’ve been a salaried employee this entire time, with not much potential to break out of the pre-determined pay scale beyond yearly (very modest) increases. I am friends with many expats making absurd amounts of money; generally they’re working in the oil industry, investments, or other more lucrative fields. It’s not easy seeing how much more they earn, not out of greed or jealousy, but from the knowlege that they’ve traveled the world, and don’t stress about finances in the same manner. Having said that, I’ve never measured a man by his wealth.

In living like an expat, I spend like an expat. Whereas an Indonesian meal may cost less than $1, a decent meal of sushi or seafood will generally be well over $20. I won’t continue with the disparities in lifestyle expenditures, but you get the point. There are areas where I can cut back.

I feel it’s time to start being more financially responsible. Focusing on the basics, saving more money, and finding cheaper ways of enjoying life. Knowing this is a trend around the globe makes it easier, but budgeting alone isn’t enough.

It’s time to seek out other opportunities for making supplemental income. There are two factors that play into this:

A) The very real fact that the life of an expat is transient. I never know when I’ll leave Indonesia, as my contracts are renewed annually. I’ll need another source of income to bridge the gap when I decide to leave and/or switch careers.

B) Budgeting and saving may be sufficient for developing good habits, but it’s simply not enough for things like buying property, a home, or investing carefully, at this time.

It will take lots of research, dedication, time, and money to get some things started, but I believe I have all of those aspects covered. Whereas many of my friends enjoy evenings of leisure, TV, reading, and socialization, after the gym, dinner, and some quality time with Novita, I’m back on the computer in the evenings doing photography, teaching myself new skills, etc. I have no problem dedicating at least an additional 2-4 hours per day to whatever venture I begin.

Now the question is… what should I do? I have a few ideas, and will dedicate another post to them. In the meantime, are there any ways you make additional income beyond your primary job? Do you find that the time you put into it is worthwhile in the end? Do you make sufficient income from it to rationalize giving up your free time?

More to come.