Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cheap vs. Thrifty: Additional Revenue Streams

This post isn't about saving money but making extra money.  We've started doing this in two ways: renting out our spare bedroom on AirBnB and dog-sitting.

Have you heard of AirBnB?  It is getting bigger every day and a new way of traveling.  The site matches "hosts" with extra space and "guests" (travelers) to create an informal bed and breakfast arrangement. We have pictures of us and our house up as well as description of the area and guests can book through the site.   We have complete control over who books our place and can decline a request for any reason.

The backbone of the site is the review system.  Both guests and hosts get to review each other after a stay.  It is a closed-review system, so you can only review someone if you have actually stayed with/hosted them. That way you don't have to worry about erroneous good or bad reviews.  We generally only accept people who have complete profiles (picture, description, etc) and positive reviews from other hosts.  We have made exceptions to this if it is clear they have just joined airbnb, it is their first time using the site, and get a good feeling from their profile (example was a retired couple who used to live in our area and were returning to visit grown children).  In general we feel like other hosts can take the risk on first timers.  We don't want to get greedy or take unnecessary risks.

We've done it four times and each time has been great and quite frankly easy money.  We plan to use all of the money we make through AirBnB on the house.  So far it has paid for about half of the bathroom remodel.

We also used it as guests once and had a good experience.  It was a situation where we were arriving late somewhere and leaving first thing in the morning.  We got a clean bedroom in a nice house for $50.  I shudder to think of the motel room we would get for that price.

We'll keep doing it until it doesn't seem worth it anymore or NY shuts it down (it is making a big dent in the NYC hotel industry and they've been lobbying the officials.  The attorney general has already subpoenaed records so we'll see what happens).

The other thing we've been doing is dog-sitting.  We dog sit for friends and family all the time - one summer I counted up the paws we were taking care of over the course of a few weeks and it was well over 30.  This past weekend was the first time we charged for it though.  One of Kevin's clients was heading out of town and asked for boarding recommendations.  Kevin offered our house for $30/day (about the same price as a kennel boarding situation with one walk).  It wasn't too much extra work for us and they got an in-home experience for their dog.

What Kevin failed to mention was that the dog was a dead ringer for my sister's dead dog.  Bear passed away quite suddenly earlier this year and Rooney looked exactly like him and even had some of the same mannerisms.  I actually had a really hard time, since I would sometimes jump when I saw her and definitely called her Bear by accident quite a few times.  It made me pretty sad since Bear was so great and I really miss him.

But we'd definitely dog sit again, even Bear-look-alikes.

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