A List of The Most Popular Money Problems From Our Community + Side Hustles. We’re Def. Not Alone In This!

So I just spent two hours tracking allllll the entries that came in from our journal giveaway the other week (winners announced in a second), and thought you’d enjoy seeing some of the comments :)

If only to help you feel better that YOU ARE NOT ALONE with this $$$ stuff!

We’ve all got our problems!

Here are the tallies of everyone’s biggest trouble areas who entered – check it out:

money problem areas

Problems problems, everywhere! And as you can see – FOOD gives us all the most beef. Coming in at both first and third place, and even beating out the granddaddy of all problems – BUDGETING.

And I’ll admit it – our grocery bills aren’t the hottest either. How people eat for under $1.00 a meal is still beyond me, even though we’ve covered it over and over again here on this site! I think I’ve just resigned myself to accepting it and moving on to other areas, haha… Is that bad?


But my favorite was what came next: GETTING SPOUSES TO COOPERATE with your budgeting/finances! This guy here had me rolling!!

“What’s the one area of my budget I struggle with the most? My wife. $30K over budget for 2017. The budget category is “wife” because she has no idea on what the money was spent on.”

I don’t even know what to say! Other than of course that it’s not funny, and I probably shouldn’t be poking fun at it ;) But again – this is life!!! And there’s always something for us to be working on regardless of how good or not we’re doing with our money!

So please don’t let this stuff bring you guys down – it’s normal. And we’re all here to learn and get better over time like the good humans that we are.

If it helps, one of the BEST things my wife and I did when we first combined our own money was to set up our own “do whatever you please” accounts that allowed us to spend as freely as we’d like – without feeling bad or annoyed about what the other person would say ;) We capped it at $100/mo, but it was enough to relieve some pressure and can really be set at whatever you want. The trick is putting that *cap* on it though, so you know exactly how much you’re working with to not only budget better all around, but also to better reign in all your discretionary splurging as well. And believe me, when you know you’re not allowed to take out any extra money until the next month, you learn quick! (And it also helps both parties feel more in control too, regardless of who the main manager of the finances is)

So yeah, take it for what it’s worth!

Here were some other notes people sent in too that I found interesting and/or was nodding my head in agreement with the entire time:

“I have a hard time with “sales” for things I don’t need *at the moment* but can use/need later. It’s almost like hoarding…”


“My problem area with budgeting tends to migrate… I’ll notice I’m spending too much in one area (e.g eating out) so I’ll do an awesome job of reducing my spending in that category, but then I nearly always blow out somewhere else; like I’ll buy lots of books, or drive around and do lots of different days walks with my dog and wreck the petrol budget. I’m improving, but I don’t quite have my savings rate where I would like it to be!”


“I struggle with impulse buying and sticking to my budget. It is horrible. I literally need someone going around with a cane to smack me anytime I buy or even look at something that isn’t on the budget. I see something and I decide that I must have it. Only to realize that I probably don’t need it and in the part of the world where I am, we don’t do returns 😭. Even when I know I should not, I still go ahead and buy. I need serious help. Lol.”


“Ok J. Money, here’s my deal. My issue is not lattes and brown bagging lunches. I think most budgeted followers step over those penny’s to save dollars. For me it’s those multi hundred purchases. The Roomba, the high quality skin care, clothes to look good at the dinner party in upper middle class suburbia/hip family neighborhood x, new hobby (photography, watercolor, books!). This is the stuff that fills my soul or makes my life easier… sometimes temporarily and sometimes longer (which is why I keep doing it). Leave me the lattes and help me purge my $39.95 (five at a time) book purchasing habit! I want to read ’em all but you know I only ever get to like 1.5 of them. I need to split the wheat from the chaff and get wiser about those hundred something purchases that seem to show up every month.”


“The area of my budget that I struggle with the most is balancing fun with goals. I have my emergency savings and retirement accounts set up and am working towards paying off student loan debt (about $60k). I struggle with putting large amounts of money towards the debt while still making sure I spend a reasonable amount of money towards fun activities so my life isn’t totally boring!”


“I teach mindfulness as a psychologist and life coach, and have a beautiful day planner that I use on a regular basis (for my regular business and side hustle) because I’m very old-school and am not into digital things. Friends tease me that I only use my smartphone for phone calls! Due to this, I have struggled with the most with creating a detailed budget, which would involve first entering daily transactions to track my money, because even with the amazing programs out there (Mint, Personal Capital, etc.), I can’t seem to make myself get online to do it. I already know I would use a budget planner as I use my other planner daily, and did not even know budget planners existed until I saw this post, so thanks for sharing the info!”


Now to The Sea of Side Hustles!

So the above was all in response to trying to win our Mindful Budgeting Planner we were giving out, but then we had a 2nd giveaway too, all around a new Side Hustling Journal recently launched.

We asked people what gigs they were considering and/or already working on, and the results there were as varied as they were interesting as well! Check out the list below – maybe it’ll spur an idea for you too?

side hustle list ideas

The beehives, video cookbooks, and electric bike ideas were my favorites :) Outside of blogging of course (which should really be more about passion than making money, as there are plenty of better/faster ways to make $$$ than blogging! Although it is fun, not gonna lie!)

Here are some snippets passed over which goes into more details on some of them:

“I want to purchase several beehives and start a small business making homemade beauty products and honey. As well as offering sponsorships to the community to aid in the care of a hive so everyone can do their part to protect the environment and the honeybees.” – Emmie


“I get a lot of compliments on my hair and questions on how I grew my hair long and strong. So my side hustle is providing a healthy hair journey (from shampoo/ conditioning to flat iron techniques) with same expected results of long and strong hair.” – Pam


“My plan is to start an adventure guiding business so that I can help share all the of the cool things I’ve found in this country (and eventually the world) with others (potentially kids?) to really show them what natural wonders our world has to offer.. whether right in their backyard, or across the globe!” – Justin


“I’m in the very early stages of Video Cookbooks focusing on alcoholic desserts. (I.e. jello shots, pudding shots, fudge and cakes.” – Jennifer


“I started a custom furniture business a couple years ago, and am changing course in that this year to focus on portable furniture and accessories to get people bringing their hobbies outside with their friends and family.” – Dan


“I have a fantastic idea for a pet product. It is actually a food product that I’ve already had tested at my local animal shelter with homeless dogs & cats. I cannot quite figure out what is holding me back from pounding the pavement…” – Laurel

(Here’s our own list of 70+ hustles we’ve featured over the years (and more in-depth) as well… There is always *something* you can do to channel your passion/skills! People need a LOT of help with things that you can do in your sleep!)

Onto The Winners of Our Two Planners…

planner giveaway

Alright, so totally didn’t mean to tease y’all the entire time, haha… There was just SO MUCH GOOD STUFF in y’alls entries and they had to be shared! :)

But here we go – the winners of the two journals are… bum bum bum….

Congrats! If you didn’t win, PLEASE don’t let this stop you from still going after all your dreams and financial goals!! Spend the $30 or $40 picking up these journals if you think it’ll kick your ass in gear, otherwise just COMMIT to yourselves that you’ll make it happen on your own – and then go do it!

Gotta keep trying out angles until you find the one that works… But it all starts with “trying!”

See ya back after the weekend :)

(And hide all those wallets from the food/clothes/sales/amazons/husbands!)

Big thanks again to Cait and Ryan for offering up these items for us to pass out! And for Nathan Dumlao for the killer mug shot, haha… DADDY WANT.

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  1. Lily | The Frugal Gene January 19, 2018 at 5:43 AM

    Congrats to the winners!!!

    My problem isn’t latte or lunches. If I do buy something, it’s $100+ which definitely takes out a lot at once compare to $5 at Starbucks.

    Interesting to read hair care could be a side hustle. Teaching people about hair care does seem profitable. Totally surprised not more people are driving Uber/Lyfts as side hustles. Perhaps it’s more a full time thing than side hustle?

    1. J. Money January 19, 2018 at 10:10 AM

      I think it’s it’s just to main stream now and the shinyness wore off for some people, haha… (as well as all the constant rule/$$ changing)

  2. Accidental FIRE January 19, 2018 at 6:28 AM

    So if we all can agree that food is expensive and a significant part of our collective budgets, then it cancels itself out since it’s the same for everyone.

    I’m trying to make a point and I think I just confused myself :)

    1. J. Money January 19, 2018 at 7:00 AM

      Hah – I follow you! That’s a fantastic justification! :)

  3. Income Master January 19, 2018 at 6:42 AM

    Eating out is at the top of my list too. Thankfully have limited it to only once or twice a week generally. Cooking meals and bringing leftovers to work for lunch makes a big difference.

  4. Jason@WinningPersonalFinance January 19, 2018 at 6:48 AM

    Great post J. When it comes to the the money problems at least these folks knew themselves. That’s the first step to fixing the problem.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one trying to turn blogging into a side hustle. The hustle is real. The side money…less so. At least so far.

    You’re engagement from readers is amazing. Keep up the good work.

    1. J. Money January 19, 2018 at 10:12 AM

      You focus on the *content* and your readers and the rest will fall into place when it’s time :) Too many people get caught up in SEO and over monetization and it kills the experience.

  5. Mrs. Kiwi January 19, 2018 at 7:25 AM

    After we discovered FIRE I realized my hubby and I were spending $600/month on groceries, plus there was extra money spent dining out. So, I totally get that struggle. Over the last three years we’ve finally figured out how to be frugal with healthy groceries and only spend $225/month. BUT we don’t have kids, so I imagine that makes shopping, meal planning, and everything much simpler!

    1. J. Money January 19, 2018 at 10:13 AM

      nice!! yeah – kids do a wallop on your wallet, but the food is the least of the problems haha…

  6. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance January 19, 2018 at 7:28 AM

    Ahh food is our biggest problem too! Surprise! I’m trying to keep our monthly food expenses under $500, but it sounds like mission impossible.

    I love a the side hustlers idea. I’m doing #1 right now hehe.

  7. Leo T. Ly January 19, 2018 at 7:56 AM

    I can live with a crappy car, no vacation or in a tiny house, but I don’t think that I can live with a crappy food budget. I love multicultural food and have a lot of joy in trying all of them. Hence, one of my weaknesses is my food budget. Really hard to say no to those fingers licken food.

    The better way around it is to become a cook myself. That’s in the plan, but it will take time to master – the food budget.

    1. J. Money January 19, 2018 at 10:15 AM

      And you know what?? There is no shame in that at all! You’re supposed to spend your money more on what you value than stuff you don’t – so you’re doing great :) It’s only not so great if you’re *unhappy* with the amount you’re spending and need to lower it…

  8. Joe January 19, 2018 at 7:59 AM

    Ha! My biggest budget problems are the wife and kid too. Wouldn’t have it any other way, though. And they’re really not that bad. At least my wife knows what she spent on. :)

  9. Angela January 19, 2018 at 8:09 AM

    One comment/ post you mentioned particularly caught my attention. The person who bought books… Three years ago, I spent $2000+ on Kindle books, NOT EVEN REAL BOOKS!!! If I had known about the Overdrive app (connects to your local library), I could have saved all that money! I had tried the Kindle unlimited hoping it would save me money, but there was never anything there I wanted to read, when I wanted it. Now, I go on the Overdrive app, add whatever books (I think the limit is 25) I want to read to my wait list, even new releases and top 10’s and like magic, they show up in my email to check out. And if they don’t have a book you are looking for you can request the library buy a digital copy. I have only bought two actual books since my awakening. The app isn’t super easy, you have to have a library card and locate your library from a huge list, but so worth the savings.

    1. J. Money January 19, 2018 at 10:21 AM

      Rock on! I’m more of a hard copy type of book lover, but I’m sure this would help a ton of others so thanks for sharing it :)

      Reminds me a little of one of David Cain’s recent articles that just BLEW ME AWAY! (And which I’ll be blogging about soon):


      It’s about enjoying the stuff you have *already* and not getting any more until they’re all absorbed. And books of course came up in it haha..:

      “Many bookshelves make our modern day width-to-depth problem obvious. You might acquire several books for every one you read. There’s something fishy about that—you buy the book under the pretense that what you want is to read it. But again and again you prove that you want a new book more than you want the unread books you already own—books you bought months ago under the same pretense, and from which you derived the same cheap thrill of acquiring it.

      If books were much harder to acquire, or if flippant new acquisitions were a bit taboo, we might actually crack that Margaret Atwood trilogy rather than tell ourselves we’ll get to it someday, while making another Amazon order in the mean time.”

      1. Allison January 19, 2018 at 12:20 PM

        The library has physical books, too! ;)

        No, I’m actually sure you know this, but it’s the first thing I thought when I saw the comment from the person who doesn’t have the problem with lattes / lunches but with large purchases, including books. I am a voracious reader and I usually have 6-7 or more books checked out a time. I put in holds for what I want online, get an email when they are waiting for me at the library, and go pick them up. Or I spend an hour or more browsing leisurely. It’s wonderful. It’s free. My public library also has board games, movies, music, not to mention extensive online programs available (like language learning and other online classes) and a Library of Things where you can check out musical instruments, some tools, a button maker, and a sewing machine.

        1. Joy January 22, 2018 at 10:05 AM

          My husband and I talked about going back to the library since the birth of our little one (almost 3 years ago). We are both avid readers but both of us got into the habit of buying the books instead of finding them at the library. Well, I finally put my money were my mouth is (ha!), buckled down and got a new library card for me and the wee one. She has so far really enjoyed the new books about every three weeks, and I’ve started reading more because I have a deadline.

          I forgot some libraries have board games! I’m crossing my fingers that ours does – the wee one is just at the edge of having the patience for that. And my husband and I LOVE playing board games!

          1. J. Money January 22, 2018 at 10:18 AM

            Yes to all this library love! A treasure trove of resources often forgot about.

            (And good call on the “deadlines” with finishing up books – way too many of us start them and then take our time finishing them, IF we even do finish haha…)

  10. Daniel Zehner January 19, 2018 at 8:17 AM

    JUSTIN! Yes you, with the badass idea to start an adventure guiding business. Let’s connect. Seriously. I want to learn more about this and see if my portable adventure focused furniture side hustle can help you make it that much more awesome. Look me up!

    Also whoever left the comment about the forest school, that sounds amazing too!

    1. J. Money January 19, 2018 at 10:24 AM

      that would be pretty slick!

      just emailed him a note to tell him about this – will connect you two if he shouts back :)

      (and yeah man – very nice to e-meet you too! Love what you’re doing over there :))

  11. Daniel Zehner January 19, 2018 at 8:18 AM

    J, thank you for the amazing response to my side hustle email. I really enjoyed our conversation and appreciate your time as well as all the effort you put into making this space really valuable for everyone who comes in here. You rock man!

  12. Mike @ Balanced Dividends January 19, 2018 at 8:33 AM

    I’m digging the post featured image / title photo! :)

    Overall interesting results. The top 5 surprised me a bit; they’re fairly common areas (for us as well), but some can be at least partially remedied – especially #2 and #4 – by using a spreadsheet or another tracking app.

    Those are also some cool ideas for side hustles.

    1. J. Money January 19, 2018 at 10:29 AM

      The photo cracked me up when I saw it :) A good way to complain without having to complain haha..

  13. Brandon January 19, 2018 at 8:56 AM

    My primary struggle is things I know somewhere down the line are coming but they always seem to sneak up on me! I am developing a checking account surplus to handle these annoying expenses! My most recent ones are things like Air Filters for the house (bought in bulk) and water filter for the fridge. I know I’ll need them again but it always seems like I just bought them yesterday!

    1. J. Money January 19, 2018 at 10:30 AM

      yup – sums up life pretty well, haha…

  14. Young FIRE Knight January 19, 2018 at 8:56 AM

    “FOOD gives us all the most beef” – nice subtle pun there ;)

    Awesome post and loved reading all the responses, I can definitely relate to a lot of them! I also got some great ideas start start up some other side hustles :)

    Thanks for sharing it all!

    1. J. Money January 19, 2018 at 10:32 AM

      Heyyy!!!! Didn’t even mean to make that pun haha…

  15. Bernz JP @Moneylogue.com January 19, 2018 at 9:40 AM

    You’re exactly right about eating out. We’re definitely cutting down eating out by at least 50% this year. We went through our dining out expenses last year and it was huge and that’s not including restaurant gift cards we’ve used that were given by friends. More grocery shopping equals more home cook meals for us this year.

    Thanks for this reminder post.

  16. Paul January 19, 2018 at 9:46 AM

    Yeah….food…. I’ll probably get perma banned for saying this but I spend around $1400 a month just on groceries… I’m not eating boxed garbage, nor am I feeding it to my 4 boys. Food just costs a lot. All the common advice like shop farmers markets, etc… I don’t understand. I have never been to one of those in my entire life, where the price wasn’t double the grocery stores. The only time we have ever saved money like that is buying eggs directly from someone with chickens. Usually like $2 a dozen vs the same eggs $8 at the farmers market…

    Still less than health insurance though.. All about perspective I guess.

  17. Enoch@SavvyNewCanadians January 19, 2018 at 10:40 AM

    The money we spend on our basic groceries doesn’t bother me much—I have come to accept the reality that not much can be done about that if I don’t want to pull my hair out ;)

    It’s the funds that go towards paying for “expensive” hobbies…such as golf in summer here in Canada (haha, that’s my wife pointing her accusing fingers at me right there), travel, and so on that make side hustles a very important part of our FIRE goals.

    1. J. Money January 19, 2018 at 10:48 AM

      Hey – that’s a great reason to pick up side hustles! We did a post on that here awhile back actually – “Gigs for Goals” we called it. Great system to have, and helps keep the balances in check, so long as you only use the extra money when you have it ;)


  18. Jeannie January 19, 2018 at 10:48 AM

    It’s nice to what areas others struggle with. Gives me a sense of solidarity.

  19. Sean @ Frugal Money Man January 19, 2018 at 11:56 AM

    Count Mrs. Frugal Money Man in for the baby-sitting!

    I don’t think people realize how much extra $$$ you can make by babysitting. Mrs. FMM is killing it in that department!

    Great post J!

    1. J. Money January 22, 2018 at 10:19 AM

      Oh yeah! The rates have gone up quite substantially from back in the day too!

  20. Caroline January 19, 2018 at 12:03 PM

    Food is the one area I would like to control better but still eat well and enjoy it! So nothing too extreme:)
    Plus once my kids move out, my grocery budget will be thankful!:) Kids!!!

  21. Ryan Helms January 19, 2018 at 1:22 PM

    Thanks for letting me participate, J!
    I’m stoked that everyone likes the journal.

    Keep hustling guys and gals!

    – Ryan Helms

  22. Frankie January 19, 2018 at 1:36 PM

    Eating out is definitely a big item for our family – in fact it has doubled for us over the past year since we decided to take the family out more often for meals together! Nothing fancy, just good, fun, quality time together. But I definitely don’t classify it as a ‘problem’ area – it’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent, and wouldn’t have it any other way!

    1. J. Money January 22, 2018 at 10:21 AM

      That’s the key right there – putting your money where your values are :) No shame at all if it’s in food or cars or traveling, just so long as it’s being directed towards stuff you actually care about! And I agree family time is def. worth the $$$.

  23. Mr. Tako January 19, 2018 at 4:05 PM

    Our biggest money problem is the high cost of childcare. We’ve got two kids, and it’s expensive.

    Eventually they will grow up and head to school. That’ll be a great day for my budget!

    1. J. Money January 22, 2018 at 10:23 AM

      Oh yeah! we’re now down to just 1/2 care for 1 child vs full care for both, and WOW is my wallet happy, haha… We’ll see what happens once the 3rd child comes out, but for now we’re soaking it all up :)

  24. Olivia @ Birds of a FIRE January 19, 2018 at 5:13 PM

    My issue is definitely delicious food most days. You know how some people have a personal trainer every few weeks so they can learn exercises and go over their issues? There really should be a personal financial trainer you see every few weeks. You can work on your eating out, buying random stuff, decisions to buy vs rent, etc. Getting your finances in shape is so important and it’s weird that we don’t have this!

    1. J. Money January 22, 2018 at 10:25 AM

      I think there *are* those types of coaches, actually? Dieticians maybe? Or “wellness” coaches?

  25. JoeHx January 19, 2018 at 9:51 PM

    I feel it with that food budget. My wife and I spent a ton on eating out last year. We’re trying to eat out less this year, especially since there’s a baby one the way! Luckily we keep each other on track instead of each other overspending, which is great.

    1. J. Money January 22, 2018 at 10:26 AM

      Congrats on the baby! That def. helped stopped our eating out compulsions as it’s pretty much the *opposite* of fun doing so w/ a baby on board than by yourselves, haha… Plus you’re too tired to even get dressed appropriately in the first handful of months anyways :)

  26. Cubert January 20, 2018 at 6:54 AM

    Maybe you should call it “Dining out” Just to avoid any controversy… A-hem! ;-)

  27. maria@moneyprinciple January 20, 2018 at 8:03 AM

    Haha. Really feel for the guy whose wife is his biggest money problem. And I can empathise – I have an investing line called ‘John’s stuff’ and it is always red :). And $J., you are right; having some individual blow money helps. We call it ‘I’m so worth it’ fund :).

    1. J. Money January 22, 2018 at 10:44 AM

      I like your name for it better :)

  28. lisa January 21, 2018 at 3:15 AM

    I’ve realized that nobody at my job likes to work nights. Nobody…..I’m pretty much their night person. Since I needed more money for medical/car expenses, I decided to work another job overnight. And , you guessed it, who in their right mind wants to work overnight?? Well, I figured it’s job security since nobody else wants it and the pay is good.

    1. J. Money January 22, 2018 at 10:46 AM

      Oh yeah! Your managers probably love you for it too :) Anyone willing to do the stuff the others aren’t automatically gives you a leg up, so good for you.

  29. jOSH b, January 27, 2018 at 9:15 PM

    No love for Amazon Turk??? I pull in 500 to 600 a month besides my 40 hour job!

  30. Kris January 28, 2018 at 11:41 AM

    I’m still spending a crazy amount on childcare each month, and my youngest is in 3rd grade! My husband and I both leave at 6:40am and the youngest doesn’t leave until 8:40, so we need someone to cover that gap. Plus, we don’t get home until after his bus comes, so he goes to an after school program. I’m cutting that out starting in March and making sure one of his older siblings (in middle and high school) will be home to get hime from the bus. $200/month will be a great savings!

    1. J. Money January 29, 2018 at 7:05 AM

      I bet! I don’t miss daycare costs at ALL these days.. went from $2,000+/mo to $450 and loving it haha… but if my plan to be a stay-at-home dad for #3 doesn’t go well, I’ll be right back up there again shelling out the $$$ :(

      Good thing we love our kids!! :)

  31. ZJ Thorne January 28, 2018 at 10:34 PM

    I let little purchases add up. It’s rough. But I am typing this as I lay in a comfortable bed listening to the three dogs I’m watching wrestle. Hopefully I’ll no longer need to dog-sit soon, but for now I’ll enjoy the vacation from my roommates.

    1. J. Money January 29, 2018 at 7:05 AM

      Aww, haha…