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Cooking the Books podcast: The New Zealander who paid off $94,000 debt in three years, by side-hustling


Each week the NZ Herald’s Cooking the Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it’s the woman who paid off $94,000 of debt in three years, and why she still side-hustles now she’s debt-free. Hosted by Frances Cook.

If you’re looking for extra cash right now, you’ve probably considered a side-hustle.

But when you try to look up ideas, you’ll find the internet swamped with options that just aren’t available in New Zealand.

Listen to the Cooking the Books podcast here:

Well luckily there’s a New Zealand expert on side-hustles, who used them to pay off $94,000 of debt in three years – in fact, it was over $113,000 by the time she was done, and had paid off all the interest too.

Speaking on the latest Cooking the Books podcast, Tracy Hemingway, also known as the Debt Free Diva, started out by answering surveys for extra cash.

But when she realised she wouldn’t make enough that way to pay off her debt as fast as she wanted to, she started looking for more lucrative options.

“It was finding whatever was hot right now.

“So I became an Uber Eats driver as soon as that was released in Hamilton, a Lime scooter juicer as soon as that was released, face painting for kids’ birthdays, I did some bookkeeping work.

“I signed up to UpWork, I’ve got a profile on that for virtual assistant work, I’ve hosted some speed-dating events.

“Literally, you name it, I’ve probably done it.”

As she tried different types of work and industries, Hemingway quickly found which ones paid more and were most worth her time.

She likes working for Uber Eats, as she drives a small car, and can simply turn on the app to accept jobs whenever she has time.

But she soon knew delivering pamphlets wasn’t for her, as she worked out that delivering the 4000 pamphlets across the area they wanted, ended up paying about $8 an hour.

Hemingway said it all came down to how much of a return you got for your time.

“I still answer surveys, I know they take forever, but for me I would prefer to be doing something with the gaps in my day.

“So when I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, I’ll answer a survey.

“For some people, they aren’t time-rich, so sometimes they have to take any opportunity they can within their timeframe, regardless of what the return is.”

For anyone else wanting to start a side-hustle, Hemingway recommended first figuring out your strengths, and any skills that could earn you more money.

She said if she’d realised her bookkeeping skills were so valuable, she would have started with virtual assistant work at the beginning of her journey to pay off debt.

Listen to the full interview in Cooking the Books podcast here, or the video above

• Listen to the full interview on the Cooking the Books podcast. You can find new episodes in the Herald, or subscribe on iHeartRadio, Apple podcasts app, or Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

• If you have a question about this podcast, or question you’d like answered in the next one, come and talk to me about it. I’m on Facebook here, Instagram here and Twitter here.


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