Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Why I Run with Favor

If you follow me at all on Pinterest, you will see that if I am not pinning things related to food, Christmas, or both, I am pinning articles about how to get a side-hustle going.

People who make 6 figures blogging share their secrets, how to turn a profit on your Instagram account, become a freelance writer and rake in the cash, etc.  It would be a dream come true to make a second income from a hobby business I can do after hours.  It seems like short of that, Aaron and I will never save up enough to be home owners (anywhere in the city), get out from under a mountain of debt, and maybe sometime soon be able to have a child.

So I researched and researched.  I like blogging a lot.  I have more than one blog so I can better find my niche, and harness my passions and all that.

Nothing seems to stick.  I get gung-ho, I have lists of potential blog posts I want to write.  Then I just get sidetracked with life.  Blogging is tough because the easiest things to write are just my thoughts exploding out of my head.  But this is no way to turn a profit.  I started blogging several years ago because I just like sharing my life and my thoughts through this medium.  I don't want to be a slave to advertisers, staying 'on-brand', or sponsored opportunities.  I just wanted to write about my wedding planning experience so I could look back and remember it all.

But just churning out content day after day about nothing to an audience of not many is tiring and thankless.  Perhaps I am just a victim of our instant gratification times, and why most bloggers just moved on to Instagram.  The thing I am learning most is that if I want to make any money in the near future, I should have committed to the blog hustle YEARS AGO.  If I start blogging and really crush it, maaaaybe I can have an income to speak of by 2019.

I don't want to wait that long, and I don't want my time to be spent on a gamble.  Because there are people who have been blogging non stop for 10+ years and don't have a whole lot to show for it in the income or audience department.

All I want in life at this point is a townhouse in the city and a family of my own.  Not too much to ask, right? ;)

So we are working on the family part, and getting my health in better shape will only make that easier.  Then the townhouse, we need a down payment, and we need to get our monthly debt bills down to a more reasonable level.  Long story short, we need more money coming in or this will take an eternity.  We don't live hand to mouth or anything, but we are working with considerable student loan payments, an SUV car payment, and too many credit cards, and live in a pricey part of town.  After all is paid we maybe have a few hundred dollars for fun or saving.  It would take like over 5 years to save a $20K to put down, that is longer than I care to wait.

So I got a part time job!

Part-time job = money today, debt being paid off today, down payment being saved today.
I obviously am not giving up blogging or anything, maybe in three years time it will be nice to have a second income to help pay off the giant mortgage and daycare costs!

Thanks to my BFF Katrina for introducing me, I got the best part-time gig I can imagine.  I am a runner with Favor!

Favor is a phone app that gets you 'anything delivered'.  You simply download the app on your phone, and there are lists of menus from local restaurants you can choose from, as well as an option to choose anything you want!

The cost isn't too bad either.  It costs $5 for a Favor, plus whatever you want to tip your runner, and a small 5% of your purchase charge to cover the credit card processing fees.  I have ordered a few times when I am feeling extra lazy and my tacos would be $15, .75 cents processing, $5 favor fee and a $5 tip.  So for 10 extra dollars over my meal cost, I got to sit at home and have someone bring it to me.  Well worth it!  I don't have to deal with putting pants on, fighting traffic, finding parking, etc.  The service is brilliant and super popular in Houston. (The tips are set at $5 or 20% of your order, but you can add or subtract from that amount to whatever you like, but the minimum you can go is $2)

The other awesome thing is that you can order literally anything (aside from people, alcohol, gift cards, or anything over like $300).  I've been a runner for about 3 weeks now and in addition to food from all over town, I've been sent to buy someone's groceries at Whole Foods, I've been sent to buy jeans for a guy at Neiman Marcus (that was kinda weird), and I've delivered gourmet dog treats to someone's friend whose dog just had surgery.  The options are endless though.  If you are sick we can bring you Tylenol PM from Walgreens, we can go pick up your jacket you left at your friends house last night, anything!

So Favor itself is cool, but being a runner is very cool as well!

1. It gets my large and lazy behind off the couch.

It is not the same as doing cross fit or anything but I am off my couch and getting in and out of the car for a few hours, which seems like an activity upgrade at least a little.  I stand while waiting on orders, I hustle up and down stairs in all these apartments.  Plus it is HOT out there, so I get a good sweat going on in the afternoons.  Also I am not snacking endlessly like I do when sitting on the couch.  Wins all around.

2. It helps my nervousness.

I am not a clinically diagnosed anxious person, but I know I deal with anxiety to some degree.  I hate going new places by myself.  I hate talking to strangers.  I get scared driving around places I don't know well.  This job has kind of pulled me out of the shell I was in and forces me to go to new places all the time, forces me to make phone calls into restaurants and communicate with restaurant people/ Favor customers.  A profitable way to get behavioral therapy for the mildly anxious, lol.

3. I get to know my city.

Favor operates in a delivery area that is mostly the downtown and inner loop city areas.  It is great because it allows us to get food to the customers fast since we aren't delivering things 45 mins away, and since I live within the delivery area I am getting to know my neighborhood so well.  I love this aspect.  There are so many little neighborhood nooks and places I never even knew existed until I had a delivery to make.  A little townhouse location scouting while running Favors is a great motivator to keep at it and work hard! :)

4. I get to know a ton of new places to try.

Since I am so much less nervous than before about going new places, orders from restaurants I have never been to are the highlights of my shift.  I'm telling you, there are at least 15 restaurants I am eager to try now that I have been there with Favor.  I either didn't know they existed before, or I thought they were more expensive or fancy than they actually turn out being.  They might be a gross looking hole in the wall which smells AMAZING upon entry.  It is very cool to feel in the know about all kinds of places around town.

5. You get to see how the other half lives.

Included in Houston's Favor delivery area are the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city.  In my lifetime I will never live in a home that costs multiple millions of dollars or have the penthouse of a skyscraper to call my own.  If you can't befriend these people, delivering stuff to them is the next best thing, right? lol  A glimpse into the doorway of a mansion, or taking a couple bubble teas into a highrise where the elevator opens right into someones home.  It is pretty cool to at least see for a minute!

6. I work whenever I want.

A gig economy job comes with flexibility, which is why they are so popular.  Most Favor runners I know do this part time and work other jobs as their primary income.  This is the best way to go about it because sometimes the hours get snatched up quickly and you don't get every shift you were hoping to get.  Each Thursday the schedule opens up for the Houston area, and you just select the hours you want to work.  They only ask if you want to drop hours to give them 24 hours notice.  I've seen people give 5 mins notice though, so you wont ever have to miss anything important in your life because you have to work.

7. The money is not bad at all.

I was told that the average Houston runner makes $14 an hour.  I don't think they pay that high at Papa Johns or the Target.  I have been averaging between $15-16 an hour, so this is going even better than expected, which is nice. We are contractors which means no taxes get taken out of our pay, so I am sure to put aside about 20% of everything I earn, BUT you get to write off all your mileage from running around.  I keep record of all that, which is sort of a pain, but will be well worth it at tax time.  I had a goal of earning about $600 extra dollars a month after I put aside for taxes, but I am probably closer to $800 only working 16 hours a week.  If I were to bust it a few more hours I could get $1000 a month.  Plus you get paid every day.  Customers have 48 hours to pay for their Favor but most pay right away, and then Favor direct deposit it into your account the next day.  It is a lot more rewarding than hoping for a blog post to go viral!

8. It is fun and easy.

I go to work, I come home, I make dinner, I watch TV, I go to bed.  I am not leading a life of adventure here.  Favor gets me out, earns me extra money, and it is easy and fun.  The people are really nice and generous, the places I get to go are pretty cool, and the time flies by when I am running.  This gig was the answer to a lot of prayers and the short term solution to a bright financial future for myself and my family.

I hope you give Favor a chance either as a customer or as a runner!  They are growing more and more each week, so if they aren't in your city yet, they might be soon!  Go tell them on their Facebook page that you'd love to try them out when they get to Chicago, or Portland, or wherever you may be.

If you use my code: NATAH2F  you can get the delivery fee waived on your first Favor!

If you sign up as a runner and use my code NATAH2F I think they will be more likely to hire you on, and I get a small bonus after you run your first 100 Favors. :)

If you have any questions, comment or shoot me an email and I'll be happy to try and answer them for you!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

10 Tips on how to have a blast in Port Aransas, TX

I write to you having just returned from my annual family reunion Port Aransas beach vacation for the 5th or 6th year in a row now.  We have the absolute best time getting together enjoying the sand and surf and the great company.  Since I am now feeling like Port Aransas is our vacation spot, I would like to impart upon you some tips for a successful and very fun getaway to Port Aransas. (Some of these links contain affiliates that help the site but don't cost you anything extra, thanks for your support!)

10.  Take the Ferry and Watch for Dolphins

There are two ways to get onto Mustang Island/Port Aransas.  You can come over the bridge from Corpus Christi, or you can take the ferry from Aransas Pass.  We take the ferry because it is the most direct route from Houston, but it is really fun and short.  You just wait in the line, and traffic directing ferry people tell you where to line up and guide you onto the ferry.  Then you can get out of your car, peer over the edge and see several dolphins following the ferries on their back and forth trips.  It is so cool!  The ferry ride literally takes about 10 minutes, but it is still pretty neat.  Be forewarned of long lines to get on the island Thursday evenings and Friday afternoon/evenings and Sunday mornings.  You can always drive around to Corpus if the wait is very long.
Pro tip: Check out the ferry wait times on Twitter:

9. Find an Excellent Crash Pad

Photo Credit:
Our group stays all over the island, but I can personally vouch for Coral Cay condominiums being pretty good.  They have a boardwalk that leads straight through the dunes onto the beach, and a place to hose yourself off when you come back in.  Rooms are always very comfortable, and have little kitchenettes for your convenience.  There are cheaper places to be had that aren't directly on the beach, so it depends on your preference.  Our family pretty much just makes breakfast in the condo then we hit the beach until well into the night and only come back to sleep and shower, so it is less important that our rooms be luxury.  Clean and comfortable is good enough for me!  
My cousins always stay at the historical Tarpon Inn and they love it.  There is also a pretty nice looking Holiday Inn on 11th street, which is right near the beach.
Cheapest option - bring your tent and camp on the beach - it is totally allowed!  
Check out Silver Sands Vacation Rentals, or for beach house and condo listings on the island!

8. Rent a Golf Cart

Being the laid back island town that is Port Aransas, you will see so many people cruising around town in the little gas powered golf carts.  They are so much fun and so easy to scoot around in, we always splurge for one.  They aren't the cheapest, at around $125-$150 per day, but I think they are pretty worth it.  We have used Coastal Ed's which was a great price and a nice clean and well running cart, and Texas Red's which was so convenient, they dropped off and picked up the cart from our condo.  So easy!
I would recommend carting to the beach if you aren't staying in a beachfront place, and it is great to drive the entire length of the Port Aransas coastline, to the souvenir shops, or to the local grocery store when you forget the 24 Hershey bars you bought for S'mores and left at home like an idiot.  (I did this.)  You also can save the $12 it costs to park your car on the beach - carts are already permitted.

7. Try Not to Forget Grocery Items
It never fails, I will forget something crucial every year.  There is a grocery store on the island.  It is called Port Aransas Family Center IGA.  I guess you just have to be in the know to know this is a grocery store.  I don't think what they are doing is technically price gouging, but you will pay a premium price for everything.  The store is cramped, and always very busy, and replacing 24 Hershey bars was approximately $25 when it was merely $16 in Houston.  I guess getting anything on an island is going to cost you, so double check when you are packing!  Paying a lot of extra money for stuff you already bought but left at home will cause you not have a blast on your Port Aransas getaway.

6. Beach Entertainment
It is nice and relaxing to plop in a chair under an umbrella and watch the water, but it might get boring after a while.  Even with 70+ people to talk to, we find that games and activities are essential to a fun beach time.
We will bring a game of Cornhole, Ladder Toss, a Bocce Ball set, a Volleyball/Badminton game.  Along with those we bring dominoes, playing cards, and Cards Against Humanity for the evening.
For in the water fun, there are all the floats, shovels and pails and boogie boards for the kiddos.  Oh, and kites.  For sure bring a kite.  (How cool is this one??!) Go ahead, try and be bored!

5. Beach Essentials/protection
You can't have a blast if you aren't comfortable, it is a scientific fact.  It is smart to protect yourself from the elements.  It can get really windy right on the water, so your umbrella is likely to turn up on itself.  Answer, pop up canopy tent.  Yes they are kind of pricey, but if you plan to go to the beach often, the cost per use is not so bad.  You probably have a neighbor with one, maybe see if you can borrow?
Some basic ones are like this, this and this.  The ones I really like are this, this and this.
Then of course, sunblock, hats, sunblock, and bug spray for the night.  Sometimes there are mosquitoes when the sun starts to set :\.
A proper chair is important.  Those little $10 camping chairs aren't the most comfortable after a while.  What about these??

Or these?!

I want that rocking chair.

4. Have a Camp Fire

If you can hang out in the hot hot sun all day into the evening, you should plan on a camp fire.  Just dig a hole, bring your wood and starters (and possibly something to block the wind while your are getting it going).  My mom and I are the queens of the S'mores at our gathering.  We have quite the efficient assembly line, and the kids and adults alike have a great time.  I have these, and they are fantastic.  Just be sure when you are done to put the fire out and bury the hot stuff!

3. Check out the Souvenir Spots
They are a lot of fun, and there are several of them all within walking distance from each other.  I could spend an hour trying on all the crazy hats and sunglasses!

2. Bring your Food A-Game
There are people who like to keep it simple and just make hotdogs on a grill and call it a day.  They might make PB&J in their condo with a bag of chips.

We are not those people.

We will eat hotdogs once or twice, don't get me wrong.  Then we grill pizzas, make bahn mi's, and lamb kebabs.  Last year, my brother roasted a whole pig on a spit.  That was a spectacle!  The food is like the second best part of the trip.  Stay tuned for a post regarding delectable grilled things to make on the beach, it will take you to Yum City (my Flavortown/Guy Fieri ripoff, lol)

Also we made about 200 jello shots and drank enough beer to fill a lake.  Gotta stay hydrated! ;)

1. Bring the Ones You Love
Because that goes without saying.  These memories will be with me a lifetime <3

Here are some highlights from our trip this year!

Everyone hanging out

Feeding the seagulls.  I got pooped on shortly after this! :(

 Cousins <3


My uncle created this...drink responsibly, people. 

Heather is blowing the whistle, time for another shot!

 You know what time it is.  This game is hilarious!

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