Beating $11 an Hour

Nicole and her husband have two children in daycare. Her husband is considering quitting his current job and taking something seasonal to cut down on the daycare bills. Dave isn't sure this is a good idea.

QUESTION: Nicole in Buffalo and her husband have two children in daycare, and they both work full-time. Her husband is considering quitting his current job and taking something seasonal to cut down on the daycare bills. Dave isn’t sure this is a good idea.

ANSWER: I would stay on the track. You would be derailing his future for daycare costs. Him staying at home and not making the best possible choices for his career does not cause you to be able to save.

I think this is a hard time your family is going through. Your kids are in daycare, and you don’t like that. He’s not making any money, and you don’t like that. But that’s not a permanent thing. It’s not like you guys will be sitting right where you are five years from now. That’s not the track you’re on, and it’s not what you’ve described or your goal.

I think it’s something we talk about and pray about every day—what he has to do to get this thing moving. If he’s a good carpenter, can he build decks on the weekend? Can he do some odd jobs or start a handyman service? He’s good with his hands. He knows how to fix stuff, he knows how to build stuff. There are a lot of people who don’t know which end of the screwdriver to pick up.

If he gets his business cards out in the wealthy end of town, he’ll have some work. A quality handyman who is clean, knows his stuff, is reasonable on his price, shows up when he says he’s going to show up, and does really good work and smiles and builds a relationship without being too chatty, he’ll have more work than he can possibly do.

I know one guy right now who is doing rehabs and renovations who is making $300,000 a year. He started that by doing handyman stuff. But he doesn’t even fool with new construction. He can do it because he’s learned to work with homeowners. For your husband, he can cover himself up with part-time work on the side.

I think he can beat his $11-an-hour salary just on that. Take some business cards to every real estate company in town with a box of donuts and tape 10 of the cards to the top of the box. Talk to every realtor and hand them a donut and a card. Tell them what he is doing and if they need anything cleaned up to call him. I think he can kick the crud out of $11 doing that while he’s waiting on this other stuff to come through, or maybe he reaches the point that he doesn’t care if it comes through.

I think this is just a temporary thing, so I wouldn’t quit and just say that he’s not going to work.