Earning

How this smart-shopping expert got a year's worth of free haircuts

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Leah Ingram, founder of Real Sophisticated Consumer
Courtesy of Leah Ingram.
Key Points
  • Leah Ingram, founder of the blog Real Sophisticated Consumer, has written 15 books on shopping smart and saving money.
  • She got a year's worth of free haircuts in exchange for writing a couple press releases for her hair salon.
  • Many people who start side hustles are doing so by monetizing a skill they already have.

Leah Ingram, founder of the blog Real Sophisticated Consumer, has written 15 books on how to shop smart and save money. The 56-year-old says she wasn't always looking for ways to cut costs, but as she got older it became more and more important.

"My mom is from Maine and northeasterners, they are notoriously cheap or frugal," she says. "So I grew up with frugality, which, of course, I rejected in my teens. And then when I got married in my late 20s and started having children I was like, 'You know what, there's something to this being smart with money thing.'"

One of her most impressive saving hacks was bartering a skill for a year's worth of free haircuts, about a $400 value she estimates.

Overhearing useful info about the salon's needs: 'I just perked my ears up'

Ingram, who lives in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, had been patronizing her salon for about 10 years when she attended an event and overheard the owner saying they wanted to advertise their future events in the local paper.

"I just perked my ears up," she says, and approached the owner to offer a skillset she already had — writing. "I said, 'I've done some press releases so how about I write up a press release and send it over to the local newspapers and radio stations.'"

The original payment was supposed to be one haircut, valued at about $100. However, the press release got the salon so much attention that the owner offered her a year's worth of free cuts.

Propose a trade: 'What's the worst that could happen?'

Like Ingram, many who start side hustles are doing so by monetizing a skill they already have.

Kendra Adachi, for example, founded the Lazy Genius Collective, a blog which breaks down intimidating topics for everyday readers, because her friends told her she was "good at distilling a bunch of complicated information into simple conclusions," she told Grow.

"We all have things that we do that feel so deeply natural to us that we assume everyone else knows how to do them," she says.

We all have things that we do that feel so deeply natural to us that we assume everyone else knows how to do them.
Kendra Adachi
founder of Lazy Genius Collective

Bernadette Joy, founder of Crush Your Money Goals, started selling resume writing and consulting services six years ago. "I didn't really think people had a hard time writing resumes," she told Grow. "Now I've been able to build courses and services around that."

Think about what skills you already posses and be looking out for opportunities where it could earn you some extra money.

"As a self-employed person I'm always pitching for new work," Ingram says, so offering up her writing service didn't feel awkward to her.

And even if you aren't totally sure they'll take you up on the proposal, it's always worth it to ask, she says: "What's the worst that could happen? They'll just say no."

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