A supplemental income -- a second source of money -- takes the pressure off when your regular way of earning a living falters. Multiple streams of income make it easier for working RVers. In this article, Bob shares about work he did when we were set up at a flea market and sales were on the slow side.
It's good to have a second source of income. I've always been able to pick up part-time work while we are RVing. Back when we were flea marketing, we happened upon a market in Paw Paw, Michigan. It was a smaller market, and somewhat slow, but a pleasant place to set up.
We needed to wait for a truck shipment from Tennessee, which would take two weeks. The summer had been busy, moving to a new market every week. This gave us a chance to catch up on laundry, the newsletter, bills, mail, and vehicle maintenance during the week. On the weekend, we sold at the flea market. But, as I said, the market was a little slow -- it was a good time to have an opportunity to supplement our flea market income.
While we were there, we were entertained by the put, put, put, of a 1950s, 320 John Deere tractor, with a belly mower. It was making large, slow circles, mowing the vast field that served as the parking lot on the weekends. It was a pleasant, peaceful, old-timey sound. Then, it quit.
There, out in the middle of the field sat the old tractor and an older gentleman with a confused look. He was staring at the engine. I took this as a chance to get a better look at the old tractor, and walked over.
We introduced ourselves and exchange a few pleasantries. He lived on the adjacent property; set up at the flea market every weekend; and helped the market owner with mowing and up keep.
It appeared the little tractor just quit. He said it was like someone turned off the switch. He really didn’t know much about the mechanics of the tractor; he just drove it.
I looked it over and soon found a wire that had fallen off. I went over to the RV, got a wire connector and a crimping pliers, came back, and had the little tractor running in no time. This all took less than 15 minutes. He wanted to pay me. I was just happy to see the little tractor up close, and refused.
That evening the market owner stopped by the RV with a thank you, and another offer of pay. I told him it wasn’t anything and refused. He asked if I was a tractor mechanic. I explained, not really, but I had been around them, was mechanically inclined, and enjoyed working on older machines.
Well, he had another tractor broken down. The dealer wanted over $200.00 to come and just look at it. Would I look at it? Keep track of my time, he said. He’d be sure I was paid, whether I could fix it or not.
The second tractor was a John Deere 2010 with a Bush Hog. It was out in a weed patch, supposedly dead. I had to carry a battery out, as the one in the tractor had been run down.
With a good battery, it cranked up and seemed to run good. I left it run, and carried the battery back to the RV.
As I walked back to the tractor, it sputtered and died. I was closer to the tractor than the RV, so I continued to the tractor. It turned over, but didn’t fire before the battery was dead again. I went back to the RV, for the battery and some tools.
Eventually, I had the tractor running. It had an accumulation of dirt and chaff plugging an elbow in the fuel line. If the tractor sat for a while, fuel would seep past the blockage and fill the carburetor with enough fuel to run for a few minutes before it would die. I finished mowing the weed patch to be sure I had fixed the problem. I was paid well for my time. The owner paid me far more than I would have thought to ask for, but he still spent far less than the dealer would have charged him.
He also paid me to empty a cement block building. The roof had rotted and fallen in. It was hard work; everything was dirty and wet. I just hauled everything out of the building and put it into a construction dumpster. An additional perk was that I could keep anything out of the building I wanted. There wasn’t anything special, but I did retrieve $200.00 - $300.00 worth of odd things we later sold while we were flea marketing.
Our shipment from Tennessee arrived and we headed out to another steam show flea market. I don’t know what additional work (and income) would have presented itself if we had remained in Paw Paw. But, I'm pretty sure the market owner would have had other jobs he wanted me to do.
It's easier to balance your budget and not get worried about having enough money when you aren't depending on all of it coming from one place. Supplemental income, in the form of side jobs, really helps us. It's the old saying, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."
Coleen's comments: My husband, Bob Nilles, wrote this article about how he earned a supplemental income assisting the owner of the flea market. His helpful nature and his mechanical abilities are both great assets when it comes to finding short-term work.