My first child, a daughter, was born in 2009, just as the economy seemed to be crumbling all around me. New layoffs and company collapses were announced weekly, and I felt like I was bringing my newborn into a scary, unstable world. I had a full-time job as a reporter, and the journalism industry, like other industries, was experiencing frequent layoffs at the time. I knew I had to do something drastic to create at least a small cocoon of security around her.
An idea hit me one day as I was browsing Etsy, the handmade marketplace. I’ve long been a fan of the custom jewelry and gifts you can buy on the site, and when I discovered a paper goods section filled with calendars and planners, I came up with the concept of creating and selling money planners. While I had never created anything for Etsy before, I had worked for years as a personal finance reporter and author. With that background, I figured I could design workbooks to help people meet different money and life goals.
I quickly set to work designing my money planners, which are focused on specific life goals, from preparing for a baby to paying off debt to launching a business. Each planner walks the user through questions they should be considering, to-do lists and useful strategies. For example, my baby planner offers action items for each month of pregnancy, reminding users to take out life insurance, for example, and prepare a registry to help guide friends and family members to useful gifts.
Two weeks after my initial brainstorm, I opened up my Etsy shop, Palmer’s Planners. Almost immediately, I felt the sense of empowerment that comes from being an entrepreneur. Here I was, taking control of my, and my family’s, financial future. I hoped my shop would soon bring in extra cash, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Of course, my shop didn’t create financial security right away. It would be many months before it threw off a steady income of around $200 a month, money that my husband and I now put toward child-related costs (which grew after our second child, a son, was born in 2012) and general household management — income I know I can increase if necessary.