Ask a House Cleaner, Hardest Money, Hardest Job, Savvy Cleaner

The Hardest Money I Ever Earned

The hardest money I ever earned came on the heels of business failure. The hardest money I thought was being in business for myself. I was so wrong. 

Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru gives tips to avoid the hardest money you’ll ever earn when you close your business. If need be, quit your job, walk away and find a job recruiter. Join a staffing company, have a job interview but don’t tell them you’re a house cleaner. “I went to work for a staffing agency and it was the hardest work I’ve ever done and the hardest job I’ve ever had.”

Cleaning would have been so much easier – and they don’t teach you this in house cleaner training. 

Today’s sponsors are My Cleaning Connection (A resource hub with motivational resources to keep you going on the worst day of your life. Also, Savvy Perks, Employee discounts for cleaning employees to inspire them to show up for work tomorrow.

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Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer.

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Question: Can I Just Quit and Go Find a New Job?

Hardest Job, Hardest Money, House Cleaning Girl is discouragedLet me tell you about hardest money I ever earned. So, a house cleaner wrote in the other day, and she was having a really bad day. And she wanted to quit and get out of the business because it just was not the business she thought she signed up for.

Now, my suggestion to her was yes, get out of the business. Hang up your towel, call it a day, call it quits, you’re done. Fire yourself, get out of the business. And go to bed tonight and you will sleep like a baby. 

And when you wake up in the morning, your head will be clear, you will be refreshed, and then you can start a new house cleaning business. Now, you know what you now know, and you can do things differently or you can do things the same, but you have a choice. 

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You Will Have a Day That is The Hardest Money You’ll Ever Earn

Hardest Job, Hardest Money, Woman is depressedHere’s where it comes from. It comes from years of experience of me firing myself. Now, if you are in the business long enough, you’re going to have days that are just crap days. And you hate your job and you hate the people that you work for. You might even hate yourself. And you say to yourself, “Why am I doing this? This is a stupid job for me. I don’t even know why I’m cleaning houses.”

In the back of your mind, you do know why but on these days none of your logic will make sense. You’re cleaning houses because either it’s paying the bills or it’s putting food on the table or both. And it’s an honest way to make a living.

It might even be that you love seeing completion, where you see something really dirty and you know with your magical powers you can turn it into something amazing.

The Hardest Money I Ever Earned – Was After I Fired Myself from Cleaning

There was one particular day in my cleaning business. I don’t remember exactly what happened it was just a crap day on every level. And I decided, “This is not for me. I have no idea what I’m doing here. Why am I in this business?” 

So, I fired myself. And I was so pleased. I was working all these hours, there were all these problems with customers. I had employee challenges. I’d just had it up to here. I’m out. And I decided to go get a 9:00 to 5:00 job. In my head, I would work less hours, make more money and have less problems. It was a perfect plan.

So, I marched into a recruiting office. The recruiting office works this way. A nice lady in a red blouse interviews you. She determines your skills and then she matches you with an available job. After you have completed the work, she writes you a check. Easy peasy. 

The Hardest Money I Ever Earned Was Based on My Skills

Hardest Job, Hardest Money, messy kitchen“So, what are you good at?”

“So many things. I want your highest paying job. Match me with that job and I’ll rise to the occasion with my skillset.”

“But what is your skill set?”

“I have people skills, management skills, handyman skills, gardening skills, cleaning skills, I’m reliable, dependable. ..”

“Great. When can you start?”


“Sweet. You’ll start tomorrow morning. Be here at 7:00 am and wear comfortable clothing.”

“Great, see you here tomorrow at 7:00 am.”

The Hardest Money I Earned in my House Cleaning Uniform

Hardest Job, Hardest Money, Woman is shockedComfortable clothing for me is my house cleaning uniform and it’s a look I’ve got down to a science. Matching shirt, pants, shoes, socks, hair, and earrings. Bam!

I was grossly overdressed. I get there and there’s a room full of people headed out for the job and they all look homeless. 

“Okay, the bus is about to leave.” I’m like, “What do you mean the bus is about to leave?” 

“You’re going to get on a bus and they’re going to take you to the job.” 

I was like, “Okay, well I have my own car.” 

She’s like, “No, no, no, your own cars not allowed. You have to ride the bus with everyone else and go and come on the same bus, otherwise, you don’t get paid at the end of the day.”

And I was like, “Whoa, I just lost some of my independence.” 

The Hardest Money I Ever Earned Came with A Loss of Independence

Hardest Money, Woman on BusBut all right, so I get on the bus. Turns out that we’re heading to a thrift store. When we get to the thrift store, the manager comes out and he says, “Okay, our job for the day is I have three tractor-trailers that are full of big bundles of clothes.” 

And the clothes were about 200 pounds in each bundle, and they are wrapped together with wire wrapping. They were stacked, 16 in a stack, all the way across this tractor-trailer.

And so, I was like, “Holy crap, what is this?” These are all the clothes and all the donations that people sent to this thrift store. And now we were going to be pulling off these big bundles of clothes and we were going to be cutting off the wire wrapping that bundled them together. And our job for the day is to sort the clothes into piles. Shirts, pants, socks, and miscellaneous.  We had to decide what happens to the stuff. Does it get laundered? Chunked? Does it go to the dry cleaners? 

I Was About to Earn the Hardest Money I’ve Ever Earned

Hardest Job, Hardest Money,Bundles of ClothesI looked at these three tractor truckloads of clothing, and then I looked over at my team.  And I was like, “Oh boy, we have our work cut out for us.” And I start trying to do the math in my head. If we’re only here for eight hours today and we have those three truckloads, how many hours can we spend on each truckload? And we are going to have to work as hard and as fast as we possibly can in order to get this job done.

Hardest Job, Hardest Money Man with folded armsSo, I start looking around at the 13 other guys that arrived with me, and I start sizing them up. Who am I going to buddy up with that looks like they can help me get this job done? And so, I start recruiting in my head, my most likely options to get the job done.

The Hardest Money I Ever Earned Was Not Specified Up Front

Hardest job, Hardest Money used clothes in pilesI buckled down.  “I can do this. This is fine. I’m sure we’re going to make a boatload of money for this.” 

And I got to work. And I’ve never worked harder, I’ve never worked faster in my life. I was just sweating profusely. And all the clothes weren’t on tables. They were on the floor and we had big bins. All the bundles we pulled off the truck went on the cold hard cement floor at the back of the loading dock. 

And so, there’s a lot of bending and reaching and lifting and sorting and moving, and it’s a lot of physical movement. And by the end of the day, my back, my neck, my shoulders, everything just hurt. 

My “helpers” took a break but I worked through. I was determined to finish before the ride home. 

The Hardest Money I Ever Earned Had a Moral Dilemma

Hardest Job, Hardest Money Couple shakes handsIt was about two hours before the end of the day, and the manager pulls me off the job, and he takes me down a hall into a little private sitting room, and he offers me a job. He says, “Okay, listen. I’ve seen your work. I don’t know where you came from. I have no idea what your story is. But I would like to hire you as a manager for my store.” And he said, “We can even cut out this temp agency that you came from so that I can pay you more money and I don’t have to pay them a commission.”

And my first thought was, “Oh my goodness. You’re offering me a job and these are your ethics? You’re going to cut out the person that found me and brought me to your store. Wait a second, let me think. Yeah, that’s not the kind of guy that I want to work for.” 

And I decided at that moment, “this job is not a good fit for me personally. Long term – this job doesn’t pay off. But I will finish out the day because I promised that I would, and I will give you 100% of my efforts.”

The Hardest Money I Ever Earned – I Really Earned

Hardest Job, Hardest Money Woman with arms in the air victoriousAgain, I went back to work. And I worked and worked and worked. I outworked everybody in the store combined. At the end of the day, we had three tractor-trailers completely emptied, completely sorted, and I was literally managing this team of people, like, “Hey, I need this, I need that,” and we were having fun and we were friends at the end of the day. 

Thank goodness we made it work, we did the job, we met the task, we met the requirements. We get back on the bus, we’re feeling’ like a million bucks, fist bumping and high fiving. And we go back to the station where they write our checks. And this is one of the days where they pay you at the end of the day.

The Hardest Money I Ever Earned Has a Twist

Hardest Job, Hardest Money Hand receives money through pay windowSo, we get back to the little station and the lady has this little window, and you stand in line and you go up to the window. It’s one of those counters glass windows enclosed in wood paneling from the 70’s. There is a trap door where you put your driver’s license in and they scoop it up on the other side. And they put your paycheck in and send it back through the trap door. 

And we’d already filled out paperwork and 1099’s or W-2s or whatever it was. (It was actually a W-2 because they took the taxes out.)

So, I get up to the counter and the lady takes my name, she looks at my paperwork, and then she takes her own sweet time and she writes me a check and she hands me back the check. 

And I look at the check, and I look at the lady, and I look back at the check.

The Hardest Money I Ever Earned Triggered Some Serious Emotions

Hardest Job, Hardest Money Man LaughingAnd I look at the lady, and I busted up laughing. She says, “Is there a problem?” And I said, “Yeah, how much do we get paid for today?” 

And she says, “You get minimum wage, and then we take the taxes out and the recruiters’ fee.” And I’m holding a check in my hand for $14.63. I have never laughed so hard in my life because I’ve never worked so hard for such little money.

And I looked at that check and I said, “You know what? I’m not even going to cash this check. I’m going to frame it. And I’m going to remind myself on days where I feel like a business failure – that it could be so much worse working for somebody else.

 I’m going to remind myself that there are people out there that are willing to work for a whole lot less money and do much, much, much harder tasks than cleaning house.” Because on my worst days in the house cleaning business, I have never worked this hard.

The Hardest Money I Ever Earned Was Also One of The Biggest Lessons I Ever Learned

Hardest Job, Hardest Money, House CleanerAnd I went racing back to the house cleaning business. I’m like, “Hey, wait a second. This is where I belong. I was wrong to leave the business for 24 hours, I just checked, I’m back again. I belong in the house cleaning business.”

So, if you have a day where everything goes to crap, that’s okay. You’re human, it happens to all of us. It happens to me. It happens to me now. There are days … Just a couple weeks ago, I’m like, “Why am I doing this?” It’s a crazy business. It is a crazy business. And yes, we get crazy jobs with crazy people. That’s how life works. And that’s how we pay our bills.

So, if you have a really bad day, you’re not alone. It’s okay. 

Fire yourself for the day, get out of the business, wash your hands of it, and then come back tomorrow with a better attitude. Do things differently than you did the first time. Because every time you fire yourself and every time you bring yourself back, it will renew your reasons why you’re doing this. And it will renew your enthusiasm for being your own boss, and for making your own hours, and for balancing out the workload so that you’re not doing the hardest work of your life for the littlest amount of money.

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About the Show

Learn how the show came to be, interesting facts about the show host, and other frequently asked questions about the show.

Resources For This Episode

What to Say When You Talk to Your Self –

365 Days of Positive Self-Talk  –

The Power of Neuroplasticity –

Every Single Day: Daily Habits to Create Unstoppable Success, Achieve Goals Faster, and Unleash Your Extraordinary  –

Emotional Intelligence 2.0  –

The Gift: The 12 Greatest Tools of Personal Growth — and How to Put Them into Practice –

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