I was reading a blog the other day about financial security and the author mentioned using the time of our youth to earn some extra money and skills. Often, we think of our youth as the time to have fun and party.
Since I put myself through college without benefit of financial aid or scholarship (my parents would not fill out FAFSA) I know a lot about being young and hustling for jobs.
It served me well when I completed my education–I was used to cobbling together two-three–yes, sometimes four jobs to make enough money to live, and play, too).
While living in my run down hovels (and there were many) I housesat and dogsat for wealthy people who paid me well because I was trustworthy. Often there would be a full refrigerator that they would ask me to eat from so things didn’t spoil. At the time, I was living on a canned bean and macaroni and cheese diet, so leftover filet mignon, lobster and shrimp were heaven-sent! There is nothing like eating steak and duck liver pate poolside when you are living far below the poverty level. At the time, I couldn’t afford the four bucks to go to the community pool!
When changing their decor, they would offer me their castoffs. I laugh to think I have hauled these items across the country several times and am still using many of them daily, Even then, I was a forager and happy-to-take-your- leftovers kind of person. This attitude has served me well over the years.
Not only that, I learned early on how to repair and refinish furniture. And now, I own nice antiques that didn’t cost me very many dollars. Because I sewed, I could alter any designer clothes that came my way to fit me perfectly. Not only that, but expensive drapery could be fitted to the home I eventually bought.
You see, folks that need dependable dogsitters, housesitters etc.. are also the kind of people who network. Suddenly, you have more jobs ( and castoff furniture, computers and clothing) than you can take. Later, they have children that they are only too willing to pay outrageous amounts to a babysitter to care for them. Still later, they want to age in place and pay you outrageously for things like: moving their winter clothes from a closet down the hallway to their own.
These employers were interesting, talented people who I learned a lot from being around. One was a world-famous artist who had done large commissioned pieces for office buildings and hotels in the large city I lived in. Another was the PR guy for the NBA basketball team there.
From these side jobs I was able to complete my education and save enough money to put a down payment on a home. That was a HUGE thing for me to do alone. This was before balloon mortgages and easy credit! Thank heavens!
Teachers are very resourceful people. They have to be. In my area, many teachers have side businesses like lawn care that they do after work and in the summers. They run camps.
The janitors at my school do home renovation and repairs. They stay busy too–try getting one to put you on their waiting list! Teachers refer them to other teachers and there is a backlog to get them to do small jobs. They are in demand because people know they can trust them and are happy to pay extra so that they don’t have to let a stranger into their home.
Think of it this way, people know that a criminal background check has already been done on a teacher. You are “vetted.”
Speaking of side jobs like home repair, I met a laid off computer scientist when I lived in that major city who began doing odd jobs for money when laid off. He became in such demand that he never went back to his old job because he made far more money as a handyman.
Funny aside: I met him when my VERY unhandy, young neighbor paid him a LARGE hourly wage to (I’m pausing to laugh here) change the light bulbs in his home. I’m not talking about inconveniently-placed light bulbs here or light bulbs that required the use of an extension ladder. I only wished I’d known–I’d have done it happily for half the money.
This reminds me of a side job I did for the previous owner of that home next-door. The owner was a DEA agent who would be posted to South America for a couple years at a time. He got tired of the poor job that a local realty company did renting out his home and managing repairs while he was away. So he paid me (less than the realty company–but still handsomely) to rent the home and have repairs done. He knew how handy and frugal I was so it was really a good deal for him. Most importantly, he knew that since I lived next door, I would not rent to people who would trash his home. Although I did not take them, several other offers came to me to manage property in our neighborhood.
So let’s review (puts on teacher hat): Learn to hustle for jobs, accept any donations that come your way, (hey, you can sell them, if nothing else), learn to repair EVERYTHING, save your money and lastly (most importantly) make connections with your friends and neighbors. I’d love to have my readers tell us about some ways they have hustled jobs. Leave a comment, please.