The most recent shutdown of the US Government should show us all that there is no such thing as a job security. Working for the United States Federal Government in the past was the epitome of what was considered stable and reliable employment with great health insurance, retirement and other benefits. However, as an employee of any kind, you are still at the mercy of others who really only care about their own interests whether it be pushing their political agendas in the public sector or making a profit in the private sector. It is our responsibility to make sure we can still maintain our lives and the lives of those who depend on us for support.
It’s recommended that everyone or every household have at least 3-6 months living expenses saved as an emergency fund. That way you don’t have to tap into your retirement fund, use credit cards, or take out loans when you face an emergency like a sudden illness, a family emergency, a shutdown, a strike or some other work stoppage. If your monthly expenses are, for example, $3,000 per month; you would need 9 to 18 thousand dollars saved to hold you over until you can return to work. That’s far above the $4,000 the average American have in savings. Even more troublesome is the fact that 57% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
I decided to suggest some things that you can do to start building your emergency savings account. If you already have your emergency stash funded, then you can try some of these ideas to save up for your kids’ education, a vacation, a major purchase, invest in a business idea etc. Stashing $10,000 in a year can be easy if you break it down into manageable chunks. $10,000 over a 12 month period is roughly $834 a month or $200 per week. If you can devote 10 to 20 hours a week to your side gig, then you only need to make an extra $10 to $20 per hour. All of these ideas may not work everywhere and may have limited availability in rural areas but many of them can be done virtually from home like preparing legal documents and some mystery shopping jobs are over the telephone.
- Rideshare Driver for Uber/Lyft: Rideshare drivers can make up to $25 an hour plus tips but this all depends on a few factors. Some of those are your location (city vs. rural), type of car you’re driving, the times you are available to drive and other expenses like gas costs, insurance etc. Being able to work during peak hours and having a more luxurious car are all factors in how much you will be paid per ride. Some drivers also make side money by selling drinks, snacks, over the counter medicines like individually packaged tylenol to their riders. Also being able to read your riders’ personalities and needs is also important in this industry. For example, being a great conversationalist and knowledgeable about the area where you are driving may help you schmooze the rider out of a good tip but some riders don’t want to talk and may tip you for not talking to them and just driving them where they need to go.
- Grocery and Restaurant Delivery Driver: A spin off of Uber type services, many of these companies have also begun to spring up around the country. Some of them are UberEats, Bitesquad (get $10 off your first order by my using my referral code OLA-K209-9P31) Shipt (use my referral link and save $50 off your membership!) InstaCart and Diner Dash. The restaurant delivery services have teamed up with local and chain restaurants in cities to offer order placement and delivery to certain areas. Workers are independent contractors and can earn decent pay for their work. For example, InstaCart reports that shoppers can earn up to $25 per hour plus tips during peak hours; however, base pay is around $10 an hour. So again, if you are available during the peak hours then you can earn more with this side-hustle.
- Mystery Shopper: I know a lot of readers have probably seen those advertisements for Mystery Shopping jobs that promise you information for a small fee. You have to wary of some of these ads but Mystery Shopping is a legit side hustle! Major companies do what is called “Market Research” to spot check how their employees handle their customers. Usually these companies seek individuals to pose as customers to review and sometimes record the interaction with their employee. I have seen some of these jobs pay $35 to $50 plus bonuses per assignment with each assignment taking maybe 30 minutes. This could be profitable assuming say you can hit 5 locations up within a 10 mile radius on a Saturday morning. You could earn up to $250 for about 3 hours of work. Some of the best paying Mystery Shopping assignments are in the apartment and banking industries. Of course you would have more opportunities for work if you live in an area with a larger population. You can find more information here.
- Notary or Loan Signing Agent: If you are or can become a Notary in your state, then you can be a signing agent. A Notary signing agent is hired as an independent contractor to ensure that real estate loan documents are executed by the borrower, notarized, and returned for processing on time. Completing this critical part of the loan process enables the loan to be funded. There are no special classes you need but you do need to complete the application with your state’s Secretary of State. Most states also require you to purchase an official stamp or seal and also keep meticulous records of things you have notarized. A part-time notary making $100 a file makes roughly $2,200 a month and a full-time signing agent that makes $100 dollars a file makes $6,500 a month. And if you learn how to get business directly from escrow officers, mortgage officers, and real estate agents you can give yourself a 50% raise. If you work through a service like SnapDocs then you will earn less per job but will probably be referred more often.
- Legal Document Preparer/Assistant: If you are or can become an authorized Notary in your state then you can also add that to your list of services as a document preparer. Although requirements may vary (check with your local jurisdiction) legal document preparers can prepare anything from bankruptcy petitions, uncontested divorces, formal legal complaints, immigration forms to wills and other contracts. If you have a special interest or special knowledge about a particular topic then you can market yourself as an expert in that field. Many legal documents or forms are not required to be filed by an attorney so many customers would rather pay you a document preparation fee than pay an attorney hundreds of dollars per hour. The first thing you should do is check with the Secretary of State for your state or other office responsible for authorizing Notaries and any other public agencies responsible for regulating the documents you seek to prepare. For example, if you plan to specialize in preparing Ch. 7 bankruptcies, check with the Bankruptcy court in your jurisdiction to see if there is a requirement by the court for the petitioner to be represented by an attorney, the same is true with divorces and any other filings with the courts.
In my next installment in this series, I will talk about how you can make money by snapping and uploading photos with your cell phone camera, teaching kids online even if you don’t have a teaching degree and a couple other ways you can earn extra cash to reach your goals .