I interviewed at Handybook in July 2013. My temp job had just ended and I was desperate for a steady job, and was relieved and excited when I got an email from Handy scheduling me for a phone interview.
Talking with my friends in similar positions to mine, it started to seem like having a job and a half at 25-ish was the norm, or at least a norm, rather than an anomaly. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in August 2014, about 6.8 million people held more than one job. A little over half of those, 3.6 million people, had a secondary part-time job in addition to a primary full-time job. Although multiple job-holders only make up just 4.7 percent of the employed population, that adds up to more than the populations of Los Angeles and Chicago put together. Even for those with non-essential side hustles, it’s a response to wage stagnation, if nothing else; more is more, so work if you can get it.
Almost two years ago, upon, once again, moving back to New York, I subleased a studio apartment on Essex Street from a friend who was leaving town. When she gave me a brief rundown of things-to-know about the apartment, she told me that every two weeks, a cleaner came to the apartment.
The cleaner has a key, my friend said. There’s no phone number for her, but there is a phone number for her nephew, Angel. She does not speak English, but Angel does. Just leave $20 on the table every other Tuesday morning.
Hindsight is 20-20. My nearsighted eyes are not, but there isn’t much I can do about that right now. I can’t afford to visit an optometrist for a new pair of glasses. My vision insurance, along with my sense of self-worth and steady biweekly paychecks, were ripped away from me last month when I was laid off. I hadn’t seen the axe coming and was devastated by the news. I might also have been financially ruined were it not for the existence of unemployment insurance and a committed partner I can rely on to pick up any financial slack.
Freelancing: It’s an art, it’s a hustle. It’s also a tough (but rewarding!) way of making a living. Know what else is tough (and rewarding)? Being the person who hires and manages freelancers. Here’s how you, dear freelancer, can help me transfer money from our budget to your pocket.
Before I started working at Whole Foods last December, I was only an occasional shopper. I went in when I needed something specific, like broccoli rabe or gluten-free cupcakes for a friend’s party. I never wanted to buy more than a few items because I didn’t trust myself. Everything in the store seems like such a good idea—organic, all-natural, so good for you—that I kept myself confined to only the essentials out of financial necessity. My secret fear was that I would go into a shopping trance and wake up in the parking lot with half my bank account missing on a week’s worth of groceries. Like many secret fears, it was based on letting out the worst side of myself.
I spent the summer working full-time for my old college with the bright promise of my new job around the corner. I calculated what I still needed to purchase, the expenses I would have before my first check in September, and I realized I had $500 to spend on new school clothes for the kids.
To say this felt like a miracle would not be an overstatement.
I first heard about this strategy of attracting money a few years ago from a life coach who claimed that picking up change lead to her six-digit earning success. At that time I was a life-coach-business beginner and desperate for any tip that could help me build my own successful coaching empire. So I started picking up coins wherever I went. I picked up US cents, euro cents, and even Russian kopeks that were at the time worth less than broken pieces of glass littering the streets of St Petersburg. Eight years into this routine and into running my coaching business I was no closer to six digits than when I started.
Everyone knows how painful and expensive divorces can be, especially when two people can’t agree on amicable parting terms. But what about the costs associated with a broken engagement, or a case-of-cold feet?
As I continued to do my non-work for my non-boss in my non-office, as small but essential three-figure payments appeared, almost by magic, in my bank account each week, I wondered if maybe the screens were beside the point. Perhaps, I was part of some bizarre money-laundering operation.
When you live in New York City, even the smallest objects in your apartment need to justify what scarce, high-priced real estate they occupy.