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Five best side hustles to earn extra money
This year more than most, you may have found yourself getting creative to stretch your budget a little farther than usual. Some extra income would be ideal, but you are not able to take on a job right now in addition to the other responsibilities in your life. But if you could find a source of income that worked with your schedule and skills while also allowing you some breathing room for your budget, wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity? Read on for five great ways to bring in a little extra money each month.
Were you a teacher in a past life? Or, if not, do you feel you have always had a talent for understanding algebra or chemistry? Put those skills to work for you and find some local students who need tutoring. Tutors are needed now more than ever, as many students find they need extra help to navigate learning during this unusual school year.
You can even expand beyond your local community and offer tutoring over a video service like Zoom, or sign up with a program like VIPKid to have a more steady schedule. If you have the time and space, you could also set up a weekly tutoring session for multiple kids in your home or at a local park.
If you have a gift for writing, consider looking into opportunities to do some freelance work. Many websites or magazines are looking for writers who can assist them in creating new content and covering relevant topics for the audience they want to reach.
Websites like Upwork will even help you sort through various opportunities and find which jobs may be a good fit for you. Make a note that Upwork and other similar websites often charge a fee for their services; however, if you can swing the extra funds, the eventual payoff will be much greater.
As much as we wish shopping for shoes or golf clubs could bring in extra money, we are talking about the grocery shopping service, Instacart. This relatively new service has gained a lot of popularity in 2020 as more people opt to do their grocery shopping online. Instacart allows people to pay a personal shopper – which would be you – to help them find the grocery items they need and deliver them to their home. If you are a champion at your local grocery store and are looking for the next challenge to test your skills, this could be your time to shine. Much of this income relies on tips, so if you want to try this out, be prepared to put your best foot forward.
When is the last time you had a yard sale? There are probably a few things around your home that you don’t really need anymore, and selling them could bring in a little extra cash. Shoes, clothes, baby items, books – these are all things that take up a lot of space in your house, even though you don’t use all of them. Get together with a neighbor or two and host a garage sale to not only add to your wallet, but also declutter your home. If you are not a fan of garage sales, take some pictures of the items you want to get rid of and use online selling options, like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
If you have a creative outlet that can benefit someone else, make a plan to sell some of your products! You might be really handy with power tools, or maybe you are always getting comments on your custom-made t-shirts, or people can’t stop raving about your hand-knit scarves – your ability to create could also create an opportunity to bring in some money. Set up a free account for your new business on places like Facebook or Instagram, and let your community know that you are selling some high-quality, one-of-a-kind items.
This is the time to think outside the box – even if you never saw yourself taking a writing job or being a personal grocery shopper, 2020 has taught us to expect the unexpected, and to roll with the changes life brings us. Decide what direction you want to go, make a plan, and see where your new side-hustle takes you.
Nine tips for making your WFH space more productive
If you’ve been working from home the last few months (or if you were working from home before it was cool), you have likely experienced the ups and downs that come with trying to incorporate your office life into your home life. This transition isn’t easy, but we have a few tips to make the process a little smoother.
1. Act Like You’re at Work
The key to working from home is to actually work from home. As much as possible, keep up with the same schedule, routine, weekly goals, and whatever else you would typically do if you were sitting in your actual office. For instance, if you would typically meet with your sales team on Mondays at 3:00 PM, try to keep that going through virtual meeting options.
2. Prepare to be Flexible
In a perfect world, working from home would be easy. But between finding childcare, managing schoolwork, and navigating every other aspect of pandemic life, there will have to be lots of changes. Mentally prepare yourself to go with the flow when it comes to rescheduling meetings and project deadlines. Always try to move forward as planned – and be prepared to adapt when the plan goes awry.
3. Find a Dedicated Space
Working from your laptop while wearing pajama pants is actually pretty cozy. But as much as we support that idea, it’s also imperative for you to have a dedicated space for your home office. Whether you transform your old guest room or set up shop in a corner of the kitchen, having a space to manage your work life will help you stay focused.
4. Incorporate Breaks
At the office, you probably find some time during the day to stretch your legs and step away from the computer. You need to do the same when working from home, especially during a pandemic that requires us to stay home a lot more often. Go outside, take a lap around the yard, check the mail – do something to break up your day.
5. Hit the Office Supply Store
Hopefully, your company is providing you with everything you need to get your job done. But since the name of this game is flexibility (see above), you may want to have some supplies of your own ready in case there is a delay in receiving them from your company. Get the basics – pens, notepads, printer paper, a stapler, and anything else you find yourself using daily.
6. Set Some Boundaries
If you want to work from home successfully, you have to use some theater of the mind and act like you are really at work. Aside from what we already mentioned for this topic, you need to extend this idea to things like your social life, doctor’s appointments, and other things that pop up in life. This means that you can’t go out for a two-hour lunch just because your office is in your bedroom.
7. Set the Scene
You know you need to have a dedicated office space with supplies, but now it’s time to optimize your office for productivity. If you can’t stop looking outside every time a car drives by, get some curtains you can close to help you stay on task. If your back hurts every day after work, find a comfier chair. You get the idea. Set yourself up for success with an office designed to help you focus.
8. Make a Schedule
One way you can maximize your time on the job is by making a daily schedule. Include time for breaks and lunch, as well as appointments and other daily tasks. Giving yourself a routine will make the day flow more easily for you.
9. Include Your Family
If your kids were at school but are now learning digitally or through homeschooling, it can be difficult to stop the many interruptions that are likely to come your way. When possible, include your family in your schedule. Show them when they come in and ask questions, and try to remember their school needs in your schedule if they need your help to log onto and manage their digital platform each day.
Working from is a big adjustment, especially if your calm, quiet office downtown is calling your name. Take some time to prep your home office and daily routine to give yourself the best chance of success – and maybe include a calendar that counts down to when your office opens again.
Job Hunting During a Pandemic
Many have found themselves looking for employment during the COVID-19 crisis. Whether your hours were reduced at work, or you just need a change, there are some dos and don’ts that come with job hunting during a pandemic. Read on to learn some of our favorite tips for employment success:
Know What You Want
Everyone’s situation is different – some people need a new job altogether, while others are looking to supplement their current income due to reduced hours. This means you need to decide what you are looking for in a job before you even start. Will this work be temporary? Are you hoping to turn it into a career? How many hours do you hope to have each week? Knowing these answers before you start your search will help narrow your choices to only the best options for you.
These are unprecedented times – which means you find yourself looking at an unprecedented line of work. If you are searching for a job to pay the bills, keep an open mind. You may have never pictured yourself working the jewelry counter at Macy’s after two decades in government service, but if it suits your needs, try something new – and maybe even be open to enjoying it.
Brush Up on Your Interview Skills
It may have been a while since you last interviewed for a job, so take the time to review some common interview questions, as well as practice your answers. You can even role-play with a friend or family member to practice giving your answers out loud. Bonus tip: Prepare some questions to ask the interviewer, too.
Go to Where the Jobs Are
These days, most, if not all, jobs are posted online somewhere. Places like Indeed.com, LinkedIn, and even Craigslist are good places to search for potential employment. If you have accounts on social media platforms, let your friends know you are looking for a job and what you hope to find, which will increase your odds of landing an interview or two.
Prepare to Zoom
Many employers are utilizing video services, like Zoom or GoToMeeting, to interview prospective employees. Treat a video interview like an in-person interview, and dress for the part. Prepare for the call beforehand by checking the sound and microphone on your computer (or the device you plan to use), and look at your video feed ahead of time to ensure that any visual distractions are out of the picture.
Do Some Networking
We already discussed utilizing your social platforms to find employment, but you can take it a step further. Research online groups that are dedicated to helping people find jobs, and go out of your way to make connections with people who are looking to hire. It’s important to be genuine during this process – don’t ask for help without giving some as well, even if it’s just your perspective as someone who has successfully held a job for most of your life.
Update Your Resume
When is the last time you reviewed your resume? This is the perfect opportunity to give it a once-over and make necessary adjustments. You probably don’t need to keep your high school baseball stats on there, but you will definitely want to update your certifications and any training you have completed. Another bonus tip: It’s time to remove the line that talks about how proficient you are in Microsoft Office products.
Ask for Feedback
If you were laid off from a job that you otherwise had a successful career in, reach out to your former boss and ask for their thoughts on your job performance, including your strengths and areas in which you needed to grow. You can even ask them to be a reference for your next interview, which can go a long way in helping you secure the position you’re seeking. Consider asking for feedback from family and friends in regards to your resume, the job you are applying for, and even the way your video looks over a virtual call to ensure that no detail is overlooked.
Take Some Classes
If you are between jobs or even just find yourself with a few more free hours each week, this might be the perfect time to take a class or to get a certification in another field that interests you. You may not make a career out of it, but you will learn something new that may give you an advantage when looking for your next job. Educating yourself will always work to your benefit.
No one can predict the future, but you can make yours a little less uncertain by taking steps to find your next job. Grab a cup of coffee and start making a list of what you will do today to help your new career begin.
How to Make Your Zoom Set-up Rock
Before March of this year, you may have never used Zoom in your life. By now, you have probably logged quite a few hours on this service or other video conferencing services, as it has become the communication tool of choice for many during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As many employees are still working from home, now is the perfect time to brush up on some basics to make your Zoom set-up fit your needs. Not working from home? These tips can still go a long way making every video call a little bit better.
Lose the Silly Backgrounds
You have probably spent time playing with the different background options Zoom offers, ranging from a lovely mountain scene to a still from a recent Godzilla flick. While these certainly add some fun to your conference call, they aren’t always the best choice. For starters, they are distracting: It’s difficult to discuss a budget report while you are watching a coworker sitting in Jurassic Park. The backgrounds also cause visual glitches on the screen, meaning that if you are using visual aids, they may not come across to those watching your screen if you are also using one of the fake backgrounds.
Find the Right Background
So if you can’t use the fun backgrounds, what should you use? This really depends on the purpose of your call, but for professional calls, try to find the least distracting background in your house or office. A blank, light-colored wall looks best, but if your desk is in front of an organized bookshelf or decorative wall hanging, that works, too. The key is to keep your background space as clean and organized as possible, both to minimize distractions and present a professional image during your call.
This may seem obvious, but if you are on a professional call – or even if you are chatting with a buddy – what you wear is more obvious than you think. Even if only your top half is visible, you will inevitably get up to grab a file, or to refresh your drink, and wind up sharing a lot more personal information than you intended, like your love for Ninja Turtles pajama pants. It’s just for an hour, so put on your slacks and look the part for the job.
Go Towards the Light
Good lighting is a key part of a successful Zoom call. For the best lighting, use a light source that is close to your face, like a lamp. You can also use natural light from a window, and even increase your screen brightness to add to the visible light around you. Avoid sitting with your back to a window or any other light source, unless you are trying to conceal your identity and only show your silhouette.
Dress for a Meeting
Sure, you may be at home, but if you are jumping on a Zoom call for your job, act like the meeting is in person. This means combing your hair, dressing as you would for the office, and double-checking to make sure you haven’t buttoned your shirt incorrectly. Dressing in a solid color is your best bet, though it’s better to stay away from solid white or solid black shirts, because they can cause you to look distorted on the camera.
Find Your Sound
A Zoom call only works if you can communicate, which usually means you have to hear everyone clearly. Invest in some headphones or earbuds that will allow you to hear the other people on your call. Make sure your computer has a reliable microphone, or use an external microphone so your words aren’t cut off. While you’re at it, eliminate other sounds as much as possible – silence your phone, turn off any alarms, and kick your pets out of the room so your sound will not be interrupted.
Set the Stage
Before you even join your call, take some time to prep the area in which you will be working. This means having supplies, like a pen and paper for notes, as well as any materials you are supposed to have available for the meeting. Consider keeping a water bottle nearby if you will have to do a lot of talking, so you don’t have to get up and leave during the call if you need something to drink.
Test it Out
Even though your laptop has been reliable for the last seven Zoom calls you made, it’s still a good idea to double check that your headphones and microphone are working, as well as your Internet connection, before each meeting. Each device has a different way to test the volume and sound, but if you’re not sure what to do, you can always have a quick Zoom call with a friend or colleague to make sure they can see and hear you well.
We realize this sounds harsh, but it’s for the good of the group. If you are on a Zoom call with multiple people, go ahead and mute your microphone until it is your turn to speak. Zoom will automatically give the spotlight to the person making the most noise, and that construction going on next door is louder than you think, so do everyone a favor and mute yourself until you are speaking. If you are the meeting host, consider muting everyone at the beginning and instructing them to stay muted until you call on them.
Keep it Steady
Make sure your device is set up in a place where it will not wobble or tilt at an awkward angle. Use a stand for your phone, or find a good place to set your laptop for the duration of the call. Don’t carry the phone around with you, or even hold it up – no matter how steady your hand is, your phone is heavier than it looks, and the other people on the call will be treated to a roller-coaster effect as your screen begins to shake and move.
It may sound like a lot of rules, but for services like Zoom, a few details make a big difference. Take some time to prep your meeting spot, gather what you will need, and iron your best button-down to create a Zoom experience that will be successful for everyone involved.
How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits
People everywhere are being furloughed, laid off, or even being let go from their professional positions. In this time of uncertainty, there is no way to predict which industries or business will have to take those types of steps to stay afloat.
If you do find yourself without a job, you may be able to apply for unemployment benefits, which can keep you financially afloat until your employment situation is rectified. Read on for some tips on the process of applying for unemployment and what you can expect.
Talk to your employer
If you have been furloughed due to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important that you speak with your employer about your options. Many businesses have received loans or grants that may allow them to offer at least partial paychecks to their employees.
For those businesses who cannot do this, they can still take steps to ensure that your unemployment application process goes more smoothly. Speak to HR before you get started.
It’s important to note that if your employer is filling out the unemployment forms for you because you were let go/have reduced hours due to COVID-19, you do not need to fill out the application form. Your employer will tell you if this is the case.
Get your information together
Applying for unemployment is not a particularly grueling process, but you will need to know specific information. Your employer can provide you with some of this info, and much of the rest should be easy enough to obtain – for instance, details like your company’s mailing address and phone number will be beneficial for you to have beforehand, along with things like your Social Security Number.
Do your research
Applying for unemployment may be something you have never had to do before, so it’s a good idea to do a little research. If you have colleagues or local friends who have applied, send them a quick email to ask for any tips they have for the process. Again, the actual application will not be too difficult, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared. You can also look at places like the Georgia Department of Labor website to learn more details.
Fill out the forms*
Now it’s time to sit down and start the paperwork. The entire application process will take place on the GDOL website, and you will start with entering in your Social Security Number for identification. You will also set up a PIN, which will allow you to access your application later if you are not able to complete it in one sitting.
*Again, please note that if your employer is filling out the forms for you because you were let go or have reduced hours due to COVID-19, you can skip this step. You do not need to fill out the application form.
When a Georgian applies for unemployment insurance, they usually have to enter in weekly work searches to prove that you are actively seeking employment. However, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, that requirement has been waived, as long as the separation of employment is related to the pandemic. But it’s still a good idea to keep up with where your application is in the process. You should receive regular updates; if you don’t, contact the GDOL to find out if they need more information.
Know what to expect
Once your application is received and approved, you will be contacted by the Georgia Department of Labor. They will begin sending you weekly payments, either by a Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard®, which will be mailed to your home, or through direct deposit – you can choose which option you prefer.
The typical amount you can expect to receive weekly (Weekly Benefit Amount, or WBA) is your total wages for the two highest quarters combined, divided by 42. For those applying due to COVID-19, you can also expect a weekly addition of up to $600, depending on whether you elect to have taxes taken from the extra weekly amount.
Other things to know
- As stated above, you can choose to have your unemployment wages taxed before you receive them, or wait to pay those taxes until filing for 2020 next spring. If you do choose to have taxes taken out, there will be 10% taken for federal taxes and 6% for state taxes.
- Even if you are still working, but have reduced hours because of the pandemic, you may still be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
- The GDOL has compiled a list of FAQs for these specific circumstances that can be accessed online at any time.
These times are uncertain, but you can still take steps to make sure you and your family have their financial needs met. Be sure to speak to your employer about any questions you may have, and remember that there are many resources on the GDOL website available to you.
Five side businesses that could earn you extra cash this year
Earning extra cash with a side job can be a huge boost to your finances and improve your quality of life. Whether it’s to pay down debt, save for a vacation, reduce the stress from living paycheck to paycheck, or simply to retire earlier, it’s an option worth considering.
The key to success, though, is doing something that you enjoy, that doesn’t take a ton of extra energy, or that isn’t a huge inconvenience. No one wants to spend their weeknight or weekend doing something they dread. Let’s face it, money earned that way probably isn’t even worth the toll it takes.
Here are a few suggestions that might just fit the bill:
Turn miles into money
If you’re a driver with Uber or Lyft, you can make some extra cash when it’s convenient for you. Early morning hours, evenings, weekends…even on your lunch hour. According to Lyft, some drivers make more than $800 just driving Friday nights and weekends, and Uber guarantees you’ll earn at least $1,400 for your first 200 trips in Atlanta (terms apply). Don’t have a car? Both companies can offer a flexible rental plan. Check out this Uber and Lyft earnings calculator to see how much money you could make.
If you have a car but don’t want to drive others around, why not make it available to others? If your vehicle is listed through Turo and rented just nine days a month by drivers who need to borrow a ride, you could cover your entire car payment, or at least make a pretty good-size dent. You choose your own rates, and you’re covered with $1M in liability insurance. See how much extra cash you could bring in with Turo’s CARculator.
Market your social media
Have a ton of Instagram followers? Major brands that market clothing, makeup, shoes, travel gear, furniture, or food could be interested in leveraging your influence. When you focus your content on a specific topic and successfully establish a loyal following, you could become a brand ambassador and charge anywhere from $100 to $1,000 to $5000 per post. You might also score some free products! Brand sponsorship is big business, especially in this age of digital marketing and social media.
Buy low and sell high
Love to scour Craigslist, haggle at an estate sale, or find a great deal at a garage sale? If you’ve got an eye for value, why not turn that into cash? Resell new, gently used, vintage, or hard to find items on Amazon or eBay. If you want to step up your game, you might even venture into police auctions, liquidations, and abandoned storage sales. Check out how 32-year old Mike Meyer makes six figures a year selling other people’s stuff. Now that won’t be the case for everyone, but if it makes you a few extra bucks each month, it might be worth your time.
Freelance your expertise
Are you skilled in a particular field? Whether you’re a mobile developer, web developer, writer, designer, consultant, accountant, or offer any other specialty, you can find some great freelance gigs on Freelancer, Fiverr , Indeed, or Upwork, or Remote.co. Companies submit their project online, the site suggests qualified candidates, and the client asks freelancers to submit bids. Voila! You’re hired. Take on more jobs when you have time and scale back when your schedule is busy and work from anywhere in the world.
Stock photography is in high demand. From websites to brochures, from social media to editorials, pictures of happy babies, coffee house scenes, and oak-tree shaded drives are available for instant download. They’re less expensive than scheduling a professional photo shoot and ideal for companies and projects with a limited budget. If you’re a photography buff, even if it’s just a hobby, you could sell your images to stock photo companies like ShutterStock, iStockPhoto, or Unsplash and you’ll get paid every time someone downloads your image. Over time, it could potentially lead to more lucrative work from higher paying private companies.
There are tons of ways to make extra cash on the side and big benefits to doing so. Find what you love, or even like a lot, and figure out a way to market those skills. Look around and sell what you don’t need, want, or use, and unclutter your life. In the end, you’ll have more cash in your pocket, more control over your circumstances, and a stronger financial strategy for your future plans.