I was recently on a financial planning panel at a church when one of the members abruptly said, “What if you don’t have a job?” His question struck me as highly relevant yet often overlooked. How do you plan without a job?
After careful consideration, the answer was clear – find ways to make money. I know it sounds too simplistic. But, if you do not have a source of income, they do everything possible (legally) to make money while cutting expenses to the bare bones. Forget about paying off debt, saving for retirement or achieving your personal dreams. Forget about spending this time cleaning the garage, getting in shape, or taking up new hobbies. Income sets your foundation and, if you’re unemployed, your job is to spend at least 40 hours/week trying different ways to make money.
So, how do you do that? There is NO single way to make money. While employment offers the most consistent form of income, there are numerous other options to supplement.
Sell your talent: The internet has changed the world and if you’re looking for options to get paid, it’s created opportunities. Websites such as Odesk, ELance and Craigslist have created a marketplace for your skills. These sites have contract opportunities for administrative support, writing, web development, software development, customer service, design, the list goes on. Take the time to upload your profile and apply for contract work.
Sell a service with minimal expenses. Let me start by saying, this is NOT about becoming the next Microsoft, it’s about making money. Identify services that can provide immediate income with limited expenses. Babysitting, catering, yard service, running errands, etc. Just like the job search, 1) set a target for the number of ‘clients’ you need and 2) spend as little as possible to get there.
Find an unpaid internship: Small businesses (and even some larger ones) are slow to hire but need help. Unpaid internships are a great opportunity to get your foot in the door and keep your skills in top shape. Use sites such as JigSaw to identify the right person at a company. Send creative handwritten notes displaying your passion and get the meeting. Supplement the internship with a part-time job you may hate but helps you make money.
Volunteer. It’s not a misprint, you should volunteer. By volunteering, you show the world you are a hard worker and care about the community. You showcase your character and commitment more than a resume ever could. And, if you volunteer your specific skills (e.g., book keeping, legal support, etc.), you stay current while meeting people that may have access to jobs.
Sell something. Ebay, Craigslist and others have made it easy to sell just about anything. Take a picture, post the ad and field the calls. There are hundreds of items you don’t use that have value to someone else.
Get a job: Ok, that’s definitely easier said than done and, in large part, it’s not in your control. Still, it’s a numbers game. You can control how many applications you send, how many calls you make, how much time you spend searching. Set aside a few hours per day to search for a job as if it’s your job.
Seems overwhelming? Fortunately, you’re unemployed so you have plenty of time to get moving (at least 40 hours/week). Push forward on multiple options and don’t get bogged down with household tasks, running errands or other distractions. Lastly, be patient. The process will take at least 1-2 months to see results.
What else? What are other ways to make additional income? What are some creative approaches to getting a job?