I know a lot of people are facing very hard times from layoffs, self-isolation, and just plain slow business. I have friends who are hair dressers, massage therapists, food service workers, bartenders, and retailers. And many of my friends are now finding themselves out of work, either because of indefinite closures or through layoffs from businesses with very slim profit margins.
If this is you, what can you do to make ends meet during these frightening times?
For starters, explore any help available in your community. Thrive Market is offering needs-based grocery stipends, and the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering some low-interest disaster loans. Check your area for any specific relief options, and let your friends and family know so they can be on the lookout as well. (My Thrive Market info came to me from a friend who used it and recommended it to me.) Check with your financial institute as well, though they’re not always helpful.
Then start thinking about a secondary income. If you are currently not bringing in any income at all, this will be more of a primary gig than a side hustle, but if you enjoy what you do the rest of the time, you can always return to that (at least primarily) when things get back to normal. Or whatever the new normal turns out to be.
How can you find a side gig? The easiest starting point is to consider any marketable skills you already have or any hobbies you enjoy. For example, are you one of those super-organized people? You can pick up some money by selling your skills as a virtual assistant. Think about things people are likely to need for the next few months, as we increasingly quarantine ourselves and stay indoors. This is probably not the best climate in which to become a dog-walker or a child caretaker, for instance, since people are now finding themselves with time to walk their own dogs and spend (possibly enforced) time with their kids. So think about what you’d need if you were stuck at home doing telework but not able to leave the house. Then think about where your skills fit those needs. If you’re feeling stuck, here are some ideas to get you started.
If you can’t think of anything on your own, there are plenty of sites out there to help you get started. My favorite is Side Husl, which rates and reviews online search platforms, and gives good information about the profitability potential of the different kinds of side gigs out there.
I also encourage you to contact your legislators. Andrew Yang made his biggest splash as a presidential candidate by talking in concrete terms about a universal basic income that would keep people afloat in times like these, so make it known that you need something like this, and you need it yesterday. I’m not especially optimistic about it, but if enough people demand it, it may well happen.
Lastly, please don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most of us have never experienced anything remotely like this before, and your assorted loved ones who are in a better financial situation really do want to give you the support you need. It may be something small—maybe an aunt sends you a pound of coffee, or a coworker bakes you some banana bread—but I promise that people do want to make this survivable for you.
None of this will be easy, and I wish I had better answers for you. But know that I’m in your corner, and I want you to reach out if you need me.