How I am Coping with Unemployment - Part 2
I first wrote about being unemployed 7 months ago; and here I am, still unemployed. I have not gone this long without a steady job since I was in high school. I feel scared, helpless, frustrated, and so many other things. All I can do is continue to try and be hopeful that things will get better. I have borrowed as much from my family as they are able to loan me. I have cut out every unnecessary expense. As of now I have not yet paid any of my October rent and am afraid the patience my landlord has been so great to extend to me for so long will soon run out. I had an interview this past week that I think went well, and despite the fact that it pays barely over minimum wage and is only part time, I am spending every moment hoping I get the job. And if I do get the job, a different challenge will begin, the challenge of finding a second job that provides scheduling that won't prevent me from working both jobs.
Tonight, when I realized I had first written about my unemployment almost exactly 7 months ago, I thought it would be cool to write an update of sorts.
My mind is constantly going, which has not been the best thing for my ability to sleep! But I have found some good options. And in the process, I have discovered some things about life--and myself! I have embraced a real love for the concept of having a variety of sources of income, even if many of them only bring in a small amount of money. I have embraced a love of simplicity. I have realized that I would rather make less and enjoy life more than work so hard I am miserable just to be able to afford more stuff or fancier stuff or bigger stuff.
These are some of the things I have been doing:
- Amazon Mechanical Turk - Often abbreviated as MTurk. I really love this site! I have earned almost $30 so far. My favorite hits to complete are those posted by Movie Enquirer because they pay well and I seem to be good at them. A lot of university students seem to use MTurk to post surveys to acquire information for post-graduate studies, and I enjoy answering those too.
- JustAnswer - I read about this site in some article about ways to make extra money. I have yet to get started on it, that is one of my tasks for the upcoming week, but I like what I see. Get paid to answer questions people post in your area(s) of expertise.
- Ether - I think that I read about this in the same article as JustAnswer and plan to check it out this week as well. Get paid to help people out with tasks they post in your area(s) of expertise.
Exploring the uncharted--by me--waters of the various forms of assistance has been quite the learning experience for me. I continue to feel extreme frustration about my inability to receive unemployment benefits. I understand that while being self-employed for almost 5 years I was not paying in to the pot, so to speak. But what about all of the years that I did pay into it? I have also learned the ridiculous fact that, at least in the state of Colorado, I do not qualify for government financial or food assistance because I am a full-time student--this is regardless of the fact that I provided documentation to show that I am an online student without a set schedule for classes and that I was working full time with the same school commitment for 3 years. Meanwhile, the lady in front of me in line at the supermarket the other day paid with her Snap benefit card that she took out of her designer purse while wearing very nice clothes including a leather jacket AND was parked next to me and drove away in what appeared to be a brand new Mercedes. On the other end of the spectrum are local charities and food banks. I now get my food entirely from food banks (unless I am able to get something free by using a coupon) and have found the people that run them to be wonderful. They are extremely kind and caring and try to make other things available like people who volunteer to do free haircuts. I also received assistance with my electricity/gas bill from a local charity and despite walking in for my appointment feeling mortified, ashamed, and embarrassed, I walked out feeling my load a little lightened and feeling a little less stressed thanks to the help and the hug the case worker gave me.
I have had to do everything I can to eliminate more expenses. The latest thing I am attempting to master is couponing. I have used coupons for years, and always loved saving money, and then I watched Extreme Couponing and my eyes popped open! I have since lowered my expectations and realized that I will likely never have the shopping success the people on the show do--due to the coupon rules my local stores have, my refusal to dumpster dive or steal newspapers from the driveways of foreclosures to acquire additional coupon inserts, and the lack of local friends and family to get extra coupons from. I have, however, saved quite a bit more by employing some of the strategies I have learned, and have even managed to get a number of free items.
Money You May Not Know You Have
I continue to try and make money off of what I already have.
I discovered a great website called Book Scouter, that allows you to search close to 40 different companies that buy used books at once to see if any are buying books you have to sell and to see which one will pay you the most for them. I have made almost $300 selling my books to various vendors, and the vendor pays for shipping usually!!
I have also been listing quite a few things on eBay. I did one big walk-through of my apartment a couple of months ago and sold over $600 worth of stuff including many pairs of boots and shoes I was not wearing anyway, and a number of handbags that were just gathering dust too. Right now, you can post 50 listings a month with no insertion fees, and if you only use one picture (make it a good one!), and all the most basic options, you can avoid other fees as well. The only cost to you is after an item sells when they take a commission, and you charge the buyer for shipping. This past week I did a more thorough search of my apartment (I called it a treasure hunt), and found tons of other stuff to list now that I have a feel for how the site works, I am in the process of posting things, but have already sold one item and there is interest indicated in almost all of the others with 5 days left in the auctions.
The Job Search
I have started to get more interviews, and this has been such a relief! Hopefully this means things are soon to change. In the process I have learned, among other things, that the government takes an eternity to fill their advertised positions; that there are tons of temporary agencies out there, but most of them have far fewer opportunities than they do qualified candidates who need jobs; and that companies really need to stop requiring people to "regurgitate" their entire resume into their online application form because it is a huge waste of time.