It took me six months to build up my teaching career from zero to full time, and another year to earn a disposable income larger than 91% of the UK.
It took only one terrifying month for it all to come crashing down.
To say that we were unprepared for the Coronavirus crisis would be an understatement. When news about this novel disease in China started to circulate, my young colleagues and I never guessed that we would be personally affected. We went about our business as usual, not paying much attention until the first cases were reported in our city.
Even then, we didn’t take the threat seriously. “What are they going to do, shut down the country? It’s England, they can’t do that here,” we laughed.
Then, the virus spread rapidly in Italy, causing hospitals to become overwhelmed. We finally realized that this was an unstoppable global pandemic. Only weeks later, we were all locked down in our homes, no longer able to go to work or see our friends. While some of us were fortunate and foresightful enough to have an emergency fund, others solely relied on the government to provide income support.
Millennials in Crisis
Aged between 23 and 39, we millennials are one of age groups most affected by this pandemic. We are in the prime of our working lives, starting families and buying properties. With the rapid layoffs, furloughs and business failures, many are struggling to keep their finances in working order.
However, there are some potential upsides for us millennials. According to Microsoft, there have been 2 years’ worth of technological advances in the span of 2 months. This can have incredible benefits for our working lives, potentially including:
- Increased workplace flexibility: after seeing how working from home doesn’t decrease employees’ productivity, many companies may allow for more remote work going forward.
- Decreased housing prices: With this flexibility, families can choose to move away from larger cities, driving down the housing market and allowing young people to buy a property at an earlier age.
- Less business travel: The technology to host business meetings remotely existed before the pandemic, but it was not socially accepted to substitute a business trip with a Zoom call. Now, there is no other option and employers may appreciate the economic benefit of this new arrangement and allow it to continue after the crisis.
Until these benefits start to outweigh the current problems, let’s look at some things we can do to keep ourselves financially healthy.
Creative Ways to Cut Costs
With restaurants, cinemas and nightclubs closed, many people are taking this opportunity to spend less and put some extra money aside. We can use a few simple tweaks to take this to the next level.
Firstly, spend one or two hours going through your direct debits. Are you subscribed to any services that you no longer need? Even relatively small amounts add up over time. For example, I cancelled my £9.99 Spotify membership as I am no longer commuting regularly. Although £10 doesn’t seem like much, it is £120, or $150, in a year. If you cut out 5-10 such services, you can easily save thousands per year.
Secondly, sign up to a goods swapping service. Olio is a big one, available in many countries around the world. Instead of letting unused food go to waste, people and shops list it on the app and others living in the neighborhood can claim it for free. By swapping with your neighbors instead of buying things new, you can save large amounts of money and de-clutter your house at the same time.
Another strategy to cut your costs is to delay spending. When you see something you like, put it in your online shopping cart or make a note if you are in a physical store, but don’t buy it immediately. Two days later, review your cart or list. If you still want the item, buy it. This time gap helps you to see more clearly which items you really want and which ones were impulsive desires.
Creative Ways to Supplement Your Income
If you need money instantly, there are various websites that pay you to complete tasks. One example is Amazon Mechanical Turk, where you can do online work such as transcriptions and surveys in exchange for cash or Amazon vouchers. Although the pay is usually low, this is a simple and accessible way to earn some extra money when you really need it.
However, if you are financially stable, your time might be spent more wisely building up your own community via a blog, email list or social media account. While it usually takes six months to one year to earn a significant amount of money this way, the potential earnings in the future are much higher.
Personally, I grew my Twitter account from zero to over 1000 in less than three months. I spent the first two months building up my following and learning from others, but recently I have earned my first $150 from this account through advertising my professional skills, affiliate marketing and referral income. If I can keep making $0.15 per follower per month, this adds up to a significant income as my account grows.
In this way, establishing your personal brand seems the most effective way to earn more money outside of a 9-5 job. In addition to selling your skills and participating in affiliate marketing, you could use ebay or Amazon to sell your unused things. With the profits, you can buy new items to resell. There are numerous courses, manuals and support groups out there to help you make the best of your seller accounts and find profitable products to flip. The easiest way to get started is by searching for courses on Amazon or Gumroad.
Has your job security been affected by the Coronavirus? What have you done to reduce your expenses and increase your income in the meantime? Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments.
Kat is a freelancer and blogger from Switzerland, currently living and working in London. She is passionate about fitness, finance and long walks in the countryside. Join her journey on A Chat with Kat.