Friday, August 5, 2022

Doing the Side-Hustle Shuffle
 Unless you're one of the privileged few who can afford life by making enough from writing alone, then you probably have a day job that pays the bills while you grind out manuscripts. The topic of author pay is trending right now on social media because of the antitrust enforcement hearings regarding Penguin Random House's pending acquisition of Simon & Schuster. The consolidation of that many big-name publishers could potentially create a monopoly (or something close to it) that further limits competition in the publishing marketplace, driving up profits for the publishers while driving down wages for authors and publishing industry drones. It could also potentially limit the number of books published overall and increase prices for the consumer.
11,500 Pounds Sterling converts to about 14000 Dollars, US

Making enough to pay the bills is an issue plaguing everyone today, not just authors, thanks to rampant inflation. Per a recent article from Politico: 

“U.S. inflation hit a new 40-year high [in May 2022] of 8.6 percent…Economists do expect inflation to ease this year, though not by very much. Some analysts have forecast that the inflation gauge the government reported Friday — the consumer price index — may drop below 7 percent by year’s end. In March, the year-over-year CPI reached 8.5 percent, the highest such rate since 1982.” --

It's no shock to anyone for me to say the cost of living has risen steeply, but for 99% of us, wages have not. The dollars we bring home in our pay checks (or royalty checks if we're lucky) aren't going very far, so many of us have gone looking for extra employment.

I'm lucky that my husband and I both work good jobs and live a relatively comfortable life, BUT we have felt the squeeze a bit more this year, particularly in our "fun money" budget. I'll preempt this next part by saying that I understand how extremely privileged it is of me to be able to talk about a "fun money" budget when there are people struggling with their "roof over our heads" and "food in our bellies" and "life-saving prescription medicines in our cabinet" budgets.

I put money aside in my retirement accounts like I'm supposed to, but I've found it a lot harder, lately, to put funds in my discretionary funds accounts. But the discretionary funds, in my opinion, is where the (excuse the lame clich√©) spice of life is at. Maybe I do get up and go to work every day to pay the necessary bills--food, housing, medical--but it's life beyond the basic needs that really motivates me. The older I get, the more I think about reaching the end of my life, looking back, and finding some aspect of my limited time on Earth wanting. If we really get only one chance at this conscious experience, I want to do as much with it as possible. However, "doing as much as possible" is rarely free. Hell, it's rarely even affordable. I was also raised by parents who were fastidious and disciplined savers, and they've lived a bountiful retirement as their reward. My dad never took money out of our regular budget to pay for vacations (or at least not the more "extravagant" ones). Instead, he got a side job (usually running a paper route) to save up and pay for our trips. 

My husband and I are now quasi-empty nesters. Without the demands of child-rearing, we have more time and freedom to go and do things. Our to-do list is getting longer and longer, but our travel budget can't keep up with the demand. And, like my dad, I'd rather not defer from my retirement savings. Not when I have other options. So, rather than bemoaning my tighter budget, I've started on my quest for secondary employment to fill the fun-money pot faster. 

There are a lot of reasons I don't want to go with something like Uber or DoorDash. Besides their not-great reputations for fair employee treatment, I'm not interested in putting that much wear and tear on my personal vehicles (and also have you SEEN the cost of gas lately?? And yeah, I know, it's a tax write-off but taxes and I are enemies enough already). Instead, I'll probably fall back on my past experience in food service and catering to find extra work. I'm looking at some catering serving positions because they tend to fit my schedule and offer  a little bit of flexibility.

But before I made a real commitment, I decided to hit up Craigslist to see what gigs I could find. Turns out, I had some good luck. I'm working this weekend at a local Beer, Bourbon, and Barbecue festival (not sure what I'll be doing exactly, but probably taking tickets or serving food). Another week from now I'll be working at show for a big name stand-up comedian.

Free festivals and comedy shows AND I get paid? Getting money to do those "spice of life" things I mentioned?

Hey, maybe this side-hustle thing won't be so bad after all...

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