Raising cash in a hurry #24: Take a part-time job

Update May 2009: One approach to the recession taken by many companies is to turn their full-time employees into part-time workers. Millions of Americans experiencing this have come to appreciate that part-time is still far, far better than no time at all.

Most part-time jobs aren't what they're cracked up to be, when it comes to getting paid quickly. I'm not knocking the concept, but if you become a server at a restaurant or flip burgers at a fast food outlet, a retail clerk and the like -- it's probably going to be two weeks, at best, before you receive that first paycheck, and I'm sure there are circumstances where it'll work out to three or four.

That said, it is a good way to get quick cash sooner or later.

But there are other ways you can get a part-time job and can get paid faster. The problem, of course, is distinguishing the reputable from the rip-offs.

Much of avoiding the rip-offs is a matter of common sense. For instance, those ads you get through email, offering you part-time work and full-time salaries, might be great opportunities, but if they were, I think word would have spread around by now, and we'd all be doing it.

But there are some good part-time jobs out of the home to consider: for instance, you can transcribe physician's tapes, make sales calls for people, or, especially if you have both phone and writing skills, function as an assistant for an executive or entrepreneur.

And obviously, there are plenty of part-time jobs outside of the home, from convenience stores to banks to real estate offices or what have you. You're really only limited by your imagination.

And then while I noted that a pay check from a restaurant may take weeks to get to you, that's not so when it comes to your tips. That's fast cash you can pick up right away, and same goes for any job that largely depends on tips: bartending, taxi driving, delivering pizzas, pulling out your old guitar and becoming a street performer.

In my case, I remember -- vividly -- taking a part-time two-day job for the phone company years ago -- during a summer in college. I delivered telephone books. Truthfully, it was one of the worst jobs I ever had. I'd park my car in a neighborhood and, since I didn't own a wagon or think of (until now) using a wheelbarrow, I lugged as many phone books as I could handle and would drop them off at each doorstep.

Then I'd stagger back to the car and get more. Eventually I'd have to pull the car up to another street. It was tedious, back-breaking, mind-numbing and mostly sweaty work.

I have no doubt that more jobs like that are out there. Grunt jobs that no one wants to do, and thus, the employer will be very happy to pay you promptly when they're done. There's also something to be said for relatives. Got any who are in hiring positions? In high school, I spent two weeks working at a warehouse that my uncle managed. That didn't bring me a paycheck any sooner than the other laborers, but I didn't need the money quickly and so I didn't ask.

In any case, there is something to be said for grabbing a part-time job to pick up some quick to fairly quick, honest cash.

Bottom Line: Many of us who are desperate for money today will face the same situation again soon. A part-time job might provide that steady stream of income that allows us to finally balance our income and outgo.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).

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