Juggling Jobs: Adventures in Earning

As the U.S. economy begins to show some signs of possibly returning to the prosperity of old, there are many Americans who are not waiting for things to change. Instead, they are hitting the job market with all cylinders, juggling two or more jobs to help make ends meet, follow their dreams or simply to enjoy the diversity of doing different things. Here are some of their stories; read on, then tell us about your adventures working multiple jobs in the comments section below.

Me, myself, and the other four

In the last three years I managed to do something I never considered possible. I have split myself into five different people so that I can be in five different places at one time.

Let me explain. I moved back to my hometown with my family and accepted a retail position as a customer service representative as well as a waitress position, taking both jobs on the same day. I also signed up for full-time school the same week I picked up these two jobs.

Mind you, I was also a mother of three young children and a wife. You would think this would be enough for one person. Nope. I had to go and pick up another job.

So I was a customer service rep during the weekday mornings, a waitress on weekend evenings, a full-time student twice a week for four hours at a time, and a caregiver on the third shift, and of course a mom/wife with any spare time I could manage to find.

Why was I spreading myself so thin? Well, I honestly didn't feel like I was taking on too much.

I had to do these jobs to take care of my family. My husband had been in a near-fatal car wreck which left his spine injured. He could walk, but he looked like an 80-year-old when he did. I wanted to advance my chances of making better wages, so I turned to education to do so. I needed one full-time job and one part-time job to cover the basic bills. The other jobs provided me with extra money for school books, eye doctor visits, and shopping cash to support three kids who grew faster than I could manage. I did what I had to do to survive. Don't we all?

– Michela Teelucksingh

The three jobs that I balance

I was fortunate to retire at the age of 54. I soon found that the fixed income I received stayed the same; however consumer expenses have continued to rise. So in order to survive those rising costs, I have found other ways to bring in some extra income

Right after I retired as a high school teacher, I went to work part time for a local college. I evaluate student teachers in my discipline of Physical Education. The good thing about this job is the hours. I can name the dates and times that I work. I am given a straight stipend for each student that I have.

My second job is that of writing content for various websites. I write for three different sites. All three sites pay differently. Two pay for up-front articles, if they are accepted. All three pay a commission for total views. There are some good advantages for this type of work. First, I can pick the topics that interest me to write about. Second, I can write in my free time.

I then noticed that our city council was having a hard time getting individuals to serve on it. Nobody wanted to run for an elected position. So I took out a petition and was elected to serve in my ward. Although I don't make a lot of money, I still get two checks a year for a total of $800. This also gives me a chance to serve my community.

The best thing about all three of these part-time jobs is freedom of time. They all work into my schedule. None of these jobs is too overbearing on me mentally or physically. They let me be creative and give me a chance to serve in education and my community.

– Carl Benjamin

Love means working two jobs

We go about our daily lives. We do our jobs. We make a living. We are content, complacent and oblivious to the capricious winds of fate swirling about us. Life is good. Without warning, reality bites, and it chomps down hard. The economy falters, prices rise, your employer cuts your pay and, in my case, your partner's health forces her to leave her job. Her health issues and accompanying expenses ($350/month in prescription medication) remain; her income and health insurance do not.

That situation confronted me in the summer of 2009. Staring down the double-gun barrel of mounting bills and declining income, my options were limited. I could either wait for the house to collapse or take action. I had to get a second job. But Michigan, where we live, has the highest unemployment rate in the country, and my full-time job repairing and installing diagnostic and medical imaging equipment in doctor's offices and hospitals requires working at odd hours. Finding a position that would provide compatible hours and sufficient income would prove to be a challenge.

After weighing my options, I visited the secretary of state, passed a test, dropped $35 and obtained a chauffeur license. Putting my pride and my master's degree aside, I negotiated an acceptable schedule with my full-time employer and began working nights and weekends for a local taxicab company.

Three times a week I work a 12-hour overnight shift driving a cab; I work one night during the week, along with Friday and Saturday nights. My regular job is five days a week from 6:30AM to 2:30PM

The resulting 76-hour work week presents difficulties; primarily the sleep deprivation that accompanies working both jobs back-to-back on the Tuesday/Wednesday. My coffee intake has risen exponentially. I wish I could say I have adapted well to the schedule, but the truth is I have just learned to function in a rather constant state of tiredness. Why do I do it? I do it for love, because I have the antiquated notion that a man does what he must to take care of those he loves.

The taxi cab nets about $450 per week income. This additional income, combined with some paring of expenses keeps the wolf from the door. We have a roof over our heads, food on our table and clothes on our backs. It could be better, but it could be a whole lot worse.

– Doug Donald

Busy, busy, busy

At one time, I was working three jobs and going to school full-time. I went to my part-time job at a casino at 2:30AM, I worked until 7:30AM, and then drove as fast as I could to be in class by 8AM. I had three classes and finished at 11, grabbed a quick bite to eat in the campus cafe and then went straight to my full-time job at a lending company, where I worked until 8:30PM.

After work, I went home, did my homework and worked on my two online courses. I was usually in bed by midnight and back up at 2AM. My third job was weekends only at a fast-food restaurant. That took the place of the time I was in school during the week.

Although people told me I was ridiculous for working so much, I really enjoyed it. I got along great with all my co-workers and classmates and looked forward to seeing them every day. By doing this I was able to make enough money to pay for school without student loans.

Now, three years later, it is all worth it. I finished school with a 4.0 GPA and I just landed the career of my dreams. My school bus driver in junior high once told me, "If you party for the few years you are in college, you will have to work hard for the rest of your life. But if, instead, you work hard for the few years you are in college, then you can party for the rest of your life." I'm glad I listened. Let the party begin!

The picture I've included is me at the lending company on Halloween. I can even work hard in a devil outfit!

– Brittany Dawson

Cheers to job juggling!

In June 2009 I split from my significant other. Unfortunately, since we owned a business together, that meant that not only was I brokenhearted, I was suddenly unemployed. However, after 20 years in the wine industry I was eager to brush off my English degree and start a writing career.

Starting a career as a writer and marketing expert at the bottom of an economic downturn might not have been the most fortuitous timing, however. So in order to keep body and soul together while I build my professional reputation, I have taken on a variety of jobs. I handle business and marketing projects for local wineries, write wine reviews and short articles on wine, propose and write articles for print periodicals on wine and travel, and I bid on and perform projects found through sites like Seed, Elance and Odesk.

In the mornings I manage my meager savings as an independent day trader. The New York Stock Exchange opens at 9:30AM, but I live on the West Coast so that means I am at my desk, generally still in my pajamas, before 6:30AM. During the New York lunch hour, I shower and dress, grab a quick breakfast and walk my dog.

During the New York afternoon, which is still morning to me, I keep an eye on the stock market and I work on article assignments and winery client projects. When I am finished, or have at least met my goals for the day, then I progress to developing material for my own blogs, and I tackle a long list of self-marketing tasks. I also research the article assignments available online and submit bids for more assignments.

It has taken about 10 months for me to build enough momentum to even begin meeting some of my monthly financial obligations, but I attribute that to emotional factors that held me back after my relationship breakup. As I am proving every day, anyone can thrive as an independent entrepreneur with persistence, optimism, confidence and marketing.

– Mary C. Baker

Three's a charm

Currently I am juggling three occupations. I work as a substitute teacher in the Chicago public schools, I wait tables and I am the Chicago Adventure Travel Examiner for Examiner.com. Two years ago I lost my sole job at a life insurance company, as they moved their operations to Sioux Falls, S.D. I took two months off and traveled, then I returned to Chicago and got jobs waiting tables and substitute teaching.

I had some money stashed away, so I was not in dire need for cash and was going to look for a job at my convenience. This is when the recession hit. It then became very difficult to find a job. I was barely making ends meet with my two jobs, so I needed something else to help out. I sold some items on Craigslist and e-Bay, but still needed an extra source of income.

At the same time this was happening I was writing blogs about my substitute teaching experiences on Facebook. A friend from high school suggested I apply for examiner.com. I sent them a link to my blog that I did when I traveled to Southeast Asia and they sent me a letter back that I had been accepted as the Chicago Adventure Travel Examiner. A third job was born.

The key to juggling jobs is to make sure to have at least one day off a week. For me this can be difficult because when I am not subbing or serving, I feel I need to write. Although I love my writing job, I sometimes need to even take a break from that on certain days to keep fresh. It is difficult to do anything when burned out.

– Ted Nelson

Next:Creative Jobs for Stay-at-Home Moms

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