Tuesday, August 21, 2012
A Three Pronged Approach to Desperate
This post is related to the last post. What does one do when they are desperate for money/income? This is just the latest post asking for advice on imamother: expenses exceed income, husband can't sleep as he is burdened with worry, wife has to working because she doesn't want to "kill herself". After all, where do you find the perfect job that fits right into one's schedule?
Here is where I like to say, "let's start at the very beginning." The beginning is not at all where any of the imamother posters started, although to be fair they were addressing ideas for income, not an approach to desperation.
First some notes:
*This approach is a healthy approach not just to current desperation, but to other financial hits from unexpected health issues to necessary big ticket purchases that drain resources you'd rather have on hand.
*While I believe that too much work and too little time with family is not great for family life, when the financial situation spins out of control as evidence by tremendous worry that impacts on mental health (and likely the physical health) of one spouse, concerns about neglecting the house, the kids, and oneself are misplaced. Financial damage is real damage and impacts the home in a very real way. Barring extreme circumstances, I think that putting the financial house back in order will ultimately strengthen the household, even where it is weakened in the short term.
*A team approach is a healthy approach. I noticed that this post and similar posts have an "I" approach not a "we" approach which points to a deeper issue. Since the impact is on the whole, all hands should be on deck to stay above water and hopefully steer the ship to dry land.
Step 1: Free up money now. Generating more income is certainly important, but when you are sinking, making money should be a secondary priority, not a primary priority. Freeing up real money now with help clear the mind and offer important respite.
Determine how much money needs to be freed up and piece together a plan to free up funds now, biting off a small bite at a time. Take a look at your spending habits, your eating habits, your entertainment habits, the services you pay for and try to trim from every area of your budget in a methodical way. Move quick enough to gain momentum and slow enough that you don't hit a brick wall. And do organize your home because it clears your mind and you might uncover stuff that if sitting waiting to be used (or stuff you can sell for a few bucks while you clear your mind).
Step 2: Find an hourly or salary job. Once you have freed up some funds, you can begin to think clearly about a job. It is tempting to try and generate some quick income, but "quick income" like suggested by so many of the imamother posters seems to come with an investment of sunk time and resources the desperate can ill afford to part with. The $55 you might be able to generate writing for a website, the $5 you might pick by writing a poem for someone, the dollars you might be able to earn down the line through a blog portfolio and affiliate marketing in the long term, the money you could generate with an energy company that will remain unnamed here (please, oh please, do not get involved with that!) are going to take away precious time and money from your emergency situation. The goal here is to find more money and improve the mental situation in the home, not sink time and money chasing an unknown entity.
A note on work: I'm not sure when it was decided that you have to work in a field you can excel in, where it was decided that you should enjoy work, or how it was decided that certain skills aren't ones you excel in. Yes, it is wonderful to enjoy the work you do, but often enjoyment falls under the Yaakov vs. Yitzchak conundrum. Should you love someone before you marry them, or can you build love? When it comes to marriage, I recommend marrying a person you call friend. But when it comes to work. . . well, work need not be forever. Unlike marriage, it is a-ok to take on an hourly job that you don't "see" out of desperation. You don't need to marry the job, just use it for whatever it is worth: making money primarily, discovering talents, getting an employee discount on food, and building some skills, a resume, and some contacts.
Step 3: The Side Hustle
After all of that, the reader might think I don't respect the side-hustle. Nothing could be further from the truth so long as the business model isn't predicated on bothering friends, relatives, and random people that had had a shlamazel moment and said hello to you. I've seen personal and academic interests turn into successful businesses. I've seen real estate experiments turn into a great additional sources of income. I've seen hobbies turn into nice secondary and even primary sources of income.
But, if you want to turn a passion or interest into a business, do so with a clear mind. And you can't have a clear mind when people in your home can't sleep at night. So, get yourself onto two feet, put a few dollars in the bank, and then decide what side-hustle you want to pursue and do so b'simcha.