I’ve lived in New York for the past two years, and finances have been an extreme source of stress since the moment I moved. But somehow I’ve managed and am proud of what I’ve accomplished largely on my own, without monetary support from my parents. I live in a nice, safe apartment, eat healthy food, and have free time to write. I love working in book publishing, but everyone, especially those in the industry, knows it’s infamous for salaries on the lower side. I rarely have extra money.
So how do I manage to scrape by in New York and still have free time to write my novel?
A side job.
I know a couple of friends who babysit to make extra money, which sounded like the perfect side job for me. I have four younger siblings and am 12 years older than the youngest. I remember a ton—from how to deal with a tantrum to changing diapers to playing along with the wacky, amazing, and hilarious games kids make up. I also knew that I didn’t want to work as a server or in retail, if I could help it. I worked in many restaurants and a clothing store throughout college, and my experience was that they take up A LOT of mental and emotional energy. Waitressing is particularly soul-sucking. Even if I’d finally have extra money, there’s no way I’d want to spend any time writing after an exhausting shift at a restaurant.
Getting started babysitting was the hardest part.
I looked at babysitting sites, but making a profile and paying to post it seemed counterproductive. I was trying to make money, not spend it. Using Craigslist just seemed creepy. Most of my friends had gotten jobs by word of mouth, but I didn’t know many people in New York yet. Another friend found a full-time job on smartsitting.com, so she could spend more time writing, but I knew I only wanted babysitting to be a side job.
I was beginning to feel a little worried—I had about six months to save for a move—when my opportunity came.
I heard a friend of a friend complaining about her babysitter’s inability to get her kids to sleep. She immediately had my attention. I told her that my younger siblings also had a hard time falling asleep, so I had some tricks. Usually long, rambling bedtime stories about the adventures of fairies or lost puppies got it done. She was happy to give me a try, especially since we had friends in common.
Babysitting lets me do all the fun things I loved as a kid that I never do as an adult—we make cookies, play Polly Pockets, and read beautifully illustrated books. It doesn’t even feel like work to me. And it gives me just the income boost I need to keep writing.
What are your strengths? Even if your side job isn’t your main passion, doing something you enjoy will solve several problems at once.