“You don’t talk about your rate, Michelle. Never talk about your rate.”

I think it’s somewhat deplorable that people are getting paid such incredibly low rates and NOT talking about it. I’m not only talking about college grads, but I’m talking about skilled laborers, too. If you can build any part of a house, damn, you deserve $20/hr at least.

Pay transparency is incredibly important, especially in today’s society where people are getting paid incredibly low pay for many responsibilities and skills, CEOs are greedily keeping an extreme majority of profits for themselves, and barely anyone gets offered benefits. Now it’s increasingly popular to hire people as independent contractors. This takes responsibility off the employer and onto the employee, making their job “their own business” even though many times, that’s not the case at all. This is just wrong.

I’ve switched jobs recently and I’m very, very happy with my new lifestyle and new pay rate (almost double my last job!). At my last job, my coworkers and I would freely discuss pay because we thought it was fair, considering many of us do the same work. I found out through this discussion that many of us were paid the same rate, which is fantastic and fair since we were all doing the exact same work. Unfortunately, if someone has 4 years experience in the same field, it didn’t really make sense to me that they would get paid the same amount as me.

From my first week there, the owner asked me about the skills she saw on my résumé and if I could do some services for her. I had assumed that I would be paid separately for these services, considering this was not on my job description and it was much higher skilled work that I had learned in college. I was not receiving college-graduate level pay nor was I offered any benefits or any type of commission pay. I figured I could help her out for a project or two despite that and it could build up my résumé.

I slowly learned that my skills were being used inappropriately and I was extremely underpaid for my work. I could have started my own side business doing what she wanted me to do for a much higher, more acceptable rate that I could set myself. At a standstill with what I brought to the table and what I was getting in return for increased productivity (not a single raise, any bonuses were the same my coworkers received), I grew increasingly bitter. This is unfair, I thought. I deserve more for myself.

The fact of the matter is that many times, you don’t know what your employer is going through. Maybe s/he wants to give you a raise, but actually can’t afford it because business costs have increased. Maybe you’re not a good fit for the company and a different company is better suited. Maybe there aren’t better options on either end.

Luckily for me, I started working with two companies tutoring and teaching ESL online for (since we’re discussing pay transparency) $20/hr (I now make $21.50-$25/hr). It’s much more reasonable pay and although I still think I can and should do better, this is fine for now. In fact, I love my new jobs.

I make my own schedule for both of them and one of them, VIPKID, provides bonus incentives for something as simple as getting a child to sign up! The company provides free training to improve your ESL teaching style, it provides means to get certified teaching ESL at a Master’s Level (TESOL, etc) through the company so you can teach anywhere around the world.
I never thought I would like teaching children, but I had forgotten how much I loved teaching kids how to ski. I taught skiing for 6 years and as it turns out, teaching ESL is exactly the same, minus the subject matter! It is so fun to work with kids and getting them to laugh, getting them excited about learning another language!

So although my new job is fantastic and I can work from anywhere working less hours, it’s not super stable. In fact, no form of income is super stable. I’ve been researching how to use and make money, lately, since I wanted to be even more responsible with how I use it. Many advisors suggest that you bring in at least two forms of income. That way, you can be sure that you’ll be okay if there’s ever an emergency.

Learn more about teaching online here.

I have been looking into passive income as well. Here are a few suggestions I have looked into which seem like a pretty good way to get started:

1 – Blogging
Heyyyyy! Forcing myself to write a quality piece a few times a week has kept me sane. It really has. You can make money by blogging, too! Bartering and using affiliate links has kept this blog running for the past few years… Just kidding. I wish it had. This has been my hobby for the majority of the time The Barefoot Aya has been alive (Esp during its “Musings” years). The thing is, you don’t make much money unless you know how to monetize your blog, you have enough followers, and you really make this more of a full-time gig.

2 – Investing
Duhhhh obviously, I think to myself in hindsight. Investing in something is a good way to make some passive income. If you’re reading this post at all, you might not have $5000 in extra cash saved up to throw in a mutual fund. That’s fine. There are micro-investment options like Acorns, which rounds up your purchases and invests your spare change into mutual funds. How does that work bypassing that $5k minimum? Not sure. Maybe it’s by pooling everyone’s change to meet that minimum… or it’s a deal they made?

How is this legal? Who knows? Follow this link to start investing with a $5 bonus!

You can also invest in a cryptocurrency. Bitcoin is the famous one, but did you know there are so many others? You can put anything you want into a cryptocurrency. You do not need to buy a full coin. Other options include retirement-like funds like IRAs or Roth IRAs. Considering many jobs no longer offer benefits at all, especially 401ks, it’s wise to consider creating your own retirement plan and start young. Otherwise, you could be poor and homeless when you’re 90. You don’t want that.
3 – Driving Strangers Around
Thanks to tech start-ups Uber and Lyft, we can now hop in a stranger’s car with a credit card and a touch of a button. Well, you can be that stranger on your own time as long as your car looks nice and you don’t smell/are an asshole/have a criminal history. You get paid extra if your car is black. Isn’t that strange? Yeah, idk.

4 – Make Money Back On Stuff You Already Bought
Have you ever looked a product up online and went to buy it in the store only to find that the store jacked up the price by an extra $5? Well, usually you can show the cashier the product you found online (as long as it’s their website) and they will match that lower price. An extension called Honey does this for you online. It finds coupons, lower priced products, price drops, etc. around the web and helps you get the lowest price. It does track your purchases, as long as you’re cool with that. If the price on an item drops, you can also make back Honey Gold. Once you reach 1,000 gold ($10 USD equivalent), you can redeem your gold for gift cards at places such as Amazon, Target, and Groupon.

5 – Weird Side Stuff
Hey, beggars can’t be choosers, as they say. This is stuff like fixing a stranger from Craigslist’s sink, apps like Fivver and UpWork. I’ve heard that Postmates is pretty cool, but pays super poorly. There are so many options out there to consider. Try typing “remote” into search bars and you can find anything from a virtual assistant to teaching someone how to speak English online. P.S. if the ad says it wants hot actors between ages 18 and 24, it’s sex work. If you’re into that, go for it, but know that this is always what it is. Oh, you can also take surveys. I know everyone says that, but it’s a real thing. Check out surveys you can do as part of actual research studies on Prolific.

6 – Sell and Re-Sell Items
Do you live in a city somewhere? Is there a thrift store nearby? You can make money by selling your stuff and cheap stuff you find that you can refurbish. Find a cool chair, but the paint is chipping? Repaint it and sell it (or keep it for yourself, but this post isn’t about that). Do you live smack-dab in the middle of nowhere and you’re hella creative? Try opening an Etsy store. People have various experiences with Etsy. Don’t expect it to make you a ton of money, but at least know that it can make you a ton of money.

7 – Start Your Own Business
Do you know how to design logos? Can you wash a car? Do you know how to make lemonade? Can you knit? Think of whatever weird thing you can do and sell it! Go to a bazaar. Sell it on the street. Sell it in a back alley with street cats and that nice black SUV you have to make money with Lyft. Yeah, it is a lot of hard work. Do it anyway.

8 – Manage Your Debt
How much money do you have in debt? Tackle that first. Sure, stick some money in the stock market or wherever, but put most of that money into paying off your debts – especially the high interest rates! Unless your debt is ridiculously high, try to get rid of it as soon as you can in order to save yourself in the long run.

There are so many side things you can do to bring in more money and they don’t always have to be online or long-term things. Do what works best for you and the rest will follow. Instead of bombing around binge-watching Netflix, you might as well make some extra cash, right?

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Photo Credit: Hayao Miyazaki, Kiki’s Delivery Service – tumblr
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