Working from Home Chronicles: Episode 3

A Travel AND Money-Making Opportunity

I thought I would bring you up to date on my latest job news, or lack thereof.  But first, I wanted to thank all of my recent readers who have liked a number of my previous articles.  That’s the magic of blogging I guess.  You put stuff out there, make it searchable, then people can read it forever.  You gotta love that!

I noticed that a few visitors who have recently read my posts are in the Work from Home field.  In response to that, I have decided to write an article about something that could turn into quite an opportunity.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I first have to back track to my previous job with Global Discovery Vacations.

Last June, my wife and I had a “Member Refresher” with a Global Representative.  We have been members of this travel club for over 18 years.  We have fallen in love with the Destin, Florida area, and we have used the travel club many times to vacation there.  Just winding down trip #9 as I write this article.

Our first trip with GDV was in 1999, when we took our two sons to Kauai, Hawaii, for a ridiculously low price.  Backtracking a little more.  Our family had stayed at the Oak Plantation Resort in Kissimmee, Florida the year before.  It was our first time staying in a Condo Resort instead of a Hotel Room and we were in LOVE!!

We had a King Size bed to ourselves, in a bedroom with an actual DOOR!!  Our two sons shared the sofa-bed and were quite happy with that arrangement.  After they had built their pillow wall, laying claim to their two territories, peace was declared.  It was like watching a junior version of Game of Thrones, but without all the intrigue and decapitations.

That trip “somehow” got us on a mailing list, and a year later we were invited to a meeting at Global’s Southfield, Michigan office.  We signed up for a package that gave us 12 “Vacation Weeks” to use over a 20 year period.  We wound up using those 12 weeks in about 8 years, so we thought we were out of luck, as far as our travel club membership was concerned.

Thankfully, in 2013 Global contacted us to let us know they had revamped the entire program.  They asked if we would be interested in seeing how the new program worked.  ABSOLUTELY!  We had become completely smitten with Condo Vacationing and it was costing us a small fortune each year to go on trips without GDV.  The new program gave us access of up to 6 vacations per year, in 200 Condo Resorts around the world!  Where do we sign?!

That brings us back to June 2017.  That’s when Matt from GDV came to our house and showed us the “New and Improved” program.  It gave us access to over 1,700 Condo Resorts, with over 70,000 weeks available in those resorts, for only $229 per week!  You heard me right, $229 PER WEEK!  Since this increased our inventory of available weeks by about 95%, we signed up immediately!

That’s when Matt said to me, “So what do you do?”  At that point, nothing.  Ocular Migraines had sidelined me from driving for Uber & Lyft.  So for the previous 6 months, I had been writing articles for The Brown Parachute Club and not much else.  He said, “You should come work for us!”  I believe my response was, “Uh, sure.”  Never having worked in a real Sales Office before, I had no idea what to expect.

What followed was a 6 month crash course in Sales.  Frustration, Aggravation, Elation, Jealousy, Joy, etc. . . .  I was exposed to all of it.  However, after driving almost an hour to work each afternoon, I got hit by a case of “The grass is always greener”, which quickly turned into a case of “Too big for my britches”Long story short, Art Van, the largest furniture retailer in the Midwest, is a scant 2.9 miles (yes, I measured) from my house.  I was offered a position there as a Sales Associate, so I took it.

Despite my little voice screaming his damn fool head off, I took the job, and within 5 weeks I had to quit, due to a foot injury.  Apparently, at 58 years old, I was not meant for 9 hour days on tile and concrete floors.  So I contacted my old boss at GDV, and with my imaginary hat in my hands, I went back to the office and asked for my old job back.  Unfortunately, he told me there was nothing available at the present time, but if anything opens up, I will be the first one he calls.  So, skunked there.

Then something occurred to me!  I had been telling prospective clients for over half a year, “If you refer any of your family or friends to Global, and they sign up with the program, you will receive $200!”  Suddenly it hit me right between the eyes.  One referral per week is almost $10,000 per year!  $9,600 actually (yes, I did the math).  Since my wife and I are members of GDV, I already had access to this potential income stream!

Because GDV is a Travel Club, it does require a one-time membership fee.  This starts as low as $XXXX (This amount has been redacted because I have returned to work for GDV).  I know.  If you are unemployed, you certainly don’t have that kind of cash lying around.  However, if you are looking for an additional income stream, this could exactly what you have been waiting for! There are plenty of Work from Home opportunities, but how many enable you to travel to Hawaii for only $229 per week?  Not many, I’m guessing.

So, if you would like to learn more about how you can take advantage of this amazing Travel AND Money-Making Opportunity, please leave me a message on my Google Voice Line (586-467-5604) and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

NOTE: If you ARE interested in signing up with Global, please contact me directly first.  That way I can refer you and get the $200 cash when you sign up!  Thank you!!!

Writing this blog has been a lot of fun, and since I have more time on my hands these days, I may write a few more.  We’ll see!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next time, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Primerica

This Second Career May Be For You!

(Author’s Note:  I originally wrote this article not long after I launched TBPC. However, because of my association with Primerica at that time, I wasn’t able to publish it.  Since I have broken ties with Primerica, I can now post it.  I hope you find it enlightening and enjoyable.  – JL)

This week I am going to talk about one of the Side Hustles I tried fairly early on in my forced retirement.  Primerica (Primerica Financial Services).

You may, or may not have heard of Primerica.  It is one of the top financial services companies in the country.  The Primerica business model is unique.  They actually put the needs of their clients first.  That business model enabled Primerica (PRI) to go public with one of the most successful IPOs of 2010.

The business has two sides to it.  The client-side and the opportunity side.  The client-side offers products that range from investments to debt reduction, insurance, legal protection, and much more.  The opportunity is to own a small business, with Primerica’s help.

Primerica is a solid company that has been in business since 1974 and has built its reputation by helping out families that have been ignored by the larger financial services companies.

That’s great you say, but how is this an opportunity to own my own small business?  A good question!  Primerica has grown the company by always being on the lookout for sharp people who want the freedom of running their own business.  If you meet with a Primerica Representative, and they are impressed with you, you will be invited to an interview.

If you join Primerica as a Representative, your business is grown entirely on word of mouth referrals and your ability to recruit others onto your team.  You join the business as part of a team, then you start working on building your own team.  To build a client base and recruit potential Representatives, you will be asked to contact your friends and family.  This is to see if they are properly protected financially and/or looking for a way to start a small business.

This is where a lot of people will shy away from Primerica.  Nobody wants to tick off their family and friends by “ratting them out” to Primerica.  However, what it all comes down to is that every family should know where they stand financially, and where they can do better.  This is where you can help, with the financial products I listed above, and the prospect of earning some extra money.  If you decide to join the company as a Representative, there are some small startup costs.  $99 to join the company and $25 per month for website access.  That’s it.

Now, for the not-so-rosy part of the picture.  The targeted demographic age group for clients (and prospective Representatives) is 25-35, married, kids, job, and homeowners.  Since we are in the 55-65 age bracket, unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to us.  However, if you have a large family, who might need some of the services that Primerica provides, you may be on your way.  Plus, some of your family members may be interested in becoming Representatives.

I’m not going to lie to you.  Unless you are a naturally outgoing person and/or have a large group of family or friends in the demographic I mentioned earlier, Primerica may not be for you.  I worked HARD for 9 months and came away with 2 clients and 1 recruit onto my team.  I am one of the clients and my recruit dropped out of the business before really getting started.

That said, this may be an income stream for you to check out.  If you are able to create a decent sized team, it will take on a life of its own.  Keep in mind that the time commitment to be successful at Primerica is substantial.  If you are the type of person who is willing to bust your hump for a few months, or up to a year or two, then Primerica may be for you.

HERE IS MY GIGANTIC DISCLAIMER!  During the whole 9 months I was trying to build my Primerica business, I was bringing in Zero Dollars of additional income!  This added a level of pressure that was not conducive to success in the company.  The opportunity is designed for you to start part-time and eventually go full-time.

That said, if you are the type of person who would like to give it a try, I would definitely recommend using one of the other income-producing Side Hustles (possibly driving for Uber & Lyft) to bring in some cash.  This will relieve a lot of pressure to succeed right off the bat, with Primerica as your only income stream.  I only wish I had approached Primerica this way in the first place.  My results might have been different.

Well, there it is.  If you live in the Detroit metro area and would like to learn more about Primerica, please contact Heidi McCarroll from the Troy office at 586-619-0123.  If you live outside the Detroit area, contact the Primerica Main Office at 770-381-1000.  Ask to be put in touch with a Representative in your area.

Hopefully, this article has helped point you in a direction you may not have considered before.  If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and enjoy talking with people, this may be the opportunity you have been waiting for.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Hourly Employee vs Independent Contractor

Which One Should You Choose?

Hello, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. This week I thought I would go into greater detail about the job classifications that are out there. If you have been unemployed for a while, you may want to look into becoming an Independent Contractor as a way of bringing in some extra income. Either on your own, or working WITH, but not FOR a company like Uber or Lyft. I’ll illustrate the differences between being an Hourly Employee and an Independent Contractor. Many of the Side Hustle and Work From Home jobs I have featured on this blog are Independent Contractor positions.

First a little background. As you already know, back in 2008 the country went through a major financial crisis. Many banks, insurance companies, and brokerage houses either went out of business or were bailed out by the U. S. Taxpayer. Losing millions of their client’s dollars in the process. Names like Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, and AIG were all over the news. To learn more about this event, watch the film, The Big Short. That movie scared the crap out of me!

In response to this financial crisis, many companies took advantage of an opportunity they had been waiting for. “How do we decrease the size of our workforce, without appearing weak to our stockholders, or the business community at large?” The Crash of 2008 was a gift to many companies who had been wanting to cut back their staff for years. However, if they resorted to layoffs, it would make the company look financially unstable.

I heard about this scheme from an article in the Huffington Post by James Altucher. In his article, 10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job in 2014, he explained how this plot was hatched. But more importantly, he explains why the old business model no longer works and why you should consider striking out on your own. He was talking about becoming an Independent Contractor or starting up your own business.

There are definitely Pros and Cons for each classification.

Pay: If you were an Hourly Employee at your previous job, more than likely you were paid every two weeks. Because of sick days and vacation days, many times you were paid for NOT working. As an Independent Contractor, you are paid for the job or project you have agreed to perform for a company or individual. Period. Your pay is based on the quote you gave for the job. Think about a plumber giving you an estimate to fix the leaky faucet in your tub.

Hours: A full-time Hourly Employee can expect to work a minimum of 40 hours per week. If part-time, then those hours vary, but are usually 30 hours or less. An Independent Contractor (IC) puts in as many hours as needed to finish the job. Since his pay is not hourly, it behooves him to do the job right and finish as quickly as possible. Then he can move onto the next job.

Benefits: Hourly Employees can expect to receive a host of benefits from their employer. These range from health care to dental care and vision care, etc. An IC must take care of these expenses on his or her own. With the soaring cost of health care, this is a major consideration. However, there may be group plans that ICs can join that will hopefully bring down this cost.

Retirement: As an Hourly Employee, you may have a fully-funded, partially-funded, or employee-funded retirement plan provided by the company. In addition to that, you pay into FICA (Social Security and Medicare), which is also a source of retirement funds. As an IC, you are on your own for your retirement funding and you still have to pay into FICA.

Flexibility: This is one area where an IC has it made over an Hourly Employee. As an IC, you set your own hours and work when you want. In the plumber example I gave earlier, if the plumber is an IC and not an employee for a plumbing company, he determines his own work hours. As an Hourly Employee, your hours are set by the employer and you’d better be to work on time!

Tax Considerations: As an Hourly Employee, all of your taxes and deductions are withheld by your company and forwarded onto the recipients for you. When you’re an IC, you are on your own for taking care of your taxes and any other deductions. On the bright side, when you get paid, you get a check for 100% of the job quote. Not like the net income check that an Hourly Employee gets. If you are working with a company like Uber or Lyft, they will provide you with a Form 1099 instead of a Form W-2. That form will detail the income you earned with them for the previous tax year.

Freedom: This is when being an IC really beats being an Hourly Employee. The only problem is that your time off is unpaid. However, when you need a day off, take it! When you want to go on vacation, go! When the weather is crappy, stay home! The Hourly Employee doesn’t have that luxury. Need a day off? Clear it with the boss. Want to go on vacation? Sure, if someone is there to cover for you. Feel like crap and just can’t make it into the office? No problem, if you have any sick days left. You get the idea.

Security: The Hourly Employee has the satisfaction of knowing that every two weeks, like clockwork, he is going to be paid for his hours worked (or not worked if sick or on vacation). The IC gets paid only for the work that was done. No work, no pay! After many years as an Hourly Employee, this is the toughest thing to get used to as an IC.

I guess for me, what it all comes down to is the old formula: Time vs Money. If you don’t have a job at all, you have plenty of Time, but no Money. If you are an Hourly Employee, you are giving up a substantial amount of Time for Money. However, as an IC, if done correctly, you can have the perfect balance of Time AND Money! That is the elusive Golden Ticket that all ICs are looking for.

I hope this article has helped to clear up any misconceptions about the difference between these two types of work classifications. In preparing this blog, articles from Salary.com and BankRate were very helpful in explaining these differences.

DISCLAIMER: As usual, before making any financial decisions based on the information I have detailed above, be sure to check with your tax professional and / or retirement planning specialist for more information.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

The Work From Home Chronicles: Episode 2

More Good Jobs To Check Out!

Hi, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. This week we are going to look at five more Work From Home (WFH) Jobs that you may be interested in. There is a tutoring job, an audio transcription job, a blog content job, and two others that are hard to describe.

The last time I wrote a WFH article I listed four good jobs and one clunker, so you could recognize the good ones. This brings me to some additional points. You have to be very careful when it comes to signing up for WFH Jobs. There are a number of jobs out there that are nothing more than scams to get you to cough up your personal info.

I believe I fell prey to one of these scams when I started looking into WFH Jobs. I signed up with a company to take surveys to make some cash. I never got around to taking any surveys, but I did get a deluge of telemarketing calls on my cell phone as well as junk emails filling up my email box.

Many of these companies may seem to be legit and even if they are, they still sell your personal info to other companies that will barrage you with “Special Offer” phone calls and emails. That is the last thing you want when you are trying to make money. Spending all your time blocking phone numbers and emails!

That said, let’s look at this weeks’ selections. To appeal to as many readers as possible, I am trying to create some variety with these jobs. I’ll try to continue doing that with my future articles as well.

Rev: This is an audio transcription job. I had to transcribe an interview once for this blog and I determined that I do NOT have the patience for this type of work! However, it may be for you. It pays $.35 – $.65 per audio minute and you are paid through PayPal. From the company website: Aside from the extra income paid out weekly via PayPal, the best part of freelancing jobs with Rev is the flexibility. You can work as much or as little as you’d like, from wherever you please. A wide range of people, from stay-at-home moms to college students and retirees, work from home with Rev.

Easy Shift: This is one of two “Onsite Shopper” jobs. It assigns you specific tasks that need to be done at a store. It’s as easy as taking pictures of the store, checking product endcaps, checking pricing, etc. It runs from an app on your smartphone and unless I am mistaken, you can do it from almost anywhere. Wouldn’t it be great to earn some money while you’re grocery shopping on vacation? You are paid through PayPal but the pay scale is a little unclear. The next job I review is similar and it pays between $3-$12 per task. So, I assume Easy Shift pay is comparable.

Field Agent: This is the other Onsite Shopper job I mentioned. From the company website: Our agents use their smartphones to collect photos, video, and information from stores and many other locations. You are paid through PayPal and it pays between $3-$12 per task. Like Easy Shift, you can do this from virtually anywhere.

InstaEdu: This is an Online Tutor job that earns you up to $20/hr., paid via PayPal. Not a bad gig if you have an education background. They must have been bought out because when you click on the link it comes up as the popular Chegg Tutors. Still, nice pay if you can get it!

Triple Curve: This is a Freelance Writer gig that pays between $8-$15 per article. The main focus of the company is the creation of quality content instead of lengthy articles. Explains the low pay. This appears to be for experienced, professional writers, but hey give it a shot! You never know! Like InstaEdu, when you click on the link for Triple Curve, it comes up with Zen Content, so they must have been bought out as well. It appears that Zen Content has medium and longer length documents as well, so it’s possible that this has expanded into more of a full-service content job.

That’s the list of jobs for this week. I think they all look pretty good, especially the Onsite Shopper jobs that appear to be very simple and you can do them anywhere!

This will be the part of each article where I detail my results with trying some of these jobs from previous weeks. I chose to try out 2 jobs from the last time I wrote this article. The first one was Content Gather, a website where you can post articles for purchase by their clients. The second one was User Testing, where you test websites and apps and record your feedback. I wrote one article for CG and posted it. I have not had any nibbles yet. I tried to do the “Test Recording” for User Testing. However, it wasn’t accepted because I narrated the instructions during the recording, which is apparently a no-no.

Now for my warning. Be VERY CAREFUL of any software that you install on your PC or Phone! Make sure you do some research online to see if other people have had problems with the software! After installing the User Testing software on my PC, it triggered a Boot Scan from my antivirus software. That can be very scary since the PC won’t boot up until the Scan finishes successfully. Ironically, the only malware it found was from a competing antivirus program. Funny how that works. The point is to be careful, as always, whenever installing any software to your PC or Phone.

Well, that’s it for this week. Hopefully, you have found a job or two that have piqued your interest. Remember, none of these jobs are meant to be income replacement by themselves. You’ll have to do two or more if you hope to replace a chunk of your previous income. I know that’s not a very comforting thought, but what are you gonna do?

Disclaimer. I am not affiliated with, or compensated by, any of these companies I have mentioned. They just looked promising to me and I thought I would pass them along. That’s all.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Working From Home or Flexible Hours?

Is It Possible To Have Both?

Hi, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. I have a confession to make. I have been settling. I have been settling by driving for Uber and Lyft as my primary source of income. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I have been driving for both of them since November 2015 and I am ready for a change.

So far, my only adventure with a different side hustle has been signing up for Shipt, and I told you how that turned out. So, I am making a belated resolution for 2017. Effective today, I am retiring as a full-time driver for Uber and Lyft. I may occasionally pick up some fares when my funds are running low, but the morning and evening shifts are over for me.

Now that I have that out of the way, what the heck do I do now? I made it a goal earlier this year to find a job (or jobs) that would get me back to roughly half of my previous full-time income. This will be a large achievement if I can pull it off. I am going to be completely honest. I have become addicted to the semi-retired lifestyle. Being able to determine what days and times I choose to work is a major benefit, one that I am not willing to give up.

That said, I now have to come up with a Driving Income Replacement Plan or DIRP. It sounds like a government program. Anyway, I have decided to pursue a career in the “Work from Home” field. Uh-huh, you say, just how do you plan to do that? I have no freakin’ idea! I am going to pursue this new position (or positions) with the same drive and effort I used to find a job when I first was laid off. That job turned out to be in a Call Center and I quit in two weeks. Hopefully, this time I’ll have better results!

If you do an Internet search for “Work from Home & Flexible Hours”, you will come up with no end of leads to do just that. However, from experience, many of these offers are scams that are just trying to bilk desperate people out of whatever money they have left. Pretty sick. Upon further research, I hope to find at least one legitimate Work from Home (WFH) job per day. I will employ this plan Monday through Friday until I find the job or jobs (hopefully no more than three) that will get me to my goal of DIRP.

Now, I am finally getting to the title of this article. Work from Home or Flexible Hours? Are they mutually exclusive, or can you have both? Most of the WFH results I see on the Internet have Flexible Hours as part of the summary. However, I believe that you can have one without the other. Being a Virtual Assistant for instance. In the article I wrote about this side hustle, you can work from home, but your hours may be determined by your client. This will give you the flexibility of working from home, but not the freedom of setting your own hours. Trust me, after a year of setting my own hours, having a “Boss” tell me when I have to work is not what I am looking for!

If you type in “work from home vs flexible hours”, a quick search of the web brings back a range of results. Two of the results piqued my interest. The first is the job search site Indeed. I remember liking their website quite a bit, back when I was job hunting full time. They seem to take a “No BS” approach that is quite refreshing, compared to other job search giants like Monster and Career Builder. However, when I just searched for “work from home”, I came up with results for all three headhunters. But, I digress. Getting back to the original search I did, “work from home vs flexible hours”. Indeed came back with a list of 4,897 jobs!!!! WOW! I like those odds! Plus, since these jobs are WFH, it doesn’t matter if they are from Chicago, New York, Boston, etc.

I also noticed another item that came up in my search. There is a company called Flexjobs that appears to specialize in exactly what I am looking for. Legit jobs, by legit companies that will enable me to hit my DIRP goal. However, it looks like this is not a free website ($14.95 / month). I generally avoid pay websites like the plague, since I subscribe to the early opinion that most of us tech weenies had. Everything on the Internet should be free! However, sometimes you’ve got to pony up some cash to get some good results. I will see what kind of results I get with Indeed first, but it’s good to know that Flexjobs is there as a viable alternative.

Well, I’m glad I came clean! Putting this out there will help keep me accountable to myself and you, my much-appreciated reader. I plan on putting my hits and misses on this website every week, so you’ll know which jobs may be worth looking into and which ones you should skip. Hopefully, I’ll have some promising hits to share with you next week!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Side Hustle: Becoming a Tutor

Make Some Extra Money By Sharing Your Skills!

Welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. This week I thought I would look into the Side Hustle: Becoming a Tutor. For those of you who have skills in the area of art, music, science, math, foreign language, etcetera, this could prove to be a lucrative sideline for you.

When I think of tutors, I immediately think about high school or college kids, getting help in subjects they are having difficulty with. Many of the tutors helping them are fellow students or teacher’s aides. However, there’s no reason why you can’t help out these kids, if you have the skills in those areas of study.

I admit that I have not tutored anyone as of yet. However, I may have skills in some areas that may translate into a tutoring gig. I’ll have to find out. In the meantime, I thought I would bring this Side Hustle to your attention.

WikiHow has a couple of excellent step by step articles on how to get started as a tutor. Some of the items mentioned are things that I had not thought of. For instance, consulting an attorney if you are going to be working with children. This strikes me as kind of creepy, but these are the times we live in.

There are many professional tutoring companies out there that you can choose to work for, or you can go it alone. Starting small in your town may get you some gigs that will build your confidence, reputation, and help you develop your tutoring business. This article from Consumer Affairs has a breakdown of some of the best companies to work with, or for.

I also found a great career resource website I had overlooked before. Learn How to Become is an amazing site that helps you to determine your new career path. The section on becoming a tutor is amazing and there is even a whole section called THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO CAREER CHANGE AFTER 50. Honestly, how did I miss this before? Maybe I am getting too old to hire!

I hope this brief article has helped point out some areas for you to look at regarding starting your own tutoring business.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

My Shipt Experience

My Review On Becoming A Shipt Shopper

Welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. A while ago, I tried my hand at the Side Hustle: Shipt. I promised to write my impressions of Shipt, and here they are.

In theory, it seems like a good idea. Get pinged to pick up groceries and deliver them, just like Uber or Lyft, but substituting groceries for people. Yeah, not so much. I have several beefs with Shipt.

Before I get into them, let me start by saying that Shipt, and other food delivery services like Shipt, provide a valuable service to their customers. Based on my discussion with Bryn, my Shipt Orientation Specialist, most of the customers are older folks or young moms who have a hard time getting out of the house (though I am sure they would love to, sans kids!).

As I mentioned in my previous article about becoming a Shipt Shopper, the online application process moves along quickly. However, there is a video part of the application, where you will have to record your responses to specific questions. That was a little nerve-wracking, but it’s only about a third of the application process and the rest of the questions are pretty much common sense.

Once you’re approved, you can start making money by scheduling your availability to accept orders. This is a very squirrely process. Since you can schedule up to 7 days in advance, it is not an “on-demand” type of position. Instead, you make yourself available for “Delivery Windows”, which means that all of your shopping needs to be done before the window begins.

This also means that you have to be able to shop the whole order, go through checkout, load up your car, and get to the customer by the beginning of the Delivery Window. Shipt expects its drivers to hit the beginning of the Delivery Window every time. Yeah, that’s not gonna happen! At least initially.

Another beef I have is with the estimated shopping time listed for each order. This time estimate appears to be for an experienced shopper, who can whiz through the store on Rollerblades and have all of the items magically jump into his or her shopping cart! For beginning shoppers, the accuracy of this time estimate, in my experience, is closer to double the time listed. Not only does this make hitting your Delivery Window almost impossible, it also cuts your hourly wage in half!!

You can choose to shop at the store closest to you. That’s a bonus. Not many jobs let you pick a location close to home to work from. In a related story, the Meijer that I chose to work from is just down the road from the recently re-opened Fraser, Michigan Sinkhole! A story that just made national news for the third time!! A nice feature of Shipt is that you can easily change your store if your selected store happens to be on the edge of a sinkhole (that swallowed up one house and damaged many others)!

I get it, you say, “But what about the actual shopping?” The app has 2 ways to shop for the items. In a list, or by flipping through each item, one by one. Let me say this to be fair. This Meijer is not where I do my grocery shopping, so I don’t know the store layout as well as the Kroger where I normally do my shopping. That said, I had a very tough time with the shopping process. Between substitutions, where you have to get in touch the customer (about eight times on my first order), and racing around the store trying to find that elusive last item, I started to feel like a game show contestant on the worst game show ever!

Ok, you say, “But I bet you made some good money!” Uh, no. I only shopped two orders. The first order paid me a whopping $15 and it took over two hours to shop and deliver the order, so I was late. On the second order, I did better. It took me only one hour and forty-five minutes to shop and deliver the order to a very pregnant young mom. That paid me a massive $12! All I could think of was how much money I could have made driving for Uber or Lyft, during the same time!

To be fair to Shipt, they are a great company, that is providing a valuable service to their customers. However, in my case, I found that I would have a hard time replacing my driving income by only shopping for Shipt. Also, since it took such a large chunk of time just to shop one order, it would cut into any other money-making Side Hustle I might be working as well. I’m sure I would be able to speed up and make more money by becoming more familiar with the store. However, the prospect of shopping an order of $200 or more (I did orders of $70+ and $50+) was terrifying! It would probably take me five hours or more to shop it!!

All in all, I decided that Shipt was not for me. And that was before the sinkhole opened up down the street. I just couldn’t see how I could earn enough money. Plus, filling a huge shopping order would require a lot more work than a smaller order. Driving someone to the airport requires that I hang onto the steering wheel and keep my foot on the gas. In other words, no additional effort. I am not afraid of hard work, but I think that spending endless hours in a grocery store would be my version of Hell!

I hope this review of becoming a Shipt Shopper has given you some insight into how it all works. It appears to be a young person’s game since I did notice many young women shopping orders. Unfortunately, since nobody is going to confuse me with a 20-year-old, I have decided to look elsewhere for another income stream.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Side Hustle: Virtual Assistant

Use Your Skills To Stick It To Your Old Boss!

Hello again and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club! I hope you had a terrific holiday season and are rested and refreshed. Yeah, right! Anyway, this week I thought I would discuss a Side Hustle that many of you may be interested in. Becoming a Virtual Assistant.

I have decided, at least for the first few postings of this year, to focus entirely on Side Hustle jobs. We all need to generate some extra income to pay off those Christmas bills. When I first started looking into Side Hustle jobs, I was surprised to find the position of Virtual Assistant.

I’m going to be honest. I don’t come from a Secretarial, pardon me, Administrative Assistant background. Gotta be PC. When I was moved onto the Tech Support Desk, I was terrified. I had to try to help the Secretaries who would call with fubared legal documents. Needless to say, I had a pretty steep learning curve before I became relatively competent in my job.

That said, I was surprised to find out the Virtual Assistant position was a “thing”. Since this is not my area of expertise, I have decided to defer to Joanne Munro, who has an excellent website with a complete rundown on how to become a Virtual Assistant.

The VA Handbook takes you through how to set up your business, create your website (for FREE at Wix.com), and take care of all of the legal stuff needed to get your VA business off the ground. It’s an excellent resource and I highly recommend that you check it out. However, keep in mind that Joanne is in the UK, so some of the information may be related to that region.

However, if you are someone like me who was downsized, becoming a VA might be a great way to start a new career and flip the bird to your old company at the same time!

Joanne does mention that Networking is the key to building your VA business. I would think that Social Media would be an excellent way to spread the word about your budding Side Hustle. Spreading the word on Facebook about your VA business could net you some solid leads.

Also, I would reach out to your friends at your old job. See if they have heard about anyone who needs additional secretarial help outside of the office or after hours. Catching up with them over lunch might be your key to future clients! Also, getting in touch with contacts you may have with your old company’s clients is a good way to capitalize on your time there.

Don’t forget about LinkedIn. I know that you probably blitzed all of your LinkedIn contacts after you were let go from your previous job. Do it again, but this time keep in mind your new objective. Promoting your fledgling business and mining for prospective new clients.

I know that our firm had one secretary who worked the afternoon shift. She was there to help attorneys who had after-hours work that needed to be done. You may want to consider specializing in after-hours availability. I would think if you get contracted by a couple of companies as an after-hours Virtual Assistant, you can pretty much write your own ticket. Again, not speaking from experience, but I would think that it would make a lot of sense.

That said, keep in mind what you may be letting yourself in for as an after-hours VA. When the law firm I worked for had a “Closing”, it could run all night. That may be a can of worms you do not want to open. However, if you can find a company that needs after-hours support, it might be steady work without the threat of an “all-nighter”.

I hope this article has encouraged you to venture out on your own as a successful Virtual Assistant. After all, what better way to stick it to your old employer than by using the skills you perfected to become a successful VA?!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Side Hustle: Movie and TV Extra

Do You Wanna Be In Pictures?

Thank you for joining me for this week’s Brown Parachute Club. Today, I have decided to change things up a bit. I am going to interview someone who is experienced with the Side Hustle: Movie & TV Extra.

I know that sounds crazy. How can I be in a Movie or TV Commercial? Where would I begin? How does it work? How do I get paid? Do I get to meet the star of the movie? These were all of the questions that I thought of, so I decided to talk to someone who is an expert in this field.

Jakey Staley has been a Movie and TV Extra for 10 years. She has been in Transformers: Dark of the Moon and more recently Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She has been in many other movies as well. I sat down with Jakey to pick her brain on how it all works.

TBPC: Hello Jakey, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. I wanted to talk to you about your career as a Movie and TV Extra. Since I know you have done this for a while, you seemed like the perfect person to talk to about this subject.

TBPC: How did you get started becoming a Movie and TV Extra?

Jakey: Thanks, Jerry. A friend of mine talked me into doing a free movie. She had seen it advertised in the paper. It was when the movie scene was first getting big in Detroit, so we showed up and got to be in a parade. It was for a Made-For-TV movie starring Sigourney Weaver, called “Prayers For Bobby”.

TBPC: Which company or companies do you work for?

Jakey: At the filming of Prayers for Bobby, we saw cards on a table for an agency called “Real Style”. My friend and I both signed up for Real Style, posted our pictures, and met the ladies who started the company. They knew the industry was going to start to get big in Detroit. They saw a need for Extras in the movies and all of the Producers who come to town know which agency to call when they need Extras. Real Style is how I got started in all of this. Your name and picture go into a database and they send you emails on everything that’s coming out.

TBPC: How long have you been doing it?

Jakey: I’ve been doing it for about 10 years. Prayers for Bobby (filmed in Royal Oak, MI) was the first time, so it has been about 10 years.

TBPC: Do you work with Real Style exclusively?

Jakey: Yes, I work exclusively with Real Style. They are THE agency for Movie Extra and Commercial work in the Detroit area. They work primarily in Michigan. I recently got an email for a commercial for a furniture company in Grand Rapids.

TBPC: How much do you get paid and how do you get paid?

Jakey: You get paid minimum wage. It’s mostly an hourly wage ($7.40/hour in MI). It can be a set dollar amount, say $300 for the day, or something like that. It’s always right around minimum wage. You are paid directly by the Production Company and receive your tax forms from them as well.

TBPC: How many times do you “Extra” per month?

Jakey: I’ve always had a full-time job, so I’ve had to take vacation days. I’ve never been able to do a week or longer shoot. Sometimes the Production Company will ask for 2 or 3 days, with “Whip It”, I did 3 days altogether. It’s normally a string of days in a row for the bigger movies. The smaller movies usually get their shooting done in one day.

TBPC: Is it difficult to get jobs?

Jakey: It’s all first-come, first served. When you get the email, if you have the date available, you respond to the agency. They are very organized. They will respond to you with all the details. Sometimes you click on the link and it says, “Sorry, we’re full”. When I first started it was a lot easier to get into the movies. I had more time available back then.

TBPC: If I was going to get started, how would I do it? Just contact Real Style and let them know I want to do it? Would I need a headshot and all of that?

Jakey: Yep, they do them right there. They’re a great company, I’ll plug Real Style!

TBPC: To me, it sounds like something that would be fun and interesting to do. Something out of the “norm”. When you’re in my situation, suddenly you’re open to trying something different.

Jakey: Yeah, it is. There were a lot of retired people, who had days available, they just need bodies in the background for movement. They can’t focus on your face. They need as many bodies as they can get.

TBPC: So when you’re talking to someone, your lips are moving, but that’s it, right?

Jakey: Yep, always quiet on the set, you feel like a Mime.

TPBC: Are there any costs for the Extra?

Jakey: The only cost is $25-$50 to get into the database and add your headshot. You can have up to 5 pictures in the database. You should always keep them updated because the Producers do look for Extras by age, height, weight, and so on. You don’t do any speaking roles, because if you speak on camera, you have to join the Union (Screen Actors Guild). That’s expensive! However, I do know someone who joined and has had a featured role in a movie, so you never know. I have heard that Shia LaBeouf started as an Extra.

TBPC: How long is the average Shooting Day?

Jakey: Well, on “Whip It”, one of the shooting days was 16 hours! There’s a funny story. I had taken the day off work, I did a 16 hour day on “Whip It”, got home, showered, and went back to work! That was a long day! Most shooting days are 8-12 hours. Not everyone gets picked. There was one movie where there were about 50 of us and they only needed 20, we all got paid for an 8 hour day. We sat in a big tent and played Euchre all day.

TBPC: Based on the amount of time spent, what do you figure is your hourly wage?

Jakey: You get paid the minimum wage. If you get paid in a lump sum, that is generally for commercials. These Producers have been doing this for a long time, so they know how to watch every dime and are very strict when it comes to the budget for the movie.

TBPC: Do you get to meet the stars of the production you are working on?

Jakey: Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

TBPC: Do you have any interesting or funny stories from filming?

Jakey: “Whip It” was cool, even on the 16 hour day, it was about 100 degrees in there. Drew Barrymore was on skates and a bundle of energy even though it was, like 3 a.m. and we were all dead tired. She picks me and my friend Karen out of the crowd for a scene and says, “You two look cool!” She sets us up at the edge of the roller derby rink. There’s a part in the movie when Ellen Page, one of the stars of the movie skates by, and grabs a poster that Drew Barrymore had given my friend Karen. Ellen Page grabs the poster and tears it up and throws it. The camera was aimed right at us, so we think, “This is it! This is our big break!” When the movie comes out, you can only see the side of my face and Karen’s hands, that’s it! Movie Magic! 

There was another time when I was doing, “Gifted Hands” (The Ben Carson Story) with Cuba Gooding, Jr. He was very nice, a friendly guy. There was a scene when he was standing in front of me. I was a nurse at a desk and he was right in front of me. After the movie was released, I saw my boss on the escalator and she said, “I just saw this movie with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and your twin must have been in it because she looked just like you!” I said, “That was me!” She thought it was great.

Also, during the filming of “Whip It”, Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore were terrific and kept all of the Extras entertained and fired up during the 16 hour night of shooting. They were great.

Well Jakey, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I’m sure your information will be a great help to our readers! We’ll certainly keep an eye out for you in those movies! Thanks for your time!

A list of Jakey’s Movies:

Whip It
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
Prayers for Bobby
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
LOL
This Must Be The Place
The Amazing Cynical Man
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

To find a movie extra casting company in your area, do a search online, or you can go to Casting 360, which has jobs all over the country. I’ll see you in the movies! Break a leg!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Side Hustle: Shipt

A Different Wrinkle In Driving Income!

Hello, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club! Today I am going to talk about a new side hustle I am exploring. Becoming a Professional Shopper with Shipt. I’m really looking forward to it.

Food delivery services are one of the fastest-growing businesses out there. After a long day working the 9 to 5 grind, or in our case, pounding the virtual pavement, wouldn’t it be great to have your groceries delivered to you? The answer for many people is a resounding, “YES”!

So far, I haven’t actually done any shopping for Shipt, but I have been approved, and I will be having my orientation soon. Shipt claims you can make between $15-$25 per hour driving for them, by shopping and delivering groceries. It appears to be like Uber for food.

The customer uses the Shipt App (available on Google Play or iTunes) to pick out their groceries, then a Shopper is pinged with the list. The Shopper decides whether he or she can pick up the groceries and deliver them to the customer within the allotted time. Pretty neat.

There are many reasons I am looking forward to driving for Shipt. The increase in pay will be nice, but the main reason for me will be the decrease in miles, on me and my car. Recently, I drove a guy to Detroit Metro Airport from the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan. It was a nice fare, mainly because I had to do some creative driving to get around the traffic caused by Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Eastern Market in Detroit. However, I got him to the airport in plenty of time.

I got pinged right away for a pickup and drove to the “Arrivals” area at the North Terminal. My riders were two college girls wearing Maryland sweatshirts. Of course, they were visiting Ann Arbor to watch their Terrapins get destroyed by the Wolverine Juggernaut. This was a half an hour drive in the wrong direction. By the time I got home, I had put 125 miles on my car and I yelled “ENOUGH”! I had already applied to drive with Shipt and I decided to take a couple of days off to work on my car. I needed to replace a missing hubcap, clean it out, clean all the windows, etc.

The application process with Shipt seems to move along fairly quickly. Hopefully, after my orientation, I’ll be able to start driving right away. Once you’re approved, there is a Shopper Portal where you can learn everything you need to know (hopefully) before you start to shop.

The main attraction for me is being able to drive close to home and keep down the miles on my car. I will be shopping at my local Meijer store, which is about 3 miles from my house. With the upcoming holidays, there should be no shortage of people who need food deliveries.

Even though Shipt is only available in the following states (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas) there may be other grocery delivery services available in your area. A quick search on the web didn’t come up with anything, but if you check with your local grocery store, they may use a similar service. Just make sure it is a large chain grocery store, like Kroger, Publix, Winn Dixie, etc. I would think larger stores like these would be the only ones to offer these types of services.

That’s all for now. After I hit the road and get familiar with how it all works, I’ll follow up with a “Tips & Tricks” article like I did with Uber and Lyft. Wish me luck!

P.S.: My biggest fear is I will become so good at grocery shopping my wife saddle me with all of the shopping! Oh well, one of the hazards of the job I suppose!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!