In the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak and associated shutdowns and shelter in place orders, more Americans than ever have found themselves out of work, underemployed, or in dire need of some extra cash. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Department’s March jobs report showed that the unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent and the economy lost 701,000 jobs that month. And within the first week of April, a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment claims. For context, the previous record was 695,000.
At press time, no one really knows how long it’ll be until our lives return to normal, and that means the unemployment rate may very well get worse before it gets better. But don’t despair yet: From getting creative with distanced work, to turning your newfound organizing fervor into cash, there are ways to make money during the coronavirus outbreak.
Take a look at your budget
One of the easiest ways to “make” money is to find it in your existing budget, recommends Ameriprise Private Wealth Advisor Rebecca Hall, CFP, APMA. Many people find themselves spending less on entertainment and eating out these days, giving you more financial wiggle room in that area. But sitting down and taking a look at your expenses can help you determine where else you can cut.
Now might not be the time to give up streaming services, but Hall recommends looking at other extras like gym memberships and little luxuries. “Now is a great time to reevaluate your budget and see if there may be opportunities to save some extra cash,” she notes.
Consider temporary delivery work
If you aren’t a member of a high-risk population, some companies like Amazon are hiring additional employees to keep up with skyrocketing demand. Hall notes that grocery stores and food pick-up and delivery services may also be able to use your help as more customers order in and stock up to shelter in place.
Just make sure to keep your own health and safety at top-of-mind and review personal protective equipment guidelines before you do. If you’d rather not commit to working for a company like Amazon or Instacart, see if any of your neighbors would be willing to cut out the middleman and pay you a little something to add their grocery order to your own. Just be kind: This isn’t the time to take advantage of anyone.
Look into tutoring
Anyone with an educational background or even a knack for organization and a lot of patience can pick up extra work in education — from afar, if your state has social distancing measures in place. With many schools closed and kids climbing the walls, offering homework help, distance learning, or even homeschooling can help give parents a much-needed break. “Many families have been affected by schools closing while parents may still have to work full-time from home,” Hall points out. “This adjustment can be difficult to juggle especially as some children adjust to e-learning.”
Teach a class online
Those with specialized skills or talents may also consider offering lessons. “If you have a particular skill you can pass on, you can bet there’s a market for it, says Matt Dowling, CEO & Founder of the Freelancer Club.
Think donation-based crafting, software, or even technology help for others stuck at home and itching to fill their time. Websites like Teachable can help you build and promote your own online courses, in whatever area matches your expertise.
Help people get fit from home
With so many stuck at home away from their usual gyms, yoga studios, and Crossfit communities, now is a great time for those with fitness certification to take their talents online. Many fitness professionals have begun offering classes on video platforms like Zoom, so you may want to check out a few of those to get a sense of how they run before hosting your own.
And if you love working out and want to take it a step further, consider getting certified to teach. “Now is a good time to get certified,” Dowling notes. “You can become a qualified personal trainer entirely online.” The National Council on Strength and Fitness can help you get started.
Offer virtual assistance
With the federal tax deadline extended to July 15, accountants and tax preparers have as much work to do as ever and on a longer timeline than most years. They may need help with data entry or managing their schedules, Hall notes.
Many traditional transcription and even translation services still need help, and can offer flexible schedules if you need to juggle parenting duties with work, too. And a lot of industries, from technology support to website design have jobs available that you can do entirely from home.
Become a podcaster or blogger
While it’s not a surefire money-maker, podcasting and blogging can help you build a platform that can pay off in the long term. All you need to get started is your medium of choice – be that Instagram, YouTube, your own website, or a podcast. Dowling explains that sponsored posts and affiliate links can bring in revenue, especially once you gain an audience. “The most successful names streamline their presence across all platforms, but any one of them is a good way to get started,” he adds. All you need is a smartphone and something to say and you’re on your way.
Start your own resale business
If you find yourself cleaning out your closet just to pass the time, make some money while you’re at it. Resale sites like eBay, ThredUp, and Poshmark can help turn selling your gently-used goods into a real business. Myra Gonzalez has been selling her thrift store finds on Poshmark since 2015. “I had already been thrifting for a long time so I had plenty of inventory and it worked out perfectly,” she explains. “I got to clean out my closet and also use it as a creative outlet which was awesome for me.”
Gonzalez recommends taking well-lit photos of your stuff on an uncluttered background to entice buyers and boost your sales. She tries to include the information about a product that the buyer would want to know and ship it out ASAP for a good customer service experience.
For Rosalyn Figueroa, selling on Poshmark helped her make extra money as a stay-at-home mom and find a community online. She adds that many veteran sellers like herself are happy to help newbies learn how to optimize their online shops. And whether it’s including measurements to make shopping from home easier or including a thank-you note with her shipments, she always puts the customer first. “It’s customer service – if you have a business, you want people to come back,” she says. “So you want to make people feel special.”
Know your aid options
To help those who find themselves in dire straits, the U.S. government has instituted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to help mitigate some of the impact. The CARES Act provides 100 percent federal funding for states to provide up to 13 weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and creates a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for those who either exhaust their standard benefits and workers, like contractors or freelancers, who wouldn’t normally be eligible.
“Be sure to check if you qualify, apply through your state program and indicate that you have been affected by Coronavirus,” Hall says. “You may also qualify if you lost your job, have been furloughed or your company closed due to COVID-19.”