Pandemic Finance Diaries, Part 4: Vaccines and Reflections

Welcome to Part 4 of the Pandemic Finance Diaries! Part 4 will review my gig job income from Dec 1, 2020 to Feb 28, 2021. If you missed Parts 1 -3 or are wondering why I’m tallying my gig economy income during the pandemic, I suggest starting at Part 1 of the series.

I’d like to start this section of the Pandemic Finance Diaries a bit differently than in the past. As we complete a full year since a pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization, many are taking the time to reflect on what this year has signified and how deeply it has changed us all, especially those who are marginalized by society due to race, gender, immigration status, country of origin, poverty, or countless other factors. Now is even more importantly the time that those in a place of privilege, including myself, listen, learn, and open ourselves to others’ experiences.

Before getting into this post I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the fact that the Pandemic Finance Diaries series has extended for a full year; never when I first wrote about my income during the pandemic did I think the world would still be in a scary pandemic place a full 13 months later with too many lives lost and even more livelihoods impacted. While I have seen some positive changes in my own life over this time frame, there have been many, many trying times. I would also be remiss to not acknowledge the loss and heartbreak we as a people have endured during this pandemic. I write from a place of fortune and privilege, but in losing two patients of mine recently I am reminded of how precious and fragile life is. Please, stay safe and healthy and hug your loved ones if you’re so fortunate to be able to do so.

I’ve found gratitude to be an exceptionally important practice during the last 13 months, so in focusing on the positives in life I’m happy to report that I was fortunate to be working in healthcare during this episode of Pandemic Finance Diaries. This means I was one of the first group of individuals with access to obtaining my COVID-19 vaccine. With this privilege I received both of my vaccines in January 2021, meaning the vaccine’s full effectiveness took place in mid-February. Even with this factor, my partner was not and would not be vaccinated for quite some time, so we still took many precautions in daily life and while taking a trip to a nearby state park in February. However I’m ecstatic that, at the time of writing this, all individuals in the United States are eligible to receive their vaccinations, although I know that the battle is far from over. Access to healthcare in the U.S. and around the world is a large issue, as is misinformation. I do think things are generally moving in the right direction and my hope is that, a year from now, I will not be writing Pandemic Finance Diaries – perhaps only regular Finance Diaries. And now on to the numbers….

Here’s an outline of my financial journey from December 2020 – February 2021.

Pet sitting

While the winter holiday season would typically be a busy season in pet care (for reference, my income during the same time period during the 2019-2020 years was $628.72), this year’s holiday season was tempered by rising COVID-19 cases and travel restrictions, as well as advice from various health organizations to avoid travel and mixing households. I cat-sit this year around Christmas time and picked up a few dog walks for a new doggie client in January/February, but besides that it was fairly quiet.

Income: $284.73*

Survey Phone Apps (Surveys on the Go/1Q/Google Opinion Rewards)

I was able to make $0.75 from 1Q (referral link), as well as $11.35 from Surveys on the Go. To sweeten the deal even further, I received an email from a university who had conducted a survey on Surveys on the Go several months ago that wanted to follow up with me to see if my answers had changed over time. In exchange for 10-15 minutes of my time I was offered a $10 electronic gift card to redeem through Amazon, Walmart, Target or Starbucks.

This quarter is also notable for finally reaching the $2 payout threshold for Google Opinion Rewards; I had previously reached this threshold through the app on my prior Android device but it seems Android users are only eligible to receive payout through Google Pay money at this time. It took a whole year, but I was finally able to cash-out through my Apple device. To be frank, the surveys come so infrequently for me that I’m not sure it’s worth it to keep the app on my phone.

Income: $24.13

Secret Shopper Phone Apps (Field Agent)

The one change my pandemic finance diaries saw in quarter 4 was the addition of new phone apps due to a phone upgrade, which provided me with additional phone storage space and the most up-to-date phone operating system – I know, I’m really fancy over here. The advent of these resources allowed for the download of apps such as Merchandiser, EasyShift, Observa, and other such apps. While I wasn’t able to make money on any of new apps during diary part 4, I’m happy to say I’ll soon be reporting on their income in diary part 5.

I was able to continue with Field Agent, performing my first mystery shop where I had to interact with an employee. In all honesty it was an awkward experience and I don’t think it was worth my time, so I’ll stick to mystery shops that don’t involve human interaction from now on. I also received a follow-up survey for $1 asking me about a previous shop I had done in a few months ago and whether I had purchased the product since. It was an easy questionnaire and definitely worth the time.

Income: $10

Selling Trash Finds

Last summer I had picked up a Levoit air purifier next to a dumpster with the goal of decreasing my partner’s indoor allergies. While the filter still worked, we didn’t see a marked difference in his allergies so we decided to sell the purifier. Since the air purifier sells new for almost $100 I figured I would be able to get above $50 for it, especially during the heightened state of cleanliness many of us are living in currently. I had to list it several times on Craigslist before I received legitimate interest, but finally wound up selling it for $45. I’m disappointed Craigslist sales are still slow since last summer, but have hope things will pick up again as the weather warms up.

Income: $45

Total income from December 1 to February 28: $363.86*

Stay tuned for Part 5

*One of my jobs does not withhold taxes from payments. What that currently means is I wait until I file my taxes the subsequent year to report my earnings and am then taxed at what I believe is a higher rate and/or am penalized. From what I understand there is a way to pre-pay these tax amounts quarterly to avoid the higher rate/penalty, which I learned about in 2020. However, with the pandemic it was unclear how much I would be making in pet care so I was hesitant to look into the quarterly pre-pay option. It’s something I plan to further research for 2021.




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