Pandemic Finance Diaries, Part 5: New Opportunities

Welcome to Part 5 of the Pandemic Finance Diaries! Part 5 will review my gig job income from March 1, 2021 to May 31, 2021. If you missed Parts 1-4 or are wondering why I’m tallying my gig economy income during the pandemic, I suggest starting at Part 1 of the series.

This quarter’s pandemic finance diaries brought an exciting update – the mayor of DC opened up vaccine eligibility to anyone over the age of 18, so my partner was able to get both of his COVID-19 vaccines! We didn’t become a fully vaccinated household until June 2021, so technically not in this quarter, but it still was a very exciting and monumental moment for us. It also made us feel a lot safer about taking a few day trips over Memorial Day weekend.

Pet Sitting

This quarter I found myself with a few kitty & doggie customers – some new clients, some old – as things slowly crept back to normal. However, pet sitting was still pretty slow during this time period. One strange thing was that I received four pet-sit requests in a single day, but after that one day things remained pretty quiet. I originally had a week and a half overnight dog-sit planned, but sadly the pup fell ill prior to the trip so we had to cancel (luckily the pupper’s feeling much better now!) My partner and I took some day trips on Memorial Day weekend, so I also missed out on some pet sitting opportunities during that time period.

I expect next quarter to be the busiest it’s been in awhile, as I’ve seen an uptick in requests from those going on vacation, especially after the CDC released its new guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.

Income: $324.76*

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

There’s not much interesting to report here. I’m usually able to cash-out at the $10 level for Surveys on the Go about once a quarter. I’m trying to not get pulled into the 15-25 minute surveys as I don’t think the $1.50-$2 payout for that amount of time is quite worth it, so I’ll likely leave the survey incomplete at that point.

Income: $11.10

Secret Shopper Phone Apps (Field Agent/Easy Shift/Merchandiser/Observa)

I was excited to flex my new phone’s memory storage by downloading several new secret shopper apps, including Easy Shift, Merchandiser, and Observa. Each has been fun to experiment with, and my hope is that as pandemic restrictions are lifted there will be more opportunities for secret shops.

In regards to user experiences I find Field Agent to be the best option. Easy Shift would come in second, and Merchandiser’s user interface would be the worst and least intuitive out of the lot. I actually had to re-do one secret shop through both Merchandiser and Easy Shift; it was very much a time suck, and made for a very awkward experience in a small store where I kept opening the refrigerated sections and taking photos of beverages over and over again – eventually the store employee came over to ask if I needed help and I awkwardly responded “No, I’m fine, thanks!” and continued to take photos of their refrigerated water. Lesson learned to stick with bigger stores where I won’t be noticed by employees as easily. I’ve only had one successful secret shop using Observa, so I may delete that particular app from my repertoire as it doesn’t seem there are many enticing opportunities in my area.

I was especially proud of myself for one secret shop stacking I performed, where, on the bike ride back from a cat sit, I was able to stop at two different stores and do three different secret shops on three different apps – score!

Income: $54.55

Selling Trash Finds

After being burned last summer/fall by picking up a bunch of items from the trash that didn’t sell after months of being advertised on Craigslist, even when priced for free, my partner has understandably asked I pull back on this endeavor a bit. Fingers crossed that the secondhand market rebounds a bit in the coming months!

Income: $0

Total income from March 1 to May 31: $390.41

Stay tuned for Part 6...

*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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