Pandemic Finance Diaries, Part 6: Making Money Moves

Welcome to Part 6 of the Pandemic Finance Diaries! Part 6 will review my gig job income from June 1, 2021 to August 31, 2021. If you missed Parts 1-5 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 the summer, an exciting time during the pandemic! While my partner became fully vaccinated this quarter, cementing our position as a fully-vaccinated household, it didn’t turn out to be quite the adventure and travel-filled era for which we were hoping due to the Delta variant’s arrival. Nevertheless, we’ve been keeping busy, perhaps a bit too busy. I’ve actually felt like my schedule has been a bit overloaded, which is why I’m writing this blog post…. three months after the fact. You’ll probably see a pull-back in my pet care income in the next few quarters as I figure out how to best balance a full-time job, part-time job, German classes, self-care, maintaining relationships with family and friends, physical health, cooking meals, and so on.

Pet Sitting

Wow. I was shocked when I tallied up this total. This quarter’s pet sitting income is by far the highest I’ve received in the pandemic; I haven’t made this much in pet care since pet care was my full-time job back in 2019. Even with the Delta variant, people seemed desperate to go out and travel, and that is very much reflected in my earnings.

One of the pet-sitting companies for which I work really pulled through and provided me with more income opportunities than they typically had in previous months. On the negative side, I was also tasked with caring for a sick cat whose owner didn’t seem to care much about her health. His blasé attitude about how and when she was medicated added undue stress to my life, and I can’t imagine the cat felt much better about it. While it led to some crazy stories I can later tell at parties, I’ve sworn off working with this particular owner in the future.

I also had a few new and exciting dogg-o clients. The wonderful thing about these new clients is that they’ve asked me to take care of their pets again, which is great because I enjoyed working with both the humans and their fur-babies. I’ve even gotten so busy I’m having to turn a couple of repeat clients away!

What stands out most about this quarter is a new client of mine whose two pups were absolutely lovely. However, my absolute favorite thing about dog sitting was their apartment, which backed up onto a big green space and had its own private patio and outdoor space. This experience, coupled with a recent trip to visit my partner’s family, allowed my partner and I to reexamine some of our life goals in regards to where we’d like to live in the future and what some of our life priorities are. Who knew dog sitting could be such an enlightening experience?

Income: $987.83*

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

Usually 1Q sends a singular 25¢ question at a time, but I lucked out this quarter and got some back-to-back questions that totalled $2. I also cashed out at $10.75 for Surveys on the Go.

Income: $12.75

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

This quarter I was either too busy or didn’t find many tasks that suited my schedule on any of these apps. I actually wound up deleting Merchandiser and Observa from my phone since I’ve found they don’t provide me enough opportunities for the precious space they use on my phone (I’ve quickly adapted from 8GB to 16GB of phone storage). The one job I took involved snapping some photos of a couple of aisles in Target, and I was already near Target that day so it made sense to complete.

Income: $4

Total income from June 1 to August 31: $1,004.58

*Long-promised update: One of my jobs does not withhold taxes from payments as I’m considered an independent contractor, or self-employed. What that currently means is I wait until I file my taxes the subsequent year to report my earnings and am then taxed at that time. I thought I should have been paying estimated taxes to the IRS quarterly. Investigating tax law had been on my to-do list for the past two years (shocking that I kept delaying it, I know). I finally put in some research recently and, in my understanding of the tax law (and I’m not an expert, by any means) while I still have to pay taxes on my self-employment income when I file my taxes each year, I don’t have to make quarterly estimated payments. This is because I the amount I get paid in self-employment income is so low that I would not owe more than $1k in taxes for it.

Per the IRS: “Individuals, including sole proprietors, partners, and S corporation shareholders, generally have to make estimated tax payments if they expect to owe tax of $1,000 or more when their return is filed.”

Tell me, am I understanding the IRS self-employment code correctly? Do you make quarterly estimated payments for your self-employment income?

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