Easier than my previous desk job. But that depends on what "easy" means.

Sorry I've been away for so long, folks! I started two "part-time" jobs (more on that in a bit) since September, and it's been quite challenging on both my body and diet. It's definitely not for everyone as everyone is different.

But for those who are up to the challenge or on the fence about it, here are my personal recollections.

As you may know, I have a relatively small account in the stock market. Prior to employment, I thought I could swing trade and work my way up to a larger account. Fortunately, I was consistently profitable.

Unfortunately, though, it wasn't enough to support my family month-to-month.

Instagram - @andrewtneel | Donations - paypal.me/AndrewNeel
Photo by Andrew Neel / Unsplash

So, taking my advice to everyone from a previous post, I decided to get not just one job, but two. I'm sure everyone knows that finding a job is a job in itself. But that's only because I was picky. I wanted something where I can work remotely or (finally) start my programming career. I even went so far as to practice some free programming problems to brush up my skills as I waited for employers to respond to my applications.

After many polite rejections due to spots filled, missing skills and experience, and incomplete education, I started to get a little desperate--and started to wonder if I really fit in anywhere (but that's another topic). I basically went back to square one of how to start a business, even going as far as to be an adult videographer. However, that wasn't going to cut it for my family.

I needed money now.

Our savings started to run dry, especially after a road trip across states to rescue my in-laws turtles. Relationships were tense (amazing what money can do). We couldn't even make three times rent to qualify for another apartment closer to my wife's workplace.

Enough was enough. I stopped being picky and submitted applications to a grocery store across the street, and Amazon. Those were the quickest response and acceptance times I've ever encountered. I didn't even think I'd get the positions seeing how the pandemic forced people to choose such jobs. But boy, looking back, I'm really grateful.

The ultimate decision factor was distance from home. I tend not to like commutes by car as I'm mostly bicycle-centric. Walking to the grocery store is great, but my commute to Amazon is about 30 miles away at 4 AM. I know some people choose a bicycle commute time of 2 hours. But with how tight my schedule is and how much moving around I have to do at work, unfortunately, I have to use the car.

I wanted higher pay over benefits, but there aren't really that many benefits for part-timers to begin with. My pay isn't even that high when combined, but I still live within my means. I guess the benefits of a 401k and discounted groceries are pretty good, especially when the discount effectively make my pay a little over a dollar more an hour...but only if I buy store brand.

Photo by Jon Tyson / Unsplash

Pros and cons

So, what are the pros and cons of taking on two "flex" jobs (more on that) vs one steady full-time job? As mentioned earlier, schedules are tighter. Planning before accepting the job schedule is crucial. Make time for meal planning, sleep, and commuting between the two. I like the idea of balancing life with an 8 hr split: 8 hour work, 8 hour free time, and 8 hour sleep.

But get this. Sure, 8 hours total may have been planned for work. But remember that it takes time to get ready for work, commute, cook, clean, and other necessities. Sometimes, there isn't much free time for me to do anything, probably an hour or two. Do I sacrifice sleep for fun? Do I even get 8 hours of sleep anymore?

Sure, you could buy something pre-made when you're at work. But it does get expensive fast, and ordering from a restaurant sometimes takes a while, cutting your actual lunch time short. Thirty minutes is definitely not enough for me. Oh and another thing: I haven't had a microwave for a year. So quick cooking is almost nonexistent, unless I broil something.

Try thinking this way: Is that $7 sandwich from the counter worth half an hour of pay? Or does the $10 platter of food that lasts 5 lunches seem more worth it?

Speaking of food, my diet has not been great as of late. Or at least to my standards. Again, time is not really on my side, so I have to either meal plan vegan cold foods on the one free "weekend" day I have, or buy a million granola bars (that aren't that healthy to begin with). And let's just say I don't always pre-plan, so I've been eating whatever's in front of me. As my wife is omnivorous, I've been eating a lot of meat. I'm trying to take control of my food choices again, but we'll see.

In my unfortunate case, flex schedules are a hit or miss. In terms of Amazon, I have a set schedule of four days of the week for between 3-5 hours each shift. I can take an offered shift when they need more people, and sometimes they add $5/hr more. I can also take days off if offered and available, but it doesn't pay.

In terms of the grocery store, the flex schedule is based on seniority. The more senior workers get first pick, while the newer people get the scraps. So I don't have a set work schedule there. Sometimes I'm even working 9-10 hours at the grocery store on top of the Amazon shift of 5 hours.

How do I do it? Sleep well the night before, eat enough (read: shovel food into mouth within 5 minutes), and take a nap between the two jobs, if I can.

Oh, did I mention on top of moving and lifting heavy objects, I walk about 20k steps a day?

I'm borderline whining about this, but I already expected to go through crap (not that they do this, of course). Same expectations for when I tried joining the military. So I put myself in this situation because of circumstance and needs. Please think about your limits before signing onto something like this, hence the reason why I'm showing my experience.

Of course, it's not all doom and gloom. I try to think optimistic in my situation. I thought, hey, I'm getting paid to exercise, play Tetris (in the case of Amazon), and make people's day (in the case of the grocery store). I make more money than if I were to sit at home. The people around me are pretty great and supportive. Amazon can be a place where you put your head down and work, which is great for introverts like myself. The grocery store is pretty cool for helping people find things. Most are nice, but of course there are a few grumps.

Usually, part time jobs have set expectations. Some people like to work the bare minimum, and that's expected at many places. Personally, I want to make things right, especially when it involves a customer. So often I go above and beyond, and that's always an option for me, not an expectation.

No matter where I'm at, though, I always try sending out positive vibes. I find that it makes the people you interact with a bit better.

Photo by Micheile Henderson / Unsplash

Some financial advice

At the end of the day (technically week), money is deposited by two jobs. This can either be a blessing or a curse. Weekly deposits are accessible for when you need it. They are also accessible for when you want it. Think about it and try to have the self-restraint to not touch the money for a month.

Better yet, put away some money in a savings account or the stock market (carefully) and don't look at it for a while, like I do. Taking some cues from Andrei Jikh, I'm setting aside half of my income to do just that. Fortunately, my wife's income covers rent and utilities, while mine covers our groceries, student loans, and savings.

Personally, our goal is to have $10k in savings before I can have discretionary income. With two jobs, it's possible, but will take about 10 months.

Amazon does 401k matching, so that's another plus. (Did you know you can sometimes personally select funds or stocks rather than the default investment for greater control?)

Of course, I'm not letting go of the goal of becoming a stock trader or dividend investor. Even better, working less for more money. Don't fall in the trap thinking all self-employed businesses are easy money. If something goes wrong or a client needs something, you may never know when you're on call. I guess that's a benefit of working a set schedule for someone rather than the benefit of working two part time jobs, but I digress.

Image credit: Dispatches Europe

Two Jobs: An Alternative to the Same Goals

So to recap:

  • Expect less-than-stellar benefits and hours
  • We're here to earn a living and save for getting out, no matter how small
  • We live within our means
  • Take care of our diet and sleep as much as possible
  • Push our limits and challenge ourselves, but not too hard for the long run

As you can tell, I'm very money-oriented these days. Stick around It Has Vegun and I'll post something about my own personal finance strategies. Of course, it will tie into the plant-based lifestyle, so I haven't taken out the roots of this site!

For me, moving around, lifting boxes, picking groceries, and sometimes interacting with customers is better compared to my previous desk job. It doesn't require much brainpower, which I spend on other things like preparing a business idea or researching. My body can take a lot. But I always repair it every day to the best of circumstances.

Again, your mileage may vary. We're all different in our strengths. Play that strength.

Sometimes, taking on a little more effort is necessary to make ends meet. No matter what, though, if you're a part of society, society is hustling right there with you.

Go earn that bread. You've got this.

Update Dec 27th, 2020: I left Amazon in favor of the grocery store back in November! This made things a lot easier on my psychological and physical health, and my commute (again, it's literally across the street). But I put more effort in my tasks, which has paid me back quite literally. Plus, I enjoy the presence of my coworkers and the simpler (but not always easier) job responsibilities.

Don't get me wrong, the pay was pretty decent. But working with new/different people each and every time mostly hindered performance, which frustrated me by the second when boxes piled up and we fell behind.

This whole experience made me realize the last benefit of having two jobs: Try two jobs, stick with the best option.

Maybe one day I'll post about how it's like working in the grocery store, especially during COVID. Seriously, grocery store discounts on top of normal discounts are amazing to get Simple Truth vegan items, or just plain fruit and veggies!