Transitioning from paychecks to gig work

Transitioning from paychecks to gig work

Gig work always had a ‘side’ to the word hustle. “Side hustle.” I was never independent of the paycheck from some sort of work in an office / facility. There was always the need to have both, raising two sons in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Even with the jobs’ steady checks, most were those in which tipping was part of the structure.

Side hustling on evenings and weekends was therefore a must. It was always part of my work world. Never a day off, just a different place to go for the day’s wages. The Monday – Friday grind job and the gigs for nights, weekends and holidays.

The need to have the money needed for living expenses overruled the freedom of doing only gig work, until much later in my life. I was trapped with, and by, the allure of the ‘benefit’ packages.

Now, at 70, I can’t imagine another way of earning a living than gig work. Still, it was a long process to get to a gig-only income. 

As I got older, I wanted the freedom of being able to turn on and off how I worked and made money. I made a lifetime of having work that did supply tips and incentives for more income. I knew customer service for most of my jobs was a ‘portable’ skill, and I used it well.

The trust of only gig work was a leap. And a big one, at that.

Only the person making that decision understands the courage it takes to leave behind the ‘good jobs’ with all the perks. There wasn’t a lot of support for the person doing this. The Tipped support community certainly fills a huge need for us. 

I know that having dependent children kept me in the “paycheck plus side work” world for twenty years. There was no way around the instability of a job that was seasonal (living in the summer resort area I live in).

Squirreling away money from the side hustles and tips for the long dark winter months was part of the lifestyle. Opening up homes for the people who rented out their homes in the summer was a huge part of my income. I had my own cleaning business and it was a great hustle.

Eventually my body gave me the signs that it was too physical for me, though.

The need for the surety of that paycheck returned – along with the health insurance it provided. I never looked at it (then) as being locked into the job. I thought it was a good thing.

Once I turned 65 (yes, you could call me a late LATE bloomer!), I decided that side hustles would be my only job and I became a gig worker, full time.

I did Lyft and Uber for the first year. Having people in my car and hearing their stories and making great cash tips was a no brainer for me. Less physical wear and tear (only my vehicle got the wear and tear) on me, and still making better money than I ever made in a (what we used to call a ‘real job’) paycheck.

It takes a big leap of faith to go to gig work full time. Sometimes it feels like it can only be that way. I get it. Needing insurance for myself, my kids. Needing the set schedule with split custody. Needing the 401k help for the future. All considerations that the gig world wasn’t providing. 

Something changed when I turned 65 and decided that the next chapter of my work / life story would be the adventure of trusting and believing in a gig job. And the saying, ‘when you do what you love for work, it isn’t work.’ That is Instacart, for me, now.

It happened with Uber and Lyft too. I loved it. I trusted it. I was making money. Bills were paid. Money set aside for rainy days. Life was good. Income was predictable (a great word to use with a gig lifestyle). What could go wrong? 

Oh, yes the pandemic!! There it went. Poof! Overnight, taken off the roads and at home with no future (or, so it seemed). Quarantined for weeks.

By late spring, I took on a gig with Instacart. I wore my mask. I got into the stores and did some shopping for others. It felt like ‘my jam’. I was happy to do the service. The tips? Well, sometimes great and sometimes not so great. But, tips do happen and they help supplement the base pay of Instacart.

The freedom, the lifestyle, the choice to shop began to trump all the negatives of the work. I began to structure my day and sharpen my discipline with being totally dependent on my skills and body to do a day’s work.  

Regrets? Not one. Well, not really. I wish I had trusted in myself and the gig world for 100% of my income, sooner.

We have a great community of support. Find us gig workers doing our own IG and YouTube channels. And now Tipped, too. Offering support and tips and tricks for just being a better shopper, a better delivery person, a better driver with people. It’s a wonderful community that only wants the best, for us, as well. Tipped is answering the call for a positive and safe place to find others doing / trusting in the gig world of income. So much support. 

There's nothing quite like the story and wisdom of a fellow gig worker to identify with.

Forget those in the corporate world reporting on ‘us.’ A person who does the same job as we do is such a wonderful thing. The encouragement and support of peers is the BEST!

How many of us gave 100% in the workplace for little return? Here in our gig economy, you can shine and be your own star, make money, get rewarded with good tips for good service, call your own shots and make your own hours. What can beat that? 

I like to think I get better at this lifestyle every day. I hope that you do, too. It’s a great feeling to know we can do for other human beings what they need to have done and feel a great feeling for doing it.

What could be a better win–win? Making a living doing something you love for people that need and appreciate what you offer. It sure beats any type of job I ever had in that other world.

May you find the courage to flip the switch on your work and trust that you will find a way to support yourself and your family with what you have to offer.

It will happen and you will never look back like this gig worker! Good luck in trusting in yourself to do this. You always can go back. Few do though after that taste of freedom and the enjoyment of finding your niche!

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