Financial experts are giving a lot of advice these days about financial options for those who are suffering a reduced income or job loss due to COVID-19. The options offered are a combination of reduce your expenses, delay, or defer debt repayment and as a last option pull from retirement savings if all other saving have been exhausted. What I am not hearing enough of, is advice to find some transitional income. This is another viable option that too often goes unexplored. (Naturally, this assumes health precautions are taken.)
Transitional jobs come in many forms – full-time, part-time, seasonal and gig work. For an optimist like me, every job is a transition position to get me to the next position. Each job comes with benefits that get overlooked because they aren’t listed in the job postings. Benefits like, peace of mind, positive physical and mental activity, social interaction, pride of work, and more. They come in many forms, but the primary purpose is to help you transition. It could be to transition from being in debt to being debt free. It could be the transition from one job to the next.
When I first moved to Iowa, I looked for a job related to my degree during the day and waitressed at night. Waitressing was more for my mental health than my financial health. My soon to be husband made enough money to cover all my expenses. But I was new to the state and he was my only connection to the area. Meeting others and doing something on my own helped me get my bearings and have social interaction outside of my relationship with him. Yes, having some of my own cash was nice, but it provided me so much more than money. It helped me transition from the place I knew and loved to a new and unfamiliar place. It also gave me peace of mind which I’m sure increased my confidence during the day when I was applying and interviewing for jobs related to my degree.
Years ago, a friend left a secure job to pursue his dream of owning his own business. While starting his new business during the day, he delivered pizza at night. The income gave him the financial buffer he needed to allow him to take on the high-risk of business ownership. The value of this transitional job was far greater than the value of the pay and tips he received. It provided piece of mind. It provided security in part of his life that allowed him to take risks in another part of his life.
When working these less than glamorous jobs my friend and I had to get past the social stigma of working jobs that weren’t in sync with the rest of our resumes. My friend had to get past the uncomfortable position of delivering pizzas to the homes of professionals he previously worked with. I was so aware of the stigma of being a waitress that I drove to another town to minimize the number of people I would wait on that knew my fiancé. Unfortunately, the stigma of some jobs keeps people from taking advantage of the transitional help they provide.
We need to get past these social stigmas and see the real value in these jobs. Not every job has to be a resume builder. Not every job has to be on your resume. If it keeps you from having to dip into your savings, it’s a good job. If it gives you a reason to be physically active, it’s a good job. If working weekends on the customer service line gives you social interaction on top of helping pay off debt, it’s a good job. If it brings you joy or piece of mind, it’s a good job.
There has been so much focus on “finding your passion” that too many jobs get overlooked or discounted as unworthy. What the “follow your passion” advisors overlook is the utility and side benefits of non-passion jobs. These advisors belittle the value of having a reason to get up and have some place to go beyond some internal self-fulfillment. They discount the physical and mental health benefits of working and being productive.