As the world essentially stops moving due to the widespread Coronavirus, many photographers and creatives are left with canceled jobs and nothing on the horizon. While we wait for businesses to open back up, we need to find ways to survive these stressful times. Here are a few helpful tips to get you through this event.
No More Coffee Shops
For coffee, switch to the cheap stuff in your home. If you're an energy drink person, the best thing to do is switch to coffee, find an alternate source for your caffeine, or quit altogether. When I was laid off from a full-time position a little over a year ago, I first tried quitting cold turkey to just free up my budget. Even after a few weeks, I just never felt the same alertness during the day, and the cloudiness was starting to affect my work. I then made the switch to caffeine pills, which sounds ridiculous, but is a very cheap alternative and gives you the same energy boost for a fraction of the cost.
No More Eating Out
Eating out, even fast food, should be off the table for you if you're trying to save as much money as possible. The average fast food order costs around $6. If you're doing that even once a day, that's over $40 a week for one meal a day. You'll need to at least double it just for food for the week.
Meal-Prepping Is Your Friend
A good meal-prep can last you a few days or even a week with low-cost food. Most of my meals the last year have been rice or pasta with broccoli, chicken, and spinach, all prepared together with different spices or sauces just to mix it up. Even if you can't really cook, there are websites dedicated to budget-friendly cooking that can help you along the way.
Cancel Subscription Services
We all have at least a couple entertainment subscriptions popping up under our monthly credit card bills. Unfortunately, since we don't know how long this will last, it might be time to cancel those recurring costs until you're able to get back to work. What's lucky with this is for many of these services, you can cancel with no fees attached. And they offer trial memberships that you can use for the time being.
Monitor Heat and Electricity Usage
Luckily, in the US, we're starting to see it warm up a little, but we still need a little extra heat on at night. Just try and make sure you're not overdoing it. Turn it down a little more than you normally would. The last thing you want is to run out of heat or see a jump in your bill when there's little to no income coming in.
As for electricity, some of the biggest changes come from lifestyle choices. Unplug anything like an Alexa that is just there, and don't leave lights on. I have trouble falling asleep without something on. When I was having financial trouble, I switched from my computer to an iPad that uses much less electricity. That way, I wasn't wasting electricity for most of the night, and I was able to continue with my routine without destroying my electric bill.
Sell Unused Gear and Items Around the House
You might be interested in putting the KonMari method to use and finding what doesn't spark joy anymore to sell for some savings. You can use ebay, Facebook, or any other third party marketplace site to flip an extra lens, lights, or camera bodies you may have lying around. The profits from selling old laptops, bikes, and miscellaneous items like a photo scanner might also help you out in the long run. The only advice I have for this is if you really are looking for the most profit, selling on your own is the best way to go. Yes, that comes with a little more risk, but as long as you take the right precautions, you'll be safe and covered from any potential frauds.
Get a Side Gig
A lot of people are turning towards delivery apps to get their fix while they work from home. That means delivery drivers are in high demand. There are many different places you can contract for; even Amazon offers a delivery service for their packages. These types of jobs are great for creatives, because they're flexible with little to no required time. This means you can work as long or as little as you need.
There are also online jobs like translating and transcription for companies like Rev that allow you to work from home and make a little something on the side. Although these jobs are much tougher to acquire, if you get in your hours, they are just as flexible as being a driver.
Dave, These Are All Things Everyone Tells Us to Do
You know why everyone tells you these? Because they work! I'm not here to tell you to go pick up cans on the side of the road to recycle for five cents each. I'm not going to give you advice like invest in Bitcoin just to add random bullet points. I'm going to tell you the truth. Cut back on your lifestyle, try to sell the things you have lying around your house you don't use, and get a side job while we all try and figure this thing out.
It's probably not what any of us want to read, but we really don't know how long this virus will be a problem or how long it will affect our immediate future. This makes planning ahead incredibly difficult. That's why it's always best to plan for the worst case scenario that this could be longer than a couple weeks. Don't assume business will be back as usual on April 1; it might not work like that. The best thing you can do is to start with the basics of cutting back and take it day by day.
If you are a photographer currently surviving off savings, let me know what you've been doing to penny-pinch in the comments. And if you're bored out of your mind, read what you can do during this downtime.