Before I start talking about how to make money with real work I must talk about unemployment. If you’ve chosen a seasonal career like me there is a pretty good chance you will be laid off at the end of every season due to lack of work. You will then have a choice, “do I try to work the off season?” or “do I just collect unemployment?”
So what is unemployment insurance? Well, essentially it’s a compulsory system into which your employer pays to ensure that if you are fired there is a structure in place to pay you little bits of money until you get a new job. That’s a lot of words just to say it’s not exactly welfare, but that it’s very similar. It was taken from your employer at the end of a gun, but in theory it was set aside as insurance in case your employer decided to give you the ax.
“How do I get into this magical pot of free money?” you may be asking. Well, that varies state to state. Each state sets its own requirements for who can collect and how much. And each state sets requirements for what you must do to get the money.
The only two states I have experience with now are Arizona and New Mexico. Both require an extensive sign up process (have paystubs and such ready). Both have work search requirements as well.
AZ requires you to make at least four job searches per week on four different days. Basically apply to one job a day on four different days of the week, or do a job search and record it, or call someone about an application, or any such contact with a potential employer. Keep a record! When you file your weekly claim you will need to tell them what you did. Occasionally they will audit your records, so make sure they are thorough,
NM requires two per week. And I’ve been told they give you more money as well.
But here’s the kicker: you can only make what they give you per week, and if you want to work at all you will most likely just lose money. If you do decide to do something part time and just happen to make money doing it, you have to report those earnings. When you file your weekly claim you have to enter in any GROSS earnings you made that week.
This means if you make $200 driving Uber and spend $100 on gas doing it, you must report that you made $200. They adjust your unemployment payout accordingly.
What this meant for me was that if I made $217 from Uber I lost all unemployment benefits, even if it meant I had only netted $117 for the week. I lost out on $100 of unemployment payments, and wasted time and energy putting in a weekly claim.
Bottom line: don’t bother with trying to collect unemployment if you have any desire whatsoever to be self-sufficient. Unemployment is a disincentive to working, honestly.
If you plan to stay “unemployed” but still want to make a living, skip the unemployment altogether and try some of the other methods I’ll be discussing in later posts.