Talk me off the ARRRRRRGGG! ledge
April 20, 2014 1:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm sorry that this is question #500 from me about how broke am I, but anyway, here it is! I am having a harder time finding a second job than I thought I would, I have to go out of town for family related reasons in the next couple of weeks, and I have been beating my head against the pavement interviewing every damn day and still - nothing! What sort of short-term jobs can I look for to make enough cash that I am not totally freaking out?

I currently work as a hostess at a pretty nice restaurant in Los Angeles. We have a new manager, and my shifts sort of suck. I had a serving job, but business slowed down a lot and they took me off the schedule. I'm in a play and I anticipated being pretty poor during the rehearsal process, but I have been job hunting my face off since we opened in early April, and still - nothin'. Dropping resumes off at various restaurants, stalking Craigslist, asking my friends for leads - I've become a little obsessive, honestly. I've had an interview every day this week. I might have a job at a restaurant opening in a month, but I need money NOW. I have savings, but I am really sick of having to dip into them. Watching my money slide away is distressing.

Since I realized that I would probably not find a restaurant job before leaving for my sister's graduation, I've applied to work at a few call centers. What else can I look for? I don't need to make a lot of money - I already have one job, I just need an extra $150/week or perhaps even less. I've ruled out background work because it can be extremely difficult to get, but what else is there? I think I don't weigh enough to sell plasma. I have a few things that I'm trying to sell, but honestly, I just want to stop tapping into my savings.

In short: My availability sucks, I don't need to make a lot of money, and I'm not terribly picky. How have you made fast cash?

(I'm in Los Angeles).
posted by ablazingsaddle to Work & Money (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
In the past when I've needed to make money I've done catering jobs; stalked the classifieds on college campuses - they usually have research that pays; "read" palms on the street - just requires making a pretty and fancy sign and some acting; sold essays to college kids; made and sold some quick lunch items to people at the bus stops - cold water bottles; sandwiches; hotdogs.
posted by mariisoul at 3:41 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Babysitting is good for cash.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:20 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you tried temp agencies? You might get lucky, especially if you're willing to do manual labor as well as office work.
posted by Kriesa at 4:45 AM on April 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I was in a similar position about 3 years ago, in Toronto. It was really brutal trying to find work! In desperation and to make ends meet, I would participate in studies / research being done by students at the University. I mostly did surveys, and in a few cases they would also take blood samples or hook me up to some machine to read brainwaves/ heart rate etc. while they ran the test... Nothing too extreme. The best way to find out about these is to go on the campus itself and check out the notice boards (general boards in common areas, department boards, signs stuck to prof doors) as these are not usually posted anywhere online.

I usually made 10-15 doing surveys (but for one survey I made 50), about 20-25 with the blood sample component, and 50-75 with the brainwave/heart rate type things. They paid in cash after the testing was done, and it usually took 1-2.5 hours. Some of the studies that pay even better will have you come in multiple times and require that you keep detailed notes - you will not get paid if you drop out half way though. I didn't wear myself out looking for opportunities and probably scored about $75- $150 a month. The testing was usually done on campus, but a few were done at nearby medical centres.

The only drawbacks are 1) most studies are looking for a particular demographic (e.g. people with English as a second language, people who are not on any medications, people of certain ethnic groups etc.) so you may have to really look hard to find something that suits you 2) some will require you be a student of the university - so ask up front. I was not a student at that time 3) some need you to come in at weird hours during the day (which may fit your schedule)

Something else I did was sell my books and gold jewelry. I am still bitter about that (you won't get what it is worth, some jewelry can't be replaced), but that is another possible source of income.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 5:19 AM on April 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Someone with the social and performance skills of a hostess and actor could do very well at sex work - phone sex, Web cam, stripping, and if it is legal in your jurisdiction, escort work or professional domination. It works well as a second job or a casual job. I hope the suggestion does not cause any offence!
posted by Mistress at 5:32 AM on April 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've just noticed you're in LA - escorting is not legal there but there is a robust porn industry - either performer or support work there may be an option.
posted by Mistress at 5:33 AM on April 20, 2014

A kind of babysitting around these parts that might fit around your other jobs is the pick-up/drop-off sitter. This is a person who gets babies and older kids to daycare or school and them picks them up and stays with them until their parents get home from work. I'm an actor and have friends who do this sort of thing as part of their regular gigs. Check to see what sort of parent's list serves there are in your area and see about getting introduced to the membership.

There's also dog walking, house sitting, girl Friday/errand runner, house cleaning, and car washing/detailing, just off the top of my head.

Good luck.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 6:11 AM on April 20, 2014

Are you looking in the etc section of craigslist? It does have opportunities like focus groups or university studies, as well as an assortment of more dodgy looking things. Just check with the focus groups/studies as to how long it takes to get paid if you need the money soon.
posted by AnnaRat at 6:17 AM on April 20, 2014

Best answer: In LA? If you were a good hostess, you'll be a great salesperson, especially in a higher-end store. They love people who are comfortable with the public and can chat people up. Take a walk around the Beverly Center and see who's hiring?
posted by xingcat at 6:56 AM on April 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This doesn't help you get money immediately, but consider getting your lifeguard certification when you get back from your trip if you can swim at all. I got through some financial bad times my first summer in LA by picking up shifts at this weird country club in Glendale via a staffing agency. The money isn't amazing, but it's easy and you're out in the sun.

Also, sign up at staffing agencies. I got lots of easy, short term jobs this way during aforementioned financial bad times.
posted by justjess at 7:42 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I once made decent money on a flexible schedule by being a "rater" for Google. Here's a current ad. If you speak a foreign language, they have openings for those too. It looks like the ones they have open now are for ad rating work, but I also did search results rating work. If I remember, you had to work at minimum 10 hours/week, and (fair warning), it's tedious work. I *think* the pay rate was around $12-$14/hour and I can't remember how often we got paid (weekly, bi-weekly, etc.)
posted by megancita at 7:53 AM on April 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

So, $150/week. Let's say, with taxes, your paycheck needs to be $195. At $8/hr, that's about 24 working hours a week. You mention that it needs to work with your schedule. Are you trying to work around your fairly non-existent hostess job as well as your play? That's pretty tough.

I'd start with your current hostess gig. Ask your manager for any shift of any kind - bus tables, wash dishes, waiting tables would pay better - and let them know that you'd rather stay with them than find another job. Post a note for your coworkers that you're looking for shifts.

Reduce your expenses. Are your utilities at their minimum payment? Your water and electric cos are usually willing to put you on a hardship plan - minimum payments over several months. Etc. Reduce your overhead.

Your best bet for making money while you look for something steady is something where you are your own boss, getting paid in cash or under the table. So, odd jobs. Task rabbit. Craigslist odd jobs. Dog walking.

Try, also, to keep your cool when applying for jobs. I think employers avoid desperation as much as potential romantic partners. You can be eager but be cool, too. Remember that the best job for you is one which plays to your strengths, pays right and works with your schedule. Even if deep down, you know that you'll take just about anything, project an air of discernment and maybe you'll get a better response.
posted by amanda at 7:59 AM on April 20, 2014

Best answer: Have you tried Labor Ready? They do hospitality and event jobs, as well as maybe light industrial like warehouse picking and packing. Maybe you could get a gig as a banquet server.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:18 AM on April 20, 2014

Have you considered catering? I have some friends who seem to make good money as a server at catered events. Weddings and the like often need experienced wait staff at the last minute, as catering company employees are not permanent.
posted by deathpanels at 8:56 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lyft driver?
posted by xo at 2:04 PM on April 20, 2014

Best answer: There are companies that clean up dog poop from people's yards, my neighbour owns one. They are Always looking for people and pay pretty well. Usually the schedule is flexible. Kinda gross work but they often pay $20/hr.
posted by fshgrl at 3:17 PM on April 20, 2014

Lyft/Sidecar/Uber driver. TaskRabbit?
posted by radioamy at 7:14 PM on April 20, 2014

How about dog sitting/walking? It's easy money, you can do it while listening to music or podcasts, and there are almost no barriers to entry. So long as you are a reliable person who can be somewhere on time and remember to lock doors and be friendly with clients, you'll have no trouble finding work.
posted by deathpanels at 7:56 PM on April 20, 2014

If you can sing and/or play an instrument you should head down to the Promenade. I know there is an official permitting process through city hall but I'm sure a lot of the folks that aren't right on the promenade are just finding a spot and putting out a hat. I've never seen anyone being forced to leave, and judging by the cacophony there's no limit to the number of performers that are allowable.

(Also, as someone who has hired many catering firms for entertainment industry events, Party Down isn't that far off as far as the job having good general networking opportunities for actors.)
posted by Room 641-A at 8:45 AM on April 21, 2014

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