Minimum wage meets Etsy

Work, school, crafting… this letter writer has a lot going on. 

No wonder you’re stressed, says our elder. Take time to relax and think about switching up your schedule.


Dear EWC

Hello! I’m almost 20 years old and I need some advice on my job and life situation and how to balance it all out. So I work a full time job Monday through Friday at a Medicaid transportation company. It’s a pretty laid-back office job especially for someone my age. I get paid minimum wage which is $12 an hour where I live (Had to put that in because I know some states are different) but since I’m not independently wealthy and actually need more money since living prices are so high in my state and because I love crafting, I opened up an online Etsy shop to sell my handmade jewelry and other items I make. My Etsy shop is definitely not a stable income and is more of a side gig to earn extra money because I have a lot to save up for. I’m currently enrolled in community college that I do at night online after work and on weekends I make crafts for my Etsy shop. Neither my Etsy nor my full-time job are my dream jobs but for right now they’re helping me get by. 

My real dream is to be an author and actress but I can’t figure out how to decompress when I’m done stocking up my jewelry and done with my school work. I know I can do this but I need some advice on how I can balance work, side hustle, relaxing, school, and my writing and acting career. How do I find time for all of them? I live alone in low-income apartments close to my job; they charge my rent based on my income which is low so that’s good. I just want to know how people balance it all? Can someone please talk about this with me further and help me work this out? 


PJH replies

OMG, no wonder you’re stressed! Unless the routine you describe gets breaks, you absolutely need time off to relax. You’re running in emergency mode right now, and that’s only fine if you’re dealing with an emergency. If your present plan includes staying with your schedule through the holiday season and beyond, something will break down. So, please plan a change and follow through with it. 

I don’t have enough information to offer anything more than generalities, but a couple of things in your letter stood out for me. First, I urge you not to let a hobby become work. Don’t rely on its income. Keep doing it for pleasure and relaxation, plus some social contacts, I trust.

Then there’s your job: If twelve bucks an hour is the least anyone is allowed to pay you, I suggest you look for something that will get you the same income for fewer hours and use the time saved to be creative.

I’m struck, too, by your work schedule. It seems you may be using your best hours for the least valuable return. For most of us, evening is the worst time to be creative and academically energized. I’m wondering whether you could be a better student if you studied in the morning and got a second shift job to pay the rent. Here’s another brainstorm that’s probably unrealistic: If your rent is geared to your income, you could earn less, pay less, and have more time to write and/or act.

And following up on that thought: An aspiring author and actor needs to be writing and acting. If you’re not doing that, how about working less for more pay and using the time saved to write and act in mini-dramas you load onto TikTok or YouTube. Test and tune your talent. Build a portfolio. You never know where it might lead.

Okay, that’s enough for now. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to write back. I’d be happy to hear from you.

Article #: 500062
Category: Career

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