How African-Americans can embrace 'side-hustles' to survive

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“Don’t get mad, UPS is hiring”

What was once a comic line in a lyric from “Flava In Ya Ear”, a song from Craig Mack, has become just one of the many revenue streams people are turning to in an attempt to stay afloat in what many are now referring to as “The Great Recession”.

Unlike previous economic downturns, the amount of Americans using a source of government aid to assist them has never been higher. About one in six Americans are now on some form of government-funded anti-poverty program and citizens are still receiving other help, through student loans, Medicaid and unemployment benefits.

Yet when these government measures are still not enough to break-even on the monthly budget, many citizens have gotten creative. Gone are the days of hunting loan sharks or searching for the nearest pawnbroker to sell your mother’s prized necklace. Household incomes nationwide are not only flat, but have declined, especially for African-Americans. So the question is no longer what job do you have, but how many?

“Side-hustles” are often outside of the realm of fully employed, paycheck-based income streams, moire related to making money online paypal, but are still equally beneficial forms of revenue. No, we’re not talking about selling drugs and don’t think about any other illegal means of getting money. Think more local and jobs that are typically over-looked.

There will always be a need for babysitting. No matter how juvenile you might think it is, it’s a great way to spend time with kids, pick up a little money and build a solid relationship with a family. Dog walking is also another odd job that is always in need.

In addition, car washes and bake sales are another common, yet still worthwhile and easy way to make a few extra bucks. These time honored tricks are popular with teenagers and small organizations, but they never fail.

But what about the interesting side hustles?
NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo recently spotlighted an upcoming trend called direct selling. The days of door-to-door sales have caused many to grow weary and simply give up that hustle. If you don’t have the time or the patience to wait for commissions to roll in, you can sell by hosting a gathering, even in your own living room, to showcase a product. Whether it be a new vacuum or new way to file your taxes or whatever the product is, direct selling not only brings the seller to you, but on your terms in a creative way.

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Those who are musically-inclined will see their talents put to use in this economy. Anyone with just a little bit of talent can make a buck and don’t knock the guy selling mixtapes just yet. Being a DJ or a club/party promoter can provide some of the most profitable and quickest ways to raise some cash. While DJing is a talent and promotion requires the skill of a salesmen and an true extrovert, you can raise hundreds to even thousands in a single night, and as you grow your reputation, you can raise much more and money more frequently.

Producing your own clothing, candles, arts and other goods might also help you out. You could sell your goods at a yard sale, a flea market or a even a more public open-air market on weekends. It may not be the quickest way to make some money, but it is effective. In addition, you can use your artistic talents to help design flyers or logos. If your web-savvy you can always advertise your graphic and web design skills, which are becoming increasingly important.

Derrell Graham, 20, cuts hair in his spare time to make money. “It’s just something I picked up because I couldn’t afford cuts so frequently,” says Graham. “But now I charge my friends and other people at school and can raise about $30 a week”.

Finally, one side-hustle doesn’t just make money, but helps people out, such as tutoring and volunteering. Many non-profit organizations do offer payment for the services of their volunteers.

Many have been able to completely support themselves by volunteering at shelters, half-way houses and various treatment centers. It’s not just community service or the right thing to do, but a way to help others and yourself. Some programs for women who suffer from substance abuse or teens who fall down a path of drugs and/or violence have been know to provide a source of income for their workers who’s primary joy is helping others.

Bobby Savage,Jr., 20, worked at one such program for disaffected teenagers in Harlem and Brooklyn. “I really like my job and I like helping people,” said Savage. “If you can help someone out, do what you love, and make some money in the process, what more could you ask for?.”