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How To Stop Bleeding in Between Contract Work

In Between Contract Work
By Melissa Bondar

A lot of my career has been made up of contract work. While on the contract, I make money. While not on the contract, I don’t. This is a lame but regular side effect to the stage manager life.

To compound the issue, when I’m on a contract, money has little meaning. Housing is usually provided. Food is provided or there’s a per diem. I do what I want on dark days because I’m barely putting a dent in my money.

Some years, this is fine.

There was the golden year of 2016 where I had three weeks off total and I went on vacation during two of them. It was extra golden because each contract was set up well in advance of the previous one ending, so there was minimal anxiety too.

Then there’s 2019. The year of purposeful little employment. I had planned to be totally unemployed for several months on purpose to be home with my mom, but that didn’t exactly go as planned. So I was left with several months of grief and boredom staring me in the face until I started a new job that is much like my regular life back in June.

I did a month long contract and since then, I’ve just been chillaxing in New Jersey.

Aside from the total boredom of the past month, I’ve also reacquainted myself with the feeling of the bleed. Now, if I had a super quick turn around time into another contract, I never feel the bleed. I just spend some money doing some things and get back to making more money.

However, this time it’s about 7 and a ½ weeks between paychecks and man, oh man, do I notice the bleed.

It took me a little while, but there was one day where I was paying for another $7 shock package for our pool and I thought, geez, it feels like I haven’t gone a single day without spending money on something this month.

And as I thought that, I realized I had also bought something online that morning, so my daily spending was closer to $50 than just the $7.

Is this the end of the world? These days no, but at the start of my career, these in-between times could kind of kick my butt.

Even now, I just feel mentally a little better if I can staunch the flow. I don’t have any huge expenses at the moment….

Though in typical financial fashion, when I manage to not splurge on any little purchases on a day, I realize that my health insurance premium or some other required bill is also due.

Here are a few things I do that bring in “pin money” (as my grandma used to call it), which is usually all I need during those in-between contract times:

UserTesting
eBay
Craigslist Gigs
Pinata/GoGetter Brand Ambassador App
Substitute Teaching
VIPKid

When I really start to feel down about being nickeled and dimed to death, all of these things can add up to mitigate some of the damage.

Another nice thing about being a brand ambassador and substitute teaching is that I have to go somewhere for a few hours, which means not only am I making money, but I’m definitely not spending any during that time too.

While this won’t make a big dent for someone underwater financially, they’re really awesome gigs for someone who is financially solvent and mostly trying to meet their goals, not use their savings, and cash flow their generally “income free” times.

What do you do to pick up a little extra money to balance your budget?


Published in Collaboration with brokeGIRLrich

brokegirlrich TheatreArtLife

Also on by Melissa Bondar:

One Thing I Wish I’d Done in College Before I Became a Stage Manager

Stage Managers: Investing In Yourself

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