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Surviving a Pandemic at Home

Juliana Schadel

During a global pandemic many people are out of jobs, stuck inside going stir crazy and buying all sorts of items online.

“Juliana, what is this package?” my Mom screams angrily as I am shaken out of my sleep.

Oh crap.

My mom who works at UPS hates times like these. Some people that have nothing better to do than spend money on Amazon ordering swimsuits, clothes and home decor.

It’s me... I am “some people.”

Opening the Shop

I am lucky enough to be working as an essential employee right now. As a cashier at a grocery store, picking up extra hours I am still receiving income plus bonus hazard pay. This extra money made me feel comfortable enough to join the online shopping craze and I can’t help myself when I see a good deal.

Especially with all this time on my hands, I realized that I can’t think of any better way to make some fast cash-- to use later with my shopping sprees-- than to clean my closet out! While being off of school, or at least moving online, I have so much time to look for side hustles to make some extra cash to help me feed my shopping addiction.

When I was scrolling through online boutiques the thought hit me. What if I made my own online store?

Now, you could of course go ahead and pick out the clothes you don’t wear anymore and take them somewhere like Plato’s Closet where they pick which of your clothes they want and then offer you money for them BUT if I am being honest with you, unless you are bringing them clothes you’ve boughten within the past year-- they aren’t taking them.

So here was my solution. With tons of clothes overflowing in my closet and drawers being packed tight, I began an Instagram account for my closet. I know. Weird. Some people make accounts for their cats, dogs and even babies but I made one for my closet!

Any of the clothes I either

a. No longer fit into, or

b. Weren’t my style

I put on or folded neatly to take a picture of! From that point I edited the pictures to make the background look as aesthetically pleasing as possible, because if I learned anything from Junior year psychology class-- first impression is everything. Most times it’s a real pain in the butt to add a fancy background to each picture, however it is worth the extra time if it means it makes me some coin.

Once I deem the picture “presentable” all I have to do is upload it to my Instagram account with a caption that describes the condition of the clothing, what size it is and how much I am selling it for. But, my prices are flexible since I would rather make money for the clothing than have it sit and collect dust.

Sometimes while I am sorting through the clothes I realize some of the pieces I was going to sell are too cute and give away and I hold onto them-- but I have really put forth effort at building self control and understanding that some things, no matter how cute they are-- I just won’t wear.

I highly recommend taking the time, especially right now while we are all inside with nothing else to do, to go through your closet and take out the clothes you know you won’t wear. Upcycling clothing and thrifting is not only a great way to make money but it is an awesome way to save money!

Instead of going out and buying the same items brand new, you can buy them for cheap and like new! In my store, when someone purchases from me, I ask them to private message me. I give them the option to Venmo me, or I accept cash! From that point we set up a time to meet and usually I only sell to people who I know or are in my area. Of course if you chose to follow in my footsteps, please be smart when meeting up with people you do not know.

This has been an awesome way for me to make quick, easy cash to spend on other clothing accounts, or buying supplies for my new apartment in college!

I decided that since my senior year has come to an end, now would be the ideal time to purge my closet of most on my North Scott apparel. Taking out my worn-out shirts, hoodies stained with memories, I feel like I am in a coming of age movie.

Selling North Scott apparel is a piece of cake actually. Since every piece of clothing you can find with a North Scott logo on it, on an online webstore is EXTREMELY expensive. Ranging anywhere from 20-75$ for a regular ol’ t-shirt or a prestigious quarter zip, buying a Nike sweatshirt from a gently-used high school girls instagram store, is the obviously more appealing alternative.

However this kind of purging is bitter-sweet.

Time to move on to bigger and better things.

Ultimate Guide to Spending Cash Fast

Because of my success in the store, I have taken the money that I received from selling my clothes and put it into buying Kirkwood apparel-- the college I will be attending in the fall.

If I am honest, I am always reluctant to shop online because I have zero patience. I cannot bear waiting to receive something I bought. I will obsess over the tracking number and its every move until I receive my products.

So when it came to buying my new college apparel I was ASTONISHED at how fast my clothes came. When I placed my order in the store for my two sweatshirts and long sleeve, it was early in the morning. The next day my package arrived.

One day.

That's all it took to get my clothes from Cedar Rapids to Donahue! Freaking out I opened my package and I was ecstatic! If you are attending Kirkwood, I one hundred percent recommend checoolking out their bookstore for your Kirkwood needs!!!

However, the frenzy began. Pulled into the spiraling rabbit hole of online ordering, I began to purchase swimsuits (buy one get one free at Target), graduation dresses, and yes even apartment decor.

At one point I even contemplated buying an obnoxious mini bubble gum pink waffle maker. For what reason you might ask? I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that, had I not been able to get in a side hustle selling old clothes my savings most definitely would have hated me.

Be A Helping Hand

Another easy way to make money right now (although I would highly encourage doing this for free too) is making grocery runs for neighbors! Since I work at North Scott Foods, a small and local grocery store in my area, I have begun buying groceries for my neighbors every Tuesday or Wednesday. Not only is this a great way to protect my neighbors since they are older and more succeptable to Coronavirus, but it keeps me busy and they pay me for using my gas.

All I have to do is wait for a text message or call from them. Usually they put the money and grocery list in the mailbox so we don’t have to come in contact with each other. Then I retrieve the money from the mailbox and I am on my way!

After looking over the list, I make a plan-of-attack and then head into the store. Since I am familiar with where everything is it generally takes me about 30 minutes to get one-hundred plus dollars worth of groceries!

The benefit to getting groceries for your neighbor is not only are you limiting their exposure but it also gives you an opportunity to get any groceries you might need for yourself or your family. And another awesome benefit is the points!

Shameless promo: the North Scott Foods app (available for iOS and Android) is an app where you earn points every time you spend a dollar, and it takes off any coupons you have for the groceries you have bought! All you have to do is sign up and have your cashier scan the barcode in your app.

Needless to say, I have been taking all the points from my neighbor... I mean come on, it substitutes as hazard pay right?

Occasionally-- with the increase in demand-- some of the items they want we don’t carry. All I have to do is call or facetime them to see if there are any substitutes I could get for them! It makes shopping painless, enjoyable and I get that sense of purpose, that what I am doing is helping them.

After I have checked out and gotten all of the groceries loaded up into my car, I head home where I have been instructed to set the groceries inside of the garage door. My neighbor’s girlfriend Lynn disinfects all of the bags and my job is done!

With the extra thirty-dollars I make from buying groceries I put it back into my spending pot. This way whatever money I make from working at the grocery store I can put into my savings and still have some extra cash to use on whatever I please.

Get Paid to Buy Groceries

Before businesses started opening back up, North Scott Foods was packed every single night. On a normal Friday night you could expect lower volume of customers because most people were headed out to bars, or out for a date night.

Since the pandemic began we have been short staffed every single day, which is extremely unusual. The days of being able to predict when we would be busy or slow are long gone. In fact, most grocery stores began hiring additional staff to help navigate through these trying times, and on the bright side it provides more jobs. If you're locked in the house with nothing to do, looking for work I would recommend applying online to be an online orders shopper!

Online shoppers are store staff who read emails from customers, and do their shopping for them. Similar to what I do for my neighbors, online order shoppers go around the store, fill the orders and then take the groceries out to the customers car. This makes it hassle free for the customers who are most vulnerable to getting sick.

Although it’s only a temporary job, it is another awesome way to make some easy money and since you are only shopping you don’t have to wear a nasty uniform, stock shelves or clean the bathroom. Too bad this position wasn’t open when I applied two years ago.

In all seriousness, it's a great job. I have been so beyond thankful to have a job right now, and with flexible school hours my college fund is pretty appreciative too. With all these extra side jobs, it has been easy to save money, and in my personal opinion, although finishing senior year in person would have been nice, on the bright side, I’ll have all the swimsuits, furniture and Kirkwood apparel I'll need for my very first fall semester of college.

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