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Susan’s story – full time to part time

In 1996, I quit my high-paying job in media relations for a production company that produced shows for resorts, casinos and cruise ships around the world. I was a single mum with a daughter I needed to get through her last years of high school, then college. I was burned out on teaching full time, which I’d done for 15 years before my 18 years in show business, and couldn’t make enough money by just teaching to do what I needed anyway.

So what to do to make as much money as I was making in show business? And what about health insurance?

It was a scary time.

Both of those careers took 50-70+ hours a week, but I could work from home for many of those hours. So I wanted to put something together also where I could continue to be home as much as possible and be active in my daughter’s life.

So here’s how it evolved.

First, I shed the image of myself as a media relations director or a teacher.

Then I put together a patchwork of five part-time jobs.

I took a daily paper route, became the daily gatekeeper for two parking lots, remodeled my garage into a bed and breakfast cottage, began substitute teaching so I wouldn’t have to make lesson plans or grade papers, and kept a part time media relations job.

My days looked like this:

Up at 4AM. Deliver 300 newspapers by car (my daughter would come with me on Sundays to help with the big papers). Open the gates to the parking lots by 6AM. Make a breakfast for the bed and breakfast by 7AM. Substitute teach from 7:30AM – 3PM. Clean the cottage after school with my daughter for the next occupants by 4PM. Work on publicity by phone, email and fax while my daughter did her homework. Close the gates with my daughter at dusk. Constantly monitor the phone for bed and breakfast bookings and substitute teaching jobs. Bed by 9PM for both of us.

I made $1,000/month as a paper carrier, $600/month as the gatekeeper, $100/night with the bed and breakfast, $100/day as a substitute teacher, and $1000/month as the part-time publicity person.

Almost more money than I could make as a teacher or media relations director combined.

I signed us both up for Basic Health insurance.

And I paid fewer taxes than ever because I had so many write-offs.

I also cleaned houses and did before and after school child care for a while, but soon gave that up since I was making more money than I needed to make.

I’m retired now, I just wanted to write and paint and putter.

But retirement suddenly got more expensive than I planned.

So I took a job two days a week delivering the local bi-weekly paper for $500/month. And do occasional copy editing. And sell the occasional painting. And apply for and receive the occasional grant for writing or painting.

And I still have time to putter.

Once a part timer. Always a part timer.

It’s still possible to earn a living  part time – and a good living at that. Don’t discount part time jobs. There’s a part time career there somewhere in these hard times. Be creative and open in your thinking, and put together your own part time puzzle.

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