Making Money the Millennial Way: Unemployment

Ugh
Ugh…

Before I start talking about how to make money with real work I must talk about unemployment. If you’ve chosen a seasonal career like me there is a pretty good chance you will be laid off at the end of every season due to lack of work. You will then have a choice, “do I try to work the off season?” or “do I just collect unemployment?”

So what is unemployment insurance? Well, essentially it’s a compulsory system into which your employer pays to ensure that if you are fired there is a structure in place to pay you little bits of money until you get a new job. That’s a lot of words just to say it’s not exactly welfare, but that it’s very similar. It was taken from your employer at the end of a gun, but in theory it was set aside as insurance in case your employer decided to give you the ax.

“How do I get into this magical pot of free money?” you may be asking. Well, that varies state to state. Each state sets its own requirements for who can collect and how much. And each state sets requirements for what you must do to get the money.

The only two states I have experience with now are Arizona and New Mexico. Both require an extensive sign up process (have paystubs and such ready). Both have work search requirements as well.

AZ requires you to make at least four job searches per week on four different days. Basically apply to one job a day on four different days of the week, or do a job search and record it, or call someone about an application, or any such contact with a potential employer. Keep a record! When you file your weekly claim you will need to tell them what you did. Occasionally they will audit your records, so make sure they are thorough,

NM requires two per week. And I’ve been told they give you more money as well.

But here’s the kicker: you can only make what they give you per week, and if you want to work at all you will most likely just lose money. If you do decide to do something part time and just happen to make money doing it, you have to report those earnings. When you file your weekly claim you have to enter in any GROSS earnings you made that week.

This means if you make $200 driving Uber and spend $100 on gas doing it, you must report that you made $200. They adjust your unemployment payout accordingly.

What this meant for me was that if I made $217 from Uber I lost all unemployment benefits, even if it meant I had only netted $117 for the week. I lost out on $100 of unemployment payments, and wasted time and energy putting in a weekly claim.

Bottom line: don’t bother with trying to collect unemployment if you have any desire whatsoever to be self-sufficient. Unemployment is a disincentive to working, honestly.

If you plan to stay “unemployed” but still want to make a living, skip the unemployment altogether and try some of the other methods I’ll be discussing in later posts.

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Making Money the Millennial Way (First in a Series)

I know what you are thinking, here is yet another in a million blogs telling you how to make money. And next he’s going to tell me about how this isn’t like the others.

Well, you are correct, on both counts. This is yet another blog out of a million about making money. And I am going to tell you it is different.

“How so?” You ask, incredulous.

Well, instead of telling you I made $1000 from my blog, then telling you all I had to do was give a guy who read my blog a Lyft referral code, and all he had to do was drive fifty trips in 30 days, I’m going to discuss various options for making money these days.

I’m going to give you a low down on all options from blogging to Uber (and yes, maybe even Lyft) to good old fashioned pizza delivery and product sales. I might throw in a yard sale as well, just to cover my bases.

All of these will be things that I or my wife have tried, or are in the process of trying. We are still collecting data and forming our opinions of the various options we have chosen. Therefore this is going to be a series spread out over awhile, so keep checking back, maybe you’ll learn a thing or two.

It’s a zTrap!

Ever hear of something too good to be true? Everyone has. More often than not, if it seems too good to be true, it is.

Such is the case it seems for a company I was told about last night. While making my rounds for Uber I was told by a rider that there was this great new ride sharing company in Jacksonville. She said this company is just like Uber, but unlike Uber where you bring your own vehicle, this company provides you with a car that you keep 24/7. On top of that, they provide you with insurance and pay all maintenance on the vehicle. And the most enticing thing: you keep 100% of the fares.

This definitely sounded wayyyy to good to be true. So of course I went home and looked it up. Sure enough, their website had a handy comparison chart demonstrating that, unlike their competition, they provide insurance and maintenance.

The other differences between the two are pretty vague.

Uber has just started providing 24/7 driver assistance so that point is moot.

Keeping 100% of “Your” fares seems to be word play to me. There is no way a company could survive without income while providing insurance and maintenance (and vehicles?). They must be taking some portion of the charges to the costumer, which is exactly what Uber does. I assume what is “yours” to keep is determined by the company.

Build repeat clientele? Honestly? Meh. My zTrip informant also described an Uber driver who basically drove a school bus route every day. She picked up the same kids every morning and took them to school. Then she picked them up in the afternoon. You don’t need a parent company to help you build repeat costumers, you just have to be in the same place at the same time every day. Where there is a will there is a way.

Still intrigued, mostly because I was thinking they might actually provide a vehicle (nothing on the site to confirm nor deny it), I decided to sign up. All I had to do was fill out a small form, then I was taken to a “Thank you” page which said they would be in contact. This was definitely different from Uber, which in the initial sign-up phase asked about my vehicle type as well as information like driver’s license number.

With Uber, I signed up and was driving less than 48 hours later. zTrip is already feeling like it will take a lot longer. If I recall correctly, the lady last night said she had to go in for an interview. That sounds suspiciously like an employee gig and not an independent contractor gig like Uber or Lyft.

So after signing up I decided to do some research (I know, typical me, wait until after to read the fine print). It appears zTrip is really just a re-brand of Yellow Taxi.  This made me recoil. I don’t like clever cover ups which just change the name of an old crappy service.

Have you ever heard anyone say “Man, I had this great taxi driver the other day, really nice person, and they were so cheap!”? No one ever hears that. I hear it all the time about Uber drivers though. Not to say we are perfect (as a driver I hear horror stories) but we do seem to be better on average.

After a bit more searching I found this page:

Ignoring the typo, this page is ambiguous. It doesn’t say you do get a car, but it doesn’t say you don’t.  The best I can figure is they offer specials on leasing vehicles, but you don’t get to pick exactly what you want, just what they want you to want. Judging by the cars in the first picture above, there is branding involved.

I’m all for competition. I’d rather taxi companies offer a better service at a better price than go whine to legislators. Before re-branding they attempted to have the draconian laws the local government puts on them enforced on the new rideshare companies. Taxi companies in other cities have been more successful at this.

Why don’t they instead fight to have those laws relaxed? Why must they use government to stifle the market? Obviously people like the other companies, otherwise they wouldn’t be so successful. Do taxi companies care about the consumer?

I applaud ZTrip for at least trying to be more like it’s successful rivals. I hope the competition drives the pay up for all of us drivers (and the fares down for the consumer) as the companies fight it out for customers. I just don’t know if I want to be stuck as an employee with a branded car, I’m not ready to give up my freedom as an independent contractor.

I awai

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