Disclosure: Witty edutainment is a side hustle.
I write to indulge in boba milk tea, feed a family, and the perspective of hustles told.
Intro: The planners at Financial Conference (FinCon) partnered with Center for Financial Services Innovation with an essay prompt to provide a sponsored trip (reasonable airfare and lodging) for five writers/ bloggers in Dallas, Texas in October 2017. As this is a hustling blog focused on business and navigating financial independence, I am gracious for support by sharing this post to generate interest and chatter to be one of these 5. Asking for support means I can reallocate my resources in education and helping scrappy and motivated individuals grow. 🙂
This is a personal story that I have been reluctant to share. I am not a sum of a chronic condition and instead focus on resiliency in physical and financial health.
58 months ago, I experienced a persistent sharp pain in my gut. A month short of completing my degree, I played it off and continued looking for job leads. We (my roommates) left for the emergency room after watching me limp and fall over a few times. I twiddled my thumbs suspecting it’s appendicitis. The attending physician said jokingly, “You’re still having surgery!” The CT scan showed a massive tumor on the left side compressing organs on the right side. Those uneasy gut feelings you get? Trust it.
I had surgery a week after completing my last undergrad course. If I graduated two years sooner, the hospital bill would put me $100k deeper in debt. I was fortunate I was a student under 26 and didn’t opt out of the college’s health insurance that particular quarter. Collectors were relentless; didn’t care the hospital discharged me two months ago before selling off the account.
My traveling dreams diverted. I’m supposed to be grateful that I’m still alive. Shot confidence. A 9inch battle scar and walking with a hunch weren’t the worst of it. I will have trouble conceiving in the future. That got me thinking: people forego preventative care because they cannot fall back on health insurance. These individuals are most vulnerable to illness. I was “lucky” being at the right place in life at the right time.
It took two years to return to the workplace. I was gracious for a part-time retail job that excluded benefits. I relocated for a full-time position for health care. I walked the streets of San Fran to work graveyard shifts, observing people pitching tents and sleeping on thin sheets. It was cold, slightly unsafe for a female walking alone but lots of time to rethink how to get to the next financial step.
Traditional employment doesn’t work for people like me. I have to take charge in a system where health costs are rising faster than wages. A suppressed wage keeps insurance costs low (that doesn’t mean you necessarily can afford it either) but negatively impacts the ability to pay other bills. It’s an either or situation when you live by the day. A better problem to have is an above means income. Bills can be paid and with a higher cost of health insurance. The “better problem” allows the option to save an emergency fund and have necessities met.
Unsteady periods of unemployment isn’t an option when you’re ill, but an impending reality. Voluntary separation exempts you from collecting unemployment or disability benefits. The thought of preparedness terrified me. Leaving steady income to dabble in location independent opportunities? You know what. Creativity ignites acceptance and a willingness to adapt. I resold products, walked dogs, tutored, participated in focus groups while managing credit cards and loan payments. I saw value in taking on tasks people don’t want to do and exchange payments for skills I have.
Millennials are a generation wary of debt with continual bombardment of messages to take on debt and offering fewer practical courses in financial literacy. The market requires us to have an established credit history for future car loans or mortgages. Managing expenses on a debit card is insufficient. Lack of reporting to credit bureaus is worse than bad credit!
Credit card usage is a tool to improve credit scores. Bank relationships consider reliability before assigning a rate (and you want the lowest rates!). Credit cards are effectively a short term loan when paid in full each month. Credit cards are perfect as it takes about a month to sell and float merchandise.
I was not an entrepreneurial person until I was forced to be and I’m happier this way. I am free to hustle, write and overall more helpful in this world.
Kathy Hart says
Wow Shirley! ❤
Richard Chen says
Reading this story 2 months ago powerfully set me on the path to finally taking further action for my personal (a.k.a. my family’s) financial health and becoming entrepreneurial in a way I hadn’t before. Your honest testimonial puts the human color that wards off the customarily dissuading fear of sales pitch about such topics and frames it in the proper credible way: control over one’s financial future. Thank you.