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Full-time professionals are getting side gigs to get ahead of inflation

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Making it in this economy with one job isn't enough for a lot of Americans. The squeeze of higher prices means they need to take on a second job. And with a strong labor market, the opportunities to earn that second paycheck are there. Sacha Chadwick is a 30-year-old associate publicist who works in New York City and lives with her parents. And on the weekends, she's a barista. She's been working seven days a week since December.

SACHA CHADWICK: Well, it all initially started with the fact that student loan payments were coming back. So I realized that I wouldn't be able to have, like, standard means of living and be able to start paying my student loans back. So I took on a second job for that reason.

RASCOE: And is that still the reason why you've continued with it?

CHADWICK: In a sense, yes. But it's also just trying to get my footing around now 'cause I also help my partner who's in - currently getting his master's. And times is hard. Things are expensive in New York.

RASCOE: How much are you bringing in every month from both jobs?

CHADWICK: On average, I probably bring in about $3,000.

RASCOE: Is that enough to pay your bills and then have a little over to go to the restaurants and get your nails done or just to have a decent life?

CHADWICK: It pays the bills.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: But can you have a decent life there? You know, and does it pay the bills in the sense of - 'cause we all know you could pay the bills, and then you don't have nothing left over (laughter).

CHADWICK: Very rarely do I say, like, I can take myself out, take my partner out to, like, dinner or things like that. Most of the time, I am very much paycheck to paycheck.

RASCOE: You did this because of student loans, but right now we're dealing with the highest rate of inflation in decades. Is that factoring in at all in your decision to work two jobs?

CHADWICK: Definitely. I know I think about the future. So initially, when I noticed, like, the grocery prices going up, I was like, OK. We still need to eat. Like, people need to eat. So I will definitely try to find cheaper options. I don't need to eat meat all the time - be more conscious of that. But also it's the fact that eventually, I do want to move in with my partner and New York rent prices are very, very high right now. And so that's initially me thinking, OK, in our future, how much will I be able to afford to rent? Obviously when you move out, it's just like, oh - it's not, oh, here's the first month's rent as a security deposit. Maybe the last two months of rent. Oh, maybe you went through a realtor, so now they have to get a fee and you have to pay for that and things like that.

RASCOE: Do you feel like this schedule that you're working - do you feel like it's sustainable?

CHADWICK: No. At the end of the day, it's definitely not. I believe for now it's OK. And obviously, there are days where I'm just like, I can't work. I can't fully concentrate on the task at hand 'cause I'm too tired. So I'm trying to reach all my, like, financial goals. And once that is done, I really have to reevaluate if this is good for my physical health, my mental health and my emotional health.

RASCOE: What do you feel like people don't understand about people who have to work two jobs or people who are trying to juggle, like, student loans and things of that nature? What do you think people don't understand about what it takes for you to get by?

CHADWICK: I think the biggest misconception is that I don't know how to handle my finances because a lot of people automatically assume, well, if you're working two jobs, that means you don't know how to give up on certain things. And that means you're not good with your finances. That means you have all these big bills that you're not taking responsibility for. And that's not true. It's more or less I sort of view it as if I work hard now, I can relax later. I do know how to manage my finances fairly well, and I'm just working towards cutting down a lot of things so I don't have to struggle and be worried in the future.

RASCOE: That is Sacha Chadwick, who is working two jobs. Thank you, Sacha. You know, best of luck with everything. And make sure you get some rest, too.

CHADWICK: Thank you. Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.