In part 1 of this 2 part-series we talked about scrimping every single cent we can in order to maximise our savings. However, just that alone will not get us out of the bottom class. To get out, we need to expand our income sources. Note that the methods suggested will be widely different from what I have always said, which was actually meant for middle classes. Doing side business, Youtube channels, investing in stocks, buying properties and all of that stuff is meant for the middle class, whose situation widely differs.
We will still assume the example from the previous article – a lowly educated single mother with 3 young kids living in a public housing rental unit.
Barter Trade Or Sell Resources
In the previous article I suggested to work in a nearby food establishment which provides food security to you, unless you can find a better job in terms of overall package. In a food establishment, there is food wastage everyday. However if you are able to take more than what your family can eat, consider selling it to others. There are always families who are too busy to cook. Your leftover food is a resource – decent food cooked and meant to be sold to others. Consider selling at a cheap price or barter trade with your neighbours for some other items.
When I was working in the food shop, I took back leftover food everyday for my landlord’s dog and pig. One big box which contained lots of crumbs and fried flour among other leftover food could be sold for $2 in New Zealand, which could be used to feed the pigs. Depending on the composition of the leftover food, there is no need to restrict yourself that it has to be for human consumption.
Everybody has resources which they could access easily but may not need. You have excess food, but your neighbour may also have resources which they do not need, perhaps scrap paper from his office which could be used for your children to work at their homework. You feed his dog, he gives you some scrap paper, money or some easily obtained resources which he has no need but will be beneficial for you.
Resources need not be tangible items. It can be things that bring you up another level, ie to help get you out of the pits. I bring home extra dinner for your family everyday, but once a week you spend 1.5 hours giving my child private tuition. I bring extra food home for your family, how about you teach me how to create a simple website? Or how about you refer customers to me (see freelancing paragraph below)?
Money is only a medium to make the exchange of resources easier, hence we need not be too fixated on it. Sometimes we could just barter trade and obtain the resources directly. Look at your workplace and ask yourself what you can take in an aboveboard manner which could be traded with others? Prioritise trading of resources to pull you and your family up another level over physical products if you can help it.
When we talk about freelancing we often thought remote work. However those with practical skills could also sell their skills. For example, many women know sewing. Although not everybody may be professional enough to make nice clothing from a piece of cloth, many know basic sewing or altering. Even if they do not know, chances are they know someone who does, who they could reach out to in order to learn the basic skills. Do not underestimate this skill, it could nett you quite a fair bit of money.
Sewing, electrical appliance repairs, taking care of neighbours’ kids while they are working, simple carpentry etc are some examples people from both genders can consider. If you noticed, I suggested jobs which one can do at home. Under the assumption of a single parent having to take care of their children, our last article limited the working time to 4 hours a day. If now we take up jobs which requires us to go outside, then we might as well work longer at that one job we have. The freelance work must be able to be done at home, allowing the single parent to take care of the children concurrently.
Upgrade Your Job
There are lower level jobs for the lower educated people which actually pays well, or jobs that actually have a future path ahead.
For the ladies, one of the jobs I would suggest is to be a pre-school teacher. Entry requirements are relatively low but face severe shortage in many countries simply because people are unwilling to do the job. The job not only involves taking care of the little kids which includes washing them up after toilet, feeding them at times, pacifying them etc but the all-female environment actually is somewhat toxic. But pre-school teachers get paid well in certain countries such as Australia and China. In Singapore, the starting salary is not high, but the Ministry of Education (MOE) has also included pre-school under its wing. If one can apply for it, one can actually get into the Government service and be paid relatively well, enjoying full benefits, bonuses and stuff. Yes you will need to have a diploma in early childhood education, but it is not that difficult to obtain. Afterall they have to consider that most pre-school teachers are not academically inclined.
Additionally, the job of a pre-school teacher in Singapore also has a career pathway for you to progress. See pictures below for the career framework by ECDA (Early Childhood Development Agency – Singapore’s Government agency managing early childhood education) as well as the starting salary, which naturally will increase over the years. This link contains a well-researched article onto this path.
For the guys, being a pre-school teacher is not suitable. But of the many jobs I would suggest being a crane driver. A crane driver requires a class 5 driving licence. It is hard work, in that you are trapped in that small box the whole day. But it pays well. From the picture below we can see that in Singapore it has an average base pay of $2750, but it includes quite a substantial bit of additional cash compensation. All in, it can hit to about $7000 and above for the more experienced operator. I have heard that the entry level can expect to take home about $5000 a month.
There are definitely other suitable jobs which have a good potential in terms of career path and finance but which I did not cover. If you know of it, do leave a comment for everyone. Some jobs may seem low class but when factoring in the overall package, may not lose out to the office lady or white-collared worker sitting in the office. You just need to know where to look and plan ahead. The sales line is one possibility to earn big money without much consideration, but considering our example of a single parent needing to care for the young children at fixed hours everyday, I have omitted that out. If your children are older and you think you have the capability to do sales, no harm giving it a try.
For the bottom class who are not highly educated, you are not doomed to stick at the low level. You may need to sweat it out and do jobs which people do not like, but endure through it and you may actually find yourself able to climb your way up to the middle class, after which you can start considering the advices in all the other articles.