How I Boosted My Income by 25% During the Pandemic

by Maurie Backman | Published on Nov. 11, 2021

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Mother working from home with young children nearby

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While 2020 was a challenging year for me, it was also a profitable one.

It was an email I'll never forget. Though the signs were brewing, it was still shocking to open my laptop and see a message from our school district instructing parents to keep their children home for the foreseeable future. This was back in March of 2020, when the pandemic first hit hard and nobody really knew quite what to do.

For the next four months, my three children were forced into a remote learning environment, and the option to return to school in person didn't present itself until September. At that point, in-person classes would consist of two half days, with the rest of school being remote. There was also a fully-remote option on the table, and we took it. The risk and hassle of sending my kids to school wasn't worth it for two measly half days.

At several points in 2020, I was so wrapped up in overseeing my kids' remote education and making sure they were coping that I had no choice but to let my work fall by the wayside. But in spite of that, I actually managed to boost my income by 25% last year. Here's how that happened.

When lockdown makes you more productive

Juggling full-time parenting and working was no easy feat early on in the pandemic when everyone was scrambling and my kids could barely turn on a laptop, let alone log themselves into Zoom meetings with their teachers. But in time, my kids managed to settle into a routine and become more self-sufficient. And I was able to take advantage of that by throwing myself into work during the hours when they were in school.

Meanwhile, I never realized how jam-packed my schedule was with kid activities until the pandemic hit. For much of 2020, those activities were canceled. And once they came back, they were offered remotely, which meant more Zoom. It also meant I wasn't running all over town every afternoon and evening, and I was spending weekends at home rather than rushing to martial arts tournaments and Cub Scout events.

The result? I actually wound up having a lot more time to work last year, despite my kids being home for school.

What's more, most summers, we take a long family trip that has me ditching work for several weeks to unwind. Last summer, that didn't happen. Instead of going away for three weeks, we took a four-day trip to visit friends at their lake house. And not taking that time off gave me a chance to work more.

What I did with my extra earnings

While some of our expenses rose during the pandemic -- at several points, we had to pay a premium for things like grocery delivery and toilet paper -- our bills actually went down last year overall. That's because childcare is a big expense of ours, and full-time summer camp for three kids can easily cost $15,000 in my neck of the woods.

My kids didn't go to camp during the summer of 2020 because there was no camp to go to. We also didn't spend money going to restaurants, movies, or any of the other things we'd normally do as a family because it just wasn't safe. And because we had few places to go, we weren't spending as much on gas for our vehicle.

All told, I was able to stick the bulk of my boosted earnings into my savings account. We also spent some of that money to put up a new fence around our backyard.

A big part of me feels guilty that we benefited financially from the misery that was 2020 at a time when so many people lost their jobs. But the reason my income went up is that I increased my working hours a lot. And as a family, we tried to give back by donating to charities and supporting local food banks.

Though 2020 wasn't an easy year for us, we managed to make some good memories along the way. And now, we can look back on that period as an experience we'll always remember.

Boosting your income

That said, not everyone was able to increase their earnings during the pandemic. If you could use some extra cash, you may want to consider:

  • Getting a side hustle. There are many ways to earn money on the side, whether it's driving for a ride-hailing service or picking up weekend shifts at a local business.
  • Applying for a credit card with more generous rewards. You may be able to score extra cash back on everyday expenses like gas and groceries.
  • Selling items you no longer use or need. This can be a quick way to score some extra funds while cleaning out your living spaces.

Finally, don't be too hard on yourself if you can't grow your earnings just yet, or if you didn't manage to do so during the pandemic. The events of the past 20 months have been hard on a lot of people, so if you're still in the recovery phase, you're in good company. And as the economy improves, there should be more opportunity to shore up your finances.

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