Author Topic: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness  (Read 4168 times)

MsChewieBear

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Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« on: November 19, 2015, 11:20:52 AM »
I'm looking for suggestions on increasing my income while also dealing with multiple chronic illnesses. This isn't a health forum, so I'll save the long story and just say that I was born with spina bifida, have had several surgeries on my spine and abdomen, and also have lupus, heart disease, and chronic kidney failure (I'm 34). I need to work from home because I take medications that impair my ability to drive safely, and they also cause dizziness, fatigue, etc. At home, at least I can rest when needed and then pick up my work later in the evening or early in the morning when I am feeling well.

I've tried working full-time, but the same thing always happens: I do well for a few months, and then I end up in the hospital and have to quit because I can't be a reliable employee. One doctor even told me to give up on working and file for disability, but I don't actually qualify (I'd also get less money in disability payments than I currently earn by freelancing; we'd be in an even worse position than we are now).

I've been doing a lot of freelance writing, but I am having a hard time finding clients willing to pay decent rates. I can't keep doing low-paying work; the less it pays, the more I have to do, and all the typing is killing my joints. I know how to set up WordPress websites, but I'm not a coder or website designer. I also have admin experience, so I can do all kinds of clerical/office work. I'm fairly entrepreneurial, so I'm also open to running some kind of business.

Any other ideas? I'm perfectly willing work hard, but I am restricted in what I can do. For example, I can't just go out and do junk removal or mow lawns because I'm not physically able to do that type of work.

FrugalFan

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2015, 12:13:26 PM »
That sounds tough. Good for you for persevering! Would you be interested in learning coding? I've seen others mention online courses you can take. Apparently it pays very well and I assume is something you could do from home on a consulting basis.

MsChewieBear

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2015, 12:17:38 PM »
I'd be really interested in coding. I like to play around with WordPress sites, so I occasionally make some PHP/CSS tweaks, but I don't know enough to offer it as a service just yet.

Thanks for the encouragement. It's been tough the last few years. The sad part is that I'd almost be better off if I didn't work at all. I have to pay for my own health insurance, but my deductible is insane, and it doesn't cover a lot of the medical supplies I need. I tried applying for Medicaid so I'd at least have decent coverage, but I "make too much" to qualify. If I did less work, I'd be able to get Medicaid, and I'd save $350/month on my insurance premiums, but then we wouldn't be able to pay our other expenses. We've slashed expenses to the bone, so my only option is to earn more.

zinethstache

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2015, 12:48:57 PM »
I hear you! I suffer from very bad genes, as I like to phrase it. My list of maladies is a mile long. I've managed to stay employed however, but only just barely. Too many surgeries and medical leaves to count. I've had periods of time where I was limited to work from home due to medicine (spanned a year and a half!) I though for sure they would let me go when in addition to working from home the Doctor insisted I drop to 30 hours/week while I awaited the last big surgery. Disability was not an option for me personally for many reasons, mainly I enjoy being busy. Something about being dependent on the government doesn't sit well with me. I am happy to say that I did have that surgery last December and so far so good. I am back to work in the office full time and take NO major pain meds. /knock on wood. There's still the cabinet full of all the silly meds to manage this and control that, those I will be stuck taking for life.

So, the trick is that you need to acquire clients who don't care when you work so long as you get the work done by x date. That does make me think of coding. There is still the issue of your hands taking a hit when you have to do alot of typing. (I deal with my hands hurting all the time.)

I am in IT, haven't coded for years, I manage developers and think it could be a great fit for you. I also support numerous custom applications that are highly configured.  I go in and make tweaks as needed which enhances my value to my employer.

You could focus on one tool, say Wordpress, learn the coding and configuration. Really become proficient at it. Look for online self paced training. Create a fully working site. Learn all you can about domains and DNS. So many companies do not understand the simple steps to getting a website up and running. (I am the resident Web Subject Matter Expert at my employer. it seems odd that a company this size would have so few web trained resources, but I am glad to fill a niche here, which is likely why they have kept me on the last 19 years) I am mostly self taught which is the nice part of the web and learning about it. You can easily practice and build out your "portfolio". It can all be fake, the more real you make it look, the more convincing it will be to potential clients. I even challenge you to make a working website that earns you money. You can also look at writing a phone app that will earn money...

I wish you the best! I have pretty much defied everyone by continuing to work through all these health issues. Note: I do plan to RE after next year - I intend to get out and enjoy the world while I can. I have a hugely supportive DH who fulfilled his end of this plan so that now I am looking to quit on MY TERMS:)

FrugalFan

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2015, 12:49:24 PM »
I don't remember the names of the courses but I bet if you asked in a post title, a few here could answer. Good luck!

MsChewieBear

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2015, 12:58:56 PM »
I hear you! I suffer from very bad genes, as I like to phrase it. My list of maladies is a mile long.

I am sorry you have a lot of health issues, but it is nice to talk to someone who understands. I'd have so many more options if I was healthy (retail, yard work, junk removal, cleaning service, etc.). I have set up sites for several people. I don't know a ton about domains/DNS, but I know how to change the nameservers for a site, get people set up with subdomains/add-on domains, etc. Before they came out with things like Fantastico and QuickInstall, I was able to install WordPress on a domain and get it up and running. That isn't much in the grand scheme of things, but at least it gives me some hope that I might have an aptitude for this sort of thing.

hops

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2015, 02:57:56 PM »
I'd have so many more options if I was healthy (retail, yard work, junk removal, cleaning service, etc.).

It's so frustrating, isn't it? When you've been sick your whole life, you understand perhaps earlier than most how important it is to save and invest; to secure something, anything, for your future. But all too often your body has other plans. Relying on work that's more mentally than physically taxing is your most sensible option, but even then you're at the mercy of your disease and its treatments, which often leave you exhausted (seriously, seriously exhausted, with a fatigue much different than whatever well-meaning friends or coworkers have experienced when they tell you, "Oh, I had the busiest weekend and I'm really tired, too!") or in a kind of haze.

I'm also a member of the bad gene club and while I'm fortunate enough to have an employer that accommodates my schedule (which is generally normal, but when my illnesses aren't under control it seems like I see a different doctor every day), there have been times when it's either been impossible to supplement my income or I've felt nervous about taking extra assignments because of uncertainty about whether my health will allow it.

Coding seems like it might be an excellent fit for you. There's so much to be said for being able to work from home, on your own terms. My most profitable side gigs (selling rare books, writing) have mostly been pursued online and can be scaled to what's going on with my health. Best of luck to you, OP!

MsChewieBear

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2015, 03:19:21 PM »
I'd have so many more options if I was healthy (retail, yard work, junk removal, cleaning service, etc.).

It's so frustrating, isn't it? When you've been sick your whole life, you understand perhaps earlier than most how important it is to save and invest; to secure something, anything, for your future. But all too often your body has other plans. Relying on work that's more mentally than physically taxing is your most sensible option, but even then you're at the mercy of your disease and its treatments, which often leave you exhausted (seriously, seriously exhausted, with a fatigue much different than whatever well-meaning friends or coworkers have experienced when they tell you, "Oh, I had the busiest weekend and I'm really tired, too!") or in a kind of haze.


Exactly. When I got out of school, I actually had a job I absolutely loved (I started out as an admin assistant for a real estate investment company; within five months, I was promoted to operations manager). Unfortunately, I only had five days of PTO per year. I was hospitalized six times within six-and-a-half months, so I used up all my time and then was off without pay for a while. I had a really bad year in 2012, and we went from doing fairly well to struggling to pay rent. I have thousands of dollars in medical bills, and I've been re-using medical supplies that I am supposed to throw away because it's too expensive to buy a constant supply of new ones. Thanks for the kind words. =)

hops

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2015, 03:38:59 PM »
I was hospitalized six times within six-and-a-half months, so I used up all my time and then was off without pay for a while. I had a really bad year in 2012, and we went from doing fairly well to struggling to pay rent. I have thousands of dollars in medical bills, and I've been re-using medical supplies that I am supposed to throw away because it's too expensive to buy a constant supply of new ones.

I'm so sorry, MsChewieBear. You're probably already aware of this, but the American Kidney Fund has a safety net program that might be able to help if any of those supply expenses relate to your kidney failure. The grant is quite meager but still better than nothing:

http://www.kidneyfund.org/patient-programs/safety-net-grants/

The best lupus assistance resource I've ever found is this, but as you probably know it's really hard to get any financial help with lupus expenses:

http://www.mollysfund.org/learn-about-lupus/resource-center/

Britan

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2015, 04:08:03 PM »
Dunno if this will help, but you mention writing. Have you considered editing? Some companies like mine (research firm) have editors review reports and other materials before they go out to clients. We have external contractors for this. We give them a heads up 2 weeks in advance, they edit 25 pages per day and get paid pretty well for that time. 90% of the time it's just grammar edits (not style or content) so not super hard stuff, but many of our writers are ESL so we need it. And we are flexible if an editor has a medical emergency (had that happen before!)

That said, I have no idea what the qualifications are or where to find companies that need editors (besides mine). Just thought I'd throw it out there. Maybe some of the clients you've written for also need reviewers or editors?

You also probably already know this, but if you have ESRD, you may be eligible for Medicare even if you aren't 65.

https://www.medicare.gov/people-like-me/esrd/getting-medicare-with-esrd.html


Also, Jedi hugs in your direction! You sound like you've got a lot going on!

MsChewieBear

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2015, 04:38:59 PM »
Thank you all for the resources. I actually do a lot of proofreading and editing. Several of my clients are bestselling authors, and they write books I'd read anyway, so I really enjoy the work. The only problem is that it takes each one several months to write a book, so I'd have to have about 100 steady clients to make a real living out of it. I'm going to keep looking for companies that offer editing services. I came across one the other day, but they do academic editing, so you need a minimum of a master's (which I don't have).

Fortunately, I am not in end-stage renal failure. I'm only in stage 3, which is good, but there doesn't seem to be much help available. I'll check out the lupus and AKF resources. Thanks again!

Astatine

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2015, 05:03:26 PM »
I don't have anything useful to add, sorry, but wanted to wish you the very best of luck in finding paying work that suits your circumstances. I'm very impressed with all that you've been able to achieve so far.

MsChewieBear

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2015, 07:23:16 PM »
Thanks again for all of your input! I found a coding camp I would love to do, but it's $5,500, and there's no way I can swing that. However, while I was researching coding classes, I came across the website for my city's business accelerator program (I just moved here two months ago, so I had no idea it existed). I've had a business idea for quite some time, but I wasn't sure how to get started. The accelerator is completely free, and each participant receives $10,000 worth of services from IT professionals, business experts, and the like. I'm going to apply. If I get in, it's only one session per week for 11 weeks, which I can do around my health limitations.

Exhale

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2015, 10:09:54 PM »
I found a coding camp I would love to do, but it's $5,500, and there's no way I can swing that.

Do they offer scholarships? Seems you'd be a strong candidate for that type of resource. Best of luck!

Cassie

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Re: Ways to Increase Income w/Chronic Illness
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2015, 11:44:48 PM »
Please make an appointment at your local vocational rehabilitation office. It will either be called BVR or DVR depending on the state. It is a federal program in every state that is run by the states under Federal guidelines. The purpose is to help individuals with disabilities obtain employment that is compatible with their disability. They can pay for training & other things you may need to accommodate your disability. The program is free unless you or your spouse make a lot of $. They can also help with resume writing, job search, etc depending on your individual needs. I spent my career in this field. It is not a cookie cutter approach but individual approach because everyone's disability is different.  Let me know how it works out.