Category Archives: Being funemployed

Crafting Borne of Boredom

Today I got a lot of little crafty things accomplished. But there was definitely one project that stood out from all the rest.

Ash trays for my deck. Some of my friends like to smoke and need somewhere to put their cigarette butts.

I have a sad, twisted sense of humor as you can see. I’m ok with that.

Take a mini ice cream container or two
Paint over the labels
Come up with something hilarious to put on them
Like "Seymour Butts"
Or "I Like Big Butts"

I’d say that the butt-catchers were more satisfying than the ice cream. The ice cream kinda sucked, I just threw mine in the sink. (If you want your own butt-catchers you can get the Skinny Cow ice creams for free if you like their Facebook page and print out the coupon!)

The Big Idea

I haven’t been around much lately, but for good reason this time.

I have been spending my funemployment time working on a business idea that I hope to launch in the next couple of months.

After much soul-searching, I decided to take a break from the corporate world and do something that I really wanted to do. Truthfully, that would be travelling and adventuring but I don’t have the money. So instead I thought I’d finally get my act together and become an entrepreneur.

I was always the persuasive kid selling something — lemonade, cut flowers, anything I could get my hands on to make some money. In high school I ran a web design business with my friend and actually turned a profit. I also ran a Junior Achievement company and also turned a profit there. I was invited to an exclusive business camp for young adults, even though I had never taken any business courses. I excelled in college as well (Faculty of Business, of course!) and graduated with a 4.0 and a bunch of awards and recognitions.

I always knew I would end up working for myself, but somewhere between college and my dreams I got sidetracked, and sucked into the corporate world. I’ll be honest here, it didn’t really suit me. I was always chafing at the restrictions and felt like I was never valued. I didn’t get to be creative or really grow all that much. It just really wasn’t a good fit.

Being laid off/quitting my last job may have been a blessing in disguise. I didn’t “die” like I thought I would, and was given a chance to really think about what I wanted to do with my life. Do I want to be another cog in a machine, or do I want to strike out on my own and make history–if only in my small circle of friends?

I think you know where this is going.

Long story short, I am currently working with the Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC) to apply to the Ontario Self Employment Benefit Program (OSEB). Essentially OSEB pays your living expenses for 42 weeks while you undergo intense business/entrepreneurship training and get your business off the ground. For the past month I have been hustlin’ and bustlin’ to get all the paperwork filled out, meetings attended, etc. so I can get myself into this program. For this point in my life it would be a real boon to be part of it.

And you know what? I have an absolutely excellent chance to get in. My drive to succeed, marketing and business know-how and interest in all the workings has already set me apart from everyone else I have met at the TBDC who are also applying. I’ve got an edge, and I’m going to make this happen no matter what.

So what is my big idea?

Not so big, really. And not totally unique, either (there is more risk in completely unique ideas vs. an established model with a twist). I’m opening an online store that will cater to folks like you and me who love creative, crafty things, handmade stuff, or just plain cool stuff. Jewellery, housewares, accessories, books, whatever seems right will be sold in the store.

I’ll be curating the collection and working closely with the artisans to bring the best stuff to the front. There will be a blogging/community component and the model will be beneficial to both myself (the business) and the artisans I work with.

There are still a lot of details to work out (including the name!), but going through this program will help me craft a realistic business plan to seek funding if I need it. After this program (or during, since I’m so eager!) I’ll hook up with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation and see if I can get a loan and/or mentor from them. Other avenues will also be explored.

Right now, I am putting together a presentation for my final evaluation on Friday. I have to present some topline research and my business idea. This is where I need your help!

I have created a quick online survey to get some demographic and psychographic information on my potential market… aka YOU. The anonymous data will help me with my case, and will also show me what my customers really want. I’ve even thrown in a few name choices!

PLEASE, help me by filling out the survey and passing it onto your friends and family.

It doesn’t matter what country you’re from since I’ll be online. Any age or gender is ok!

To make things easy for you, the link is here: http://svy.mk/lXxJxr

And if you would like to help out by tweeting/posting as well, here you go:

I’m helping @gingercorsair create an awesome business! U can contribute too with this quick survey! http://svy.mk/lXxJxr

 

As I said, the more people that fill this out, the more it will help me understand you and what you would like to see from my store. The survey includes a brief summary of the idea (which may change!) and is completely anonymous.

As added incentive, when I launch this business, I’ll be doing my big “reveal” as well. You’ll be able to meet the real me, see my face and everything. No more hiding behind anonymity anymore!

…but this only happens if and when I get this puppy off the ground. Let’s do this!

FUNemployment Update

This is totally me.

Sooo…. yeah…. I still don’t have a job yet. Not that I haven’t been trying.

I’ve been to a job fair, had my resume reviewed and have been applying to a bunch of jobs I would like to do. No hits yet. I’m kinda bummed but otherwise doing OK.

I posted a couple of weeks ago on how I was going to manage my finances whilst unemployed. Let’s see how I’m doing now.

1. Employment Insurance

I have submitted everything properly, but have yet to receive a payment. It’s definitely past my 2-week waiting period. This process is so confusing! The website says everything has been received and that they are processing my claim, but there is no other information. I don’t know if there is something else I should do?

2. Watch the pennies

This is going… ok. Not stellar, not horrible.

I’ve been doing a bit more shopping than I thought I would; a couple of trips to Zellers/Walmart for house & hosting stuff, grocery stores, a little bit of take-out and an expensive trip to Costco.

The good news is that I won’t have to buy paper towels or toilet paper for the next year! Or olive oil! The bad news is that it was a $210 visit. *sigh*

I think spending will continue to be an area of difficulty for me. I’ve been eating at home as much as possible and bringing my flask with me when I go out drinking (shh! Don’t tell anyone!) but food is so expensive! Sheesh!

3. Put loan payments on hold

Still good in this area.

4. Find other ways to make money

The Airbnb business is booming for me. I’m having to turn people away now and will post my April monthly update soon. I currently have a dude from Singapore staying with me for a few weeks, possibly extending to 2 months. This is good for the wallet! I’ve been able to pay the majority (if not all) of my rent with Airbnb bookings.

This month I was also able to top off my emergency fund with excess Airbnb cash. It’s now happily sitting at $6,000. Hopefully I won’t have to touch it anytime soon, but at least I know it is there in case things get dire. If things continue to go as well as they have been, I’ll try to increase it to $10,000 (but I think that’s going to take a while!). I also haven’t had to touch my RRSPs, but I haven’t been contributing, either.

 

Challenges

A huge challenge for me is boredom. I’ve been sleeping a ridiculous amount these days because I really have no reason to get up. It only takes a few hours a day to job hunt, and after that I don’t have much else to do. My apartment is clean, my shelves are stocked, I have food in the fridge. I’ve been reading a lot and watching movies, but that gets tiresome.

I started taking a yoga class once a week, but that only takes up about 2 hours total.

I told myself that I would use this time for self improvement and to become more healthy, but I’m really having a hard time staying motivated. I don’t want to go for walks because it usually means I end up buying something, which isn’t going to help me in the long run.

I see my friends as often as possible, but (lucky for them) they are all working regularly. I should probably be writing in here more often as well, but I just haven’t felt like it, you know? I”m pretty much in the dumps these days, operating at a snail’s pace.

I need to find things to do that don’t involve spending money. I looked into volunteering, but none of my groups need me right now, and everywhere else wants a commitment of at least 6 months (which I can’t do).

Maybe I’m just throwing up barriers for myself, I don’t know. But this drive through the doldrums is really starting to wear on me!

Suggestions?

Managing my budget while unemployed

I'm not *quite* there yet...

As many of you know, I left/was laid off from my ad job this past Tuesday. I’m not thrilled that I don’t have a job anymore, but it wasn’t too bad of an exit. They didn’t really want to let me go, but there wasn’t any work at my level, and I couldn’t get caught upon the nitty gritty kind of work they needed fast enough to justify my salary.

So we mutually agreed that this situation wasn’t working out. They have paid me through to April 15th and my benefits continue until then, but I left on Tuesday (nothing to do at work). I will also get a reference from them for the right job. Nice people, it’s really too bad it didn’t work out.

Anyway, this is pretty much the first time I have ever been unemployed, so it’s a whole new world for me! I’m going to take some time to figure out what I really want to do with my life —  advertising/media was ok, but I found myself increasingly unhappy in it. I think the universe is giving me a kick in the pants, telling me to find a better career path. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Monies

So how am I going to manage my money situation while I don’t have regular income?

1. Employment Insurance

Since I was laid off, I qualify for EI in Ontario. I applied the day after I ended my employment at the agency, and I hope to hear back soon. I’ve never applied before so I’m not totally sure what to expect with this process or even how much I will receive. I think the maximum per week is around $400, which would be great if I can get that.

2. Watch the pennies

I’m going to have to be much more diligent in budgeting in the coming few months. Luckily I don’t really need to shop for anything but food coming up, but there are always going to be unforeseen expenses, so I will try to pare things down as much as possible to accommodate.

I am trying to cook more at home, as well as cooking from scratch. This will be a good chance for me to explore/practice cooking some new dishes! Since I eat so little now (due to weight loss surgery) I’ll either have lots of leftovers, or the ability to invite friends over for nice meals now, with no extra cost to me.

3. Put loan payments on hold

Luckily my current loan (to pay for my surgery) was through my granny. She is sympathetic to my loss, and I am allowed to put my loan repayments on hold until I get a full time job again. Thank goodness! If the loan were through the bank it would have been a different situation–but I would never have borrowed from a bank for this purpose to begin with.

4. Find other ways to make money

I’ve been quite involved with my bed & breakfast, and hope to continue at a decent rate. My goal is to earn $500 per month through bookings. I have started tracking all my bookings and earnings and it’s not looking too bad! If I can make at least $500 per month, it will really help me cover all my expenses.

Obviously, I am also looking for a new job. If I can’t find anything decent soon, I will start to look at part time options in industries I am interested in. If that doesn’t pan out, then I’ll start looking at retail/service-type positions (ie: Starbucks, Chapters, etc.) but I hope it doesn’t get to that point.

5. Emergency Fund

I’ve got an EF for exactly this kind of situation. It is not quite as large as I would like it to be, but it could cover my rent for 3-4 months. Combined with EI and/or B&B income, I would be able to live for that period of time or longer.

 

So, that’s the plan for right now. Keep costs as low as possible, and create as much side income as possible until I get a full time job. While I am prepared for a few months of living expenses, I don’t want to rely on them. I’m going to pretend that I’m hanging on by a thread so that I’ll be more motivated to find a job. A fellow blogger was prepared for a year of unemployment, but found that because she had that safety net she was less inclined to spend a lot of time and effort looking for a job. I don’t want to fall into that trap!