Ask LH: How Can I Find A Part-Time Job That Suits Me?

Dear Lifehacker, I am 32-years old and I am drowning in debt! I have cut all my expenses to the bare minimum but I still need to earn more. I would like your advice on getting a part-time job for weeknights, Saturdays and Sundays.

I have a full-time (8-5 job) on weekdays as an IT helpdesk specialist. I sit all day in front of the computer, fixing customer issues, but I still have plenty of energy at the end of the day.

I have been searching Gumtree and various job search sites but most vacancies are for hospitality and cleaning services. I have no experience in these areas but would be willing to give it a shot. Ideally, I would like a call centre job or any office administration job over the weekend as this is where I'm good at. Any tips on how to go about this? Thanks, Debt Laden

Waiter picture from Shutterstock

Dear Debt Laden,

This is a really difficult situation. Getting a second job sounds like a way through this but there are a few things to think about.

I'm not sure if you've got a partner, family or any other people that depend on you being around. If you do, then a part-time job will come at a personal cost. You'll need to find ways to manage that issue if you plan to spend more time away from home.

A second job will also be taxed at a higher rate than your current one. In Australia, the first $18200 you earn is un-taxed. Your current salary gets the benefit of that. Your new job won't. So every dollar of the second pay-packet will be taxed. In other words, you may not get the same returns as you expect.

Working two jobs can be exhausting. Even if your main work isn't physically exerting you it's probably making your brain work. Adding more work might leave you feeling more tired than you expect. I did it for about four years and it did take a toll on my mental and physical well-being.

The other downside of a second job is that the time you used for household chores like cleaning, washing and looking after your place is reduced. If you end up outsourcing those jobs then you might not end up much further ahead.

So, what are the options for a second job?

Call centre work is a definite possibility given your current job and experience. A quick look on a couple of online job services revealed plenty of part-time work in call centres. The trick will be finding one that suits the hours you want to work.

Another option is to do something completely different to your full-time work. That way, you'll be working a different part of your body. For example, getting a job in a supermarket stacking shelves or cleaning might not sound glamorous but it won't depend on you thinking and working with people in the same way as your day job. Even though you might be doing physically demanding work, your brain won't be working in the same way.

Hospitality jobs fit into that as well. Perhaps approach a local restaurant and let them know your situation and ask if they'd be prepared to train you as a waiter or similar. Even if the initial pay isn't great you'll gain valuable experience

You might also want to consider the likes of Freelancer where you might be able to apply your technical skills to writing jobs. Writing well is an acquired skill and, as well as providing a second income stream, it will build your personal armoury of skills up for when you look for your next job.

Finally, there is the option of moving into a new job. It sounds like your problem solving and technical skills aren't too bad. Perhaps you can look at moving off the phones into second level support. If those roles aren't available with your current employer, it might be time to look at the job market and find a new position.

So Lifehackers, what do you think? Does someone out there have any other ideas or perhaps a part time opening they're looking to fill?

Cheers Lifehacker

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    I definitely agree with doing something different to your part time job - bartending or waitressing would be my picks for myself.

    Alternatively, and this might not be completely kosher, but... do you have open internet at work? Could you work on paid freelance projects online between 8am and 5pm and rake in double? Even if it's during your lunch break, it could help.

    A second job will also be taxed at a higher rate than your current one. In Australia, the first $18200 you earn is un-taxed. Your current salary gets the benefit of that. Your new job won’t. So every dollar of the second pay-packet will be taxed. In other words, you may not get the same returns as you expect.

    I absolutely hate this nonsense tax talk that you obviously don't understand. Whether the extra money is from the same job or a different job, it makes absolutely no difference to what ends up in your pocket at the end of the day.

    Get your facts straight before giving blindingly incorrect advice.

      Wow. A little hostile I might say.

      I believe Mr Caruana was simply stating important information as a warning. Did you notice this bit?

      "In other words, you may not get the same returns as you expect."

      Are you implying that the author was mistaken? That there is a tax-free threshold on a second job?

        I think the author has worded this very badly. Unless I'm greatly mistaken, you get taxed on your total income minus deductions. You don't automatically lose the tax free threshold because you have two sources of income, as this article implies.

          To quote from:

          If you earn additional income (for example, from a second job or a taxable pension) your second payer is required to withhold tax at the higher, 'no tax free threshold' rate.

          If you have more than one payer at the same time, we generally require that you only claim the tax-free threshold from the payer who usually pays the highest salary or wage (this is known as your primary source of income).

          You can only claim the tax free threshold from one position. It makes no difference what it is AS LONG AS you earn over $18,000 from EACH within the same tax year. They do generally ask you to always nominate your highest income job - and it makes sense, as 18k a year from an extremely casual job is still ~19 hours a week, which is rather a lot for an already full time worker. It's possible they do work it out for you and carry the extra over to your second income, or its possible that they don't care as you've most likely gone against their requirements.

          They do make the additional note:
          However, if you are certain your total income for the year will be less than $18,200 you can claim the tax-free threshold from each payer.

          Perhaps you are a tax agent and have some deeper understanding of such things that you will to laud over us without providing any REAL advice as to HOW they are wrong - but most of us are not and can only work off the resources we are presented with, and his writing seems fairly accurate to the truth.

            Jackson and thom are correct. Also a quote from the page you linked (emphasis added): "If your second payer does not withhold a higher rate of tax this *may* lead to a tax debt at the end of the financial year."

            Basically, this is the ATO trying to help people avoid ending up with a tax bill, instead of a credit. You can have 5 jobs and claim the tax free threshold from each, it doesn't matter until you submit a return.

            Basically, if tax withheld + claims is more than you are required to pay - you get a credit from the ATO. If tax withheld + claims is *less* than you are required to pay, you get invoiced and owe the ATO the difference. This is somewhat simplified, but hopefully clear enough.

            "Claiming" the tax free threshold is only a note to the payroll department of your employer to use a different equation for calculating tax.

              It's not them TRYING to help, they state it is a REQUIREMENT.

              Not saying you're screwed if you do it differently, but they make no guarantee's as to how it will be handled, so you're making an assumption everything will work out ok while you directly go against their requirements. Seems like a bad way to operate, and a bad assumption to make that you can just do whatever you want and it will all work out.

              Worth WITH the system, not against it for no benefit.

    The writer has an income problem. There is only one way to fix it - earn more. The decision about feeling tired or your family missing you doesn't come into it. You will be a lot more stressed out when debt collectors start calling you and your family.

    By the way, whether you earn money at your main job or a second one doesn't make a scrap of tax difference Anthony.

    Yes the author is either mistaken, or has worded this very badly. The rate of tax you pay is calculated on your combined income from all sources. The tax free threshold applies to the first $18,000 of that combined income irrespective of where is comes from. I believe the author was trying to make the point that the tax deductions withheld from a second job are calculated at a higher rate than the first job, so that the cash in hand every week might be less than expected.

    Last edited 09/05/13 1:51 pm

    Apologies if the wording was not clear. Here is what the ATO says

    If you earn additional income (for example, from a second job or a taxable pension), your second payer is required to withhold tax at the higher 'no tax-free threshold' rate. If your second payer does not withhold a higher rate of tax, this may lead to a tax debt at the end of the financial year.


    If you have two jobs and both pay $500 per week, one job will leave you with more money in hand at the end of the working week than the other. You may be able to claim back excess taxes at the end of the financial year but you'll need to wait for that extra cash.

    If you know that your total income won't exceed $18200 then you can get the tax free threshold from both but I'm not sure that would apply in DL's situation.

    Hope that clarifies things.

      Somewhat. If you choose not to claim the tax-free threshold on either job, though, the rate of tax would be identical for both.

      I've gotten in the habit of not claiming it, as multiple employers have done things like forgot to deduct my HELP or miscalculated the number of pay periods in a year, leaving me owing a $1k-2k when I was expecting a return of a couple of hundred. After the second time, I found it was less stressful to pay extra tax by not claiming the threshold - at best getting a nice "bonus" at tax time, and at worst staying free of additional debt - than have to raise my limit and borrow a few grand off my credit card at 20+% interest.

        My experience is similar; two jobs - paid tax-free threshold rate at main employer and the non-tax-free threshold at the other and ended up owing thousands in tax at the end of the year. I now don't claim the tax-free threshold from either employer and I ask one of them to take additional tax deductions!

      Aw man, I typed a full post (above) but then got distracted by distracting distractions and you ended up posting before me.

      Pretty sneaky.

        And I didn't keep scrolling before typing my reply... ugh.

    I hear you brother! I am in exactly the same boat. I have a family and we operate on a single income. The only way to get out of our debt problems is going to be for me to work another job (I want my wife to continue being a stay at home mum).

    I recommend hospitality. You may have no experience but you can certainly sell yourself on your customer service skills which is the primary requirement for any base hospitality position. Start door knocking and explain you want a few shifts a week. But make sure you say you want to work for cash. Tell them the truth - you need the work, prepared to work hard and can learn quick, and can't afford the govt taking X cents out of every dollar. Cash money is rife in the industry as it works well for both parties (totally illegal of course but hey - we gotta get ahead right?)

    Good luck!

      The cash economy is a thing. Apparantly somewhere up to 15% of total Australian GDP -

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