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Do More Than Pay The Bills With It: 21 Ways To Use A Job To Your Advantage

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Okay, you have to pay the bills, and employment can help with that. In fact, for most people a job is their primary income.

But working to collect that regular paycheck is just one way to use a job. You can also use a job for other financial purposes, like to find customers for your business, to train yourself for a better job, or to get health insurance. We look at these strategies and more below.

Then there are purposes beyond the financial, like meeting interesting people, getting a paid education, or traveling. Using a job to pursue these personal goals is covered here as well.

So maybe you need a job at the moment. But jobs can be chosen for specific purposes, and the job you already have can be repurposed. With those ideas in mind, here are 21 ways to use a job.

1. Use A Job To Get Housing

I once worked as a live-in babysitter, which was a horrible job, but it put a roof over my head. And that’s just one way a job can provide housing. Here are a few other examples of a jobs that come with a place to live…

  • Apartment Manager – You often get an apartment as part of the deal.
  • Mobile Home Park Manager – This job usually comes with a free place to live.
  • Military Jobs – Many military positions come with free housing.
  • Caretaker – You can find these jobs on employment websites like and on caretaker websites like The Caretaker Gazette.
  • Campground Host – A free site for your RV is usually included.
  • Fire Lookout – Some of these positions still come with a place to live.
  • Nanny – These jobs often come with housing.

Some of the jobs mentioned may not pay much more than free housing, but they leave you free time to do other things to generate income.

For example, as a caretaker you might have another job, and as a campground host you can work online while waiting to greet incoming campers.

2. Use A Job To See The World

I have a nephew in the army who is stationed in Hawaii at the moment — not a bad post to have.

Navy enlistees may travel the most on average, but the comments of military personnel suggest that the amount of travel in any branch of the military depends on many factors, so verify that you’ll be going somewhere interesting before you sign that contract.

Training jobs sometimes require travel. For example, another nephew travels the country showing people how to use their surveillance equipment.

To find positions like that search an employment website for jobs for which you qualify and include “travel” or “must be willing to travel” in the search.

Other jobs that can require travel include the following:

  • Truck Driver
  • RV Delivery Driver
  • Bus Driver
  • Cruise Ship Jobs
  • Interpreter
  • Flight Attendant
  • NGO Jobs
  • The Peace Corps
  • Traveling Nurse (temporary assignments)

In addition to jobs that require travel, there are other ways to use employment to see the world. For example, you could…

  • Teach English abroad
  • Bartend in various travel destinations
  • Travel as a street performer
  • Work online from anywhere
  • Work at hostels around the world
  • Be a freelance travel writer
  • Work at seasonal resorts (and move with the seasons)

3. Use A Job To Prepare For A Business Startup

I know several people who went from employee to business owner, and it’s easy to find many more examples online. In fact, one of the best ways to prepare to own a business is to first work as an employee in that field.

There are several ways to do this. For example, my brother sold his carpet cleaning business to one of his employees, who is doing very well with it. If you work for a business owner who is ready for retirement, you might offer to buy his business (maybe even with easy payments).

You can also simply use the skills and knowledge gained to go out on your own. Your employer may have you sign a non-compete agreement. If so, be sure it doesn’t interfere with your plans (you may have to start your business in another geographical area).

Some aspect of your job might lead to a business. For example, I know someone who worked in casino surveillance and gained enough experience with the cameras and such that he started a successful business selling surveillance equipment.

4. Use A Job To Learn To Invest

I once worked for a house flipper, painting and doing repairs. I spent a lot of time talking to him about the details of his deals. The experience was put to good use when my wife and I later invested in houses and condos.

Another example? You might. work at a property management company to prepare for investing in apartment buildings.

There are other possibilities beyond real estate too. A stint working in a restaurant might give you the knowledge and experience you need to invest in a eatery as a silent partner. Working in a coin shop might give you insights that help you invest wisely in rare coins.

5. Use A Job To Stay In Shape

Some jobs are great for keeping you physically fit. Here are some of the more obvious choices if that’s your goal:

  • Construction Worker
  • Landscaper
  • Trail Builder
  • Mason
  • Ditch Digger
  • Lumberjack
  • Fitness Instructor

Of course, any job that keeps you moving a lot can keep you in shape. That includes positions like waiting tables in a busy restaurant or a security job that requires a lot of walking.

6. Use A Job To Move

Sometimes a job can be a way to afford a move. Pick one or more places where you would like to live and start putting in applications.

If you correctly time the move, the starting date at the new job, and quitting your current job, you might never miss a paycheck, and so have a smooth transition to your new hometown.

And the job doesn’t have to be one you plan to keep. It can just be used to make the move possible.

7. Use A Job For Health Insurance

What if you get a diagnosis that guarantees you’ll need health insurance, and you’re not near an enrollment period for a marketplace plan? It’s time to get a job that comes with health insurance.

If this is you reason for getting a job, clarify how long you’ll wait before you’ll actually be covered by the employer’s plan. Check out the other details too, like the deductible and any limits to coverage.

8. Use A Job To Pay For Education

Of course, you could use your paycheck to pay for college. But there’s another way to use a job to get a degree: Find an employer who will pay your tuition. Here are some of the companies that offer tuition reimbursement:

  • UPS
  • Publix
  • Wells Fargo
  • Starbucks
  • Smuckers
  • Comcast
  • Verizon
  • Oracle
  • Bank of America
  • Fidelity

Some companies pay a percentage of your tuition, while others reimburse costs in full up to an annual limit.

9. Use A Job To Find Business Partners

More than once I’ve found partners for business projects at work. You get to know coworkers pretty well by working alongside them for a few months, and so you can have an idea about who you can trust.

Ideally you can combine getting a job as business training with getting a job to find a partner. For example, you might work at a dollar store to learn the business and to find an experienced employee who wants to open a new dollar store with you.

Think outside the particular job too. I was working in a casino when a coworker convinced me to invest with him in flipping a car for a nice profit. Talk to coworkers about your goals and theirs to see where they might coincide.

10. Use A Job To Meet People

More than 27% of people look for people to date at work, and it’s probably one of the most common places to make new friends.

Apart from using a job as a way to meet people in general, you might get a job to meet specific people. For example, if you wanted to meet an investor or famous person you might locate the building where they spend the most time and apply for any positions that are open there.

11. Use A Job To Recruit People

If you have an MLM (multi-level-marketing, A.K.A. network marketing) business, you need to recruit people for your “downline.” What better place than where you work with dozens of fellow employees who probably want something more than just a job?

12. Use A Job To Find A Better Job

The data suggests that most jobs are found through networking, so your workplace is a good place to start your search for a better job. Casually talk to customers, suppliers, and coworkers to learn about job openings at other employers.

13. Use A Job To Get Things To Sell

With some employers you have an opportunity to take things home to sell. When I worked for an investor flipping houses he was fine with the crew taking what they found when cleaning out homes.

For example, I found 50 bags of golf tees and sold them for $42, and I sold a carpet installation tool I found for $10.

You might find a few things to make money with at any employer. When I worked at a casino I took an old blackjack table cover and made a table to sell. I also took $1,500 in returnable soda cans from the break room over 15 months (there’s a 10-cent deposit on each in Michigan).

14. Use A Job To Find Clients

Make your boss your client. You’re already selling your labor to your employer, so what else can you sell? Your employer knows you can be trusted, and as their employee you know what they need.

For example, if your workplace could use a new cleaning service, start a small business to provide that. If your employer needs a website and you know how to create one, offer your services.

If you’ve ever thought about starting a small business, your workplace can provide an opportunity to get started.

15. Use A Job To Write A Book

When I worked at a collection agency I realized that many small business owners could do their own collections if they had a few basic forms and knew how to stay legal. So a coworker and I wrote a book to help them out.

Apart from using expertise gained on the job to write a book, you can also use your employment experiences to write a novel or other work of fiction. Workplace fiction is a whole genre, and coworkers can inspire great fictional characters.

16. Use A Job To Save Money

Some employers offer an employee discount on what they sell. How much you’ll save depends on the product or service, but if I know I would save some serious cash if I worked for Trader Joe’s grocery stores.

Other ways to save money with a job include getting a job that comes with the use of a car or one that comes with housing.

17. Use A Job As A Marketplace

When I sold imported gifts I naturally found customers among my coworkers. And the Jewelry Making Journal says work is an excellent place to sell jewelry.

If you don’t already have a business product or service to sell, see what coworkers need. You might offer them babysitting services or rides to work (I used to get $2 each way). I’ve seen employees selling eggs and sweaters at work as well.

18. Use Work To Pay For Luxuries

Maybe your paycheck covers the bills but not much more. So if you want a new boat or a trip to Nepal you need some extra income. What better place to look than your current job? Work a little extra.

Of course you can only work so much, so if you’re going to add hours, make them at times when you get paid at a higher rate than normal, like holidays and overtime shifts. Then set that money aside for your dream goals.

19. Use A Job To Earn Recruitment Bonuses

One of my more recent employers offered a $200 bonus if we referred a new employee to them. Some companies offering employee referral bonuses pay out thousands of dollars per referral.

If your current employer offers a referral bonus, start asking around to see who needs a job. If there is no bonus offered, suggest the idea to your employer.

20. Use A Job As A Place To Do Other Work

If you have any way to do other work while on the job, you can make a lot more per hour.

For example, when I was a security guard I was allowed to bring a laptop and go online during slow times, which meant I was able to work on my freelance writing and other online businesses.

With most jobs you can only squeeze in secondary work during breaks or lunches, but some jobs provide plenty of free time for those other pursuits. Some examples…

  • Night Watchman
  • Campground Host
  • Overnight Hotel Clerk
  • House Sitter
  • Pet Sitter
  • Babysitter

21. Use A Job To Educate Yourself

You can use a job to learn skills needed for another job or goal. For example, I took a job as a collection agent in order to learn skip tracing techniques (tracking people down) and other skills needed to become a private investigator (a career which I later decided against).

If you wanted to climb big mountains you might start by working as a porter on mountaineering trips. You get the idea.

In addition to learning skills directly from work, you can also use time at work to study anything at all.

You can do this in bits and pieces during lunch and other breaks, or you can get one of those positions mentioned above and use hours of paid time daily to study for personal or business reasons.

Use that time to get educated! Some readers (maybe you?) are doing that right now, reading this at work.

If you know of some additional ways to use a job, please share them with us below … and keep on frugaling!

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