ScoreCard Research Junior Writer

OK, real talk.

Who here has dreamed of becoming a mermaid ever since you were just a tiny, ocean-loving tot brushing your hair with a fork while your parents begged you not to start a VHS of “The Little Mermaid” for the 50th time that day?

Yeah, I know you.

I see your shell-covered phone case and three consecutive years’ worth of mermaid-themed Halloween costumes.

I hear you humming “Under the Sea” quietly to yourself as you pass me in the grocery store while you pick up anything but seafood for dinner because fish are friends and all that jazz.

I know you’ve sat there, sometimes for hours, with your mouse hovering over the “Buy Now” button while you shop for those ridiculously expensive but totally realistic looking silicone mermaid tails.

I even know you grew up with a weird crush on the cartoon Prince Eric.

And you know what else I know?

That your dream of becoming a real, live mermaid could finally, FINALLY come true.

I’m serious: Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, home to the famous Weeki Wachee mermaids, is looking for people to slip on a fin and join the rest of the mermaid city down below.

Yeah, you could become a mermaid. (Go freak out for a minute — I’ll wait here.)

How to Become a Mermaid at Weeki Wachee

[caption id="attachment_72831" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Kelley Madden, left, and Brittany Fussell get ready to dive into "the tube” that leads the mermaids into the open spring on May 16, 2017. Kelley Madden, left, and Brittany Fussell get ready to dive into "the tube” that leads the mermaids into the open spring on May 16, 2017.
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

If you’re wondering what it’s like to be a Weeki Wachee mermaid, we’ve got you covered. See? We’re obsessed, too.

If you’ve read that and you’re still totally committed to landing the gig, here’s what you should know:

You’ll have to move to Florida, obviously, but there are worse things. (I promise.)

You must be at least 18 years old.

You must be available to work at least four days a week (including weekends) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You need to be a strong swimmer, and should be able to swim 400 yards in under 15 minutes. It will probably also help if you’re not claustrophobic. (Why, you ask? Did you even read the story I gave you?!)

You need to have a wide variety of skills, including everything from sewing to directing underwater shows.

If you’re hired, you’ll have to get scuba certified, and you’ll have to learn how to perform routines underwater in 74-degree water while a current pulls you this way and that.

[caption id="attachment_72833" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Mermaids perform during The Little Mermaid show at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park on May 16, 2017. Mermaids perform during The Little Mermaid show at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

You’ll make about $10 an hour starting out — but you’ll get to be a mermaid, so there’s that.

When you’re not performing, you might do a little travelling and make appearances with the rest of the mermaid crew.

Convinced this job was created specifically for you?

Then it’s probably time to apply to become a Weeki Wachee mermaid.

All you have to do is send a recent photo of yourself along with a resume to the email address listed here. (Just be aware: Because this isn’t the largest of operations, you should probably only flood the inbox if you’re pretty serious about applying.)

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She hopes all your mermaid dreams come true.

Amazon is on a path to total world domination, and it seems we’re all powerless to stop it.

OK, so it’s less like we’re powerless and more like we’re feeding into the all-consuming need for immediate gratification in the form of household items, clothing, video streaming, books, small appliances, electronics, accessories, foodstuffs and — oh yeah — literally anything else you could possibly dream up.

However you choose to look at it, the company is growing at an (alarmingly) impressive rate.

This means it’ll continue to build fulfillment centers and headquarters (and whatever else the future of Amazon may bring), which will, in turn, open up plenty of new jobs. That’s the part we care about.

Amazon Jobs for Everyone

This year, Amazon announced plans to build a second headquarters, equal in size to its existing Seattle-area HQ.

Fifty cities across the U.S. and Canada are currently fighting for the right to be home to Amazon’s next mega-headquarters. The company has said it will invest $5 billion in the construction of this new Amazon-opolis and promises the headquarters will eventually provide as many as 50,000 jobs.

But really, why stop there?

While all those major cities await Amazon’s decision on the new HQ, the company is moving forward with already planned initiatives — namely, opening an office (not a headquarters, mind you) on the west side of Manhattan in New York City.

The 360,000-square-foot space in the new Manhattan West mega-development will house advertising, Amazon Fashion and Amazon Web Services teams — and the company is already expecting to hire about 2,000 additional people over the next few years to staff it.

Earlier this month, Amazon also announced plans to build an 855,000-square-foot fulfillment center in New York, creating more than 2,250 full-time on Staten Island.

You Get a Job, and YOU Get a Job Everybody GETS A JOB

And because Amazon is the Oprah of warehouse and fulfillment center jobs, the company has begun releasing plans for 2018, and — you guessed it — those plans involve thousands more jobs across the country.

In July, Amazon announced plans to open fulfillment centers in Orlando, Florida, and Romulus, Michigan, creating more than 1,500 new jobs in each city.

In August, Amazon announced plans to open fulfillment centers in North Randall, Ohio, and Salem, Oregon, creating another 2,000 and 1,000 full-time jobs in each city, respectively.

In September, Amazon announced plans to open fulfillment centers in Shelby, Michigan, Monroe, Ohio and Portland, Oregon. Each center will create more than 1,000 jobs for people in those areas.

You can go here to browse Amazon’s current job openings (fulfillment and otherwise), but keep in mind that many of the aforementioned centers don’t open until sometime in 2018. You may have to check back later to see all of the open positions near you.

And for those of you who are still adamantly anti-Amazon, someday soon you’ll all be forced to make a choice: Step outside and ask your grouchy, grudge-holding neighbor for a cup of sugar (like in the ancient times) so you can finish baking that pie, or wait a short 20 minutes for a friendly drone to deliver it to your window with a drone-smile.

Listen, I’m not saying Amazon is the way of the future, but Amazon just might be the way of the future.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

It’s one of the great kindnesses of life that during the holiday season — the time when everyone starts thinking, “Man, I could use a few extra bucks this month.” — a slew of seasonal, holiday jobs opens up.

And this year is no different.

Already, companies like Target and UPS are advertising tens of thousands of seasonal jobs for those who want to make a little extra money by helping stores get through their busiest season.

And now we can add Gap Inc. to the list.

(By the way, if you’re constantly on the hunt for a great job opportunity, be sure to like our Jobs page on Facebook. We post awesome opportunities there all the time — including some great work-from-home positions!)

Work for Gap Inc. This Holiday Season

Gap Inc. is the parent company of Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy.

The company has just announced nationwide hiring events scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (local time zones) at all locations of the following stores in the U.S. and Canada: Gap, Gap Factory, Banana Republic, Banana Republic Factory and Old Navy.

Available positions include everything from stockroom to sales.

Pay isn’t listed, but it will most likely vary by position.

What won’t vary by position?

The awesome perks and benefits.

  • Discounts on merchandise at Gap Inc. stores. (Think about the holiday gift possibilities.)
  • Wellness offerings that include free flu shots and discounts on vision and dental programs, plus family care assistance that includes back-up child care options and access to day care services.
  • The opportunity to grow with the company beyond the holiday season.
  • Flexible scheduling that works with you during the busy holidays.

If you’re interested in joining the team over at Gap Inc., try to make it out to any of the Gap Inc. stores for their nationwide hiring events.

And just so you don’t have to scroll back up to the top of this post to re-read the details, here they are again:

What? Seasonal job openings at all Gap Inc. stores, including everything from stockroom to sales to transportation.

When? Saturday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (local time zones).

Where? All Gap Inc. stores throughout the U.S. and Canada, including Gap, Gap Factory, Banana Republic, Banana Republic Factory and Old Navy.

Why? Because of all the people who will head to the mall in droves to fight each other over the last sweater in a size small that their child just haaaaas to have — but don’t worry, you’re just there to collect that extra cash.

Go here to see some of the available seasonal openings on the Gap Inc. website.

And — just so you know — Gap Inc. has announced it will be closing about 200 Gap store locations over the next few years. It will, however, open about 270 Old Navy and Athleta store locations over the same period.

Here’s a (boring) explanation about growth and balance, but what you really need to know is these seasonal jobs are just that — seasonal. Regardless of what’s shutting down three years from now, it’ll still be nice to have a little extra money coming in this holiday season.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Let’s talk work-from-home jobs.

You want one, your mom wants one, your cousin’s best friend’s neighbor’s dog wants one -- everybody seems to want to work from home these days.

And why shouldn’t they? Working from home is what dreams are made of.

(I say this with some authority as I work from the comfort of my home office/blanket-tent in my PJs while my cat sleeps belly-up across my workspace, snoring a little while the smell of my hot, non-take out lunch roasting in the oven makes his nose twitch in a way that forces me to Snapchat everyone on my contacts list -- something I definitely couldn’t be doing from an office right now.)

Jealous of my current situation? Wishing you could snag an awesome work-from-home job that would allow you the freedom and flexibility to annoy your friends with cat pics all day long?

Then you’re going to want to read on — and you’ll probably also want to like our Jobs page on Facebook — we share awesome work-from-home job opportunities there all the time!

Apply for These 5 Work-From-Home Jobs Today

We’ve rounded up five awesome work-from-home job opportunities for you to check out today!

1. Fashion and Beauty Writers at Elite Daily

Elite Daily is an online news and media outlet -- the “Voice of Generation Y.”

The company is currently looking for part-time staff writers to write a variety of content for the company’s forthcoming Fashion and Beauty vertical.

You should have an interest in all things beauty and style and be willing to experiment with, create and test out up-and-coming beauty and fashion trends. You should be able to write in a fun, friendly tone and should be up-to-date on your pop-culture references.

You should have a history (and love!) of writing and should be prepared to share a few writing clips (don’t worry, personal blogs count here). You should also have experience working in a fast-paced environment and have a diverse, unique and inclusive point of view regarding the beauty and fashion industry.

You should be available to work two to four full days per week during business hours (EST) -- at least two seven-hour shifts.

Pay and benefits are not listed, but we’ve reached out to the company and will update this post when we hear back.

When you apply, you’ll be asked to write a cover letter that includes “your stance on Instagram Brows” (important) along with your favorite sources for fashion and beauty news.

To apply for this job, go here.

2. Online Dating Writers at Elite Daily

The same media outlet is looking for part-time writers to create a variety of content about online dating and dating apps. (You can see examples on the application page here.)

A good fit for this position will have a wide knowledge and a deep grasp on the world of digital dating, and will be able to write about the ups and downs of online and app-based dating with humor and authenticity. You’ll interview experts and pull from your own experience to deliver thoughtful advice on digital dating to millennial women.

To be successful in this role, you should have a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of writing experience. SEO knowledge, a proficiency in AP style and an already established network of relationship gurus, sex therapists, dating experts and the like are a plus -- but not required.

You should be available to work three to four days per week during business hours (EST) -- seven-hour shifts are the norm.

Pay and benefits for this position are not listed, but we’ve reached out to the company and will update this post when we hear back.

To apply for this job, go here.

3. Travel Agent at Vail Resorts

Vail Resorts is a mountain resort company that specializes in luxury travel.

The company is currently looking for full-time, work-from-home travel agents in the Salt Lake City, Utah, area to assist customers with booking customized vacation packages and answer inbound calls.

You should have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, at least six months’ experience working in sales or as a travel agent, excellent communication and listening skills and proficiency with a computer including basic navigation and troubleshooting abilities.

Bonus points if you have a degree, past experience working from home, knowledge of the ski and snowboard industry or vacation-planning experience.

If you are proficient in Spanish, you may be eligible for additional pay.

You must have a quiet, dedicated home-office space, a secure, wired internet connection and a landline telephone connection. The company will provide you with most of the technical equipment needed, including a headset, telephone and webcam.

This is a full-time, seasonal position lasting six to seven months. You should be available to work 40 hours per week, including evenings, weekends and holidays, and you may be asked to work additional hours during peak season.

You should be located near Salt Lake City, Utah, as you will be required to participate in on-site training for the first three weeks. After the initial three weeks, you’ll complete virtual training from home.

Pay includes an hourly base pay plus commission. The company says agents earn an average of $15 per hour.

Benefits include medical, dental and vision insurance, as well as a 401(K) plan, among plenty of other perks. Plus, you’ll receive a complimentary season ski pass for you and your family, as well as discounts on retail, food, lodging and transportation at select Vail Resorts locations.

To apply for this job, go here.

4. Travel Agent at Vail Resorts

The same company is also looking for full-time, seasonal travel agents in Colorado, particularly in the Boulder, Broomfield, Colorado Springs and Denver areas.

You should have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, at least six months’ experience working in sales or as a travel agent, excellent communication and listening skills and proficiency with a computer including basic navigation and troubleshooting abilities.

Bonus points if you have a degree, past experience working from home, knowledge of the ski and snowboard industry or vacation planning experience.

You must have a quiet, dedicated home-office space, a secure, wired internet connection and a landline telephone connection.The company will provide you with most of the technical equipment needed, including a headset, telephone and webcam.

This is a full-time, seasonal position lasting six to seven months. You should be available to work 40 hours per week, including evenings, weekends and holidays, and you may be asked to work additional hours during peak season.

You should be located in Boulder, Broomfield, Colorado Springs or Denver, as you will be required to participate in on-site training for the first three weeks. After the initial three weeks, you’ll complete virtual training from home.

Pay includes an hourly base pay of $10.15 plus commission.

Benefits include medical, dental and vision insurance, as well as a 401(K) plan, among plenty of other perks. Plus, you’ll receive a complimentary season ski pass for you and your family, as well as discounts on retail, food, lodging and transportation at select Vail Resorts locations.

To apply for this job, go here.

5. After-Hours Travel Consultant at FROSCH

Frosch is a company with a focus on deluxe leisure and corporate travel.

The company is looking for a full-time, after-hours travel consultant to assist customers during evenings, weekends and holidays.

You’ll be tasked with helping travelers coordinate their entire trips, from the flight to the hotel, while processing and navigating any changes or cancellations that may arise.

You should have a few years of recent experience with the global distribution software Sabre, and should have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the travel industry and airlines.

Pay for this position is not listed, but we’ve reached out to the company and will update this post when we hear back.

Benefits include medical, dental and vision insurance, gym reimbursements and much more.

To apply for this job, go here.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Work-from-home jobs are the new 9-to-5.

In the same way that orange is the new black, or that audiobooks are the new reading or that zoodles are the new pasta. (That is, they sound like the next right move, but they all come with their own set of drawbacks.)

Not everyone looks good in orange, for example, and not being able to dog ear your favorite part of a book poses a real problem, obviously -- but are there drawbacks to working from home?

Well yeah, there’s a pretty big one -- and believe it or not, I’m not talking about how weird your friends think you are when you tell them, “Guys, I totally speak cat now” after a long work-week cooped up inside.

No indeed. The real issue people are facing as they pursue a from-home career?

Scams.

As the popularity of work-from-home jobs increases, so do the opportunities for work-from-home job-related scams — and (awful) people are taking full advantage of this new scam-prone corner of the market.

Last week, FlexJobs, a job service that helps users search for flexible and telecommuting work options, shared a blog post about an increasingly common scam which involves the use of FlexJobs’ name -- a name that many seasoned job hunters have grown to trust.

The scammers are using several other sites’ names, as well, including those of ZipRecruiter, Indeed and Upwork.

The blog post from FlexJobs discusses some of the sneaky tricks scammers use to make these false job opportunities seem like the real deal, including:

  • Claiming they’re with a recognizable company such as FlexJobs or Indeed. This helps to create a false sense of security in their victims.
  • Using a vague email address that isn’t associated with the company they claim to represent. For example, “johndoe@gmail.com” probably isn’t in a position of power at a successful recruiting firm.
  • Asking for an interview via Skype or Facebook Messenger. Accounts on platforms like these are harder to trace, so scammers use them often.
  • Using poor grammar, spelling and punctuation or weird, stiff wording. A legitimate employer will strive to write clearly and professionally, so an abundance of typos, misspellings and sentence errors should be a red flag.
  • Asking for your bank or other financial information. Scammers will often claim that they need this information for some piece of equipment that they’re going to send you, like a laptop. (Spoiler alert: They will not send a laptop.)

If you need some more help spotting a work-from-home job scam, check out this post that will walk you through a scammer’s email -- line by line -- and show you what to watch out for.

Just remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

When was the last time you felt truly, totally, radically stoked?

Are you often stoked? Are you easily stoked? Are you one of the most stoke-able people to ever exist on this Earth?

Then dude, did we ever stumble upon the job opportunity for you.

The World Surf League is looking for someone who is “both extremely stoked and leisurely” to be the head of the newly-created Department of Stoke and Leisure.

That’s it. That’s the whole job.

OK, so there are a few more relevant details (like the fact that you’ll be in Hawaii). But I’m not kidding -- that’s still sort of the whole job.

(But if this one’s not for you, check out our jobs page on Facebook to find something that is.)

What the Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure Will Do

As the Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure, you’ll be in charge of two “ultra-important” things: being excited about whatever is happening at any given moment and “chillin’ the most.” (Which is just a fancy way of saying stoke and leisure, duh.)

You should probably have (although I guess it’s not required) a long-standing passion for all things surfing, because you’ll need to make the most of an all-access pass at the World Surf League Championship Tour when it lands in Oahu, Hawaii in December.

This means you should be easily excited (or stoked) about pretty much everything in the world of surfing, including acai bowls, palm trees, coral reefs, sunsets, “not working for The Man,” coconuts -- all of it should get you stoked.

You should have a general thirst for adventure -- and you have to be one of those people who can’t have those adventures without Instagramming every. Single. Thing. You. Do.

You’ll snap pics of everything you see and experience that gets you excited, including waterfalls, cliff jumps, famous people, parties, fruity drinks, volcanoes and the occasional jet ski ride. Then you’ll upload them to the ‘gram, caption ‘em and watch the likes roll in as your ~stoke~ grows.

The listing doesn’t say exactly how much this gig pays, but the whole job sort of reads like a paid Hawaiian vacation -- so a paycheck might just feel like an added bonus.

If you think you have what it takes to simultaneously be both the most stoked and the most leisurely and can showcase that on your social media from a hammock on the beach, go here to apply to become the first ever (probably) Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure.

P.S. If I had to give you a definition of this job in layman’s terms, I’d say “you’ll be a hype-man whose job is to document and promote a surfing competition on Instagram by capturing and posting the most scenic, exciting and fun aspects of the ultimate Hawaiian experience.”

But also, if I had to give you a definition of this job in layman’s terms, I’d say this probably isn’t the job for you.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

A few days before Hurricane Irma was set to make landfall in Florida (and in the city I call home, St. Petersburg), I got a text from my landlord.

The gist of that text? Get out, and do it now: that house is old and, even with the right precautions and hurricane preparedness measures, may not be standing when this thing is through.

Uhmm, OK.

I packed my bags and drove the two hours inland to my parents’ house to wait out the storm. While I was thankful that I had somewhere safer to be (not everyone does!), I couldn’t help but think about my little home and worry about whether or not I’d have to find somewhere new to live or if I would have to deal with weeks (or even months) of repairs.

Irma ended up downgrading from the projected Category 4 to a gentle(r) Category 1 by the time it struck the city I’ve grown to love. While many people in my area were (and, as of Friday, still are) without power, the worst of the damage seemed to pass us by.

But not everyone has been so lucky. Many Florida and Texas residents have been left with lasting damage to their rented properties and homes due to hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

Now, as the traffic lightens, the gas is resupplied, the power is restored and the flooding recedes, people are being cleared to return to scope out what remains of the places they call home.

In some cases, it’s not much.

As people return to their damaged and even unlivable homes, a lot of renters are wondering exactly how responsible they are for these structures.

Lenient Landlords, Reasonable Renters

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner recently urged landlords to be lenient and renters to be reasonable. He was also quick to warn landlords who might try to unfairly terminate leases or continue collecting rent while repairs go unaddressed. “We will not tolerate anyone in the city being victimized,” he said.

Often, in disasters such as these, renters and landlords end up in a sort of catch-22. Landlords need renters to continue paying rent so that they have more immediately available funds to fix the damage while they wait for the insurance payout.

However, many renters believe they shouldn’t have to pay rent at all while their home is damaged or unlivable. Without funds there are no fixes, but without fixes there should be no funds -- so the cycle goes.

Fort Bend County Justice of the Peace Joel Cloudser stressed the importance of “not withholding rent” and giving your landlord the opportunity to fix any fixable problems. If your rental unit is uninhabitable and unfixable, then, he says, you’ll be allowed to terminate your lease, collect a prorated share of the rent and move out.

If you are able to stay, you may also be able to reduce your rent in proportion to the damage to your unit.

This renter’s rights Q&A with an expert has helpful information that may aid you in understanding your rights.

Hurricane Prep: Whose Job Is It Anyway?

Another dilemma I -- and many people -- ran into during the week leading up to Irma’s arrival: who’s responsible for boarding up the rental unit?

In some cases, a landlord may take charge and show up at your home to board windows, stack sandbags and secure the property. In other cases, they may expect you to take care of the pre-hurricane prep.

In the days leading up to Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Leslie Powell, the executive director of Legal Services of North Florida, who specializes in housing law and disaster response and recovery, told WLRN there’s no real legal obligation for a landlord to help stormproof a property.

The landlord may have an obligation to the insurance company to protect the home to a certain degree, she noted, but usually, the effort put in by a landlord ends at protecting their own assets.

Before the storm, contact your landlord to ask about preparations. Make a plan, and decide who is in charge of storm-proofing the unit -- and to what degree.

For future rentals, consider having a “Hurricane Clause” written into your lease that includes information on who will provide materials and labor for hurricane preparations.

Additionally, you may want to consider purchasing renter’s insurance. In the event the rental unit is destroyed, the landlord will collect their due from the homeowners insurance policy -- but you could be left with nothing.

Renter’s insurance may ensure you don’t walk away with nothing in the event of a devastating storm. (Be aware, though, that in hurricane-prone areas, most renter’s insurance policies feature a high hurricane deductible.)

And no matter what you and your landlord decide to do, one of the best ways to protect your own well-being during a hurricane is to make sure you have a complete emergency kit on hand -- before the storm shows up and everyone floods the stores.

These five strategies will help you build a budget-friendly emergency kit to help keep you and your family comfortable (it’s all relative, folks) for the rest of hurricane season.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s a third-generation Floridian and therefore a card-carrying lifetime member of the hurricane club.

Unless you actually live under a rock or have zero access to TV or the internet (and I mean, I’m calling your bluff because you’re reading this right now), you already know that two major hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, ripped through the southern states over the last couple of weeks, leaving widespread flooding, dangerous conditions and serious damage in their wakes.

But what you might not have heard yet is that these two hurricanes caused an estimated $290 billion in losses.

Two! Hundred! Ninety! Billion!

That figure is the estimated total of all costs associated with the storms, including property damages, increased fuel prices, crop loss (those Florida oranges), transportation and infrastructure damage, disruption to businesses and periods of unemployment that could stretch on for months.

While a lot of salaried, full-time and even some part-time employees are given PTO, extended grace periods and the promise of a job waiting for them when they return, that’s not the case for every worker.

And that’s due, in large part, to the rise of the gig economy.

The Unforgiving Gig Economy

The gig economy is now estimated to make up about 34% of the workforce. That means one in three workers in the U.S. collects all or part of their income from some form of self-employment: freelancing, contract work or internet platform-based gig work.

And that means that one in three workers affected by the hurricanes is responsible for keeping their own cash flow going while dealing with any travel, home repairs, power loss, medical needs, caregiving and clean up -- along with so many other attention-demanding tasks -- that come with a natural disaster.

Unfortunately, dealing with these issues can get pretty costly, and the financial strain is only compounded when a person is unable to work due to the severe weather -- whether that work requires electricity, Wi-Fi, open stores or restaurants, clear roads or simply customers who are still in the area.

Weather the Storm as a Gig Worker

Thankfully, a member of the gig economy can use their status as an independent worker to boost their earnings before and after a hurricane or other natural disaster. These steps can help cushion the blow of being out of work for a while.

(Note: We’re by no means encouraging anyone to work during unsafe conditions! Be practical and assess the level of damage in your area before deciding whether offering your services for hire is the right move. Please use your smarts, help your neighbors when you can and stay safe.)

Before and after the storm, use a platform like TaskRabbit to see if anyone is looking to hire someone to help with “around the house” tasks like picking up loose debris, boarding up windows, hauling branches or making a run to the dump.

Over the next several months, there should be a lot of odd jobs you can pick up as people seek to repair some of the damage the storms caused.

You could also sign up to be a Shipt shopper and help deliver the last-minute grocery orders people will place before the storm arrives (and possibly after, although grocery stores in Florida have been slim pickin’s these days). Just be prepared to haul a lot of canned goods and bottled water!

During a prolonged power outage, a lot of schools will be closed -- but parents will still have to head back to the office. Consider signing up for a site like Care.com, where parents may go searching for some last minute help.

You may have to get creative as you look for opportunities to continue earning a living in a very strange financial landscape. Think outside the box and remember that the gig economy is all about seeing a need and filling it before your competitors do the same. There will be plenty of people who will want to hire an extra set of hands over the coming months, so be open to opportunities and you’ll start to recoup those losses.

Finally, don’t forget that if you’re struggling to keep up with payments and bills, several companies are offering to nix and delay fees, overage penalties and even student loan payments in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

(And if you’re still strapped for cash as the craziness of hurricane season comes to a close, consider trying these 50 ways to make extra money on the side.)

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s pretty ready for hurricane season to be over so that sunny Florida can get back to doing what it does best: being sunny.

There are a few things in this life we can count on: death, taxes… and Amazon’s seasonal hiring of work-from-home customer service associates.

And since it’s not tax season, and since the fact that you’re reading this post proves to me that you’ve woken up very much alive again today, that only leaves one option: It’s seasonal hiring time at Amazon.

Right now, the company is looking for part-time, full-time and seasonal work-from-home customer service associates to help during the peak holiday season.

(Psst! There’s one more thing that seems to be constant in this life: Everyone wants to work from home. If you’re on the hunt for a work-from-home job, be sure to like our Jobs page on Facebook -- we post awesome work-from-home opportunities there all the time!)

Become an Amazon Customer Service Associate

As a seasonal customer service associate at Amazon, you’ll be a part of the 24/7 virtual customer service team.

You’ll communicate with customers via phone and live chat to answer questions, solve problems and resolve concerns and queries. You’ll assess each customer’s situation, set appropriate expectations, provide helpful solutions and work to resolve conflicts while upholding company values. You should be patient in stressful situations and able to prioritize and empathize with customer needs.

You must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, at least one year of experience dealing with customers and be proficient in English. You should be able to navigate the internet, including multiple browsers, chat platforms and email tools. Basic typing, phone, computer navigation and communication skills are required.

You must have a fast, reliable, wired internet connection. Amazon will send you any required tools, including a headset.

Apply for a Seasonal Job at Amazon

There are a few different work-from-home customer service associate opportunities available at Amazon right now, including full time, part time and military-preferred. Hours, training, pay and location requirements vary slightly. Here are the details on the available positions:

Full-Time, Seasonal Work-From-Home Customer Service Associate (Military Preferred)

To apply for this position, you must live in one of the following 35 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin or Wyoming.

Military service members and their families are preferred for this position.

This position is full time, and you’ll work up to, but no more than, 60 hours per week. Available shifts will include days, afternoons and evenings and may include weekend hours. Schedules may change during your employment. Hours may increase during peak season (Thanksgiving through mid-January), and you may be required to work on holidays. If you’re a student, Amazon will do its best to accommodate your schedule.

This is a temporary position that lasts about six months, though there may be opportunities for long-term employment.

This position pays $10 per hour and includes bonus opportunities. Training is paid and takes place online.

To apply for this position, go here.  

Full-Time, Seasonal Work-From-Home Customer Service Associate

To apply for this position, you must live in one of the following 17 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah or West Virginia.

This position is full time, and you’ll work up to, but no more than, 60 hours per week. Available shifts will include days, afternoons and evenings and may include weekend hours. Schedules may change during your employment. Hours may increase during peak season (Thanksgiving through mid-January), and you may be required to work on holidays. If you’re a student, Amazon will do its best to accommodate your schedule.

This is a temporary position that lasts about six months, though there may be opportunities for long-term employment.

This position pays $10 per hour, and includes bonus opportunities. Training is paid and takes place online.

To apply for this position, go here.

Part-Time Flex Work-From-Home Customer Service Associate (Military Preferred)

To apply for this position, you must live in one of the following 34 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin or Wyoming.

Military service members and their families are preferred for this position.

This position is part time, and you’ll work an average of 20 to 29 hours per week. Available shifts will include days, afternoons and evenings and may include weekend hours. Schedules may change during your employment. Hours may increase during peak season, when you may be required to work as many as 40 hours per week. You may be required to work on holidays. If you’re a student, Amazon will do its best to accommodate your schedule.

Being able to work a flexible schedule is required.

This position pays $12 per hour after a four-week paid training period during which you’ll make $10 per hour.

To apply for this position, go here.

Part-Time Flex Work-From-Home Customer Service Associate

To apply for this position, you must live in one of the following 34 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin or Wyoming.

This position is part time, and you’ll work an average of 20 to 29 hours per week. Available shifts will include days, afternoons and evenings and may include weekend hours. Schedules may change during your employment. Hours may increase during peak season, when you may be required to work as many as 40 hours per week. You may be required to work on holidays. If you’re a student, Amazon will do its best to accommodate your schedule.

Being able to work a flexible schedule is required.

This position pays $12 per hour after a four-week paid training period during which you’ll make $10 per hour. A minimum of 25 hours per week is required during the training period.

To apply for this position, go here.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

If you’re looking for a way to make a little extra money on the side -- or maybe even land a full-time gig with decent pay -- you might want to consider becoming a notary public.

The startup costs are relatively low, the work is flexible and your new skill will give your resume an extra boost. Plus, becoming a notary public offers some pretty good earning potential.

There are a lot of ways to make money as a notary public, but the most common job opportunities include working as administrative support in an office setting or freelancing as an independent notary.

And, because there will always be legal documents to sign, notaries public (yes, that’s the real pluralization, and yes, it’s awkward) will always be in demand.

According to Payscale, the average hourly pay for a notary public ranges from $9 all the way up to a little over $21. The fees notaries are allowed to charge for particular services vary from state to state; however, in many states, notaries are allowed to charge what they like for travel fees.

What Exactly Is a Notary Public?

A notary public impartially witnesses the signing of legal documents and deters fraud by ensuring the people signing the documents are who they say they are and that they are willingly and knowingly entering into the legal agreement.

A notary does this by verifying the signer’s identity and making sure they’re fully informed and aware of what the documents they are signing entail.

Who Can Become a Notary Public?

In most states, anyone over the age of 18 who does not have a criminal record can become a notary public.

You must be legal resident of the state you are applying in, and most states require that you be able to read and write in English.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Notary Public?

Initial startup estimates range from anywhere between $100 to $500, although other expenses may pop up along the way (these could include a website or advertisements to let people know about your services).

How To Become a Notary Public

The process, qualifications, compensation and duties for notaries public vary from state to state.  This is meant to be a general overview to help you on your way to becoming one.

If you decide to pursue a certification, be sure to check your specific state requirements. You may find that you have to fulfill all of the following requirements -- or only a few.

Take a Notary Class

Only a handful of states require you to take a training course, although most states will encourage you to do so. You can visit the National Notary Association (NNA) website to find education and training resources by selecting your state at the top of the page and then visiting the “Training & Education” tab.

Take a Notary Exam

Currently, 12 states require potential notaries to take an exam. Exam locations near you can also be found by visiting the “Training & Education” tab on the NNA website.

Submit an Application

Fill out and submit an application. Go here to locate your state-specific application form on the “Become a Notary” tab.

Fingerprinting and Background Check

Not all states will require fingerprints and a background check. Fingerprinting may also be done immediately following the exam if you are required to take one.

Obtain a Surety Bond

Most notaries are required to purchase a surety bond in case they make a mistake that hurts someone. If that were to happen, the bond could compensate the injured person up to the limits of the bond amount. Bonds range in amount from as little as $500 to as much as $25,000 and are used to protect the people who use your services.

You’ll pay only a fraction of the value of the bond up front. For example, in Florida, a $7,500 notary bond plus filing fees would only cost you about $74 -- and you’d be protected for up to four years from claims resulting from mistakes you might make.

If the bond were needed to pay for damages in case of a mistake or negligence on your part, you would then be required to pay back the bond amount in full.

You can select the “Insurance & Bonds” tab here to learn more about your specific state requirements.

Purchase Errors and Omissions Insurance

While no state requires notaries to purchase an errors and omissions insurance policy, some notaries invest in one. The bond is the first line of defense for a notary in the case of a mistake, but this insurance policy could  help cover the costs of legal fees if someone decides to take you to court.

A four-year, $25,000 insurance policy costs anywhere from $60 to $300. If someone takes legal action against you, the policy will usually cover court costs and legal fees up to the policy amount. Unlike a bond, you would not have to repay this amount, and there is no deductible.

Submit Commission Paperwork to the State

After you receive your commission certificate in the mail, you’ll need to file it -- along with your bond -- with your state’s notary regulating office. If you use the services provided on the NNA’s website under the “Become a Notary” tab, you may have the option to have your paperwork filed for you by the NNA, although not all states allow this.

Purchase a Notary Seal and Kit

Each state has different requirements for what tools and supplies you’ll need to purchase to begin practicing as a notary public. The primary tools are your official notary seal (or stamp), acknowledgement certificates and a notary journal to help you keep a clean record of all notarial acts.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Notary Public?

The process to become a notary public can take anywhere from three weeks to six months, depending on which state you live in and how extensive the requirements are.

In most states, once you become a notary, your certification is good for four years. After that, you will have to renew your notary certification by retaking training and exams, purchasing a new four-year notary bond or re-submitting your paperwork (or all of the above).

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Earlier this week, I finally mowed the blanket of weeds grass in my backyard for the first time since moving in five months ago. I know.

But it just goes to show the sad truth: our backyards tend to get neglected.

I mean, no one’s looking at the backyard when they drive by, right? If the front yard looks a hot mess, everyone will notice.

But the backyard? It can stay a sand pit, thanks. I’ve got other things to worry about -- things that aren’t half-crumbling, unused fire pits and overgrown bushes that no one will ever notice.

And sure, maybe a messy backyard could be remedied with a little bit of elbow grease. But beyond that? Fuhgeddaboutit. It’s the landscaping, the water feature, the stone paver path, the gazebo, the deck -- the things that backyard dreams are made of but that are just a little too expensive (even as a DIY project) that make a yard a home. Right?

So if there was a chance to transform your backyard from a sad, overgrown, chaotic, hopeless backyard (their words, not mine) into a less-desperate landscape with the help of some DIY professionals, wouldn’t you jump at it?

Great. ‘Cause there is, and you can.

Do You Have America’s Most Desperate Landscape?

The DIY Network is currently looking for “fun, active homeowners with dreadful, chaotic, overgrown, under-tended, absolutely hopeless backyard landscapes” to apply to be featured on the show “America’s Most Desperate Landscape” in 2018.

The show is all about a “massive transformation,” so the network is looking for the worst backyard in the country to give it the “biggest landscape makeover of the year.”

The network encourages people to dream big, offering whatever it takes to make your rundown outdoor space into your dream backyard -- perfect for relaxing, entertaining or just enjoying some simple family time.

Here’s How to Apply

You can go here to find a full rundown of details on how to apply via email, but here are the basics:

  1. Include your name and contact info, along with a short explanation about yourself, your family and your (bummer of a) backyard.
  1. Be sure to include at least three pictures of your backyard to prove just how dire the situation really is.
  1. Create a brief video that shows both your sad backyard and your family’s fun personality. Be convincing and show the network that you’re the right choice for TV.
  1. Post your video on YouTube and include the link in the email.

Then, all you have to do is stare forlornly out your back window imagining what could be while you wait to hear back from the network.

Good luck!

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Good news for anyone who doesn’t feel like dropping a casual billion (no, that’s not a typo) on your upcoming nuptials: TJ Maxx has launched a wedding shop.

The chain retailer is famous for having relatively low prices on everything from sheets to gourmet foodstuffs, so it’s no surprise that the company would make an effort to disrupt one of the pricier industries by offering it’s very own line of wedding apparel, accessories and decor.

The Wedding Shop at TJ Maxx

The apparel collection includes dresses for brides, bridesmaids and the mother of the bride (or groom, I guess) along with shoes, jewelry, handbags and a few more casual “little white dresses” -- perfect for those less ~traditional~ wedding ceremonies.

These more casual dresses range in price from $16 to $200. The formal bridal dresses range in price from $50 up to $1,000, but the majority of them fall into the under-$200 category. Not all bad considering the average cost of a wedding dress in 2016 was $1,564.

The bridesmaid dresses come in a range of styles, colors and sizes -- including plus sizes -- and all at prices that won’t make your bridesmaids secretly plot your undoing when left alone together at the reception.

The decor collection features items like his and hers wine glasses and a sweet “Mr. and Mrs.” banner, as well as several affordable gift options including everything from drip coffee brewers to commemorative wall art.

(There are also some not-so-affordable gift options available through the new wedding shop, but let’s be real: if you’re a guest who’s already shelled out goodness knows how much just to be present at this wedding, you’re not obligated to gift a $260 mixer. The $10 cheese board will more than suffice.)

So, if you’re planning a wedding, or you’re planning to attend a wedding, or you’re planning to participate in a wedding or you’re planning to send a gift with a card offering congratulations to the happy couple and your deepest regrets at just not being able to make it this time and you’re so sorry, you’ll probably want to keep the wedding shop at TJ Maxx in mind. Just sayin’.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.