Cost of living crisis: doing several jobs to keep afloat

Shyamantha Asokan talks to single mum Cecelia about the challenges of finding work that pays enough to support her family.’s survey for National Older Workers Week included some in-depth interviews with older workers. Here  Shyamantha Asokan talks to Cecelia about her experience of trying to make ends meet after scaling down her business and how she is having to do more than one job to get by. The survey showed that many older workers are struggling with cost of living pressures, with 30% not having enough income to cover basic living costs. 

Cecelia, 55, is a single mum of three children, two of whom still live at home. She used to run a cleaning business that employed 10 people and provided her with a good income, but she scaled it down in March as she had become tired of it and wanted to do something that she felt was more intellectually challenging. She has recently had a conditional offer for a full-time job as a probation officer.

Cecelia, from Cheshire, has cut down on basic energy costs to get by. She says: “We watch the smart-meter all the time. My kids are really good now – they watch it as well…If I’m sitting down to watch the telly I don’t put the lights on. I’m not washing the clothes as much. It’s just little things that you know you can do.”

She has had to rely on her savings as prices have gone up. She currently uses £1,000 from her savings per month to cover her costs – this will go down once she starts her probation officer work, but she will still have to dip into her savings. She has stopped taking her children for outings like cinema trips and has cancelled her gym membership. She tries to use as little electricity as possible. 

She states: “[The financial situation] does definitely worry me. At the moment I’ve got savings – but when my savings run out, which they will, then I’ll be very anxious. Then I won’t be so upbeat.”

Cecelia will have to do multiple jobs to make ends meet. When she starts her full-time probation officer role, she will still keep her cleaning business going and she will probably need a third gig of some kind. She hasn’t worked on any ideas for this yet, but she might try to start an online business. 

She says: “I’ll try and come up with something else. I’ll do another business on the side. I’m not sure what, but that’s what I’ll have to do. I’ll try and sell something on the internet, or something like that…I don’t think I have any other option.”

Cecelia says it’s a fallacy that it’s “easy to get a job” at the moment – most of the jobs she’s seen are so low-paid that they’re not worth doing. In the medium-term, she plans to sell her house and downsize so that’s her financial cushion. She doesn’t want to do it yet as the market is so uncertain.

She states: “I am sick to death of people saying that it’s easy to get a job. No, it isn’t. No, it isn’t…Only if you want to work in a warehouse and be paid £9.10 [per hour].”


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