- Young millennial couple Shay Edwards (she/her) and Gene Murphy (they/them) decided to move into a van in April 2021.
- When their van first broke down, they realized they needed to beef up their savings in case any future problems arise.
- They booked side gigs all over the country, started substitute teaching, and focused on content creation deals.
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At the beginning of the pandemic, 26-year-old Shay Edwards (she/her) was laid off from her full-time job in marketing. She was paying $1,435 for rent for an apartment in Philadelphia, while her partner, 33-year-old Gene Murphy (they/them) was living with their mom while looking for apartments.
Edwards and Murphy discussed what they wanted their life to look like in the future. They both want to start a family and buy a home some day, but with the expensive cost of living in Philadelphia, the couple felt like saving for their future goals was impossible.
To cut down on living costs and embark on the greatest cross-country adventure of their life, Edwards and Murphy decided to ditch all their belongings and downsize to living in a van. They share their adventures on Instagram and TikTok, with hopes of adding LGBTQ+ representation in the van life community.
“It was a mix of daily excitement, and asking, ‘What did we get ourselves into?’ But once you start figuring it out, it’s such a big accomplishment, and that’s what makes it worth it,” Edwards shared. When their van broke down and depleted their emergency savings, Edwards and Murphy buckled down and focused on earning.
Here are three side gigs that helped them earn over $5,000 in one month while traveling the country.
1. Different side gigs in each city
The couple used an app called Instawork to find gigs in different cities across the country. Gigs on Instawork range from hospitality, food and beverage service, warehouse work, and more. According to records viewed by Insider, the couple was able to earn $4,900 in one month, with an average of $17.35 per hour through various side jobs.
To earn even more money, they stopped in San Francisco for five months, knowing that there would be a variety of high-paying gigs in a busier city.
2. Substitute teaching
Over the holidays, the couple decided to stay with their parents in Baltimore for a few weeks, and Edwards thought it would be the perfect time to add another income stream under her belt. She became certified to become a substitute teacher, sharing with their Instagram followers, “Substitute teachers are in high demand right now because of the pandemic.”