The Compass Blog

5 Ways the Seasonal Lifestyle can Work for You Financially

Patty Ceglio

Seasonal jobs are often thought of as a working vacation – having an entire season to live, work, and play where others may only dream of visiting. These jobs can be overlooked as opportunities to save money while traveling and living in amazing places. If you play your cards right, there are creative solutions to make your seasonal job pay off in ways you didn’t anticipate.

Consider these 5 tips and tricks to make the most of a seasonal work adventure:

1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK – seasonal jobs often come with staff housing and meals on site because in remote or destination locations other housing simply isn’t available. Employers will market their jobs and cool location along with Room and Board information. Please note there may be a payroll deduction involved, which makes it easy for you to anticipate and compare these living expenses. Some employers offer incentives such as “Free Housing!” or “No deduction for room and board” or “Free shift meal”. Read details carefully, and if you are serious about banking some cash, choose an employer with a fabulous offer. There may actually be such a thing as a free lunch!

2. MAKE YOUR DATES COUNT – If you have the liberty, use wide open availability dates. Instead of a traditional 12 week summer season, consider an employer who might be able to offer a 5-6 month position. This ensures you’re maximizing your return on investment, and you’ll be there to see the best parts of spring, summer and fall. Compliment a long summer with a winter season and soon you’ll be working 10 months of the year with time to travel and take a breather in between.

3. DO THE ADULTING THING: BUDGET – Here’s one place that the destination (i.e. savings) might need to be the focus rather than it being all about the journey (i.e. pizza, beer, and more gear). Whatever your financial goal – to come out ahead at the end of your season, beef up your savings, or pay for your trip to Iceland – you’ll need to pay attention to your day-to-day spending. Living expenses (room and board) generally come out of your payroll. If your employer offers Payroll Direct Deposits, consider sending a portion of your paychecks directly to a savings account rather than into the checking account that’s connected to your Debit Card. Putting all your hard earned wages into the Debit card “Monopoly Money” account keeps the mindless money in-money out revolving door happening. Once you can actually see your paychecks stacking up, you’ll be amazed and proud of yourself. Another way to look at it – your paycheck amount will be after taxes and deductions, and will most likely reflect earnings for two weeks or ten days of work. Divide that amount by the number of days worked and then come to grips with what one day’s wage really looks like. If you’re frivolously spending more than what you make in a full day of work, your saving scales will quickly tip off balance. So to summarize, set goals early, set yourself up to stick to those goals via tools that take away tempation to spend, and check in regularly to make sure your goals are on track.

4.) KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THE GREATEST EARNING POTENTIAL – When you’re checking out options, look for employers who have a variety of positions and room for advancement. Let’s say you take a job as a Dishwasher. That might be what you do for a week, a month or a season. However, spending time in the Food and Beverage world and getting acquainted with the operation from the inside out gives you leverage when an opening as a Server Assistant comes up. From there, maybe you move on to become a Server or a Bartender. This could take a few seasons, but by putting in time at an entry level position, your experience will pay off in the long run – tipped positions are often the best paying spots on staff. The same scenario might be possible with Housekeeping / Lodging – moving into a Bellman or Valet position eventually. Also, don’t overlook supervisory or management positions that may come with a higher wage and/or a different tier of benefits like private/single housing. And finally, when other staff members begin to leave, there will often be opportunities for extra hours paid at a premium/overtime rate. Chances are, you’ve explored and taken advantage of days off all season long, so why not get in there and work a little extra when the payoff is totally worth it? Consider picking up shifts in another department – the change of pace and meeting new people gives you and the team a fresh injection of mojo and will help keep your eye on the prize. Your flexibility and eagerness to help out it in different areas will also likely catch the eye of supervisors and managers, increasing your options and potential to work towards the position you really want.

5.) DON’T THROW AWAY FREE MONEY – Did you choose your employer because they offered an End of Season Completion Bonus? In the last weeks of your season, it might be tempting to catch a spontaneous ride with a buddy heading to Vegas, but do yourself, your reputation, and your bank account a favor. Stick it out. You agreed to work until a specific calendar date, and your Bonus will be tightly tied to that date. Your Rehire status may also be tied to that date, your quality of job references for future opportunities, and heck, what about your feeling of accomplishment and pride? Bank the Bonus cash and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

SUPER SLEUTH INTEL – In this tight labor market, employers are getting creative with additional incentives to sweeten the sign-on-the-dotted-line deal. Watch for “Travel Expense Reimbursement” or other offers in recruiting messages, and save yourself some additional cash right off the bat!

Because of the reduced living expenses and other perks that are available, seasonal jobs (especially those with housing) can offer a path to career mobility and financial stability, all while providing the opportunity to live in some truly amazing places. Cheers to your seasonal adventures and the thrill of imagining all the ways to make it add up for you.

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