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In Canada, 1.7 million Canadians worked in the gig economy in 2016. Since then, that number has proliferated due to the number of online platforms entering the industry such as Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, and more. The addition of these companies has changed the way Canadians earn an income.
Who Qualifies As A Gig Worker?
Freelancers, temporary workers, contract workers, and other independent workers are the typical terms used to describe gig workers. What these workers all have in common is that they are paid based on completed tasks rather than the number of hours worked. This work style provides an incredible amount of flexibility for the worker. In fact, there are a number of benefits that come with being a gig worker.
- Flexibility – Unlike traditional workers who are shackled by 9 to 5 jobs, these workers have the power to create their own hours.
- Extra Source of Income – If you’re currently working full-time, but need some extra cash, you can take up a few side-gigs for an extra source of income.
- Be Your Own Boss – Micromanagement is a thing of the past for these workers, as they can work at their own pace and complete jobs how and when they want. They are free to be as creative as they want in their approach when they are tackling an assignment.
Financial Problems Gig Workers Face
As freeing as it may seem to work in the gig economy, it also comes with some restraints. Unlike traditional workers who have a steady income, steady hours, and benefits they can fall back, many Canadians who work in the gig economy are faced with financial insecurity due to the low pay, irregular hours, volatile payments, and lack of benefits.
Slow Payments – Due to slow-paying customers and the inability to accept different modes of payments, gig workers struggle with slow payments.
Low Pay – According to Statistics Canada, gig workers have a low annual income with it averaging around $4,300 annually. In fact, approximately 50% of gig workers had at least one wage job in addition to their gig job.
Lack of Job Benefits – If you get sick or need a day off due to an emergency, gig workers don’t have paid time off, insurance, or retirement funds to fall back on. They literally cannot afford to.
Inconsistent Income – Gig workers don’t have a set number of hours they work, so their income is usually quite volatile. Moreover, work is not always readily available even though you are.
Inability to get Credit – Banks typically require a healthy credit score and a steady income to approve you for a loan. However, with a volatile income, many traditional banks won’t give gig workers a loan.
Alternative Lenders And Gig Workers
Due to the financial problems mentioned above, traditional banks typically shy away from giving loans to gig workers. Alternative lenders are a good substitute for banks, as they can provide gig workers with the financial resources they need to keep their business and personal life afloat. Unlike banks, alternative lenders use a number of different factors, in addition to credit scores, to assess the eligibility of a borrower.
- Income – The amount of money you make will be looked at. So long as you make over a certain amount, you can be eligible for a loan.
- Employment stability – The longer you’ve had your job, the more trust your lender will have in you.
- Debt-to-income ratio – The lower your debt-to-income ratio, the less debt you have in comparison to your income, which will increase your chances of approval.
- No Credit Check – If you have really bad credit, there are lenders who do not require a credit check. Just be aware that these lenders often charge higher rates and fees.
Types Of Loans Available For Gig Workers
With the unique financial problems gig workers face, there are a number of different loans they can rely on for financial support. Below, we’ve briefly discussed a few loan options that gig workers can use depending on the financial difficulty they are facing.
Being a gig worker often means you have to purchase and maintain your own equipment to keep your business running. Sometimes, you’ll have the funds necessary to buy the equipment yourself, other times you may require some help or will want to use credit to keep your cash flow steady.
For times like these, consider an equipment loan. An equipment loan is a loan that is secured by the equipment you buy. Rather than buying the equipment in one lump sum payment, you are able to pay for your asset in periodic installments over a period of time, with interest.
Line of Credit
A line of credit provides quick access to cash when business is slow or when there is an emergency. A line of credit gives you access to a certain amount of money, which you can use according to your needs. Interest is only paid on the amount you use. Moreover, like a credit card, you regain access to the amount borrowed as you pay it back.
If you’re ever strapped for cash due to slow-paying customers, you can use invoice factoring which lets you sell your invoices to a third party for a certain rate. Meaning, you can expedite your payments and tap into any unpaid invoices that you have now, rather than waiting and struggling to get your customer to pay.
A personal loan is a classic loan for emergencies due to the fast approvals. There are many alternative lenders who provide funds to applicants the same day they apply, which makes it an incredibly convenient source of financial support during emergencies. Moreover, they are relatively inexpensive compared to other short term loans like payday loans and credit cards. Personal loans also allow you to spread costs by paying the amount over a generous period of time, usually 3 months to 10 years depending on the loan amount.
Being a gig worker can be rewarding and more engaging than a regular 9 to 5 job, but it’s important to be aware of the difficulties people face in this industry. Due to the irregularity of their jobs, many banks are unwilling to lend to gig workers. Fortunately, alternative lenders have different lending standards and are able to support gig workers and their businesses during financially difficult times.
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