Freelancer went from making $51/hr to applying at a grocery store

In a single week, April Schmidt watched her work calendar go from fully packed to completely empty for the next month thanks to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Schmidt, 38, faces weeks if not months of unemployment, she tells CNBC Make It.

As a Texas-based freelance graphics provider, Schmidt works for most of the major sports networks, helping create programs for everything from Little League to March Madness, college football and the NBA. To keep players and fans safe while the coronavirus spreads, many sporting events have been postponed, if not canceled immediately.

This is a big problem for freelancers like Schmidt who work in sports broadcasting because they earn most of their annual income in March and April.

Instagram selfie from Schmidt at a sporting event.

“When you look at your schedule, which has been so busy and has so many things on the calendar, and then you imagine that not only is this gone, but you’re not sure when something will be back, that’s a very strange feeling, “says Schmidt. “It’s just a big question mark about what’s next.”

Making the situation even more difficult is the fact that both Schmidt and her husband Joe work in the sports broadcast industry. Her husband, who works full-time with a large sports network, has a job that is a little more stable at the moment, but Schmidt fears there may be layoffs in the future.

Because the future is so uncertain, Schmidt tries to generate income in other ways. “I applied to work in the grocery store yesterday because I thought the grocery stores would be the last man standing on this whole thing,” she says. “I usually make $ 51 an hour and applied for a job that made $ 12 an hour part-time.”

Life in a “limbo”

Typically March is the busiest month of the year for those involved in sports, says Schmidt. March through May host playoff and championship games in many of the country’s best college and professional sports, including the NBA, NHL, and NCAA basketball March Madness.

Without these events, there could be long-term implications for the $ 160 billion sports broadcast industry, Schmidt says. That will likely make it harder to find employment again when leagues and games resume. “It could certainly bankrupt part of the TV industry and rearrange how many people would actually work in the business,” she says.

For example, according to FiveThirtyEight, the NBA was still having about 21% of its season when the games were postponed due to the coronavirus. If the league doesn’t finish the season, the financial fallout could be approaching $ 1 billion – even before playoffs are considered. That’s just the NBA, of course. Some other major sports have also paused, postponed, or canceled their season and championship series, which will have a huge impact on those who work in sports broadcasting.

Schmidt in particular is feeling the loss of those basketball games as she has tackled more NBA game projects this year to get her kids to play in the Little League. “That nine-year-old smile is priceless,” she says. But with the season interrupted, that’s a financial burden now.

Some networks have released action plans to pay television staff and freelancers for the events scheduled to take place this month, but the future is still largely unknown. Schmidt’s next planned event – the X Games in Minneapolis – won’t take place until July.

Instagram photo of April and Joe Schmidt working on the Rose Bowl championship game together.

Until more leagues and games are resumed, the family’s financial prospects are at risk, says Schmidt. “We’re in limbo – we don’t know what’s going to happen,” she says. “We don’t have an alternative income to anything else that would bring income during that time.”

Schmidt and her husband keep their expenses under control in order to stretch their finances as much as possible. “We’re basically not spending any money – minimum payments for whatever [debt] We don’t have any additional expenses outside of groceries, “she says.

The good news is that the family saved about three months’ worth of living expenses. Schmidt has the feeling that there is no immediate reason to panic. Schmidt is currently planning to spend time with her two children and will wait and see if she has to seriously look for another job if the break lasts longer than a few months.

“Money is a big question mark, but family time – there is no time like the present when it comes to it,” says Schmidt. “We have felt really blessed to have this time to come together as a family, slow things down a bit, and appreciate what we have,” she says, adding that she is trying to focus on the positive side effects of this health crisis as well to concentrate.

“I just need my kids, my house and a little chocolate – if we can afford that, we’re still standing.”

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April 11, 2021