My local beggar makes up to £200 on Fridays and Saturdays and up to £100 on weekdays. If he works 7 days a week he can make £900 on a good week, although he claims he ‘“only” averages £600 a week.
He often takes a day off here and there and still averages £600. That means that in a year he can make anything from £31,200 to £46,800 a year. That’s around $40,000 to $60,000 a year.
Maybe we writers are in the wrong job. Sure, it’s not fun sitting in the street for hours, but it pays well. I doubt there is any tax to pay.
London has many professional beggars that make these amounts and more. Some may earn less, but pick the right location at the right time and you can make a killing.
A few years ago I was waiting for a friend at Piccadilly Circus underground station in London. I was watching all the people coming and going. It’s a very busy station and packed with tourists from all over the world.
I watched this guy walk down the steps. He was decently dressed, with what looked like a fairly brand new pair of expensive boots. He carried a backpack on his shoulder. He also carried a large, flattened cardboard box, which is what caught my attention.
He was walking down the steps into the station. He stopped at the bottom of the steps and put the flattened cardboard box on the floor. He sat on it and took the backpack off his back.
He took a dirty blanket out of his backpack and put it next to him. He then took off his shoes and socks and put them into the backpack. He made himself comfortable, and put the dirty blanket over his entire body, leaving just his head and bare feet showing.
He then put a Starbucks cup next to him and a sign that said Hungry and Homeless.
I looked at him. He looked at me. He gave a knowing smile. He now looked homeless and hungry. I only waited a few minutes longer for my friend, but even in that short time, there were passers-by dropping money in his cup.
Meanwhile, here we are writing on Medium. It’s certainly more comfortable, but it doesn’t pay as well as begging in a city like London.
I’d be too embarrassed to beg, even with the pay mentioned above. But for many, it’s just a job.
These beggars are making a rational and intelligent choice. They could be working a minimum wage job but have instead chosen to beg and take home an above average wage that’s tax-free.
There is a danger of being arrested, but the fines are smaller than a day’s takings. Being arrested isn’t much of a deterrent.
A Day Job and a Begging Income
I even read about one woman that had a 9–5 office job. She went begging after work so that she could earn enough money to pay for a new kitchen for her condo.
Of course, some beggars really are hungry and homeless. They deserve our help. But the professional beggars are neither hungry nor homeless. They probably earn more than we do.
Will you be swapping writing for begging?