The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

How our mothers in the USSR era could earn extra money



The average salary of a Soviet woman in the Brezhnev era was from 90 to 130 rubles. It was possible, of course, to survive on this money, but to be beautiful and elegant is hardly, says But the thirst for fashionable clothes, shoes and cosmetics works wonders: our mothers managed to find all sorts of hacks and part-time jobs to be able to look your best.

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Night watch

In the USSR, as now, the work of night watchmen was most often performed by pensioners, but at times an interesting young woman, eager for additional earnings, could make such an unusual choice.

“Around 1976, I set myself a goal: to earn money to travel south! Therefore, in addition to her work in the shop at the plant, she found herself a place as a night watchman. As a result, I guarded the premises of the ZhKO, and since I took 2 rates at once, I had to spend the night at the post every day. It worked out well - 130 rubles a month (one rate was 65 rubles). I came, lay down on the cot and began to dream about how I would go to the south and what outfits I would buy with me with the money I earned. There were some adventures. Once I slept so soundly at my post that I did not hear how a horse died in the next room, on which various loads were being carried to the ZhKO. And then one of the hard workers who came to work early in the morning, managed to steal my Japanese umbrella. But I achieved my goal: in six months I earned myself both to the south and to buy clothes, ”recalls Galina, 65 years old.

Broom worker

It was a classic of the genre to earn extra money as a cleaner or a janitor. And then they did not yet know the word "fitness", therefore, washing floors and sweeping the streets was regarded not only as a way to earn money for beautiful clothes, but also as a form of physical activity so that the outfits fit better.

“I was already married, my daughter was growing up, there was not enough money. According to the ad, I found a part-time job to sweep and wash the entrances in high-rise buildings for 60 rubles a month. I worked for a whole year: I’ll wrap a broom better so that the neighbors don’t understand where I go in the evenings and go. With a part of the earned capital, I went to the capital and bought myself a bag in the Moscow department store, a beautiful autumn coat in a cage and Czechoslovak boots in a shop on Leninsky Prospekt. After that I tried to work as a janitor, but I could not stand it for a long time: there were too many trees on my plot, and I had to roll real mountains of foliage, ”says Tamara, 59 years.

"I believe that all this should be sewn"

Products of domestic garment factories in the USSR satisfied the styles and quality of not all, therefore, in pursuit of individuality, Soviet women turned to private dressmakers. And for those sewing to order was an informal side job, writes

“The best fabrics and accessories were, of course, in the capital, and they went there from the provinces. My skill helped me a lot in life: I sewed to all my friends - dresses, skirts, robes, jackets, coats, and everything! At the same time, she sewed herself with her daughters. I sewed on people in the evenings and on weekends, the main place of work was at the enterprise, in the planning department. I sewed very well, the customers said that my things with a quality mark are better than foreign ones! On this I sometimes earned 50 rubles a month, ”- Nina, 60 years old, shares her memories.

Crochet and knitting

A ball of mohair and knitting needles - this is how employees of some offices whiled away the boring working days in the era of stagnation, this can even be seen in some Soviet films.
But if you have good hands and get down to business seriously, it was quite possible to earn some money on bright mohair sets “scarf + cap”. An experienced craftsman could tie a headdress and a muffler from a mohair in one day and get ten rubles for a set of rubles.

Oh, the lucky one!

Bonds of a three percent government loan issued to 1982 for the year have become an interesting financial attraction for many Soviet people. People bought securities in denominations of 25, 50 and 100 rubles, and then waited draws, which were held periodically. Non-winning bonds were printed in central Soviet newspapers.

“I remember finding in the column of numbers the number of my bond that won 1000 rubles. She squealed with happiness so that the neighbors came running. A huge amount! Then I bought bonds again and several times I was lucky, won several times for 500 rubles, and even 40 rubles - and very often! I remember going, like an incognito millionaire, to shops in regional centers and villages: there they threw out scarce Lankom cosmetics and French lace underwear on sale, ”says Natalya, 64, about that time.

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"Housing problem"

“In the late 1970s and early 1980s, my mother was a dressmaker at a garment factory and one day she decided to earn extra money - together with a team of painters she knew, she undertook to make repairs in a private apartment. It turned out that she had a talent for painting - she was very neat in both plastering and wallpapering. So she began to earn money as a painter after work. And then she quit the factory altogether - she officially got a job in a team of painters. They had time to do the main job, and to cheat on apartment renovations too, ”- reveals the secret of another type of part-time job Ekaterina, 58 years old.

And so it was: while repairing the apartments of Soviet citizens, women who were not afraid of hard physical work could earn good money, writes

“When my Russian grandmother married my Armenian grandfather in the mid-1950s, they came to live with him in a suburb of Sukhumi. And she simply amazed all the inhabitants of the village by the fact that she herself put together two stoves - a summer one, on the street, and in the house. Previously, in these places, houses were not heated with stoves. And orders poured into her! She became the first woman stove-maker in the village and worked very well on this, ”says grandmother Karina, 35, about her successes.


What was the strength of the province? How could she surprise rich Moscow? Of course, harvests. Fortunately, no one forbade citizens of the USSR to trade the fruits of their labors in the bazaar. Villagers from all over the Union brought meat, vegetables, fruits, herbs, berries, mushrooms, homemade pickles, nuts of various varieties and other food to the Moscow and St. Petersburg markets.

Raisa, 67, talks about this additional income:

“In our village, cucumber is a town-forming vegetable. People on cucumbers at home and cars earned themselves, children raised and educated! In Brezhnev's times, they also brought crops to Moscow and traded on the market. A kilo of cucumbers - 25-30 kopecks. What was not sold on the first day - for the night in brine with herbs and garlic. And in the morning of the next day we are already trading lightly salted! Then, with the proceeds, we go to Moscow stores, dress up ourselves and dress the children. I remember, for example, one of my purchases - a set of Czechoslovakian jewelry from the Jablonex company from the Belgrade store. The kit cost a lot - 50 rubles! He shone with all the lights, then I wore these jewelry for a long, long time! "

By the way, while some Soviet women enriched themselves by selling their crops, others (more often urban women, not rural women) were hired in the summer in collective farms to harvest vegetables and fruits. For this work, they gave either a few kilograms of the harvest, or a small amount of money.

"Shine Christmas tree!"

The famous anecdote about an actor who refuses to shoot at a famous director in Hollywood, referring to the fact that he had “Christmas trees” during this period, was invented in the Soviet era.

Representatives of the creative professions under Leonid Ilyich were not particularly gorgeous, but the active and enterprising could afford fashionable suede jackets, imported smoky sunglasses, and trendy safari dresses, and dazzling beauty of a sabot with rivets. The main thing - do not yawn!

Ekaterina, 58 years old, talks about her "Christmas trees" and filming a movie:

“In the early 1980s, my husband and I worked in the Almaty Youth Theater, our salary was 110 rubles, which is very little by those standards. And all year long we were waiting for the New Year holidays, because our main income was once a year - on the Christmas trees! Usually the actors themselves went to the organizations and offered their services. We were lucky with our clients, for example, we made New Year programs in such “closed” offices as the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Performed by a brigade - Santa Claus, Snegurochka and an accordion player. My husband Sergei has always been Santa Claus, and I have always been Snegurochka, and Zimushka-Winter, and Baba Yaga, and some harmful evil spirits that strive to ruin the New Year ... The scripts of our programs were written by myself. For one performance, we received as much as 200 rubles for the brigade! Sometimes my husband managed to go on stage in a play, say his text and quickly drive away in a car provided by the customer, play the “Christmas tree” and go back to his final exit! After such an hour, we could afford both a trip to the south during the holidays and dress up: for example, buy me imported boots for 150 rubles in a store.

In addition, theatrical actors sometimes worked part-time in radio, television and cinema. Once I had a completely enchanting part-time job: I starred at the Kazakhfilm studio in a small role in the film "Deer Man". For one shooting day I was paid one and a half thousand rubles! I am proud of what a breadwinner I am, I bought a furniture wall with this money. "

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Of all trades

Depending on their education and capabilities, women in the USSR could do a lot as a part-time job: typing anything (from diploma theses to dissertations), making drawings for students and graduate students, translating from different languages, teaching music and tutoring at home. , make custom-made artificial flowers for funeral offices, grow strawberries or indoor violets for sale, breed expensive breeds of dogs and cats, look after other people's children through the Zarya firm and many, many other things. Additional earnings were also relevant in that golden era, when prices for most products and essentials were measured not even in rubles, but in kopecks.

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