A side hustle is a popular term used to describe any method of making money outside your primary job. As wages have stagnated and debt has grown in the US, side hustles have gotten a lot of time in the spotlight. Lots of younger people work multiple jobs in an effort to pay their debts and hopefully tuck some money away for a rainy day.
Just because it’s a buzzword doesn’t mean it applies to you. Let’s determine if you need a side hustle!
What side hustles boil down to is a second (or third!) source of income. And really, who couldn’t use more money?
You might consider a side hustle if:
-You have significant debt
-You’re only working part-time
-You want to make a career switch and need to develop new skills
-You are saving for a big money goal, like buying a home.
Side hustles can round out a low-paying salary, or generate enough extra money that you can dedicate all it’s earning to your goal. Your main income can be directed to taking care of your needs. Your side hustle income can be directed towards goals or just plain old wants.
Generating a second stream of income also helps guard your overall income. If you lose your main job, you’ll have your side gig, and vice versa. Having multiple streams of income is great protection against a recession, job loss, or a financial emergency.
When I was only working part-time, side hustles allowed me to pay off my student loans. I’m a big fan! However, there is a word of caution that I’ll offer up.
Side hustles can be time-consuming, hard, and frankly, sometimes not fun. If you work a 40 hour work week and add a 10 or 20-hour side hustle, you’re now working 60 hour weeks. That’s a lot! Things like your personal life, health, and hobbies might have to take a back seat. Consider the drawbacks as well as the perks to your side hustle.
How to Find the Right Side Hustle
If you decide you do need a side hustle, you should be strategic about what you do. Ideally, your side hustle will be in the industry you currently work in OR the one you want to work in. Your side hustle should be something you enjoy, and a chance to build something better for yourself. Why waste your time on a dead end hustle?
Here are a few things to consider:
-How much time does this require?
-Do I need to invest in anything to start this side hustle? (clothes, transportation, tools)
-Does this teach me transferable skills?
-How much money will I earn here?
If you’re picking up a side hustle in an established business (say tutoring or bartending), do research on the compensation for that industry. You want to maximize your earnings, after all!
If you’re going out on your own (say opening an Etsy shop or starting a blog) weigh the starting costs before you dive in. Blogs require hosting, and as they grow, things like an email list or image fees. If you’re creating something of your own, I suggest writing a one-year business plan before you financially commit to anything.
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Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.