After “side hustling” for the last couple years I now find it difficult to remember a time when I wasn’t mowing lawns, building websites, or writing articles. Though we got by on my my salary, we knew it would take forever to pay down debts and meet our savings goals without adding to our income. I had also recently gone through the process of surviving a layoff at my previous employer, but the experience left me feeling less secure by any form of employment.
Break The Living Paycheck To Paycheck Cycle
Less than a year ago I shared a statistic that nearly half of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck. After the labor market’s free fall since January of this year, I suspect that number is even higher today. Relying on a single source of income has simply become too risky for many families, forcing non-working spouses into the workforce, or forcing a working spouse to take on a part time job.
A side hustle is a sort of part time job, but it typically involves you building something around your current trade. Perhaps you write software for a living and can build websites on the side. If you work in construction, perhaps you could build privacy fences or decks for homeowners in the evenings and on the weekends. The idea is to find something you are already good at and cultivate a little side business around that hustle.
Chances are you can make much more money working a side hustle than working at a part time job for someone else, particularly in a retail environment. The real beauty of a side hustle is that over time it will start to generate a second source of cash flow for your family. No longer will you be absolutely dependent on your full-time job for paying the mortgage, keeping the lights on, and putting food on the table.
But How Much Can I Really Make Working Nights and Weekends?
The answer depends on the hustle you decide to take up, how passionate you are about your idea, and how hard you work to promote it. I’ve seen some people work really hard for six months and then flame out because they were only making a “few hundred dollars a month.” They made the mistake of comparing a side hustle to their full-time job.
Think about how many expenses you could cover with just a “few hundred dollars” of extra income each month from a side hustle if you should lose your full time job. It might make the difference in keeping your car to help you find another job, or the difference in keeping power on at your house, or food on the table for your family. It might help you cover the costs of COBRA insurance, other utilities, and maybe even supplement your severance pay to make it last longer.
The point is that by earning income in addition to your regular earnings you are, over time, making a potential layoff less and less of a major financial event. Coupled with a solid emergency fund, you would have little reason to fear losing your job, except that this is a particularly hard time to find another one.
Dedicate Side Hustle Earnings To A Specific Cause
To stay motivated, try dedicating your side hustle earnings, or at least a major portion of it, to a particular cause in your family financial plan. Perhaps you could use all of the earnings to help speed up your debt snowball (this is how we use side hustle earnings). Once you are debt free use the extra income to build savings, and then save for a major purchase such as a down payment on a home, or a new(er) car.
Over the last couple years of working two jobs I have found this strategy helps keep me motivated when I want to throw in the towel. If I simply lumped all the earnings in with my regular income it might get lost in the shuffle, and I might simply be tempted to raise our style of living to match my total income. However, we have made a point to continue to live on my current earnings from my full time job while whittling away debt with side hustle money.
Do you currently have a side hustle, or an idea for starting one?