When it comes to making more money, there are two main paths you can take: focus on your job or start a side hustle. Both have their pros and cons, and which one is better for you depends on your specific situation.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the tradeoff between having a side hustle and growing your wealth and earning power through your job. We’ll help you decide which option is best for you!
What is a side hustle, and why should you consider one?
A side hustle is a way to make extra money outside of your full-time job or other responsibilities, like childcare or eldercare. Many women have side hustles because they’re passionate about something and want to make some extra cash, but others do it simply to earn more money. In fact, some women cobble together many side gigs into serious income.
Examples of side hustles include:
- Being a virtual assistant or social media manager
- Blogging and freelance writing
- Direct sales (through companies like Stella and Dot or a virtual call center, a la PizzaHut)
- Instacart, Food Delivery, Lyft, and Other on-demand services
- Part-time work in retail or food service
If you have ever been good at something, you can probably turn it into a side hustle.
How do you choose a side hustle?
Many side hustles have an entrepreneurial element but some are more steady, so it’s important to ask yourself, “how comfortable am I with risk?” Doordash and Instacart don’t pay great ($15-20 per hour), but both are a lot more lucrative initially than your new YouTube channel. Your vlog may earn more two years from now, but that won’t be built in a week.
The Pros of Having a Side Hustle
There is a mindset needed for success when it comes to side hustles. It’s not just about having a plan and executing, it but also being able to shift your focus from one task to another in order to accomplish all your current responsibilities and side hustle goals at the same time. But there are some upsides!
Additional income: A side hustle can provide you with an additional stream of income, which can be helpful in achieving your financial goals, such as getting out of debt.
Income diversity: A side hustle can help you to build a more diverse income stream, which can help to reduce your financial risk.
Flexibility: A side hustle can give you the flexibility to work around your other commitments, such as childcare or eldercare.
Career exploration: A side hustle can be a great way to explore a new career or build your skills in an area you’re interested in.
Socialization: Jobs get you out of the house, and this is particularly attractive if you care for young children. Some side hustles have amazing social networks built-in or bring you face to face with people daily.
Generational Wealth: A side hustle can help you to build generational wealth, by getting you past “making ends meet” and helping you start building assets to pass down to your children or other family members.
Passion: If you have a passion for something, a side hustle can be a great way to pursue it while still earning an income.
The Cons of Having a Side Hustle
Side hustles aren’t always worth it. They also have some downsides you should consider before starting one up, because starting will take effort, if not actual money.
Time commitment: A side hustle can take up a lot of your time, especially at the beginning, which could interfere with other commitments you have, such as your job or family.
Financial risk: Some side hustles can be a financial risk, especially if you’re investing money in it.
Stress: A side hustle can be stressful, even if it’s going well. It adds complexity to your life.
Tax complexity: A side hustle can complicate your taxes, especially if it counts as self-employment income, like much gig work. If you’re uncomfortable with the tax side of personal finance, you will need to level up.
What to Consider Before Starting a Side Hustle
There are a few things to consider before taking on a side job.
First, think about your goal. Do you want to supplement your income quickly, gain new skills, or pivot into something new? These are all great reasons to start a side hustle.
Being clear about what you want to achieve will help you make other important decisions, like what opportunity to pursue, how much of your attention or personal time to sacrifice, how long you’re willing to go before your side hustle is profitable, and how you will know it’s a fit.
A clear goal helps answer these questions. It’s not the same for everyone.
When to focus on your day job/career instead
There are only two reasons it makes sense to stay at a company, economically.
First, if your main job helps you build skills you can leverage in your next job (and pay negotiation), it might pay off to invest now to earn more later.
Second, if you are at a company that offers a promotion path that will move you into a higher salary bracket, and you have support from your boss (and their boss) to pursue that path, stick around. (If it’s something you want to do).
If you don’t have a clear path to promotion, or if you are not being supported by your boss to get promoted, then it is time to start looking for a new job or to focus on expanding your income and experience with a side hustle.
How to make the most of your time if you decide to focus on your job
If you’ve decided to focus on your job, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your time:
Update your resume and LinkedIn profile: Make sure your resume is up-to-date and tailored to the types of jobs you’re interested in. Your LinkedIn profile should also reflect your current job and any relevant side projects.
Network: Get connected with people in your field, attend events, and join relevant LinkedIn groups.
Learn new things: Take on new assignments at work, volunteer for committees or projects, and look for opportunities to learn new skills.
Make your growth intentions known and get buy-in: Talk to your boss about your long-term goals and get their feedback on how you can best contribute to the company. Write it into your performance review and bring it up regularly enough to not seem like you hate your job.
I worked through college and grad school. Then, I worked second jobs early in my career simply because I needed to make rent. I worked at non-profits as a volunteer later in my career to give back, meet people, and build skills and reputation.
They were all exhausting. And I always felt like I was doing a terrible job at my side hustle. But I met great people, learned new skills, developed a hustle mindset, and most importantly, had a roof over my very tired head while I was building wealth.
The bottom line is this: focus on your job if it’s helping you build skills or grow your income, but don’t be afraid to look for other opportunities if it’s not. A side hustle can be a great way to supplement your income, gain new skills, or even pivot into something new. Just be clear about your goals and be willing to put in the work.