Ten Reasons to Get Yourself a Side Hustle

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The “side hustle” is one of the great phenomena of the Internet age. Now that we all have access to this wide world of engagement, communication, and commerce, we also have access to a certain type of economic and professional freedom that never previously existed. That doesn’t mean we can all just turn around and quit our day jobs in a blaze of digitally-liberated glory. But it does mean each of us has the chance to explore a side hustle—a personal pursuit that earns you a few extra dollars while fulfilling something within you that can’t be met by the responsibilities of your day job. 

But is a side hustle worth the extra time and emotional energy?

Well, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when so many of us were yanked away from our day to day work routines, countless Americans actually treated it as an opportunity to build a business on the side. CNBC reports that business formation in the U.S. soared by 42% in 2020 with many Americans finding ways to cater to the demands of consumers living under new restrictions and facing unexpected challenges. CNBC notes that Americans turned side hustles into profitable operations in everything “from food and home entertainment to office supplies — as well as products and services needed by companies operating remotely.”

Certainly, if you’re looking to supplement your everyday income, finding another stream of revenue can help to make ends meet, or even get you to the next level. And during the pandemic, the side hustle proved, for many, a reliable way to keep money flowing in during a time of great uncertainty. 

However, there’s more to it than that. Whether you need the extra money or not, getting yourself a side hustle can be both personally and financially beneficial. This supplemental endeavor can become an excellent outlet for the passions, talents, and industriousness that may be otherwise dormant as you work through an average day in your 9-to-5. Even if you like your day job, it may not represent the full scope of your capabilities nor may it necessarily tap into the things that bring you creative, intellectual, or even social enrichment. 

The reality is that a side hustle is a great financial move and a great personal move for a number of reasons…

1. Diversifying Your Income Gives You More Power

If you can turn your side hustle into something that makes pretty good money, you will likely feel a great deal more freedom in your everyday career. Knowing that you have a source of income in your back pocket may bring you more confidence to take risks in your profession whether that means requesting a raise, volunteering for a new project, or even making the leap to a new company. Without a backup plan, you may be hesitant to take such risks for fear that your boldness could result in the loss of income. Having a small source of income to mitigate this risk could give you the confidence you need to take that leap. With a reliable side hustle, you’ll find yourself in a position of greater leverage, which means you might actually be able to make more money and advance more aggressively in your day job.  

2. Use the Extra Income to Pay Off Your Debts

Another good reason to start a side hustle is to create a stream of revenue specifically earmarked to help you pay down your debts faster. Whether you have a few hefty credit card bills, student loan baggage, or a big purchase in the midst of financing, your side hustle could be a good way to make chunk payments without disrupting the balance between your primary income, your budget, and your living expenses. In addition to offsetting these expenses with a separate source of income, increasing the speed with which you pay off debts can save you a fortune in fees and interest charges.

3. Create A Wishlist Fund

You know what’s even more fun than paying off debts with your side hustle money? Saving up for a luxury item that you’d never buy with your regular paycheck. While your day job does the heavy lifting like paying the mortgage and utility bills, your side hustle can do the fun work of paying for that jet-ski you always wanted, that trip to Europe that seems just out of reach, or that fancy steak dinner that requires a reservation three months out. Make a list of things you’d love to do or buy, and only allow yourself these luxuries when you reach certain saving goals solely through your side gig.

4. Start Saving

Of course, the most prudent thing to do with the money you make from your side hustle is to save it. Presuming you are debt free and not encumbered by a long and ostentatious wishlist, every dollar earned in your side hustle could be saved, invested, or otherwise squirreled away for emergencies, and eventually, for retirement. If you do it well, a side hustle could actually net you enough to make a real dent in achieving your long-term financial goals. Forbes reports that, “According to a Bankrate study, about 37% of adults in the U.S. have a side hustle. And they can pay pretty well, at an average of nearly $700 a month!” At that rate, while you continue to live an active lifestyle of consumption thanks to your regular job, the side hustle could be used to help further secure your future. 

5. Making Time For Something You Love

One of the strongest arguments in favor of starting a side hustle is the opportunity it creates for you to do something that actually brings you happiness. Whether you’re an accountant by day with a passion for video game design, or a hard-working high school teacher with a great idea for a series of children’s books, or a bank teller with an awesome gift for furniture building, create space for these pursuits during your nights and weekends. It’s easy to feel too busy, tired or distracted to make time for the things we really love. Finding a way to earn a few bucks from those activities can help us justify time spent in these areas. As an added bonus, you may find that an increased sense of happiness and personal fulfillment outside of work ultimately translates to better engagement, more energy, and stronger performance in your everyday job. 

6. Cultivate Creative Skills

The more time you can dedicate to your passion projects, the better you’ll get at them. Refine your creative abilities and get paid to do it. You might find that after a few years of selling graphic design work on the side, using your music skills to teach guitar lessons after work, or moonlighting as a gardener in your own neighborhood, you’re actually good enough at this type of gig to go full time. Naturally, this is the best case scenario—your side hustle goes so well that you eventually get to work exclusively at something you love. In her Clever Girl Finance: The Side Hustle Guide, author and Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) Bola Sokunbi notes that there are countless examples “of well-executed side hustles that generate enough revenue to replace income from the owner’s full-time job, giving them the option to be their own boss on their own schedule if they decide to do so.” 

7. Learn Business and Organizational Skills

Naturally, there’s more to a successful side hustle than just pursuing your craft. In most cases, you’ll be working independently on a freelance or contract basis. You’ll be interacting directly with clients, managing your own investments, invoicing for goods or services, and taking additional steps like promotions, customer service, and much more. In other words, you’ll be running your own business. You are your accounts receiving, marketing, and creative departments. You are the management, the talent, the labor, and the ownership. You may even be delegating work, outsourcing jobs, partnering with others, and hiring help as this side business grows. One of the unspoken benefits of a side hustle is the skill and experience you’ll accumulate as you learn how to run your own business. Ultimately, this is the kind of knowledge that you can leverage in both your day-job and your side hustle to earn more. For some tips on getting your business started, including how to fill out all the necessary paperwork to make it official, visit the Small Business Administration

8. The Web Creates Opportunity

As we noted at the outset of this discussion, the Internet has created a type of economic opportunity that never previously existed. Decades ago, the idea of creating a business without a storefront, a distribution chain, or access to traditional marketing channels would have been unthinkable. As a result, the barriers to entry into any type of cottage business were fairly high and costly. Today, anybody can create a social media page or bare-bones website in place of a storefront. Moreover, access to e-commerce tools for pricing items and processing sales is near universal. And with some smart leveraging of both social media and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies, anybody can market and promote a brand at minimal cost. Not only that, but the web opens you up to a global market of potential customers or clients, whereas the side hustle of just two decades ago had to persist on a steady diet of local customers. In other words, if you’ve ever dreamed of a side pursuit but were discouraged by the cost of entry, the Internet has transformed the small business landscape. Never before has it been easier or more affordable to connect with your target buyers and begin selling your ideas or creations. 

9. Take Your Hustle Into Retirement With You

One of the best things about your side hustle is that it can be something you love doing. If you can find a way to make money working on something that’s actually important to you, the rewards can last a lifetime. There may come a point in your career when you count down the days to retirement. Even if you like your job, you might evenutally look forward to being unburdened of your daily grind. But of course, with retirement comes a major loss of income. Hopefully you will have planned and saved for retirement. But a little money coming in could still go a long way toward enjoying leisure activities and pursuing other experiences and opportunities in retirement. Even as you live on a fixed income, your side hustle could keep a few dollars rolling in. And provided it’s something you truly enjoy, and something that you do on your own terms, you could live a more comfortable retirement. The beauty of the side hustle is that it should earn you money without actually feeling like work. This is the kind of beauty you can truly appreciate when it continues to bring you joy, stimulation and monetary benefits later in life. 

10. Grow as a Person

If you ever feel like the daily grind of your day job has come to define you, the time is right to begin a side hustle. When you get the chance to flex your creative muscles, take personal risks, and invest your emotional energy in something that matters to you, you feed a part of yourself that might be quietly starving in the corner of your office. This is not to disparage your day job and its importance to your lifestyle and financial stability. But every time you learn something new, experience something different, or take a new step in your life, you open new neural pathways, expand your perspective on the world, and come into contact with new people. A side hustle is an excellent way not just to grow your income, but to grow as a person.

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This all points toward a major but oft-overlooked benefit of picking up a side hustle, namely that each of us is far more complex and versatile than even the most demanding of our job responsibilities. It’s important to find ways to gratify your own sense of self lest it should be lost in a stack of paperwork, a mountain of files, or a line of customers. And if you can find ways to make a little money doing it—or perhaps even a lot of money in time—your side hustle could improve more than just your bottom dollar. It could improve your overall quality of life.