Psst, I make money on some of the links in this post at no cost to you. It keeps the lights on around here.
My dear friends, it’s come time for me to get on a soapbox today. I’ll be the first to say that I absolutely adore reading other people’s blogs. Heck, I spend at least 10 hours a week just reading about other people’s money adventures.
I love seeing how FIRE comes in different shapes and colors. But there’s an odd trend I’ve noticed over the past few months.
It’s an obsession with side hustles. It’s gotten to the point where the word “hustle” doesn’t mean anything to me because I’ve read it so many times. Countless blogs are out there on this subject and it’s enough to drive me batty.
So why am I frustrated with the concept of side hustles?
Side hustles aren’t always the best idea
You already have a full-time job
It’s not a secret that I’m also frustrated by the idea of cashback sites and apps, too. For me, these fall in a similar arena as side hustles.
The issue is that we now are focusing so heavily on side income that we aren’t focusing on our primary source of income. If you want to increase your earning potential, look at your full-time job first before taking on a dog-walking gig or being an Uber driver.
The reason for this is because we already spend 8+ hours a day at our full-time jobs. This job is supposed to support you financially. If you’re wanting a li’l more money from it (and who doesn’t??), it’s possible to increase your earning potential. That might take the form of asking for a raise, signing up for more shifts / hours, doing extra training, taking on more work, etc. But it’s possible to look at your full-time job for more earnings first.
Earnings vs. time spent
I’ll admit that I was enamored with the idea of side hustles for a long time. I mean, come on! I could make extra cheddar with my spare time? Um, sign me up!
But I quickly realized that I was using up all of my spare time on side hustles. I wouldn’t say no to any gig that came my way because I figured, “Hey, it’s more money than I had before, right?”
The issue is that I would spent 4+ hours working on something that brought in $20. If I had charged my typical hourly rate, I should have been paid closer to $200. Often side hustles don’t have a high enough return to make up for the time you spend on them.
You can always create money, but you can’t create more time. Sometimes it’s better to have evenings and weekends to yourself instead of spending them trying to rake in meager earnings on TaskRabbit.
This is probably obvious, but side hustle income isn’t a guarantee. I mean, I guess you could argue that no income is ever guaranteed, but it’s less so with side hustles.
With my side hustles, I only made as much money as I hustled for. That meant I had to scramble to find clients and business if I wanted to make a penny. I couldn’t reliably count on side hustle income since it was so volatile each month.
A lack of focus
I admit that I drooled a bit when I realized side hustles were a real thing. I wanted a slice of the damn pie! And that meant I checked out every possible avenue I could think of for side hustles. I dabbled in the idea of baking pet treats, being a house sitter, and even being a courier.
I was all over the place, and that’s the problem. The big, wide world of side hustles can be overwhelming and it feels like you need to do everything out there to rake in extra cash. I’ve heard of people doing this and it’s a recipe for feeling burnt out, which is bad for your health and your wallet.
When side hustles make sense
I actually don’t have anything against side hustles. In fact, I have two of them myself (this blog and freelance writing)! I just think we need to be more judicious with our time and the ways we’re bringing in money. There’s a way to be efficient with your time while earning more money in a more focused way.
So here’s when I think it makes sense to actually have a side hustle.
It’s your hobby
The best hobbies are the ones that both make you happy and make you money. For example, I used to spend my free time writing. Nowadays I still spend my free time writing because I love it, but now I make money doing it on the side.
Since I chose to do something I love as my side hustle, I don’t feel pressured to rake in X dollars each month, because I would gladly do it for free.
It’s extremely lucrative and takes minimal time
I’ve been reading about a FIRE blogger who makes a ridiculous amount of money tutoring students on statistics. This blogger makes anywhere from $40 – $60 an hour doing this specialized type of tutoring. In this case, the side hustle makes total sense. It’s so lucrative that it could almost be your full-time hustle! So, in this case, go nuts. Tutor away!
You have an excess of time
I do think side hustles are worth it if you have a surplus of time and are strapped for cash. For example, a lot of stay-at-home parents might find side hustles to be worth it (not that I’m saying SAHP have a lot of free time or that it’s an easy job!). A lot of side hustles can be done from your couch while you’re watching the little ones fight over toys. In this case, it makes perfect sense to earn a little extra cash.
If you’re retired or working part-time, it also could be a fun idea to explore a side hustle. I’ve also heard of teachers using the summer months to earn extra with side hustles, too.
At any rate, if you find yourself with a surplus of time and you really need extra money, a side hustle could be worth it. If you won’t bat an eye at earning $10 over a few hours, then it makes sense.
The bottom line
Again, I have nothing against side hustles!
But I do think we need to be careful about promoting them as a sure-fire way to get to FIRE more quickly. Sometimes a side hustle just isn’t worth it. But at the end of the day, it’s about making decisions that work for you.
Just don’t feel pressured to take on side hustles if you don’t want to!
We want to know: Do you have a side hustle?