Are Side Hustles Worth It?

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Did you know about 50% of Americans have a side hustle? That’s a staggering statistic, but not entirely surprising given the high cost of living. Many families are having a hard time paying the bills with their primary income alone. Working on a side hustle is one way to bridge the gap. In addition, it’s easier than ever to start working a side hustle. There are all kinds of app-based side gigs now. Anyone can start working a side hustle whenever they want. But is it worth it?

My side hustles

Allow me to share my experience with side hustles. After graduating from college in 1996, I got a full-time job as an engineer. Initially content with my main gig, I didn’t actively seek additional sources of income. My engineering job took a ton of time and energy already. However, as the years passed, the demands of my engineering career became overwhelming. Seeking an outlet, I turned to blogging in 2010. What started as a hobby turned into a potential income-generating side hustle. As the stress of my engineering career mounted, I found solace in the creative outlet that blogging provided. Eventually, in 2012, I decided to leave engineering behind and embrace the role of a stay-at-home dad/blogger.

But blogging wasn’t my only side hustle. Over time, I diversified my income streams through various endeavors:

Here are my other side hustles

  • Landlord – We purchased a duplex in 2014. Today, we live in one unit and rent out the other one. This is a great arrangement. I can deduct 50% of the maintenance, insurance, improvement, and some utilities. We also own another apartment that we rent out.
  • Delivery driver – I started delivering food last year for DoorDash and Uber. I wanted to work more because my mom passed away last year. I didn’t want to sit around at home and dwell on it too much. This year, I cut way back. Usually, I deliver 2-3 catering orders per week and that’s about it. DoorDash reduced driver’s pay. Now, there are too many $2 orders. It isn’t worth the wear and tear to accept those orders.
  • Investor – I invest in the stock market and real estate crowdfunding. This doesn’t take much time, but the payout is awesome. This year, I only need to spend a few hours on this task and it’ll generate over $30,000. Passive income is the best.

That’s about all I can handle right now. These side hustles keep me busy and happy. If I don’t work at all, I’d be restless and get into trouble somehow. I think everyone should work a little bit or volunteer after they retire from their main career. Anyway, that’s my history with side hustles.

Are side hustles worth it?

Now, the main question: Are side hustles worth it? Well, it depends. A side hustle is good if you can turn it into a business later. And you can learn many skills from side hustling. Some of these skills could be handy later. The additional income is nice, but it shouldn’t be the main motivation. If money is the goal, then it’s better to focus on increasing your income from the main career. In the long run, that’s more stable.

Alright, I’m going to put up a bunch of bullet points here.

  • Great: If you can turn a side hustle into a business. Brian started dog sitting with Rover and built a client list. Now, he has a great dog boarding business. This is the right way to turn an hourly side hustle into a business.
  • Bad: Most gig work apps. These app-based side hustles usually pay well at first. But the pay drops as the company needs to turn a profit. It’s nice when it pays well, but don’t count on making good money in the long run. The company will tune the app to pay as little as possible. Driving for Uber and DoorDash was a great way to make extra money when they started. However, the after-expenses pay is probably below minimum wage these days. Apparently, many people are willing to drive for very little money.
  • Good: A side hustle is worthwhile if it brings joy and fulfillment. Engaging in activities you enjoy can enrich your life beyond monetary gains.
  • Good: Learning new skills through side hustles can be valuable for personal growth and future opportunities.
  •  Bad: If the side hustle takes too much time and effort, it might be a bad idea. You might not have enough time and energy to excel at your main career and maintain a side gig. Focusing on your main career is a better way to increase your income. This is assuming the main career has potential, of course. Also, don’t let a side hustle completely derail your home life. Family time is important.
  •  Probably bad – Relying on a side hustle to cover essential expenses may not be a sustainable solution. It’s better to increase income with your main career. You can ask for a raise or find a better job with higher pay.  Meanwhile, you can track your expenses and see if you can live more frugally.

In conclusion, a side hustle can provide additional income, but income shouldn’t be the only consideration. You can also find personal fulfillment and growth through side hustling. Avoid the easy way out, the app-based gigs. They can provide a short-term solution with the additional income, but you’re trading your valuable time for just a little money. Find a good side hustle that’s unique to you and it’ll be much more rewarding in the long run.

So, do you have a side hustle? Do you think it is worth it?

Image credit: Linoleum Collective

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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