Graduated Learning: Life after College

Personal Finance, Parenting, and a dash of Science

Personal Finance Confessions: I don’t have a “side hustle” April 28, 2011

If you’re into personal finance, then you probably know about the “side hustle”.  For those of you not in the know, the “side hustle” is freelance work outside of your regular 9-5 job.

I was reminded of my lack of a side hustle after reading Ramit Sethi‘s article, Forget Frugality:  Focus on Earning More.  His article pointed out that there are two different ways to “spend less than you earn”:  either spend less, or earn more.  He emphasized the benefits of increasing your earnings through a side business or freelance job.  Some commenters felt that Sethi’s advice was obvious, others were annoyed at his assumption that it’s easier to earn more money than to be more frugal and save money.  Still others pointed out that you can do both!  Earn more AND spend less!

And so here I am, side hustle-less.  And I’ve got plenty of excuses (valid or invalid, you decide)!  I’m pretty sure my employer doesn’t permit us to have additional jobs.  Conflict of interest or some such thing.  I suppose I could look into it to be certain.  I love my current job, so I wouldn’t want to do anything that takes away from that.  Plus, I’m not really sure what extra work I would do.

I don’t have a lot of freelance-friendly skills that I’m aware of.  I guess there are a lot of different things one could do as a side hustle.  J. Money of Budgets are Sexy has been featuring assorted opportunities through his Side Hustle Series.  The most feasible one might be Mystery Shopping.  It seems like it could be a lot of fun, and I could get rewarded for trying new stores/restaurants/etc.  Still, I don’t go shopping very often, so it might add extra stress trying to fit in shopping trips.  I don’t think I’ve got the artistic skills to sell things on Etsy.  Maybe I could sell my old stuff on Ebay?

If I were to do something else outside of work, I’d need a good plan.  And I’d probably have to do something that either is enjoyable or that pays well if I want to make having a side hustle (or two) worth it.  To be honest, I’d much rather avoid or cut back on expenses than commit to an extra job that’s not rewarding (either emotionally or financially).  I could save money (and also eat healthier) if I brought my lunch to work every day instead of depending on the cafeteria.  That’s a change right there that would help me spend less.  I value my free time more than the possible extra money I could be making “in my free time”.

I’d rather stick to one job that I love (i.e. my current career path) and focus on that, than be distracted by other pursuits.

So, what are your side hustles?  Do you find it worth it (in terms of time, money, happiness)?  Or would you rather work on spending less than on earning more?


26 Responses to “Personal Finance Confessions: I don’t have a “side hustle””

  1. eemusings Says:

    Conflict of interest is a biggie and I’m surprised it’s not an issue for more people.

    Steph, I would think a really obvious hustle for you would be tutoring? Lucrative and flexible.


    • Stephanie Says:

      Yeah, I don’t hear a lot about conflict of interest in most posts about “side hustles”. As for tutoring, that does sound like a good idea. And I could either do it for pay, or even volunteer. It could be financially and/or personally rewarding!


      • eemusings Says:

        Yes, I’d actually be interested to know if peeps are negotiating their contracts (I’d imagine many have clauses which restrict them to that job), in the cases of those whose side hustles are in the same industry as their day gig. Although it’s probably easier to get away with in some fields, for example, it’s going to be pretty obvious to an editor whose chief writer’s byline starts showing up in other publications.


  2. Jenn Says:

    I don’t have a side hustle either! I’ve been working on a post about that myself. I want to focus on my career right now.


  3. Eric Says:

    Writing for eHow has done it for me lately. At $15 a pop (though this isn’t good pay compared to a newspaper or more professional writing setting), I can average around $20-$25 an hour. It fills my gas tank, and in my mind any money is good money. I’ve also added myself to a local pool of marketing research participants (focus groups and such). Haven’t been called yet, but perhaps that’ll put some extra change in my pocket some day.


    • Stephanie Says:

      Yeah, I’ve heard a lot about those sites. I guess they’ve gotten the derogatory name of “content farms”
      But it’s a good start for putting a little extra money in your pocket!

      I bet being a research participant is also pretty cool…one day, they study they did with you might get published! Or you could learn about a cool new product before everyone else!


    • Actually, $20 – $25 an hour is almost exactly what you’d get as a professional writer. I’m a pro journalist with several years of newspaper experience, and most journos that I knew, with about 5 years experience (age: late 20’s) earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $30k – $40k per year. $20 per hour, multiplied by 2000 working hours per year, equals $40k. Granted, they also got health and retirement benefits, so their total compensation was more than just cash … but still, it’s close. If you’re pulling $25/hr, you’re doing well.


  4. SP Says:


    although I think if I’m doing stuff that is separate from what my company does, there is no conflict of interest issue. Still, any side hustle I can come up with doesn’t pay hourly what I think my time is worth. That’s my main reason for it – I’d rather use my free time to pursue fun interests!


  5. I have 3 “side hustle” jobs that I feel are completely worth my time because I love doing them (blogging, writing for a newspaper, & graphic design business). For me, creating multiple streams of income is key to achieving financial freedom and stability.

    But that being said, I don’t think a side hustle or job is for everyone. It’s absolutely a lifestyle choice, and a lot of people choose not to do it. And that’s completely understandable and doesn’t need to be justified at all.


    • Stephanie Says:

      Doing something you love definitely makes it a lot more worth doing! And I agree, if you have more income streams, you can ensure money will be coming in no matter what happens. I suppose I could start thinking about making money through blogging, but I don’t post nearly often enough that it could be a viable option.
      Thanks for the assurance that not everyone needs to do side hustles. I was really afraid that all the comments would be negative judgement about my lack of a side hustle!


  6. Julia Says:

    I’ve had lots of side hustles over the years. HBS pays about $20 per study, and because of my strange work schedule, I can sometimes fit that in. It’s not a steady side hustle but the studies are interesting.

    When my job was cut down to four days a week at the beginning of the recession, I taught classes for Kaplan in the evening. That was miserable and stressful. Teaching to the test is the antithesis of what I do in my day job at an art museum.

    I’ve also written for Demand Studios, one of the writing farms that takes advantage of writers to create content for ehow and other how-to websites. The topics were often boring, the pay was crap, and I wasn’t proud of my work.

    Right now, I grow some of my own food in my garden…does that count as a side hustle?


    • Stephanie Says:

      I love that you grow some of your own food! I think it’s an awesome way to reduce costs AND eat healthier! Double awesome!

      And yeah, it can be interesting to do some of those surveys. Do you still like doing them, or are you looking for other side gigs?


      • Julia Says:

        I still do the studies occasionally, but only when they’re convenient, ie. at a time I’m available and in the Harvard area. I’m not really looking for any other side gigs right now. I’m more focused on getting outside (now that it’s finally spring) and work is generally not conducive to that. I think many Americans work TOO much – the idea of having an additional job if you already make enough money to meet your goals seems like a workaholic’s suggestion, unhealthy and unbalanced. Stick to your guns and keep your free time for fun!


  7. I think it’s hard for engineer types to find a ‘side hustle’ that’s worth their time. I could wait tables on the weekends like I did in grad school or do something else way outside of my range of expertise, but boy that sucks and wow does it not pay as much as my normal job.

    There’s also a couple of different types when it comes to financial freedom. For some, it’s actual freedom they are after. Freedom to invest in whatever they want, or quit their job and start their own business. Literal freedom. But for some (I think I fall here), it’s just freedom from worry. So they can think about the important things: career, family, etc. If your career is more important to you than making a little side money, then no way do you want a side-hustle.


    • Stephanie Says:

      Yeah, it’s tough to find a side gig that pays as well as engineering…unless it’s freelance engineering, which is likely not feasible.

      And I also think I fall into the financial freedom = “free from worry” crowd. I’m happy at my current job, and I don’t think I can be an entrepreneur, at least not quite yet.

      Are there any “side hustles” you’d be willing to do outside of your day job?


  8. Country Girl Says:

    I don’t have a side hustle at the moment, but I have been thinking about it. Unfortunately, I work long hours and tend to have lots of other things to do when I do finally get home, so I often wonder if a job on the side would just be too much effort for not enough reward. Ideally, I’d love to make money off my blog, or maybe my new hobby of making photo books. It’s tough though, I wish I had more sell-able skills that would make for a good side hustle – like fixing cars or being crafty.


  9. […] Some preach the side hustle mantra, others, like Steph, prefer to channel all their energies into their main gig. […]


  10. wmwo Says:

    I’m currently side hustle-less as well, but I’m looking to change that. Spending less is definitely something I need to keep a focus on, but there is a eventually a floor on how low you can go. Your earning potential is unlimited.


  11. I just recently got into side hustling, and I agree with Krystal, it’s a lifestyle choice. A lot of my free time is spent making more money (by blogging and also by working at another on call job).

    I kind of like it though, but need to set limits on the amount of time spent on these extra pursuits 🙂

    I like that I can have something to look forward to when I’m working, or when I’m blogging. It’s like I’m having an affair with my job and the blog haha… its always exciting!


  12. I completely agree with you that I would rather enjoy my free time than clog it up with working! If you can find something that allows you the opportunity to make money in a little amount of time, then I would pursue it. If you cannot, it makes more sense to just enjoy that time off from a job you love and work on cutting corners elsewhere.

    I work in accounting, so its easier for me to do freelance work on the side. I’m an employee at will without any clauses so as long as I am getting my work done in the alloted time, I’m fine to work on the side. However, I think if they “really knew” what I was doing freelance-wise, it could jeopardize my employment which is still why I still only use The Financialite on things. 🙂 You might be better off just working your full-time job, although I think the tutor is a fantastic suggestion!


  13. Bunny Says:

    I think your argument makes total sense. While at university, I’ve worked two or three jobs while taking a full course load, and each time I took on a third, it added a significant amount of extra effort/stress (in terms of scheduling, hustling to arrive at each shift, and ultimately needed a couple days off to recover from the pace of constant working). Now that I’m gearing up to start my first post-grad job, I plan to focus all my energy on learning as much as possible, passing professional exams, and launching my career – and no “side hustle” could possibly be lucrative enough to distract me from that. It seems like a lot of bloggers (PF or otherwise) do some kind of freelance writing or consulting on the side. Which definitely require a lot of practice and expertise.


  14. I think that everyone needs to decide for themselves whether a sideline business makes sense. You need to consider what it is you can do, as well as whether you have the discipline to do something on your own. Not everyone is cut out for doing something on their own. If you are, though, there is certainly something to be said for not having all of your eggs in one basket. Multiple streams of income does have its advantages!


  15. […] Personal Finance Confessions: I Don’t Have a Side Hustle from Graduated Learning […]


  16. […] Personal Finance Confessions: I Don’t Have a Side Hustle from Graduated Learning […]


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