Close the Gap on Financial Goals with a Side Hustle
A side hustle can be a great way to get out of debt faster, pay for college, save money for an emergency fund, or contribute more to your retirement savings.
From freelance event photography to creating hospitality offerings with Airbnb, there’s a side hustle to match almost anyone’s passion…
And their financial goals.
According to Gallup, about 36% of U.S. workers are now involved in the gig economy.¹
If the gig economy continues growing at the current rate, more than 50% of the U.S. workforce will participate in it by 2027.²
According to the Freelancing in America report, put out by Upwork and Freelancers Union, the top drivers motivating people to start a side hustle are the desire to:
1) Be their own boss
2) Choose when they work
3) Select their own projects
4) Choose where they work
5) Earn extra money.³
Aside from the flexibility and freedom side hustles provide, a big driver is making more money.
With pensions all but gone, the future of social security unknown, the crushing burden of credit card and student loan debt, and the need to save for retirement, it’s no wonder Americans are getting creative with how they earn extra income.
According to a 2019 Bankrate⁴ survey…
- One in five American adults have nothing saved for retirement or emergencies.
- 20% of Americans have saved 5% or less of their annual income to meet certain financial goals.
- Less than a third have saved at least 11% or more.
The outlook is bleak.
But there is good news!
With the near-infinite variety of side hustles available for people to pick up extra income outside their 9 to 5 jobs, almost anyone can turn a financial situation around.
The key is to find something you love doing, get clear on your financial goals, decide how much extra income you need to make to meet those goals, and then go for it!
If you are searching for a way to earn more income, keep reading to discover how to find a side hustle that not only aligns with your passion, but also helps you reach your financial goals.
Uncover Your Passions
First things first: side hustles require a serious amount of hard work, time, and dedication.
Working extra hours outside of your full-time job (or in addition to your two part-time jobs) won’t feel like work if you’re doing something that’s aligned with your passions.
It may also set you up for a better chance of success, since you’ll be more motivated and willing to put in the necessary time and effort.
Take intentional time to think about what you enjoy and where it intersects with a money-making opportunity.
Brainstorm all the possibilities of what activities you could see yourself committing to in a realistic and dedicated way.
Whatever it may be–making art, writing, teaching, or gardening–write everything down.
Don’t limit yourself! Dream big and have fun with it!
Then, when analyzing the possible side hustle options at your fingertips, make sure whatever you select aligns as close as possible to one or more of your listed passions.
Get Clear on Your Financial Goals
If you don’t have a plan, rarely will you reach your goals.
First, get clear on how you will use your side hustle income. Will it be to pay off debt or save for the future? Or both?
Next, determine how much money you need to meet each particular goal and the date you want it by.
For each goal, divide the total amount needed by the number of months until your goal date, and that will give you the amount you need to save each month.
It does no good to set your goals and put them in a drawer. Instead, keep them somewhere you will see it.
Make sure to review it each month and track your progress.
If you fall behind, don’t beat yourself up. Just get back on track as soon as possible.
Research and Plan
Passion and excitement for launching your side hustle are great to have, but don’t jump in too quickly.
You’ll be better poised for success if you fully research and plan your strategy before making a move.
Set long-term goals
Sit down and ask yourself the following questions:
#1 Where do you see yourself in two years?
Imagine what your ideal situation might look like on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. What do you want to achieve not only financially, but personally?
Determine what skills you want to develop, as well as what kind of lifestyle you want to lead in the future. Knowing the answers to these questions helps you make more informed decisions as you decide on your side hustle.
#2 How much start-up investment will you need for your particular side hustle for equipment, marketing, etc.?
Some side hustles require upfront expenses. Others don’t.
Whether it be purchasing gardening tools, photography equipment, furniture, or a website domain,calculate how much you’ll need to save now to make your initial investment.
#3 How many hours can you realistically dedicate to your side hustle?
In 2018, independent U.S. workers spent a billion hours per week freelancing.⁵
And the average side hustler spends 11 hours per week on their secondary work, and earns an extra $12,609 per year–an average of about $25 per hour.⁶
While you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, we’re sharing this because it’s critical you know what you can commit to timewise. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure
before you start.
One helpful exercise is to imagine what you’ll be telling people at parties when they ask you about your side hustle.
Perhaps you’re a freelance photographer who’s hired to work an average of 24 weddings per year.
Or maybe you’re a ceramicist that makes an extra $10,000 per year selling pottery on Etsy.
Whatever it is, make your forecast now for where you want to be and by when.
Some app-based work has set rates you’ll need to abide by, such as online tutoring and driving apps.
However, if you have the freedom to set your own rates, figure out what the going rates are in your industry to ensure you don’t underprice yourself.
Whatever type of side hustle you choose, make sure the pay rate and the hours you are able to work adds up to the amount of money you want to make to achieve your financial goals.
Plan to save
Whether you want extra income to pay down debt or have extra cash to spend, we recommend you save a portion of it for retirement or your rainy day fund.
It might take you longer to pay down your debts, but it may be well worth it in the long run.
If you don’t have one already, your first priority should be to build up an emergency fund.
According to The Balance, “at a minimum, you should have three months of living expenses in your emergency fund. This means if you need $3,000 a month to cover your basic needs like your mortgage or rent, utilities, gas, and food, then you need $9,000 in your emergency fund.”⁷
If you have financial dependents, it’s advisable to have at least six months’ worth of living expenses saved.
Once you have enough saved in your emergency fund, you can begin to pursue other goals, such as saving more for retirement or saving for a downpayment or to buy a car.
Side Hustle Ideas
Again, there are no shortage of intriguing and interesting options for making extra money.
If you’re at a loss about where to start, here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing…
Tutoring: If you excelled in academic settings or are particularly good at teaching a new skill, consider a side hustle working as a tutor.
While you can certainly tutor in person, there are plenty of online tutoring platforms that enable you to work from wherever, whenever.
Renting and Hosting: Have a particular passion for interior design, meeting new people, and hosting?
If you have extra rooms in your home that you can rent out on a short-term basis via platforms like Airbnb, this can be a great way of generating passive income. Putting effort into designing the space, providing tips to guests, and more, may enable you to increase your nightly rate.
Additionally, if you live in an area with a consistent tourist population, consider creating and hosting an Airbnb experience.
From teaching yoga classes to leading walking tours in your area, the platform serves as a marketing machine for locals to become guides and hosts of exciting activities.
Freelance Writing or Consulting: Perhaps you majored in writing in college but haven’t had a chance to put your writing skills to use. Or, you’re particularly adept at social media marketing.
Photographer/Videographer: This side hustle requires a more significant investment upfront in camera equipment.
However, if you’re already talented at photo and video editing and production, there are a wide range of ways to make money.
Consider becoming a freelance wedding photographer/videographer, or try selling your high-quality photos to stock sites such as Getty, Shutterstock, and Alamy. There are many options out there, so take the time to research and figure out where you’ll get the best rates.
Taskrabbit: Whether working as a handyman, gardener, or personal assistant, Taskrabbit makes it easy to find local labor jobs.
With this particular app, you can determine your own rates and select jobs in your area that work within your schedule. However, there are plenty of other task completion apps such as Fiverr to consider.
Driver: When people hear the term “gig economy,” driving for companies such as Uber and Lyft is one of the first examples to come to mind. With these companies, you can set your own hours and meet people from all walks of life.
The options listed in this post are simply a selection to get you started.
Take the time to research what else might be out there that aligns with your interests, availability, and financial goals.
The sooner you get started, the closer you’ll be to paying off debt, saving for retirement, and more.