If you're anything like me, you've scrimped, trimmed the fat, and gone without to boost your savings rate. You've made outstanding progress in the name of achieving the coveted frugal lifestyle, and yet, you still don't feel like you're reaching your financial goals.
Whether your plans include paying off debt, saving for retirement, or eventually reaching financial freedom, there's a limit to how inexpensively you can survive before you begin approaching Extreme Cheapskate territory.
Even if you've cut back on the expenses that you can control, you're likely still seeing increases in health insurance premiums, transportation, or housing. Additionally, young professionals are experiencing abysmal wage growth.
According to a recent Atlantic article, the average wage growth for 25 to 35 year old workers has fallen in nearly every major industry since 2007.
Despite my pessimistic portrait of our collective financial health (or lack thereof), I don't believe that our circumstances are dire. In fact, our generation has access to an important resource that may not be available to older age groups – energy.
Enter: the side hustle.
At the borderline geriatric age of 30, I'll openly admit that my energy level is not quite as robust as it was in my early twenties. This has led to many recent lifestyle changes, including a career transition.
While a career requiring large amounts of travel may no longer be in the cards, I'm certainly willing to work more than forty hours per week. In fact, taking advantage of my energy now may pay off big time in the future.
My sister is a fantastic side hustler. In addition to holding down a full-time publicist gig, she regularly earns extra money in her neighborhood by working as a dancehall DJ. She's also rented out her house on Airbnb and sold her delicious vegan cupcakes. She's recently considered charging for her tarot card readings and eventually plans to teach Ashtanga yoga.
I'm continually amazed by the ways in which creative people are able to earn extra dough. While there are countless opportunities to generate additional income, I've carefully considered what my ideal side hustle entails:
My ideal side hustle is location independent. Why? If I'm spending forty hours a week at an office (plus commute time), I want the ability to work from home. I don't want to waste precious time sitting in traffic or searching for parking.
I enjoy having easy access to my drip coffee machine, the pot of soup I lovingly concocted, or being within an arm's reach of my favorite feline. Bonus: the ability to work in my pajamas.
For people with limited day job flexibility, a side hustle would have to comfortably exist outside of the weekday hours of 9-5 PM. In a perfect world, the job would allow for a small buffer after a day job on week nights and could avoid the prime social time of weekend evenings. The ability to make last minute scheduling changes would be an invaluable perk.
High Hourly Wage
Time outside of a 40 hour work week is a value and finite commodity. A week consists of 168 hours. If 43 hours (including commute time) are consumed by a day job, 56 hours are allocated for sleep, and 8 hours are blocked off for fitness, you're left with 61 usable hours. How much are these hours worth to you? For me, an hourly rate below a certain threshold simply isn't worth my time.
Are you lucky enough to land a side hustle the offers additional perks? This could come in the form of free stuff, networking opportunities, a creative outlet, or helping your community. All of these have a value and should be considered as part of your overall compensation.
Readers: Do you have a side hustle? What's your ideal way to earn extra money?