A hot topic that I see throughout the personal finance blogosphere is the concept of the side hustle. Side hustles, or side gigs as I call them, are jobs to earn some extra coin and are optional. Not to be confused with a second job, which is more of a necessity because the first job doesn’t pay enough to pay the bills, keep mouths fed and a roof overhead.
For example, a popular side hustle in Alola is chucking pyukumuku back into the ocean. In Kalos, trainers can side hustle at the Hotel Richissime by making beds, hunting down lost items and helping with room service. These small, short tasks can earn a trainer extra money for just a little bit of time and are not necessary for completing the games. For real-world examples, J. Money, who has had a lot of experience with side hustles, has documented over 70 different side hustles to share with his readers at Budgets Are Sexy.
Now, side gigs seem to be romanticized by the personal finance community as a great tool that can assist with our financial goals while also being fun. However, they also forget to mention that sometimes they share characteristics, and the added stress, of a second job. So today, I am going to share four returns and frustrations, or pros and cons, to explain why I like and dislike the side hustle.
Extra Money for Goals
Return- Since side gigs are not necessary to pay for the essentials, any money made from them is technically extra money. This can be a quick and easy way to gain some extra ground on our goals. I like to pair my side gigs with a goal that I can put 100% of that paycheck towards that goal. My goals have been for debts, savings, other projects, our wedding or even just to buy some Castellia Ice Cream. I used a paycheck from a costume design gig to pay the start-up costs for this blog. Had I not had that side gig, this blog could still be a series of Word Documents collecting dust on my husband’s hard drive.
Frustration- Although they can help with goals, more money is not always the answer to our problems. When I first received my American Express credit card, I thought my money issues were over. However, my problem was not that I needed access to more money, it was that I was bad at managing my money. Sure, had I taken on a side gig, I would have a little less debt, but my spending would have still discharged uncontrollably. Once I recognized my issue, I noticed that I learned better money management with less money than more.
Stress and Time Management
Return- Since side gigs are extra work during our time for resting, I feel they should be simple, low stress and little time commitment. The simplicity keeps it low stress and little time commitment. For one side gig, I took an actor’s measurements for a costume designer friend who lives in L. A. It took me about 5 minutes to take them and 10 minutes to send them to my friend. I took them in the costume shop I work at, so I didn’t have to worry about not having access to supplies like measuring tape or a notebook. I even was given $20 by the actor for being able to help them out. This is the type of side gig bloggers love to chatter about, large payoff with little effort.
Frustration- I have also found myself stuck in an arena trap by overcommitting to a side gig I think will be fun and easy. Overcommitting causes me to lose time I should be using to rest and refresh. This makes me irritable, tired and less productive. The loss of productivity raises my stress levels and drain punches any fun I was should have been having. By the end of the gig, I am burnt up.
Return- Although I enjoy my journey reaching my goals, I like to use the actual work from my side gigs as stepping key stones towards the goals I am working towards. Many of my side gigs have helped me train for my career as a costume designer. Working backstage helped me learn about running a show. Doing alterations for a vintage store helped grow my sewing and construction skills. Designing costumes for smaller theatre companies exercised my design miracle eye. A choreographer I worked with in grad school taught his students the importance of always working jobs that help us develop toward our goals, and I listened.
Frustration- One side gig I had was passing out coupons for Outback Steakhouse at a football game. It was an easy $60, but my experience gained was useless to costume design. I think this type of out of the box side gig is ok every now and again. However, encoring such side gigs fill our free time with liquid ooze. Instead of using our time productively to train or rest, we become paralyzed, repeating the same side gig over and over, not making any progress.
Test Runs and Temporary Side Gigs
Return- I think that side gigs are a great low-stress way to test different types of work. There are a lot of full-time bloggers who got their start doing their blog as a side gig. In the freelancing world, it has helped me learn which types of theatres I like to work with and which jobs I like to do. Shortly after moving to New York City, I was trained to be a wardrobe crew understudy for Silence the Musical. After running the show for a couple weeks, I learned it wasn’t really for me. (Even with the free berry juices.)
Side gigs also offer a variety of different jobs to keep things interesting. One of the things I love about costume design is that every show is different. I have a regenerated interest in every new project thanks to the different stories, periods and design problems. By keeping side gigs temporary I can keep new projects rotating through.
Frustration- I like to offer a word of caution for evolving a hobby into a side gig. I think that most people think that it can be a simple way to make money doing something that they already do for free, like selling their knitting on Esty. However, then they are featured on a blog and their side gig instantly evolves into a business. Now the hobby they used to enjoy has become a source of deadlines, business taxes, and extra stress. I like to recommend giving a hobby to side gig evolution a test run with an evaluation date. By having a test run we can experience getting paid for our hobby, while also having a date to evaluate if we want to continue. I am always unnerved when I learn that someone has evolved their activity for rest into more work.
If you have or are currently doing a side gig or side hustle, what has your side gig journey been like?
Why a Side Hustle Might Be the Last Thing You Need- Club Thrifty
Mkay, what is up with our side hustle obsession?- Picky Pinchers
The Stupidity of the Side Hustle- She Picks Up Pennies