Rather than wait around for a raise, a faster way to pad your pockets and gain more financial independence is to get a side hustle. In fact, from bartending, to entrepreneurship, to selling creative work, nearly 37 percent of Americans are making money on the side, according to a recent Bankrate survey. But just how beneficial are these side gigs? American nonfiction author and public speaker Chris Guillebeau says everyone should have a side hustle because they promote discipline and out-of-the-box thinking; but author and blogger Lauren Greutman contends in her book "The Recovering Spender" that side gigs can be deceiving time and money sinks if you are not careful. Experts on this ever-growing American economic shift to nontraditional and supplemental work strategies believe that the "why" and the "how" of your side hustle are just as important as the "what" in determining its worth and success.
Many people start a side hustle for extra income and then find that there are other benefits below the surface. In Guillebeau's 2017 interview with Brett McKay on "The Art of Manliness" podcast, he proposes a lifestyle structure that not only provides extra income but also balances work and hobbies and encourages ambition. In his book "Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days," he highlights that some of the most influential benefits are actually nonmonetary. Working 10 to 20 extra hours per week selling Cutco knives will burn out almost anyone. But if you choose a side hustle that is a true passion or interest, it will prove its worth as a confidence booster alone. From encouraging risk taking to providing a sense of ownership, an additional financial and creative support system pays off big dividends. To make this extra work sustainable, however, Guillebeau emphasizes defining the goal for your work after work beforehand. If your goal is simply to earn some extra spending cash or save for a vacation, you will structure not only your business but also your expectations differently than those who actually want to create something that allows them to eventually quit their day job. Defining these goals and boundaries is crucial to achieving the proper work-life balance.
Although it is easy to be swept away by the romance of creating your own empowering small business, Daniel Kline, a contributing author for the leading financial services company The Motley Fool, sheds light on a much-overlooked facet of a nontraditional second job: the money value of time. Kline encourages those currently working or considering a second job to do a true cost analysis of the extra time committed. "It's important to make sure you are not wasting your time," he says. "Break down how many hours you are working in order to figure out how much you are earning per hour. You should also factor in any expenses you incur." Besides wanting to have a lot to show for your hard work, your overall happiness and well-being are a function of the time and energy invested. Efficiency guru and New York Times best-selling author Tim Ferriss more thoroughly paints this picture with the case study of the entrepreneur and the banker: One works 20 hours a week and makes $50,000, while the other works 80 hours a week and makes $500,000. Yes, the banker is richer, but he has no time to enjoy his riches. Similarly, Kline and Greutman both stress that a second job can leave you fried unless you properly assess and manage the variables. Define your goals and your hourly worth. If your side hustle does not pay out at that level, rework it or move on to the next venture.
Some experts, such as Side Hustle Nation founder Nick Loper, believe that at the end of the day, a side hustle can work for anyone if one knows his or her motivation. Often, extra money is not enough to provide sustainable drive. What will the extra money afford you? What do you want to pay off? How will this better your lifestyle or improve your stress levels and schedule? What could this eventually become, and are you truly excited for that possibility? These and many related questions are key to side hustle success. Otherwise, you could end up like Greutman -- ensnared in a multilevel marketing scheme and working toward a weekend you don't have the energy to enjoy.
There's a lot of freedom in knowing that your earning power can be boosted by your own creation. Most side hustles don't require a huge initial investment or even a special skill set. So head to the drawing board and sketch out a design to take you to the next level.