do I really need a side gig?

A reader writes:

I’m not sure if this is because I’m a millennial or if this is just how the work world is trending, but I feel inundated with messages that I should have a side hustle or diverse income streams. I only have one income stream, my full-time job at a human rights NGO that is fairly demanding, well paid for the sector, and at the department director level. I’m able to meet all my financial obligations and save more than is recommended in my retirement accounts, but I feel this pressure to develop a small business or consult or write or baby-sit or something. On the other hand, I want to remain focused on my fulltime job and continue to excel there. I’m curious about your thoughts on this phenomenon and any advice to young professionals.

Ugh, yes, the advice to develop a side gig is everywhere.

It’s not bad advice for some people. For some people, it can be the thing that lets them eventually strike out on their own, or that helps build their reputation in a way that gives them more options in their primary work life, or that allows them to quit a job and still have money coming in. It’s true that having more than one stream of income gives you additional security, and sometimes additional options. (And on a personal note, I did it and it has worked out well for me.)

But it’s definitely not advice that makes sense for everyone, and it’s annoying to see it applied as some sort of universal panacea.

You might not do the type of work that lends itself to freelancing on the side. You might have a demanding job that leaves you with little time or energy for doing yet more work on the side. You might prioritize spending time with family, friends, or a book over doing a side job just because you’re hearing that you should. You might have family or other obligations that make it unrealistic. You might have zero interest in (or talent for) dealing with the logistics of entrepreneurism (billing, marketing, etc.). You might have an employer who considers any side work a conflict of interest. You might simply want to be done with work when you walk out the door of your full-time job each evening.

Side work can be a really cool and valuable thing if it happens to fit in well with your interests, skills, and the other things in your life. But it’s far, far from necessary (as evidenced by the vast majority of successful professionals who don’t have side gigs), and by no means should you feel guilty about not having one. You can earn a lot of job security and stack up options for yourself by being awesome at what you do in your full-time job and building up your reputation there. That’s still a fine way to do things.

{ 240 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephanie*

    Yeah, don’t worry about it. And as Allison said, side work can be a conflict of interest with your full-time job. I did one -off freelance work for a friend in my old line of work (she paid me) and it was definitely in conflict as my company did the same thing.

    I think, too, it takes a decent amount of effort (or skills in a niche area) for it to be worth the extra hassle. It sounds like your full-time job is fairly demanding already.

    1. Cath in Canada*

      I’ve had a few offers to freelance on grant applications, and every single one has been a clear conflict of interest. People act so surprised when I turn potential gigs down for that reason, though, as if they’d never thought that maybe profs from my organisation might be applying for the same grants…

    2. M-C*

      The advice to not be totally dependent on a single job does make sense, considering the longevity of jobs or even organizations these days. But maybe you don’t have to interpret it literally, as in running a small business on the side? In your circumstances, a fulfilling but very full-time occupation, maybe what it would mean instead that you do your job with an eye towards skills that can be recycled easily in different industries? If your organization collapsed, or the whole nonprofit industry, what would you be able to salvage of your career? Are there skills that’d be natural for you learn/develop in this position that’d be valuable elsewhere? Can you work specifically on your legal side, your tech side, your financial management side, whatever appeals to you?

  2. Jen S. 2.0*

    Full disclosure: I say this as a person with a full-time job and a side gig.

    This to me is one of those things that people do, and then announce that everyone should do it because it works so well for them. Um, no. You aren’t wrong for not doing it just because I do it and like it. It’s also one of those things where the people who do it often are really loud about it, and so it seems like “everyone” is doing it, when in reality it’s a vocal minority.

    If it works for you, feel free to rock it out. But if it doesn’t work for you, or you’re not interested, or nothing appealing has come along (…yet?), or it’s not where you want to put your energy, just go on your merry way and be confident in your decision. You can choose to do Y when other people are choosing to do X without being wrong for doing so.

    1. C Average*

      I sometimes think that 90% of “advice” is really thinly-disguised memoir. “This is what I did. [Description of ‘what I did’ written in the second person.] You should do it, too.”

          1. NotMyRealName*

            That’s interesting. The only atheist stuff I see on Facebook is from groups I subscribe to. On the other hand, I typically block a religious page every day.

            1. Lalaith*

              Hm. I don’t see pages for either, but my friends sure do post their opinions. And it is definitely possible to evangelize atheism. Personally I’d rather not be beaten over the head by any of it.

              1. Kyle*

                I’m an atheist and I’ve unfollowed some of my atheist friends on facebook because they won’t shut up about atheism!

              2. Elizabeth West*

                I HATE that. I block that stuff myself because it’s so hypocritical. It’s like “I hate when God folks talk about Jesus! They’re delusional idiots because they think a magic fairy in the sky will solve all their problems! We should all believe or NOT as we see fit!”

                It’s bullshit. If you don’t want to be scoffed at for being atheist, don’t do the same thing to other people. /mini-rant over

            2. NoPantsFridays*

              Yeah, this is interesting to me. I’m religious and a theist, and I think I only know 2 or 3 atheists?? Maybe? I’m not sure how many closeted atheists I know.

  3. NickelandDime*

    Yeah. For years and years I went round and round with my spouse on this. How it would help out so much with the household budget if I took on some writing gigs “on the side.” My full-time job involves a lot of writing. Writing is HARD. I think writers die a little with each word. LOL And with a full-time job, kids, a household and wanting to have a life outside of working, errands and chores, I didn’t have the desire have a second job. We were fine financially. He bought into this hype too. It works for some, but it’s okay to not want to be bothered.

    1. C Average*

      “Writers die a little with each word.” YES. Thank you for saying this. I am actually leaving a full-time writing job in part because I’ve reluctantly come to accept that this job leaves me with no good words at the end of the day, and that if I’m ever to write my Great American Novel and various other minor masterpieces, I cannot spend ten hours a day churning out prose in a corporate environment, too.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Yes! I write as a hobby, and my output is definitely inversely proportional to the amount of writing I do at work. There are only so many good writing hours (minutes?) per day…

        1. Kerry*

          Yeah, I’ve absolutely found this to be true as well! When I worked in a job that involved writing, my writing for fun – about things I actually enjoy! – was awful both to write and read. It’s got much better (er, to do,at least) now that I’m not in a writing job.

      2. NickelandDime*

        I would like to do more writing for fun, but I have nothing left after work. I feel if I tried to do some side gig writing it would be terrible and I would feel bad even trying to charge someone for it.

        1. RVA Cat*

          Thank you so much for posting about this. I need to step up and finish my novel, but just the other day I was beating myself up for working a number-crunching office job rather than a writing-related field.

        2. Melissa*

          This! Plus now whenever I try to write for fun it kind of comes out like the stilted academic language I use in my articles for work. It’s hard to seamlessly switch between 2 different styles.

      3. Purple Jello*

        Thank you! Now I have a great excuse for waiting until retirement to write that great American novel in the back of my brain. That’s if it hasn’t been smashed to bits by all the boring policy statements I’ve had to write.

        1. Kerry*

          If you’re waiting until your life is massively different in some way, you’re probably not ever going to get that novel written.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        This is true. I find the dry technical stuff I edit during the day job starts to creep into my own writing and I have to make a mighty effort to resist it.

        Note: I despise the word utilize and I will never use it. It sets my teeth on edge.

    2. AnotherAlison*


      My husband is full-time self-employed. I’m full-time+ in my regular job. For years, I helped him with bookkeeping, etc. and THAT was my side gig. I’ve always wanted to be self-employed as part of my long-term “vision”, but only within the last couple years have I realized, it’s not going to happen now. I have no consistent free time, AND I like my job.

      1. Nichole*

        There’s been this push that everyone should want to be self employed and that starting your own business is the cure for unemployment that just makes my stomach turn (I think Alison has an article floating out there somewhere about this phenomenon). I am most definitely not cut out to be self employed, and trying to turn a side gig into steady income would likely not work out in my favor. I imagine that it’s probably hard to give up on that self employment vision when there’s so much out there about how great it is, but it’s awesome that you’ve taken a look and decided that “I actually like my job” is a good problem to have. Like others have said, it’s annoying when “it worked well for me in my situation” gets presented as “everyone should do this.”

    3. Liz*

      Yup. I have a pretty demanding side gig right now. It was really rewarding at first, and it absolutely expanded my skills and improved my abilities, so I’m glad I did it. But I’m clearly showing some pretty alarming signs of burn out and my work at both my main gig and side hustle has started to suffer. Because of that, I’m winding down my hours at my side gig and planning to end it by the summer.

      For a side gig to be beneficial, it has to challenge you to think in new ways and use skills you don’t primarily use at your main gig. It also has to be something that brings you a lot of satisfaction, and something you can walk away from whenever you want (no long contracts). If your main reason for doing it is because you feel like you should, or to make a few extra bucks, that may be fine for a short while but it will absolutely take a toll on you. I think you’re right to resist doing freelance writing for that reason.

      1. Gobrightbrand*

        All excellent points. I did full-time freelance for many years than transitioned to a full-time job but kept almost all my freelance because I wasn’t sure if I would stay at the full-time job. I ended up staying there for two+ years and still taking on 27 hours a week of freelance. I was burnt to a crisp. What was nice is that I was able to save a lot of money and my full-time job wasn’t stressful most of the time, so I didn’t realize I was burnt out until the end.

        Now I’m in a different full-time role and the idea of freelance is laughable. There’s no way I could do it. I finally finished this last family project that’s been an albatros around my neck that I think is finally done.

        Now that it’s done I can do things like clean my house, get back into some of my hobbies and unwind. I’m the type of person who likes to overschedule myself so I’m sure I’ll start back up some other side-hustle – because I can’t help myself but it’ll be something different than before and be something I can walk away from or put on pause when needed. That’s the biggest issue with what I was doing before, there were deadlines and clients that somehow always managed to coincide with my busy time at full-time work.

        So there’s my (not so) thinly veiled memoir of the day.

  4. AVP*

    I hear this all the time too and it drives me crazy. I have the type of job that many people do on a freelance basis, so in theory it makes sense, but that doesn’t mean a) I have the mental energy to do yet more work, even if the money would be nice, and b) that anyone is just going to pay me to do more of what I’m already doing at a rate that makes the loss of time worth it. Cultivating clients is hard!

    For awhile, when I first started at entry level and wasn’t making a living wage, I had a side thing that paid well and it saved my life/rent, but trying to do what worked out to be half-time job around my full-time job was so effing exhausting.

    1. Adonday Veeah*

      I, too did side work when I was young and starving. I gave it up as soon as my full time salary could support me adequately. It’s HARD working full time AND part-time, and if you’re going to do this, you should, IMO, consider strongly WHY you’re doing it. The money is nice (and sometimes necessary to live) but it COSTS. Those of you who are doing this as well as raising a family… well, I touch my forehead to the ground in your honor.

      1. AVP*

        Doing it for a few months reaaaaallly made me appreciate people who have to work that way for longer stints, or raise a family whilst doing so.

  5. Enjay*

    Nope, no way, nuh-uh. I already give too much of my life away. I’m content with having just enough money and the time to enjoy my time.

  6. YandO*

    As long as I am financially stable, I prefer to volunteer on the side rather than work.

    I don’t care what other people do though. I know those who has very consuming hobbies: hunting, golfing, extreme sports. Those who have children. Those who have health limitations.

    What you do with your life is not anyone else’s business. Don’t let them mess with your head.

    1. the_scientist*

      This is me, too! I’ve been lucky to get involved in some very diverse and demanding volunteer activities. They bring me a lot of enjoyment and I’ve made great connections and developed valuable skills through them. Could they turn into a side gig? Yes, one totally could and I made money off it in the past, when I was a full-time student. If I was struggling financially or wanted to sock some extra money away for a big purchase (hello, down payment in the insane real-estate market that is Toronto!) I’d consider doing it again. But for now I have financial stability in a full-time job that I enjoy and I want to nurture other areas of my life, and I know that working an additional job, even occasionally, wouldn’t really allow me to do that. Also, I tried doing part-time contract work in addition to full-time work and oh boy does it get exhausting pretty quickly!

  7. Hannah*

    I have a full-time tenured academic job in the US and for a number of years did consulting on the side. The value of that side consulting became one of diminishing returns because of the tax implications, particularly after marrying someone who also had a good salary. Paying estimated taxes (due to our combined income) was such a hassle that I’ve actually given up all the paid consulting starting this year. So my perspective is that a side gig has to be weighed against all the factors that Allison mentioned (her list was great!) as well as your tax/financial situation. A side gig can end up netting a lot less than you might expect.

    1. Veela*

      Totally right! Independent contractors get totally reamed at tax time. Having done it twice, I will never willingly go back to it. The income to benefit ratio is far too low.

      1. Zillah*

        So true. I remember being (illegally) classified as an independent contractor for a PT job I had for about six months, and man, taxes that year were super unpleasant, particularly since they hadn’t paid me much money to start with.

  8. Is This Legal*

    You are not alone in thinking like that, I just came from vacation and realized I give 50 weeks to my employer and I get 2 weeks to myself. That picture is wrong. What makes things worse is I really like my job and coworkers but when I’m off/home on a M-F, I feel freed from bondage…and to think I have to be doing this for the next 40 years it’s depressing.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      You could probably get away with doing this for just the next 20 years if you’re really dedicated to saving money and living frugally. (I’m thinking of the Mr. Money Moustache blog and its advice here.)

      1. Meg Murry*

        Except Mr. Money Moustache also pushes side gigs – in his case, buying rental properties and fixing them up in his spare time. He doesn’t call it “side gigs”, and he appears to really enjoy doing that work (so its more of a hobby that happens to make money) but he did actually do side gigs. He also made a ton of money when he first graduated but continued to live like a broke college student, which is the real advice on his site (if you happen to be able to find a job that pays really well – most people can’t actually do that).

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          > so its more of a hobby that happens to make money

          This. That is what my side job is exactly. I happen to enjoy and be pretty good at a thing some people will pay money for. Others struggle to make a living at it, but I am fortunate to have a day job where I earn my real money so I can shovel all the side income (mid-four-figures is all) into savings. It’s nice work if you can get it, but I was also fine before and I’ll be fine again if the time comes that I have to give it up.

        2. KerryOwl*

          What’s the point of making money if you’re going to continue living like a broke college student?

            1. Melissa*

              But then you’re going to be living like a broke college student when you retire. Who wants to live like a broke college student their whole life?

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            You mean when I didn’t have to worry about room and board, and got to goof around whenever I wasn’t learning new things? Yeah, I’ll take living like a broke college student, please.

          2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

            I completely agree with you. I’m not irresponsible with my money, but I was a very broke student and it sucked then. Why keep living like that now if I don’t have to? If I get hit by a bus tomorrow I’ll be glad I had a latte this morning.

            1. Zillah*

              Agreed. There’s something really demoralizing about cheap beer, ramen, and water once you’ve left college – if I can afford to get decent beer, real food, and juice, I’m doing it. Is it costing me an extra couple hundred dollars every month? Sure. Don’t care. Quality of life and all that.

              1. Lindsay J*

                Yeah, this was one of the main conflicts I had with my ex-fiance.

                He was in the “save every penny you can retire at 50 with a ton of money in the bank” camp, (though, knowing him, he still wouldn’t have retired until 65 because he would get more money in retirement that way and I can’t see him leaving that on the table.)

                I was in the “enjoy life as you’re living it because you never know what the future holds” camp.

                We were never really able to come to a good compromise because of how different the two outlooks on life are.

                For the same reason, I can’t really bring myself to consider the idea of a side job – I want to enjoy my days off. Those are what I am working to fund. If I take a side gig I’ll miss out on a lot of experiences and enjoyment and just be miserable all the time.

                He on the other hand wouldn’t feel like he was missing out on anything by taking on one – he just didn’t look at things that way.

              2. Melissa*

                THIS. All this. Right now I’d rather work 30-40 years and enjoy the fruits of my labor than hustle like a grad student. After 10 years of college + grad school, I’m really, really tired of delayed gratification.

          3. Dynamic Beige*

            A friend of my grandfather’s was like this. When he was young, he had a full time job that he worked 6 days a week at. He bought houses on the side way before it was fashionable, fixed them up, rented them for a while and then sold them. He drove a 20 year old car. When he died, he was living in the upstairs apartment of a house he was renting to someone else with furniture he pulled out of the garbage — broken lawn chairs. He had paid for both his kids’ educations, set his son up in business, paid for a nice wedding for his daughter. He owned 5 houses in a not-cheap area of this city, had over 500K in the bank. He could afford to spend money on himself, he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. When his wife died, the only thing my grandmother had to say about it was that his wife had never had a decent dress to wear. Sometimes, saving money and being frugal can become a sickness/addiction. Sure, he had gone through the Depression, WWII and experienced life as a non-English speaking immigrant which all contributed to his “issue” but it was sad that he lived like that.

    2. MK*

      To begin with, you didn’t “give” 50 weeks to your employer; you sold a certain portion of that time to them for the money that allows you to live.

      Secondly, I have a hard time reconciling the ideas that you like your job, but at the same time feel like a slave because you have to do it. I like my job; I don’t feel that any given week that I work full hours is squandered time. And extra time off is nice, but nowhere near freedom from bondage.

      1. Is This Legal*

        I agree I sold “50 weeks” to them but that just means I’m in financial bondage because I have to pay bills.

        It is true I love my job and like I said I will not realize this until I take a day off on a M-F. I feel liberated despite the fact that I like my job.

    3. Xandrine*

      This. Yes. This. I deeply resent that my best years will be spent at someone else’s beck and call, and not exploring the things that interest me so much more.

            1. Zillah*

              This is often really dangerous advice, though – it leads people to get degrees in things they like that ultimately won’t help them get a decent job.

            2. asteramella*

              Getting a degree in something you love to do frequently does not lead to a job doing something you love to do. I’m surprised to see a comment that doesn’t make this connection, but then again I am a millenial and extremely used to the fact that doing what I (personally) love will never earn me a living wage.

        1. Xandrine*

          I do not at all choose to it. What makes you think you think I am not an indentured servant? Everyone who depends on someone else fort their basic livelihood is indentured. I *must* do it to survive, but that is not at all the the same thing. I can choose a different servitude, but I cannot choose not to serve. That will leave me angry as long as I live. As for liking what I get in return, it is not a matter of liking, it is a matter of necessity. One is under no obligation to like a necessity.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            So what’s the alternative? Do nothing and somehow be supported … how?

            Being angry over this is baffling to me.

            And you do choose to do it. You could choose not to, and live the life that comes with that. Presumably though, you prefer to choose this.

            1. Treena Kravm*

              And just to clarify, there is survival without a job. A couch, tv, bed, etc. are not requirements for survival. Some sort of shelter/access to a shelter during bad weather, food, water, clothing. That’s it.

              People hitchhike around, are transient and pick up casual work when they need money, eating a combination of non-perishable groceries, fast food, and shelter meals. It’s intentional for a lot of people. They wan to be “free from the man” and “off the grid” and not “sucked into society’s expectations” and they make that choice. There’s also the tiny house movement and people who live out of an RV/car. It’s very possible. People frequently do this for years, sometimes while raising kids!

              To be clear, I’m not idealizing this lifestyle, and lots of people living this way would rather a job in a heartbeat, but they can’t get one. I would never want to live like this, but I also really like working for a living/all the nice things I have.

          2. LBK*

            Wow, that’s one of the most futile things I’ve ever heard someone be angry about. That’s going to be one sad life you live if you spend it angry that food and shelter don’t appear from the sky.

            1. Xandrine*

              Again, the issue comes down to *choice*. A forced choice – between a death from starvation and exposure, or forced labour to prevent same- is no real choice. I accept that forced labour is the only alternative, but can’t we all just drop the pretense that it’s anything else? It would be so much more honest. If a spouse treated us the way that so many people who write to Alison have been treated, would we tolerate it?

              1. MK*

                Are you really arguing that life owes you a living (or at least a living doing things you like)? How exactly do you picture a world when you out are not indentured?

                1. Kerry*

                  I’m not sure I parse ‘life owes you a living’.

                  I agree it is quite frustrating when to think about all the technological advances we have to make a lot of necessary work easier and more efficient, and how that increased efficiency hasn’t translated into more leisure time or time to do things we care about. I mostly just don’t think about it, but I do agree that the way we’re currently set up with people having to work full-time jobs to live to a reasonable standard of comfort isn’t ideal, and that it’s not totally bizarre to feel resentful about it.

                2. Melissa*

                  To Kerry: But we DO, in fact, have more leisure time to do the things we care about. It’s estimated that in the colonial U.S., people worked 8-10 hour days doing hard agricultural labor and that’s not including the time they spent on household chores and childcare. During the 19th century work hours increased 10-20% – so people were working an extra 1-2 hours a day on agricultural tasks (again, not including household chores). And in the late 19th and early 20th century the average workweek was 60-70 hours, not including household work. I keep emphasizing that last part because household chores took many more hours for us to do in the 17th-18th centuries than now because we didn’t have labor-saving devices – firework had to be collected, soap had to be made, clothes had to be scrubbed one by one by hand, clothes had to be sewn and mended by hand…

                  It’s only since after World War II that the average workweek went to about 40 hours, and it’s steadily decreased since then.


              2. Kyle*

                I mean, yes, those of us who are not independently wealthy do need to make a choice between *some* work and death from starvation and exposure. But most people don’t need to spend 50 weeks a year working just to keep themselves fed and housed. I mean, unless you’re currently living in an SRO and living off of rice and beans from the food pantry, you could presumably work less, or work at a job that pays less that you enjoy more. But you choose not to take the hit to your (or maybe to your family’s) quality of life.

                That’s a fine choice to make, but there are many, many options between “work 50 weeks a year at a job you hate” and “starve to death in the streets.”

              3. Melissa*

                I’m kind of baffled about what you propose as an alternative.

                The things that we have require labor to produce. Even if we retired to a communist semi-agrarian form of civilization in which we bartered to trade goods and services, we would still have to work in order to eat – you’d have to produce something of value (maybe milking cows) to trade for something else of value (perhaps services from the town physician). Instead of doing that we invented money and decided to work for that instead, but the principle is the same – we all have to put in some kind of labor in order to have something of value, because if nobody labors, nothing gets done and we have no food, clothing, housing, bridges, health care, etc.

                It’s not forced labor, though. Forced labor is when someone is literally forcing you to labor through coercion or threat of bodily harm. I’m making the fairly reasonable assumption that your employer isn’t threatening harm to you or your family to make you work for them.

                Do you think people should have the free choice not to work and that the rest of us should subsidize that kind of lifestyle?

                1. Kerry*

                  Isn’t starvation bodily harm? I broadly agree with you, but it’s also true that in the current system, people have to exchange labor for money so we can buy food and not die. Not that I think this is necessarily a bad thing, but that it is arguably labor performed because otherwise we would suffer bodily harm.

          3. Melissa*

            Working for pay is not indentured servitude. If you have a regular job that you work at and get paid in cash money (checks and direct deposit included), then you’re not an indentured servant. You don’t depend on your employer for your basic livelihood; you are free to quit your job and work another. You are also free to bank your earnings and quit and live upon savings for a few months.

            Indentured servitude is when your earnings are paid up front in the form of something of value, but not cash, and you are working for a period of time to work off that debt. The historical example would be passage on a ship to the Americas in exchange for 7 years of work. In that case, you couldn’t leave your employer because you were working off debt – you owed him money, and he was allowing you to pay him in labor. If your employer has purchased you a home or some other non-liquid asset and you have to work that off (or if they told you to come to X country for work only to “hold” your passport and force you to work off the “debt” you acquired by them bringing you there), that’s indentured servitude.

        2. Int*

          Technically, yeah, but choosing to work in exchange for being able to live is a Leonine Contract, isn’t it?

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          And then you die.

          Or, to quote Denis Leary:

          “Most people think life sucks, and then you die. Not me. I beg to differ. I think life sucks, then you get cancer, then your dog dies, your wife leaves you, the cancer goes into remission, you get a new dog, you get remarried, you owe ten million dollars in medical bills but you work hard for thirty-five years and you pay it back and then — one day — you have a massive stroke, your whole right side is paralyzed, you have to limp along the streets and speak out of the left side of your mouth and drool but you go into rehabilitation and regain the power to walk and the power to talk and then — one day — you step off a curb at Sixty-seventh Street, and BANG you get hit by a city bus and then you die. Maybe.”

      1. MK*

        It isn’t a good idea to romanticise about life (though it may be unavoidable). There are plenty of people who don’t have to work for a living and most of them don’t spend their lives exploring their passions; they either work as hard as if they depended on their paycheck for food or waste their lives living aimlessly. And those things that interest you so much more? If you had all the time in the world to indulge them, you might find them less interesting than now, when they are something to save time for. They might even start feeling like work!

  9. Lanya*

    I would love to know how people actually make it work and become successful on the side. I’d love to have my own freelancing business, but in my small city, I would run in the same circles as my company, and I would fear upsetting my employer. The extra income would be great, though.

    1. LizNYC*

      If what you’re looking to do would work well with remote clients, you could think of finding a company that hires freelancers throughout the country. I have a FT job and do proofreading on the side for publishers. Every business who has hired me either has conducted the business 100% online or through the mail (with them covering the costs both ways). I would imagine this working whether I lived in NYC or in Alabama.

      Another way is you could freelance doing something completely different. By day, you’re a writer. By night, you’re a macrame artist who takes custom orders on Etsy.

      1. oldfashionedlovesong*

        LizNYC, this sounds really interesting to me. If you’re comfortable, do you mind telling me a little more about how you got into doing proofreading for publishers on the side? How much time do you spend on it in an average week? Is your FT job in a similar line of work?

        I work in the public sector now, but I have experience with scientific journal manuscript preparation, including proofreading; it’s a particular skill of mine that I enjoy and don’t get to flex enough in my current FT job. I’d love to hear more about how you came to do this and how it fits into your life!

      2. Partly Cloudy*

        I second oldfashionedlovesong’s questions. I’d love to get PAID for being the spelling/grammar/typo police! ;)

  10. Kai*

    I have a side gig that I can only make work because 1) my day job is hourly, so I don’t have to worry about it after I clock out every day; and 2) the side gig is something that I hope to do full-time eventually, so it’s important to build my portfolio now. It’s definitely not something I’d want to do long-term, nor is it a setup that would work for everyone.

  11. stebuu*

    I think the answer also will vary a lot depending on what industry you are in. I do consulting for a Big Four, and I would be fired instantly if I was discovered to be doing any time of side work.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      And as a computer professional, it’s often expected that we will do programming on the side, often making software we can sell or just working on a project that we can share for free. So the side gigs are often not even paid. I know I’m considered less desirable, have less fire, because I use my non-working hours on normal life, not on more programming.

      1. FormerEditor*

        I’m glad you said this. As someone moving into tech, this idea of having a passion project, contributing to open source projects, or attending lots of professional meetups in your spare time seems like it just comes with the territory. I love a lot of what I’m learning, but this kind of thing is very meh to me.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I love to learn too. But I also love to sleep, to cook, to read, to walk, to spend time with people, and tons of other things. I don’t need a side gig for money, and geek side gigs usually don’t pay anyway.

          There are many jobs that allow a work/life balance. But I suspect most of the hot tech companies require a dedication to your career (including those open source projects) that don’t allow time for much else.

          1. No side gig*

            My thinly veiled memoir: … Or, you can work for a really huge tech company that has its fingers in everything and where you are contractually not allowed to do competing work in any area where the company has an interest. That turns out to have solved my “you should work on open source on the side” dilemma quite tidily.

        2. Treena Kravm*

          Believe me, you can find companies that don’t really care about this. My husband’s tech company requests that their employees go to one meetup per month, and they give them work-time to work on their passion projects. He’s the only person on a staff of 10 that does any of that, and there are no repercussions for not going. Except my husband thinking they’re lazy and don’t care (he’s not a decision-maker).

    2. Is This Legal*

      I also heard in BIG 4 you can only prepare 5 tax returns for family and friends? What’s the rational?

      1. Natalie*

        I imagine they felt like they had to set a limit somewhere and zero was considered unreasonably low.

    3. Childish Accountant?*

      I’m an accounrant and yes I feel this too…that while I work for an accounting company I should do taxes on the side……a lot of my coworkers have side gigs but me….mmmm nope nope nope never. I love what I do but after working 55-60 hours a week, I have very little time left or desire to do this on my off time. Somehow the prospect of extra $$ and doing the whole advertising and hustling etc thing isn’t enticing to me at all. I guess this makes me a “lazy” person in my field but whatever. I’ve learned to ignore the ppl who give this crap advice.

  12. AdAgencyChick*

    I had no idea that trying to persuade other people to take on side gigs was a thing!

    At my office you can do it, but it had better not a) overlap in the slightest with what we do or b) interfere with your work in any noticeable way. No one in advertising cares if your graphic designer is doing a few wedding invitations here and there, but you’d better not say the words “I can’t stay late tonight because I’m meeting with a bride.”

    I do some side work writing trivia questions, but I consider it more of a paid hobby than a side gig to diversify my income streams — after taxes, the bread I make writing trivia is pretty much crumbs.

  13. Anonsie*

    Is that why everyone has side jobs now? I didn’t know this was a Thing, but I did notice a ton of my friends recently have picked up part time jobs for the hours they’re not at their full time jobs.

    1. Trixie*

      I was working out at my gym regularly which lead to instructing one class, then another, and I’m looking at another now. In that instance, I was already working out and now I just get paid for the time I’m there. While the pay isn’t much, its a free family membership which adds to monthly budget. The other reason I can see PT job is to meet new people and try something different from 9-5 job just to mix things up. I knew one girl who worked as grocery cashier every Saturday to save up for fabulous annual vacations.

      1. Trixie*

        And did the same seasonal job two years in a row to pay off some debt, which was AWESOME.

      2. Jen S. 2.0*

        This is my side gig as well — I teach group exercise. I get paid to go to the gym instead of paying to go to the gym, plus it feeds my dancy/musick-y side as well. However, after 15 years of it I’ve been getting burnt out, so I’ve cut to subbing only. I’m still getting a free gym membership, but I’m not really in the black on fitness any more. That is the major luxury of a side gig — the ability to give it up when it gets to be too much.

    2. Traveler*

      I think a lot of it actually had to do with the recession – a lot of money and side gig gurus were born then, and have made their careers off of showing other people how to do what they do. Some are quacks, some are legitimate every day people.

      1. Anonsie*

        This seemed to explode among people I know the last, I don’t know, nine months though. During the recession ain’t none of us have one gig, let alone two.

    3. Jennifer*

      I’m considering taking up a side job (which would have nothing to do with the day job) because my full time job is starting to not make me enough money what with inflation at all, and I can’t get another full time job either. In fact, I seem to be OVERPAID for what I do by comparison to other industries and it’s still not quite enough. *sigh*

  14. AndersonDarling*

    I have my full time plus a part time. I was unaware that I was “diversifying my income streams.” All this time I thought I was poor and needed more money to get by. Suddenly, I’m cool.

  15. librariana*

    I have friends who sell Mary Kay, Juice Plus, It Works! wraps, Thirty-One bags, or Doterra oils on the side, and they love the flexibility and extra income. Especially if they are at home with small children, it is a way to contribute to the household income while still being with their children. I’m glad it works for them, but I like working a full time job with benefits and having my evenings free.

    You might want to invest your money so that it will earn more for you, but if you are making more than enough, why bother with a side gig?

    1. Meg Murry*

      Yes, I wonder if part of the “you should get a side gig!” hype is thinly veiled “so come be under me in my MLM business”. Or people that run rental properties that try to convince others its a great way to invest, and oh, I just happen to have the perfect property that I’m selling off.

      If you have time for a side job, great. If you can get extra benefits from it, even better. For instance, I know people that have taken an evening or weekend job at somewhere like Macys or Ann Taylor in order to use the employee discount to help build up their professional work wardrobe, or people that work a shift at a gym to get a free or discounted membership. Or people that take on bar tending or waitressing jobs to help pay down their student loans faster (or at all) if they are under-employed in their regular job. But that doesn’t mean everyone should do it.

      In our life, I work a steady full-time with benefits job, and my husband runs his own business (less than full time), manages our rental properties and has 1-2 other part time jobs. For him, it works to have multiple gigs going. For me, that wouldn’t work so well – it all just depends on your personality, working style and how much you value earning money (or building capital) vs free time.

      1. Melissa*

        Sometimes, it really is. In college there were two girls on my floor who sold Mary Kay and tried to get me to work under them in their MLM business (well, one of them worked under the other). I went with them to one of their hype sessions and almost went into credit card debt ordering wholesale stock of the MK before realizing that I had no sales drive AND there wasn’t a huge market for mid-priced cosmetics on my small college campus.

        I’m sure some people can make the MLM thing work but…it’s just not for me.

        Taking a weekend job at an Ann Taylor to build the work wardrobe sounds like an excellent idea, though!

    2. bridget*

      If your side gig is an MLM, that comes with its own risks. I live in the MLM capital of the world, and most people I know who tried selling with them actually lost money, because you have to buy your inventory most of the time. And in a market that is saturated with doTerra representatives, you just can’t sell it off unless you are very aggressive. The only people I know who really make enough money to make MLM sales worth it either 1) got in really early and set up a lot of people in their downline; 2) work a TON, in a way that is flexible, granted, but not really less than you would at a traditional job, and in the process make all of their friends and family hate them for constantly trying to sell them overpriced junk; or 3) both.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        God, save us from the MLM schemes. I think they’re a particularly cruel way of sucking money out of women (almost exclusively) looking for some extra money and an alternative to traditional employment. I can’t tell you how many women I know who sell Arbonne or Scentsy or Epicure or Beach body or whatever it is that week, and so many of them are struggling just to make ends meet before they even spend the money on their orders. MLMs exploit friendship and family relationships and people’s innate desires to not want to disappoint their friends, but dear God. The Federal Trade Commission has said that MLM schemes are actually a worse bet than regular gambling–they’re a plague on women in particular. I’ll get off my soapbox, but preserve us all from these schemes.

        1. NickelandDime*

          This, so much. I don’t know anyone that has gotten involved in them that has actually made any money.

          1. Meg Murry*

            Everyone I know that says they make money off it seems to funnel that money right back into buying more of their MLM product, or buying candles/cookware/make-up etc MLM products from their other MLM selling friends.

            TBH, I have a friend that officially “sells” Mary Kay, but she basically only sells it to herself and friends and family at her cost, she doesn’t do much actual selling of it, and I strongly considered doing the same with Pampered Chef just to get the products my sister and I wanted at 1/2 price and then quitting.

            1. Melissa*

              You have to have a lot of friends who want to buy it because there are minimums that you can order, IIRC.

          2. Treena Kravm*

            My cousin’s husband is a high level director at one of these places and makes a ton of money. She’s also the most obnoxious person on the planet. She’s always pushing her products and most of her “friends” are really her lower-level people that she convinced to sign up under her. It would be sad, but she’s way to annoying for my sympathy. But the money? Yes, she gets all the money. And free plush vacations for her family as rewards for hitting certain goals.

      2. Stephanie*

        I live in the MLM capital of the world

        Are you my neighbor? Because the Gold Canyon/Mary Kay/Beach Body/Jamberry/you name it rear windshield stickers are legion in my neck of the woods. I think those places do target housewives looking for extra cash (and people seem lose money more often than not). It’s sad.

        1. Snork Maiden*

          I was going to ask where the MLM capital of the world is, in case I accidentally move there. Given my luck, it’s not unlikely!

      3. Green*

        Utah? A Mormon friend told me that everyone they know jokes that MLM stands for “Mormons Losing Money.”

        1. bridget*

          yep :)

          I need to figure some system whereby I get $1 for every time a Facebook friend invites me to some sort of MLM sales pitch, either in person or online (which now seems to be the current craze). Talk about a get rich quick scheme.

          I think it’s due to the fact that the geographic area has a high proportion of women who stay at home, and it’s culturally/religiously important to them to not have a traditional job while their kids are young, but it’s also practically important to add to the family’s income stream. Those are the people that MLMs market to. We also have a higher-than-average rate of fraud and other scams, because people assume that the guy they know from church who says he has a sure-fire way to double their retirement account is definitely trustworthy, cuz of church. MLM purveyors and scam artists (to the extent they are different people at all) definitely capitalize on that “we’re a community, we’re all trustworthy” vibe.

          1. Stephanie*

            I snorted at Green’s backcronym. I also live in an area with a high concentration of Mormons (but in a state to the south). But I’m guessing the common factor is SAH moms or wives who need extra income (as jamlady pointed out, the same thing happens in her military town).

            1. jamlady*

              Yup. Military towns are notorious for their lack of jobs and the culture is such that most spouses end up entering into parenthood very young and before obtaining any job experience. They’re stuck in a bad situation (which military culture, harshly judging anyone who lives outside of these norms, does not help) and these schemes absolutely prey on it.

      4. jamlady*

        You must live near me, because I live in a military town where 45 percent of the population are stay-at-home moms trying to supplement income with these schemes (losing in the process). Every single spouse I know is hidden on my social media – I couldn’t take it anymore.

        I should also note that the same 45 percent are trying to be professional photographers. And very, very, very few of them are halfway decent. It’s very sad.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Yes yes yes yes yes. I am a military spouse and my facebook feed is just jammed with this stuff–it’s terrible and invasive and the only people who make money are the ones at the top. Everyone else is just chasing the same friends and family around trying to get them to buy Jamberry or Thirty-One or Stella and Dot or those damned wraps or whatever it is. (And what IS it with buying a dSLR camera and declaring yourself a professional photographer? Never have I seen so many truly tragic pictures as I have since I looked at people hanging out their shingle as photographers when they’ve clearly never taken a photography class or done anything besides look at a tutorial and grab some picture ideas off Pinterest.)

          1. jamlady*

            Ahhhhh SERIOUSLY stop it with the expensive start-ups that get you no where in the long run. Whenever I meet another spouse and they actually jump at the chance to ask what I do for a living (I was, for the longest time, the only spouse in my husband’s unit of lower E levels who was educated, employed, and childless and it was a circumstance that was a pretty sore subject for most spouses I met), I know they are about to try and sell me something. I politely nod along (they have kids to feed – I get the desperation), but then decline any services and they get super intense and pushy. It’s exhausting. The worst part of it is that every. single. one. will go on Facebook and trash other spouses who are doing the exact. same. thing. by complaining that they’re not “real photographers” or “ethical saleswomen”. It boggles my mind. Four years in and I still can’t wrap my head around the culture of military spouses haha.

          2. jamlady*

            Another thing we have in common: I too am a former Diet Coke addict. Age 12-24 – then they started giving me INSANE 3 day migraines. I miss you fake awesomeness!

            1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

              I’m in Canada but otherwise very similar. I desperately wish I could give lectures or classes to military spouses (and others, I suppose) on how MLMs aren’t a get-rich-quick scheme for anybody but the inventors. It’s such a strange and all-consuming culture that it’s really difficult for people outside to wrap their heads around it, and I wish there was something I could do there to help people realize it.

              1. jamlady*

                That would be beneficial. But then again, we have to assume spouses would actually take said classes (which, around here, is unlikely). :/

          3. DMented Kitty*

            Late post here… but I just had to say something about the “professional photographers”.

            I took an introductory photography class once – I got a mirrorless camera because I like taking nice photos occasionally but not as “serious” as DSLRs, so I sure as hell should at least know how to use the camera settings besides “Auto”. Our instructor gave us some very valuable advice: “A camera is only as good as the person using it.”

            You may tout the top-of-the-line $$$$ camera, but if you don’t know half jack about lighting and composition, don’t call yourself a professional. A real pro can grab the cheesiest photo from a cheap-ass camera phone and still make it look good.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I have a friend who sells makeup from another MLM, in addition to her F/T job. She has a small kid and husband, too. Her regular job has crappy pay, so she gets really excited about making an extra $100 on the weekend. I’m not sneezing at her extra $100, but I always think she works way too hard to make that ($10/hr), and would be much better off putting that 10 hrs per week into finding a better F/T job (one in her field instead of one that is not). Sometimes I think side gigs are a distraction from getting ahead in your actual job.

    4. Ihmmy*

      oh ye gods, I LOATHE MLM’s so very very much. If I were to get a side gig (considering it as I will have some debt coming up, plus house reno’s that will need to Get Done) I know that wouldn’t be something I would be good or strong at. Designing brochures and doing data entry, sure, those are things I’m grand at. Person to person and sales gimmicks… not so much.

    5. BananaPants*

      A cousin of mine is a high-level Beachbody coach and when recruiting new coaches for her downline, her attitude is, “You too can be like me – earn enough money to quit the corporate rat race, still have an awesome lifestyle, and get to be a REAL mother to your children!” As a working mother and my family’s primary breadwinner, it makes me more than a little crazy to see that attitude, because virtually all of her downline are not in a position to quit their jobs and never will be.

      The successful MLM shills are not really selling merchandise, they’re selling other people on a lifestyle that 99% of them will never obtain. Those who do make a living at the MLM business spend their time working and growing their downlines, not actually selling a thing.

      1. Stephanie*

        A HS classmate and his wife are involved in one that sells skincare products and they had all these pictures posted of their sales convention and the subtext was totally “Look at this glamourous lifestyle we have selling Pyramid Scheme Pimple Popping Cream!”

        They definitely push the idea that jobs are for suckers. Another time, I met a guy at a Meetup who wanted to meet for lunch under the guise of networking (he knew I was job hunting). We met and it was an MLM pitch. I declined politely and he’s like “You’re going to wait around for someone to give you a job? I’m giving you the opportunity to be an entrepreneur!” He gave up only after I said I couldn’t afford the $500 startup fee.

        1. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

          I see so many of these MLM shillers refer to themselves as ‘entrepeneurs’, ‘small business owners’, or even ‘CEO’… Sorry, but no. You are a salesperson, and not a very good one, since your sales tactic is harrassing family via Facebook until they feel guilty enough to buy something.

          1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

            One of my friend’s is a Mary Kay pusher, and it just really ruffled my feathers around Christmas when she started talking about how people should buy from her on “small business Saturday.” It felt so disrespectful to the people in general (and some of our mutual friends) who are trying to make a go at actual small business gigs.

    6. asteramella*

      Most people who participate in multi-level marketing are honestly not taking in very much money. That whole paradigm puts a lot of emphasis on the appearance of success but is designed so that the majority of individual producers (and higher-level people) put in more money than they get out.

  16. soitgoes*

    I do some freelancing, and I limit myself to $50 a week. That’s just enough to make a noticeable difference in my weekly “fun” money without stressing out and letting the math get ahead of me, ie “If I make $200 extra a week, I can pay off my student loan debt in x years!” Plus, as others have mentioned, the taxes are a pain in the butt. I’m not sure I would bother freelancing at all if I didn’t work through a company that sends me a 1099 every year.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      They sure are. I had a side gig for a while writing content for a website (it was one that actually paid decently), and it brought in about $200 extra a month, but doing the taxes absolutely killed me. Plus, it really took a lot of extra time. Then they stopped accepting content for a while to concentrate on curating.

      When they asked me back to curate, I looked at the rates and they had dropped to the point where it wasn’t worth the time. I did really enjoy doing the work and I might have enjoyed curating, but by that point I was burnt out on doing two jobs. I kind of wished later I had accepted–right after that, I got laid off at Exjob!

  17. get me out of science, please*

    I do volunteer work and ‘side hustle’ whenever I can because I’ve discovered I don’t want to work in biological science for the rest of my life. I’m exhausted and anxious but this is the only way I can gain any sort of outside the lab experience.

    Wish my side hustling weren’t necessary. I’d give it up in a second for main-job work that felt fulfilling.

    Sounds like you have a day job that you actually LIKE. Concentrate on that and be happy!

    1. Stemmie*

      Hey, not to go too off-topic, but I left research for education, and am now considering going back to the bench – but I’m worried about possibly repeating an old mistake. Do you mind sharing why you’re considering leaving?

  18. CrazyCatLady*

    My general rule for side gigs is if it stresses me out, I don’t do it. If it won’t stress me out, I’ll usually do it. My sanity is more important than extra money.

    I think this is good advice for people who aren’t making enough money, or who could be majorly set back in an emergency. If you’re unable to start and build an emergency savings, or worry about layoffs or income, then sure, have a side gig. But if you’re making and saving more than enough money, I don’t think it’s even remotely necessary, especially if you just don’t want one!

    1. Anony-moose*

      Love this. Even though I stopped freelancing for the most part (see below) I keep one client whom I just adore. He’s so easy to work with that every time he needs help I find a few hours to write for him. It’s a relationship I appreciate, and it is 0% stress.

  19. Anony-moose*

    I have had a side gig for years and now actually am scaling back my freelance work. I think that it added great value to me, but I’m glad I don’t have to balance the commitments any more.

    Freelance writing has been a great tool for me. It helped me boost my income when I was seriously underpaid. It helped me hone skills and get promoted. It helped me meet some great people. And I loved it.

    But it was exhausting and made me cranky when I had difficult clients. I don’t miss having to go home and work another job. I don’t miss writing all day Saturday when I just want to hang out on the couch with my dog.

    I think if you WANT a side gig, go for it. Bonus points if it leads to some professional development or skill building, or if it supplements your income in a meaningful way. My freelance income paid off my car and helped dig me out of serious debt. But i’m not sure you HAVE to have a second job.

    I’ll probably go back to freelancing down the r

    1. Figure8*

      +1 to everything you said. I couldn’t agree more.

      Note about side gigs and getting out of debt: If you’re in serious debt, most of the time it’s a good idea to pick up a part-time job. Like you, my freelance income helped me get out of debt a lot faster. You can live a lot differently without the anchor of student loans/consumer debt hanging around your neck.

        1. Anony-moose*

          It was huge for me. I was able to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck, paid off a credit card and a car, and stopped spending So Freaking Much of my emotional energy on my financial situation. That made all the crazy deadlines and difficult clients worth it. I think in another year I’ll be picking up some more clients as we save up for a down payment. Sigh.

  20. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    While admittedly I’ve been hoping to pick up a side gig because my financials are not where I want them to be, I don’t feel any intense pressure or so to do that. I have a full-time job in the field I want to stay in, and I have some nice hobbies that I haven’t found any way to monetize and that’s ok.

  21. ExceptionToTheRule*

    Unless you need the money, don’t do it. “Side gig” is a euphemism for a part-time job. Which can be every bit as stressful and demanding as the one you have that pays you enough to save for retirement. Enjoy the work-life balance that you have. Side gigs will suck the soul right out of your personal life.

    I’ve got a full-time 40+ hour a week job and a part-time side gig that’s ~20 hours a week and that other part-time side gig that’s 8-16 hours a week and that other, other part-time side gig that’s only quarterly. Why? Because Gen-X has student loan & credit card debt too.

    Also, Gen-X is tired. It’s going to take a nap between the “side gig” and work before it gets all cranky and insist Millenials get off its lawn.

    1. HR Generalist*

      Millennial here with ~$20,000 in student loans at 5.5% (government), ~$2,000 in credit card debt at 19.99%, and ~$1,000 in interest-free debt.
      My day job doesn’t pay enough so right out of the gate (i.e. university) I worked FT + a PT gig. I quit when my relationship got rocky because the PT gig sucked the life out of me. I’m about 6 months into working just FT and I’m interviewing for a new PT gig, albeit with less hours, because I’m having trouble staying above water. I also don’t have time to be on your lawn because I’m trying to hustle here…. :)

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Twenty years ago, I graduated college with $37,000 in loans at 8% and $8,000 in credit card debt and felt very luck to find a full-time job that paid $8.50/hour, I really do understand what “kids these days” are going through. It’s why I have three part-time jobs to go with my full-time one. =)

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        That’s a double “get off my lawn”! I can’t afford to pay somebody to mow it! =)

    2. jamlady*

      I sometimes teach weekend college courses or tutor on the side when I don’t need the money. It makes me happy so whatever.

  22. the gold digger*

    I feel this pressure to develop a small business or consult or write or baby-sit

    Ever since I found out the going rate for babysitters is $10-$20 an hour (ie, over 1.3 x minimum wage) instead of the $1 an hour (less than 1/3 of minimum wage) I have been tempted to get back into the business. You get to the job, set the clocks ahead, put the kids to bed, find the Cap’n Crunch, and settle down for a nice quiet evening of eating junk food and watching TV.

    1. Anonsie*

      Oh goodness no, they aren’t offering $10/hour to babysit in my experience. They’re offering that for a nanny: pick the kids up from school in your own vehicle, take them to dance class, bring them home, fix them a snack, help with homework, do light chores while the kids play, get dinner started… That’s the usual task list I see strapped onto that $10.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        As a parent, depending on where you are, yes, $10-15+/hour for ONLY babysitting – think date night – is NOT unusual. This was in suburban DC and Atlanta.

        1. Anonsie*

          No, not for only babysitting. IME people say babysitter but they mean full on nanny, because people’s expectations are screwed up.

      2. manomanon*

        And that’s often $10 an hour for a kid to babysit… I live in DC with Gold Diggers definition of babysitting and make $25 an hour. Helllo hair appointments :)

      3. the_scientist*

        Umm, in my neck of the woods I think most qualified nannys would LAUGH IN YOUR FACE if you offered them $10/hr. That would be on the “appallingly low” end of the scale (actually I think it might be below provincial minimum wage, now, so there’s that). Hell, most teenagers do make about ten bucks an hour babysitting.

        1. Anonsie*

          Yeah that was my point– people always put out ads for “babysitters” for $9-11/hour and then in their description of what they expect, they want a nanny on duty for a good 30 hours a week using their own vehicle paying for their own gas taking care of the house. It’s insane!

      4. CrazyCatLady*

        I babysit occasionally for $10-$15/hour and it almost always just consists of feeding the kids stuff from the freezer and putting them to sleep. Then I get to watch TV or read. Anytime I’ve had to do much more than that, I usually stop because it’s too stressful for me on top of a full-time job.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I think a lot of these typical student side jobs’ pay depend on who you’re working for. We knew someone who had a F/T side business and a F/T air traffic controller job. He hired skill-less students to do skill-less work and paid them $15+ per hour because he was completely delusional about pay scales. He made ~$300k/yr himself, so yeah.

      OTOH, my neighbor wanted to pay my son $6 to mow her lawn (significant acreage) and scoop poop from her barn. He wasn’t into it, but she wanted to pay below minimum wage because he wouldn’t have social security, etc. taken out.

      1. Traveler*

        Wait, how old is your son? We’re forcing kids to pay taxes for doing odd jobs for neighbors now? Ugh.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          He’s older. . .17. He works at Chik Fil A and has the FICO taxes taken out, but he doesn’t owe an income tax. He wouldn’t pay taxes on what she pays him regardless, but she argues that the $6 is a perfectly fine deal for him, and better than fast food, because he pays taxes on his fast food income.

          1. the gold digger*

            Only if it takes about 15 minutes to cut her grass is six dollars a fair price. I would totally pay someone six dollars to cut my grass or do all my shoveling.

            I pay my high-school neighbor $5 a day to feed our cats. It takes ten minutes twice a day and he scoops every other day. So let’s say on an hourly basis, with scooping, it comes out to about ten dollars an hour, which is not unreasonable.

            I always tip him a few bucks a day as well because $5 a day still seems low. I used to get him some kind of present – my husband wanted to get him this whistle from the Alcatraz gift shop, but I said if we gave him something like that, his mother would never let him work for us again.

            He is in amazing kid who one time turned the A/C on every day for a little while because he was worried the cats were uncomfortable. At first, Primo was annoyed. Then I pointed out that that’s the kind of person we want – someone who is so concerned about our pets that he does things like that. Then he understood.

            I am praying he lives at home during college. Nice, nice kid.

            1. Traveler*

              “turned the A/C on every day for a little while because he was worried the cats were uncomfortable”

              That’s so sweet!

          2. Traveler*

            Ah, okay now I get it. I can understand why your son wouldn’t be into that. Though on the other hand, my grandmother pays the neighborhood guys obscene amounts of money (20-40 bucks for 10-20 minutes worth of work). I suppose she can afford to be generous, and it makes them all eager to help her, the garbage guys walk her trashcans all the way up her incline driveway because she tips them for example. Come to think of it – maybe she’s just wiser than I am.

    3. the gold digger*

      $1 an hour (less than 1/3 of minimum wage)

      Were you wondering if there was more to that sentence? There was! How about

      “$1 an hour (less than 1/3 of minimum wage), which is what I used to make, I have been tempted…”

    4. blackcat*

      I babysat through college. I made WAY more than at my campus job, and I had two really sweet gigs. One was two girls, the eldest 12-14–old enough that a babysitter wasn’t necessary, but the older kid had some severe medical problems. Basically, I was paid $12/hr to hang out with some really fun kids on the highly unlikely event I needed to perform CPR and call 911. I got paid for playing board games.

      Other gig was $15/hr, and they often overpaid. The kids were 2 & 5 when I started when them and 5 & 8 when I left. I swear these were the nicest, best behaved children in the world. The parents would stay out till 11 or 12, so I’d get 3-4 hours to get paid for doing my homework. Sometimes, whoever drove me home would complain about their marital problems, which was awkward.

      It was a great way to make money back then when I didn’t have a FT job. I had fun, and I got to interact with people who weren’t fellow students or professors. My time is more valuable now, though.

  23. Panda Bandit*

    LW, if I had what you had, I would not be working on a side gig. You have a job that pays you enough for everything you need, plus you can save for retirement, and it’s probably in a field you want to work in. Enjoy the free time you have. While jobs are important, life should not be about working every minute of every day.

  24. Figure8*

    I’ve been a freelance writing for the last 10 years. I mostly write about a particular sport. I do it because I’m really passionate about the sport, have a journalism background that I like to keep “sharp” and it’s nice to have some extra money coming in. I also do it as a creative outlet for myself because my “real” job is boring (even though I’m paid pretty well). I write as much or as little as I like. If I’ve got a lot going on at my full-time job and don’t really have the energy/time to take on freelance work, I tell my editor. So far, it hasn’t been a problem. And when I was just out of college and making very little money, there were months when my freelancing income allowed me to pay my bills/buy groceries.

    I hope that at some point, I can make writing more of a full-time gig – but I’m a long way off from that.

    As the OP said, I see a LOT of articles these days talking about the value of a side hustle/gig. I have a couple of theories – 1.) With full-time w/benefits jobs becoming more and more scarce, it can be very difficult for a lot of people to make ends meet and 2.) There are people such as myself that have an unfulfilling full-time job and are looking for a creative outlet.

    1. Trixie*

      Along these lines, anyone take on freelance blogging? A friend asked me to submit quote and was pretty much aiming in the dark regarding a rate. Figure I’ll know more when I see their budget. Would be more for fun and a little extra income than anything.

  25. Celeste*

    This kind of thing can sound great at the start, but what often happens is it causes you to turn down other things for lack of time. I’ve done crazy overtime, and I’ve worked a side gig, and after you miss enough weddings or chances to do fun things at the last minute, it gets old.

    Work to live, don’t live to work.

    1. Anony-moose*

      +1. Oh yes. I remember trying to meet a deadline one Sunday. I had only been dating my boyfriend for about two months at the time and I was like “you can stay here but I have to write. All day.”

      I wrote for 11 hours. I took a break for dinner and he bought me a beer, then went to sleep while I finished. I met the deadline and made a bunch of cash, but I still remember it as a horrible day!

  26. Armchair Analyst*

    My son was helping me mix non-alcoholic drinks – he was telling me, like, cranberry juice and Sprite, or how many ice cubes to use.
    I told him “bartending is a great job! You get to make a lot of money and meet interesting people.”
    The 6yearold said, “Like your mom?”

    I AM his mother.

  27. AmyHG*

    I think in this day and age it’s important to own something that is just yours, that cannot be taken away from you. Long-term positions are getting rarer and rarer. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t take the initiative to create my own website. It doesn’t generate a ton of cash, but it’s enough to make it worth my time and it’s proved to be a valuable in my career. I also have no gaps on my resume – I was always working even if I wasn’t employed by someone else!

  28. Armchair Analyst*

    Your time might also be better spent in personal professional development – I’m thinking education, networking, etc. or similar – that will also prepare you in case the bottom falls out of your current organization (that seems to be pretty stable, according to the original letter writer – but to anyone else, too.)

    1. Steve G*

      I concur. Pick one of the 20 or so computer programs in job ads these days and learn it. In my 20s I got a $6K raise doing on job switch, an $8K switching the next year, and then got a $5K raise year one at next job, etc…….all because of increasing my specific skills.

      I could have taught ESL (which I did for 3 years) for about $18-20/hr. (I’m guessing, because I interviewed for a FT ESL job in NYC in 2007 that was paying $16/hr then..(and it would’ve paid a lot more if I was certified supposedly)).

      So I could have taught 2 classes per week and brought in an additional $100/week, or I could have improved my skills and boosted my earning power in career #1, without putting in too many extra hours. The latter made more sense to me…..

  29. Sascha*

    And sometimes, you just want to get off work and binge on Netflix.

    I do some freelance editing work, but it is most definitely not a second revenue stream, nor do I want it to become one. I like doing it on a very limited basis. I only have one client. I’m extremely picky about my clients. It’s basically just a job where I can help out someone with their writing, which is enjoyable to me, and get a little extra cash to spend on a massage or something.

  30. costume teapot*

    I just received an offer today for full time work. (EEE!) It’s my first professional job and I will be working I’m a legal capacity. I have been working temp jobs, doc review, and part time retail and some side gigs (think costumed princess parties and custom seamstress work) in order to pay the bills.

    Today it was suggested I drop the side gigs…just in case a client or my employer were to go shopping there or hire a birthday princess.

    I have mixed feelings…the extra income is a great savings boost. But I would never want to upset, offend, or make my new FT position don’t my comfort, excitement, and loyalty. It’s tough!!

    1. AnotherAlison*

      It seems like it is worth the risk of continuing the princess parties, as the odds of encountering a client seem small. BUT, only if it wasn’t a” suggestold” situation and you are expected to be more dedicated to the F/T position and quit the princess gig. My company has written policies that this job is your #1 work priority, so I can see where they’re coming from.

      1. costume teapot*

        Mm thank you, I should be specific. This was a paternal suggestold, as it’s not something I have shared with my new employer. I haven’t hid it or lied, it just didn’t seem relevant until now. I’m actively doing the retail and princessing at the moment, which are both weekend only because this started as a temp placement that I wanted to prioritize. (Worked well for me!)

    2. Green*

      Lawyer here–No reason to ditch the retail and side gigs IMO if schedule isn’t a problem. In fact, if you can do both well I’d probably hang on to it until I was sure the law gig was going to work out (small firms can be flaky sometimes). You probably need to ditch the doc review because of conflicts though.

      1. costume teapot*

        I haven’t been on a project in a while, so that isn’t an issue at least. And the retail thing wouldn’t be a conflict either. I do side gigs on the weekend.And really I’d like my weekend back, so if I keep only one it’s be princessing. Sillier, easier, pays better, way more fun. :)

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          IANAL, but I’d think the princessing would be fine. If it came to it, you likely could decline a gig if you had to. Just because you might encounter a coworker somewhere isn’t always a reason to avoid that place.

          But mostly I really love “princessing” as a verb.

  31. Lunar*

    I’d love to know what kinds of things people get involved in and how to break into a side gig. I am pretty new t the workforce and not very well paid. I’m not struggling, but a side gig that would give me some wiggle room would be awesome if I could get one. I’d love to write freelance or something like that.

    1. Sascha*

      I started doing editing/proofing/writing tutoring in college and continued from there. I enjoy tutoring people in writing, especially academic writing. I have been working in universities since graduation so that’s where my focus is. I usually meet a lot of students in my jobs at various levels who want writing help. Since it’s not a big income source for me, I keep things small and just listen and talk to people, and if they seem like they are wanting help with writing, I’ll let them know I can do that. So I basically just casually network to gain clients.

  32. LBK*

    I’ve had a few side gigs and I always made sure they were:

    a) things that I was actually interested in doing (and not just for personal enjoyment necessarily – money or experience are perfectly good reasons to be interested in something [my side gigs were all for money])
    b) things that didn’t significantly impact the quality of my main job or my life, and most importantly
    c) things I was prepared to drop and walk away from if A or B were no longer true

    If there’s nothing out there that meets all 3 of these criteria for you, I can’t see the benefit in getting a side gig.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      Yeah, same here.

      I suppose this would change for me though, if I were struggling to make ends meet. I’d probably be far less picky in that situation.

  33. Mike C.*

    It really feels like nothing more than a new version of “don’t have a job?! MAKE YOUR OWN!!”, because of course everyone can be a great business owner and no businesses ever fail ever.

    That, and those terrible and legally questionable “sharing-economy” apps. It just looks like these companies are looking for a few suckers to work for less than minimum wage until a court finds their 1099 status to be incorrect.

  34. Ed*

    I work in IT and am constantly asked about taking a second job. My response is always “I’m trying to figure out how to get rid of my first job”.

  35. Chassity*

    When I moved from MS to VA a few years ago, I was very surprised at all the professional people with side jobs. Particularly since most of them were senior management employees at their main job. In MS, the only people I knew with two jobs were low wage hourly workers who couldn’t make ends meet with only one job (and then there were those of us with lots of roommates!).

  36. AmThere*

    If you don’t want to do it in your full-time job, don’t do it in your side gig. I say that because although I make more money at my side gig doing similar type of work, it has become something I HAVE to do rather than I GET to do. If you HAVE to do it, make sure you have exit criteria as there should be a goal in mind (pay off bills, take that vacation, buy that X, cross off bucket list item, ….whatever). Tell someone and have them keep you accountable. Finally, consider hiring a coach to help transition in and potentially out.

  37. Traveler*

    Side gigs are for three kinds of people:
    1. Those who hate their day jobs, and want an avenue to start working out of it
    2. Those who don’t make/save enough money and need it for help with expenses
    3. Those who really love their hobby/interest, and have the will/ability to monetize it

    I’d say if you don’t meet any of those, don’t sweat it. If I had a day job I adored that paid well, I wouldn’t be interested in side gigs. I’d say the majority fit one of those categories though, which is why you hear so much about it. Doesn’t mean it has to be you, too.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This. I think the advice started when the economy crashed. It made sense to say “have more than one source for an income stream”. This way if one stream dried up, you at least had something else coming in from another source. Advice also said “Wear as many hats at work as you can so you will be less apt to be axed”. In a severe economy this is just wise advice, some people were (and still are) really scrambling. It would be irresponsible to say “aww- it’s fine, don’t worry about. Take that big cruise you always wanted and blow your savings.”

      Like any advice nothing, absolutely nothing, replaces common sense. OP, if you know you are secure in your job, then the advice is not meant for you or anyone in a similar setting.

      For a while, after I got married I worked two jobs to give us a leg up. I ended up exhausted. So I decided that my second job was at home. I clipped coupons and reduced our grocery bill by 40% annually. I recovered our furniture myself and did other things that I would have had to hire out if I worked two jobs. It worked, we had just as much discretionary money as before. I also focused on raising my income from my one job- this meant job hunting became a “job”. That worked also. I found I had doubled my income.

      If you are concerned about your income (which it sounds like you are kind of comfortable) take a look at your expenses. Can you reduce them? A while ago, I did a refi and cut my mortgage by over 50%. The savings was awesome. Can you pad your emergency savings and keep extra in there? This would allow you to keep your car a little longer because you could opt to repair rather than replace.

      I think the advice is cautionary- it would be wrong/irresponsible to tell people “this can’t impact you”. And you’re right, it won’t apply to everyone.

  38. A Kate*

    As a fellow millennial, I want to applaud you on your professional success, OP. A job (presumably) related to your degree that pays enough to live off of AND save more than just a little for retirement? You are living the dream!!!

  39. OriginalEmma*

    All of the personal finance blogs I read recommend a side gig and it definitely engenders the economic version of FOMO, even though I’m both happy and well-compensated for my full-time job. I have zero interest in creating a business, being an entrepeneur or selling something I produce (a suggestion I get often enough because I do woodwork as a hobby).

    However, if I could get a part-time gig at a sporting goods store or bike shop, I might reconsider…

  40. Gene*

    For the years I lived in the SF Bay area, I taught sailing for a sailing school part time. They also had a charter business and after I got my Coast Guard Master’s ticket, I was a charter skipper for them as well as Mate on their square rigger doing sunset, weekend and wedding cruises. I was generally sailing about 15-25 hours a week. It was no problem until I got on jury duty for 4 months and was doing that, my sailing work (a class session started that week, so I was stuck for 3 months), and covering what I could on my regular job as well as covering the lab every third weekend because one of the lab techs turned in his notice the day after I got seated on the jury. I was a bit ragged at the end of that, to put it mildly. I took a class session off to recover.

  41. Ann O'Nemity*

    I just watched part of Funny or Die’s drunken writing day, which has me thinking about flowcharts. My answer to the OP’s question in flowchart style would be:

    Are you 100% fulfilled with your current job in terms of skill development, networking, salary, etc?
    If yes, you do not need a side hustle.
    If no, seriously consider a side gig as a supplement to your overall fulfillment OR as a spring board to a better job.

  42. Artemesia*

    As an old retired person, let me just say that I wish I had paid attention to developing passive income streams. My peers who have income from textbooks or free lance work or books are a lot better off. I do a little speaking and consulting and during my career my income from these side things actually paid for our international travel — which we did for 3 weeks most years and then later for a couple of 3 mos stints. I liked having this fund isolated from my financial planning that could pay for travel. But I sure wish I had a couple of 5K royalty checks rolling in every year now. I worked in areas where that would have been possible if I had been mindful.

    If you are in a profession that lends itself to writing and developing passive income streams that way, go for it. I did lots of writing that had no real economic impact — for professional advancement. Would that I had kept my eye on the income ball as well.

    And given how difficult the economy is, having something to fall back on during bumps in the road is a great idea.

  43. A Cita*

    Alison: quick note on iphone OS8 I keep getting redirected to the app store from a virulent ad. Can’t read your site at all from the phone.


  44. A Cita*

    It’s a redirect to the app store (which I assume is from an ad). Will try clearing cache but I rarely view your website from my phone (last time was probably last summer), and there have been cache clearing since then.

  45. BananaPants*

    I don’t know what side gig I could reasonably have, other than maybe teaching classes at the community college or adjuncting at the local state university. I’m told by coworkers and friends who adjunct that it’s a LOT of work. Teaching a 3 credit class for the semester will give an adjunct $4000-4500, which doesn’t seem awful for a total of maybe 40 hours in-class, but there’s a lot of time spent out of class grading and doing lecture prep. If you assume an extra 3 hours of prep/grading for every hour of lecturing, that’s 160 hours of work total – $25/hour. Still not awful, and certainly far better than a retail job. I would like to get into adjuncting when our kids are older.

    I have a “crafty” hobby and people often suggest that I sell my work, but I do that because it’s fun – not because I want to make money doing it. Also, folks seriously underestimate the time it takes for handcrafting. Take a pair of handknit socks; it takes me 16 hours of work to knit them and the yarn costs me $20-30. Call it an average of $25 for materials and assume that my time is worth $10/hour – is anyone REALLY going to pay me $185 for that pair of socks?

    All of the personal finance experts and blogs recommend having a side hustle or part time job or home based side business, but developing passive income streams takes time and effort. I’m in the thick of parenting young children and working full time at a demanding job AND going to grad school at night. I’m in no position to do something else.

  46. Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy's Ovaltine*

    I did it for about 10 years. It worked well – I did website development in addition to my day job, back when it was possible to do website development as a ’boutique business’. The nature of the side gig was such that it made me a more valuable employee in my day job. And I learned a lot about business and customer service and how to put a pitch together to sell to a customer. And it worked out well for my wife, who wanted to stay home and be flexible for the kids: I’d build the site, she’d maintain the sites and do updates and so forth. We made fairly good money for a tiny home biz.

    But as time went on I got tired of it, and also my full-time job was simply a better way to spend my time. We briefly flirted with the idea of doing the web stuff full-time, but (wisely) decided not to.

    There’s a thing that I think Stephen King wrote about, about “going pro”. It was spun towards writing (of course), but the gist of it is that if your side business is doing really good – like, you’re making as much money on the side biz as you are at your day job – most people will think “it’s time to quit my day job”, and they do, and they’re surprised to find themselves in something of a financial bind. Over a period of years, they’ve slowly moved from living on 1x their salary to 2x their salary – and then when they quit the day job, they’re back to 1x their salary. It’s a kind of trap that, even if you’re aware of it, it’s easy to fall into.

    We managed to do fairly well at the side business, but there was a lot of “right place, right time” kind of luck involved. Especially “time” – for me, age 35-45 was just the right balance of energy / maturity / etc that I could make it work. I think it’s like many things in life: for some people, it’s great. For others, not so great.

    These days, I find myself thinking about what I’m going to do when I retire. I don’t really need the money, but I’d like to find something interesting to do with my time that helps keep me alert and active. I’m already rather less active than I should be, and I’ve noticed that inert people seem to die younger, and I’m kinda trying to avoid that.

  47. KT*

    I write freelance as a side-gig. I started by responding to ads on Craigslist looking for articles, blogs, or cover letter help, then worked for content mills, then set out on my own.

    I love it because I can scale it for my needs. Need an emergency root canal and don’t want to raid my savings? I can put in some extra hours writing this week. Feeling burnt out and want to spend a week binging on House of Cards? No worries, I can do that too.

    I have a deep terror of being suddenly laid off, so having a side-gig is so important to me, as long as I can ebb and flow as needed

  48. Anonyby*

    I can feel for the OP. I’m facing a surprising amount of pressure from friends & family to turn one of my more recent hobbies into a side business. They don’t realize how much money is needed up front for it and how much more of a legal hassle it is compared to selling stuff from my other hobbies. And while I’m thinking of doing it… it’s still YEARS out. There’s just no way to rush it or only sell a little bit at a time.

  49. Julia*

    Side gigs can also be a form of relief and therapy. You also do not have to do it as your own business.

    I do detailed technical left brain work for my full time jobs.

    I use to have a part time job working at JoAnn Fabrics. It did not pay much but it let out my creative side and was alot of fun.

    I now work part time helping people plan Disney Vacations. Way more fun. (And I never even look at the paystub for this job)

    I am never going to get rich at them. They will also not expand my full time skill set. However, they do provide me great joy and stress relief.

  50. Oui*

    I’m really surprised that so many commenters are talking around the side of this issue. People are poor and in debt and need extra cash….a quarter of people in America are on food stamps for god’s sake. That’s why you’re hearing more about side hustles. Even people with good jobs are in a more precarious position than before. There are several reasons why this has become prevalent:

    1) Recession and decline of benefits and full time pay
    People are simply not making as much for 40 hours as they did before (inflation adjusted). Benefits are down all around and many jobs are still precarious and potentially outsourceable/robot-able. Investing in housing is no longer a sure bet and some prefer to bet on additional income streams.

    2) Student loans
    Even if you make ‘enough’, many people would prefer to get rid of their student loans as soon as possible so they can begin saving money for other things, starting a family, buying a house or car, etc. Side gigs help us millenials not spend a decade or more in debt.

    3) Technology
    The same technology that has contributed to creating the 1099 economy has allowed a wider variety of people to participate. Is it a good thing that Uber is killing cabs? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s certainly made it easier for a lot of people who would never become cabbies to make extra income on the weekends. Same with TaskRabbit, Etsy, ODesk, etc.

    1. soitgoes*

      The student loan thing is what kills a lot of us. I feel like a lot of commentary ignores that many of us graduated before the recession hit; a few months wasn’t long enough for us all to secure career-track jobs, and it’s not like we could go back in time and choose less expensive schools.

    2. KH*

      You said it. I used to make decent money for fair work in a stable white collar career job, but was laid off. I now work as a contractor with no paid vacation or sick days, terrible health plan and no job security. I work twice as hard as I used to, but for a fraction of what I used to make – and it could all end at any moment with no severance. Side gigs are an important way to ensure your financial security, if you can spare the time/energy.

      I would caution that you should enjoy the side job. If not, you will eventually burn out.

  51. Not telling*

    Side gigs are:

    1) a fancy term for a part-time job, for those who are insecure about the fact that they have to work two jobs to make ends meet. It’s a growing reality in our world but many people are insecure about it because they feel that they shouldn’t be in the working class.

    2) an excuse for people who hate their full-time jobs but are afraid to leave it.

    3) a competition for people who just have to win the exhaustion race (“I’m sooooooo busy running three companies by myself, raising a dozen kids, sitting on five corporate boards, chairing three volunteer committees, and cooking seven-course gourmet meals every night before scrubbing the floors by hand”……). Don’t bother keeping up with these people. this isn’t a race you want to win.

  52. asteramella*

    When I was young and very, very broke and had been cut off by my family I worked–well not a side gig, more like 2 full time jobs. (One 30-40 hours a week and one 20-30 hours a week.) I also had an on-call gig that I would do on my days off. I would not have a single day off for months at a time. It was terrible and I would not recommend it. It’s what I had to do to feed myself, but I didn’t sleep much and I had zero life outside of working.

    I have just one decent-paying job now. Aside from the actual numbers worked, the division of your mental energy, doubling of commute time, and juggling of two different schedules, uniforms, managers, etc makes it exponentially more exhausting to work 2+ jobs than just one for the same number of butt-in-seat (or equivalent) hours.

    1. Anx*

      Just yesterday I was wondering what the formula would be calculate the equivalent in FT hours for a worker who gets paid for their time by one employer.

      Juggling the expectations of different employers is practically a side-gig itself.

  53. Buu*

    Stop calling yourself a millennial, and then deciding what you’d do based on what a millennial would do! I’ve never ever heard it anywhere but American blog entries. . Make decisions on what you as a person want and need.

    1. soitgoes*

      Well the American economy has place very specific burdens on people in the “millennial” age bracket, and the American higher ed system (in terms of both cost, curriculum, and expectations upon graduation) isn’t really replicated anywhere else in the world. It’s valid to call oneself a millennial and refer to the typical financial problems that people in that age group encounter.

  54. CAinUK*

    I’ve done side-gigs, for different phases, and sometimes it was great and sometimes it wasn’t. BUT:

    I am often disheartened that the reaction to the question is often:

    “I don’t/can’t do something outside my full-time job because I volunteer/I have kids/I’m busy with X instead” – which are all totally valid, but by implication also feeds into the idea the OP is writing about: this expectation that you’re somehow losing if you just want to come home and do nothing. Watch TV. Drink wine. Read fanfiction. Whatever.

    Free time is personal, and I sometimes get irked when ppl assign “value” to how it is structured. So my advice to you OP is: if you didn’t care before, don’t care now just because of some weird new societal pressure to do everything, all the time.

    But I spend a number of years in DC where this was very much A Thing, so I’m quite rant-y about this ;)

  55. Kerry*

    Also – if you haven’t read the excellent “How to Live on 24 Hours a Day”, by Arnold Bennett, I really recommend it. It’s short, extremely well written and really made me think about the choices I make with my time and how I structure my days and life in general.

  56. hello humans*

    I have a side gig because my main gig doesn’t pay me enough to survive. I’m trendy now!

  57. Knits and Giggles*

    I’m a copy editor at a newspaper – I haven’t had a salary increase in over six years (I’d get fired if I ask for a raise), but I stay because there really aren’t any other places I can go (unless I relocate, which is out of the question). So of course, my partner and friends constantly tell me to take on freelance work. Of course, I’d love to have a side gig- not just for the money, but for professional growth – my job doesn’t provide me with any such opportunities – and for professional references, which I lack. But I’m afraid to take on freelance work because I don’t want my managers to think I want to jump ship (even if that’s what I ultimately want to do).

    We do have a conflict-of-interest policy that prohibits us from doing work for other hard-news organizations. However the policy states we can do freelance work for other publications – so theoretically, I can do work for a craft magazine or a legal newsletter, or proofread books. However, I’d have to get clearance from my managers, and given the vibe in the office, I fear that if I approach them with a request, they’ll not only tell me I can’t do it, but they’ll also place me on the chopping block.

    Am I being paranoid? Low workplace morale tends to do that to people, I know.

  58. MommaTRex*

    In my humble opinion, diverse income streams are for investment portfolios, not for employment income!

  59. AUB*

    The writer says that their day job salary is enough to cover needs and retirement funds. I am wondering what the advice would be for millenials how do not have enough left over for savings.

  60. KH*

    A side gig doesn’t need to be related to your normal profession.
    I have turned my hobby into a side income stream – working on cars. I fix cars out of my home garage every once in a while for friends, colleagues and car club members (yes, I am courteous to my neighbors – no half assembled cars in the driveway, all work is done inside the closed garage, no night work, no revving of engines, etc. etc.).

    But I also record repair howto videos and post them online. It takes a while to build views and subscribers, but this has now become a considerable passive income source.

    It’s still a small percentage of my total income, but I lost my job last year and it was really nice having at least a little income until I found my new job. The new job pays less than the old one (isn’t that always the case) so the side income stream is really helping to make up the shortfall.

    It’s also something I may want to continue doing in to retirement and that can help stretch out retirement savings.

  61. CollegeStudent*

    From this millenial’s perspective, I think that if you have a full time job that pays you enough that you DON’T need a “side gig,” you don’t have to have one, unless you really want to.

    Personally, I think it’s a blessing that – in this day and age – someone is able to have a full time job & still maintain a sense of finanical stability without a “side gig.”

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