Hustle culture is a huge part of our lives, especially for younger people.
In fact, a recent survey from Bankrate found that nearly half of Americans under 35 report having a side hustle, and nearly 1 in 3 of those side hustlers need the extra income to be able to pay their bills.
Other side hustlers, like myself, seek out extra income to further their financial goals and avoid accruing debt. Side hustles were a major part of what allowed me to pay out of pocket for graduate school and save for a down payment on my house.
While side hustles are a great way to try and get ahead, not all side hustles are created equally, and not all side hustles will be right for you.
Some side hustles simply aren’t worth it.
This article will walk you through some things to consider when looking for a side hustle, as well as how to determine if your side hustle is worth it to you.
Pros and Cons Of Hustle Culture
There are many great reasons to have a side hustle beyond the obvious of making more money. Here are some of the potential positives to having a side hustle:
- Increased income
- Exploring passions or interests
- Expanded social circle
- Learn new skills
- Increased exercise, change of pace, or other related benefits
- May open new doors such as starting a business
- May go from a side hustle to a full-time job
Side hustles come with many benefits, but they can also become toxic depending on what you’re doing and how often you’re hustling.
Some cons of side hustling include:
- Reduced social time or time spent doing things you love
- Family or relationship strain
- Health-related issues like stress, lack of sleep or exercise, or unhealthy eating
It’s relatively easy to get swept up in side hustling and to neglect other aspects of your life. Just like anything, it’s important to create a balance when side hustling.
Things To Consider When Picking a Side Hustle
Not all side hustles are created equally, and the best side hustles for you might be a horrible choice for someone else. In addition to creating a balance when side hustling, it’s also important to make sure you’re pursuing side hustles that make sense for you and are worth your time.
Also, be aware that you may have to try out several side hustles before finding the one(s) that are best for you. I’ve churned through over 10 side hustles in the past decade, finding what worked best for me.
Here are 4 things to consider when picking a side hustle.
What Are You Good At?
When looking for a side hustle, the first thing to consider is your skill set or what you’re good at. Many great side hustles come about when people take skills to excel at and pursue them outside of their careers.
For example, if you’re a teacher, then looking into possible side jobs that require teaching experience or skill is a natural step. You might look to teach English online, teach a class at a local college, join a tutoring company, or offer private tutoring.
If you have great typing or writing skills, potential side hustles based on those skills include proofreading, captioning, or freelance writing.
Thus, the first thing to consider is what you’re good at and which skills might translate easily to a side hustle. The more in demand and specific the skill is, the more you’ll typically be able to make in your side hustle.
What are You Interested In?
If you’re looking for a break from your areas of expertise or skill or don’t feel as though you have any specialized skills, the next thing to consider when picking a side hustle is your interests.
Some people use side hustles to explore interests or passions that they are unable to in their everyday jobs.
For example, I spent a season as an usher for the Portland Trail Blazers to watch games in person. I also received the added benefit of working concerts and other events that I was paid to watch.
Perhaps your interests are in history or the outdoors. Tour guides, museums, and National or State Park rangers are perfect potential side hustles for these interests.
It could even be as simple as working part-time at a videogame store if you’re into video games or at a bookstore if you love to read.
Whatever your interests, see if there are opportunities near you to work in those areas so that you can make some money doing what you love.
What Are You Willing To Do?
Once you have some ideas for potential side hustles, you’ll then need to consider what you’re willing to do.
You may love your local sports team, but are you willing and able to stand for 4 hours at a time as an usher? Are you willing to make minimum wage for the privilege of watching sports and concerts for free? Are you willing to deal with rowdy and rude customers?
It’s critically important to consider what types of tasks you’re willing to do, how much money you’re willing to make, who you’ll be dealing with, and what type of work environment you’ll be in before jumping into a side hustle.
After all, the point of the side hustle is to make extra money, preferably without adding stress or other negatives. While you won’t predict everything, carefully consider the position and what you’re willing to do before you take it.
How Much Are You Willing to Work?
The last major thing to consider when picking a side hustle is how much you’re willing to work. As mentioned above, the cons of side hustles are very real, and if you’re not careful, you may find yourself burning out.
Before you start looking for potential side jobs, decide how much you want to work and when. Is your ideal side hustle a few days a week? On weekends? During breaks?
Once you’ve determined how much you’re willing to work, you can begin looking for jobs that fit your schedule.
Don’t feel pressured to take a job that will ask you to work more than you’re willing to, as it will likely end up burning you out.
Is Your Side Hustle Worth It?
You now know some of the critical things to consider when looking for a side hustle so let’s jump into some things to consider when deciding if your side hustle is worth it.
Side hustles often serve a purpose at a specific point in time and may be worth it only for that point in time. Don’t feel bad if you churn through side hustles regularly, trying to find the ideal situation for you. As your life and goals change, so will your side hustles.
I’ve found as I’ve gotten older, my focus for side hustles has shifted purely from fun jobs to those that utilize my skillset to make the most money I can in the shortest timeframe.
Here are some things to consider to help you answer the question: is my side hustle worth it?
Time Cost of Your Side Hustle
This one basically comes down to money: is the money you make from your side hustle worth the time cost involved?
You see, the time-suck for your side hustle isn’t just the time you’re there working. You must also think about the commute to and from work, the time spent getting ready, and any other time involved. Also, think about things you are missing out on because of working extra and whether the money you’re making is worth it.
You’re often paid by the hour with side hustles, and even if the job pays you, it’s important to determine your per hour income for easy comparison and to be able to calculate the total time cost of your side hustle.
For example, let’s say you’re working at a local shop for $15 an hour. You work in 4-hour shifts in the evenings 3 days a week. However, you also must commute 30 minutes each way. Luckily, you’re coming from your day job, so you don’t need to factor in getting ready.
Your total time cost is 5 hours for 3 days a week. However, you’re only paid for 4 of those hours per evening. Your adjusted hourly wage based on the time needed to work the job is:
4 hrs x $15 = $60 / 5 total hrs = $12/hr
Is your time worth $12 an hour? Maybe it is, but then again, maybe it isn’t.
Perhaps you could find a side hustle that pays more in the same timeframe, or maybe you enjoy the job so much that it doesn’t matter.
The answer will depend entirely on you, but remember to take the money you’re making and the total time cost into consideration when deciding to take a side job or keep a side job.
Extra Costs or Things Associated with the Side Hustle
Another factor to consider when determining whether a side hustle is worth it is if there are extra costs or other things you’ll need to do to work.
Put simply, if there are a lot of start-up costs or ongoing costs involved, then the potential side hustle likely isn’t worth it.
For example, you see the need for investing money upfront with MLMs (multi-level marketing), where you need to buy a bunch of products and then sell them to others. While these “opportunities” sound great, MLMs very rarely result in a good income.
Similarly, if you need to use your vehicle or buy materials/equipment, then you should carefully consider whether the costs are worth the money you can expect to make. Side hustles involving driving your vehicle can bring in good money, but is it worth the wear and tear and fuel costs?
Maybe it is, and then again, maybe it isn’t.
Just be sure to weigh the costs versus the money you can expect to make. If you find yourself making very little, or even possibly losing money, that’s a good indicator that the side hustle isn’t worth it for you.
Goal of Side Hustle
Yet another thing to consider when deciding whether a side hustle is worth it for you is your reason for having the side hustle.
Obviously, the extra money coming in will be a goal of your side hustle, but what other pros to a side hustle are you prioritizing?
For example, if you’re looking for a low-key job that you enjoy, it may not matter if the salary is lower. On the other hand, if your goal is to make as much extra as you can, you’ll want to pick a side hustle that will bring in the most money.
I’ve had both experiences. Some sides jobs I’ve taken because I’ve enjoyed it, get to be outside, and get some exercise. Other jobs I’ve chosen because I made really good money.
Whatever your motives, determining the goal of your side hustles will help you determine if it is worth it.
The last major consideration to take into account is what options are available to you.
While your goal may be to make as much money as you can, you may only find lower-paying jobs in your area that fits with your schedule at that particular time. If you really need the money, you may choose to work anyway. If you don’t, you may choose to wait until you find a better-paying job.
A perfect example of this factor occurred last summer. I wanted to work a side job while I was on summer break to help pay for some needed repairs to my house. Unfortunately, with the pandemic in full swing, the only jobs available were in retail for far less than I make as a teacher.
Although I typically work much higher-paying side hustles, I chose the job I did because it was what was available to me, and I was also able to work outside and get some exercise at the same time.
Depending on your circumstances and your need/desire for extra income, the options available to you may determine whether or not a side hustle is worth it to you.
Moral of the Story
Is your side hustle worth it?
The answer is it depends.
It depends on why you want a side hustle, your goals, the time cost involved, any extra costs or considerations, and the options available to you.
In a perfect world, you could find something you enjoy, utilizes your existing skillsets, and pays great too. While you may eventually find that ideal side hustle, chances are you’ll need to try a few out before you do.
Use the above tips to narrow down your search for potential side hustles, and then ask yourself, is this side hustle worth it?
Tawnya is a 34-year-old Special Education teacher in the sixth year of her career. Along with her partner, Sebastian, she runs the blog Money Saved is Money Earned. Tawnya has worked extremely hard to reach her goals and remain debt-free.
She holds an Honors BS in Psychology from Oregon State University and an MS in Special Education from Portland State University and has had a pretty successful writing career, first as a writing tutor at the Oregon State University Writing Center, and in recent years, as a freelance writer.
Tawnya and Sebastian have a wealth of knowledge and information about personal finance, retirement, student loans, credit cards, and many other financial topics. It is this wealth of tips and tricks that they wish to pass on to others.