To side hustle or not – that is the question.  But what’s the answer?

Let’s define what it is first, then we can focus on whether it’s the right step for you.

What Is A Side Hustle?

Nope, it is not a dance.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a side hustle is “work performed for income supplementary to one’s primary job”.

This supplementary income can take many different shapes and forms.  It can be a part-time job, freelance, contract work.  Skilled labor or unskilled labor.  And cross most, if not all, industries and business sectors.

The primary reasons for taking up a side hustle vary as well.  Some people do it because they need the money to pay for regular living expenses, others so they can increase disposable income, and there are also people who do it for fun. 

According to Bankrate’s 2019 Side Hustle Survey, 45% of U.S. workers earn extra income on the side, bringing home an average of $1122 per month.  

This report also validates that side hustles are generation neutral with 28% of Baby Boomers, 39% of Gen Xers and 48% of Millennials claiming to have jobs on the side.

While these numbers will likely shift post-coronavirus, it does demonstrate that side hustles have been around for a long time.  While it is not a new concept, side hustles have certainly gained popularity in the last decade.

Is Side Hustling Right for You?

Although about half of workers in the U.S. have side hustles, just as many do not.  So, this is clearly not a path that fits everyone’s lifestyle. 

cheerful woman serving croissants in cafe
Photo by Tim Douglas on

To help you determine whether you should get a side hustle, answer these three questions:

1. Why are you interested in getting a side hustle?

You should be honest with yourself about the reason you would consider taking on a side gig.  What is your why?

Challenge yourself to answer beyond “to earn extra money”.  That is a given.  By definition, a side hustle brings extra income.

But what else would it do for you?  How would you use that extra income?  Is the extra income a need or a want? 

What would happen if you did not take on this additional work?

2. Do you have the time to commit to a side hustle?

Time is a commodity that one can never get back, so before taking any action it is important to think through how having a side hustle might impact your time.

When would you work on your side job?  Would you need to adjust how you currently spend your time with your primary job? Family and friends?  Your down time? 

If so, is the trade off of that time worth the extra income?

And finally, how are you balancing all of your current obligations. If you’re already challenged with everything on your plate, it may be an indication that other things need to be resolved or adjusted before adding a side job.

3. What could you do as a side hustle?

The list of potential side hustle ideas often seems endless.  But picking one that would be a good fit for you is dependent on several factors.

Your skill set.  Your interests.  Time and flexibility.  How much money you can earn. Whether it requires an upfront investment in training or materials/supplies. Etcetera.

Your answer to the first question should also be one of your criteria for choosing a side hustle.  Whichever you choose should address your “why”.

Final Thoughts on Side Hustles.

One of the best things about the current “side hustle movement” is that it is a great example of a free market economy.  If a need exists, and someone is willing to pay for that need to be addressed, it can become a viable side job opportunity.

But side hustles are not for everyone.

Before taking one up, people should give careful consideration to all the pros and cons, understand the trade-offs that will need to occur, and the implications for current (and future) lifestyle.

If the ultimate decision is to pick up a side job, then be sure to choose one that aligns with your pre-determined criteria.  Something that adds to your life and goals, rather than detracts.

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