Believe it or not, you can earn an extra $5,000 (or more) with only a little bit of dedicated effort. All you need is a side hustle.
I’ve always been a big fan of the side hustle. In fact, being self-employed is the first time I’ve ever held only one job instead of two or three (and I’m still getting used to it).
A side hustle is a small extra or part-time job you take on to increase your income to reach your financial goals.
Everybody should have one.
Why bother with the side hustle to earn an extra $5,000?
Because you like money, duh.
Jk. You will bother with the side hustle because you did the math on your goals and realized you’re not going to hit your targets within the next decade unless you take drastic action. If you want to compare your chances of winning the lottery to getting a job at a local cafe that will let you work two shifts per week, I’ll let you work out which one has a better chance of giving you the cash you need.
Side hustling is exhausting, but it’s also cool. Here’s how to do it wisely.
Monetize a hobby or skill
General labor can always generate income, but typically a specific skill set generates more. For this reason, I suggest leaving the jobs anybody can do (like dog walking or shoveling snow) as last resorts. Instead, focus on a specialized talent you can charge at least $25 per hour for. For example:
- teach a second language
- tutor a high school or college subject
- teach a musical instrument
- try freelance writing
- create and sell something on Etsy
If you can find something that nets you $25 each, you only have to do it 200 times (less than once a day) to earn an extra $5,000 this year.
If this is an hourly tutoring gig, that’s only 4 hours per week. If you’re creating and selling art, double the price and sell 100 pieces — that’s only one every 3 days.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out one of my favorite books, The $100 Startup
One time I went on a date with a guy who scoured estate sales for underpriced antiques, particularly photographs. He told me he once sold a box of train photos that he bought for $25 (yep, just a bunch of pictures of trains) for almost $6,000 on eBay. I don’t know how, or why, I only know he had found a bizarre super niche that required little more investment than the time it took on a Saturday morning to hit up three or four estate sales. And it made him hundreds, often thousands, of dollars richer each month.
If you can spot an opportunity no one else sees, jump on it and exploit it for every penny it’s worth.
Get creative to find a short-term side hustle
Surprisingly, websites like Craigslist or Kijiji are a goldmine for finding short-term side hustles. People are usually looking for able bodies to do mundane but essential tasks at one-time or short stint events, like cleaning out their garage or manning the gates at a music festival.
Be safe and bring a friend if something looks suspicious, but otherwise don’t turn your nose up at something that isn’t quite as fun as spending the day watching Netflix from your couch, but will put $100 to $200 in your pocket by the end of it.
Take on a second or part-time job for the short-term
Working 60 hours per week sucks, but being in debt six years longer than you have to sucks even more. Most part-time job roles are underappreciated and unglamorous, but their payoff never is.
Serving tables is the only reason my student loan debt was $21,000 and not $41,000. Did I like spending a good part of nearly every weekend of my early twenties bringing people their dinner? No. Do I regret it? Not one bit. Very few things in life can be a salve for the wrath of an irate customer, but a fat bank account is one of them.
You only have to earn $100 per week at a part-time job to make an extra $5,000 this year.
Put your side hustle income into a dedicated savings account
Once you secure a second income stream, open a dedicated bank account to catch the funds. If you’re working a part-time job, have your paycheque go directly into this account. If you’re simply grabbing cash on the side, be diligent and disciplined about depositing it into this account on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
If you let your side hustle income into your regular chequing account this will cause two problems:
- You’ll spend it, defeating the purpose of using it to reach a financial goal.
- You’ll get accustomed to spending it, so if it ever goes away, you’ll find it next to impossible to downgrade your inflated lifestyle without pain.
Make sure to save yourself from yourself and put your hard-earned dollars where they belong.
I’m curious: what’s your side hustle and how has it helped your net worth over time?