This post is part of our series 7 Weeks to Your Best Finances.
This series is meant to serve as a 7-week path to improving your finances. It will cover all the important topics like starting a budget, saving money, making money, investing, and more.
To find out more and see all the tips and ideas for improving your finances check out the dedicated 7 Weeks to Your Best Finances page.
When my wife and I graduated college with a combined $100k in student loans, the sting of even the minimum monthly payment ($1,000!) was rough.
I felt like it was holding us back from pursuing our dreams. Not to mention the added stress of having that sort of debt hanging over your head.
It made me feel like my entry level corporate accounting job wasn’t paying enough. After all, we were out $12k a year – and that was just the minimum!
I’m not the type of person who just sits back and lets life hand me what it hands me. I strongly believe that “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Which is what brought me to side hustles.
Side hustles are beneficial for many reasons that I will go over, but for me it was a lifeline and a way to bridge the gap of being $100k in debt to one day having the financial freedom that allows me to live out my dreams.
Regardless of where you are at in life, in debt or not in debt, married or single, twenty years old or fifty years old, there is something that you can gain from starting a side hustle.
1) Pay Off Debt Faster
Paying off debt faster is one of the main motivations for me starting a side hustle. It provides plenty of motivation to stick with a side hustle, too, as staying with your side hustle is half the battle.
The initial goal I worked towards with side hustles was to make $1,000 a month. This would offset our monthly student loan payments and open up cash flow for other goals like establishing an emergency fund and saving for a down payment on a house.
2) Reach Other Money Goals Faster
Don’t have debt or not looking to pay it down faster? Side hustles can still be a huge benefit to your finances. In fact, if your side hustle money isn’t going towards debt you are in a great position to reach other money goal fasters.
Want to max out your retirement accounts? What about your HSA or 529 accounts? Or perhaps you are looking to increase your passive income by accumulating more dividend-paying stocks?
Whatever your goals are, side hustles can help you accomplish them faster.
3) Diversify Your Income
There is nothing like the security of having more than one income stream. Even if you absolutely love your full-time job, situations can change. Perhaps demand drops or a new executive decides to cut 10% of the workforce. No job is safe.
Even if your job is extremely secure, you may find yourself going to work one day and thinking “I don’t want to do this anymore.” If you started a side hustle years prior to this you are likely much better positioned to look for other employment or even take the necessary steps to turn your side hustle into a full-time job.
One key takeaway to remember is that the earlier you start a side hustle, the better. Some side hustles – like blogging – can take months of work before you start making money, and if you re-invest your income back into the blog it could be several years before you have built the site up to the point where it can replace your full time job.
4) Test a Business Idea Without Quitting Your Full-Time Job
One of the greatest things about the world we live in today is that it’s easier than ever before to test out a business idea while working a full-time job. No need to quit your 9-5 and go all in; instead you can give a go at it during nights and weekends (and for the early birds out there – mornings as well!).
If you ask me what my long-term goal is I can tell you without hesitation that it’s to run a business or multiple businesses full-time. Working in corporate isn’t for everyone, and while I do a good job I know I will be much happier running a full-time job.
With that goal in mind, I love that I can test business ideas without sacrificing my stable full-time income. If any given idea or business venture flops I am out only time and, in certain situations, some money.
If you are a wannabe entrepreneur working a 9-5, don’t squander the opportunity that side hustles present you. You may even be able to fully replace your 9-5 income before you quit your job!
5) Break into a New Career Field
In my post why blogging is the ultimate side hustle I explained that it isn’t potential for advertising dollars that makes blogging one of the best options for side hustles. Instead it’s the extensive content and social media marketing skills you learn.
These skills are in high demand and almost every company is staffing up in this space. The problem is that traditional corporate marketers likely have not developed the deep hands-on experience that bloggers have. Starting a blog could set you up for a job in the new digital landscape that you otherwise wouldn’t have even been considered for.
Blogging isn’t the only side hustle that can help you break into a new career field. Let’s say you enjoy social media management. By starting a side hustle focused on this you could gain the skills needed for a job in this space or you could build up a business that allows you to leave your 9-5.
If your goal is to switch to a new career field, think about what sort of side hustle helps you gain experience and a track record, and then pursue that side hustle. If you want to code for a living but currently work in marketing, start coding in your spare time. Gain clients and those who will vouch for your skills.
6) Meet New People and Build Your Network
One thing that is virtually guaranteed with a side hustle is that you will meet new people. Most, if not all, of these people you would have never crossed paths with if it wasn’t for your side hustle.
I took a few minutes to think of some of the incredible individuals I’ve been lucky enough to come into contact with because of my side hustles, and it’s really overwhelming to think about. The wide diversity of opinions, geographical locations, ages, professions, and interests is truly astonishing.
You won’t become best friends with everyone you meet through your side hustle. With that being said, you very well could meet future business partners or even employers through your side hustle. Don’t discount this potential upside of having a side hustle.
7) Develop a Skill – and Get Paid for It
There are a lot of side hustlers out there who haven’t mastered the skill they are selling. For example, many Pinterest and social media managers are relatively inexperienced (from what I’ve seen). They are learning on the job.
In the past I had a spreadsheet consulting side hustle. While I work in Microsoft Excel 20-40 hours a week, I by no means am a seasoned veteran. That doesn’t mean I don’t have skills that are advanced enough to sell to companies looking for help, though.
Through this side hustle I was able to further develop my spreadsheet skills. Not only was I learning on the job, I was getting paid for it. What more could you ask for?
Another benefit is retaining skills. Perhaps you became fluent in French a few years back, but rarely use it now. Tutoring French in your spare time or acting as a translator can be a great way to make use of your French language skills and, in turn, not lose those skills.
8) Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone
Prior to starting my blog I hated public speaking. And I mean to the point where I didn’t even want to talk on the phone.
Now, I’m a millennial so I still dislike talking on the phone (can’t you just email or text instead??) but my side hustle has pushed me outside my comfort zone and it’s made me a better and more confident individual because of it.
A number of the deals I’ve closed have been through phone conversations. Had I not agreed to taking certain calls I could be out thousands of dollars. Money will motivate you to get out of your comfort zone!
I also have started to do lunch and learns and other speaking engagements. This is something that is nearly unthinkable to me 5-10 years ago. I’ve also appeared on podcasts, radio shows, and television. All of this is outside my comfort zone but my side hustle has led me down that path and I’m grateful for it.
Use your side hustle as an excuse to go out of your comfort zone! If you are afraid of public speaking at work because of the pressure you feel to perform, practice public speaking through your side hustle where it’s less pressure. Learn how to sell through your side hustle. Selling your product or service is great experience – sales is something most have zero experience with but it’s an extremely valuable skill to possess.
9) It Can Change the Trajectory of Your Life
I could fill an entire book with examples of people who started a side hustle that transformed their lives. From the hairstylist single mom who now makes over $100k as a social media manager to the blogger who was able to escape the corporate life they despised, side hustles can change the entire trajectory of your life.
Side hustle open up a whole new path to making your dreams a reality. For me, I truly believe I should be running a business full-time. Debt makes that dream unattainable. Side hustles help me test business ideas with no risk, though, while also helping me pay off debt faster. I’m able to bridge the gap and have a clear path to my goal, all because of side hustles.
If none of these reasons convince you to start a side hustle, I’m afraid there is a good chance you will never see a reason to start one.
But if one or more reasons resonated with you consider checking out my book Hustle Away Debt to learn how to find the best side hustle for you, side hustle ideas, and how to optimize your side hustle.
Also check out some of these other side hustle resources we’ve put together on the site:
How to Start a Blog that Makes Money
7 Ways to Make Quick Money Online in Your Free Time
5 Side Hustles that Make at Least $500 a Month
The Ultimate Guide to Side Hustling
Do you have a side hustle? If you don’t, what are some ideas of side hustles you would like to start?