Why Everyone Should Have a Side Hustle or Freelance Gig

When I talk to my friends and family about my side hustles, I always get the same reaction. “Why not just use your free time to relax and take it easy?”

I’m the type of person that gets bored easily and needs to be doing something productive with my time. Trust me, I know how to relax and I do spend time watching TV, traveling, reading books and enjoying life.

Time is a precious commodity and once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back. So, instead of squandering my time, I channel my efforts into a few hobbies and advancing my freelancing career.

My side gigs don’t even feel like work, because I’m choosing projects and jobs I’m passionate about. I view it as getting paid to do work I love, instead of working to get paid.

That’s why I believe everyone should have a side job or freelance gig. It gives you the opportunity to express yourself (and your finances) in a whole different way than what a traditional job provides.

Reason 1: It opens up new career paths

I wouldn’t have discovered my love of social media and interacting with other people online, if I hadn’t started freelance writing and blogging. And come to find out, I do have a bit of a knack for social media and marketing, or at least, that’s what people pay me for.

I also found, that for the most part I’m a writer – I love to write, to express my thoughts and feelings. I’ve never been good at expressing myself through my actions or words, and I’m not a very touchy-feely person.

But writing has enabled me to open up to you and to the world on a whole different level. Starting a writing gig on the side, not only changed my views, it’s changed my career path.

Two years ago, I was planning to become a tax expert and had already worked for H&R Block as a tax professional for 3 years. I was spending a lot of time working and studying to become either an Enrolled Agent or CPA. But my new freelancing career took off, and now here I am — and I’m happier than ever!

Reason 2: Helps you reach benchmark financial goals

Of course one of the biggest benefits to having a side job is the extra money. And while money isn’t the only motivating factor, it was actually the main force behind my strategy to become debt free.

Because after all, you can only cut back your lifestyle so much – until you need to make more money. Along with accomplishing financial goals like becoming debt free, comes a sense of security.

In case of job loss, medical emergency or other life obligations, having a cushion of savings or no debt payments, can really reduce the stress in times of financial woes. I’m not suggesting you get a side job just for the extra money, but the monetary benefits are definitely a plus.

carefulcents quote

Reason 3: You spend more time doing what you love

Once all your bills are paid and money is put away in your savings and retirement accounts, anything left over can go towards other things you’re passionate about — like traveling, spending time with friends, learning to dance or whatever your heart desires.

This was one of the inspiring reasons I increased my income and became debt free. Now, I already have 3 new traveling opportunities lined up through the summer, and I’m planning to take time off for other fun activities (like spending the day with my nieces and nephews at a water park).

Without the extra money, time and freedom that these freelance gigs offer, I wouldn’t be able to work hard and play hard!

Reason 4: It’s an escape from the boring daily routine

Most of us spend our lives getting a good education, finding a well paying job and putting in hours and hours of work for a company we hate. Thankfully, I’ve always worked for companies I liked, around people I enjoyed.

Maybe I’m blessed or maybe I created my own luck. But if you’re one of those people who doesn’t have this luxury, having a side hustle can be the perfect escape from the monotonous 9 – 5 grind.

Working at a place you don’t like can quickly drain your energy, your creativity and your passion for life. But having an outlet on the side will help reignite your fire and with it, might give you a better sense of purpose.

What’s holding you back from starting a side hustle or solopreneur business?

Photo Credit: Saad Faruque

How to Build a Fabulous Career Wardrobe for Less
Mid-Year Progress Report and New Goals for 2012
About the author: Carrie Smith is the financial artist and owner of Careful Cents, a site that helps creative freelancers discover the art of making a living. In May 2013 she quit her full-time accounting job to pursue entrepreneurship and blogging. Since then she’s been featured in sites like The Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine, and Kiplinger Finance. In her spare time she enjoys painting, sketching, and making food with her chef husband. You can connect with her in real time on Twitter or Instagram: @carefulcents.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Travis Pizel July 18, 2012, 7:19 am

    Great perspective, Carrie – I feel the same way!  One additional benefit I get from being a personal finance feelance writer is the opportunity to help people.  There are so many people struggling financially, and to see people identify with my story and take something positive away from my writing fulfills me in a way that my day job could never do!

    • Carrie Smith July 18, 2012, 8:57 am

      That’s an excellent point @twitter-216014199:disqus I do enjoy helping people and making awesome connections over the internet. It’s great to be able to share my experiences (mistakes included) to hopefully help others too.

  • Michelle July 18, 2012, 7:34 am

    I would like to start dedicating more time to making my blog more professional once I graduate and have more time. Hopefully that iwll make it a bigger side hustle!

    • Carrie Smith July 18, 2012, 8:58 am

      You can do it @twitter-474994498:disqus :) I look forward to seeing how your blog evolves into something great!

  • Kraig July 18, 2012, 8:10 am

    What’s holding me back is all three, fear, lack of time and inspiration. I think it’s just because it’s summer that I’m not as inspired to work as much. A bigger part of me wants to relax and have fun in my free time instead of working all the time. I think it will get better as fall approaches. I still do want to start a side hustle. I’ll get to it one of these days! It sure looks like you’re doing well, Carrie!

    • Carrie Smith July 18, 2012, 1:35 pm

      About a year ago I was experiencing all 3 of these too @0ce06708c297d3d55c9ee12cb825dc82:disqus like the saying goes…the hardest part is just taking that first step. Once I got over the first hump, I’ve gained more momentum and I don’t even care that I have a limited amount of relaxation time now.

  • addvodka July 18, 2012, 8:56 am

    I have two side gigs! One is babysitting, and while I’m certainly NEVER going to have a career in that it’s decent money that I can pay my car loan down faster with. And the second one is blogging. I don’t make a TON of money but what I do make is pretty decent and it’s putting extra cash in my pocket.

    • Carrie Smith July 18, 2012, 3:00 pm

      You’re awesome @addvodka:disqus If you keep working those side gigs, I know you’ll be able to pay down your car loan super fast! Awesome stuff.

  • Modest Money July 18, 2012, 9:32 am

    While having a side gig does wear me out sometimes, I find that I really enjoy blogging and connecting with fellow bloggers.  The enjoyment factor does make it seem so much less like work.  For me personally one of the other big benefits is having something to fall back upon when out of work.  Since my career field has become super competitive it can be tough to find a job when you’re out of work.  With a side hustle, you always can concentrate on that more and make enough money to get by.  If you’re lucky you can even build it up into a full time job.

  • IdaBaker July 18, 2012, 10:50 am

    I agree to a certain extent.  A side gig really needs to be a passion for the person doing it.  Trying to balance life’s day-to-day activities, family, kids, household tasks, plus a full time job, takes so much time. 

    So, a second job, which again takes time, needs to be a passion so that interest isn’t lost before it really gets started.

    • Carrie Smith July 18, 2012, 1:38 pm

      I totally agree @d1c2c7f7f7d6dca5942eb0b466169d40:disqus If I had kids or decided to start a family, I’d have to rearrange my priorities and where I spend my time. But I’ll probably always have some sort of hobby, freelance gig or side project that I’m working on. Mostly because I enjoy it!

  • groceryalerts July 18, 2012, 11:26 am

    Carrie,

    This is a great post – I like to work on my freelance projects because I have a passion for helping people save money. I enjoy it and it doesn’t seem like work to me. 

    I would rather make money from a hobby than spend money!

    • Carrie Smith July 18, 2012, 1:36 pm

      Helping people save money and learn from my financial mistakes is a big deal for me too @groceryalerts:disqus It definitely makes all the extra work, worthwhile!

  • Brent Pittman July 18, 2012, 2:09 pm

    A side gig also prepares you for the inevitable–leaving or getting fired from your 9-5 job. It will happen and a side gig can be a way to keep income going during transition or just go full time into your side business.  

    • Carrie Smith January 3, 2013, 1:00 pm

      Absolutely! What a great point Brent. A side job is crucial to a smooth transition when you leave or get laid off from your day job. And yes, it will happen eventually!

  • LittleFrugalista July 18, 2012, 3:20 pm

    Great post and I definitely love my part-time job (waitressing) because it is a completely different world than the corporate 9-5. As for freelance projects, I always thought I could start doing them but I recently got a job at an amazing company. Catch? I’m not allowed to provide work elsewhere for money :/

    • Carrie Smith July 18, 2012, 10:06 pm

      That’s such a bummer @openid-123934:disqus I’m glad my job allows me to have creative expression on the side. But I do know people that are in a similar situation to yours.

  • Mo' Money Mo' Houses July 18, 2012, 6:59 pm

    Totally agree. I’ve had a side gig for almost three years and it’s so great. Sure it sucks I had to work at night or on the weekend sometimes, but when an unexpected expense occurs I like to know I can make extra money with my second job. Plus it also helps me pay for vacations and social activities so I can enjoy life and relax but not feel eternally poor.

  • Robb July 18, 2012, 11:46 pm

    I think my problem would be focusing on one thing, like how you have one subject – personal finance – that you write about here, I don’t know if I could have that kind of focus (as my personal reading list will attest). I like my job and my profession because it is a challenge and I’m always learning new things, but also like to know I can use my free time for doing and learning about various other things (or watching Deadliest Catch lol). So I’d like to do this but I can’t really think of way. =/

    • Carrie Smith July 19, 2012, 10:17 am

      Ha! I don’t think I’m focused at all in my writing @twitter-56905548:disqus :) I write about finances, travel, career and motivation in life. To me I seem really disorganized but I’m glad you think I’m focusing on one thing! Sometimes life has a plan for us and drops awesome opportunities in our laps. All you gotta do is say Yes when that happens! Until then, just enjoy life and where you’re at right now.

  • Cevanisky July 18, 2012, 11:54 pm

    I want to continue to grow my blog as well and while imhavent earned anything yet, I sure would love to one day.

  • thethriftyspendthrift July 19, 2012, 6:02 am

    Every time I read a blog like this (not your blog—just an entry like this) I feel nothing but frustrated by how easy everyone else makes picking up a second job to be. I could not even tell you how many part-time jobs my husband (and little old me!) have applied to for over a year to no avail. For me it’s hard because I need flexibility and my background is in the sciences. My husband has been working at a very big company as a copywriter for years and picking up a decent paying writing gig seems nearly impossible. Have any suggestions?

    • Carrie Smith July 19, 2012, 10:20 am

      I’m sorry to hear you’re frustrated @d73a02a5a65e73f5f054d05240d415f4:disqus Since I don’t know all the details of your situation, all I can say is that each person’s life has ups and downs – peaks and valleys. Three years ago I was in a huge valley. I just got divorced, and was beyond broke. Now, after years of dedication and determination, I’m finally on the upswing. Your time will come, just don’t give up (no matter how much you want to). I hope that helps!

  • Justice Wordlaw IV July 19, 2012, 12:30 pm

    Having a side gig I feel is very important. I feel that if you have one your now taking back control over your financial side of your life and the pursuit of doing the things that you really want to do in life. Becoming debt free if you want or buying the materialistic things that you would like to have without having to break the bank so bad.

    • Carrie Smith July 19, 2012, 4:18 pm

      Absolutely @justicewordlaw:disqus Having a side gig is a big help when trying to get out of debt, traveling or any other things you want to buy.

  • NewUser July 19, 2012, 5:41 pm

    I love this blog space. I have blogged and enjoyed travel blogs and I am not sure why I have not considered the finance community to enjoy. I love what you are doing. Keep it up. It is so important to have a space to speak freely about day-to-day financial struggles….especially when most people hide behind their personal numbers. Very excited to follow you and your network. 

  • Edward - Entry Level Dilemma July 19, 2012, 7:21 pm

    I never really bought into the idea that time is a precious commodity. If I live to be 75, I will have experienced over 650,000 hours. That seems like an awful lot of time to me.

    • Carrie Smith July 20, 2012, 10:41 am

      That’s a good point @edwardra3:disqus I was referring to time with other people, seeing as how I lost my mom at a young age. Spending time being with people I love and doing things I care about is how I want to spend my time.

  • Jenna from Adaptu July 20, 2012, 3:51 pm

    Time and prioritize.  I’d rather be outside hiking or playing with my puppy rather than doing freelance work.  Although I’m thinking about writing more.  Just need to find time…

    • Carrie Smith July 24, 2012, 8:58 am

      I agree @ceb9ed7889cfe2cfafab8a8708574658:disqus It took me a long time to work out the right side hustle/free time balance. But I’m getting the hang of it and it’s totally worth it!

  • MyMoneyDesign July 23, 2012, 6:49 pm

    I’m with you on these.  A few years ago I made a conscious decision to turn my free time (which I was using to watch Netflix movies) into an actual paying product.  Doing so has lead me to learn more about investing, license music, and blog with the prospect of income.  I’d say its worth the trouble!

    • Carrie Smith August 8, 2012, 11:25 am

      I totally agree @MyMoneyDesign:disqus Even though there can be a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved in having a side gig. It’s definitely worth it!

  • Online Business Opportunity August 8, 2012, 12:13 am

    I usually spend my free time doing something fun like watching movies and doing crazy stuff with friends. After reading your post I think that it will be great to have a side job. Doing something for nothing is way too effective.

  • Wendell Clark January 2, 2013, 9:35 pm

    I am not sure how to get started or what to do. I feel my passion which is personal finance is very crowded and I would have a hard time finding my niche in this market.

    • Carrie Smith January 3, 2013, 12:57 pm

      That’s very true, Wendell. A lot of markets are crowded today, especially the personal finance one. But there’s always room, and a need, for an authentic voice and different perspective. All you have to do is be confident and offer content that’s valuable – with your own twist!

  • edna smiles May 2, 2013, 7:14 pm

    I have a freelance side job that I can’t get time to do because of all the work I have to do at my day job. I used to freelance full time and then I went and got a “real” job, then they promoted me and now I’m stuck in a 60 hour brain drain that saps every ounce of my energy. Can’t even find time to exercise, let alone write. AAK!!