In response to last week’s post regarding side hustles, and why everyone should have one, Amiyrah of 4 Hats and Frugal pointed me to one of her recent posts along with the following question:
Up until a few weeks ago, I also had a side hustle, and have pretty much always had one since I was 14. What I am wondering is, what are your thoughts on having to let go of side hustles? When life gets complicated or when the money your making doesn’t make up for the extra stress you are attaining?
It’s a great question, and one that I’ve pondered myself at times over the last couple years of maintaining side hustle in one form or another. For those who have never tried to maintain a second career, I can tell you that it is exhausting. Keeping up with your regular job AND a side hustle requires a lot of sacrifice, and sometimes that sacrifice far outweighs the benefits gained.
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I like to think of side hustles as a temporary endeavor. Understand when I say temporary, I simply mean not permanent. You could work at your hustle for a few months, or a few years. But at some point something will have to give.
If you are like me and hustling to get out of debt, then debt freedom may be the point where you decide to step back and reevaluate things. With all debts eliminated, chances are you can afford to give up the side hustle and return to a “normal” work schedule, enjoying more free time when not engaged with your primary job.
If you are hustling to put a child through school, or save up for a down payment on a home, or some other finite financial goal, then chances are your end point is also fairly well defined. However, if you are working two jobs so one spouse can stay home with the kids, or so you can realize your dream of early retirement, or some other long-term financial goal, the hustle could become a permanent fixture in your life. And that’s the point when it could become a drain.
Side hustles are great for boosting your income, but they come with one major risk: lifestyle inflation. As cash flow increases so does the temptation to increase spending. Pretty soon you start counting earnings from your part time career as part of your regular income. You can now afford that bigger house, and can easily make another car payment thanks to your side job. Be careful. This is a spending trap, and one that if you fall victim to, can lead to years of pain and financial suffering.
While working a side hustle do your best to keep spending flat. Throw your extra income at your goal, and only that goal, while resisting the temptation to use that money towards lifestyle spending. Once your goal is achieved, it will be much easier to evaluate your new financial picture, decide the things that are most important at that stage in your life, and make a clean break from your side hustle as Amiyrah appears to have done.
Always strive for balance in your financial life. Do not allow earning money to completely consume you, even if you are doing so for a noble goal. Debt can always be paid back a little slower, and savings can be accumulated a little longer. However, you only get one shot at maintaining your health and well-being, and your relationship with loved ones.