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Side Hassle

John Goodell

THE SIREN SONG of a side hustle is alluring in theory—but not in reality. We’re beset by platitudes such as “to become wealthy, you need multiple streams of income.” Many folks, I suspect, take on a side hustle without fully understanding the costs. They imagine it’s an opportunity to monetize their hobbies or interests and achieve their financial goals faster.

Let’s face it: “Second job” just doesn’t sound sexy, so financial bloggers and the media favor “side hustle,” an apparently more glamorous term. But a side hustle is still a second job—and it takes work.

Some second jobs have obvious downsides. Driving for Uber means giving much of a ride’s fare to the company. There’s also the cost of higher insurance, as well as wear and tear on your vehicle. These prohibitive costs are rarely factored into the original dream of achieving financial freedom.

Of course, many side hustles aren’t driving for Uber but rather starting your own business. Owning a business offers the promise of financial independence, but most businesses require enormous effort and still ultimately fail.

Hustle culture gurus promise tremendous riches if you work hard enough on the right idea. To be sure, some people want to start their own business, no matter what the cost. That’s fine—but I hope they truly understand the tradeoffs and pitfalls.

An important, yet often ignored, part of hustle culture is the opportunity cost of time lost. Side hustles require hours of work outside of your primary job. Rarely does the dream of additional income fully value this lost time, especially if it would have been spent with family and friends.

I took a part-time job and failed miserably because I wasn’t present for my family. I discovered what pastor John Mark Comer said: “Both sin and busyness have the exact same effect—they cut off your connection to God, to other people, and even to your own soul.”

Author Stephen Covey instructs us to make decisions by beginning with the end in mind. How about using our ultimate end as our guidepost? Will the side hustle be at our bedside when we die? No, but our family might be. Time spent nurturing those relationships seems like a much better investment.

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