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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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Juan Fourneau
Juan Fourneau
9 months ago

Good read. I’ve enjoyed my “side hustle” of pro wrestling and a little writing. But they can be rightly classified as monetized hobbies as you described in your article. They have provided me much needed relief and variety from the drudgery of a blue collar life.
My side hustles of starting a small business I did not enjoy as much and did drain my finances.
I always viewed my overtime opportunities at work as a second job. Per hour nothing compared financially to my “second job”. But I often passed it up for my side hustle or more time at home.

Thomas Taylor
Thomas Taylor
9 months ago

I got out of public accounting about 12 years ago for reasons, in part, dealing with lost time with the family. I got a call from a former colleague about 5 years ago who left the firm we both worked for and started her own firm. She wanted to know if I had any interest in reviewing personal returns for her during tax season. I work from March 1st to April 15th. It’s all cloud based so I work from home with a computer and a couple of monitors she provides. She pays me well and I don’t have to deal with clients or billing. I’m up early so I work a few hours before my wife likes to get up, so it doesn’t bother her. I still work a full-time job, but it’s worked out for me. I don’t “need” the income, but it helps her out and gives me some money to have fun with each year.

Andrew Forsythe
Andrew Forsythe
9 months ago

Well said, John. There’s always a balance to strike and getting it right can be a challenge.

Rick Connor
Rick Connor
9 months ago

Thanks John. The last sentence says it all. It can be applied to work, hobbies, …

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