Want more financial security? A side hustle could be the answer

5 min | 31 January 2023

Rebecca Chuks
Rebecca Chuks

Whether ‘rising and shining’ feels natural or not, for some people, the early morning is the best time to steal a few extra hours. And at a time when finances are strained for many of us, now might be just the right moment to put those hours to good use.

In the early morning – an hour or two before your usual alarm sounds – the world (i.e. social media, kids, managers) is still asleep. This time of calm can be ideal for deep work. So, should we be making use of that time? Should we all join the 5am club, start a side hustle and secure some extra income?

Choices, choices

Now, if we did choose to slide up the productivity scale, there are lots of ways to spend that time: working out, meditating, attacking that ever-growing stack of books – and of course, starting a side hustle.

With the rise of the ‘that girl’ trend – where influencers portray themselves as the thriving protagonist in the story of their lives – social media might suggest you pick up all of the above and then somehow complete all these tasks by 9am. But in the spirit of moving away from burnout and overload, a good place to start is with one activity that could have a big impact on your life – earning extra income.

What’s a side hustle, anyway?

Put simply, a side hustle is a job or project that earns you money in addition to your main job. Originating in the 1950s among Black Americans, the term has seen new life with its adoption by millennial social media culture in recent years. Just as the term first popped up as the world began recovering from the Great Depression, recent use has sprung up in response to the financial crisis of the late 00s. With a positive, entrepreneurial energy, the movement is grounded in securing oneself against financial turbulence.

Students might like to think about starting a side hustle if their study schedule allows, as it could be a great way to help manage money better.

Where’s the catch?

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Find extra time, earn extra cash. However, we’re humans – it’s a far more complex equation than 'more time = more output'. It can be very draining to start a new business or side job, and it can impact the energy levels needed for other tasks and commitments in your day, not to mention the extra pressure and stress that might come with it too.

You might need to:

  • drum up some seed money
  • buy kit (such as software programmes) to get you started
  • register as an independent business
  • file a tax return every year (and set aside the money in advance)

So, although waking up early and putting that time to good use can be a great idea, it’s important to use caution and take breaks when you feel the rest of your life is being negatively affected. Moving at your own pace is generally always best.

You could restructure your life to make space for your side hustle, like consolidating your working hours so you always have Friday afternoons free, for example.

Let’s hustle

So, you’ve set your alarm for an hour or two earlier than usual. You’ve committed to check in with yourself every week to suss out any weariness. What’s next? Time to decide what your hustle will be.

One way to decide is by looking at your existing profession or job – can you mine your skill set to create digital or physical products? Can you teach others how to get started in your industry? Can you create guides or cheat sheets that your peers would pay for? Be aware that some employers do not allow employees to undertake a second job or side hustle, so check first with the HR department.

Another option is to look at your hobbies or talents. If you love to paint, you could start an online store, selling your original artwork. If you love to run, you could start a running club, with membership perks. The options really are endless.

To side hustle or to snooze?

But is it worth it? Does that precious time spent on a hustle have enough of a pay-off? Well, consider that most self-made millionaires have at least three income streams (with the majority of money coming from non-salary income), while anecdotally, the millionaire ‘magic seven’ is the sweet spot for sources of revenue. Plus, research found that in 2021, more than two-thirds of British people had a side hustle, which added an average of almost £5,000 to their annual income. If an extra £5k could make an impact in your savings goals, your holiday fund, or any of your wish list items, it could be worth a go.

It’s also worth noting that extra income steadily hitting your bank account might give you the confidence to change jobs or careers if you’re not happy where you are. It can also tide you over during an unexpected job loss or illness. The huge swell of side hustles during the COVID-19 pandemic showed the importance of that extra bit of security when times are suddenly very lean.

Now’s the time

With hybrid work becoming more of a norm, the plethora of gig-work platforms and all the learning in the world, there might never be a better time to shore up your finances by setting up a side hustle. Although you may not make money straight away, it’s may build more towards your future than those extra zzz’s ever could.

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