Do You Really Need A Side Hustle?

Do you really need a side hustle _

Personal finance bloggers love to hustle

A big focus in the PF community is on creating multiple income streams. Sometimes this takes a passive form, through investing in stocks or real estate, and sometimes it takes a more active form, through side jobs, gigs, or a “hustle.” Many people are able to turn their blogs into income generators. Others work as virtual personal assistants, write content for other blogs, manage social media channels, etc.

While I deeply admire those who seek to pursue side jobs, I’ve come to see that it’s not for me. Since there is so much out there about the where, how and why of side hustles, today I thought I’d present the other side of the argument: why I don’t have a side hustle. That’s right, I work one job and have no plans to change that any time soon.

Multiple jobs = multiple things to focus on

When I was pursing my MBA and working full time, I came to understand how it feels to be focused on too many things at once. When I was at work, I was worried about staying on top of my schoolwork. When I was in class, I was worried about slacking on my work duties. I could never fully focus on one or the other, and I’m sure that both work and school suffered to a degree. I imagine that the same challenge applies to side hustles. Each job takes energy and time, and that is energy and time that you are not devoting to another job (or anything else in your life).

By having one job, I am able to fully dedicate myself to that job. I have one set of responsibilities and one set of deadlines. I am able to devote the time and energy needed to excel at that job, to learn new skills necessary to grow and progress in my career, and to build strong relationships within my industry.

Some people argue that you need a side gig in order to protect yourself from a layoff, economic downturn, etc. I can’t disagree that side gigs are useful in this regard, but I would argue that having one job doesn’t necessarily make you vulnerable. By focusing on only one job, I have gotten to a place where I earn a pretty good salary, so I am able to save during good times so that I can protect myself in the future if bad times arise. I have a built a strong reputation through years of hard work, and I feel confident that if I were to be laid off I would be able to leverage my network and skillset to find something new. Maybe in the future that “something new” could involve freelancing or gigs, but for now, a full-time job is all I want.

Passion projects don’t have to generate money

Just because I have only one paying job doesn’t mean that I don’t spend my time on other projects; it just means that I don’t have to monetize those projects. This blog is a great example. I started it for fun, because I am passionate about personal finance and wanted to share my thoughts with others. Of course I would love if it made money someday, but money is not the reason I do this (if it was, I’d be failing, having generated roughly $1.62 thus far). By not focusing on generating money and instead focusing on having fun, I can avoid burnout and only do what I enjoy.

The same goes for my other hobbies. I love to do crafts, and sometimes I like to give those crafts as gifts, but I’ve yet to try to sell them on Etsy or at a craft fair. I feel like if I tried to mass produce something, it would cease to be fun. In addition to this blog, I volunteer at a local tax help organization to teach low-income people about personal finance. I could do something like that for money, but I get so much more personal satisfaction out of it by volunteering to help those in need.

When the things you do for fun become things you do to earn money, I think they become work. I don’t want to work all the time, and I don’t want to turn fun things into work. I work hard at my job, and enjoy spending the rest of my time the way I want to spend it, regardless of if it generates money.

It’s OK to relax sometimes  

I really need to tell myself this from time to time. If you have one job or ten, you can spend all your time working or take the time to relax and enjoy life. I might have a slightly type A personality, making the whole relaxing thing hard enough when I only have one job. I can hardly imagine how hard it would be for me to slow down and rest if I had more than one job to worry about.

Do you have a side hustle? Why or why not?

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29 thoughts on “Do You Really Need A Side Hustle?

  1. Well it kind of blends in with my freelancing but yes, I side hustle, meaning I do a lot of jobs not related to video. I’m still for it, even if you have a full time job, but if it’s COSTING you more than benefiting you, then I can see why it’s not your thing. I would never say anyone HAS to do anything, but having been in both situations (full time and freelance), I wish I would have hustled when I worked full time…even if it was just a little bit here and there.


    • That is a great point – you need to look at the costs (in terms of time and money) and weight that against the benefits. Surely there is no one right or wrong, it just depends on the person.


  2. I totally get this, Ali. I’ve been guilty of too much side hustle in the past, so I really have to be careful how much I take on. And you’re totally right about side projects. My entire journey toward financial freedom is about making more time for creative projects like singing and weaving 🙂


    • Yes! I love creative projects, and somehow monetizing them just seems like it would take away a lot of the fun. I work hard at my day job so that I can have time and money to enjoy my other interests outside of work.


  3. I never want to make money from my blog. Money just complicates things, and I want the freedom to post whatever I want. Plus I never want to find myself considering income as a reason to keep writing. If I want to quit it, I’ll just quit it.

    My wife and I have a little side hustles in the past. Margie made cake pops for a while and made a few hundred dollars doing that. I sold paintings of Nintendo games for a while and made a few hundred dollars doing that. But like you say, it’s hard to keep it up having a full time job. But that’s the type of stuff I fully intend on picking up again after retirement. That’s great that you volunteer in your free time! I should do more of that.


    • Those both sound like really fun projects! I agree that picking up some of those type of activities and trying to generate a little cash from them in retirement is appealing. I think its the difference between needing to make money from side hustles to survive, vs. getting a little bit of extra from them.


  4. I create mobile apps and I monetize my blogs so I guess you could call that a side hustle. I’m already FI, so I really do it because I enjoy it, it just happens to drive a few dollars each month.


    • If you think its fun (and sounds like its also your only job) then I say go for it! Its awesome that you’ve found something you like doing that also makes you money.


  5. I regret not having built a side hustle years ago, before I had my son, but only because I think its limited my options, and not because I regret all the fun I had.

    I would agree that enjoying your full time job, and having a job in a growing field is economically better, even if you lose your job at one point or another. The only thing that a side hustle gives you is the ability to say, “If I could just earn $1200/month, then I could quit my job and do x.” which I think is valuable.


    • I do think the ability to be more flexible is a nice perk of “hustling” or freelancing, and perhaps in the future, when I have a family, that will become more valuable to me.


  6. “It’s OK to relax sometimes” now you sound like my wife 😉 I think each situation (and person) is different. For me, a side hustle has been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I’m entrepreneurial by nature but need a steady paycheck, so my 9-5 is in corporate finance. My wife and I have a lot of student loan debt and she’s in grad school. Combine all those facts and you have the perfect situation for someone (me) to pursue a side hustle. Debt can be incredibly motivating and it’s the reason I started side hustling in the first place.

    Another way to put it is you really need some sort of goal that aligns to your side hustle. It’s too tough to come home and work after a full day of work, so you need that extra motivation. For me it was our student loans (and now our house that we are slowly renovating – it takes $!). For someone else it might be a vacation home, cabin, or the prospect of retiring 10 or 15 years earlier. If you have a good reason to do it and you can make it work I definitely think it’s worthwhile. Is it necessary? Only in some situations.


    • I totally agree that everyone is different so will have different things that work for them. Also a great point about motivation. When you’re working towards a specific goal, something like a side hustle that takes a lot of extra effort might be totally worth it.


    • Haha 5 jobs! That is awesome if you can handle that, and I can totally see how it would feel very empowering to have multiple income streams. I think for me the stress would outweigh any benefit.


  7. Thanks for the reminder. I work full time in HR and also have my blog and while the ultimate goal is have that be the other way around, I need to remember to relax and let it be sometimes.


  8. My side hustle started as a fun hobby and eventually grew into something meaningful, I think having a side hustle is a nice security blanket everyone should consider. But is it required? Nope. Sometimes it’s good just to kick back and relax because your main job is going to be the more stable and offer up the most opportunities for you.


  9. I guess you call my blog a side hustle – but I don’t generate income from it! I try to stray away from it because I am passionate about providing information at no expense to people who want to learn about personal finance in a welcoming space. I definitely resonate with this post, it’s nice to get off work and then focus on things I am passionate about where money isn’t a factor of doing them. I think in the future I may create multiple streams of income, but right now contributing to investments in the background without having to work even more hours for that money to be saved is what works great for me! It allows me to allocate more time to loved ones, hobbies, and growth. 🙂


    • I’m in exactly the same place! My blog is a fun project that I enjoy working on, without the added pressure of feeling like I need to generate income from it. My main job and investments have me in a financially stable place so that outside of those things I can spend time as I wish.


  10. This is a great post, Ali! From a personal finance perspective, I could careless if someone has a side hustle. If they do, great. If they dont, great. Money management requires one job and behavioral change. Can a side hustle help, can it supplement money management? Of course. But it’s not the end all, be all. It’s easy to to use it as a bandade of bigger problems. And it can cause bigger problems!

    Again, I have no qualms about side hustles. But we talk A LOT about how great they are. This is refreshing to hear a tidbit from the other side.


    • Thanks! I completely agree, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a side hustle. For some people I’m sure that its a great choice. But there is also nothing wrong with not having a side hustle, and that perspective seems to be underrepresented in the PF blogosphere.


  11. It’s not OK to relax! J/K.

    After doing my MBA PT, I suddenly had 20+ hours a week free to do something else. It felt like I was not doing enough on the weekends b/c I’d still get up at 6am.

    A side hustle is a JOY if you find what you like to do. I like to call it an X Factor b/c you NEVER know what might come out of your joy that will bring you even more happiness.



    • Haha I can relate to the feeling of having way more free time than I’m used to now that my MBA is one. I do agree that if you find something that brings you joy, and happens to bring you money as well, then go for it. I am just suggesting that it is not necessary that everything we do in life has to bring us money. If you enjoy something that doesn’t generate money, that’s OK. And maybe down the road you can make money through that pursuit. Who knows.


  12. The side hustle is such a big topic that it often feels like blasphemy to question it. For us, we used to side hustle, but realized that it reduced our focus on our primary work, and actually hurt our total earnings potential. We ditched our side hustles about two weeks ago, and have seen our incomes increase much more than they could have from the hustles as a result of our increased focus and commitment to work. So, not to say that side hustles are worth it, but they aren’t *always* worth it, and it’s worth really thinking it through. Of course, there are tons of “side hustle” type activities that we could definitely see ourselves doing once we quit our jobs — monetizing our blog, crafts, side consulting, etc. — so we aren’t burning any bridges!


    • That is so interesting – thanks for sharing! You’ve illustrated how I feel, that if I divert my energy away from my day job into side hustles, I’ll be worse off in the end. I also am not ruling out side hustles indefinitely, just for the time being.


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