Do The (Side) Hustle: How America Makes Extra Cash

Though the side hustle sounds like it belongs on a ‘70s dance floor, it has nothing to do with how you move your feet and everything to do with how you make your cash. Even if you haven’t heard of this trendy buzzword before, you know what it is. Used to describe that extra gig you pick up to supplement your income, the side hustle is a relatively new term for an old way of making extra money.

In the past, a side hustle would have been that part-time job you had as a bouncer at a club on the weekends or that occasional night you spent babysitting your neighbor’s kid. Nowadays, it usually implies a freelancing element, wherein people advertise their skills and services online and chip away at projects in their own time. Many designers, writers, and even financial experts offer their services online this way, but it’s not limited to these professions. Bakers, accountants, seamstresses, and landscapers can find work this way, too.

Though it has a long history of padding out tight budgets, the side hustle saw its recent rebranding thanks to a resurgence of hustlers in the last several years. The side hustle has become a refuge for a population facing uncertain job prospects, underemployment, and inflation.

New data suggests there are over 44 million Americans side hustling right now, and many of them are Millennials. Bankrate estimates 28 percent of Millennials have at least one at any given time, and with it, they’re able to add at least $200 per month to their budget with their work. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re using the gig economy to their full advantage. Side hustlers ages 53 to 62 tend to earn as much as $1,000 per month, proving that with age comes wisdom — as do experience and marketable skills.

Regardless of how successfully one adopts the gig way of life, side hustling is the new norm. You probably know someone who’s teaching yoga classes after work, catering events on the weekends, or building websites in their spare time.

Traditionally, before the Millennials made it their own, the side hustle was a bonus to a budget that let someone follow their passions. In the past, it was a way to go travelling or see a movie like Black Panther five times in theaters without dipping into your regular income. Now, things have changed. People—and Millennials especially—are relying on the side hustle to fill in the holes of their budgets.

According to the latest research compiled by GOBankingRates, 62 percent of Americans don’t have enough savings set aside to cover unexpected expenses. About half that number have absolutely zero savings to their name, meaning they can’t afford a household repair, trip to the vets, or car maintenance without seriously jeopardizing their other bills.

Part-time and irregular side gigs can help develop the savings you need to confront these financial emergencies and pay them off on your own. You might be able to solve your financial problems in 2018 by joining the increasing number of side hustlers in the New Year. If you have a sellable skill, check out e-lancing websites and other online resources designed for those looking to turn their abilities into a money maker. Many of the jobs you could do allow you to work from home during the hours you choose, so it won’t interfere with your current job or your personal life.

Even if you don’t think you have a sellable skill, it’s worth your while to research this topic. You may be surprised by what opportunities await you. Even simple keyboarding skills can help you earn cash transcribing audio from home.

If what you earn in your side hustle isn’t enough to cover the deficits in your main job, then you have a responsibility to speak with a professional financial advisor. They can teach you the best way to budget properly for your situation. They can help you understand the differences between personal loans and lines of credit, so you know which best to use as a stopgap. They can also determine if you need to consider more substantial strategies like debt consolidation or mortgage refinancing.

The side hustle has changed over time, but ultimately, it’s a smart way to use current economic trends to your advantage. As the rise of part-time and contract work change the economic landscape of the country, especially for Millennials, you might as well cash in on a side hustle or two. Whether it’s a way to fund your next trip around the globe or the only way you can pay your bills on time, the side hustle is an essential financial tool in the new millennium.

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