In this new “gig” economy, people love to talk about the side hustle. In fact, I have touted its benefits in this article all about taking your DIY skills to the next level with a side hustle.
Those of us in the FI (Financial Independence) community love to talk about side hustles and how they can boost your income, and therefore your savings rate.
But what if you have no interest in the side hustle?
Gasp! No Side Hustle?!
In my day job, I have a colleague who has absolutely no interest in the side hustle. He would much rather just do overtime when it is available, which is fairly often. The way he sees it, all of the headache and hassle involved with the behind-the-scenes work just doesn’t justify the extra money.
After some difficult and stressful side jobs in the last few days, I can certainly see some merit in that thought.
My point is, in our excessively anti-dogmatic approach to inclusivity within our community, we have created some pervasive dogmata. In this case, the idea that the side hustle is a necessity for those seeking FI.
But, but, but…
Now relax, it’s really not a big deal if someone has decided that they don’t want to pursue the side hustle option. Seriously! There are plenty of ways to be thoughtful and intentional with our money so that we may live outside of the consumerist norm, and not all of them involve entrepreneurship.
It just so happens that the material covered extensively in this blog, i.e. the development of useful DIY skills, tends to lend itself easily to side hustle opportunities, but that doesn’t mean that is a predetermined path.
Let’s go over an example of what I’m talking about.
Yesterday (this was written on a Monday) I was at my neighbor’s house for a bit having some pancakes. That is an unnecessary detail, but they were really good pancakes, with blueberry sauce and maple syrup, and some apple cider to go with them. Mmmm…
What was I saying? Oh, right, example! So, while I was there, they had a handyman doing some work for them on their house. This guy, let’s give him a name and call him Fred, was working on a Sunday making some extra bucks with his collection of DIY skills. Yay side hustle!
Fred was charging $30 per hour for his services. He probably put in about six hours, so he made an extra $180 yesterday. Not bad!
Let’s say that instead of going out and working for someone else, he stayed home and put in a few hours repairing and maintaining his own house. He would be, in theory, saving himself $180 by doing the work himself, getting the immense levels of satisfaction we have talked about previously, and spending time with his family. His kids would be learning from him, even if it was just learning that Dear Old Dad was really good at fixing stuff and swearing, and they would be taking away some great value lessons.
Avoiding the side hustle would give him dad points, a maintained house (which could arguably equal hubby points), he would be saving money, and he would be feeling pretty darn good about himself by the end of the day. Hopefully.
Sounds like a win to me!
This Seems Like It’s Contradicting Everything This Blog Has Ever Said Before
Not at all! I’m just saying there are options, and just because one of those options is really popular right now and has some great benefits doesn’t mean it’s the right option for you!
If you are fortunate enough to be in a position where you don’t have to spend every waking moment working to try to make ends meet (and if you have been pursuing FI in a thoughtful and meaningful manner for any length of time you will find yourself in such a position eventually), you will be able to appreciate the unparalleled value of time. The side hustle can certainly be a great way to make money, but you must also weigh the extra income against the reduced free time. If your side hustle is something you absolutely love doing and would do for free except that it happens to be something that can make you money, this is not an issue. If, on the other hand, you find yourself spending too much time away from your family and feeling stressed or resentful about this, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate.
In my case, it swings back and forth. This is not a solid black-or-white issue. I have long periods of no side jobs, in which I really enjoy spending my evenings and weekends at home, and I have periods of feverish activity. I’m in one of those high-intensity periods right now, and I’m finding myself spending a bit too much time away from my family.
Trying to find a good balance between raising overall income and having quality time with my wife and kids is a constant struggle, but it’s a good struggle. I am lucky enough to be able to survive without the side hustle, and if it gets to be too much I have the option of backing out completely. I could, if I wanted, follow the footsteps of my colleague and ditch the side hustle altogether in favor of the occasional overtime shift. I don’t see that ever happening, as I get much more fulfillment from my side jobs than I ever would from overtime, but it’s always nice to know there are options.
Let’s Take A Look in the Mirror
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, and you have actually found yourself developing some DIY skills, that’s fantastic! Also, perhaps you have thought about using those skills to make a few extra bucks. Maybe you know someone who needs a window replaced, and you happen to be able to do just that. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to help them out and make some money at the same time?
That being said, it’s important to really look at yourself and think about what an endeavor like that would entail. Are you interested in taking on that kind of risk and responsibility? What if something goes wrong in the process, or you find yourself in over your head with no turning back? What if you get halfway through and find that you absolutely hate it?
I want you to think abut about the skills you have developed over your time on this earth and how they could benefit you in ways that don’t involve the side hustle. What kind of ways could you use your knowledge to benefit your household non-monetarily? Would your kids, if you have any, gain more from the added income you bring home from a side job, or would seeing you struggle and persevere through a home repair project give them the most benefit?
Personally, I think everyone should have a decent toolkit at home, and everyone should be able to do some basic repair and maintenance with those tools. Even a little bit of self-sustainability goes a long way.
Having said that, I also think that the side hustle road is not for everyone, and you should not feel any external pressure in this regard. Especially not from an inclusive community whose members pride themselves on building wisdom and clarity of thought through extensive knowledge-sharing.
If you do decide to take your DIY skills to the world, let it be on your own terms. Otherwise, the only thing you’ll get out of the practice is stress and resentment.
And money. Don’t forget about the money.