It’s a common refrain from many in the personal finance community. Get a side hustle to get ahead. Well today I am going to challenge that question a bit. We are going to explore why you don’t need a side hustle.
A Side Hustle Is Not the Only Road To Multiple Incomes
Before we get started let’s first explore why so many personal finance bloggers promote side hustles. The big one of course is having multiple income streams. I can’t argue much with the need for multiple income streams, after all I wrote a whole post on why you need them. But let’s be honest here, you don’t need a side hustle to have multiple streams. Many non hustles like investments, a spouse that works, and real estate (which one might be able to argue can also be a hustle I guess) can generate multiple income streams. There are many routes to success, and not all of them lead through working in your free time.
A Side Hustle May Not Speed Up Your Finances
The second major reason given is to get ahead quicker financially. And here is where I part ways with my fellow blogger. I get it, working 5 extra hours a week will lead to more money. The only problem is, depending on your life scenario it may not. Say you are just starting out in a high stress field. In some cases you will have more success by focusing your efforts on climbing the career ladder. Taking your eyes off the ball by doing a side hustle may impede that. Perhaps it will lower your performance at work by tiring you out. Or it could conflict with other things you could do to improve your work situation.
Few Side Hustles Are About Passion
The third major reason given is to follow your passion. The idea being that by doing a side hustle you can work on something you really enjoy. Sounds great in theory, but let’s be honest. Very few side hustles are labors of love, most are renting your room as an Airbnb, dog walking, or some other manual labor item. Very few ten year olds woke up this morning and said I dream of driving for Uber. If you find a passion hobby, kind of like this blog, where you believe it can make money as a business and entertain you by all means go for it. But from my experience these are few and far between for most people.
Side Hustles Can Hurt Work Life Balance
The other thing to watch out for is a side hustle can harm your home life. I’m especially thinking of us with kids. Is a side hustle worth it if you miss critical moments with your kids because you are working for 10 bucks an hour extra? Probably not. What price do you put on your free time? How many side hustles truly cover that cost? For higher income individuals I bet the opportunities of that cover that opportunity cost are few and far between.
Take myself for example, I could easily make big money doing a side hustle as a consultant. The thing is, in order for me to do so the time has to come from somewhere. Outside of work I spend my time blogging, with my wife and kids, sleeping, and relaxing. None of these are sacrificable for a side hustle without great harm to me. I can’t sleep an hour less and not impact my work efficiency. Relaxing less is out due to the impact on my sanity. I can’t spend less time with my wife and kids unless I really want marital and family problems. And well I guess I could replace the blog but it’s my passion project so I’m not going to do it. The pay for that side hustle would have to be higher then me missing one of those things. So far it hasn’t been so here I sit with no side hustle.
Side Hustles Can Become Something Bigger
The final major agreement I hear for a side hustle is it could develop into something bigger. Basically you could find a more lucrative outlet the your current employment. Frankly for most people I feel this is the only legitimate reason to consider a hustle early in their career. Take my consultant example. The only reason I would ever consider such a side hustle is if I thought there was a possibility it could lead to a self employed gig later on. Sure it could be a pipe dream, but this one I get. However some of the new gig economy ones are a bridge to nowhere. For example dog sitting is not going to lead to something bigger. For many of us it’s just going to eat up time at a small percentage of your normal hourly rate. So unless you truly enjoy it, or you desperately need the money (again an exception I understand), why bother?
Your Regular Employer May Claim Ownership of Your Side Hustle Work
One final reason to consider skipping the side hustle. Go back and look at the employment agreement you signed with your employer. For those of us with higher level jobs chances are high it probably says something in there that limits the type of work you an do. In some cases it may even make the work you do property of your employer if done while you work there! Even for those of us without such clauses you need to be very careful to draw a line on when you would work on such a hustle versus when you do your job. Mixing them in any way could cause you legal headaches down the road. In my 15 years of employment I’ve read of companies telling their employees they couldn’t blog, seen a company sue for control of a coworkers company, and witnessed countless non compete lawsuits. Those headaches are not worth it if these risks exist for you.
For Now I’m Not Hustling
I can not guarantee I’ll never pick up a true side hustle beyond a minorly profitable blog. Some day I could find that opportunity that could develop into something bigger and won’t put me at risk of law suits. But for now I will continue to focus on getting the most out of my existing career, keeping my health up, and enjoying time with my family. For many this will be their answer as well. After all, no one on their death bed wishes they’d worked a few more hours on a side hustle. They wish for more time with loved ones and enjoying life.
Do you have a side hustle? Why or why not?