Money at 30: The Right and Wrong Kinds of Side Hustles

These days it seems the term “side hustle” is everywhere you look. This might lead some to assume that — as this Uber commercial proclaims — everyone needs one. However the truth, as it tends to be, is far more nuanced than that. Yes, there are plenty of potential opportunities in the side hustle space but there are also several instances where they’re either unnecessary or downright harmful. If you’re considering jumping on the side gig bandwagon, here’s a quick guide to when they’re worth your time and when you should stay away:

When side hustles are good

Turning hobbies into profit

Of all of the gifts the Internet has given us over the years, perhaps the greatest has been the ability to make money doing what you love. Whether you enjoy showing your creativity or sharing your knowledge by making videos for YouTube or like to create and sell crafts on Etsy, there are several opportunities to turn your passions into profit using the glorious world wide web. Better yet, many of these hobby-based side hustles don’t require a ton of capital to get started and if nothing else can help subsidize your hobby.

Setting up your next act

One of the best reasons to start a side hustle is to set up something that will hopefully blossom into a future career. Perhaps you have a great business idea you’re anxious to get off the ground but aren’t quite ready to take that leap of faith and leave your day job — why not get things started in your spare time? Granted there are certainly challenges with trying to build a business when splitting your time, but hopefully doing so will at least allow you to prove your concept and get you far enough to eventually make the transition to full-time.

Making ends meets

While making some fun money or building a business on the side can be great, sometimes you may just need a side hustle to help pay the bills and put food on the table during a rough patch. That’s where ride-share services like Uber, home rental sites like Airbnb, and other gig economy businesses like TaskRabbit have really come to the rescue for some. By leveraging your existing assets — be it your car, an extra room, or your skills — via these services and others, you may be able to make ends meet until you can get back on your solid ground.

When side hustles are bad

Overextending yourself

Side hustles can be really great… until they’re not. At some point, you may need to ask yourself if the added workload is worth it and/or if your extra endeavors are negatively affecting your main gig, family life, or even your health. Remember: as nice as having extra money is, make sure you’re not sacrificing too much to get it.

Making money to offset overspending

I recently came across a great blog post by Holly Johnson of Club Thrifty that shared an anecdote about a friend of hers. As the story goes, this friend approached Holly saying she was looking for a side hustle to make some additional cash. The thing is, it’s not that the person in question wasn’t making enough to support herself and her family, it’s that she was merely overspending. As Holly points out, your overspending cannot be corrected by a side hustle. In fact, it could only make matters worse. Instead you should focus on the basics of budgeting and reeling in your finances before taking on more work.

When its a scam

Another important note about side hustles is that there are still a number of scams that people fall for (putting the “hustle” in “side hustle” perhaps). That’s why it’s always important to do your due diligence and think carefully before signing up for a gig that sounds too good to be true.  Even if certain “opportunities” may not rise to the level of “scam,” you may still want to think twice about different sales positions and determine if the upfront investment they often require will actually pay off.

Make no mistake, there are plenty are great things about side hustles. Whether that means driving for a ride-share company, doing freelance tasks on demand, or building your own business out of your passion or hobby, there’s certainly opportunity to make extra money and create an optimal lifestyle for yourself. At the same time, it’s important to consider your motivations for wanting a side gig and whether it’s ultimately a good idea for you. Contrary to what some might think, not everyone needs a side hustle but, in the right context, it can’t hurt to have one.


Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at

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