From driving for a rideshare company or tutoring online to reselling items on eCommerce sites or working at a local coffee shop, there are plenty of side hustles to earn extra money in the gig economy. However, all these side hustles take energy, focus, and time away from other things, such as leisure or time with loved ones.
You may be hustling to grow your savings, to get out of debt, or to have a creative outlet, but that doesn’t mean you also suddenly have extra hours in the day. If you’re committing some of your time away from your nine-to-five to a side hustle, follow these five principles to maximize your earnings while still having time for yourself and the things that are important to you.
1. Find Something You Actually Enjoy
In a survey by The Hustle, only 51 percent of respondents said they loved their primary jobs, while 76 percent said they loved their side hustles. If you aren’t thrilled with your day job, having a side hustle that is focused on what you love can provide a valuable creative and emotional outlet. Also, it’s much easier to make money doing something you love.
There are side hustle opportunities in nearly every hobby or field of interest. You could pet sit, do handyman jobs, or help restaurants prep food. You may have to try a few different side hustles to find the one you enjoy the most, but if you’re sacrificing your free time for a weekend side job, you may as well do something you enjoy.
2. Set a Goal and Stick to It
It can become tempting to take a break from your side hustle if you’re tired from your full-time job or would simply like to enjoy your free time. However, you started a side hustle for a specific reason: to accomplish your personal goals, whatever they may be.
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To keep yourself on track and motivated, write your goals down, pen to paper. Be sure to set specific goals. While getting out of debt is a great objective to have, saying “by the end of the year, I want to make $10,000 a month” is even better. Then place that paper somewhere you can easily and regularly see it — a bathroom mirror, your car’s dashboard, or the refrigerator, perhaps. This list of goals will remind you of your vision and, therefore, keep you accountable and working hard at your side hustle.
3. Think Like a Small Business
It’s easy to get excited about extra money showing up in your bank account, but keeping track of your hours and expenses as you’re working your side hustle is imperative for hitting your goals.
For example, if you’re driving for a rideshare service, tracking your expenses might reveal that your bottom line is being demolished by car repairs or gas prices. Seeing an extra $2,000 in your bank account per month may feel fantastic, but examining the related expenses will clarify the true return on your investment.
If your hourly rate works out to be less than what you’d like, you may need to adjust. Also, if the costs of operating your side hustle are eating away at your bottom line, it may be time to reconsider your line of work.
4. Manage Yourself, Not Just Your Business
While you’re racing to make that next dollar, the hustle can slowly eat away at your physical and mental health. According to a survey by Side Hustle Nation, the second-largest pain point of those managing a side hustle is “time/energy.”
For most American workers, the workday ends after eight hours. For side hustlers, the grind never stops. Numerous studies show the negative side effects of overwork and lack of rest, from lowered productivity to cardiovascular disease.
Remember to take time for yourself. If you don’t, you run the risk of not only hurting yourself, but endangering your performance in both your side hustle and your full-time position.
5. Use a Business Credit Card
If you’re incurring expenses associated with your side hustle, you may want to consider a small business credit card for yourself. With a small business credit card, you’ll be able to earn rewards or cash back, along with having the ability to easily separate your personal and business expenses.
For example, if you drive as a side hustle, you could apply for a business card that rewards fuel purchases. If you rent a room in your house but need to complete some repairs, you could find a card that rewards you for home improvement purchases. These earnings can help grow your bottom line with little effort or time on your part.
Whether you’re trying to grow your earnings, get out of debt, or quit your full-time job for something better, there are endless side-hustle opportunities. But while there are benefits to having a side hustle, there are also downsides. Be sure to take care of yourself, and be aware of the small details. Having a heftier bank account is great, but your full-time position and your health are even more important.
Brett Holzhauer is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University.