If you want to accelerate success, you need to put forth extra effort. Just ask the pro football player who lifts weights after everybody else goes home. You can’t do the minimum and expect big results. That’s true in football and in building wealth. That’s why taking on an extra job may be a good play for you.
How Do I Know If I Need a Second Job?
Now, I know if you’re already working a full-time job, getting a second one isn’t an exciting idea. But a short-term side job can be an excellent way to make up for lost time or to give your savings a boost. It’s a personal decision because everyone’s financial situation is different. However, there are some common reasons people take on extra work. Here are some questions to ask:
- Are you debt-free? If not, take a minute to calculate how long it will take you to get there (minus the mortgage). If saying goodbye to debt is more than two years away, you may want to get a side job to speed things up. Debt is retirement quicksand. It will keep you from moving forward with your financial goals.
- What is your next financial milestone? Your goal could be increasing your investing to 15% of your income (which I recommend). Or you could be in the process of saving for a down payment on a house. You may need to replenish your emergency fund. No matter your next financial goal, you can reach it more quickly if you’re willing to put in some extra work.
- Want some fun money to spend? If you’re not putting 15% of your paycheck toward retirement, then spending 10% on travel or hobbies isn’t the best financial move. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with taking a side job for a few months to pay for those things. That way you can meet your retirement goals and enjoy that trip to the beach.
Where Can I Find a Good Side Job?
The great news is that you control where and how you’ll earn that extra money. Your options are only limited by your creativity! Here are some ideas:
- Seasonal work. In December, retailers scramble for extra help restocking shelves, and everything in between. If that’s not an option, mow extra lawns or work at the zoo or botanical gardens. These places are always looking for extra help in the summer months. And have you ever been to a costume shop near Halloween? Mass chaos. That’s a great time to take on a second job for a week or two.
- Sit for someone. As in babysitting. It’s not reserved for acne-faced kids anymore. If you’d like a little less stress, check out house or pet sitting. People are crazy in love with their animals. And if you love hanging out with older generations, try your hand at being a daytime companion for a senior adult. You may need to get certified in first aid or other skills, so keep that in mind.
- Contract and consult. If your company allows, do some outside contract work in your field of expertise. In today’s digital world, you can connect with potential employers anywhere. Doing double-duty at work and home can lead to burnout, though, so choose your assignments carefully.
- Go back to school—sort of. During the school years, parents are desperate to get help for their kids who are struggling in class. After all, sixth grade math isn’t like it used to be! If you’d rather work with adults, you can teach English from the comfort of your own kitchen—via the Internet, of course. You can contract with companies to tutor people all over the world. Work attire not necessary!
- Work where you play. Love golf? Get a part-time gig at the course. If you love digging in the dirt, ask local florists or nurseries if they need extra help (think summertime, prom, Christmas, etc.). If you love baseball, work a minor-league stadium. You never know until you ask!
Is a Second Job Worth the Sacrifice?
Let’s put pen to paper and figure out how that extra job might change your financial future. Pretend you’re 40 years old and are worried about saving enough for retirement. If you took a part-time summer job just once, took home $2,500, and invested that money in a Roth IRA, at age 70 you’d have an extra $43,000 in the bank.
$2,500 X 30 years at a 10% rate of return = $43,000
That doesn’t seem like much, but what if you did that same part-time job every year for 10 years instead of just once?
$2,500 X 10 years (age 40 to age 50) at a 10% rate of return = $43,000
$43,000 x 20 years (age 50–70) at a 10% rate of return =$300,000
At age 50, you’d have roughly the same amount—$43,000. But here’s where the math gets fun. If you kept that $43,000 invested for the next 20 years (until you’re 70), you’d end up with almost $300,000. Suddenly that extra effort is worth the sacrifice!
I know what you’re thinking—I’m not even ready to invest. I get that. But extra income is extra progress, even if you’re still getting rid of debt. Here’s the good news: If you throw extra money at paying off student loans, you’ll be debt-free sooner, which means you’re making extra progress toward the larger goal of investing for the future.
When it comes to a side gig, you get to control how many extra hours you put in and how long you want to do the work (six months, summertime, once a year, etc.), but the financial payoff depends on the effort you’re willing to give.