This post is sponsored by Lexington Law.

We keep hearing all about side hustles and it’s becoming more of a buzz word, but what exactly is it?  A side hustle is something that brings in extra money in addition to your 9-5.  There is no specific field limitation and it is a more flexible way to bring in income.  On the surface this sounds great.  Who doesn’t want to earn money and pay down debt, especially when our country’s debt numbers are so high?  According to the Federal Reserve, the total revolving consumer credit debt reached $1.027 trillion in March of 2018 and the student loan debt is $1.8 trillion. 

But it’s hard for many people to identify something that aligns with their interests and doesn’t feel like an extra burden.  When you’re already overwhelmed, figuring out how you’re going to pay back what you owe can feel impossible.  So, let’s break down ways to align your side hustle with your interests so you don’t feel like it’s just something else you “have to do” and can start putting money away to get out of debt.

QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU IDENTIFY YOUR SIDE HUSTLE

What do people come to you for at your day job?

Think about what type of questions/tasks people come to you for during your 9-5.  Beyond what you get paid to do, what skills or strengths do people tend to rely on your for?  This could be:

  • Organizing calendars/meetings
  • Drafting a budget for an upcoming social event
  • Helping to create a content calendar for the company’s blog

While on the surface these things might seem small scale, but these are areas that people will actually pay for.  Small business or start-ups that don’t have the need for a full-time staff member may be looking for a virtual assistant to update calendars, update spreadsheets, or complete other administrative functions. 

What do you like to do when you have free time?

Some of the best hobbies can actually turn into cash and not make you feel like you’re adding something else to your plate.  Reflect on what you like to do when you’re not working and have a few moments to yourself.

Maybe you like taking pictures or writing.  Or enjoy planting flowers and drawing.  Or maybe you’ve been experimenting with graphic design or like to lounge around with your dog.

Bloggers, influencers, and small businesses are on lookout for content creation and social media management.  Everyone wants a nice LinkedIn photo and maybe your neighbor needs some lawn work. When people go on vacation, they’re always looking for dog walkers or sitters. Side hustles can be an extension of what you’re already doing, but now you can actually get paid to do it.

What is something you are hearing others struggle with?

Has your neighbor said anything about how they don’t have the time but really want to plant some flowers?  Did your friend say she needs new headshots because she’s updating her LinkedIn profile? Were you at a happy hour and overheard someone say they need extra help with their business? Is your neighbor trying to find someone to drive their kids to sports practices at night or on the weekends?  Did you overhear someone at the grocery store say their kid needs math tutoring?

Take note of what other people are mentioning as their pain points and see if it aligns with your strengths and interests.  It may be something that you never thought of before and it turns out to be something you really enjoy.

NARROWING IT DOWN

Reflect on how you’ve answered these questions and then narrow down your options to about five.  This will give you the chance to explore these areas while taking note of how much money you can make. 

Some of your options may include:

  • Virtual assistant
  • Freelance writing
  • Uber/Lyft driver
  • Pet sitting/walking
  • Graphic design
  • Lawn care
  • Tutoring

From there, think about your financial goals and the amount of debt you are looking to get out of.  Writing and virtual assistant work may have a higher potential than something like lawn care that is seasonal work. 

TAKE ACTION ON YOUR SIDE HUSTLE

Now that you know what side hustle matches your interests and what you’d like to earn, it’s time to take action.  Reach out to your friend about headshots, talk to your neighbor about planting flowers, get in touch with a neighbor/friend who may know someone who needs tutoring.

You can also use sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and Thumbtack to promote and share your services.

MAKE A PLAN FOR YOUR EARNINGS

Starting a side hustle is a chance to get out of debt, not create more of it.  So, you want to make sure have a plan of what to do with the new income you’re bringing in.  To get started, you can try:

  • Putting all of your earnings into a separate bank account that you don’t touch and is only used to pay off loans or credit card bills.
  • Setting up automatic payments from this account to pay off your bills.
  • Making extra payments. If you’re able to not only pay the minimum but can pay a little more each month, you’ll make a large dent in your loans.

Getting out of debt can feel like a never-ending process but try not to be discouraged.  Finding a side hustle that aligns with your interests and helps you pay your bills will make a huge difference.  Take the time to do some reflection on your strengths, what you enjoy doing and what people pain point people need solved.  Then get ready to take action and start paying off those bills.

While aligning interests and starting your side hustle, you may also want to make sure your credit is in good shape to ensure you don’t overspend.  The professionals  at Lexington Law are here to help and can provide you with personalized assistance so you can repair your credit.  Their blog is also a great resource.

Alissa Carpenter

Professional Trainer, Speaker and Career Coach at Everything's Not OK and That's OK
Alissa Carpenter offers professional development and career exploration to companies, alumni groups, student advising units, and individuals across the country. She works to enhance team communication, teamwork and interpersonal skills with an upbeat personality and true passion for working with others to set and achieve goals.Alissa has an MEd in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education, is a Gallup-Certified Clifton Strengths Coach and is certified in the Strong Interest inventory.
Alissa Carpenter

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