If a chronically tight budget has you feeling anxious and you aren’t savvy about smart and easy ways to save up with your tiny budget, it may be time to consider a second job.
While this option is not for everyone, budgeting alone won’t resolve your cash flow problems. Whether you are trying to save for a down payment on a house, need to reduce your debt drastically, or simply need to cover day-to-day expenses, an extra source of cash can help you get out of a financial hole and move on with your life.
Statistics show that more than 44 million Americans have a side hustle or job of some kind, but is it really the right thing for you?
Unfortunately, some people have found that taking a second job only makes matters worse. This is often because they become overworked by the stresses of spending an additional 10 to 20 hours per week in a second workplace. Relationships with friends and family suffer, and the worker may find it difficult to maintain their performance levels at both workplaces.
If you find yourself in this predicament, you may find that your second job is doing more harm to your finances than it is helping. Fortunately, there are ways that you can take on the extra work without becoming overworked. Here are some tips that can help:
1. Establish a Goal
Ideally, you don’t want to have to work two jobs for an extended period of time. Instead of taking the first side job that comes along, sit down and set some goals for yourself. Figure out how much money you’ll need to address your situation, along with a deadline for earning it. If your circumstances are ongoing, you may also want to consider a plan for improving your skills so as to be able to make the money you need at a single job. If you notice that your final goal is too big to achieve easily, take the time to break your goals down into smaller and easier-to-achieve ones that you can work to reach each day.
Another reason to establish a goal is that you don’t want to fall into the trap of increasing your spending just because you have extra money coming in. Instead, determine early on what you need that extra income for and prioritize either paying down debt, adding to your investment accounts, or saving for a major purchase.
2. Consider a Side Gig Instead
One alternative to taking on a second job where you work for an employer is to take on a side gig instead, such as freelance or contract work. Options range from freelance writing, driving for rideshare services, or hiring yourself out to do odd jobs.
The advantage to taking a side gig instead of working for a traditional employer is that you will often enjoy a more flexible schedule, which can reduce stress and your chances of becoming overworked. Freelancing and contract work can also pay more than traditional part-time jobs, such as those in retail or customer service.
If you do take on freelance employment, remember that you will be responsible for reporting your income and paying taxes on what you earn yourself. If you are between tax brackets, you may wish to speak with a financial advisor before taking on freelance employment so that you don’t end up having to pay most of your extra earnings to the IRS.
3. Clarify Availability
Make sure you specify your availability to supervisors at both workplaces. This is particularly true if you’ve taken a job in retail or hospitality, as work shifts in these industries are frequently subject to change. Also, some workplaces expect employees to be available to pick up a shift on short notice or have more flexible availabilities.
To avoid conflict, and possibly losing your job, make your scheduling issues clear. If scheduling ends up being a major problem, picking up a freelance side gig may be a better option. Another thing to consider is the proximity between both your jobs.
4. Map Your Commute
Before taking another job, map out your commute. Commutes are often stressful and expensive. If you’re working an hourly position, consider how much money you are actually making. If your commute to your new job is more than 20 minutes each way, rethink whether the second job is worth it.
5. Opt for Something Different
When looking for a second job or freelance work, consider doing something different from what you are doing now. There are two reasons for this.
The first is that employers often have real concerns about your working for the competition and potentially disclosing confidential information. To avoid friction, choose a job in an industry different from that of your main workplace.
The second reason why you might want to choose a different type of job is that you are less likely to become bored or suffer from repetitive stress injuries from doing the same thing 60+ hours per week. For example, if you currently work in marketing and sit in a cubicle all day, you may enjoy a retail job that allows you to be on your feet and interacting with people.
6. Go for Higher Compensation
Prioritize financial compensation when considering a second job. The more money you make, the fewer hours you will have to work. This may mean choosing a job or side gig that is less interesting than others, but the extra money means that you are less likely to get burnt out from too much work.
A Word of Caution
Taking a second job often makes sense when you need to pay off debt, address unexpected expenses, or save for a particular financial goal. However, overwork can eventually take its toll on your mood, health, and ability to concentrate. This can affect your job performance and could put your primary job at risk.
If working a second job interferes with your primary job, it’s a good idea to reassess your options. For example:
- Look for ways to reduce your expenses so that you can pay off debt without needing a second income. If your situation is dire, consider credit counseling or even bankruptcy.
- Reassess your current job and long-term career goals. If you aren’t making enough money at your current workplace, it may be time to ask for a raise or to talk to your manager about advancement. You could also look for a new job.
- If you’ve suffered a temporary increase in expenses or an unexpected financial setback, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan with creditors or even take out a small loan to help you manage your short-term financial difficulty rather than exhaust yourself at a second job or a side gig.
Taking a second job can be stressful, but it may be your best option for dealing with a challenging financial situation. To make this option work, it’s important to choose your new work carefully and to pay attention to your physical, mental, and emotional needs while you pursue dual employment. It’s also crucial that you develop a backup plan that can help you address your finances if the second job doesn’t work out.
Pay attention to your health, your stress levels, and your overall exhaustion if you’re taking on a second job and reassess your situation regularly to make sure that you need to keep working two jobs.
About the Author:
Jillian Rosenthal is a career coach specializing in professional transition for Millennial women. Having experienced her own challenging professional transition a few years back, she’s uniquely qualified to help others find the right balance in this new take on work and entry into the workforce.