Author Topic: Side Income, or Free Time?  (Read 7989 times)

Donovan

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Side Income, or Free Time?
« on: September 09, 2014, 02:16:55 PM »
I'm a web developer by trade, and I've been slowly working on a passive-ish side income site to try and increase my income and boost my savings rate. However, the more I work on it, the more it feels like a chore.  This has gotten me thinking about whether the pursuit of this side income, which doesn't have any guarantee of taking off, is worth giving up the time that I am putting into it.  Time that I could instead be devoting to something I actually like (more creative meals, music, gym time, volunteering), even if it makes me no money in the short term.  I should note, I've got no actual love of the project. I was simply trying to find a small way to increase my own income while we wait for my wife to finish grad school next year and double our income by starting her career.

Has anyone else faced a choice like this?  I know we have several posters here with side gigs of one form or another, but have any of you purposely pursued one purely for the extra income, even if the pursuit of that income boost has a negative impact on other important parts of your life?

Gone Fishing

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2014, 02:26:24 PM »
With a full time job and two kids it is about all have to get everything done that I need to.  Every now and again an opportunity comes up to make $100 -$200 on a Saturday, but I always pass.  I need some downtime for my sanity.  My job is sufficient to get me to FIRE within a reasonable time frame.  Even if it wasn't I don't think I would sacrifice too much my family time for an extra couple hundred bucks.  One of the wonderful side effect of frugality is that it usually results in us getting MORE time together. 

Maybe try something not related to your dayjob.  The skillset might not be there at first, but you will learn something different, which may be useful later on, and possibly more stimulating. 

arebelspy

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2014, 02:52:12 PM »
Everything in life is a tradeoff.

We can't really evaluate for you if that tradeoff is worth it, or not.

Sit down and spend some time figuring the costs, and benefits, and see if it's worth it. 

Given your description it sounds like probably not, but again, you'll want to evaluate for yourself, unless you want to throw up a poll and then we really can decide for you.  ;)
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Chranstronaut

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2014, 03:13:31 PM »
Maybe try something not related to your dayjob. 

My opinion on this is that it depends on your stress level and whether getting paid for something makes it more or less stressful.

I'm an engineer, and I like to sing.  I've been jamming with a coworker at lunch once a week for the past few months.  I've briefly thought about trying to monetize this hobby, but it takes the fun out of it for me.  Singing is my stress relief, and it wouldn't relieve me if I was trying to make money from it.

To be fair, I'm really busy these days with 2 hours commuting and taking classes online for a Master's degree.  There's no amount of money that would be worth less of my precious free time.  I'll reconsider singing as a side gig when I have more time, or if I actually ever get good at it ;)

I think this is the kind of tradeoff a person has to continually reevaluate.

jaizan

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2014, 03:18:03 PM »
The side income only makes sense if you strongly expect to get a vastly superior hourly rate from this enterprise, or if you enjoy it much more than the day job.

There's no point working 6 days a week when you're fit and healthy just to retire slightly earlier.  Much better to take some free time now.

Lis

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2014, 03:34:19 PM »
My side gig started becoming too overwhelming. I was waking up earlier and staying up later. I skipped spending time with friends, and when I did go out, I was stressed about all the work that was piling up. I would wake up, work on my side gig, go to real work, come home and work on my side gig, go to bed. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Had I kept it up, I could have been pulling in maybe $400-$500 extra a month, not a sum of money I'd sneeze at. But it wasn't worth it to me. It was a gig I took on as something to do for fun, and it was far more successful than I thought it could be. I nearly snapped and quit it all together, but I found a couple of regular clients and am pulling in about $120-$150 a month.

mozar

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2014, 05:20:40 PM »
I had a side gig for a couple years that netted me 3k a year, the 12 hour days weren't for me, and helped me realize I never want to be an entrepreneur. Heck I could take the CPA exam and would increase my pay by 10k and create lifetime stability, and I still don't want to do it.

deborah

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2014, 06:15:11 PM »
When I worked I had a side gig where I taught people to create machine embroidery. It was a lot different from my day job, it was something that I really enjoyed, it increased my skills in this area and I made friends doing it. I didn't really care about the cash, but it made me extra money, since everything I spent, I would have spent anyway. Currently, I am having a year away from doing it, because it needed me to be available at predictable times, and my parents have needed me at unpredictable times. I expect to restart it in a year.

It seems to me that MMM's side gig is like mine in that it has the same enjoyable attributes.

Sure, develop a side gig for the money, and think of it as a business (work) - but don't expect to enjoy it, and work out a way of developing it so that you can sell it when it becomes too much unpleasant work. Don't think of it as something you will want to do in retirement.

If you have a passion, work out whether a side gig will enhance your passion - and what you can do for a side gig in your passion. Then you will have something you will want to take into retirement!

Cwadda

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2014, 06:26:41 PM »
I have a side gig playing music which is what I'd say my true passion is. I'm not pursuing it in college as a career but I still do it consistently. I have analyzed this and how having a musical outlet is almost necessary for the very fibers of my personality (ISFP). It pays well enough to put me through school so it just happens to work out monetarily.

I'd say spend a considerable amount of time thinking about exactly what you want, what you enjoy, how you will benefit, and how you feel - rather than the money aspect. If you find a side hustle that you like then the extra cash is a bonus. I'd say definitely try to find something that you actually enjoy or find rewarding.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2014, 02:23:24 PM »
I have a friend with a side gig buying and selling on ebay.  He can make around $1000 month, but it is quite a bit of work on top of his day job.  He'll turn it on for a month or so, then turn it off until he feels like working for some extra cash. 

Nords

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2014, 02:34:05 PM »
However, the more I work on it, the more it feels like a chore. 
I should note, I've got no actual love of the project. I was simply trying to find a small way to increase my own income while we wait for my wife to finish grad school next year and double our income by starting her career.
Has anyone else faced a choice like this?  I know we have several posters here with side gigs of one form or another, but have any of you purposely pursued one purely for the extra income, even if the pursuit of that income boost has a negative impact on other important parts of your life?
Yep.  The answer to your question is "It's only money", and you should put this one on the shelf until your motivation changes.

Elderwood17

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2014, 02:41:38 PM »
If it is a chore, I would reconsider it.  I work a lot of hours (and am paid well) so I put a huge premium on having fun when I am off.  If fun makes me money, that is fine, but it still has to be fun if I have to put energy into it.

sheepstache

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2014, 02:46:46 PM »
Another possibility with side jobs that closely mimic your day job is that the side job increases your competence at your day job.  I'm at the point where I've mastered everything at my day job so it's not very challenging.  The side gigs focus on and improve special skill sets and introduce me to practices at other job sites, so I'm not so much stuck in the rut of 'how we've always done it' and can offer new ideas and solutions at the day job.  Also I can explore what my next job opportunity might be and create a rolodex of colleagues in the field who I enjoy working with, for possible future collaborations or to tap when I hear about job openings.

ETA: On the free time thing, I find I don't optimize a lot of my free time, so working an extra 8 hours a week can actually make me feel like I have more time when compared to 8 hours spend slouching at the computer "decompressing."
Everybody's different though.  If the job keeps you away from fulfilling things, that matters.  If the job isn't that much of a break from the ordinary, that's a big difference and I assume for web stuff it's all just sitting in front of a computer, which sounds like a drag.  But then, I can't stand desk jobs at all, so everybody's different.
 
« Last Edit: September 10, 2014, 02:50:44 PM by sheepstache »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2014, 03:59:55 PM »
From my own experience in the past, and my wife's current experience, side jobs that you're not passionate about can be EXTREMELY draining, even if the compensation is quite good.

I try to convince her that the money isn't worth it, she's slowly coming around. I myself only take side jobs I enjoy (physical outdoors labor and computer repair).

stlbrah

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2014, 05:39:03 PM »
personally, I love my side work. Something about being an entrepreneur is liberating and feels good

FatCat

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2014, 09:47:55 PM »
Is there a chance the side job can replace the full time job eventually? If you can get sufficiently high rates for the side job you can quit the full time job and have more free time overall.

NL_sfc

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2014, 03:19:43 AM »
I can only recommend getting a side job that actually energizes you, in my case it's helping SMB's with IT issues and getting rewarded handsomely for it.

TheNorwegianGuy

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2014, 03:37:45 AM »
A guy I know (and just interviewed for my blog) started with web development on the side, just for the fun of it (he was a geologist). He programmed a java-script for his own use on his own website.. Later he thought, maybe someone else wanted this as well, so he started selling it online...

Now, a few years later he has 61 of the 100 biggest companies in the world on his customer list, has 10 employees and earn around 3,5 million dollars a year (still growing)! Just on this one small hobby of his!

Just for the inspiration ;)
« Last Edit: September 11, 2014, 03:40:23 AM by TheNorwegianGuy »

norabird

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2014, 09:04:18 AM »
I tend to always vote for free time, so, that's my vote ;) Life involves a lot of chores as it is.

sheepstache

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Re: Side Income, or Free Time?
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2014, 09:28:20 AM »
you should put this one on the shelf until your motivation changes.

+1 I don't think anyone else has unpacked this.  Many are saying the side job is only worthwhile if it energizes you, but a big part of that is your attitude.  OP, you seem to view it as drudge work you would only do for the extra money, but can you change your approach to it so that it's not?  Could you change some aspects of it to make it more interesting?  Could you simply cut back on hours?  At the very least, could you take a vacation from it for a couple weeks?  Sometimes that's the easiest way to get a fresh perspective.