Budget Before You Hustle

Education & Training with Budgeting Couple

Personal finance forums are littered with the, "I'm living paycheck to paycheck" posts, with the majority of them claiming they need more money. They need a side hustle on top of their full time job.

And side hustles are great way to get money now. You can walk dogs, deliver groceries, or drive people around with Uber and Lyft. With the advent of the internet, and app store, you are now able to make a little extra money whenever you want! 

But there's a reason a full-time job is called a "full-time" job. It takes up *all* of your time. Sure it's only 40 hours per week, but you still have the commute time as well as chores around the house, commuting your children, grocery shopping, cooking, exercising, etc. A full-time job sucks up all the free-time you would've had after taking care of the necessities at home. 

All of this goes to say: you shouldn't pick up a side hustle unless you absolutely need extra money. If you're truly struggling to keep your income over your expenses every month, then you have a pass because you're doing what you need to do to survive. That means you need to be absolutely certain that you cannot make-do on your full-time income alone. And you can do this with a budget.

A budget is nothing more than money on paper. Start by listing out your monthly expenses, and be sure to include only the essentials (no Netflix or eating out)! And don't forget the expenses that only come around once/year Do you plan to spend $1,200 this Christmas? Well that means your monthly Christmas budget is $100/month. 

After you've created your extensive list of monthly expenses, compare it against your monthly income. Is your income greater than your expenses? That's great. You do not need a side hustle. All you need to do is spend according to the budget you just created for yourself. This will help you spend less than you earn every month, and you will build a massive savings in no time with no side-hustle needed.

But if your expenses are greater than your income, that doesn't mean you need a side-hustle quite yet. Are there any expenses you can purge? Can you downsize your home ? Can you get rid of a car (along with its insurance and registration expenses)? Try to find areas where you are needlessly spending money, and drop them.

If after this step your expenses are still greater than your income, then it's time for a side hustle. But the budget wasn't for nothing. You know how large the gap is between your income and expenses--you know how much extra money you need to bring in every month to cover your deficit. That means you can be strategic in choosing your side hustle, and pick the side-hustle that is best for you. 

Maybe all you have to do is drive for Uber or Lyft once a month? Or walk dogs around your neighborhood every Sunday. Do your best to find the most enjoyable way to earn money. This is important because you are dipping into your much-needed free time.

Lastly, if you do pick up a side hustle, be sure that you're vigilantly searching for ways to get your income over your expenses without a side hustle. You cannot do a side-hustle forever. They will get you through a tough time, but that does not make them a solution to your financial struggles.

Do what you need to do to either get a promotion, or switch jobs. You need to remove yourself from this precarious financial situation, fast!

-Evan Sutherland 


Comments (2)

Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much for sharing your experience and your advice.

Apr 11, 2019 01:45 PM
John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Evan and Nikayla Sutherland very true, budget before you hustle.

Apr 11, 2019 08:49 PM