Although the last decade has seen “the gig economy” blossom and prosper like never before, the concept of the side gig has existed for ages. Anyone looking to earn more money has found that an additional job of some sort is the quickest and easiest way to gain additional financial security.
With the pandemic, millions of Americans began picking up extra “gigs” working for companies including Instacart, Amazon, Uber, and countless other businesses that filled an important niche during COVID. Women were already at the heart of the gig economy long before the pandemic, and many more found themselves starting new side jobs over this last year and a half — perhaps while also holding down full-time positions and caring for loved ones… But working a full-time job and side hustle can be incredibly time consuming, and not always doable with everyone’s schedule. Here’s how to know if doing both may be right for you.
Working “Second Shift.”
Before COVID, many women were likely already working a “second shift” as the primary caregiver for loved ones (such as children and aging parents) and were acting as the caretaker of their home. Once the pandemic hit, millions of women added “teacher” to their list of jobs, and the lines between work life and home life became particularly blurred… Even if your partner worked from home, you most likely continued to do a majority of the domestic work. As a result, it might not be possible to put extra time and energy into a side hustle right now.
And even if you have time for a side gig, taking it on might not be the healthiest option. Over time, it can become just one more ball to juggle rather than a financial relief or a place to put your passion and energy. Finding the elusive “work-life balance” — which, by the way, is a misnomer — becomes even more of a challenge and can take a toll on your mental and physical wellness. In fact, research shows that people who work more than 55 hours a week develop depression and anxiety at a higher rate than those who work standard hours.
We all need to give ourselves a little more grace and realize that working a full-time job, a side hustle, and taking care of a household isn’t always the right choice.
Is The Side Gig Economy Right for You?
If you’re deciding whether adding a side gig to your plate is the right move, consider the following:
Do you have an emergency fund?
If you have an emergency fund that can cover at least three to six months of non-discretionary expenses, that’s great! And it might mean that you don’t need to take on a side gig for the sole purpose of gaining extra income. If you don’t currently have an emergency fund — or if it’s not enough to cover the essentials for a few months — then a side gig could be beneficial. Regardless, consider putting your emergency fund in an online account that generally pays higher interest.
How much do you have saved for retirement?
Ideally, you should save at least 15% of your net income for retirement. If you have access to a 401(k) through your full-time job and your employer offers a match, try to contribute enough to reach your match — and don’t forget that whatever your employer is contributing counts toward your savings target! If you don’t have a retirement plan or can’t save 15% right now, that’s okay, too. We’re all at different places with our careers and savings goals. A side job that helps you bring in extra money can help boost your savings.
Can you devote energy to a side gig?
Extra money is certainly nice to have, but that is only one piece to consider. A side gig takes a lot of energy, resources, and time. Make sure it’s something you’re passionate about, because there will be setbacks and days when you don’t feel like you’re making progress. Research and network with people who have similar side jobs to determine what it will take to add the job to your current load. If it seems like the side gig will add too much stress or unhappiness to your life — and take away from what you’re already doing — it might not be right for you.
Ultimately, it’s important to determine whether the financial rewards of a full-time job and side hustle outweigh the potential downsides. Burnout is real and very prevalent right now as people take on too many responsibilities. It’s important to make sure you have the time and energy not just for work and home life, but for yourself as well. If your side gig becomes successful enough, however, it might just be your ticket to pursuing your passion full time.