Level up your income: Exploring side gigs

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They may be called ‘side gigs,’ but they aren’t on the periphery anymore. Recent years have seen online hustles move from the margins of work to the mainstream.

What’s more, gigs are no longer about earning that little extra cash. Nearly 60 million American professionals did freelance work of some form last year – an all-time high. Of those U.S. workers doing a side gig, 41% said they rely on the income to make ends meet. That represents a 10% jump from before the pandemic (31% of side hustlers said the same in 2019).

With a recession likely looming, a sense of general job insecurity is percolating through the workforce. An October survey showed around three-quarters of Americans intend to stay in their current job due to fears over the economic downturn.


Despite the uncertainty (or perhaps because of it), workers are out for more. Nearly half of the American workers hope for a raise or promotion this year. Yet even those who get one could be left disappointed.

Most raises did not keep up with inflation last year. On average, total wage adjustments in 2022 remained two percentage points below inflation, according to a survey of CFOs published by Federal Reserve banks in December. This year could see more of the same. On average, CFOs plan to lift pay rates by 3.3% in 2023, yet inflation – currently at 6.5% – may stay north of that figure.

Yet income goes far beyond the office these days, and many may turn to moonlight to make up for the missing pay bump. Here we’ll look at some of the fastest and easiest money-making hacks, consider some more structured side-gigs, and discuss how to avoid side-hustle burnout and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Quick N’ Easy

In this digital world of ours, there are many fast-money apps attracting people to them to make a quick $20.

These simple “tasking” hustles involve filling out surveys or even hunting for sign-up bonuses. They require few setup costs and are often easy to fit around your daily schedule. Apps like Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, and InboxDollars all provide a convenient, one-stop platform to start earning.

These apps can be called hustles or just doing tasks during your free time while at home watching the TV or standing in some place waiting. It requires a few minutes, and you can earn some points that turn into dollars when cashed out.

Not all are digital, though. Some earning hacks involve monetizing house chores, whether it be selling eggs from your backyard chicken coup or walking your neighbor’s dog.

Next Level

Those looking for something more substantial and structured consider one of the dozens of side jobs that combine regular income with added flexibility.

Side gigs do not have to involve a brand-new skill you add to your hypothetical utility belt. It can easily be something you already enjoy doing. If you are an accountant, you can work as a virtual bookkeeper. If you are a teacher, you can work as a tutor or online English teacher in your free time.

Even things you didn’t know could make money, like managing social media for companies or even pet sitting.

Taking photos is an often overlooked side hustle. If you like taking photos, you can sell them online on Shutterstock or iStock.

Side jobs help you earn that extra cash to make ends meet or to use it to bolster your savings and investments.

Avoiding Burnout

Side hustles and side gigs often have a positive connotation associated with them. Social media is filled with success stories of people using their skills and hobbies to make additional money. Is it always as easy as it looks, though?

As prices have risen and wages mostly stagnated, working people are finding it challenging to make ends meet. Many are now abandoning their leisure time and instead spending it pursuing additional income to break that paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

In the U.S., about 44% of people are working side hustles, and one out of every two people between the age of 25-35 have a side gig. With all this work and no play, people often find themselves with no hobbies or not knowing what to do with their free time. The Financial Independence, Retire Early ( FIRE ) movement came to light because people felt burned out and wanted freedom from working all the time.

Yet the pandemic caused a breakthrough. It provided an opportunity to rediscover forgotten hobbies as many home-bound people tried to figure out how to occupy their time – activities like baking, art, and singing became creative outlets again. These hobbies bring a sense of satisfaction and flow absent in most office jobs.

Side hustles, therefore, should not only be about extra income, but rekindling enthusiasm for life outside of traditional work. However, starting and growing a side hustle can take a significant amount of bandwidth, which can be challenging if you already have a full-time job or other obligations.

It’s essential to set clear boundaries and prioritize your time effectively to avoid burnout. There is no guarantee of success, and running a side hustle can also be stressful. Remember, it may take some time and experimentation to find what works. Regardless of what new hustle opportunities 2023 brings, most workers may find it easier to start with something simple that can still provide cash flow to get through the tough economic time ahead.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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