Raise your hand if you know someone who has a part-time job?
Or, as it’s commonly called these days a side hustle or a gig.
You know. A second (or third!) job that provides extra income to help you meet your financial goals faster.
We’re living in the time of the gig economy, where it is relatively easy to make extra money fast. With the click of a mouse or swipe on your smartphone, you can apply for a gig and start working in less than a day.
Sounds great, right? Well…maybe. Let’s talk about it.
What is a gig economy and why is it so popular?
First, let’s take a look at couple definitions of the phrase ‘gig economy’.
A way of working that is based on people having temporary jobs or doing separate pieces of work, each paid separately, rather than working for an employerCambridge Dictionary
Economic activity that involves the use of temporary or freelance workers to perform jobs typically in the service sectorMerriam-Webster Dictionary
You’ll notice that the word temporary is common among these definitions. By nature, a gig is usually short-term and involves providing a service of some kind.
However, many people earn a full time living with multiple gigs, creating a lucrative gig work career that rivals traditional employment options.
Here are a few examples of gig-type jobs you may have considered:
- Rideshare driver for Uber or Lyft
- Food delivery for Uber Eats or Postmates
- Grocery shopper and delivery for Instacart or Shipt
- Delivering packages for Amazon
- Virtual Customer Service rep for companies like Arise or Liveops
- Direct sales for companies such as Mary Kay Cosmetics or doTerra (essential oils)
Gig work is also popular among freelancers who possess talents such as writing, editing, graphic design and tech expertise to name a few. Unlike the examples above, freelancers have the advantage of setting their own rates for services that are in hot demand.
Gig Work Benefits
Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, most gig opportunities allow you to set your own hours. You can work as little or as much as you’d like, taking time off for doctor’s appointments, vacations, or whenever you need a mental health break.
Gig workers are usually independent contractors meaning that they do not work for an employer. Being self-employed has it’s benefits, such as tax write offs. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to plan ahead for paying taxes, as they are not withheld from your earnings.
Remote Work Options
Gig jobs are usually home-based, whether you work from home or make deliveries locally. Many people dream of ditching the daily commute to an office to work from the comfort of their own home.
No Office Politics
Gossiping coworkers and nagging bosses are usually not a factor with gig work. You’ll do most of your work alone, providing a service to customers or clients. And, as a self-employed person, you are your own boss. Self-employment has its benefits, but also requires a lot of self-discipline.
There’s no doubt that the gig economy is booming, and the financial possibilities it brings are endless. It is truly awesome that we live in a day and age where making money is easier than ever.
However, I also think that it important to evaluate whether or not your gig is worth the time and effort you are investing in it.
Without further adieu, here are 5 questions to ask yourself before you join the gig economy.
# 1 Are you spending money to make money?
We’ve all heard about “business opportunities” that promise you’ll make tons of money if you’re willing to invest money upfront. Some of them have “scam” written all over them and should be avoided like the plague!
If you’re looking for a side gig, watch out for these kinds of shady opportunities that seem too good to be true.
The good news is that the gig options mentioned above are mostly legitimate (please do your own research!). However, they will almost certainly require an initial or even ongoing monetary investment.
Examples of gig-related expenses
- Direct sales or multi-level marketing companies that require regularly buying inventory and hosting sales parties
- Remote work opportunities that require equipment, such as a newer computer, headset, and a landline telephone (a monthly bill)
- Rideshare or delivery services that increase the amount you spend on car gas and maintenance
In my experience as a virtual customer service representative, my initial investment was around $200 for a second computer monitor, a corded telephone, a headset and a background check. Thankfully, I made that money back in my first paycheck.
Still, I had to decide if even a small expense of a few hundred dollars was worth it. At the season of life I was in, I considered my investment worthwhile.
Once you are sure that the job you’re pursuing is legit, you should keep in mind how much you’ll earn, and determine if your initial or ongoing expenses are worth it.
If you’re a rideshare or delivery driver, are you putting all of your earnings into your gas tank?
Maybe you sell cosmetics for a popular multi-level marketing company. If so, are you using your earnings to buy inventory?
Bottom line question to ask yourself: Are you losing money, breaking even, or making a profit?
Remember, just because an opportunity is legit doesn’t mean it is financially prudent when considering return on investment.
You are trying to make money to reach your financial goals, so you definitely want to avoid jobs that cost you more than you are actually earning.
# 2 Are you getting a good return on your time investment?
We’ve all heard the saying time is money. I happen to believe that time is even more valuable than money.
Money is fluid. It comes and goes and, although you have to put in the work , you can recoup money lost.
Not so with time. Once a period of time has passed, you will never get it back.
When it comes to choosing your gig, it is important to consider the return on your time investment. Is the time you’re investing worth what you’re being paid?
If you’re a rideshare driver, how much time do you spend searching for fares compared to what you are earning?
What about direct sales? Do you spend hours recruiting for your downline, hosting parties and promoting products on social media, with little sales and profits?
I worked with several clients in my role as a virtual customer service representative, and found that most of them were not providing a good return on my time investment.
With most of those clients, I had to work an excessive amount of hours to make a decent living, which outweighed the benefits of having a flexible, work from home job!
I encourage you to do the math before diving into an opportunity that may not be worth the time you are putting into it.
# 3 Do you need your gig to make ends meet?
However, for others, the side gig isn’t just for extra money. It is necessary to pay non-negotiable expenses like rent, utilities and even groceries.
There are sometimes factors beyond your control that increase your expenses, such as extra medical bills, or your role as a caregiver. However, the truth is that poor financial habits and bad money choices are often the culprit.
Questions to consider if you depend on a side gig to make ends meet:
- Are you following a budget? Do you know where your money goes every month?
- Are you living beyond your means, spending impulsively or using credit cards to fund your “wants”?
- Are you earning what you are worth at your “regular” job, or have you become complacent with being underpaid?
In making these points, I am in no way saying that you shouldn’t seek gig opportunities, whether to meet your goals or to simply get by.
However, if your money habits or behaviors have led to you depending on a side gig to make ends meet, the gig won’t solve your problem. It will only make it worse. You will likely continue those same habits, just with more money.
It is important to be real with yourself about your money situation. If you’ve identified that your financial behaviors have caused to rely on gigs to meet basic needs, you owe it to yourself and your financial future to change those habits.
# 4 Does your gig threaten your health or safety?
When considering the common, sometimes mundane, task of going to work, we don’t often think of health risks.
However, when you’ve decided to stretch yourself from an 8 hour workday to a 10, 12 or more hours a day, this can take a toll on your physical and mental health.
Sleep deprivation, poor diet, and lack of exercise are common for people who work from dusk till dawn. Not to mention the effects on your relationships and social life.
The hustle lifestyle may be doable for the short term, but is not sustainable for a long time.
Before taking on a gig for extra income, I’d suggest a SMART goal-setting session, where you identify the goals you want to accomplish, how much money you need to earn, and how long it will take. Doing so will keep you motivated as you progress towards your goals.
Get Your SMART Goals Workbook!
Personal safety is also important to consider with certain types gigs, such as rideshare and food delivery.
Keep in mind that these gigs are typically more profitable at night. And, nighttime is also when people are out drinking, and certain parts of town are more secluded.
Ridester.com, an online resource for delivery and rideshare drivers, published an informative article on how to stay safe as a rideshare driver. Use these tips and have a plan in place if you are ever in an uncomfortable situation.
In making this point, my intention is not to incite fear, but to point out the realities of working this kind of gig. Being informed and prepared is key for your safety and well being.
Remember, your safety is more important than making a few extra bucks from a gig. There’s no shame in walking away from a potentially life-threatening situation.
# 5 Is your gig interfering with work life balance?
Ahhh…work life balance. Something we all dream of as we settle into adulthood.
It’s the ability to earn a good living while still enjoying time with family, friends, or just yourself!
Oftentimes, people who seek a gig in addition to their “regular job” are willing to forfeit some of that work life balance to reach their financial goals.
Work life balance also goes hand-in-hand with your gig’s effects on your health, as discussed above. Burnout is very real, and people who work multiple jobs are definitely susceptible to it.
Here are a few steps you can take to preserve work life balance as a gig worker
- Take breaks throughout the day. Even if only for a few minutes. Get away from your computer, phone, or whatever device you use for your gig. Go for a walk to get some fresh air.
- Have a consistent schedule. Instead of picking up hours here and there, plan ahead, choosing how many hours you’ll work each week in addition to your ‘main’ job.
- As you earn more money, try to avoid the temptation to work more hours. Seeing that gig income grow may give you a rush of excitement, tempting you to add even more hours to your already packed schedule. But, it may also be a path to burnout.
- Don’t neglect your relationships. Plan ahead for spending time with your spouse, children, friends, and yourself! No extra job is worth jeopardizing your relationships.
Is Your Gig Worth It?
Are you currently working a gig or two in addition to your full time job? If so, is it worth the time and effort you are putting into it?
Please share below!