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Cost of living

How side hustles can help you earn extra money

30 June 2022
Reading time: 7 minutes

Posted by Elizabeth O'Halloran , 0 Comments

Chat to a friend or scroll through Instagram for a few minutes and no doubt you’ll hear about someone’s side hustles. There are artists making money as content creators, marketers doing copywriting on the side, and office managers delivering for Uber Eats.

With the increased cost of living, you may find after reducing the money you’ve got going out, with tips like cutting down your grocery bill and getting better deals on your utilities, there's still more that needs to be done. You need more money coming in.

That’s where side hustles come in – they're a great way to tap into another revenue stream to help your budget. They have gained popularity as short-term money-making opportunities through monetising your hobbies, but they can also help you learn new skills for a future career change. Many people even consider their options outside of full-time work by taking on multiple side hustles.

The focus on paying off debt pushed Instagrammer Tracy of Debt-free Diva into making side hustles work for her.

“I worked my full-time job from 7.30am to 4pm, so had free time in the afternoons and evenings to earn more – at one point I had seven jobs. My mentality was, 'How can I reduce my debt balance today?'"

How to get started with side hustles

Start by identifying what transferable skills you may have and thinking about how you could use them.

Put yourself out there! Tell friends and family, so they know you are available for short-term work or one-off jobs. Word of mouth for local help, short-term jobs on employment websites, and selling your skills via contractor platforms.

Tracy used her afternoons and evenings to earn more, and some side hustles worked better than others. The key ones that allowed her to pay off her debt of $94,278 in three years were babysitting, charging Lime scooters and Uber Eats deliveries.

Her approach was to not spend money setting something up to earn extra money – but instead using all her skills and available time to get more money coming in.

Creating another revenue stream via side hustles enabled Tracy to fast-track her savings. Once she had finished paying off her debt, she moved to her next goal: saving for a house deposit.

What are some ideas for side hustles?

There is such a large number of different side hustles that you can now tap – simple options, from filling out paid surveys in your spare time, mystery shopping, to doing chores for locals and friends. Websites now have increased the number of outlets for your skills. Tutoring, copywriting and proofreading are examples of short-term work that can pay well.

A quick search for “work from home” in any job website brings a selection of roles that provide flexibility. The ever-expanding list of side hustles that you do can do at home means juggling additional work around home commitments is now an option. (That's one silver lining of lockdowns.) This means earning more is not as tied to the office as it once was. 

Tracy did copywriting for Fiverr and Upwork, creating profiles on both sites to pick up one-off jobs at good hourly rates. She says the little things add up. “I earn up to $1000 per year doing surveys in my spare time when I am waiting for things.” A good use of spare time!

Does secondary tax eat into extra income?

Not long ago picking up a second job meant you paid a higher rate of tax on that job. But with changes to the tax system, you can now work as many jobs as you want – and you'll pay tax based on the gradual tax rates and the total amount you have earned over the financial year.

You will need to use the correct tax code for your second job to prevent getting the wrong tax applied, but the Inland Revenue will calculate all your earnings (from all your jobs) at the end of the financial year and apply the correct gradual tax rate across all your total income.

What that will mean is that you may have paid more tax throughout the year with your side hustles based on your tax code, but if you were not actually earning in those higher tax bands, you may get a tax refund from IR.

Tracy says for her it is forced saving – with the tax refund at the end of the year providing a nice lump sum she can use toward savings instead of frittering.

Learning new skills

A side hustle is an excellent way to learn new skills and expand your knowledge. It can foster a new mindset about money, earning and being entrepreneurial.

Tracy finds that sometimes people question her regarding the value of certain jobs and why she bothers doing them. Her attitude is earning money means she is not spending money, so there is a double win. “I’m out there earning money, even if it is a small amount, I’d rather do that than spend that money.”

“Jobs give you opportunities – what can you learn and where can it lead you?” She laughs, “I was doing a stock-take recently and met some great people, I got chatting and they offered me another job organising a speed dating event – I'd never done that before!”

She also has worked on regular one-offs like the census. That and the general election can be good one-off events to be involved in. With pressure on the job market – what other short-term work can you pick up that an employer might be struggling to hire permanently for?

One of the benefits of a side hustle is that it gives you flexibility and an income stream outside the reliance of the 9 to 5.

Ange set up and managed an online baby product boutique called Babybirdie for seven years, which gave her more flexibility and well as income. She says, “I identified a gap in the market and decided it was time to drive my own career, increase my personal wealth and contribute more to a better life with my family.”

By developing a side hustle, Ange built up new skills outside of her full-time job. It was great timing for her.

“I learnt about innovation in online business processes. I also realised how social media was the driving force behind consumer spending habits. The key was building up a social media following.”

Where can new skills take you?

Over lockdown Ange was searching for a coffee that was smooth but strong. Failing to find what she wanted prompted her to abandon her search and create her own. Sharing it with friends and family, Ange realised there was a huge demand for this coffee – which prompted her to create Deadly Sin Coffee Co.

With a new product that many people were interested in, Ange was able to apply her knowledge from her side hustle, with the skill set she had developed to start a business. Side hustles can enable you to broaden your skill set from your 9-to-5 job, allowing you to think more entrepreneurially without taking too much risk!

"There are so many ways to minimise costs and investment through this new way of marketing, rather than investing large amounts of money into traditional marketing in order to launch a product,” Ange says. She also launched merchandise as part of the offer for Deadly Sin Coffee, adding a fun point of difference for her customers and her social media content.

“Having experienced the power of social media, I knew having a consistent and unique brand marketed predominantly on social media was the key. We have successfully built an incredibly loyal fan base very quickly!”

A core part of the product development also centred around strong customer experience – once again a skill Ange had developed during her first side-hustle project. Her experience with systems to automate the sales and order process meant she was able to ensure that Deadly Sin Coffee service is fast, accurate and keeps customers informed right throughout the purchase and delivery process.

Side hustles are great for diversifying your income stream, but also diversifying your skill set. It's a good way to earn extra money for your budget and reach your financial goals, whatever they might be.

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