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Ask Brianna: What’s the Best Way to Make Extra Money?

Feb. 3, 2017
Loans, Student Loans
Ask Brianna: What's the Best Way to Earn Extra Money?
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“Ask Brianna” is a Q&A column from NerdWallet for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I’m here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans — all the real-world stuff no one taught us how to do in college. Send your questions about postgrad life to [email protected]

This week’s question:

“I’d love to earn some extra cash in addition to what I make at my 9-to-5 job, but I’m not sure where to start. Any ideas?”

Let me guess: You’ve already cut cable, sold your old cell phones and deleted the Seamless app, but your financial goals remain out of reach. While I feel for you and wish you didn’t need a side gig, upping your income is a great way to keep up with bills or achieve the debt-free dream faster. In fact, more and more people are looking for additional work to sustain them.

Last year, 4.1 million people on average held both a primary full-time job and a secondary part-time job, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. That number has been on the rise since 2012.

You may want to try one of the many “sharing economy” apps that will connect you with gigs. But you don’t have to chauffeur people around if you hate to drive or take on work that won’t move you forward in your career. A side job can bring not only extra dough, but fun and fulfillment, too. Take these steps to turn your need for cash into a labor you can love.

Start with a hobby

Pick a hobby or skill you enjoy and you’re really good at — two things that don’t always go hand in hand, says Susie Moore, a life coach and author of “What If It Does Work Out?: Turn Your Passion Into Cash, Make an Impact and Live the Life You Were Born To.”

You can start a side gig that’s related to your current job. Work in marketing? Consider social media consulting, Moore suggests. A human resources pro? Offer interview training. Or create a list of activities you’ve been doing as favors for friends, such as editing cover letters or playing violin at weddings.

Dog lover Page Jensen-Slattengren, 27, is a full-time copywriter in Austin, Texas, who makes extra money as a dog sitter through the app Rover.

“It’s something that I genuinely enjoy doing,” she says. “It doesn’t seem like work to me.”

She earns up to $168 looking after clients’ dogs at her home four to six nights a month (Rover takes a 15 to 25% cut of each sitter’s earnings). Every dollar she makes goes toward her $44,000 student loan balance.

Start up a mini business

If no online platform exists for the gig you want to pursue, consider ways to forge your own path. Don’t let the idea of starting your own business scare you. Make it your goal to get just two paying clients, Moore says.

Ivonne Ackerman, 30, recently scored her first client for her side hustle: teaching private barre fitness classes. Ackerman moved to New York five years ago to pursue a professional dance career, but took an administrative job at New York City Ballet after getting injured. Barre, a workout method inspired by ballet, kept dance part of her routine.

“It brought so much value to my daily life,” Ackerman says.

She got certified as a barre instructor and teaches in her free time. She also shares her fitness enthusiasm on her blog, The Sweat Glow, and plans to start a full-time business creating fitness programs for subscribers.

Leverage your side gig into a better 9-to-5

A good side hustle doesn’t have to be something that you want to turn into a full-time job. It can also open doors to an entirely new 9-to-5 that will bring you more joy — and ideally a higher salary. Include your newfound experience on your resume if the skills you’re honing are transferable to your dream role.

“From a recruiter’s standpoint and a potential future employer’s standpoint, they want to see all your experience,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at recruiting firm Robert Half. Relevant part-time jobs, and even pro bono and volunteering experience, count.

Eventually, you might be able to wind down the side job altogether. But the first step? Just get started.

“The biggest obstacle is always ourselves,” Moore says. “Everything else can be worked out.”

Brianna McGurran is a staff writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @briannamcscribe.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.