Hustle hard and then hustle harder. One of the reasons I was able to get out of debt quickly and save so aggressively is I had good incomes.
Notice that’s incomes, plural.
I am highly doubtful I would have made the progress I did if I hadn’t cultivated multiple sources of income over the past few years.
It’s for this reason that the single best advice I can give any twenty something is this:
Make as much money as you possibly can. Use it to pay your bills, kill your debt, and save for the future.
I think twenty-somethings are way too short-sighted when it comes to generating income. They’re all looking for 1 job to launch their career and pay all their bills, when realistically the best choice might be to work some extra part-time hours even if you have landed that first career role. Here are some ways I hustled during university and after graduation:
I tutored Chemistry
I tutored chemistry for $20 to $30 per hour beginning in my third year of university and continuing through my first year of professional work. Seriously, I would schedule tutoring sessions on my lunch break or after work, and even on weekends — even though I was employed full-time at a salary of $50,000. I did this to kill my student loan debt. Obviously the income wasn’t consistent, but it often translated to an extra $300 to $500 per month during the academic year. Almost all of that income went to debt repayment. When I received my annual raise at the 1 year mark in my professional job, I gave up tutoring but I love knowing that if I need extra cash and have a few hours to spare, all I have to do is post an ad for tutoring on a college bulletin board.
I taught Chemistry labs
Getting A’s can pay off financially in more than just scholarships. I taught the laboratory sections for two organic chemistry courses every spring and summer for 3 years — including the session after graduation! I could have packed up once I had my degree, but I was paid about $1,800 each session (10 days) and I taught 2 every year for a total of about $3,600 each summer. One year I even got a bit extra for helping write questions for the laboratory manuals. To accommodate TA-ing I simply booked vacation or got people to pick up shifts at whatever other job I was working (serving tables or fixing iPads) and dove in.
I did inventory for large department stores
To this day this remains one of the most random and most profitable short-term side hustles I’ve ever found. Looking for extra work, I found an inventory service advertising on Kijiji that they needed extra hands for a few contracts. I was hired and scanning barcodes within 1 week. The work was mind-numbingly boring and I had to wear a really ugly shirt, but I remember being paid $14 or $15 per hour and all I had to do was scan the price tags on pillows and comforter sets in The Bay. Once I had a few successful jobs under my belt, the company would email me whenever extra work came up. My schedule got too packed for this to become a regular source of income, but at the time it was great to help with the bills.
I worked part-time at the Apple store
There are few things as unglamorous as working a retail job at age 25 just like you did at age 15, but I did. I picked up this gig when my graduate student stipend ($24,000 per year, minus tuition!) proved insufficient for my financial plan. I’m not a fan of standing on concrete floors all day, but this job was so good for my bank account, I can’t even think where I’d be without it. When I decided to drop out of my MSc., the Apple store filled a gap giving me full-time hours until I found my first professional job.
I was a babysitter/nanny
One of the best jobs I ever had was nannying full-time in the summers and then part-time between classes during the school year. I organized my class schedule with that of the family I worked for, and this became a regular sources of extra money for me. In the evenings and weekends when I wasn’t babysitting, I served tables. Being a nanny gave me almost full-time income at great hours. Additionally there was a non-monetary pay off of becoming lifelong friends with a great family!
I wrote (and wrote, and wrote, and wrote)
Once Money After Graduation started to really grow, my Google AdSense and affiliate income started to become a regular thing. After I had been featured in MoneySense Magazine and a few newspapers, I started to get some freelance writing contracts. As many of you know, I’ve been writing for American Student Assistance on their SALT Money blog for two years. That’s a monthly paycheque that’s been helping out for a long time!
What about now?
I never stop hustling. I can’t — I like money too much! Thankfully, an internship came through so you won’t find me folding yoga pants or serving beer in a cowboy hat, but my side hustles were at the ready.
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, pay off your debt, or save for a particular goal, you might just be one side hustle away from making it happen.