Benefits of Having a Side Gig for Extra Money

Posted by Angela Diaz on May 21, 2016 at 2:10 PM

     When it comes to being frugal and making my dollar stretch, I'm an expert.  Sometimes though, it's nice to have a few extra bucks for a number of reasons.  For me those reasons are as follows:

1. More money to apply towards my student loan debt (my goal is to have my student loans paid off by January 2017)

2. More money to put into emergency savings (for real emergencies, not fashion sale emergencies)

3. Summer trips or weekend family fun activities (frugal trips such as discount movies, local pool, rollerskating rink, etc)

4. Things I want, but don't really need (my wallet's zipper is broken. My stuff still stays in my wallet, but I'd like a new one)

5. Grocery budget cushion (I do sometimes go over my grocery budget by a few bucks)

     Every one has different priorities.  For some, they'd like to save for a large purchase such as a car, house, boat, engagement ring, etc.  It's good to have a side gig to help you reach your goals faster, or just to have a few extra bucks to have fun with that won't come out of your original budget.  Don't get me wrong, being frugal does not mean you can't have fun, but it's nice to splurge every once in a while. For example, my daughter passed her medical assistant certification test last week and I was able to treat her out to lunch to celebrate. She'd been wanting to go to this specific restaurant for a long time, so I took this opportunity to take her.  The money I used for the lunch came from my side gig money and I wasn't worried about this affecting my budget at all. 

     So what is a side gig? It's anything you do on the side (apart from your full-time job) to get more money.  There are so many ways to make extra money and it's so easy to find a side gig.  I have three now and I found two of them within a week browsing through Craigslist.  Craigslist is an amazing place to look for side gigs.  I found all three of my side gigs from Craigslist.  Here they are: 

1. Baby-sit guinea pigs for a pilot.  I found this gig on Craigslist while I was browsing the pets section looking for guinea pig bedding, hay, or food.  I thought this guy couldn't be serious when he posted he'd pay $8/day for someone to watch his guinea pigs while he traveled.  Long story short, I've been baby-sitting these guinea pigs for a few years now and since he does travel about 95% of the time, the money adds up quickly and I love having these critters at home.  I don't have to leave my house for this amazing side gig. I mostly use this money for my student loans.

2. Cleaning crew.  I found this ad on Craigslist under part time jobs.  All I do is clean a business office for two hours on Saturday and two hours on Sunday.  The job is super easy and it's super flexible.  I just have to show up anytime after 12:00 noon  (no matter how late at night), do my cleaning and leave. I like this gig because I can do what I need to do on the weekends and not be tied down to a start time.  I can take a day trip to the beach, drop the kids off at home, and then go clean for two hours. It's not bad at all. It doesn't pay much, but I get paid every two weeks and I can tell ya, for being a super easy and flexible job, it's nice to have that extra little check show up in my mailbox.  I've used that check for lunch with my daughter, pizza and a Redbox movie night, trip to our favorite ice-cream shop, tickets at the discount movie theater, car wash, etc.

3.  Ghost Tour Guide.  I found this side gig on Craigslist under the Gigs section.  This one is interesting because I can tell them my availability for the month so they won't schedule me for tours on the days I can't do them. A tour is only an hour and a half long (from 8-9:30 pm) and it pays pretty decent.  This is an interesting topic of conversation when I tell people I do ghost tours. I like this job because it fits my schedule and it's really fun.  I have enough time after work to cook dinner, eat, relax for a little bit, then go do a tour.  I also love interacting with tourists who are just there to have a good time and listen to stories.  I also learned a lot about the history of our town and am eager to share it with visitors. I use this money for our summer trips and also for paying off my student loans.

     One other gig I do from time to time is cleaning for my mom. She owns a cleaning business and when she goes on vacation, I do her cleaning for her and she pays me.  It's nice because the cleaning is super easy (mostly medical offices) and it's only for a week usually. 

     As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities for making a few extra bucks.  It can be baby-sitting, house cleaning, helping a disabled or elderly person run errands, pet-sitting, house-sitting, etc. I would not recommend getting a typical part-time job.  If you are a busy person and have a full-time job, I wouldn't necessarily go for part-time jobs.  These are usually low-paying jobs in restaurants or stores and they usually schedule you for more hours than you'd like to work. They're not really enjoyable or flexible jobs, and you're more likely to feel stressed out by them rather than feeling like they're contributing positively to your life.  I've tried a part time job three different times and they all had the same outcome.  I felt burnt out, stressed, underpaid, and overwhelmed.  I currently have a full-time job and three side gigs, along with a sporadic side gig that happens once or twice a year and I do not feel any of those negative things.  These gigs are enjoyable and not a huge time contribution on my part.  In a full week, across my three side gigs, I might work 9 hours, that's it.  Four hours on the weekends cleaning, 4 1/2 hours that week for tours (3 tours a week on average), and about a half hour taking care of the guinea pigs (Cleaning their cage once a week. My youngest daughter usually feeds and waters them). 

     Everyone can benefit from a side gig no matter how small it is.  It's important to find one that is flexible with your work schedule and family schedule, one that is enjoyable, and one that isn't a huge time drain.  Again, Craigslit is chocked full of gigs. Everything from driving someone to work every day for $10/day, to baby, pet, house-sitting, to reading to a blind person every Saturday afternoon.  It's all there. I even saw someone post that they'd pay someone to wash their dishes every day because they hate it so much.

     I cannot stress enough the importance of being safe when responding to a Craigslist Ad!!!  Please, please, please do your research.  If this is for a company, look it up and see if it's legit.  Always meet someone for the first time in a well-lit public place.  Talk to someone over the phone first before meeting them in a public place.  Always let someone know where you are going and if it's a non-traditional interview, bring someone along.  When I responded about the guinea pig sitting ad, I e-mailed the owner.  After a few e-mails, I spoke to him on the phone a few times.  We then met in person at a pet store during day light hours.  The first few times he dropped the guinea pigs off to me, we met at the pet store. After about a year, I was more comfortable with him and I gave him my address to drop them off at my house.  I looked up the ghost tour company and spoke to a woman on the phone about the job before we met in a well-lit public place. Same with the cleaning company.  I once responded to an ad someone posted who wanted help with yard work on the weekends.  It seemed legit, but when I spoke to the person on the phone, I immediately felt uncomfortable.  I paid attention to that sixth sense, that instinct that something's weird.  I did not proceed with meeting up with this person for the gig. 

     I hope this helps you open your mind to explore some non-traditional money-making options.  You can make money using your talents. You can play your instrument downtown for a few bucks now and then.  You can sell your crafts on Etsy.  You can groom horses and muck stalls on the weekends.  Also look at your hobbies and interests as a way to make money and have fun.  If you like doing magic tricks, post your skills on Craigslist for parties.  If you like doing hair and make-up, you can do that for weddings and special events. If you love animals, you can offer to walk dogs or pet-sit.  You never know, some of these fun side-gigs can open up doors of opportunity for other things.


Categories: Sustainability/Money/Frugal Living

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