Should You Take on a Side Hustle?

side hustle

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Side hustles have taken the world by storm over recent years. The humble concept of a second job has been rebranded. Side hustles are often more than a second job, as they usually have non-financial benefits. You may learn new skills, have more schedule flexibility, open opportunities for networking or be location independent working. A side hustle may provide opportunities to “Try before you buy” a new career or employer. The type of side hustle that will suit you will depend on:

  1. Your objectives
  2. Your skills
  3. What you enjoy

What are Good Side Hustles Ideas?

SIDE HUSTLE OBJECTIVE 1: NEED TO BOOST CASH FLOW ASAP

These side hustles are most appropriate for those wanting to boost cash flow for a specific short-term goal. These side hustlers may want to reduce their dependence on student loans, payback debt or save up a home or 1st investment property deposit.

Extra hours at your usual employer is often the easiest and fastest way to earn extra cash. This may not be available to you, or the non-financial benefits of other side hustles may also appeal.

1. Assistant in Nursing

This is an ideal work experience for healthcare students. The pay is pretty good, and you will pick up skills and experience looking after patients and being to network with staff.

I spent my medical school pre-clinical years working part-time as an assistant in nursing. I picked up practical skills, improved my communication and learned how to not annoy the nursing staff! Getting on with nursing staff is critical to doing well as a junior (and senior) doctor.

Lifting and washing people, or being patient with a confused patient for an 8-hour shift can be hard, physical work. But it gives you a more realistic view of what working in healthcare is like.

2. Tutoring

Tutoring 1st year university or school students is an ideal side hustle for more experienced students. Tutors need to be patient and able to explain tricky concepts well. You can sign up with an existing tutoring platform or produce an advertisement for your local Facebook marketplace or university billboard.

As well as the hourly rate, you will hopefully meet some great students and their parents. If you get on well with students and provide great value, you may get a series of referrals to other students.

3. Cleaning

Sometimes physical hard work is the perfect antidote for too many hours on the books.

You could take a job cleaning your university or sign up with a domestic agency. Once you are familiar with a cleaning routine, very little thinking is needed to get the job done. This time can double as study time if you are organised enough to prepare a list of high-value podcasts. Perfect for those who like to learn by listening and keeping their hands busy. Ironing also lends itself to watching video lectures quite nicely (as long as you don’t get distracted!).

4. ChildCare

Are you good with kids? If you love to play, have first aid qualifications and are happy to apply for a working with children card, this could be the perfect side hustle. Plenty of professional households need a reliable, responsible and fun babysitter they can call. Excluding those who want a full-time nanny, hours are likely to be evenings and weekends, around school or daycare.

Hospitals are full of staff struggling to fill childcare gaps! Having a university student available to work evenings and weekends can be a perfect solution. Again, word spreads quickly amongst staff, and you are likely to end up with more referrals than you can cope with if you are particularly good with kids (and parents).

Advertise locally on FB marketplace, through an agency, or during work placements ask your supervisor if you can display a poster.

5. EBay or Facebook Marketplace

Selling good quality items you no longer need, including your old textbooks can produce cash pretty quickly. Over the longer term, buying undervalued items locally and selling them at a higher price can be a profitable and good use of your Saturday if you enjoy it and need some extra cash.

Items brought and sold can range from books to cars. The larger the investment, the more risk involved. Make sure you know enough about the items you are buying to reliably make a profit. If you have the skills, you can “Upcycle” items (eg cars, furniture) for a larger profit margin.

6. House and Pet Sitting

This is money for jam in my opinion! Imagine being paid just to stay in a home for free and walk a dog daily! An ideal “job” for retirees, students and other location independent people. Small amounts of money are involved, but free accommodation is a massive saving (and is tax-free). This can be an amazing and cheap way to travel. There is probably less demand than usual with the pandemic, but this should improve over time.

This one is probably not for those that don’t like animals, most housesitting jobs involve animal care.

7. Rent a Spare Room

Renting a room can produce some passive side income, but relies on a good tenant screening process to make sure everyone gets along.

8. Rent Out Your Home

Those in an area in demand for short-term rentals can utilise Air BnB to rent out their home whilst they are away on holidays. If you are renting rather than owning your home, this needs to be cleared by your landlord. Both owners and renters need to check their insurance will cover this.

9. Renting Out Your Things

Do you own anything expensive that doesn’t get used very often? Car owners can now rent out their vehicle when it’s not in use. Insurance and terms and conditions need to be examined closely. Make sure you think through the consequences if a renter destroys your car. I have never rented my car and can see the potential for big problems so proceed with caution.

10. Optimise Points and Cash back

Make sure you are taking advantage of your points. Supermarket points can be saved up for air travel or hotels, but not many of us are doing very much of that this year! You could do worse than living on your flybuys for grocery shopping for a week or two to save some cash.

Cashback involves being paid back tiny amounts of money for purchases, as long as you click through the right links. I found it too much hassle and the cash accumulated never reached the payout point before I lost interest. I did like the RAIZ rewards though. Any cashback earned through clicking through their links is automatically invested within a reasonable time period. Probably not worth having a RAIZ account just for this but if you’re looking for a robo-advisor/micro-investment app, this is an added bonus for RAIZ.

SIDE HUSTLE OBJECTIVE 2: WANT TO BUILD A LONG-TERM SUSTAINABLE INCOME STREAM

You have probably heard that wealthy individuals generally have multiple streams of income. Diversifying the source of income makes sense for most households. Relying on a single high earner with a stay at home spouse with plenty of liabilities puts a family in an extremely vulnerable situation if anything happens to that single high income.

Producing a meaningful income stream to take the pressure of a high-income earner takes time though. In the meantime income protection is a must for those vulnerable families heavily relying on a single income.

1. Utilize Your Professional Skills Outside the Workplace.

Apart from taking on extra hours at work, this is the second-fastest way to produce significant income. It has the advantage of at least diversifying your income away from a single employer. If you have a health catastrophe however and can no longer do this sort of work, freelance or locum work provides no protection.

It can be used to meet short-term goals such as funding that property deposit, or used long term to augment income and produce non-financial benefits. These extra benefits include networking, trying a new employer before you commit and getting a different point of view on problems that you may be able to utilise in your original workplace.

You will need to check that there are no restrictions in your contract on working for others before commencing. Risking your main source of income by breaking the rules is definitely not worthwhile!

Employees also need to make sure they are not damaging long-term career prospects by taking on work that may damage their reputation. You also need to make sure any extra work is not impairing your ability in your primary employment (eg fatigue).

– Doctors Considering Locumwork

For doctors PGY 3 and up, locum work is possible. You definitely need to check with your employer that this is acceptable and ensure your sick leave and fatigue levels are not impacted. Be aware, there is often lower levels of supervision in hospitals requiring locums. You need enough knowledge and experience to work mostly independently.

For those this is appropriate for, this is an easy and reasonably fast way to earn extra cash.

There is lots of paperwork and online handwashing modules to get through before you are allowed to work. The health services are variable in the time taken to pay, but 30 days is quite common. It’s worth checking reviews of the hospitals on this locum doctor facebook page.

2. Invest in Property or Shares

Investing is arguably the ultimate, most profitable side hustle whilst taking up little of your time. A significant passive income stream is very possible with this route but takes years to build.

This is for the patient planners who are willing to put in some work up front, and a little ongoing effort each year to build a side income that you can eventually retire on. The concept of making your money work for you is key to building real wealth.

Don’t expect investing to pay for next year’s holiday, but if you can delay gratification and build an investment portfolio it will produce an income stream forever if managed well.

The Stock market is designed to transfer money from the Active to the Patient

Warren Buffet

I spent a while working out which to invest in, property vs shares. The most important issue with either is to avoid screwing it up. Instead of chasing 0.1% higher returns makes sure you don’t lose all your money. Consider risk first.

3. Start an Online Business

This is a long-term play that has no guarantees of actually producing income but has unlimited potential. It also involves learning a (for some of us a completely novel) set of skills and creating an income stream completely separate from your primary income source.

You have complete autonomy running your own online business, schedule flexibility and location independence. It can also become an obsession, taking over every waking hour available and distracting you from the ones you love if you’re not careful.

Unless you have done this before, and have significant knowledge and skills in website design, SEO and marketing this is not a side hustle that will produce significant income fast.

You can use pre-existing platforms to sell videos such as online lectures on your area of expertise. In this way, you can potentially scale your skills as a tutor. Pre-existing platforms such as Udemy have an audience already so can speed up the production of income significantly, but limit income potential. They make the process far easier than learning how to build a website, attract an audience and market yourself from scratch. But if the platform closes, you have to start from scratch as you have lost your audience.

4. Sell Your Skill

Do you have a special skill? Are you good at drawing, enjoy making jewellery or obsessed with photography? Crafts can be sold on several platforms including Etsy, Facebook marketplace and photography platforms.

Physical products are more difficult to scale but can produce some regular income. These can also be sold locally, to friends and at local craft fairs. If anyone is selling selection boxes of hand-drawn modern birthday cards, send me a message!

This type of work is very schedule flexible, and location independent. There is no guarantee of income though, particularly if this is the first time you have attempted anything like this.

Digital downloads are more scalable, but of course, there is a lot more competition in this space. And some products aren’t well suited to being downloadable (nice quality birthday cards, for instance).

If you want to draw and sell your paintings, go ahead. For high income earners, these kind of side hustles are less financially efficient but may be driven by enjoyment, passion and desire to learn new skills or challenge oneself

5. Scuba diving / Skiing instructor

How awesome does this sound?! You obviously need to spend some money on getting qualified to teach, and I suspect this means you end up earning not a great deal.

It’s basically a working holiday, where hopefully you have a complete blast, meet loads of people interested in the same things as you and get to do lots of your beloved activity.

I recently saw an advertisement for a doctor to work at one of the Australian Ski resorts. It was paid (although not well) and included accommodation, ski passes etc.

Side Hustles & Tax

If you receive income from any source, you have to pay income tax. Whether you rent out a room or start a business, whether you get income paid to a bank account via an ABN or through Paypal. You can, however, claim costs against income once you are clearly carrying on a business aimed at producing a profit.

Side hustles that save money rather than earn it do not attract income tax. So living in free accommodation as a house sitter is a particularly efficient way of “paying” for housing.

– Remember to Save the Tax!

PAYG employees are not used to thinking about tax at any time apart from end of financial year. If you are earning business income, tax will need to be paid.

If side hustle income exceeds $75,000 per year, you will have to register for GST and lodge BAS (business activity statement) and pay tax quarterly.

Most side hustles will earn less than $75,000. There is no need to register for BAS and you can pay your tax bill annually. You must remember to put aside the tax from each pay! It’s easy to have a separate account (ideally offset) for your tax to go into. Round up what you think you will owe in tax and keep it in this account. Watch out for the surprise division 293 and superannuation excess contribution charges that come sometime after your income tax return.

If you have a mortgage your tax to be paid can sit in an offset account for often over a year, saving you significant amounts of interest on your home mortgage.

If you get paid for work in July 2021, for example, you don’t even have to submit your tax return until October 2022. The ATO will give you a due date for paying a tax bill at the time, which could be as late as March 2023. As long as you don’t accidentally spend your tax, this money sitting in is sitting in your offset saving you interest for up to 20 months!

Claiming your home interest for use of your home in producing income can change the capital gains tax exemption eligibility of your home when you sell. Speak to your accountant to clarify your personal situation.

When Side hustles are a Bad Idea

The worst outcome would be for a side hustle to threaten your main source of income, or delay career progression. To avoid this you need to make sure you have your employers blessings and are not exhausting yourself. Knowing the limits of what you can commit to is an important skill.

You also shouldn’t start a side hustle because it seems the thing to do. Life is for living. Side hustles should be taken on short-term if you just need a cash flow boost to fund a property purchase or start an investment, or over the long-term if it is based around an activity you love and want to do more of.

Actively avoid taking on work you don’t enjoy over the long-term just for cash. Try and pivot into things you enjoy more, or give up the cash for more fun.

The benefits of a side hustle need to be weighed carefully against the time commitment. Side hustles can help you save money for a goal, develop new skills, maintain employment flexibility, increase your social group or build an extra long term income stream. Will you take on a side hustle? Which will you choose and why?

Aussie Doc Freedom is not a financial adviser and does need offer any advice.  Information on this website is purely a description of my experiences and learning.  Please check with your independent financial adviser or accountant before making any changes.

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