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When Greg and I started blogging in 2011, pretty much everyone except my parents thought we were nuts. Since we had full-time jobs and earned plenty of money, most people in our circle couldn’t understand our desire to do more.
In reality, we chose to pursue an online side hustle because we were desperate to build a business that would someday help us leave our jobs. I guess we were onto something, because just six years later we’re self-employed, earning multiple six figures, and barely getting dressed each day.
Still, the concept of the side hustle has changed over the years. Where we were once the only #hustlerz around, it seems like everyone and their mother is slinging body wraps or driving for Lyft these days.
I kid you not, I cannot jump on Facebook for five minutes without being invited to an online mascara party or a “life-changing” opportunity to “build my own business” by someone who clearly doesn’t know my life.
Sometimes it makes me laugh, but there are times when I would rather cry.
While there are a ton of people who could benefit from a side hustle, there are just as many who need a side hustle like they need a case of Chlamydia.
What if You Don’t Need a Side Hustle?
Case in point – my awesome friend.
A few months ago, one of my amazing girlfriends told me she was ready to get out of debt and get her family on solid financial footing. That’s great and all, except for the way she wanted to go about it. According to this gal, she needed a side hustle.
I almost died on the spot. This woman already earns six figures and is just as busy as I am.
“You don’t need a side hustle,” I told her. “You need to stop spending so much @#$@#!$@# money.”
We’re true-blue friends, so I can say stuff like that. I then went on to tell this friend that more money wasn’t the answer to her budgeting woes. My exact words, via Facebook messenger played out like this:
“You already make plenty of money. Your problem is spending. The only way to fix your money problem is to quit spending so much. More money isn’t the answer because it will only give you more to spend.”
I went on…
“Instead of spending your time on a side hustle, spend your time creating a budget. Track your last few months of spending using your bank statements and credit card statements. Figure out how much you’re spending on dining out, entertainment, and miscellaneous, then cut it in half. You spend too much on stuff you don’t need.”
From there, I said she should add up all her debts one by one. Once she figured out a way to spend less on food, entertainment, and miscellaneous, she could start diverting those funds toward her credit card bills for faster debt repayment.
Chances were good that she would get a much better return on her time using a budget than she would earning money in her spare time. After all, a penny saved is a penny earned, right? If she could cut her spending every month, she would score an automatic raise.
Remember, not spending money dining out and buying crap is just as good as earning it on the side. As long as you keep that cash in your pocket, it’s the same thing.
5 Signs You Don’t Need a Side Hustle
There are a ton of people just like my friend in this world. They make a decent amount of money, spend it all, then think more money is the answer to their problem.
Let me say this loud and clear for all the people in the back: If you’re earning plenty of money and wasting it all, more money cannot help you!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you’re like my friend and think you need another job, what you need more than anything else could be an old-fashioned reality check. Here are five signs you need a hustle like you need a hole in the head:
#1: You have no idea how much you spend each month.
If you have no idea how much you spend every month, then why on Earth would a side hustle help? You’re clueless about how you spend the money from your real job. For all you know, you’re wasting hundreds or thousands of dollars on craziness every month.
Before you pick up a side hustle, take some time to track your spending. Figure out how much you’re forking over for groceries, dining out, entertainment, and fun, then see if there are places you could cut. If so, the amount of money you don’t spend could easily be enough to give yourself a big raise without the extra work of a side job.
#2: You should earn plenty of money to pay your bills.
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed from living in an affluent area, it’s this: A lot of high income people think they’re great with money just because they never really “run out.” They spend like madmen and waste half of their labor on crap, but the checks keep rolling in so it’s probably fine, right?
Wrong. If you’re a high earner yet still feel like you need to pick up another job, you definitely have a spending problem.
#3: You’re on the “no budget” budget.
A lot of people who think they’re on a budget are simply fooling themselves. I’ve had people tell me, “yeah, I use a budget” but then have no idea how much they spend at the grocery store or how much they save every month.
If you don’t have a vague idea of your average spending in most categories, you are not on a budget, my friend. You are simply saying you are to make yourself feel better.
Before you pick up a side hustle to earn more money, get on a real budget. Our favorite type is the zero-sum budget because it encourages you to “spend every dollar” on paper. You may not a side hustle; you may just need to get your priorities straight.
#4: You dine out more than once per week.
If you dine out more than once per week, don’t even talk to me about a side hustle. How much are you spending at Outback Steakhouse or your favorite sushi place? Just stop going and you can pocket that money instead.
From now on, your side hustle is NOT EATING OUT. You’re welcome.
#5: You’re dreaming up ways to spend money now – at this moment.
I know a lot of people who want to get out of debt but also want a new car and a new back deck and a vacation to the Bahamas. Please, try to do one thing at a time. You cannot possibly pay off debt if you’re also saving up for a motorcycle and planning a Caribbean vacation with bae.
Just stop it. Instead of getting a side hustle, stop dreaming up more ways to spend money. Hold on tightly to the money you have, and throw it at your debt so you can finally change your life.
If you have no idea how much you spend every month, a side hustle is probably the last thing you need. Instead of working more, spend some time figuring out where your money is going in the first place. After you track your spending for a while, you might be surprised to find out you’re spending boatloads of money on stuff that’s not even important.
While selling scented candles or vitamins may sound like a great way to earn some cash, side hustles aren’t the silver bullet they’re made out to be. If you’re struggling with money, more money may be the last thing you need.
Think about it. Would you rather have the freedom to spend all you want, or the freedom to live how you want? Personally, I’ve found that life is easier and more fulfilling when you have a budget in place and some control over your spending. Here’s the truth: Freedom from debt feels better than anything you can buy at the store.
Take some time to look at yourself and your life. Chances are, you already have the money you need to get ahead.