10 Solid Reasons to Start a Side Hustle ASAP

These days nearly half of all Americans do some sort of side hustle — and these gigs are popular for a reason. Here are 10 signs it may be time to start your own.

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Updated July 18, 2024
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Side hustles can be a great way to flex creative muscles, meet financial goals, or even advance in your career, but the process of getting started can be intimidating. You may feel conflicted about adding extra responsibilities to your already-full plate just to earn extra money

However, if you’re looking for a way to pad your finances or make use of some untapped skills, starting a side gig can be a fulfilling and even lucrative path. Here are 10 signs that you should take the plunge and start a side hustle now.

You’re struggling to save for a house or a car

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Many people take on additional work when trying to meet some financial goal. Whether you’re saving for a house, a car, or a vacation, income coming in regularly from a steady side hustle can get you where you need to be — even if it’s just a few hundred bucks a month.

Plus, if something happens with your main job, having a side hustle means you have something to fall back on while you get back on your feet.

You want more flexibility at work

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A thriving side hustle can provide a unique sense of financial freedom for those looking to step outside of the rigid 9-to-5 workday. Keep in mind that it will likely take time to be making enough income that you can make changes to your main job — or its schedule — but sometimes people find so much success with a side gig that it becomes a main source of income.

Pro tip: Taking some simple steps to stop living paycheck to paycheck can put you in a better position to start up a lucrative side hustle.

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You’ve got a creative itch

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If you feel a need to create — whether it be photography, clothing, poetry, music, furniture, etc. — you may be able to turn this passion into a side hustle.

Plenty of people figure out ways to make money from hobbies they love doing — and scratching that creative itch may be a great way to feel more fulfilled in your day-to-day life if your main job isn’t exactly doing it for you.

You don’t have an emergency fund

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An emergency fund — money set aside to pay for unexpected expenses (like car issues or medical bills) — can provide a layer of financial security and help reduce money-related anxiety. Emergencies happen, and it’s a huge relief to have the rainy-day fund just in case.

If you’re struggling to build up an emergency fund, doing work on the side can help. Even if you’re only bringing in an extra $100 a month, after a year, your emergency fund will have well over $1,000.

Your career feels unfulfilling

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When you begin to feel like you’re doing the same work day-in and day-out, or the work feels mundane in other ways, that melancholy can have a real impact on how you view your life.

Job satisfaction plays a role in overall happiness and starting a side hustle that aligns more with your interests or goals is a great way to fill that void. Some examples include selling baked goods, starting an Etsy shop for crafts, freelance writing, and so much more.

You have an untapped skill/passion

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On a related note, a side hustle is a great opportunity to tap into skills or passions that you don’t get to explore in your day job. Maybe you love music and want to start giving lessons or playing gigs for some extra cash on the weekends.

According to a survey from online recruiting service Zippia, only 20% of Americans feel passionate about their jobs. Side hustles can help ensure your unused skills or passions don’t go to waste.

You want to build a “career portfolio”

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People who work in creative industries — like photographers, writers, and graphic designers — may want to pick up extra work on the side to build up their portfolios. However, creating a “career portfolio” with marketable skills can be helpful in many other industries, too.

Your portfolio can showcase everything you bring to the table as an employee. It may include past jobs, as well as work you did on the side to build skills that make you a more impressive contributor, such as running a YouTube channel, tutoring students, or working as a tour guide.

You want more productive free time

bernardbodo/Adobe businessman in suit working on laptop

If you’re looking for ways to make your free time feel more productive, why not use it to make extra income? This doesn’t mean you have to (or should) fill every waking moment with work, but it is often the case that the busier you are, the better you are at getting things done.

According to Zippia’s research, a whopping 77% of employees have experienced burnout, and adding a new gig to the mix can make balance harder to find. However, with some careful planning, free time can be transformed into time to focus on a side gig without overloading your schedule.

You’ve already started to research

Anatoliy Karlyuk/Adobe female with dark haired sitting on comfortable couch holding pen

Have you been spending your free time checking the web for the best side hustles? Maybe you’ve wondered how much money you could make from your hobbies or if it might be fun to drive an Uber on the weekends.

If you’ve been thinking about ways to make extra cash outside of your normal job, that’s a good sign that it’s time to look into a side hustle. Not every side gig pays well or fills a workplace void, so try making a list and experimenting with a few different approaches.

You haven’t been able to get a raise

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With the prices of many everyday items, like food, on the rise due to inflation, many American workers have been offered disappointing raises, or none at all.

If you haven’t had a raise in a while, starting a side hustle can be a great way to add the income you were hoping for from a pay bump. Once you figure out the logistics — like scheduling, any startup materials you may need, and time/money needed to promote your side gig — the work could essentially be a way to give yourself a raise.

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Bottom line

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Starting a new side hustle can be an exciting way to flex and improve skills you don’t normally get to work on — and many people are jumping on the bandwagon. Nearly half of Americans (44%) reported having side hustles at the end of 2022.

While working on the specifics of your side hustle, and waiting for the extra cash to start flowing, take some simple steps to boost your bank account to ensure you’re set financially while your new endeavor takes off.

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Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.