There is no better time than the present to set your future self up to be financially strong.
Real Simple Finances has been a bit quiet lately, primarily because at the start of this semester I had a slight money scare.
The basic rule of working in higher education is that if your class doesn’t fill, it doesn’t run. This is a problem that all Professors and Instructors face, and it was one that I was facing up until only a few days before the beginning of the semester as I wondered if I would lose two courses at the highest-paying institution I work for.
I was lucky — all six of the courses I had accepted for the Spring filled before their start dates and ran. That was a blessing, and I am very happy to have kept all of my jobs this semester; however, the normal workload for professors in my area is four courses, with a very few Universities requiring professors to teach five courses. Let me tell you, the workload for six courses is astronomical.
I do not regret accepting so many courses, despite needing to put RSF on hold for a little while and rationing time with friends around paper grading deadlines. The reason I still stand by my decision to work so hard this semester is because I am living my number one personal finance tip: hustle while you can.
You can’t hustle forever.
Life changes; maybe you will get married or start a family, or you will become injured and unable to work. If you work on a contractual basis as I do, it can be hard to predict what work will still be available to you when your current contract ends. When you have the opportunity for extra work and you are able to take on the workload, do it.
Saving extra money that you make while hustling lessens the blow when extra work does not come, when you are unable to work, or unexpected expenses arise.
You prove your value.
If you take on additional projects at work and do them well you prove your value to your employer. For example, one college I teach at requires all graduating students to take a written exam; instructors are paid extra money for grading these exams. My supervisor knows that she can call me at any moment with 100 exams to be graded, even from a section I did not sign up for, and I will not only take the exams but return them in a timely manner.
Your extra earnings are a bonus.
Picking up extra work, whether it be a freelance opportunity, a small part time job, or an extra (paid) project at work, gives you income that you should not be counting on in your budget. Making extra money through these means allows you to pay down debt faster while keeping up with your normal spending habits. If you are fortunate enough to be debt-free, these small bonuses can be used for vacations or other things you enjoy but refuse to go into debt over.
What other reasons would you give for picking up extra work when you can? If you work on a contractual or freelance basis, how do you protect yourself from potential lags in employment?