Reach your goals faster with devoted side jobs!
Before I get into the meat of this post, let me start with some context in the form of a personal story.
The home I live in is a bit of a fixer-upper. Not because anything is seriously wrong with the house, necessarily (although we did need to get a new roof a few years ago, and the front porch is now in desperate need of replacing). The problem with our house is that the previous homeowner had some interesting ideas about color schemes and how to patch walls.
Our goal is to prepare the house to list for sale in about a year, two at the maximum. Our house will not sell for a profit where it stands now. Most of the updates we are doing to the home are cosmetic, so they have been on the back burner as other, more important things took financial priority, like losing two roommates, my job change, and of course the roof. That means we have dealt with some pretty ugly carpeting in non-essential rooms, bad patch jobs on certain walls, and a really purple dining room. None of these affect our life in any way, so they have just been on the “to do before we sell so we can make a profit” list.
Recently, the 28 year old bathroom fixtures (we’re talking weird shades of blue and pink here, people) have really started screaming for updates. It started when our bathtub got a leak that we thought was small, and ended up going into our closet and damaging the floor. Because our goal is to sell within the next two years, the bathroom was on our remodeling list anyway. Just recently, we chopped up the bathtub and hauled it out to the dump. Bye-bye, pink disaster!
We weren’t entirely in a rush to fix the bathtub – after all, we have a shower in the second bathroom, and never took baths. However, when the news arrived that we were expecting our first baby, one of the things we needed to add to our pre-baby financial plan was fixing this bathtub.
This summer, we planned for me not to work; last year was my first year teaching, and the summer-long lack of paychecks took a toll on us financially. Even though we were prepared this year, we were not prepared to add extra money to our remodeling budget for something as large as a bathroom remodel.
Enter the goal-specific side hustle!
Sometimes it is hard to budget extra money from your current income for extra projects. Sometimes it is impossible. In order to get our bathroom project underway, I took on a side job this summer that only pays for our new bathroom. That’s it. None of this money can be used for bills, dining out, or even debt repayment – even though a debt-specific side hustle is a great idea. Right now, our focus is finishing this bathroom before baby comes.
Of course, in order to make this side hustle work I really have to stay away from the all-too-dangerous Pinterest that makes it very easy to become discontent with things, or convince me that I need to cut out room for a fireplace in my waterfall, multi-stream shower. Instead of looking at dream bathrooms, I try to limit my searches to budget-friendly remodels or simply color schemes that I like. This prevents me from being dissatisfied with things that I can afford, and lets me focus on the overall feeling I want to create in my bathroom.
Choosing your goal-specific side hustle
The key for me was to find a side-hustle with a very clear end date. Once the semester begins, I no longer have the time to dedicate to anything extra. Having a clear end date is helpful because
- It avoids any awkward “well it has been fun but I don’t need you anymore. Goodbye!” resignations.
- It gives you a specific time period in which you can raise money for your project, thus moving the project along faster.
- Unless this is a per-diem job that you have little to no control over, you will be able to measure whether or not your project’s funds are attainable by the end of your side hustle.
In order to have a flexible, clearly summer-only side hustle, I chose babysitting. Depending on your time constraints and financial needs, child care, tutoring, running a class, or delivering pizza could all be great project-specific side hustles. The goal here is flexibility, reasonable compensation so that you can reach your goal, a way to calculate the value of your side hustle. If your hours will be so varied that you cannot guarantee the side hustle will be worth your time, it probably isn’t.
Some benefits of goal-specific side hustles
- This is extra money with a purpose, which prevents you from spending your hard-earned money on anything except the project.
- If you get discouraged easily when pursuing financial goals, having a side hustle devoted entirely to one project gives you something to easily track, bringing your goals in reach.
- Getting bored or burnt out with side hustles can be a problem, especially if you’re like me and have many different interests. Having a short-term, project-specific side hustle means that you have a (potentially) short-term job to work on, and that you can leave after it is complete. For me, this meant that I needed only two months with of my side hustle for my project – burn out avoided!
- You can change your project without changing the side hustle. If I reach my goal to remodel the master bathroom before the end of the summer, any extra money I make will go to a second project: baby’s room!
- Staying focused on one project and one side hustle keeps you from experiencing the frenzy that can come from having too many irons in the fire. Keep it simple so you only have as many side hustles as you can handle, without going overboard.
This works for debt, too!
Of course you can follow this advice to create specific side hustles for your student loan payments, home down payment, or new car purchase. The options are endless. Sometimes, if you have enough flexibility, you can even have multiple goal-specific side jobs. For example, I took on an additional class this semester that we were not expecting. This is a debt-payoff class only. The money from this course will go toward a specific debt as soon as it hits our bank account.
Do you have goal-specific side hustles? What are some of your favorites? What have you accomplished through this method?