Got Debt? Start a Tutoring Business Today.
This is a guest post by Ryan Bonaparte. Ryan is the founder of the site TheNewTutor.com, which has resources (guides, personal training sessions, and more) to help people get started as a private tutor or grow their existing tutoring business. Readers of Real Simple Finances can get a copy of his guide or work with him directly for 20% off using the coupon code RSF20 at checkout.
After I graduated grad school, I thought I had made it. I just needed to find a job and all of those student loans would get wiped out within a matter of years. And that credit card debt I had picked up from years of buying electronic gadgets and clothes? That would just take a few months to tackle.
Fast-forward 18 months. I still had pretty much the same amount of student loan debt, and lifestyle inflation had not only prevented me from paying off my credit cards, but had actually increased it even more. A had bought a new car, a bigger TV, and countless other things I didn’t need. Squeaky mattress is slightly uncomfortable? Time to buy a new one! Frying pan isn’t quite non-stick anymore? New set from Bed Bath and Beyond here I come!
I was making ends meet, but just barely. After a medical bill stretched me even further, I knew I had to make some changes.
I cut back on shopping, started to cook more at home, and moved to a less expensive apartment. Small steps, but they made a difference.
However, even with all of the cutbacks I made, it was still a long way to paying off everything. I still needed my car to get to work, and the student loans were still just as large. I could only cut back but so much.
I needed to make more money.
In the past I had tutored a few students, and it helped pay for a new gadget or two, but I knew I that if I spent a bit more time tutoring, that pocket change would grow dramatically. There were plenty of schools around, so I knew there must be someone looking for help.
I used a tutoring matchup service to find students, but like Alexandra said, they did take a bit of a cut. However, I decided that I liked the idea of working with students who had their information already in the system, for both safety and ease of payment reasons. After contacting a few people looking for a tutor, I was up and running within a few weeks.
I set my schedule based on my work hours, so primarily late evenings. One of the big things I wanted to ensure was that neither my day job nor tutoring suffered, so I made sure to leave enough time between the end of the work day and when I started tutoring. I also met a few students on the weekend, but since I liked to take weekend trips to see my family, I tried to limit that as much as possible.
I also taught what I already knew so that I didn’t have to spend time studying. Because of my engineering background, most math and science classes were fairly familiar to me. I also bought a few SAT study guides to brush up on what had changed in the years since I had taken the test. Depending on the time of year, SAT preparation was in high demand, and although I didn’t try it out, I saw a few tutors actually charged more during those times. Instead, in the beginning I started out with a lower rate, but steadily increased it for new students as my schedule started to fill up. Eventually, I reached the point where I had to start turning students down because I couldn’t work any additional hours and not sacrifice the work at my day job.
Over the last few years I spent over 400 hours tutoring students of all ages. From helping young children learn to read, to adult learners taking their first chemistry class in 20 years. It has been an exciting opportunity, and it helped me reach my goal of paying off my credit card debt in less than half the time it would have taken otherwise.
If you’re stuck with debt you want to get rid of, or want to kick start a savings plan, tutoring is an excellent option. Between the high pay, the flexible schedule, and the rewarding experience, tutoring is the top activity I recommend to my friends when they want to start earning more money right away.