Is Getting a Side Job Really Doing You Any Good?

getting a side jobMoney is good. Even more money is even better. Right?

I think it’s safe to say anyone reading this blog is hungry for a little bit more monetary padding in the bank. The fact is, sometimes your basic 40 hour a week job just doesn’t yield the cash you need (or think you need).

Whether it’s to have extra spending money or just to try to make ends meet, a common way many people go about bringing in a little bit of extra dough is by getting a weekend or weeknight side job.

Ok cool. Extra money coming in. Great, right?

Not so fast you go getter you…

For many, a side job ends up being waiting tables, tending bar, working in retail store, or maybe even doing backbreaking manual labor. While all of these activities can bring in a nice amount of extra cash for some pretty mindless work, the benefits essentially end there.

What I mean by this is these typical kinds of side income generators don’t really provide any long term benefits to you. They’re not allowing you to develop your skills any further than they already are. They’re not helping you build a valuable long term asset that you can later reap greater benefits from. And unless you’re doing some strategic networking, they’re probably not advancing your career in any way.

Long Term vs. Short Term

The opportunity cost is usually very high for these kinds of jobs. They might bring in money, but more often than not, the time investment required to do so could be better spent elsewhere.

Think about where you want your career to be in a few years. Think about the things you may be able to do on the side that will contribute to these career goals.

  • What kind of side job can you get that will help you learn additional skills outside of your workplace?
  • Can you do career-related freelance work to sharpen your skills?
  • Can you add some additional resources to your training regimen?
  • Can you take advantage of your extra time to get an advanced degree?
  • Can you work on your negotiation skills to get a raise at work?
  • Can you put some time into getting a new, higher paying job?

There are many strategic actions you can take to better yourself and help advance your career in the long run. It’s going to be different for everyone.

Now – Odds are, you’re not going to make as much money in the short-term by doing things to advance your career in the long run so you may need to re-arrange your finances a bit (more on that in a minute).

Remember this about short-term solutions. Life isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. If you pace yourself, you may end up a little short at first, but just as you get warmed up everyone else burns out. Then you’re in prime position to take the lead and keep it. Always think long-term.


But I Need That Extra Income

Now before you get all huffy and say “but I need that money,” don’t worry. I figured you’d say that, and I’ve been in this exact situation. So, let’s take a look at some things you can do.

There are two high-level reasons people get side jobs:

  • Because they need extra money to make ends meet at the end of the month
  • Because they want extra spending money to live a better lifestyle
For both groups, the actions to alleviate financial pressure are going to be the same. Feeling the need for extra money is often just a situation of over-spending in the first place, which means extra money coming in is only going to make things worse. Often times you can free up hundreds of dollars a month by just taking a clear inventory of your spending (Tip: Use to hook up all of your accounts to one portal for easy, nearly automated, spend tracking). For example:

  • Do you have high interest debt that can be paid down or negotiated to a lower rate?
  • Do you spend a lot at restaurants and bars?
  • Do you buy a lot of gizmos and gadgets that end up collecting dust?
  • Do you have a closet that’s overflowing with clothes you don’t wear?
  • Do you have an outlandish satellite or cable bill that can be replaced with a service like Netflix?
  • Do you have other subscriptions that you can live without for a while (websites, magazines, health clubs, tanning salons, country clubs, etc)

That just scratches the surface. There are many things you can do to cut back on spending that you won’t realize until you really sit down and examine what is possible. The trick is to isolate what is really really important to you (for me it’s my golf membership), and what you can really live without (Hint: There are a lot of alternatives to cable and satellite now – Netflix being one of them).

Going through this exercise will help you identify what those things are, and should help you to free up some cash for you to be able to spend more time working on yourself, instead of working night and day just to stay afloat.

If you’ve truly made all the cut backs you can without turning off your power, then you probably need that side job to generate extra income, and that’s absolutely fine.

If this is the case, my advice would be to seek a side job that is in line with your career goals, something that will teach you additional skills you can apply to advancing to a higher paying position. This way your time is spent not only bringing in additional income for you and your family, but also advancing your skills in your craft so that you may command a higher salary sooner with your main source of income.


The takeaway here is to think long term and strategic about what you’re spending your time and money on.

Every minute of every day is a minute you can be using to develop yourself to a higher level. Every minute you spend working a side job that doesn’t help you reach that goal is, on the grand scheme of things, wasted. Every minute you spend bettering yourself is a minute towards a higher level of success.

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