Why I Don’t Have A Side Hustle
On the path to financial freedom, there are only so many levers you can pull to propel yourself to the finish line, where trading your time for money, becomes a thing of the past. The two big, enormous, gigantic, levers are spending less or earning more.
I’m going to come right out and say it, “If you are a middle-class American, there is fluff in your budget.” Deservingly so, everyone has their guilty pleasure.
Choosing to spend hard earned money on coffee from the corner coffee shop, or a spontaneous date night makes life worth living. Finding the balance is the difficult part.
Spending everything you earn is terribly easy while saving half of your income can be quite challenging. Somewhere in that gradient lies the sweet spot, where the quality of life is preserved while waste is eliminated and efficiency reigns.
I don’t drive for Uber or deliver pizzas. I have found the best financial return for my time is to pick up extra shifts at my primary job. Although everyone loves making some overtime pay, many of my colleagues don’t see the added value in the income you receive that does not end up on your paycheck.
From increased employer retirement contributions to increased vacation hours, picking up extra shifts at your primary place of employment can pay unintended dividends.
As a Registered Nurse, there is a steady stream of unfilled shifts in the emergency department. Sick calls, maternity/paternity leave, vacations, and unfilled nursing positions are all reasons why I could work as much as my poor little body could tolerate.
As of today, the hospital organization I work for currently has hundreds of nursing jobs in our hospitals and clinics.
Sadly many of these positions will go unfilled due to a lack of nurses in the workforce.
The Unintended Pay Of Extra Shifts
Paid Time Off– For every hour I work, I earn .1346 hours of paid time off(PTO). The maximum PTO I can hold in my account is 560 hours. Each time I get a raise, my PTO balance gets a raise as well because PTO is paid out at your current hourly pay.
If I earn PTO while making $30 per hour and use it while making $35 dollars an hour, your PTO hours got a raise too. I call that a pretty good return on investment.
Employer Retirement Contributions– Every spring, my employer deposits, in one lump sum, a 6% contribution to my retirement account.
For example, if I earned $75,000 in 2018, I can expect a deposit of $4,500 into my retirement account this spring.
By working extra shifts and increasing my annual earnings, I can juice the amount of money my employer deposits on my behalf into my retirement account. Every extra dollar I earn gives me 6 cents towards my retirement. That is pretty sweet!
Employee Retirement Account Contributions– This is one of my favorite parts of working extra shifts. Every extra hour I work helps me max out my 403(b) contribution earlier.
During the busy flu season, I increase my contribution percentage to my 403(b) and that is how I was able to max out my 403(b) in 6 months in 2018.
Even though the 401(k) contribution limit increased to $19,000 in 2019, I plan to max out my contribution by picking up extra shifts.
Cutting Expenses Is Better Than Earning More
When taking an introspective look at your finances and wondering why every month you barely have enough money to pay your bills, your spending is the first place to look.
A dollar saved is better than a dollar earned. Here is why!
For every dollar you earn you lose a percentage of that earings to tax (example: 22% to federal withholding, 6.2% Social Security tax, and 1.45% Medicare tax). You may also have to pay state income tax or sales tax, depending on the state you live in.
Next, you have to pay for transportation expenses to and from work. Then clothes or tools for work, union dues, food while at work and the list goes on. You don’t get to keep every dollar you make because of these required expenses to earn each additional dollar.
Saving A Dollar is Easier Than Earning A Dollar
The first step in evaluating spending is to track all of your spending for 1 or 2 months. You can keep track manually with a pen and paper, or you can link your checking account to an app like Mint that will keep track of your spending for you.
Either way, tracking your spending is a sure-fire means to understand where your money is going. Instead of financially fumbling through each month you can now live a more deliberate and intentional life where you are in control, not the overdraft fees.
The aggregation of small purchases over a months time can leave you in the hole when it comes time to pay your bills.
A Side Hustle May Still Be For You
3 reason to start a side hustle:
- Scalability. Can you scale your side hustle? Can you build a business with processes for efficient operation that can grow rapidly? In other words, you start your own business.
- You have a job where extra shifts are not available. Many salary positions don’t allow for extra shifts.
- You hate your job. If the idea of picking up an extra shift gives you anxiety, a side hustle might provide you with enough job diversity that picking up extra work is no longer makes your palms sweat.
I’m Heading To Work
Today should have been a day off but it was serendipity to awake only to find a message on my phone stating that there was sick call at work.
I quickly texted back, “I can be there by 11:00”
As my nursing career progresses and my beard begins to turn grey, I find the extra 12 hour shifts are hard on my body and mind. I envision a day in the future where I no longer want to work extra.
That is why I aspire to save half of my income. I find solace in knowing that by working hard now, I will have the option to work less in the future.
For every year of work that I can successfully pull off saving half of my income, I buy myself one year in the future where I don’t have to work.
I treat every dollar I save as a soldier in my army that I put to work to earn more money for me.
If I have $100,000 in investments and it earns 15%, I just made $15,000 without lifting a finger. That is my financial army working for me.
Finding extra income is how I build my financial army.
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