Side Hustles Are Good For More Than Just Making Money

Why is it that we work multiple jobs as teenagers, but readily accept the idea that as adults we should focus on only one career?  A significant portion of our family’s success in paying off debt is thanks to pursuing a multitude of different side hustles.  The extra income, even some pretty small amounts, have helped us finally start to gain some momentum in paying off our debt and fixing our finances.  However, there is an added, unexpected benefit that came with our side-hustling ventures.

Side Hustles Are Good For More Than Just Making Money


A while back I read a really great post over at Pretend To Be Poor.  It was a Laura Ingalls Wilder story about teaching the value of money to a little farmer boy.  The boy earned half a dollar from growing potatoes.  His father helps him understand the repercussions of choosing to spend that money on a pitcher of lemonade or a pig.  It made me think about how easily these important lessons fade over time.  We like to believe we understand the value of a dollar, but do we really just take our hard work for granted?


I think salaries are part of the problem.  Employees receive the same paycheck every other week, regardless of the amount of work we do. Granted, there may be raises at some point in the year, but our pay remains pretty constant.  There is a disconnect between our efforts and the money.  Think about it: a regular bi-monthly direct deposit from which to pay our bills.  Work is an obligatory part of our routine, but we lose the sense of being reimbursed for our efforts.


Side hustling has given me a better appreciation of the value of money.  I have a professional career with a pretty good hourly rate of pay.  However, I’ve also traded a couple hours of my “free time” to do some freelance writing and only received $40.  I became a guinea pig for experiments for a couple hundred dollars.  I’ve spent time clicking on links for pennies with Swagbucks and InstaGC.  The past few years have been busy ones, during which I’ve been constantly trying to figure out whether there is something more productive to do with my time (ie. make money).  Every little bit helps, but it all comes with a price.


Blogging is probably one of the best examples.  I have yet to make much money from this endeavor, but do consider it one of my side hustles.  This site serves many purposes, including documentation of our journey out of debt.  But it takes a lot of my time.  I’m probably earning less than a dollar an hour for my efforts.


blogging infographic


What have I gained from trading my time for pennies and dollars here and there, besides paying off some of our debt?  In relearning the value of money, it’s become easier for me to save money.  Side hustles have allowed me to regain an understanding of the connection between effort and pay.  Formerly-difficult spending decisions are no longer an issue.  I may see something that looks enticing, but then consider how much time and effort would be necessary to earn the amount of money necessary to make that purchase.


I used to understand the monetary value of hard work, but forgot this lesson somewhere along the way.  In drafting this post, a particularly poignant example resurfaced in my memory.  I must have been in my early teens, spending the summer at our family cabin in Maine.  I can’t remember what the money was for, but I’ll never forget the day I spent as a blueberry picker.  It was extremely hot, in direct sun in the middle of a field.  They give you a short-handled rake/scoop and some buckets.  You have to go along the rows, on your hands and knees, scooping blueberries from the bushes into the buckets.  The pay was a few dollars for every filled bucket.  I know with the utmost certainty that this money was not spent on frivolities.


We’ve come a long ways in adjusting our attitudes about money, spending, and the things that we can “afford.”  Setting goals that are tied to improving our finances has been a big help.  However, the side hustle refresher course in working hard to earn money has been a game changer as well.  It all comes down to taking your life off of autopilot and being conscious of the seemingly-mundane decisions.  How are you spending your time?  What greater purpose is being served by your efforts?  What is the true cost of the things that you purchase?



  1. I so agree with you that there’s a disconnect between the efforts and our money. And given that purchasing with plastic is effortless, especially online, we don’t stop to think how many hours of work it took “place order”.

    I’m glad your side hustles have helped you regain the understanding of the connection between effort and pay. Knowing the value of your time is so empowering.
    Mrs Groovy recently posted…Why Aren’t You Turning Japanese?My Profile

  2. Kim from Philadelphia

    You raise very good and interesting points, Harmony!

    Katy at The Nonconsumer Advocate is a side hustle expert! She’s a labor and delivery nurse who works part time versus full time, because she enjoys supplementing her income with side hustle (thrifting and reselling, fixing up curbside finds to sell, blogging, writing for other money blogs, even cleaning her mom’s guest cabins. All if these smaller “hustles”, in addition to frugal living,her part time professional income (and that of her husband) have allowed her to pay cash for both her son’s state college tuition and they have (successfully so far) avoided taking out loans for tuition. Pretty cool!

  3. I definitely agree! There are a lot of things we take for granted and money is most often one of them. I’m more in tune with my finances when I’m writing now because I’m aware of how many hours it takes to produce content in my freelancing endeavors and I make pretty darn sure that it goes towards paying off debt or reinvesting into my blog so I can have a return on investment in the future.
    Latoya @ Life and a Budget recently posted…10 Blogging Tips Every New Blogger Should ReadMy Profile

    1. Freelancing has been such a great resource for paying off our debt. We went to buy new shoes for the kids this weekend (taking advantage of a sale) and I found myself calculating how much writing I could do to cover the purchase.

  4. This is actually one thing I like about being a contingent worker. I know that my hours are not promised to me. If I don’t show up and be productive enough, I will not have a job tomorrow or the next day. Even if I am productive enough, the gig will end and sometimes without any warning. It helps me to be careful with my money, because who knows when the next paycheck will be?
    ZJ Thorne recently posted…Net Worth Week 18 – IRA Milestone EditionMy Profile

    1. I would probably be more productive at my “day job” if the pay was structured differently. Although, recently I have taken the time to break down my salary into hourly and daily pay. This gives me a point of reference to compare how much more I make in comparison to the small side hustles. It helps me understand just how important it is to stay employed right now.

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