your financial details.
Setting priorities in the process of creating a solid financial position can be challenging. The financial planning pyramid provides a visual explanation and reminder to help people make the right moves at the right time. It aims to keep people from taking inappropriate risk by gauging the relationship between risk and reward. The pyramid also takes into consideration the element of time as a person makes progress towards his or her financial goals. It is a simple way to suggest how much of a person’s assets he or she should commit to different investments and other financial products.
Deciding how to allocate your financial assets and when to do so is something a financial advisor can offer invaluable advice on.
Levels of a Financial Planning Pyramid
There’s no single version of the financial planning pyramid. Some varieties have just a few levels and others have several. Some describe a wide variety of specific investments, asset classes and financial products and others just a handful of broad categories.
A core element of all versions of the pyramid is that the least risky financial moves are at the bottom, while the riskiest ones are at the top. The width of the pyramid at the level where a financial product appears suggests how important it is and how much of a person’s assets should be committed to it.
Here are levels of the financial planning pyramid:
Level 1 – The lowest level is the widest, which indicates its importance and where it should be in terms of priorities. It is also the least risky and, in fact, focuses on reducing financial risk. This level includes automobile, home, life, health, disability and liability insurance.
Level 2 – Once the first level is addressed, people can concern themselves with the second level. This level is focused on emergency savings. It includes money put into safe investments such as federally insured bank checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit and government bonds.
Level 3 – The third level consists of savings and investment vehicles that may pay better interest rates than the very safe ones in the second level, at the cost of somewhat greater risk. They include money market accounts and high-grade municipal and corporate bonds and bond funds.
Level 4 – At the fourth level investments in equities begin to appear. These take the form of balanced mutual funds and high-grade shares of preferred stock and convertible bonds.
Level 5 – The fifth level consists of shares of blue-chip public companies as well as investments in growth-oriented mutual funds and real estate.
Level 6 – The sixth level represents investments in collectibles, speculative stocks and lower-grade bonds and mutual funds.
Level 7 – At the very top of the pyramid is a narrow wedge representing the small amount of assets that may be prudently committed to highly speculative investments. These could include commodities, over-the-counter penny stocks and the like.
The main idea of the financial pyramid that the width of pyramid at a given level expresses how much a person might wisely commit to the investments in that level. That is, more of a portfolio should ordinarily be invested in blue chip common stocks than speculative penny stocks. Time is also a factor. This means people are advised take care of the risk-management tools in the first level before starting to build emergency savings or begin investing in the stock market.
Different investors have different situations, which can affect the pyramid. For instance, a person in the middle of his or her career may be more heavily invested in growth mutual funds than someone approaching retirement, who would likely emphasize safety of principal with investments in high-grade bond funds.
Some versions of the financial planning pyramid have an even lower level. This may include the creation of a financial plan. Another item sometimes included as part of the lowest level is a budget that aims to make sure a person has cash left at the end of the month to stock an emergency fund and, ultimately, invest.
While financial products at the bottom of the pyramid are lower risk than those on higher levels, there is no risk-free investment. Even government bonds may generate a negative return in terms of buying power if the return does not keep up with inflation. There is also a risk of paying insurance premiums without ever making a claim on the coverage benefits.
The financial planning pyramid is a road map to help people decide where to put their emphasis today in preparing to reach their ultimate financial goals. It is a reminder of the relationship between higher risk and higher reward, and helps to ensure that people have the building blocks of a solid financial foundation in place before chasing better returns with riskier investments. While financial products at the bottom of the pyramid are lower risk than those on higher levels, there is no riskless investment. Even government bonds may generate a negative return in terms of buying power if the return does not keep up with inflation. There is also a risk of paying insurance premiums without ever making a claim on the coverage benefits.
Tips for Investing
- If making and implementing a financial plan seems like a complicated challenge, consider working with an experienced financial advisor. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Once you’ve decided to start investing your money, you’ll have to decide on an asset allocation that’s appropriate for your goals, age and risk tolerance. And unless you invest in a target date fund that automatically adjusts that asset allocation, you’ll have to rebalance your assets over the course of your investing time frame. That’s where a free, easy to use asset allocation calculator can be extremely helpful.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Gajus, ©iStock.com/FG Trade, ©iStock.com/howtogoto
About Our Investing Expert
Have a question? Ask our Investing expert.
- Raise Credit Score
A debt to income ratio (DTI) is a basic calculation that lenders use to determine whether or not a borrower is capable of meeting their monthly debt payments. It’s a great way to evaluate someone’s financial health and can benefit the borrower as much as the lender.
We have already covered this topic extensively in our Debt-to-Income Ratio Calculator page, but in this guide, we’ll see how this calculation directly affects your credit score and how it is used by mortgage lenders, loan companies, and credit card providers.
What Data do You Need to Calculate Your Debt to Income Ratio?
Your debt-to-income ratio compares your monthly income to your monthly debt and is used to determine whether or not you can afford current and future payments. Along with your credit utilization score, it’s a great indicator of financial health.
To calculate this score, simply add-up your gross income and then compare this to your monthly debt payments. The percentage you arrive at is your debt to income ratio.
If, for example, your monthly debt payments include $500 on credit card debt; $250 on loans; $1,000 on a mortgage, and $250 on other recurring monthly debt, then your total monthly debt is $2,000. If your monthly income spans $5,000 on wages and $1,000 on investments, then your gross income is $6,000.
Once you have those figures, then simply divide your monthly debt by your total monthly income and represent this as a percentage. In this case, that gives us 33%, as $2,000 (monthly debt) is 33% of $6,000 (monthly income).
How Your Debt-to-Income Ratio Affects Your Credit Score
While there are some similarities between your debt-to-income ratio and credit utilization score, there is one major difference: Your debt-to-income ratio won’t directly affect your credit score while your credit utilization score will.
It’s more of an affordability thing. Your DTI’s purpose is to tell mortgage lenders whether you can meet monthly payments or whether your other debt obligations will get in the way. Because, as discussed in our guide, Minimum Credit Score for Buying a House, foreclosure is incredibly costly for the bank and they will do everything they can to avoid it.
Your debt-to-income ratio will also be considered by credit card companies and other lenders, but its main purpose is to determine whether your monthly debt payments will get in the way of your mortgage payments.
Why is it Important?
If your DTI doesn’t impact your credit score like credit utilization, what purpose does it serve?
Well, for one thing, it tells lenders how likely certain financial obligations are to get in the way of your monthly debt payment or mortgage payment. This is something that your credit utilization doesn’t consider as it looks only at your total debt and available credit and doesn’t factor your monthly income into the equation.
Your DTI, therefore, helps lenders to see the whole picture. It can also be used by the borrower to assess their financial situation.
Strategies for Improving Your Debt-to-Income Ratio
If your DTI creeps above 43% you will be refused a Qualified Mortgage and may struggle to get any sizeable loan with a low-interest rate. This is true even if you have a respectable credit score. However, fixing your DTI will greatly improve your financial situation and make it considerably easier to acquire a mortgage and loan in the future.
Here are a few ways you can improve this ratio:
Understand Your Debt
Your first step to improving your debt-to-income ratio is to better understand your financial situation. Calculate your score and then analyze all your debts, income, and additional expenditures, understanding how big your monthly payments are and how deep in the red you are.
You may be surprised to learn that you’re spending a lot of money on frivolous items, that you’re paying excessive amounts of interest or penalties, and that you’re not earning as much as you thought you were. All this information can help you to comprehend your financial situation and prepare you for a mortgage.
Target the Highest Bill-to-Balance Debts
Compare all monthly debt payments against the size of their respective balances and write down a percentage for each. If, for example, Debt 1 costs you $100 a month on a $1,000 balance while Debt 2 costs $50 on the same balance, then Debt 1 is 10% and Debt 2 is 5%.
Your next step is to focus all your expendable income on the debt with the highest percentage. Once you get that out of the way then your situation should improve significantly.
Make More Money
It’s always easier said than done but earning more money will improve your income ratio considerably. You can negotiate a pay increase with your employer or take on additional part-time freelance work. Your debt-to-income ratio will drop for every additional dollar that you earn, so if they refuse a significant increase then push for a smaller one.
We’re living in a gig economy and it has never been easier for skilled workers with a little time and talent to make some money on the side. You can write, draw or perform administration work, earning anywhere from $10 to $100 an hour depending on your level of skill and experience. Don’t worry if you don’t have much of either to speak off—there are multiple jobs available for anyone willing to put the hours in.
Renegotiate your Debt
Lenders are always happy to renegotiate debts. You can improve credit limits, reduce interest rates, decrease monthly debt payments, and more. It doesn’t hurt to ask and if they believe that it’ll reduce the odds of a default, they’ll be happy to accept.
Your main goal is to lower monthly payments but remember that this could be done at the expense of a longer long-term and an increased balance. Don’t get tempted by the first offer they wave in front of you and always run the necessary calculations before accepting.
Use a Balance Transfer Credit Card
A balance transfer credit card allows you to move all credit card debt onto a card with a 0% introductory interest rate. You may get an increased credit limit and some additional perks as well, but you need to focus on clearing your debts during this introductory period as the APR may be higher than usual when it ends.
If you pay less interest, your monthly outgoings drop significantly and your DTI will improve as a result.
Re-Think Your Investments
Your monthly income includes all money you earn from investments so it’s good to have these. However, you may be better off cashing those investments in and using the money to clear some of your debts. Unless you have your money invested in a burgeoning tech firm generating massive turnover, your debts will always cost you more than your investments will save.
As an example, let’s imagine that you’re getting a guaranteed return of 5% a year on investments of $5,000. That’s $250 a year and after 5 years it will hit just under $6,400 with compound interest for a total gain of $1,400. If you run the same calculation on a credit card debt of $5,000 with a low APR of 16% and a payoff period of 5 years, it’ll cost you over $2,200 in interest before fees and penalties.
The monthly income from this investment will also be significantly lower than the monthly interest payment, so not only will you save $800 during the lifetime of the debt, but you’ll reduce your DTI as well.
By the same token, you should also reconsider your savings.
Cash Your Savings
Unless you’re getting a very high rate, there’s a good chance that your debt is costing you more than your savings are earning. If these savings are tucked away for a child’s education, then keep them there, but if the goal is to pay for a holiday or another major and unnecessary expense, consider cashing them in and using the money to clear your debts.
If you’re not convinced, run some calculations, looking at how much those savings are earning you compared to how much your debts are costing you. The picture this paints should be pretty clear.
Summary: The Importance of Your DTI
As discussed already, your debt-to-income ratio not only helps mortgage lenders determine your level of risk, it can also help you understand your financial situation. It’s a number that all borrowers should learn, alongside their credit score and their credit utilization score, and one that can play an integral role in helping you to rebuild your finances and prepare for a mortgage, a consolidation loan, or even just a simpler and less stressful future.
For Michelle Schroeder-Gardner it all began with a blog. When she started Making Sense of Cents in 2011, a chronicle of her journey paying off $38,000 in student loans, it was a fun way to make money on the side while maintaining her full-time job as a financial analyst. Fast forward two years and she’s left her day job to focus on the blog exclusively. Fast forward another five years and she’s earning more than $1 million annually from her site.
If you too are looking to turn your side hustle into a full-time job, experiences like Schroeder-Gardner’s prove that just about anything is possible. And you’re not alone. Nation1099, an online resource for freelancers, published a 2018 report to summarize data from various career studies and concluded that approximately 11 percent of the working adult population in the U.S. is working primarily as full-time independent contractors in the gig economy. Gig workers, also known as on-demand workers, function with a non-standard work arrangement and without a long-term employment contract.
Some, like Schroeder-Gardner, have ditched a traditional lifestyle and are working while on the go and whenever they’re most productive (she travels around the world in an RV and sailboat and writes when motivation strikes). Others are logging full-time hours at home or in a coworking office space.
Although figuring out how to turn your side hustle into your dream job requires hard work, with patience and persistence, you can succeed.
Learn from the experts themselves and consider these steps for turning your side hustle into a successful business:
The first step for turning your side hustle into a successful business is building the right skill set so you can stand out in your field. Research industry best practices and in-demand skills, speak to successful professionals and read about others who’ve made the leap from side hustle to full-time job.
When Jill DeConti, founder of the blog The Luxe Travelers, decided to leave her finance job to devote all of her time to her side hustle as a travel blogger, she knew that knowledge would be instrumental to her success.
“I began researching, reading books, soaking in knowledge,” DeConti says, adding that she also focused on learning marketing best practices and how to generate revenue from her blog.
Reading about the steps for turning your side hustle into a successful business proved useful to DeConti not just for the practical tips she gleaned, but for motivation as well.
“This made me realize that my dreams were actually possible,” she says, “and made me feel less alone in pursuing them.”
“Even though I was earning a good income from my side gig before I turned it into my full-time career, I was terrified to leave my day job.”
Take baby steps
Schroeder-Gardner says one of the most challenging parts of turning your side hustle into a full-time job is building a business framework and believing in it.
“Even though I was earning a good income from my side gig before I turned it into my full-time career,” she says, “I was terrified to leave my day job.”
Growing her gig on the side to make sure that it actually worked—and would generate income—helped her gain confidence while she still had the security of her day job’s salary. When she was ready to make her side hustle full time, she knew the framework for a blog that could make money from affiliate marketing was already in place.
“I knew it was time when I was earning enough from my blog to live off of,” Schroeder-Gardner says. “I was earning around $5,000 to $10,000 a month from my side hustle at that time.”
Build an emergency fund
If you’re thinking about how to turn your side hustle into your dream job, be prepared for business—and earnings—to not go exactly as planned.
“Build an emergency fund,” Schroeder-Gardner says. “This way, when you turn your side gig into your dream job, you’ll have money set aside in case you have a not-so-good month.”
Sunny skies are the right time to save for a rainy day.
Start an emergency fund with no minimum balance.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC
You could also dip into your emergency fund to help manage daily expenses and pay your bills while you turn your side hustle into a full-time job. It may also come in handy if you need to finance upfront business costs (new equipment or office supplies, anyone?).
Outside of work, an emergency fund can provide a cushion for other expenses that may not be baked into your budget (think a trip to the doctor’s office or a home repair that came out of nowhere).
As you work on creating an emergency fund as a step for turning your side hustle into a successful business, note that most experts agree that it should include at least six months to a year of expenses.
Invest extra time upfront
You may find that it takes a lot of time to turn your side hustle into a full-time job. There’s networking, promoting your business and accepting new opportunities to build your portfolio—and that’s likely on top of your already packed schedule.
If you’re wondering how to turn your side hustle into your dream job, you may need to carve out time after regular working hours. That was the case for DeConti, whose day job kept her occupied from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In order to get her name out there as she built her travel blog, she looked for freelance social media jobs and worked on her own blog “after work and late into the night and on weekends,” she says.
Putting in the time upfront really paid off. These days DeConti can make her own schedule and work remotely, which is key for someone who has made a career out of her passion for travel.
“I’ve been able to travel to Bali for an extended period of time, spend a month traveling around the Greek islands, swim in the cenotes in Mexico, chase waterfalls around Iceland, eat the best pizza I’ve ever had in Italy, take a camper van around beautiful New Zealand,” she says. “As long as I have my laptop with me, I’m good to go.”
Join the side hustlers who have gone full time
If you’re contemplating how to turn your side hustle into your dream job, take comfort in knowing that you’re in good company. Others are now living their dreams, and you can too with some careful planning and confidence.
So, what are you waiting for?
From selling unwanted items online to launching a blog, there are side hustles you can start today.
A side hustle may just sound like extra work. Like coming home from your 9-to-5 job only to work another one (goodbye, free time). But a side hustle that generates income beyond your primary job doesn’t have to be a drain on your energy or time.
It’s easier than ever to find ways to make money on the side of your day job. As the side hustlers below show, it can be as easy as digging out forgotten treasures from the back of your closet.
Whether you’re looking to leverage a side gig to more quickly build wealth, or you’ve set out to increase your emergency fund or save for a specific financial goal, consider these four side hustles you can start today:
1. Sell unwanted items online
If you’re considering ways to make money side hustling, look no further than your own home. Chances are you have items lying around that you don’t actually use—books, toys, kitchen gadgets, exercise equipment, tech accessories, you name it—that sounded like a good idea at one point but are now just collecting dust. Selling unwanted items online is one of the easiest side hustles you can do while working full time.
“You can really sell anything on Craigslist and Kijiji. If it’s still in decent shape, there’s a buyer out there for items you’re no longer using,” says Tom Drake, founder of MapleMoney and no stranger to selling items online in his spare time.
Drake and his wife declutter their home and sell unwanted items online as often as they can. A recent focus was video games: Drake says he sold about $2,000 worth of video games that were sitting in his garage for over a decade. Based on his calculations, he expects to sell about $10,000 worth of unwanted items in 2018.
If you’re thinking about posting items online as a way to make money on the side, Drake says it’s easy to start. Listing items doesn’t take long, though he suggests taking a decent photo and writing a detailed description to make the item easier to find in search results and more likely to sell in a timely fashion.
PriceCharting, which documents prices for every video game ever made, to check value.
Outside of video games, Drake says you can find clothing at thrift stores, then list it for 30 to 50 percent off retail price to make a sale. For collectible items like coins, you can Google the item and add the term “price guide” to the search query. This type of information could come in handy as you build out your pricing structure. Don’t forget to explore e-commerce sites to gauge market rates for items.
3. Start an online store
Briana Ford is a search engine marketing campaign manager for a marketing company based in Dallas. Her way to make money side hustling is through three stores she runs on Shopify, an online e-commerce platform. She generates about $1,000 to $3,000 in total revenue each month.
Her stores Ciao Toots and Karma Outfitters sell phone covers and graphic tees, respectively. Her most popular store, PinLivingColor, sells ’90s memorabilia. She creates the designs through Printful, a printing service through Shopify, and uploads the photos to her store. When someone buys, say, a cell phone case, Printful prints the design on a case and sends it off to the customer. She took a weekend each to start her stores.
“We live in a day and age where you can literally have an idea in the morning and have your business launched in the evening. There is an audience and a customer for almost anything,” she says.
She also helps fellow African Americans start their own stores as a consultant via Startup Noire.
4. Launch a blog
Eric Rosenberg, founder of Personal Profitability, has tried side hustles from web coding to organizing flash mobs. He found a winning side hustle you can do while working full time with his blog.
“Personal Profitability led to freelance opportunities and eventually a full-time job. But it all started with weekends and evenings,” Rosenberg says.
He has tracked his online earnings publicly since 2012, when the blog earned him about $700 a month. In 2017 he had a six-figure business. Most of his income comes from writing services and website support, with some affiliate income, Rosenberg says.
Blogging is one of the side hustles you can start today, and it doesn’t necessarily cost much to get up and running. However, as the online income reports on Rosenberg’s blog show, it does require patience to make it really pay off.
Ways to make money side hustling: The possibilities are endless
These are just a few of the possibilities available to you as you explore ways to make money on the side of your primary career. As you compare the various side hustles you can start today, consider activities, skills or experiences that you’re passionate about. Enjoying and finding value in your side hustle may make the extra income and increased earning potential even more rewarding.
While the traditional 9-5 office model is slow to adapt to the needs of modern parents, some moms and dads are taking matters into their own hands. They are looking at ways to earn extra income while having flexibility in their schedules, including finding a side hustle.
Whether it’s for a specific financial goal like paying off debt or saving up for something big, this extra income has been instrumental in building up financial security for their families.
Motherhood and Money: Making It Work
You can make this year your financial best by finding ways to earn more and work it around your schedule.
If you’re thinking about making the leap into entrepreneurship, but are unsure where and how to start, here are four moms who have transformed their family’s finances through their work.
Lesson #1: Diversify your income
Sandy Smith has been creating businesses to reach not only her family’s financial goals but also help others.
Besides running the popular blog, Yes, I am Cheap, she’s branched out into selling online with Amazon drop shipping and has online courses.
Last year she also launched the Elevate conference, which is dedicated to promoting and highlighting personal finance experts of color.
All these income streams give her a cushion should one of them dip or fade out.
How about you -if your hours at work were cut or you’re laid off, do you have an income stream to absorb at least some of the blow? Even if you earn a few extra hundred dollars a month, that money can be tucked away to fill up your emergency fund.
Lesson #2: Give yourself runaway before switching into a full-time entrepreneur
Side hustles can not only be a source of income you can use for goals like paying down debt and saving up for a house. As you grow your client list, you may find that it would make sense to pivot it into your primary source of income.
Another awesome momprenuer is My Debt Epiphany’s Chonce Maddox. In 2015, Chonce started side hustling so she could pay off debt, including a high-interest car note.
She kept building that income until she reached the point where she was able quit her day job.
One of the best ways you can transition into self-employment is by building up a buffer with savings. That way you’ll know you have enough to pay your bills and will feel comfortable with your new business income until it increases.
You can use Mint’s goal feature to set up a ‘freedom fund’ and track your savings and progress quickly and easily.
Lesson #3: Designing Work Around Family and Circumstances
As a military spouse, Jen Hemphillhas had to carve out a flexible career that could also be remote.
After seeing a need in her community, she became an Accredited Financial Counselor and began serving women and empowering them with their money.
Cat Alford is another woman who built her business around her family. She became a freelance writer after having twins, allowing her to have time with them and earn income.
Working around the family isn’t usually easy, but many parents feel it’s worth it.
How do you find the right side hustle or work for your circumstances?
Fulfilling a need, having a market, and having a talent and/or skill is where you can build a business.
Where do you see a need around you? What talents and skills do you have to offer? How much time can you sustainably devote to it weekly?
Spending time upfront analyzing yourself and circumstances can assist you in finding the best path forward.
Lesson #4: Dump your debt and free up more options
Sandy’s original purpose with earning extra money on the side was to pay off. With her site, Yes I am Cheap, she funneled that money to pay off over $50,000 of debt!
If you’re getting a tax refund this year, think about setting aside a portion to pay down debt.
This can help your monthly cash flow going forward, giving you some more breathing room in your budget.
Lesson #5: Seek passive ways to earn income
Trading time for money (like becoming a Lyft driver or freelance writer) is a common way to earn money, but it’s not the only way.
Sandy Smith earned income through her mugs. She designed them, but she outsourced much of it and sold on them amazon.
Cat Alford took her skills as a freelance writer and created a course to help others start their online careers.
It definitely takes work to initially create and set up these businesses, but after you’ll have a passive income stream.
This can be an opportunity for you, as well.
As you work your side hustle, look for other services or products you can offer that’s less time-intensive. For example, if you’re a bookkeeper, you can create a guide or a short course for other DIY entrepreneurs.
Having a passive source of income can allow you to grow your bottom line without increasing the hours you work.
Stay on Top of Your Money
No matter what side hustle you’re looking at, I hope these stories encourage you to get started on your dreams!
As a reminder, please make sure that you keep track of the money you’re receiving because it does count as income, and down the line you will need to report and pay taxes on it.
Want to make it easy on yourself? Use software like Quickbooks so you can quickly see how you’re doing and adequately set aside money for your estimated taxes.
The phrase “side hustle” has gained popularity over the years. What started as a term referring to making a little extra money outside of a day job has turned into a way of life for many.
According to a 2017 study from Bankrate.com, more than 44 million Americans have a side hustle, which can range from working on freelance projects after hours to driving for ride-sharing companies on the weekends. Of the 86 percent of side hustlers who earn extra money from a side job every month, 36 percent make more than $500, the study found. Making ends meet was the main motivation for the majority of side hustlers and may be one of the key reasons you need a side hustle, too.
However, side jobs aren’t just for covering expenses. There are several reasons why you should start a side hustle, even if you can live comfortably off of your primary income.
Here are four things to consider as you evaluate your primary job and the prospect of side hustling:
1. Having multiple sources of income is empowering
Nick Loper, creator of the Side Hustle Nation podcast, spends his time interviewing people who earn money outside of their day jobs. His aim, in part, is to show his 60,000-plus followers that there are many ways to make time for a side hustle and numerous reasons why you should start a side hustle.
“Of course, making extra money never goes out of style, and that’s probably what draws most people to create a side hustle,” Loper says. “Other benefits might include learning or practicing new skills, exploring a passion of yours or just empowering yourself to find you have economic value outside of your day job or paycheck.”
When asked about some of the successes his podcast guests have experienced, Loper named several: A man who went from earning $30,000 annually working for a newspaper to $30,000 in a day as a freelance photographer, a man who started a multimillion-dollar company selling used textbooks and a woman who earns up to $5,000 a month teaching people how to bake bread.
Loper believes so many people are starting to focus on increasing their earning potential outside of their primary jobs because multiple sources of income can allow you to be more self-reliant. This may be a reason you need a side hustle.
2. You can use the extra money to pay off debt
Paying off debt is, for many people, among the top reasons you need a side hustle. If you’re paying off debt and don’t feel like you’re making any headway, you may benefit from the extra money you can make with a side hustle.
That’s what Gerald Zingraf decided to do when he was looking at $85,000 worth of student loans. Zingraf, 29, is a product manager for a technology company based in Arlington, Virginia. Although he had always made good money, it wasn’t enough to pay down his debt, cover his living expenses and reach his goal of becoming financially independent by 35. He ran the numbers and they didn’t lie—he needed to make more money.
“I was going to be paying student loans for a long time unless I could supplement my income somehow,” he says.
So between 2015 and 2017, he started not just one, but three companies on the side of his day job. His companies include two e-commerce sites—one that sells healthy office supplies such as standing desks and another that sells baby products. His third company is a subscription box service that provides the “ingredients” (not always food, by the way) for creative date nights for couples. Thanks to these companies, Zingraf was able to pay off his student loans in three years.
Assessing your debt and your financial plan to pay it off could become a reason you need a side hustle.
“It doesn’t take a lot of time to build a side gig. It’s like getting in shape. You don’t go to the gym for eight hours a day a couple of times and expect to see results. Instead, you commit 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for a few months.”
3. You can use the extra money to build wealth
If you’re not working to pay off debt, then you may want to find ways to make time for a side hustle simply so you can build wealth faster.
Whether it’s boosting your savings for emergencies or maxing out investment accounts, making extra money can help you reach those financial goals much quicker than if you rely only on your primary career.
This is exactly what Zingraf does with his side companies. What began as a way to make extra money to pay off debt has turned into a vehicle for him to reach financial independence in his 30s, where he’ll have enough income to pay his living expenses for the rest of his life without having to work full time. Zingraf is on track to reach his goal of financial independence in six years by the age 35.
4. It could turn into a job you love (if that’s what you want)
If you’re looking for reasons you need a side hustle, the internet is full of stories of individuals who started a business on the side because they were passionate about something and then it turned into their full-time job. If making money doing something you love isn’t one of the best reasons why you should start a side hustle, what is?
Chenell Tull, founder of Hustle to Startup, did just that after working for AAA’s e-business department for seven years as a Google Ads and SEO specialist. She had helped her stepfather with his online presence for a marketing company he’d started and shared the experience with her networking group. This helped her secure another client, and soon she was working with three or four clients on the side of her day job.
“I decided I loved this so much that I wanted to leave my day job,” Tull says. “I worked to save up eight months of expenses, which took about one-and-a-half-years.” In June of 2017, Tull quit her job to focus on her business full time.
Loper also turned multiple side hustles into his full-time career. To make extra money, he started his first side hustle in 2006—a comparison shopping site for footwear. He went full time with that project in 2008. In 2013, Loper started the Side Hustle Nation podcast, which became his main focus one year later, and by 2017, he said he was earning $15,000 a month.
Does your side gig have to turn into your full-time job? Definitely not. Many, like Zingraf, choose to keep their day jobs and continue building businesses on the side. The route you decide to take depends on your goals and interests.
Making the time to side hustle
Determining why you should start a side hustle is one thing. Finding the time to actually work on your side hustle is another thing entirely.
Thinking about your side hustle inspiration is a good place to start. Are you looking for more financial security? Trying to pay off debt? Build wealth? Once you have the answer, it becomes easier to work on your side gig in your free time. Tull, who believes if you value your side gig it will be easier to find ways to make time for a side hustle, used early morning, nights, weekends and even her commute to work.
If you’re looking for ways to make time for a side hustle, you may actually find that you have more free time than you think. Zingraf suggests that you audit yourself by spending a week recording what you do in 15-minute chunks.
“I bet that there will be at least 20 hours wasted on fruitless tasks like Netflix, Facebook and games on your phone,” he says. Even if you have excellent time management skills, you may still uncover free time you didn’t know you had and ways to make time for a side hustle.
More than 44 million Americans have a side hustle.
Zingraf also shares a little-known secret to successful side hustling. “It doesn’t take a lot of time to build a side gig,” he says. “It’s like getting in shape. You don’t go to the gym for eight hours a day a couple of times and expect to see results. Instead, you commit 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for a few months.”
This accumulation of small wins over a period of time, not a massive time dump, is essential, he says. That’s why he suggests side hustlers commit to working one hour a day, five days a week, for the next three months.
“Find one thing to go all out on during that time,” Zingraf says, “and don’t get distracted by other shiny objects.”
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.
It’s a new year! And you’re probably reading this because you want to make a change with how you handle your money in 2020. You want to pay off your student loans, start investing, and maybe save up for a big girl vacation, like, to Europe or something.
You want to make big changes but very rarely do big things happen to move the needle. It’s the little things that sustain you when you’re trying to make big changes.
Like, pay off more money in debt than you make in a year.
My husband, Travis, and I paid off nearly $78,000 of student loan and consumer debt in 23 months. When we started, we were making less than $50,000 between the two of us. I have no clue what made us think we could do this.
The story seems like a big deal now but it didn’t feel that way when we were in it. I remember being halfway through, tired, and hopeless because there was no light at the end of my tunnel.
It’s no wonder more people don’t pay off their student loans. According to the US Dept. of Education’s Direct Loan Portfolio by Repayment Plan, almost 3 million borrowers are in programs that offer a loan forgiveness option.
But… people’s reliance on the loan forgiveness concept is slipping. In the same report, you can see that the number enrolled in Income-Based Repayment has fallen every quarter since the end of 2016. People are realizing that the government is not going to take care of their student loan crisis.
So where do we go from here? You can’t go from drowning in debt to financially independent overnight. It’s a hard road. There’s a glamorous story to tell at the end but the process is anything but.
I’ll tell you honestly, it’s the everyday things that get you through this process.
There’s no magic bullet, there’s no personality, job, or location that makes someone better suited to pay off debt. It’s the small habits you build and perform day-in and day-out that make it possible. And there are dozens of them. But you can get started with just a few.
These are the 17 easiest and most import habits I’ve found that you can start to incorporate into your life to pay off debt and create the financial future you want. I hope you don’t think they’re trivial. Taking a small step forward is vastly more impactful than doing nothing and some days it’s all we’re capable of.
Even if you’re not getting there as fast as you think you should you’re still moving forward and it’s a better place than you were yesterday.
- Drink a Glass of Water Upon Waking
After 8 hours (hopefully) of sleep, your body is massively dehydrated. Drinking 16 oz. of water before you do anything will potentially aid digestion and other bodily functions.
But why in the world is this a good “financial” habit?
Your body can mistake thirst for hunger when you’re dehydrated. Being well hydrated in the morning can help you avoid that starving feeling that starts when you’re on your way to work and conveniently driving past a coffee shop or bakery.
There are tons of mornings that I have my perfectly portioned breakfast ready to go but my hunger is so big it doesn’t seem like enough. But on mornings I’m not hungry I don’t even think about stopping for coffee and pastry, which costs me $6 a trip.
- Eat Protein in the Morning
For most people, our days are back-loaded with protein. We eat granola and the light turkey sandwich for lunch and a big ol’ steak for dinner. It should really be the other way around.
Protein stabilizes blood sugar levels, which strengthens your concentration and reduces brain fog. It also boosts energy levels and keeps you fuller longer. All this is essential for the avid side hustler.
When I have protein throughout the day I’m more productive at work and I could go home with enough energy to work my side hustle and not crash after. If I forgot about my diet I would feel tired, worn out, and eventually get sick.
- Do Your Least Favorite Task First
This one could also be “do your most inconvenient task first.” I’ll never say I’m perfect at these. I am still know for putting off important tasks for weeks when they could be over in 5 minutes.
Things always come up during the day and they always seem more important (translation: easier) at the time. Calls to creditors, applying for jobs, and completing freelance work are some of the tasks I’ve had to complete first to make sure they get done before the last minute.
- Respond Open Endedly to Invitations
We get invited to new things everyday. Whether it’s via Facebook events or in-person requests we want to do everything but we can’t afford everything. We’re those people who respond “interested” to events and say “I’ll check my calendar” to most invites.
If it’s free we won’t hesitate to say yes but anything that’s going to cost money has to thought about before agreed to. Eventually, we got good enough to immediately suggest free alternatives to coffee dates and expensive restaurants but some invites don’t have alternatives.
We’ve had to turn down wedding invites, out-of-state birthday trips, and dinners out. They were nothing to cry about but had to be thought through instead of impulsively agreed to.
- Track Spending Manually
Apps like Mint are nice because they track you spending automatically. But when you’re on a budget you shouldn’t be looking back at the end of the month to see where all your money went, you should be actively managing it.
Manually tracking your spending every night helps you see where you are on your budget and helps you know whether you can say yes or no to those friendly invitations. I like EveryDollar, it’s a beautifully designed app and it’s free.
- Admit & Respond to Your Mistakes
When you’re avoiding sweets and you find yourself eating a cookie do you give up and say “Oh well, I’ll try again next month” and proceed to finish the box of cookies? We are so prone to give up if we make a mistake; that is a seriously limiting mindset.
When you buy something you regret, miss a day of your side hustle, or fall short of your debt payment it’s not an excuse to quit. It’s also not a time to start justifying the reasons behind all your mistakes. Call it what it is, decide how you’re going to respond better next time, and move on.
This is a daily practice because I don’t know anyone, myself included, who can make it through a perfect day while paying off debt.
- Celebrate Small Wins
As frequently as we call out mistakes we need to be calling out wins. Every day has something that’s worth celebrating. I prepped all my produce for the week last night, I celebrated that, I was two days late in prepping it but I got it done.
When I say celebrate I don’t mean go out or throw a party. Simply saying out loud what you accomplished or writing it down will suffice. Just identifying the good and progress everyday is what you’re going for.
- Make Manual Payments
In addition to automatic payments for debt payments and savings goals it’s good to make manual payments too. This allows you to actively participate in reaching your goal.
Sure you could do all your payments automatically (and you should on some) but adding additional payments manually helped us regain motivation, make bigger payments, and pay off the debt faster.
- Meal Plan & Prep
Setting aside an hour each week to meal plan and make a grocery list is essential to paying off debt. Honestly it’s essential for anyone who doesn’t want to blow all their money on food.
Meal planning isn’t hard and there are options for premade meal plans if you absolutely hate it, but don’t use the excuse of “not having enough time” to skip this. It’s that important.
One thing I was missing for a while was actually cooking the meals I’d planned for with the ingredients I’d bought. I was too busy (or lazy) throughout the week to go through the monotony of cooking, until I started prepping.
Now after I get home from the grocery store I meal prep produce according to all my recipes and even pre-season vegetables so during the week all I have to do is dump and cook. It’s helped me reduce food waste, which has saved even more money.
- Always Check For Savings Before You Buy
Dont get in the checkout line or hit “Buy Now” before you search for a coupon, cash back, or cheaper option. Here are my favorite places to check for deals.
- Use Blink to save on prescriptions.
- EyeBuyDirect to save on prescription eyewear.
- Energy saving methods like low-flow showerheads to reduce our utility bill.
- Sites like Restaurant.com for dining deals.
- Groupon and LivingSocial for deals on activities.
- ThredUp for nice secondhand clothing at steep discounts from retail.
- I take advantage of free trials at gyms.
- Shopping through Ebates when making any purchases online will get you cash-back from virtually any retailer.
- Apps like ibotta and Checkout51 to save at grocery stores and other big box retailers.
- Use healthcare sharing to save big time on health insurance.
- Help Someone
When I was a year into our debt payoff I was feeling really hopeless. The first year was so hard and we were only at the halfway point. It was like finishing a half marathon and feeling accomplished only to remember you’re running a full marathon.
What helped me regain my motivation was helping people with the knowledge and skills I now possessed. I started a blog but you don’t have to, in fact I think you can help more people without one.
Facebook groups are a place people ask questions all the time and there’s a thriving #debtfreecommunity on Instagram where people are honest in their accomplishments as well as their shortcomings. These are great places to start and it’s energizing to find others with as much zeal for being debt-free as you.
- Write a Thank You Note
Sometimes living on a limited budget can feel isolating. Everyone is travelling, going out, and growing closer while you sit at home. That’s why it’s important to be intentional about cultivating the relationships you do have.
Saying thanks for little things and big things in a handwritten note or on Facebook is how you forge deeper relationships in less time. When you know someone is grateful for you don’t you go out of your way more to accommodate them?
Obviously your gratitude should be sincere and not to get something in return but don’t feel like your missing out on relationships if you don’t participate in everything.
- Put it On Ice
Sounds funny right? I discovered Icebox, a free Google Chrome extension, last year and found it to be an awesome idea. The idea is to minimize impulse spending by replacing the “Buy Now” button on over 500 online stores with a “Put It on Ice” button.
This button saves the product in your “Icebox” for a period of your choosing, then it becomes available to buy. The hope is that after a cool down period you’ll rethink the purchase and save your money for something better. Watch the video to see it in action:
Impulse shopping is a monthly obstacle for most millennials, and it actually affects more males than females. I’m all about working smarter, not harder, and anything that forces me to think more about my spending is a welcomed inconvenience.
- Automate Everything
Its 2018 and you might think you’re automating everything but this. But somehow we can’t find the 3 minutes it takes to set up auto-pay on something and we miss deadlines. It might sound silly but it’s worth the reminder.
We recently got a new debit card for Travis, we forgot to change the card number on our cell phone bill and got hit with a late fee. Our utilities don’t allow us to automate online and I had to go during working hours to set up auto-pay. Everyone should be regularly auditing their bills to make sure cards aren’t expired, numbers are up to date, and that you’re not incurring random fees.
- Unfollow People on Facebook
I did this regularly while paying off debt because I had a big ol’ case of FOMO. Friends were doing things and getting stuff that I wanted and I couldn’t participate. Well, I could but my bigger goals won out.
I never unfriended people, they weren’t doing anything malicious; I just wanted to live in ignorant bliss. And it helped a lot. Instead of following friends who were living their best lives now, I started following Instagram accounts of people paying off debt and it made social media an inspiring waste of time vs. a depressing one.
- Look For More Money
Every opportunity we get Travis and I look for ways to make money. Whether it’s an online survey, mystery shop, or freelance gig we spend our free time productively.
Most of these side hustles are a refreshing change of pace from our 9-to-5’s so they don’t drain energy like a minimum wage hourly job would. But hey, if you like your hourly side job stick with it! But it should pay at least $10 p/h. 😉
- Shop Used First
One of the most deeply ingrained habits in American culture is that if you need something you go to Target or Walmart and buy it. Or if you can wait two days for it you order it on Amazon. But even though you think you’re getting a bargain, you’re probably still paying way more than you could if you got it used.
Instead of taking the easy way out check Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, pawn shops, consignment, and thrift stores for your needs before buying new. It only takes a few extra steps and you will save thousands of dollars by making this a habit in your life.
We didn’t adopt all these habits overnight. It snowballed with one here, one there, until we were practicing all of them. Start with two or three and work on incorporating more healthy financial habits for the rest of your life. Paying off debt is only the start of your prosperous financial journey.
Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.
Why Mint.com is the Free Budget Planner for You
Technology will help you stay on track with your spending.
Whether you’re on that six figure salary or struggling with a shoestring budget, Mint.com has the budget software for you. One of the biggest benefits is that it is a free budget planner, but there are many other ways you will gain. Here are some of the highlights that you need to take advantage of; and there is no financial risk involved!
No Software to Install
Everything you need is accessed through the online browser or your mobile app. There is no need to download any special software on your computer, making it easier to budget wherever you are and with whatever technological device you have. All your financial data is secure and kept in one place on your account.
Add as Many or as Few Accounts as You Need
You may just have one bank account and a savings account, or you may have multiple ones, plus investments and loans. With Mint.com’s free budget planner, it doesn’t matter how many you have. You can add them all into the one account, quickly and easily. Each of them show up in your dashboard, so you can easily see where you’re overspending, whether you have anything left for that special purchase or how far off you are from meeting your savings goals.
The financial data is pulled automatically to your Mint account, and is updated each time you visit. There is no need to spend hours inputting figures and hoping you remember why you made that extra card purchase. The only thing you will need to remember are your cash purchases.
Don’t make budgeting any harder than it has to be with an online free budget planner.
Auto-Categorizing for Easier Budgeting
Everything added to Mint is put into categories automatically. While you can’t change the top categories, you can change the sub ones. You can also make changes if you find something has been added in incorrectly to keep your budgeting on track. Seeing where you spend your money and the type of purchase you make is the first step to creating and sticking to a budget.
Set Goals and See Your Progress
No matter what type of financial goal you have, you can set it at Mint.com. If you want to create an emergency budget to avoid getting into debt, you can. If your long term goals involve buying a house, you can set that and see how far you have to do. When money is added to your savings accounts, your goals will be updated so you can constantly keep an eye on the progress. These goals can be changed too, if something in your life changes.
There is also an area for investing, which is perfect for those who have the finances for this. It is rather simplistic, but that keeps it easy to use. Watch as your investments go up and down, so you can make a better decision whether you should pull out or not.
Mint.com’s free budget planner is easy to use, making it perfect for all. There is no financial risk, as you learn more about budgeting, see how well you are meeting your financial goals and check on investments.
Alexandria Ingham is a freelance writer with experience in technology, business and personal finance.
Being a college student doesn’t necessarily mean you need to take an oath of poverty. If you’re tired of Ramen noodles and empty pockets, it’s time to learn how to make money in college.
Though it can seem like a daunting task, with a little bit of ingenuity and investigation, you can either find a job that’s glove fit with your school schedule, or even the beginnings of a multi-million dollar business idea.
If you doubt it, check out these ideas now! And while you do, realize that other students have already figured out how to make money in college, and some of them are even making a lot of it. You could be one of them!
Table of Contents
Start with These Tips
The biggest hurdle with how to make money in college is usually figuring out exactly what to do. After all, you’ve already got your school schedule to contend with. Not only will you need a money making activity that will fit neatly within that schedule, but one that will also be interesting and maximize both your current skills and income potential.
That may take a bit of self-analysis – we recommend spending some time thinking about a few of these:
How soon do you need the money? If you need to start making money right away, getting a job may be the best solution. You’ll get paid only a week or two after you start. The best place to start is by checking the college job boards to see what will work best for you.
Can you earn money from work related to your coursework or interests? Give serious thought to anything you’re studying in school or have a strong interest in, and investigate ways to monetize what you already know. For example, are you good enough with computers that you can help other students set theirs up or troubleshoot them? Are you studying accounting or marketing, and if so, could you apply those skills to do freelance work for local businesses?
Are there ways to make extra money at school? Talk to your professors, guidance counselor and department chair, and see if there are any opportunities to earn and learn. For example, you might be able to get paid work doing research for your major department, or even for one of your professors. They may also be able to direct you toward tutoring students in need. Or, one of them may be aware of a paid internship. Sniff around, ask questions, and be open to whatever might be available.
Tune into your fellow students. You may be able to identify a common need that will present an opportunity to earn extra money. It could be providing help with term papers, tutoring, or helping other students become more fluid with their computers. If you find a niche, you may even be able to turn it into a future business. You’re probably aware that Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook out of his college dorm room. Think big – you could be next!
15 Ways to Make Money in College
There are more ways to make money in college than you can imagine. To make it easier, we’re going to break those ideas down into categories, based on the specific need to make money you may have.
Choose the group that best fits your situation and look at each of the money making ideas in it. Even if none are exactly what you’re looking for, use those that are shown as an inspiration for others you can pursue.
You may even find it helpful to choose one that pays you cash immediately, while you parlay another idea into a profitable business you can keep building even after graduation.
Quick Short-Term Cash
Businesses that can Turn into a Career After College
Quick Short-term Cash
You can certainly get a part-time job, but you’ll earn no more money than the number of hours you put in. There may also be a long line of other students applying for a very limited number of available part-time jobs in your school’s area.
If you want to make more money, and do it on your own schedule, consider some of the following:
Drive for Lyft
This one sounds almost cliché, but it’s one that can work around your schedule. It’s also an opportunity to make a lot more than you can with a part-time job. According to Indeed.com, the average Lyft driver earns more than $27,000 per year.
It works best in and around larger cities and popular tourist destinations. But it can also work well in large college communities, where car-less students are in regular need of transportation.
You’ll need a decent car, a smart phone, and a clean driving record. But if you have all three, and you want to take the plunge, you can sign up to be a Lyft driver.
Take Online Surveys
This is another money making venture that’s also mentioned frequently. You probably won’t make a fortune taking online surveys, but it has the advantage of being totally flexible. You can do it in your own time, and in the comfort of your dorm room or apartment.
If you want to investigate the possibilities, check out my post on the best online survey and research sites to make money.
Become a Sports Referee
If you played recreational sports when you were a kid, you probably didn’t like the referees much as a player. But did you know they often get paid? And a lot of them are college students.
If you played a sport in high school, you may have everything you need to know to be a referee in a recreational league. And don’t worry about what you don’t know, you’ll be provided with a referee’s guidebook to fill you in on the details.
Check the local recreational sports leagues in the area where your school is, give them a call and volunteer your services. Referees can make between $25 and $50 per game, and they rarely last much longer than an hour. If you can referee two or three games on a Saturday, you can easily make over $100.
This can be the very easiest way to make money in college. You’ll be paid to stay at someone’s house while they’re away, and sometimes only to look in on the house on a regular basis. In addition to earning money, it may give you an opportunity to get out of a crowded dorm room for a few days. It can even allow you to do your homework while you’re getting paid.
Some people don’t like leaving their homes unoccupied, and admittedly many are also looking for someone to care for housebound pets. Or they may simply want someone at the house to collect the mail and take in delivery packages.
You can look for house sitting opportunities in your school newspaper, on Craigslist, or anywhere people post special needs. But you can also register for a house sitting service, like MindMyHouse.com or HouseSitter.com.
Become a Server or Bartender in a High-End Restaurant or Club
This is one of the most traditional money making opportunities for college students. And if you’re working as either a server or a bartender in a popular or high-end restaurant or club, you can make way more than minimum wage
There are age restrictions that may or may not affect you. For example, you may need to be at least 18 years old to work in an establishment that serves liquor. But you may need to be at least 21 to be a bartender
You can check the classifieds in your area to find opportunities. But it may be better to go and apply directly at local establishments. One characteristic common to restaurants and clubs is that they’re often looking for someone immediately, and they’ll hire you just for showing up.
If you like kids, babysitting is an option that can earn $15 to $20 per hour – often plus tips. You can check the local classified ads, but it might be better to register with a service like Care.com.
It’ll help your resume, and probably your pay level, if you also complete a CPR course. It’ll give parents a higher assurance that their children are in good hands.
The best ways to make money may be right on campus – you just have to know where to look. A college is a business organization, and all organizations have jobs that need to be filled. And even apart from formal jobs, there may be opportunities to make some extra cash just helping out where there are specific needs.
Take a Job at School
Your college or university needs people to fill all kinds of jobs. It could be working in the cafeteria, providing cleaning services, maintaining the grounds, or any one of a number of jobs. It would have the advantage of keeping you on campus for work, rather than needing to go to a remote site.
Check with your school’s human resources department, or even get information from people who are already in those jobs. They can probably point you toward the person who does the hiring.
Tutor Other Students
Do you have a specific subject or two where you’re particularly strong? If so, you may be able to earn money tutoring other students who aren’t.
There are two ways you can approach this. You can see if there’s a formal tutoring program set up on campus. If so, you can sign up and get assignments as they come in.
But a more lucrative opportunity may be to offer your services directly to other students. You can do this by word-of-mouth, but it may be better to advertise your services in the campus newspaper, website or Facebook page. As an independent, you can easily make $25 to $50 per hour, particularly if your specializations are in more technical subjects, like math, science, and computer science.
Use Your Specializations to Help Other Students
You probably have certain skills many others don’t. For example, if you’re really good at designing presentations or providing graphic arts, you may be able to help other students with term papers and projects for a fee. If you’re fluid with computers, you may also be able to teach or troubleshoot the technology for other students.
Advertise your services in the school newspaper, website, or Facebook page. You can also market your services through your own social media. If you start getting referrals from existing customers, you’ll have plenty of income to keep your bank account full throughout your time at school.
Assist a Professor or Department Head
A professor or department head has all kinds of tasks that need to be performed. That includes everything from making copies, to creating audiovisual aids, or doing research.
Check with your professors and with the head of your major department and see what kind of opportunities there are. But also check any online school related media where faculty or administrators might be looking for people to perform certain tasks.
Help Out in the Athletic Department
You’re probably familiar with the concept of a bat boy/girl. But virtually all sports organizations have a need for a bat boy/girl equivalent, or even several. Maybe you’re not playing in any sports in college, but if you played in one or more sports in high school, you can become an equipment manager, or assist the coaching staff in some capacity.
Check with the athletic department or directly with specific teams to see what’s available. And while football and basketball may be the big money making sports in college, there are dozens of other less known teams at your school where fewer students will be signing up to help. Those might be your best opportunities.
Businesses that can Turn into a Career After College
Starting a business in college may seem unlikely, but it may turn out to be the most lucrative and flexible money making arrangement you can have. Not only are there usually no specific hours to keep, but you can make as much money as your time and talents allow.
What’s more, it may be a real opportunity to get some serious, hands-on business experience that will make you a more interesting candidate when you graduate and start looking for that first job after college.
An even more exciting possibility is the potential that the business you start college could enable you to start making some serious money. If that happens, you won’t need to find a job when you graduate – you’ll already have one coming out of the gate!
Be a Virtual Assistant
Business is increasingly moving online at every level. There are many solo entrepreneurs and small businesses that need services performed that don’t rise to the level of hiring employees. If you can provide some of those services, you can earn money as a virtual assistant.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs need virtual assistants to do all kinds of tasks. Examples include proofreading, social media marketing, invoicing, customer contact, setting up events, and research, just to name a few.
Inventory your own skill set, design a resume, and sign up for some sites where you can find virtual assistant work. Those include Upwork, TaskRabbit, or FlexJobs.
Start Your Own Blog
Is there a topic that really interests you, or a story you want to tell? You can start your own blog and turn those ideas into a steady income. This is one of the more challenging money-making opportunities on this list, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. Not only can you make money blogging, but a successful blog is a business that can be sold for big money in the future. And many people – like me – have turned blogging into a career.
One of the great things about blogging is that there are blogs about just about every topic. You name it, there’s a blog for it – cooking, travel, photography, computers, fitness, nutrition – I can go on and on. One of the very best niches is finance, which is where I found success. In fact, if you’re a finance major, you may want to put some of what you’ve learned to work with the finance blog. You don’t have to be an expert, but just someone with a fresh perspective and a compelling story to tell.
If you’re interested in launching your own blog, I’ve got a guide to get you started. And if you’re doubting being able to pull it off as a college student, just know that some of today’s most successful blogs were started by people when they were still in college.
Create YouTube Videos
You’re a college student so you’re probably well aware there are thousands of people making money creating YouTube videos. Some people have even become YouTube superstars, earning millions of dollars in the process.
Much like blogging, creating YouTube videos has unlimited possibilities. You can make videos about serious topics, like finance, fitness, cars, or relationships. Or you can make more lighthearted content, like video games, cooking, music, hobbies, or social commentary.
The first thing you need to do is create a YouTube account. From there, you’ll need to learn how to create YouTube videos. You can learn the basics from YouTube Help, but to perfect the art, check out some of the many “how to” videos offered on the platform by people who are already doing it successfully. It may even be worth signing up for a course that will provide all the details.
If you like to write, there are a number of ways you can convert that passion into a money making opportunity. For example, if you have specializations – let’s say you like to write about computer games – you may be able offer your services to businesses engaged in that industry.
You may also be able to find work writing articles, research papers, e-books, and even full-length books for individuals who don’t have the time or inclination to do it themselves. Such people advertise writing gigs on Craigslist all time. (Just be sure to get at least some money up front, and at certain intervals during the project, when you’re working with clients for the first time.)
This is a potentially serious money making opportunity. If you like to write, and you’re committed to doing it for money, Holly Johnson can show you how to make $20,000 per month as an online freelance writer.
Start Your Own Small Business
If you have an inner entrepreneur, one of the best ways to make money in college is to start your own business. You can do this by monetizing specific skills and talents you have, or even drawing from previous work experiences.
For example, if you cut lawns as a kid, offer your services to homeowners in the community. If you have a knack for fixing what’s broken, becoming a handyman is a potentially lucrative business.
On a more technical side, if you have computer or Internet skills, like building websites or social media marketing, you may be able to sell your services directly to small businesses.
Probably the hardest part of starting your own business is marketing. After all, you probably don’t have a budget for marketing, so you’ll have to be able to do it on the cheap. And with the Internet, that’s very doable.
For example, you can advertise your services on Craigslist or Facebook. Or if you want to approach small businesses, you can use email marketing. That’s a simple matter of getting business emails – which are usually readily available on their websites – and sending them a compelling email advertising your services.
The Bottom Line on How to Make Money in College
I hope you’re getting a sense that you have more control over your money situation than you ever imagined, even as a college student. You don’t need to wait until graduation to start making money! The extra income can make your college experience more exciting by giving you options other students don’t have.
There’s another benefit to making money in college – one that many students don’t fully appreciate – and that’s that the work you do in college will help you to build both a resume and the hands-on experience that will help you in your career when you graduate.
The transition from student to full-time employee after graduation can be a bit of a shock. But if you’ve already been working while you’re in college, or you’ve built a business, you’ll have already completed that transition.
And who knows, the business idea you hatch while you’re in school could end up being your full-time career when you get out. Remember Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook story – you could be writing your own millionaire entrepreneur story while you’re still in school.
Never underestimate yourself – it could happen!
You Might Also Enjoy
.gfc-table-of-contentsborder:1px solid #ccc;margin-bottom:2rem;padding:0;position:relative.gfc-table-of-contents-title-containerbackground-color:#f2f2f2;margin-bottom:1rem.gfc-table-of-contents h3background-color:#fff;display:inline-block;font-size:16px;margin:0;padding:.25rem 1rem.gfc-table-of-contents ullist-style:none;padding-left:1rem.gfc-table-of-contents.adminbackground-color:#eee