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Four Unexpected Benefits of my Side Hustles (Besides the Cash!)

As a recent graduate living in New York City, I take opportunities to earn money on the side whenever I can. Although I do it for the money, there have been other cool benefits to babysitting and freelancing that I never expected.

4 unexpected side benefitsIn my last posts about daily expenses and building a work wardrobe while on a budget in New York, you guys pointed out something that seemed to be missing from my story: Shouldn’t I be practicing what we preach here on Money Under 30? Because if I were, I’d realize an entry-level salary might not be enough to get by in a city like New York. And that’s where a side hustle comes in.

I’m totally with you. I’ve long been an advocate of the “side hustle” as well.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that working for Money Under 30 has actually been my side hustle for about the last year. Although it was tough while I was finishing up my senior year of college, which included working full-time at a daily newspaper for a while, I made it work because I understood the value of extra income.

Since living in New York, I’ve realized even more the value of the side hustle — it’s so much more than just the money you can make. These are a few of the benefits:

1. Flexibility

Besides working for Money Under 30, I’ve also starting babysitting in the city while I’m in between jobs and freelance writing. It wasn’t really something I expected to do, but my sister and roommate started throwing some clients my way, and I went with it.

The combined income from babysitting and freelancing has allowed me to take my time. After my internship ended this summer, I was hesitant to take a full-time job right away if it didn’t feel like a great fit. Although I interviewed several places, I ended up even turning a full-time offer down because it wasn’t quite the type of job I’m looking for.

I know doing that is a luxury. If I didn’t have any income, I would have had to latch onto the first job that came my way. But because of the side hustles, I’m able to wait and make a more strategic move.

2. Expanding your social network

I tend to associate “networking” with staying in touch with old bosses, meeting a colleague through your college’s alumni association or getting coffee with someone who has a job you want. Those are all good moves, but networking can also happen unexpectedly, and doesn’t necessarily have to lead to a job offer.

Babysitting in New York, for example, really lends itself to networking. The parents who are hiring me got where they are somehow, and I love discussing it with them. It’s even led to some more formal “networking” connections without me even having to ask.

3. Learning a new skill set

My roommate, Mallory, is trying to make it in New York as a singer and actress which, right now, means side hustles for her, too.

She studied marketing along with acting, and she’s honed her sales skills since being here through side hustle. After answering a Craigslist ad, she’s a brand ambassador for a sparkling wine company and attends various events for them to advertise the product.

It’s definitely not what she imagined doing in the short-term, but who knows? Maybe one day she’ll combine her marketing and theater prowess, and this is another line for the résumé.

4. Funny stories for later (the most important)

So here are the options: During our downtime, we could

  1. Watch Netflix and eat snacks on the couch or
  2. Babysit, freelance and stand in the front of liquor stores selling sparkling wine.

Which one makes us more interesting to talk to? I think the latter.

We have an email chain going with our friends from college, and we’ve definitely gotten some laughs from stories about our slightly unconventional career choices at this point.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and I always think it’s interesting to hear stories about how famous entertainers and CEOs got to where they are today. We’re writing those stories now, and even sometimes jokingly say to one another, “There’s another chapter for the memoir.” And I’d much rather talk about how we “side hustled” than how we wasted time or got in financial trouble.

Side hustle is hard work, but it can also be fun, and I don’t think we’ll ever regret it.

Bonus tip: Mallory has gotten some jobs through TaskRabbit (a site that — in certain big cities — pairs freelance errand-runners with people willing to hire them) and highly recommends it!

Did your side hustle ever lead to unexpected benefits, besides just the money?

Published or updated on November 6, 2013

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About Maria LaMagna

Maria LaMagna is a recent graduate of Northwestern University where she served as editor-in-chief of the university’s award-winning daily newspaper and studied for five months in Argentina. Before joining Money Under 30, Maria worked as a reporter for CNN and the Indianapolis Business Journal. Follow Maria on Twitter @MCLaMagna.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. David says:

    Yes! I am one of those unconventional types, having an engineering degree while also having a very deep running need for being involved in the arts. Having a side hustle doing photography, painting, and music for an extra income has helped me maintain a healthy balance so I can enjoy my other work that has less creative freedom. Yet another benefit, if your not totally happy with your current job.

  2. Eduardo says:

    You have sighted a very important topic that most people try to shy away from. Side hustle may appear to be a strategy for the desperate but as you have noted it has so many benefits than one can imagine. Great article right there and I will also haget a side hustle for myself. Thanks for the advice

  3. Kostas says:

    Side Hustles sound like such a bad thing, but the more I’m learning about them the more I’m realizing a lot of us, including myself, need to consider side hustling myself. Thanks for the information.

  4. Side hustle is a term I need to add to my vocabulary.

    Sure, there are many benefits to side hustle. You hit the nail on the head: networking. When you side hustle, you’ll eventually stumble upon people with influence. It’s a tipping point. Your hustle will eventually meetup with someone with major influence. When that happens, it’s magical and your life will change for the better.

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