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Friday, 29 September 2017

Focus on your day job

A popular idea in the personal finance sphere is to start a side hustle. An online business, babysitting, or even a blog like this one can bring in a couple of hundred a week if done right. Of course it can also bring in next to nothing if you don't do it right (ask me about my blog profits ;) ). However we (almost) all have day jobs that are where we make most of our money.

Given a little love and attention these day jobs can make us a lot more money than any side hustle - for the same number of hours a week.

Side Hustle Rates

The income from side hustles varies wildly. Babysitters can charge $20-$25 an hour, maybe more for multiple children or overnight stints. Pet sitters generally only charge $20-$25 a night. Freelance writing rates vary from $10 an hour to $40 an hour, or sometimes $5 for 500 words, up to $20 for 500 words.

For every wildly successful freelancer out there, there are 100 more people make a measly $5 a week from online surveys or less. 

Of course, we don't often talk about the unsuccessful hustlers. Their stories just aren't as interesting, but they outnumber the success stories at least 100 to 1, maybe even 1,000 to 1. Or ever more!

Day Job Rates

Minimum wage in Australia is $18.29. While this might not seem very exciting when compared to making $40 an hour freelancing, day jobs have these wonderful things called promotions.

But before starting on the idea of making more money, remember that day jobs also come with annual leave and sick leave. In my position I earn 4 weeks annual leave each year, and 12 days sick leave. I also get public holidays off and get paid the same for a public holiday week.

With 4 weeks annual leave, 12 days sick leave and 12 public holidays, there are 44 days each year that I don't need to be at work, and still get paid.

Considering minimum wage, the rate on paper is $18.29 - $695.02 a week (38 hours) or $36,141.04 a year. However, consider that a full time employee can take all their leave and will still be paid $36,141.04 for only working 46 weeks a year. 

This means your actual hourly rate for the time you are at work is $20.67. This is a couple of dollars higher than your 'on paper' rate and well worth keeping in mind.

A freelancer on the other hand, does not get sick leave, annual leave or public holidays off. They can walk away from work whenever they want (assuming they still meet all their contracts) but the money won't follow them.

Earning more

There are two ways to earn more with a side hustle - work more, or charge more. 

To earn more with your day job you can't pick up more hours (in most cases anyway) - you just have to figure out how to charge more for your time. This comes through in terms of payrises, promotions and bonuses.

It seems easier and more enticing to earn more through a side hustle. After all so many nights are spent watching bad TV, so we have so much free time to trade for money. It also seems to happen instantly, just a few hours set up work for quick returns. 

However, side hustles are terribly draining. Human beings need to work, rest and play. We need to do nothing to take care of ourselves. While the draw of easy money is hard to resist, there isn't much money, and it is terrible for our health and well-being.

The simple alternative is to put in an extra 5-10% effort at work. It's boring, it's dull and when you do it day after day it can feel like it doesn't return much. However we often forget that we have infinite earning power. There are people being paid million dollar salaries.

While a million dollar salary might feel out of reach, by hustling at work rather than on the side, seeing a 5 - 10% pay rise each year isn't a far fetched idea. Starting from minimum wage, a 5% payrise each year for five years would mean you're now earning $23.43 an hour, an extra $200 a week. If you secured a 10% pay increase each year you would now be earning $29.45 a year, an extra $425 a week. 

Could you make that kind of money from a side hustle? Sure, but you wouldn't have the energy left to excel at work, and you'd be eating in to your free time. Is it worth losing all that time with your friends, family and hobbies for a measly couple of hundred a week? Probably not.


  1. I was just thinking about posting about this actually. While everybody on this PF journey seems to be gearing up to do side hustles or gathering speed in their side hustles, I'm actually the opposite. I'm closing down my businesses and tying up loose ends because after years of side hustling, I'm done. I need my down time. I can't earn any much more on my job, hustle or not unless I pursue a leadership role but I want to be a teacher, not manage other teachers so I'm shit out of luck there too. I'm rapidly approaching the ceiling in my field so I'm not sure how I am to go about breaking that without giving up teaching and moving into a leadership role - things to ponder about!

  2. Wow Australia sounds kind of like a Utopia! Albeit one with drop bears, snakes and spiders lurking in every corner. Minimum wage in the US is far less than Australia, usually doesn't come with that many paid days off (if any at all), and most don't get paid holidays off either. Side hustling for someone in a minimum wage job in the US is a great way for someone to earn more money and be in control of their future monetary prospects.

    1. This minimum wage is for a full time salaried worker. There are many contractual / casual / part-time workers who aren't governed by those laws, but that is far too much of a rabbit hole to post about. We have a whole government branch that you can contact to check if your boss is underpaying you...

    2. Minimum wages covers casual and part timers too. As long as you are an 'employee' you are covered. If you are a subcontractor that is a whole other story, but then technically you are self employed etc.

  3. I didn't know that minimum wage in Australia is more than twice the average minimum wage in the U.S.A., particularly in Pennsylvania, the state where I live. No wonder my ex-boss told me he wants to move there.

    1. That's for a full time salaried worker. There are MANY ways around it (causal roles, contract roles, etc).

      And we might have higher wages, but we also have way higher cost of living. My grocery bill and utilities are more than double that of an American family.

  4. I couldn't agree more. Hustling on the side is fun, but lets be real - putting forth the effort at work and building my salary up is where the real money is made.

    1. Absolutely! Side hustles are fun, but they don't (generally) have the big returns.

  5. Putting in effort at work has gotten me a 75% higher salary than 5 years ago - it is absolutely worth it!

    Though i still have my hustles on the side because a) I enjoy them, b) they fit easily into my life and don't feel like a tonnes of work c) I get free food, so even more savings.

    My boss knows about them and is still impressed with what I can achieve while at work (I don't hustle at work...well except some blog stuff which is all unpaid so doesn't count). He did ask if I'd ever give it up and I think I will one day, but for now I'm happy, for many people though it probably wouldn't be worth it.

    1. Free Food? How do you get free food from a side hustle? Food is the best :D


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