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Quitting the Hustle for Good // Plus Why It’s Okay Not to Side Hustle

FinCon, the financial bloggers conference, is only a couple of days away. I’d love to meet as many of you guys as possible, so if you’re going and you haven’t already told me, please comment with clues on how to recognize you. ;-) And a quick money-saving tip for the conference: The closest grocery store to the hotel is Trader Joe’s at Liberty Station. It’s about two and a quarter miles (3.6 km) by foot each way (directions here), and I will be hoofing it there after arriving Wednesday afternoon. Cheap groceries to get me through the conference plus 9000 steps? I will take it!

Today we’re talking about hustling — both of the generating business variety (ever-present in our careers) and the oft-discussed side hustle. We’ve done a lot of both, and will share what we’ve learned along the way — including giving you permission if you want it to stop side hustling altogether.

OurNextLife.com // Quitting the Hustle For Good // You Don't Have to Side Hustle

The Ever-Present Hustle for Business

We’ve talked about lots of things we aspire to in early retirement: living a life of yes, being our best selves, living with less structure on our time, having time for creativity, and of course making tons of time for adventure. But probably the single biggest thing we’re looking forward to — aside from just having more time to slow down — is:

Escaping the hustle once and for all.

As anyone who works in a consultant or client-serving role knows, there is constant pressure to find new clients or to encourage current clients to do more work with you, and that pressure only intensifies as you move up the ladder. Hardly a week passes when I’m not writing some new proposal or schmoozing people I’ve met to make sure they know all the value my company could offer. Mr. ONL could say the same thing.

It’s exhausting. Though we can both write a pretty good proposal at this point in our careers, neither of us are hustlers by nature. Even the soft sell takes something out of us that’s hard to replenish.

I’m sure some people thrive on the hustle. The natural self-promoters and true people persons (people people?). But that’s just not us, even though Mr. ONL is a definite extrovert and I’m a socially capable ambivert. The hustle is a special skill, and it’s something we have to force in a big way to be even slightly successful at it.

Unfortunately, the nature of our industries is entirely client-focused, so if we want to do anything related to what we do now, it comes with a mandate of having to hustle at least a little bit, to bring in and keep those clients. Lots of people have asked us over time if we’d be willing to do some way scaled back version of what we do now in semi-retirement, and the hustle requirement is the single biggest reason why we aren’t especially thrilled about that idea. It’s the reason why we’re saving enough to never need to work again, even though we will almost certainly work in some capacity.

The biggest takeaway for us is: know thyself. Hustling for business is hard and emotionally draining work if it doesn’t come naturally to you, even with years of practice.

So if we were building for ourselves a retirement focused around freelance writing gigs that we’d have to hustle for, that would be incongruous with our natures, and a big part of our early retirement vision is doing only the things that align with our true selves. Instead, we’re continuing to remind ourselves that the hustle is our least favorite part of the work, and steering ourselves away from considering any post-retirement work that leans too heavily on the hustle.

Our Side Hustling

Of course, the side hustle is a different deal, and may or may not involve actually hustling for work. I had a consistent side hustle for more than a decade that brought me a ton of joy — and some additional income, of course — but didn’t involve trying to find clients. It fundamentally just involved showing up and collecting a paycheck, which helped me pay off my student loans and credit card debt.

I loved my side hustle for a whole bunch of reasons, and though I don’t miss the time commitment of it (I honestly can’t imagine how I could possibly do that these days and keep my sanity), I do miss the work itself in a big way. But like anything, it came with some big pros and some big cons.

PROS of my side hustle:

  1. It gave me a different way to define myself, outside of my “main” career.
  2. It gave me a way to make a difference in people’s lives.
  3. It gave me extra income.

CONS of my side hustle:

  1. It consumed a lot of time and often led to sleep deprivation.
  2. It required a lot of driving and time spent in traffic.
  3. It distracted me from dedicating myself fully to my main career.

I’m grateful for having had that separate, parallel path in my life for so long, but I know that when I quit the side hustle a few years ago, it was the right thing to do. This certainly isn’t true in every person’s career, but I reached the point where I couldn’t continue to progress in my main career without dedicating myself to it fully. (Can you imagine if I was trying to keep doing an in-person side hustle these days with all the work travel? Impossible!) And as work got more demanding, I found myself in increasingly more situations when I was either working in my main job or working in my side job, and I wasn’t giving myself sufficient recharge time.

Fortunately, the story ends well. Within a year of ditching the side hustle, I got promoted and got a raise that exceeded the amount I was earning through my side career. Plus, I can always go back to that alternate career path in retirement if I feel like I want to pick it back up. And right now, I’m much happier not having that extra demand on my time. It was borderline too much back then, and it would be nervous breakdown-level overload if I was still doing it now.

You Don’t Have to Side Hustle

There are a lot of good reasons to side hustle (creating space for a passion project, building a future new career path, working toward a short-term financial goal, etc.), but there are also a lot of bad reasons to do it. Like fear. Or an obsession with earning more. Or you feel pressured to do it… because society said so.

There’s a potentially harmful narrative evolving right now that says that everyone (ahem… millennials) should be side hustling if they’re worth anything. This is also the narrative that says we all need to be entrepreneurs, and that we’re suckers if we work our whole career for someone else. That we should all be engaging in life hacking at all times, to maintain ever-increasing levels of productivity. In other words, dedicating our lives to the hustle.

I’m sure that advice is great for some people, the people for whom that comes naturally. But there is no shame in not naturally being comfortable with the hustle. In needing down time to recharge. In wanting to spend time with your family and friends. In wanting to be fully present in the unhacked, unoptimized moments of life. And there’s also no shame in recognizing what your “enough” is, the point at which the accumulation of additional money and things no longer boosts your happiness. I’ll put it even more bluntly:

It’s okay to want free time more than you want extra money.

So while side hustling has done a lot of people a lot of good, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone all the time. Examine your reasons and your pros and cons, and go into it with your eyes wide open. And just as you don’t always have to push out of your comfort zone, you don’t have to side hustle.

Share Your Hustle Stories!

I know we all have side hustle stories — and lots of you probably have the business hustle kinds of stories too. Share your best ones, and whether you think they were ultimately worth it or not. And any natural hustlers out there? Any advice you can give us non-hustlers to get a little better at it while we’re still working? Let’s continue this in the comments!


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104 replies »

  1. I got a bit of a love/hate relationship going with the side hustle. There are times it’s great and times it’s not! Times we’re tight and times we take time apart.

    Although I wish sometimes my job involved less screentime, I definitely do not want more face time with other people. I could not hack something client facing!

    • I can definitely relate to that! I had periods when I was completely in love with the side hustle, and times when I dreaded it. And yeah, less screen time would be good for everyone!

  2. I get where you’re coming from ONL. The side hustle shouldn’t detract from the main job (if you like your main job), the main job is where most of the money is going to come from.

    If the side hustle is something you can see turning into a full time thing then it might be worth pursuing. Maybe if your side hustle had been home based without all the travel you might have enjoyed it more? That’s what I love about the potential of blogging.

    I wish my main job was more home based, but for now it’s not.


    • I agree. *IF* the purpose of your side hustle is to open up a new career path, then great! But side hustling just because you feel like you “should” is not a good reason. I think it’s pretty easy to tell in an instant if you’re hustling for the right reasons (a simple gut check), and if you know you aren’t, then maybe consider letting it go. And yeah, doing things at home certainly makes them much easier! I’m thankful that I get to work at home when I’m not traveling, and blogging is only possible because it’s home-based. :-)

  3. Your comment about people feeling the need to side hustle (especially in the personal finance community) is interesting. Right now I am balancing 4 side hustles with a temporary full-time job and it is crazy. The full-time gig will be over in a few weeks, so I can manage it – but it has definitely taken a toll on my ability to focus on each gig and put my all into the FT job (although that’s a good thing too – because it could consume me!) If the side hustle is taking away from your growth and focus to advance at your main hustle, it is something to stop and think about. And is the side hustle taking away from your health and relationships? That’s something I see as a real problem too.

    • I don’t know how you do it! I certainly understand feeling overloaded, but that is just with my primary career and nothing else (aside from this blog — though that’s not nothing!). To your point about health and relationships, that’s an important question to ask yourself as well when assessing a side hustle! Good luck getting through this busy period!

  4. I love my side hustle! The plan is to grow it so it becomes the main, and only, hustle. I can do it anywhere so long as I can connect to the Internet so it is a big part of financing our future travels.

    • It sounds like you are one of those lucky souls for whom the hustle comes naturally, and more power to you! I hope you succeed at turning your side hustle into your main gig!

  5. I am looking forward to hustling up and down the mountain either with two longish things beneath my feet or a pair of good boots. I don’t know if that is cheating regarding a hustle but it works for me. And of course there is no angst about income with that one. The only returns I’ll worry about will be going back to do it over gain. Well, until my legs really hurt.

    Seriously, after 25 yrs in corporate world, looking forward to not doing anything that has a timeline, deliverable or goal associated with income.

  6. Amen! Sometimes I feel like there’s something wrong with me for wanting someone to tell me what to do and giving me a steady paycheck. As you said, the hustle narrative is not for everyone. I also believe it’s okay to say we have “enough” income–that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t strive for career growth, but that we wouldn’t trade free time for money.

    • There is SO nothing wrong with you for wanting that! It’s okay to want to work for someone else instead of building your own thing, and it’s okay to prioritize free time over money! Tune out that hustle narrative. :-)

  7. I spend the bulk of my free time on my site right now – since I plan on it being income generating eventually I will count it as a side hustle and not a hobby.

    I don’t think I would side hustle right now if it wasn’t on my terms – which makes blogging a great avenue. I value my time to much and don’t want to be told what to do :)

    • I’m biased of course, but I think blogging is the best hobby or side hustle. :-) If it brings you mostly joy and mostly doesn’t feel like a grind, then that’s great!

  8. Oh my goodness, yes yes yes. I am hustled out. It doesn’t come naturally to me, either, but I’ve convinced myself that I’m “so far behind” in so many financial things that a side hustle is the only way I’ll ever catch up. But, I want to give more to my main career, so… It’s so good to hear that you dropped the hustle and made your main career a priority and it literally paid off.

    I am so tired of seeing those “Good things come to those who hustle.” I mean, it showed up on the cover of a leather journal you could buy at Home Goods. It’s the “look busy/workaholic” message taken even further. I’ve been wrestling with my decision to halt the hustle, but with everything I eliminate from my plate, I feel relief, as well as my mental bandwidth expanding.

    • I have seen those silly journals too – the side hustle is everywhere! All over Pinterest, design blogs, etc. I took a break from hustling too because I knew I was continuing to do work with the wrong mindset. Once I took time to recalibrate, I was able to take on some simpler side hustles to build wealth (this summer is was mowing some yards) and not overload myself with commitment.

      We need to make our own journals that say “Good things come to those that relax and focus on a reasonable amount of work at a time”…..or you know, maybe something catchier than that : )

      • I love that idea: “Good things come to those that relax and focus on a reasonable amount of work at a time.” Yes! So glad you took the time to recalibrate! :-)

    • The “I’m so behind” feeling is something I want to take on, too, because I know a lot of people who feel that way even though they are way ahead of most people (I’d include you in that). Now, granted, most people are a bit behind as well, but I think burning yourself out with hustles cannot be the answer. You have to create space for self care and even unproductive down time. But yes, quitting the side hustle completely paid off for me.

  9. “The biggest takeaway for us is: know thyself. Hustling for business is hard and emotionally draining work if it doesn’t come naturally to you, even with years of practice.”

    This is a big thing that a lot of people miss. The big push for side hustling and entrepreneurship treats everyone the same. We have to recognize our own strengths and weaknesses and likes and dislikes and set up a life that works within those parameters. Just because something works for someone else does not mean it is the best path for you.

    Great post, as always!

    • Yes! And we are not all the same. Some people will thrive with the hustle, and others will burn out fast. We’ve learned that we are not cut out for it, and hope others recognize that they don’t have to do it either just because social media says so!

  10. Yes this! I recently shared an article about my feelings on the Ubiquitous Side Hustle as well. I want to shout it from the mountaintops – it’s ok not to side hustle! But also cool if you want to.

    Just make sure you’re doing it for reasons that you are consciously considering and that you deem valid, and not because millennial society has a weird obsession with side hustling.

    • So with you! It’s great if you really WANT to side hustle, but no one should feel like they must do it just to fulfill their generational destiny, or for any other reason.

      • Definitely. I wonder too how many people that are side-hustling in order to transition their career have considered that if they do side hustles that are purely profit motivated, they might be able to save up a bigger safety net quicker and easier than if they do passion driven side hustles. Once they have a safety net to float them for X amount of months, they could just make a big career leap instead of doing a slow build and focus solely on making their new career a success.

      • It’s all about what your goals are! Plenty of people might be best suited to a passion project side hustle, especially if they don’t get fulfillment in their “real” job. Or a profit-driven side hustle might make more sense, especially if you’re paying off debt or working on some other short-term goal. Or it might be about transitioning careers. Or, for lots of us, not hustling at all makes the most sense. We wanted to give that latter group permission to not hustle, but of course everyone is different! :-)

  11. My hustle is my post- FIRE passion plan. I love it so much, I have to fight myself not to jump too soon (Can I jump right now?). I stop myself because the money just isn’t there and its incredibly physically demanding so I can’t do it too often unless I was doing it all the time. I do it enough to keep my soul happy and my resume fresh. :)

    As for the other little hustles, they are great to keep you busy, focused and bring in a extra buck or two while fighting a debt emergency. Without an emergency, so many of the little hustles become a waste of time.

    • That sounds like the perfect reason to maintain a side hustle, so I’m glad you’re doing it! It’s like this blog (though it doesn’t make money, at least not yet) — it’s my passion and my post-FIRE plan, so it’s worth the time. And I love how you put it — with no emergency to deal with, the little side hustles are just a waste of time.

  12. I too found it difficult to maintain side hustles once I had more responsible positions at work. Though I learned some cool things in those hustles that helped me in my “real” job (nested if statements rock!). Great point about recognizing your need for downtime.

    Looking forward to meeting you at FINCON! I look like my cartoon but with shorter hair and I’ll be hanging out with a tall skinny guy (Mr. Ms. Liz aka Jim). I’ll look for you in your hat :) Glad to hear TJ’s is close, I’ll definitely be walking over there too. We’re flying United EGE via DEN Weds a.m., message me if we might overlap.

    • Looking forward to meeting you! I am on a different flight, but we’ll find each other. :-) And I’m glad to know that you shed your side hustles once work got more demanding — it can just be too much!

  13. I have zero plans for a side hustle. I think I’ll be busy enough “hustling” 2 kids around and trying to keep the house in order and have dinner cooked each night once I do “retire”.

    When I worked at a geotechnical engineering company my supervisor was always shocked that my proposals would come in 15-20% higher than his and almost always get accepted by our clients (ahem, my clients – his got turned down more often than not). One day he asked, “How the hell did you get them to agree to this?! It’s like 20% more than what I would have charged.” I told him, “Salesmanship, man. We’re not writing proposals, we’re selling peace of mind!” I then busted out laughing because I could barely say that with a straight face – but actually it was true. I hustled enough with my clients that they felt like I knew what they wanted and I addressed their main concerns. Hence, I didn’t have to slash the price and they were okay with it.

    But, post work life when I have all this “free time” eaten up with running a household – I default to my favorite meme “Side hustle?! Ain’t nobody got time for that!” :)

    • Amen to that, brother! Ain’t nobody got time for that!

      I’m completely with you on proposals, and I totally ascribe to the “peace of mind” sell. Making people feel like you will take good care of them and give them less to worry about, not more, is the key to it all. :-)

  14. No side hustle here. Though we may take on some work every now and then after retirement (or better yet, scoring some photography and/or videography gigs), we don’t consider those to be “side hustles” necessarily. Sadly, I don’t have any side hustle stories because, well, I’ve never actually tried it!

    However, a couple years ago I did give the small business route a try. This was around the time where I was growing very, very disinterested in my job. I wanted something else in my life, and a few buddies and I tried to start a small business. And, we were close, but our hearts just weren’t in it. In fact, we built an MVP and showcased it to a customer. We met with them in their office. We showed off how the application works. They were interested in buying. We had someone on the inside working with us to get us the meetings that we needed to get.

    We also worked until the wee hours of the morning on MOST days, even while holding our full-time jobs during the day. Yeah, work at our full-time companies suffered, but we didn’t care. None of us cared about the work we did “for a living” and wanted something of our own. We were close, but things just didn’t pan out in the end…mostly because of us, not our potential customers.

    In the end, I’m glad that I went through that. It was a great thing to experience. I learned a lot about the business of *starting a business*, selling software and exactly how much work goes into getting a small business off the ground.

    Though I would never, ever do it again, it was a great learning experience.

  15. A-freaking-men! I get so tired of seeing “busy” as this badge of honor. I see it on FB all the time, “who here is working sat night until 5 am?” Followed by hostages #hustle #hustlehard #bosslady #girlboss, etc. Ugh!!! See how that works out for you when your “hit”your 40s and all the health problems catch up to you that you can easily bypass or ignore in your 20s and 30s. I constantly do feel that pull or temptation, like there is something wrong with ME that I just want to spend Sunday going for a beach run, reading, or, god forbid, lallygagging around the house. #notimpressedbyourbusy-ness. :) Hopefully you know what I look like and please come hang out with me at fincon. Most of the other bloggers (at least this was my experience in Charlotte) were too #busy #hustling to have a drink or get lunch, or even just chat for a few…

    • I second that!

      I can function in that “busy lifestyle” mode for spurts at a time, and even gain some satisfaction from it, but there is no way I would want to live my life like that. With bloggers and other media creators it gets almost worst – apologizing for not being super busy. Like, it’s fine you missed a post or are late by a few days. It’s your life and your decision.

      • Totally! We are not designed to be busy all the time — it’s why so many people suffer from adrenal burnout these days. Our bodies simply aren’t built to handle ongoing emergency mode! And I am a huge believer in not apologizing for our lives. Miss a post? There was probably a good reason for it! No need to be sorry.

    • Oh I’m totally beelining right to you at FinCon! :-D I will definitely NOT be hustling, so I’d love to hang out!

      And a big A-freaking-men back to your comment! I can’t handle any more #girlboss or #hustlehard mentions in my social feed — I want to respond #IwishIdspentmoretimeattheoffice — said no one ever. ;-)

  16. Hi, ONL, I’m one of your new readers.

    I’ve satisfied myself that I can hustle for a living wage, but once you’re financially independent then your time seems to be much more important than your next PayPal deposit. Because surfing.

    I’m already in San Diego for Digital CoLab, and hopefully you’ll say hello at FinCon. I’m the balding ponytailed middle-aged surfer with the aloha shirt. If you see us in the middle of a conversation then please walk up and interrupt us!

    • Welcome, Doug! Glad you’re here. :-) And I love that: “Because surfing.” ;-) For us, it would be: “Because skiing.” I’ll definitely come find you at FinCon! Looking forward to it!

  17. YES! I am also a consultant, and I am very much an introvert, so it does not come naturally for me. I think I really just choose the wrong career path from the beginning (should have been a chem E). I suspect that is one of many reasons FIRE is so appealing to me. I just cringe inside every time someone asks me to push sales–and I’m on our sales team!

    Thanks for the permission not to hustle. It is something I struggle with as I still feel like I won’t be USEFUL if I’m not earning a little money. Great post as usual!

    • Non-hustling consultants unite! :-) Overall I’m happy with falling into this career path, but man, the hustle has not gotten easier. Totally with you on that. Though I don’t know how you function on the sales team! ;-) I don’t think I could do that!

  18. Thanks for pointing out that giving up your side hustle can be a Choice, not a failure. It’s a balance of pros and cons, risks and benefits, and it isn’t right for everyone. Trying, learning, and moving on is a valuable experience too.

  19. Ha. Hahahaha. :) I’ve written about my personal struggles with this so many times. I seem to side hustle right up until burnout is looming, then I scale back a bit. Overall, I can’t not side hustle. In my entire working career, I’ve never had only one job. And after getting RIFed twice, I honestly can’t imagine not having something else. But that’s entirely my personality (neuroses?!), not out of necessity. I’ve never been good at sitting still. Even when I’m doing something relaxing like kayaking, I’m usually also listening to a podcast or snapping photos. Being busy is strangely therapeutic to me. Though, if I keep losing my tutoring gigs to sports schedules, I may have to learn how to be side hustle-less.

    • I was thinking about you when writing this! If you’re constantly flirting with burnout, that makes me worry about you. When we’re feeling burned out is when we make dumb decisions about life and money, and lose sight of what we really value. If you manage it well, then more power to you, but I definitely don’t! ;-)

  20. Just working my regular full-time job is exhausting so I can’t imagine trying to side hustle at the same time! Fortunately, I make more than enough through that so there isn’t a need for something on the side. I’m definitely someone who would rather have the free time than the money!

    Thanks for writing this, especially the last few paragraphs. Seems like there’s a lot of pressure to side hustle in the personal finance community and I feel like an outcast for not embracing that.

    • This is a post I’ve had in my brain for a while now, and every bit of pressure I’ve seen applied for people to hustle all the time has only added to my feeling that I needed to get this out there! I say enjoy your free time and don’t give it another thought. :-)

  21. I must confess that my days are pretty full with work and side hustles, but it’s all temporary. And, I always make sure to preserve some family time. I do not brag about being “busy” or wear it like a badge. We’ve just made the choice to work very hard for a few years in order to facilitate our escape in the near future (we still have debt to pay back).

    I am not a fan of networking and promotion, but hope that the work I’m doing now will help work come to me in semi-retirement. Between my blog and building my freelance writing experience, I’m optimistic that there will be a continued stream of assignments with which to earn some cash. I’m also planning on approaching my current employer for some consultant-type, part-time work. There are many variables to consider yet and we still have about five years to go. However, we’ve accepted that our long-term plans will include some hustling.

    • It seems like you guys have a well thought out plan and are pacing yourselves to some extent. I side hustled for a decade, and it paid off, so I think your vision of doing it for five more years and then scaling back makes a lot of sense. I just hope you actually DO scale back when you hit your mark instead of having the “hustle forever” mindset!

      • Trust me – I am ready to enjoy lazy days of crocheting and days of adventuring with the kids. We will only work the minimum amount necessary to cover our living expenses once we reach semi-retirement. The whole point to our current hustling is to get debt paid off and accumulate enough assets so there will be much more passive earning in our future.

      • Okay, good. :-) Glad you will focus on what’s most important just as soon as you possibly can! (Of course I know you’re doing that stuff now, too — just in smaller quantities.) ;-)

  22. I’ve had a million side hustles. I sold used cd’s and dvd’s on Amazon/Ebay all through middle shool, high school and college.

    After I started my real career, I learned that I kind of hated working, but the amazon/ebay thing had always been fun, so I looked into some websites I could purchase and operate. I purchased a lingerie web store. All I managed to do was muck up the SEO. I sold it for a small loss less than a year later, and I did sell some profitable product for a few months, but I wasn’t able to scale it. it was all kind of a wash. The biggest reason Is I didn’t want to be tied down to processing web orders while I was traveling abroad. It just wasn’t worth the hassle.

    I learned that I like working for a paycheck was far more fun than operating a web store.

    I’d also consider that my “credit card/bank/brokerage” bonus chasing is a lucrative side hustle just based on the amount of dollars it brings in for the amount of time spent seeking it.

    • I’m LOLing at the thought of an online lingerie store. ;-) It seems like all of those side hustles taught you a lot about what you like and don’t like, so that’s valuable either way. And it sounds like you do pretty well at the travel hacking side hustle, so more power to you! One of these days when we stop traveling for work, we’re going to have to figure out how to keep growing our miles hacker-style. :-)

  23. I’ve had several dozens of side hustles throughout my years. Some of them were done for fun, some out of necessity, most were done to make an extra buck. I cannot wait for the day when I won’t feel the need to chase that extra dollar! In reality I don’t *need* to side hustle today, but I do in order to reach FI ASAP. but I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t slow down a bit…if I reach FI in 10 years, but hate 70% of the journey, vs reaching my goal at a more enjoyable 15 year pace….is that worth it? Probably. Need to keep an eye on it for sure.

    I’ll see you at FinCon! I’ll be the guy with the name tag lanyard :)

    • Several *dozen* side hustles?! Wow! From our vantage point, I’d say we’re glad to have slowed down a little. First, we’re able to earn more total by focusing entirely on our main careers, though that may not be true in everyone’s situation. But we also wouldn’t want to miss out on the joys of today all in service of tomorrow. If you truly hate 70% of the journey, I’d say it’s not worth it. Better to find a pace that still allows you to enjoy life in the meantime.

      See you in a couple days!!

  24. Looking back at my college years, it dawned on me that I side hustled A LOT. I always had like four different jobs or “jobs” or activities that earned a stipend or scholarship. Grad school was just too damn draining to do much more than tutor once or twice a week, if that. Now I’m really hesitant to plunge into something that earns a significant amount of money, but could also be very time consuming. I have a few “hobby jobs” that earn a small amount, but it’s really just money that gets spent on my hobbies later :) Anyways, I’m happy and busy enough with my “unpaid side hustles” of community activism, volunteering, and the occasional low-paying gig.

    • Same story for me in college — I had at least two paid jobs plus an unpaid internship at any given time. I do not miss that, though I’d go back to college in a heartbeat if someone wanted to be my patron. ;-) Sounds like you have a good balance now!

  25. I’m feeling the side hustle burn right now. I made a commitment to have some products available, but all the traveling I’m doing has eaten into the time I have available. I’m also struggling to overcome my laziness and procrastination tendencies so I don’t manage what free time I do have to the fullest. If my blog counts, I have two side hustles and a FT job. Thank goodness my social and dating life can scale back a bit to accommodate them!

    PS I fly in Wednesday afternoon too. See you at the opening party?

    • Yes, see you at the opening party! Yay!

      Can you scale back on one of your side hustles at all? If you’re feeling the burn (burnout?), that’s a sign that you might need more down time!

  26. “It’s okay to want free time more than you want extra money.” YES! Time>Money. It’s really important to know when to let the side hustle go and take back time, our most precious resource.

    • You said it much more succinctly. I should just delete the post and replace it with: “Time>Money — Amanda” ;-) But SO TRUE that time is our most precious resource, much more precious than money.

  27. Excellent post, ONL. The free time that you can get can be priceless and there is a case to be made for *not* hustlin’….which you have eloquently put already in the article. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I wont be able to make it to FinCon this year, but next year is a definite possibility :)


    • Thanks! Totally with you on that — and we hope to raise up that argument for NOT hustling all the time. Life is too short to spend all of our time working! I’ll report back on FinCon and whether we’ll go again next year. ;-)

  28. I don’t side hustle and actually just published a post about why two weeks ago. Basically I don’t side hustle for two main reasons. #1 being I’ve seen some serious annual growth in my income from my day job over the past few years. As long as effort in equals cash out, then I’m going to keep at it. At this point in my career, earning a few hundred bucks a month would barely move the needle on my financial goals.

    #2 is my day job isn’t really a 9-5. Some days it is a 9-5, but others it is a 9-10. Therefore I really try to value my time not working by spending it on hobbies and with people I care about. I’ll leave side hustling to when I pull the plug from my day job.

    Hope you enjoy fincon.

    • We have completely similar reasons for not side hustling! Even at my peak, I made only $10K/year side hustling, which wasn’t enough to make it worth it to pass up promotions with more responsibility and travel. I’ve definitely out-earned that. And yeah, I can no longer say to work, “Sorry, gotta peace out at 5 to go do my other job!” ;-)

  29. I decided not to go to FinCon this year but going to the Canadian equivalent later in Nov. Maybe next year I’ll go and I’ll have to make a mask similar to yours. ;)

    Totally agree that side hustle takes a lot of time and energy but if you’re having fun, then they don’t count as side hustles IMO. For example, my side photography business is a lot of fun so I don’t count that as work.

    • I’m so glad you’re going to the Canadian conference in November! A lot of our blog friends have cancelled their FinCon trips, and then I hear others say it’s too big and corporate now, so…. I’ll report back. ;-) And YES, if side hustles are fun and feed your passion (like this blog!), then they could be totally worth it!

  30. We are the WORST hustlers ever. We have no problem with doing some of the work (as I mentioned… I’m an outsourcee), but HATE the pitches. We’re terrible at selling ourselves. We hate it and we’re bad at it. That’s why we’re all about the creation side of art but are terrible at the business side of it all. And I’m trying to put as much as I can into my real job… as much as possible without having to be the hustler! :)

    • That’s smart! Being the hustler gets glorified in a lot of places, and is the role a lot of my junior colleagues want to get promoted to, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

      • No. Desire. At all. :) And we already know if we’re actually going to make any entrepreneurial plans a reality, we need to partner with someone who knows how to hustle (because we are well aware we Do Not!)

      • That’s one of those things where if we could go back in time, I would love to have figured out that level of self-awareness earlier. Because we are just as disinclined to hustle, but it took us way too long to figure that out!

  31. As a non-side-hustler, it makes me happy to read about others that are not on the side-hustle train… I am definitely not a natural hustler, and I definitely feel the pressure to have a side hustle, or another source of income. Right now, I am busy enough. I’m sure some of my hobbies or volunteer commitments could potentially lead to income if I were a hustler… But I’m not going to hold my breath on that one…

  32. I quit (sold) my side hustle after making the jump from tech to engineer in my first career. I had a growing Income Tax Practice with over 100 regular clients that I did on the side. It was perfect as it was super BZ for 5 months and then just occasional advise or rare client IRS support. The new career advancement to engineer would just consume more of my time. I loved it but happily let it go. I also let that engineering career go too. Prefer early retirement.
    I have done an early retirement side hustle (retirement was still my full time life) for a short-term IT project last year but was happy to do it and be done with it. I will just do things now when it sounds interesting and something I enjoy doing. It is certainly OK to not side hustle in my world. I would never want to have to chase after work ever again. If it comes my way and checks off all my boxes then I will either do it or pass.

    • Wow, what a cool story. I love that you were able to sell your tax practice, then let go of your engineer career, and now be in a position to turn things down that don’t sound interesting to you. That’s completely what we’re aiming for — never HAVING to work but always being willing to if something sounds cool enough. But never chasing work! #nomorehustle

  33. The only reason I’m side-hustling is because I am growing a business that I’d like to do full-time once it is profitable enough and I’m good enough at running it. I’ve been chugging at it for two years and it has definitely jumped up it’s pace in the past two weeks in particular.

    Schmoozing has always come easy to me, but I keep my frame focused slightly off-kilter. Just like dating, it’s an opportunity to meet fascinating new people. Maybe they are fascinating because they are awful, but at least it’s a little story to tell. There’s no “lose” scenario. It’s pretty wonderful.

    • That is the very best reason there is to do a side hustle, right alongside something that’s a total passion project. But in your case, you’re not planning to side hustle forever, which is the important question.

      It’s so awesome that you’re a naturally good schmoozer. We can both do it but get exhausted by it — I envy your prowess at the schmooze itself but also at your ability to see the positive in everyone (even if it’s just that they are fascinating for being awful!). ;-)

  34. My side hustle is fun, it involves taking care of animals as a pet sitter. Since I don’t have any fur babies of my own this works out good. And then I do some different technical work to mix it up. Being a consultant I enjoy helping people and travel but some of the other job responsibilities I could live without. Being an introvert it’s difficult to be “on” all the time. ;)


    • I completely love the idea of that side hustle. Extra money plus doggy snuggles? Yes, please. ;-) And yeah, I totally get not wanting to be “on” all the time!

  35. I am not wired to have a side-hustle. But that’s okay, and I am fine with it. Spending time with my daughter and my husband is so important to me and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything :) Besides that, I am an introvert and a procrastinator and I am pretty sure that is probably a recipe for disaster in the side-hustling community, lol ;)

    • That’s awesome that you know that about yourself! And you’re so right — certain temperaments are for sure better suited to the hustle. We’re with you in not being ideally suited to it. Haha.

  36. Excellent points! I’m no fan of the side hustle (if you can afford to avoid it!) in spite of the fact that I have a successful side hustle in my blog and consulting biz. I’d hate to rely on it for a living though. Then, instead of a hobby and something fun and challenging I look forward to, it would quickly become work.

    I like being able to say “nope, don’t want to get on a plane for 6 hours to go to FinCon” even though it would benefit my side hustle immensely. And being able to skip writing for 2-3 weeks at a stretch just because I’m having fun doing other stuff. Until I get bored, want to express an idea, and sling words on a page.

    Have fun at Fincon! I’d probably take an uber or bus back from Trader Joes if it were me, though I’ve certainly walked the 1.5 miles from Aldi to my house with a backpack full of refried beans (they were on clearance, don’t judge ;) ).

    • Oh, I’m all about the backpack full of refried beans. ;-) And we have the same view of the blog as you. As soon as it becomes a job, it’s way less fun. So even though I spend as much time on it as I would a side hustle, I refuse to think of it that way. :-)

      • Did I mention the beans were fancy, included spicy jalapenos and were only $0.29 per can? :) Totally worth it but that ~15-20 pound backpack got heavy around mile marker 1. At least the walk back affords a beautiful view of downtown Raleigh’s skyline.

      • Ooh, fancy! Yeah, I can imagine they got heavy fast. ;-) But that’s still totally something I’d do. I am probably the only person at my company who almost always buys groceries while on business trips instead of eating restaurant food and then I’m so stubborn about getting my steps that I end up carrying it all instead of getting a ride. :-)

  37. It’s really funny to me to read this article right now. I think everything you’ve said has total validity, but right now I’m actually gearing up to dip my toe into the side hustle pool. The thing is, my job really doesn’t require anything more from me, and after doing it for 9 years, I’ve got it town to a science and it’s a bit boring. I’m planning on staying for 6 more years, as this is our fastest path to FI, since I’m fully vested in the employee matching and have worked myself up to a pretty good salary, vacation, etc. I also have some good friends at work and it’s in a good location for the rural area we want to live in. But the job itself no longer challenges me and with FI on the horizon, I have no interest in hustling further in my current job or starting all over at another job and trying to prove myself to a new set of bosses. I’d much rather spend my excess mental energy on something that I can do by myself. I specifically went looking for an idea that would allow me to start very slowly – I’m not looking for burnout. And I thought it would be fun to start something that I could take into retirement for me as a hobby and way to make some extra spending cash for fun, but without any particular NEED for the money, you know? Anyway, I’m pacing to try it out at the beginning of 2017 and we’ll see. If I don’t like it, or if it detracts from my quality of life, I’ll probably drop it like a bad habit.

    • It sounds like you’re doing exactly what YOU should be doing, which is perfect! We’re definitely at a point where we no longer want to hustle, but we’ve been at it longer and are burnt out on that stuff — if you’re feeling the hustle, then go for it and enjoy! I do think it’s especially great, btw, that you’re doing your side hustle without need of the money. That should help keep it more fun!

  38. I had a lot of hustles when I was a kid–too young for a “real” job. I sold greeting cards, seeds, you name it. (and a paper route, of course)

    I had a side hustle for the first four years of my career, that I viewed as a hedge against my day job. I left it, and had always intended to leave it, when my career began to take off. It sounds like that happened to you as well, if more coincidentally.

    Now that I am looking at the possibility of early retirement, I am again interested in a side hustle as a possible trial of a post-retirement interest. (specifically, financial planning) But, I am stuck trying to ponder how much I would have to slow down in order to fit this in–in essence, have to commit to a downward career path to fit it in. Not ready to do both, but I also am not afraid to do *only* a side hustle–with an early retirement, you are also not in a hurry for a second act, and can do it in series. That seems most likely, at this point.

    So, hustling not as a way of life, but as an investing tool to accomplish specific things: insurance, really.

    • I love the idea of a side hustle as a trial run for post-retirement or semi-retirement work, so long as it’s not too taxing while you’re still working full time. Good luck figuring this out, managing your time and keeping the balance!