Do you need a side hustle, or do you need a budget?!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of side hustle.

Like many people with an entrepreneurial spirit, I was mowing lawns and shoveling sidewalks for cash when I was young. A real transformation occurred when I thought to start hawking pizza slices during lunch periods by driving down to a local pizza place, buying a couple pizzas, then driving them back to the cafeteria hallway to sell by the slice to students with the lunch period after mine (I didn’t make much money, but I did well enough to make sure I ate free pizza!).

Once I got to college, I was soldering computer chips onto original Playstations, building computers for Freshman with fresh student loan money to burn, and tracking down hard to find concert bootlegs online.

Group of boys and girls conducting chemistry experiment with teacher

Dramatic re-creation of Jason in Ochem Lab…

I never made much money, but it fed my desire to create something. Once I got accepted into Pharmacy school, I got really busy and my Entrepreneurial Spirit got locked away by carbon bonds, p-glycoproteins, attemping to burn down organic chemistry labs, and trying to impress the cute girl from Micro class (the OChem fire may or may not have factored into this…).

 

Flash forward to a few months ago: it’s 2018 and I’ve been a pharmacist for about 13 years. I have my financial ducks in a general row, a position I really enjoy, a good budget, and I’m saving near 20% of my income toward retirement.  I’ve even purchased some real estate for investment/passive income… Most people would say that is pretty darn good… but all I can think about is what else could I be doing?

 

What else should I be doing?  The Entrepreneurial Spirit returns!

 

I wanted to directly control and create something… sure I have a good pharmacist position and feel that I provide a high level of care. But I want to make something that is mine. Part of the reason for this blog is because I want a creative outlet while increasing the financial health of pharmacists everywhere.  But I also wanted to create something.  That concept spawned the idea for this post. Should Pharmacist’s pursue a side hustle?

Everyone that considers a Side Hustle seems to go to Uber first, right?  I have a car… I have some extra time… BOOM, side hustle accomplished.

The problem is that I’ve used Uber and Lyft quite a bit and the prices seemed too cheap for the driver to make a good income.  Despite the large number of people who drive for these services, the intuitive math just didn’t add up to me.

I remember my first Uber ride back in 2013.  I was traveling on a business trip and had just heard of the Uber app. I was very excited since dealing with normal taxis and their disdain for credit cards (often claiming they couldn’t accept cards) was painful.  Anyway, I downloaded the app and hailed my first Uber.  It was an incredibly nice Lincoln Towncar that still had that fresh leather smell and there was bottled water nicely perched in the backseat console.  All for $16?  Either something wasn’t adding up, or this was the greatest advancement in taxied driving in History.  So I asked the Driver of the car if he liked having the Uber app available.  He must love having a new technology that simplifies getting a great customer like me?

“No,” he said.  “I hate Uber.  I only do this when my private money clients are out of town.  I don’t make any money with this, but it’s better than parking the car somewhere.”

We talked a bit more after that and he was very nice to me, but the conversation boiled down to this:  he usually drove multi-millionaires to and from the airport or various business meetings and that paid very well.  They were all out of town, etc.  And he was trialing this app to see if it was worth this time…  It wasn’t and I better go easy on the bottled Fiji water.  I had similar experiences and conversations in other large cities I traveled to that year.

I was confused for years, especially as the app took off and Uber eventually came to my smallish hometown (long gone were the all-black Towncars and Suburbans… now it was every day people driving around other every day people).  Then I saw this Mr. Money Mustache article and that solidified my opinion that you can’t make money driving with Uber: MMM drives for Uber.

Next I looked at Task Rabbit, Fiverr, and even Udemy.  I don’t really have any handyman skills, which seems to be what Task Rabbit is about.  I don’t want to do Freelance graphic design, programming, etc.  And my writing is probably too bad for anyone’s blog except my own – so no Fiverr for me.  I thought Udemy might be interesting since I teach a Personal Finance class and I thought I could get it setup with an online teaching website, but I’ve bounced off the idea and website so far.

I came to an epiphany about these types of Side Hustles while researching these different websites and checking out other finance blogs about side hustling.  I am a Pharmacist and if I’m limiting my side hustle opportunities to ways for me to trade time for money… I should just work Overtime or a second pharmacist job on a Per Diem basis (where I could make $75-95/hr), not driving for Uber at $0.50/hour.  I’m good at being a pharmacist and it’d be easy to pick up a shift here and there with almost no work or additional paperwork.

In my mind, the real reason for a side hustle or “passive income” is to find ways to generate income that doesn’t require your direct effort (or scales exponentially rather than linearly with your effort).   That is one of the primary reasons I like real estate since it can scale better than just me working more Overtime over the long-term.

But assuming you are just starting out with side hustles or generating more income for yourself.  You might still be in the trading time for money level of side hustling (which many of us start at until we can get to the scalable side).  Here are the 5 reasons you might want to pursue a side hustle and 5 reasons you aren’t ready or might just need to work some Overtime.

 

Here are 5 reasons you need a side hustle and 5 reasons you aren’t or maybe you just need some Overtime.

 

Five reasons you need a side hustle outside of pharmacy or your primary work:

  • You have your financial ducks in a row and are looking for more.
    • You have a budget and know what you are spending
    • Either for saving appropriately for retirement or paying down debt
    • Or for earning some extra money to splurge on yourself
      • I just worked a couple OT shifts because I wanted a stupid 4K television and since I thought it was a frivolous purchase.. it was OT or no TV

 

  • Maybe you are underemployed (not full time) or still have lots of free time
    • If you only work 2-3 days a week, you definitely have time to devote to side hustle or working more at your employer or another employer

 

  • You have a talent or ability that isn’t being fulfilled by your pharmacist position
    • Maybe you love graphic design or to write essays, blog posts, etc
    • Maybe you really like teaching people how to dress or build a website

 

  • If you derive significant pleasure from the side hustle and you’d do it even with no money
    • This probably makes your “side hustle” more of a hobby, but hobbies are enjoyable and over time they might develop into a side hustle

 

  • If you don’t like your current career and want to try and venture out to explore other work to find a new/different passion
    • If you don’t like being a pharmacist in your current role, working Per Diem somewhere else or pursuing a side hustle is a great way to start looking at other available options

 

Five reasons you aren’t ready for a side hustle, or you just need to work some Overtime.

 

  • If you have no idea how you are spending your money
    • You need to spend time making a budget and knowing where your money is going.
    • Basically, you need a budget, not a side hustle.

 

  • Are you providing the best care you can as a pharmacist (or other professional)?
    • If you just graduated or can’t honestly claim you are; I think you should focus on your career and making sure you devote time to providing the best care you can before you focus on another activity
    • TL;DR – should you be reading a journal article instead of a blog about side hustles?

 

  • Does your employment contract forbid your side hustle?
    • I would think this would be less common for pharmacists, but if you work for a consultancy and start trying to find consultant gigs on the side, that might be against your contract and cause you to lose your “real job”
    • Or working as a Per Diem pharmacist for a competitor for-profit hospital or clinic might cause some problems.  Ask before jeopardizing your main job.

 

  • Are you running yourself ragged?

 

  • Unless you love it – don’t do a side gig for pennies when working more at your main gig would be WAY more profitable.
    • There are other benefits of working more at your main gig:
      • You make more money $$$
      • Employer may perceive you as a better asset (promotion? negotiate a raise?)
    • I frequently hear people stating “taxes” as a reason to not work overtime as a pharmacist.  “I’ll lose it all to taxes” is a common, but untrue thought about overtime.  Financeyoself.com does a good job exploring this idea

Side hustles are very appealing

 

I really like the idea of creating something and building something for myself, but there are downsides.  Make sure you are taking a holistic view of your situation.  If you don’t know what you spend your money on, but need to make more money.  You might be better served by starting a budget and getting a handle on your spending before getting a second job.  Make sure you are providing the best patient care (or professional service) you can – don’t focus on making more money at the expense of your patients.  And if you start a side hustle, definitely make sure you aren’t going to sacrifice your main gig for a few pennies on the side.

I still think we should selectively focus on pursuing side hustle opportunities that scale exponentially with our effort.  The whole point of extra income is to be able to make more money and work less, not merely trade more of our free time for money.  Our time is finite and highly valuable.  Work on figuring out ways to more efficiently trade time for money and you’ll find yourself in a much better place.

 

 

What do you think?  Do you have a side hustle?  Is it having a positive or negative impact on your life?  Did I miss something?  Let me know below!

 

 

 

 

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