Financial Planning and Generation Y
Many people in the workforce, from all demographic groups, work more than one job. Why? Most often the financial planning motivation is simple: to make ends meet. There is a plethora of side gigs, side hustles, or whatever terminology it is that you use to call the job you work in addition to your “day” job. You’ve got people driving for Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In addition, you’ve also got the school teacher who teaches yoga in the evening, the medical billing specialist who does custom calligraphy for invitations on the weekends, and the IT support specialist who designs websites for independent clients after work—just to name a few of the endless examples and possibilities.
As especially evidenced by the Millennial Generation (see note, below), many times the motivation for the side hustle is more than just making extra cash.
Note: Who are the Millenials? Millennials are a demographic cohort that falls between Generation X and Generation Z. While the start and end dates for the Millennial Generation are not absolutely precise; most people generally use birth dates beginning in the early 1980s and ending in the early 2000s for inclusion in the Millennial demographic group. Some researchers delineate the Millennial Generation more precisely: according to a 2016 report, the Pew Research Center states, “Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). And Generation X (ages 35-50 in 2015) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.”
For many, the side hustle is born out of financial necessity and is a means to an end in order to get those last few bills paid each month and also chip away at paying back student loans and other debts. After all, according to data from the Student Loan Hero’s student loan debt statistics for 2017, the average monthly student loan payment (for borrowers aged 20 to 30 years) is $351 per month.
Ideally, the side hustle can also represent something bigger than just additional money. For those seeking to supplement their income with an extra job, an increasing number of young people are choosing to be creative and strategic in how they make extra money as opposed to more simply financially-oriented side hustles such as picking up a few shifts a week as a bartender or restaurant server.
For many millennials, the side hustle can be about pursuing a passion project or getting your feet wet in a new field with the promise of perhaps a better, more exciting, more passion-aligned job in your future. There’s also a psychological benefit to the side hustle that may be worth more than extra money in your bank account: it’s a way to keep yourself from feeling stuck in your current dull life and job. The side hustle can be aspirational: a way to see the light at the end of the boring 9 to 5 doldrums tunnel and an opportunity to one day be able to make a living off what you love to do as opposed to working whatever job best pays your bill. The side hustle can help you from feeling pigeonholed. In the best case scenario, you may discover the holy grail of side hustles—the job that will perfectly blend money and love, allowing you to do what you love and earn enough money while doing so.
Beyond the purely financial, extra-income reason, one reason millennials often take on side hustles is for skills advancement opportunities. Millennials have been characterized by their desire to learn new skills. A millennial’s current career may often place ceilings on his or her ability to gain new skills. As such, some millennials take on side hustles that offer them skills advancement opportunities, whether for personal development satisfaction or with the hope that their newly acquired skill set will help them switch roles in their current career or pursue a new job altogether.
Another reason millennials take on side hustles is to create financial and time flexibility in their lives. Many post-grad millennials, who were lucky enough to find a job in the recession-era, went straight from college or grad school into a traditional job where they only get two weeks off per year. After family and personal events such as weddings, these two weeks off a year doesn’t leave much time for wanderlust and exploring the world. For millennials who want to have the financial freedom and time flexibility to travel, the side hustle represents a way to earn the extra money needed to take a few months off to travel between jobs.
For both millennials and all other demographic cohorts in the workforce, make sure to carefully weigh your priorities when taking on a side hustle. In addition to considering your financial planning goals and your ability to pay your bills and put food on the table with your current income, you must also factor in personal fulfillment and development and what makes you happy. Balance is key, but easier said than done. You may want so much more for your life but there is simply not enough time to do everything; after all, there are only 24 hours in a day.
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