I wrote a post last month explaining why both my wife and I work a second job. If you are looking for a way to increase your income, I highly suggest giving it a read. Working a second job has really sucked at times, but it has also been such an amazing blessing to pay off our debt. Throughout this process of working multiple second jobs, I have learned that there are so many options of jobs and ways to supplement your income. If you want to really make a difference in your finances, it is important to find the right second job to help you reach your financial goals quicker and easier.
Not All Jobs Are Created Equal
I have worked a lot of different jobs in my life. Some have been absolutely wonderful, like my career as a teacher, and others have felt like the life was being sucked out of my body. Sometimes finding any job can be a huge challenge, so you have to take what you can get. Other times you may have a bunch of options, but it is hard to choose the right one. Since becoming a real, full fledged adult, with actual bills to pay, I have learned that while all jobs do pay, not all of them are worth the time and energy, especially when compared to others. My first few jobs in college, I had a very short sighted viewpoint of making a few bucks to pay basic bills like rent. I had no idea the world of hurt I would feel when I had to pay back my student loans, so I was not very worried about finding a great paying job, or thinking about what would be most worth my time. I was mostly focused on what is the most convenient way I can make a few extra bucks. Looking back, I wish I would have followed my future self’s advice and found a more efficient way to make money. Alas, hindsight is 20/20.
Just Getting By
During my college years, I worked on campus in the food court. It was incredibly convenient. I could work a shift for a few hours between classes, pick up shifts easily if I wanted, and I had a set schedule every week. And since I was already on campus, I never had to worry about traveling. It was a pretty simple job, but I actually didn’t get paid all that much for my efforts. As a college student, I had taken out student loans to pay for school, so making a lot of extra money wasn’t a huge priority since my tuition was already paid for. Gee, I wish I knew more back then!
During the summers, the food court didn’t need me, so I sought other employment. One summer I worked at a window factory, which was mostly terrible except for the pay. My hours were long and started early, but I got paid somewhere around $11 an hour so my paychecks were huge! Also, I lived at home with my dad so I didn’t have to pay rent. The next few summers I didn’t want to live at home for the summer, so I found a job working as a front desk clerk for a touristy hotel. The job was very relaxed, my coworkers were great, and the management was incredible! It was a job I went back to year after year. My wife and I actually both worked at this hotel once we decided it was time to kick our debt in the butt. However, even as worked there together, we felt like we could be doing more with our time at a different job. We wanted to pay off our loans as fast as possible and knew this was not the best use of our time.
Shifting into High Gear
I mentioned that all jobs are not created equal, which I think is pretty obvious, but I didn’t realize fully until we got a different second job working at a fine dining Italian restaurant. A friend of mine in college worked as a server at a local restaurant and basically paid her way through college, graduating with zero debt. Yep, absolutely no debt at all. Of course she worked her butt off, but I was shocked to hear how much money she earned as a server. So naturally it seemed like a good idea to find a job where I could make cash tips. We both said goodbye to a great job at the hotel to explore the world of the server and bartender life.
The difference was incredible! In a 4-5 hour shift, I could walk away with $100-200 dollars in cash tips, on top of a pretty good hourly wage. It was definitely a much more efficient and productive use of my time versus eight hours at a little above minimum wage. Both jobs paid, but the restaurant paid much better. To give a little bit of an idea, I will share a little of our budgeting records to compare.
Here is the monthly breakdown the first year we started working at the hotel. It was a really nice addition to our family income raking in about $1,500 during the busy summer months. Being teachers, we have summers off and can put in a lot more hours compared to the school year. But we still did pretty well for ourselves during the school year working one or two shifts a week. All of the extra money moved us toward our goals, but not as fast as we wanted.
Compare those numbers to 2016 working at the restaurant. The great things about the restaurant is we make tips, AND get a paycheck. It almost feels like getting paid twice. The difference is pretty ridiculous when you think about it. I work much less and get paid so much more. And the amazing thing is that all this is “extra money.” We don’t need it to pay any bills, it all goes to our loans. It is so satisfying to pay a giant lump sum and watch months and years fall off in our debt snowball calculator. I honestly get so stinkin excited at the end of every month when I get to make that big payment. I can’t even imagine how different our debt would look if we didn’t switch our second jobs. Instead of four years, it would take at least double that if not more. Yikes! No thank you!
Evaluating Your Situation
Right now, you might not know what the right second job for you looks like, and to be honest, that’s perfectly okay. If you know that you need one though, it is a great time to start searching and analyzing what will work best in your unique situation. I don’t want to pretend that every situation is the same and that you can easily find a restaurant job like we did to make your debt magically fall by the wayside. It just isn’t true. Any number of things could alter what your ideal second job looks like. It took us some time to find the right second job to really boost our income and start seriously crushing our debt. I think there are a few basic steps to figure out the right second job for you and your family.
Set a Goal for How Much Money You Want to Make
I love setting goals, and believe it is crucial to write them down if you want to achieve them. Sit down with your budget, your debt, and your partner if you have one, and figure out how much extra money you want/need to make each month to reach your bigger financial goals. For us, it was an extra $600 each month at minimum, and anything above that was a bonus. Setting a target can help you narrow down the field of possible jobs that will get you to your goal. If you want to make $1,000 a month, working at a minimum wage job isn’t going to cut it unless you put in a crazy amount of hours. Remember, you want to use your time and energy as efficiently as possible.
Identify Your Skills
Everyone has things they are good at. I am a teacher, so one of my strengths is social and interpersonal skills. Therefore it makes sense that nearly every job I have had in my life has been in the service industry where people skills are a must. So for me, being a bartender/server plays on those strengths. If you are gifted in area, explore ways that you can make extra money doing it. It will make the work feel less strenuous, and well, less like work. If you are a musician, people are always looking for private lessons. Coding skills can aid in website development. Again, I believe there is power in writing your strengths down on paper, or computer for you high tech folks out there. Whatever you are good at, find a way to capitalize on it and rake in some extra money along the way.
Find a Reasonable Schedule
A second job is always going to mean more work, and probably be inconvenient. You will for sure have to reprioritize your schedule to fit in the hours. That doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your mental, physical, or emotional well being in the process. My wife and I wanted to work in the restaurant industry, and at the same time not be working crazy late hours, especially during the week. We had interviews at multiple restaurants with varying hours. In the end, we chose a place that closes at 9:00 during the week and 10:00 on the weekends. There is no way I could have remained a functional teacher, let alone human being if I had to stay up until midnight or two am bartending. It would not have worked at all. Reflect on your situation and figure out what kind of hours will fit into your schedule. You might have to make some sacrifices, but make sure it is reasonable. The important thing is to communicate openly with your partner, and to be realistic.
Going along with the time of day is the number of hours you can reasonably work without going insane. If you can only handle a few hours a week, then start with that. You can always increase your hours as you become more comfortable with your new schedule, but don’t overwork yourself from the start. I think you will be pretty amazed at how quickly you acclimate to the increased workload and how much you can actually do.
Start Applying for Jobs
Last, relentlessly apply for jobs. Dust off your resume and cover letters and adjust them for the jobs you are seeking. Don’t settle for a job that doesn’t meet your criteria. You took the time to make a plan, now is the time to follow through until you find the second job that is right for you.
Wrapping it Up
Working a second job requires ambition, dedication, and sacrifice, but finding the right one is important. Every family’s situation is different, but through careful planning and intentionality, you can use your time and energy effectively to increase your income and boost your debt crushing momentum.
Let Me Know in the Comments
How did you find the “right” second job? Do you have any wisdom to share?
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