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Are you looking for ways to make more money?

Finding a second job isn’t at the top of most people’s priority list. Working a second job really sucks at times, but it’s also been an amazing blessing to pay off our debt. Throughout this process of working multiple second jobs, I’ve learned that there are so many options of jobs and ways to supplement your income.

So, how important is finding the right second job?

The Hard Truth: 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’s hard to choose the right one.

Since becoming a real, full fledged adult, with actual bills to pay, I’ve learned that while all jobs do pay, not all of them are worth your time and energy. 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 wasn’t very worried about finding a great paying job, or thinking about what would be most worth my time.

I was mostly focused on the most convenient way I could make a few extra bucks. Looking back, I wish I would’ve followed my future self’s advice and found a more efficient way to make money. Alas, hindsight is 20/20.

Working With No Goals in Mind is Silly

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, easily pick up shifts 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, and I got paid very little 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. I mean, who needs to work hard when you have student loans to pay for everything? 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 though we 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.

Finding Motivation and Shifting into High Gear

I mentioned that all jobs are not created equal, which I think is pretty obvious. But I didn’t realize how inefficient my past jobs were 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 heck of a lot more efficient and productive use of my time. Both jobs paid, but the restaurant paid much better. Shorter shifts and more money? Sign me up!

How Much Difference Can the Right 2nd Job Make?

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.

How to find the right 2nd job. Working a second job really sucks at times, but it's also an amazing blessing to pay off our debt. How much difference does the right 2nd job make? Instead of four years, it would take at least double.
We did alright for ourselves in July, August, and September. And every little bit helped us get out of debt.

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 student 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 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!

How to find the right 2nd job. Working a second job really sucks at times, but it's also an amazing blessing to pay off our debt. How much difference does the right 2nd job make? Instead of four years, it would take at least double.
Cash is King! Look at the tips for June, July, and August! It’s off the charts.

Evaluating Your Situation: Finding a Second Job that Makes Sense

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. Or that a 2nd job will 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.

However, I think there are a few basic steps to help you narrow down your options for a 2nd job.

1. Set a Goal for How Much Money You Want to Make

I love setting goals, and believe it’s 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 will 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.

2. Identify Your Skills

Everyone has things they are good at. I’m 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. So for me, being a bartender/server plays on those strengths.

Explore your giftings and natural skills. I’m sure you can find a way to make extra money doing something you’re already good at. It will make the work feel less strenuous, and well, less like work. If you’re 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. Whatever you’re good at, find a way to capitalize on it and rake in some extra money along the way. If you need a few ideas, here’s 99 side hustles from Nick Loper, who is basically the king of making extra money.

3. 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 wouldn’t 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’s reasonable. The important thing is to communicate openly with your partner, and 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. You’ll be pretty amazed at how quickly you acclimate to the increased workload and how much you can actually do.

4. 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. And 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

What have you done to increase your income? Which job made the difference your budget?

Our budget and goals changed our lives and it can change yours too.

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6 Responses

    1. Haha! It is definitely worth it if you find a good fit! Cash tips are wonderful. Thanks for reading Ninja Budgeter!

  1. You are spot on regarding establishing written goals. To achieve just about anything, you have to put your goal and actionable steps down on paper. Nice work!

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