Twenty and thirty-year-olds are avid side hustlers. And they have good reasons to be. With the average student debt at $36,510 per borrower, recent college grads are starting their adult life in the red. Skyrocketing home prices and the recent spike in inflation are further pinching budgets. Not surprisingly, side hustles for 20- and 30-year-olds are considered so necessary to pay the bills that more than half of this generation have one — and, often, many.
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On the bright side, some millennials say that side hustles also present an exciting opportunity. Side jobs allow them to test-drive projects that ignite their passions – or provide some valuable benefit that they otherwise couldn’t afford. In best-case scenarios, side hustles can lead to early financial independence and more rewarding careers.
Side hustles for 20- and 30-year-olds
Consider Vee Weir, 29. Five years ago, she held a marketing position at a toy company. But she also had a pile of debt. So the Colorado-based animal-lover started to watch dogs through Rover as a way of making a bit of extra money. She also launched a blog — VeeFrugalFox. Although the blog didn’t produce much income at first, her need to market it cheaply helped her hone her digital marketing skills.
When the toy company she worked for started laying off employees, Weir realized she didn’t want another corporate job. She used the income she earned from Rover to help finance her start-up — Weir Digital Marketing. Now, between the blog, her marketing agency and Rover, she earns considerably more than she did with her full-time job. And her schedule is far more flexible. (If you want to pet-sit or walk dogs with Rover, you can Click here to sign up.)
“My side hustle allows me to live the life that I envisioned for myself,” she says. “At first, the little bit of money I earned with Rover was just enough to keep me going. Now, I do it to finance our vacations.”
Flexibility is key
Rob Phelan, 32, is a Maryland high school teacher by day. At night, during lunch hours, and on weekends, he creates children’s books, resources for other teachers, and officiates La Crosse games. He also teaches an online course in entrepreneurship for kids. His goal is to earn enough in his free time to become financially independent at an early age. He knew he couldn’t do that on his teaching salary alone.
However, he chooses his side hustles carefully. Whatever he does has to be completely flexible and generate a good hourly return for his time, he says. That’s because he’s married with a toddler. Time is precious.
Katy Roberts, 39, echoes the sentiment. She is also a teacher with young children. She started selling skin care products through Rodan+Fields a few years ago because it allowed her to fit her side hustle into “little pockets of time” that she could spare during the day.
“It’s been a huge blessing,” says Roberts. “I covers all the extracurricular activities for my girls.”
Paying off debt
Debt — primarily student debt — is also a huge issue with this generation.
Like Weir, Jazzy Thatch, 30, graduated college with a mountain of student debt. She earns good money as a project manager for a digital marketing agency. But she also has a blog that brings in about $60,000 in revenue annually, and she creates and sells digital products, such as eBooks and budget worksheets.
“I needed extra money to help pay off my debt faster,” she says. But she rejected a number of side hustles, such as Uber and DoorDash, as being too time-consuming for the money.
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“The side hustle needed to be worth the time I was spending,” she says. “I have done side hustles where you are testing websites and doing surveys and you’re not making enough money to make it worth it.”
Other lucrative and flexible hustles
Other great side hustles for 20- and 30-year-olds include tutoring, virtual assisting, selling art and clothing.
Platforms ranging from Juni Learning to Wyzant pay between $15 and $60 per hour, depending on the subject. And some tutoring platforms, such as Wize and LessonFace, allow tutors to set their own rates of pay. What are the best sites for online tutors? It depends on the subject you want to teach. Some specialize in math, science and coding, while others focus on music, art and dance. And, of course, many tutoring platforms include a wide spectrum of topics, from English to SAT prep. Here are the 12-best tutoring platforms, based on the type of tutoring you want to offer.
Another highly flexible side hustle is virtual assisting, which can describe anything from handling a client’s email or scheduling to updating websites and managing social media accounts. Freelance virtual assistants can find work through Boldly, Belay and Time Etc. They typically earn between $15 and $50 per hour.
Artistic and creative? There are a plethora of sites that will allow you to sell crafts, drawings, paintings — or license your art for sale on site-produced products. If you want to sell crafts, Etsy is the top choice, allowing craftspeople to cheaply list and sell homemade items.
Illustrators can find jobs through Fiverr; while those who want to sell paintings and license their art for sale on products ranging from puzzles to aprons, can upload their art to a variety of print-on-demand operations including FineArtAmerica, Society6 and RedBubble. With the print-on-demand sites, you earn a royalty on each sale.
(Click here to try Fiverr)
Selling used clothing
Annie Darling, 21, is still a full-time college student but she launched a blog called Spectacular Girl to share her love of fashion. In between classes, she also sells her used clothing on Poshmark. Poshmark is one of several sites that invite fashionistas to resell good-condition used clothing and accessories. Other sites worth checking out include Mercari and eBay.
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