Cody left his corporate banking job at age 22 to pursue entrepreneurship full time and now teaches others how to do the same. In this post, he shares three side hustles that virtually anyone can pursue to gain financial freedom far before they’ve saved up the traditional F.I definition of 25 times their annual expenses.
The first time I heard about side hustles was when I read the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. I was 19 years old and a sophomore (soon-to-be junior) in college. I remember that moment so vividly because it was such a turning point in the way that I thought about time and money. I was immediately addicted to the idea that I could earn an income on my own terms, set my own prices, and have no boss!
Fast forward three years (and dozens of side hustles) later and I quit my corporate banking job to pursue my side hustles full time. At the point when I quit, I was blogging, freelancing, podcasting, and managing my disc golf company which supplied me with more than enough income to cover my expenses. Now, I can work from anywhere in the world as long as I have a WiFI signal!
Cash Flow > 25X Expenses
One of the reasons why side hustling and building online businesses is so great is that they can drastically shorten your path to financial independence. If you’re familiar with the “25X Expenses” or “4%” rule, you know that the point at which you hit financial independence is when your investment savings = 25X your annual expenses.
For example, if you spend an average of $40,000 per year, you’d need to save $1,000,000 to hit financial independence [$40,000 x 25 = $1,000,000] … in theory.
However, imagine that you earn $1,000 per month through semi-passive side hustles and online businesses. At $12,000 in side hustle income per year, you just reduced your financial independence number by $300,000 [$12,000 x 25 = $300,000]!!!
You can clearly see that math works heavily in your favor if you’re able to develop a steady cash flow. Even an extra (and consistent) $100 per month will reduce your FI number by $25,000 [$100 x 25 = $25,000].
Don’t sleep on side hustle cash flow! It can be an extremely power lever in your path to FI.
Why You Should Start a Side Hustle
In my opinion, everyone should start a side hustle at some point in your life. Not only do you gain valuable skills that can be monetized later on, but you also feel empowered by earning money on your own terms. No matter what your “why” is, side hustling is a great opportunity.
For some people (a.k.a. me), side hustles serve as a way to escape the corporate life — to say “F**k you” to your boss and walk out in a storm of rage. When I quit, I was earning between $1,500 and $2,000 per month from my side hustles and my monthly expenses were around $1,200. The math worked out and I was the happiest man alive walking out of the office on my final day.
For other people, like my good friend and business partner Julie, side hustles are just a fun way to increase your income! Last year, she earned over $40,000 on the side (…not too shabby) but has no intention of quitting her corporate job. Side hustling allows her to take vacations, buy entertainment, and even put a down payment on her last house without touching any of her day job income.
So no matter what your situation is, whether you want to quit your job like me, or just want some extra income like Julie, side hustles are the vehicles to get you there.
Which Side Hustle Should You Choose?
There are thousands of different side hustle options. This is great for the small percentage of ultra-Type A people, but for most, it’s overwhelming! That’s why I’m only going to focus on the three side hustles I’m most familiar with:
2) Etsy Digital Downloads
Blogging for Profit
You might’ve heard that 95% of bloggers quit within the first 6 months. That’s crazy! Blogging is super fun and can also be lucrative if you know the process. There are 4 main ways to make money blogging:
1. Affiliate Marketing – Promoting other people’s product or service and receiving income each time a user signs up.
2. Advertising – Selling “space” on your blog to a company or advertising network in exchange for money.
3. Sponsorships – A company or brand will pay you a flat rate to promote their product or service on your website.
4. Selling Your Own Products/Services – You can sell courses, merchandise, or other products and services through your blog.
Obviously the money doesn’t start pouring in on Day 1, but if you follow and stay true to a well-calculated plan, you can expect side hustle income within a few weeks or months! Don’t be like most new bloggers and give up after their blog has generated income a whopping $0 in income within the first 6 months. Instead get it right from the beginning and start Blogging for Profit.
Etsy Digital Downloads
Going back to my friend Julie from earlier in this article, she has absolutely crushed it with Etsy Digital Downloads over the past year. Basically, “digital downloads” are printable, non-physical products like:
- Wedding invitations
… just to name a few among thousands.
Instead of hiring an expensive company to create these printables, people are moving onto the Etsy platform in droves to buy from people like you and me. The best part? Even though you’re selling a product, there’s no inventory! There’s nothing better than (almost) passive income.
For someone like me with literally ZERO artistic ability, I thought that creating Etsy Printables was completely out of the question. However, once Julie showed me the process and told me exactly what I needed to do, it wasn’t so bad after all!
This side hustle is a hidden gem and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to make a little (or a lot of) extra income. But, unfortunately, most Etsy sellers end up focusing on the wrong things and get frustrated and quit! With a little help, you can learn the exact process for creating a profitable Etsy Digital Downloads shop.
Although it’s not quite as passive as the other two side hustles mentioned above, freelancing is by far the quickest way to earn additional income. Freelancing is just trading your skills + time for money. Some common freelancing jobs include writing, audio editing, graphic design, web design, and more.
The two main ways to find freelancing gigs are through 1) networking and personal relationships and 2) freelance sites like Fiverr or Upwork. Getting your first client is the most difficult, but once the snowball starts rolling, new clients eventually start coming to you!
The awesome thing about freelancing is that you have complete control over your time. If you feel like taking an entire month off, there’s nobody stopping you! The amount of money you earn is typically directly correlated with how much time and energy you put in. I know people who make $100 per month freelancing, and other people who make $30,000+!
No matter what your goal is, freelancing is an excellent way to earn side hustle income. But once again, a lot of people don’t even know where to get started. If you think freelancing is a good fit for you, I highly recommend checking out the Freelance Toolkit to learn how you can get started.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
Although the bulk of his net worth is invested in index funds, his favorite place to invest in individual stocks is M1 Finance, a site that allows you to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite micro-investing app is Acorns, a free financial app that takes just 5 minutes to set up and allows you to invest your spare change in a diversified portfolio.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
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