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I'm In Debt. Should I Start A Side Hustle?

This week’s post comes directly out of an interaction I recently had with a subscriber.

And by the way before we even get started, the answer to this question is always, “absolutely, yes you should start a side hustle!” 

There is, however, some particular discussion that should be had around what kind of side hustle it should be and we’ll dive into that using this interaction as a spring board.



Right now my wife and I are between steps 3 and 4 (debt snowball and 3-6 month emergency fund). 

We're out of debt except for a shed we needed for our property and before that expense we were working on our 3 to 6 months of emergency funds. 

The thing that would be most helpful to us is how to increase our income to get there faster.

I am working on a side hustle, starting a business as a coach. 

Currently, just in the beginning steps of creating a website and blog, and finishing up the business model and how I'll do the coaching. 

I don't believe the coaching will bring in much income for awhile, so I'm curious how to monetize the blog and online content. 

Thanks for all you do and your encouragement! 



This is a common question and can be a bit of a conundrum, especially if you’re trying to make some cash on the faster side but do indeed want to build a business that will grow and last.

Allow me to outline some parameters for you as to the type of side hustle you should start and maybe types that you should avoid (for now). 


The Short-Term (Immediate Cash Flow) Side Hustles vs The Long-Term (Potential Alternate Career) Side Hustle

As I see it, there are really two types of side hustles, short-term and long-term. 

One is for helping you with stacking some cash rather quickly so that you can get your $1000 emergency fund (step 2) in place quickly, pay down your debt snowball (step 3) with momentum then get your 3-6 month emergency fund (step 4) in place with authority. 

The second type of side hustle will likely be longer term and may not make you any money for even a couple of years.

I do completely recommend these types of side hustles as, given enough time and long-term effort, they can turn into  serious revenue streams and even alternative career paths. 

But again, they do take time so I just want you to have some realistic expectations.

Let’s further define these two types of side hustles and see where you are.


Short-Term (Cash Flow) Side Hustles 

Here are some examples of the short-term side hustles:


  1. Overtime/extra work at your day job
  2. Lyft/Uber driving
  3. Delivering food/pizza
  4. Lawn Maintenance
  5. Working an after hours part-time retail job
  6. Baby sitting
  7. Pet sitting
  8. Doing surveys
  9. Participating focus groups (I still do this one actually)


Again the short-term side hustle is going to give you that faster influx of cash that you can use to get a pile of cash for your emergency fund as well as help you pay down your debt snowball with greater momentum.


Long-Term (Potential Alternate Career) Side Hustles

The longer-term side hustle, on the other hand, is likely not going to make money for a while. Let’s outline some examples and then talk about some realistic expectations.


  1. Starting a blog/online business (i.e. content creation, coaching, consulting, etc.)
  2. Starting a (more traditional) small business (i.e. franchise or other type of small business)
  3. Network marketing (not at all recommended, please my post: The Truth About Network Marketing And Your Debt)


All three of these are going very likely going to take time before they are profitable.

I have direct experience with numbers one and three and I can tell you that this is true.


Starting A Blog/Online Business

Blogging and online businesses are something I think everyone can and should start. 

Starting one is about as easy as it could ever be with the availability of online tools and their relatively low expense.

In reality, it should only cost you about $50 (or even less) to start a blog, which can ultimately turn into a significant business in the long-term (say 2-3 years).

I’ll be writing some more “how to” content very soon in the case that you’re looking to do this yourself.

So in Sam’s question about coaching:


"I am working on a side hustle, starting a business as a coach. 

Currently, just in the beginning steps of creating a website and blog, and finishing up the business model and how I'll do the coaching. 

I don't believe the coaching will bring in much income for awhile, so I'm curious how to monetize the blog and online content."


He’s totally correct in his perception that it’s likely not going to be making money for a while.

That’s okay.

The main thing to keep in mind is that, if you want it to be successful, you need to be creating weekly content and building an email subscriber list. 

Again, we’ll be talking more about the “how to” do this in future posts, but suffice it to say that I definitely think you should start doing one of these as soon as you can in as little as 30 minutes (of consistent output) per day.

I just want for you to have a realistic expectation that this is not likely “the thing” that’s going to move the ball forward on your debt elimination for the time being.

I want you doing more of the “short-term” side hustles for that.


Starting A Small Business And My Opinion On Network Marketing

I make no bones about network marketing with my clients. Stay away, at least while you're paying down debt. Start a blog instead.


In full transparency, number two, “starting a (more traditional) small business” is something I’ve never actually done.

I can tell you, however, from coaching clients who own small businesses, that it takes time, capital and some pretty serious risk.

For debt-eliminators there are better options, so I advise against these until you’re out of debt. Go with the list of short-term hustles and focus on stacking some cash instead.

But, for network marketing I say, “run the other way!"

I have extensive experience, (over 5 years in the industry) and I can tell you it can be a gigantic Sarlacc Pit of money and black hole of time.

Case in point, I was in a particularly opportunity for almost 3 years and lost over $30,000. I won’t go into detail about that here, but it was a huge and expensive learning experience that I want for you to avoid.

You can read more about that here: The Truth About Network Marketing And Your Debt.


The Middle Ground

You can probably see how I coach my clients who are in debt on which side hustle they should tackle and when.

It’s largely individual, but the guidelines are as follows:


1. If you have a rather large pile of debt, do as many of the short-term hustles as you can. We’ve got to get you out of this debt asap and these are a great way to get some quick cash for you.

2. If you’re closer to the end of your debt snowball or to funding your 3-6 months for emergencies, I think its a great time to start considering a long-term hustle as well. Just remember that it’s going to take some time to monetize.


Some Fantastic Resources For Side-Hustle Research:

Nick Loper: Side Hustle Nation - Nick's content is so vast, so wide and super helpful for any of your side-hustle research.

Graham Cochrane's Blog: The Risk Of Not Starting An Online Business - Graham's free content is excellent. I just bought one of his paid courses and it's even better!


My Response To Sam

Finally, I wanted to include my response to Sam for you to read as if I were talking to you.


Hey Sam,

Thanks so much for your response. Sounds like you guys are making some great progress!

I hear you about increasing income. It's incredibly important and can be challenging.

Love to hear about the side hustle! I am a firm believer that everyone should have a side hustle.

I believe your analysis is correct about the coaching part may take some time to monetize.

But, if you stick with it, it WILL happen. It’s just definitely going to take some time.

And, content marketing (like what I do on my blog) is your friend.

That said, it will likely take about two years to really significantly monetize IF/WHEN you're able to push out at least one piece of weekly content and start building an email list.

I'd be happy to jump on a call with you and outline what I do.

In the meantime, I'll point you to Graham Cochrane's content. I follow all of his stuff and consume his weekly podcast.

This one will help you with some realistic expectations regarding content creation and timeframes to monetization: Which Comes First Your Product Or Your Content?

Thanks again for your note and let me know how I can help you keep moving the ball forward!


PS I'd love to be a subscriber/supporter so please send me how to find you!


So, wherever you are in this process, I'd love to hear about it! Have you started a side hustle(s)?

Which one(s) did you start? How's it going? How much money have you made? What have you used the money for? Are you starting a blog or YouTube channel?

Leave a comment below and let me know. I'd love to hear!


The 8 Steps To Obliterate Your Debt:

This is the blog post that outlines the 8 steps I followed to eliminated $43,000 in debt in 2.5 years.
And whether this is your first or thousandth time on the blog, I want to make sure you have this “8 Steps” framework that ALL of our content is centered around. 
These are the steps I personally followed to obliterate $43,000+ of debt in 2.5 years
Maybe your number is bigger, maybe it’s smaller. Either way the principles are the same and I want you to have them.
0. Stop All Retirement Investing (Until Step 4)
2. Starter Emergency Fund of $1000
3. Eliminate Debts Smallest To Largest (a.k.a The Debt Snowball)
4. Full Emergency Fund of 3-6+ Months’ Expenses
5. Invest A Minimum of 15% Income Into Retirement Accounts (and increase savings rate to 50%+ if possible)
6. College Funding (if applicable)
7. Pay Off The Home Mortgage
8. Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous And Go FI (Financial Independence)!
I’ve created a simple, easy to follow guide that you can use as your foundation as you navigate the absolute annihilation of your debt forever.



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When You Need More Help

And again, if you’re looking for some resources to get started, you can download our free budgeting forms. Also, if you’re in a place where you’re ready to kick your debt in the teeth, here's the link to our free “8 Steps To Erase Debt” guide for you to use as your foundation.
To your freedom,
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