Another great way to assure the success of your path to financial independence is to start a side hustle in order to grow your revenue and increase your savings rate. As mentioned in our 2017 spending review, the year 2017 was quite busy since Ms Mod launched a small side business.
Indeed, I decided to take a few freelancing contracts in a field that I know fairly well. So why would a mom with two young children, that already as a stable job that should allow her, according to our current plans, to become financially independent in her mid-thirties, would decide to start a side hustle?
Start a Side Hustle to Learn
The beauty of being on a trajectory towards financial independence is that we are consciously aware that in a near future, we will have a lot of free time to pursue the activities that interest us. Although we will be at a place in our lives where generating income is no longer as important since we will be covering our cost of living with our investments, some of our projects might still have a certain commercial value. Therefore, it will not have been lost to have spent some time in the business world as an entrepreneur and have acquired related knowledge and skills.
In this line of thought, my first months of side hustling have been a learning experience with regards to negotiating the appropriate rates and planning the amount of time it will take to complete various contracts. I found myself reading numerous articles on this subject and I also spent lots of time gaining knowledge on the fiscal reality of becoming a freelancer.
In addition to learning about these aspects of the business world, tapping into our resources and skills with the goal of using and strengthening them as a professional is, in itself, quite a wonderful learning opportunity. The field in which I decided to offer services (which I prefer not mentioning to maintain my anonymity) has a lot of competition, however I was able to identify a specific niche in which I have some competitive advantages.
Deciding to start a side hustle was the first step, but doing the research to find the specific field in which I would offer my services was a series of steps that allowed me to learn a lot and refine my skills. Now, every contract allows me to improve in my field, find ways to better complete the work and increase my efficiency.
Start a Side Hustle to Increase your Savings Rate
A pretty obvious benefit of starting a side hustle is that it will help you increase your savings rate. If you already have a well established budget, spend according to your means and your projects, there is no reason to go spend the additional revenue on stuff that you truly don’t need. You can therefore directly allocate this money to savings and increase your savings rate to reach your objectives faster.
It really isn’t a complicated formula: spend less, save more, grow your savings faster to reach financial independence sooner. You can read Mr Money Mustache’s classic article: The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement to learn more about the importance of your savings rate to reach financial independence but it is pretty clear that it is a rather crucial part of this path.
Start a Side Hustle to Gain Some Freedom
Within a job we can still find various opportunities to learn, increase our revenue and consequently our savings rate. For example we can decide to attend a job related course, apply for a promotion or change position in order to increase our salary. However, all of these possibilities exist within a certain environment and are limited by lots of factors beyond our control such as: the organisation, senior management, our work field, workload, etc.
When you decide to start a side hustle, you regain a bit of that control and freedom. Indeed, it comes down to us to identify the field in which we specifically want to work in and the type of projects that we will accept or which client or business we want to approach to offer our services. Obviously there are many external factors that can affect our potential success and structure our efforts as a freelancer however we take on the main role with regards to making the most important choices.
Start a Side Hustle to Open up your Options
Another interesting aspect of starting a side hustle is that you open up your options by giving yourself some flexibility in your capacity to generate a revenue. For example, should we end up in a position where we become truly unsatisfied with your jobs, we could decide to leave and in the meantime cover our cost of living through our business efforts in order to take the time to find a job that would be a better fit. And, who knows, perhaps by making such a decision we might find an option that would allow us to finance our needs with an activity that we like to do and reach financial independence faster!
MMM describes it really well in his recent article entitled Money and Confidence are Interchangeable which details how with a bit more confidence in ourselves and our projects, one can allow him or herself to change his life in a more optimal way. He explains that since having saved enough to become financially independent, these last 13 years of freedom allowed him to launch a series of projects that could each have easily been sufficient to finance his way of living. Thus he could have been financially independent much faster and have lived a lifestyle that would have been a better fit than the 10 year career he did as an engineer.
Therefore perhaps one day I will make a move like Gwen from Fiery Millenials who recently decided to put an end to her career in IT in order to finance her way of living through various entrepreneurial efforts, even if she had not reached her desired amount in order to define herself exactly as a financially independent early retiree. Despite the early retired part might not be exact, still the fact that you can cover your cost of living from your own efforts in side hustles is itself a form of financial independence.
One day maybe I won’t be as comfortable with my options in my job and could decide to completely change course and leave my job sooner to live from new options on a more self-sufficient basis. The experience gained through the various freelancing contracts in parallel to my full-time job will then have allowed me to develop the required skills to successfully make this transition, without counting all the contacts and resources I will have access to in order develop new services or acquire new contracts.
Start a Side Hustle to Balance Your Life and Manage Your Time
As parents of 2 young children, with full time jobs, our time and energy is greatly limited, therefore it is a bit counter-intuitive to indicate that allocating some of that precious time to a side hustle has allowed me to find more time but that is actually true. By deciding to take on some freelancing, I had to modify my behavior and change my schedule in order to find more time for those activities as it was essential for me to protect the time I have to spend with my kids. I realized that I was wasting a lot of that precious time during various moments in the day.
I also learned to become more efficient and to simplify some of our redundant tasks, among others, our meal planning for the week is now very efficient. We prepare an additional meal on Sundays, at the same time as we prepare that nights dinner that way we have at least 2 to 3 lunches packed for the week, then we will double the quantity of one or two weeknights meals and the extra will cover for our remaining lunches for work. Time management wise, it also helps that I’ve taken steps to work from home on some days as I can grocery shop during my lunch breaks on those days when the stores aren’t crowded therefore no time wasted waiting in line at the checkout.
Even my exercise routine now combines shorter interval cardio training and strength training with heavier weights and less repetitions, all with the goal of spending less time on my exercise sessions. As a double bonus, my body seems to be responding really well to this type of training, having lost nearly 10 pounds in the last 3 months which seems to have given me even more overall energy to get stuff done faster!
Finally, it has been a great exercise to better understand the importance of choosing wisely when is comes to allocating our time and energy. From the standpoint of knowing when to say no to some contracts, it’s also an excellent learning experience. It allows me to deeply appreciate the time I allocate to each activity as it is a conscious choice to decide to spend it as such.
In conclusion, the experience that can be gained through starting a side hustle, even if it is done on a part-time basis, will be beneficial to gain new knowledge and skills, increase our savings rate and acquire some freedom while opening up new options.
For now, since my ‘’operations’’ as a freelancer are still at their very beginning, I prefer not making any projections for the future as to the potential of this project for our 2025 plan and I simply see it as something that will help us maintain our trajectory towards our objectives.
Finally, this experience will allow me to gain the confidence, knowledge and resources to always have a plan B in order to cover our cost of living and this will be even more important once we no longer have jobs on which to depend. If, for example, there was an enormous market crash right in the years after we leave our jobs, we could decide to tap into our entrepreneurial experiences in order to obtain new contracts and finance our spending without having to withdraw from our investments, at least until the market is more stable. It could also just be something fun and challenging to pursue further with all the free time we will have once we reach our financial independence.