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44 Million Americans Are Doing a Side Hustle -- and Maybe You Should, Too

By Selena Maranjian - Jul 22, 2017 at 7:15AM

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Many people are bringing in more than $6,000 each year by working on the side. Could you use that kind of extra cash?

"At Uber, we say, 'Always be hustling'...
You've got to have a little hustle in you."
-- Travis Kalanick 

The words of Travis Kalanick, founder and former CEO of ride-hailing titan Uber Technologies, probably ring true to many Americans -- especially young ones. That's because a lot of them have a side hustle and are working more than one job.

A hand holding several hundred dollar bills, fanned out.

Image source: Getty Images.

This was made clear by a recent report that found more than 44 million Americans bringing in extra income on the side.

Survey says...

Here are some more findings from the report:

  • Having a side hustle is generally not an occasional thing. Fully 86% of those generating income on the side do so at least monthly.
  • These side gigs generate meaningful sums. Among those generating extra income at least monthly, 36% generate more than $500 extra per month. That translates to more than $6,000 per year.
  • The age cohort most likely to have a side hustle is millennials, folks aged 18 to 26. About 28% of them have more than one source of income.
  • Most side hustlers are not in it for fun. A majority of them -- 54% -- are using the extra funds to pay for regular expenses as opposed to considering it extra disposable income.

If you're wondering why millennials lead the pack in side hustles, here are two good explanations: Many of them are carrying significant debt, and most of them are very comfortable in the online world, which offers lots of ways to generate some extra moola. (According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average 25 year old recently had about $31,000 in debt.)

You may now be wondering if there's anything you might be able to do to bring in $6,000 or more each year. If so, you're in luck.

Man facing viewer with camera, about to take photo.

Image source: Getty Images.

Side hustle suggestions: How you might bring in extra income

Here are a bunch of ways that you might generate some extra income for yourself or your family:

  • A part-time job: You might work as a stocker or cashier at a local retailer for a few hours per week. If you work 10 hours a week for $12 per hour, you're looking at $120 per week, or about $6,000 per year. Join a catering company, and you can agree to work at events that fit into your schedule.
  • Freelance: Lots of people are working as freelancers or contractors for their primary income these days -- but you might do such work for secondary income, too. Freelance and contract work can be found for those interested in writing, editing, design, illustration, photography, translation, programming, medical transcription, consulting, and so on. Many such jobs can be done at home, too.
  • Apply your skills: Think about what you can do that others value. You might, for example, tutor students in subjects you know, offer language, art, or music lessons, sell crafts you make on Etsy, make and sell furniture or knitted sweaters, and so on. If you're handy, you might do some handy-person jobs for people in your neighborhood. Check out sites such as, where people are searching for someone to fix something, build something, deliver something, assemble something, clean something, and so on.
  • Drive: You might pick up extra cash regularly by picking up and delivering passengers as an Uber or Lyft driver. You might, alternatively, deliver packages., for example, pays people to deliver packages via its Amazon Flex program.
  • Rent out space: Via companies such as Airbnb and Home Away, you can rent out rooms in your home, or your entire house or apartment, whenever you can and want to. If you can rent out an extra bedroom for $50 per night once a week, on average, you're looking at $2,600 in income each year. Depending on where you live, you might get $100 to $200, or more, per night renting out your entire apartment. You might even generate funds for a nice vacation by letting someone pay to stay in the home you vacated for it. If you have some extra driveway space or an extra garage space in an area where parking is tight, you might rent out a parking spot, too.
  • Marry people: You may be able to qualify to officiate at weddings. (The rules vary by location and in many places, it's not hard to qualify.) You could make a few hundred dollars each time you marry a couple. Of course, this gig requires a little more work than just showing up on the wedding day. You'll likely need to meet with the couples and agree on wording and a program.
  • Care for kids or pets: You might babysit local kids, or walk dogs now and then, to make some extra money.

On the other hand...

You might not want to just jump at any side hustle, though. It's worth thinking through all your options and keeping the big picture in mind. For example, instead of spending a few years working a simple part-time job unrelated to your career, you might invest extra time and energy trying to further yourself in your career in order to ultimately earn more. For example, you might take some courses, or earn a degree or certification, that can help you professionally. Or you might just read a lot and learn on the job by asking questions.

You might also use a side hustle to explore an area of interest that could turn into a career. If you're interested in being a full-time illustrator, for example, you might work on making some extra money doing freelance illustration and see how that goes. If you think you'd like to work at a gym, you might get certified to lead group fitness classes and then make a little money on the side teaching a few classes per week, seeing how you like the work and the setting.

Working more will consume more of your very limited hours and may make you less available to loved ones. If so, take care to spend as much high-quality time with them as you can. Aim for balance, so you're not neglecting important parts of your life.

Selena Maranjian owns shares of Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool recommends Etsy. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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