3 Harsh Side Hustle Realities You Should Know About

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There are downsides to getting a second job. Here's what you should be aware of.

Key points

  • Many people are able to boost their income substantially with a side hustle.
  • While a second job could help you shore up your finances, you might encounter certain pitfalls.

There are plenty of good reasons to go out and get yourself a side hustle. Not only might that second job help you pad your savings, pay off nagging debt, or fund your retirement nest egg, but having a backup income source might give you some peace of mind.

But while having a side hustle may seem like a good idea in theory, in practice, it may be harder to maintain than expected. Here are three tough realities you need to know about if you're going to get a second job on top of your main one.

1. Your mental and physical health might suffer

You probably have some weeks when you'd like nothing more than to ditch work and get a break from the grind. Well, you might feel that way even more frequently once you start working a side hustle.

Piling on those extra hours could take away from your downtime in a serious way. And your mental and physical health could bear the brunt of that tough schedule.

If your side hustle makes it so that you're working well into the night on a regular basis, it could result in inadequate sleep. That's a physical side effect that could have real consequences. And the more locked into a schedule you become, the closer you might inch toward complete burnout.

2. You might compromise your main job

The purpose of having a side hustle is to supplement your primary paycheck. But if your side hustle puts that paycheck at risk, it won't end up doing you any good.

You may have every intention of limiting yourself to side hustle work during the evenings and weekends so it doesn't interfere with your primary job. But if clients call or email you during the day, you may feel compelled to respond immediately. Do that too often, however, and your employer might get wind of the situation -- and put you on probation or even let you go if your actions have violated a clear company policy.

3. It may take a while for your earnings to ramp up -- if they do at all

It's more than possible to earn a lot of money with a side hustle. But don't expect that to happen right away.

If you're starting a business or doing work that requires you to build up a client base, it may take months to get into a groove and generate enough revenue to make a huge difference in your finances. It's important to go into your side hustle with realistic expectations so you don't wind up disappointed or discouraged to the point where you're driven to quit.

Further, some side hustles might give you a nice little income boost, but they'll never put an extra $500 a week in your pocket. Walking dogs, for example, is a fun way to earn additional money and get exercise. But if you're only paid $12 an hour and you have limited time to devote to that gig, you can't expect it to make you rich.

A side hustle could really work wonders for your finances. While today's economy is stronger than it's been in a while, it never hurts to have the security of a second income source. At the same time, holding down a side hustle isn't always fun or easy. Often, it's hard work. And it's essential that you know that going in.

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