Should You Take Your Side Hustle Full Time?

by Maurie Backman | Published on Nov. 3, 2021

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Have a side gig? Here's how to know if it should become your full-time job.

You may have gotten a side gig on top of your main job to help pad your savings, pay off debt, or save up for something big. But if you're really enjoying your side hustle, you may be wondering whether it's possible to quit your main job and do your side gig full-time. It's an option worth considering, but before you make that call, ask yourself these important questions.

1. Is there enough work to increase my hours?

You may like the idea of turning your side job into one that you do for 40 hours a week. But can you squeeze 40 hours' worth of work out of that gig? If not, then doing your side hustle as a full-time job may not be viable.

Say you design websites for 12 hours a week, and you're carving out that time on evenings and weekends. If you find that you're turning down new clients and that your current clients keep wanting updates and maintenance for their sites, then doing that work full-time may be possible.

But if your side gig involves you creating custom jewelry and you're only getting two or three orders a week, scaling up to the 30 orders a week you need for a full-time job may be trickier. And if you're not sure the demand is there, you're taking a financial risk.

If you have a lot of money in savings, you may feel comfortable taking that risk. If not, then you may not want to quit your day job just yet.

2. Will I have to work more hours to match my total earnings right now?

Some sides hustles pay more on an hourly basis than a salaried job. But that's not always the case. If you're thinking of doing your side hustle full-time, you'll need to run those numbers and see what sort of full-time salary you'd potentially be looking at.

Say you earn $40,000 a year as an administrative assistant and you earn another $1,000 a month from your side hustle for a total annual income of $52,000. If your side hustle pays you $25 an hour, and you do it for 40 hours a week, that's $1,000 a week. Multiply that by 52 weeks, and you're looking at the same total income you're getting now. But if the numbers don't add up, and you can't afford a hit to your income, then you may be better off keeping your full-time job.

3. Can I afford to lose my employer benefits?

When you work for a company on a full-time basis, you're often entitled to benefits like subsidized health insurance and paid vacation or sick days. When you turn a freelance gig into a full-time job, you give up those benefits. And that's something you'll need to make sure you can manage.

You may be eligible for affordable health insurance through a spouse, which solves that problem. And you may be able to build days off into your schedule by working extra in the weeks leading up to a planned vacation. (Sick days, unfortunately, are tougher to plan for.)

But before quitting your main job, make sure losing your benefits won't hurt you financially. And if you'll be giving up health insurance, you may want to research the cost of buying your own plan through healthcare.gov before making that call.

Turning your side hustle into a full-time job could end up being very rewarding. Run through these essential questions first to make sure that's a sound financial decision.

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