Personal Finance

These millennials earn more than $10,000 a year in side-gig income

Key Points
  • More than half of Americans report having a side gig at some point, according to a recent survey by SunTrust Banks.
  • While side hustlers pull in an average of $8,794 a year, millennials are making almost 20% more per year at $10,972.
  • Balancing a side gig and a full-time job can be hard, but managing your time and financials well makes it easier.
Camille Wood walks dogs as a side hustle.
Source: Camille Wood

Camille Wood is a personal assistant, dog sitter and host at The Second City, a comedy club in Chicago.

"During a typical week, I'm doing something for pay pretty much every day," she said. "I needed the extra money for student loans and city living."

The 25-year-old's personal assistant job is full time and the rest are side gigs — jobs that allow her to make money in addition to her primary job.

Her situation isn't that uncommon.

More than half of Americans report having a side gig at some point, according to a recent survey by SunTrust Bank.

The bank polled 2,028 adults in July. While side hustlers pull in an average of $8,794 a year, millennials are making almost 20% more at $10,972, SunTrust found.

Balancing a side gig and a full-time job can be hard, yet planning ahead makes it easier.

Managing time

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Time management is key to balancing a full-time job and a side gig, said Stacey Ogden, founder of Side Hustle Teachers.

She started the program after seven years of working various side jobs, like running a motherhood blog, alongside her full-time job as a middle school music teacher to help other teachers start businesses outside the classroom.

Keep a calendar to track and optimize the free time you have, Ogden said.

"You want to make sure that you're not looking at your schedule like 'I have to have three full hours to sit down and accomplish something,'" she said. "If you have a full hour, you can accomplish a lot."

Ogden wakes up before her children to get work done while it's quiet. She uses Asana, an application designed to help teams organize and manage projects to stay on top of her to-dos.

Setting boundaries

Justine Salata manages weddings for Your Wedding by Lauren in addition to her full-time job as an associate kindergarten teacher.
Source: Wheaton Simis

Maintaining a balance is easier when you set boundaries.

Justine Salata, 32, has a full-time job as an associate kindergarten teacher at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York, and manages weddings for Your Wedding by Lauren.

She makes around $700 per month with the side gig and works about 20 hours per wedding, she said. Communicating her schedule to loved ones was essential.

"September was absolutely insane with the start of school and four weddings," Salata said. "I definitely let friends and family know when I'll be working, but more importantly, I'll let them know when I'm free."

Find a place where you can focus on your side gig without distractions.

"My friends and family know the night before a wedding, I will be holed up in my apartment," Salata said.

Preparing taxes

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Tax season can be a "gotcha" moment for a lot of new side hustlers, said Chad Parks, founder and CEO of Ubiquity Retirement + Savings. It's important to plan ahead properly.

For a full-time job, an employer withholds part of your Social Security and Medicare taxes, and you will have to pay a matching amount.

"During a typical week, I'm doing something for pay pretty much every day. I needed the extra money for student loans and city living."
Camille Wood
Personal assistant, dog sitter and host at The Second City, a comedy club in Chicago

If you're self-employed for your side hustle and make at least $400 a year, you're required to pay the full share of Medicare and Social Security taxes on that income. This levy is known as the self-employment tax.

Side hustles could also push you into a higher tax bracket, so be aware of your state and federal income tax rates, said Parks.

Saving responsibly

Your personal camera obscura | Getty Images

Track your spending patterns and aim to maintain an emergency fund that can cover six months of living expenses, Parks said.

Once you've built up your emergency fund, it's time to add to your retirement savings.

If there's a 401(k) available to you at your full-time job, make sure you contribute at least up to the match, if one is offered. The most you can put into a 401(k) is $19,000 in 2019, plus $6,000 if you're age 50 and over.

Consider opening a Roth individual retirement account, where you can contribute after-tax dollars and have them grow free of taxes. You can then take tax-free withdrawals in retirement.

In 2019, you can stash up to $6,000 in a Roth IRA, plus $1,000 if you're 50 and over.

Automate your deposits in your savings and retirement accounts. "It mimics what your employer would do for you," said Parks.

More from Personal Finance:
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Here's how many workers are saving the maximum in their retirement plans
Michael Avenatti allegedly failed to file tax returns. That's a bad idea

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Key Points
  • The Great Recession has been over for a decade.
  • Yet many people's finances haven't recovered from the recession's blows, according to a survey by personal finance website Bankrate.com.
  • "Even a modest downturn is going to cause further harm to Americans' personal finances," says Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com.