- Stagnant wages and large student loans have made it difficult for many young people to move down the road toward full financial adulthood.
- But there have never been more ways to supplement your income with freelance, independent contractor work.
- Freelance, independent contractor networks can be a great backstop for sudden job loss and for keeping your skill set up to date.
I was taking an early morning Uber to the airport a couple of weeks ago. It turned out my driver was a ninth grade English teacher. I asked him what he was doing driving an Uber on a weekday at this hour of the morning and he told me that he drives from 5am to 8am every weekday before school—15 hours a week. Sure, it extends his work week from about 45 to 60 hours, but the way he figured it, he was saving an extra $700 a month, which he was using to pay off his student loans much faster than he could have done with just a full-time job. I thought, “Pretty cool.” This is just one of the many, many examples of side gigs in today’s sharing economy. This gentleman’s dual work life was actually pretty simple—leave the house three hours early, get in your car, pick up a few people and then go to school.
This type of dual existence is becoming increasingly common. Wages haven’t gone up in real terms for many years. And it’s very expensive to live with stagnant wages on top of student debt, car loans and all the other expenses you have starting out in your adult life. You often need extra income to make ends meet so you can move on down the road toward saving for a house, saving for retirement and having some emergency funds to tap just in case. The good news is that it’s never been easier to get a “gig,” and these gigs come in all sorts of forms.
If you’re an independent contractor or a temp (or looking to hire one), you have TaskRabbit, Uber, Airbnb and many others. If you want to become more of a permanent freelancer, you have referral networks such as Elance, TopCoder (for programmers), 99designs (for graphic designers) and many more.
You might have to go back to school online to brush up your skills, but there are many ways to get paying gigs to help you meet your financial goals. That couldn’t have been done until just a few years ago, so that’s very cool. Until recently, you would have had to take a lower-wage job at a place like 7-Eleven instead. These freelance networks can also be a great backstop to have if you lose your full-time job unexpectedly. You’ll have gigs coming in to help you make ends meet until you get back to work full time.
Most gigs are not permanent jobs but they help us get through tough financial times, and when you’re starting off, they can speed up the time it takes to pay off student loans, car loans and other big-ticket expenses so you can move down the road toward home ownership and saving for retirement.
Until next time, enjoy. Gary