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Survey: 36% earn extra money from a side gig, many just to pay bills

Nearly one-third of side hustlers, 32%, believe they will always need a side gig to make ends meet.
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Posted at 4:20 PM, Jul 10, 2024

Ruth Washburn works a full-time job, but on the side, she spends hours each week sewing memory bears, quilts and pillows from a loved one's clothing through her business Quilts and Bears.

"The most reward I can ever get," Washburn said, "knowing that someone has something tangible to hold onto besides just a picture."

For Washburn, it was a creative outlet that turned into a side gig.

She is one of the millions of Americans with a side hustle in 2024.

A new survey from Bankrate finds 36% of adults "earn extra money beyond their main source of income" through a side gig. That figure is down slightly from 39% in 2023, but way up compared to pre-pandemic. According to Bankrate, 19% of workers had a side hustle in 2017.

Bankrate's Ted Rossman said what is troubling is why workers are taking on side jobs.

"People are largely doing it out of necessity," he said. "People are using this money for spending money. It's not necessarily for savings or debt payoff. It's more about paying the bills. And that's kind of surprising because the job market has been strong the past few years."

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Parents of young children are more likely to have a side hustle, 45%, compared to parents with adult children, 28%, or people with no children, 36%.

Nearly one-third of side hustlers, 32%, believe they will always need a side gig to make ends meet.

Author and founder of RADD companies, Dutch Mendenhall, agrees, pointing specifically to challenges faced by side hustlers in the real estate market.

"They're independent individuals and it's one of America's great side hustles, right?" Mendenhall said. "Americans have to side hustle their income. Otherwise, they're never going to make enough money."

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The good news, according to Bankrate, is that side hustlers said they make $891 on average per month in extra income. That's up from $810 in 2023.

Rossman said the hard work taken on by so many Americans should be commended, but taking on a side hustle has its challenges.

"There is a risk of burnout with this because so many people are putting so much extra time in," he said.

Rossman said he hopes more people turn to side hustles as a way to pay down debt or to follow a passion project, like Ruth Washburn.

"It's just rewarding, it touches my heart," Washburn said.