As a single parent, money is always on your mind. Even if you’re earning a comfortable income now, as the sole provider you can’t help but worry about what would happen if you lost your job. Whether you need extra cash to make ends meet today or a back-up plan for peace of mind, a side gig is a great way to increase your family’s financial security.
In addition to adding to the household income, a side hustle is an excellent way to build your skillset. Whether you want to advance in your current career or break into a new industry, a side gig provides the framework for professional development. If you’re unhappy in your current job, it’s a way to begin a gradual career shift without sacrificing the security of your full-time job. Even if you’re not ready to think about a career change, there’s something freeing about a job where you get to be your own boss and follow your own path. Need more? Brit + Co names some unexpected perks of side hustles.
Despite the benefits, single parents shy away from side gigs. The biggest reason? Not wanting to lose time with their kids. After all, you can earn money later in life, but you can’t get those formative childhood years back. However, picking up extra work doesn’t have to mean sacrificing family time.
To ensure your side hustle doesn’t bleed over into family life, block out your time. Time blocking is a simple scheduling method that dedicates chunks of time to specific activities. As Freelancing Mama explains, time blocking can be used within a day to schedule tasks — for example, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. is for your full-time job, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. is for family time, and 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. is for your side hustle.
Or, it can be used to assign a focus to each day — for example, Monday evening is for side work, Tuesday for family outings, Wednesday for household chores, and so on. Aim to schedule your side gig during time you wouldn’t otherwise spend with your kids, like mornings or evenings when they’re in bed or afternoons when they’re busy with extracurriculars.
Another option is finding side gigs that allow you to include your children. For example, walking dogs, babysitting kids, tending neighbors’ lawns and gardens, or selling handmade goods online are side hustles where you can include your children in your work. If you go this route, make sure it’s fun for your kids — or cut them in on the profits and use your side hustle to teach work ethic and discipline. No matter what route you choose, be sure to find a gig that matches your skill set, needs, and expectations. Not sure where to start? Forbes has a comprehensive list of sites to check out based on your interests and/or expertise.
Consider how you’ll fund your new side gig. Even small side businesses need money to get off the ground. But if you’re already strapped for cash, you might not have any funds to spare. If you’re confident your side gig can turn a profit, a business credit card can help you finance start-up expenses. While brand new businesses typically aren’t eligible for business credit cards, a new business owner can get a secured card based on personal credit. Explore the options for business credit cards to find the solution that meets your needs.
A line of credit can get your side hustle off the ground, but it’s not wise to rack up a ton of debt before your business has proven itself. Minimize financial risk by spending wisely in the early days. By starting out with low-investment projects, you can generate cash flow to fund your bigger ideas. For example, if you want to sell handmade clothing online but the cost of materials is an obstacle, start by selling high-quality secondhand and vintage finds online. Then, reinvest the earnings to expand your business. By taking this low-risk approach, you ensure your family’s finances remain intact even if your side gig doesn’t work out.
It would be wonderful if you never had to worry about money, but as a single parent, that’s not a luxury you have. Instead of stressing over not having enough, take action to change your family’s financial status. Whether it’s a way to put a few extra dollars in your pocket or the beginning of a new, lucrative career, a side hustle could be the answer to your financial woes.
Eric Kelly is a single dad who lives in Los Angeles with his three-year-old son, Gus. Eric is a graphic designer by trade and has always been an adventurer at heart. When Gus came along, he quickly discovered that single parenthood would be his biggest adventure yet. He created mydadventures.com to share the tips, advice, and resources he continues to pick up along his parenting journey.