The average side hustler earns over $8K annually

Sabine Thielemann / EyeEm/Getty Images

Sick of waiting around for a raise? There are faster ways to fatten your pockets. One idea: Get a side hustle.

Nearly 4 in 10 Americans (37 percent) have a side job, according to a new Bankrate survey. Amanda Austin is one of them.

The 35-year-old works full time as a digital marketing manager in Erie, Pennsylvania. But in her spare time, she sells wooden dollhouse kits and miniatures online. Her grandmother sparked her interest in collecting doll-sized items at a young age.

When she launched her website in November, Austin was just looking for an easy way to make extra money.

“I was just curious to see how well it could do,” Austin says. “It was a low-investment kind of business.”

For now, she makes around $500 a month. But she’s hoping to earn a lot more, especially during the holidays.

Raking in the dough

Side hustlers make $686 per month, on average. Within a year, it’s possible to earn more than $8,200. Those who work a second job at least once per month earn an average of $836 on a monthly basis.

Most survey respondents (59 percent) say they consider the money they earn from their side job to be disposable income. And 38 percent say they use their extra funds to cover ordinary living expenses.

A side hustle can give you the chance to earn extra money. But you’ll need to make sure you’re using it responsibly. Automating your savings — by having money withdrawn from each paycheck and placed in a savings account — is a good idea. And if you work a couple of part-time jobs, you may need to take initiative in order to enroll in a retirement plan, for example, since your employer may not offer you that benefit.

“The folks that are living and breathing the gig economy ultimately have to take more ownership of their own personal finances than other employees at times,” says Alan Moore, CFP professional and co-founder of the XY Planning Network.

Of course, money isn’t the only thing driving people to find a second job. There are other reasons someone may want a side hustle, says Diane Mulcahy, author of “The Gig Economy” and an adjunct lecturer at Babson College.

“They might want to explore whether an idea or a service or a product that they have is a viable business,” she says. “Or they might want to explore an area of interest or they might want to gain another skill or expand their network.”

Who’s hustling harder?

Not everyone with a side hustle is consistent.

Only 11 percent of the survey participants said they worked a side job every week. Republicans are 8 percentage points more likely than Democrats to have a side job. Part-time workers are also more inclined to take on tasks related to their second job on a weekly basis.

Millennials are more likely than members of other generations to say they have a side hustle. In fact, the odds of someone earning money from a second job decline with age.

“When I talk to millennials, I think two things really come up. One is that they’re very aware that there’s no job security, so they’re the least likely generation to kind of settle into a full-time job and assume that everything’s going to be OK,” Mulcahy says. “The other reason is clearly economic. Most millennials — at least on the professional end who have been to college — have significant debt and a lot of them are looking for ways to either build a financial cushion or reduce their debt faster.”

Other studies indicate that the youngest Americans are also interested in side gigs. In a Deloitte report that surveyed participants around the world, 62 percent of working Gen Zers said they would consider joining the gig economy to supplement full-time employment. Fifteen percent already work full-time and have a side hustle.

These are the top side jobs

The gig economy is growing fast, and it’s changing the way we work. More Americans are choosing freelance and part-time work over the traditional 9-to-5 job.

“The future of work I’ve always believed is that you don’t have to be stuck in a single place. You can work from anywhere in the world and most of the services are provided digitally as well,” says Archie Ravishankar, CEO and founder of Cogni, a mobile banking platform that aims to offer gig economy workers features that traditional banks aren’t offering. “So this creates a new economy where people are using creative talent to generate the cash flow and also pursue a career that’s much more creatively independent.”

These days, side hustlers have a variety of jobs to choose from. Besides traditional side gigs like mowing the lawn and substitute teaching, you can drive for Uber or Lyft.

Among survey respondents who earn extra money on the side, the most popular gig is home repair and landscaping. Compared with women, men are more likely to report doing that kind of work.

Women are more likely to say they have side jobs related to baby-sitting or child care, crafts or online sales.

Men earn more from side jobs

When it comes to side hustling, men appear to be working more often than women. Fourteen percent of men say they’re doing extra work on the side every week. Only 9 percent of women would say the same.

Perhaps that’s one reason men earn nearly three times more money from their side gigs. In an average month, they earn $989. Women, on the other hand, earn just $361 per month, on average.

If you have the power to set your own rates, men and women should make sure they’re getting paid what they deserve. Mulcahy says to do your homework to see how much others are earning.

“Take a look at who else is out there, what experience and expertise they bring to the table and what the rates they charge are for different types of work,” she says. “So basically you’re just doing competitive research or market research 101.”

This study was conducted for Bankrate via landline and cell phone by SSRS on its Omnibus survey platform. Interviews were conducted from June 6-10, 2018 among a sample of 1,006 respondents. The margin of error for total respondents is +/- 3.68% at the 95% confidence level. SSRS Omnibus is a national, weekly, dual-frame bilingual telephone survey. All SSRS Omnibus data are weighted to represent the target population.