Side Hustle

In a way, though, we are truly American. We have side hustles. I’ve got three: I write compensated (yet honest) reviews, I sell stuff in FB, and I get money for blogging.

N has income from his book, he lets his property for extra income, plus he has another side hustle that brings in more income than my entire salary. My Canadian relatives are always stunned by all our side hustles. In Canada, the economy is more rigid and doesn’t allow for many side hustles.

18 thoughts on “Side Hustle”

  1. I used to play online poker, which almost made more money than my grad school stipend. Stopped when online poker fell into a legal gray area.

    I love well-made clothes, and know something about them. Sometimes I’ll buy stuff from people who don’t know what they’re selling (online, estate sales etc.), and resell them for their real value. My best score to date has been a 3 piece Savile Row suit from Anderson & Sheppard that I bought for $12 and sold it for more than $1000. The funny thing is that this was an estate sale, and the family had hired professionals to manage the sale, price things, etc.


  2. How do you report income on the side hustles? For instance, how does N report money from the book? As self-employment income or as miscellaneous hobbyist income? I get money from my book (not much, but still), have started receiving money for my fiction (all under a pen name, so I might have to get an LLC under that name if the money becomes substantial), and also receive honoraria for grants review. My husband does our taxes in TurboTax and curses me every year because it always baffles him how these little nuggets of income should be claimed.


    1. Self-employment if you made a profit. That’s schedule C (business) and SE(self-employment tax). If you don’t make money in three consecutive years, and it then become a hobby and is treated differently.


      1. The language used online in TurboTax Q&A sections is to distinguish being in the business of writing books vs writing as a hobby when reporting royalties. I am decidedly not in the business of writing books; I make a few hundred bucks per year on it.


    2. This is why we use an accountant. We have several of these side hustles, plus we live and work in different states, so we need somebody to make sense of it for us. But everything is declared, even the stuff I get to write reviews about it.


  3. I only recently learned you are supposed to have a side hustle. I was taught that you were supposed to put all your time and energy into saving one job. Side hustles would put the main job at severe risk and would also fail, so you would be on the street with nothing.


    1. Nassim Taleb talks about making your life ‘antifragile’ (things that gain from disorder). He has a lot of heuristics in his book which I’m planning to read one of these days. He doesn’t make this point, but I think indirectly he’s talking about how to thrive in today’s fluid economy.

      “To get a picture of how randomness plays a role in professional life, Taleb compares two brothers: one an office worker, the other a taxi driver. Volatility is present in the career of each: while the office worker has randomness “smoothed away” by the regularity of salary and employment, he is like a turkey in mid-November, fragile to risk presently out of view. On the other hand, the taxi driver–who Taleb describes as being of the class of artisan, much like a carpenter or plumber–experiences a natural randomness in his daily fluctuations of fares, but is less prone to large shocks. Indeed, Taleb writes, the self-employed artisan can be antifragile: a weeklong earnings decline tells the taxi driver to try a new part of town, while a mistake made in the cubicle farm will be kept on the permanent record. As well, the office worker has one main employer and thus rigidity, while the taxi driver has many–giving him more options, greater flexibility to adapt to his environment.”


      1. Right. My parents would have said the best path would be not to make any mistakes in the cubicle, and my students would rather drive the taxi, and both say you can’t do both, but I have seen that you should.


        1. For a very smart man in his domain (risk, finance), he can be quite stupid in others. He’s a committed Trumper, and everything that entails.


            1. Smart people can support Trump for all sorts of reasons, of course. But his reasons were sincere, like he really really believed that Trump would ‘drain the swamp’, so to speak, because he was a businessman and they know how to run things and cut through the bullshit. lol.

              Sad thing is that he still believes this shit in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Keeps making excuses for Trump on twitter, and hates Clinton and Obama with a passion.


    2. I only can write my research a limited time a day. I do 300 words max. If I try to force it beyond that, it doesn’t work. Teaching takes about ten hours a week including in-class time. I do a lot of stuff for the association right now but it doesn’t even feel like work, I love it so much. So I have a bunch of extra energy and time for the hustles.


      1. Teaching and writing both take me a lot more time than that because I am slow. They plus service add up to a 40 hour week, and would have to add to more if I were to really get ahead. Then I have all this housework, recreation and activism. That’s how I was taught to be but I totally see one needs the side hustle.


  4. As a child of the Great Compression, the idea of side hustles seems foreign. I was raised in the model that Z mentions, where you have one job that you devote all your labor energies to (the idea being that it pays enough). The idea was that if you moonlighted you’d be giving your ‘real’ job less than it deserves.

    On the other hand, the first time I went to Poland (mid 1980s) I was surprised at how most people had several sources of income (an official job to keep the government off their back and various side hustles to make enough to actually live). It wasn’t like that in the USSR?
    It’s only been in the last few years that that’s been weakening some though lots of doctors still have some kind of position with the national health system while having private practices on the side.

    Also…. N’s book?

    And…. you and N live in different states?! I know you’re close to the state line and understand that could work in different states… but live?


    1. I meant that N’s job is in Missouri while we live in Illinois. We live together, of course. We wouldn’t be pried away from each other for anything. 🙂

      When N was unemployed, he wrote a book on how to utilize LinkedIn (the way it was back then) for job searches. It was really funny and accessible, and he’s had sales in all kinds of unexpectedly countries. He’s the kind of person who can turn even a horrible situation of being unemployed into something good. The entire time he was unemployed, he was covering about 60% of the expenses for us. But everything was always completely legal. He refused all opportunities to work illegally and get paid under the table.

      He’s a very unusual person. But then again, so am I. 🙂


      1. And yes, my father was always doing a million side hustles back in the USSR because on his salary of 110 roubles before taxes, nobody could live. A pair of jeans on the black market was 150 roubles. Not that we wore jeans.


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