Most of us already know that getting serious about saving and then investing in a tax-protected account like an IRA are two of the keys to building wealth. Using the money we have to make more money is an effortless way to make our financial lives more secure. But the reality is that it’s not always that simple.
A 2016 Federal Reserve Board survey found that 47% of Americans would not be able to come up with $400 to cover an emergency without using credit. And if someone can’t come up with $400 cash in an emergency? Chances aren’t good they’ll be able to save much, if at all.
Getting out of debt should always be the first step because debt grows like wildfire. But assuming you’ve paid down your debt, the next order of business is earning extra cash that can become the savings that you invest. For some people that can mean petitioning for a raise or a promotion, but for a lot of us, side jobs are the best way to earn that extra income.
The best of these will be part-time, flexible and lucrative without impacting your quality of life. And it goes without saying that if your goal is building wealth, the opportunities you gravitate toward shouldn’t have huge startup costs.
Here are a few legitimate side jobs that can start you on the road to a brighter financial future.
Found a company. Assuming you haven’t signed a non-compete agreement at your day job, why not hang out a shingle and do what you do best on a contract basis for clients you find yourself? Whether that’s doing personal taxes or painting commercial exteriors, just make sure that your new business has a solid revenue model.
Driving your car for cash. Apps like Uber make setting up shop as a car service simple. You can work as much or as little as you want plus you get hundreds of opportunities each week to network.
Make the leap into sales. Never forget that time is a resource almost as precious as cash, which means that sometimes working with an established company like Amway (which retails high-quality lifestyle and health products through independent consultants) or LuLaroe makes the most sense. Far from being a scam, direct sales opportunities can be real money-makers when you have a knack for selling.
Teach or tutor, online or off. If you’re fluent in a second language, a math whiz or just whip smart, there are plenty of agencies that can match you up with students who need tutoring. That said, knowledge and experience are sometimes less important than the ability to help students solve problems. Stay one step ahead of the curriculum, and you can make some extra cash while also helping someone succeed.
Cash in on your art or talent. Solid artistic or graphic design skills are always in demand, and if you create a website and brush up on your marketing skills you can make good money. Or if you make an unusual, specialty or hard to find item, it doesn’t take much to set up a fully-functional retail site – just keep in mind that keeping up with commissions can be rough.
Create content for others. Online marketing is all about content these days so there is a need for freelance writers, video editors and graphic designers who can deliver quality work quickly. On the plus side, writing and editing can be one of the most flexible side jobs around. The main challenge is breaking in and setting up a stable of clients who need repeat work.
A side job is a great way to work toward your savings and investment goals if you want to meet them more quickly, but more importantly it’s also a great way to get started if you want to build wealth but are currently not in a position to invest. The harder you work, the faster you’ll have extra cash on hand to put in something like an IRA and that’s when your money will start working for you.