Should You Spend Time on a Side Hustle — or on Growing at Your Job?

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These days, a lot of people are taking on side hustles. And picking one up could work to your benefit.

With a side hustle, you get to grow your income instantly. That could, in turn, make it possible to build yourself some savings, pay off credit card debt, or meet any other specific goal you have in mind.

But the time you put into your side hustle is time you could instead use to develop your skills at your main job in the hopes of snagging a promotion — and a raise to go with it. It therefore raises the question — are you better off spending your free hours at a side gig, or should you invest that time into becoming a more valuable employee at your full-time job?

What does your financial picture look like?

When you take on a side hustle, you can boost your earnings pretty quickly in some cases. On the other hand, taking the time to grow your job skills could put you in line for a raise eventually — but that may not happen for months. As such, when deciding whether to invest in your main job versus a side gig, you may want to ask yourself how you’re doing financially.

If you’re currently adding to your credit card balance by the day, or you have no money in your savings whatsoever, then taking on a side hustle is probably the right call — because in that case, you need a boost in pay now. But if you’re doing pretty well financially and you simply want extra money for more wiggle room or leisure spending, then you may want to consider the upside of spending a few hours each week growing your job skills. In time, that could pave the way to a promotion and a bump up in pay.

Furthermore, if you’re able to climb the ranks enough at work, you might snag such a big pay boost that it surpasses what your side hustle pays. So, let’s say you spend the next year at a side hustle that pays you $200 a week, or roughly $10,000 in total. That’s a nice amount of money. But if you spend the next year hustling at your main job, putting in extra time, and working on your skills, you might land a promotion that comes with a $15,000 raise.

What’s the right call?

If your need for money is immediate, then a side hustle is the way to go. But if not, then you may want to put in more time at your main job and see where that leads you.

Of course, the two options don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If you’re good at time management, you can take on a side hustle and spend more time at your main job to grow there professionally. Doing so may, however, really require a lot of effort on your part, and you don’t want to risk burning out. So it may be more beneficial to pick one thing to focus on at a time — either a side gig or growing at your full-time job.

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