top of page
  • Writer's pictureGary Grewal

September Update: The Fallacy of Side Hustles: We're Being Played

If you're not running yourself ragged working side hustles, you can relax in a park like me :)

Recently, terms such as "Bare Minimum Mondays" have been making headlines.

More people are talking about mental health, feeling burned out, or unmotivated at work.

Still, there is no shortage of hustle culture out there, telling us all the wonderful side hustles you can pursue, like filling out 56 surveys for $10.

So many blogs and articles are out there encouraging people they can side-hustle (is that even a verb now) their way out of debt, or being paycheck to paycheck.

There's nothing wrong with sharing ideas on how to make money relatively easily and quickly. For example, if you love dogs and would walk them for free, you can make several hundred dollars a month walking other people's dogs, using the money to dine out with friends or pay off a credit card.

However, there is only so much time in a day, and even then, we are human! We need time to rest, shower, exercise, eat, socialize, clean, and sometimes just turn our minds off.

Side hustles that tell you to get off your lazy behind and work on weekends to be a food delivery driver or get into drop-shipping are missing the point. Is it really going to make a meaningful difference if it's not sustainable, or if you're miserable and missing out on life?

Working Multiple Jobs Wasn't Cool Before?

Granted, side hustles were around well before the Internet glorified it into something you have to have to hang with the big kids.

In high school, back in the good ol' days of the 2000s, people used to work at their job at the mall, but then also make bouquets for parties, wash cars, or mow lawns on the weekends. I knew one girl who made up to $300 a day teaching dance!

These last few years though, there has been a hyped-up shift, an addiction almost, that you NEED a side hustle. So many talking heads on YouTube and mainstream bloggers produce a plethora of content around side hustle ideas. Why would you have free time, what's wrong with you?

Now, there is no issue with a side hustle. Sometimes we have extra time on our hands, and maybe want to save up for a vacation, so we pick up a side hustle like food delivery or dog walking. That's perfectly fine!

I even know people who drive for rideshare companies just so they can talk to people other than their families because working from home has gotten so mundane for them.

"Nice to meet you. What's Your Side Hustle?"

Wouldn't you just cringe if this was a conversation you were having at a party or networking event? As in, we define success by how little "free time" we have.

The positive news is with so many sites/apps today like Rover, Uber, Doordash, Upwork, and Fiverr, finding a way to make some extra income is easier than ever. You can find side hustles working from home as well as side hustles online.

I've even seen some bloggers recommend taking online surveys for a whopping $2. Now that's going to change your life! (Not)

Surely, there are side hustles that pay well, especially if you have a specialized niche or skill, like voiceovers, DJing, writing copy, or building websites. These can be well worth your time if you enjoy them and have specific goals on why you are doing them.

It shouldn't just be for the almighty dollar, but for the opportunity to become debt-free, travel with friends, buy a home, or achieve financial independence. Side hustles that pay well and become a full-time endeavor can sometimes be worth it.

What's wrong with bringing home more bacon?

Yes, I am a hypocrite. I have a problem with side hustles, and yet I have them as well. Heck, I have two! One is the name I write this blog, the same name as my book Financial Fives (shameless plug, whatever it's worth) as well as a zero-waste moving box rental company called California Box Rental.

I have specific goals for these side hustles in that I truly enjoy them, and I have a goal for the money: buying my dream home. I'm not making $10k or $100k a month like some YouTubers, but it's enough to let me enjoy my life and add a little to the savings buckets.

Do I wish I didn't have to do these things? Absolutely! If I made 50 - 100% more with my salary, I would either significantly scale back or end the side hustles. Why?

You want to spend your years hustling?"

This brings us to the meat of the dish, the filling of the pie, and the frosting of the cake (I don't even like frosting, how are those Cupcake franchises still in business!"

The current pervasive nature of side hustles is that we make each other feel shame if we don't have one. God forbid you enjoy a Thursday evening yoga class or a Sunday hike with friends when you could be delivering fries to entitled teenagers or stressing over how much SEO your site got this week.

10 -15 years ago, we were in a good place, Dare I say the Great Recession was good for us? Although financially many suffered, back when smartphones, social media, and YouTube were in their infancy, it wasn't that common to have a side hustle if you already had a full-time job or business.

Stopping by a friend's house just because, taking the evening to learn a new recipe, calling a friend to chat for a few hours, or watching a documentary while making dinner was a common occurrence. We didn't have the constant reminder of social media of how great our friends' lives were in real time.

Hey! Haven't seen you in a while. Want to come to an MLM party?

I get it, it's not just side hustles, it's smartphones and social media in general too. You go out to a restaurant, brewery, or music show and you see groups of friends or couples together, yet their faces are buried in their screens. Maybe they're watching their friends' doing one of those live streams trying to promote their side hustles from home. Some relationship!

Scrolling through what their other friends are doing rather than being in the present and how lucky they are to have those friends. Some of those may have side hustles online, and yet in a place of socializing and kicking back, they can't stop checking email!

Let's take coffee shops. When was the last time you were in one? Given how much online ordering, drive-through, and to-go has picked up in the last several years, people don't linger to enjoy their coffee. Even if you go and sit in a coffee shop, people are buried in laptops, or again, smartphones. Outlets are always in short supply, as I know from personal experience.

This isn't how it used to be though. Even if you didn't visit coffee shops 8-10 years ago, if you watch movies during that time, you'll see a difference.

People are chatting while enjoying their coffee, reading a book, the paper, or just taking in the scene and people-watching. Now, if someone in their 30s does that, they are seen as a slacker or might feel pressure to be busy because everyone else is.

Ah fine, I'm burned out anyway. How about some binge-watching in PJs?

As I said, I'm guilty myself of having a few side hustles. However, I make it a point that when I am with others, they are my priority.

I make time for FaceTime with friends, proactively reach out, and always prioritize self-care. The weekends are not for work. Unless it's urgent, like a rental customer needs something, then my mental health, physical health, and relationships are the priority.

More than that though, we need to get back to just LIVING. Being in the present, being mindful of our surroundings, being contributing members of society and to our communities, volunteering, etc.

Be the one to drop by friends home's, not expecting anything of it. Call people on the phone, and leave a friendly voicemail that you're just thinking of them. Write handwritten cards. Be responsive.

Think about all the happy moments in your life over the last 5-10 years. Are they filled with memories of dinner parties and adventures? Or drooling over your 1099 income? I think you know where I'm going. And if you're not happy, what's the point of this thing called life?


bottom of page