One part of equation to financial freedom is to generate more incomes. There is no doubt that we should leverage our knowledge, skill set and network to maximize income streams. Starting a great side hustle can be a great plus and potentially grow into something much bigger as a way of earning extra income.

It is not hard to find recommendations on what side hustles that you can start. There are easily a list of 70 side jobs that everyday someone is recommending. While there is nothing wrong with extra income that fit your schedule and needs, there is a foremost factor that is very often omitted in this discussion: opportunity cost.

What is opportunity cost?

Opportunity cost is “A benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else. Since every resource (land, money, time, etc.) can be put to alternative uses, every action, choice, or decision has an associated opportunity cost.” (source: business dictionary)

The path to financial freedom is not only about expense and income. It is about being smart with how you allocate your limited time to generate the highest financial return. In this effort, opportunity cost is a constant measurement to what you choose to do with your time.

If you want to reach financial independence, you have to be smart at what you do to your time and money because anything you do is at the cost of an alternative you gave up.

The best way to get rich fast is to build a system that can make money for you at the minimum time involved. Your time and capacity are limited, but fortune is limitless.

Some of us have full time jobs, myself included, some are stay home parents. The different employment dynamic offers different availability. So what side hustles you should primarily pursue in the best use of your time?

  1. The side hustle that is best leverage your strengths, and

  2. That can maximize the opportunity in the wealth building for long term. In another word, it can help you to build a passive income eventually. The only reason that you are spending time on something that does not have immediate return is because of potentials, this includes studying, learning or setting up system so that it can be ready to work for you to make money in the future.

    If you spend time on some activities that only benefit for the exact dollar you earn without a potential to be a bigger return in the future, then it needs to be the maximum dollar you can earn in that hour,

Now if we reverse thinking about it, some of the income streams don’t make sense to the rationale just discussed that is either not leveraging your strengths or not best use of your time:


    Out of the most avoidable income streams, this is the number one on my list. I notice that it shows up very frequently in side hustle recommendations. I don’t like using survey for your income stream for two reasons:

    • The pay most survey companies offer is not in proportion to the time you spend. As an example, one of the most popular survey site, InboxDollars, is frequently being recommended as a way of making extra dollar. Below is a chart what they offer. I tested myself and spent more than 40 minutes and earned $6.25 including a few dollars as sign on benefit. Majority of the survey does not earn you more than $3 for each 15 minutes, or in another word $12 per hour. Keep in mind, you most likely have to do a pre-survey for the app to determine if you are eligible for making one particular survey, so you could well end up not getting paid after spending time on pre-survey. The actual pay per hour is around $8-10.

      I understand this is close enough to lowest pay in the U.S., however, we know that it is near impossible for you to get to financial independence through lowest paid job. Unless you need this money desperately and absolutely have no other alternatives, getting paid at lowest hourly rate should be avoided. If you spend this time to learn how to invest etc. it could benefit you in long run.

    • It does not add to future value of your wealth. The survey is to provide your information for recipients to study the behavior, therefore, to benefit decision making process for merchants. You gain nothing in terms of knowledge, skill and social relationships that can benefit you in the future. It is a one time job that has no lasting benefit.


2. Coupons

I am not against coupons as a whole. We should leverage many coupons to enjoy discounting in purchase. Finding good deals are part of ingredients to let us save and move to financial freedom.

The coupons I am referring to are those hard to spot and take time to organize and take effort to apply and those drive more spending on items that we don’t need.

Coupons are promotional items, aka marketing information. By locating those tedious coupons, you need to take time and very often lead you to spend on items you did not plan to.

  • Many blogs recommend Ibotta app for grocery coupon. The reason Ibotta exists is no because there is cash back for your benefit, rather, it is a marketing promotion to encourage you making purchase on items in the coupon list. I strongly recommend you purchase items per your needs, instead of looking into coupons and ending up being swayed into some other things that are beyond your needs. Remember, very few people are not in financial independence because of groceries they need, rather it is because of overspend on things they don’t need. Get rid of any incentive marketing materials help to eliminate the temptation of getting extra items.

  • Another reason I don’t like grocery coupon is it simply takes too much time. Again, time is valuable and you can judge if it is worth it to spend on so much time for a 50 cents coupon.

3. Blog

Putting blog as a side hustle for extra income is an understatement. The time and effort needed to make a blog successful are very significant. My take is that blog is not quite a side hustle, it can be a near full time job if you want it to fruit to some meaningful income.

There are many blogs talking about how you can easily make a few thousand dollars by spending only 15 minutes to build your own blog. That can not be further from the truth.

I would like you to know that blog is neither easy nor simple.

Blog is not easy to make. It might be only 15 minutes to set up a few basic pages to outline what your blog is about, it is a significant work to get your contents up to date and dedicate your time in research and thought process in order to drive better contents over time. Blog is not simple either. It actually runs like a small business that requires strategic planning, product design, sales skill and marketing strategy. Blog can be a great income resource if you plan it, devote to it and work hard for it.

If you are thinking about a blog, think thoroughly about what you sign up. Outline the road map, structure, desired audience, first month contents etc. Very quickly you will realize what I am referring here. It takes years and lots of time for it to actually bring you steady income. It does take writing skills to write blogs, but I am not too concerned about it as I think it is a good thing to practice writing and the more you write, the better you get. I will be fully support you if you think you are ready for this challenge and will encourage you to go for it so long as you know it will be a long time hard work and are prepared to overcome the challenges you might face.

4. Rental Property

Managing rental property take time and maintenance skills. It sometimes can be quite stressful. In the place where I live, the property tax is so high that your rent hardly can cover the expense. Make smart calculation in both income and expense as well as know what is needed in terms of both time and money to maintain the rental property. If you need to borrow a huge loan for it and expect to use rental income to cover it, you want to be very conservative in your calculation about absence rate. I don’t recommend rental property until you are debt free. Debt free allows you to have enough base in covering accidental expense and keep a single affordable mortgage to cover the months your rental property might be empty.

5. Last, but not least, underpaid income for the skills and hours you offer to your employment

For most of us, this is the income that pays the bills and provides savings to prepare for a better future. While we are exploring other income streams, the first income we need to maximize is our full time employment income. You know you work hard, possess skill set that is in demand, but your employer is not willing to pay for the level of work you provide. You are too worry about job security or too busy, or even worse, not confident to yourself in the job market to search a new job. Each day pass by, you are losing an opportunity cost that could bring in more income by the same work you do. Job search is not easy and it does take time and proactive actions, but while you still have a job, the effort you can make to constantly maximizing your pay is worth it.

This is not saying you should jumping around every year for a new job. Your job has both current pay and future career development opportunity. It is not only a place for you to earn income, but a place that you feel being valued and recognized, even benefit your future career development for a best paid opportunity.

The bottom line

You don’t need incomes that don’t fit you to stand in the way of your bigger accomplishment. If you want to get rich, you need to dream big. Look farther than what is in front of you. Time is the biggest friend of making money. Whatever you do to make extra money, make sure it is worthy the time and provide you a future benefit regardless it is knowledge or relationships. The person I hired to build my blog is young, ambitious and hard working. This is a side project he took on to enrich his own skills for the future in way of helping me, so he considered that as part of the benefit of doing the work. The same reason I did my internship out of school at low pay in a big financial service company because the experience it provided to me is worthy and the relationship I built led me to a bigger opportunity. Let’s raise our heads looking looking for the future of being financial independent while taking the very step at this moment that can lead us there.

Simple Wealth For Women is a blogging website focusing on financial discussions. I help women to crush debt, learn how to invest and make more money. I show you simple approach and provide you with specific ideas to help you get to financial freedom and build an amazing life.
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