Choosing the right side hustle can make a virtue of necessity

Money can be particularly tight at this time of year, but one trend helping to combat this is taking on a sideline job – aka a “side hustle”.

Dog walking might be an ideal side hustle for animal lovers. Photograph: PA

Side hustles are jobs undertaken in addition to studying or having a full-time job, in order to provide additional income, although some people may take them on to help grow towards a particular goal or simply for enjoyment. And they’ve become very popular – more than two-fifths (42 per cent) of students and recent graduates have a second job, according to a survey from graduate jobs board

Here’s a closer look at why side hustles are so common, and what the benefits and drawbacks can be.

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What types of work are people taking on as a side hustle?

Work in hospitality and events was found to be the most popular side hustle, perhaps because of the flexible working hours these can bring, followed by work in the retail sector. Others have sideline jobs in education, creative arts and design, sales, media and banking and finance.

Some have unusual and/or creative roles – such as being an “escape room” host, a trampoline park party host, working in a tattoo parlour or helping with the lighting in nightclubs.

So what financial benefits can having a side hustle bring?

For many, it’s about plugging gaps in their day-to-day living costs. More than four in 10 (43 per cent) of those with a side hustle in Milkround’s survey say they wouldn’t be able to afford their rent without taking on the extra work.

The average side-hustler earns an extra £3,393 a year on top of their annual income, the research among nearly 5,000 people found.

What other benefits are there to taking on a side hustle?

While side hustles can plug gaps in your budget, their benefits can also be much more long-term. Many people enjoy the creativity they get from their second job. Two-fifths (41 per cent) see their side hustles as a creative outlet, improving their quality of life. Meanwhile, two-thirds (65 per cent) meet new people and friends through their additional work.

A side hustle can also be a stepping stone to a career goal in the future. It may help budding entrepreneurs stand out from the crowd to potential employers. Some 43 per cent of people surveyed agreed their side hustle had helped them develop entrepreneurial skills.

Milkround says side hustles can help people to enhance “softer” skills which employers will appreciate, such as excellent communication. Nearly a third (31 per cent) have a side hustle purely to gain experience in the industry they want to work in.

How about the downsides?

You may need to be prepared to sacrifice a big chunk of your social life and work out how you will juggle a side hustle with your main job or education. Nearly a third (30 per cent) of people with a side hustle are sacrificing eight to 10 hours a week or more on it, Milkround found.

What should people consider before taking on a side hustle?

A side hustle can be a big commitment, so it may well help if you are taking on something that you are passionate about or that could help you along your desired career path in the future.

Georgina Brazier, graduate jobs expert at Milkround, says: “It’s integral that young people look at roles that they are passionate about, whether that’s cooking, crafts or being outdoors. A second job is a huge burden on people’s time and energy and it’s essential that young people don’t burn out before they’ve even started their career.”

Anything else to keep in mind?

The Money Advice Service website suggests checking your contract with your main employer to make sure there are no conflicts between your regular work and your new sideline project. There may also be tax implications from taking on additional work to consider.