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Five Reasons Side Gigs Aren’t Just for Freelancers

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According to a CareerBuilder.com survey, in recent years, 20 percent of full-time workers have picked up a second job. Since the economic crisis in 2008, more and more people are seeking side income to avoid falling at the mercy of corporate layoffs. Today, diversifying your income is a good idea even if you do have a full time salary that covers your needs. From greater financial security to a more rounded resume, here are five ways locking down an extra source of cash can go a long way.

1. You’ll build greater financial security

A second study by CareerBuilder.com found that 42 percent of full-time workers usually or always live paycheck to paycheck just to make ends meet, making it difficult to save for the future let alone enjoy the present. Whether you turn your spare room into a B&B or you start a dog sitting business on weekends, earning extra cash off of assets you already have will lift the weight of worrying about every dollar spent and help you save responsibly for your future.

[Editor's Note: I can give you a ton of information on dog sitting having hosted nearly 150 "dog days" (number of dogs times the number of days.]

2. You’ll be more marketable

Building a career is, in essence, incumbent upon the ability to hone a skill that makes you valuable and hopefully indispensable to an employer. Therefore, the more new skills you acquire, the more opportunities you have to be indispensable. And the easiest and most economical way to acquire a new skill is to learn it on the job.

By diving deeper into skills you already have — like learning to use new data analytics software — for a side job, you will be better apt to get a new job (if you are looking) or to bring more to the table at your primary job, which could earn you a promotion. Plus, the balancing act that comes with working multiple gigs will help you prioritize and manage your time better.

3. You’ll save more

People are more likely to save a tax refund than they are to save that same amount of money when they’ve earned it in smaller increments throughout the year’s worth of paychecks. Similarly, money from a side gig — because it’s separate from your standard paycheck — has a better chance at finding its way into retirement savings or other investments. You might find that having a steady stream of income separate from your paycheck helps you to better compartmentalize and commit to your saving strategy or debt pay off.

4. You'll build a better professional network

Getting a freelance writing gig in addition to my full time job ultimately primed me for more writing opportunities, which enabled me to form a full-time freelance career. By maintaining several side jobs at once, I was able to multiply the number of good professional references and contacts in a shorter period of time. Furthermore, many companies like to test out employees on a part-time or freelance basis to make sure they are a good fit before offering them a full-time job. Getting a side job with a company or organization you like or aspire to work at can be a good way to get a job there in the future.

5. You'll make friends and get free perks

A friend of mine wanted to get her yoga teacher training certification. Instead of shelling out $2,000 on a training program, she offered to work the front desk at the studio near her apartment, where she took classes several times a week, in exchange for the certification. I’ve known people who have gotten similar perks from working at running and surf shops as well. Working at a place where people share similar interests can also open you up to a broader network of people who share your interests — a great option if you move to a new city and are looking to make friends.

Overall, having a side gig puts you in better control over your finances. Whether you are saving up for retirement or for a big vacation, the odds are always more in your favor if you have several ways of getting there.

Christina Garofalo is co-author of the blog Adventures in Frugal, where she writes about travel, food, finance, and more. Her writing has also appeared in Paste, First We Feast, Robb Report, and Art & Hustle. In her free time, you'll find her writing poetry and eating her way through Brooklyn, New York.

Posted on March 8, 2016.

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