The More I Earn on the Side the Less I Want to Quit My Day Job

The true power of diversifying your income streams lies not in quitting your safety net

Photo: Icons8 Team/Unsplash

I love my day job. I’ve always liked working for working’s sake, showing up at whatever place I’m employed at with a certain curiosity to see what the day will bring.

Work also provides you with social life, social security, likely variance in food and places (when we are actually able to be at work) and so much more. There are benefits aplenty; health insurance, unemployment insurance, retirement funds and possibilities of investing in the company.

Even as a programmer, usually stuck behind my desk, I found that the company building and surrounding area was just a huge playground waiting to be explored. Take the scenic route to the next meeting, swing by a coworker’s office for a quick chat, get a snack or a coffee and volunteer to bring furniture up from the secret basement storage room with that eerie atmosphere. Every moment of every day felt exciting.

All the other jobs that I worked over the years had the same thing: special parts and benefits. On the farm, I learned to weld and run chainsaws, drove a tractor and then when I worked in construction, I learned quickly to drive the frontloaders. When I worked in event location construction, I was often the ride-along for the cool jobs. In every job, I’ve found happiness, all because I treated work as a hobby that also paid money.

I’ve discovered over the years that the less you rely on your day job for money — the more it starts paying you. And going forward, despite building some successful income streams, I will never give up working a day job.

The stability of a regular day job is hard to beat

Right now, I’m in the most unstable place that I’ve been in for five years, with my current job ending and the new one starting in April. There is some uncertainty during the trial period, but after that, things run incredibly smoothly compared to the stress and overhead of the freelance work I have been doing in the interim.

I won’t have to find new clients every other month. I won’t need to bill anyone my hours. Instead, I can just focus on showing up for work and doing the thing as best as possible.

I can’t fill eight hours a day with any of my current revenue streams

Currently, I have some nice, complimentary income streams set up that are all starting to show potential. I deliver pizza two nights a week, write a handful of posts per month, make YouTube videos, and sometimes render 3D animations.

This way, I averaged over a thousand bucks in side-income for the last eight months. This month I am on course to double that, which feels like I’m really getting somewhere — a great place to be.

But filling eight hours with any of those ventures would not work out. I can not write for eight hours, nor do I have enough ideas. Delivering pizza is stupidly fun when done two nights a week but would be horrible as a full-time job. My YouTube channel requires physical work and a lot of editing, cleaning and other overheads, and it would not profit from me uploading more often than I already do.

The beauty of all these side gigs is precisely in their low ceiling when it comes to time sunk into them. I spend maybe an hour or two per day writing and reading, spend some hours here and deliver pizza for some hours there. It is all very modular, easy to schedule because aside from the pizza job — I just do the others whenever I feel like it.

Working a day job means people doing the hard work for you

This mindset is one that not many people ever think of, but hear me out because it is powerful. Even when you are on the lowest step of the hierarchy you actually have a lot of people working for you — without the responsibility.

We have HR and billing to deal with the paperwork, and your boss does all the annoying overhead of strategic planning that never works out like planned anyway. You likely have someone cooking for you with either restaurants or even an in-house cantina.

I spent a good two years where I was pretty much responsible for my whole job after my company phased out middle management, and I can tell you those were hectic two years. I liked them to a degree, but this glimpse into being my own middle management made me realize that I don’t want to climb any company ladder. Lack of ambition? Absolutely not; I just got to see how the more you distance yourself from the actual work, the less influence you have. The man at the saw is the one who gets to be proud of the building at the end.

Freelance work always comes with high risk, high overhead and a lot of roles to fill from job acquisition to being your own billing department. A regular day job takes care of all that for you, that is a noteworthy advantage. Now if you keep that and add on side income streams you are getting the best of both worlds.

Side income is great in addition to your main income

As I said, I have averaged over a thousand bucks in side-income this past half-year, and while that is not exactly full-time income, it does wonders to my bank account. An extra thousand bucks is more than some people earn, more than I earned during my apprenticeship. A thousand bucks is about what I spent for a month of rent, food and car.

Having that on top of your regular income means that your savings account becomes a one-way street where everything snowballs down until it eventually becomes an avalanche.

This way, I never fear about losing any of these income streams and can treat them as fun and extra instead of fretting over not earning enough to make ends meet.

The power balance shifts

One thing that I love about freedom of any kind is that it gives you room to explore. Most people don’t do that even when they can afford some leeway. If anything, they start to exploit and ultimately lose all freedom awarded to them.

But there is a kind of experimenting that goes past exploitation in either direction: Trying to make things better. If the results speak for themselves, then everyone is happy in retrospect — but there is a non-zero chance of things going downhill and you getting the blame. That is why most people just do their jobs, do as they are told, and never grow into their roles but rather into a routine.

Hardly anyone can afford to take risks, especially not those with the potential to matter. But if your main job is only part of your income — your safety net — and you can afford to go a month without one in the worst possible case, then suddenly you have the power to change things that bothered you and fix the issue that made you go looking for side jobs in the first place. You can start owning your work even while someone else owns the company.

Summary: I love working multiple hustles

You hear about all those people who have to work multiple jobs just to get by, and that is certainly not okay. Minimum wage should be just that: The minimum needed to live a life worth living.

But for me, the number of side jobs, income streams, the day job all cumulate into a fun, quirky mix that keeps things fresh and stops me from getting bored with any of them.

My dream was always variance, diversification, and everything in small dosages. And now, for maybe the briefest of times, I am living it, loving it, and working hard to sustain it.

The Mini Post-Grad Survival Guide

A 5-day email course with tips on budgeting, investing, and productivity for 20-somethings. Sign up for free.

Programmer by day, creative writer by night. Find me at https://codingtofreedom.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store