I cut my spending to the bone after graduating college, but I didn't pay off my $40,000 of student loans until I started a side hustle

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  • I was making $US50,000 a year after graduating college but had $US40,000 in student loans, so I grew my online side hustle to pay off my debt.
  • Side-hustle income earned during evening or weekend hours supplemented what I was already earning from my full-time job.
  • You can only budget so much, but your income potential is unlimited.
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When I started my online side hustle in 2008, I had no idea it would eventually lead to full-time income. But one thing I did expect from my part-time business was help paying off my debt. Whether you are working to pay off credit cards, an auto loan, or student loans, a side hustle can help you reach a much faster payoff.

Budgeting is an important part of managing your personal finances, but many people find that after paying rent or making a mortgage payment, going to the grocery store, and taking care of other life necessities, there isn’t enough money leftover for debt payments. If that sounds familiar, read more to learn why a side hustle is perfect to help you pay off debt.

Side hustles can grow your income

I paid off my $US40,000 in student loans two years after graduating while earning less than $US50,000 per year. I worked hard to earn a good degree that led to a growing income over time, but I wanted to pay off those loans as quickly as possible.

I lived in inexpensive housing and cut unnecessary expenses, like cable TV that used to cost me $US70 per month. But knocking out that much debt so fast took more than a few small budget tweaks.

You can only budget so much before you hit a baseline and can’t cut any more. If you make $US20,000 per year, getting out of debt will be tough no matter how much you budget. But your income can grow forever.

If your side hustle earns you $US100 per month, that’s an extra $US1,200 per year toward your debt. If you can make $US1,000 per month, or about $US250 per week, you have an extra $US12,000 per year to pay off debt. Unlike a day job where your income is a fixed hourly rate or an annual salary, your side hustle income has unlimited earning potential.

Side hustles make your time productive

Not only did cutting cable save me $US70 per month, it gave me more time to work on my side hustle. Instead of going home and zoning out in front of the TV, I would boot up my laptop and hit the keyboard. That led to a noteworthy increase in my income.

I’m as big a fan of binge-watching Netflix as anyone else, but think about how much time is wasted each day that could be more productive. Also, look at where you use your time and what that may cost. If you spend your time on an expensive hobby, focusing on an income-earning side hustle can turn expense time into income time.

For example, if you love to spend your downtime shopping, there is little more that can come out of it than you spending money. If a side hustle reduces your shopping hours, it’s a win-win for your money.

Side hustles are not a lifelong commitment

If you choose a college major and end up in a career path that you hate, it can be very tough to change things up. A side hustle is great because you can simply stop if you don’t like doing it. Once you hit that big debt payoff goal, it’s fine to walk away from side hustling all together.

I have tried a lot of different hustles over the years – I ran a flash mob company. I sold joke bracelets. I have spent time as a website developer, social media manager, and other online ventures. The ones that didn’t work well are now in the past. I stuck with what works and my total income has grown ever since.

Side hustles give you more control of your money

At the end of the day, side hustle income doesn’t have to go to debt. But debt is a perfect motivation to start side hustling. Never forget that you can only budget so much, but your income can grow infinitely.

Many people try side hustling, either through the gig economy or starting their own independent business. It isn’t for everyone, but it was a piece of the puzzle in my debt payoff story and has helped countless others on a journey to financial independence.

No matter where you are in life, you can probably find a way to make a side hustle work. And unlike a job with a boss, you get to keep all the profits. Pouring them into your debt payoff can help you cut months or years from your payoff plan and save you a bundle on interest. That’s a serious financial win nearly anyone would enjoy.


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