Here’s another topic that’s been going around quite a bit…second jobs. The economy these days have made it more of a necessity then it used to be, but it’s interesting to consider whether or not people with two incomes really need second jobs.
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and her husband is looking for a second job. They both work and make fairly decent money, but her reason is to get out of debt. They have a house, two cars, and new appliances they put on a credit card. My advice to her was to get rid of one of the cars since they carpool anyway and just reduce their expenses. They both work something like 50 hours a week as it is, so that tells me they’re living a little too far beyond their means.
She said they needed the second car for the few occasions when they couldn’t carpool and she made up some other excuses about their expenses. Unfortunately, my friend recently experienced a car accident that completely totaled her car. She’s ok, as is the other driver; however the car is gone. Since it was the other driver’s fault, his insurance company will be cutting a check for the damage. She plans to use that money to get a new car and whatever is left over will go towards their debt. But, her husband is still planning on a second job.
I don’t know, to me, that seems like an unnecessary pursuit. The few times that they “can’t” carpool is because one has to be at work earlier than the other. If money was an issue, then I would think going in a little early to wait until your shift starts would be acceptable. But, I just think one of them getting a second job when they already work as much as they do would be a little overwhelming and would cause problems.
Now, before you think I’m totally against second jobs, let me explain some things. I’m not against them at all, in fact, I think they serve a good purpose for a lot of people. Dawn at Fighting Foreclosure is a great example of this. Why I think this works for her is because she makes the most of the money she gets from her day job and then she has specific goals in mind that motivate her for her second jobs. Of course, it also helps that she likes the side jobs, too! While I think she also has some opportunities to reduce her expenses, her reasons for not doing so at this time make sense. But, what’s key about her decision is that she isn’t just running herself into the ground for extra money. She still schedules enough time for herself to rest and spend time with friends and family.
What I don’t like about second jobs is that people don’t bother to budget and cut their expenses for the lifestyle they lead, so they just jump into a second job to increase their income. While that’s a personal choice and I don’t begrudge them that, I think that choice makes the least sense and definitely does nothing to help their personal happiness. That being said, I think there are some things to consider before getting a second job.
# 1 – Have you cut all unnecessary expenses?
The idea is to work smarter, not harder. At least, that’s my motto. You already spend 8-10 hours or more a day at a job you may or may not like. Everyone needs a little time to unplug and relax from work, so really, having a second job should be because it’s a necessity or a genuine want. Have you really and truly looked at your budget and cut the unnecessary spending? Where do you have an opportunity to reduce expenses? In the case of my friend, that second car payment really is unnecessary and they would increase their cash flow and the amount they were applying towards debt by getting rid of it. That’s a $400 car payment and $150 in insurance. Her husband probably wouldn’t make much more then that a month after taxes anyway.
# 2 – Is the minimal paycheck worth it?
Part-time jobs usually come with small paychecks. You’re not working a lot of hours – though you may be working extremely hard for those hours you do work – and taxes usually take a nice chunk out of the amount that you earn. So, is it really worth it to spend another 15-20+ hours of your free time working for a small paycheck? Is it worth the time you’ll lose with family and friends? In a necessity situation, probably. Your friends and family will understand that you’re just trying to make ends meet. But, overall, if you can learn to live within the means of your primary income you won’t have to miss out on those moments.
# 3 – Do you have other options?
Can you do something that increases your skill set with your current job and offers you more money? Are there classes or trainings you can attend? Special certifications you can seek? Not only do these kinds of things make you more valuable to your employer, they can also increase your income. Plus, not having the strain of a second job weighing on you can help keep you rested and productive during your day.
If your answers to the above questions make a second job seem worthwhile, then by all means, seek one out. I’m not suggesting they’re bad at all. I spent many years with a second job, and technically, writing for MYC is a second job. Although, in my defense, writing is a passion so I don’t really see it as work. But, if you’re looking for a second job for the wrong reasons, it’s easy to burn yourself out. All I’m saying is be sure you have clearly defined goals for wanting a second job, don’t take on more than you can handle, and give yourself a time frame so you don’t feel suffocated by the thought of forever.
What are your thoughts on second jobs? Is it something you’ve considered as a necessity for you?