Is A Second Job Really Necessary?

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.

The Verdict

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?

5 thoughts on “Is A Second Job Really Necessary?”

  1. I agree with absolutely everything you have written here, (including the fact that I have expenses I could trim if I wanted to! :) ) I do like my second jobs enough that even if I made twice what I do at my day job, I would still do the second jobs. In fact, I also volunteer at all those places (they are nonprofits so I do some paid work for them and a lot of volunteer.) But, here is the kicker – they do take up time. When you figure you spend 9 hours at a day job (with 1 hour lunch) and say a half hour each way getting there, you now are down to about 14 hours left in your day. If you sleep for 8, you now have 6 hours left. Assuming you need to shower, eat and get ready in the morning, you may only be looking at 4-5 hours free time on a given week day. Something has to give. Though I love what I do, there are times driving there that I think, “Why am I doing this?? I just want to be home.” There are good reasons for getting a part time job, but you do have to weigh all the factors first.

  2. I do occasional freelance work on the side that takes up few hours during the week. Although financially I do not need the extra money,the reason I do it is because I can.
    .
    I am fairly young now with two little kids (3YO and a new born) and I only work after they have gone to sleep. I never do any work when they are awake or during the day time on week ends. I do not need an 8 hour sleep every day. 5-6 hours is plenty for me. I think as I get older, I may just get too busy with kids or too tired to do extra work. So my attitude now to to may hay while I can.
    .
    My In-Laws are generous with their help in taking care of my son. They pick up my son from the day care on the days when I have to meet a client after work. By the time I pick my son up from their house, they have already given him a bath and fed him dinner. If I did not have such help, I would possibly never have done additional freelance work
    .
    Another reason I do additional work is it helps me gain experience with technology and skills not used in my day job and finally doing additional free lance work gives me some practice to run my own consulting business in future

  3. I’m erring more on the trimming expenses part than getting a second job.

    Like you, I consider FabulouslyBroke.com to be my second job (amazing how many hours it takes… but the time just flies by).

    But if I had to, I’d get a second job to get out of debt, make ends meet etc.. but I’m doing everything in my power to prevent it from happening in the first place

  4. Hi

    I agree with what you say. Of course these things are a personal choice, but if people don’t have a goal and the discipline to stick to it they may find their second job becoming a permanent fixture. If you are not in control of your finances to start off with it is easy for loan/card repayments to go up to the point where you need the second job.

  5. I would do a lot of things to avoid taking a second job. I would hate being away from home and having to deal with people all day. (I wonder if it’s more common for extroverts to have 2nd jobs than introverts?)

    If that’s the only reason they need a 2nd car it does seem silly. If there are other reasons like one person needing a car for their job or occasional 4AM-noon shifts or occasionally unpredictable periods of overtime caused by high priority projects, than it seems a bit more necessary.

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