Adulting with Erin: Perfecting the art of the side hustle

By Erin Bothwell | April 24, 2017 6:17pm

Photo illustration by Rachel Rippetoe 

Media Credit: Hannah Baade and The Beacon / The Beacon

Even though Easter was only last Sunday, the countdown for summer has already begun. Each May, we complete our finals and are released into the world like real adults for four months before returning to student life.

Summer is an exciting time filled with concerts, instagrammable sunsets and ice cream, but almost everything we love about summer uses some of our treasured and hard-earned cash. We’re faced with financing our fun (not to mention less extravagant expenses like rent, utilities, insurance, etc.) and finding a way to pay for it.

If you’re completing an unpaid or underpaid internship this summer and haven’t found a way to make ends meet, consider refining the art of the side hustle. We’re defining side hustle as work that you’ll be paid for but won’t infringe on your internship (which is what really matters to you). Or maybe you have a job lined up, but still want/need an extra source of income.

Side hustle jobs are great for summer. If money doesn’t come directly from a business, you usually won’t claim it as income which means you won’t have to pay income tax on it. There are downfalls to this sort of income too (you can’t transfer it to a Roth IRA), but that’s a story for another time.

Here are a few ways to earn extra cash:

Be a tech nerd: Someone in your circle probably would at the very least buy you a quality dinner (if not pay you money outright) if you’d only sit down and explain Snapchat to them. Most people want to communicate with us and keep up with technology but maybe have some difficulty understanding the current trends.

Tutor: Learning loss is a real thing and many kids would benefit from having a college student sit down with them once a week to work on their literacy or math skills. You are probably qualified to do this because you are in college — which tells everyone else you passed high school. Also if you feel like a dumb-dumb, tutoring kids about the sandwich method and multiplication will make you realize you are a genius to someone else.

Proctor exams: You can get paid $$ to watch over a room full of anxious high schoolers taking their SATs. You will have to get out of bed on a Saturday morning to do this, but at least this time you won’t have to bring a sackful of no. 2 pencils or extra batteries for your graphing calculator.

Consign your old clothes: Consignment means you get money in exchange for recent seasons’ styles. A few places you can consign around Portland are Button, Crossroads Trading, Buffalo Exchange, and Consign Couture. Bring your best-unwanted crap to consignment stores — most stores only pay for items that exemplify high-quality style.

Yard work: Weeds need pulling. Plants need watering. Bugs need killing. The outdoors is your oasis of additional income. A bonus to working outside is all the fresh air you’ll breathe in, plus the chances you’ll get a sexy farmer’s tan are pretty high. Hubba hubba.

Clean/Organize: Cars, floors, bathrooms — All need some good old fashioned elbow grease to get really clean. So grab a vacuum and a mop (but always set with your employer how much you’ll be paid before you do the work). You can entertain yourself by singing like a Disney princess as you work, or listening to a podcast on your iPod. Alternatively, many people have offices, files, books, closets or pantries that need organizing and you could be the lucky duck who gets to do it.

Work with a catering company: In the summer, people like to do stuff like swear their eternal love for each other in front of 500 of their closest friends, get their ENTIRE family together for a few days,or reunite with the folks they suffered through AP biology with. Most of these events often fall in the evening or on the weekend so you are more likely able to fit them in your busy schedule. If you can DJ, play an instrument, sing, usher, valet (park a car), take decent pictures, officiate, or put together a swoonable slideshow, you can also find work at these sort of events.

Drive for a ride service: Like Postmates, Uber or Lyft. Provided you are not a terrible driver, can pass a background test and are at least 21 years old, you can drive strangers around to their late night hang outs and doctor’s appointments. One person’s weird itchy rash could be your meal ticket.

Appeal to other people’s vanity: If you are good with a camera you can probably do a paid portrait session. If you aren’t that great with a camera — use your other skills. For example: If you are handy with makeup, hair, or styling, give someone a makeover. Accept that vanity money with the good grace of a clandestine schmooze.

Petsit/Housesit: Basically if you sit on stuff, you can make money for minimal work. Checking the mail, turning lights on and off, or walking Hooper isn’t back breaking labor, but will get you a few extra bucks.

Babysit/Nanny: Children under 12 years old usually need someone to watch them, even though (as we learned from Corinne) we could all benefit from having a paid caregiver to make us cheesy noodles. This job isn’t just for women, either. Young boys and girls need masculine role models as well. No matter your gender, be prepared with references — most parents won’t trust their kids with just anyone. If you’re trustworthy and good with kids, some family will think they’ve struck gold when you meet with them. Yeah, kids can be slimy and gross but if you’re getting paid to deal with boogers and tantrums, who cares?

*If you really don’t get along with kids, you can try to pimp yourself out as a nanny for adults. Let us know how this goes for you.

Once you decide which side hustle jobs you’d like, try crowdsourcing through social media or posting to UP’s switchboard or a website like Craigslist. Also, keep in mind you may be able to strike up a deal where you won’t make money, but can benefit in some other way.

As Mad Eye Moody once said, “Play to your strengths.” You probably won’t be fighting off a Hungarian Horntail, but Moody’s wisdom still applies. Be bold. Maybe your landlord will reduce your rent if you do all the yard work or paint the outside of the building. Maybe you can score a free yoga class for promoting the studio or bringing a friend in. There are so many summer possibilities if you’re innovative enough to ask.