When you think about it, the government allows you to put a ton of money into tax-advantaged accounts. You just wouldn’t know it at first glance. Technically, a traditional or Roth IRA is the only tax-advantaged account that every working person in the US has access to. As of 2018, the max contribution per person to […]
I recently picked up a new book from my local library called The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World. As you can probably guess, the book is about the growth of Airbnb and Uber, and it starts at the very beginning of these companies, before they even existed. I’m still working my way through the book, but what I’ve read so far really hit home for me and reminded me of an important lesson that I thought was worth reminding ourselves of again – we all have to start somewhere.
It’s an important thing to remember that I too often forget. One of the frustrating things about getting into the personal finance space is feeling like you’re so far behind all the time. I’m pretty much at the beginning of my financial journey and it’s sometimes disheartening to see people the same age as me who are already nearing or at financial independence.
One of my more financially interesting friends is my friend Jay (not his real name). While the rest of us are beginning or in the middle of our “real” careers, Jay still works as a bartender at the same restaurant he worked at while we were in college. He recently turned 30 years old, and if my calculations are correct, that means he’s been working as a bartender at the same place now for 8 years (longer if you count the summers that he worked there while in college).
Bartending always seemed like it was supposed to be a temporary stop. My friends and I all graduated college in 2009 – right in the midst of the financial crisis – and found ourselves unable to get any “real” jobs. I worked two minimum wage jobs and lived at home with my parents. My other friends did similar things. One friend worked at a sporting goods store. Another worked at a golf course. Some people worked at restaurants – typical post-college jobs that you’d expect a 22-year old to have to take after the worst financial meltdown in a generation.
I sometimes get into conversations with friends of mine who wonder why I’m trying to save so much money. When I tell them that I’m doing it because I’d love to be able to retire early, I’m often met with the same response: “I couldn’t imagine myself not working. I’d get too bored.”
I’m sure those of you on the path to financial independence have heard that same remark as well. It’s all well and good, mind you. There’s nothing wrong with working. If you like your job, by all means, you should keep doing it. Honestly, if I ever do reach financial independence, I’ll probably keep working too. Perhaps not in a traditional 9-5 job, but I’d probably do something that I find fun.
My problem isn’t with people who say they enjoy working. That’s totally fine. It’s that I find that people who tell me they like working often use that, not as a plan, but rather, as an excuse for why they’re not saving very much. Or they use it as a reason to criticize my own drive to save money.
One of the great benefits with starting up a side hustle is the ability to get paid as an independent contractor. When you consider all of the sweet benefits you get from side hustling, you have to assume that the government must want us to side hustle.
Take tax deductions, for example. The government lets you deduct expenses related to your side hustle for things you might already be doing anyway. With a little planning, someone driving for Uber in their spare time could easily offset the costs of driving that they’re already doing anyway.
Perhaps the most amazing thing that the government lets you do as a side hustler is to save money into extra retirement accounts that other people don’t have access to. Start up a side hustle and you can save some- or in some cases, almost all of your side income – into a Solo 401(k), a SEP-IRA, or a Simple IRA. Depending on how much you make and what type of retirement accounts you already have, you could potentially save thousands more per year in tax-advantaged savings.