Side Hustle Economics: How Much Can You Really Earn?

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Side hustles are everywhere these days. As the gig economy has picked up over the years, all of a sudden the idea of taking on a “second job” has gone from something you only do when seriously in need of extra cash to a regular part of life. You could even say it’s become trendy.

As someone who’s always looking for ways to diversify my income and create a more financially stable future, I often think about side hustles. But I can’t help but wonder, is the money worth the time? Can I be as successful as the people who earn thousands of dollars outside of their day jobs?

Extra money is great — it can rescue a tight budget — but some side hustles require a lot of time, and even a sizable financial investment. That’s why it’s so important to do the math before jumping in. Here are some numbers to help you find the right side hustle for you and see how much you can earn.

Common side hustle ideas

First of all, let’s talk about what kind of side hustles you can do. There are many things you can do for extra money, including jobs that some people do full-time but which offer flexible hours. Below is a list to help you find something you like or even generate some ideas of your own.

  • Become a bartender, caterer, or server.
  • Become a Tasker for TaskRabbit.
  • Clean houses.
  • Do data entry.
  • Deliver for companies like DoorDash, Instacart, Postmates, and more.
  • Drive for Uber or Lyft.
  • Offer your services as a landscaper or even handyman (or woman).
  • Pick up seasonal work in retail.
  • Rent out your car on Turo or Getaround.
  • Rent out your home on AirBnB.
  • Take on part-time work as a babysitter or pet sitter.
  • Teach courses (such as test prep) or become a private tutor.
  • Work as a freelance designer, editor, web developer, or writer.
  • Work as an interpreter or translator.

As many options as there are here, this is only the beginning. Deciding on a side hustle is a lot easier to do when you think about activities you like or skills you’ve picked up over the years. If you can find side hustle work that you enjoy, or at least feel comfortable doing, it might not feel like extra work at all.

But how much can you make? And is it worth the time commitment? We took a look at data on median earnings for various jobs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale, Earnest, and some of the companies involved in these side hustles to find out.

Average earnings by side hustle type

Online lender Earnest anonymized data from tens of thousands of their loan applicants to find out just how much people might be earning from their side hustles. As well as uncovering earnings, the report shows which side hustles in the sharing economy were most popular.

Earnest discovered that 85 percent of people in the study take in an average of $500 per month from their side hustles. AirBnB ranked head-and-shoulders above the competition in terms of the most profitable side hustle. TaskRabbit came in second, and Lyft in third.

But beyond just the money, what kind of side hustle would you most enjoy doing? Here are different groupings of side hustles you could try, as well as how much they can earn.  The list is broken down by how much you can earn if you prefer to work from home, if you love being around people, if you want to earn money off of what you already have, or if manual labor is your jam.

Opportunities you can do from home

Have speedy internet and a reliable computer? Prefer to spend your moonlighting hours in the comfort of your own home? Check out some of these options.

  • Customer service representative: Help people via phone or email for approximately $15 per hour.
  • Data entry specialist: Type your way to approximately $14 per hour.
  • Proofreader: Spot grammar and spelling errors for about $17 per hour.
  • Resume writer: You can earn about $20 per hour.
  • Social media manager: Your earnings will be based on experience, but come in at approximately $15 per hour.

As you can see, the earnings vary quite a bit — and your monthly take-home will depend on how much extra work you can get and do. The good news is, with work like this, you won’t have to invest much of your money since you can use the technological resources you already have.

And if you do need to upgrade your computer or other equipment, it could be tax-deductible. Just remember you also have to pay taxes on your earnings (as you will with all side hustles).

Side hustles for the ‘people’ people

If you’re a people person, the idea of going from an eight-hour workday to sitting at home in front of your computer all night might seem too draining to be worth the extra cash. Here are a few opportunities that will serve your extroverted ways and bring you some added income.

  • Babysitter: Revisit your teenage job roots for about $10 per hour.
  • Bartender: Serve drinks for an average of approximately $10 per hour.
  • Brand ambassador: Represent your favorite companies at events for about $15 per hour.
  • Pet sitter: Pets are people too, right? You can earn about $10 per hour.
  • Tour guide: Show off your hometown pride for an average of $11 per hour.

Like the work-from-home options listed above, you can take on these out-of-home side hustles for little to no financial investment on your part. And the ones that tip have the added benefit of instant gratification — if you want to become a waiter or waitress for your side hustle, you’ll get to take home cash every shift you work (and you might even be able to get a free meal as well).

Rent out your assets

And for those who prefer their side hustle income to be more of the “passive” variety, renting out the assets you already own can be a great way to do it.

  • Rent out your car: You can let someone else use your car when you’d have it parked and earn about $700 per month if you use a service such as Turo.
  • Rent out your room or home: Depending on the desirability of your location and the type of home you have, you could earn an average of $400 per week for renting a room all the way up to $800 per week for renting an entire home.
  • Become a rideshare or delivery driver: Okay, this one is more active than passive, but you can use your car to earn about $13 per hour.

Of course, if you don’t have a car or spare room to rent out (or the desire to rent your home out and leave each time), then these options won’t work.

Manual labor for those who just like to get stuff done

Love to work with your hands? Manual labor side hustles can help you get some exercise as you pad your bank account:

  • Fix things around the house: If you’re skilled with tools and already own a set, you can fix yourself up with around $17 per hour.
  • Housecleaner: Clean your own home and get nothing, but clean others’ and you could earn approximately $10 per hour.
  • Lawn care: Homeowners already care for their own lawn — do you want to do it for your neighbors, too? Take home around $12 per hour.
  • Mover: If you have a truck and can lift, you can earn about $11 per hour to help people move from one home to another.
  • Paint houses: You’ll have to purchase painting equipment, but you can earn approximately $18 per hour.

Unlike the previous side hustles, you might need to invest money into tools and materials. Costs will vary based on the side hustle you choose, but you might not want to spend more than you can earn back in a reasonable amount of time — and then, only if you’re booked solid on jobs.

Capitalize on side hustles that earn you more than money

Out of all the side hustles, the best ones provide you with more than extra money. They also enable you to grow skills that you can use as stepping stones for your career or even start a business. Or they can simply provide you with enjoyment or fulfillment.

When you’re living on a tight budget, it’s easy to get stuck in the things you have to do to make it work. But if you approach the “second job” with an opportunistic mentality instead, then hopefully the extra work can benefit your life in various ways.

And if you need a little more inspiration on the way, read these seven side hustle blogs to help you stay inspired and earn more money, and use our marketplace to find the right side hustle for you.

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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.23% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.

Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.

Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.

Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance:Fixed rates from 3.899% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.470% APR to 6.990% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.470% APR assumes the current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 0.64% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.


5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of October 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.22%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.32% (2.72%-8.32% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.75%-8.69% (3.75%-8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled. Applicants with an Associate’s degree or with no degree must have made at least 12 qualifying payments after leaving school. Qualifying payments are the most recent on time and consecutive payments of principal and interest on the loans being refinanced. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The cosigner (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a cosigner will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Estimated average savings amount is based on 14,659 Education Refinance Loan customers who saved on loans between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018. The calculation is derived by averaging monthly savings across Education Refinance Loan customers whose payment amounts decreased after refinancing, calculated by taking the monthly payment prior to refinancing minus the monthly payment after refinancing. We excluded monthly savings from customers that exceeded $4,375 and were lower than $20 to minimize risk of data error skewing the savings amounts. Savings will vary based on interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of loans to be refinanced. Borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if monthly payments are lower.

2.47% – 6.99%3Undergrad
& Graduate
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2.47% – 6.23%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.47% – 8.03%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.95% – 6.37%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 6.25%5Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.32%6Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.