46% of Americans Need a Side Hustle Just To Cover Basic Expenses

But the extra cash comes with a whole host of problems.

There are plenty of ways to make extra money beyond what you get paid for a full-time job. You could take online surveys, tutor kids, run errands for others or even start your own business. But is the income from these side hustles worth the extra time and effort you have to put into them?

To find out, GOBankingRates asked 1,000 adults about their reasons for taking on a side hustle, and how working additional hours on the side has affected their lives in different areas. Keep reading to see if Americans think it pays off to have a side hustle.

See: The 32 Best Side Hustles in America

Nearly Half of Americans Use a Side Hustle To Pay the Bills

Side hustles are relatively commonplace. GOBankingRates’ survey found that one in four Americans is working another job or gig in addition to their full-time job. About 63% have had one or more side hustles in the past, and about 12% currently have multiple side jobs.

Survey Question: Why did you take on a side hustle? Select all that apply.

Answer ChoicePercentage of Respondents
To make enough money to get by and cover basic expenses46.1%
To have enough money to achieve a savings goal (e.g. a house)25.7%
To have enough money to get out of debt or pay off a loan24.5%
To pursue a hobby or just for fun23.2%
To gain more experience and build my resume11.2%
To build my professional network10.3%
Other7.6%

The survey found that a large percentage of Americans are adopting side gigs out of necessity. About 46% of respondents said they took on a side hustle to make enough money to get by, which correlates with the 50% of respondents who said they used the income from their side jobs to pay bills and afford basic necessities.

In addition, nearly 25% of respondents said they took on a side hustle to pay off debt. However, a similar percentage — about 23% — said they had a side hustle just for fun or as a hobby, which correlates with the 22% who said they splurged on nonessentials like luxury items and vacations with the additional income.

Among the most common ways that respondents said they made extra money were buying and selling stuff online, working with cars, cleaning houses, waiting tables and landscaping. Surprisingly, working for a ride-hailing service and pet-related services such as dog walking didn’t rank among the top 10 most common side hustles — although both are considered popular ways to bring in extra cash.

GOBankingRates Side Hustle Survey

Despite the perception that millennials are a generation of side hustlers, the survey found that older adults are more likely to be working side gigs. At 38%, members of Generation X ages 35 to 44 had the highest percentage of respondents who said they currently have a side hustle. Nearly 82% of adults ages 65 and older and 74% of baby boomers ages 55 to 64 said they have had one or more side hustles in the past, compared to only about half of millennials. Older adults ages 45 to 54 were also more likely than younger adults to say that they took on a side hustle to cover basic expenses.

Don’t Miss: 101 Side Business Ideas and How To Start Without Quitting Your Job

28% Say Their Health and Work-Life Balance Suffer

Over 60% of the survey respondents said they spend 15 hours or less each week on their side hustle. In fact, 20% said they spend only one to five hours a week on their side gig, and 12% said they use less than one hour per week. The majority of respondents — nearly 72% — said their side hustle hasn’t negatively impacted them in any way.

GOBankingRates Side Hustle Survey

However, nearly 10% of Americans spend 15-20 hours a week — or three to four hours per day — on their side business, and almost 4% work an additional seven to eight hours every day on top of their main job.

Overall, about 28% of Americans with side hustles said taking on extra work has created strain in various aspects of their lives. The most common area that respondents said their side hustle had negatively impacted was work-life balance, followed by mental health, at nearly 12% each. Respondents also said that their personal relationships, physical health and job performance had been negatively impacted.

Survey Question (Paraphrased): In what areas has your side hustle negatively affected your life? Select all that apply.

RespondentsAnswer Choice
Ages 18-2419.6% selected “stress/mental health”
Ages 25-3418% selected “stress/mental health”
Ages 35-4413.6% selected “work-life balance”
Ages 45-5411% selected “personal relations”
Ages 55-6411.9% selected “physical health”
Ages 65 and older8.1% selected “physical health” and “personal relations” (tie)
Female13% selected “work-life balance” and “stress/mental health” (tie)
Male10.8% selected “work-life balance”

Women were slightly more likely than men — 29.5% versus 27%, respectively — to say that their side hustle had affected them negatively. And, younger adults were more likely to say the same thing: 34% of respondents ages 18 to 24 reported a negative effect, compared to almost 28% of respondents ages 45 to 54 and about 19% of respondents ages 65 and older.

However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that younger adults dedicate longer hours to their side hustles. Respondents ages 45 to 54 were the most likely of any age group to work an additional 30-40 hours a week on top of their full-time jobs. And, adults ages 55 to 64 were the most likely to report working between 25-30 hours a week on side hustles.

Related: The No. 1 Cause of Financial Stress in Every State

Do Americans Enjoy Their Full-Time Job or Side Hustle More?

Although a large percentage of Americans have side hustles out of necessity, the survey found that more than half of the respondents liked their side hustle just as much as — or even more than — their full-time job. About 30% said they enjoy their full-time job and side hustle equally, and nearly 26% said they prefer their side hustle.

GOBankingRates Side Hustle Survey

The majority of respondents said they make more money at their full-time job — only about 12% earn more with their side hustle compared to their primary job. However, considering that such a significant portion of Americans enjoy their side hustle even though it’s not a primary source of income, money might not be the only thing that people want from their jobs.

Places to Put Your Side Hustle Money: Best Short Term Investments

Survey Question (Paraphrased): Do you prefer your full-time job or side hustle?

RespondentsTop Answer Choice
Ages 18-2433% selected “I enjoy my side hustle more than my full-time job”
Ages 25-3431.1% selected “I enjoy my full-time job more than my side hustle”
Ages 35-4434.8% selected “I enjoy my side hustle more than my full-time job”
Ages 45-5434.6% selected “I enjoy my full-time job and side hustle equally”
Ages 55-6429.5% selected “I don’t enjoy my full-time job or my side hustle at all” and “I enjoy my full-time job and side hustle equally” (tie)
Ages 65 and older32.3% selected “I don’t enjoy my full-time job or my side hustle at all”
Female30.5% selected “I enjoy my full-time job and side hustle equally”
Male31.1% selected “I enjoy my side hustle more than my full-time job”

Find Out: From Meaning to Money — What Each Generation Wants From Their Jobs

GOBankingRates’ survey found that men were much more likely than women to say that they enjoyed their side hustle more than their full-time job — about 31% compared to 20%, respectively. Men also were more likely than women to say that they made more money with their side hustle than at their full-time job, at about 14% compared to nearly 9%, respectively.

Young Gen Xers ages 35 to 44 were the most likely of any age group to say that they enjoyed their side hustle more than their full-time job, whereas adults ages 65 and older were the least likely to say the same thing. Adults ages 65 and older were also the most likely to say that they don’t enjoy their full-time job or side hustle at all.

Discover: More Than 20% of Women Change Jobs for This Reason

31% Don’t Know How To File Taxes for Their Side Hustle

If your side hustle is a freelance position or your own business, you’re in charge of making sure that you pay taxes on that income. However, GOBankingRates’ survey found that one-third of Americans don’t know how to file taxes for a side hustle.

Men were less likely than women to know how to handle taxes for side income, with 33% versus 30%, respectively, lacking the right tax knowledge. Additionally, respondents ages 18 to 24 and respondents 35 to 44 were less likely to understand their taxes, with about 38% of respondents in both of those age groups saying they don’t know how to file taxes for their side hustle.

Learn: How the 50 States Tax Small Businesses

Freelancers and self-employed workers must make quarterly estimated tax payments to both the federal government and their state government because they don’t have employers who are withholding taxes for them. You must make estimated payments if you expect to owe at least $1,000 in taxes, according to the IRS. Payments typically are due April 15, June 15, Sept. 15 and Jan. 15, but the due dates can shift slightly depending on the day of the week that the deadlines fall. If you don’t fork over enough in estimated taxes during the year, you might be charged a penalty when you file your tax return in the spring.

Click through to learn how to calculate estimated taxes for your side hustle.

More on Making Money at Your Side Gig

Methodology: GOBankingRates conducted a poll with a sample size of 1,000 respondents from across the U.S., asking them a series of nine questions: (1) Have you ever had a “side hustle” (aka a second job or gig in addition to your full-time job)? (2) Please list all side hustles you currently have; (3) Which statement most applies to you? (4) Why did you take on a side hustle? Select all that apply; (5) Approximately how many hours per week do you spend on your side hustle? (6) Which of the following statements apply to you? Select all that apply; (7) Has the money you earned from your side hustle helped you do any of the following? (8) Do you know how to file taxes for your side hustle? (9) Which statement most applies to you? The survey was conducted by Survata between April 22, 2019, and May 2, 2019.

About the Author

Cameron Huddleston is an award-winning journalist with more than 18 years of experience writing about personal finance. Her work has appeared in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune, Fortune, MSN, USA Today and many more print and online publications. She also is the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances.

U.S. News & World Report named her one of the top personal finance experts to follow on Twitter, and AOL Daily Finance named her one of the top 20 personal finance influencers to follow on Twitter. She has appeared on CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and “Fox & Friends” and has been a guest on ABC News Radio, Wall Street Journal Radio, NPR, WTOP in Washington, D.C., KGO in San Francisco and other personal finance radio shows nationwide. She also has been interviewed and quoted as an expert in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch and more.

She has an MA in economic journalism from American University and BA in journalism and Russian studies from Washington & Lee University.