How to Financially Plan for a Side Hustle in Midlife
We all have some goals, don’t we? Whether you’re looking for cash to launch your startup or make new investments with, buying a new house or planning your next trip, having an extra income can improve your midlife.
A side hustle is designed to help you earn some money in your spare time. Regardless of the one you’re considering, such as grocery delivery, driving, dog walking, freelancing your expertise, or starting an online business, preparing financially will help you to feel at ease about your commitment to making it work, especially if you would like to turn your side hustle into a full-time business.
Side Hustle Cash Flow statement
Every journey begins with a starting point. If you don’t know where you stand first, it will be challenging to navigate how to move forward. This is your foundation.
Many of us have an idea of the money flowing in and out every month, such as a mortgage or rent, utilities, and a car payment. Most of us also don’t account for the unexpected or the little things, like take-out meals or the extra spend at the grocery store that went above our monthly spending plan.
Creating a cash flow statement will give us a more accurate description of what actually does happen. Whether you prefer paper or a spreadsheet, putting this together is simple enough.
First, you’ll examine the last three months of checking account statements. Why three months? Because you’ll have a better idea of the patterns in your spending.
Next, on one side of your paper or in your spreadsheet, list all the monies that come in every month. This includes gross income (before taxes), interest or dividends from investments, child support or spousal support, and any additional monies you collect every month.
In the other column, list all the monies that go out every month; mortgage or rent, auto payment, groceries, utilities, phone, entertainment, income taxes, and insurance. This tells you how much is coming in and how much is going out.
Side Hustle Time, Financial Goals and Purpose
According to research, 85% of side-gig workers make a very part-time income. However, before embarking on a new project and bringing in extra income every month, setting time and financial objectives are essential.
First and foremost, decide on a specific purpose. Do you want to pay down credit card debt, and your mortgage, and save for the holidays, so you don’t go into debt? Money without purpose will not have meaning to what your side hustle stands for.
Next, let’s talk about time first, as this is your most valuable asset. Depending on your job schedule, how many hours per day can you allocate for a side hustle? If you have a traditional 8 – 4 or 9 – 5, you’ll have evenings and weekends. What other commitments do you currently have outside of work? And don’t forget to eat and get enough sleep. Use a planner to create a schedule to keep you accountable.
Then, what is your monthly monetary goal for your side hustle? For example, if you are a driver, how many rides (not including tips) do you need to drive each month to reach that goal? Then, break that down to weekly rides and even daily rides.
If you are a freelancer who offers a specific service, such as helping a local business do its bookkeeping, what is your hourly rate? How many contacts do you need to make before being hired? Of those hires, how many hours of bookkeeping services do you need to perform each month to reach your goal?
Side Hustle Expenses
When starting any side hustle, there are going to be expenses. If driving for grocery delivery or a car service, you’ll need to find approximations for costs such as gas and insurance.
On the other hand, being a freelance or having an online presence will include costs such as a domain name and website hosting. If there are additional services or apps you need for the services you offer, such as bookkeeping or a client relationship management system, take those into account, too.
The funds needed to start your side hustle will come from your personal savings or current job paycheck. These days, it is very inexpensive to start a side hustle business. If you have zero funds to invest in a domain name or website hosting, you can start on any one of the free platforms available such as WordPress.org or Wix.com to create your online presence and use a free Gmail for potential clients to contact you.
Keep in mind, this is very bare-bones and not what you want for the long-term, but it is a way to get started at no cost so that you’re not dipping into personal savings or retirement funds.
If you aren’t carefully tracking all the extra money you’re bringing in (against your side hustle expenses), then you’ll never get a real sense of whether the effort you’re putting in is paying off. The good news is, for now, you do not need a complicated bookkeeping system. You can do this all through a simple spreadsheet.
You will eventually have to report your income for tax filing purposes, which is why tracking is essential and keeping your side hustle expenses and income separate from your day job.
You’ve Got to Keep Them Separated
Some side hustles will be inconsistent in income, some may be more steady. Regardless, you’ve got to keep your side hustle income separate from your full-time job income for two main reasons. The first is reporting income for tax purposes, and the other is to track the growth of your side hustle income if you eventually want to scale it to a full-time business.
There are several online payment processors to choose from. These require a connected bank account with your local bank, of which you’ll want a separate one from your personal checking account. Why checking? Typically checking accounts for small businesses come with very nominal fees or are free, whereas most savings accounts require a minimum daily balance to stay free.
When You’re Ready to Scale
If you started your side hustle with a mission of eventually transitioning to a full-time business, there are three key things to be aware of.
Scaling Takes Time
Scaling from your part-time side hustle to a full-time business takes time. Once you have sufficient income from your side hustle, you’ll need to invest in systems to automate processes so that your business runs more efficiently. This will allow you more time for marketing and outreach to grow. Know that this takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Set a realistic target date, but before you make the leap from full-time employee to full-time entrepreneur, your side hustle earnings should either equal your current income or be sufficient enough to cover your living expenses.
Know Your Numbers
At some point, you’ll start thinking about making the time transition to spend more time working your business. Is there the possibility of reducing your hours from your full-time job to part-time? If so, what does that mean for you financially? You’ll need to know your numbers. How much more income do you need from your side hustle to replace the income lost going from full-time to part-time in your job? It’s a balance. As you bring in more revenue from your side hustle, you can reduce your hours from your job.
Don’t Forget About Health Insurance
Depending on where you are in the world will depend on how you access quality health care and the cost of health insurance. If your employer provides health insurance, be sure to do your research far in advance to determine what type of coverage you need and how much premiums will cost.
Last, but not least, just as important as everything we mentioned above, don’t forget to join a community of like-minded midlife women who will be there to cheer you on for your successes and who will lift you up on those days when you feel like quitting.