Ever wondered if you’d find more fulfilment with your job if you turned your hobby into paid work? Or perhaps cost-of-living pressures mean your expenses have skyrocketed, while your salary has stayed the same? Enter the side hustle, a term that’s now so common it’s also a cliché, but one that’s becoming a reality in the lives of more and more Australians. In fact, the Australian Bureau of Statistics recently revealed that the number of people with multiple jobs is at a record high, encompassing around 950,000 Australians, or 6.6 per cent of employed people.
But if a job juggle is on the cards for you, a clear plan for managing two forms of employment at the same time to prevent burnout and keep the passion alive is essential. We asked the experts to share their best tips for finding balance between work on the side and your 9-to-5.
Be Strict With Your Time
“When juggling a full-time job and side hustle, being able to stay focused and compartmentalise tasks is crucial,” says finance expert Michael Nuciforo, CEO and co-founder of online accounting and tax platform Thriday. “I would be quite rigid around the days and times you work on each. By allocating specific periods for each endeavour, you can avoid burnout and maintain a healthier work-life balance.” Keeping both roles separate, he adds, is the best strategy for making sure that one job doesn’t bleed into the other.
Track which days you’ll allocate to each role in either paper diaries or on your phone and other devices, or by a scheduling app like Motion. If practical and appropriate, you can also add a note about your hours to your email signature so clients and other stakeholders are aware of your availability.
Do Regular Burnout Checks
Career coach Kate James from Total Balance started her own coaching business as a side hustle more than 20 years ago when she was working as a business manager for a film production company. Younger and full of energy, she didn’t think anything of staying up to 2am to work on her secondary business. But, she says, she couldn’t do the same today. “There were certainly costs on my time but what I was learning kept me energised,” she says.
It’s crucial to regularly assess whether juggling multiple jobs is impacting your life, particularly if there are other personal pressures, such as a new baby or family commitments, that could increase your risk of burnout. “People need to tune in and realise when they’re taking things too far. You don’t want to get to a point where it’s depleting you or having a negative impact on your day job,” says Kate. Sometimes, other people can have a clearer view of your situation than you can. It may be worth asking a spouse or trusted friend if they think you need to apply the brakes.
Sabri Suby, Shark Tank investor and founder and head of growth at digital marketing agency King Kong, adds that downtime and time spent with family and on hobbies that keep you healthy are critical to your success. “If you’re not operating at your peak performance, neither will your side hustle. Always prioritise these things,” he says. Some ways to keep yourself on track? Book non-negotiable fitness classes where you’ll lose money if you don’t show up, or schedule outdoors time or family catch-ups with other people who you won’t want to let down by a burnout no-show.
Know the Tax Implications of Your Side Hustle
Taking steps to boost your personal finances through a side hustle job can certainly improve your bank balance, says Dr Evgenia Dechter, a senior lecturer at the School of Economics at UNSW. But, she advises, keeping an eye on exactly what money is coming into your side hustle versus how much you’re spending is crucial. “There is risk associated with business, as well as start-up costs,” she says. “But there are also higher potential profits in the future.”
Michael suggests looking at a business model such as ‘Profit First’, which encourages business owners to set aside a portion of their income for profit before dealing with expenses. “It forces you only to spend what you have available after accounting for profit, tax and your salary.”
It’s also important to assess what effect an extra revenue stream will have on your tax. It’s often thought that side hustles aren’t worth it because you’ll be over-taxed but this isn’t true in Australia, says Professor Dale Boccabella, a personal taxation expert from the UNSW Business School. “At the end of the year, all your assessable incomes are added together and all your deductions are added together. This adds up to your taxable income,” he says.
However, Michael advises that this extra income may change the rate you’re taxed. “In simple terms, if you earn $120,000 from your full-time job and $30,000 from your side hustle, you will have to pay tax on $150,000.” As a simple rule, he suggests holding on to 45 per cent of your side-hustle earnings for tax time.
Correctly claiming the tax-free threshold could be the key to preventing an unexpected tax bill. The tax-free threshold is the first $18,200 you earn in the income year. If you work multiple jobs, make sure you’re only claiming the tax-free threshold from one employer, and if your side hustle is a business, you’ll need to put aside money for your tax obligations.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has a range of calculators online to help you work out what amounts should be withheld, or you can check in with your financial adviser or tax agent for specific advice.
Be Upfront About Your Side Hustle Jobs
Is it worth letting your manager know about your work on the side? Kate says honesty is almost always the best policy. “It’s always better to be transparent, if you can,” she says. “If you’re open and talk about what you’re doing, that’s how you can navigate potential conflicts of interest.” It’s far better, she says, to be open from the beginning than to start down a path that eventually costs you your job. It also pays to check in on any formal policies your workplace may have around non-competes before you get started.
Use Your New Side Hustle Skills in Your Day Job
When Kate began her coaching side hustle, she was surprised and pleased to realise the skills she was picking up in her new role benefitted her day job. “I was building my own website and taking those skills back to my workplace,” she says. “I was also learning about design and other creative things.” Bringing those new skills to her existing job was more than just a technical boost – she also found it made her permanent role more fulfilling.
Maintaining Your Passion
If your passion project is stealing away your love for your day job but you still need the consistency of full-time employment, perhaps it’s time to look for a new main job, says Sabri. “If a new role isn’t possible, what about a new qualification that can be undertaken outside of work hours, in line with your passion project?” he asks. “Scenario: You’re an accountant but you love floristry. By attending a floristry course two evenings a week, you’re both sparking your interest and making time for your passion, while simultaneously setting yourself up to make it your full-time commitment when the time is right.”
If you start to lose the love for your newly monetised hobby, you need to decide if it’s better to scale it back to simply be fun, and not an income stream, or work out how to bring back the joy. One option would be to hire someone to take care of the business admin side of things – a virtual assistant or intern – so that you can spend more time on the creative pursuit you loved in the first place.
Also, try mixing things up to keep the fire burning: expand your range into new styles or designs or concepts if you’re making a tangible product, for example. In a pinch, put it on pause for a moment or two (nothing wrong with an ‘on vacation’ sign every now and then) to allow the love to return.
Ask Yourself: Will My Side Hustle Ideas Be Worth It?
Before you start a side hustle while working full time, it’s worth drilling down to exactly what you hope to gain from it. “Be really clear about your objectives,” says Kate. “Is it something that fulfils you because it’s a passion? Or does it give you an opportunity to learn new skills or engage with an interest that you really love?” If those are your aims and your side hustle ideas are ticking those boxes, then you’re probably onto a good thing.
However, Kate also says people should be wary of becoming so invested in their projects that they’re no longer living in alignment with their broader values, which might be anything from making time to read each day, meditate each morning or meet up with family and friends regularly. “It’s about coming back to that sense of balance, something that’s so elusive for all of us,” she adds. “It’s an ongoing work in progress.”
If you’re still keen to give it a go, consider a suite of marketing materials to help promote your side hustle, such as logos and flyers. Keep in mind, it’s important to choose the right materials for your target audience. For instance, a craft brewery would require a different marketing approach to a business selling handmade crafts. The teams at the Officeworks Print & Copy service can help point you in the right direction.
What to Try
- Collins 2024 Weekly Desk Calendar Refill Top Punch
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- Samsung Galaxy Tab S9+ WiFi 12GB/256GB Beige
- Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Bluetooth 40mm Graphite
- Officeworks Print & Copy
*This is general information only and does not constitute taxation or legal advice. Other requirements under the tax law apply. Seek professional tax and/or legal advice to determine whether you are eligible to claim a deduction for any purchases.