50% of Millennials Have a Side Hustle

A lady, facing away from the camera, sitting on a boat floating in clear blue water surrounded by 5 other boats and the mountain

Emmy-award winning filmmaker Slavik Boyechko never thought he'd need a side gig. Yet he still decided to add to his income stream by co-founding of Video Dads, a video production and training business, and Gear Dads, a website for gear review and filmmaking education.

"I was at the top of a PBS filmmaking career path along with my colleague and best friend, and everything seemed like it was unstoppable," he says. "Things were going well, but you always need a ‘Plan B', so we created Video Dads and Gear Dads as a side hustle."

When Boyechko saw his main full-time employer starting to lay off people, he was glad he developed what more and more career professionals are calling a "side hustle."

"Maybe it's because we millennials have been let down by so many false hopes, or because we haven't had the experience of long-term stability like the previous generations had, but we know now to never assume what's good today will be good tomorrow," he says.

Now he says that it's his side job, Video Dads, that's unstoppable. "It's become our main gig."

Boyechko is hardly alone. According to a recent Bankrate report, more than 37% of U.S. adults and more than 50% of millennials have a side hustle. A job that adds dollars to the bank account and ensures that the household bills are paid on time.

What Are the Most Popular Side Hustles and Why?

The Bankrate report highlighted the following:

  • The most popular side jobs are home repair/landscaping, online sales, crafts, and childcare.
  • Side hustlers earn an average of $686 per month, while the median earnings come in at $200 per month.
  • Men are 7% more likely than women to earn extra money away from their primary jobs. The gender pay gap applies to side hustles, too. Men earn an average of $989 from their ancillary gigs, almost three times the $361 that women earn.
  • 59% of those who earn money on the side primarily do it for more disposable income; 38% say it's so they can meet their regular living expenses.

Can a Side Hustle Help You Get out of Debt?

"Many surveys suggest that Americans are making poor financial decisions, so the fact that many people have a side hustle is refreshing," says Amanda Dixon, a Bankrate analyst. "Having more than one source of income is a smart move and having a side gig is a great way to boost your savings and meet other financial goals."

Indeed getting out of debt can be challenging if your budget doesn't have any wiggle room for emergencies or paying more than minimum payments on credit cards.

Who Has a Side Hustle?

As the Bankrate data attests, younger Americans are more likely to create a side hustle, mainly due to financial necessity.

"Millennials are coming out of college with a level of student loan debt unseen by prior generations," says Jennifer Beeston, a vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate Mortgage, in Healdsburg, Calif. "They are also coming into one of the largest housing crises in terms of affordability our nation has seen."

Consequently, millennials are taking side gigs because they have to.

"How do you make a $1,000 per month student loan payment and pay $2,000 in rent on a $50,000 salary?" Beeston asks. "With a side gig."

Finances Are Not the Only Reason for a Side Hustle

"Ever since witnessing the boys in my daughter's kindergarten class impatiently raising their hands while the girls sat timidly, I have been itching to help girls and women boost their confidence," says Arielle Lapiano, a 40-something public relations director at a major New York City law firm and founder of Shattered Glass Tees, which creates empowering t-shirts and bags for women of all ages and sends the profits to charity.

"For me, it's not generating any additional income, but rather it's a passion project," Lapiano says. "My experience is that there are a lot of people, especially more of my vintage, where passion, not profit, is fueling their side hustle."

The Bottom Line on Having a Side Hustle

The takeaway? While passion pulls Americans like Lapiano to their charitable passions, millennials like Boyechko are firm believers in having a Plan B career insurance policy in case their "Plan A" career falters.

"The point of a side hustle is not to temporarily generate some income, but to plant the seeds for a ‘Plan B' in case your main occupation hits a dead end," he says.

Just like having an emergency fund, an additional source of income can help ensure you have enough money to pay your bills every month and on time to keep your financial and credit life on track.