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As the cost of living surges due to inflation, getting a second job may be an option you're considering to help you cover rising expenses. You wouldn't be alone, either: Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) of surveyed workers have started seeking a second job, and 14% plan to start soon, according to a Qualtrics study. And while a second job means more money in the bank, it can also mean added physical and mental stress, less time for family and friends, and increased expenses such as child care and transportation. Before starting your search for a second job, consider the following to make sure a second job is the right move for you.
When Might You Consider Getting a Second Job?
Situations in which a second job might be a viable option include:
- Inflation is making your current expenses unaffordable.
- You need to pay off high-interest credit card debt or medical debt.
- Your spouse has lost their job and you need to make ends meet.
- You want to save for a financial goal, such as college tuition, a down payment on a home or a new car, or building an emergency fund.
Besides pay, a second job may offer other financial perks. For example, some employers offer part-time employees health insurance or retirement plans. Working at a store you already frequent (such as a supermarket or big-box store) could snag you an employee discount.
You can even use a second job to test-drive a different career. Wondering whether you'd be happier as a teacher? Part-time tutoring can help you find out. Second jobs may provide training in new skills that expand your opportunities for full-time work. They could even serve as a safety net should your primary employer lay you off.
Keep in mind you'll typically be limited in the number of hours you can work because you need to allow time for your primary job. Remote jobs that don't require a commute can add some flexibility to your plan.
What Are the Potential Drawbacks of a Second Job?
There are several downsides to consider before getting a second job.
A second job may mean spending more on clothing, transportation and lunches. If you're too tired to shop, cook or clean, you might end up ordering takeout every night or hiring a housekeeping service. In order to work a second job, you might also have to pay someone to look after your child or children. Assess how much the second job will cost you and whether the extra income is worth it.
Risking Your Primary Job
Some jobs require employees to sign noncompete agreements that forbid them from working for competitors. Review any documents you signed when you were hired to see if they limit your options. Even if your company doesn't prohibit moonlighting, the added demands of a second job could cause your performance at your primary job to suffer.
Loss of Personal and Family Time
Your relationships with your significant other, children and friends may suffer since you'll have less time for them. Your partner may feel that you aren't pulling your weight at home because you're working so much.
Mental and Physical Exhaustion
Working a second job may require working nights or odd hours, causing irregular sleep. Having less time to rest, exercise and eat well could end up affecting your physical and mental well-being. It might make more sense to use your energy learning new skills so you can move up at your current job or land a better one.
Alternatives to Getting a Second Job
Taking a second job isn't the only way to handle rising expenses, pay off debt or save for financial goals. Consider these options:
Ask for a Raise
Despite rumblings about recession, as of September 2022, there were 1.9 job openings for every unemployed worker, according to Labor Department statistics. Your employer might prefer to pay you more than to spend time searching for your replacement.
Before you ask for a raise, be ready to discuss your job duties, your accomplishments and tangible ways your hard work has benefited your employer's bottom line. Use websites such as Glassdoor, Salary.com and Indeed to research average wages in your field and location and arrive at a desired pay range. If you can't get a raise, you may be able to negotiate perks such as more paid time off, stock options or bonuses.
Reduce Your Expenses
Tightening your belt can stretch your salary further, and if it stretches far enough, you won't need a second job. A few things you could try:
- Revisit your budget and seek ways to cut back.
- Cancel unused subscriptions or memberships.
- Review your insurance policies for potential discounts, and shop around to see if other insurance carriers offer the same coverage for less.
- Take public transportation, bike or carpool to save on gas and maintenance.
- Cut food costs by shopping supermarket sales and cooking at home instead of eating out.
Get a New Job
Instead of working longer hours, devote your spare time to looking for a better-paying job. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Use salary information available online to focus on companies that meet your target pay range. When you get a job offer, don't be afraid to negotiate for your desired salary.
Generate Passive Income
No time for a second job? Perhaps you can earn passive income. Bring in extra cash by renting out a garage, storage space or room in your home or renting your car to a car-sharing service. Clean out your closets, basement and attic and sell used clothing, furnishings or electronics online.
Take Advantage of Employee Benefits
Investigate your employee benefits for money-saving perks, such as a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) you can use to save pretax money for qualified medical expenses. Your employer may offer discounts on insurance, entertainment, cellphone plans or child care. Some companies even pay for continuing education or help employees pay off student loans.
Make the Most of Credit Card Perks
You shouldn't overspend on credit cards when you're trying to save money. However, using credit cards strategically can reduce the cost of purchases you'd be making anyway. For example, pull out a gas rewards credit card at the pump to offset higher fuel prices, or use a grocery rewards credit card to take the sting out of rising food costs. Are you struggling to pay off credit card debt? Rolling your balance over to a balance transfer card with an introductory 0% APR could save you hundreds of dollars in interest per month. Just pay the debt off before the introductory period ends to avoid accruing additional interest.
The Bottom Line
Getting a second job could provide the extra income you need when money is tight, but it's not the only solution. There may be financial assistance resources in your area that can ease your financial burdens. If debt is making it difficult to pay your bills, a reputable credit counselor can help you develop a plan to keep making your payments and avoid damage to your credit score. Taking a second job is a big decision, so investigate all your options before making the leap.