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The Pressure to Side Hustle Your Way Out of Debt


The Pressure to Side Hustle Your Way Out of Debt

One of the most popular personal finance recommendations for people who are in debt is to get a side hustle. Dave Ramsey, for example, says you should deliver pizzas after work to attack your debt with “gazelle intensity.” But working ten to twelve-hour days across two different jobs is a recipe for burnout, especially if you have a chronic illness, mental health condition, or family caretaking responsibilities.

With inflation on the rise and a recession looming, I’ve felt the pressure to pick up extra freelance writing work and sell more of my woodworking projects. But I’ve realized over the years that side hustling isn’t always a good solution. Here’s why.

Dealing With Rising Costs

Like everyone else, my partner and I are feeling the pinch of increasing costs. Our monthly food and gas spending has increased by $500 per month, and we’re bracing ourselves for high heating bills as we head into fall and winter in the Upper Midwest. As all homeowners know, everything in the house seems to break simultaneously. This month alone we’ve spent $3,000 on various repairs, including fixing our broken furnace.

When increasing costs or unexpected expenses mess up your budget and push back your debt payoff timeline, it feels necessary to get a side hustle to stay on track. The message we get from personal finance gurus like Dave Ramsey is to push harder and work more when adverse circumstances affect our debt payoff plans. We’re rarely encouraged to give ourselves grace and slow down our timeline to match our changing financial reality.

But I’m trying to fight the pressure I feel to add more work to my plate because I know from past experiences that side hustles don’t always help.

Side Hustles Don’t Always Help

When I overextend myself, I feel stressed out and spend more money as a way to cope with the anxiety. This bad habit reduces the amount of money that I’m able to save from the extra hours I’ve worked. Although I’ve tried to practice more self-discipline, it’s hard to stick to your budget when you’re overwhelmed and not thinking rationally.

Apparently, this is a pretty common issue. More than half of Americans shop impulsively to deal with stress, depression, and anxiety, sometimes as frequently as once a month. If getting a side hustle is going to stress you out and make you more likely to overspend, it may not be worth it.

Because I have multiple chronic illnesses, the stress of overworking myself can also exacerbate my symptoms and result in increased medical costs. A few months ago, I picked up additional writing contracts to help combat the effects of inflation on my budget.

As a result of overloading myself with work, I ended up in the hospital with an elevated heart rate that wouldn’t come down and palpitations, likely caused by my heart condition called POTS. Although anxiety wasn’t the only factor, it definitely played a role and made the flare-up worse. The ER visit cost me several hundred dollars, so any extra income I got from pushing myself and hustling went out the window.

Accepting My Limitations

After that incident, I promised myself to be more mindful of my limitations and accept that traditional personal finance advice won’t always work for me. Just because I’m not side hustling and working sixty-hour weeks doesn’t mean I’m not motivated to get out of debt.

My debt payoff date is several years away and has had to be pushed back a few times due to life’s twists and turns. I’ll never be able to write an aspirational article about how I paid off six-figures of debt in a year. But even though I have to go at a slower pace, I will get out of debt eventually. After all, they say slow and steady wins the race!

Do you have a side hustle to help pay off your debt? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Read More

Hope’s Debt Update – August, 2022

Hi, again, from Georgia

A Peek Into My Personal Debts


  • Reply Klm |

    Genuine question: were you told to write posts that sound so SEO? Typically the posters here do periodic updates of debt, budget, or something related to their spending, financial planning, etc. Are you planning on this at any point?

    • Reply Vicky Monroe |

      I’m a full-time content writer, so maybe that’s why my posts sound SEO-related. But I am genuinely trying to provide an update about where I am financially and my mindset. Right now after a series of home repairs and an increase in my food and gas budget (which is an update about my spending), I’ve been feeling the pressure to get a side hustle. Many personal finance websites have been writing about side hustles more due to inflation, so I’ve been seeing and reading more of those types of articles. And Dave Ramsey has long touted side hustles as a way to get out of debt. So I thought other people in debt may be feeling the same way right now – guilty that they can’t get a side hustle due to other obligations and disappointed about not being able to put as much money toward debt. I’m sorry that this post wasn’t what you wanted to see – do you have a specific topic you would prefer?

  • Reply Mary |

    I agree. I never found a side hustle or second job to be helpful in paying down debt. I tended to spend more and my mental and physical health suffered because I felt overextended. What worked for me was to just really buckle down with tracking my spending and sticking to my budget. No excuses. To pay off my credit card debt years ago, I did a consolidation loan, which I know is not for everyone. It worked for me because seeing the $0 balances on my credit cards made me commit to not wanting them to go back up. Paid that loan off a little early and then just buckled down to pay down my student loans and car loan. Eventually I received loan forgiveness in 2/22, but I’d paid the majority of my loans off by then and was due to have them paid off by 4/23 if the PSLF waiver hadn’t happened. Was grateful my 24 years of public service allowed me the opportunity to get that. Have been debt free since and am now super focused on savings and saving for retirement so I’m honing my frugal living skills while still enjoying my life.

  • Reply Anon |

    I’m sorry people made you feel like you had to compromise your health to pay off a reasonable mortgage in your 20s. That’s not right.

  • Reply Walnut |

    There’s nothing wrong with the content of the post, it is just presented in a really impersonal way. There is also a lack of specifics, so it is hard to engage with you as a reader.

So, what do you think ?