Legally Thrifty: The Good Kind of Hustle

Last time on Legally Thrifty, I promised that I would reveal my financial resolution for 2012.  This resolution naturally leads to what I want to discuss for this month’s column – the good kind of hustle.  No worry, the personal finance hustle is a perfectly legitimate way to increase income, provided that your means to the end does not involve, say selling drugs on the side.  So without further ado – my goal this year is to increase my “side hustle” to help pay my law school loans.


[ Image from – Do the Hustle ]

The side hustle is a term affectionately used by personal finance bloggers to describe any income that you make outside of your regular or full-time job.  To find your side hustle, you need to evaluate your time availability and skill set.  For example, if you work a 9 to 5 job, you probably cannot be a dog walker since people usually hire a dog walker to work during business hours.  Fortunately, most hustle gigs do allow for a more flexible schedule where you can get things done on your own time.  As to what exactly you can do for your side hustle, look at your talents, whether they involve skills specific to your job or to one of your hobbies.  Everyone is good at something.  If you are crafty, go on Etsy and sell your creations.  If baking is your hobby, hustle those cookies and whoopee pies.  We all had a life before law school from which we can draw possibilities.

In fact, when I first came across the concept of the side hustle, I was surprised at the limitless creativity and variety of activities that people were able to do on the side.  One woman made her own seed packets, another woman counted worms for a bait supplier.  However, the most popular side hustles are blogging (ad revenues), mystery shopping, selling on eBay, dog-walking, and tutoring.  You can check out the Side Hustle Series on the popular blog, Budgets are $exy, for real life stories and ideas.  Your side hustle does not have to be as radical as worms, it can fit into the comfort zone of your profession.  For instance, a medical resident can pursue the option of reviewing MCAT prep materials for testing companies.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, the side hustle can even grow into a successful business that may eclipse your normal salary.  For Crystal, what started as helping out a fellow blogger deal with advertisers became a full blown business in negotiating advertisements that allowed her to become self-employed.  No More Harvard Debt partnered with a friend to create a landscaping business to help pay off the debt from earning his Harvard MBA.  I think that right now, the most lucrative and prospective side hustle may be in developing mobile or social applications, if you have the technological background for it.

The umbrella point is that you must think outside the box and look outside your career  for your side hustle.  For those of us with a JD, legal related work is scarce aside from teaching LSATs and editing or reviewing legal content articles.  I fell into my side hustle by accident, coupled with a stroke of luck.  I needed money to help pay my law school loans.  I knew that I was a good writer.  I loved beauty and fashion.  So I combined my talent and interests in a personal blog, which actually does not generate any revenue due to my choice of blogging platform.  Thus I decided to try my hand at freelance writing.  With my first application, I became a writer for, who took a chance and hired me, despite my lack of professional writing experience.  I also have a sporadic tutoring gig, assisting a first year law student with her legal writing. 

Thanks to Ms. JD, I continue to build my writing resume so that I can hopefully get more freelance writing jobs.  Even if you are not in dire straits to pay off your loans, the truth is that you may not be practicing law at the end of the day.  Your side hustle may lead to fulfillment of a dream.  Or at the very least, an enjoyable pastime that happens to make you a little bit of money.

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