In our first installment, we went over the definition of a side hustle and their pros and cons. Today, we’ll review considerations military spouses will want to keep in mind when deciding how to make this situation work for them.
Here are some questions military spouses may want to ask themselves:
What are my needs?
Is the spouse looking for a position with extremely flexible hours, or can hours be more set? Do they need to make “good money,” or is a lower-paid job okay? Do they want a “passion project,” or just something to pay bills or build a nest egg?
What are my personal assets and liabilities?
Can they self start and motivate all on their own, or would it best to have someone else lead? Does the family have funds available upfront to start a business and purchase materials, or do they need something that is cost-free?
What skills do I have to offer?
It’s common to start out by thinking, “What can I do that’s similar to other jobs I’ve had?” But spouses should think outside of this particular box, brainstorming all their marketable skills and abilities. Regardless of whether you’ve earned money at it (so far), think about everything you know you’re good at or that people have told you you’re good at.
Do’s and Don’ts for Success
After coming up with a plan or business model, military spouses will still have a lot of work to do and some important caveats to keep in mind. Here are some do’s and don’ts for side hustles.
Do research taxes and legalities.
Although some side jobs will be typical as far as taxes (that is, the employer withholds), others will be a very different matter. Those who are self employed will need to pay taxes to cover Social Security and Medicare. Typically, they will also need to pay estimated taxes ahead of time. However, they will benefit from deductions related to the cost of running a business.
Don’t forget also that spouses who live in military housing may have restrictions as far what they can run or operate from home. If working overseas, many other laws may apply.
Do remember to market
Never assume that “if you build it, they will come.” Those in business for themselves need to market themselves. At times, it may be wise to pay someone to help with this.
Don’t fall for a scam
“Earn 15,000 per month at home in your pajamas! No experience necessary!” Sound familiar? There are many scams out there targeting those who want to work from a home or start a business. Here are some potential warning signs of a scam that you may wish to pass along:
- Requires a deposit for training, access to information, “processing”, etc.: This is something to be wary of.
- Markets itself as something “anyone can do” with “no experience” yet there is “mass earning potential”: If it’s so easy and lucrative, why isn’t everyone doing it?
- Has poor reviews online: Research companies first at the Better Business Bureau. What do others say?
- Sounds too good to be true: It probably is.
Do take advantage of social networks
Contacts and social networks are hugely important resources. Work seekers may discover that someone else they know is running the same type of business, or has wisdom to offer on the idea they’re considering. Those who are new to the area or who feel their social circle is small should consider attending Meetups, volunteering, or joining a professional or military network.
Don’t expect instant success
A self-owned business typically takes some time to take off. They may need to be patient for a while before seeing results. If this is not financially sustainable, they should seek a different opportunity.
But: Do know when to move on
It’s easy for many to charge too little for services or to put in extra hours that are uncompensated. Of course, for most, there may be a startup period with low profits. But after a few months, it’s important that they be honest about earnings per hour. Is it sustainable?
Do consider dedicating earnings to a specific goal
What’s the financial goal of this venture? Are they looking to pay off debt, save for a house or car, or put more into retirement or college funds? Rather than sending earnings into the general pot, consider directing them to a specific account. This can really help workers to stay motivated, and prevent them from simply raising their standard of living because of the “extra money.”
Don’t forget about retirement
Unlike many “regular” jobs, most side hustles are not going to do this for you, so they’ll need to keep this in mind and set aside some of the funds.
In our next installment, we’ll offer a list of side hustle ideas and their pros and cons.