Money Management

Can You Use a Side Hustle To Get Out of Debt?

By  Karen Banes

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It’s been a tough year. Maybe you’re in debt. Or you’re about to be. Maybe you’ve been in debt for a while and things are getting worse. It’s tempting to think a side hustle will help. And it could, as long as you don’t go into more debt to start it. If you need a side hustle to pay down or avoid debt, there are a few rules you need to follow.

Don’t Spend Big Money to Get Started

Believe it or not, there really are some side hustles you can start with no money, and many more that require very little. There are plenty of online businesses you can start from your sofa, with very little investment, using the skills and resources you already have. Consider freelancing, selling on eBay, Amazon FBA, or tutoring online. There are a lot of lucrative side hustles that don’t require a big start-up fund.

Be Wary of Spending Even a Little Money on ‘Hard’ Side Hustles

That probably means avoiding all those network marketing or MLM schemes where you have to buy a set of products you sell to others. The outlay isn’t huge, and yes, a few people succeed. Most don’t. In fact, FTC research suggests that 99% of MLM participants fail to make money. The same goes for things like trading forex or cryptocurrencies. There’s a reason you’ll find a disclaimer on every reputable broker site stating something like “87% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading with this provider”.

Use the Skills You Have

The easiest way to start a side hustle is to use a marketable skill you already have. What do you do in your day job? What have you done in previous day jobs? What’s your major? What do you already do for your family? There are opportunities to start side hustles doing things as diverse as baking cakes or doing people’s taxes. Freelancers provide skills such as writing, proofreading, picture research, social media scheduling, graphic design, or translation. If your side hustle is going to run alongside a full-time (or even part-time) job, make sure you’re not going against company rules or policies.

Teach Something

This is a simple extension of the above point, but worth giving extra thought to. People pay for knowledge. You can often make money teaching something you know how to do, regardless of formal qualifications. Just be honest. People don’t always want a qualified teacher to tutor their middle schooler, improve their Spanish, or teach them guitar. They just want results, preferably at an affordable price.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Starting a side hustle can be fun, or it can be stressful. Either way, you’ll get caught up in what you’re doing and immersed in the process. So don’t forget why you’re doing it. If you need to pay down debt, make a plan. Make sure that every cent you earn is going toward that. By the time you’ve eliminated that debt, you might have a growing side hustle that’s worth re-investing in, but initially, remember why you’re doing this. Feel the satisfaction of hitting that initial financial goal you set yourself.

Karen Banes

About the Author

Karen Banes

I’m a freelance writer specializing in online business, personal finance, travel and lifestyle. I also work as a content creator for hire, helping brands and businesses tell their stories, grow their audiences, and reach their ideal customers. I’ve lived, worked and studied in six countries, across three continents. Stop by my blog to learn how to run your own (very) small business on your own terms. You can also connect with me at my website or follow me on

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.

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