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45% of U.S. Workers Have a Side Hustle, Data Shows

Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool

If it seems like every other person you know has a side hustle these days, it could be because it's become an increasingly common practice. In fact, 45% of working Americans earn extra income on top of their regular jobs, according to a new Bankrate survey.

Not surprisingly, this trend is most common among millennials, with 48% doing some sort of side work. Meanwhile, 39% of Gen Xers have a side gig, as do 28% of baby boomers.

If you've been grappling with financial issues, or have goals your current earnings don't allow you to meet, then it pays to consider getting a second gig yourself. At the very least, you'll be in good company.

Woman frosting cupcakes

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Why are Americans hustling?

There are different factors that might push you to take on a side hustle. In the aforementioned survey, however, the most common reason to get one boiled down to wanting extra money for discretionary spending. Working an extra gig is a great way to drum up cash for things like vacations, electronics, and other luxuries that are nice to have, especially when the alternative is charging those items on a credit card, carrying a balance on those purchases, and accruing costly interest as a result.

The second most common reason for having a side hustle is to pay for regular living expenses. Unfortunately, many workers don't earn money to make ends meet even when they live a very modest lifestyle, and so having that additional income is a crucial part of avoiding debt and staying on top of their bills.

Meanwhile, 27% of workers with a side hustle have one to boost their savings. Seeing as how 40% of U.S. adults don't have enough money in the bank to cover a $400 emergency, that's a smart move -- especially since workers are advised to sock away a minimum of three months' worth of living expenses in the bank for unplanned bills.

How to find a side hustle

If you're interested in going the side hustle route, you have several options. You could try consulting in your current field on evenings and weekends, applying to local businesses with job openings, or turning a hobby you enjoy into a paycheck. The latter is probably your most preferable option if it's profitable enough, because this way, the job you do on the side won't really feel like work in the conventional sense.

What types of hobbies might you monetize? If you're artistically inclined, you can design websites, catalogs, invitations, or stationary. If you're a photography wiz, you can do wedding and event shoots that bring in some serious cash. If you love animals, you can sign up to walk dogs, pet-sit, or be a groomer. And if you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, you can try your hand at catering or cake-baking for parties.

The best part? You never know when your side hustle might really take off to the point where you can turn it into a full-time job. A good 27% of workers with a side hustle say they're more passionate about that second gig than their primary job, and if you find that the same ends up holding true, you'll have the option to channel that passion into a positive career change.

There are plenty of good reasons to get a side hustle, so if you've been sticking to a single job thus far, it may be time to consider taking on a bit of extra work. Remember, you don't need to spend every waking minute plugging away at that additional gig. Putting in just a few hours a week could be enough to change your financial picture for the better.

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