How Side Hustles Allowed Me to Quit the Rat Race

I’m sure that you’ve had the thought. On the drive in to work on a cold Monday morning after scraping ice off your windshield, you dream about quitting your job and doing something else. Something that allows you more freedom to live life as you want to.

This is a guest post written by Jon from Money Smart Guides, a personal finance blog that helps readers build wealth and invest for their future.

I was in your shoes. Back in 2010 I was as low as you could go. I hated my job. In fact, I don’t even think the word hate describes just how much I disliked my job. I used up all of my paid vacation and wished I could buy more. I even considered taking unpaid days off. Being miserable for the rest of my life was not an option I wanted to pursue.

It was at that time I started blogging on the side. I had no dream of making this my career or anything like that. I was just hoping to make some extra money from it. This money, along with money from other side hustles, would be used to allow me to one day retire early.

Related: How to Start a WordPress Blog on iPage For Just $24

The goal was to quit the rat race by 50. That meant 20 more years of getting up to an alarm. While I didn’t envision working the same job I hated so much for the next 20 years, I still saw myself working somewhere for that length of time.

Fast forward 3 years, and I get called into my boss’s office. I had been working at a new company for just over 2 years. I was doing great. Everyone raved about how good of a job I was doing. While I wasn’t excited to wake up to an alarm, it was much more bearable than my previous job.

I walked into the room, sat down, and was told I was getting laid off. The company no longer needed my help. I was still a great worker. They just had no use for me. Talk about a shock to the system.

I packed up my things and drove home. It was 11am. Because I was in shock, I really wasn’t feeling any emotions. I called my fiancé and told her the news. I told her the good news was that if we wanted to stay a little longer on our destination wedding next month, we could because I didn’t have to be back!

That afternoon I went and played golf. It helped me to think and process what had happened. Over the next few days and weeks, I did a lot of thinking and analyzing our budget. I realized that my side hustles would allow me to not retire at 50, but quit the rat race now.

So how did I get to the point where I was able to quit the rat race early? What were all of the side hustles I was doing to get me to where I was? We have to go back to college, as that is where it all began.

How Side Hustles Allowed Me to Quit the Rat RaceThe Start of My Side Hustle Journey

It was junior year and my roommate and I wanted some more money. At the time, eBay was new and you could sell anything for a profit. I know because I sold a crisp $5 dollar bill for $8. True story.

My roommate and I ended up hitting yard sales and estate sales. We picked up anything we thought was of value and resold it online. We were making around $250 a month.

From there, we turned to music. This was right before Napster came along and blew everything up. We would sign up for BMG music and Columbia House to get 12 CD’s for $0.01. We’d buy whatever was hot at the time and sell the CD’s for $10 each. Then we’d wait for their good sales, stock up and repeat. (We may have even signed up multiple times using different names to really profit.)

While the yard sale side of eBay carried on, the music side quickly dried up when mp3’s came along.

Of course, side hustling didn’t stop there. After college, I continued to use eBay to my advantage. I began to incorporate other hustles into the mix as well. Here is a short list.

  • Scrap Metal: I started to collect scrap metal and copper wiring. I would hold on until I had around 50 pounds or more and would sell it for $100+. The main way I did this was just to collect the cables they include with any electronics purchase. I also had friends and family give me cables they didn’t need. I even would cut the wire off anything with a plug that I was throwing away.
  • Amazon: Much like eBay, but a little different. I would find new items on clearance at stores and resell them on Amazon for a profit. This took a little more work but the profit was much more as well.
  • Old Books: I even sold old textbooks. I would sell these on both eBay and Amazon and would make around $5-$10 per book. As the years passed however and more people got wind of this, it became too time consuming and not as profitable.

Then of course there was blogging. I make money through blogging through selling advertising and by recommending great products I use.

Thanks to the internet, there are countless ways to make extra money. I’m even finding new ways myself.

My Side Hustle Income

As I mentioned before, my goal was to retire early with this money I was making. Whatever I made, I would transfer to a dedicated online savings account. At the end of the year, I would invest it in the stock market so it could grow and one day allow me to retire at 50.

But that didn’t happen. Instead of waiting until 50, I used this money to help me cover expenses while I tried to blog full time and turn this side hustle into a main income source at age 35. Three years later and things are still going well.

My income has been doubling each year and I see it doing the same this year as well. Will I ever go back to working for someone else? I don’t know. I don’t consider myself retired at this point as I still have to work to earn an income. If I could forget about blogging or just do it part time and still earn enough to pay the bills, then I would consider myself retired.
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Final Thoughts

The goal of this post was twofold:

  1. To show you that any extra money you make can help you to get to where you want to go.
  2. That things happen along the way.

Maybe money is tight right now. Maybe you just want to save more money. Doing a couple side hustles can help you get to where you want to be financially. You just have to make sure you save the money you earn!

Whatever your goal is for your side hustle income, remember that life happens. Nothing goes as planned. My plan was to retire at 50 and to many, they consider me retired at 38 because I don’t have to be anywhere during the workweek. I answer to myself.

I call it self-employed, but they can stick with their opinion. Just as my side hustle income allowed me to quit the rat race much earlier than planned, I know that life happens. I might end up getting a real job one day again. I am OK with this.

Don’t think making money on the side is impossible or hard. It is very possible and it is fun. I never feel like making money through a side hustle is work. It is a lot of fun and that motivates me to keep doing it.

You can do it too, you just have to take the first step and find something you enjoy doing that can bring in some money on the side. Good luck!

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11 comments to How Side Hustles Allowed Me to Quit the Rat Race

  • Thanks for the post. Every time I think about side income, I’m always a little wary of how much time it will take. I value time with the family in the evenings, but I actually have down time at work everyday so I need to find easy things I can do online between my work loads.
    CoupleofCents recently posted..How Giving Will Increase Your Net Worth

  • This is an inspiring story. I started blogging in 2009 primarily for a side hustle income. The income I earned was not big but helps a lot to pay the bills. However, Google algo changed and my site was greatly affected and so was the income. I went into hiatus and did some side gigs that were not online. Now, I’m back into blogging again and hope this time, it will work out fine.
    Mrs. MFB@MomFinanceBlog recently posted..Christmas Celebration and Its Financial Implications

    • A similar story for me too MFB. Blogging income was so easy before that algorithm change! I’m glad Jon’s story helped inspire you – it inspires me too! There’s still hope for that huge income again. 🙂

    • There are plenty of ways to make extra money on the side. Blogging has become more difficult now that the easy money is gone but it can be done with some hard work. I would suggest to just blog so that it is enjoyable. If you put too much pressure on it, you’ll begin to resent it. Keep your eyes open for other ways to make some money on the side too!
      Jon @ Money Smart Guides recently posted..5 Benefits Of Buying My Last Home With Cash

  • Katy

    I’m curious about the scrap metal gig. Did you strip the cables of the rubber casing or just turn them in with it? Any other details of collecting and selling scrap metal would be appreciated.

    • I leave the wires in the rubber casing. I just take a pair of pliers and clip off the plug.

      Other things I do – my friends and family knows I “collect” scrap so they reach out to me before tossing anything.

      The price for copper varies so when it is low, I just collect the smaller scrap in an area in my garage and wait for prices to rise. Of course, larger items I don’t have this option and just scrap them.

      Make sure you search for scrap yards in your area and confirm they take scrap from individuals and ask what their rate is they pay. When you do, don’t get dressed up. They are dirty places.
      Jon @ Money Smart Guides recently posted..Should You Use A Robo-Advisor To Help You Invest?

  • Jason

    This article is a bunch of words that doesn’t say anything. What are your current side hustles specifically and what do they pay? How do you get started in them and, more importantly, how do you succeed? You’ve got to put a little meat on that bone for the readers.

    • My main side hustle right now is blogging. I make $5K/month from it.

      Before when I was blogging part time and doing more side hustles here are the things and numbers:

      eBay/Amazon reselling: $250+/month
      Collecting scrap metal: varies based on price for copper/metal. Usually worked out to $400/yr
      Selling old books: $100-$200/month

      The easiest way to get started with eBay is to find things around the house to sell. This will help you to learn how to list and price on eBay. Once you get that down, you can start going to yard and estate sales and buy stuff on the cheap to resell. Just take your phone with you and check prices on eBay. You’ll know when you find a deal.

      For scrap metal, just start out collecting old cables and wires that come with electronics. Put them in a trash bag and when it gets full, take them over to be scraped. No need to strip the wires.

      For old textbooks, this one it tough now with so many people doing it. I found good stuff at yard sales and when libraries have brown bag events. Again, check online for current pricing to know when you find a deal.

      For blogging, I am finishing up a detailed post on how to find a niche, get hosting, write posts, find traffic, etc. that will go live early in the new year on my blog. It will be a step by step guide to help you go from start to quitting your job and living on your blogging income.

      You can sign up for new posts and get it in your email when it goes live or just leave me your email address and I can let you know when it goes live.
      Jon @ Money Smart Guides recently posted..Should You Use A Robo-Advisor To Help You Invest?

  • You make some excellent points about things happening along the way, Jon. It’s great that you saved your extra earnings because they certainly came in handy. And I’m still trying to figure out how that whole crisp $5 bill turned into $8!

  • My first side hustle was selling burnt cds in jr high. This was right around 99/00 and I was one of the few kids with a computer that had a cd burner. I was able to get about $10 per cd. Napster was going then so songs were easy to come by and the crack down on illegal music sales didn’t really exist. With that and my paper route, I was a “rich” kid.

    That’s hilarious that you sold a $5 bill for $8 on eBay by the way.
    Stephen recently posted..4 simple holiday budget tips for this festive season!

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