Why I Scaled Back My Side Hustle

Why I Scaled Back My Side HustleLast year, my side hustle dreams came true. After several years of developing a client base and building my reputation as a dependable and effective after-school tutor, I crossed the $1000-a-month mark in extra income. My side hustle was more than enough to cover our mortgage payment for the month. My side hustle was almost an extra paycheck. My side hustle was a success. And this year, I made the decision to walk away from much of it.

One of the reasons why my side hustle was so successful last year was my willingness to tutor at seemingly every hour of every day. In addition to keeping my regular afternoon hours, I was rushing out to the library after dinner for last-minute cram sessions. Then, I started staking out a spot at Starbucks on weekend morning and evenings when the library was closed to meet with students who needed extra help before the follow week’s deadlines. In between sessions, I was fielding emails and answering phone calls to provide more coaching and support.

My flexibility and dedication to these students spoke volumes. Families loved it and recommended me to their neighbors. Eventually, I had to create a waiting list for sought after time slots and even turned some families down. I had found a really effective way to build a business.

I had also discovered a terrible way to be a wife, a daughter, and a friend. I was ducking out of weekend family parties to hit the library before closing time. I was leaving notes for Mr. P to reheat his meals during the week, since I wasn’t going to be home for dinner. I was passing on plans with friends to meet teenagers who couldn’t keep their binders organized.

In addition to taking a toll on my relationships, my side hustle was taking a serious bite out of my sanity. Much of what I do in my classroom depends on what I do in my free time — giving students feedback, monitoring data and student growth, creating new lessons, modifying old lessons, and communicating with families all takes place outside of my regular 7-4 job. Unwilling to sacrifice the quality of my teaching, I started to skip out on sleep, exercise, meditation, and more. By the end of the last school year, two things were abundantly clear: I had boosted my income, and I was running on fumes.

This year, I decided to forgo drumming up new clients at the start of the school year. I sent one email to the previous year’s clients to gauge their interest in continuing our collaboration. Then, I etched out a schedule that would allow me to work with a handful of students and still be home in time for dinner.

It’s true that I’m missing out on a significant amount of extra income this year. But I’ve also spent more weekends with my parents, caught up with more friends, and enjoyed more meals with my husband. There are always opportunities to make more money. It’s impossible to make more time.

So Tell Me…How much do you side hustle? How to balance your hustle with the rest of your life? Am I foolish to walk away?

Disease Called Debt
Why I Scaled Back My Side Hustle

28 thoughts on “Why I Scaled Back My Side Hustle

  1. Been there! My side hustle made me miserable until I was able to do it full-time. I don’t blame you for scaling back at all. If you didn’t want to tutor as a full-time job, you were only making yourself miserable.

    1. In some ways, I’d love to tutor full time. Even with parameters about cancelling and whatnot, it’s too unreliable for my liking. I do know a few women who decided to stay home with their kids and tutor afternoons and evenings. So I kind of keep that possibility in the back of my mind.

  2. Is there a way to scale things up without sacrificing key time periods during the day, like dinner time? Or scale up your pricing so your demand is reduced? It sounds like you have a good high-demand service and you’re in the growing pains as you figure out how to shape it to match your needs.

    1. You raise good points like always! As with most (some?) jobs, I bring home a good hour or two of work most nights as a teacher. So I definitely could juggle my schedule to accommodate dinner, but I also have to be careful that I’m not jeopardizing lesson planning and grading. I did give myself a raise this year, though. Most of my tutoring clients automatically tack on an extra $5/hour each year that we’re together, but this was the first year I made it consistent. It was a little scary – I didn’t want to totally price myself out, but I also know that I was worth more than some clients were paying.

      1. I would charge new clients more and think of ways you can work once and earn twice, like building study plans or guides so that you can sell those at a lower rate for those who can’t do live tutoring (not that exactly but something along those lines). You can’t get more hours and sometimes you don’t want to be increasing rates on people, so that’s a decent compromise?

        The point is you’d rather find a way to accommodate everyone, including your family and existing obligations. 🙂

  3. Oh, geez. This is a hard one for me. Because you’re 100% right. This blogging thing started out as a side hustle, but has turned into a second job. It’s not good that time is so scarce, but on the other hand it’s really saved me when work at my day job has slowed down. The husband and I sat down to redo our schedule recently, and while it’s still crazy hectic, we made sure to prioritize things like date nights and outings with the kids. (Nice thing about my day job is that as long as I put in professional development hours, there’s not anything I really have to take home with me.) So while we still don’t eat dinner together most nights recently between his school and work and everything I’ve got going on, at least we have dedicated time to our family now.

  4. Ah, I’m very glad to hear that you scaled back when you realized you were running on fumes. It is so vital to take care of yourself & the people you value in life. 🙂 I consider my blog a side hustle, but I haven’t monetized yet. This allows flexibility to post once a week, and collaborate with others when I can. It seems incredibly time consuming when I work 8-5pm, then find myself building my blog on week nights & weekends (when I should be resting, or spending time with family & friends)! On the flip side, I struggle because working on a side hustle after work keeps me focused on my health, and I spend less time on activities where I am just watching TV, or feeling bored. I don’t think you are foolish one bit – although it was great money, it shows there is more in life you value than making more. 🙂

    1. I often wonder about this blog, too. I enjoy it so much, and it’s much more productive than other pastimes (here’s looking at you, social media). But I sometimes wonder if I’ve replaced a paying side hustle with a non-paying one. Your blog is wonderful, and I can definitely sense all of your dedication to it and the PF world!

  5. Good for you! One reason I don’t freelance — unless a really well-paying gig falls in my lap — is because it’d take up too much time.

    My husband is home all day every day, so he hates feeling ignored while I work. Plus the one weekend per month I cover, but that’s for financial issues. Then there’s still my blog, which I could probably do much better if I put in more than the current minimum effort I do now. Instead, I choose quality of life and a little more fretting over finances.

    Chronic health problems suck, but they at least make you better at prioritizing how you spend your energy.

    1. I love hearing how you make the best of unfortunate circumstances. I don’t know many people who would view health issues at helping their prioritization. Thanks for always being so refreshing and inspiring.

  6. Thanks for sharing this refreshing view! And good for you for taking a step back from a side hustle that was draining all your energy. We cut out our side hustle entirely because we realized it was holding us back in our primary careers and, sure enough, within a year of eliminating it, I got promoted. Now I travel so much that I couldn’t do that same side hustle, and I know I can always go back to it after retiring if I’m so inclined. We’ll see…

    1. This perspective is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you. I won’t get promoted at work (doesn’t exist in teaching…sadly), but I can give even more of myself to my students if I’m not burning the candle at both ends and through the middle. So it’ll pay off, I think!

  7. I think its wise to scale back on the tutoring unless you decided to scale up to nearly full time. You already plan to retire at 57, there’s really no use in expediting this by sacrificing your life. If your goal were 36 this might be a different story.

    1. Excellent point! I play around with the full-time idea, but now that I’m finally relatively secure in my teaching career, I hate to trade that. Still, it makes me happy to know that I’ve got options since both teaching and tutoring are so fulfilling for me.

  8. Wow, so refreshing to hear about side hustles from the alternate perspective. So many people always go on and on about how important and vital a side hustle is to your financial success but I’ve always been afraid of spending too much time on this and not enough time with my personal relationships.

    Awesome post.

    1. Thanks, Alyssa! As someone who lost her job twice (the teaching job market was TERRIBLE when I first started), I can definitely appreciate the idea of having multiple income streams. But since I’m not necessarily looking to change jobs now (ever?), I’ve realized I can’t treat my side hustle like a full-time job. I just burned out.

  9. Side hustling definitely ebbs and flows for me. I go through phases where I go hard and then I need to step back and take a break. Right now I think I’m ready to ramp it back up.

  10. I love this post! I’m trying to build some sort of a side hustle, but I refuse to spend too much time outside of work… working more. I really need to decompress after a long day of being around people. This post helped a lot and made me realize that a side hustle is not the most important thing in life! Thank you!

    1. It’s so hard to wrap my head around side hustling. It’s ubiquitous in the PF blogosphere, and for good reason! Side hustles ARE smart. But I guess I value time over money, and until I find a way to tutor more efficiently, slowing down is fine by me.

  11. I’ve heard many times that no one on her deathbed has ever wished she had spent more time at work. “Killing yourself” with a side hustle once in a while for a short time to meet a particular goal can be great, but no one can keep it up long-term.

  12. Congrats on recognizing that you were running on fumes! I felt that way a few times when I took on props gigs to supplement my income and have largely found they’re not worth it. What’s the point of making money if you’re too burnt out to enjoy it? If you’re getting all the bills paid, I think it’s smart to take a step back from hustling and enjoy what you’ve built – whether that’s tangible things like traveling or just enjoying your relationships.

  13. As much as I enjoy the extra $$$ from hustling, I don’t have the energy to do it long term myself. I work a very demanding day job, so my time away is very important. I’ll still take on a few side gigs if I know I have a specific need/reason for the money (or really want to), but I’m valuing my sanity & time over working all the hours! Good for you in finding what was best for you and your life situation!

  14. It’s so easy to get carried away with side hustling, the more money you make, you more you want to do it. But side jobs can really take their toll on your day to day life. When I first started my blog, I was trying to do that, side hustle and work a day job as well as be a wife, mum and friend. It was just all too much. Nowadays I try not to work into the evening too much. Spending time with the people I care about is way more important!

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