Are Side Hustles Practical?

In light of watching Warren Buffett speak yesterday at the Berkshire meeting, I can’t help but wonder if side hustles are as effective as they’re cracked up to be. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have described focus as their number one criteria for success. Inherent to focus means we should question whether side hustles are practical or a distraction.

In the long run, I’m optimistic people will turn their side hustles into a large benefit for themselves and their communities. The Millennial Retirement Manifesto from the HuffPo covers this topic in more detail.

This article will tackle the pros and cons of spending time on a side hustle. For more on my take from the Berkshire meeting this weekend, check back in next Sunday or subscribe to receive that post directly in your inbox!

What are Side Hustles?

Nowadays we call them side hustles. Ten years ago it may have just been a second job or freelancing.

Each represents a new source of income.

So we naturally should expect a high ROI on our time which requires focus.


We each likely have an example of a person that comes to mind when we think of the word, “Focus.”

For me recently, my example is Bill Gates who says he never took a day off of work in his 20’s.

The ability to channel all our energy into one task without any distractions for such a long period is  difficult, but is something we can all do.

Developing a life strategy feels more like a verb to me than a noun. In other words, focus follows a path most resembling that of a verb than a noun. We each can practice focus on a daily basis more often than we currently do.

I know I can and I will because it directly benefits my personal finances.

Investing is a way of focusing on compounding interest. The upside is we don’t need to exert any effort in year 5 or year 30. Our Q1 investment, if left on its own, may end up covering half a decade of our retirement.

Another cool quote from Inc

Twice a year, during the busiest and most frenetic time in the company’s history, he still created time and space to seclude himself for a week and do nothing but read articles (his record is 112) and books, study technology, and think about the bigger picture,

Taking the time to sharpen the saw helps us return to work more productive.

For now, in my 20’s, I naturally feel in my Bill Gates phase of working.

I just need to give it all I’ve got and then periodically break it up with longer vacations, if possible. Ideally, we take up Bill’s advice and apply it before our 30’s! 😉

The practical result of this mindset for me is carving out 3 hours a day to work on creating content for Distilled Dollar.

“Is Pursuing a Side Hustle Practical?”

During the early days of the blog, I would constantly ask myself, “Is this practical?”

To date, I have not received a high financial ROI direction, but indirectly, I’ve benefited tremendously.

If you start a side hustle with an expectation of an immediate ROI, then you’ll likely fail. My experience has taught me these things take time. Even a fast start takes time.

Financially, I’m always improving. Discussing new saving strategies has helped our bottom line and so has another layer of understanding efficient vs effective.

Discussing such substantial topics such as frugality through our 90 Day Frugality Challenge, helped us saver further because of the public accountability factor.

As highlighted in our first HuffPo feature, we benefit significantly by being on same page.

I’m glad I’m focusing my time on the site;it’s been a privilege to be on this path to pursuing financial independence.


These represent an example of the many reasons I can provide for why my side hustles have been effective. If we further expand side hustles to include second jobs, freelancing, and even hobbies, then we should demand a high ROI of our time. By expanding ROI to include the big picture, we can take effective breaks and hone in on future growth.

Are Side Hustles Practical?


P.S. Check out the course early bird list.

3 comments… add one
  • Paul Andrews May 9, 2017, 9:17 pm

    “Even a fast start takes time.” Something that should be etched into the walls over our computers as we blog away. I often wonder if a lot of the side hustles that are pitched on various blogs even really make sense anymore (I’m looking at you, Fiverr). Great post, definitely makes you question whether or not those side hustles that present themselves are really worth it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Colin @ rebelwithaplan May 19, 2017, 8:44 pm

    Side hustles are practical if you really get value from them. They’re great to have in order to develop your time management (a super important but not often thought about soft skill).

    The area I wonder about is those quick side hustles. The ones you do to start immediately making some extra money: taking surveys, brand ambassador, dog walking, participating in testings, etc. These are good to do when you’re in need of some extra money but I don’t think they should be done in the long run. They scatter you and blur your focus.

    Long tail side hustles: running a blog, building up a product-based business, selling services, etc. are great and super practical.

  • Mike May 23, 2017, 10:46 am

    I think side hustles are great if it’s for a limited amount of time and there’s a specific purpose – getting out of debt, stockpiling cash for a baby or down payment on a home, etc. It may even be that you want to try something before committing to it full-time – blogging comes to mind. Longer-term I think it’s best to focus on your career. Side hustles can take time and focus away from more important, more productive things and they need to be worth what you’re giving up – whether that be your personal development, your primary occupation, your family, whatever.

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