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My Side Hustles Helped Me Pay Off Debt — and Pursue My Passion

Published:
February 5, 2024
February 5, 2024
Read this article to learn how you can start side hustles to pay off debt and explore your other callings in life.

I’ve always known that I wanted a career in writing, but the road that a young writer travels is not as linear as other career paths. When I graduated from college, I found myself torn between pursuing my passion or taking a high-paying job to expedite paying off my student loan debt. I know I’m not the only one who faced such a decision post-grad, and in the end, I chose the latter with the hopes that once I reached my financial goals, I would be able to pivot to my dream industry in public relations.

Sure enough, after my first year of working in corporate America, I was able to buy a car without having to take on additional debt because of the money I saved from sales bonuses. But the con of working a job that you are not passionate about is that you wake up every day wanting to switch careers. After a year, I got a new job, this time in the tech industry, making more money than I had before.

Around that time, I realized something was missing from my life. I felt financially stable, but that was all I was getting out of my job. I have been writing since I was 18 but had never monetized my writing because I wanted to keep my passions “unmonetized.” However, the better I got at writing, the more I wanted to take it seriously. I figured if this is something I do in my free time anyway, why not make some money out of it? That’s when I decided to add side hustles to my plate — not necessarily for the money, but to add a passion to my routine. 

Pursuing my passions through side hustles

My first side hustle came in the form of being a blog manager with Blessed Is She, a prayer community for women. My main responsibilities include leading brainstorming sessions, curating the editorial calendar, and working with my team of editors to get articles in tip-top shape. My hours are very flexible so the things that I must keep in mind are the deadlines that I set for the team as well as getting content ready months ahead of time. My second side hustle is writing for Grotto! Since pitches are done monthly, I write one article a month and I usually take a Saturday morning at a café to go do that. Both these positions allow me to pursue not only my passion of writing but also my faith life — an opportunity I wasn’t getting in my 9-5.

A balancing act

Balancing my tech industry job with my new freelance positions wasn’t too difficult as I was fully remote, so I had more flexibility in my day. However, at the end of 2023, I entered a full-time position in my dream industry. As exciting as this was, it came with a big change. Unlike my previous jobs, my PR position wasn’t fully remote, so I had to adjust to having a lengthy commute a couple of days out of the week. I also had to figure out a new system with my side hustles — making time in the evenings and Saturday mornings rather than during the day. For me, maintaining boundaries is key. When I let the boundaries blur — answering emails for my blog manager position while at the office for my PR job — I get overwhelmed and lose that precious balance.  

Another thing that helps is finding time to stay active. Even though going to the gym adds another task to my week, it also helps me stay energized and motivated. Even though I work the occasional Saturday, I try to keep the Sabbath holy. When it comes to my social life, I’ve found that the trick is to plan ahead. If I am going on a weekend trip or know that I won’t be able to touch my laptop during the weekend, I work a little extra during the weekdays. If my Saturday plans are not until the evening, I utilize my mornings to get my side hustle work done. I use a physical planner, list out deliverables for each job I have and their deadlines, and then I number each task by priority. Do I have some weeks when I miss going to the gym because I am so busy? Yes. Do I have some weeks when I wish I had more time to pray? Absolutely. But to be given the gift to do what I love and make a livable wage out of my passions is a privilege that I do not take for granted. 

My secret to success

In my experience, the essential elements to maintaining my balancing act are passion and prayer. If I was not passionate about the extra ways that I earn income, I would not have the motivation to work multiple jobs. Since writing is what I do in my free time anyway, it doesn’t feel like work to me. Finally, I live by the rule that if I am too busy to pray, I am too busy. It sounds cliché, but I’ve found that God really does multiply your time when you hand it to him.

It has been a lot of work (and yes, sometimes I fall asleep in complete exhaustion on the couch), but the fruit of my labor is that I’ll be able to pay off my student loan debt by the end of 2024. The debt that we take on to get a good education is worth serious discernment, but personally, the college degree I earned opened my pathway into the career that I have now. And come the end of the year, I am excited to be student debt-free and continue doing my side hustles for the sole purpose of passion.

Creators:
Patricia Valderrama
Published:
February 5, 2024
February 5, 2024
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