I’m 27 years old and work an awesome full time job in professional development at a university in Colorado. I love my current position and employer but it took me a long time to get to where I am now. My side hustle is serving tables at a restaurant downtown one to two shifts per week.
Let’s back up a little…
My first job was bussing tables at a historical hotel and restaurant in the tiny town in which I grew up. I was only 13 years old! I cringe when I think back to how young and naive I was. I remember drinking a lot of shirley temples and standing around, probably being useless. When I began high school, I grew up a bit and started serving tables at a local steakhouse. It was great money and far more than my peers were making at their retail and customer service jobs. Not to mention I was working half the hours that they were. By the time college rolled around, I had realized that making some hard cash in just a few hours was the kind of work I could fit into my demanding undergraduate schedule.
Serving tables (and a few student loans) paid for my undergraduate education. It was typical to earn more than $100 in any four hour shift and I worked three to five times per week. If I worked lunch and dinner, I would stroll out of the restaurant $200 wealthier. After I graduated, I worked a few desk jobs that I truly didn’t enjoy. I knew I wanted to work at the university but because it’s a government job with great benefits, the competition to get hired was was cut-throat. After working for a year in an administrative role for a psychotherapy company that was draining the life out of me, I quit and went back to serving tables. Two weeks after beginning this current restaurant job (almost two years ago), the heavens opened and I was finally hired by the university. I made one of the best financial choices I’ve ever made and stayed at the restaurant part-time.
- The built-in social life of awesome co-workers.
- Extra income to pad my savings accounts and unexpected expenses.
- Exercise! On a busy night, I easily walk over 5 miles.
- Serving so many different people in so many different moods over the years has given me an edge in reading people in various situations. I can tell how their day went and what I should say.
- A thick wad of cash is more difficult to get into the bank than a paycheck. The temptation to spend it is almost always there. Fifty $1 bills gives you a false sense of security because it’s so thick and I tend to think, “Why not?!” when I want a coffee / frozen yogurt / new shoes on the way to the bank.
- Not depositing all of it makes it challenging to track. Mint.com has never worked for me.
- I miss out on social gatherings on a pretty regular basis because I’m at the part-time job.
- Sometimes I work 60+ hour work weeks. Not pretty.
Is serving tables thankless work? Yes. Are customers sometimes unpleasant? Of course. But I’ve been working in restaurants for over ten years now and it doesn’t get to me anymore. Very few restaurants can boast this but I have great co-workers, understanding managers, and an agreeable, customer-oriented kitchen staff. Our company’s mission is to go out of our way to ensure the guest has the best possible experience. It’s literally a place I can earn some great money and alternately not think about when I’m not physically there. I don’t lose any sleep over it. In addition to my salaried university job, five to ten extra hours of work per week at the restaurant easily earns me $500 – $1000 extra income (depending on the season) per month.
Be nice to your server! He/she might have already worked an eight hour day at a “real” job.
Clare blogs over at Never Niche: a conglomeration of her interests (never having a niche) and her constant quest to do more with less. She can also be found on twitter @neverniche. Let’s give her some love everyone! :)
If you’d like to be featured in our Side Hustle Series, give me a shout and let me know what you’re up to! (j @ budgetsaresexy dot com)
(Photo by Serge Melki)