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When I talk about my side hustle, I always imagine myself as some sort of superhero: Desk jockey by day, coffee ninja by night. Of course, real life isn’t ever quite so glamorous, but I still thought I had it pretty good. I got to work all day at my dream job for a professional basketball team, while moonlighting as your friendly Starbucks barista on the side.
The decision didn’t come lightly, but between the uncertainty of the economy, the imminent NBA lockout, and my own irresponsible spending (I had accumulated debt of just over $18k), I was stressed out all the time over money. I realized that it was no way to live anymore and decided to take action. The following week I was suited up with a shiny new green apron and jumped in!
For the next seven months I averaged 70 hours a week between the two jobs, but my quality of life vastly improved. Plus, I loved it.
In fact, I found the less hours I had in a day for myself, the more I was able to get accomplished. While getting my degree, I balanced a full-time course load with a part-time campus job, internships in my field, and social activities and haven’t stopped going since! I had worked in a coffee shop full-time right out of college before, so I knew it was something I could get excited about again every week (in addition to reducing my debt!).
Of course, a barista gig has some not-so-great parts about it too. Here are some pros and cons:
Cons of Being a Barista
- Practically minimum wage
- Low tips (not near as lucrative as waiting tables or bartending – we were lucky if it was $2/hr.)
- Lack of social life (my nights and weekends were gone)
- Frappuccino Happy Hour (so many frappuccinos, so little time!)
- Sometimes the customers (they can either make your shift, or break it)
Pros of Being a Barista:
- Open late so I could get in full shifts after work and on the weekends
- Free coffee!
- Free food! (Since I closed, a lot of the food we would normally trash out at night went home with me. I saved hundreds on groceries!)
- A social network outside my normal circle
- Interaction with all walks of people I wouldn’t normally encounter (and the life lessons they bring)
- That extra paycheck (Anywhere from $400-700/mo)
- Getting paid on opposite weeks from my other job
- Option for health benefits
- An additional, immediately vested 401(k) – AND match!
- Stock options (Proud owner of 6 shiny shares of SBUX!)
Working in a coffee shop wasn’t the highest paying job for the least amount of hours, but it was a side hustle that really worked out for me in the end. I had tried (and failed) trying others in the past, but sticking to it finally helped me land one I was excited about again. And even though I’ve retired the green apron since, I’m proud to say I’ve managed to reduce my debt down by almost $8,000 AND increased my net worth to over $10,000. All in just 7 short months. I’d consider that a pretty great ROI.
If you haven’t found a side hustle YOU love, I’d urge you to keep looking until you find the one that works for you!
Lora Kathleen is a twenty-something wanderer dumping her debt and finding her bliss. She keeps track at lorakathleen.com. If YOU have a side hustle you’d like to share with us, let J. Money know!
(“Starbucks Addict” photo by iwolkow.de – haha…)