Side Hustles: They’re Not Just About Extra Money

About 10 years ago, I got a phone call from my Dad. He was really excited…

”Hey Joel, guess what!? Me and Dr. Pat are starting a band! It’ll be me, Dr. Pat, Brassy, Boney Bob, *insert about 10 other nicknames I’ve never heard of*… We’re all starting a band called The Rock Doctors!”

I was a little surprised. Dad was almost 50 years old at the time and had been a white collar professional his whole life. So it was hard to picture him as the lead guitarist in a rock band.

I’m all for people following their passion, but I gotta admit in my head I was thinking, “Dad, aren’t you a bit old to be starting a side hustle? I don’t think you’ll make much money.”

Shame on me! To my surprise, after a few months of practice, The Rock Doctors booked their first gig at a small local pub.

Then word started spreading and before they knew it, they had a regular playing schedule at a couple different venues around town.

As years went on, their schedule got busier and busier, so they hired a band manager. They booked corporate events, a couple hotels and even played at a well known Australian music festival!

In 2015, the Rock Doctors flew to Hawaii to play at my wedding! Funny story actually… The night before my wedding, the band members all went drinking down in Waikiki. They made friends with some locals and somehow ended up playing a few songs on stage at the Hawaii Yacht Club! A night my Dad and his buddies will never forget.

To my knowledge the band doesn’t make much money. And they’ll never be world famous rock stars…

But that’s not the point. The point is you never know where your passion projects and side hustles will end up. If you never make much money from it, that’s OK! Side hustles can lead to things way more valuable than extra income. My Dad’s hustle certainly did.

Side Hustles Aren’t Just About Extra Income

We talk a lot about side hustles on this blog. And if you look up the basic definition of side hustle, you’ll find: “A side hustle is an additional job that a person takes in addition to their primary job in order to supplement their income.”

Although I love the idea of earning extra income, I truly believe that most long-term side hustles are successful because they:

  • Are fun and enjoyable
  • Fulfill a larger mission or purpose in life
  • Provide a good service to others
  • Are a creative outlet
  • Lead to unexpected cool experiences
  • Develop skills you didn’t know you had
  • Let you experiment, fail, learn, grow, boost your confidence, and a million other cool things that have nothing to do with earning money

Money might be one of the main reasons you want to try something, but I don’t think it should be the only reason. Side hustles can be passion projects, hobbies, or in the words of my friend Alan Donegan, “just doing cool shit with cool people!”

FIRE Changed My Mindset About Hustling

When I was younger, I quite happily traded my time for money. Working was solely about earning income and finding the highest hourly pay for my time, even if I didn’t enjoy the work.

This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing… One of my side jobs was working the night shift sorting mail at the post office. It was a crappy job but I didn’t care, because I saved a cool $10,000 in six months in addition to my day job. That’s life-changing money for a young adult, if invested properly over time.

But, none of my side hustles or jobs lasted a very long time. With money as my sole focus, I was always searching for something better and higher-paying. It’s a frustrating and never-ending quest. My personal time became more and more valuable as I got older, so it was harder and harder to trade it for just money.

The FIRE movement has helped me redefine my relationship with “work” (both for side hustles AND my main job!). Prioritizing money is OK sometimes, but not all the time. FIRE is teaching me to nurture and explore the enjoyment side of work (which ironically is a very important skill if you’re planning to retire early in life!).

Money Is a Byproduct of Success

John Rockefeller once said, “If your only goal is to become rich, you will never achieve it.”

Nobody knows what he truly meant when he said this. But I like to think he was trying to encourage people to think about the process, not the end result. If you pursue things with the sole intent of getting rich, you might be giving up precious experiences in return — and thus stripping yourself of a truly rich life.

Instead, if we think about how we like to spend our time, and pursue our hobbies ruthlessly, success compounds and money can come as a byproduct.

Hustling Is Easier If You Enjoy What You Do

There’s a time and a place to prioritize money. Picking up side jobs for extra income isn’t a bad thing — and it can solve short-term financial problems like paying off a credit card, funding a vacation, or supplementing a low income. Quick extra cash is needed sometimes!

But if you’ve got your basic financial needs covered, I encourage you to pursue hustles that you truly find fun. Try exploring the non-money benefits of side hustles, as you might find it more satisfying, and longer-lasting. 🙂

Ok, stepping off my soapbox now. Happy hustling, friends! I’m proud of you no matter what you choose to pursue.

Have a great weekend,


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  1. The Millennial Money Woman January 22, 2021 at 6:00 AM


    I really appreciate how you mentioned that money is a byproduct of success. So many today (and I was included in this category about a year ago) believe that money determines where or how you should start your side hustle. But that’s not the case. Your side hustle should be something you are passionate about – something where you would wake up every single day because you are passionate about it. When you are driven and truly love what you do, the money will be no issue. If you love what you do, you’ll be consistent, you’ll work through the low spots and you’ll always strive to improve. Those are the 3 key steps you need in order to level up and thrive.

    Fantastic post (and an awesome picture of the band as well!).



    1. Joel January 22, 2021 at 4:54 PM

      Great point about the low spots! It’s much more difficult to get through if you’re not having fun along the way!

  2. NZ Muse January 23, 2021 at 10:49 PM

    I have learned soooo much through my side hustle. Every new writing project is a new leaning opportunity. I seriously feel I’ve almost had a few coaching sessions just through my work for some coaches, and it’s great.

    1. Joel January 26, 2021 at 6:00 PM

      Learning and experience can be like a form of payment. That’s cool you value that more than the $$!