Comment of the week: “Get two jobs”

Ramit Sethi

Two comments had a great back-and-forth on this post (“What would you tell the 30-year-old divorcee with 30k of debt?”):

Danielle: “Uhhh I’d tell them life isnt so bad. Im 23, attached and have 85k in school loans and I cant get a job more than 14 bucks an hour. Whats my advice?”

Boomer: “Danielle – Get two jobs.”

It’s a little more nuanced, but not by much. Yes, sometimes you just need to earn more money. No, it’s not always easy. But few of us think about getting two jobs, when it’s almost always a very clear way to earn more money.

Wondering how to get a second job (even a consulting gig)? Read this: Earn money using your god-given skills.

Why do so few of us think about getting a second job?

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  1. Katie

    Ramit, you have about 20 jobs, and you seem to love all of them so it stands to reason that it’s not immediately apparent to you why most people don’t think to get a second job.

    More people don’t think about getting two jobs because *sometimes* work just plain sucks. And if you’re already working 8 (or more?) hours per day at your first full time job, the thought of going to another craptastic job and giving up your video games/time with your family/will to live is too much. Not everyone lives to work.

    AND not everyone hates their job. But not everyone loves it. With the economy the way it is, we can’t all be choosers. And, if you have a ton of debt and its crushing you, it very well might be time to suck it up and get a second job. If that’s the case, and you also hate that job, my recommendation is to learn some buddhist philosophy about impermanence, suffering and mindfulness because you will need to adjust your mental approach until it becomes possible to change jobs.

    But I’m pretty sure that’s why most people don’t want to get a second job.

  2. Andy

    I’ve thought about getting a part-time job in addition to my full-time job. The thing is I’d have to work nights or weekends. This would mean not getting to drive down and visit my folks when I want to, and giving control over my time to another boss, when I already have to schedule days off ahead of time in my current job. In light of this, I’d much rather make a little supplemental income by donating plasma or selling stuff on eBay. It still takes time, but I get to choose if I want to take the time.

  3. Julia

    I know a lot of people are reluctant about second jobs because they do tend to cut into one’s time.

    It all depends, but for a lot of people cutting back and making sacrifices financially may have benefits like having more time for your family or time to research possibilities for financial gain, even if immediate gain is available in the form of a random second job.

    Of course, keep in mind I’m a teacher. We have jobs that go far beyond 40 hours a week even if we only get paid for the 40. So that may be a factor for a lot of people putting in “overtime” but not actually getting paid for it…

  4. Moneymonk

    I think because a second job is dreadful. Once you leave a 8 hour job, it becomes hard to go to another location and work more, bottom line we get lazy and in our comfort zone.

    She cannot afford to cut expenses therefore she has to go in the direction of “earning more”

  5. Nathan

    As mentioned, a second job implies something rigid and inflexible that inherently involves more travel, etc. It’s not the work from the second job I oppose, or even the rate of pay, but the fact I am unwilling to schedule myself for 15+ hours away from home everyday. I might not be unwilling to work that much, but I’m certainly unwilling to have it scheduled and have people depending on me to be a specific place that amount of time with regularity.

    Other side jobs, consulting, web design, what have you, can be done from home and with some degree of flexible hours. “Get a second job” has only negative connotations.

  6. Ted

    By looking at all the comments on your recent post asking what people do for a living, it looks like a large portion of your readers do have (at least) two jobs.

  7. Ben

    Almost everyone has time for a second job. The problem is that most people feel it is beneath them to get a second job that is not “professional”. I see this behaviour a lot among my recently college graduated friends.
    “I’m having problems paying the bills on my income”
    “Ok, well have you considered getting a serving position on nights and/or weekends?”
    “Oh, I wouldn’t do that, I’m not in high school anymore!”

    Excuse me? So I guess it is better struggling to make ends meet than to swallow your pride a little and have some wiggle room. Another problem that arises in this situation is when the sh*t finally hits the fan these kids have discovered how to juggle credit card debt to “prevent” the need for extra income. And you can imagine where that leads….

  8. Kat

    Some people can’t get a second job at places most people recommend, such as waiting tables, like Ben suggested.

    I applied for retail before the holidays for seasonal work and was denied at all 6 places who were hiring. I went back in and realized most of the hires were either high school or early college. Stores aren’t looking for college educated professionals.

    Waiting tables in my area is also out(So. Cal). So many places are going under or just barely hanging on. I know people who get checks and are told not to cash them for another 5 days. How is that helping you out? You could work an extra 20 hours and then not even get paid. Or just be told not to come in.

    With the economy right now, people are having a hard enough time finding one job, let alone a second.
    So getting a second job isn’t as easy as people think.


    Because my first job sometimes takes 12 hours a day, and during those times, going to a second job will be impossible. Also my employer has moon lighting and non-compete clauses that makes it hard to get another job.

  10. loveners

    The thought of getting a second job overwhelms me. I already work 70 hrs a week (despite only getting paid for 40), as well as being obligated to respond to my blackberry at other times.

    I’m already struggling to maintain any kind of balance and would rather spend my meagre amount of spare time with the people I love.

    Even if I managed to somehow reduce my regular job hours, my job is a reasonably high profile one with semi-regular media spots and it could potentially impact on my regular employer as well.

  11. phillygrrl

    Trying to get my third job at the moment. Sigh. Thanks for the encouragement, Ramit!

  12. jay

    I have had 2 jobs for about the last 13 years, and never really think about it any more. I don’t really enjoy either of them, but I do enjoy the “disposable” income that the second job provides. And that’s really the only reason I have it; to spend money on stuff I want and like without guilt. And now that I’m (recently) married, I split that “disposable” money evenly with my wife.

    Pretty much everyone (except my wife, now) thinks I’m stupid for holding on to the second job. But whatever. I like having the $.

  13. Diversity is Key

    I believe in diversity.

    I have a “real” job I have been at for 9+ years (great benefits – retirement, fully paid medical for myself and family, dental, advanced training, two weeks paid vacation, and great pay (30+/hr) to boot). I have worked my way up.

    I am also in the Air National Guard (1 weekend / month – two weeks a year), again great benefits (retirement, medical/dental coverage at reduced prices, training, 100 tuition paid at State colleges) and decent pay (approx $10K/year). I can retire in 4 years. Again, I have worked my way up.

    My wife and I also started a small business, employing 17 people. They are busy, and recently voted as the “Best of the Best” in their industry through voting in our local newspaper. The employees are paid commission, receive retirement benefits, training, paid vacation, and health insurance. We took this risk, and it is paying dividends!

    Again, diversity is the key.

    Is it easy? Actually, it’s not that bad. In fact, I even drive 200 miles to serve my country in the Air National Guard – every month! But, in the end, I have “fun money” and I will have another retirement for my wife and I to enjoy on top of my “real” retirement and our fully-funded IRAs!

    The trick, if one flops, I have something else to fall back on.

    An added bonus, I bring the best ideas to the other organizations I am involved (diversified) in! Making everyone successful!

    And, yes we do have children, and we always have time for them.

  14. Todd Borst

    Because time is more important to me than money. Hell, I’ve even quite my first job already so I can have more time. There are several ways to make money. I’m glad I got out of the time-for-money trade and found something else. (Click my name for my blog).

  15. Amy

    Getting a second job doesn’t have to mean getting another job just like your primary one. For instance, I have a normal 40hr/wk job, but during the spring and fall I coach lacrosse. I certainly don’t consider spending a few hours a week outside playing a drain on time I’d otherwise spend on my ass at home.

  16. Ben Bleikamp

    I enjoy my job and make plenty of money, but in my free time I also do consulting and freelance work because it is money that goes straight to my savings account. Is it technically two jobs? No. Is it the same amount of time? Yes.

  17. Steve.

    I worked multiple jobs at a time while in college and the habit did not wear off once I graduated. I was not making much money after graduation so I found a 2nd job at night doing data entry and was able to use that money for vacations and staying out of debt. I did that for about 2 years.

    7 years later I was facing a layoff and so I found another similar job working a few hours at night each week. Within a year I was able to pay off my car loan and have about 6 months expenses saved up. Of course I was so prepared that when the layoff finally happened, I had found my next job and did not have to take unemployment.

    Meanwhile, many of my former coworkers decided to take 6 months off and live off of their severance and most of them ended up being unemployed for over 1 year and had a hard time finding jobs.

    I do have one friend who did the same and took a 2nd job. Well, he transferred to another job in the same company so that he did not have to be laid off. He is still working both jobs 5 years later and enjoys it and has invested his money into rentals. Another 5 years and he will probably be set for life.

  18. stephanie

    I understand feeling frustration about not being able to have a second job – as I mentioned in the “What do you do” post, I have a full-time job in residence life which requires me to live on campus and prohibits other jobs. However, there are always things anyone can be doing to line up plans for the future – in my free time, I’ve found volunteer opportunities and other activities to participate in that are expanding my network and providing opportunities to learn new skills. Although I’m not benefiting from them financially at the moment, if I were to lose my job (or when I change jobs in the future), my resume will be stronger and I would have many opportunities for other jobs.

    As to those who simply don’t want additional jobs, I think many people don’t realize exactly how much time they have. I haven’t had a tv in years and don’t miss it – the average American, however, watches over 4 hours of tv a day. If someone has made a conscious choice that they truly value time in front of the tv, then they should be happy to not work, not have additional income, and instead be able to spend time watching tv each day (and any activity not necessary for survival can be substituted for “watch tv” in that example). But if someone doesn’t really value the time they spend doing “stuff” (essentially, wasting time) outside of work, then why get a second job?

    Also, a second job doesn’t have to be boring – I loved waiting tables in college, and would like to be able to do so again. Benefits of waiting tables a few hours a week: discounts on food at the restaurant, unintentional workout (especially great if you have an office job and have trouble motivating yourself to exercise in your free time), a change of pace (different flow of customers every day), not to mention the extra cash in your pocket. Is 10 hours (2-3 evenings or one all-day weekend shift) a week really going to cut into your time for relaxing that much?

    I think a lot of it simply comes down to attitude – would you rather make excuses or work to get to where you claim you want to be?

  19. The Personal Finance Playbook

    My career takes up most of my time. If I have a second job, it’s blogging (though I could make a lot more money spending the time doing something else). I’m a government attorney, and we’re not allowed to freelance/moonlight because of conflicts.

    One second job some people might be interested in on a freelance basis that’s coming up is tax preparation. Of course, it’s more competitive than it used to be because the job market isn’t strong. I have more than one friend that has done this from time to time.

  20. Pooja

    Everyone wants or has a certain lifestyle. If you like how yours is–awesome.
    If you don’t like your lifestyle then get off your a** and get a second job/income without complaining. It’s all about doing something. If you’re trying, good for you but just complaining does NOT help.

  21. Cyn94601

    The summer I was sixteen I had three jobs. One during the day at a title insurance company, one at a restaurant week nights and at a kids amusement park on the weekends. I loved it! I felt so useful and alive. I’ve never again had three jobs, but certainly had two very often. I’m a director at a software company and often do freelance projects. It’s often a way to pay for extras and to stay connected in the event that my job disappears.

    I will say that I often lived by the concept of money shortages mean you need to make more money. It wasn’t until recently that I focused on actually spending less. May sound silly, but creating money was my way. I do see how I can keep more by focusing also on how I spend it.

  22. paid off debt #1! — the ¢entsible life

    […] it to take 2-3 years to be debt-free, you see I’m sort of impatient. So I did what one of Ramit’s readers recommended recently, I got another […]

  23. andy

    I have just picked up my third job; I am 31, I have an energy conservation company which performs energy audits and install energy efficient upgrades. I work for a builder as a project manager negotiating contracts, supervising field employees building new energy effieicent homes. And I just started a third job on weekends I was a nurse in my previous life and just started again to save money to invest in multifamilies.

  24. M

    I had three jobs last year, which enabled me to pay off my credit card debt. Currently, I only have one job, and I feel like I could be doing more. It helps that my “real job” is only 9 to 5!

  25. Robin

    I think a lot of people don’t get a second job because the types of jobs that are typically “second” jobs have odd hour requirements. I’ve worked several jobs at once before (I worked 4 once for 4 months or so, it was awful) and it always turns out terribly because the schedule isn’t regular. Jobs like waiting tables or retail schedule you hours and you’re expected to work them, and the hours aren’t always the same. I was once even threated to lose one of my jobs because I was trying to juggle several and when they tried to mess with my schedule at one, it conflicted with my schedule at another. I was spending incredible amounts of time just trying to make sure that I could even make it to each job, and that they didn’t conflict. I would never want to do that again.

  26. Alberto

    I think a second job works for people who have predictable hours in their primary job.

    I work for a consulting firm and sometimes I must work 60+ hours a week when critical projects are on the line (I typically work about 50). A second job would interfere with my ability to work at my primary job.

  27. Jenn

    I think it depends on what you mean by “job” or “consulting gig.” Working two corporate jobs? I don’t think so.

    Modeling or acting on the side? Awesome. Freelance writing in your spare time? Great. Teaching a class? Wonderful. Running your own odd jobs business or Etsy store? Fun. Being a personal trainer? Exciting. Running a poker den? Hmmm . . .

    Two corporate jobs? You may as well start selling blood.

  28. Adventurous Wench women's travel

    Well if you are really determined in being financial free then you won’t really mind having 2-3 jobs even when job that is not “professional.” i think it is more important to get a second job that excites you and is in line with your passion. That way, the stress levels becomes more bearable.

  29. Rob

    I think it’s a social stigma. People don’t want to take a second job because it could be looked down on in their circle of friends. I think this could especially be true for recent grads who are all starting out on a somewhat level income, but who compete for braggings rights (I make $xx,xxx per year now!).

    Of course, few people ever got ahead (and rich) by caving into social pressure and doing what everyone else was doing.

  30. Luci

    A couple years ago, I wound up working three part-time jobs while attending school full-time so that I could afford to study abroad. The year that I did it in really sucked, but the home-stay experience in Mexico was more than worth it. After working that much, I think taking on two jobs would be more than feasible.

  31. Pev

    I’d say, instead of getting two jobs – just don’t work at all!!! Focus on building up your skills and talent and the money will soon follow. But I guess I’m not one to speak since I’m not in that type of situation. Here is an article I read about debt that is something to enjoy 🙂 4 Gutsy Ways To Get Out of Debt I think we all need a little laughter, even if our situations aren’t very great.

  32. Saleem

    I once saved a lot of money by having a two-hour job on Friday nights from 7-9:30.

    It kept me from going out in the early part of the night on Friday.

    I made like 40 bucks, but had the multiplier effect of forcing me to miss the most expensive part of a night out. And I could still meet up with a friend afterward if I felt like it, so I didn’t feel like I was missing my weekend.

    If you asked around, I bet lots of places are looking for help at those times just because it’s when most employees want to go out. Pretty easy trick.

  33. pat

    I don’t have a job. I’ve been off work for 7 months, hangin with my son, spending time doing things I want to do. I’ll probably have to find another job eventually, but I’ve got a few more months/years to find something that I’ll like (I hope). But, it’s not like I’m a bum. I paid my dues with 30 years of corporate life. Some was good, some sucked. Never did a good job of “playing the game”, but always made myself valuable enough to not get laid off in 30 years. I have no desire to get back into that kind of rat race, but something part time at something I enjoy would be fine. Don’t know what that is yet. My advice – keep expenses low, work hard, don’t miss any of your family obligations for work, save money, don’t overthink things, be organized, and try to enjoy life while you’re young.

  34. Marie Kat

    Congratulations on that Pat. I wish I could do what your doing, but you know what you paid your do’s so you should be enjoying life. But how do you pay for everything now? have you saved money? and if so where how, I’m so bad at saving but I’m trying to learn, I wish that in 30 years I can stop working and still be able to maintain a happy lifestyle

  35. Altestjem

    Interesting and communicative, but would be suffering with something more on this topic?

  36. Mindy

    Mentally, I understand the idea that working *more* is a very hard thing to do. However, with that said, it all comes down to what it takes to survive. After my ex left and saddled me with a mortgage, I cut expenses to the bone (peanut butter and crackers anyone?) and then got 2nd, 3rd, or 4th jobs. I did a lot of stuff on the side, even while going to school, to make ends meet. I babysat (sometimes up to 3 times a week, every week for months on end), I did transcription, I did house-sitting, I did pet-sitting, and I’m currently doing editorial work for two different publications. One note about the babysitting, just in case anyone is looking at this: A LOT of parents out there today just LOVE an older person to watch their kids as they are more responsible and have more authority with kids. And, as a responsible adult, you can command a higher price.

  37. Cheska

    I have been working 2 jobs since September 2008. Initially, my motivation wasn’t really money.. A few months before starting working part-time in retail, I had applied for an entry-level merchandising position and the feedback that I got was that I had no retail experience.. So I thought.. hmm.. Why not get a part-time job to get retail experience? I’ve been juggling my 40 hrs/week day job at a non-profit and a part-time job at the mall since then.. My paycheck at the part-time job is direct deposited to my retirement account.. 🙂 Retail is a little hard at times but I’ve made friends there who make work fun…

    @Kat: Sorry to hear about your holiday job hunt. Where I work though, we do have professionals (some have day jobs and some were laid off at their day jobs). I think it just depends where you apply. I think if you target stores that aimed at the working folks like Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s, they’d be much open to hiring professional women than Abercrombie. Good luck!

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  39. Suman Roy

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  42. Shyam

    Getting multiple job offers is easy these days, but that depends on the job profile