Within the financial independence retire early (FIRE) community, side hustles are often considered as the holy grail. If you want to reach FIRE, in addition to your full-time job, you absolutely must have at least a side hustle. The more side hustles you have, the better. Heck, you might even quit your full-time job and side hustle full time when you’re so good at it!
Side hustles are considered the holy grail because they allow you to get paid for doing things that you like, and they give you the flexibility you don’t get with a full-time job. Not to mention, with lots of side hustles under your belt, you can achieve a higher savings rate than if you were to not side hustle at all. And we all know that the higher the savings rate is, the faster the timeline toward the infamous, all-important, prestigious status of FIRE!
So, as someone who is deep in the FIRE journey, I was taught and reminded again and again to pursue as many side hustles as I possibly can and monetize the heck out of everything I do. Mrs. T has been reminded of the same idea as well.
Let’s monetize the crap out of everything!
Enjoy taking pictures? Monetize it!
Like cooking? Monetize it!
Good at holistic healing? Monetize it!
Enjoy writing? Monetize it!
Good at personal finance? Monetize it!
Have a blog? Monetize it!
Heck, why not create offline courses so you can make more money?
Have kids? Why not start a daddy or mommy blog and monetize it? While you’re at it, why not let the kids do toy and gadget reviews and make more money?
Have a pet? Why not put cute pictures of your pet on Instagram and monetize it?
Why stop there? Become a social media influencer and get paid for posting pictures and sharing stories while the money rolls in like flood water.
Stop right there!
Do you see something wrong with this?
This “all roads lead to monetization” mentality and thinking that you must get paid for doing something is absolutely nuts!
That’s not how life should be.
I am so goddamn tired of monetization of everything I do.
Sick and tired of it.
Let’s stop monetizing every single goddamn thing!
Stop monetizing every freaking single piece of our life!!!
Go and smell the roses
I enjoy taking creative photos for the sake of expressing my creative side. I enjoy taking portraitures so I can interact with my subjects and create cool looking images.
Mrs. T and I enjoy cooking and creating meals together. Cooking brings us together as a couple; cooking allows us to unwind after a long day; cooking together makes us happy. Cooking with the kids also allows us to enjoy our family time together.
A while ago, I started putting more emphasis on making more money through all my side hustles. Soon enough, I found myself feeling frustrated, burned out, and losing my mind.
I wasn’t making as much money as I wished. I kept asking myself, what the hell am I doing wrong when everyone else I know seemed to be earning boatloads of money through their side hustles.
When I stepped back, I realized that as I put more and more pressure on myself to make money through my “hobbies”, the less fun I was having. I was desperate. I was always looking for my next client, so I could make more money.
I think that desperation showed. It showed in how I approached my side hustles. It showed how I talked to my clients. I was sending out negative vibrations without realizing it.
For me, monetization caused hobbies to lose their meanings. Hobbies became no fun at all. Hobbies started becoming just like another job that I start to hate. Next thing I knew, I couldn’t remember why I started in the first place. All I wanted to do was to get out.
Side hustles were supposed to help me get out of the rat race faster, but I end up putting myself in multiple rat races through my own side hustles!
Oh, the irony!
When I started this blog, I wanted to share my knowledge with other people, not because I wanted to make thousands or millions of dollars through the blog and live off of the money. I started writing because I loved expressing my ideas and I enjoyed connecting with like-minded people who are passionate about personal finance, investing, and financial independence.
Sure, I’ve thrown some ads on the blog to earn a few dollars here and there to cover the blog expenses. I also started charging people for the coaching service.
But making money was never my number one goal for the blog. Charging money for my coaching service was simply for the clients to value my time. Same applies to my photography business.
Nowadays, I write because it allows me to express my ideas. Writing has become my creative outlet. I write on this blog because I enjoy storytelling. Similarly, I take pictures because I enjoy being creative through the lenses. I need some creative outlets to offset being super technical and data-driven at my full-time high-tech job.
Getting paid for doing something that I enjoy is simply the extra gravy!
I had forgotten about this key message! I went down the rabbit hole too far and got myself lost in there.
When we only focus on making money, hobbies aren’t hobbies anymore. Making monetization as the prime focus quickly deflates the enjoyment of any hobbies you might have.
Hobbies are supposed to be fun! Hobbies are supposed to be enjoyable! Hobbies are supposed to bring a smile to your face!
So just because I painted a picture or Mrs. T knitted a sweater in our spare time, it doesn’t mean we have to put it on Etsy to make money.
As shocking as it might sound, we can do stuff without monetization at all!
$0. Nada. No dinero.
We’re just doing it for fun and the enjoyment of it.
Sure I get it, you want to become financially independent as quickly as you can so you can retire early to enjoy life and do things that you enjoy doing, instead of running on the hamster wheel.
But what about enjoying your life now? What about taking a slower and longer approach to financial independence?
Take a break and smell the roses.
Stop telling yourself “I’ll do it next time.”
Because that next time may not ever come around… ever!
Stop telling yourself that you’ll be happy when you reach the finish line.
Because there’s no such thing as the finish line. Life doesn’t magically change after you obtain the FIRE status.
Life isn’t all about dollars and cents. It’s about becoming a better version of yourself. It’s about taking the time to make a small difference in the lives of others around you.
Financial independence is about empowering your life so you can decide what you want to do with your time. You can work because you choose to, not because you have to. You can volunteer at the animal shelter and make a difference, without having to worry about getting paid at all or not.
But instead of looking at the “end game” and the “finish line,” what about practicing things that you’d do as if you were financially independent already?
Why only do these things when you are finally financially independent? What’s preventing you from doing these things that you enjoy doing now, without having to think about how much things cost or how much money you can earn from doing something?
If you said to yourself that you can’t do this because of this and because of that… you are just making up excuses for yourself.
What about taking the time to enjoy painting a picture, creating music, writing a short story, playing an instrument, simply for the sake of enjoyment, rather than focusing on how much money you can get by selling something you created or some service you can offer?
Take a step back and breathe. Relax, you aren’t less of a FIRE seeker because you aren’t side hustling dusk till dawn and monetizing every single piece of your life.
So… if you want to send $100 over my way via Paypal or eTransfer to help me continue monetizing this blog, I’d happily accept it! Please send it over to email@example.com.*
*I’m kidding, of course.
PS. Mrs. T gave me the idea of this post as it was discussed at the Fair Cent retreat in Seattle. The content of the post was entirely by me.
22 thoughts on “Stop monetizing everything you do!”
I make silver and copper jewelry simply because I enjoy it. Recently my daughter approached me to ask me to make the wedding band for her future husband. I was honored to do so! In doing that, I tried a number of different methods and styles for the wedding band, and was left with the ones that my son-in-law did not choose for his own. If you come to my house and genuinely compliment any of my work, I will typically offer that item to you. Receiving money would be an insult to the pleasure that I get from that appreciation, and the joy of knowing that my art will bring joy to that person. Just my humble opinion.
Work, earn money, save, retire early, but keep your hobbies sacred.
Yup, keeping your hobbies separated from business is important.
This is a great article. The whole reason for following a great blog is for the information and good advice of the writer. Some blogs I quit reading because of the overwhelming monitizing of the article. I get that it’s a business. But sometimes we just want too read a good story or idea you are sharing. Thanks.
Fantastic article! My wife is also a knitter and I wanted to monetize her creations through Etsy and craft sales etc… She put the brakes on that idea when she told me she prefers to give her creations away. Sometimes she’ll take a bit of money when offered but that just helps offset the cost of her supplies. She receives more than money can buy when her creative gifts are received by others.
It feels completely different when you start selling your creations for a price. It becomes more of a work that you may not enjoy after a while. 🙂
I was thinking about monetizing my runs by letting other people take credit for them on applications like “map my run” so they can share them with all their friends.
Just kidding – great post. Enjoy life.
My wife passed the civics test, she will officially be sworn in a US citizen in January!
Woohoo on becoming a US citizen. 🙂
Hahaha that might be a good idea for lazy ppl. :p
Superb article Bob and I can’t agree with you more. I deplore the fascination of everything having to be monitized. Simply do things because they bring you joy. I can’t think of a faster way to suck the pleasure of of a hobby by attempting to make some coin off it, but that’s just me
Thank you Mr. Fate. Do things out of joy is a way motto.
I certainly think you’ve gone down this path of monetizing hobbies more than anyone I know! It’s OK to just have some fun once in awhile.
“Success” in life isn’t always counted by money. Sometimes there’s incredible value to be found in things we can’t put a price on.
Exactly. Money != success. Learn to enjoy life without putting a price tag on everything you do.
I think it’s okay to monetize your hobbies as long as it isn’t your primary directive. You should have fun first, then think about money second. I’m starting a YouTube channel for fun and to teach my son about building a brand. Sure, I’d like to monetize, but that’s not my main concern right now. You have to enjoy it first or else just go get a job. That’s a better way to monetize your time, right?
Yup, it’s fine to monetize your hobbies but when making money becomes the prime objective, hobbies aren’t no longer hobbies.
Great post! And totally in agreement with you!
I’ve been retired for more than 15 years. Since then, I have help countless friends, family and nieghbours the best I could…. for 0$. Why? Because life has been good with me, and I love to share and give my knowledge, talents, and sometimes money to different organizations… Yeah, I give money away… for free!
Usually, when your only objective is to make money, it comes from the mind (your head!), and when you give away whatever you can share, it comes from the heart!
I’m learning to be a heart person more than a mind person… much fun in doing so.
Sometimes, I may ask whomever wants to pay me for a service I gave (like setting up their computer), I will simply tell them to give that money to a charitable organization. And if they are happy with my service, then I ask them to “pass it along”, like in “pay forward.”
Life is short, eternity is the reality for Soul! Enjoy life, and share your love of life…. no strings attached!
Thank you JK. The fact that you’re ale to help countless people without charging anything is amazing. I love your idea of telling someone to give that money to a charitable organization instead. That’s very noble of you to do that.
You’re welcome. 🙂
Great post Bob. I found myself last year getting a bit burnt out with the thought of always having to “sell myself” to keep the work rolling in from my social media network. The freelance work has been awesome but it forces me to always be “hustling” to make things happen. That being said for me it isn’t a side gig due to having reached FIRE but the mindset was still there. I have decided to just let things slide more and let life be organic, if I get some work great and if not then oh well. 2020 I will relax and pull more money out of my investments rather than pursue work.
As far as the kissy photo, get a room! Seriously, exactly why my blog is not monetized at all. But I also don’t need an income, most people do so of course they monetize.
Thank you Chris. I think that’s definitely a problem with FIRE and trying to earn money through side gigs. You can feel a little bit burned out.
Great post Bob, I offered this on Twitter …
Very good honest post Bob, well done. I think many will get a big emotional surprise if they try and race to this early retirement thing. We read quite a few burnout posts. Why not enjoy life along the way? Why not find and stay at work that one truly enjoys?
They’ll get an even bigger emotional surprise if they do actually retire very early. We already see those ‘why I went back to work’ posts. Folks can bring their mid-life crisis into their 30’s, if they like.