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 firstname.lastname@example.org.*
*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.