All of these positions fall under “The Gig Economy.”
The Gig Economy is characterized by temporary, flexible, and sometimes unpredictable
work, as opposed to traditional employment where you may work for one employer for
a consistent amount of time each week. Typically, this work is done independently
and you are directly compensated after each job is successfully completed.
- More than 1 in 4 people work a “side job” as a form of primary and supplementary work.
- 53% of gig workers, ages 18-34, use their work in the Gig Economy as their primary
source of income.
Although working a job in the gig economy can be a great way to earn quick cash, there
are some things to consider:
Know your budget
The idea of a flexible job can be exciting, especially if you’re making your own hours
and being paid frequently!
It is important to keep track of where your money is and should be going. Do you know
your baseline? In other words, how much do you need at minimum to make ends meet and
reach your financial goals on a weekly basis?
Make a comprehensive list of all of your financial commitments and bills: company
names, amounts due, due dates, interest percentages, and balances remaining, if it
applies. Mark which bills are consistent in comparison to those that may fluctuate.
Consider other expenses, such as food and transportation.
- Do you buy groceries regularly? If so, have you considered how much you may typically
- How often do you eat takeout and/or go out with friends?
Try to set a dollar amount to hold yourself accountable so you can have fun but also
stay on track.
- Does your job require you to drive or use public transportation more than your average
usage? If so, how much are you paying in gas or other fees per week?
- Does your job require you to spend money on overhead costs before you are paid for
your product or service?
- Know how much you are spending and compare it to how much you make.
- Are there other factors from your work that may impact your budget?
How consistent will your side job be? Learn the peak times of your job so you can
plan accordingly. If you will face inconsistencies in pay, how will you prepare for
times when you are making less money or no money at all? This may impact your savings
goals. Determine what percentage of your take home pay you would save so you are able
to meet your needs during lean times. Here are some Budgeting and Personal Finance
strategies that can help you.
Recording Your Earnings
Where will you record your earnings? Are you more of a “pen and paper” person or will
you list everything electronically? Choose one mode and do your best to stick to it.
This will be important for your financial success and tax preparation.
Here are some apps that you can use to monitor your time at your job so you can accurately
calculate your earnings:
- Timesheet X (Free App)
- Stack The Time - Tracker (Free App)
- Timely (Paid App)
- HourStack (Paid App)
- PayDirt (Paid App - Also available via browser extension and helps to manage invoicing)
If you started working towards a short-term goal, how much money are you committing
towards the goal and how often will you set the money aside? Try to store the money
you are saving in a high-yield savings account.
Gross versus Net Pay, Being Your Own Boss and Paying Taxes
You may have heard these terms before. Gross pay is what you make before deductions.
And net pay is your take home pay. For example, if you were to receive a paycheck
from a traditional employer, the amount listed is your net pay.
Working a side job usually means that you will receive a check without tax deductions
so you may need to prepare for taxes differently than you have in the past. The government
may consider you as self-employed so you may be required to pay taxes quarterly. Earning
$400 or more with a temporary job might require you to complete a 1099K or 1099-MISC
form that serves as a comprehensive record of the income that you have received. Keep
a running log of each time and the amount that you have been paid to prepare for this.
You also want to strongly consider saving a portion of each pay you receive to plan
in advance for tax implications.
Also, if you are driving as a side hustle, keep a record of the miles driven during
work. A consistent record may prepare you for a mileage deduction on your taxes which
may lead to a cheaper tax bill. Further education and health insurance also may lead
to additional tax reductions. Review IRS Publications 970 and 535 to review your eligibility.
Working a job that provides flexibility and unlimited earning can be rewarding, but
also tiring. Ensure that you are planning enough time to rest and manage other areas
of your life so you don’t exhaust yourself.
Employees usually receive benefits with traditional work. Benefits may include: health
insurance (dental, vision, and visits with a general physician or specialist), vacation
and sick leave, disability insurance, retirement contributions, or tuition assistance.
Find out if your employer provides health insurance. If you work in the state of Maryland
as an independent contractor, know that state employment and wages laws may not be
applicable to you by reviewing The Maryland Guide to Wage Payment and Employment Standards. Ensure that you are familiar with the Department of Labor guidelines for the state
where you work.
If you are in a position that does not provide benefits, here are some thoughts to
- Seek preventative health care and know the options available to you.
- Visit Freelancers Union to learn more about insurance options. This resource also provides a travel medical
insurance option if you find yourself traveling for work or leisure purposes.
- Visit the Health Insurance Marketplace through HealthCare.gov to see if you are eligible for free to low cost insurance options. *This option will require you to share household and income information to determine
Think about your retirement! Yes, although it may not be in the immediate future it
is something that you should process and take appropriate measures to prepare. This
Investopedia article comprehensively reviews four retirement savings options that you can consider.
Let’s Get to Work!
Now that we’ve reviewed gig considerations, here are some resources that you can check
out to find support and work opportunities.
There is on-campus support available for students who are interested in exploring
entrepreneurship through TU's Student Launch Pad. The Student Launch Pad (located in Cook Library, Room 401) has a host of resources,
workshops, and low-risk competition opportunities where you can present and receive
feedback on your ideas.
- QuadJobs.com – An online platform that promotes local and temporary work opportunities for college
- Fiverr.com – Freelance in multiple industry areas or find freelancers for hire
- Skyword.com– Freelance in multiple industry areas or find freelancers for hire
- TaskRabbit.com – Perform jobs locally that require physical labor
- Toptal.com – Freelance in project or product management, software development, design or finance
or find freelancers for hire
- Upwork.com – Freelance in multiple industry areas or find freelancers for hire