Gig Economy Job Strategies

Have you considered making your own hours, being your own “boss,” or working temporarily towards a financial goal? Perhaps you want to pursue a passion of yours part-time before making a long-term decision. Or possibly you’re looking to supplement your income while in search of another line of work.

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 spend?
  • 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)

Savings

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.

Learn more about filing taxes with the IRS.

Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center

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.

Self-Preservation

Well-being

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.

Benefits

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 consider:

  • 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 eligibility.

Retirement

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.

Work Opportunities

  • QuadJobs.com – An online platform that promotes local and temporary work opportunities for college students
  • 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