Michael Noker, 26, a creative side hustler in El Paso, Texas
“I do everything from ghostwriting to video editing to social media, marketing, SEO, design, and public relations, and work at least 10 hours a day to hit my income goal of $1,500 a month. That’s enough to cover my rent, car payment, cell phone, student loans, credit card debt, food and gas.
I hope to one day make a living from my creative endeavors, like T-shirts I’ve been designing, and aim to double my income from these projects every month. In the meantime, I’m working on a variety of other side gigs, and my earnings vary a lot. In September, I brought in $1,450 from a combination of health and wellness coaching ($700), ghostwriting ($400), Uber driving ($200), house cleaning ($100) and web development work ($50). My lowest earning month was August, when I brought in just $900, and my best month was June, when I earned $3,500. In total, I should bank about $24,000 this year, after taxes.
But earning enough to cover my expenses is just part of the equation. Because my bill due dates are scattered throughout the month—as are the dates I get paid from my side gigs—I also have to actively manage my cash flow.
For example, my student loans and credit card payments, which total $500, are due on the 16th, while my rent and car payment, which equal $618, are due at the end of the month. Paying my bills on time is important to me, so I always make sure I have at least $700 by mid-month, and another $700 by the final day. If I find myself coming up short, I take on extra work. And if I’m pacing ahead of my goal, I might use the money to buy new equipment, like a camera lens or better microphone, or up my debt payment.
Since everything I do is 1099 work, I also make it a point to save 30 percent for taxes in a separate account. And my emergency fund is currently at $1,000, though I typically handle pop-up expenses by working more hours.
While I’m living more precariously than I ever predicted, I’ve also never been happier or enjoyed my life more than I do today. I have the freedom and independence I think so many people are hungry for. I’m more than willing to work 100-hour weeks on occasion for that kind of return.”
November 10, 2016
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