After years of the pandemic and reevaluating what is most important in life, many people across all generations, from millennial to Gen X to Gen Z, have been trying to figure out: do I need a side hustle, and if I have one, can it be my main hustle?
Traditional career paths and what is expected of an average working person has kind of blown up, and been reimagined into figuring out if each person can achieve financial freedom, and start to earn passive income.
Because the most precious commodity isn’t money right? It’s time.
Here are some personal finance stories from 2022 that particularly resonated with our audiences, including a tale about a vending machine side hustle bringing in serious cash, to Etsy dream stories and beyond.
“I read on Twitter about someone making passive income by placing vending machines in office buildings. It immediately piqued my interest.
So in June and July, I purchased two machines for $5,000 to get a side hustle going. Things were slow at first, but I was hopeful that I could scale the business. I quit my day job that summer to focus all my time and energy into it.”
Sometimes, Nica Yusay’s online vintage purse store, FashioNica, sells out so quickly that she thinks there’s a glitch on her website.
A lifelong thrifting enthusiast, Yusay developed a talent for finding high-end purses at a fraction of their retail value from a young age. She accumulated her own collection over the years, but never thought she could make money from her skill — until her fiancé suggested she make a business out of it.
Washing clothes might be your least favorite chore, but for Christian Sanya, it’s not a chore anymore. In fact, she washes other people’s clothes and gets paid for it.
“I’m one of the top earners with SudShare and I range from about $1,000 to $2,000 a week,” Sanya said.
Sanya signed up as a “sudster” with SudShare, a person-to-person marketplace for laundry. Think of it like Uber for laundry.
When Jim Battan spent $110,000 building a luxury pool outside his home in West Linn, Oregon in 2012, he knew he was making an investment.
He couldn’t have known that 10 years later, he’d earn more than enough to pay it off by renting it out to strangers on the internet. Battan says that since September 2020, his pool has hosted roughly 9,000 swimmers through a platform called Swimply, which dubs itself the Airbnb of swimming pools. The result, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It: $177,000 in revenue in less than two years.
“At the start of the pandemic, I was putting in 80-hour workweeks for two full-time marketing jobs. I earned a combined salary of $129,000 a year.
But a part of me felt something was missing. I always had a passion for making art, and I wanted time to pursue it. So in April 2020, I quit one of my jobs to start a side hustle. I wanted to see if I could really make it as an artist.”
“In 2021, I accepted a job at Amazon as a resource manager for an annual salary of $124,000. I was 29, and it was the most money I’d ever been offered.
I also started two side hustles earlier that year to bring in extra money. My husband Jay and I had just bought our first home, and I was due to have our first child in September 2021.
The first side hustle was a YouTube channel where I shared money and career advice, and the other was a digital guide to help people boost their credit scores, based on my personal experience paying off debt.”
“In 2014, I was earning $85,000 a year as a full-time web developer. While I made enough to cover my living expenses, I felt like I was putting too much of my time into the job.
I knew that there were opportunities to make passive income in e-commerce. So in 2016, after experimenting with “dropshipping” (a business model in which sellers don’t need to keep any products in stock), I came across a Reddit post that inspired me to start a print-on-demand side hustle.”
Arash Lahijani was a high school senior when he learned he could make money writing backstories for video game characters.
A friend of his had paid a Fiverr freelancer $70 to do it for a Grand Theft Auto character, he recalls — so he started researching, and realized there was a market. Even better, it was something he could do as a side hustle after school and during weekends.
Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Ledesma and her family relocated to California for a better life when she was just 5 years old. Even then, she had an immense love for makeup.
“When I was very young, I got a little sample of lipstick. And I would take the bus home,” Ledesma shares. “I remember I put it on and as soon as I got home, I just threw it out the window because I was scared that I would get in trouble with my mom for wearing lipstick, but I’ve always loved makeup.”
Now, four years after starting her company, has made over $2 million in revenue and amassed a following of over 160,000 people across Araceli Beauty’s social platforms.
In 2016, Nicole Tocci carefully removed the buttons off her vintage Chanel clothing, spent about three hours polishing them, added a hook and attached them to thin silver and gold chains.
She started selling the pendant necklaces in her Berkeley Heights, New Jersey-based tanning salon, Nikki Tans and at pop-up events. Their popularity eventually convinced her to build a standalone website for her side hustle, called One Vintage Button, at the end of 2020. In the first full year of business, the side hustle brought in $90,000, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.
In 2019, one tweet sparked the beginnings of Paulana Lamonier’s small business.
When she tweeted that she wanted to teach 30 Black people how to swim in Long Island, New York, the response was overwhelming: She got hundreds of requests for lessons from all over the country. There are still people on the waiting list, she says.
With inflation on the rise, Tim Riegel wanted a side project for extra income — so in September 2021, he bought seven $90 propane tank ends off Facebook Marketplace.
The 59-year-old intended to repurpose the tank ends as fire pits — a freestanding, open metal container for fires, typically for backyards or patios — and sell them for $400 each in his hometown of Lamar, Missouri. The fire pits proved popular: They sold out in just 10 days, and Riegel was inundated with requests for more.
Rachel Jimenez had long dabbled in side hustles by the time she started her Etsy store in 2019. The 34-year-old mother of two had tried dog sitting and babysitting. She’d given courses on building a business and budgeting. She also contributed to various blogs. She did much of this while working full-time, most recently as an administrator in higher education.
“I think that’s part of my success,” she says. “I was testing different things slowly over time, and then, eventually, all the information and knowledge came together.”
Jimenez sells printables, or downloadable documents people purchase and print on their own. Her store features a range including Christmas scavenger hunts and digital planners.
In 2014, I was fresh out of college and thought I had my life all planned out: Go to medical school, get a six-figure job as a doctor, and make my parents proud.
None of that worked out. I realized I hated blood and needles, and got rejected from more than 15 medical schools. My parents weren’t so happy.
From 2014 to 2019, I took on tutoring side hustles, did some modeling gigs, started a drop shipping business, and even worked as a real estate agent. But nothing was consistent in earning me a steady income stream.
Olivia Hillier’s side hustle started with a $5 T-shirt she found at a thrift store.
Hillier, a medical student at Rochester, Michigan-based Oakland University, had some experience selling a few of her own old clothing items on resale app Poshmark. She never thought much of it. But during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, she noticed that other Poshmark sellers were profiting from “flipping” trendy thrift store finds.