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Millennials Using Side Jobs to Pay Off Debt

In the words of rapper/philosopher Jay Z: “You can’t knock the hustle.”

Millennials are having to hustle to pay their student loan debt. Over 44 million American have student loan debt, and the average Millennial who graduated in 2016 owes $37,172. That comes to a $372.12 student loan payment due every month for 10 years.

When you do that math, it’s no wonder 44% of Americans age 25-34 report having a side job.

And I have more distressing math: the median income for Millennials is only $32,481.

After you factor in taxes, rent and the standard repayment plan for federal student loans, there’s only $14,063 a year to live on. That’s not a lot of money for groceries, transportation, phone bills etc., let alone a night out. It’s a big reason the average Millennial credit card holder owes a balance of $3,542.

Millennials have quite a lot of debt and many of them already have side jobs, yet they still need to earn an extra $4K-$5K to make ends meet.

What they need is a little side hustle, a job with extremely flexible hours that pulls in a little cash to go toward paying down debt. Fortunately, it just so happens that today’s economy has the answer.

Call it the sharing economy, the gig economy, the on-demand economy, agile economy or the peer-to-peer economy. Call it whatever you want. It’s an opportunity to tap into a job market where all you need is a smartphone and maybe a car to pick up some extra cash.

“You can choose the hours you want to work and make as much money as you would like to make,” said Caretha, a cash-strapped Millennial who drives for Uber. “It’s really the ideal job for someone that wants to add to their income and get out of debt.”

Caretha has been driving for Uber as a pseudo-taxi, for almost two years. She also works at the local DMV.

“I used to train drivers for the state of Florida.” Then she paused and said, “After what I’ve seen, I figured I’d do the driving now,” and let out a big laugh.

Caretha drives 3-4 days a week, for a couple hours at a time. When she has errands to run, she’ll pick up a couple of people along the way. At the end of the week, there’s an extra $200 in her pocket.

“It’s not a lot, but it gives me something to do on the side,” she said. “I get to talk to people, drive them around and make a little money.”

Caretha makes most of her money on Friday and Saturday nights. Concerts and sports events are also big money-makers. Working on the weekend is a bummer, but instead of spending money, she is earning money. That goes a long way toward shrinking expenses on her budget.

Uber isn’t the only service of its kind. Lyft, Uber’s main competitor, claims its drivers make more per hour, and there are a host of delivery services. Postmates, Doordash, GrubHub, UberEATS and Instacart are all various types of food and grocery delivery services. There is also Turo and GetAround, which enable you to rent your car out.

But what if you don’t have a car?

If you’ve ever played with legos, or followed a recipe from start to finish, you might have what it takes to be a Tasker. TaskRabbit is an app that connects people who don’t want to do chores, with Taskers that want to get paid to do those chores.

Building Ikea furniture is as simple as following the instructions, but to some, it isn’t worth the frustration. For Taskers, it’s a payday. They set their own hourly rates, and complete tasks like setting up WiFi or even holding someone’s place in line.

For more skilled jobs, take a look at Fiverr. It’s an online freelance marketplace where you can find someone to do just about any kind of job or project. Small-time jobs start at $5, but the freelancer sets his/her own price. Make a profile, and post your proposal under categories ranging from writing and graphic design to translating and celebrity impressions.

The end goal is to make more money than you spend. That’s difficult when you’re in debt, and the interest keeps you behind the 8-ball. Today, you can turn your spare room into a hotel or your car into a cab or your set of tools into a handyman’s repair shop and use the money to pay down your debt.

Max Fay has been writing about personal finance for for the past five years. His expertise is in student loans, credit cards and mortgages. Max inherited a genetic predisposition to being tight with his money and free with financial advice. He was published in every major newspaper in Florida while working his way through Florida State University. He can be reached at [email protected].


  1. Career Builder (2016 September 29) Millennials Significantly Outpacing Other Age Groups for Taking on Side Gigs. Retrieved from
  2. United States Census Bureau (2015) Historical Income Tables. Retrieved from
  3. Student Loan Hero (2017 July 11) A Look at the Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2017. Retrieved from
  4. Frankel, M. (2017, January 15) Here’s the Average American’s Credit Card Debt – and How to Get Yours Under Control. Retrieved from