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How These Side Gigs Saved Our Finances

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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As the summer came to a close, Anthony Garcia, 34, achieved a big financial goal: He bought a lightly used car that he loved, a 2015 Jeep Renegade, to be precise. When all was said and done, the purchase set him back $14,500.  

It’s Garcia’s active side hustles that cushioned the monetary blow, helping him make a $1,000 down payment before financing the rest with a low-interest loan.  

“My main side gig is deejaying,” the Long Beach, Calif., resident told MagnifyMoney. “What I make varies, but weddings range from about $800 to $1,000; corporate events, clubs and bars range anywhere from $200 to $500 per event.” 

Garcia, an online banking specialist for a local credit union by day, has been picking up work as a DJ on and off for about seven years. These days, he books two or three gigs per month. He plans to use the money to cover his monthly car payments. 

“It’s almost like not having a car payment,” says Garcia. “I love what I do and get a car out of it, as long as I’m working on a steady basis.” 

His story isn’t without precedent. According to new research from CareerBuilder, close to a third of American workers have side gigs, with those under 35 making up the biggest piece of the pie. What’s more, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that 24 percent of Americans bring in money from what they call the digital “platform economy” — think apps and online platforms like Uber, TaskRabbit, thredUp and beyond. Some do it by economic necessity, others for extra cash.  

The findings suggest that today’s most popular side gigs cover everything from ride services to shopping/delivery tasks to selling your old clothes and gadgets online. 

Then there are folks like Garcia, who leverage an existing skill to bring in some additional income. 

Along similar lines, Dana Bruce, a 38-year-old nonprofit executive in Alexandria, Va., spun a random hobby into a legit side gig that paid for most of her 2012 wedding. 

But how? 

‘A side gig paid for my wedding’

Bruce is living proof that your greatest interests might also be your best income generators. A longtime lover of antiques, she took to Etsy in 2012 and began selling vintage lamps; it’s a task she absolutely loved. 

“The overhead is very low, so at times it brings in as much as $1,000 net income a month,” said Bruce, who combs antique malls, thrift stores and estate sales for unique finds. After factoring in all her costs, she typically nets about $65 per sale.  

This wasn’t the first time she dipped her toes into the gig economy. From 2012 to 2013, she took on an adjunct professor position at a community college on the side, where she earned roughly $450 per month. She put the money toward her car payments, adding some wiggle room to her monthly budget. This, combined with her Etsy earnings, allowed her to kick in about $10,000 toward her November 2012 wedding.  

And she isn’t slowing down. Her next goal is to use side gig money to help pad her home-buying fund. 

A side hustle, and a career change

It’s no secret that a healthy emergency fund is the foundation of financial success, but actually building up three to six months’ worth of expenses is no small feat, especially on an average income. This is exactly why Hilary Murrell, a 27-year-old campus visit coordinator at a Birmingham, Ala., university, is upping her side gig game. A little over a month ago, she began tutoring student athletes in the evenings and on Sundays for $11 an hour. 

“Side hustling is very new to me, but very welcome since I’ve been looking for an online side gig for months,” said Murrell, who draws a $35,000 salary with her 9-to-5 job. “My big financial goal is to save up enough money, plus emergencies, to live for three months while my husband quits his full-time job to be a full-time Realtor.” 

Tutoring serves double duty, as it also gives Murrell more teaching experience, which will come in handy for her next side gig: teaching at a local community college next semester. Her goal is to bring in around $700 per term. 

Side gigs and your taxes 

Got a side gig, or even more than one? Just be sure to report your additional income to Uncle Sam. Paying taxes comes with the territory, regardless of how much cash your side hustles bring in. Uber and Lyft drivers, for example, are considered independent contractors, not company employees. As such, paying federal and state income taxes falls on you. Come tax time, those who earn $400 or more will likely be on the hook for a self-employment tax, too. 

In addition to filing an annual tax return, self-employed folks are generally required to pay estimated taxes on a quarterly basis. (Failing to do so could result in a big tax bill when tax time rolls around.)  

But wait, there’s good news, too. Many self-employed workers are also eligible for deductions to help offset their tax burden. If you use part of your home for business, for instance, you might qualify for the home office deduction 

In the end, every case is different, so it may be in your best interest to seek out a professional to help answer your individual tax questions. 

In the meantime, the gig economy appears to be going strong. According to the annual Freelancing in America survey put out by the Freelancers Union and Upwork, the freelance economy grew to 55 million Americans in 2016; that’s 35 percent of the U.S. workforce. The way we work is changing, and the side gig revolution seems to reflect that, as multiple income streams gradually replace the traditional “9-to-5 till you die” way of life. The takeaway? The rewards can be big for those who are willing to hustle. 

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Marianne Hayes
Marianne Hayes |

Marianne Hayes is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Marianne here

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Here’s Why Single Women Are Buying More Homes Than Single Men

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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Right after she turned 30, public relations pro Wendy Hsiao put in an offer on a cute brick townhouse in Atlanta. “For a lot of my friends, being an adult started either when you got married or had a baby,” she said. “I chose to buy a house.”

Why did she buy? She felt ready for a major life change, considered buying to be a smart financial decision and wanted a yard for her Pomeranian named Georgia. “I felt like it was time to make a place my home,” Hsiao said.

Her story is one example of a growing trend: the rise of single female homeownership. Single women are far more likely to become homeowners than single men, according to a study on singles owning homes by LendingTree, which owns MagnifyMoney. In fact, single women own 22% of homes on average, while single men own less than 13%.

This “gender gap” stems partly from the fact that single women prioritize homeownership when setting life goals. In fact, 73% of single women list owning a home as a top priority compared with 65% of single men, according to the 2018 Homebuyer Insights Report from Bank of America.

Single women are “skipping the spouse and buying the house,” according to the Bank of America report, which found that single women rank homeownership as a goal above getting married (41%) and having children (31%).

From homemaker to homeowner

While there’s still work to be done, women have taken huge steps toward professional and financial independence. Homeownership in particular contributes to economic stability, so it’s great that more single women are buying homes. There’s no doubt the increase in the number of women in the U.S. workforce, a figure that has more than doubled since 1975, has contributed to the trend. Here are some other driving forces behind the rise of single female homeownership:

Homeownership empowers women. Homeownership offers a place to live, stability and a way to build wealth, so it’s no surprise women view owning a home as empowering. In fact, 31% of single women (vs. 23% of single men) feel empowered when thinking about buying their first home. A licensed real estate agent in Chicago, Martina Smith bought a condo in her dream neighborhood of Streeterville after she broke off an engagement a few years ago. Her budget only allowed her to buy a “fixer-upper,” but she got a great deal and renovated her place. “It’s been very rewarding and empowering,” she said. And she thinks it reflects a bigger national trend. “We’re seeing more women taking charge,” Smith said.

Women are becoming more educated. Over the past few decades, women have become more educated than men. In 2017, 38% of women and 33% of men ages 25 to 64 had a bachelor’s degree. In that age group, 14% of women and 12% of men had an advanced degree. And women are putting off marriage to pursue that education, according to the 2018 Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem report. Educational attainment has a positive impact on homeownership rates.

Women are done waiting to marry. There’s been a cultural shift where women no longer feel they need to wait until they pair up to embark on certain aspects of “adulting,” said Kelley Long, a CPA and certified financial planner with Financial Finesse. “I will never forget a friend’s dad chastising me for doing ‘nesting’ things like buying nice furniture before I was married because of his perception that you just don’t do things like that until you’re married,” Long said, adding that women are “rejecting that idea because it’s not true.” If you want to marry in the future, the right partner will likely be impressed that you were financially secure enough to buy a home on your own, she said.

Single moms want a home base to raise kids. “Oftentimes, when people buy homes it’s for lifestyles reasons,” said Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist for LendingTree. Getting married is one big reason, but having children is the other, he said. About 21% of U.S. kids live with single moms, a number that has almost doubled since 1968. In contrast, just 4% of kids live with single dads. “Children prompt people to buy homes,” he said. “So that might be one of the factors at play.” And it’s not just kids. As many as eight in 10 caregivers for elderly parents are women. The median age of a single female buyer is mid-50s, points out Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights for the National Association of REALTORS. A single female homebuyer “may be coming from a past relationship and purchasing a new home for herself, her children and her parents,” Lautz said, adding that single females are “willing to make sacrifices” to purchase a home.

So what does the future hold for single women owning homes? If marriage rates among all U.S. adults continue to drop, it’s likely the number of single women purchasing homes will rise even more, Lautz said.

Turn your homeownership dreams into reality

Strict lending standards can make it more difficult to qualify for a mortgage on a single income. Considering women also only make 80% of what their male colleagues earn, getting to a financially secure enough position to afford homeownership may feel daunting. Here are three tips for single women looking to buy a home of their own:

  1. Prep your finances for homebuying. It’s important to check your credit and your debt-to-income ratio before you start the homebuying process. If you spot problems, work on increasing your credit score and paying down your debt before you try to get preapproved for a mortgage. Getting the best possible rate can save you money over the life of the loan, which is especially important when your household depends on a single income. The upside is that single women have complete control and don’t need to worry about anyone else’s shaky credit or loads of debt. “If you’re in a couple, somebody is going to be dragging the other person down,” Kapfidze said.
  2. Build your nest egg before you buy. Forty-eight percent of women say they haven’t purchased a home yet because they haven’t saved enough for a down payment. But that’s not the only savings barrier to breach before taking the leap into homeownership. “Make sure you have a robust emergency fund,” Kapfidze said. Because single homeowners are on their own, they should set aside at least three months of mortgage payments as part of their emergency fund, Kapfidze suggested. “If you’re single, you’re the only one with income coming in to pay the mortgage,” he said.
  3. Pick a home that comes in under budget. Single women have lower household incomes than single men, so they may need to consider buying a smaller home, taking on a house that needs some work or settling in a lower priced neighborhood. The good news is that single women may be doing exactly that. In fact, the average home purchased by a single woman cost $173,000 compared with over $190,000 for a single man. Single women “may need to make price concessions when purchasing to find a home for themselves and their families,” Lautz said. And buying less house than you can afford can help you make your mortgage payment more easily if you hit financial hard times in the future.

Finally, it’s normal to feel stressed when you think of buying a home. In fact, more women (40%) than men (30%) feel overwhelmed by the idea of homeownership. But even though the homebuying process was scary, Hsiao said she has zero regret about buying a home of her own: “If you love the house, it’s 100% worth it.”

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Allie Johnson
Allie Johnson |

Allie Johnson is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Allie here

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