A job can be great. It’s a consistent, stable paycheck. Dependable income. And (depending on what you do) a reasonably consistent schedule. But the reality is, they aren’t always as stable as we might let ourselves believe.

If we’ve learned anything over the past few years – and in history – it’s that jobs can come and go, sometimes overnight. You or I could wake up one morning and no longer have a job for one reason or another. Businesses often have to close down or downsize due to lack of funds and not being able to pay the bills. Sometimes layoffs happen as part of normal corporate restructuring. But when you’re the person being laid off, it doesn’t matter why it happened – it only matters that it did.

The next question, though is, “What do I do now?”

Please note: Before we get any further in this post, I do want to mention that I’m not a financial advisor and I’m not your financial advisor. If you have any questions about your finances or financial planning, please contact a professional you trust.

A side hustle is critical in an uncertain job market.

If you have been following me or my content for long, you know just how passionate I am about the fact that people need to have a side hustle of some sort – some sort of side income. I’m not saying you should quit your day job, and I’m certainly not saying you should give up your career to do something completely different.

What I am saying, however, is that a side hustle can be a critical part of an overall posture of preparedness in times when the economy and the job market aren’t quite so certain. And anyone who is a student of history knows that those times can and do come.

Obviously I don’t hope for any of us that we would find ourselves without jobs, but the odds are we all know people who have been in that very boat. One day they’re employed. The next, they’re having to frantically apply for something new.

Even the best of employers sometimes have to lay people off, and sometimes even jobs we love can be subject to downsizing.

While having a side hustle obviously can’t ensure that your job will be around forever, what it can do is help to provide some much needed cushion if it were to ever evaporate.

If you’re bringing in a few hundred extra bucks a month, losing your job doesn’t sting quite as much as it would if were relying on that job as your only income. Right?

That side hustle might be the difference between being able to pay your rent or mortgage for a bit and not being able to. Or it might be the difference between being able to put food on the table and not being able to.

Grow your savings for the future with a side hustle.

I’m one of the fortunate ones who loves his job and coworkers. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not acutely aware of of the reality that any job today could be gone tomorrow? Definitely not. My wife and I are big believers in saving money for the future, and countless times that mindset has paid off. We never know when we’re going to need a little extra down the road – either for an unexpected expense or an unplanned getaway or purchase.

Having a savings account of some sort is a very important part of preparing for the unknown.

Even if you love your job and have no plans to leave it – and even if your job seems stable for the foreseeable future – having a side hustle can be a great way to add more to your savings than you might otherwise have been able to working your main job alone. If you’ve been following this blog, you know I write for Medium and have enjoyed earning money from the Medium Partner Program. Each month, I just toss those earnings into my savings account to use in the future.

That’s one of the beauties of having that side hustle alongside my regular job. I don’t need the money, so I don’t need to spend it. But should I ever need to rely on that income, I could for a little while.

Can your side hustle replace your full time job?

Whether you’ve recently lost a job or you just want to venture out on your own someday, you might be wondering if your side hustle could eventually replace your full time employment. For some people losing a job is exactly the motivation they needed to kick their side hustles into high gear.

Is that something you could do – either alongside your day job or instead of it?

Again, I’m not a financial professional, so if that’s something you’re considering, I highly recommend speaking to a financial professional you trust.

A lot depends on the type of side hustle you start, how motivated you are and how willing you are to continue learning and dedicating time and resources toward building your business.

If you’re not willing to work hard, and you only want a little bit of supplemental income, then the answer to that question is “probably not.” On the other hand, if your side hustle is something that could scale up over time and that’s in demand, then the odds are good that you could turn it into a full time job replacement down the road.

Many people use their side hustles to afford them the freedom to live life on their own terms and not depend on a regular 9 to 5 job. However, if this is something you want to accomplish, it will be important to budget carefully and keep careful track of your expenses and finances.

In my personal opinion – if your side hustle is something that you truly enjoy – it’s not a bad idea to think through what it would take to make it a full time gig. Whether or not you choose to make it one in the future, at least you’ll have laid the mental groundwork necessary to take that step should you choose to – or need to – one day.

Full time or part time, the flexibility is important.

Whether your side hustle is a part time source of income or a full time gig, being able to do what you love while bringing in some extra money is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. That’s a great perk, and even if you love your job and have absolutely no plans to ever leave it, maybe you’ll consider starting or continuing a side hustle that will allow you the freedom to live the kind of life you want to live with the freedom to live it without constantly being tied to a 9 to 5 job.

Because ultimately, at the end of the day, mankind isn’t meant to spend life sitting at a desk. While having a job can be a huge blessing, there’s more to life than a desk.

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