Side Hustle Update

-Good things happen to those whoI thought perhaps it might be time to give you a Side Hustle Update! I’ve been working away steadily and I have submitted two weekly timesheets already. Though I won’t be paid until the end of March (so I won’t see the check until April!), I enjoy looking at the amount of money on the bottom of the time sheet!

The Money Part:

I track my hours using the institution’s spreadsheet they sent me, and it does all the math for me. Sadly, it can’t, of course, calculate how much will come out for taxes and even retirement. Someone at work said that state employees who work part time still get money pulled out for retirement. I’m not upset about that (anything added to my retirement account helps!), but I feel a little anxious, trying to estimate how much we might actually see in that check when it finally does arrive.

I think I’ll probably average around $450 dollars a week (before anything comes out), so in an average month, that would be around $1800. (This first paycheck will include a week that only will earn me $100, as I didn’t get a full week’s worth in.) So, I want to estimate on the low side so I won’t be horribly disappointed. Maybe $1000?

I’ve determined that at least $1000 will go directly to our car loan to get it off our backs as soon as possible, or maybe the entire paycheck will go towards that. However, I’m still toying with the idea of putting even just $25 more into my Roth IRA each month (uh, that would be double what I’m currently putting in, for a substantial – ha ha – $50). I don’t want to super-agonize about this income, but I really like having a plan. Fortunately, I still have a whole month to figure it out. (Sigh.)

I’m trying to consider this income as completely bonus; this way, if they run out of work to send me, I won’t be as incredibly disappointed. I’d love for this job to continue into the 2014-2015 school year, but I certainly don’t want to rely on it. From what I’ve read from other personal finance bloggers, side hustle income should not be used for regular living expenses. The big reason for that is that side hustles can be unreliable, so if one doesn’t have to rely on them for regular bill-paying, then one should not!

The Work Part:

I’m finally getting into the swing of these reviews. Some courses are awesome already (though I haven’t yet found a course that didn’t need at least some minor tweaking) and some are in dire need of fixing.

At first most of my time seemed to get sucked up by finding the best way to review the courses and perform the duties in the most efficient way possible. Once I streamlined some of that process (I do think I probably have a little ways to go on this still), I seem to spend my time now trying to find nice, professional ways to say, “What were you thinking when you did that?!?!?!” At any rate, the job is getting easier, and I’ve now got stock responses to problems I keep encountering in different courses. I did try to estimate how many courses I must review by the end of the school year, and it looks like I need to do about 15 per week? I feel like maybe my math is wrong on that, but I fear perhaps not. I’m at about half of that right now, but I do feel it picking up speed, especially over this past week (my third week doing this job).

I thought perhaps I would find this job to be draining (after all, it’s 20-25 hours I could spend on other things), but honestly it’s time I was already spending on grad school stuff (for the past two years, finished last December), and this requires way less thinking, as I’m not trying to divide my attention between projects, group members, emails, and papers. I have one job to do, I do one review at a time, and I have a system. It’s organized and I have settled into a comfortable routine. Plus, I’m able to do most of the work when L is in bed, so I’m following through with not allowing it to affect our family time too much. My supervisors have been awesome so far, as well. I’m so grateful that this transition has gone smoothly.

A Question for You:

If I need internet for my side hustle (and I do), can I write off a portion of my internet cost on my taxes next year? I’m working between 20-25 hours a week, but I don’t know how to use that information to calculate whether I can write it off. H says that since we use the internet at the same time I’m doing work, maybe we can’t write some of it off. Any insights?!

Thanks for reading!

– M.

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