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Second Income: Definition, Pros and Cons and Tips

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A second income can be a good way to pay down debt or save up for a vacation. Understanding the pros and cons of a second income can help you decide if finding one fits within your career plans. It can also be helpful to consider a few tips that you can use to find the right source of secondary income.

In this article, we discuss the definition of a second income, as well as some of the biggest benefits.

What is a second income?

A second income is a form of supplemental income that is in addition to your primary salary or pay. It may be in the form of a part-time position or a side business. A second income differs from a primary salary in that your work schedule and income may vary from week to week. The number of hours that you work earning a second income may fluctuate depending on how busy you are in your primary career.

Ways to earn a second income

If you’re looking for a second income, here are a few options to consider:

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Active income

Active income refers to a type of income that requires you to complete a service or task. Here are a few types of active income to consider:

  • Find a freelance position: Freelance positions allow you to work on your own schedule. Some freelance positions may include writing, editing, virtual assisting or designing websites.
  • Work nights or weekends: If you’re willing to work in the evenings or weekends, you can earn active income with a part-time job. This may include tutoring or babysitting.
  • Take on gig work: Gig work, like delivering groceries or food, allowing you to work when you want by logging into the company app. You may also provide transportation services to customers.
  • Offer your consulting services: Consultants share their expertise in a specific industry with others in return for a fee. If you have expert knowledge in an area, you may be able to consult.

Passive income

Passive income is a source of income that may require you to work for a while but then will generate income without any effort on your part. Passive income does not always require as many resources from you as active income. Here are a few types of passive income to consider:

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  • Invest in the stock market: Investing in the stock market or with private companies can earn you a passive secondary income.
  • Rent out unused space: If you have an extra room or space, you may be able to rent it out to others for a secondary income.
  • Rent out your vehicle: Turn your vehicle into extra income by renting it out to people when you’re not using it.
  • Set up an online store: If you have good shopping skills, you can find items at garage sales or second-hand stores and sell them online. You can also sell homemade crafts or products you make.

Benefits of a second income

Adding a second income to your household offers many benefits, including:

Pay off debt faster

A second income can help you pay off debt faster. Whether you have student loans, medical bills or just want to pay off your credit card faster, a second income allows you to apply more money to your debt. Because the income is in addition to your primary source of income, you can pay off debt without affecting your normal household budget.

Increase your savings

A second income is a good way to increase your savings. Growing your savings account is important for protecting against unexpected costs and an increase in the cost of living. A second income can also provide you with job security in the event you decide to change careers or reduce work hours.

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Increase your disposable income

A second income can also give you more disposable income. This means that it may not take as long for you to save up for a vacation or you may be able to increase your college fund faster. When you spend a second income on extra expenses, you can ensure that you properly allocate your primary income to manage your monthly expenses.

Enjoy a flexible schedule

A second income can provide you with a flexible schedule. In most cases, you can add a second income to your current schedule, working around your current career. Depending on the source of second income, you may be able to work when you want, including nights and weekends. This type of schedule may be ideal for students or parents with young children at home.

Work from home

Some second income sources allow you to work from home. This means you don’t have to account for commuting costs. You also can reduce costs by eating meals at home. It also means that you can earn money without finding a babysitter. A lot of work from home jobs also allow you to work on your own schedule, meaning you can work in between helping children with homework or doing household tasks.

Do something you enjoy

Turning certain hobbies into a second income can allow you to earn money while doing something that you are passionate about and enjoy. If you enjoy photography or writing music, you may be able to turn these into a business that earns an income. If you like crafting or creating furniture, you can increase your income while engaging in a hobby.

Drawbacks of earning a second income

It is also important to consider the potential drawbacks of having a second income. A few of these include:

Tax implications

Any time you increase your earnings, you will have to consider your tax implications. Some second income sources may not automatically take taxes out as a salaried position does. However, by planning ahead and setting aside money to cover taxes, you can still earn a second income without an unexpected, costly annual tax bill.

Time constraints

Adding a second income to your household may require that you give up some free time. You may have to spend your days completing your primary position’s duties and during your evenings, work on your second income. Fortunately, with time management skills and a plan, you can ensure that the second income is worth the time you have to give up. If you choose something you’re passionate about, you may enjoy the time spent.

May require you to work nights, weekends or holidays

Many second-income positions may require that you work nights, weekends or holidays. Keep this in mind as you consider your options and decide if you are willing to give up this time for additional income. If keeping your nights and weekends open is important to you, there are a lot of second-income options that allow you to work when you want, such as in a freelance position or as a gig worker.

Income is not always a guarantee

It is not always as easy to predict a second income. It is best to allocate any earnings from a second income to savings or paying down debt, as funds may fluctuate too much to cover monthly bills. This also allows you to better accommodate different schedules without requiring you to spend a set number of hours in your secondary position.

Tips on finding a second income

Here are a few tips you can use to earn a second income:

  • Treat the application process as you would any other position: When applying for a position for a second income, treat the application process as you would any other position. This means creating a cover letter for the specific position, writing a resume that highlights your skills and thanking the hiring manager for an interview.
  • Turn your primary skills into a secondary income: It’s likely that your primary position requires certain skills. As long as it doesn’t violate any contracts, you may be able to use these same skills to generate a second income. For example, if you are a teacher, you may be able to use your teaching skills at night for study prep or tutoring.
  • Consider your interests and hobbies: Find a second income opportunity that you enjoy by considering your interests and hobbies. This is a good way to earn an income without it feeling like work.
  • Create a business plan: Whether you plan to sell products or freelance, creating a business plan can ensure you know what to expect. It can also help you determine if the resources you use are worth the income that you generate.

Indeed Editorial Team. “Second Income: Definition, Pros and Cons and Tips.” Indeed Career Guide, 2022. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/pay-salary/second-income.

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