There are “gigs” aplenty in today’s gig economy, and with that comes the opportunity to earn money on the side. Whether it’s driving for Lyft, renting out a guest room on Airbnb, even waiting in line at a restaurant for someone on TaskRabbit, there are plenty of novel ways people of any generation can make money.
The term “side hustle” is often thrown about in millennial circles, but those from Generation X are also welcoming the opportunity to make extra money in the gig economy, sometimes in addition to their traditional 9-to-5 jobs. According to a 2016 study by the Addison Group, a professional staffing and search firm, 59 percent of Gen Xers are open to working on-demand employment opportunities. For instance, among the benefits of working in the gig economy for Uber, earning more income and having the power to be one’s own boss and control their schedule figured prominently in a person’s decision to partner with the ride-sharing smartphone app, according to a 2016 survey by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
“We’re starting to see that these gigs are filling in the gaps for people—a little bit of extra money here for a student loan payment, or a few hours of work there to create additional income,” said Catherine New, a senior editor at Earnest, in an interview with The Washington Post.
Jeff Tennery, the founder of Moonlighting, an online marketplace for freelancers, told The Tennessean that his site has become increasingly popular for Gen Xers looking to freelance on the side and baby boomers looking for additional income opportunities following retirement.
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Supporting family and saving for retirement
Money obligations that include supporting family members and saving for retirement can be challenging in the new financial landscape.
In the HSBC report “The Future of Retirement: Generations and Journeys,” 55 percent of people in their 40s, the common age of Generation X, are financially supporting others. It is taking pre-retirees an expected seven years longer to save for retirement than current retirees did, per the HSBC report. Of those working age people, 14 percent have yet to start saving for their retirement, while only 35 percent of those who have started saving for retirement have stopped doing so or faced difficulties that have impacted their savings, per the report.
“Starting to save early may no longer be enough to ensure a comfortable retirement, and continuing to save through the ups and downs of life is just as important,” Charlie Nunn, group head of wealth management, HSBC, said in the report.
When it comes to retirement plans, Generation Xers have come of age in a financially unique period of transition in the financial services industry, where retirement plans like pensions eventually gave way to defined contribution plans like 401(k)s.
“Baby boomers grew up knowing they would have a pension, which they did have for a large portion of their careers. Gen Xers grew up thinking they would also have a pension, but they never really received them,” says Patrick Payne, assistant professor of finance, personal financial planning program, Western Carolina University.
“This shift wasn’t just a reshuffling of small details of retirement planning; it was a shift of responsibility from the employer to the employee, and it happened right when Gen Xers were starting their careers,” Payne adds.
Indeed, 51 percent of current retirees are funding their retirements with state pensions and social security, per HSBC. Yet only 37 percent of pre-retirees expect to fund their retirements in the same way, while 36 percent of pre-retirees believe that they will fund it with their own income if they “keep working to some extent”, per the HSBC report.
While an estimated 85 percent of gig economy workers make under $500 a month, on average, working a “side hustle” offers any generation, from millennials to baby boomers, the opportunity to earn more money for their life ahead.