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Side Hustle Stress

Side hustles are becoming increasingly popular, with rising living costs causing many to consider finding ways to boost their income. 2023 data indicates anywhere from 39% [1] Bankrate, ‘Survey: 39% have a side hustle, and 44% believe they’ll always need one’ to 50% [2] Yahoo Finance, ‘Side Gigs 2023: 50% of Americans Have a Side Hustle — Even If They Earn $100K’ of employed Americans have a side hustle. Using employment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics [3] Bureau for Labour Statistics, ‘Table A-1. Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age’, there are over 16.12 million employed people, which means there could be anywhere up to 8.63 million that have a side hustle.

For those who have them, they can be a way to feel financially secure, but adding extra work onto existing schedules can be challenging. This comes as a Deloitte survey of 1,000 Americans shows that 77% of those who work full-time are already feeling burnout, adding a side hustle on top of that could be a problem. [4] Deloitte, ‘Workplace Burnout Survey’

On top of this, there is a separate stress for those who don't have a side hustle and who might be feeling the pressure to get one.

Questioning the impact of side hustles, a survey was conducted on behalf of Self Financial asking over 1,000 Americans about side hustles and how they impact their lives. The survey also spoke to some of those who don't have a side hustle, to see if they may have plans to change this and how artificial intelligence (AI) might be impacting earning an extra income.


Key findings

The reality of having a side hustle

Speaking to the people who currently have an active side hustle, the survey looked to find out how successful it is for them and what stresses they face juggling a side operation alongside their main day job. 

Side hustle earnings

Average side hustle earns $688 a month, but 44.8% earn less than $250

By taking the midpoints from the answers given, and assuming $4,000 as the maximum, the data shows that the average monthly amount people make from their side hustles would be $688. 

This data reflects a similar April 2023 survey [1] Bankrate, ‘Survey: 39% have a side hustle, and 44% believe they’ll always need one’ which found an average amount of around $810 for Americans with a side hustle. The external survey also found that the average amount may not reflect what most people take home as many earn little from their side projects. 

How much do you make from your side hustle per month?
$0 0.7%
$1-$50 18.2%
$51-$250 26.7%
$251-$500 19.4%
$501-$1000 15.9%
$1,001-$2,000 10.9%
$2,001-$4,000 6.5%
More than $4,000 1.7%

While $688 might be the overall average due to some earning thousands from their side hustle, the most common amount to earn was in fact between $51 and $250 (26.7%), with a further 18.2% earning less than $50. This can mean that a lot of side hustlers aren’t earning much for their time. 

Side hustle money is primarily invested or spent on bills

The most common place for side hustle earnings to end up was in savings or investments (29.3%), followed by 27.6% using it for their bills. A fifth (20.7%) use it for debt repayments, and 12.2% said they use it to buy items they wouldn’t buy otherwise. 

Where does most of your side hustle income go?
Savings/investments 29.3%
Bills 27.6%
Debt repayments 20.7%
Things I wouldn’t usually buy 12.2%
Reinvested into the side hustle 7.6%
Other 2.6%

Over 7 in 10 (71%) Americans say they will need a side hustle to financially survive

With many using their side hustle profits for bills and debt repayments, for some, the secondary income has become a necessity. The survey found that seven in ten (71%) think they will need their side hustles to financially survive from now on.

Time and energy investment

36.3% of those with a side hustle are spending 6-10 hours on it per week

The survey also looked at how much time is spent on average on a side hustle, which included asking those who are full-time employed how much additional time outside of working hours they are spending on their side hustles. 

How much time do you spend on your side hustle(s) outside of your main job per week?
1-5 hours 24.4%
6-10 hours 36.3%
11-20 hours 28.8%
21-30 hours 7.1%
31-40 hours 2.4%
40+ hours 0.7%

Americans currently spend around 42.1 hours a month if working full-time [5] Bureau for Labour Statistic, ‘Average hours employed people spent working on days worked by day of week’ and those with a side hustle are adding even more to that. 

The 36.3% of survey respondents that add between 6-10 hours a week could be working between 312 and 520 hours (the equivalent of 65 full working days) annually on their side hustle. Most people (99.7%) said they are working less than 40 hours a week on their side hustle, for the 0.7% that work more than this, it could be considered another full-time job rather than anything supplementary. 

Just over half of Americans (50.1%) say that their side hustle isn't stressful

Despite some working long hours, over half of those surveyed with a side hustle said they do not find it stressful, however, there were a large number of people, two in five (42.1%), who said that it is more stressful than their full-time job. 

This level of stress will differ based on the time required, what someone’s full-time employment is like, or even if they have a busy home life. 

Time management is causing Americans (24.1%) the most stress in their side hustle

As for what is causing side hustlers the most stress, it was found to be all about time management. This was the most common issue for almost one in four (24.1%) Americans with side hustle stress. Finances are the second most stressful aspect of maintaining a side hustle (21.9%), and marketing is the third most, with 17.6% struggling to find customers and clients for their growing hustle. 

What causes your side hustle stress?
Time management 24.1%
Finances 21.9%
Marketing 17.6%
Spreading yourself too thin 15.0%
Generating sales 8.9%
Customers/clients 7.6%
Lack of boundaries 4.6%

AI in side hustles

67.4% of Americans use AI in their side hustle

In 2022 and 2023, OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT, brought the power of AI into the mainstream, becoming the fastest growing piece of consumer tech in history. [6] Tooltester, ‘ChatGPT Statistics’

With the advancements in technology now being used to the benefit of many Americans, the survey looked to find out how AI tech has impacted those with a side hustle. 

Over two-thirds of those with a side hustle said they are using AI to some degree for their side hustle. For clarity, this could be something as simple as getting a chatbot to help you write an email, or it could be used for automated work like sending emails or analyzing large datasets.

84.3% say that AI tools help them with their side-hustle efficiency 

With the majority of people with a side hustle making the most of AI assistance, it may be unsurprising to see that an overwhelming majority (84.3%) said that their AI use has increased their efficiency.

Side hustlers using AI earn $482 per month MORE than those who don’t

According to the data, this efficiency is being used to good effect. The survey data found that those who use AI earn an average of $876 from their side hustle a month, while those who don’t use AI earn $394 a month from their side hustle. This is primarily due to the fact that 32.3% of those without AI earn less than $50, while this was only 8.9% of AI users. 

There are likely other impacts here too. Those who are using AI are likely to be keeping up with new technology or involved in the tech space which would typically draw higher salaries than a side hustle involving courier services for example. 

Over 3 in 5 (62.6%) would consider using AI as a business coach

This question was put to both those who are interested in a side hustle and those who already have one, designed to find out whether people would consider using AI chatbots as a business coach or partner.

Over three in five (62.6%) said that they would, while just under a quarter (24.3%) were unsure.  

As AI is available all day, every day, and can process vast amounts of data, it means that side hustle owners can automate areas of their work that may have been more time-consuming without it.

Interest in starting a side hustle

The survey also asked Americans who do not currently have a side hustle if they would consider starting one in the future and what may have impacted those decisions.

Over half (52.4%) would consider starting a side hustle now 

Over half of those without a side hustle (52.4%) said they would look to start one to boost their income in 2023. Almost three in four (74.8%) said that inflation and the rising costs of living are a primary reason for wanting to start a side hustle. 

In terms of other factors that may have caused someone to consider a side hustle, 43.6% said that online gurus, coaches, or influencers, had caused them to feel pressure to start a secondary income stream. 

Time and money are stopping people from starting a side hustle

In terms of the top reasons people have not currently started a side hustle, the most common reasons were not finding a business opportunity (20.2%), not having the spare time (19.4%), and concerns toward start-up costs (11.8%). 

2 in 5 (41.7%) would use AI if they started a side hustle

Over two in five (41.7%) of those without a side hustle said they would use AI tools to start and grow their side hustle if they did decide to create a secondary income stream. 

Another two in five (40.7%) said they were unsure on how AI could help them with their side hustle, while 17.7% didn’t see the need for such tools if they did decide to start a side hustle. 

The primary reasons for wanting to use AI in a side hustle was to help with efficiency (26.2%), come up with side hustle business ideas (20%), and have someone, or something, to bounce ideas off of (15.9%). The rest of the reasons for people considering using AI are shown in the table below. 

Why would you consider using AI in a side hustle?
To be more efficient 26.2%
To help with business ideas 20.0%
To bounce ideas off 15.9%
To plan my business 15.2%
To take admin tasks off my hands 11.5%
I'm not sure how but I would use it 11.2%

Side hustle top tips

Some top tips for those considering starting a side hustle.

When looking at creating a side hustle it is important to create something that can ideally work around your own schedule, some who do rideshare services do this around the school run, while others have online stores where they sell products and manage after their 9-5. Utilizing AI tools can also help with time management of your business, tools to help with task management and time blocking.

1. Match your skills

Working a side hustle within your area of expertize can ensure maximum profitability, as you are already aware of the knowledge that is needed. However, if there is a sector you are passionate about, have a good research into this first to see if it could potentially be a good fit.

2. Familiarize yourself with the law

Understanding of laws, such as copyright law are important for business owners to be aware of to not land themselves into hot water. Also, check your own job contract to ensure that there is no conflict of interest between your side hustle and your main job, as the last thing you would want is to jeopardize your main income for a side hustle.

3. Create a business plan and financial goals

When creating a business plan and financial goals it's good to ask a variety of questions as to what the aim of your business will be. What are you aiming to achieve by having this side hustle? Are you looking to create new skills or top up your income? Once you have your side hustle in place and are making money, what will that money be used for?


The survey was conducted 06/23/23 - 06/26/23 and asked 1,018 Americans from a range of backgrounds a range of questions relating to side hustles. Those who do have side hustles were asked about their side hustle and the stress it may cause them. Those who don’t were asked about their considerations on whether they would start a side hustle.

Of the respondents, 56.7% were women, 42.5% were men, 0.8% identified as non-binary. The age breakdown was as follows (rounded):

To establish how stressful side hustles are, the survey conducted on behalf of Self Financial asked a number of questions on how stressful they find their side hustle, how many additional hours they spend on their side hustle, how much money they make on average from their side hustle, and if they use AI in their side hustle.


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