Many Americans can’t pay for everyday and monthly expenses without a side gig income.

3 minute read

Are you thinking about taking on a side hustle like food delivery, rideshare driver or another second job to earn extra cash? Maybe you’ve already been working a side gig for a while so you can pay all the bills. If your side gig is essential, you’re not alone.

Nearly half of American adults earning extra income from a side gig say they couldn’t get by without the additional money, according to a recent Bankrate survey. Around 41 percent of people with side hustles told Bankrate they use the extra income to cover everyday expenses.

That’s up ten percentage points from the 31 percent who told Bankrate in a 2019 survey that they used side gig income for everyday expenses. Back then, around 36 percent of those surveyed said they used their side hustle income for “more spending money.” Now that number has dropped ten percentage points, according to the most recent survey.

It’s not surprising that the rising cost of just about everything is driving Americans to explore side gig options. According to Bankrate, 36 percent of those surveyed cited rising inflation as the reason they’ve taken on even more work at their side gig.

Curious about what motivates side-giggers to chase extra income and how they spend the extra cash? Here’s the rundown on Bankrate’s side gig survey.

Most need side gig income for living expenses

For many survey respondents, the days of stashing extra cash from a side income to fund vacations, concerts and entertainment are long gone. Here’s what side hustlers are using side gig income for these days:

  • Everyday living expenses: 41 percent (up from 31 percent in 2019)
  • Disposable income for spending: 26 percent (down from 36 percent in 2019)
  • Adding to savings: 17 percent (down from 24 percent in 2019)
  • Paying down debt: 12 percent (not polled in 2019)

Learn more: How to Create a Summer Side Hustle to Help Pay Down Debt

Older millennials more likely to use extra income to get by

More than half (53 percent) of older millennials (ages 33 to 41) say they need side gig income to cover living expenses. Around 48 percent of women surveyed say most of their side hustle income goes toward everyday living expenses.

Generation Zers seem to be the only generation having fun with their side gig money, with 42 percent treating the extra cash as disposable income.

Learn more: Finding the Best Side Hustles 

Men earn more than women

The gender income divide is alive and well when it comes to side gigs, according to the Bankrate survey. The average monthly side gig income for men surveyed is $1,492, which is $921 more than the average monthly side gig income for women. The median monthly side gig income for women is $250, half of the $500 median monthly side hustle income for men.

Find out: 6 Ways to Avoid Getting Burned by Side Hustle Scams

Side hustlers on the decline

Even while people working side hustles say they need the extra money just to get by, the number of people working side gigs is on the decline, dropping from 38 percent in 2019 to 31 percent in 2022, according to the Bankrate survey.

Rising gas prices may be putting off people who might otherwise take a ridesharing side hustle such as Uber or Lyft, says Bankrate. Throw in crazy-high prices for new and used cars and driving for a rideshare company just doesn’t hold the appeal it once had.

Baby Boomers least likely to have a side gig

Only 21 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 58 to 76) surveyed say they have a side hustle, according to the survey. Here’s how the rest of the generations with side hustles shake out:

  • Millennials (ages 26 to 41): 38 percent
  • Gen Zers (ages 18 to 25): 34 percent
  • Gen Xers (ages 42 to 57): 33 percent

Younger millennials (ages 26 to 32) were more likely to have a side hustle than any other age group, with 43 percent saying they work a side gig for additional income.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC