What I Learned At My Second Job


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What I learned at my second job were skills that will last a lifetime.  That is how I would sum up my second job experience.

Some of the best things that come from working second jobs are that it can be a flexible job and it has the potential to be the easiest money you will ever make. 

For the better part of two years, I had been looking for a second job.  I had been looking for a telecommuting job and something part-time.

The goal was simply to cure my blues from my draconian 9-5 job and water cooler discussions about weekend plans and TPS cover sheets.  Ugh.  

Initially for me, it was not really about earning extra income.  I just felt that I needed to have something additional to do in my life with my time to take my mind off of current challenges I was facing.

Searching for online jobs, I stumbled onto an ad off of a jobs bulletin board looking for a Social Media Evaluator.

On a whim, I applied to it.  Two days later I was hired.

Over the course of a year, what I learned at that job would dictate the future path of my life.  Below are some of those skills.

What I Learned 60 Days In

1.  An Outlet Of New Perspectives

what i learned

When I first started my new job, my day-to-day morale changed.  I noticed that I was a bit more excited to get up everyday.  My new job gave me a new outlet and what I learned very early on, just 60 days in, were new skills.

It was a very liberating feeling I had when I found out I was actually hired for this job.  I now had something to do other than the mundane tasks I had been doing at my 9 to 5 job for the last 18 years of my life.

I was actually excited over this little one hour a day job.

It actually opened up my eyes to new perspectives.

It instilled a sense of worth and self-pride into my life that had been severely absent.  This job was something I was doing on my own for myself to possibly better myself.

2.  Second Jobs Don’t Always Require Additional Time

how to multitask

The beauty about this particular job was that it required no additional time in my daily schedule.

I was able to work this into my daily routine and I did not have to make a major schedule adjustment at all to do this.  As a parent with young kids, this can be extremely tough to do.

I had previously used this time every morning to drink the best Arabica coffee known to man and watch the morning news while waiting for my kids to get up.

This special and sacred time was also filling another purpose now.  Sure I was still doing all those things, drinking coffee and watching the news, but this block of time was also re-purposed now.

In this same block of time, I was also making money reviewing online social media content AND GETTING PAID FOR IT!

I was also able to keep up on the latest online gossip and also catch up on my emails.  Sometimes I was able to roll personal stuff into this block of time as well.

I paid several of my household bills during this time and I also wrote my daily task list for that day.

3.  The Possibilities Of Additional Income

additional income

One of the biggest things this job did do for me was open my eyes to the addiction of additional income. 

I had calculated that by doing my job every single day, it would be possible to make over $4,000 in a year while drinking coffee!  That’s crazy!

Looking at this in a different perspective, someone who was cutting lawns, at let’s say $25 per cut, would have to cut over 160 lawns to make this kind of money.

Not to mention, they would have to do a lot of physical labor to make that $4,000.

Meanwhile, here I am making the same money while watching the morning news and drinking Arabica coffee.

Is this really happening?

There are so many ways to make additional income.  You can even make money online while traveling around the world!

4.  Using My Time More Efficiently

What I learned 60 days in was how to use my time more efficiently. 

This by far was the biggest benefit of doing this job.  Prior to starting this job, I had been looking for a new job to replace my 9 to 5.

And just 60 days in working my new job, I learned that getting a new 9 to 5 job was not the answer.

I had realized this important lesson now.

Getting a new job to replace my 9 to 5 would not solve all the problems I had. 

If anything, it would be a step backward because I would have to start all over at  new place and learn a new job, culture, and process.  All of my retirement vesting at a new company would start over again.

And most places don’t offer the same level of benefits as what I was currently receiving.

By learning how to manage my time more efficiently in my day-to-day life, I was actually satisfying all my needs I had; both personal and financial.

What I Learned In 180 Days

5.  A Passive Income Stream

what i learned 60 days in

In the first 180 days, I realized the power of a passive income stream. 

This job I was doing, while it was a job, a lot of it was really passive activity.  This resonated with me and I began to think outside the box how I could magnify this.

After I realized I was basically earning $4,000 for drinking coffee and watching Hoda Kotb on the Today Show, I started to quantify this result.

And that was when my wheels started turning.

Let’s say if I could make money with side jobs and find another job that would exponentially grow over time, so would my income.

It could theoretically be possible to have an income stream that would grow and pay me while I continue to work other jobs.  Or I might be able to get enough income where I could pay off my mortgage early and live mortgage-free.

6.  Income Diversification

What I learned from my  little 1 hour a day part time was that there are countless ways to have household income diversification by doing small additional jobs and finding creative ways to make money.  

This offers a tremendous advantage and a security blanket in case your main source of income for whatever reason ends or is reduced.  A family member may become ill and have to take time off of work or you might have to help elder parents and take a long-term leave from work.

Even worse, an unexpected job layoff might happen which means you would have a significant household income reduction.

That is all the more reason to try and diversify your household income.

An ad off of a jobs bulletin board to review online content has changed my view of working more than one job.

I have to admit, I did not initially want to work a second job.  My main goal early on was to get a better full time job.  However, looking at it now from a different perspective there are many benefits to working additional jobs.

What I Learned Over The Course Of A Year

7.  Increase In Positive Household Income

Second jobs can have a significant and positive effect on your household income.  

This positive household income can be used for things such as:

  • Getting Out of Debt
  • Saving for Retirement
  • Saving for College
  • Paying Off Student Loans
  • Taking a Dream Vacation
  • Saving for a House Down Payment

No matter where your household is at financially, having additional monthly household income (in addition to frugal living), will benefit all households.

8.  Increase In Marketable Skills

I also gained marketable skills.  Although, this job was somewhat mundane, there were market benefits.

Since this job was in a completely different field than what I had been used to, what I learned were all kinds of new skills.  I also learned new insights on things.

I spend most of my day time work hours calculating massive budgetary forecasts on millions of dollars and compiling all sorts of financial data.  Things like:

  • Pie Charts
  • Graphs
  • Trend Lines

My part time job had none of that.

What I learned forced me to look at things in a different light.  I learned specifically things such as marketing, some SEO, and how companies advertise and try to “hook” consumers online.

This was a huge advantage because I would have never learned these skills at my 9 to 5 job, yet I had learned them from working a second job.  Pretty cool right?

The best part was that these skills could transfer back to my day job.  Knowing how consumers respond to specific phrases is great information to know for things such as budget reports that I have to draft.

9.  Resume Enhancement

working a second job allowed me to improve and enhance my resume

Working another job gave me the opportunity to improve my resume and “freshen” it up. 

Lets face it when a person is “career-locked” there really is not a whole lot of opportunity to gain new skills.  A potential new employer may actually use seniority against a potential new hire.  The reasons for this could be that:

  • the candidate has not learned any new skills so their views are outdated
  • they are out of touch with new efficiencies and work models in an industry
  • the candidate does not have the desire to learn anything new

All of these could be real examples that may be used against a potential new hire.

If an employer looks at a candidate’s resume and doesn’t see any new skills learned, it’s very possible that they could be passed over. 

A potential candidate who moves around a lot more might be a better fit for that employer.  That mobile candidate might be what that employer would be looking for.

Gaining experience in several different fields not only shows adaptability, but also shows drive and determination to learn new processes, skills, and industries.

A person who has been at the same job for 18 years and who is lacking new skills and growth, not so much.

10.  Starting A Plan B

What I learned about my overall working career was that I needed to think about starting a Plan B.  When you work for an employer, there is always that fear of losing your job.

In order for companies to be profitable and make shareholders happy, they have to be able to respond to cyclic changes in the economy.  This is mainly done though layoffs.

So what happens to a middle-aged worker who has been at the same job for his whole life if laid off?  

It’s not pretty.  It could take that middle-aged worker a lot longer to recover and find new employment vs somebody who has more skills and is more adaptable.

So what I learned about a Plan B was that I needed to start putting one together.

11.  Starting In A New Industry

I began to jot down some interests and things that I like doing that were not related to my current field.  I wanted my Plan B to be unrelated.  Now that doesn’t mean that the skills I do have won’t transition to this new field.

Some will and some won’t.

I realized that by focusing on a new industry, I was a lot more motivated to continue on with my planning.

Although working this second job ignited my growth for my Plan B, my interest grew into starting some type of business of my own.

12.  Complacency:  The Breakup 

This second job was the little push I needed in my life to get back on track with life.  No longer was the status quo of my work life okay with me.

Over the course of working this second job, I thought a lot about achieving goals and how I could make my life better.

I felt very empowered in my life as a result of my second job and ended up setting goals for myself.  Some of those were:

  • to use this additional income to get out of debt.
  • develop goals for my personal life
  • determine my Plan B

My second job motivated me to overcome all of those issues.  All of a sudden, my routine changed a bit.

I had this new part time job in my daily schedule and I was very excited about it.

I chose to breakup with complacency.

You can miss out on a lot of happiness in life if you choose the path of least resistance and complacency.  What I learned was that I didn’t have time for complacency.

What I Learned About Myself

Working a second job taught me a lot of things about myself. 

What I learned about my working life was that by living the status quo in my working career, I was killing my soul so to speak.

Going to a place for 8 hours a day where I didn’t really want to be at was literally making me a toxic person.

Then I started a second job and everything change.

All of a sudden I had new perspectives on things and my mindset changed a bit.  What I thought would be a huge time commitment to work this job was not the case.  I was able to learn new ways to manage my time more efficiently.

Diversifying my household income and creating a new income stream helped me achieve my financial goals.  

My side job taught me that additional jobs are a great way to make extra cash especially if you can make a passive income stream out of it (take passive travel income for example) and find a way to work them into your daily routine without too much disruption.

What I Learned About Moving Forward

This second job also made me think about my future and motivated me to come up with a Plan B for my life.  

I started thinking more about change and what kind of future I wanted.  Am I going to be happy staying at this job for 40 years? Will I have really made a difference in the world?  Is this where I want to spend my time?

And I always circle back to what I really want to do and work in real estate finance it seems.

We are not here on this planet long. 

Dealing with complacency is hard and so is change. 

But, with change, a person at least has a chance at a better future for themselves.

Whether it is a better financial future or personal one you seek, complacency and change are the drivers for both of those areas.

Complacency will hold a person back from obtaining change.  A person has to want the change in their life.

I was stuck in complacency.  

On a whim, I applied for a 1-hour-a-day job and my life changed.  I learned new skills, explored new industries and dreams of past times, and came up with a new life plan.

Now, I am taking steps to move on, to move forward. 

Complacency, I don’t have time for you anymore.

Yes, a second job really can teach you all of that about your life.

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BG Vance

For over 20 years, BG Vance has been a leader in public and personal financial management. He's developed and managed public budgets in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars. He is passionate about the FIRE movement and was featured in the Detroit News in 2001 about saving for retirement. Through the years, he's assisted families and individuals with getting their finances on track. He holds an MPA, is a licensed Realtor, and is currently working on a book about personal finance.

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