Tell-Tale Signs That Moonlighting Isn’t Working Out for You

A lot of people start moonlighting to make ends meet. But at a certain point, the opposite happens: diminishing returns can mean you need to scale back or get rid of it altogether. Here’s how to tell whether you’ve crossed that line.

You’re Always Tired

moonlighting exhaustion

It’s one thing to stop sleeping in and quite another to get less than seven or eight hours of shut-eye a night because you’re working long hours.

The latter will eventually interfere with your productivity and, worse than that, your health. Sleep deprivation can contribute to high blood pressure, increased susceptibility to illnesses, weight gain, depression and attention deficit disorder. All of these conditions, in turn, may further reduce your ability to get things done. Prioritize your health and make sure you get enough sleep — and if that means you need to lose the moonlighting, so be it. Better safe than sorry.

You’re Underpaid

If the hourly earnings from the side gig don’t meet or exceed what you pull in per hour at your main job, you owe it to yourself to fix that.

Find a way to ratchet up what you make per hour while moonlighting — whether it’s negotiating more pay from an employer, optimizing the way you run an online business, or simply getting a gig somewhere else. Otherwise, you would do well to lose the side hustle and just try to cut back on spending to make up the difference.

Your Regular Job Is Suffering

There are only so many hours in the day, and if you feel like the only way you can get your side hustle done is to do any of it while at your main job, that can lead to trouble. If moonlighting puts you at risk of losing your nine-to-five job, that might be irreconcilable if you don’t immediately cut back on the second job or get rid of it.

If your side hustle looks like it could actually become a full time job on its own, and one that provides better pay or more enjoyment, then you might quit your main job instead.

You Don’t Have Time for Loved Ones

moonlighting burnout

Is your side hustle cutting in on time you would otherwise spend with your partner, kids, or other family members? What about your friends: do they complain about not seeing you enough anymore — or have things gotten to the point where they don’t invite you to things anymore because they assume you never have time for them?

Neglecting your loved ones eventually puts you on a path toward burnout, which if left unchecked might result in something that could get you sacked. Prevent that from happening by making sure to schedule time for the people you care about, including fun activities with them. And if you can’t make that happen with your current work schedule, it may be tim to quit the second job to do that; doing that will probably make your loved ones shower you with appreciation.

You Can’t Even Get Chores Done

If you were able to afford your own house cleaner, you probably wouldn’t be moonlighting. But if doing a side hustle is keeping you from washing your own dishes or completing other chores, that’s no good either. A dirty home can feel uncomfortable, and not cleaning up can also make you more prone to getting sick.

If you have roomates or live with your partner, not doing your share of things around the home can cause interpersonal tensions. This can be too great of a tradeoff for any of the additional income your side hustle brings in. Look for a higher paying job so your home life doesn’t suffer.

Is Moonlighting Really Worth It?

All of the five signs mentioned above should make you ask yourself the same questions: Is the extra money enough to warrant the risk? Do you want to turn the moonlighting into a new career that might actually pay better and be more enjoyable? If not, either cut back on the side hustle or get rid of it. Figure out how to make more money at your main job or redo your budget accordingly.

Readers, what kind of experiences have you had with moonlighting?

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