The Normalization of the “Side Hustle”

Nearly half of Americans had a side hustle in 2022. I’m not surprised. Americans are hard workers. Hustlers. Hungry for cash. There’s plenty of money to go around, and half of our country is chasing it.

Not exactly.

Thirty-one percent of these side hustlers use their extra income to pay for regular living expenses. Sixty-one percent of women say they would struggle financially without their side hustle. Fifty-four percent of men also agree that they would struggle financially without their side hustle.

A side hustle used to be something greedy, desperate, or passionate people did. These days side hustles are pretty much expected, if you want to eat. Chicken nuggets, a burger, some fries and two drinks cost me $21 at a fast-food joint last week. I can’t even imagine the bill at a sit-in restaurant. When you’re always on the go, you need some quick poison, I mean energy, for the body to stay awake. But these days, I can’t even afford cheap artery-clogging drive-thru food.

For the “save money by eating at home” crowd, I ask when can I find the time? Between multiple revenue streams, I barely have time to see friends and family let alone shop, cook, and eat. Time is money and any minute I’m not earning, I’m losing potential profits. How am I committing myself to the American Dream? Working when I’m not working. I need to learn to survive without sleep. I calculated the ROI on resting, turns out I can’t afford it.

Having a good work ethic is important, but undervaluing time is a crime. That’s why, no matter the job, anyone working forty hours a week should be able to comfortably afford a house, food, and standard living expenses. I can’t seem to fathom why anyone in this country could argue against this. Profits over people is what it boils down to. That, or those believers in “paying their dues” or “work experience” or “job requirements” are more difficult or more important than some teenager scooping ice cream. Maybe a teenager is working a job for beer money. Or maybe the teenager is supporting his single mother to make ends meet. It’s not our job to judge, it’s our job to ensure income equality for all Americans.

Money is the great equalizer, anyone who tells you differently is a fool or has an agenda.

Younger generations are onto this. They’re smarter than the rest of us in certain respects. One in four Gen Zers want to become social media influencers. Turn themselves into a corporate show pony. Getting paid to travel or highlight products they’d use anyway. Older generations shame Gen Z for this. But why? Gen Z sees all of us in the working class becoming “professionals” and spending our whole lives struggling to make ends meet at jobs we hate. Why would anyone want to do that? Because they have no other choice. Gen Z sees how cops, nurses, and teachers were treated during the last few years, and they won’t none of it. Instead Gen Z is chasing the money. Older generations in compromised careers can’t stand Gen Z’s “selfishness.” The worst offenders tend to be those fooled by the Great American Scam and they resent Gen Z for their ability to see through it.

In our digital world, the bills pile up fast while living gets more expensive. Lower and middle class Americans continue to be overtaxed and underpaid. Being paid practically nothing to spend our lives making some old white guy rich beyond our wildest dreams. Why even exist if all we do is always work just to always struggle? I’m no history buff, but that sounds a lot like indentured servitude to me. And like the time of American slavery, most of us are trapped fighting over scraps at the expense of our lives with the promise that someday it will be better if we keep working harder. But hey, at least we get the security of stagnant paychecks and health insurance that’s only affordable when tied to employment. And even then, it’s always cheaper to avoid treatment and pray things get better on their own.

With more and more Americans relying on side hustles for basic living expenses, should we really call them side hustles? Passive income or multiple revenue streams aren’t the right words either. Wait. I got it. Let’s start calling side hustles by what they really are… the consequences of wage inequality.

Originally published at on February 23, 2023.



Stories about the struggles of a millennial trying to stay a float in our chaotic world.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Brian Price

Stories about the struggles of a millennial trying to stay a float in our chaotic world.