Survey: Most Consumers Have a Second Stream of Income

Most adults who have a side gig dream of taking it full-time
Hand holding one-hundred dollar bills

If you’ve been thinking about cultivating multiple streams of income, you’ve got plenty of company. New surveys suggest that most consumers have more than one income stream and many are even thinking about taking their side gigs full-time.

A majority of consumers — 65% — have income coming in from a second source, according to a survey by American Consumer Credit Counseling. The credit counseling and debt consolidation nonprofit surveyed 229 consumers about their sources of income and found that the most common source of secondary income was a part-time job, cited by 70% of respondents. Sixteen percent of respondents said their secondary income came from freelance services, 12% cited the gig economy and 2% said they earned secondary income by selling unused or unwanted items.

Most respondents with a second income — 74% — reported on average making up to $200 per week. However, 10% of respondents earned on average over twice as much, reporting income of more than $500 per week.

The largest percentage of respondents sought secondary income out of necessity, with 43% saying the money was needed to help pay for expenses they can’t afford with their salary alone. Other reasons given for having a second source of income included having money to pay off a credit card (22%), having extra spending money (14%), saving up for a major purchase such as a house or vacation (6%) and paying off student loans (2%).

While some consumers are satisfied with their secondary streams adding to their financial stability, others have higher goals in mind. A new SunTrust survey found that 81% of consumers who have a side gig today have an interest in making it a full-time endeavor.

For the SunTrust survey, 2,028 adults were surveyed, with 1,116 having had a side hustle at some point. Respondents included millennials, defined as those between 23-38, Gen Xers, defined as those between 39-54 and baby boomers, defined as those between 55-73.

Millennials pulled in the most cash from their side hustles, scoring on average $10,972 per year, followed by Gen Xers who made on average $8,791 annually and baby boomers who made on average $5,892 per year.

However, many respondents appear to recognize that turning a side hustle into a full-time gig may be easier said than done. An overwhelming 83% of those interested in turning their side gig into a full-time endeavor say they face obstacles, with 36% saying they don’t have enough time to focus on that goal and 30% saying they don’t have the financial capital to make it work.

Not only can having multiple streams of income help you to pay off debt faster or save more money, but it can also leave you less vulnerable if you lose your job or experience a major financial setback, such as an unexpected medical expense. Thanks to the internet, finding a side hustle might not be too difficult. In fact, there are likely side hustles you’ve never heard about. If you’re thinking about taking your side gig full time, do the research to determine the typical costs you’re likely to encounter when starting a business.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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