Side hustles – or making money in ways other than your primary income method – are easier than ever. America has embraced the idea, with 37% of Americans running a side hustle. Increasing your income is rarely a bad idea, and it definitely makes sense for preppers.
A side hustle can not only speed you towards financial independence, but it reduces income risks as well. The additional income can be used to finish off your preps, maintain your food storage supplies, or even establish a bug out location.
Millennials are the generation that has really taken to the side hustle. Over half of them are earning income from at least one secondary source. The rise of the ‘gig economy’ may have something to do with this, or it may just be a necessity due to increased Millennial spending. One thing is for sure- side hustles can be used by preppers to posture themselves in a better position.
What is a Side Hustle?
Sure, the older version of the side hustle was simply working multiple jobs. The main difference between multiple jobs and a side hustle, however, is who is in charge. When you show up to your second job, you likely have to clock in and report to a manager. With a side hustle this is not the case. If you start a side hustle you are in control of your hours, the amount of work you put in, and ultimately: your additional income.
There are many ways to be a self-starter, including:
- Monetizing Hobbies (Etsy, blogs, small business)
- Retail Arbitrage (Reselling)
- Task Gigs (Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, etc..)
- Leveraging Assets (VRBO, Airbnb, investing)
- Multi-level Marketing (Pyramid sales)
All of these provide ways to make some cash on the side, with varying amounts of work and time commitments required. If you are looking to start a side hustle, you need to start with the end goal in mind.
Do you want the side hustle to become your main income? Then you need to make sure that it is scalable, or that it can become as big as you need it to be.
Do you want your side hustle to be largely hands-off? Then you need to look at a passive income generator, like a blog or investing.
Many of the side hustles also depend on your current situation. You obviously don’t want to start a side hustle if you don’t have a ‘main hustle’. Don’t underestimate the value of steady financial footing with a steady job.
The Best Side Hustles for Preppers
As a group, preppers are about as risk-averse as you can get. We like knowing things in advance, being educated on possible risks, and maintaining control of the many aspects of our lives- no matter the situation. But we already knew all that; what is interesting is how this ties into the side hustles we typically chose.
Knowing how we think, it is not surprising that most preppers tend to pick side hustles centered on either monetizing hobbies or investing. You see examples of this every time you are online checking out prepping blogs: the blog itself is usually a side hustle, and you may even see ads talking about bullion investment (silver, gold, etc.) These two interests are already paired together like peanut butter and jelly, so it is no surprise that many prepper side hustles involve one of the two.
Monetizing Prepping Hobbies
If you are one of the many preppers with unique survival skills- you already have a leg up. Monetizing your survival skill prowess is simply the next step. We’ll walk you through the many options you have based on an example:
Let’s say you are well versed in bushcraft survival. Let’s step through a few of the options available to you to make a side hustle out of your skills.
- Become a bushcraft guide in your spare time.
- Start teaching group hands-on courses on bushcraft survival.
- Start a website/blog on bushcraft survival.
- Record how-to videos on bushcraft survival to upload on YouTube or a web course.
- Create bushcraft tools and sell them on Etsy.
For most of these, you can replace the word ‘bushcraft’ with whatever hobby or skill you have honed to see your many options. There are many ways to make money out there- you just need to find what works best for you.
The beautiful thing about hobby side hustles is you are not only making extra money, but you are making great connections with people and becoming immersed in what you love.
Making Your Money Work by Investing
Financial independence is one of the lesser talked about goals of prepping. Debt is never a preppers friend, but we also rarely talk about accumulating wealth to meet our prepping goals. Whether this is ultimately going off-grid to a homestead, or simply being prepared for any situation- the stark truth is that money can help you get there.
Investing can be an easy way to build wealth and put your money to work. With inflation as the norm, if you are not matching inflation with investment gains then you are losing value on your hard-earned dollars.
Before we go further, I’ll go ahead and put out the disclaimer that I am definitely not a financial advisor. I am an engineer and blogging prepper. I am not sharing financial advice on positions you should take. Please consult with a financial advisor before making financial decisions.
As I mentioned earlier, many preppers chose to invest in bullion. Bullion typically holds steady or improves in value during an economic downturn, so you can see how this is attractive to preppers.
Diversification is also important for preppers. By spreading your investment strategy over multiple sectors, you are lowering your risk. Mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) are one way to do this. Sure, you won’t get the giant returns like you would have if you were in Amazon stocks from day one- but you will be insulated from market drops. A less volatile portfolio has its merits- especially for preppers. If you look at funds, make sure you know of the fees associated with them since they can sometimes outweigh the diversification benefit. Some ETFs have extremely high fees and are meant to be held for short periods- so do your research or consult a financial advisor.
Another way to save money investing is to use Robinhood, which does not charge commissions or trading fees. I use it as both an app on my phone and online in a web browser. Robinhood does not have in-house advisors (so you need to do research yourself or find external advisors) but trades are easy to place, track, and report at tax season. Robinhood even allows you to trade ETFs, funds, and options (in addition to traditional stocks). It is the best investment brokerage I’ve used by far. It is great for those that have been investing for a long time or those just getting started out. They even give you a free stock (Apple, Sprint, or Ford) if you try it out: Try Robinhood, Get a Free Stock.
Side Hustles Preppers Should Avoid
I’m not trying to keep you from trying any of these, but am simply pointing out that these side hustles don’t align with general prepping philosophy. I know at least one person doing each of these side hustles very effectively- but that does not speak to the success seen as a whole.
If you own a home and have spare room, you could open up your home to strangers for quite a bit of money. I personally know someone that opens up their entire home to Airbnb and uses the proceeds to not only pay their mortgage, but it allows them to travel the world! She is visiting Columbia as I type and is enjoying the jet-setting life simply by setting up her home as a 21st century hotel. This does not mesh well with a prepper’s philosophy, however, but there is definitely some increased risk of letting strangers into your home.
A fancy name for reselling, this is gaining some traction because it looks so darn simple. The main narrative goes that you buy some stuff off the clearance rack at Walmart and then turn around and sell it at full price on Amazon, pocketing the difference. The downside here is that you are not building anything and it 100% requires your attention and time. If you are not actively buying and reselling, you are not making any passive income. It can still be exciting to witness, though. Check out this guy that made a huge haul on Millennial Monopoly:
Being a task rabbit for Uber, Lyft, or one of the many others can be psychologically deceiving. You can make money almost instantly, but there is little to no chance at any growth from here. The money you earn is just a function of how much time you put in. We all know that our time is limited. The scalability is one reason why preppers steer clear of these side hustles.
Multi Level Marketing
These catch a lot of flak since they are structured like pyramid schemes, but unlike pyramid schemes they provide products. Amway, Avon, Herbalife, Mary Kay… the list is almost endless and they are willing to recruit anyone that will work solely for commissions. The big dollars here are in getting in early and recruiting. That may be why so many keep popping up. Having a party and selling a few items to your friends may be fun, but it’s not easily scalable and definitely not passive income. Dave Ramsey does a great job of breaking down the pros and cons of MLMs:
More than anything, your persistence and determination will determine the amount of success you have with your side hustle. Sure, there are plenty of other factors. But the beauty of a solid side hustle is how they magnify your effort into income.
The Final Word
Envision where you want to be in the future, and if your primary job doesn’t look like it will get you there, you might want to consider a side hustle. If you love your job and your income level- that is great! But a growing number of Americans are taking matters into their own hands to change their lives for the better.
Financial independence is a huge part of self-sufficiency. Society is ingrained with an economic structure, whether you like it or not. When the unthinkable happens: ranging from a market collapse to a regional disaster- a financial foothold can help get you through.
Learn about the risks you could encounter every day with our TrueRisk index to make sure you are on top of every probable and plausible threat. Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.