The pros and cons of working two jobs


When my neighbours put out their recycling bins once a fortnight, an elderly man comes in the evening, quietly taking out and bagging bottles and cans. He can be seen around 5am waiting to be picked up with giant, bulging white produce bags.

Down at my local beach at 6.30am, a middle-aged couple in their athletic wear tilt the recycling bins, efficiently sorting bottles and cans into bags that they will later feed into a machine in a car park.

Cashing in on the 10 cents a can or bottle container deposit scheme is widespread where I live. Those bottles and cans can relieve the stress and anxiety about cost-of-living pressures. One thousand items - and Queensland now takes wine and pure spirit bottles - will earn $100.

the pros and cons of working two jobs

When Australians embark on a side hustle to supplement their earnings from their main job, recycling tops the list for many people, according to a survey by Finder. It says that of all the second income jobs, 36% collect recyclable cans and bottles, while 34% sell pre-loved goods.

With mortgages and rents sharply higher, many people are genuinely skint.

They have long used up their savings, run down the extra in their offset accounts, cut costs such as streaming services, switched to cheaper products, and put off renovations and holiday travels.

Taking on a second or third job to earn an income can be the only way to deal with financial stress and hold onto their home or pay their rent and everyday bills.

Around one million Australians - about 7% of employed people - held down a second job at September last year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Some 8% of women have a second job compared with 5.6% of men. Workers aged 20-24 are more likely to have multiple jobs.

People working in healthcare, social assistance, retail, the arts, recreation services and administration have the highest rate of multiple jobs.

Some seasonal industries, such as fishing, agriculture and forestry, lend themselves to many jobs.

According to Finder, people prefer earning money through things they enjoy or a job where they can be their own boss and don't have to leave the house.

Providing services and goods through an online marketplace such as Etsy, Uber or Airtasker can make a second job easy to manage and fit around a full-time main job. Around 27% make and sell things online, while 22% are paid for a hobby.

Flexibility is key for a second job, with 16% working as food delivery drivers and 15% as tutors. Both jobs allow people to determine their own hours. Eight per cent work as rideshare drivers.

Using a home as a cashbox is popular for those reaping a second income, with 9% of Australians renting out a room or the whole house. Close to 5% rent out their garage.

Possible second career

The appeal of holding a second or third job is mainly financial, but it can also allow people to try out a second career. You could run a small business on the side - such as a market stall selling food or clothes - to see how it goes.

Buoyed by a strong labour market, there are a number of companies, such as Australia Post, offering short shifts that can be lucrative.

But you need to weigh up the pros and cons before you sign up for a second job. How can you monetise your skills? For example, a teacher, scientist or engineer may be able to tutor.

When you take on two jobs, expertly managing your time is key. I have known people to work a second job at night all their working lives, but it requires sacrificing time with family and friends. Exercise regimens often fall away.

While a second job can boost your earnings, it is always a good idea to invest in your full-time job. Focus on learning more and specialising in your area. Hopefully your reputation as a knowledgeable and hard-working employee will lead to promotions and more income.

If your workplace is toxic, the second job could be a place to shine.

While a second job might boost your home deposit, you need to be disciplined about saving hard. It is tempting to pamper yourself to boost your spirits by spending money, but this defeats the purpose of a second job.

Do you come clean about a second job with your boss and work colleagues? How would they feel about you working a second job?

Some people with a second job believe what they do in their own time is their own business, so long as it's not interfering with their work and doesn't conflict with the employer's interests - for example, if you are working for a competitor.

Just how long you hold down a second job before you burn out is worth weighing up. Burnout and fatigue can lead to decreasing productivity, not to mention the potential to make mistakes.

A second job might put you into a higher tax bracket, but this shouldn't be enough to put you off.

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Susan has been a finance journalist for more than 30 years, beginning at the Australian Financial Review before moving to the Sydney Morning Herald. She edited a superannuation magazine, Superfunds, for the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, and writes regularly on superannuation and managed funds. She's also author of the best-selling book Women and Money.