Unaffordable Utah: Start a side gig to bring in extra cash
May 4, 2023, 10:05 PM | Updated: May 5, 2023, 2:03 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — Looking for a way to stretch your family’s budget and battle inflation? A side gig could bring in extra income to make ends meet, pay off debt or make a large purchase.
“There’s lots of ways to make some extra money,” said Vincenza Vicari-Bentley with Utah State University Extension. “Utah’s a very self-reliant culture.”
With Utah families dealing with persistent inflation, Vicari-Bentley said it’s the perfect time to consider a side gig.
Salt Lake City resident Savanah Jacobs is loving the time she’s spending with her 15-month-old daughter.
“This moment is being home with my baby — that’s a priority for me,” she said.
After leaving her job at a tech company, Jacobs still wanted to contribute to her family’s goal of buying a house. So she started looking into side hustles.
“I’m just trying to bring in some extra income without having to put my daughter in daycare,” said Savanah Jacobs. “The price of daycare would be about half my paycheck.”
She spent a year researching and testing different manufacturers and just started selling a blanket on Amazon.
“My favorite thing about it: it’s very stretchy,” Jacobs said. “I plan to launch four more colors in the future.”
She’s starting small and hopes it pays off with her own Amazon storefront selling more products. While it’s scary starting something new, she’s already feeling a sense of accomplishment.
“It’s very rewarding,” Jacobs said. “I’m proud of myself.”
Focus on talents
Vicari-Bentley’s advice for Utah families comes from first-hand experience. When she had a child in preschool, she looked for something to do at home.
“When I was in a lot of debt I was getting real creative about what I could sell,” Vicari-Bentley said. “What are people getting rid of? Is it something that I could paint or put a new knob on it and make it look pretty?”
As you start brainstorming a side hustle of your own, she recommends focusing on what you’re good at.
“If you’ve got a skill, make money doing it,” she said. “Don’t forget about your talents. I can’t stress that enough.”
Consider odd jobs, driving for a ride-share app, running errands for someone or selling items on online marketplaces.
“Selling electronics,” Vicari-Bentley said. “Selling maybe children’s toys that you’re not paying with or clothing that’s gently used.”
You can also use your talents to trade with friends and neighbors.
“I’ll teach your kiddo piano lessons if you babysit for me,” Vicari-Bentley explained.
Instead of something home-based, another option to bring in some cash is picking up a few hours at a neighborhood store or restaurant and take advantage of today’s higher wages.
“Even if you can just work one shift a week, they are just so desperate for people to be working,” Vicari-Bentley said.
Vicari-Bentley said the pandemic opened the doors to remote work, more flexibility and more opportunities. When searching for a remote side job she reminds others that it doesn’t have to be a local company.
Another tip: Get the whole family involved. Teenagers can make money by babysitting, cleaning houses and cutting lawns.
Friends start business
Two years ago, Mindy Herget and Brynn Christensen started brainstorming a side hustle while working together at an elementary school in Herriman.
“We threw a lot of different ideas around,” Herget said.
They settled on the idea of selling freeze-dried candy.
“It was a lot of trial and error,” Christensen said.
“We would take it to the school and have everyone test all our candies and see what they liked,” Herget said.
Their company, Unwrapped, now sells everything from freeze-dried fruits and taffy to Milk Duds and ice cream sandwiches both in stores and online.
“It’s fun to see contacts from all over the world hitting our site,” Herget said. “Like last night we had someone from India and it was like, ‘Oh my goodness, India!’”
“It just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” Christensen said. “Mindy and I still will look at each other and be like: ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’”
Christensen just gave notice that she’s leaving her job at the school to focus on Unwrapped full-time.
‘Go for it’
Whether it’s cozy blankets or mouth-watering candy, those who have started a side gig have the same advice for those looking to start something of their own.
“I would say go for it,” Herget said. “Absolutely. I feel like there’s so many opportunities for us.”
“Go for it. Just go for it! Whatever it is it may be,” Jacobs said. “I’m kind of kicking myself for taking that long to do it. I wish I just went for it earlier.”
They encourage following your passions and seizing the day.
“I think just find something that’s going to make you happy is number one,” Christensen added.
They also recommend finding a mentor to help you along the way and always ask others for tips and advice so that you can build upon their knowledge.