Before I launch into this, I want to acknowledge three things:
First, it’s an incredibly privileged thing to be able to discuss turning an expensive hobby into a moneymaker. It assumes a few things: that you have enough free time to engage in hobbies, and that you have the means to pay for expensive ones.
Second, I realize my example is very niche to my life, but I hope the process, principles, and mindset it illustrates sparks something that works for you.
Third, I’m going to use real figures in this post for both the sake of transparency (again, I wish money weren’t taboo) and because it lends weight to the topic that I think would be lost without the tactical ~facts & figures~.
Anyone who prioritizes fitness knows that it can be just as consuming financially as it is of your time—especially if you’re someone who tires easily of running around outside or working out by yourself.
Although I had access to a free apartment gym down the hall from my room, it’s a lot sexier (metaphorically speaking) to go to (expensive) group exercise classes at studios crawling with other lululemon-clad fit people. There’s an element of positive social pressure that can provide self-sustaining motivation to continue going.
(And if you don’t believe me, the fitness industry is valued at $30 billion.) (Forbes, Sept. 2018)
While I had a free alternative to my Corepower Yoga Sculpt classes, I was willing to pay $140 per month for a cute, peppy stranger to yell at me to keep shoulder-pressing while I stared at myself struggling in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors, surrounded by other cute, peppy strangers. Sue me!
It was a hobby I really loved and devoted a lot of time to, but Lord, it was expensive.
I was going 6x/week to the hour-long classes (in other words, around 24 hours per month).
When my Aunt SueEllen offered to pay for me to become a yoga teacher for Christmas, it just made sense.
I thought, I’m already devoting a ridiculous amount of time and energy to this place and enjoying it—getting paid to be here would be insane.
So, 100 hours of training and over $1,000 in training investment later (tax-deductible, though), I auditioned to become a certified Yoga Sculpt teacher and employee of Corepower Yoga. A pretty substantial upfront investment, but you’ll see how it turns out…
I’ve talked about what the process meant to me mentally and emotionally before, but that’s not what this post is about—this post is about the impact it’s had on my time and resources.
Here’s how the math breaks down:
I teach three classes per week, a two-hour time commitment each time (or six hours per week).
6 hours per week * 4 weeks per month = 24 hours per month (or about +$300 in additional income)
Plus: an expense of $140 that no longer exists (+$140)
In essence, each month I’ve got $140 that I would’ve spent, plus $300 more.
Annual net difference: $5,280 (five times my original investment to undergo training in the first year—everything beyond that initial training is profit)
I’ll be honest, when I first went through teacher training, it really didn’t have anything to do with money (that was pre-Fiscally Woke KG®). It was much more about my self-worth and mental strength, and my desire to bring the same peace and confidence to others.
But now that I’m aware of the difference it’s going to make in my annual balance sheets, I’m exponentially more grateful I decided to do it.
I mean, $5,280 is almost six months’ rent. My side hustle income that comes from a mere 6 hours of effort per week doing something I actually enjoy can pay my rent for almost half a year? You can’t beat that.
And as someone who really loves sitting on her ass watching The Office, I’ll be real with you—I was nervous about becoming that “busy.” Was I someone who really wanted two jobs? Did I have time for that? Was I going to feel overcommitted?
Unsurprisingly, I had time. It shocked me how much time resided in little pockets of my week that I was subconsciously hoarding for the prospect of socializing.
I don’t LOVE waking up at 5 a.m. on Tuesdays to teach a 6 a.m. class, but I do feel incredible for the rest of that day and inspired by the people who showed up.
I don’t LOVE getting ready in the Corepower bathroom in the morning twice a week or having to lug around a gym bag every day (although it has saved me money on shower products), but you get used to it pretty quickly. And for $5k additional income a year, I’ll lug around just about anything.
These are small, negligible obstacles in the grand scheme of things.
There were even monetary benefits I didn’t know about going into it, like studio reciprocity—I discovered other workout classes I can do for free as a Corepower employee that would’ve cost me $35 a pop before (I think I’ve taken nearly $700 in classes already for free).
As someone who loves fitness, this is a major value-add to my life that I wouldn’t have paid for before because it was cost-prohibitive.
That’s how I gamed my OWN hobby to be something that made—rather than cost—me money, and I can’t even take credit for how well it worked out considering I essentially stumbled into it thanks to a generous gift.
But I hope you’ve taken away a few things:
There’s probably something in your life that you spend a lot of time doing (and are good at) that could make you money somehow. Even if YOUR hobby is fitness too but you don’t want to be a trainer, most studios have front desk and SET employees who are given membership compensation in addition to payment.
Maybe you’re really good at cooking and cook ALL the time. Why not start a small catering or meal prepping side job? Meal prep is so trendy right now but a lot of people don’t know how or what to do. That’s a little more effort logistically to work through your margins, but again, it’s about finding things you’re already good at and already investing time in and monetizing it.
Or think more digitally—maybe it’s a food blog or IG that could lead to sponsored posts. There are no upstart costs there.
If you’re concerned about the time, ease your way into it—but know that there’s probably time in your week that you could use. I’ve been consistently impressed by the time management of some of the other teachers. One of my favorites works full-time, has a child, and teaches twice as many classes as I do AND leads the teacher training program.
Another few teachers work for big consulting or accounting firms and work 80-hour weeks. I was with one the other day who was taking a conference call in the locker room at 7 a.m. These women work WAY more than I do and still somehow ‘have the time.’
I bet you’d be surprised by allocating time just a little differently—waking up just an hour earlier or watching just two fewer episodes of TV. The attitude amongst the workaholics is that Sculpt is their ‘fun job’ that provides an outlet from the jobs that drain them.
Sometimes it’s just about looking at your life a little differently. Even if none of your friends or coworkers have a second job, don’t feel like it’s weird or that you shouldn’t.
Sometimes it just takes one person with the side hustle savvy to inspire and encourage you to look at the way you’re spending your time and money and optimize it. I have a coworker who literally BABYSITS after work in an upper-class neighborhood nearby (i.e., getting paid to sit on someone ELSE’S couch after work) and probably doubles her take-home pay from the small shift in how she spends some of her free time. It doesn’t have to be a fancy or innovative idea to be lucrative.
And one last crucial little piece here…
I’m not spending this side hustle income.
I know I used an example about paying rent earlier, but that was just meant to illustrate the substantiality of the difference and put it in perspective.
The final piece to REALLY hacking your hobby is investing that income either back into your business or into the market.
I use Betterment (robo-managed investing with a fee rate of 0.25%/year) to house most of my Corepower money, primarily because I know I’d fall victim to lifestyle inflation if I were given the option to spend that extra money every month. I removed the temptation and set up automatic transfers into my Betterment account on the 1st and the 15th of the month.
This is definitely, like, step three of the side hustle game, but it’s critical because it’ll make the difference between accidentally squandering your extra funds or letting compound interest work in your favor for years.
Let me know what your genius side income stream is. I want to hear about it!
The young woman's money guide to all the things you're too embarrassed to ask your friends. Build the life you thought you were too broke to afford through managing your spending habits, travel hacking, and simple, smart investing.
Full-time Brand marketer at Southwest Airlines, part-time Yoga Sculpt teacher, occasional Waffle House Model and reformed materialist.
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