A food delivery driver is driving deliveries to customers ordering food online in a busy capital city, Impact of epidemics

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Side hustlers make an average of $810 a month. That may sound like a lot, but a third of side hustlers are spending their extra cash on living expenses, according to a new survey from Bankrate.

Americans Take On Extra Jobs To Pay Bills

“Side hustles have become more common, but like so many things in this inflationary environment, people are working harder but not necessarily getting ahead,” said Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at Bankrate. “Side hustlers are much more likely to view this extra income as essential, rather than a passion project or a way to get ahead financially.”

That’s especially true for low-income workers. Among side hustlers who make less than $50,000 a year, 42% use the extra cash to pay for the cost of living. That’s a significant portion, especially compared to higher-income households. Only 22% of respondents who make $100,000 a year or more said they use their extra job to pay for living expenses.

Inflation Continues To Take a Toll

One possible explanation for that disparity is that low-income Americans are feeling the squeeze of inflation. This bears out in the data. A May 2023 Gallup poll found that 61% of Americans say recent price increases have caused financial hardship — a 6% increase since the last survey in November 2022. Unsurprisingly, low-income Americans report more financial troubles, with nearly 30% of lower-income households reporting severe hardship due to price increases.

On r/Frugal, a budget-conscious community on Reddit, posts like “Food costs are out of control in the U.S.” are common on the subreddit.

“I think what infuriates me the most about skyrocketing costs of food (and other essentials) is that there are people getting wealthier than ever, all on the backs of people struggling to f-----g eat,” a popular comment on r/Frugal reads.

But Prices Are Cooling

The data show that relief could be around the corner, however.

Since peaking at 9.1% in June last year, inflation has dropped to a 4.9% annual increase, a downward trend that the Federal Reserve hopes will continue. But if you’re like most Americans and you don’t feel like prices are letting up, you’re not crazy.

Prices are still rising, just at a slower rate than they were before. So while increases in the price of groceries have slowed, you’ll still notice your grocery bill go up, especially if you compare it to what you were paying pre-pandemic. Another explanation is that while overall inflation might be cooling, different industries have different rates of inflation. For example, the most recent consumer price index report in April showed that used car prices shot up 4.4% over the month.

The Upshot

Side hustlers aren’t all rich, carefree bohemians indulging in passion projects. In most cases, they’re paying off debts (12%), building their savings accounts (25%), or trying to make ends meet (33%). And it’s all made more difficult by inflation, which, despite recent decreases, continues to eat into Americans’ budgets. That said, you can make good money with an extra job, with the average person making $810 per month.

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