Income Supplementation: How Much you Need to Make to Live the Good Life

07. April 2017

Let the records show, I vehemently support the notion that one’s savings rate is more of a factor to achieving financial independence than one’s income. However, my head isn’t buried quite far enough in the sand for me to propose that achieving financial independence is just as easy for someone making  $20,000 as it is for someone making $100,000. Of course, if your savings rate is at the appropriate level, you can achieve FI regardless of your income (within reason), but it can be done with far more comfort if you make a decent buck.

Let’s talk about that.

To supercharge your FI journey, you should aim to save at least 50% of your income. To do this and live reasonably comfortably, I believe you need to have an annual income of $50,000. If you have a full-time job that pays this much, great – you’re well equipped to start building your stash (that said, if you value security you should have multiple income streams) with the grace and style of Sebastian over here. If you don’t have a full-time job, or if your full-time job pays south of 50 G’s, don’t sweat it – you can make up the difference in a multitude of ways.

I’d like to point out that this post’s objective isn’t to motivate you to start your own business or side hustle. I’m not discouraging you from going that route, but this article is geared for folks who are simply trying to complement their current income, not overhaul it.

It also needs to be said tat if you want to get anything at all from this article, you need to buy-in to the following: you’re not too good for a part-time job. Listen, I’m all about escaping the “trading your hours for dollars” structure, but if making such a trade will get you to that $50,000 mark, then go for it. What’s that expression about beggars and choosers and how the former cannot be the latter?

Now that you’re pride is at the appropriate level, let’s continue. There are dozens of part-time jobs that seem like they’d be neat to check out. Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Drive for Uber. Or Lyft if you’re a decent person.
  • Tutor for a learning center. Looking at you, teachers. But this opportunity is totally not limited to certified educators. I’ve read that Sylvan requires their staff to have taken three college semesters of the subject they want to tutor.
  • I think we all secretly want to work as a barista at some point in our lives. Learn to make fancy drinks. Bask in the hip vibes of a local shop. Discounts on scones. Come on.
  • If coffee and pastries aren’t your jam than I bet alcohol is. Get a bartending job at a local watering hole. 99% of spots that have a liquor license serve some kind of craft beer, wine, or cocktail. And those are fun! Tending bar is definitely something I’m going to do in this life.

Maybe you’re looking to make money in the comfort of your own home. Thanks to the internet, this is totally feasible:

  • Become a virtual assistance for some C-level executive overseas. Schedule meetings, sort email, do grunt work. In your pajamas. For $15/hour.
  • Get on fiverr and see who’s willing to pay for your skills. Are you a decent writer? You can get paid for that. Good with social media? You can get paid for that. Know how to use Excel? You can get paid for that.
  • You might think this is getting into side hustle territory but you’d be wrong. Sell your un/under-used stuff on eBay, craigslist, or one of the dozens of sleek marketplace apps (I’ve tried selling some clothes on poshmark but haven’t gotten any bites. I think I need a better model. Maybe he’ll help me out.)

When considering these money-making options, keep in mind that they can be as temporary as you want. (While we’re on the subject, you should also keep in mind that everything is temporary. Woah – take it easy, Markie.) There are so many opportunities to make money out there; you should be able to find some means of complementing your income that you at least partially enjoy.

Furthermore, don’t get caught up on the $50,000 target that I suggested. This is the number that works according to my life experience and what I define as “comfortable living”. Your number might be significantly lower if you’re a frugal, efficient minimalist, or significantly higher if you’re normal. Take the time to identify the level of income necessary to put away 50% and still live like a prince/princess.

If you’re not at your desired income level, the time to act is now. Remember, your money has much greater potential when you’re young. So hustle, grind, scratch, or claw your way to $50,000 now, invest your savings wisely, and watch your dough passively snowball. The freedom you experience in your forties, fifties, sixties, and beyond will certainly justify working a part-time job in your twenties. And shit, these part-time jobs sound fun. Maybe you should get one even if you’re earning above your desired income level. Maybe.


2 thoughts on “Income Supplementation: How Much you Need to Make to Live the Good Life”

  • 1
    Tyler on April 14, 2017 Reply

    Great post! What I love about the idea of pursuing some of these enjoyable side-gigs is not only the additional savings early on but it could also be something you carry on doing beyond FI (lowering the FI target). Or it could pivot you into an alternative career that you find much more enjoyable!

    • 2
      Markie on April 14, 2017 Reply

      Talk about the trifecta of benefits! But seriously, as I was jotting down some of these ideas, I was considering how much my future retired-self would enjoy doing them. I’m fairly confident I’ll be doing some kind of paid bartending/coffee-pouring in this lifetime.

      Thanks for the comment, brother!

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