Should You Get a Second Job to Pay Off Debt?

Get out of Debt

I’ve seen the unfortunate story all too many times when there just isn’t enough income to pay all the bills each month and make significant progress in paying off debt. It leaves people in a seemless hopeless state and they ponder bankruptcy, debt settlement, giving up and more.

But there are those who don’t quit. Rather, they choose to tackle problems head on. Sure, that sometimes means sacrifice, some sweat and tears, but they know it’s worth it in the end. These are the people who are willing to work and make extra money to pay off their debt to get to a balanced state again.

Surely, you’re famaliar with Dave Ramsey who often discusses the idea of getting a part-time job delivering pizzas. The second job, along with a rice and beans diet, is the sacrifice required for the ulimate freedom from the weight of their debts.

I was recently thinking about these situations and wondered what the second job might mean to peoples’ lives if they seriously pursued such a measure. By the way, I’m in support of such hard work and sacrifice to pay off debt. But, what would it mean to you if you were to have to work 40 hours per week and then go to your next job at 10-20 hours per week (maybe more). It sounds so easy to say, “well, I’ll have to go get another job to pay off my credit card debt.”

I don’t want to be discouraging (again, I’m in support of the extra work for the worthy goal), but I think it’s important to be realistic about such sacrifices and the issues that could come along with more work in peoples’ lives.

What are the impacts of having a second job?

Here are a few thoughts on how more work may impact your life:

  • You will most likely get less sleep. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to work two jobs, have some recreation, spend time with family and sleep.
  • Less time with your children and your spouse which impacts these relationships. I don’t know how any many marriages can survive without a time investment from both spouses.
  • More health problems because of less sleep, rest and time for excercise. When is it possible to excercise while working so much? Let’s not forget the impacts of stress here too!

As I mentioned, I’m still in favor of doing what you have to do to pay off debt. In fact, I respect the people who don’t give up and are willing to work hard in these cases. So, if a second job or income is the answer, what are some of the best ways you could earn money without experiencing the side effects mentioned above?

Make a second job work for you

  • Set a limit. You need to know what is practical in your situation and what is not. It’s not practical to sleep 4 hours a night and never see your family. Determine how much extra income you’ll need to earn in X amount of time to pay off your debt. Look at your part-time job as a project to becoming debt free. A project has a beginning and an ending and no work can run your life.
  • Get agreement. Work with your spouse on what it’s going to take to do this extra work and talk openly about the potential impacts and benefits. Agree to how the schedule will work so that expectations are clearly set. Maybe you can spend some time with family on a meal break from work (they can go see you).
  • Lock in a day of rest. Everyone needs to rest and you should have yours too. I like the idea of identifying a family day. Try to avoid work on this day and be open with your employers about it. You’ll be better for them because of it.
  • Find part-time jobs with good earning potential. Craig provides a number of great job ideas in his post you’ll want to explore. By doing so, you’re getting the most money for your time.
  • Make it a family event. Perhaps it’s not necessary for one person to do all the work. Perhaps both spouses can work part-time and trade off days so time can be spent by each person with the kids.

There is definitely not a cookie-cutter approach to working a seond job to pay off debt. Remember, it’s only temporary, and your biggest sacrifice of time will not last forever. Certainly, paying off debt requires creating a plan and the details for a second job should be included and ironed out before getting started.

Do you have a part-time job to pay off debt? If so, how are you making it work for you, your family and your debt plan?

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5 Comments
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  1. Great article. I have similar thoughts. Debt is not good, but neither is deteriorating relationships and health. One of the best ways to reduce debt without having to get a second job is just learn to live on less. A person can actually gain time in the day to spend with family by cutting out things that cost lots of money. And eating cheaper can often be healthier!

  2. Yes get a second job and use it to pay off the debt. If you have the chance take overtime at your regular job. If you put the extra money against your debts they will melt away quickly.

  3. I have done this before and found it to be very beneficial in meeting financial goals if the focus is very clear. BUT, as you mentioned there is a down side. I would wake at six to reach my first job, put in my hours, stop at home for dinner, and drive to the second. I was gone from approx. 7am until 11pm. I remember often crying in route to the second job just in sheer exhaustion. After I would work all week, I would attend church and sleep all Saturday. Sunday my pace was very slow but I would do laundry and get ready for the next week. Not much time for anything other than work. I was able to meet the goals I had set.

    For those considering it the entire family needs to recognize the physical strain the person is under and be supportive of it. I had dinner ready for me every night and that helped immensly. When I needed to sleep, people let me sleep. I recommend trying it for no more than 3 months, taking a break and then deciding if you want or need to do another round. I view it as a temporary option, not a desireable lifestyle. Otherwise it would be easy to begin making concessions for spending more in other areas to “make it up” to everyone including yourself.

  4. Carol, thanks for your experience–it makes it more real.

    Good article. I appreciate how Christian PF tries to focus on all the important aspects of life and not just money or what have you.

    Everyone’s situation is just a little bit different, so probably hard to nail down one specific thing to do. It is important to balance life, yet also important to get rid of debt.

    We have debated some of these options to get rid of debt. It can take it’s toll and time on the family. There are some online ways to make money, but those can take more time to build up. A traditional way to earn some extra cash can take time away from home. It’s not an easy decision.

    Careful consideration of all factors will help to make the decision. We’re motivated to pay off the little left on our vehicle and a little bid of other debt we have, but for right now, we’ve opted to pursue the steady course and be smart about the finances we receive. We feel we’ve cut down in all the areas we can so we are patiently working through what is left.

  5. Good substantive discussion here.

    I can see both sides of the issue. From a psychological standpoint, working a second job in order to pay off debt undoubtedly reinforces and really focuses you on eliminating debt.

    But the more menial or tedious or back breaking that second job is, the more downsides come with the decision.

    I just feel real bad for people who need two jobs not to pay off debt, but simply to make ends meet.

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