No matter the major, choice of school, or degree attained, there’s one thing that almost all recent graduates (and even those several years out!) have in common: debt. From a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands, student loan debt is a problem for many people. And for the self-employed, student loans are one of a million things to be juggled each month.
One of the ways to work towards paying off student loans is through flexible side jobs. Side jobs allow you to make a bit of extra income on the side, income that can be put directly towards your loans, rather than your main bills like rent or mortgages, groceries, and utility bills.
Adrienne Dorison wrote for Daily Worth about her own experience paying off $48,000 in student loans in six months. Dorison admits her approach was “seriously aggressive” but one of her approaches was to create a side job for herself–something many people are in a position to do.
So, in thinking about your own student loans and ways to pay them off sooner rather than later, what are your options?
Let’s take a look at how to pay off student loans when you’re self-employed:
Think about the skills you already have.
Dorison’s approach was to take her professional skills and use them in a different way. “I took a skill set that I was using in my corporate role — streamlining projects to save money and time, and get better results — and used it to show entrepreneurs how to run their businesses more efficiently,” she writes.
What skills do you have? As a self-employed professional, you’re already well-aware of your more obvious skills, and hopefully you’re already using them to bring in income. But what about some of your lesser-used, but still quality, skills?
In running your own business, are you particularly good at handling invoicing, constructing websites, or managing your social media profiles? Guess what? Not all self-employed people are good at those things, so it might be possible to market yourself as a consultant to other self-employed people and small business owners.
Consider part-time professional work.
Self-employed people generally don’t love the idea of giving up all that freedom to go back to a full-time in-office job working for someone else. Luckily, part-time work does exist for professionals who can’t or don’t want to commit to a full-time schedule.
For example, at FlexJobs, we see part-time roles for experienced professionals in areas like HR, finance, research, cooking, marketing, accounting, software development, writing, and even therapy and coaching.
The key to balancing a part-time job with your own self-employed work is to know how many hours you can commit in a part-time role, and what sorts of jobs you’re qualified for. Part-time schedules can run anywhere from 5 hours a week to 30 or more, so decide what range you fall into and search for work that matches it. You may need a part-time job, but you don’t need it to take too much of your time.
Find a simpler, stream-lined side gig through remote work.
Instead of looking for a regular in-office part-time job, it’s also possible to make money through side gigs that allow you to work from home and set your own hours. While most remote or telecommuting jobs will require some sort of general schedule, there are several options that offer the ultimate in flexibility: choosing your own hours.
The most common remote jobs with super flexible schedules include: online tutoring positions, brand ambassador jobs, writers, video captioning, web and software development, transcription, pet sitting and dog walking (not technically remote, but done outside an office), and language interpreter jobs.
Use the right keywords when searching for remote jobs. Stay away from “work-from home jobs,” a phrase commonly used by scammers. Instead try searching for remote job, telecommuting job, virtual position, online job, and distributed work. And to pinpoint jobs that let you set your own hours, search for phrases like: “set your own hours,” “no set schedule,” “no set hours,” and “work as much or as little” to find job descriptions containing them.
Paying off student loans when you’re self-employed isn’t easy, but it is possible. Devise a plan for yourself–perhaps even an aggressive one–and use the above tips to find extra sources of income as you work your way towards zero debt.
Also, when it’s time to do your taxes, you may be able to deduct student loan interest up to $2,500. Don’t worry about knowing about the tax rules at tax-time, TurboTax will ask you simple questions about your business income and expenses and give you business tax deductions you deserve based on your entries. You can also use QuickBooks Self-Employed, which will help you separate your business and personal expenses and automatically export the information to your tax return in TurboTax.