Can You Really Make a Living with a Part-Time Job?

Part Time Job as a Mechanic

“Why was the part-time employee always tired?.. Because he was working two jobs!”

If you’re like most people, you might instinctively think that you need a full-time job to make ends meet. But is it really true? Can you actually make a living off of a part-time job?

The simple answer is yes, of course! But it’s really more nuanced than that. Here’s what you need to know.

What Does “Part-Time” Mean?

First of all, let’s define what we mean by “part-time” work. Typically, a part-time job is one that requires you to work fewer than 35 hours per week.

These jobs can be great because they usually offer a lot of flexibility and let you work around other commitments (like school or taking care of your kids). On the flip side, they often come with lower pay and fewer benefits than full-time jobs.

But not always. There are high-paying part-time jobs and some part-time jobs that provide benefits.

So if you have one of those really high-paying part-time jobs (more than $30/hour)then there’s probably nothing to worry about. This post isn’t for you.

What I think most people are interested in is if you can make a living off of a standard part-time job – think retail or customer service, making anywhere from $8 to $20 per hour working around 20-25 hours a week.

That would make your monthly take-home pay between $160 to $500 per week, or $640 to $2,000 per month (before taxes). Typical part-time jobs in this range:

  • Customer Service
  • Cashier
  • Server
  • Bartender
  • Cook
  • Delivery
  • Freelancer
  • Housekeeper
  • Childcare

How to Make a Living from a Part-Time Job

So, can you make a living off of a part-time job in that $640 to $2,000 per month range? It’s definitely possible for some people. But it’s not always going to be easy, and you’ll need to be smart about your budget and financial planning. There are a few key things to think about:

The amount of money you have saved

It’s a good idea to have a cash cushion BEFORE you jump into part-time work. Three to six months’ worth of expenses is usually a good benchmark to set for yourself. This emergency fund will be the runway you need to make the transition.

The cost of living in your area

If you live in a place with a really high cost of living (like San Francisco or New York City), it’s going to be a lot harder to make a part-time job work as your primary source of income. So, if you can move to a lower cost of living area then working part-time might prove easy enough.

Any other sources of income you have

Do you have a second part-time job or do some freelance work on the side? These can be great ways to supplement your income and make your part-time job more sustainable.

Your expenses

Take a close look at your budget and see if there are any areas where you can cut back. It’s time to get frugal, baby! For example, you’d be able to save money on housing by sharing an apartment with roommates or on transportation by using public transit instead of driving.

What Does Dave Ramsey Say About Making a Living Part-Time?

Examples of People Living off of a Part-Time Job

Now, let’s look at a few examples of people who have been able to make a living off of a part-time job.

Example 1: Sally is a single mom who works part-time as a receptionist at a dental office. She works 25 hours per week and makes $15 an hour. After taxes, she takes home around $300 a week, or $1,200 a month. With that money, she’s able to cover all of her basic expenses (like rent, food, and childcare) and still have a little bit left over for savings or other things.

Example 2: Jake is a college student who works part-time as a barista at a coffee shop. He works 20 hours per week and makes $10 an hour. After taxes, he takes home about $160 a week, or $640 a month. That’s just enough to cover his basic expenses (like rent and food), but he supplements his income with small freelance projects on the side.

Example 3: Rachel is a freelancer who works part-time as a graphic designer. She works 15 hours a week for a local marketing agency, earning $25 an hour, and also takes on additional freelance projects as needed. She’s able to make a living off of her part-time work by being super careful about her expenses and finding ways to save money.

Example 4 (Me!): I was a server just out of college, while I played in a band and tried to find myself. I made $300 per week only working three or four eight-hour shifts at the restaurant. That $1,200 a month was more than enough to pay my rent, car payment, and living expenses. The key was I was still living like I was in college – sharing a cheap rental house and eating cheap food.

Read about more real-life examples from The Guardian.

Conclusion: Can You Make a Living with a Part-Time Job?

So, as you can see, it is possible to make a living off of a part-time job. But it’s not going to be easy, and you’ll need to be strategic about your budget and financial planning.

Do you think it’s possible? As they say, whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.

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  1. Definitely, I worked eight hours a week and made six figures each of the first five years of my retirement. That totally covered our cost of living and let me transition gradually into retirement. Of course I had a niche skill set as a chemical engineer and expert witness. But lots of people have unique and valuable skills.

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