Anybody who is currently trying to build multiple income streams knows that it’s hard work to maintain them all. Whether the reason is due to a low interest rate environment, mental fatigue, or a tremendous amount of extra hustle during undesirable hours, when it comes to creating your own safety net, patience is a virtue .
One thing I’ve realized over the past 25 years of trying to build wealth is that if you can give your income a purpose, then you tremendously raise your chances of holding on and growing that particular income stream.
For example, at age 25, I wanted to quit finance and become a mango farmer / beach bum in Hawaii. I was sick of work after only three years. However, at age 26, I bought a condominium and because of the mortgage, making money suddenly became more meaningful. For the next 10 years, I focused full effort on maximizing wealth so I could ironically have the option to be a beach bum!
My latest income stream is driving for Uber. Whenever I go to play tennis or to meet people downtown I’ll switch on the app because 80% of the time I’ll get a fare that’s within 10 minutes of my destination. Given I no longer have a full-time job, every day can be considered a Saturday, or any other day. As a result, if I am to drive, I might as well drive during the most popular times for surge pricing.
Given my existing passive income streams and undisclosed online income, most people are somewhat incredulous that I would bother earning ~$35/hour gross driving. One time, I picked up a new waitress at my tennis club from her apartment. When I told her I was coincidentally going to the club as well, she asked what job I did there. She never considered I was a regular member, which was awesome! Every time I order a juicy reuben sandwich after a morning hit, she hooks me up with some extra fries. All the staff are also super friendly too because they’ve adopted me as one of their own.
I’ve questioned whether driving is the best use of my time, especially when I’m faced with rowdy passengers. The short answer is that if I want to make max money, driving is not the way. But, it’s nice to change up my routine for an hour or two after writing or exercising. Besides, there’s lots of other powerful non-monetary benefits I’ve written about, which particular helps put things in perspective when I’m having a bad day.
What has helped me continue driving long after my initial one month or 100 fare commitment was over is that I’ve earmarked all driving money towards food, and wants. If I want to eat, I must drive! Otherwise, it’s back to ramen noodles baby!
I’m currently on a $250 – $300 a week pace after expenses, driving a leisurely 8 – 10 hours a week. That means I can eat about $33 – $35 worth of food a day, which is way more than enough for someone like me. But if I want to buy the latest pair of fancy tennis shoes for $140, or take someone on a special dinner to celebrate, then I’ve got to start hustling!
Yes, I could just take money that’s already in my savings account to pay for stuff. But, there’s no sense of accomplishment in that since that money has already been earmarked for other purposes. Actively working for money helps filter what I really want. Pity the person who’s never had to work for money at all!
Related: Confession: Active Income Is Much More Enjoyable Than Passive Income
The benefits of tethering your income include: not running out of money, removing any feelings of entitlement, being more cognizant of your spending habits, improved financial security, and creating more purpose for the work you do.
Below are some of my income streams and what they are tethered to:
* Uber driving income: Food, material wants
* Tennis teaching income: Entertainment (movies, shows, drinks)
* Rental income: Retirement, real estate fund
* Dividend income: Retirement, other investment opportunities
* Betterment dividend income: Fulfilling my childhood collection of toys I could never afford
* CD income: Retirement, peace of mind fund
* Corporate consulting income: Home improvement
* Personal finance consulting income: Travel, entertainment
* Online income: Basic living expenses, family, freedom to work on new things, charity
* Real estate crowdsourcing income: private school tuition $35,000/year
Each income stream has a purpose in order to maintain a nurturing focus. If I want to build an extension off my house, then I best find more corporate consulting clients. If I want to spend $200 to buy a single ticket to watch The Book Of Mormon musical, then I’ll need to teach four hours of tennis and so forth.
You’ll notice that Retirement comes up multiple times as a tether. This is because despite experiencing early retirement for two years without a hitch, I’m so accustomed to building my own financial safety net that I can’t stop saving.
Saving money is almost like a disease!
If you are having difficulty maintaining your multiple income streams for financial freedom, then absolutely find a specific purpose for each income. It’s important that once you start a new endeavor, that you stick with it long enough to begin capturing significant economic gains.
For example, a friend of mine is a talented musician who strongly loves to travel overseas. After all expenses and 401k contributions, she couldn’t comfortably afford the minimum $2,000 per week for journeys abroad. As a result, her vacations were mainly domestic. Given she has four weeks off a year, she decided to earn an extra $8,000 in side hustle money.
She knows how to read music and play the piano and violin thanks to her parents pushing her to learn as a kid. After gaining a strong reputation over the past year of teaching violin to adults who wanted to rekindle their musical skills, she now has a recurring referral base of new students at a much higher hourly rate. Even parents are now asking her to provide lessons for their children. What began as a $30/hour side hustle, is now providing her an extra $20,000 a year teaching just six hours a week on average. If she ever wanted to quit her full-time job, she probably could make $60,000 a year working just 20 hours a week! Now that’s the power of sticking things through!
Tethering makes earning money more meaningful. And the more purpose you find in making money, the more likely it is you’ll be able to build greater wealth in the long run. Living in America has a way of making us give up way too soon because things are so comfy here. Fight the malaise so you can fight for your freedom!
Other Reasons To Tether
* For charity
* To pay off student loans
* To pay off a mortgage
* To fund an amazing vacation for your parents
* To pay for lessons
* To join and pay for a club membership
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Updated for 2021 and beyond.