Four Ways a Part Time Job Will Change Your Life Forever

by Joe Plemon on September 20, 2010

A part time job will help you dig OUT of a hole

If you associate “part time job” with drudgery, exhaustion and meaningless toil, this article is not for you. The right part time job, however, done with purpose and parameters, can be a life changing experience.

Read on for four ways a part time job can change your life forever.

1. Dump debt

Purpose: to focus your energy for a defined time period on getting out of debt.
Tip: Set a specific time frame goal, hopefully of 24 months or less. Why 24 months? Because you will be able to follow through with sacrificial living if you know it is only for a set time. Two years is long enough for huge accomplishments, but short enough to see the end.
How: This is down and dirty math to help you set your course: add up all debt other than your mortgage. Divide that total by 24 to get monthly payment. Subtract what you are currently paying  to get the additional amount needed from a part time job. Now divide by whatever hourly rate you can earn to discover how many hours you need to be working each month. For example, if you have $30,000 debt, you will need to pay (depending on interest rates) at least $1250 a month for two years to make it disappear. If your current payments are $650 monthly, you will need an additional $600 for two years. At $15 per hour, you would need to work part time 40 hours a month, or 10 hours a week for two years.
Someone who did it: Steve and Kim Llorens made a $150,000 positive swing in their finances in three years without selling any possessions over $2,000 and without receiving any windfalls. How? Steve worked evenings at Kroger and Kim (a teacher) took on extra tutoring work. Source: “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey

2. Change careers

Purpose: to transition from a dead end career to one you are passionate about.
Tip: Buy lunch for someone who is successfully doing what you aspire to do. Take a notebook and interview this person to learn how to start and what to expect. Of course, if this is a competitive field, you would want to travel outside the radius of competition.
How: Learn and network, learn and network, then learn and network some more. The only difference between who you are today and who you will be five years from today is what you learn and who you meet. Once you learn enough to try it on your own, get started part time. You may even get your foot in a door by volunteering. Set a goal of two, three or four years to be earning enough to be able to leave your existing job.
Someone who did it: In his post  “How to Make Money With a Blog”, Bob Lotich of Christian PF shares his two year journey from his corporate desk job to becoming a full time blogger.

3. Become self employed

Purpose: to continue the same career, but transition from working for someone else to working for yourself.
Tip: Be considerate of your current employer. Good communication is important, but may also get you fired if he thinks you are going to be competing with him. Also, be aware of the wording in any “non-compete” agreements you may have signed when you began at your current position.
How: Assuming you have cleared possible obstacles with your current employer, start finding your own clients. This will be your part time job. Your goal will be to build up your own business to the point where you can make it on your own. Go into this knowing that you will be working nearly two full time jobs before you will be able to leave your original one.
Someone who did it: I have a friend who was a bookkeeper for an automobile agency. She communicated openly with her boss about her desire to open her own bookkeeping firm and, because she was forthright and because her new venture would not be competing with his business, he was quite supportive. In fact, he let her transition from five days a week to four days a week as she was building her own business. Eventually, she was able to turn in her resignation, train her replacement and go solo. She is doing well and loving it.

4. Pay for college education

Purpose: to graduate from college with zero debt.
Tip: Try to find a part time job in the same field of your study. Your work will have more meaning, you will be building your resume and you will be networking for that post graduate job. Consider a co-op work program.
How: Plan to be very tired (and free of debt) when you graduate from college. You need to plan on working two jobs every summer and one part time job during the school year.
Someone who did it: Kevin, an R & D Engineer and the guy behind Invest it Wisely, shares in his Yakezie member post how, other than some tuition help from his grandmother, he worked and paid his own way through college.

Concluding thoughts

If you are considering a part time job, understand exactly what you are trying to accomplish before you start. The right job, done in the right way, can change your life. Dumping debt, transitioning to a new career, becoming self employed and paying for your college education are four great examples.

When has a part time job been a great benefit for you? When was it an exercise in futility? What other great reasons for part time jobs can you think of?

Creative Commons License photo credit: David Boyle in DC


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

MoneyMateKate September 20, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I took on a part-time job 6 months ago, and it has changed my life in a way I could not have anticipated. It was just supposed to fill in part of the income gap left by the economy (I’m a self-employed massage therapist), but it has turned into a viable sole income in its own right. It’s phone based and fully portable within the US with totally flexible hours 24/7/365, so now I can pursue awkwardly-scheduled training 1500 miles away in a bodywork style that is totally pain-oriented, in short supply (likely because of the awkward scheduling), and resistant to economic dips. And, as someone self-employed and unmarried, it feels like insurance against injury – if I slipped and broke my wrist, and couldn’t give a massage for a few months while it healed, I’d still be able to pay my bills without touching my savings by just boosting my hours.


joeplemon September 20, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Congrats on your part time job that has turned into way more than you dreamed. Sounds perfect for the fact that you are single and willing to be flexible with your schedule. Besides, more than one income stream is a great hedge (as you said) against injury or other economic fluxuations in your massage therapy career.


Invest It Wisely September 20, 2010 at 1:11 pm

“Plan to be very tired”

Haha. I’m not sure how I did it Joe, but you know what? Now that I’m doing my courses twice a week + the blog, I think I’ve adapted pretty well. One gets comfortable with a certain level of “busyness”, but I’ve found that I was using my time before pretty inefficiently.

Thanks for the plug, and those internships were a really great experience! The part-time jobs also kept me from going into a deep hole, which was a great boost once I started working full-time and was able to start putting money away.


Jason @ Redeeming Riches September 20, 2010 at 2:39 pm

My wife and I ended up getting a part-time job cleaning two office buildings so we could pay down debt!

I like how you gave examples of folks who accomplished what you’re talking about. Great post!


Ramona September 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm

6 years ago I had a lousy salary, though the job was “cool”. My man told me to stop whining and take a second job. After the initial shock (oh, my, he’s not supporting my cries!), I considered the option. In few weeks my second job (the part time) was paying twice my salary, so I moved it to “main” and had the other one as “second”.

In time the “small” job remained (I was a radio DJ and it was super nice, though the pay was less impressive) and I started working more on my own. Last year the radio station closed and, instead of being broke, I just carried on with my web design work. I currently life off my sites and client work, have spent 6 months in NYC doing a lot of sightseeing (am living in Europe, so you can guess my excitement), I blog and just enjoy something that ONCE was that “part time job” you’d take to make ends meet.


joeplemon September 20, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Glad to give you the plug. I was trying to find someone as an example for each of these part time jobs and you came to mind for the college one. Worked out great.

Wow. I wish I had known how you and your wife used part time jobs to get out of debt. I would have used your example in this post as someone who did it. Way to go!

What a great story! You never know when you start a part time job what it might turn into. Your man must have had some brass to tell you to get a second job, but it is a good thing you did.


Everyday Tips September 21, 2010 at 8:32 am

Great post. I like how you showed it could actually be done with real examples.

It just goes to show how important networking is throughout your career, even when you are happy as a clam. You never know when you will need some connections.

Taking on a part-time job may not be fun to pay down debt. But life was never promised to be fun every minute. If only people were so dedicated to paying off their debts that they would actually work extra hours!


joeplemon September 21, 2010 at 9:06 am

Thanks. I have enjoyed reading these comments – more real examples of how part time jobs have changed people’s lives. Like you said, extra work to get out of debt is not fun, but the end result (zero debt) is VERY fun!


Ramona September 21, 2010 at 11:40 am

@joeplemon – you can imagine I was anything but pleased with his words. But he was right. Instead of crying, find solutions. See the problem and go “balls out” to solve it. I am doing this even now, we’re both doing it in the end, and it’s helped us have a better life.


Mandy June@Go Banking Rates September 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Great post! This is definitely a different way to look at part time jobs. You know I gotta admit though that I’ve always loved my part time jobs. They were always fun and perfect for my situation(i.e. limited hours during weeks because of school).

Part-time jobs are a great way to explore different career paths. A student who works at a small coffee house can learn the ropes behind running a business and one day even open up his/her own business.


Khaleef @ KNS Financial September 22, 2010 at 6:57 pm

This is definitely something that I’m embracing. I was considering getting a PT job, but then decided to start my own business. It’s been very slow (which prompted me to consider a 2nd job again), but the website is starting to give me hope.


joeplemon September 22, 2010 at 8:45 pm

@Mandy June,
I love your attitude. So many think of any part time job as drudgery or a mean to an ends, but you think of it as fun and opportunity and adventure. You are going to do well in life!

Whether it is through the business you started or a PT job, I hope things fall into place for you. Let me know how it is going…and if you take that PT job.


FinEngr September 23, 2010 at 8:42 am


What a idea write-up. There is that stigma with “part time” work, yet depending on the circumstances (like those listed) it can actually be a great thing just like our blogging ventures! 🙂


Richard Hurt September 23, 2010 at 9:02 pm

This is a great post! Part time jobs can be looked down upon and can even be drudgery. But if we can keep the goal of reducing debt in front of us, it can a freeing experience.


joeplemon September 24, 2010 at 7:02 am

@Fin Eng and Richard,
Yes, there can be a stigma to working part time. I once heard of a training manager who was delivering pizzas part time to get out of debt. It so happened that he delivered a pizza to one of his trainees. It could have been very embarrassing but he held his head high because he was sacrificing for a noble cause. As you said, Richard, a “freeing experience”.


Little House September 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm

These are great tips! Years ago I had to work two or three part-time jobs out of necessity. Now, I work full time, tutor when I can (though these last two weeks with school starting I haven’t been able to!), and help my husband with his business. I now just have to figure out how to save that additional income. That’s probably the tough part; restructuring my budget to NOT include that income towards regular monthly bills.


joeplemon September 25, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Little House,
You are a busy person! Keeping within the context of my post, I have a question for you: what is the purpose of your part time work? If it is to save money, what are you saving for? How long should it take you to save that much? Do you see where I am going? If you don’t have a defined purpose and a time frame to accomplish that purpose, you may end up working two or three jobs your entire life. Of course, depending on your energy level and personality, that may be entirely fine. I would still, however, challenge you to define that purpose. Restructuring your budget to NOT include that income toward monthly bills (as you said) is a great first step.


Edward Culligan May 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Hey there, I’m back at your site again. I really enjoy reading all of the great information you have posted out here. I have been really stressed out at work and I am completely overworked. Sometimes change does bring positive ways to a better future. I really appreciate all of the advise here.


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