Ok, yep I totally interviewed my husband first. Zach does really purposeful side hustle work outside of his full-time contract position and I’m especially excited to interview a dude because my immediate circle of side hustlers are women.
What is your name + what do you do full-time?
My name is Zach Steele and I work to find assist adults become more employable. Most recently this has involved teaching job training classes within the prison system in Iowa to give students the skills to enter the logistics and warehousing industries. More recently I have been working with returning citizens on their release to find employment throughout Iowa.
When did you start side-hustling + why?
Because of high student loan costs looking for extra sources of income is somewhat ingrained in our generation. But the main reason that I look for extra cash is to have money to travel, while still paying bills.
What have you done to make some extra money?
In the past couple years I’ve waited tables, provided beer samples at local grocery stores, and donated plasma. Sampling beer was pretty easy and a lot of fun! As someone said after I gave them a sample, “You don’t make too many enemies giving away free beer do you?”
Donating plasma is something I have mixed feelings about. First off, it’s really easy! I just bring my Kindle and read or practice DuoLingo on my phone for the hour that it takes. They load your funds onto a debit card almost immediately after every donation. However, no matter how many times I do it, it’s never fun to get poked with a needle.
What are you doing now to earn extra money?
I’m very fortunate right now because my part-time work is very meaningful to me and I view the income I receive from it almost as an added benefit. I work as Vice President for US Projects for the Solidarity Foundation. We are a non-profit that’s having a big impact in the United States and Latin America. We form and manage savings groups also known as ROSCAs (Rotating Savings And Credit Associations).
Members of these groups save money on a weekly or biweekly basis for a six month cycle and they can request loans during this cycle which come from the group funds. They pay the loans back with an interest rate determined by the group and the interest stays with the group. At the end of the six month cycle members receive their original savings back plus a share of the interest based on what they saved. It’s really amazing seeing these groups grow over the cycle and our model works for all different types of groups. Non-profit professionals, job seekers, health care employees and refugees have all gained greater financial independence by using our model.
I also have a boutique travel planning service, Big Map Travel. I spend plenty of evenings looking up flight deals, getting excited about whatever location I find and then searching for cool lodging, activities and things to do so it just seemed natural that I’d take that skill (obsession maybe?) and turn it into a business. Since launching I’ve planned trips to Asia, Europe, Costa Rica and locations in the United States. It’s incredibly rewarding to see people enjoying their trips they didn’t feel comfortable planing on their own and knowing that they don’t have to think about all of the details.
What has been the biggest challenge on your side hustle/business journey?
Time is really interesting. The nature of both of my side jobs is that there are periods where things are really busy and periods where they’re much calmer. This spring for instance, I was doing a lot of traveling for Solidarity and so Big Map wasn’t able to be as big of a priority. It can be a little challenging juggling all of these things at once but it’s usually very rewarding
What has been the greatest reward?
I feel very fortunate that I am able to earn extra income in ways that are very enriching. When I read about Solidarity Foundation members using their savings to invest in their small business or pay off debt or say that this is the first time they’ve ever saved money it’s very rewarding. Then through Big Map I have the pleasure of helping people cruise through Halong Bay in Vietnam, relax in hot springs in Costa Rica or tour a French bakery. This mix of community building through financial independence and helping people explore faraway places makes for a great combination of side work.
Have any questions for Zach? Drop ’em in the comments below. See you next week!