When I was little, my grandmother would always talk about pin money. It was what she called the few financial odds and ends she managed to pick up throughout the year. She’d clip coupons to cut down on her grocery budget and pocket the rest of the money from my grandpa. She’d collect coins in a big bucket and when it was full, she’d sit and roll them and bring them to the bank. She might do an alteration for a friend for a few dollars.
I used to think of hustling and pin money as synonyms, but as my financial journey progresses, I actually think they represent two different ways of bringing in money.
The hustle is a much bigger commitment. It’s a part time job on top of your other job. It can bring in a substantial amount of extra money, but it also requires a substantial amount of extra effort. brokeGIRLrich is my side hustle. It takes as many hours a week as a part-time job and usually brings in a part-time job’s worth of income each month.
Pin money is a different story. Pin money is more of a careful windfall. Pin money might even be someone else’s hustle, but my commitment level just isn’t the same and it can’t be relied on.
User Testing is pin money to me. $10 per 15 minute website review isn’t bad, but I don’t think to do it often and it isn’t always available. When I’m particularly cash strapped, I’m more likely to remember to run it in the background.
Mystery shopping is definitely pin money for me. I used to do it more when I lived in New York City and it would just take me 5 minutes out of my way to walk to a store to review. Now I just try to remember to do it if I’m flying somewhere, since airport shops are worth more anyway.
Even freelance writing is pin money for me, since I don’t have any steady gigs doing it. Once in a while, the opportunity pops up and I’m excited to make some extra cash; however, it’s not a stream of income I can rely on right now. On the flip side, it also doesn’t take up a big chunk of my time, like it would if it were a hustle.
That being said, I also think pin money is a great baby step into hustling – and a lot of times it’s what people wind up doing when they’re looking for a hustle. It allows you flexibility to get used to spending your time on new things that make money and a lot of pin money type hustles either have pretty fast payoffs (UserTesting) or they are those once a month little paychecks that you forget about and then bam you’ve got $20 extra dollars (mystery shopping).