The search for a side gig

The last year I have been thinking about and searching for a side gig. I have two main reason for this: my savings rate and life post retirement.

Savings rate

I now have pratically three full years of a more or less detailed overview of my income, expenes ad savings rate. I will dig more into that with my full year recap but with regards to the savings rate the picture is pretty clear:

In 2017 the savings rate was 32,87%

In 2018 it was 27,80%

And in 2019 it will be somewhere between 28% and 30%

So my savings rate hovers between 28% and 32%. Comparing this to the average Belgian this puts me in the top 20% of savers (the articles do not mention a savings rate but do mention saving amounts and I am consistenly over 500 eur per month). But in FIRE circles this is a pretty low rate.

As Mr Money Mustache demonstrates in his shockingly simple math behind early retirement post: with a savings rate of around 30% it takes 28 years to achieve financial independence.

No my aim is an average expense per month of 1 500 euro. But over the last 3 years I was closer to 1 700 euro. Achieving my goal here would bring me closer to a 40% savings rate. But I have been trying to lower my expenses for three years and not getting very far. Perhaps I am more set in my ways then I thought. It might be time to start looking at the income side of the equation.

Life post retirment

As I explained in this post way back my life post retirement working a little bit each year was always my plan. In my exit strategy post I already mentionned a side gig might be the best way to earn the 7500 euro tax free money each year.

My conclusion from that post still stands. If you want a somewhat interesting side gig you will need to work at it regulary so during the year it needs to be something location independent and also somewhat time flexible.

The search so far

One path for a side gig we are exploring is the possibiliy for the girlfriend to make some extra money as a DJ. The gift I got here back in July was not just a gift but also – in part – an investment in a possible side gig for her. The main reason for this is that she is music crazy and at the very least she will have a hobby she likes. With some luck this hobby will get her some paying gigs. Since flexi jobs have been created mainly for pubs and events we are hoping she could get paid as a flexi job which would permit her to earn an additional tax free amount of 6,000 euro per year. If not, there is always the self-employered as secondary activity route. From friends we know it still is a sector with a lot of payments under the table so the effective tax rate for this route should remain pretty close to zero. It is a somewhat location independent side gig since techno has now become a global phenomenon (a former co-worker of me is now earning his living as a DJ in Thailand) and it has some time flexibility because your gig times might be fixed, but you have some flexibilty when you do the preparation of your crates, cues, loops and samples (yes, I am picking up the lingo as well). Well, flexibility as long as your preparations are done before the gig off course. We’ll see how it goes.

During the last year I also tried my hand at what I would call ticket arbitrage.

A lot of venues now sell their tickets in waves, ranging from 5 to 25 euro. I saw an arbitrage possibility. Where this used to be an activity limit to somebody living in a big city and with local connections, internet has changed the game completely. You can now buy tickets online and thanks to the ticketswap site you now have a safe and secure way of selling them online as well. I had a bit of a learning curve and did it more out of curiosity as doing this in a structured way in Belgium is illegal (legal in Netherland apparently). But my little experiment did show that yes, you could make some money from it.

My profit was 107 euro on an invested capital of 559 euro or a 19% return in six months! And invested capital was actually lower as I reinvested previously earned profits again. One of my high earners (high earner is relative, we are talking 50 euro profit here) was a Laurent Garnier gig where I almost double my money in less than one month. Selecting events that will completely sell out is key.

It was also a learning stage where I mainly only paid attention to the line up of 1 club. One hour of searching resulted in 6 more clubs who offered tickets in waves (and that was me only looking at the Netherlands and the UK). Ticketswap operates in 29 countries. The United States being among those countries! Of course the more countries you start working on and the more clubs/events you add the more work this becomes. Scale this up and you will need to have soms sort of administrative tool to keep track of everything (although google agenda and google sheets will get you pretty far). It will be ‘work’ to earn a decent amount with this. But with this kind of return a capital of 25,000 euro could get you a 5,000 euro return every 6 months!

It is a location independent gig and somewhat time flexible. Buying the tickets is the only fixed time you have and is something that can be done from your mobile as well. Actually, all of it could be done from your mobile. I kind of liked it but as said, unfortunately illegal in Belgium to do and the present job doesn’t leave me with enough free mental energy to make a serious go at it. I might snipe a few events right and left to make a quick buck in the future and the girlfriend will use it to lower her cost of going out herself (buy 6 tickets, sell 5 at a profit and go for free yourself!). But I continue looking for something that scales easier and takes less effort (I am a sloth after all).