Career & Education | Life | Article
Side Hustles You Can Start Without Forking Out A Lot Of Money
by The Simple Sum Team | 8 Dec 2022 | 7 mins read
Side hustles are a common way to make a little extra money outside of our day jobs. As many people can attest, having that little extra income coming into your bank account each month can go a long way in improving your finances and helping you achieve your financial goals.
But some still hesitate to start their own side hustles because there seems to be a misconception that you’ll need to commit a lot of time and capital to get your side hustle off the ground and keep it going. After all, who wants to spend all their free time and savings working on a side hustle when you’ve got a full-time job and a shoestring budget to think about?
The good news is there are side gigs that you can do at your own time without forking out a lot of money. We found four hustlers who are proof of that and spoke to them about their side gig and just how much extra cash they made every month.
On average, Nora Ali makes a profit of RM700 weekly from her dropshipping side hustle. If you’re not familiar with the term, dropshippers sell products to customers without actually having to stock up on that product or create it themselves. Instead, they act as a reseller, or a middle person collecting customer orders first and then buying the products from the manufacturer to ship to the customer.
When an order comes in, I would purchase the item from my supplier and get them to deliver the product to the customer directly, as it shortens the wait time, says Nora.
“There is zero capital. I only buy a product when an order comes in,” says the enterprising 49-year-old.
Nora started dropshipping electrical appliances such as rice cookers in 2017. She has since expanded her offerings to include kitchenware, bags, cosmetics and even food. Dropshipping a more diversified range of products ensure a consistent flow of income for her.
“The returns for food (products) are smaller, but as people tend to purchase it more frequently (compared to cosmetics and electrical appliances), it evens itself out,” Nora explains.
On how much time she spends on her side hustle, Nora Ali says, “It depends on the period. Sales is usually good during festive seasons and if I am rajin (hardworking) and push my products”. She adds that she spends about two to three hours every day organising orders and deliveries.
Nora also spends time scouring e-commerce platforms for trending items to dropship. Once she has identified an item she wants to dropship, she searches for a supplier that offers the best price for it. She’ll then markup the price when she markets the product to her chat groups or on her e-commerce page.
Aside from increasing her income, the full-time caterer says that she can fall back on her side business if her permanent job fails to pay the bills.
In 2016, Elza Irdalynna went on a holiday and had to board her two dogs at a pet hotel for six days. That service costed her a whopping RM1,200!
After speaking to friends who are also pet owners, Elza realised that they faced the same problem every time they balik kampung or went on a holiday, which sparked the idea to start a petting sitting side hustle.
Since she lived in a landed property and had the space for pet sitting – and needed the extra income – she started offering pet sitting services to her friends.
“(Getting a side hustle) was a necessity, and I figured if I was going to be earning extra money, I might as well do something that I enjoy, and can sustain,” she says.
Seeing as most pet hotels were charging a high price to board pets, Elza kept her services affordable. For example, pet hotels charge upwards of RM100 per night to board dogs overnight. In contrast, Elza charges between RM40 to RM50 (depending on their weight) for the same service.
“I could earn RM2,000 extra from pet sitting,” she says. And since she was pet sitting at home, Elza didn’t need to fork out any capital for her side venture.
She shares, “I would wake up, check the dogs in, then go to work. When I am at work, my friend, who works from home, helps me watch over the pets until I get back. (Once I’m home) I’ll take the dogs for a walk and feed them dinner”.
In 2020, Elza decided to quit her advertising job to become a full-time pet sitter because juggling both her day job and petting sitting business was taking a toll on her physical and mental health.
“Now I get to work from home, so it gives me the flexibility to pursue other passions. I also get paid to play with other people’s dogs. It’s animal therapy. I feel like I’ve cracked the code (to happiness),” she adds.
When Farid* wasn’t busy meeting clients, he turned on his e-hailing app to pick-up passengers and send them to their desired locations.
He would fill a full tank of petrol, which costs him RM50, then take passengers until the tank was empty. This often takes about six to eight hours, depending on the traffic situation.
He could make over RM100 in profit on that full tank of petrol after deducting petrol costs and commission from the e-hailing platform.
On why he decided to double up as an e-hailing driver, the 38-year-old sales consultant from an automotive company said that he had a lot of free time on some days due to the nature of his day job. So he decided to put those free hours to good use and earn extra income.
“I like driving, so I was drawn to the job description and the flexibility of e-hailing. There were also no set requirements such as having to work for a minimum number of hours. I can choose to turn the app on or off according to my schedule, says Farid.
Farid recalled that the e-hailing driver requirements when he registered in 2017, included attending a course and getting a public service vehicle (PSV) licence. A quick check on the Road Transport Department Malaysia’s website shows that the PSV licence costs RM20 annually.
Many of my friends who have children used to complain about having to look for gifts every time they were invited to a child’s birthday party, or when their friends were expecting a new addition to their family, says Siti*.
She realised that the reason for this was that they didn’t have time to go shopping. To ease their burden, the marketing manager spent RM500 buying baby clothes, boxes and ribbons, arranged them into a nice gift box and sold it to her friends. It was a hit!
My friends loved the idea, and they told me to expand my business. So I placed my products on an e-commerce platform, she says.
Soon, orders started coming in and on good months, Siti shares that she earned RM2,000.
“The good thing about using an e-commerce platform is that the order management was done for me. I would just spend 3 hours every night going through the orders, packing the products and preparing them for delivery”, says the 35-year-old.
Although it was good money, Siti had to put the business on hold in January after welcoming her second child as she was too tired from childcare duties and her permanent job.
“Hopefully when the children are older, I would be able to revive this business again,” she says.
* Some names have been changed to protect the interviewee’s identity (especially since some of them are still holding permanent jobs).