The 7pm challenge

Working on a side hustle while maintaining a high standard in my 9to5 has become extremely difficult. Recently my wife has asked me to try and be home earlier. I tend to get home a bit late, mostly because after work I check my personal email, write on this blog, and spend some time on my side hustle, before going home.

For some reason, my wife had been under the impression that it was my 9to5 keeping me late every day. And, although that’s true most of the days, whenever I finish work early I tend to use the time to work more on my side hustle. Overall, I’d say I spend on average 2 hours a day on my personal stuff (a large share of that is the side gig), either before or after work. So if I finish work at 6:00pm, it’s not unusual for me to work on my personal stuff until 8:00pm before I head home.

When she learned that, she was not happy, and asked me to try and be home earlier to help with dinner and the kids. A perfectly fine ask as a wife. Nobody’s said that having a side hustle was supposed to be easy, and a big part of the pain is that if your significant other is not 100% onboard, you might run into issues like the one I’m facing. She told me I can work on my website after the kids are asleep. This is a very reasonable ask, and there’s a reason this is called “moonlighting” after all. But it turns out, it’s very difficult for me to stay awake long enough that I can actually do that. I’ve tried, and failed a few times. I’m not efficient at all after 10pm, unless I’m not expected to be at work at 8am the next day (weekends, basically).

So instead, I’m trying to optimize my “side gig” time, and decided to run the 7pm challenge: I’m committing to head home at 7pm at the latest every day. In order for my side gig not to suffer, this means less “personal” stuff such as checking other blogs or compulsively looking at my brokerage account, and being more razor focused on whatever I can do for my side histle within a short amount of time.

So far, it’s not been working so great: I do get home mostly on time, but haven’t been able to work on my side gig as much as I want/should. I’m already seeing a significant decrease in day to day revenue after only a few weeks.

This is probably one of those things where I should accept the loss of revenue in exchange for more time with my family, but I don’t think my wife really understands how critical this additional income has become for my early retirement plans. It could make a difference of years if I handle things correctly.

I believe she’s not realizing how much of a difference this is making in our savings rate. Sometimes, the angry voice within me also says that she doesn’t care, given that she’s not the one who would have to work 10 more years to feed the family (and yeah, I don’t like when that angry fellow talks to me like that, but sometimes I guess this kind of resentment happens in couples where the share of responsibilities is difficult to compare?)

My wife and I have had “the talk” about frugality. But I think I haven’t been clear/honest with her about the other side of the equation: the fact that I’m trying to do a lot to also increase our income fast to reduce the time to ER. I feel everything will be fine the day I only have to care about the side gig (once I ER), but that until then I really have to do my best so that the side gig will not just die before I can even pull the trigger of my corporate job. I think she doesn’t like that “single threaded” approach I’m taking, where I’m focusing so much on this goal that nothing else seems to matter.

Are any of you in a similar situation as me, trying to be efficient in your 9to5, your side hustle, but also being there for your family? Do you have tips to share?

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