My Two Cents

Financial-advice columnist Charlotte Cowles answers readers’ personal questions about personal finance. In addition to “My Two Cents,” Cowles writes about work and parenting for the site. Previously, she was a senior features editor at Harper’s Bazaar, a senior editor at the Cut, and the editorial director for MM.LaFleur. Her work has also been published in Glamour, Art in America, Politico, and other venues.

personal finance

When Is a Side Hustle Actually Worth It?

Tips for finding an online side gig that makes money without taking over your life.

More From ‘My Two Cents’

  1. ‘My Friend Is in Financial Trouble. How Should I Help Her?’Just because your friend needs money doesn’t mean she wants it from you.
  2. ‘How I Paid Off $36,000 in Credit Card Debt’Brittney Reynolds built a TikTok following around one of the hardest years of her life.
  3. It’s Time to Try a New Budgeting AppHere are five to consider after the most popular one, Mint, shuts down next week.
  4. How to Cope When You Get Laid Off From Your Dream JobHaley Sacks, a.k.a. Mrs. Dow Jones, on surviving job loss and founding her own business.
  5. What It’s Like to Staff the Home of a BillionaireA recruiter for the ultrarich on the upsides — and dark sides — of a notoriously secretive industry.
  6. How to Protect Yourself Against ScamsWhat I wish I’d known.
  7. Budgeting Is Officially a FlexAccording to TikTok, where “loud budgeting” is everywhere.
  8. What It’s Like to Be a Therapist for the UltrarichClay Cockrell specializes in “ultra-high-net-worth individuals” and the specific problems that plague them.
  9. How’s Your No-Spend January Going?“I felt like I failed, and it was catastrophic.”
  10. What It’s Like to Take a $50K Pay Cut“Part of me is still mourning the life that I thought I was going to live.”
  11. How to Talk About Your Salary With FriendsIt can be awkward, but it doesn’t need to be.
  12. What to Say to Get Your Bills LoweredAnd when it’s worth your time to try.
  13. 5 Ways to Save Money (That Have Nothing to Do With Money)Financial experts share their best nonfinancial advice.
  14. What to Do About That Credit-Card DebtA four-step plan for getting over your holiday-debt hangover.
  15. ‘I Take Care of My Aging Parents. How Can I Recover Financially?’Thankfully, there are some laws designed to help you. Here’s how to make the most of them.
  16. ‘Should I Give Up My Cheap, Beautiful Apartment to Move in With My Boyfriend?’You will need to move out of your amazing place eventually. Here are the steps to take first.
  17. How to Tell People You Don’t Want GiftsA guide to de-escalating the holiday-shopping frenzy.
  18. ‘How Do I Shut Down My Dad’s Comments About Money?’It may sound counterintuitive, but you might want to give him the opportunity to say more.
  19. ‘I Owe $90K in Private Student Loans. What Do I Do?’You don’t have much wiggle room, unfortunately. It’s time to break down the math.
  20. How Much Money Should I Spend on the Holidays?Can we get some guidelines? New rules? We want math!
  21. ‘My Mom Lost $30,000 in Bad Investments. Can I Help Her?’Yep, this sounds like fraud! Here’s how to navigate her legal options.
  22. ‘How Do I Plan a Group Trip That All My Friends Can Afford?’Be sure to broach the budget question early so people can make their own decisions.
  23. ‘I Just Inherited $40,000. What Should I Do With It?’Your first rule: Don’t make any lifestyle changes.
  24. ‘Should I Put My Boyfriend on My Health Insurance?’It’s pretty low-risk, but if it makes you uncomfortable, there are other options.
  25. ‘My Boyfriend’s Dad Bought Us a House. What Do I Tell My Friends?’Chances are nobody cares who paid for what. But that doesn’t mean you have to tell anyone.
  26. Does Money Terrify You?Author Farnoosh Tarabi explains how you can learn from your financial anxieties.
  27. Is ‘Scarcity Brain’ Making You Broke?Maybe. But here’s what you can do about it.
  28. ‘I Earn More Than My Husband, But I Don’t Want to Pay More of Our Bills’You can share household expenses in lots of ways, and you don’t have to choose just one.
  29. Your Post-Vacation Guide to Cleaning Up Your FinancesExperts share their best money advice for getting back on track.
  30. ‘I’m So in Debt That I’m Afraid to Date’You’re not undateable — you’re just afraid to talk about money. There’s a way to fix that.
  31. ‘I Splurged All of My 20s, And Now I’m in Debt. Can I Fix This?’You can’t just flip a switch. Instead, look for your next actionable step.
  32. ‘My Flight Got Canceled. What Now?’Getting stranded at the airport is a special kind of hell. Here are eight pointers that can help.
  33. ‘My Roommates Never Pay Rent on Time. What Do I Do?’Ask them to sign a roommate agreement. And think about moving.
  34. What If You Already Have ‘Enough’ Money?Author Manisha Thakor questions the relationship between money, time, and happiness.
  35. ‘What Happens If I Just Never Pay My Credit-Card Bill?’No one would endorse this plan. But you do have some options.
  36. ‘My Friend Stays With Us All the Time. Can We Charge Rent?’It’s fair to ask her to repay you somehow. But this will be a delicate conversation.
  37. ‘I Got Into a Big Fight With a Friend About Money. What Now?’Actually, this fight was a good thing. To make repairs, ask questions and listen.
  38. How to Save Money on Summer TravelIt’s expensive out there! But you can still take a trip without paying for it for the rest of the year.
  39. ‘I’m a Recovering Addict. Will I Ever Recover, Financially?’There’s a world of people ready to help you. Lean on them!
  40. What Is ‘Cash Stuffing,’ and Should You Try It?Budgeting with cash — also known as the envelope method — is trendy again. Here’s how to make it work for you.
  41. ‘I Think My Mom Is Getting Scammed’Her new friend might be harmless. But you won’t know unless you have some serious conversations about her finances.
  42. ‘How Do I Get Better at Money Without Overhauling My Life?’Your money should serve your life, not the other way around.
  43. ‘My Elderly Parents Refuse to Make a Will’Be respectful. A lot of people — especially older ones — hate talking about things they don’t understand.
  44. Erika Kullberg Reads the Fine PrintFrom broke law student to 20 million followers and a bank account to match.
  45. ‘My Parents Would Be Horrified’What happens when you overspend on buy-now, pay-later platforms.
  46. How to Survive a LayoffEven if you don’t see it coming.
  47. ‘I Got $300,000 in a Personal Injury Settlement. What Do I Do With It?’Find a financial planner you trust, and ignore everyone else.
  48. What If Spending Money Felt … Good?Ramit Sethi wants you to stop feeling bad about your finances.
  49. ‘How Can I Afford to Pay $8,000 for Bachelorette Parties?’Remember, this period in your life is finite.
  50. ‘I’m 8 Months Pregnant and I Just Got Laid Off’Rally your support system. This is what it’s for.
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