Side hustles are the new norm, but money is elusive

Nearly one in four Americans has a side hustle, but their moonlighting gigs aren't always lucrative. The typical side hustle brings in less than $200 per month – about enough to pay the cable bill.

That said, those who freelance consistently can earn considerably more. Among those who side hustle at least once a month, the most common take-home pay is $300 but the average is $836 per month, according to Bankrate.com, which commissioned a study of more than 1,000 U.S. wage-earners.

The Bankrate study, released Monday, found that just 11.6 percent of Americans engage in some sort of side hustle every single week. Far more – 25.6 percent – take side jobs once or twice a month or even less frequently.

While much has been made of ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft, more Americans side hustle as bartenders than as ride-share drivers. The most common side hustles, according to the survey, are home repairs, child care and selling crafts and other goods online.

"These are the same side jobs that were popular before there was a gig economy at all," says Amanda Dixon, a BankRate.com analyst.

About one in four say they're taking side jobs to make ends meet. However, the majority – some 59 percent – are side hustling simply to boost their disposable income, according to the survey.

"Having a side hustle is a great way to make extra money to save for retirement, pay off credit card debt and just really get back on track financially," says Dixon.

Other survey findings: The millennial generation is the most likely to have a side gig, with over half engaged in the gig economy at least once a month and one-quarter doing side gigs every week.

However, there are side hustlers in every age group. Even 4 percent of those over the age of 65 are engaged in side hustles on a regular basis, according to the survey.

The most common side hustles, according to BankRate.com:

  • Home repair/landscaping: 12 percent
  • Selling/reselling online: 7 percent
  • Crafts: 6 percent
  • Babysitting/childcare: 6 percent
  • Substitute teaching/tutoring: 4 percent
  • Renting property: 4 percent
  • Consulting: 3 percent
  • Hair/makeup: 3 percent
  • Artist/musician: 3 percent
  • Cleaning/errands: 2 percent
  • Cooking/baking: 2 percent
  • Online surveys: 2 percent
  • Recycling: 2 percent
  • Freelance writing: 2 percent
  • Stock market: 2 percent
  • Car repair/detailing: 2 percent
  • Photography: 2 percent
  • Bartender/waitress: 2 percent
  • Rideshare driver: 1 percent
  • Pet sitting: 1 percent
  • Web design: 1 percent
  • Other: 17 percent