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True Story: How A Side Hustle Funded My Down Payment

These five real-life stories of how side income can fund a real estate purchase will make you want to take up a new hobby, stat.

There are many reasons to take up a paid hobby or side gig. Whether you’re taking on extra work to build new skills or following a lifelong passion, when your side hustle starts to really pay off, that added income can be a great way to build savings for a down payment. You may even find yourself with more determination to embark on a side gig once you start eyeing a few charming Charleston, SC, homes for sale. Some side gigs are so lucrative that they not only allow people to save up for a massive down payment but also afford extensive renovations or even pay off their mortgage completely. (See you later, mortgage payments!)

Think this all sounds too good to be true? Here are five real-life stories of people who have turned their side jobs into a dream home.

Side job #1: Dream vacation to dream home

Tanner Callais’ side gig began rather humbly. The Austin, TX–based Web designer simply wanted to build a website,, to help people create their dream vacations. But what started as a website project focused on the cruise industry has now exploded into a family of sites offering online booking and insider cruise travel tips. And with that explosion, Callais’ hobby site went from earning $300 a month to up to $2,000 a month. That extra cash has not only helped support his family — he and his wife are expecting their first child this year — but it’s also provided a pretty serious down payment on the couple’s dream home in Austin. “The income from these sites allowed us to put 30% down on our home instead of the typical 20%,” he says. “There’s something about building a small business on your own, and knowing that the money is helping my wife and soon-to-be-born son get into a home of our own is extremely satisfying.”

Side job #2: Cosmetic upgrades

For Kristin Cogan, joining Rodan + Fields, a skin-care products company, as a consultant was a way for her to make some extra cash while she stayed at home with her two small children. “When we got married, we knew I would always stay at home with the kids, so everything we planned for was based off my husband’s income,” says the Waxhaw, NC–based mom, who is expecting her third child in May. As Cogan’s side gig began to bring in more money, she was able to contribute considerably to the down payment on her dream home, which her family moved into last year. “Not only was I able to put down a hefty down payment on the home using my income from Rodan + Fields, but we were also able to do upgrades on our home that we might have otherwise had to pass on. It was nice to know that because of my side job, our home was move-in ready and all projects we thought we’d have to originally wait to complete were already done.”

Side job #3: The case for comedy

Dan Nainan was terrified of public speaking. “I was a senior engineer with Intel Corporation,” he says. “My job was to travel the world with the company’s senior executives, doing technical demonstrations on stage at events, and I was incredibly nervous about speaking on stage.” To overcome his fear, he signed up for comedy classes. It was there that Nainan realized his true calling as a comedian. Since then, the New York, NY–based funnyman has been able to ditch his corporate career to turn his one-time side gig into his day job. He’s performed for President Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton, Steve Wozniak, Arianna Huffington, and many other public figures — he’s even been featured in a commercial for Apple. While Nainan’s second career as a comedian is certainly impressive, it’s what his one-time side hustle has allowed him to do financially that bowls over most people. “I currently earn up to $20,000 for corporate events,” he says. On his income as a stand-up comedian, Nainan was able to pay for his New York apartment in cash. “My savings started out slowly, but like with anything, it built up to a torrent,” says Nainan. Today, the comic is living mortgage-free in one of the most expensive cities in the world thanks to his side gig.

Side job #4: Mom to moneymaker

As a stay-at-home mom, Anne Postic never imagined she could find a flexible job that would allow her to help support her family financially, let alone pay off a huge chunk of their mortgage. “My son was born early, so I didn’t finish my master’s program until he was 6 months old, and then I was too overwhelmed to take the social work licensure exam,” says Postic. But when a friend suggested she consider a job answering tech questions for the now-defunct iVillage, Postic decided to give it a look. “The pay was surprisingly good,” she says, and she could work from her home in South Carolina. The money was so good, in fact, that Postic was able to remain a stay-at-home parent, work 20 hours a week for iVillage, and save enough money to put down 20% on the couple’s home. “It really was the best job ever, the magic unicorn of work-at-home jobs,” she laughs. “The job from iVillage was a gift.”

Side job #5: Guided renovation

Jedd Fedorchak has always been a go-getter. So when the stay-at-home mom read an article about Hulafrog, a national network of local community guides for parents, she made it her mission to land a job with the growing company. “Ironically, the article was about moms who have these great skill sets and experience but also have a desire to stay home, and the best way for companies to leverage them,” says Fedorchak. “The company made sense to me and fit perfectly in line with my skills set and interests.” It also fit perfectly in her family’s home renovation budget. With Fedorchak’s income as a publisher and social media consultant at Hulafrog, she and her husband were able to gut and refinish their Philadelphia, PA–area home and add two bathrooms, a finished basement, a new kitchen, and more. She adds, “I absolutely love the company, the bright women I get to work with, and the opportunities it has provided!”


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