Students find alternative income sources to supplement their day jobs


While many students face large sums of student loan debt after graduation, it is becoming more common for students to struggle with personal day-to-day finances while attending university.

According to a study from Inceptia, a company that assists in financial aid management, one-third of student respondents said that financial stressors have had a negative impact on their academic performance or progress.

As the cost if living continues to rise, financial security is becoming an ever-growing issue for young people. However, because of the demands and time constraints associated with class schedules, it is not always easy for higher education students to get another job.

Boise State students are getting creative with finding alternative income sources to help them stay afloat.

Sara MacFadden, a sophomore kinesiology major, has found her income solution through Arbonne International, a natural nutrition and beauty networking company. As an independent consultant through Arbonne, MacFadden is able to work on her own time, recommending skincare and nutritional products to her clients. 

“I don’t have to worry about a work schedule and can focus on my academics more,” MacFadden wrote in an email. “I have been able to make more [money]monthly working my Arbonne business than I did working a part time job.”

While a wage increase initiative may appear on the state ballot in Idaho’s 2020 elections, the current minimum wage is only $7.25, making it difficult for students and hard-working citizens alike to establish financial stability through “regular” employment. 

In addition, the National Financial Capability Study reports that 39% of Idahoans break even on their income to spending ratio, while 19% actually spend more than they earn. 

Brianna Herald, a junior history major, said that she enjoys her side work as a pet sitter because it provides greater financial opportunities for her in comparison to any hourly position. 

“The tips are hugely helpful,” Herald said. “I could only work a few overnight [shifts]and still make an extra $50.”

Madi Perkins, a junior public health major, runs her own freelance photography business. She believes that the social and networking benefits of her trade could be considered more valuable than the financial advantages.

“Having the additional income is very beneficial, but I definitely enjoy the connections I have been able to make more than anything,” Perkins said. “The income helps me grow my business and to be able to offer new things to my clients.”

According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Yale University report, 70% of jobs are found through networking. In addition to networking perks, most alternative income sources also provide the opportunity for personal development and improvement of professional skills.

“I have become more confident and [more sure]of myself, and less impacted by people and their words,” MacFadden said.“I am less afraid to try new things and put myself into uncomfortable situations.” 

However, alternative income sources are not without fault. Perkins says she struggles with the reliability of her photography business.

“One of the biggest cons is that life happens a lot,” Perkins said. “People get sick, the weather goes from perfect to crap quickly, and so much more. Because of this, photo shoots get cancelled fairly often.” 

Regardless of circumstances, Perkins also believes that this style of income is best suited to those with patience, knowledge and a real passion for their industry. 

Being a photographer is a lot of work. And, running your own business on top of it could be extremely stressful. I don’t think this would work for everyone,” Perkins said.

However, for students who are able to manage an alternative source of income, the added benefits can be invaluable.

“This extra income has helped me have more leisure time, focus on school, and allows me to be able to pursue my passions,” MacFadden said.


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