Vending Machines, Dog Parks, Pie Charts: The Best Side Hustles (and More) of 2022

An image to accompany a story about side hustles
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Keeping your personal finance goals fresh and interesting is half the battle. We’re here to help.

NextAdvisor’s financial independence vertical, which launched at the end of March, helps you take control of your financial future with information and inspiration on earning extra income, starting a side hustle or business, and crystallizing your FIRE goals, whatever they may be. The themes throughout all of our content can be summed up in nine words: make more money, reduce your expenses, invest the difference.

It’s been my pleasure to shepherd 124 articles from our journalists and contributors across the finish line this year. Here’s a highlight reel of some of the best and wildest stories we ran in 2022.

The Guy Who Makes $340,000 from Owning 25 Vending Machines

Marcus Gram of Joyner Vending.

You’ll never look at a gas station vending machine the same way after reading this one.

The surprising thing about Marcus Gram’s vending machine side hustle is that it was plan B from the jump. The entrepreneur actually wanted to get into investment real estate — and had relocated to Philadelphia in order to do so  — but was priced out of the market. 

To make residual cash in the interim, he invested $5,000 in two refurbished vending machines. Once he dialed in the perfect location, the machines began to turn a profit, and he soon realized he had a wildly lucrative box of metal on his hands. 

The 31-year-old now employs a team to help him operate his 25 vending machines in four states.

Is The Hot New Side Hustle… Owning a Vending Machine? Yes, Says This 31-Year-Old Who Made $340,000 Last Year

The Best Skills to Cultivate, According to 281 Entrepreneurs

Side hustles continue to become the norm as inflation stunted Americans’ purchasing power this year. 

So we asked hundreds of existing entrepreneurs what they thought the most important skills are for newbies, then illustrated the results, because everyone loves a good pie chart. If you’ve been experimenting with side hustles and haven’t quite found your footing yet, some words of wisdom from existing entrepreneurs might help.

This Is the Best Skill for Starting a Side Hustle, According to 281 Entrepreneurs We Surveyed

The 25 New Most Influential Voices in Money

This was a NextAdvisor-wide initiative, but it was such a cool project I had to list it here.

Your financial independence journey will be rocky at times. You need inspiring, motivating money experts cheering you on along the way. We found them for you.

October saw NextAdvisor’s first-ever NextUp, which celebrated the 25 new most influential voices of money. Our editorial team’s statement on this project is that “Together, the members of NextUp demonstrate that the face of financial expertise has changed—for the better.” 

These are the money influencers you’ll want to pay attention to in 2023.

NextUp: The 25 Most Influential New Voices in Money

One FIRE Article to Rule Them All

Feeling lost about FIRE? I was too, y’all. 

The core of our financial independence vertical is the FIRE movement: the buzzy, controversial early retirement perspective that has enthusiasts saving gobs of cash in an effort to leave the workforce years or even decades ahead of schedule. FIRE is sexy. It can also be sensationalist at times.

So I got the blessing from my editor in chief to put together a deep, easy-to-follow explainer on FIRE, including how to find your FIRE number, the different types of FIRE, and suggestions for an initial investing strategy.

What Is Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE)? The Complete Beginner’s Guide

Want to cut to the chase and figure out your FIRE number immediately? You can do that here.

Get Paid to Watch Dogs Play (Or Don’t Even Watch Them)

On Sniffspot, hosts can rent out their pools as private dog parks.

I’m still obsessed with this profile from writer Kimanzi Constable on SniffSpot, the “Airbnb of dog parks,” which specifically caters to highly sensitive dogs in need of fresh air or exercise. 

People think the FIRE movement is mainly the “be a millionaire by 30” crowd, but I think the core of the movement is stuff like this: honest, hard working people looking to make extra cash in whatever ways they can to live a better life.

The Perfect Side Hustle for Dog Lovers? Making Your Backyard an On-Demand Dog Park

We did a lot of side hustle profiles this year. Here’s one about an executive who bakes hyper-realistic cakes. Here’s another about someone who monetizes Spotify playlists. This rock climber uses his website to fund his bouldering hobby. And here’s one about a company aspiring to become “The Uber of laundry.” 

LGBTQ weddings. Soccer games. Twitter ghostwriters. Etsy, Amazon, Twitch, Fiverr, Tiktok, Youtube — we spent a lot of time documenting ways you could make more money in 2023 and beyond.   

Our Featured Contributor Columns

We partnered with a few writers for some “limited series” pieces in 2022. These pop-up columns all centered around a core theme.

Bernadette Joy of Crush Your Money Goals.

“From Mess to Million”

Crush Your Money Goals founder Bernadette Joy thrilled us with a five-part series entitled “From Mess to Million”, documenting her journey from disorganized to financially independent at the age of 37.

Laura Belgray of Talking Shrimp.

“Write and Grow Rich”

Copywriter Laura Belgray, founder of Talking Shrimp, reminded us that sending emails is still worth it — and that you don’t have to scale and get a bunch of employees to have a successful business if you don’t want to.

My pet name for this series was “Write and Grow Rich.”

Daniella Flores of I Like to Dabble.

“From Side Hustle to Second Salary”

Side hustle expert Daniella Flores, founder of I Like to Dabble, took us behind the scenes of their five-year journey to build a side hustle from scratch and then use it as an escape hatch from corporate life with “From Side Hustle to Second Salary.” 

The Whole Hub, Honestly

Am I allowed to say that? I’m doing it.

If you’re new to the FIRE movement, check out our hub page. We took extra time to curate this page into sections, based on your interests and goals, and have plenty of how-to stories and inspiring profiles to keep your FIRE goals burning bright over the holiday break.

Get some rest, and we’ll see you in 2023 for more stories about the financial independence journey.