A second income can be a good choice for people in many different situations, especially in times of economic hardship. Many people choose to add a second income in order to build a buffer against leaner times, adding to their savings, while others add one to keep up with their bills. Still others want to have disposable income to spend on enjoyable pastimes. A single person may take on another job or build up a supplementary revenue stream, or a spouse may enter the work force rather than staying at home.
One of the most obvious times to add a second income is if a spouse has stayed home to look after children, and the children grow up. Even before they leave the house, once children become teenagers they do not need as much attention, and the partner may have time freed up to find employment to supplement the family income. This can be especially useful if the children are starting to look towards college, as this extra income can be put directly to a college fund, ensuring that they have enough money to attend.
Individuals may also consider adding a second income in the form of a second job. Some families find it difficult to pay bills, and especially hard to put money away for times of need or retirement. Although a second job can add a hardship in terms of extra time spent working, the benefits of having extra money often outweigh these costs. People who add a second income often find themselves less stressed about finances, and able to more fully enjoy vacation time available by having funds to travel.
Many people look at building up a more passive second income to supplement their primary income, which over time can gradually replace part of the primary income, allowing less time to be spent in active work. For example, someone able to pay his bills by working a 40 hour week at a regular job might take some of his spare time to begin pursuing a hobby that can earn money. For example, an amateur photographer might begin to put up some of his pictures on a stock photography site, or might start selling prints online. An amateur writer might start writing short articles for sites that deliver residual payments, or might start a blog with advertisements featured on it. An amateur musician might put up songs on an online music store.
Although these sources of income will likely be quite low to begin with, over time, as a portfolio grows or as traffic increases, these sorts of activities can become a genuine second income. Best of all, once they've been built up, they often require a minimum amount of upkeep, allowing for more passive income to build. And so long as you pursue something you are interested in, you may eventually be able to replace your primary income with a secondary income that excites you more than your day-to-day job.