Today it's Tom who shares with us his Swiss side job.
Actually, his two side jobs!
He is a fan of the blog, originally from Toronto, Canada (😍!), and he lives in Vaud now and works as a teacher.
To boost his income with hopes of retiring early, he has taken on two extra jobs, one as a referee for ice hockey and another as a private tutor.
In addition to his regular job, Tom earns between CHF 800 and CHF 1500 per month.
So let's see what we can learn from his experience in order to generate additional income in Switzerland ourselves too!
MP: Hi Tom! Welcome and thanks for agreeing to participate in this interview. Can you introduce yourself in two or three sentences: demographics, single or family, location?
Tom: Salut Marc! Sure thing. I've been working abroad for 10 years now as a teacher. I am originally from Canada, and I now live in canton Vaud with my wife and dog. We have been in Switzerland now for 5 years and hope to stay for many more, we love it here.
MP: Thanks for the intro. Then, explain to us: what does your two side gigs consist of, concretely?
Tom: As a teacher, I am able to offer my services as a private tutor and I currently have two students that need some extra math help. We meet 2-3 times per week and I help them with their homework or other concepts they might be struggling with.
I also referee ice hockey matches across the Romandie region (pre-COVID) in the SIHF's second league.
MP: Nice! I'm not going to surprise you with my following question, since we're here to talk about money (!): for each side gig, how many Swiss francs do you make per month since you started? Has it changed over the years? And will it continue to increase in the future?
Tom: This income isn't steady, and it is totally seasonal, which I like.
During the fall and winter months there are a lot of hockey games and they are in need of referees. I could be busy every night of the week if I wanted, but I am able to set my own schedule and I usually make about CHF 200 per match. This covers some costs with fuel and my time to drive between my house and the ice rink.
I also only tutor when students are at school and I am able to charge CHF 85 per hour for this service. In total, I probably average around CHF 1'200 in additional income from September to April.
MP: That's for some serious side gigs you got here! Congratulations!
For each side job, can you describe when in your life you first had the idea of becoming a hockey referee and a tutor? And how did it come to you? And also why (need for more cash, need to do something else than your actual job, other)?
Tom: I began refereeing hockey at 14, and it was purely for extra income.
I got paid $15 for a 1 hour game and, as a teenager, it was nice to have extra money.
As I improved my skills as a referee, I started getting paid more per game. I continued to referee through University as a way to earn some extra money.
I also started to really enjoy being on the ice in a different capacity than playing.
And it's also a really social profession, and it helps keep me in shape!
Tutoring came later, and I only started doing it more frequently once I started being able to charge more money. Some people prefer hiring an experienced teacher as a tutor for their child and it was only once I became more experienced that I started getting more tutoring jobs.
MP: So, for each job, tell us how you got started, step by step, from the idea to the first time, and especially in parallel with your studies at the time!?
Tom: Where I grew up in Canada, there was always a need for referees.
I wanted to earn some extra money, so I signed up to take a course that would allow me to be assigned games. Each year you take a refresher course and register to referee again each year.
Then, 10 years ago I moved to England and I reached out to the ice hockey league there to see if they needed referees. Of course they did, and the process was very similar to my experience in Canada. The only difference this time was that I had to drive much further and on the other side of the road!
When I moved to Switzerland, the SIHF was very accommodating for me and allowed me to enter into their officiating system quite quickly. I began refereeing in the 4th league and I'm now a referee in the 2nd league. Here, we take an annual course, and are always working on improving our skills as officials. We have online platforms for entering our availability, and I can be assigned games anywhere from Geneva to Raron to Fribourg. For some hockey players the transition to refereeing is quite natural and can be a way for many of them to continue their hockey career in a different capacity.
As for tutoring, I actually started doing it in high school, for free, because I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a teacher or not.
I spent a year tutoring a few students and I started to enjoy helping them so much so that I went on to study education in University. Of course, tutoring fits well with teaching; and in each school I've worked at, they have been good at connecting students that need extra help with teachers that are willing to tutor.
Usually you are asked for your availability and you work out a mutually agreeable time to meet.
I am a mathematics teacher so there are always students looking to get extra help so there is never a shortage of students for me. I usually have to turn away pupils because I am too busy. It is convenient for me as well since I can tutor students after work and in my classroom so there is no need to waste time between my work schedule and my tutoring schedule.
MP: And in the future, what are your next steps with these two side projects (developing them further, stopping because it takes too much time, other)?
Tom: I really love working with the SIHF and refereeing hockey. It does become a nuisance sometimes when I have other things I need to do, or when I am assigned a game in Geneva on a Wednesday night (over 4 hours in the car for CHF 200...)
It isn't really about the money, since we don't get paid a lot, but I sure wouldn't do it for free.
I would love to referee professionally, but my time has come and gone in that regard, so for now I will keep doing games while I have time. I'm sure eventually I won't be able to fit it into my schedule anymore, and I will have to cut back on matches, but I don't think I'll ever quit completely. I want to stay connected to the game and give back to the hockey community that has been so influential in my life.
Tutoring is also something that I will keep doing in the future.
Right now I have 2 students and I am happy with that. I've had more in the past (when I was saving to pay for my wedding), and it became too much to balance.
It is a nice job in the sense that I can add more clients as I need, and if it becomes too much I can move around my schedule to suit my personal needs.
I think in both cases, the reason why my side jobs work so well is because I am able to choose my own schedule and I can do everything on my own terms. I don't have to commit to certain hours and I also don't need to report back to any sort of boss.
In a way, I am self-employed and can make as much or as little as I need.
I think the key with trying to earn money on top of your day job is to find something you are passionate about and skilled at doing, so that you will enjoy the extra time you need to spend working.
For me refereeing and tutoring are both very rewarding and the financial part comes as an added bonus.
Thanks so much Tom for sharing your inspiring side hustles' journey. Keep enjoying the freedom and flexibility of these two side jobs, as well as the additional monthly income you make :)
If you think about it: Tom makes about CHF 1'150/month on average. This means that every year, he gets an additional CHF 13'800. And if he invests it during the next decade, this will add CHF 215'915 to its net worth!
It motivates you to start something similar :)
Another important implicit element that I want to outline is what Tom did to get started with both of his side jobs: talking about the wish to get those. As I explain in chapter 7 of my book, this is one of the key to see opportunities abound. It may sound stupid, but at the time you start talking about such will to make money via side jobs, your network effects start to compound like crazy.
Finally, another interesting fact from Tom's story is how it confirms that passion is created through craft and deep work, and not the other way around. Because when you analyze his path, you see that he took the referee job for money at first, then became so good at this craft that it became a meaningful passion to him. And it was the same path for tutoring which led his way to his teacher job (on top of his side gig). If you want to read more about this topic, I highly recommend you reading the book "So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love" by Cal Newport.
If you too want to start making more CHF on top of your actual salary, here a small exercise to not only get inspired by Tom's story, but also to put it in practice:
- List on a piece of paper the skills you already have (due to work or due to passion)
- Brainstorm who could need such services outside of your actual work clients
- Then, talk to at least 10 persons outside of your close family circle (via any channel like messaging, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Tell them something like: "Look, I'm currently open to side hustling opportunities based on my actual competencies xyz, do you or anybody in your network would be in need of such services?"
- Let the beauty of network effects happen (while you keep talking to your next 10 persons the week afterwards!)
- Contact me as soon as you have earned your first Swiss francs of additional income so that I can interview you too!
Finally, if you too are interested in participating in this series of "How to make extra money on top of my salary through a side hustle in Switzerland?", then please contact me via the following email: contact [at] mustachianpost.com