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Getting Rid of Debt Through Tutoring

  March 17

This post may contain affiliate links.

Today we have a guest post from Ryan. Ryan is here to tell you how he used a side hustle, tutoring, to work his way out of debt. Take it away Ryan!

TutoringMy story is very similar to many we’ve heard over the last few years. I followed all of the rules, worked hard in high school and attended a top college. Afterwards, I went to grad school to continue to learn about engineering and where I could contribute. Almost promised a great job afterwards, I thought nothing of taking on student loans that I would certainly be able to pay back in just a few years.

Fast-forward 10 years, and I’m still very much paying off that debt and job security is nowhere near as certain.

While I still consider education a great investment, and there’s a no way I would have received the opportunities I have without it, that doesn’t take the sting out of seeing a huge chunk of my paycheck going toward the loans every month. But I’m making it work.

However, at one point it was even worse.

Throughout college, I didn’t take great care in making sure that I lived within my means. I thought, “What’s a few hundred dollars now, when I’ll be making thousands in just a few years?” Silly? Yes. But that didn’t stop me from thinking it.

This faulty logic combined with a few months of unpaid living expenses while I looked for a job after graduate school, left me with credit card debt as high as $10K at one point. Fortunately, I had been jumping from balance transfer to balance transfer, paying no more than 3% transfer fees for a year of 0% APR, but it was starting to catch up to me.

Combined with student loans payments, I was facing a very difficult situation. So after one too many sleepless nights, I decided to take control.

I moved into a cheaper apartment, cut back on costs, and made sure to focus on debt repayments over purchases.

But I wasn’t able to make the kind of headway I needed to see things turn around. At that rate, I was still looking at a few years of chipping away at my credit card before it would be finished. And forget about the student loans, those would be around long after my kids went to college.

I needed to increase my income, but my job didn’t have any promotion openings, and I wasn’t ready to leave to go somewhere else.

So I turned to private tutoring. I had tutored a few times in grad school and it was fun to work with young students, and I saw that it could help pay bills, when I was willing to put in the time.

This time I was motivated. I started out small, and worked with the first student I could find. Slowly I increased my rates, and became more selective about who I worked with. I didn’t want to add too much work to my plate, and at the same time I wanted to make sure that I felt comfortable with the subjects I taught.

From basic math to high school physics, from learning to read to SAT prep, I worked with students to overcome their toughest subjects. It felt great to see the difference I was making, especially the light that came on when students finally said “Oh! I get it!”

And I started to make a lot of money. At one point I was juggling 5 students plus my day job, and it was paying off. Within a year I had earned enough to cut my credit card debt in half, which when combined with reduced spending and a small bonus from my day job, allowed me to pay it off years before I would have otherwise.

These days, I’ve moved on from tutoring students to helping others learn how to tutor. Many of my students reached out to me because of horror stories with previous tutors, and as much as I appreciated the business, I hated hearing that people were that bad at tutoring.

I launched the website The New Tutor, which provides resources and training modules to help people learn how to become tutors, work successfully with students, and earn money to reach their financial goals.

If you’re looking for flexible and rewarding side hustle, or even a full-time job, I can’t recommend tutoring enough. With hourly wages easily double or triple minimum wage, the ability to plan out your day how you want, and the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping students through a difficult time, tutoring is an awesome way to spend your time and earn some cash.

Ryan Bonaparte has worked with students on and off for the last 10 years, from young children to adult learners, helping them to understand even their toughest subjects. He also founded, which has resources (guides, personal training sessions, and more) to help people get started as a private tutor or grow their existing tutoring business. He currently lives near Boston, with his girlfriend and their adorable/obnoxious cat, Logan.

12 responses to “Getting Rid of Debt Through Tutoring

  1. Thank you for sharing your story Ryan. Quick question: I always got the impression that test prep is where the real tutoring money is at. Do you find that to be true where you are?

    1. That’s a great question Taylor Lee. I’ve found that test prep does generally command a higher price than other subjects, but it really depends on what you decide to charge. I usually charged the same regardless of the subject, though I found test prep to be a bit easier to tutor since each student had the same material to work with. Other subjects were more varied, and therefore required a bit more preparation on my part.

  2. I totally love your story Ryan! My daughter’s teacher also offers tutoring after her class and she told me that it really helps her a lot financially, especially that her husband doesn’t have a permanent job.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed, Clarisse. I’ve really found tutoring to be a great way to smooth out transitions like that. Although there are ups and downs, I generally found tutoring to be pretty consistent when I actively sought new students. Otherwise, the summer can be a bit of a dry spell when parents and students look to take a break.

  3. I tutored in college as part of a tutoring company and loved it. I’ve always been hesitant to tutor on my own, though, because I can’t guarantee results the way tutoring companies usually do. Right? I’m always nervous when working independently that if kids don’t ace the test, parents are going to blame me and want their money back. How do you handle that?

    1. That’s a great question, Chela. I’ve found that most parents understand that tutoring is more art than science and that results aren’t guaranteed. You can do everything right on your end, but if the student doesn’t perform their best, there’s nothing you can do. In my mind tutoring is more about teaching skills that go beyond just a test or a class. While the skills should be applicable to what the student is learning, a test is just a test.

  4. Tutoring is something I briefly considered as a side hustle, but quickly discarded because I didn’t think my skills were marketable enough. Your article made me realize that there’s a lot more opportunities than I originally imagined. It’s so cool that you’re leveraging your experience to teach others how to be great tutors. Thanks Ryan!

    1. I’m glad my story helped, Jessica. There really are tons of opportunities to tutor, as long as you have something that you can teach. I like to tell everyone that it’s not hard to become a tutor, but it takes work to become a great tutor. And it’s that learning process that I try to shorten, since the sooner you become a great tutor, the sooner students start referring you to others, the sooner you start to make more money!

  5. I tutor my niece every weekend. Though it’s free, but I can use the experience in the future when I find kids to tutor. This is really a great source of income because it is per hour basis and depends on the number of students!

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