How These Three Millennial Women Are Crushing Their Debt by Teaching English Online

By Kim Galeta
February 21, 2020

Side hustling has personally changed my life. It allowed me to get out of debt and finance my biggest goals, like traveling internationally. 

And I’m not alone! In 2019, nearly half of Americans took on extra gigs in order to supplement their paychecks

But not all side hustles are created equal. And, if you’re looking for flexible, work-from-home opportunities, teaching English online might be a good one to consider. 

We reached out to two financially savvy young women who have found success teaching English to kids online. They are both teachers at VIPKid, a company that connects English tutors with students in other countries who want to learn the language. 

In this story, we ask both teachers four questions to learn more about their experiences. 

  1. Why did you start side hustling?

Diana Farmen from Diana on a Dime said she had “no choice but to side hustle.” She was making about $3,000/month for 10 months of the year as a reading specialist in Pennsylvania and she needed to earn more to pay off her debt. 

“I had to move back home to my parent’s house to afford it all. I quickly realized that if I was going to make any progress, I had to increase my income,” says Farmen. 

Since that aha moment, Farmen has achieved major results, destroying more than $145,000 worth of student debt in under four years.

Likewise, Kathryn Coggeshall, a teacher in Beverly, Ma, is motivated to side hustle because she wants to start her marriage off on the strongest financial footing possible. She is currently laser-focused on paying for her wedding with her cash flow while also paying down thousands of dollars in student loans using her extra earnings. 

  1. How much money can you make teaching English online?

Farmen, who has been side hustling with VIPKid for the past nine months, makes $18/hour, on average. However, she notes that there is potential to make up to $24/hour if she teaches classes on short notice or takes advantage of incentives tacked onto the number of classes taught per month.

And the good news is that once you are accepted as a tutor, the starting costs are quite low. 

“Once you’re hired, a simple headset and a few things from the dollar store are all that you need,” says Coggeshall, who earns about $650 per month with the online teaching company.

  1. How easy is it to get started teaching English online?

Both Farmen and Coggeshall explain that while there are a number of steps involved, it’s quite straightforward to get started. You also need some experience, which can be as simple as teaching Sunday school or babysitting. 

“They do have a bit of a process, but if you follow their guidelines and get help from someone already doing it, it’s fairly easy to get accepted, as long as you have a bachelor’s (degree) and some kind of experience working with kids,” says Farmen. 

You will also need to go through an interview process. 

“There is an interview process with mock classes that takes some time. It isn’t cumbersome and helps you get ready to become a teacher,” adds Coggeshall.

  1. How do you use your side hustle earnings?

Farmen says that her VIPKids earnings have gone toward her debt. 

In 2019, “I earned $2,568, so that, minus money saved for taxes, all went to debt. It’s interesting because I just received my 1099 from VIPKid and was honestly shocked by how much I made. It really did add up throughout the year,” says Farmen.

Coggeshall has also been intentional with how she uses her side hustle earnings, which have totaled more than $8,000 since she became a tutor back in May 2018. 

Some of Coggenshall’s earnings have gone toward debt, some toward purchasing a car in cash, and the rest went into her savings account for her upcoming wedding.

“I don’t allocate these funds specifically to debt, I just include them in my budget as income and work them into the plan I am currently focusing on,” notes Coggeshall, who shares her debt-free journey on her Instagram page. She currently has $46,605 left in student loans, down from $71,622.03.

The Bottom Line 

Coggeshall and Farmen’s stories remind us that now is the best time to make a plan for your financial future. 

Even if you are already debt-free, taking on a side hustle for a few hours a week is a great way to grow your savings. Besides, you might find a fun job and learn about a new culture (like Farmen and Coggeshall). 

Armed with these tips for maximizing your money, what’s stopping you from creating a more abundant lifestyle? Go out there and start your side hustle today! 


Kim Galeta has been a professional writer since 2009 focusing primarily on personal finance but also dabbling in tech, health & wellness and small business. She holds an MBA in finance and corporate strategy from the University of Florida.

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