Monday, September 30, 2013

10 Money-Making Jobs for the Stay-At-Home Mom




About me: I met Lisa and Lauren in the Accounting program at BYU. After graduation I moved to Houston to work in audit for a large public accounting firm. I left my (good-paying,
health-insurance providing) full-time job after my first child was born. My husband had just finished his first semester of law school. It was important to both of us for me to stay home with our children, but we knew that if we reached the point of utter financial desperation, I would go back to work. That was three and a half years ago. I’m still at home and we haven’t starved to death yet!



I’ve put a lot of time and energy into coming up with ways for me to make some money from home. I’ve done this for several reasons:

#1 We’ve needed the cash.
#2 It provides me with variety/a chance to use my education/a break from the kids.
#3 I like feeling like I’m contributing financially, even in a tiny way. (And sometimes money I make myself feels more like money I can spend on myself.)

What follows is a list of 10 jobs I’ve tried, some with more success than others. We have never lived entirely on my part-time, at-home income. But there have been several months in which my income made the difference between being able to pay rent, and being able to pay rent AND eat. If you’ve been searching for something to do from home I hope this list will help you come up with some ideas. If you have any questions about any of these jobs please leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!


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#1 PIANO TEACHER

Why this works well for me: I really enjoy teaching and I love music. This is a great SAHM job because it can be done entirely from home while my children are present. It’s a steady source of income because my students come regularly, every week, and I am able to charge a good hourly rate.

What I don’t love about this job:
-I have to clean my house. Our living room doubles as our playroom so getting it ready for piano students is a big job. I’ve learned to group students on the same day so that I only have to clean 2-3 times a week.
-Some families are flaky. I’ve learned to charge a fee for last minute cancellations and no shows and to be willing to drop any students that are especially difficult in that regard. (The good news is that over time I have found a great group of students to fill my studio.)

Could you do this? Yes, if you have a reasonable level of proficiency at a musical instrument, are patient, and enjoy working with kids. Whatever instrument you play, there is probably more demand for teachers than you realize, especially if you live in a large city. I have gotten all of my students through friends and advertising on Craigslist. This will also work better if your kids are at a reasonably self-sufficient age, or if you can schedule lessons during naptime.

NOTE: If you’re not a musician, take stock of your other talents. Do you do something else that people would pay to have their kids learn? Could you teach dance? A sport? Art lessons? Sewing? Cooking? Could you teach in your home? At a local community center? Team up with a friend? 

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#2 SAT PROCTOR

What I loved about this job: I proctored practice SAT exams for a test prep company. Most of their classes were on Saturdays so they were fine with hiring me to work one day a week (when my husband was home to watch the kids). I had to give instructions and work the timer but mostly I was getting paid to sit and read for four hours every weekend!

Why this job didn’t work for me:
-It was a LOT of driving because the main office was nearly an hour from my house. I had to pick up the exam materials from the office, drive to the test location (usually a motel), and then drive back to the office to drop off the exams for grading.
-I realized I could do other things with my Saturday time and make more money.
-Sometimes the students were pills and then the job was not really a break at all.

Could you do this? Definitely, if there’s a company in your area that does this sort of thing and you enjoy reading (because otherwise you’re just sitting for four hours and you will be bored out of your mind). You don’t need any sort of special skills or degrees to be able to do this job.
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#3 SAT TUTOR

What I love about this job: Again, I enjoy teaching, and working with teenagers. I’ve worked for a couple tutoring companies and I’ve also done tutoring on my own. I liked working for companies first in order to learn how to structure my tutoring sessions. The benefits to working on my own are having complete control over my schedule and getting to keep my full rate. When we’re having a tight month, I advertise a lot more and take whatever hours people will give me (even if it means driving across town at 8 pm). When we are having a better month, I advertise less and am pickier about my availability. I do all of my advertising for test prep on craigslist too. (I will admit that I have not had as much success as I’ve had with finding piano students, but I also haven’t tried as hard because the piano keeps me pretty busy.) Right now I am tutoring students from church in exchange for babysitting—everyone wins!

What I haven’t loved about this job:
-When you do this for a big company, they don’t pay you nearly as much as they are taking in from the students' parents.
-Whether you are working for a big company or on your own, it can require a lot of driving if you are tutoring students at their location.
-It’s not necessarily a steady source of income the way piano lessons are. Most people don’t sign up for a regular weekly tutoring session; instead they come to you in desperation the week before the exam.

Could you do this? When people are hiring tutors they are looking for good test scores (SAT/ACT/AP/etc.) and/or teaching experience. Parents will hire tutors for just about any subject and any age. If you were a school teacher in your former, pre-SAHM life, or if you are still a school teacher, you could probably have great success tutoring because real teachers are in high demand. And don’t think you’re limited to school age students—if you did well on the GRE/GMAT/LSAT/etc., advertise yourself as able to tutor that.
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#4 CRAIGSLIST SELLING

What I love about this: It’s a very simple way to make a little cash while getting rid of the stuff in your house you don’t need. All you have to do is identify what you want to get rid of, photograph the item(s), set a price (I decide what I want for the item and then add $5-$10 so there will be room for haggling), and create an ad. You can renew an ad every 3 days so I usually try to do that until it sells. When we’re having a bad week, the craigslist money goes to groceries. When we’re having a good week, I usually use it to go buy something fun for the kids.

What I don’t love: Craigslist people can be flaky. You get spam. You get people who call you 20 times in an hour to get directions to your house and then never show up anyway.

Could you do this? I’ve known people who’ve made craigslist practically a full time job. If you’re crafty, you can buy old trashy things cheap, fix them up, and re-sell them at a profit. I don’t have crafty skills and I also haven’t wanted to put that much time into scouring craigslist for potential projects. It’s still a nice way to make a couple bucks now and then off things I don’t want anymore.
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#5 BLOGGER

What I loved about this: I started a blog about books I’d read. I love to read, and I love to write, so it was great. I made the blog on BlogSpot and signed up for the amazon associates program. Every time I wrote about a book I posted a link to that book for sale on amazon, and the idea was that every time someone clicked through from my site to buy the book, I would get a cut. For good measure, I added recommendations for other books that were similar to the one I’d reviewed and links to those on amazon, too.

Why this didn’t work for me: I think I had a grand total of 12 readers, and no one ever bought a book, so I made no money. Also, I’m not super tech savvy, and I couldn’t even always get the links to work.

Could you do this? You could definitely start a blog, but I have no idea if you could get rich at it. If you want to make money then think about how this would happen—linking to stuff to sell, advertising, etc.—and try to structure the blog to encourage that behavior from readers. Also, try to build up your reader base. Tell everyone you know about your blog and beg them to tell their friends.
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#6 FAKE PATIENT

Have you ever seen the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer is a fake patient for med students to practice on? That’s a real program that med schools do.

What I loved about this job: I did a lot of theater when I was a teenager and it was fun to do a little acting again. It was also a nice break from the kids, and in between students I could read. The hourly rate was good, and I enjoyed working with med students.

Why this job didn’t work for me: It’s not really a SAHM job. I wasn’t sure when I applied if it would be weekends or if I could take the kids. It turned out it was weekdays and I had to find a sitter. I also had to drive through rush hour traffic (about an hour and a half) to get there in the mornings. It was only one day every couple months but that one day was a lot of hassle.

Could you do this? If you live near a med school you should find out if they have a program like this. If you live reasonably close to the school and you have easy access to childcare this could work well for you. It could be an especially good fit if your kids are in preschool/school during the day.

Keep in mind that this will probably not make you rich. I worked for about four hours every two months. It was not a lot of extra money but it did help us through some of our dicier months. If you had a lot of free time and the people who ran the program really liked you, you might get called in more frequently.
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#7 PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

My husband and I tried to start an online editing business together while he was waiting for Bar results. We advertised ourselves as able to edit college papers, application essays, resumes, cover letters, etc.

What I loved about this job idea:. We both enjoy editing and have often done it for friends over the years, so it made sense to try to make some money at it. I thought a good selling point for our business would be that we would help people understand not simply WHAT was wrong but WHY it was wrong and HOW to fix it themselves. I also loved that this could be done entirely online, from home, while the kids slept or whatever.

Why this job didn’t work: This was not a roaring success. Craigslist advertising did not work well for us, my husband became a real lawyer, and I focused on some other, more immediately profitable business ideas. I think if we wanted to be more successful we would need to advertise on college campuses and build a website. In the meantime, if you need anything edited, email us at spotlessenglish@gmail.com

Could you do this? It would be worth a try if you have editing skills and maybe an English degree or experience in HR or Admissions. I think there is definitely a need for this type of service; it would just be a matter of figuring out how to market yourself.
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#8 INVOICING

What I loved about this job: You see a lot of ads for work-from-home invoicing jobs. I suspect that most are not legit but I found a real one through a company for which I had already done other work. All the invoicing was done online so I could do it entirely from home.

Why this job didn’t work for me: I ended up having some other opportunities that left me with no time for it. Also, I was really looking for something I could do on evenings or weekends and the invoicing was great for that but my boss wanted me to do some other things, like phone calls, during the day, and I didn’t have time for that.

Could you do this? If you want to do this, look for an established business, possibly one that you already have a relationship with, and find out if their invoicing is or could be done online. Keep in mind that the amount of work they have for you will depend on the type of business and their billing cycle. The company I was working for was a real estate business and the invoices were for rentals and were sent out monthly. Maybe all you need is a once a month job, but if you are looking for something more than that you would need to find a different type of company.
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#9 CHILDCARE

I’m cheating by including this because I haven’t actually done this professionally, but I have friends who have. You could start with friends/word-of-mouth and/or search for work on craigslist. Many people who are looking for nannies don’t want one to bring her kids along, but you might luck out and find the one who’s cool with it. I’ve also seen ads on craigslist from people who want someone to pick their child up from school in the afternoon, keep them for a couple hours, and make sure they do their homework and have a snack. If you lived near the school, and especially if you had your own kids at the school to pick up, this could be a fantastic way to make some extra money.

Also, if you’re living near a university, consider the fact that students with children (especially grad students) may be in need of childcare at odd hours (so daycare’s not an option for them). If you are in grad school too you might be able to find another parent to trade off with and schedule your classes around each other.
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#10 FIND A WAY TO KEEP DOING YOUR OLD JOB

Theoretically, this should work well for a lot of us because so much of what anyone does is on the computer and through email anyway. I have some friends who have a great set up doing almost exactly what they did before they had kids. The closest thing I do to my old job is grading for online accounting courses. I enjoy this a lot because I get to keep up my accounting, feel like I’m using my education, and set my own hours.

Note from Lisa: We do posts like these 2x/week. "Like" Our facebook page, add us to your blog reader (www.moneyhipmamas.com), or subscribe by e-mail to get updates when we do posts.

 What jobs have you done from home? What did you love? What didn't work well?

13 comments:

  1. My question is - have you ever felt uncomfortable advertising goods or services on craigslist? Probably I'm old-fashioned, but any tips on how you went about feeling comfortable using that so extensively?

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  2. I'm timid about a lot of things (rollercoasters, for instance) but craigslist doesn't worry me much, probably because I've been using it for years without ever having a bad experience. When I'm tutoring or teaching piano students, I'm usually working with kids/teens, and my first interaction is with the parents. I ask them questions about their kids and usually talk to them on the phone before I meet with them in person, and I feel comfortable from the answers that the kid actually exists and it's not a weird setup. If anyone showed up at my house for piano lessons without a child in tow then I would know something was up. I have taught adult piano students before and when I do that I have them come at a time when my husband is home. I haven't tutored an adult but if I were to do that I would meet them in a public place (like a Panera or a library).

    When I go to someone's house for the first time (either for a lesson or to buy something), I let my husband know where I'm going (the exact address) and when, and I text him when I'm about to get out of the car and tell him if he doesn't hear from me again in like 10 minutes to be worried and call the police.

    As far as selling things, a lot of craigslist sellers will ask you to meet them in a public place (a parking lot at a restaurant, etc.) instead of at their house. I let people come to my house because often craigslist people won't show up, or won't show up when they say they will, and I don't want to load my kids up and wait somewhere for them. What I usually do is give people an intersection near me and then tell them to text me when they're actually on their way and then I will give them the house address. That way I don't feel like I'm giving my address out to anyone who emails me. If I feel weird about it at all, or if I'm selling something heavy that they will have to come into the house to get, then I have them come at a time that my husband is home. Otherwise, I meet them at the front door or in the driveway with the stuff and don't invite them into the house. (Everyone I've bought stuff from does that too.)

    -Beth

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think for a lot of stay-at-home mothers, one of the best ways to contribute financially without leaving the home is to cut costs. Freecycle is awesome for this. So is avoiding trips to Target. Finding ways to trim spending can be just as helpful as getting a job outside the home that doesn't pay all that well. If you can fix a toilet yourself and only spend $10 on the parts, that is a whole lot better than paying a plumber $250 to do it (I have done both. After the plumber incident, I vowed to figure out how to do it myself!)

    My mother was awesome at this. She put in our sprinkler system, mowed the lawn, changed lighting fixtures, painted the house, fixed broken vacuums, and so on. If it was a 'manly' job, she was the one to do it so that my dad could spend more time lawyering.

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    Replies
    1. I totally agree, Maria. It's all about looking at the BIG picture and figuring out what makes sense for you. For example, people that coupon like crazy and yet pay credit card interest or have other consumer debt? That is mind-blowing to me.
      And three cheers for doing your own home repairs! My husband and I have done almost all of our own home renovations and repairs (including ripping out and redoing an entire bathroom). It was really scary at first, but it's amazing how much we were able to learn from my father-in-law or even just YouTube. If nothing else, now we know what's worth doing ourselves vs. paying a professional to do (e.g. We did all our own plumbing for our first bathroom...probably wouldn't do that again). But minor to moderate renovation and repairs, for sure. I can't imagine how much money we've saved by doing it ourselves.

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  4. About editing, in my experience, the field isn't quite as sparse as you make it out to be, especially for inexperienced and untrained persons. Having graduated in English and studied technical writing, my dream was to do freelance from home. I had a website and scoured various editing sites where plenty of people offer services and work to be done. With my experience being limited to schooling, I almost never won a bid. Other people may have better luck, but I just want to mention that that is an actual career for people and isn't so easy to break into.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't mean to imply that it's a field where there's a lack of supply (there are definitely a lot of editing services out there) but rather that there should be a lot of demand. Did you ever consider working for an editing company?

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    2. I did work for an online company while I was pregnant with my first baby, but it was a job that required me to be ready to focus and devote a couple hours of my day at any given time on short notice. I found on- demand service difficult with my responsibilities as a mother. But I know there are other companies that allow you to take the work you want as you are able to do it. You just have to get hired!

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  5. Great post, Beth! Thanks for sharing the successes and the not-so-successes. I think it will definitely help us remove some of the "errors" from the trial-and-error process.

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. It took me a while but I finally found a way to make a few bucks online. I do surveys and I was very skeptical at first. But I did my research and there are some legit sites out there. Check out my blog and you can see my check for the month of June that I posted.

    Cash4moms.blogspot.com

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  8. I do a paid for surveys site and I make around $400 a month. It won’t make you rich but it covers my electric and water bill lol.It’s really not hard."Follow Link" to Sign up
    www.freestuffatsurveys.com

    ReplyDelete

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