Guest post from Laura Vanderkam
It’s the first commandment of personal finance: live within your means.
Sometimes that means spending less; but as Crystal has pointed out, there’s a second way to live within your means…
Increase your income.
There are lots of ways moms can earn money, even if you don’t want a regular full-time or part-time job, and even if you’ve been home with your kids for years. I also think there are lots of reasons savvy home economists should try to earn good money. After all, if you’ve learned to live on one income, becoming a two-income family means that anything you can bring in (after taxes and childcare expenses) can go toward big goals!
Unfortunately, because many moms do want to work from home, there are lots of scams out there. Your best bet to make sure you’re working for a reputable business is to start your own business. If becoming an entrepreneur sounds intimidating, just remember that entrepreneurs solve sticky problems in a brilliant fashion. What do moms do…?
So make a list of all the skills you have that someone might pay for. If you’re not sure what might be in demand, head over to sites like Urban Interns, Mom Corps, Elance, and even Craigslist to see what kinds of ads employers and job seekers are posting.
Do you have any of these skills, or could you learn them with some time spent at the library or reading up online?
Some options for at-home jobs include:
- Editing and proofreading
- Website help (development, design, trouble-shooting, virus repair, etc.)
- Social media
- Public relations
- Virtual assistant work
If you’re into creative and artistic work, you might hunt around on Etsy to see what’s selling, or through local artists’ markets.
If you don’t want to work from home all the time, there are plenty of other business concepts with flexible hours and low barriers to entry:
- Party planning (and running)
- Staging yard sales or selling things online for people
- Tutoring (school skills, musical instruments, foreign language, SAT/ACT, etc.)
- Errand running
What would you enjoy?
Choose one skill and focus your efforts on that concept. Hunt around for other people who are doing this. Research what they charge. Pick their brains for advice if they’re up for it. Make a list of why you’re good at this particular skill, such as relevant experience from the past, or any volunteer work you’ve done.
Next, make a portfolio of work. Can you show evidence of this skill by doing a project for a friend, your church, or a non-profit you work with? Get results you can point to: three high schoolers who raised their GPAs thanks to your tutoring; before and after photos of a messy office you organized; a brochure you wrote for a local non-profit that helped increase the number of names in their donor database by 25 percent. You get the idea.
Once you’ve got a portfolio, you’re ready to get out there. Email or call everyone you know and say you’re looking for leads. Mention your results. You may need to be persistent, but soon you’ll land your first paying gig. Do a bang up job on that and you’re on your way.
There’s more to running a business, of course, then just getting started. But you’ll pick up skills as you go. The important thing to remember is that you can do this. Don’t sell yourself short.
You’ve already been doing valuable work for years. Now, you’ll just get paid for it!
Laura Vanderkam is the author of All The Money In The World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting And Spending, out from Portfolio on March 1. She is also the author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. She lives with her husband and three children and blogs at Laura Vanderkam.