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Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: Starting with Small Things (Part 2)


Last week, I left you hanging in the Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom series at the point where I’d just found out I was pregnant. Let’s pick up from there…

Those two pink lines changed my life forever. Not only because they meant I was going to be a mom, but they also were the impetus for me to become a work-at-home mom.

It’s easy to say that becoming a mom also propelled me to become a work-at-home mom, but believe me, it wasn’t anywhere easy. In fact, I had no idea just how hard it was going to be.

I was sick from week five to week twenty-one in my pregnancy. I never had to be hospitalized for dehydration, but there were days when I could barely get out of bed because I was so nauseated. I wanted to be a mom more than just about anything in the world, but I had no idea how miserable morning sickness was going to be!

Needless to say, my jobs as a mother’s helper were abruptly ended. And therefore, our income was drastically reduced as well. When I was working four days a week as a mother’s helper, we were scraping by, without that income, it seemed impossible we could ever pay all of our bills.

I remember how helpless I felt so many times during those long weeks of my early pregnancy. I knew there had to be something I could do to earn an income from our little basement apartment, but what? I wracked my brain for days and weeks on end. I prayed, I worried, I cried, and I prayed some more.

As thankful as I was to be pregnant, I couldn’t help but also wonder and fret over how we were going to eat and have a roof over our heads. And I couldn’t even begin to try and figure out how we would pay for the extra expenses of having a baby, too. How would we survive for two more years of law school?

At that point, I had no idea. But I did know one thing: God was watching over us. He had called us to step out in faith and get married, move to Topeka, KS, and God had clearly opened up the doors for Jesse to go to law school. I also knew that God had given us this precious baby and He was going to take care of us.

And you know what? He never failed us or forsook us.

Oh yes! I worried many times when it seemed there was no way we were going to be able to pay all of the basic bills for the month. But somehow, someway, every necessary bill always got paid.

God called us not only to step out in faith and trust Him, but we also knew it was our responsibility to do everything we could to be wise stewards of the gifts, time, talents, and resources He had given us.

Since the beginning of our marriage, Jesse and I spent long hours talking about and tossing around ideas of possibly starting our own business. When we found out we were expecting, we knew that it was time to act on these ideas.

But where to start? Jesse was gone long hours at school and I was stuck in bed or on the couch much of the day feeling very sick.

I decided if I were going to be sick all day, it wasn’t going to make things any worse if I tried to use that time to learn what I could about possible ways to earn money online.

So I took the laptop and dug in where I was at. I spent countless hours scouring the internet, I signed up for Yahoo! Groups on entrepreneurialism and small businesses, I emailed anyone and everyone who had any clue about anything when it came to internet businesses or running your own business, and I read stacks of books on starting a small business and online marketing from the library.

Little by little, I came up with different ideas. I began with small things–mostly things I could do straight from the couch! Here are just a few of the things I tried during those long weeks of morning sickness that produced at least some positive results:–I listed and sold a number of books we were no longer needing or using (especially Jesse’s old textbooks) through this website and ended up making at least $1500 over the course of a few years. I tried my hand at buying used books at the thrift store and reselling these but I never had much success with that.

If you’re interested in reselling books, I’d recommend that you start by looking around your home and finding books you no longer need or use and see what the going rate is on I’d suggest check out, too, as they will pay you immediately whereas on, you have to wait for a buyer to purchase from you.

If Cash4Books is going to pay you somewhat similar to the going rate on, definitely go with Cash4Books as you won’t have to sit around waiting for a buyer. Instead, you’ll get the payment immediately.

There’s a great article here on reselling books which gives some more detailed advice if this is something you’re interested in. Some folks actually make a living doing this full-time. I’ve heard the market is more saturated than it used to be, but it’s still something to consider–especially if you have some decent books around your home you’d like to part with!

Online Surveys–I had no idea what I was doing when I signed up for online survey companies and I quickly found out that most of them are much more work than they are worth. However, I definitely don’t think they all should be discounted.

You can go here to see my favorite paid online survey sites!

I was encouraged to see money start trickling in from these things. It wasn’t enough to pay our bills, but it was something–and something is better than nothing, right?

As I started feeling better and I researched more ideas, I got braver and branched out to try other things. Most of these things flopped royally, but I learned a great deal in the process. I’ll tell you more about these in Part 3.

…To be continued

If you haven’t taken a chance to read through the comments on Part 1 of this series, be sure to do so here. There are dozens of great business ideas and tidbits of wisdom shared there!

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  • Pam says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a long time and I just want to say a special thanks for this series. I’m pretty sure I’m a referral of yours on almost all of the sites! Of course, I didn’t know at the time the benefits for you ;). Since following your blog for several years, I started a few blogs and web sites related to anything from my favorite hobby (Genealogy) to online earning and more. I learned about “CVSing” and coupons and freebies. I can’t tell you how much that has helped me. Now, my kids are grown. My youngest of 4 is 18 and started college and I find myself single… So, I’m gearing up again with a new passion and your motivational how to articles came at JUST the right time. Thank you again.

  • Beth Berry says:

    I am a work at home mom and I love it. I actually work in a traditional full time job (40+ hours per week) making 6 figures. I used to do the same job in an office and moving to doing this from home has GREATLY changed the quality of our family life. There are jobs out there that can let you work from home so go out and look for them or approach your boss about the possibility… I am much more efficient than I was when I worked in an office.

  • Jordyn says:

    I’m thoroughly enjoying reading your story. It’s amazing what God can do!

  • Ellen says:

    Thanks for the info – can’t wait to see your next installment. We’re (my daughter & myself) trying to figure things out too – more in the craft realm. Question: With & the other site that you mentioned, do you package up & send the books to them? Who pays for shipping & packaging? Is like ebay where you package up & send out the books when a customer buys said book?

  • Ellen says:

    Well…I should have actually gone to the sites you mentioned BEFORE commenting…I would have answered some of my own questions. We have tons of homeschool books that I no longer need.

  • Lots of awesome ideas! We have done the paid surveys since 2000, and the longer you stick with them, the more it pays off. If anyone is interested, we have a list of legitimate companies we use (and have been paid by) here:

  • Katie R says:

    It is an incredible encouragement to know that God never leaves us when we’re struggling. My husband’s income stopped coming in (works for ministries who don’t always have proper funding) and we’re both working to come up with solutions to bring in some extra income. We don’t have kids yet but knowing they may be here within the next few years is motivating us to plan ahead and save up as much as possible. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • D says:

    Just to let you know that I just came across a banner for pinecone research. They are looking for people age 19- 24. Here is the sign up page:

    Thanks for all you do posting deals! I love your blog!

  • Lora says:

    Thank you for this very informative series. I greatly appreciate all of the helpful information.

    I’m wondering if you will be approving any additional comments on Part 1 that came in past Oct. 20.

  • Melissa says:

    I am so thankful you are doing this series of posts. I have a 3 month old and just quit my full-time job which was half of our income. We have cut every corner we can come up with and we are praying and trusting God to provide for us, but it’s going to definitely require me finding some creative income I can earn from home.

  • Kristen Bedell says:

    Thanks for all this great info! I am a stay at home mom of two and would love to earn some extra income to slowly pay of our debt! Can’t wait for the next installment

  • Arissara says:

    I just start work at very easy money just click through very link the point will show and can redeem by cash every 3 month if any one want to start work please use my code here ahm837905 to sigh up i will get credit.

    I’m waiting for part 3 please hurry!

    Thank you,

  • Amanda says:

    I work outside of our home, actually as the breadwinner of our family. It has been a struggle, especially as my husband was going to school while I we had 2 boys under the age of 2! Although our family situations are different, I wanted to tell you what an inspiration your faith has been to me. There are times that I wonder how we will make it – but here we are now, my boys are 4 & 5 (discount in the child care-woo hoo) and we’ve made it this far. The Lord has provided each and every time. I don’t get to follow you as often as I used to but your site is still on my toolbar and I pop in to find some good deals (and freebies) when I can:)

    He has called me to go back to school so I can work with troubled children. It will probably be a cut in pay for a while but I am not worried. When we follow and trust in God, he always provides!

    Thank you for being the hardworking, faith driven person that you are! May God continue to bless you and your family!

  • I love this series you’ve started! And I can’t wait for next week.

    ~ Jennifer

  • Kari says:

    You are so inspiring! Thank you for taking time sharing your stories! I enjoy reading them and I always leave your blog with a smile!

  • Madeline says:

    You are so speaking my language today. I am a lawyer and dream of quiting to stay home with my daughter. I look forward to hearing more about your journey! I have gone through exactly what you discussed – I signed up for every survey site out there at one point and have narrowed it down to just a few.

    BTW, I also love MyPoints. I get a $25 gift card there at least once every couple months. Love it!

  • Sara says:

    I have a question. I’ve been doing the Pinecone Research and am thinking about signing up for another survey place. I’m wondering if you have to pay taxes on what you earn? Anyone know?

  • Patty says:

    Great post and so encouraging. Thanks. Also brings back the days where I was pregnant and sick as a dog at work. I wasn’t telling anyone I was pregnant for a while, but everyone knew since I was in the bathroom so much – oh how I would have loved my couch those 15 weeks, but was saving up time for an extended maternity leave. Wish I knew more about earning income like this a few years ago!

  • Crystal,

    Thank you so much for the mention. One of the others I recently have been working with has been

    I just received an $11 payment from them this week for two surveys I took. So, the payout was quite good. And, they send screeners quite often. I get them at least every day or every other.

    I have been very impressed with this company, especially since I had been taking surveys for years but had never used them before. It might be a fun one for newbies to start with when learning the survey ropes.

  • Becky says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I love your blog and am so thankful to you for it. By the way did you husband go to Washburn Law School? My husband was a student there from 02-05…

  • Courtney says:

    Thanks so much for the info on Cash4Books! I just rounded up some books that we would be willing to part with and found out they are worth $30. Cool!

    Does anyone know of any reliable sites that buy used CD’s, DVD’s or video games?

    Also wanted to mention that three survey companies I’ve had good luck with are Lightspeed Panel, Ipsos I-say and HCD Research.

  • Annie Korzen says:

    We are in show biz, which means we’re often out of work. My husband has a thriving business selling fine books on the Internet that he picks up at yard sales and thrift stores. He lists them on Exlibris and Abebooks. He does best with obscure non-fiction. I myself sell vintage and contemporary fashion on Ebay and to resale shops. I, too, find these treasures at garage sales and thrift stores.

  • Tonya Eberly says:

    Love your post. You mentioned reading a lot of books on different money making ideas. Are there any in particular that you recommend reading?

  • Heather says:

    Hi Crystal! I’m so curious – how did you pay for the prenatal care and the hospital stay when your baby was born? My husband and I are both graduate students and we are looking forward to having children. But without health insurance, it seems financially impossible.

    Money Saving Mom here: I actually used a free-standing birth center and our student insurance covered the bulk of the costs. We ended up paying less than $800 out of pocket and God provided for that through a generous and unexpected gift from someone.

  • Amy says:

    Thanks for the great post!
    I tried cash for books today and see I can make about $7… and since it only took me the time to read your post and click a few things… I will easily take the $7 for 15 minutes of work!
    I also love Mypoints, and have been doing it for over 6 years… I have managed to get a lot of gift cards, which come in handy for the holidays and teacher gifts!
    You do an awesome job!

  • Stephanie says:

    In response to Courtney’s question about trading in, I’ve had good luck with:

    You can trade in video games for Amazon credit. They also have a DVD/Blueray trade in

    You can trade in video games for SB credit

  • Laura says:

    I love this series and am eager to read more! I have a 5 month old and am working full time… hoping to quit as soon as possible! We are working hard to learn ways to save money and your site is my #1 Resource! Thank you for all the guidance you give! I can’t wait until Part Three!

  • Janeen says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have failed miserably so many times at “money making” ventures from home. I have a degree in Engineering and it can be so difficult to stay home, especially when we find out my husband’s car may need a $600 repair (new car time) and it just feels like we can never get ahead of “just making it.” It brought tears to my eyes and a prayer of thanks to God to read that you felt the same way. We are by no means poor, so it was good for me to remember how blessed I am and that God will always take care of us.

  • I have not had any luck with Cash 4 books yet. They don’t accept most titles I enter. I one title it took was for 4.00. I can sell it for 15.00 on Amazon. Though they do take a small percentage out and I have to get a buyer…

    When I have time to go book shopping, we make about $100 profit a month on Amazon. If I had a cellphone with internet access to look up ISBN numbers at garage sales, I’d be rich (:

    We were hooked after buying our first book for $1 and selling it for over $200. It was such a fluke (:

    I’ve been thinking about doing a post about Amazon soon…

    I just LOVE the story of how your blog started. We can so relate as my husband is in school too and I we have kids!

  • Thank you for this series! I’m trapped in a cubicle for the time being but hope to escape soon. Your example is an inspiration to me!

    I’ve had great success with MySurvey (also called National Family Opinion):

  • Marie says:

    You’re amazing. Do you know how many people would have signed up for loans so they could continue with a comfortable lifestyle, thinking “oh we’ll have a lawyer income. We’ll be fine” only to be drowning in debt later on.

  • Roxanne says:

    To the poster who asked if you must pay taxes on money earned from surveys, etc, the answer is yes!!

    Any earned income must be reported on your annual tax return.

    I’ve honestly been secretly hoping Crystal would make mention of integrity and honesty in one of her posts in this series. Too many people who work from home do not report their income to the IRS (or other government agencies like WIC).

  • Misty says:


    Another site where you can sell Cds, DVDs and video games is

    I have sold things to them before and I have never had any issues at all receiving payments.

    For books, you can also try using as a reference. It searches several different sites at once and tells you which sites are accepting your book. It also includes user reviews for the different sites.

  • Heather says:

    Thank you so much for doing this! You are a warrior for stay at home moms. – Heather

  • Lora says:

    Courtney, On the site that Crystal refers to above for selling books you can also sell CDs, DVDs, and video games. I’ve had good luck selling books and CDs there. With CDs being very light in weight you usually make a bit of profit from the postage allowance. On the other hand, the postage allowance sometimes doesn’t cover all of the postage expense for heavy textbooks, and you should to consider that when you set the price. Postage varies depending on how far away the buyer is, but there is a set postage allowance per book or CD sold that you will receive from

  • Debbie says:

    Okay, I have a quick question. I’ve been doing surveys thru Quick Rewards and Sunshine Rewards, but you are right when you say that surveys take a long time to do and don’t pay that much.

    However, my question is this–when you do surveys thru reward sites, they only pay about $1/each (at the most normally). If you sign up with reward companies, do they pay more and do you make more if you can qualify for them?

  • Tiffany says:

    I also enjoy working with Pinceone Research. I always send those $3 checks to our emergency fund. I think over the past 2 years I’ve made $70 or $80 bucks with them, and the surveys are always brief. Every little bit helps!

  • Wendy says:

    It’s amazing how true it is that when God closes one door He opens another!

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