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.
The Frugal Free Gal says
I loved what LeighAnn said above by going through rewards sites to shop. I do a lot of my shopping now at Walmart.com with the cash back.
I also became a Scentsy and Team Beachbody consultant to make a little extra income each month. I’m passionate about the Scentsy products because I love them so much and about fitness and eating right, so those work out well for me! It’s nice to try to sell something you love. I couldn’t sell Mary Kay or Avon because I don’t feel I’m passionate about those products.
I have to say I enjoy my “businesses” and the ability to work at home and make money and still be able to raise my two girls here with me!
After my 3rd child went to school in the fall I applied at Aldi’s. I have always loved shopping there and the staff seemed so nice. I had to reapply a few times, but I did get an interview and started in late October. I like working part time at a store that I love. I had been off for the past 10 years being a mom and wanted to get my feet wet in the job sector. I get to see people-adults no less- all day and be a part of families getting great deals. A perfect job for me for now. And the pay is really good 🙂
Laura Vanderkam says
Congrats on your new job! Yes, the days I get to see lots of adults, I’m blown away by how awesome it is… 🙂
If you have any kind of professional or medical background try working PRN or “on demand”. I get to set my own hours and make my own schedule, I usually only work 2 days a month when the kiddo is asleep and Daddy is home. They pay me more per hour since I have no benefits. It’s a great way to earn a couple hundred dollars a month.
I just accepted a weekend RN position. This way, I’ll be home with my 5 year old after school but this summer, will pick up some PRN during the week when my hubby is home.
Such a great idea!
Thrifty Military Mommy says
What wonderful ideas here, thank you so much! I can be pretty bad with selling myself short and thinking that I’m not good enough to market my skills. So thank you for the kind reminder not to do this 🙂
Anybody mention agriculture here? Beekeeping, market gardening, beef farming, CSA, eggs, ect. With public intrest on good, home grown food, women are bringing the small family farm into the spotlight. I grew plants and produce for farmers markets for twenty years. Only a summer income with hard work, but it paid well. I had to have an agriculture permit, file extra taxes and have liability insurance in my state (NY). I gave it up recently but still sell plants from a roadside stand. You don’t need to have a farm. My aunt and uncle live in a suburban area near a large city in KY. On a couple of acres, they grow and sell Christmas trees, peaches, berries, perennials from their garden and seedlings that they start.
Look for a school that holds adult education classes. I have taken classes in finance, basket weaving, cooking, painting, soapmaking, ect. I worked for a local florist and was asked to teach bow making! I laughed about it till I was paid $75 for two hours and had a lot of fun as did the almost 20 women who signed up! A co-worker’s husband is a welder who gets paid more for teaching adult night classes then he does working regular jobs. If you have the knowledge, someone else might pay you for it!
Anyone ever sell their hair? I know it sounds crazy but mine grows like a weed and I just cut about 10-12 inches off every spring…I got the crazy idea the other day and can’t get it out of my head. I just have no experience doing such a thing!
I donated mine to charity.
Evrytime i heard people do that, they have virgin hair that wasnt chemically treated in any way. You can get a lot of money for it.
“Email or call everyone you know and say you’re looking for leads.” This suggestion is what helped my husband find his job three years ago. Instead of calling those you know and saying, “Do you have a job for me?” just ask them if they know anyone you can call about a job. (This eliminates the awkward “Um, no, I can’t help you” position for the person you’re asking, and it exponentially increases your number of contacts.) When you call the suggested people, ask them the same question–“Do you know anyone I can contact about a job?” If they have a job for you, they’ll say so. If they don’t, they’ll most likely have a few more names you can add to your list, and you never get to a dead end.
Laura Vanderkam says
@Diana- great advice. Asking for leads in a way that gives people an opportunity to be helpful even if they can’t personally do anything for you is just smart. People don’t know you’re looking until you ask!
I’ve almost always done a full-time job, in addition to some part-time work. I’ve tutored students in basic skills because the parent was too frustrated to do it. I’ve babysat since I was a teenager. I’ve cleaned homes. I’ve worked at a party store. I sold Avon products. I did proofreading for a local university. I’ve typed. I worked at a business in the evening doing their billing. I’ve done online surveys. I’ve done outside secretarial work with my boss for extra income. I’ve done transcription from home. There are tons of options out there. A lot of these were word of mouth jobs.
Totally agree, Carrie! I have done an a lot of different jobs over the years, and have done my absolute best at all of them and as a result I’ve never had to interview for a job since I graduated high-school. Word of mouth referrals are so valuable!
Corinne Hoyt says
I am a distributor for doTERRA essential oils! I love it because there are no expectations on how much you have to sell or anything. I can just do what I want, whenever I want. Plus, I am getting and using essential oils, which is what I love to do! I teach classes periodically when I have time and it is just fun to inform people about them. I have a blog that I am trying to up my followers (http://happyoiling.blogspot.com). It is nice to get those checks periodically from doTERRA. I am trying to get enough to pay for my oils every month plus some. I feel like using the oils save me money on medicine and we are so much healthier for it!
I write for Examiner.com – here is my referral link http://exm.nr/zJTw6I . I have 4 topics and earn about $100 per month plus I occasionally receive products to review. I’ve reviewed things ranging from Omaha Steaks to lighted shamrock sweater vests! 🙂
In the past I’ve written for demand studios media but there are hardly any assignments available there anymore. I had permissions for Livestrong and eHow Home. There used to be over 100,000 assignments and now there are just 200.
Otherwise, I am a SAHM.
Getting more education/skills is a great way to increase your options for earning more income. There are many ways to pay for further education if you cannot afford it.
Especially, if you don’t have kids yet, take advantage of the time to learn all you can now!
Corrie Sweeney says
I opened a cleaning business. It is a pain to get licensing, insurance, taxes, ect, but the pay is good and I make my own schedule ect. I also sell Scentsy, and scour thrift stores for items to resell. Working all these little jobs helps me from having to get a full time job, get daycare ect. I used to run a daycare while my kids were home too. There are lots of jobs out there you don’t need special skills for.
Angi @ schneiderpeeps says
I’ve always thought a good business to start would be professional bathroom cleaning. I’m amazed at the number of stores, often nice stores, that have horrible bathrooms. Our local Target has the cleanest bathrooms in town. We’ll often rearrange our errands if someone needs to go to the bathroom. I thought all Targets would have the same standard but then went to one in a larger city and it was not of the same standard. It certainly wouldn’t be the most pleasant job but I could see it growing enough to eventually hire out the actual work.
I was at my local Target today and when I went to the restroom, I thought “this bathroom always smells so good. I wonder what it is” LOL
I much prefer Target bathrooms over the Wal-Mart next door!
Try direct selling companies! Like, Pampered Chef, Thirty-One and such. If you go to http://www.directselling411.com/forms/CompanyFormPublicMembers/ It will give a list (customized by what you’re interested in) of all the direct selling companies. There’s a TON you’ve never heard of! I’m joining a company that only has a couple consultants in the state, so there’s plenty of opportunity to grow!
I mist started teaching provate swim lessons to the community. I’ve taught some classes for the local YMCA and taught my friends kids, but an expanding. I had to purchase personal liability insurance and I am getting childcare for one day a week, so there are expenses, but even in my first week of advertising I am seeing spots fill up with students!
Oksana@I Love Savings! says
Another possible source of income is tutoring. If you speak a foreign language or if you are good at a certain subject, you might be able to tutor students on the basic level. One of my majors in college was French and right after I graduated I made money tutoring high school students and college students. I also speak Russian and provided conversation practice as a way to learn.
Angi @ schneiderpeeps says
This is a good idea. Our homeschool co-op is currently looking for a spanish lab teacher. The students are using Rosetta Stone and and for level 1 we had a mom who was able to do a lab with them, but level 2 was out of her comfort zone. I’m sure other co-ops have similar needs.
Laura Vanderkam says
That’s a market I hadn’t even thought of, but it makes perfect sense. I could imagine other homeschool co-ops needing subjects besides language too. Computer programming, specialized science, etc.
We’ve been working on upping our income over the last little while and have several sort of ‘side gigs’. I’ve posted about some of them here: http://preservingpennies.com/category/earning-extra-money/
Carlye Rankin says
I babysit another girl a couple months older than my daughter for a close friend. This has given us a small extra income. I also have been selling Tastefully Simple for the last two years. I can make my own schedule and determine how much money I would like to make. Also, it gets me out of the house for a few hours – I like spending time with adults. 😀
Thank you for these ideas. I’ve written an e-book, but have only sold a handful in the 18 months I’ve had it for sale. Rather disheartening, especially because I thought it was a cute book. 🙁 I need to find another route to make money, so these ideas are helpful.
Laura Vanderkam says
@Gina – that is disappointing, but the good thing about ebooks is you can try different versions and different topics without shelling out all the production costs involved in printing books. Sometimes you just need a different angle or topic. I once wrote a post that was going to be called “Use your mornings well” but at the last minute I retitled it “What the most successful people do before breakfast.” With that title it got 250,000+ reads. With the first, I would have been lucky to get 250. Keep experimenting!
The Prudent Pantry says
I’m a huge fan of Laura’s work and agree that scrimping and saving will only get you so far. At some point, it may make sense to try to increase your income.
I loved “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think”. It really changed the way use my hours. You can read my review here:
I just ordered “All the Money in the World” and can’t wait to read it.
Laura Vanderkam says
@Prudent Pantry- thanks so much, I’m glad you like my books! And I really appreciate your ordering the new one 🙂
I’m curious what you mean by including musical instruments under Tutoring. As a music teacher I am very disturbed by the notion that anyone who plays an instrument is qualified to teach lessons. Music is one of those fields where a degree is meaningless but the extensive study and acquisition of skill is extremely important. I have spent many, many years of life dedicated to the study of my instrument as well as teaching it and I find it very frustrating to see my skills so devalued. It’s hard enough for those of us in the arts to get respect as professionals without people thinking what we do can be duplicated by anyone who was in their high school orchestra ten years ago.
There is nothing wrong with teaching a musical instrument if you know how to play it. As long as you are upfront with the student/student’s parents about your experience, what is the big deal, really? I would say the more experienced/educated musical instructors will charge more and the less experienced charge less. There is a market for both! This is with the caveat that I have zero musical talent or experience, but as a parent it doesn’t matter as long as I know that person’s experience and what I’m paying for.
Part of my problem is the attitude with which people approach the arts. Basically, by hiring someone without proper training or experience to teach your child you are saying the arts don’t matter. And it’s not in the best interest of the student. As someone who spent years trying to fix technical problems caused by poor early training I truly believe you are not doing your child any favors by providing them substandard education in any area. And yes, I’m aware there are terrible teachers who do have official qualifications.
I’m not trying to sound elitist (because that is another HUGE pet peeve of mine in the music world) and I’d like to clarify that I teach for an organization whose tuition rate is on the low side of average and offers financial aid to those who need it. I don’t expect my students to pursue music as a career and when I’ve had those with those goals I send them to higher profile teachers once they reach a certain level. Our society’s general attitude and approach to the arts is tragic and we’re seeing some dire consequences to it in the educational system. Most people don’t understand the kind of expertise and skill the arts require and it is bleeding over into other areas of education and society as a whole. It’s also part of the attitude that has lead to the movement in corporate America of getting rid of the craftsman mentality. I personally find that very disturbing as to what it says about where we’re headed.
BethB, I have a question for you….
I’ve played the piano for the vast majority of my life. I started when I was in 3rd grade and took lessons through college. I wouldn’t say that I’m naturally talented at it, but worked quite hard and became pretty good. It was never something I intended to “do” with my life (I was a chemistry major in college and worked in the science field after graduation) but it was something I loved to do in my down time.
After our daughter was born we bought a piano (we’d gotten rid of another piano during a move) because I wanted her to grow up with a piano in a house from a very early age.
So (finally!), here’s my question…. My daughter is 4 and is starting to show some interest in actually learning how to play the piano. My plan was just to work with her myself for a few years until she was a bit older/school age. Is that a good idea? I’ve been told by numerous instructors that I’m technically rather good (sight-reading is my big downfall, but I can certainly sight read beginner songs!) I certainly don’t want to instill any bad habits into her, but also feel that working with me may be less intimidating for my 4 year old than going to someone else for lessons.
I think it depends on many factors. I’m a cellist so I have no idea how much piano might be different.
Young kids are a whole different ball game. I don’t teach anyone younger than 9 y/o for several reasons. The first is I don’t have Suzuki training which I think is imperative to teach a string instrument to a child younger than 6 y/o. Secondly, I’m terrible with the little ones. 🙂 I’m not creative in the right way or patient enough. There’s a huge change that happens around age 9 and I have not had great experience teaching kids younger. However, that’s mostly my personality. I’m best with middle schoolers (which I know says something really scary about me. Ha ha.) My 5 y/o son plays cello and I pay someone else to teach him for these reasons. Even so, our practice sessions can be rough.
In my experience I’ve seen only a few people who have been succesful teaching their own children. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. You might be great with small kids. It seems like there are two problems for the people I’ve known who attempted to teach their kids. The first is the obvious emotional baggage of your Mom (or Dad) telling you what to do. The second is lack of structure around the lesson and practice schedule in the household. Clearly those aren’t issues for everyone based on the vast number of families who successfully homeschool. They would be problems in my house but that doesn’t mean you’re the same way.
I know this is an extremely unhelpful answer. You might be great with your daughter or it might be a disaster. 🙂 What you might want to do is see if there are any inexpensive piano teacher workshops in your area. Or any books about teaching small kids. For strings players the books written by Suzuki (not the method books) are great. You could also just get your hands on some method books geared towards younger kids (I’m sure they exist!) and see how it goes. The biggest challenge might be determining which technical aspects need to be mastered immediately and which can develop over time. I still struggle with that!
I hope that helps.
My two cents is that learning how to read music and understand music at an early age is great! Personally I had to have a lot of technique fixed when I got older and switched piano teachers. I was thinking of making music a career (not piano playing, but percussion.) BUT, if your child is playing for enjoyment and not for a career, that kind of thing is more of a teachers’ preference, I think. Keep in mind though, that it’s really hard to un-learn improper technique.
Liz, I have a music ed degree and taught piano for 2 years before my son was born. I don’t have as much experience as others probably do, but I did teach several young beginners. For kids under age 6 or 7 I really like My First Piano Adventure by Nancy and Randall Faber. There are three books in the series, and each level has a Lesson Book and a Writing Book. Since you sound like a competent pianist, you’d have no trouble using these books to help introduce your daughter to the piano.
As a teacher, the biggest thing I had to correct with students who came from other teachers was rhythm-reading skills. Most students pretty much ignored the rhythms–if they got the right notes, they were happy. As you know, there’s more to music than note-reading! 🙂 So I’d definitely try to help establish the concept of a steady beat with your daughter from day one. Any future teachers she has will thank you 🙂
Also, I agree with BethB that teaching your own kids is much easier said than done. I tried to teach piano to my little brother and it was very difficult to keep the “scheduled” lesson time. I can only imagine that it would be harder as a mother who also has housekeeping to keep up with. But if you can make a plan and stick with it, you might be very successful!
Given your experience with piano, give it a shot! If it doesn’t go well, no one says you have to keep doing it the same way. And it would give you a chance to see if piano is something your daughter is truly interested in. If so, it would be worth it to find a teacher she works well with.
Hope that helps–sorry it was long! 🙂
Sarah T. says
I have 2 cents too! 🙂 I taught group piano lessons for K-1 students before they took private lessons in 2nd grade. The kids I had in 2nd grade who took 2 yrs of group lessons weren’t much more advanced than those who started that year. And by the end of the year, there was no difference whatsoever. And also, quite honestly, those who start in 3rd or 4th grade catch up quickly. So if you’re trying to give them an early start, it might be more frustration than it’s worth, and you might as well save your tuition payments for a few years down the road where they’ll go farther, so to speak.
That being said, if you’re interested in music education lessons for younger students, I’d recommend a program such as Kindermusik, which will give a good foundation for any instrument your child might pursue later. Since it’s taught in a group setting, it’s cheaper per session as well.
I can only speak from my own experience, but I took piano lessons during my childhood from 2 different women, both of whom were very talented pianists but neither of whom had any formal training or education in teaching piano. Both experiences were quite different……one teacher was horrible and made us hate our lessons (in fact my very talented younger brother was completely turned off to a gift he had as a young child with piano)……the other teacher was wonderful. I think it depends on so much more than talent and training. Some people are meant to teach and will succeed at it whether or not they have formal training in educating others……at the opposite extreme, other people with extensive training in educating others and extreme talent are lousy teachers no matter how hard they try. It’s like that in my field too (science).
Yes, I completely agree! That’s why I tried to stress skill rather than formal training. Maybe I wasn’t successful.
I have an elementary education degree and a music minor and have taught piano lessons for 12 years now. The Faber method is great and I have used that series exclusively. I think if you have a basic knowledge in the primer level you can teach but after that, you might want to hire someone. I was messed up for years with someone who didn’t catch on that I could play by ear. I ended up learning the hard way to read notes and a simple correction in teachers would have solved that. Now when I have students who play by ear I teach differently to them and also encourage that aspect. I want my students to love music so they always have pieces that are fun and familiar that are based on their interests.
..then that would be something to point out in your portfolio, right? …that you are a trained professional with skills and experience that make you more prestigious, effective, etc. than just anyone…
I feel the same way about the writing and editing suggestions. With journalism degrees and many years of experience in corporate, news, and education settings, I can’t justify bidding out my services against people who don’t have the same set of skills and are willing to work for next to nothing.
I know that some buyers on the bidding sites will pay for experience and others just want the low bid, but the proliferation of inexperienced “writers” hurts those of us who actually want to make a living doing it.
I have to confess I recently fell into this kind of arrogance with regard to writing. Reading so many blogs I would always think, “I could do that!”. I’m actually looking to get out of music, at least the teaching aspect, and had considered blogging. When I was younger writing was one of my passions and my professors in college were always very complementary. So writing a blog would be no problem, right? Uh, no. I spent a few weeks sitting down trying to write and quickly discovered how undeveloped my skills are. Especially compared to the bloggers like Crystal or Megan Francis. Since the idea of working on my writing the way I would need to isn’t all that appealing to me I’ve abandoned the blogging thing. And I came away with a whole new respect for writers!
You’d think I would have known better!
Laura Vanderkam says
@BethB – yes, writing is a skill, but it’s like running. Some people do it better than others, but anyone can get better. Blogging is good for making people into better writers, in that you have to do a lot of it, and do it quickly. And you see what people respond to, and that helps you get better at arguing your points.
Laura Vanderkam says
@Cherie – If you’ve got years of journalism experience, you wouldn’t need to go to bid sites. You can just email your contacts at various places you’ve worked and where your former editors have landed (the business is such a revolving door) and say you’re looking for assignments and ask if they’ll share your portfolio with other editors they know. Major magazines, newspapers and online sites still pay reasonable rates.
I found the same thing – I do have significant professional experience with writing and grammar, so I figured going to some of the freelance-bidding websites would be worth it, right?
Wrong. First off, the sites are absolutely flooded with people saying “I can totally write, I’m published and everything!” Someone looking to hire a freelancer doesn’t have a way to verify the claims of “published” unless they invest a significant amount of time – which would be an unreasonable thing to do when vetting 3000 candidates. Also, since there are so many “writers” on there, and there’s no good way to sort for *actual* quality instead of advertised quality, clients just search by price instead. I did quite a bit of research to figure out what a fair rate for my work would be – and many “writers” on the site are advertising for less than half of that, significantly below minimum wage.
The other problem was the potential clients. For every one legitimate writing job out there, there were three more saying “Write for our website and create content spam for us!” (unethical and no quality control whatsoever) or “I’ve got an idea for a book; I want someone to write and edit it for me and then we can split the proceeds when I get rich.” No thanks. The few potential “real” clients I did get ended up fizzling out after I provided them a (small amount of) customer-directed writing, which means they probably do this all the time and get all their writing done as “samples” for free.
I’m not saying you can’t freelance, but the market is extremely tough and your best bet is the same as it is in other industries – networking, finding a job through your personal contacts, and doing a good enough job that they want to keep re-hiring you.
Oh, forgot to mention – each site takes a few hours to get your profile set up professionally – taking “tests” to prove your ability (most of them were a joke), writing your bio, filling out forms, etc. Only after you go through all the rigamarole do you find that the site is defunct, full of spammers, completely useless, etc. It’s really not worth the time to go through it all unless you have some really specialized skills and have a good way to prove you’re worth the money.
Melissa Friend says
Do you know anyone that has worked for Elance and/or MomCorps? I’m interested in applying, but always leary of these types of things. Thanks in advance for your help
It’s very important to research local/state laws and ordinances before investing in a work-at-home business. Things vary (a lot) from state to state. Consider things from all angles to get a good feel for start-up costs including registration, tax structure/reporting for businesses and materials (office supplies, inventory, etc).
Some communities have strange regulations about at-home businesses; even simple things like making crafts to sell can be prohibited without insurance and special licensing. You might also need a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover business use of your home (and additional business insurance to cover your inventory/business equipment).
Laura Vanderkam says
@Andrea- very true, which is why it’s always good to talk to other people in whatever business you’re contemplating to see if there are pitfalls you need to avoid. Baking from home, for instance, is generally out. And, of course, if you get big enough to have employees there are a whole host of labor laws you’ll deal with. But you will figure out the details, and if you see other people are doing that line of work successfully, there’s often a good chance you’ll be able to as well. Yes, they’ll eventually be competitors, but their existence signals a market.
Go through rewards websites like ebates and shopathome.
My cash back check from shop at home for February is going to be over $100 because when I need to make a purchase, I go through Shop At Home first. When we need something for home repairs, like a new flusher thing for inside the toilet, I find it online at Lowe’s, go through shop at home and get cash back on the purchase. I always try to do my new item purchases online with free in store pickup from Lowe’s, Sears, J C Penney, Wal Mart, etc. so I can get that cash back. It’s one way of stretching your income. If you’re going to have to get that tool, why not get a little cash back on it? (that’s assuming you can’t go through Craigslist and get something used, of course!)