Thursday, August 18, 2011

But What Can We Do?

I have heard my friends ask this question over and over: What can I do to make some extra cash since I am a stay-at-home parent?
Simply Google this question, and you will find several thousand companies asking you for money for the answer. There are weekend retreats that may charge thousands to 'answer' this question for you. And of course there are books galore to give you new ideas.

But I'm going to give you some suggestions--yes, right here--for free. It's my good deed of the day. :)

1. Secret shopping. No joke. You can earn some decent money doing this. Plus, you get to bring your kids on many of the jobs! If you have never heard of secret shopping before, it is the way many retailers and restaurants check up on their employees. They hire everyday, average people to pose as a customer, and have a task to be performed (such as, purchase one item, then return it or dine during dinner hours and evaluate your server's performance). You can be reimbursed for your fees, plus are paid for your work.

The How: visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association
click on your continent
click on the green 'available jobs' link.
This link will retrieve all of the open jobs for many companies. All of these companies are legitimate. This is where I find the names of the companies I want to work for. I search online for the company, register with them (usually requires some writing examples) and then they should send an e-mail with registration information.

Keep in mind that many companies only have a few open jobs each month, so you will need quite an arsenal of companies that you are registered with to keep busy.

Each company has their own particularities--one I work for requires I use cash for all purchases (bleh). And they take about a month and a half to reimburse and pay me (blarb) for the completed work.

Ooh! And it is also important to note that several major companies list their reimbursement at an extremely LOW price at the beginning of the month, but it will be increased toward the end of the month! Sometimes I don't even begin to look for work with these companies until the 20th or later.

2. Begin a dinner-4-hire business.
I used to babysit many children (okay, so I ran a daycare). Somehow amidst the chaos and feeding schedules I managed to cook a healthy dinner for my family. The parents would ooh and ahhh over the food as they picked up their little ones. So I worked out a deal. I would double or triple my recipe on the day I watched their children. They would reimburse me for ingredients and donate for labor. And they would get a home-cooked, made-with-love meal that was ready immediately. Win, win, right?

3. Direct Sales- I am and have been a consultant for Mary Kay for several years. And yes, there is potential for making some very good money! I should warn you though, that you may have to pimp out your friends and family for a short time in the beginning to round up friends for makeover parties and skincare classes...whom will then introduce you to their friends...whom will then introduce you to their friends. And then by that point they're really like strangers and it doesn't feel so dirty.

Pros of the business: Flexibility! You really can make your own hours. Place customer calls during naptimes, calculate sales after bedtime, drop off samples and orders after the park or with kids in the car. It really is do-able. The one thing is that, in the beginning, you will definitely need some sitters or you'll have to rely on spouse/family for childcare during parties, where you are assisting and demonstrating products. BUT that is also a 'pro' for the job--Alone time!

4. Eldercare. I would have not considered it, had it not been family. But if you could see the joy that having children around brings to my grandmothers.... It can be difficult say, if your children are the type that bounce off walls 24/7 or run toward any crevice in the walls or doors of any kind (doggie doors included) to break free in any given moment.

Awww, isn't she a cutie(My friend's girl, Little "B" as a baby escapee) ?!!

Eldercare involves bathroom help. So there are definitely moments in which I am not able to have my eyes on my youngest (thank you, oh thank you, super responsible eldest!!). And thank goodness for port-a-cribs and baby gates!

Some elderly persons are still able to leave the house, which makes park visits and trips out for errands a fun treat for anyone not having the luxury of sharing these moments with they younger type.

I am sugar-coating this a bit, but you can imagine the hairy moments (i.e. the other day when Grandma began disciplining my 5 year-old for jumping around the room or when Grandma couldn't take the noise that children produce during play). But overall, this has been a valuable addition to our family as well as our income.

All of these ideas fit certain criteria I require for income while raising children at-home:
A) There are no volume (noise) requirements, for the most part (God forbid I must be required to converse professionally on the phone while the wild beasts roam the house).
B) I can operate while sporting a drink-spilt (is that really a word?) or crumb-laden wardrobe. Rule #1 of parenting--that which is white shall not remain white for long.
C) Flexibility! Gosh, who can plan around little ones' naps (parents of young infants--I am not talking to you. Just wait 'til the 2s. ;) ?!

I am sure that there are so very many other jobs that we parents pick up here and there that help us on our way to financial survival! If you have ideas of your own, please e-mail them to me, and I may just create a feature post around your idea!