Monday, March 22, 2010

Making Extra Income

A few days ago, I mentioned that I had a lot going on in my life, and decided to share the details with you.

Spring is in the air, and with it, the thought of spring cleaning. In addition to cleaning my own home, I've been getting calls left and right from women in the community who want temporary cleaning help, or at least until their spring cleaning is complete. So, in addition to trying to get my usual housework done, taking care of my kiddos, and doing my own spring cleaning, I've been working out of the house on average of a few hours a day, scrubbing finger printed walls with a Magic Eraser, cleaning mildew and mold from people's window frames with a popsickle stick and vacuuming those dust filled couches. So yes, I've had a drop less time for writing deep philosophical multi-part musings on the state of the world's materialism and how to combat that. But anyhow...

I'll admit it straight out: I am not satisfied with our current income to expenses ratio. Yes, even though I currently am cutting back  more than anyone else I know (at least in real life), my husband and I have come to the conclusion that we either need to be cutting back our expenditures or increase our income. Since there is only so much that I can cut back on my expenditures (and after all, I'm living an extremely frugal lifestyle already), our best bet really is to try and increase our income (because you can only stretch a certain amount of money so thinly).
I've written before why increasing our income isn't so easy, and why my getting a job out of the home isn't necessarily the solution to our financial issue. However, times are hard right now and I won't say no to some extra income, even if it takes me out of my home for a little bit.

There are quite a few "seasonal" jobs that a stay at home mom can accept without needing to rely on full time child care.
In the fall, you can rake leaves.
In the winter, you can shovel snow.
In the spring, you can do people's spring cleaning.
In the spring and summer, you can mow people's lawns.

Yes, most of these are jobs reserved for "teenagers" or "college students", but seriously, no reason why a grown, married mom can't do these as well! These jobs usually pay pretty decently per hour and have flexible timing as well. Because of these two factors, you can leave your kids for a short while, either with a husband (you can do these jobs during the hours that your husband is home) or with a neighbor (and don't feel bad about "using" your neighbor- you can barter services in exchange for watching the kids). Even if you do need to pay for a babysitter, at least both where I currently live and where I grew up, these odd jobs paid enough per hour to make it financially feasible to work, pay a babysitter, and to still come out with enough extra money to make the effort worthwhile.

Some might consider this type of work to be "beneath them", as this work is only for "lower class" and immigrants and imbeciles. You know what? I may be considered "blue collar" type (or even dingy grey collar), but I am not ashamed to be doing what it takes to support my family. I'm willing to do jobs that take more elbow grease than brain power to be able to supplement my family's income. (Not to mention, if I really felt the need to use my brain, physically laborious jobs give you free time to ponder many of life's important questions, like what to make for supper tonight. Just kidding. But seriously, when cleaning, I find my mind wanders to all sorts of interesting places, giving me time for some serious introspection.)

The other job that I've found is very doable as a stay at home mom, without even needing to go out of the home and change my usual routine is being a drop off babysitter. Give me a ring, tell me you need to run to the doctor, can I please watch your babe for an hour or two. I'll likely say yes. When I'm home anyhow, its not much work to keep an eye on one more kid; I end up making money for minimal extra effort. Drop off babysitting usually pays more; you also have the leeway of saying "Sorry, won't work out today" and be free as a bird.

You might say "Come on, Penny... These are little odds and ends. It can't possibly be worthwhile to make an extra 10 dollars here or there." But its not an extra 10 dollars. This week alone, from my spring cleaning jobs, I've made enough money to cover my average bi-weekly grocery shop. Over the course of a month, that is enough money earned to pay for 2 months worth of groceries. Definitely not pennies; this money adds up and I end up with minimal time expenditure and a decent income supplement.

How to go about making some extra cash this way? Word of mouth is what worked for me. Just spread the word to any and all. Let them know you're available and they'll hopefully come to you. If that doesn't work, knock door to door in the raking, mowing, shoveling seasons. Advertise on online bulletin boards for your community. Etc.

Don't be ashamed! Nothing should be beneath you. Supporting your family is an honorable endeavor. Good luck!

Have you ever taken on odd jobs to supplement your income? Did you find them worthwhile?

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