This post contains referral links.
Back when my kids were little (three under three!), I focused on saving money any way we could. But as they grew, I combined saving money with earning money from home to increase the amount we could put towards our debt. This reached its height from 2011-2013 when we were aggressively paying off that debt. Now I'm down to these 7 Ways I'm Earning Money from Home. If I had to guess, I'd say I “work” about 20-25 hours per week during the school year doing these tasks, though in reality I have busy times and slow times each month. For that effort, I'm bringing in what equates to a part-time salary, which we now put towards retirement savings, my kids' extracurricular activities, and family travel.
7 Ways I'm Earning Money From Home
I've been a member of Swagbucks since 2009, I did a little experiment last year to see what I could earn personally without getting referrals as a blogger. since I wanted to show that anyone can use this program to earn extra income. I spend a few minutes a day doing some clicking to earn Swagbucks, and I redeem them exclusively for Amazon gift cards. In 2015, I earned $305 in Amazon gift cards, which freed up that money in our budget for other goals. My husband teases me for spending that time on the computer, but when I showed him that I've earned over $4,700 since I joined in 2009, he stopped.
The other online site I use regularly is Ebates, a portal that you use when shopping online. Even though I'm not a frequent online shopper, and everything I buy is on clearance and with coupons, I still earned $189 from Ebates in 2015. Each time you shop online, you go through Ebates to get coupon codes for your purchase plus cash back on your order, which you get via Paypal. You'd be surprised how those little bits add up! The real money comes from referrals–each quarter they offer bonuses, like the one right now where you get a $50 bonus for referring two new members.
I clear out unused household items and outgrown clothes and games as soon as we don't need them. I post pics and prices on our neighborhood's Facebook yard sale page, and most things are gone in a day or two. It's great! If you don't have a group specific to your neighborhood, look for one in your town. This has worked so much better for me than Craigslist; buyers are reliable and quick to pick up. Even by just posting 3-5 items a week, I can bring in $10-20 a week.
Cash Back from AmEx
We started with an American Express card back in 2003 specifically because you're supposed to pay it off each month, and we use that to our advantage. We charge everything we can to it, pay it off fully each month, and earn 2-5% cash back on groceries and gas. We also get occasional bonus cash back for certain purchases (like $5 back when you spend $25 at a certain gas station that month). In 2015, we earned $370 cash back and applied it to the payments, which freed up that money to use elsewhere in our budget. So far for 2016, we've gotten $280 cash back (an upside to paying for orthodontics?).
I've been blogging since the fall of 2007, and what I earn varies greatly from month to month and year to year. Once I changed MoneywiseMoms from a coupon/deals blog to a lifestyle blog in mid-2013, my income and traffic dropped dramatically and I finally recaptured it in 2015. Directly from the blog, I earn through writing sponsored posts, affiliate links, and display ads, but having the blog has opened up other earning opportunities like sponsored social media (such as hosting Twitter parties) and freelance writing.
While I have found these opportunities because of my blog, I know other moms who write from home for various companies on a freelance basis. Some have these gigs because they kept in contact with their employers after they left work to stay at home with their children; others have found work writing for websites and magazines through Upwork, Fiverr, or going directly to those outlets. For online opportunities, there's a big list at Beyond Your Blog.
Over the summer, I help out a couple of families in my neighborhood who need babysitting during the weekdays. This has been working great for me since I only take on kids who are the same age as mine, so they play together well. I really enjoy it, and since our summer revolves around swim team and the pool, we have a built-in schedule. I typically don't take freelance writing jobs or work on my blog as much during the summer, so babysitting is a good way to be earning money from home in lieu of those school-year jobs.
…and 5 Ways I'm Not Earning Money from Home
I've done these methods in the past to bring in extra income, but not anymore! Here's an update:
After learning how to sell on Ebay by selling our used video games and board games, I helped friends and neighbors by photographing and selling their items on Ebay for a percentage of the profit to cover my time. I think it was 3-4 years ago when Ebay changed their fees and it became more difficult to earn a decent amount, so I focused on selling locally instead.
Flipping on Craigslist
Back in my yard sale shopping days, I'd pick up cheap/dirty/easy-to-sell items like large kids' toys or furniture, clean them up and resell them on Craigslist for a profit. It was a lot of work, but it helped justify the amount of time I was out shopping for kids' clothing, etc. at those sales.
Holding Yard Sales
Speaking of yard sales, I organized our neighborhood's bi-annual yard sales for years and always had a huge amount of junk to sell. I got frustrated with having to store everything for months ahead of time just to have buyers argue about my already-super-low prices. With the rise of the neighborhood FB group, it's no longer worth it to stage a yard sale.
When my kids were younger, I sold a ton of stuff at my twins club's bi-annual kids consignment sale. With a dedicated audience and huge venue, I priced things low and sold a bunch. But as they've grown, I don't hold onto anything anymore, choosing to sell locally, give items to friends, or just donate them. I'm still a huge fan of these sales and highly recommend that you shop at them, particularly if you have little ones. Read my tips on How to Shop Kids Consignment Sales.
I tried mystery shopping for a full year in 2013, and found it easy to complete the online paperwork after doing a “shop” to test out food, customer service, and other store services. But it was a lot of driving around, and I saw a change in the types of shops I was offered (less pay, more work) by the end of the year, so I let it go.
I think it's natural when you're home with kids, especially when you've first left employment, to want to be earning money from home. Each method is different, and each has its pros and cons. You can see that I've done a lot of trial and error to see what works for me, and you should, too. Some of these tasks are a better fit for your personality, time available, and age of your kids. I'd love to know…