Side Hustles for Stay at Home Moms

 

I have been a stay at home mom for nine years now!  I am so grateful that I’ve been be home with my kids and be there with them for all the big and small milestones in their lives.  I feel like staying home has kept my focus on my family and allowed me to give my all at being a wife and mother.  I have no bad feelings towards moms who work full time…. rather I tip my hat to you for being able to juggle all those balls!  I did go back to teaching after I had my first child to finish out the school year.  I was a full-time working mom for about 3 months and it was no easy task!

My husband is a teacher and for the first six years after my choice to stay home, he was usually working on extra college classes for his certification and then a masters in school counseling.  Staying home was a difficult financial choice for us, but we both agreed it was worth the sacrifice.  Over those six or seven years we were living on one teachers income and able to have three kids, buy a home, buy a mini-van, pay $30,000 for a masters degree and come out of it debt free (other than the house of course).  It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always pretty, but looking back at those years, it was all worth it.  I really can’t tell you how we did that other than Divine intervention and huge tax returns!

One other thing that has always been helpful over the last nine years, is my entrepreneurial spirit.  I quickly learned that I needed something that I could call my own (other than my kids and home) and I might as well make money with it.  Here is my list of the many things I have done over the years to make a little money on the side:

1.   Coaching

This one fell into my lap one year after staying home.  I was asked to coach middle school volleyball.  I can’t remember what our logic was, but my husband also coached with me!  We hired a 6th grade girl (she was my former 4th grade student) to come to practice and babysit Kylee, while we coached.  During most games, my parents were able to watch Kylee, but I do remember having to take her with me to one.  I rode the bus with the volleyball girls and my husband followed behind the bus in our car with Kylee.  It was a little tricky because both 7th and 8th grade teams played at the same time, so we asked a parent to watch Kylee during the game.  But that parent was running late and I ended up having Kylee in the stroller while we were warming up.  I’m sure it was quite a site…  the stroller next to me as I’m hitting balls at the girls and they are passing back to me.  I probably gave someone’s grandma a heart attack as she worried about my little baby in the stroller!  Anyways… it worked out and we only coached this year.  I had my second baby right as the season started the next year, so it was not good timing to coach again.  But this was a great way for a new stay at home mom to do something just for me, make a little extra money, do something I enjoy, and get out of the house for a few hours each day.

2. Babysit

Shocking, I know.  I’m sure this is the most obvious one.  You’re home already with a kid or two, so you might as well have 5, right!?  I actually was never up for babysitting several kids or starting a day care.  (And just FYI, if that is your interest, make sure to check out your state’s requirements on being licensed.) I did however, babysit my friend’s daughter just a few hours a few days a week.  That was something I could handle and ended up being great for my own daughter as well.  I did the same thing a few years later for a different friend who had a daughter that was my son’s age.  It works great if you can find a friend with kids that your kids like… it’s basically like having a play date.  I personally was not up for watching kids all day.  My kids’ nap time is sacred and I am not willing to give that up.  So, set some boundaries and stick to them.  You will end up burnt out and hating life if you say “yes” to everyone and every thing.  Decide what you are ok to sacrifice and don’t forget your limits!

3.  Sell something.

I think it is a rite of passage that every new mom first, cut her hair short after giving birth and second, sell something.  I know I did it and I watched many of my friends do it as well.  I can count on one hand how many of those friends are actually successful with this one and are still selling that product, but hey, I can at least name a few.  I decided to sell Usborne Books.  It was a great side gig for about a year maybe 15 months.  After that, I started to loose my fire and ambition.  I learned that relying on other’s decisions to show up and buy something in order to make my money was not something I was a fan of.  I did make some “good” money for that first year and it was exciting to bring home a few extra hundred dollars for a while.  I also now have several wonderful Usborne books that our family loves.  I don’t want to sound skeptical of this choice for a side gig, but I just know that it is not for everyone and that is ok.  You may need to try it out before you know.  I do have one friend who is killing it as she sells Rodan and Fields, plus she has amazing skin!

4. Teach something.

Teaching is my talent and something I enjoy doing.  I went to school to be an elementary teacher and I did teach for 2 years and loved it.  I decided to try and use this skill to make some extra money.  I started out by tutoring out of my home.  I did 30 minute sessions and charged $10 per session.  I would either help kids with their homework or work on them with related material that I came up with on my own.  My mom was still teaching at this time, so she was a great resource.  But I also found that if I talked with the student’s classroom teacher, I could usually get an idea of what skills needed work.  Tutoring worked well because my kids would play or watch TV or sit at the table with us and do their own “homework.”  I enjoyed the one on one and the short times and it did help financially with small surprises or some extra groceries that month.

I then decided to go bigger, and planned to start a preschool out of my home.  I did not want to mess with licensing and I guessed that it wasn’t a big deal.  I advertised on Facebook and had several interested.  I also got chastised by a local lady in town who did think licensing was a big deal.  I thought the idea was over, but then had a thought to try talking with our rec center about teaching a class there.  They loved the idea!  This particular rec center was awesome and unique in that they allowed me to charge any price, they advertised and handled the payments and they kept 10% of the profit from my class as rent.  I brought home 90% of what I charged and I did not have to pester people to pay me, or clean my house before or after school, I used their tables and chairs to paint on, and I was given cupboards to use for my supplies.  It was the best thing that could have happened.  I did this preschool for 2 days a week, 1 hour each day.  It was mostly for 3 and 4 year old kids before they went to a longer preschool.  I charged $52 plus a $3 supply fee to cover disposable supplies.  I finally started making good money and this extra income was a huge blessing for us.  I did this for 3 years before we moved.  I enjoyed it so much that I added classes. During the summer I taught a science and art class for elementary kids.  I really enjoyed teaching the art classes, so I continued doing that during the school year as an after school class for kids.  With my combined classes, I was usually making around $500.  That was very helpful for us.

I started a preschool again after we moved, but our rec center in our new town did not offer the same great deal.  They wanted to pay me $7-$10/hour, which did not feel worth my time when I was making $50/hour before.  So I decided to use my home, but this time I did not advertise on Facebook and I am keeping it small enough that I don’t need a license.  I am mostly doing it this time so that my 3-year-old son can get the benefits of preschool without having to pay for it.

If teaching preschool is not your thing, don’t give up!  There are so many things you can teach: fitness classes, swim classes, private lessons in your favorite sport, art, reading, math, animal care, horse riding, what ever you are interested and skilled in; you can find a way to teach it to others.  It will hopefully make some extra money, but more importantly, hopefully you will find joy doing it.

5.  Blog

If you have ever had the itch to try blogging… I say go for it.  Today is my one year anniversary of starting my blog.  I had big dreams of using this blog to make extra money as a stay at home mom.  Although this did not come to fruition, it did lead me to my current job that is making a great financial contribution to our family.  Blogging is a creative outlet for me that I enjoy as a hobby.  For now, that is all it is and that’s ok.  You never know if yours will be the one that “makes it” as a business and you’ll never know if you don’t try.  I will always encourage everyone to try blogging if it’s something they are interested in.  There are sooooo many success stories of profitable blogs, so why not yours?  I used site ground to get started.

6.  VIP KID

I started teaching with VIPKID about 10 months ago.  This has definitely been my most profitable side job in 9 years.  I wish I had found this one sooner.  I teach Chinese kids English.  I did not have an ESL background and I do not speak Chinese.  These kids know enough English that we are able to communicate and I help them advance their English speaking, reading, and grammar skills.  The lessons are preplanned, so all I have to do is show up and teach!  I teach out of my home using my laptop camera and high speed internet.  If you have a bachelors degree in any field and some kind of experience working with kids (does not need to be professional experience), you can apply. 

The reason this job is so perfect for stay at home moms, is because I teach when my kids are asleep, so my daily schedule of being with them is not affected.  In order to teach the Chinese children in the evenings after school, I must wake up early in the morning.  I live in Mountain Standard Time Zone, so I teach from 4:30AM-7:00AM or 3:30AM-6:30AM during daylight savings time. It is also an option to teach evenings-midnight, but I prefer the mornings.  I get to choose my own schedule and open as many or as little time slots as I want.  Each class is 30 minutes, so I work in 30 min. intervals.  

It can take a few months before all of your open time slots get booked, but once you get a few good parent reviews, it’s easy to fill your slots.  After about 3 months, I became busy and my slots filled up.  Now that I have a full schedule I make over $1,500 each month!  I choose to work 3-3.5 hours/day, six days a week.  This is my highest pay check so far.  This includes a $100 bonus.

If you are interested in applying or learning more you can do so here.  You can also read about my first month with VIP KID here.  I do make $100 as a one-time referral bonus if someone uses my code (COURT0213) and gets hired.  It is not a pyramid business, just a referral bonus.  I would love to get that bonus and earn it by helping you through the interview process, so let me know if you are interested and would like some help!  

A friend of mine that I referred to VIP KID recently told me that her kids told her she was happier since she started working.  I feel much the same way.  It is so therapeutic to have something to call my own, to use my brain again, to feel that I contribute financially, and having a responsibility outside of laundry, dishes, diapers, and dinner!

I hope that this list might help you come up with an idea to use your talents and creativity to take on a side job.  Motherhood is a wonderful primary full-time job, but it is also nice to have a reason to take a break from that job!

What side-jobs have you done and would you recommend them??

I hope whatever you do, you can feel nice and happy!

 

My First Month with VIP Kid

Wow, I have been a major blogger slacker lately.  I had a goal to post 2-3 times per week and I’m sorry to say I have not been doing that the last month.  I do have a good excuse though… I’ve started working for VIP Kid.  I’ve had a few questions about what I do, so I thought I should share my experience here…

What is VIP Kid??

VIP Kid is an online tutoring program designed to teach English to kids in China.  It is a great company and has been a good opportunity for me to supplement my household income.   Once VIP Kid hired me, I became an independent contractor for the company.  The kids in China sign up for this company and then they get to choose their teacher to teach them certain lessons that they go through in the program.

What credentials did you need in order to get hired?

The only requirements (other than passing the interviews) to apply to become a teacher for VIP Kid is to have a bachelor’s degree and pass a background check.  It does not matter what the degree is in or if you have any experience as a teacher (although it does help your pay if you have some experience working with kids). I started the online application and went through the steps.  It took about 2 weeks before I was officially hired.

What is the hiring process?

First you fill out an application answering a few simple questions online.  Then you will get instructions on what to do next.

The second step is to do an interview, which is basically you teaching a 10 minute class using their lesson plan to one of their employees.  This took a few days to prepare for because you want to get it right!  You can either do this live or you can record it and send in the video.

After you pass the interview, you will then teach a mock class to an experienced VIP Kid teacher.  This mock class is a 15 minute lesson for a lower level English speaker and a 10 minute lesson for more advanced student.  This also took a few days to prepare for.  If you do well on your first mock class you can move on to the next step.  If the teacher you taught in your mock class feels like you need more practice then you will do a 2nd mock class.

Once you pass the mock class then you can fill out the information for the background check and start filling in your profile information and short video that parents view when they are selecting a teacher for their child.

What happens after you are hired?

Once you finish your profile you are ready to start teaching!  You start by opening time slots that you are available to teach. Then you wait!  It can take a while before you get any bookings (or kids signing up to take a class from you).  Eventually, someone will sign up for a class.  You will teach that student whatever lesson they are on.  Once they sign up, you will have access to that student’s information (name, gender, age, past lesson experience, and how many lessons he/she has taken with VIP Kid), and the lesson material.  You will want to read through the lesson and be ready to teach before your class begins.  The first week I taught I mostly had trial classes sign up.  A trial class is a class for a student who has not yet signed up for the VIP kid program, but wants to try it out.  They get 3 free trial classes before they decide if they want to sign up.  So you basically make yourself available and then you wait!

How long does it take before kids book a class with you?

This answer varies for every teacher.  I had my first booking on my 2nd day that I was available.  I’ve heard of other teachers waiting 3 months before they had their first booking.  My first 10 days I had 6 bookings.  However, not all of those bookings were actually lessons.  On the trial classes, there tends to be a lot of “student no-shows” where kids just don’t show up.  I still get paid when a student does not show up though!  If it is a regular student who is part of the program I get full pay, but if it is a trial class then I get half the pay.  I had 3 “student no-shows” before I actually taught my first real lesson 8 days after being hired. There are workshops and a jump-start program you can participate in that will help increase bookings, so I think that waiting 3 months for a booking is not the norm.

How much $$ do you get paid?

This answer also varies for each teacher.  The range is $7-$9 per lesson (each lesson is 25 minutes long).  The person that does your first interview will determine your pay.  If you have some experience teaching or working with kids, it’s more likely that you will make more that $7.  There are also several incentives to earn:

  •   For every lesson that you are on time, you earn another $1/lesson.
  • If you teach more than 45 lessons in a month then another $1 is added onto every lesson.
  • If the student books a class with you less than 24 hours before that class begins then you get another $2 for that lesson.
  • If you are the last teacher to teach a trial class to a student and that student signs up, then you earn an extra $5.
  • If you refer a friend who gets hired, you earn $100. (Here is my referral link! ;-))  Let me know if you use my link to start your application, so that I can be a mentor for you and help you prepare for your interview and answer all your questions throughout the hiring process.  It’s really helpful to sign up under someone that can be a mentor for you!

I make $8 per lesson.  When I am on time that becomes $9 per lesson and if it was a short notice booking (less than 24 hours) that becomes $11 per lesson.  One day I taught two lessons back to back and they were both short notice, so I made $22 that hour.  As you can see, this can be a good paying part-time gig!

What hours do you teach?

China is 14 hours ahead of me (MST).  The kids in China typically take these lessons from home in the evenings during the week and mornings during the weekends.  This means that I must work very early in the morning (5:00 AM-7:30 AM) for their evening lesson and late at night (9:00PM-midnight) for their early morning lessons.  Remember, as a teacher, you set your own hours though.  There are time slots available from 12:00AM-7:30AM and then again from 7:30PM-Midnight.  The time that you are most likely to get bookings is from 5:00AM-6:30AM.  I have taught both early mornings and late at night.  I love that before my kids wake up and need to get ready for school, I am done with work.  I am used to getting up early, because that is my time to blog.  As I mentioned, my blogging has been taking the back-burner as I have focused on VIP Kid.  (You can read about finding your top 3 priorities here and understand why I haven’t been able to do both.)

How do you get paid?

I haven’t actually received my first pay check yet, but on June 15th I should have a direct deposit into my bank account for the lessons that I taught in May.  I can track my earnings on the VIP Kid app that I have on my phone.  I love watching the amount increase after each lesson!

What equipment do you need?

What has NOT been great about VIP Kid?

This process has not gone off without a hitch.  It was really great for the first 2 weeks.  I felt good about my number of bookings and felt like my lessons were going well.  15 days into my experience I had a technical issue that cost me greatly.  The timer in my classroom was not working, so I decided to exit the classroom and try reentering.  Once I left, I was unable to get back into the classroom!!  This showed up as a “teacher no-show” and I was not able to convince the company to change that status to a “teacher IT issue.”  Teacher no-shows are not good for your ratings and can affect your bookings, plus you loose $10 from your incentive money.  Two days after the no-show, my 10 year-old computer wigged out and would not pull up the VIP Kid website to let me log in.  I quickly woke my husband up so that I could borrow his work computer.  However, it took the first 10 minutes of class time to get the camera working on his computer.  After these two issues, it was 2 weeks of NO bookings!  I was highly discouraged.  On the third week of no bookings, I started taking workshops and was getting ready to do this jump-start program they have to increase bookings.  The next day I had several bookings!  In a week, I had as many bookings as I did my whole first month of teaching!  In fact, on Saturday alone I had 9 lessons, which is the same number of lessons I actually taught (not including no shows) my first month!  In one day I made as much as I did in a month.  I am excited to see my second month’s paycheck!

What HAS been great??

  • I actually love teaching these lessons!  When I finish a lesson I feel rejuvenated and happy.  When my kids wake up and need to get ready for school I found that I was in a better mood and happier with the morning on days that I taught.
  • The pay is better than many other part-time jobs I can find.
  • I like being able to set my own schedule and not work on days that I have vacations planned.
  • The lesson prep is very minimal.  I usually take less than 10 minutes to prep for a class.
  • I LOVE getting to know the students!  That has been my favorite part.  It’s been fun to see a new culture and learn more about these students.
  • Being able to contribute to our family finances without having to send my kids to day care.
  • I love that I can roll out of bed, put on an orange shirt, sit at my computer snuggled under a warm blanket and be at “work.”  I seriously don’t even brush my hair or teeth!

Teaching for VIP Kid really has been a blessing.  I was really looking for a way to continue being a stay-at-home-mom, but make some extra money to help with our finances and I believe that this can be the answer.  If you have any other questions you would like me to answer just leave me a comment and I will get back to you!  If you are interested in checking it out you can get to the right place here!

Teaching and making some extra money helps me to be nice and happy!

 

Step by step budgeting guide

This post contains affiliate links, which means that I might get a profit if you choose to purchase a product.

About 6 months into my marriage, my parents discovered Dave Ramsey and they gave us his book, The Total Money Makeover.  The principles and strategies taught in that book have been such a blessing to us!  My husband and I have been married for 13 years now, and we continue to use Dave Ramsey’s methods.  Dave teaches the importance of budgeting, saving for emergencies, saving for the future, how to invest, paying off a mortgage, getting out of debt and staying out of debt.  He breaks it down to baby steps to make it a simple plan for anyone to follow.

Dave’s 7 Baby Steps:

    1. $1000 in an Emergency Fund
    2. Pay off all debt using the snow ball method
    3. 3-6 months of expenses in savings
    4. Invest 15% into a Roth IRA
    5. College fund for children
    6. Pay off mortgage early
    7. Build wealth and give

Sounds easy enough, right?  It really is a simple and straightforward plan and he teaches how to do each step.  We have not made it past baby step 3 in our 13 years of trying.  I don’t tell you that to be discouraging about his system.  It’s a great system, but here is our situation: we got married while we still had 3 years of college ahead of us.  I had scholarships and we both had financial aid, however, we still had to pay a fair amount of tuition, books, and fees throughout college and our financial aid decreased every year as we worked at better jobs and made more money.  I am happy to say, that with budgeting, we were still able to graduate WITHOUT student loans.  Budgeting, working hard, being disciplined (and obviously the scholarships and financial aid) helped us reach that accomplishment.

We quickly saved the $1000 and then for the next 3 years worked on baby step #2 to pay off the small debts we had (wedding ring, car, and a $1000 student loan I took out my first year).  It took us that many years to pay off about $2,500 in debt and then stay out of debt while getting our degrees.

After college we were debt free and had $1000 in savings, so it was time for real jobs.  However, we were not able to move on to baby step #3 because my husband was going to get a master’s degree and I only taught elementary for 1 year before quitting my job to stay home with our first child.  So for the next 5 years or so, we continued to budget and be disciplined so that my husband could get his Master’s degree without going into debt all while having more kids and living on one teacher’s salary.  But we did it!  He finished his Master’s degree and by that time we had 3 kids, lived on one income, had bought a house and a minivan.  We did have to take out a short term student loan, but it was paid off in a few months when we got our tax return.  In the end of our education process we made it with 2  bachelor degrees and 1 master’s between the two of us without student loans and while living on one income and raising a young family.  The one area we did stray from on Dave’s advice was buying the minivan.  We did go into debt to do that, which he is absolutely against, but at that time we felt it was necessary for our family.  We took out a 7 year loan, but had it paid off in 4 years.

Fast forward a few years.  We are still living on one salary (my husband is a school counselor), we have 4 kids that are involved in many activities, we sold our first house and bought another, we are debt free and have $1000 in an emergency fund.  So it has taken us 13 years of continually working on this system, but we are finally ready to begin baby step #3.  We could not have made it even this far into the process if we had not been diligent about budgeting.  I will say this over and over; we are NOT perfect at sticking to our budget!  We do budget before each and every paycheck, but sometimes life happens and we cannot stick to it every time.  But I did want to share how we budget and what we have found to work well for us.

How we budget

When we first started budgeting we used paper and pencil and a budget sheet.  But since 2006, we have been using a spreadsheet on the computer, so I can still go back to that year and see all of our budgets for the last 12 years.  In fact, I did go back and look at November of 2006 and we made a total combined amount of $1217.78 for the month!

I have adapted and changed a few things over the last 12 years to find what works for us.  A few general things about our budget…

  • We use one spreadsheet per year and each month is a new tab:
  • Use a formula to subtract all the expenses from the income to know how much is left over or how much is lacking
  • Try to budget EVERYTHING (bills, gifts, donations, food, gas, money to pay kids, entertainment, hair cuts, etc.)
  • The goal is to have your income and your expenses zero out.  So spend everything you make.  You can “spend” it into a savings account, but make sure that you assign a place for every penny to go.
  • Budget before every pay check.
  • We now save our budget into google docs so we can view it anytime rather than saving it only to our computer.
  • I use a “description” column to explain anything out of the ordinary.

The first step in your budget it to list all income and total that income (I am going to show a mock budget so these are not the actual numbers we budget).  The formula to insert into your “total” cell for each pay check is =SUM(B3:B5)  But if you are in column C then you would change the B to a C.  And if you have more rows for income then just change the numbers to match the row numbers of your first and last rows of income (so change the 3 and 5 to whatever your first and last row numbers are).

Next, you will list all your expenses.  I color code the numbers.  Black means that I paid it using my debit card or online and that it has been paid.  Green means that I need to get cash for that amount.  Red means that the money is in the checking account, but I have not yet paid it.  I divide the bills according to when they are due so I know which pay check I will use to pay each bill.  In the description area I use a / to separate the explanation for the first and second pay checks.  As you can see, I get as close to zero in the total box as I can.  The formula for the total boxes are =B6(SUM(B9:B38)) for the first paycheck column and =C6(SUM(C9:C38)) for the second paycheck column.

After assigning a place for your money the next step is to put that plan into action.  Start by paying all the bills online or setting up automatic payments.  I have learned over the years that if I wait to go to the bank to get out the cash that I usually spend it with my debit card and then it messes up my whole budget.  So next, go to the bank and get the cash you need.  I go so far to figure out what bills I need so that I can then put the right amount into that envelope (yes, I use the envelope system!).  For example, if I were getting the cash for the first pay check I would ask for 3-100 bills, and 6-50 bills and then put those into the envelopes they belong. The blow money would be divided up between my husband and I and that is the amount that we can spend on whatever we want.  The surprise money usually just stays in the checking account and is there for the surprises that come up.  If there is extra left over then it will roll over into the next pay period.

Everything looks very nice on paper and seems to work out perfectly, but that is not always the case in reality.  Some months are very tight for us and during those months our food budget might be $50 and we don’t usually get to budget blow money or surprise money because those are the only flexible areas.  When we are extremely tight and out of money, but feel that we need food or gas then we do use our credit card.  This is absolutely against what Dave Ramsey would advise!  We are very disciplined about paying it off completely every month, so it has not become a problem for us, but if you don’t have that discipline then I don’t recommend using that as a backup.

As I’ve mentioned, we are not perfect at sticking to our budget, but I love knowing exactly where our money is going and how tight we need to be that pay period.  Budgeting gives us direction and helps my husband and I to be on the same page with our finances.

I would love to hear about your experiences with budgeting.  I won’t lie… budgeting doesn’t always make me nice and happy when we have tight months.  But staying out of debt and having a plan with our money does help me to feel nice and happy in the long run.  It may seem like a lot of work in the beginning, but the more you do it the easier it is.