When I asked for reader feedback on what you wanted me to write about, I got this comment from Kaytee:
Any tips on being a basically SAHP (my husband will be a SAHD once our baby is born) but also earning a little income on the side? To have a reasonable chance of surviving on just my income, I’ve told my husband if he really needs to make $500/month. It’s just an estimate at this time, since I have only SWAG as our budget will change when he no longer works out of the house (no more $500/month in gas!)
Congratulations on the soon-to-arrive little one! I love this question, and I think it allows for a lot of creativity in terms of solutions. $500 a month isn’t a huge amount, and I think it’s a very reasonable goal for a stay at home parent to have. One thing to keep in mind is that if you file taxes jointly (which most married couples do), the additional income will be lumped in with the income of the primary earner for tax purposes. So if you need to clear $500/month, he might need to earn 25% or so more than that to account for taxes. When I had a part-time job at the local library before our son was born, I had them withhold an extra $50 in federal taxes from each paycheck to account for this. Otherwise they would have withheld very little money, as my income there was quite small.
Now for some ideas… I’ll share thoughts that I have as well as things that have worked for people I know who needed to earn a bit of extra money. I assume you’ve already cut expenses as far as you can, since that would be my first suggestion. As far as ways to earn a little extra money, here are some possibilities.
- What does your husband do now? That’s where I would start. Can he take the skills and knowledge he has in his current job and capitalize on it in a very part-time capacity after your son is born? Depending on the nature of his job, he might be able to set up a system for providing as-needed assistance (from home, preferably) to his current employer or someone else in the same field. If he’s a highly skilled worker, on-line and/or telephone consulting might be an option.
- He might be able to be a virtual assistant, especially if he has good phone and computer skills. For our own business, we’ve been utilizing an answering service for the past 3.5 years, and they’re fantastic. If we can’t answer the phone, clients who call our business get a real person on the phone, 24 hours a day, instead of voice mail. The person who answers the phone takes a message and emails it to us immediately. I believe that the company we work with has operators who are in a call center, but I’ve read that a lot of virtual assistants work from home. You need a quiet place to work, which isn’t the easiest thing to come by when you have children. But $500/month doesn’t require an awful lot of hours. Naptime and some evening/weekend hours (when the other parent is home) might be enough.
- Does your husband have strong computer skills? He might be able to start a service helping individuals or businesses who need help setting up/maintaining a blog or website, but don’t have the budget for a high-end web designer.
- If he’s a dog person, he might be able to set up a part-time dog walking business. I take our two boys and our dog for a walk every day, usually for at least an hour. Juggling kids and dogs does require a lot of focus (no cell phone conversations these days during my walks…), but it’s great to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors.
- Blogging might be an option, if he enjoys writing. It’s definitely not a get-rich-quick plan. I’ve been blogging for five years now, and my blog makes about $300 a month. Over the last four years or so, my income from the blog has varied from about $100/month to about $400/month. Granted, I only post once a week or so now that we have children – posting more often would definitely help if my goal were to increase my income. So if there’s a topic that he’s passionate about, there is definitely money to be made with blog advertising, affiliate sales, and possibly your own e-book sales (although it seems like everyone and their cousin has an e-book now… my opinion is that e-books are a good option if you’re a really great writer and the stuff you’re saying is truly valuable to people).
- Is a part-time job outside the home an option? With the current state of the economy, he might find employers are more willing to consider a very part-time employee, since they wouldn’t have to spend money on benefits. Perhaps he could work a few hours a week outside the home, either in the evenings or on weekends, when you’re home with your son.
- As a blogger, I get lots of pitches from freelance writers who are writing for all sorts of businesses as part of their web marketing. A lot are spammy, but some represent truly reputable sites. If your husband writes well, he might be able to make some money as a freelance writer. I have no idea what percentage of freelance writers are successful at earning money, but it’s definitely a job that can be done from home during the baby’s nap.
- I have a friend who spent a summer working very part-time for the government (BLM? Fish and Wildlife? Something like that) to determine whether sheep had been killed by predators (wolves or bears). The government would reimburse ranchers who lost sheep to predators, but they would send people out with gps coordinates to the location where the ranchers reported the carcass, so that the kill could be verified before payment was made. This job basically involved a lot of hiking (and some unpleasant stops along the way to examine sheep carcasses), and I think my friend earned something like $75 or $100 per sheep. This was several years ago and I have no idea if the program is still active, but it’s an example of thinking way outside of the box when it comes to earning money. Another person I know – who was a full-time teacher – earned some extra money on weekends and during the summer by counting grasshoppers on public lands. The government wanted to determine how bad the grasshopper infestation was, so they paid him to hike around and count grasshoppers. Again, I don’t know if this program is still active, but both of these examples are things that a person could do while carrying a small child in a sling.
- This is another idea that might have been easier before the market got saturated, but reselling items of value has the potential to earn a few hundred dollars a month. Yard sales, low-end thrift stores (the high-end ones have mostly caught on to the fact that some things have quite a bit of value in the resale market), and even the free section of Craigslist might yield things that could be sold for a profit. I recently sold a 1980s Schwinn bike for $150. I bought it for $5 several years ago, and it had been gathering dust in my garage ever since I got my cruiser bike.