Thursday, July 28, 2011

Making Ends Meet

Since I became a stay at home mom over 6 years ago, we've had to be quite creative in "making ends meet" for our family.  Living off of one income, a pastor's salary at that, makes our situation more difficult than most.  If you know anything about pastor's salaries, they are...low (unless you're at a gigantic church in a large area).  However, we knew that we were making the right choice and the sacrifice was worth it.  There have been times that I've been brought to tears that I couldn't afford some new clothes or to get my hair done, or even some simple luxuries that others get to experience.  I know many of you know exactly what I'm talking about.

However, we have always, always, always seen God provide.  We may not have had everything we want, but we have had everything we need.

Even though I stayed at home, I always wanted to contribute somehow to our family.  I just wasn't sure what to do.  In talking to other friends, I have heard most of them also say they also want to contribute financially towards their family, they just weren't sure how. Our 9-5 jobs before kids don't always translate to work-from-home positions.

Here are some of the jobs I've had since deciding to stay at home:

-Photo Editor: I learned Photoshop and Lightroom, and became a photo editor for my brother's photography business.  This provided me stable income for almost 6 years.  He would shoot the weddings, I would edit them.  He started referring me to his other photographer friends and I've worked for some of them as well.  If you want to get started in doing this, you can contact photographer friends you have, offer to edit one of their photoshoots for free, and see what they think.  They can then refer you to other friends if they like your work. Many photographers want to edit shoots themselves, but those with heavy client loads may prefer to outsource this.  Most of the time you do need some extensive knowledge of these two programs, so don't offer to do it until you have practiced for hours.  Gain experience with loading new actions into both programs (effects), fixing lighting and shadows, blemishes, airbrushing, and editing items out of the background.

-Photography: As I edited photos, I was encouraged to try actual photography myself. It did help that my brother started me off with the equipment I needed until I took the step to invest the money myself.  It was well worth it.  This proved to be another stable source of income for me.

In between the slower seasons of photo work, I had to be more creative and find actual jobs, some of them outside the home.  I still peruse Craigslist every week looking for positions that might fit with my schedule.  Here are some of the other opportunities I found:

-Part-time personal assistant.  I did this for 2 months and was able to work from home doing research for a small company, typing letters, making a few phone calls, and writing a newsletter for them.  It was a short term position but provided a little bit of income.  (A friend told me about this position, but I have also seen them advertised on Craigslist).

-Event Help.  If you have friends who are in the catering business, or who service special events such as weddings, birthday parties, etc... you can often find them looking for help with larger events.

-Writing/Editing/Resume Building - If writing is your niche, you can always find opportunities writing articles, editing, or helping others build their resume's.  Many years ago I had a short-term position as a recruiter at a staffing agency, and have since been able to use that experience to help people build their resumes.  A great site for work from home opportunities in general, which includes writing from home, is found at 5 Minutes for Mom.  These are legitimate opportunities and not scams.

-Tutoring. For an entire year I tutored high school Japanese ESL students. I went into their homes and helped them with their homework.  These positions pay between $20-40 an hour and you can set your schedule. Most of these positions are after 3pm.  Tutoring centers are always looking for tutors; you can search for tutoring companies in your area and see what opportunities are available, or call them directly. You do have to have a BA for these positions, but any degree field will likely qualify you.

-Selling products.  When I first had Micah I sold Pampered Chef, and enjoyed that time of socializing with other women, making them a quick meal, and earning a little money on the side.  These opportunities are usually short-lived, and you have to be careful not to spend all of your earnings on more products.

A few months ago I started looking for work outside the home that would be flexible, at just about 10 hours a week.  I found a great position on Craigslist at a reputable company. That job lasted 3 months (it was a temporary position), but I enjoyed it so much.  It worked out to be only about 8 hours a week, and I could choose the days I wanted to work, around my husband's work schedule.

Yesterday I interviewed for a new position (another Craigslist winner) and got the job. I'll be working as an Event Coordinator for a woman who holds financial seminars for retired people. It will only be every other month, for 3-4 days a month.  I'm really excited!

While I live in a very populated area and Craigslist has a lot of positions posted, some areas won't have as many.  You can also check your daily newspaper.  Another way friends have found positions is by posting on Facebook what you are looking for (in your status).  That way friends can keep their eyes open for you.  I have a friend that does light bookkeeping for self-employed individuals and makes a great income doing so.  Another friend uses her sewing skills and opened an Etsy shop.

Whatever your skills, you can make them work for you.  Ask your friends what you are good at, and get their opinion. Then spread the word that you are looking, and see what happens!


  1. Congrats! I'm still trying to learn the ropes of staying at home and making ends meet. Some weeks, I feel like a total failure, but most of the time, I know that whatever I have to do, even if it brings in $20 is worth it because I want to be there for the kids!

  2. This post comes at a good time. My class just got cut so I have to find other income somehow. I'm thinking of cleaning houses on Brian's day off, but also just signed up to consign clothing at a children's sale. Hoping some of it makes up the gap. :) Congrats on your new position!