Making Ends Meet

How to Make Ends Meet and Still Be a Stay at Home Mom

Many working moms wished they could quit their job and stay home with their child. I remember the first day my daughter went to day care when she was just six weeks old. I couldn’t bear to take her, so I took the easy way out and had my husband drop her off! He felt just as bad as I did, but at the time, we were both working full-time and he was also going to college full-time. We simply could not afford to have either of us quit our job, and with him taking classes full-time, working full-time and doing loads of engineering homework until the wee hours of the night, it just wasn’t feasible. After a few weeks of calling the day care to “check in”, I finally felt comfortable enough to work without the worry that she wasn’t being cared for like I would care for her, but it was still heart-wrenching to leave her there every morning.

Fast forward to baby number two and it was a completely different story. My husband graduated college in December 2004 with a Computer Engineering degree, and I was 8 months pregnant at the time. Ten days after graduation, we had a bouncing baby tax deduction and plans to move 400 miles away in one month! We got through this stressful time by the grace of God. But the transition from working mom to stay at home mom was not as easy as I thought it would be. I was working full-time with no paycheck to show for it! After about a year out of the work force, and another move across town into a permanent home, I began to look at what I could do to help our finances. The mortgage payments alone were half of my husband’s take home for the entire month. Going back to work at this point didn’t appeal to me because of the high day care costs in our area. Day care costs for two children would actually have put us further behind. What could I do to help make ends meet while still having time for my young children? Click here to read about forming an LLC.

Surveys. The Perfect Job for a Stay at Home Mom.

My sister forwarded me a bunch of links to survey sites about a year and a half ago. She said they actually paid money for her opinions, so shouldn’t I join and try to earn a little extra cash? I signed up for just about every free survey site out there. You should never have to pay to join a survey site, and you should steer clear of any survey sites that promise that you will make an exorbitant amount of money a day. You will reap nothing, except spam of course! In the past year and a half, I estimate I have earned $500 or more by doing surveys online. I have received products to test, which included a higher than normal honorarium. Many of the sites of which I am a panelist offer Amazon gift codes as an honorarium, Paypal or cash. Some offer points, which you can save up for items in a prize catalog or gift cards.

Paid Surveys.

So now that I have caught your attention, you are wondering how hard can this be? I have devised a step-by-step guide for you to follow to make taking surveys for profit a painless process.

Step One: A dedicated survey email address.

This is a must-have. Choose a free account that does not filter spam out precipitously. I have a Gmail account, which is a perfect choice for me. With Gmail, you are able to place labels on email and archive them. If you want to see which surveys you have done for whom, you can easily check. The labeling system will also work for incoming emails so that your surveys will be easily spotted amid the other emails in your inbox.

Step Two: Sign up for any legitimate survey companies that you can find on the web.

By signing up as a panelist on a multitude of survey sites, you increase your chances of earning money because not only will you receive many survey invites, you also increase the likelihood that you will find many good fits for your lifestyle. You are more likely to fit someone’s demographic if you sign up for multiple panels. My sister and I are very different demographically, and the survey companies that don’t send me surveys are usually the ones filling her inbox! Remember, many survey companies send surveys out that are screening for a certain demographic to test products for name brand companies. Not only can you get paid for taking surveys, but also for product testing! In the past year alone, I have product tested shampoo, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, self-tanning products and feminine products. It is a great opportunity to try something new and get paid to do it.

Here is a list of survey companies to get you started:

  1. www.greenfieldonline.com
  2. www.surveyspot.com
  3. www.acop.com
  4. us.lightspeedpanel.com
  5. www.harrispollonline.com
  6. www.epoll.com
  7. www.mysurvey.com
  8. www.tuvozlatina.com (for Spanish Speakers)
  9. www.esearch.com
  10. www.buzzback.com
  11. www.surveysavvy.com
  12. www.your2cents.com
  13. www.globaltestmarket.com
  14. www.psbsurveys.com
  15. www.brandinst.com
  16. www.zoompanel.com

For a more comprehensive list of survey sites, please check out this site, www.surveypolice.com/rankings, which is a great resource in checking to see if a survey site is legitimate. Survey sites are rated. Not all survey sites are accepting panelists, particularly Pinecone, which is ranked number one. Weekly Reader and Kidz Eyes are superb survey sites for tweens and teens.

Before you sign up for survey sites, check two other reward sites, www.mypoints.com and www.freeride.com. Both are points based rewards sites where you earn points by clicking on their emails and also by shopping through their sites and taking surveys on site or by email invitation. Why stop here first, you ask? Simple, because both sites offer points for joining some of the above referenced survey sites. So this is a nice double play, join both sites and then sign up for survey sites. I receive email invitations to join many other survey sites, with which I am already a member.

Step Three: Take surveys!

It may take a few days to receive your first survey, but you will see, within a month you will have many invitations. Take all surveys for the first three or four months and you will have a good idea of which survey companies are going to work best for you. You always have the option to unsubscribe to any survey site if you no longer wish to be a panelist. My sister was able to accumulate enough Amazon certificates to fund a large portion of her Christmas shopping last year by doing surveys. Each time she would receive or choose Amazon as her reward, she would bank that code in her Amazon account for future use.

So, now that I have explained the ins and outs of survey taking, you are wondering if there is anything else you can do to boost your income yet meet your familial obligations. Open an Ebay Seller account! At first, I was merely a buyer, buying things such as character clothing for my daughter, which I was unable to find in stores near me, buying things here or there, but never selling. Then I read an empowering book by Vickie L. Milazzo titled “Inside Every Woman.” This book let me see that my fear of Ebay Selling was unwarranted and challenged me to set a goal and make a baby step each day toward that goal. One day, I just did it, I listed an item. It didn’t sell, but that was ok, at least I got my feet wet! I have since gone on to successfully list and sell gently used children’s clothing, books, and some of my neighbor’s unwanted bric-a-brac. You don’t need money to start up – just things to sell. Start small by selling things you don’t need that you have lying around the house. Do your research and charge a reasonable shipping amount. I am confident that you will be successful and have a little change in your pocket.

Ebay Selling – What you need to know.

eBay Selling.Anyone who has children knows that children grow faster than weeds in your flowerbeds! Clothing is a major expense, especially when children are under the age of 12. So what do you do with outgrown clothing? Sell it on Ebay! Selling gently used clothing on Ebay is not only smart, but ecofriendly. If you don’t have someone to hand clothes down to, it is an excellent way to generate income to buy the next sizes for your children. Even selling your household “junk” can generate income for you. Ebay has been described as an online yard sale with good reason. What makes it a perfect vehicle for selling is that you can hold a sale when it is snowing outside in the middle of January and still make money. I know some people who actually shop the clearance racks for fashionable clothing, only to list it on Ebay for full-price and make a tidy profit. Below are some pearls of Ebay wisdom that you may not have known.

1. Ebay and Paypal are married. In order to sell on Ebay, you are going to need a Paypal Business account. If you have one for personal use, do yourself a favor and open up a business account. You cannot sell on Ebay unless you accept Paypal as a payment option. Unfortunately, this is a double edged sword, or should I say triple edged? First, you will accrue insertion fees. The insertion fee is based on your listing price. For instance, the insertion fee for .01 to .99 is only 20 cents. However, your bid increment is only going to be at .05 each time someone bids on your item. If you list your item at 1.00, your insertion fee is going to be 40 cents (double the cost), but your bid increment will be .50 per bid. The point being that you need to think carefully about your listing price and take into consideration that if your item is popular, listing it at .99 and getting 5 bids on it will only reap you a final sales price of $1.24, and listing your item at a starting price of $1.00 and getting 5 bids on it will reap you $3.50, still a higher profit even when you subtract the insertion fees.

2. Ebay charges a sales commission. Ebay not only reaps the insertion fee, but they also reap a commission, which is based on the final value of your auction. The fee structure is as follows:

  • Not sold – no fee
  • .01-$25.00 – 5.25% of final value ($1.31 on $25.00)
  • $25.00 – $1,000 – 5.25% of final value, plus 3.25% of the remaining closing final value
  • $1,000.01 and up – $5.25% of final value, plus 3.25% of the remaining up to $1,000 and then 1.50% on any remaining closing final value.

To view Ebay’s fee structure and insertion fee schedule in greater detail, please visit http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/fees.html. Since Ebay’s commissions are based on final value and not final value plus shipping, this is why so many listings have outrageous shipping charges. This way, the seller can get more for their sale, but not have to pay as much in commission.

3. Paypal takes a fee too. This is the third edge of the sword. You already know that you must accept Paypal as a payment option (though you can also accept personal checks, cashier checks and money orders for instance), but Paypal remains the most popular way to pay for auctions on Ebay. It is fast and instantaneous. Sellers do not have to wait for the Postman to deliver payment and you as a Buyer know that the seller received payment because you can pay through the link that is provided in the email from Ebay when you successfully win an auction. But here is where it gets expensive. The privilege of using Paypal (and receiving it) is not without its fees. The current rate is 2.9% of the amount, plus .30 USD for transactions up to $3,000. Paypal payment for auctions does include the shipping charge, so circumventing paying less sales commission to Ebay by inflating your shipping costs does not work when it comes to Paypal’s fees.

4. Your item is listed and sold. Now what? After you have collected the funds from the sale, promptly mail out the auction item. Most buyers are gracious enough to leave you feedback, hopefully positive! If your item did not sell and you are a newbie to Ebay, make several small purchases and build up your feedback rating. Remember, Ebay is anonymous. Feedback is the only way a potential buyer can judge your trustworthiness. A Feedback score of 100% and at least 10 will make potential bidders feel more confident about placing a bid.

J-O-B is not a dirty word.

Re-entering the work force may be a necessity depending on your financial situation. However, it can also be a great way to get out of the house, socialize with adults for a change and even if you aren’t suffering financially, it can be an ingenious way to fund larger purchases.

In December of this year, one of my friends online mentioned that she worked as a card merchandiser for a well-known greeting card company. As it so happens, I bumped into an American Greetings card representative at a grocery store soon after, and I started asking questions like what are the hours like? How much is the pay? How do you get started? Do you like it? As it turns out, this merchandiser liked in particular the flexibility of the job. She came and went, within reason, according to her own schedule. There are times when business dictates you to be there at a certain time, but for the most part, the job sounded like a perfect fit for me. And I had asked for general information for my sister to check into such opportunities in her area!

I began my career as a card merchandiser in January of this year. The pay is above minimum wage, but the hours can be feast or famine. In my circumstances, merchandising for two stores in the area, I estimate I will earn approximately $1,000 this year. While this doesn’t sound like much, with this surplus of money, we have been able to begin paying down some loans so that we can reach our financial goal of moving to a larger home in the next few years. The job is very flexible for the most part and I can do most of my merchandising at night or on the weekends when my husband is home to care for our children. Along with pay, I do feel much more like I am contributing to the household, and getting out of the house is a nice benefit as well.

If I can devise ways to make money from home while still maintaining my stay-at-home-mom status, you can too. Surveys, Ebay selling and even a part-time job are excellent ways to contribute to your household while remaining in control of how much you work so that your family obligations are still met. Even if your budget is not shoe-string tight, extra income can help take the bite out of the expense of Christmas, fund a vacation or major appliance. Or save up and open an IRA to plan for retirement. The possibilities of your newly found income are endless.