As a single mom, it is extremely important to keep your income options open. One reason is, there is more financial risk and pressure because you are managing your household on one income. If you lose your job or your hours get reduced, then you could experience financial devastation. Also, if you receive child support, you want to look at child support as a bonus and not an essential to your household’s survival. What would happen to your budget or ability to pay your bills if your support doesn’t come that month? By relying on child support, you would be putting you and your children’s financial well-being in the hands on someone else. Instead, I propose that you get active in controlling your own destiny and look towards ways to diversify and increase your income streams.
If you are looking to increase your income, I do not recommend getting a second job unless it is absolutely necessary. Here is why:
- There are other ways to earn extra income without the added stress, exhaustion, and guilt due to increased time away from your children.
- Some ways of increasing your income will allow your children to get involved which exposes them to entrepreneurship early. I have several entrepreneur friends who involved their children in their business, and now have small children who started businesses because they saw their mom’s example.
- You may pay more in taxes because you will be taxed on W2 (employee) income which removes taxes before you even see your check. Becoming an entrepreneur or freelancer will allow you to pay some costs from your business revenue which will reduce your taxable income. Please note: I am not a tax advisor, and I strongly recommend you consult your tax preparer when considering the tax benefits of self-employment.
- By exploring entrepreneurship, freelancing, or other opportunities, you may even be able to gain valuable work experience that is more closely aligned with your purpose and passion.
Now that you know why it is important to earn additional income and why getting a second job isn’t ideal, let’s look at ways to increase your income potential without sacrificing time with your children.
Start a Side Business
When I say “side business,” I mean starting a business that you can do outside of your normal work hours. If you are trying to think of what type of business to start, think about the things that people ask you for or to do. Then build a business around that. It can be as simple as charging for that amazing sweet potato pie or cake that people always ask you to bake. If you are crafty then start an Etsy shop, and sell your goods on Etsy. If you love writing then consider starting a blog or freelance writing business. If you have the ability to do consulting, then consider creating a consulting company. As you start to think about what business you can start, please check your company’s conflict of interest policy to ensure that you will not get into trouble.
Starting a side business, although low-risk, is not without drawbacks. It may take some time to see a return, there may be some start-up costs (although there are ways to start your business without investing a lot of money), and income is not guaranteed. Your ability to make money really depends on whether your idea meets a need, your effort, your ability to run a company, and service customers with excellence
Become a Mystery Shopper
A mystery shopper is a person who gets paid to pose as a real customer. This shopper will “shop” the assigned store and provide the company with valuable feedback regarding the store’s appearance, shopper experience, and adherence to policies. This is all done to improve the shopper’s experience.
If you are interested in becoming a mystery shopper, then please do not join a site that makes you pay. The sites that ask for money upfront are scams. The best mystery shopping sites are:
- Best Mark
- Sinclair Customer Metrics
- Market Force
- Secret Shopper
- International Service Checker
- Albatross Online
The process to get started mystery shopping is easy. You join the site, and once you are approved you get access to all of the available jobs. You pick your own job, they send you the instructions for your selected shop, and then you “shop” the store. Some of the shops will either have you submit pictures of the store or require you to make a purchase. If you make a purchase, then you will be reimbursed.
I’ve mystery shopped before where I shopped fast food restaurants, searched for and toured apartments, and visited clothing stores. Here are three pieces of advice: First, if you are shopping restaurants, be aware of your food intake because I gained a few pounds mystery shopping at restaurants. Second, keep your gas costs low and minimize your time by visiting your shops on your way home from work or on your way to somewhere else. Last, complete the shop requirements fully so that you can ensure payment.
Join a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Company
This is one where you may give me a major side-eye. However, stay with me on this. An MLM is really just a business in a box. A company develops a product, service, or system where they package it up and offer compensation to the people who promote it. Instead of paying a traditional advertiser to promote the business, they pay a team of people to spread the word. Unfortunately, due to bad business practices of some companies and some representatives, this legitimate source of income has gotten a bad reputation. However, there are some very good MLMs, and I have even been successful as a distributor; however you must do your research on the product and company before you join. If you find the right product and company, there are many benefits to joining an MLM company. Click here to send me a message if you are interested in learning more about the company where I have been successful. Some of the benefits include working from home, moving at your own pace, promoting a proven product, and including your children in the business, low start-up costs, and the investment in personal development.
Although the benefits and upside are very promising, you must understand that this is not a get rich quick opportunity. It’s a 3- to 5-year journey IF you treat this like a business. Some people will get started and move really fast, but that is not the case for everyone. There are many factors that will impact your ability to earn income, including your own effort, the time you invest, and your ability to learn the system. Also, you have to be prepared to hear “no” often and you may be criticized by friends and family because of the network-marketing stigma. If you are easily discouraged then this is not the field for you.
Sell Your Old Stuff
Seriously, I have found some amazing things on peer-to-peer sales sites, and I’m amazed at how much extra income people are making. If you are thinking about selling your old stuff, then first clean out your clutter and separate the stuff that is in great condition. Take good pictures of the items and then upload them. Post your items for sale on sites like Facebook Buy/Sell Groups in your area, eBay, or Amazon. I’m not a fan of Craig’s List, but I know a few people who have had some success on there. The biggest thing is that if you are going to meet up with someone, then be safe and use good judgment. If it doesn’t feel right then don’t do it.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to meet up with strangers, you can also resell your children’s stuff at stores like Once Upon a Child or other resale stores for children. If you have clothes within the last two years, then check out Plato’s Closet (for your teen and young adult’s clothes) or Clothes Mentor (for your clothes). Also, check out ThredUp which is an online second-hand store. Don’t limit yourself. Research resale shops in your areas and you may find that you have even more options than what I have listed here.
Become a Virtual Assistant
This is an area that isn’t as popular but is needed. There are so many small businesses, solopreneurs, executives, and professionals who need help getting things done because they have very little time. I used to have a Virtual Assistant myself, and she was so helpful because she freed up my time and allowed me to accomplish more in my business. If you are intrigued at the thought of becoming a Virtual Assistant, then write down your top 30 things that you are good at and what things you could help save people time. If you get stuck, then check out this post by Single Moms Income that can help you learn more about what you could do as a VA.
Once you decide that you want to become a VA, then just get started. Put the word out by creating a website that lists your experience and services. Then start to contact business owners and busy people to identify their needs and see how you can help them. Also, if you need to build up your portfolio and experience, then don’t be afraid to volunteer for a non-profit, business, professional development group, or your church to perfect your skills. This will help you to gain more expertise, position yourself as an expert, and also give you an organization that you can use as a reference. Last, this should go without saying, but please make sure that you can do the work that you claim to do. Also, be organized and treat these people’s projects with the respect that you would want someone to treat your projects.
Maximize Your Income in Your Current Field
One way to maximize your time is to earn more in your current field. For example, ask for a raise or even research whether you are able to earn additional performance bonuses in your job. Also, research whether your job pays more for certain certifications or higher education and if they will pay for you to complete this program.
If you find that you cannot get a raise or a bonus in your current job, then start looking for a new job. In my experience, I’ve seen and heard from others, that they get their biggest salary jump when they change employers.
Create Stock Photos
If you love photography, then selling your photos can be a great opportunity because many bloggers and companies purchase stock photos to use on their sites and marketing material. Someone has to provide those pictures. Why not you? One thing to recognize is that this isn’t a get paid quick side hustle. You will need to make sure that your images meet the requirements of the stock photo site. Therefore, as you learn the requirements and specifications, you may experience rejection. However, this does not mean that it’s not worth trying. It merely means that you may need to work on perfecting your photography craft. To increase your chances at acceptance, submit your pictures to multiple sites and plan on uploading 200 images per month if you are just getting started or 50-100 images per month if you are more experienced. Check out the Everything Micro Stock site to learn where you can sell your photos. The strategy here is to accept a little money for a lot of sales instead of a lot of money for fewer pictures. If you want to know more about creating stock photography, then check out The Penny Hoarder, which has a great post on getting started selling stock photos.
There are so many options to increasing your income without getting a second job. However, one thing that you may notice is that many of these activities may take a little longer to see a return, with the exception of the mystery shopper or selling your stuff. However, be patient during the process. Once it gets going and you start to see the return, you will not only be grateful for the additional income but also the increased time that you have with your family.
Leave a comment in the Phenomenal Moms Facebook Group to let me know how this helps you!
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!