Eleanor writes on many topics, including parenting, single parenting, party and activity ideas, and career and home life.
Making Ends Meet as a Single Parent Can Be Tough
Being a single parent can be financially tough, even when you already have a full-time job. These days, you need a small fortune just to be able to afford a home, and the cost of living is not exactly cheap. Kids are expensive to raise. It's no surprise then that extra money—any extra money—is welcome for a large proportion of single mothers. But earning extra money is not always that simple when you have children to look after, particularly when they are still young. And knowing that it all comes down to you, and only you, only adds to the stress.
But if you are determined to make some extra cash, it is possible. What's more, there are ways to do it without even leaving the house. Here are several ways that could help to boost your family finances, to varying degrees:
Do online surveys. Sign up for as many as you like, and surveys will be sent to you via email. I have tried both You Gov and Ipsos i-say (I'm based in the UK), but there are others. It will take you quite a while to earn the amount needed for payout (with YouGov, it is £50), but any extra money is money you wouldn't have otherwise. Plus, you can complete the surveys, which shouldn't take more than 10 minutes or so, whilst lying on the sofa watching TV—hardly backbreaking work. At the very least, it could pay for half a weekly shop or someone's Christmas present.
I gave up with Ipsos as I didn't really like the surveys, but I earned the payout with You Gov. The only annoying thing about surveys is that you cannot control when and how often you will be given the opportunity to participate. There are definitely times when you are sent a lot of surveys and times when they seem few and far between. But, as I said before, it's money you wouldn't have otherwise had; just don't treat it as a regular thing. I actually quite enjoy the You Gov surveys as I like expressing my opinion, so the time I spend is no hardship!
2. Sell Plants
Sell plants outside your home. If you are the green-thumbed type, buy seeds and nurture the growing plants, and then stand them all outside your home with price tags and a sign enticing people to buy them as soon as spring arrives. Someone near to me has actually been doing this every summer for at least three years. This mum (who works with a friend) has the added bonus of living on a well-used road which many people walk down to get to local schools/places of work. Remember, when the sun is in the sky, everyone of a certain age with outside space is into gardening. If they like what they see and they have the cash on them, they will buy it on a whim. In fact, I buy nearly all my plants on a whim whilst passing by somewhere. Set up is low, and it's a win/win situation. The lady near me just asks customers to put the money through the letterbox and knock if change is required.
3. Sewing and Clothing Alterations
Are you handy with a sewing machine? Let me let you into a secret—I can't even replace a button adequately, let alone alter a hem. Sewing is hip right now, but there are many within this generation of parents who are woefully inadequate when it comes to using a needle and thread. Advertise yourself as a go-to person within your community for alterations, commissions or costume making (I always dread World Book Day!) on Facebook or other social media, and you may be able to foster a small business. Again, overheads are practically zero providing you already have the main equipment, so it's another win/win. I have to take my alterations to an expensive shop in town—either that or give them to my mum, who doesn't even live locally.
4. Walk Dogs
Advertise yourself as a local dog walker. Lots of people do this. I have a friend who has two or three dogs she takes out on a regular basis. With her new baby in a sling and the other children at school, she's all set. Many people love dogs but are not able to be there all the time—a friendly, local dog walker is the ideal answer. Depending on where you live (I live in an area where most people are out at work), it could turn into quite a lucrative side-earner.
(It's probably a sensible idea to only try this if you have experience handling dogs or have owned one in the past.)
5. Advertise Yourself as a Cleaner
Advertise yourself as a cleaner, using Facebook or any other means to reach potential customers. It's not everyone's ideal job, but don't scoff. I know someone who gave up a job as a carer because the money for cleaning was about 25% higher. Plus, you can take on as much or as little as you choose. In some areas, especially areas with a lot of professional people, cleaners are in high demand, and there are not enough to go round. Some people just don't have time to do their own cleaning as well as work and attend to their families. And that is where you come in (as long as you are good at cleaning, of course).
6. Bake Birthday Cakes
Bake cakes for celebrations if you have the skills—lots of moms haven't or don't want the hassle. But everyone wants that special cake for their child's birthday. I once tried to make my youngest a cake, and it was a disaster. It tasted reasonably nice, but appearance-wise it was a failure and had to be covered with smarties just to be acceptable. Plus, it was too small, and we had to buy a shop-bought one to go alongside it. I would rather pay someone else to make my child's birthday cake, no question about it. Just doing it within your social circle and for local school mums will probably keep you busy—after all, there is always a birthday on the horizon!
7. Start Your Own Online Business
I know someone who started an online business selling high-quality children's clothes from Scandinavia. It started small, and she set it up whilst maintaining another job. Now, it is all she does, and she is very busy. Starting an online business from home means that your start-up costs are relatively low, and so there is much less risk involved. Think of a product that you believe in (perhaps something you are a bit of an expert in), and that has not already over-saturated the online market, and give it a go. If you don't try, you'll never know.
Additionally, if you have a special skill and can make things, you could try your hand selling your own creations online or even your own services.
8. Writing Online
If you are passionate about writing and have something to say, in addition to possessing good grammar skills, then you could try your hand at online writing. The only writing I can currently vouch for is Hubpages (which is where I have placed many of my own articles, including this one). If you sign up for the Hubpages Ad Program, you can build up a small stream of income which can (eventually) boost your finances. Visitors to your articles come via search engines, and you can earn a small amount via impressions from the advertisements that the Hubpages Ad Program place on your pages. Bear in mind that this is not a get rich quick scheme—it can take many months to rank well on Google—but if you are prepared to put the work in by creating articles that people want to read, then you can gradually create a small passive income for yourself in addition to other streams of income.
Blogging, or creating your own website, is also a good way to express yourself and hopefully earn a little on the way. But blogging is very competitive these days (something like 90 percent of bloggers earn nothing or very little; don't quote me on that number, but I know it's very high), and I personally found it hard to obtain a large enough stream of readers to generate any income. That's because I only like the writing part—not the self-promotion part (which I didn't bother with). But it might be for you, and if it is, it could be very successful if you can find a unique slant on a topic.
It is important not to forget that online writing is a long road—don't view it as an option for immediately boosting your finances.
I hope you found this article useful—there are lots of ways that you can generate a bit of extra money, and I have tried to show a few different options.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.