Making Money as a Stay at Home Mom: Part 1 - Ways to Get Started

One of the hard adjustments to being a stay-at-home mom is losing out on the working mom's income. Finding side hustles that are both a good return on time and fits into a SAHM schedule can be challenging. Here we explore 4 down to earth ways to get started making money while being at home.
Written by
Kim Le
Published on
March 8, 2024

Side Hustles for Stay at Home Moms: Part 1 - How to Get Started

The hardest adjustment to being a stay-at-home mom (for me) has been losing half of our family's income.

Most of the "side hustles" recommended by the wisdom of the internet, make less than minimum wage or require more time and effort without yielding immediate returns, if any. Finding something that's both a good return on your time and fits into a SAHM schedule has been a multi-month exercise. Here's the list that I'm doubling down on; and based on my experience, I believe it is worthwhile for others to explore.

The approaches outlined here can yield immediate results and, more importantly, the results compound over time. There's no reinventing the wheel here; and no flashy "get rich quick" schemes. This is a down to earth approach, that requires methodical execution and a slow and steady dedication.

Short-term Stints to Get Started

1. Freelance with a Former Employer

At the top of any side hustle listicle is freelancing. Freelancing makes good money reliably and considerably faster than most other sides hustles. The easy route to get started requires a few ingredients:

  • Professional network who you keep in touch with from college, graduate school, and/or from prior jobs
  • 10,000 hours (ie ~5 years of work experience) mastering a specific domain (ideally the chosen domain that is often outsourced by companies)
  • Some former bosses and employers who liked working with you

With that, you can rely on your personal network to help land steady gigs. Start by reaching out to a former employer or colleague to see if they have areas that could leverage a freelancer. This has multiple benefits: the ramp-up time is minimal, mutual trust and understanding is already established, and there’s less of a need to constantly find and manage clients. Plus, the pay can be higher due to that established trust. Aim for 5 to 10 hours per week to keep it sustainable.

2. Switch to High Yield Checking and Savings Account(s)

Idle cash loses money, and even more so during these high inflationary periods post-COVID. Interest rates from large banks continue to fall far behind the medium to small sized alternative banking solutions. Switch to a high-yield savings account or a checking account from a regional or online digital bank to earn better interest. Some options we’ve found that tops 5%:

  • Wealthfront with 5% APY on Savings account
  • Acorns with 5% APY on Emergency Fund (and 3% APY on Checking)
  • Ivy Bank with 5.3% APY on high yield savings account
  • TAB Bank with 5.27% APY on high yield savings account

There are downsides and may be risks with these choices, such as being online only or only regional. None of these are major banks like JPMorgan, Bank of America, or Wells Fargo, but they yield far more for your idle operating cash.

The extra dollars you make in interest can add up significantly over time, especially when you're consistently depositing into it. American household savings balance by the numbers1:

  • With a median account balance of $8,000, earn ~$400 in 1 year at 5%
  • With an average account balance of $62,410, earn ~$3000 in 1 year at 5%

Research and read the requirements on daily balance, fees, withdrawals, checks, and transfers to not incur unnecessary fees. Doing your own research is important to know what you’re signing up for.

3. Optimize Credit Card Cash Rewards

Dave Ramsey, the talkshow financial guru, condemns credit cards. If you have zero financial discipline, credit cards can be damaging, leading to overspending and large debt balances. But correctly used, credit cards are an excellent source of free cash on budgeted expenditure. Every month you’ll likely spend money on groceries. With cash or a debit card, you can spend $500 on groceries with no return. With a 6% cash back credit card on groceries, you spend $500 on groceries and get $30 back from credit card rewards. The Points Guy and Nerd Wallet both write extensively about optimizing credit cards for rewards.

A game plan for optimizing your cash back rewards:

  • Research the highest cash back rewards credit cards and the fine print on their terms and conditions
  • Outline your monthly or annual spend by cash back reward categories based on the cards researched
  • Estimate the cash back rewards and determine if your expected return will exceed the annual credit card fees or any other card requirements or fees

Research and choose card(s) that aligns with your spending patterns. Make sure to set up automatic payments to avoid late fees and interest, and keep track of your spending to ensure you're not overspending. Monthly check-ins on your cards at minimum and potentially weekly balance reviews are good exercise for healthy financial hygeine.

4. Start Weekly Automatic Investing

Investing doesn't have to be complicated. Services like E*TRADE allow you to start automatic investing with as little as $25 a week from your choice of their pre-built portfolios or range of low cost ETF funds. The Acorns app allows users to invest spare change and even invest on your child’s behalf with as little as $5 per week.

These small, consistent investments can grow significantly over time, providing a source of passive income. Keep an eye out for new account deals such as cash offers to open a new account to maximize your initial investment.

Investing in the stock market comes with risks, and there’s always a chance to lose money. However, investing in the stock market can be a long-term path to wealth. 93% of the stock market is owned by the top 10% of the wealthiest Americans 2. Starting small and letting the results compound over time has the potential to build a nest egg to fall back on.

Learn to Love the Compound Effect

Darren Hardy's The Compound Effect sets forth the thesis that "small choices + consistency + time = significant results." By combining these various strategies, your cumulative results can boost your family’s income without compromising your time and commitment towards your responsibilities as a mom and a caregiver. Start small, stay committed, and always remind yourself during the hard times about the long-term benefits. Each of these approaches requires a certain level of self-education and effort over an extended period of time, but with steady dedication, they can alleviate financial stress and contribute to a secure future for you and your loved ones.

Read more related articles

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