I have had the privilege of working from home for the past decade. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been rewarding. Over the previous 10 years, many people have expressed their desire to work from home. Similarly, online, thousands of more people express this wish to make their own hours.
When I talk to these people and read their posting online, I can’t help but ask, “why do you really want to work from home?”
Is Working from Home Right for You?
I think that everyone has the ability and intelligence to work online or to work from home. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or skilled entrepreneur. However, in my experience, people don’t truly want to work from home. What they want is to escape a life they don’t love.
Strong statement, right but hear me out.
If you want to work from home to…
- Have more room in your budget
- Afford the life you want
- Want more time for yourself
- Quit the job you hate
- Feel worthy as a stay at home mom
- Do something you love
You are essentially saying that you don’t love your current life or situation. You can fix that, but working from home is not always the best way to fix it.
If You Want More Money
A lot of work at home opportunities can take several months and years to build up a real income. I have seen so many postings on Facebook that read, “I need to make $1-2K this month or else I lose my house. Which work at home opportunity is best for me?” It is a sad situation, but the reality is that you can’t expect to put your WAH hat on and start earning money right away.
Most work at home opportunities are time-consuming or require initial funds to start. For example, if you want to start a blog, you will probably need to invest a few hundred dollars and several hours of your time without the guarantee of making any money. You don’t have to pay anything to become a freelance writer, but you do have to spend a lot of time building up your portfolio and pitching potential clients.
If you are looking for an easy way to earn more money or to afford all of your bills, then I strongly suggest looking at your budget first.
Here are some things I am focusing on to save as much money as possible:
- Lower insurance premiums. I switched to a high-deductible health insurance with tax-free contributions to a health savings account. Switching from Kaiser saved us over $6,000 a year, and we are still protected if an emergency happens.
- I did preschool at home with my eldest, and will also homeschool her through a public charter school. This is more out of my desire to teach her and be at home with her, but it also saves a lot of money each year.
- Go on spending freezes once a week. It requires creativity, but it can be done. I just did a meal prep for the week on Sunday night. I wanted to go to the grocery store, but instead, I got creative with what I had in the pantry and freezer. Ask me at the end of the week how sick I am of turkey cutlets.
- Meal prep. Speaking of meal prep, if I plan and prep all of my family’s meals ahead of time, the temptation for fast food and last-minute grocery store trips is gone.
- Sell all unneeded items. Whenever I need more money, I go through each room and purge. I sell everything I can on Craigslist, eBay, and a yard sale.
- Cancel all subscriptions and services. Again, if money is tight, I will cancel or put or subscriptions and services on hold. Even though our Hulu is only $11.99 a month, if there comes a time when money is tight, I can quickly put it on hold.
- Cut up the credit cards. I am considered a credit card expert, but even I know that I can’t manage more than one account at a time with my busy work schedule. It is just easier for me to forgo credit card usage for this season, even if it means I don’t earn 3-5% cash back.
- Buy used. All of my kids’ clothes and most of mine are used and cost less than $5 a piece. We are still pretty stylish in my opinion. I also find toys and books from the thrift store for 90% of what you buy them from the store. When we are done with an item, I sell it for how much I bought it for or for a profit.
Other ways to save money include:
- Switching to one car for a time period. If you have two cars with two car payments, then try living with one car for a short amount of time. No one ever likes to hear this advice, but this isn’t a forever solution. It is a temporary solution to help you get ahead in your finances.
- Cut pricey cable and streaming options. You and your kids will survive without Hulu, Netflix or cable. Get free movies through the library or borrow movies from friends.
- Cut out fast food runs. Most of the time, we run through the fast food line because we feel short on time and fail to plan. Keep peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bags of grapes in the freezer, ready to grab when you need to run out the door. Keep bags of trail mix and tuna packages with crackers in the car for another affordable alternative. When you need fast food, running into your grocery store to grab a rotisserie chicken and loaf of bread will be faster, healthier, and cheaper than McDonald’s.
- Stop food waste. How much money do you waste from all the food you throw away? Dedicate a day to meal planning and don’t be afraid to get creative with leftovers. I try to clean out the fridge once a week and find all produce and leftovers that need to be used. Those nights, my kids will eat leftover rice and beans with a bowl of leftover soup. I will then have a huge salad of any leftover meat and vegetable. Many things can be frozen for later too.
- Stop shopping for fun. How many times do you go to Target just to look? That’s dangerous territory! I can’t even go to the thrift store or dollar store just to look because I will come out with a whole lot of stuff. Only shop for what you truly need, and be honest with what you need. Do you really need new clothes when your closet is full? Do you really need more toys for your kids when they really just want more time with you? Do you really need a new phone just because your older phone is considered outdated?
If You Want to Afford the Life You Want
There is nothing wrong with having dreams to travel or to desire to stay home with your kids. Whatever life you want, research and plan it out. Realize this might not be the right season for you, but with some preparation and discipline, you can create the life you want.
Start with controlling your budget and eliminating debt and unneeded expenses from your life. Establish your life goals and create saving goals that will motivate you. For example, if you want to stay home with your kids, calculate how much money you need each month and how much money you should have in your emergency fund before quitting your job.
Of course, you can pursue online jobs during this time to earn money on the side. However, don’t let the pursuit of a job derail your life goals. If your goal is to be at home with the kids, then don’t take on a work at home career that requires you to work every hour they are awake.
If You Want to Have More Time for Yourself (or Family)
Working from home allows you to create your own schedule, but it is not always black and white. You can’t just quit your full-time job and expect to make the same money in 20 hours each week. Is it possible? Of course, but it can take time to get to that point.
Look for other solutions that will allow you to have more time for yourself and family. Perhaps your current job will allow you to work flex hours, where you can work 10 hours a day and have Fridays off. Maybe your current job will even allow you to telecommute once or twice a week. It never hurts to ask. You can also find other positions that have better schedules than your current one offers.
If You Want to Quit the Job You Hate
It is miserable being stuck in a job you hate, especially when you see so many others making more than you from their laptops, drinking their iced lattes. Their work doesn’t look too hard, right? I am all for leaving jobs that you hate because life is too short to be stuck in a dead-end job. However, the grass is not always greener on the other side.
A lot of people think freelance writing is easy. If you love writing, then you will find the job easier than most. However, not all freelance writers are paid to write things they love. Sometimes I write on subjects I love, and the work is quick and fulfilling. Other times, I am assigned less fulfilling pieces. When I first started, I took any work I could get, which meant a lot of articles that made me want to poke my eyeballs out.
There have been many days, especially when I first started out, where I would spend hours pitching and contacting potential clients and never hear back. No one paid me for that time, whereas when you are at a horrible desk job, you are still paid for your time, even if your time isn’t as fruitful as you want it to be. Another thing about working from home is that most of the time, you are not paid for sick days, your kids’ sick days, or when you take a vacation. You are only paid for the work you produce.
If you hate your job, then actively pursue a different one. Test out different work from jobs on the side to see if they are the right fit for you. Don’t make any drastic decisions.
If You Want to Feel Worthy as a Stay at Home Mom
One of my friends recently teared up as she admitted to me that she felt like moms who worked from home were better moms. She said her only job was to be a stay at home mom, and yet, she felt like she wasn’t even doing a great job at that. I was heartbroken for her.
You will not be a better mom if you work from home. You will not be worthier of love, attention, respect, etc. if you work from home. Being a stay at home mom is tough, no matter how many kids you have. Being a work at home mom is tough too. No mom should feel less worthy for not having a job because every mom is an amazingly hard worker. No buts!
Adding a side job to your life might make you feel more important, but the truth is that you should not look for your importance through the eyes of others. Even if your kids go to school for most of the day, don’t feel that you have to fill your time with activities that make you look busy or worthwhile. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for what you want to do.
If anything, as a mom, whether a SAHM, WAHM, or working mom, you will feel better making time to pursue something that matters to you rather than something that makes you extra money. Take time to explore what you really want out of life. I bet it’s not money. Maybe you want to finally learn how to do X or you want to read more or write that book you’ve always wanted to write. Whatever your passion is, pursue that and don’t worry if you will ever make money or be famous for it.
If You Want to Do Something You Love
Maybe you are like me, and you want to pursue freelance writing because you love to write. Then, by all means, do it. If the money is tight, try reigning in your budget and writing on the side. This will allow you to pursue writing on your terms, not just for money.
I pursued writing for the money initially. This meant I was working myself crazy writing 100 $12 articles a month. It was not worth it, and it almost killed my love for writing all together. Now I try not to let money dictate my assignments. Life is too short to spend the majority of it doing something you hate, especially if you could be spending it making memories with your family instead.
So What’s the Point?
Is this article long enough for you? My point in all of this is to say that getting a work from home job will not instantly cure you of a life that you don’t love. Writing online has a lot of perks, but there are also a lot of disadvantages too.
I have turned down many opportunities because they conflicted with my life’s goals of spending most of my time with my family. I have lost clients because I have put myself and family first in trials of poor health. It doesn’t matter that I am published in Times or Forbes, family members, and friends still ask me, “So what do you do all day?”
Working online or from home is not a magic pill, so stop believing it is. It can be a useful tool to help you create the life you want, but so is budgeting and defining your goals. Ask yourself, “do I really want to work from home, or do I want to ____?” Maybe deep down you don’t want to work from home, but you want to get out of debt, travel more, or spend more time with your kids.
All of this to say find out what you really want before looking for work at home opportunities.