Major Life Challenges Blog Series

We are taking a closer look at some of the big issues we all can face in our lifetime. Each topic will be featured as a blog series.

Single Parents: 4 Ideas to Make Extra Money

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As a single parent you and your family often rely solely on you and your income. You've created a budget, you're sticking to it, but sometimes your expenses outweigh your income and you start falling short each month.

At first it's not so bad; a late phone bill, a few days behind in rent, or a week without a trip to the grocery store. But then, you realize the rent is a month behind, threats to turn off your electric are coming in the mail, and you have been using your credit cards more frequently instead of following your "cash" only rule.

Single Parents: Ways to Make Extra MoneyWhat can you do to make up the difference? Your time is already stretched thin; you are working full-time, keeping house and parenting solo, where is that extra hour in the day single parents need? I have good news and bad news... The bad news--I can't get you that extra hour in your day...The good news-- I have some tips I can give you for ways to earn extra cash without sacrificing your most precious commodity...time.

1.   Freelance Work

If you enjoy writing, designing websites, or keeping others organized you may consider offering up your talents to others with freelance work. Most freelance work can be done when it's convenient for you; like when the kids are in bed or having a play date. Just remember to treat it like your full-time job; complete work on time and be professional.

Some great places to find freelance work:

  • Projects range from graphic design and photography to bookkeeping and data entry.
  •  Elance offers access to qualified clients, a virtual workplace and guaranteed pay for great work.

2.   Online Auctions

We all have things around the house we could, and probably should part with to reduce clutter and Ebay and Craigslist are excellent places to do just that and earn a little cash in the process. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • eBay. First, you will need to register for an eBay account if you don't already have one. Then click on "Sell" to open a "Sell an Item" form. Then click "Start Selling." You should enter at least three keywords to help people find your item and pick a category. Next, select the listing form; if you are new to eBay you can start with the simple listing. You can assign a title, add photos and write a description of the piece or "lot". Finally decide the shipping price, starting bid and how you would like to be paid. Keep in mind eBay charges a 15 cents listing fee for each item.
  • Craigslist. Craigslist is a great local alternative, if you do not want to deal with shipping. As with eBay, you need to register with the site first. Then choose the state and then the city where you want to sell your item. Next, define the category by selecting what you want to sell and write a short description of the item, its condition and a photo of the item. Click "Continue" and you will go to a summary page where you can review, accept the site's terms of use and the item lists. You will also need to go to your e-mail and confirm the posting to complete the process.

3.   Child Care

Maybe you just can't swing a few hours of uninterrupted time to do freelance work or organize and sell items online. Consider offering childcare to friends, neighbors or place an ad offering your services. You know as well as I do parents, especially single ones that you cross paths with at the playground or car pool lane are always looking to steal a few moments to themselves or to do things like freelance work. Not only are you providing yourself the opportunity to earn extra dollars there is the potential for a play date for your child!

I don't charge to watch other people's children, but I do swap the time with neighbors and friends. It's a win-win situation as we each benefit from some "time" to accomplish things that are difficult with kids in tow. Consider trying this to carve out time for freelance work or starting an online auction.

4.   Rent Out a Room or Get a Room-mate

Today, renting to a stranger especially when you live alone with your child may not be the best idea. However, if you can find someone you know, maybe even another single parent you can benefit from extra income as well as an extra set of adult hands around the house.

Currently another single mom and I are tossing around the idea of renting a larger place we can live in; neither of us currently have the space. If we share a home we can each save $400 a month in rent, not to mention the share of utilities.

Living on one income is definitely a challenge and sometimes things are too tight for comfort. Knowing that there are ways to supplement your income can lift the burden of worry and empower you to take advantage of your skills and ingenuity.

What have you done to earn additional income when money is tight?

Suzanne Cramer

Suzanne is a certified credit counselor working in our Ask the Expert forums as a coach and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne. Suzanne writes for our Divorce, Debt and Finances and A Straight Talk on Debt blogs. Follow Suzanne on Twitter where she shares the latest debt industry news and tips to keep your finances in check with her ADivorcedMom and AskCareOne accounts.


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  • Just thought I might add a 5th idea to your article!  Direct Sales can be an awesome way to add additional income while allowing you to completely maintain control over your schedule.  I personally, signed with Premier Designs 4 years ago as a way to add income without requiring excessive time away from my family.  The best thing about Premier is we have no mandated quotas, no inventory, no deliveries, no territories, an incredible hostess plan and we make a 50% gross profit of everything we sell, regardless of whether it is through an individual customer order, catalog show or home show.  The company also backs their products with a manufacturing defect gaurantee.  The key to making sure you truly stay in control of your schedule is to be careful of companies that require a high sales quota.  Also, make sure that it is a product you can be passionate about.  Whether you are looking for just a little extra money or want to replace your career income, it truly can be done through Direct Sales.  The income amounts can be as much or as little as you want.  Example: Our average home show which takes about 4 hours from start to finish (including prep time and closing out the show) is about $500.  From that $500 our gross profit would be $250!  Before Premier I can promise you I never had an opportunity to do something that would allow me to make $250 in 4 hours AND have a BLAST while doing it.  So how many shows you do per week/month can be based off the amount of income you are trying to create.  Other benefits of course, are tax deductions, receiving recognition for a job well done, having a supportive "family" to help you be on your own, without having to do it alone and so much more.  There are MANY different businesses out there to get involved with, so be sure you do your research, ask questions, and be careful of companies that have "no compete" clauses in their contracts!  If I can be of any further assistance to you or your readers in any way, feel free to contact me through

    Thank you!

    Buffy Hood

  • I do a paid for surveys site and I make around $150 a month. It won't make you rich but it covers my electric and water bill lol. It's really not hard. Here is the link check it out,

  • I do a paid for surveys site and I make around $150 a month. It won't make you rich but it covers my electric and water bill lol. It's the only real way I have found to make money online. Here is the link check it out,

  • I am a stay at home mom and I have had tons of time to research and mess around online to try to  find ways to earn money. I have found a few ways that actually work. check out my blog for tips and info.

  • I do surveys online to make a few extra bucks. I make around $200 a month or so. It wont make you rich but it is easy. Check out cashcrate it's the best.

  • Try doing surveys. Ive been a member of cashcrate for years. They are always reliable. You really can make some easy money and Ive never had a prob getting paid.

  • Great tips. Im a single mom and a stay at home mom. I do surveys online for extra cash. Ive been doing this for years. I make around $200 to $300 monthly and it helps alot. Check out Cashcrate Ithey are very dependable and easy,

  • I do surveys online to make a few extra bucks. I make around $200 a month or so. It wont make you rich but it is easy. Check out cashcrate it's the best.

  • Cashcrate is my favorite site and the one that I’ve received the most checks from. I’ve been doing it for about a year now and honestly have never had a problem with it.You earn money by doing free offers, surveys, watching ads, shopping online, participating in live contests and referring your friends and family members to the site.  Cashcrate is one of the most popular GPT sites having over 2 million members worldwide.Their referral system is great too. When you sign up a person you earn 20% of your level 1 referrals.your referral percentage increase up to 30%. This is why Cash crate is the best GPT site. Your earning potential is unlimited.I have made close to $3000 using this great Get Paid To Site. The amazing part is I've spent only about 6 hours a week on this site and I've earned $300 in 1 month! I can't urge you enough to try it out for yourself.

    BONUS: Sign up and receive $1.00.

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