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How to Make Money as a SAHM

A while back we had a long conversation on this blog about the cost of working. If you've got little kids, we asked, and you have to pay for childcare, then does working outside the home even contribute to your income in a substantial way?

For instance, one of the things that stay at home moms can do is to figure out how to live on less. We do have more time to do things like cook from scratch, make our own gifts, spend more time shopping for bargains, etc. We can only have one car, even though that may mean chauffeuring hubby to work so we can keep it for the day. I also find that when I'm tremendously busy, either because of speaking or because of events with the kids, it's harder to make dinner. That's when we go out or eat prepared foods, which adds to the budget. I know if I were working full-time I'd do the take-out thing more often, and so that would become more expensive.

Therefore, I'm not sure it always pays to work, depending on your potential income. But what do you do when you just really need money? I want to throw this question out there, because several of my long-term readers really need answers, and I thought together we could come up with something.

So here's the scenario. You aren't highly educated, and the maximum you could probably make would be $15/hour, and that's if you hit the jackpot. But you really need to bring home about $1500 a month just to make ends meet. So what do you do? Here are some choices that I see:

1. Work part-time. It sounds silly, but part-time work may be able to bring in more money. When you're not paying for childcare because your husband has the kids, and when you can still live on one vehicle, part-time work may actually leave more money in the wallet. Work two nights a week and Saturdays. Be a waitress, or work at a call centre or something. The disadvantage: you never see your husband. You don't really have family time. So I'm not a big fan of this one.

2. Sell Mary Kay/Tupperware. I'm not an overly big fan of this one, either. I've gone down that route briefly, and gone to all the sales conferences, and gotten all pumped up to sell stuff, and become a leader, and have people work under me, but it just doesn't work that well. You can work so hard at it for a few years and still have little to show for it. It works great for some--but for the majority it doesn't. And you spend your life out at nights and trying to convince women who don't really want to go to parties to go to just one more. Let me know if you think differently, but I know one of the women who needs money advice has already tried this and won't do it again.

3. Become a foster parent. Don't balk at this one right away. I'm not saying we should do it for the money. I don't know what all jurisdictions pay, but in mine, if you take in two kids you make up that monetary gap we were talking about. It's a lot of work. It's a big sacrifice. You have to define your boundaries. But if you are willing, it has a lot of upsides. You're really making a difference. You're living out your values. You are still able to stay home and be with your own kids, and if they're in school, you're able to get them on and off of the bus or be there for their field trips and sports games. You have to be careful who you take, but this can be an option for some, and given how desperate they are for good foster parents, perhaps it's one more of us should consider (even forgetting about the money!). Any foster parents out there? I'd love for you to comment on this option!

4. Help your husband to make more money. After all, you need more income. It doesn't really matter who gets it. So how can we help our husbands boost their incomes? Can we help them start a business? Can we help them with that business by doing some of the work at home? Can we support them going back to school for a time to get more training? Any thoughts on this one?

5. Save more money. The other way to make money, of course, is simply not to spend it. If you've got a major shortfall, look at what you can change in how you spend money to perhaps make some of that up. That's not always possible; I know a lot of people are already living pretty close to the bone. It's just a thought.
6. Start your own business. Lots of people are doing it. Sell on e-bay. Turn a hobby into a business. Especially at Christmas it's easier to make some money. Any concrete suggestions here?

So what do you all think? What's the best way to boost income when you want to continue to stay at home with your kids? And if someone absolutely had to get a job, any suggestions on what kind of job to get?

By the way: an anonymous commenter took offense at my post a few days ago, saying that I was denigrating working moms in my "stay at home mom" rant. I addressed that in the comments, but in case she doesn't read them, let me just say again: I didn't mean the post against working moms. I had no idea it would be taken that way. I meant it against PEOPLE in general. In fact, the specific individuals I was thinking of aren't moms at all. Several are male. So I'm sorry if you were offended, but I really think it was just a misunderstanding.

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At 9:08 AM , Anonymous Traci Knoppe said…

Hi Sheila - great post! A lot of moms (non-moms & males too) are using internet and affiliate marketing to make a full-time income while working from home.

Internet marketing is generally where you create a product yourself and sell it online.

Affiliate marketing is where you are promoting/selling someone else's product whereby you receive a commission for each sale you generate.

Affiliate marketing is particularly good for SAHM's because one of the best ways to sell is via blogging! Review a product or service, blog about your thoughts, include your affiliate link and you receive commissions when others buy after clicking your link.


At 12:17 PM , Anonymous Kristine McGuire said…

Truly it can be difficult to be a stay at home mom and provide the extra income needed to help your family. I did several of the suggestions you provided...including Mary Kay. The important thing to remember is the value of making the sacrifices that allow a mom to stay home with her children. I was able to do so when my girls were young and have always been very thankful I did.


At 12:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

This comment has been removed by the author.


At 12:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Hi Sheila - new to your blog. I am a stay-at-home mom, and was very interested to read this post.

I actually have an associate's degree and used to work as an x-ray tech. My husband works 5-7 days a week at his job and also farms. He is always working, and I am always with the kids. I thought about things like Mary Kay (most recently Simply Said), but like you said, people are so tired of parties!!

Being home with my children (who I will eventually be homeschooling), writing and making people smile are what I love to do. I'm hoping to eventually make money doing what I love while where I love to be.


At 3:15 PM , Blogger Courtney said…

I really enjoyed this post. I stay at home with our son, and have since before he was born. Husband and I have talked about me getting a job, but it's really NOT worth it (like you said, daycare is EXPENSIVE!)

I would like to get into Freelancing, seeing as how I love to write. But until that starts working for me, I spend my time trying to save money in other ways. Finding bargains and deals for shopping trips and making out healthy and cheap menus for meal time.

I think the biggest thing for SAHM's to remember is that, even though we may not "technically" be contributing financially, we are saving our family lots of money. We are at home to cook & clean and take care of the kids...saving tons of money on house keeping, child care, and eating out. We have a tough and sometimes thankless job. But someone has to do it. Love you blog!


At 4:07 PM , Blogger Laura said…

One of the first things I think of when thinking of how to make money AND stay at home is "what could my hobbies and skills do for me?" I enjoy photography. It's just a hobby but I am good enough that people would pay me to take pictures. I'm not interested in making it in to a business but if I needed to I could make some extra money that way.

I just paid a lady today to hem a pair of pants for me. I'm sure it didn't take her very long... just another example of using hobbies/skills to earn some extra income. It may not make you quite as much as you need but it will at least make you something.

But the BIGGEST thing for my family... budgeting. Nothing has changed as far as my husbands job or how much he makes in a year. We started keeping a budget and sticking to it and we also added two kids to the family... and somehow it seems that we have more money now than we ever did. I know this won't work for everyone because some people really are living by using every penny for only the necessary things. But if a mom wanted to stay home and wasn't budgeting that is one of the first thing I would suggest to her. It's amazing how much more money I had available when I got it all on paper and stuck with it.


At 4:48 PM , Blogger Llama Momma said…

I started working part-time with almost the exact schedule you describe -- two nights a week and every other Saturday. I feel like the nights I AM home, I'm more deliberate about spending quality time with my husband, so I don't feel like it's a huge negative in that regard. Plus, I don't leave for work until 5:30, so we're able to eat an early dinner together before I leave!

It's working for us right now, and I'm grateful!


At 6:25 PM , Blogger Soutenus said…

Just found your blog via a search on "book report outlines" of all things!
I am a stay at home Mom who recently gave up a teaching career. I got so frustrated teaching other kids when I really wanted to be home teaching mine . . . I am a great teacher and I know my kiddo. Long story short we decided to go for it.
We knew our household income would be cut in half so I got busy
1) praying
2) finding ways to save
2) brainstorming ways to bring in extra money without a lot of time away from my family.
I lucked out by finding a store that I do affiliate advertising for.
Everytime someone shops with them I get a commission. I love the store myself so it all works well for us.


At 8:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

If you're working outside of the home part-time you're not a SAHM.

And advocating working when your husband is home sounds like a good plan to kill a marriage anyways.


At 9:34 AM , Blogger Katy-Anne Binstead said…

Anonymous, it does not kill our marriage when my husband works while I'm home, so why would it kill our marriage for me to work when he's home? Not every marriage problem is the woman's fault, despite what the conservative Christian church teaches.

Also, does a mom have to be at home 24/7 to be considered a stay at home mom? I guess I'm not one then, because I left the house yesterday to buy groceries. Yes, I did it while my husband was at home watching the kids. Guess I'm killing my marriage, huh?


At 12:49 PM , Anonymous Bonnie said…

I consider myself a SAHM, but I do work 3 nights a week in a restaurant. I am there when my kids get up, eat and sleep. I play, read and teach them all day. I take them to preschool and extra circular activities and I teach them the beauty of taking care of a house and a family. But I leave 3 evenings a week to provide an extra income for my family. This isn't killing my marriage, it enables us to live comfortably without fighting over money. Do we miss each other these nights, of course, but we would miss each other if he had a second job at night too, like many families do to stay afloat. We have just chosen to balance the work and time with the kids a little more evenly between us both. My husband enjoys the time with the kids and perhaps it is his opportunity to have some time with them where he can just be dad. He can focus on building a relationship of his own with them without the worry of how Mommy does things or the kids being used to Mommy doing everything and not depending on him at all. Lots of families make sacrifices to be at home with their children, this has been ours, but I don't think it's fair to take away the fact that I am At Home With my children the majority of the time and no one but my husband and I is raising them.


At 1:46 PM , Blogger Kelli said…

Some of these comments are getting heated! I will say that this has been controversial, especially in the Christian community for years and years, mostly since women started going back to work after having babies.

I went back to work after having my first daughter. I LOVED teaching middle schoolers and it was my passion. Don't get me wrong, my daughter was my passion as well, but I found myself anxious to get back to work about 8 weeks after my daugther was born. I had just been teaching for a year and wasn't prepared to give it up just then. I know, I know. Gaulk at me if you will, but those were my true feelings.

When I found out I was pregnant with my son (my daughter was just 13 months at the time), I PRAYED, budgeted, researched and "interviewed" many friends who were stay at home moms. To be honest, I thought I might get bored, but not when I had two! I'm glad I took the time (even though money was TIGHT) to really consider this option because you only get ONE chance to raise your little ones and that's it!

We sacrifice in many ways. Now I do have the time to clip coupons, clean my house, cook from scratch, shop at different locations to save money, etc. My friend actually ran a small business creating scrapbooks for a family. She made GOOD money. $10.00 a page and she could make pages quickly!

As my dauther has gotten older (4 yrs.), I have decided to homeschool. Why would I pay a daycare center to teach my child when I have a bachelor's in education and I'm already home with my other two little ones (2-yr. old son and 4-month old daughter)? We have found that the ONLY downfall so far to homeschooling is the socialization and we meet that through church on Sundays, our AWANA program at church, a homeschool group which I helped form and sometimes we go to an open gym for toddler gymnastics or we attend a music class (Music with Mar.).

On the Mary Kay, I tried it and it's not worth it. Hooray for those who can, but I wasted my time and money. I still buy it from a friend when I can though.

We do all the typical "saving" strategies: coupon-clipping, mowing our own lawn, cleaning our own house, not going out to eat, babysitter swapping, making laundry detergent. We've even breeded some puppies which was a learning experience as well as a great source of income. We've recently discovered that we can do so many things ourselves when it comes to fixing an appliance when it's broken and just attempting things that we could get directions to do on the internet and do them ourselves.

Thanks for this great post!


At 4:18 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Boy, there have been a lot of people beating up others on this blog this week about the working/not working issue!

And they tend to do it anonymously. I allow anonymous comments, but in general, if you do make them, beware that we don't take them as seriously. They seem more like "drive by" insults.

I think anonymous comments are great for things like marriage questions. I've had a number of people anonymously comment when they need help for a sensitive area in marriage. But writing something anonymously just because you have your goat up doesn't always contribute well to the conversation.

Anyway, let me just respond to the anonymous commenter above. Please see what I wrote in my post. I was not advocating work or advocating staying at home. What I was saying was: If you have chosen to stay at home, but you need money desperately, what do you do?

To just dismiss the question the way you did, I think, can be hurtful to those who are genuinely in financial straits, as some of my readers are. It is fine to feel that working is wrong (we all have the right to our opinions, and I personally think staying home, if possible, is best), but a more productive thing would be to suggest something for those women who don't want to work, but who feel compelled to for financial reasons. To simply tell them they're wrong isn't really helpful.

Also, you are a SAHM if your children aren't in childcare. I'm with Mrs. W. on this. To say that SAHM's can never work is silly if it's the husband home with the kids, and if the mom is only gone for a little bit of time.

I've always considered myself a SAHM, but I do speak at women's retreats on the weekends. But I've been home with my kids for the last 14 years, and I homeschool them all during the week.


At 11:11 PM , Blogger Stacy said…

I saw this originally and kept meaning to come back and comment on the foster parent idea. I work for an agency that licenses foster homes (although it isn't what I personally do), and I have also worked with several foster families. Despite what some people think, fostering is NOT easy money. The process for becoming certified generally takes at least 6 months. It includes interviews about every aspect of your family and life, past and present (including finances), and also requires having your house inspected by the state initially, then periodically after that. Also, don't forget you're "on duty" 24/7- one foster mom I talked to said she figured out she was making around $2.50/hour, and here in AZ the reimbursement rates are being cut due to budget issues. Besides that there is the risk (and in some cases a near certainty) of being investigated by CPS.
All of that being said, there is definitely a need for good foster homes. If God is calling you in that direction, then go for it!


At 11:50 PM , Anonymous George said…

Interesting post... I can see that you put a lot of hard work on your blog. I'm sure I'd visit here more often. George from how to make money fast.


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At 8:22 AM , Anonymous stay at home moms earn money said…

Thanks for providing such information, this post is very helpful for those mom who want stay in home and also want to earn money.


At 4:46 PM , Blogger Susie said…

I know this post is a week old, but I'm new to your blog and couldn't resist commenting. :)

I am a SAHM of 19 years, and boy, would I love to make extra money from home- esp with college tution bills now!
At this very moment, I feel the Lord is leading me NOT to earn extra money for right now... because whatever way I can figure to do it- it takes TIME, mental and physical energy- all of which I need to devote to my 3 girls still at home, my hubby, and ministry things. the past, I have made a little bit of money teaching on the internet- I used to teach and I've homeschooled for years. I started out teaching writing to homeschoolers over the internet using a free collaborative whiteboard website. It was great!! I loved it, but it just took a whole day out of my week. you could easily use one of these web sites for tutoring as well.

Another thing I wanted to respond to is the foster parent idea. We did foster care for 2 1/2 years- what a wonderful ministry! God has led us in different directions now, but my kids cherish those memories. Of course, you do not make a lot of money- as some one else pointed out, but every little bit helps, right? Plus, you get paid for doing ministry. Instead of thinking about getting paid so much/hour, I thought of it as having a few extra hundred bucks each month for unexpected expenses, or fun things. Sometimes we did indeed need to spend it all on our foster children or the increased grocery bill, but not always. Foster care isn't something you do for the money- it should be because you feel called to do it- but the money helps! :)

Thanks for the post!


At 6:28 AM , Anonymous Dyson Ball said…

Hi Sheila nice post!
I have one little boy and it is hard to try and keep him out of daycare while trying to work at the same time. I stay at home during the day and work at night when his dad gets home. I chose to work part time for some extra money and just to get out of the house.

As someone else mentioned affiliate marketing and internet marketing is another way to generate some income. I am starting to learn about it now.

Feel free to check out my first site and tell me if it looks good.Dyson Ball Vacuum Site

You have a lovely website here.


At 12:35 PM , Blogger Erin McCoy said…

we've been foster parents for about a year and a half. our agency won't allow people to foster unless they can prove that this isn't money they depend on. Unfort, the girls we received were moved from foster parents (not same agency) that were just 'doing it for the money' and weren't even taking care of these sweet babies!!! :( but, i of course know that isnt your intent. i think it's a wonderful, much-needed ministry and i definitely encourage everyone to look into it. ... And since it's money we don't depend on at all, we can use it to save up, it frees up more money to donate, etc etc. ... one thing a lot of people say about FC is "i could never do that, i could never get up a child bc i would love them too much" -- to that i must always say, then you are the ONLY type of person that should be doing foster care anyway.. If you don't love these kids 'too much' then they are just getting yet another injustice in their lives! we can always depend on God to let Him help us make it thru when a child must leave us, but simply wanting to avoid some pain isn't enough reason to not provide a needy child a loving home, no matter how temporary! :) we love foster care -- if you wanna know more, please email me


At 12:35 AM , Anonymous Laura H said…

Hi Sheila...just found your blog tonight from a friend's shared link on FB. I've been enjoying reading through it.

An idea not put forward yet for making money from home is something I and my late husband thought of doing, but never got going. I still think I'd like to do it at some point.

Many families would love to homeschool for a variety of reasons, but cannot due to the need for both parents to work, or perhaps it's a single-parent household. We thought to offer our services to educate children in such families. Some states allow this, some don't. Our "tuition" would've been a fraction of what any of the private schools were charging, and would include lunch & snacks...and by necessity would often mean keeping the kids all day, even though the actual schooling would only be about 3-4 hours.

It seems to me, that a homeschooling mom could potentially incorporate another child (maybe 2) into the daily schedule, and a grateful family would be glad to pay a small tuition to make sure the children get the kind of education and daily care (better than institutionalized daycare) the parents want for them.

I'd love to know if anyone has actually done this, and how it's worked out for them.


At 12:01 AM , Blogger Tillie said…

We have five children and I have stayed home with them both as a non-working SAHM and a work-from-home-mom AND as a mom who was still committed to the Navy for the first 16 months of our oldest son's life. That is all to say that I've been in all of those positions and have felt both joy and regret at points in each. As a working mother, I managed to either leave our son with my husband or when he was away in class or deployed (we were both military at the time) our son was left with his godmother or another close friend. I left the Navy as soon as my contract was up.

I've tried direct sales twice to no good end other than to get the items I wanted to use at very good prices. I've also tried daily childcare for others - if you decide to go that route and watch someone else's child each day, make *sure* you set strict guidelines for drop-off and pick-up times with financial penalties for late or early show times. The last time I did childcare, the parents would say they were coming by at 5:30 but not show up until close to 7! That takes a serious chunk of sleep time out of your morning sometimes!

I have never done foster care but did know a woman in GA who was *only* doing foster care as her sole income. She said that it is - financially speaking - not worthwhile to do foster care through the government BUT that if you go through a private agency it can generate a decent/livable income.

Now I work from home and write memorial books and family histories. I also homeschool our oldest three children (11, 9 and 6). The family histories allow me time to do something that is worthwhile and fulfilling outside of the home - and that gives me satisfaction in that I am helping families preserve memories that are special and precious to them. It also shows my children a strong work ethic and helps remind me to look at each moment as a memory to cherish as my children grow and as they move toward their eventual movement away from me.

One other reason to sometimes consider an evening part time job: sometimes you need time away from the mickey-mouse voices and to hear "adult-speak." I love my children and am with them nearly 24/7 as my writing work is done from home but there are times - usually about once every two or three weeks when THEY want a break from Mom and I need a break from always having to worry and consider what they need. On top of that, it is good and healthy for our children to have that time when it is just Pop in charge - when Mom is not there for them to ask questions of or make requests to. They see from those times that their father is the great man I married him for. It strengthens their relationship even as it strengthens my own to be reminded of how great a dad he is when I come home from a meeting or an interview to find my children are all either happily playing games or have been washed, fed, prayed with and tucked into bed. That is Peace. That is love.

Now that I've figured out the intricacies of Blogger, your blog will be linked on mine. Thank you for some thoughtful articles! Melissa at


At 12:44 PM , Blogger Bonnie Way aka the Koala Mom said…

Great post. Lots of food for thought. I'm a SAHM, and recently my husband and I talked about the fact that me going back to work just wasn't worth it because it wouldn't pay for the childcare (as you say here). I've tried doing the home sales thing with Norwex, but I'm just not a saleslady. So what I do instead is the money-saving you suggested (cook and bake all our food, shop by coupons and sales flyers) and also work from home as a freelance writer and editor. It's a bit sporadic and doesn't bring in a lot of extra money, but it's something that I can do while watching my girls and it doesn't cost anything for me to write (I don't need a wardrobe or a car).

The foster parent idea is an interesting one, as we know families who've had foster families so we have discussed this. Perhaps someday we'll have a house that we can open up to children in need in that way.


At 6:06 PM , Blogger mjhjzepp said…

I agree 100% I'm a Foster Parent in Pa. It is not easy! The money is not worth the heart ache your child may have gone thru. Or what your going to go thru. I was a foster child myself for many years. I was in 8 homes. Children know when parents are in it for the money.


At 6:19 PM , Blogger mjhjzepp said…

Get response! So great to see Foster Parents who really care!

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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