The (financial) Struggle Is Real: Staying a SAHM by becoming a WAHM.

They say that Millennials are more inclined to work from home than generations that came before us, especially as we get older and start to settle down and start families. This is probably most true because we are not so different than the generations who came before us, and we too want to spend time with our children while they’re young; but the costs of living and raising a child have so skyrocketed for our generation, that most of us do not have the ability to simply take care of the homestead via a single income.

We can get into the politics of this all later, because there’s a lot to be said for the exponential rise in financial burdens, arguments over varying social programs and our government’s role in all of this, and how our society has changed as a whole since the Millennials were kids being raised by the Boomers. But I digress, what I’m writing on are a few solutions I’ve found, and how well they work for me.

While my husband currently provides enough for our family via his income streams, it’s not exactly easy, and I don’t think reliably sustainable for the long run as our son gets older. Before our son was born, we really thought that I was going to go back to work after my maternity leave ended, but complications with the pregnancy cut our time short, and we just weren’t ready to leave our newborn in a daycare at 9 weeks old.

At the end of the day, we decided that the best caregiver for our son was going to be his mother, and we were prepared enough to take on the transition of becoming a single income family, temporarily. I was supposed to find a daycare for our son and return to work when our son was closer to a year old. However, as we’ve watched our son grow and develop this past spring, summer, and now fall, it became abundantly clear that until our son starts school, his mother was not at all ready to leave him under the care of other people.

But without my job, we went from being upper middle class to lower middle class, per the state of Minnesota, and while money can’t buy you happiness, it sure makes it a little easier to find. So I began looking into online work and other ways to earn extra cash, to alleviate the burden for my husband, and to be able to save for those little “extras” that make our life feel normal(i.e. travel, gifts, possible emergencies).

None of these online solutions is ever going to amount to my salary, or provide the benefits(401k match, Dental and Health Insurance, Wellness Programs + Incentives, etc.) that my old job did, but for the time being they do help us afford to whittle away at some debt and live without pinching every penny, or stressing over every other expenditure.

So, let’s drop this list while it’s hot? This is a semi-comprehensive list of real ways I’ve found to make money as a stay at home mom. Oh, yes. It’s in list form:

1. Clickworker > UHRS: is a microjob site, which is to say that one is paid anywhere from 0.01 USD to 0.25+ USD to complete tasks set by “HitApps.” The tasks range from fairly easy, to sometimes illogically difficult depending on what the standards are set for accurate completion by the HitApp. Most of the tasks fall into the fairly easy category though, and can be completed relatively quickly(think 100-1000 per hour). So, if a task pays 0.03 USD per task, and you complete 1000 in an hour? That’s 30.00 USD an hour in pay. But, most people average 8.00-15.00 USD/per hour working consistently on Clickworker.

What I’ve learned about Clickworker is that it’s not good to go too fast, or the system starts to think you’re a bot and will kick you out of a HitApp that could be making you good money otherwise. UHRS, the secondary site where you’ll retain the most work via clickworker, also goes through dry spells, so I would not recommend anyone assume that they can make a decent living wage if they dedicate all their time to this app. If you set realistic goals, however, they can be met. Several users have let me know they only set 10.00-30.00 USD/day goals for two or three hours of work, and this has been a successful way to operate.

The good thing about Clickworker/UHRS is that you can make some decent cash, for relatively low level expertise or effort, while also being a committed parent. Since this work doesn’t require a phone or special quiet environment, I can manage it while my son naps or when he goes to sleep for the night. The tasks also have a pretty long time limit to complete, relative to how long a task will actually take you to complete, so you can hang out and feel no pressure to do them too quickly if you need to get up and do things. In fact, I’m working on “Hits” while I write this.

Downsides to Clickworker/UHRS are mostly in the unreliability of consistent work(I struggled to find 8.00 USD of work on Monday), but the system is also a bit wonky from what I’ve heard(banning or kicking people off HitApps mysteriously), and payment from UHRS work takes quite some time to receive(via PayPal) to your accounts after the work has been done. You’re also an independent contractor, so save some of those earnings for taxes in the spring.

Overall, I feel like Clickworker/UHRS is a decent income stream, but not reliable as a sole source of cashflow or work. Paired with a number of other options, it’s at least quite an easy way to make real cash.

2. Amazon MTurk: What does Amazon not do? Besides their work-at-home call center jobs, Amazon also offers a Clickworker/UHRS-esque microjob platform. Like Clickworker, Amazon MTurk will pay for a number of “Hits” completed. The main difference is that the hits have a much wider range for earning potential. Some Hits will pay 0.01 USD, and others will pay upwards of 50.00 USD. Knowing this, between the two microjob platforms, you’d think that working for MTurk is a no-brainer. But, there’s a catch.

Unlike Clickworker, completing Hits for Amazon MTurk does not guarantee payment. It usually only takes about 24 hours or a couple of days for a Hit Provider to approve your work, but can take up to 21 days. And it’s not guaranteed that they’re going to approve your work. The Hits on MTurk are also a little more difficult and time consuming to complete than those available on Clickworker, so the average hourly rate for this work seems to be around 3.00-9.00 USD.

Other issues with MTurk are that it can take days, to weeks, to months, to even register with Amazon MTurk. Their application process is a bit mystifying, but I have a feeling that being a loyal Amazon Prime customer, and a Kindle author with all of my information already on my Amazon account, helped speed up my approval process.

I use MTurk as a supplement to Clickworker, when there’s no work to be found on the latter, but otherwise kind of dread when I have to go through the process because it is a much larger investment of my time. But I’m a bit OCD per my ambitions, and have to hit quotas when I’ve set them. What I’ve found is that Hits put out by organizations, rather than people, are far more likely to be approved, and approved quickly, guaranteeing payment. MTurk pays weekly once the money is in your account, and it pays directly to your bank account if it’s hooked up. Like Clickworker, you’re still an independent contractor, and will have to save for taxes.

My thoughts on Amazon MTurk, are that it’s a good supplement to other online work if you’re most comfortable with microjobs, and it’s relatively reliable as a company for payment, but it can be a lot of work, whether that’s finding valid work or doing that valid work itself.

3. UserTesting: is a really great website/app testing platform. Each test pays about 10.00 USD, and takes about 10-25 minutes to complete, and payments are guaranteed to hit your PayPal account within a week of test completion. Requirements are a Windows PC/Mac computer, or a tablet/smartphone(Android and Iphone, both are usually fine).

For tests on your PC/Mac, headphones and a good microphone are required, and you’ll need a quiet space to work in. This is where drawbacks for UserTesting kind of begin though. Tests are rated by those who provide them, and there is a time limit to accept them and reasonably complete. Poor ratings will result in fewer tests available, as well as possibly being kicked off the site I believe. It’s just not possible to complete some tests when you’ve got a crying baby, or a baby that’s just learning to talk and coo, or playing with noisy toys, so I’m only capable of completing one of these tests when my son is asleep or when my husband gets home to watch him.

Another drawback of UserTesting is that it’s difficult to qualify for these tests as a homemaker, as requirements range from being a website developer, to being a real estate agent. So, work tends to be spotty due to the qualifications required for each task. I’ve also discovered that for Android testing, there have been some major problems for uploading, so I’ve wasted quite a bit of time recording tests and not being able to upload, therefore not being paid. What I’ve decided is to just stop doing the Android tests until these problems are fixed.

Still, I leave the UserTesting website open in a tab on my browser in any case, as it dings and alerts you when tests are available. Qualifications don’t take long to submit or deny your application, so it’s no biggie for me to take 30 seconds any time a new opportunity appears to make a little extra cash.

UserTesting, as a whole, is a great site with an excellent support team should you run into any issues, but is unreliable for consistent income all the same. They pay well, and in better time than a lot of other places, but qualifying for the work is the most difficult hurdle of this one. For me, I manage to maybe make 10.00 or 20.00 USD a month, and of course like almost all of these income streams I’m listing, whatever you make is taxable to you as an independent contractor.

4. Dscout: Dscout is a phone app that I discovered when sent an email about my business/art Instagram account(@maxhcart in case anyone’s interested) to be involved in a study by Instagram. This app is basically an online focus group app, wherein you complete surveys and “missions” for cash sent directly to your PayPal. Surveys range from payments of 25.00 USD to 200.00 USD per mission, but most average about 50.00 USD.

Qualifications for each study/survey are like UserTesting, pretty wide in range depending on who’s doing the research. What’s interesting is that the companies doing this research are all pretty legitimate, thus the higher payouts for qualified users who complete their “missions”. Missions range from taking photos or recording videos regarding opinions from dog food to fashion, or politics, and usually span over the course of 2 days or 2 weeks. Missions that take longer to complete usually pay more, but surveys rarely take more than 10 or so minutes to complete, and video recordings have never surpassed 3 minutes in my experience.

While Dscout payouts are awesome, it too cannot act as a sole source of income for a person who wants to stay at home and care for a young child. This is because, like UserTesting, qualifying for missions is truly a hit or miss experience in most cases, and entirely subjective(even more so than UserTesting) to those who receive and approve these applications. It can take days to find out if you’ve been invited to a mission, and you hear nothing at all if you haven’t been invited to it. It also takes about two weeks to be paid after receiving acknowledgment of successful meeting completion, a thing which can take up to a week after competing your mission to even be alerted of.

Dscout can be a nice bolster if you’re accepted into missions, but arguably the most inconsistent of all income streams listed thus far. Still, I’ve managed to make a couple hundred dollars this year, so much so that I’ve had to create an excel sheet to review my earnings in preparation for tax season. I’m keeping the app installed, and I leave notifications on.

Some other work from home options include Appen Butler Hill, Lionbridge, or Leapforce, but those social media/internet websearch evaluator jobs require something of their own post, as this one has already gotten too long. Also, while I’ve been invited to test for ABH and LB, I’ve yet to pass any actual tests and work for either companies, so the only valid commentary I have on these is that the exams are exceptionally difficult to pass.

There are a lot of blogs, articles, and lists out there that will give my fellow stay-at-home parents any number of ideas and advisory on how to make money from home, from selling stuff for Amazon(spending money to maybe make money), or making money from a blog(far more difficult than any of those blogs will tell you), and of course listing even the evaluating jobs I did above(without perhaps addressing their many issues, or levels of difficulty). This particular post is just to share how am making these work for myself, and I am only listing income streams that you can make real money from, relatively immediately.

We all have varying levels of commitment to our work situation though, as well as varying needs. I’m comfortable with what’s been listed because these best suit my current lifestyle with my son, and I’m comfortable with the amount of energy I expend and what I’m rewarded with for it. There are many other ways to make money online, each varying in the degree of effort that needs to be made, and with alternative requirements for each opportunity as well. For a stay-at-home mom who cannot do work that requires a set schedule or phone/call center work, and who only needs a couple hundred dollars a month to accomplish my goals? This is what works for me.

I’ve found awesome support and updated info on these kinds of opportunities on Reddit’s online work and UHRS subreddits, and would suggest anyone that’s really interested to look into these conversations. If any of you have suggestions or similar work online opportunities that can be added to the list, feel free to share. Until then? A good night.

With Love,

Millennial Mother

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