Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How To Earn Extra Cash When Money Is Tight

by Suzanne Cramer

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.

What 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:
  • Ifreelance.com Projects range from graphic design and photography to bookkeeping and data entry.
  • Elance.com  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 pricestarting 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.

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 is a certified credit counselor and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne Debt Relief ServicesSuzanne writes for Divorce, Debt and Finances and Major Life ChallengesFollow Suzanneon Twitter @ADivorcedMom where she shares her insights as a single-divorced mom with tips and tricks to keep your finances in check.  


  1. Great ideas. I usually head on down to the corner to try and make some extra cash, but jeez, after three kids, nobody's biting...

    Ha, kidding.

    I sold everything I could on Ebay and Craigslist to make some money. Never realized how much junk I have laying around!

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner

  2. These are great tips.

    My sister became the Craigs List queen when her company downsized and she was laid off. Since becoming a stay-at-home mom she has mastered the art of bringing in a second income via sales of useless junk around the house. As the saying goes, "one man's trash..."

  3. Great advice and useful tips, thanks so much for sharing.

  4. @Ma What's 4 dinner Lol...too funny!
    @Sunshine Glad you enjoyed it!
    @Yakini @ThePrissyMommy Yes, these are tried and true tips for the unemployed as well!
    @Beauty and the Green Thanks!

  5. love this.. great post, thanks so much for sharing.. everyone needs to plan for a rainy day, year, month..

  6. If I could find a way to make money writing. Not monetizing my blog but writing from the heart or and styling other moms on a budget. Dreams do come true :)

  7. Ebay was certainly my best friend in my single mom days. I sold books, baby clothes, handmade goods, etc.


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