Last Updated May 10th, 2019

Be Careful When Taking Online Business Tips From Your Cat

Be Careful When Taking Online Business Tips From Your Cat

You can take inspiration for running your online business from all kinds of things. Just about anything in life can be a lesson if you let it. But some sources give really awful advice. That’s why I’d suggest that you be careful when taking online business tips from your cat.

cat on leg

Don’t get me wrong. I love cats. They’re cute and fuzzy, and odds are that there’s one on my legs right now. Not just when I’m writing this… when you’re reading this. Seriously, mine won’t leave me alone most days unless I insist.

It’s just that some things that work for cats really wouldn’t work so well in your business. Other things they do… brilliant! And if cats could talk… well, I’m pretty sure they’d play lots of mind games with us.

Shed Everywhere

Most breeds of cats shed a fair amount, some more so than others. It’s not their most endearing characteristic, and somehow they always manage to shed light color fur on dark fabrics, and dark color fur on light fabrics. Just a bit of feline magic, I suppose.

I think of this as being similar to spam comments on blogs. Think about the badly spun comments some people leave in the hopes of getting a backlink from your blog, or the “good post” comments the lazy leave behind. Usually, it’s some vague sort of praise that sounds nice until you realize several different people are saying about the same thing to you. “Great post,” and all that.

If you look at the links included with such comments, the sites are usually awful. Poorly written, and clearly meant to get ad clicks, not to work for the long run.

Some spammers even share the feline gift of leaving black fur on white fabric. That is, they leave entirely irrelevant comments everywhere they go. They stand out and are super annoying.

Of course, if you’re alert and have a good quality antispam plugin on your blog, these comments are much easier to get rid of than fur on your clothes.

Don’t shed your comments just anywhere. Blog commenting software may speed up the process of posting comments, but you’ll lose out as soon as your comments start getting marked spam, and even legitimate comments are harder to get published.

Hunt Your Prey

cat hunting

Cats are great hunters. Birds, mice, lizards, your feet as you get out of bed, nothing is safe from a cat on the prowl. They watch their prey carefully, choosing just the right time to strike, then play with it for a time until it either escapes or dies.

Just as there are some things you want your cat to hunt and others you wish they’d leave alone, this is not a behavior you want to mimic without some thought.

You certainly want to know what your target market wants, and for that, you have to know something about their behavior. Don’t do it to the degree that someone might call stalking, but do know what kinds of things people might want to buy from you and why. It helps to make sales.

You should also consider the cat’s focus on its prey. A cat doesn’t go for two mice at a time or a bird and a lizard at the same time. The cat keeps its focus on whatever it’s trying to catch. It may switch focus if something better comes along or if the other prey gets away, but they’ll maintain focus a good while.

Similarly, you should keep your focus on your target market. Don’t go for several all at once. You may be able to serve more than one market over time, but early on it’s a mistake that will slow you down.

Once you’ve captured your audience, don’t make them feel like prey. Offer products to them you think they’ll want. Give value. The best relationships with customers are the ones in which you both benefit.

If you just play with your audience and offer whatever products offer a commission, regardless of quality, they’ll leave you. And unlike a cat, you can’t drag them back unless they agree to stick around. A customer who unsubscribes cannot be put back on your list just because you want them back.

Squeeze Into Tight Spaces

Cats can get into amazingly small spaces. There’s a reason why some people joke that cats are both solid and liquid.

This is much like choosing a niche for your online business. Some people choose a niche so tight that others are amazed there’s room for anyone to run a business in it. Others want more room, so they can show their own style more. They want to be themselves, not confined to a small box.

Deciding how tight a niche you want your online business to fit into may not be easy. Most of us want some flexibility. We don’t want to be so tight in our niche that there’s no room to be ourselves. But only you can decide what’s right for your business.

Get In the Way

in the way

Any cat owner knows that cats have an absolute gift for getting in the way. They’ll be under your feet as you try to walk. They’ll lie down on your laptop and get in the way when you’re reading. Small as they are, they’ll even hog the bed.

Often enough, you are your own greatest obstacle. If you make too many excuses for why you can’t work, it’s very hard to own a successful online business.

There may be days that you don’t feel like being productive. If you want to succeed, work anyhow. Don’t let your mood get in the way.

How you set up your home office or other workspace can make a big difference in how productive you are when you work at home. Make sure it’s a space that lends itself to productivity, not to distractions. It may even help to keep the cats out or at least be ready to distract them so they don’t distract you.

Chase Lasers

A small laser has to be one of the best cat toys ever. Cats will chase that little dot of light, determined to catch it, but never getting it. Turn it off when they get tired, then turn it on again and the cat will be after it.

Many people are like that with their online businesses too, always chasing the latest bright and shiny offer they see, but somehow never able to catch the success it promises.

Of course, the cat will never catch that laser, no matter how hard it tries, because light cannot be caught. You may or may not ever reach the level of success you want, but if you try as hard as you can, you improve your chances.

Keep It Clean

Cats wash a lot. If they feel even a slight need, they’ll wash themselves thoroughly. This is one of the great examples cats make, although their technique leaves something to be desired.

Similarly, you should keep your business practices clean. Treat your customers right. Don’t mess around with poor SEO practices. Be honest.

And when you make a mess of things, do the best you can to clean it up. We all make mistakes sometimes. The important thing is how you deal with it after.

Take Lots of Catnaps

Cats sleep a lot. They may be very active when they’re awake, but there’s a reason why it’s called a catnap.

As an online business owner, this isn’t something you can usually get away with. Most people have to spend a lot of hours building their online business. Sure, you can walk away and leave it for a time, and a good business will keep earning for you, but you’ll usually do better if you keep working on it regularly.

This is especially true when you’re trying to build your online business. Don’t assume that the Four Hour Workweek will come true for you right from the start. It probably won’t. It’s far more likely that you’ll have to work a lot of hours for a long time before you can afford to ignore your business for a long period of time.

Push Boundaries

pushing boundaries

Pushing boundaries can be both the best and worst online business tip from your cat that you can get. Anyone who knows cats knows how they love to push boundaries. That rule that they can’t get on the counters, for example.

Yeah, that one only applies when you’re not watching. Trust me, they get onto the counters when they think they won’t get caught.

Pushing boundaries in your online business can be a great thing. You can go beyond your comfort zone and try new things. That may be what helps you succeed.

But going so far as to break the rules may come with consequences, as any cat knows. Be sure that you can afford the consequences that come with pushing the boundaries.

Be Curious

Curiosity is one attribute of cats you should certainly emulate, within reason. They say curiosity killed the cat, but learning new things is often good for your business.

Learning new things only becomes a problem when you overdo it. If you spend too much time learning and not enough taking action, your business won’t grow.

Find that balance. Keep learning things that will help you grow your business, but be ready to put that information to good use. This way your curiosity about new things you should know for your business won’t kill your business.

I hope this has made it clear why you should be careful about taking online business tips from your cat. Make sure you apply similar caution when taking business advice elsewhere.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated May 8th, 2019

20 Simple Money Saving Tips And 3 That Aren’t Worth It

20 Simple Money Saving Ideas And 3 That Aren't Worth It

Many families are on tight budgets these days, and that can hold particularly true for families with a stay at home mom or dad. Getting by on a smaller income is challenging at times. Sometimes it’s the simple money saving tips that can help you get started.

Not all of the ideas here will be useful for everyone. If your budget is super tight, you’re probably doing most or all already.

At the same time, there are things you can do to save money that aren’t the best idea. These can cost you more money in the long run, and that’s a problem. Sometimes you have no choice, as it may be a choice between doing the thing and eating, but do your best.

20 Simple Money Saving Tips

1. Make a list before going shopping.

A shopping list is a great way to control what you spend at the store. If you can discipline yourself to sticking with the list, you can cut out those impulse purchases that add the small amounts that add up so quickly.

This idea is best combined with the next one:

2. Plan your meals for the week.

Having your meals planned out allows you to more easily make your shopping list and helps you avoid food spoilage, as you know what you’re going to use. Plan to use foods that spoil quickly earlier in the week.

This will also encourage you to eat more often at home, as you’ll know what you were planning on making. You’ll have less reason to eat out because you can’t decide what to make.

3. Make the most of leftovers.

Many people dread leftovers, but they don’t have to be that bad. Some can be frozen so that you eat them a while after you had the meal, rather than so close that you’re tired of that meal. Others can be made into entirely new meals.

4. Buy in bulk when it makes sense.

Buying in bulk does not always make sense. Sometimes it’s one of the worst moves you can make. But when it makes sense, it’s a good money saving move. Canned goods, rice, personal care items and so forth can be cheaper if bought in bulk. Be sure you compare the price per unit (ounces, for example) so that you know for certain that you’re getting a better deal. Sometimes the bulk price difference isn’t worth having to store the extra.

We buy rice at Costco, for example. It’s a huge bag, and most of it goes into our earthquake kit. That excess runs down as I go through the bag, but it ensures that at least some of the food in my earthquake kit is rotated regularly.

5. Just how many phones does your family need anyhow?

how many phones do you need?

Lots of families have more than one phone these days. Cell phone for mom, cell phone for dad, maybe even a cell phone for each of the kids, plus the landline phone for the house. Just how many of those do you really need?

The answer to this will vary depending on your family, but if you need to cut back on expenses, it’s worth reconsidering how many phones you have. Some families get by with no landline phone, but if it’s bundled in with your television or internet service you need to look at what you’d really save by cutting that line.

You may be able to replace some paid options with cheaper or free options. Look at the plan your cell phones are on, and make sure you have the most cost effective one for how your family uses them. My family uses Ting, and our combined bill is rarely over $40. We have four phone lines with them.

Look into services such as Google Voice for when you don’t need a cell phone. It’s a great way to have a free phone line for your home business. Keeping business and personal calls separate is a huge help.

6. Cancel subscriptions you don’t need.

Sometimes subscriptions and memberships are well worth the money. Other times they’re a waste of money you keep paying because you swear you’re going to use it again eventually. If you’ve been promising yourself that for a long time, it’s probably time to save your money and give up the subscription.

One thing we like to do is rotate through a variety of video services, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and so forth. There’s only so much you can watch at a time. Subscribe to no more than one or two at a time and you’ll have plenty to watch without paying for every service out there. Do it right, and you may be able to comfortably cut your cable subscription to save a bunch of money.

7. Walk.

Do you really need to drive everywhere you go? If you’re going someplace close and the weather is right, try walking instead. It takes a little more time, but it’s healthier and cheaper to walk.

If possible, have the kids walk to school. You can go with them if you like.

When we lived close enough, my kids always walked to school. Now that we aren’t so close, I miss it. Not only do I use a lot more gas now, but it takes more time out of my day… and I don’t even get into the pickup line early.

8. Use your local library.

You can get so much from the library

Libraries are a great resource that many people don’t take advantage of often enough. You can get books of all sorts to read for pleasure or to learn from. You can often order in books from other branches if your local branch doesn’t have a title you’re after.

Many also offer DVDs for rent. With all the streaming services available, the library may not be as appealing as it once was, but it may still be a good option for movie rentals.

9. Keep your car maintained.

Cars can get expensive sometimes. Basic maintenance adds up fast, and breakdowns can be even worse. Even so, that maintenance is important, as it keeps your car running longer and more efficiently.

Some things you can handle on your own, such as keeping tires properly inflated. This helps them wear more evenly, and improves your gas mileage.

Sometimes you will have to decide if a repair is worth doing before it’s urgent. My husband’s car had a transmission fluid leak that wasn’t causing problems as such yet, but eventually could have. It cost $400, but that’s better than what it might have cost later.

10. Sign up for free customer rewards programs.

Stores love customer rewards programs, as they give them a lot of data about your shopping habits. I don’t think the privacy lost is too big a deal, but not everyone likes sharing their shopping habits like that. In exchange, you get discounts on certain purchases. These can be quite significant.

That said, my favorite stores give you discounts without requiring the cards, but when the discount is offered, why would you skip it? You can keep some of your privacy by using a Google Voice or other number to sign up, rather than your home or cell phone number. Alternatively, get friends or family to agree on a single phone number to use, and all shop through that card.

11. Make the most of handmedowns.

If you knew how rarely I bought new children’s clothes when my kids were little, you might be shocked. I didn’t buy them much at all, despite having three children. I got plenty of handmedowns, and that solved most of their clothing needs.

They weren’t all from family either. I had friends with children give handmedowns as well. I don’t think I could add up how much handmedowns have saved me. Just be sure to reciprocate as possible.

12. Wait.

If it’s not an immediate need, try waiting before you buy. This is a great way to control impluse purchases at the mall or online.

Wait at least a couple hours, but several days is better. Get past that initial reaction so you know why you want to buy that item. The less it matters, the less likely you are to even remember that you wanted the item in the first place.

Yes, sometimes you’ll miss out. Odds are that it will be okay.

13. Don’t buy your kids so many toys.

too many toys

Kids will beg for just about any toy they see on television or online. Most won’t be played with all that much and won’t be worth the money they spent.

If you want your kids to be happy, spend more time with them and do things with them. Show them how to do things that don’t require so much equipment. There are lots of free ways to play with your kids.

14. Combine errands.

Gas prices have been pretty painful of late, making it all the more important that you use your car efficiently. The more errands you can take care of in a single trip out, the less gas overall you should be using, plus it’s a more efficient use of your time.

I do grocery shopping after dropping my kids off at school, for example. Not only does it help me save gas, as the store is near the school, it saves time since I’m not going out twice.

15. Find free places to go in your area.

It’s fun to get out as a family, but tickets to get into things can really add up. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do for free.

Pay attention to free events in your area. Your city’s website will often have a calendar of things that are going on. My area, for example, just had a music festival that was free to get into, although it would be all too easy to spend a fortune at the booths.

Take your kids to the park if you want a simple way to have fun together, or look for local hikes. You can make fun time out as a family without impacting your budget.

16. Hide your credit cards and debit cards.

Only carry these cards when you need them. You’ll need the debit cards sometimes to get cash, but other times you won’t need to have them with you.

Carrying these cards leaves you more tempted to spend extra money. You can’t do that if you limit yourself to the amount of cash you need at the moment.

17. Pay down debts.

money saving ideas can pay off

This is especially important for any high interest rate debts such as credit cards. Interest rates really eat up your minimum payments, so the more you can pay down your credit card debts, the better off you’re going to be in the long run.

Paying down credit cards is often difficult. When you’re carrying a balance on a credit card, there’s often a reason. If it’s due to poor spending habits, it’s time to work on that. But if you used them when your income wasn’t enough, it’s more difficult. You may need to find a way to make more money so you can pay off your credit cards.

18. Avoid bank fees.

Banks love fees. They make good money off some of them. It’s to your advantage to be aware of what’s going on with your accounts so you can avoid ATM fees, overdraft fees, monthly fees and so forth.

Take a good look at your monthly statements to see when you’re getting hit with a fee by your bank. Decide if it’s worth sticking with that bank if it’s a fee you can’t avoid, or how you can avoid that fee in the future if you could have avoided it.

There are a lot of online banks to choose from. Many offer better benefits than traditional banks. Look over the possibilities to see which would work for you.

19. Swap babysitting when you need a night out.

If you don’t have willing grandparents in the area available for babysitting, swapping babysitting with friends or family members is the next best thing. Trade off taking care of each others kids so you can all get breaks without spending a fortune on the sitter.

20. Learn to do basic repairs around your home.

If you have basic tool skills, there are a lot of repairs you can handle on your own around the house rather than call in a professional. Add in the resources available on the internet, and you may be able to fix things you didn’t realize you could.

YouTube is an amazing resource for learning how to do basic repairs in your home. I’ve used videos to do a variety of plumbing repairs. I’m too chicken to mess with electrical, though.

3 Money Saving Ideas That Aren’t Worth It

Not every money saving idea is brilliant or worth the trouble. Here are just a few that usually aren’t worth the money saved.

1. Dropping car insurance coverage.

insure your car

In many states, car insurance is required, making dropping the insurance even less worth your while, as you may have to prove you have it in order to register your car. But even if it’s not required, car insurance is worth the money it costs if you have an accident.

If you want to save money on car insurance, compare plans and make sure you have the best price for the coverage you need.

2. Buying bulk items you can’t use or store effectively.

Buying the right items in bulk is a great plan. On the other hand, buying bulk items you won’t use fast enough or can’t store properly is a huge waste of money.

Some bulk items will need to be broken down into smaller portions so that you can use them effectively. This costs money in the form of packaging, and so may not save you as much as you think.

If you buy meat in larger packages, for example, you need to have the freezer space to store the excess until you’re ready to use it. A large pack of toilet paper, on the other hand, is much easier to break up and store.

3. Buying the cheapest appliance with no regard for quality.

Whether it’s a blender or a washing machine, you should consider quality when buying an appliance for your home. It usually costs far more over time to buy several of the cheapest quality than one of a decent quality. You don’t necessarily have to go for top quality or the highest price, but buying appliances that do the job well and are expected to last should save you money.

You won’t always be able to buy better quality, of course. That’s one of the costs of being poor, that sometimes you have to spend more money in the long run because you don’t have enough money to buy better quality from the start.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 30th, 2019

Why Do Stay At Home Parents Need A Safety Net?

Why Do Stay At Home Parents Need A Safety Net?

There are good reasons to choose to be a stay at home parent, especially when the kids are little. Some choose to stay home with the kids until they’re all grown. It’s a good thing to do for your kids when your family’s situation allows it, but you should be aware of the risks. Life rarely goes as smoothly as we’d like, and that’s why every stay at home parent should have a safety net.

Your safety net isn’t just financial, although that should be a big part of it. You never know when or if a financial crisis will hit you.

Death, disability, divorce, unemployment… these are just some of the things that can devastate your finances. There’s no guarantee that you can avoid any of them. But you can plan for many of the problems that can come up while hoping they never happen.

Life Insurance

Having at least some life insurance on both parents is an important safety net for your family, regardless of who works or doesn’t. But if one parent has no income coming in, life insurance can be a way to ensure that in the event the working parent dies, the surviving parent will get some money, which gives them some time to get things going again.

Finding a job while grief stricken isn’t easy, after all.

Don’t buy a minimal policy if you can help it. Think about how much financial help your family would need if either parent dies while the children are still growing up. What is the financial value of each parent? How many years will you need that value to continue? What about medical bills and funeral costs?

Find a good insurance professional and talk about what kind of life insurance coverage your family should have. Be sure you understand the different kinds of life insurance. Get coverage on both parents, regardless of who earns an income. Stay at home moms and dads contribute significantly to the family in ways other than by earning an income. Money from an insurance policy can help the family deal with those issues after an at home parent dies.

Of course, life insurance only handles one of the potential problems that can arise for the family. It won’t help at all in many other situations. If divorce, disability or unemployment are causing financial issues, it won’t help at all.

Talk About What If Something Happens To You

big talk

Don’t just consider what happens if something happens to your spouse or significant other. What if something happens to you? I promise, it will be a significant impact to your family, and something you should plan for.

Go beyond the life insurance mentioned before. Stay at home parents can become disabled too… how would you handle that as a family? Is your health insurance good enough to cope with that, and what about long term disability? It may not hurt to look at the costs of long term care insurance for the stay at home mom or dad. If you aren’t earning an income, you may not be able to get disability insurance, which is meant to replace the income you earned by working. Long term care insurance will ensure that you receive care if you need it for a long time, so your family doesn’t have that strain.

If disability insurance is what you want, you have to have an income. If you’re working now, look into an independent disability insurance policy. Pay attention to the terms, especially how long you need to have worked before quitting for the insurance to be effective. Make sure your policy will continue as long as you pay the premiums – the coverage is based on your paycheck when you were working, even if you later quit. This will probably be more expensive than disability coverage provided by an employer, but coverage from an employer only helps while you have that job.

Several Months’ Savings

Saving up several months’ income is another way to be ready for those problems life loves to throw at you unexpectedly. Having enough money to live on while you get things figured out for a few months is a huge help.

mom money

Saving up a lot of money may not be easy, depending on how close your expenses are to your income, but if you can manage it, do so. Living off savings is far better than using credit cards and having to pay them off later, believe me!

Start small if you need to. It takes time for most families to create a respectable savings account. There may be setbacks as urgent needs come up, but that’s the way it goes. You can’t delay that car repair just because you want to save money, after all.

This should not be the same as your retirement fund if you can help it. By the way, you should have a retirement fund for yourself too, even if you have no other personal income.

Instead, the idea is to protect your family through any kind of financial crisis, from needing to replace a vehicle, to home repairs, to the loss of income. Having money saved up can make big problems easier to face.

Your Own Retirement Plan

Just because you’re a stay at home parent doesn’t mean you don’t need to contribute to a retirement plan for yourself. It’s a vital safety net for when you get older.

Whether you go back to work when the kids are older or not, contributing to a retirement plan for yourself is very important. A lack of income means you aren’t contributing to Social Security, and that effects the benefits you would get when you’re older. There are a variety of plans you or your spouse can contribute toward for your retirement. Talk to a professional to learn more.

Up To Date Professional Skills

If you had to work outside the home, what would you do? What kind of work have you done in the past?

Make sure that you keep up on any qualifications for work you’ve done in the past, or work on qualifications for work you’d like to do. If you have to go back into the workforce because that’s the only way you can support your family, do what you can to make it the job you’d like, not just the first one to come along when you’re in a crisis.

Be very careful when choosing an online college or vocational program. Many programs are not worth what they cost. Others are excellent. You want a program whose graduates find appropriate work after graduation. If too many graduates have trouble finding employment related to their training, that’s not a good sign.

learning

You can also read up on what’s happening in your industry. Read trade journals when you have the time. You can also consider joining a professional association. This can help you to keep in contact with people in your industry, which may become valuable if you go back to work, as well as help you be aware of changes in the industry.

Earn Income From Home

Of course, you can always do your best to earn income from home, as I and so many others do. There are many ways to do this, from working for an employer to working for yourself.

Don’t just look at how someone else is earning money from home, however. They’re doing what works for them. Look at what you can do. Other people can be an inspiration, but you’re more likely to succeed if you work things in your own way.

Do not expect earning an income from home to be easy. It rarely is. In fact, getting started is often the hardest part. You have to figure out how you’re going to earn money and make it happen while managing your at home life.

Working at home often requires sacrifices. It can involve using some kind of childcare if your work requires more focus than you can manage with your children around. Alternatively, it may involve early or late hours and less time for sleep.

Earning an income from home is my personal safety net because it doesn’t rely on how my husband is doing. If (god forbid) something happens to him, I’m still earning a living. My income has helped keep us afloat in the past.

I’m going to be blunt here. If your marriage fails and you end up divorced, or your spouse dies, working from home can save you from disaster. A lawyer friend of mine once told me how relieved he was that I worked at home because he had dealt with too many stay at home moms who had no idea how they were going to earn a living without their husband.

Being entirely focused on your kids as a stay at home mom or dad is a lovely ideal, but it’s smarter to have that safety net of your own income.

Build A Support Network

good friends

If all else fails, or even if all else is working pretty well, make sure to have a good personal and professional support network. Your support network can help you get through tough times and may even help you find what you need to improve things, whether that’s a new job, the right doctor or something else. They might be there as a shoulder to cry on or bring a meal over to help you out.

Maintain or build your professional network on LinkedIn. Connect with former employers and coworkers. Look for relevant professional groups to join. Participate.

Keep in contact with friends and family in person as well as online. Getting some time with your parents, siblings, friends and so forth is important. You need time to be yourself, not just a mom or dad 24/7. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so forth have their place and you should take advantage of your preferred social networks, but for most people there’s still nothing like getting together in person and having fun.

Also network with your fellow at home moms and dads. Many of them will have had professional careers too. You may be able to help each other keep up with your former careers, even if they were entirely different. You can always compare how you each keep up with things.

You don’t need to limit yourself to just one of these, of course. The more things you do to protect yourself, the better off you are if things go wrong.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 24th, 2019

How To Prepare For A Work At Home Job Interview

How to prepare for a work at home job interview

Once you’ve applied for a work at home job, you need to be ready for interviews. You need to prepare yourself for your interview, so you do well. It can be different from what you may be used to from other jobs, as your work at home job interview may be done over the phone or by video. Make sure you’re ready to show your best qualities during your interview.

Make Sure The Interview Looks Legitimate

It’s not unheard of to realize that you’re on the path of a work at home scam when you schedule the interview. Some scams hide pretty well until they give themselves away at this point.

For example, work at home job interviews held over Google Hangouts are almost always scams. If things are looking good but they say the interview is on Google Hangouts, consider this a red flag. It’s possible that a few legitimate employers use this, but it’s far more commonly used by scammers.

Schedule Your Work At Home Job Interview Carefully

schedule remote interview

You can usually request a particular interview time frame. Make the most of this and choose a time when you won’t be interrupted. Make arrangements for any children to be gone at school or with friends or family if at all possible. The fewer people in the house, the less likely it is that they will interrupt your work at home job interview.

Make sure you know what time zone your interview is scheduled in. A 10 a.m. EST time is very different from a 10 a.m. CST time. Getting the time zone wrong can make your hours early or late for your interview.

You should also find out what kind of interview you will be preparing for. There are several types, and knowing which sort to expect can help you prepare for it.

Research The Company And Position

These days it’s easy to research potential employers online. Most have websites which give at least basic information about the company. Search for news releases about them as well.

You can also learn about them from what they post on social media. Consider the kinds of things and the tone they use. This can give you a feel for how the company wants to be seen.

It’s can also be a good idea to find out what working for a potential employer is really like. Look up potential employers on sites such as Glassdoor to see what others think of them. Glassdoor is a great place to find out what employees really think of the companies they work for.

That said, remember that these reviews can be done anonymously, and may not be completely accurate. A disgruntled employee or customer may post things that aren’t true.

Be Ready For The Usual Questions

There are some questions you will almost always be asked during an interview. You should be ready with clear answers for them. These include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What’s your biggest weakness?
  • Questions about your work history and qualifications.
  • Why are you interested in the job?
  • How will you handle the lack of face to face interaction while working remotely?
  • Why do you want to work remotely?

When possible, use solid data in your answers, especially when discussing your accomplishments. If you work in sales or marketing, you may be able to discuss dollar figures or percentage improvements you’ve made. Writers can discuss how many words or articles they can write in a time frame. Managers can include how many people they supervised and the results.

Be sure that your answers are focused more on how you benefited your previous employer, not on yourself. Focusing too much on yourself can make discussing your accomplishments look like bragging.

When it comes to your reasons for working at home, go ahead and mention your personal reasons, but also discuss how working remotely will make you an effective employee.

Whatever you do, don’t create scripted answers for yourself. You can create notes on points you want to cover, but you’ll sound more natural if you don’t force yourself to keep to a script. After all, the things you want to say may change during the interview. If you’re relying on a script, you could end up struggling for words.

Review Your Qualifications

remote job interview

Go over the job listing carefully, paying close attention to the qualifications required. Consider how your skills, training, and experience meet these qualifications.

Think about what you can say about your qualifications during the interview. How did you get these skills? Are they advanced or is this your first job in this area out of school?

The more closely you meet the requested qualifications, the more the company is likely to be interested in you. It’s vital that you be able to talk about them clearly.

Be Ready To Demonstrate Skills

Sometimes interviewers will ask you to demonstrate some of the skills you would use on the job. A customer service interview, for example, may have you pretend to be helping a customer. Software developers may have to demonstrate their coding skills.

It’s also a good idea to develop your skills with common online productivity and communication tools. You may need to be familiar with Skype, Slack, Trello, Basecamp, Dropbox, Google Docs or other such tools.

Try to find out what the company uses in advance so that you can learn how to use any tools which are unfamiliar. It’s a big advantage if you can say you know how to handle these things. Not many companies do significant team communication over email during the workday.

Prepare Questions

Employers expect you to have questions during the interview. You want to ask the right ones.

Don’t ask questions that you can readily find the answers to on your own. Some positions, for example, will tell you straight up that there are no fees associated with the work, or that there will be a fee for a background check. If you ask questions on this subject, make sure your question shows that you know the basic information, but simply want more detailed information.

Have a list of questions ready beforehand, but be ready to cross some off if they are answered earlier in the interview. Also be ready to add some new ones if you come up with ideas during the interview.

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • What is a normal workday like?
  • What challenges can I expect on this job?
  • How will I be trained?
  • What opportunities are there for advancement?
  • What are your expectations of employees in their first 30, 60, and 90 days?
  • Are meetings by phone, on Slack, or otherwise online?
  • How frequent are meetings?
  • How often do you gather in person?

Ask for more information on the responsibilities of the position, training, scheduling, minimum/maximum hours allowed, and similar subjects. You can also ask about opportunities for advancement. Ask when the job starts and when you might hear back about it. You want to show your interest in the job.

Have Work Samples Ready

take interview notes

Having work samples ready to share at your work at home interview can also be a huge help. There’s only so much you can do for some positions – it’s not likely that you have a sample of a customer service call you’ve taken, for example. But for any position where samples are relevant, have them ready.

Depending on your work, this could be a link to a blog, a GitHub repository, or files saved to your computer and ready to share. Actual samples of your work can show far more of your ability than anything else you do in an interview.

Prepare Your Workspace

Make sure the place you’re going to work in is ready before your interview. This is especially important if you’re doing a video interview or if you need to send pictures of your home office.

This means having a clean desk in an uncluttered area of your home. Be sure that the space you use for your interview would be acceptable to the employer as a workspace should you be hired. If they expect you to be in a room where you can close the door, you need to interview in a room with the door closed.

Test Your Equipment

One of the surest ways to fail a work at home job interview is to have an equipment failure. If it’s beyond your control, you may be able to explain and get a new interview, but if it’s something you should have prepared, that’s a major problem.

An interview over the phone will be pretty easy to handle. A landline may be a safer bet than a cellphone if available, as the connection may be clearer.

If the interview is over Skype or similar services, practice on it with a friend. This is especially important if it’s a video interview – you need to be sure that you know how to make it all work.

You should also turn on your webcam if it’s a video interview to see what your interviewer will see. You may notice some things you hadn’t spotted just looking around the room. Position your webcam right above your monitor so that you appear to be looking at the camera when you look at your screen.

Headphones with a good microphone will be a huge help. This will help keep other noises out and avoid echos.

If at all possible, use a landline telephone or wired internet connection for your interview. The connection will be faster and more reliable. Cell phones, in particular, may have poor connections right when you need them.

No Background Noise

This is utterly vital if you’re trying for a job that requires you have a quiet workspace, and still very important for any other work at home job. This shows potential employers that you won’t be constantly distracted by things around the house as you work.

Talk to your kids, spouse, and anyone else in your home about what you’ll need from them during your interview. If someone can take the kids out of the house during your interview, so much the better. They can’t make background noise if they aren’t home.

Another advantage to getting everyone out of the house is that it keeps them off your internet. You don’t want your connection to lag because someone else is streaming videos or playing online games.

If you have pets, make plans for them as well. The dog may need to be taken for a walk, and the cats closed up in a room well away from your home office or wherever you’re doing your interview.

Contact Your References

If you haven’t already let your references know that you’re job hunting, now is a good time to do so. It’s nice for them to know that they may be called.

Help your references out by letting them know what kind of work you’re interviewing for. This will help the know what to say if they’re called. If there’s a particular skill you want highlighted, don’t be afraid to let your references know.

You can also try to get more recommendations for your skills on LinkedIn. Potential employers are likely to check you out there as well as on other social media.

Practice

Whether your interview is over the phone or on video, or even in person for a more local company, take some time and practice for your interview. Read up on job interview skills and have someone help you practice using them. Remember to smile – a smile can help project a positive attitude even if they can’t see your face.

Have a friend or family member help. This will be more effective than practicing on your own.

Plan For Problems

No matter how carefully you prepare for your work at home job interview, sometimes things will go wrong.

home office desk

Some may be minor. A sick child might stay home, in which case you need to make sure they stay quiet. Your internet connection might lag. A neighbor could start mowing their lawn during your interview.

Others can be disastrous. Know what you’re going to do if your internet connection completely fails or other such problems occur.

These preparations will also be useful if you get the job. The day I was supposed to start my work at home medical transcription job, the phone line I was supposed to use for it was turned off for fraud. It took hours to convince the phone company that their employee had entered some information incorrectly (I used to work for that company and knew exactly how it had happened), and that there was no fraud on my part. My employer, fortunately, was both understanding and amused, as that was the most unique reason they’d ever heard for failing to start work on time.

Dress Appropriately

If your interview is by phone, this is less important, although you may find it helpful to dress nicely for psychological reasons. If it’s a video interview, you definitely want to look appropriate. For home based work, this is probably not a suit, but you should be neatly dressed. A video interview may be your potential employer’s only visual impression of you, and you want it to suit the position you’re after.

Get Some Rest

All this interview prep can be exhausting, but you need to get some rest too. This way you don’t look completely stressed out when it’s time for your work at home job interview. If you’re tired during your interview, you probably won’t perform as well as you would otherwise.

Be Ready Early

Don’t wait until your scheduled interview time to get set up. Have your computer on and log onto anything you’ll need to be logged into for the interview several minutes before your interview is scheduled to start. This will give you time to deal with any minor issues that may come up.

Punctuality is a huge deal for some remote jobs. If you’re taking technical support or customer service calls, for example, you may be expected to adhere to a very strict schedule. If you’re late for your remote interview, that won’t look good to the employer.

For other positions, it still matters. Being punctual shows that you are capable of managing your time well.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 11th, 2019

Should You Only Work At Home While Your Children Are Small?

Should You Only Work at Home While Your Children Are Small?

Having children is one of the big reasons why people get started working at home. It saves a ton on childcare and you can still earn some money. There’s often a question, however, of how long you should keep working at home. Should you only work at home while your children are small, or do you keep going when they’re all school age?

Honestly, there’s no one answer to that. It really depends on how well working at home is going for you and if it still meets your family’s needs.

Consider The Financial Aspects Of Continuing To Work At Home

Money will be a huge factor for many families. Once the kids are all in school, childcare costs go way down, making working outside the home more affordable. If your work at home income is minimal, that can make a big difference in your desire to remain at home.

successful working at home

On the other hand, you may be earning more from home than you’re likely to earn outside the home. In that case, finances aren’t really a consideration. Odds are good that you’ll choose to keep working at home unless you’re really just done with it all.

Think about your future as well. Will your career advance as well working at home as it would working outside the home?

What About Retirement?

Of course, your finances now aren’t the only consideration. Are you able to save appropriately for retirement while working at home? You may not feel the pinch now, but what about later on?

Certainly, you can keep on working at home even past retirement age, so long as you keep your skills up and you’re physically able, but not everyone will want to. If the work you do at home isn’t earning enough for you to save for retirement, you need to think about how you’re going to handle it.

It’s a good idea to save for retirement as a stay at home mom or dad regardless of whether you work at home, of course. That’s not possible for everyone, but if you can find a way, make sure you put aside money for your retirement. You’ll be glad of it later.

Are You Still Enjoying It?

working mom

Working at home is wonderful in many ways, and terrible and others. Many people find it isolating. It can be hard to put your work aside enough to have time for yourself. You may be finding it more difficult to be productive simply because you aren’t enjoying being at home so much anymore.

This may or may not be a reason to find outside the home work when the kids get bigger. We all have times in any job where we’re just tired of it. Location doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with it. On the other hand, you might just be done enough with the whole work at home thing that outside the home work will be better for you.

What Kind of Work Can You Get Outside the Home?

Getting back into the workforce is hard for many people. Working at home means you at least have something to put on your resume, but how will it relate to the work you’d like to do? Are you going back to a field you used to work in, continuing in more or less what you’ve been doing at home or trying something new? Are your skills up for what you’d like to do?

to work at home or not

Finding an outside the home job is hardest, of course, if you haven’t been working at all for a few years, and are trying to get into a demanding field. It’s much better if you’ve kept up on your skills, and better yet if you’ve been actively using them. Things can change quite a bit over a few years. If your skills and experience are somewhat out of date, you may have to start lower than you anticipated.

If you’re having trouble getting back into the workforce, consider updating your education. Figure out what you need to learn to move your career in the direction you’d like it to go. This may involve going back to college or taking classes online.

What Does Your Family Think?

While the final decision must be yours, take your family’s feelings into consideration. Kids who are used to having you at home may not be all that comfortable with you heading out to work. Be prepared to deal with the adjustment if you decide that you aren’t remaining at home. The kids will adjust – they’re flexible like that – but it may take a little time.

As for me, when the time came, I chose to keep working at home. All of my kids are in school now – one is even learning to drive! It’s not always easy, and there have been times that I’ve considered heading to work outside the home.

It comes down to this: I like working at home. I like working on my own schedule. And I love that I can be there when my kids need me. They still do sometimes. They’d be shocked if I started a job outside the home, although I’d be lying if I said I never considered it.

Whatever you decide, don’t feel guilty if it’s not what everyone in your family wants you to do. You’re allowed to consider your own needs as well as those of your family.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.