January 4th, 2018

The Financial Hazards Of Being A Stay At Home Mom Or Dad

The Financial Hazards of Being a Stay at Home Mom or Dad

I’ve gone over the financial benefits of being a stay at home mom or dad. They can sound pretty good, but they are not the full picture. There are also a number of financial hazards of being a stay at home mom or dad. It’s vital that you know them as well.

Loss Of Income

Obviously, you’re losing a lot of income when you stay at home and don’t work at home. While that loss may be offset by not having to spend money on childcare and such, this is not the complete picture.

There are also lost career opportunities when you’re a stay at home parent. Staying home with the kids for five years means you’re missing out on five years of raises and chances for promotions. It’s five years that you might not be keeping up with your industry well enough to return to the same position as you had before.

This is why it is important for stay at home moms and dads to keep up with their industries or work to improve their educations. Another option is to work at home, whether you telecommute from your old job, find something else that can be done from home or start your own online business, such as a blog.

It can be more difficult to find a job as you get older too, especially if you haven’t worked for a while. Age discrimination is a thing, and it’s very hard to prove.

Working at home part time doesn’t entirely resolve these issues, but it’s a start. Some moms will be fortunate enough to find something that brings in enough money to replace a full time outside the home job, but many others will not. It’s something to consider.

Decreased Savings For Retirement

Few stay at home parents save for retirement, yet it’s just important for them as it is for a parent who works outside the home. It’s hard to save the money when things may be tight already. But the younger you start saving for retirement, the more benefit you will gain from each dollar saved. Vanguard has a great chart on this on their site.

Loss Of Network

Your network of friends and professional contacts can make a huge difference in your career path. When you take a break from working to raise a family, your professional network usually shrinks dramatically. It’s hard to keep in contact with people on a professional level when your lives are in such different places. Plus, you aren’t showing yourself to them as a professional; when they see you, it’s as a parent.

Financial Dependence On Someone Else

You love and trust your spouse, or so I assume. You believe that they will be able to provide for you and your family. That’s a part of why you’re at home with the kids and they’re working.

I touched upon this in the work at home section of the financial advantages of staying at home post yesterday. I reiterate this today – there is a lot of risk in being financially dependent on someone else.

Not because they’re unreliable. Not because they’re untrustworthy. But because you never know what life is going to bring you. Unemployment, disability, divorce and death can all happen, and you won’t always see it coming.

You need to have a plan in place to handle a financial crisis, whatever the cause may be. Shit happens. Take some time with your spouse and make sure that you and your family will be taken care of, no matter what happens.

That includes if something happens to you. Stay at home moms and dads provide a valuable service to their families. What would your family do without you? Your financial emergency plans should include something for if you can’t continue to care for your family for whatever reason. Life insurance for both parents is a good start. It doesn’t hurt to have small policies for the kids too. You know you would both be wrecks if something happened to one of your kids, right?

Get into the “what ifs.” They aren’t fun… in fact, they can be downright scary to consider. But they are important. Plan for them before you have a problem. They shouldn’t rule your lives, but they should be acknowledged.

Having One Parent Manage All The Finances

Even when both parents work, it’s not that uncommon for one to handle most or all of the finances. One usually has more interest in the subject or more time for it. That doesn’t make this an ideal situation.

Make sure both parents know what your financial situation is. The parent who works outside the home should not be the only one to know how your finances are doing. The same goes for the stay at home parent.

Both parents need to know what the bills are, when and how they get paid, what your income is, and what’s in savings. Take some time and talk about these things regularly, regardless of who handles the finances for the most part.

Offsetting The Financial Hazards Of Being A Stay At Home Mom Or Dad

There are some things you can do to offset the hazards of being a stay at home mom or dad. You need a safety net, for your own sake and the sake of your family. I mentioned working at home and improving your education in the benefits of being a stay at home mom or dad article. Those are the two big things you can do to minimize the risks.

Finding the right work at home opportunity is quite challenging. The scams are numerous and much easier to find than the legitimate opportunities. The skills you already have may or may not be suited to working at home and you may have to pick up an entirely new skill set. If you can make it happen, however, it can be well worth it.

Many parents plan on going back to working outside the home, at least part time, once the kids are in school. These jobs are generally easier to find than work at home jobs, but a part time job that makes the most of your skills can be very hard to find.

Taking classes at night at a college or online when the kids make it possible is always an option. Improving your education is a great choice if your career wasn’t where you wanted it to be before you became a stay at home parent. There are so many options now, although paying for it can be a challenge if your budget is tight.

Whatever you do as a stay at home parent, consider your financial future. Don’t leave it as some vague thing to be handled when the kids get older. Plan now so that you can make the most of your time as a stay at home parent and still have a good career later. You will thank yourself later for thinking of your financial future now.

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.

January 3rd, 2018

The Financial Benefits of Being a Stay at Home Mom or Dad

 

The Financial Benefits of Being a Stay at Home Mom or Dad

The decision to become a stay at home mom or dad is usually not made lightly. There can be significant financial consequences, both to the family and to the parent who stays home with the kids. But there can also be financial benefits of being a stay at home mom or dad, and these are worth considering.

No Daycare Costs

The cost of daycare for young children is significant, and this is often a large part of why a mom or dad may choose to stay at home. The more kids you have, the more this costs. Sometimes a family comes to the realization that one paycheck is going almost entirely to the cost of daycare. There is little point in working outside the home if all your money goes to that.

The cost of childcare in much of the United States is higher than the cost of attending an in-state public college. This is why it’s difficult for many families to keep both parents working if they have more than one child – too much income goes to daycare.

I live in California, and according to the Child Care Aware map, the cost of in-home child care for an infant is $7,678. It’s $11,817 for a daycare center. The costs are a little less than double that if you have an infant and a 4 year old in childcare. That’s a lot of income out of your paycheck. Getting rid of that is a huge financial benefit.

These numbers get better, of course, once the kids go to public school and need less daycare. They’re pretty much irrelevant for me now, as my oldest is 15 and my youngest is turning 9 soon. That’s why so many parents go back to work once the kids are in school – you can earn enough to make things worthwhile more easily.

Income Taxes

Your income tax burden may drop when one parent has no income. Not only do you have less income to tax, you may fall into a lower tax bracket. The change in tax bracket, of course, depends on how much the family earned with both parents working versus having just one work.

Remember that the higher tax bracket only applies to the income above the previous bracket. The income below that is taxed at the lower rate. This makes estimating your taxes difficult, but you can give it a good shot if you want actual numbers to work with.

Spending Goes Down

Your family can decrease spending in many ways with a stay at home mom or dad. It’s not just about child care.

A stay at home parent’s wardrobe costs less than a professional wardrobe, as a general rule. Pretty much everything can be washed at home rather than dry cleaned, which helps as well. How much of a benefit this depends significantly on the job the parent had before.

Stay at home parents eat lunches out less as a general rule too. They also don’t grab coffee out as often as parents who work outside the home. Getting coffee and a little something for breakfast on the way to work can easily run $5 a day. When stay at home parents do go out, on the other hand, it’s usually with the kids, so things can add up a little faster.

These savings can also extend to dinner. Having a parent at home makes it easier for that parent to cook meals at home, so the family eats out less in the evenings too.

A stay at home parent can do a lot to help the family live more frugally. They have time to find the best deals on groceries and other things the family needs. Food is one of the major expenses for a family, and there are many ways to save money in this area.

Transportation Costs

The stay at home mom or dad no longer has commuting expenses. This can be a huge savings. We went through a time when we had only one car because I drove so little. The savings was incredible, as that means we only paid for insurance on one car, having sold the other. Where we live now, it’s not practical to have just one car, but my insurance premiums are pretty low since I still don’t drive as much as someone who commutes.

Your transportation expenses will probably go up some as the kids get older and go to school or join activities. How much of an impact this has depends on how far away these things are – I was able to walk my kids to and from school for years.

No Hidden Work Expenses

Working outside the home can have some hidden expenses beyond commuting and clothes. Consider the social side of working in an office. Some of these expenses don’t come up often, while others are more frequent.

Some places have employees contribute to a coffee fund, for example, so that coffee is always available for everyone. There may also be requests for contributions for birthday gifts, baby showers and retirement gifts for coworkers throughout the year.

While all these things are pretty small in most places, they can add up through the year.

Better Career Focus For The Working Parent

The parent who continues to work outside the home can put their complete focus on their career when the other parent stays at home. They don’t have to worry about being called home when one of the kids gets sick. Staying late to finish a project is easier when you don’t have to worry about being on time to get the kids from daycare, which also looks good to employers.

This makes that parent look more dedicated to their employer, and may improve his or her chances at advancing their career. This benefit can be hard to define because it depends on so many factors, but it can be significant.

Time To Improve Your Education

Taking some time to improve your education while you’re a stay at home parent is an expense, but you may be able to make that into a financial benefit when you return to work.

There are a lot of online education options these days. You might decide to learn to be a medical coder while you’re at home so that you can earn money. You might look at getting a degree from an accredited college.

Improving your education is never a guarantee that you will earn more money when you go back to work, but you do improve your chances. This can help make up for the opportunties lost while raising your family.

You Can Work From Home

Working from home is a benefit I strongly recommend to stay at home moms and dads. My income has saved us many times. Several years ago my husband was laid off from the job he held at the time, and the fact that I was bringing money in meant that it was a complication, but not a complete financial disaster.

Working at home is so affordable in most ways. Costs will depend on what you do, but many work at home jobs and online businesses don’t add a lot to your monthly expenses. If you need only your computer and your internet connection, well, these are things you’re paying for anyhow.

It is not easy to get started working from home for most people. Work at home jobs can be challenging to find, and businesses… are businesses. It takes time to make one into a success and there are no guarantees that you will ever succeed with an online business. On the other hand, they’re cheap. It costs very little to start a blog, for example.

I strongly recommend working at home, at least a little, when you’re a stay at home parent. A single income family can be hit hard if anything happens to the breadwinner parent. Unemployment, disability, divorce, and death are all things you probably won’t see coming but can happen to any family. Working from home gives your family a buffer against these problems.

These financial benefits of being a stay at home mom or dad aren’t meant to dismiss the very real financial risk a stay at home parent takes. I’ll be covering that next.

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.

January 2nd, 2018

How To Update Your Resume For Your Work At Home Job Hunt

How To Update Your Resume For Your Work At Home Job Hunt

Keeping your resume current is important, whether you’re job hunting or not. But when you want to find a new work at home job, you need to look carefully at your current resume to make sure that it presents you and your experience in the best possible light. These are some of the things you should do to update your resume for your work at home job hunt.

Check Your Contact Information

Having current and professional looking contact information is vital on your resume. You don’t need to include your street address, but you should have your name, phone number, email address, and possibly your website address or LinkedIn profile address on your resume.

Make sure your email address looks professional. The best option is to have your name with a Gmail email address or one associated with a domain you own. A student can get away with using an .edu address, but if you’re done with school it’s not ideal. Email addresses through AOL or Yahoo just look old. Using your name in your email address looks far more professional than using other words do.

Review Your Summary

Your summary gives a quick overview of your qualifications for the job. These are the points in your resume that will be the most important to a potential employer. This should go near the top of your resume.

If you still have an objective on your resume, delete it. Employers know what your objective is – it’s to get hired. You wouldn’t have sent in your resume otherwise.

Update Your Skills And Education

The skills and education you bring to a potential employer are also important. Keep these up to date. If at all possible, take the time to add to them whenever you can. There are plenty of courses at Udemy, community colleges,and so forth where you can build your skills in ways that will help your career.

Some educational choices will look better than others on a resume. When you sign up for a course, make sure that it will be a good addition to your resume.

Remove portions that are no longer relevant. There comes a time in your career when you don’t need to mention that yes, you have graduated from high school. Your college GPA eventually won’t matter either, as your experience will show whether or not you’re suited to the job.

Don’t mention skills that aren’t useful anymore. Employers won’t care how well you use some old software unless they specifically mention it in the job ad.

Update Your Work History

Even if you haven’t changed jobs since the last time you updated your resume, make sure to update your work history. Consider any new accomplishments you’ve made at work since the last update. What about promotions? Did you forget to add something to your work history that is relevant to your latest job hunt? Be specific. Include metrics whenever possible.

Bullet points are useful to make your accomplishments stand out from the general description of your job duties.

You may also need to trim down old employers who aren’t relevant anymore. That fast food job in high school isn’t relevant to your job hunt if you’ve had several other jobs since then, unless it has some specific relevance to what you’re looking for now. The same goes for that internship in college that has nothing to do with the kind of work you’re looking for now.

Review Your Terminology

Does the terminology you use in your resume show that you are current in your field?

If you use outdated terminology in your resume, it makes your skills look out of date. Make sure you haven’t let any old terminology stick around. If you have any doubt, do a little research and look it up.

In addition to professional terminology, look at the words you use to describe your accomplishments. Action verbs are vital to a great resume, if not overused. Consider this list of action verbs to improve yours.

You also need to consider keywords that are important to your industry. Most resume are scanned by applicant tracking software for relevant keywords before a human ever sees it. You want the software to see your resume as relevant to the job so that it gets to the human. Don’t forget the human even as you consider the software.

Update Your Formatting

Is your resume in a modern style? Resume formatting has changed quite a bit over the years.

Many resumes still have your name at the top, but your contact information, skills and education are in a narrow column off to one side. Done properly, this makes it easier for the employer to scan your resume for the information they want.

Use a professional font on your resume. Arial, Helvetica, Verdana and other professional looking Sans Serif fonts are a good choice. Don’t use an unusual font and please, please don’t use Comic Sans. That one is a bad idea for most purposes.

Aim for a one printed page resume, even though it may never be printed. There are times when going to a second page makes sense, but it’s not for everyone. Potential employers need to know enough about you to decide to contact you for an interview, and that’s it. Most times they’ll spend under 30 seconds on your resume. If you don’t get their attention that quickly, you won’t get called for an interview.

Make sure that your formatting is consistent throughout your resume. It looks sloppy if you have different fonts throughout your resume, use multiple date formats, or if you change bullet point styles.

Do NOT Include Excess Personal Information

There is no reason whatsoever to include excess personal information. This is a mistake I see parents who want to work at home make often when they contact me. They tell me nothing about their skills, but I hear all about how they have young children or an ailing parent they need to care for, and that’s why they want to work at home.

First of all, I’m not an employer. If you want work at home job hunting advice from me, I’ll give it, but your personal situation isn’t relevant. It’s even less relevant to potential employers. If you share too much personal information, they probably won’t want to hire you.

Employers do not care if you’re married, if you have kids, or what your hobbies are. If any of these limit your availability, bring up the hours you are available to work (but not why) in your interview. Employers want to hear about what you can do for them, not what you need them to do for you. Personal issues can be handled later. Keep them off your resume.

They also don’t need to see a photo of you. What you look like is not relevant to your resume.

Save Your Resume In The Right File Types

There are two important formats for saving your resume. The first is as a .doc or whatever word processor format you use. This one should be easy for you to edit later, and it’s possible that an employer will want that format for one reason or another. Give your new resume a new filename so that you can compare your old resume to your new if the need ever arises. Having multiple versions of your resume can help you other times that you need to update your resume.

The other is to save it as a PDF. This format ensures that you can easily send your resume to a potential employer and it will look the way you want it to look. There’s no worry about the formatting going wrong or someone accidentally changing your resume if you send it as a PDF. It also prints well, which may matter to some employers. Printed resumes aren’t all that popular anymore, but some people find paper easier to handle than staring at a screen all day.

Consider Making Multiple Resumes

Customizing your resume for each job you apply for is a good idea, but you can make the process faster by making multiple versions of your resume. This is especially important if you’re job hunting in multiple fields. Prepare a resume that is focused on each of those fields, and you won’t have to spend so much time customizing your resume as you find different job openings.

Review Your Social Media Presence

Many employers now search potential employees online and on social media websites to make sure they like what they see. I went into more detail on this subject in my article, Social Media Checklist For Job Hunters.

Update Your Resume On LinkedIn

Once you’ve finished updating your resume, make sure your LinkedIn resume is updated to match. Many employers check there, especially if you have included a link to it on your resume.

Sometimes a recruiter will find you on LinkedIn. Having someone contact you about a job you weren’t aware of is a good thing – just make certain that it’s legitimate first. Some work at home scams will claim to be from a legitimate company, but it’s just a person using that company’s name for their own purposes.

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.

January 1st, 2018

YouTube Moderator Scam Email

YouTube Moderator Scam Email

I get to start this year off with a lovely new scam email I received. It’s pretty simple. It says I have been made a moderator of a YouTube channel. On mine, the channel is called “Have Win Apple iPhone X Get It From: – (link)” – isn’t that a lovely name??? I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find that it was a YouTube Moderator scam email.

Here’s a screenshot of the email:

YouTube Moderator Scam Email

Yes, it really does seem that it comes from YouTube. These guys are starting a fake YouTube channel just so they can make people moderators of their channel and try to scam them.

The link in the channel name is the key to this scam. It shows up as a link in the email. When I checked things out in the Google Product Forums, some people had followed it and had even filled out the requested information. Don’t do that, folks. You should know better. Never share your information on sites you don’t trust.

There does not seem to be a way to keep people from making you a moderator on YouTube as of this writing. With this scam going around, I expect that Google/YouTube will be looking at things to find a way to control this scam.

One simple thing they could do is disallow domain names as usernames or in channel names. I don’t know that they would want to do that, however, as I’m sure many legitimate websites name their channels for their domain.

Better might be to say that you can only be made a moderator of a channel you already follow. This seems like a very simple thing to require to show that a potential moderator has already interacted with the channel in some way.

What To Do About The YouTube Moderator Scam Email

First of all, make sure you know the email is a legit one from YouTube before clicking any links in the email. I looked at this one very, very carefully before I reported it as spam and checked to see if the channel was still open so that I could report it. You don’t want to be tricked into logging in at a fake site. You also don’t want your name as moderator on a scam channel, even when it’s likely one of many, and utterly meaningless.

If you get this email, don’t overreact. I saw some people on the Google Product Forums who shut down their YouTube channels over this. I think that’s a huge overreaction. There is no indication that your channel has been compromised just because you got this email.

This scam email is really not a big deal. Hit the “report as spam” link in the email if you like, and go on with your life. YouTube wants to know about these channels quickly so that they can shut them down. They don’t like scams either. You can also go to the channel and flag it as spam if it hasn’t already been deactivated. The YouTube channel in mine had been shut down for violating the TOS. Surprise, surprise.

It amazes me that scams like this can work, but as I saw on the Google Product Forums, they apparently do, even on people who know enough to go to the product forums. Some ways that amazes me, but that’s just reality.

Be careful any time you get an email. Don’t trust it just because it comes from a trusted source. This one really did come through YouTube’s system because they found a way to get their fraudulent link in there. But it could just as easily been a phishing email from start to finish. Pay close attention to where a link really goes before you click one in an email… or anywhere.

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.

December 31st, 2017

Home With The Kids Top Posts For 2017

Home With The Kids Top Posts For 2017

2017. Not one of my best years, but that’s just how things go sometimes. I’m ready to move on from the problems of the year and keep things moving forward. There were some good times, after all, and I would like to focus on that by sharing some of the top posts I shared here on Home With The Kids in 2017.

Work At Home Jobs Top Posts 2017

Amazon announcing in April that they would be adding 5000 work at home jobs was big news this year. The jobs were part time positions in their Virtual Customer Service program. The jobs weren’t available in every state, but such a great opportunity to those who could get the jobs.

Medical coding is a fairly popular work at home job, so it’s not surprising that there has been interest in my post about getting into medical coding.  I’ve been keeping this one updated. You have to get training before you can apply for jobs in medical coding, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you spend money on it. I also added a post on whether medical transcription is still a viable career.

Posts about work at home jobs here are usually popular, so the post about 115 freelance writing jobs naturally got some attention. Freelance writing is one of those gigs many people feel they can do, but it’s really a lot of work to do it right.

Finding a solid work at home job is hard, so people liked hearing about ways to earn money at home when you can’t find a work at home job. There are a lot of ways to earn money while still looking for something more stable. Most don’t pay as well as a regular job, but others can be turned into something pretty good.

Your social media accounts can help you to find a work at home job, but if you aren’t careful, they can also be a liability. Check out my social media checklist for job seekers before you start looking for work.

Work At Home Advice Top Posts 2017

You know what’s really fun about working at home sometimes? You don’t have to be stuck in your home office all of the time with some jobs. There are jobs where you really need to stay in your home office, but others give you a lot of flexibility to work where you’re comfortable. That said, there are times when a home office is your best choice for working at home.

There is so much work at home advice I can give, and some of it can be given quickly, so I shared 100 simple work at home tips in a post this year. Sometimes a few sentences is enough to get the idea across for each tip.

One of the great things about freelancing is how flexible it is. You can start a freelance career even while working another job in many cases.  If you really work at it, it might just become the work at home job that you create for yourself.

Working at home isn’t as simple as finding a work at home job in some ways. You need to make sure you’re ready for how different it can be from working outside the home. These questions can help you get ready to work at home.

One of the huge problems I see a lot of people have with working at home is their dreams of how it will be. They think it will be easier to work at home than it actually is, or that it will be more flexible. The realities can be far different from what many people expect.  It’s better to get a dose of reality before you start working at home than to have your dreams shattered when the reality hits.

Then there’s one of my favorite posts from this year, about how to distract your cats while working at home. If you have cats, you know what I’m talking about. Some of them are worse distractions than kids or even husbands!

Online Business Top Posts 2017

One of those things you need to expect when you run an online business is that sometimes your computer will give you trouble. It’s just one of those things. If you can handle some basic troubleshooting on your own equipment, these problems will be much less of a setback than they would be otherwise.

I contacted some online business owners this year about their best social media advice. Five were kind enough to share with me. I think it’s pretty good advice.

When you have a home business, there are a lot of little things you need. If you aren’t sure what to ask for, check out my gift ideas for entrepreneurs list. There might be something you hadn’t considered.

Everyone makes mistakes when starting a home business online. These are some of the most common.

Parenting Top Posts 2017

Not everything is about working at home here. When you’re a parent, sometimes you need free or cheap ways to play with your kids. More time with the kids is one of the big reasons moms and dads like to work at home, after all.

Sending the kids off to school can mean preparing lunches for them to bring along. I shared a bunch of recipes from other bloggers to make preparing school lunches for the kids a little easier.

I love to give kids gifts that encourage them to be more creative. Kids sometimes don’t get enough time to express themselves creatively, but if you give them the tools, they’ll go at it.

Blogging Top Posts 2017

Blogging is one of the most popular ways to work at home, so I shared a lot of advice about it. The most popular post was about free image editing tools. Great images help great posts do well on social media.

It came as no surprise to me that when I posted about how to start a blog, the two most popular sections were about brainstorming ideas and making money off your blog. Those are two of the most important and sometimes most challenging parts.

One thing I’ve had to learn through the years is how to get a quick bit of work in even when I know I’m going to be distracted. That was the inspiration for my blog post, Quick Blog Tasks For When You Know You’re Going To Be Interrupted. Not everything you do for your blog has to take a lot of time.

Despite the problems I had in 2017, I will continue to work so that 2018 become a much better year. I’ve put a lot of thought into where things went wrong, so hopefully I can make things far, far better in the future.

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.