There are approximately 13.7 million single parents raising 22 million children in the United States, and while 76 percent of mothers and 85.1 percent of fathers are working, sometimes one job isn’t enough to make ends meet.
If this sounds like your situation, the good news is that thanks to a rise in jobs within the gig economy, you no longer have to sacrifice all your valuable family time in an effort to bring in more cash. Benefits for single parents include flexibility, decent wages, and the possibility of working from home.
Here’s how to get started holding down a lucrative side gig without renouncing your most important role: being a mom or dad.
The first thing you should do is figure out how much extra money you want to bring in so you can determine how many hours and/or what type of work you should consider. When establishing your budget, keep in mind that the majority of gigs are feast or famine, so you have to factor in dry spells. You’ll also want to set money aside for taxes since they won’t be taken out if you work as an independent contractor or if you decide to start your own business.
To help you stay organized, designate a distraction-free area in your home as an office space that’s outfitted with updated and working technology, an ergonomically designed chair, and ample lighting. Incorporate stress-busting elements such as plants, photos, or artwork that bring you pleasure; aesthetically pleasing window treatments; and furnishings such as a comfortable chair with a reading lamp where you can take a break. Speaking of which, make sure you take regular breathers and establish set office hours so your kids know when to leave you alone.
There are many online resources and apps where you can look for gig-related work, but first you have to determine if you want to do something you love, you know, or a combination of both. If you happen to already be in the fields of artificial intelligence, blockchain architecture, robotics, ethical hacking, cryptocurrency, or virtual reality, you’re in luck, as these jobs are among the highest paying in the gig economy — but don’t be discouraged otherwise. There are plenty of other lucrative opportunities in the following areas:
- fitness training and coaching
- tax preparation
- graphic design
- pet sitting
- reselling items online (or making something from scratch)
- computer repair
- direct sales
Building Your Business
To truly thrive, you’re going to need to put a little effort into building your business, whether that means identifying with a specific social media channel, taking out a small ad, attending a targeted conference, updating your equipment, or improving your product. Just be sure to establish a clear budget to prevent winding up in the hole — being conservative about your spending habits doesn’t mean you’ll be any less successful.
When setting a budget, it’s very important to separate your business expenses from your personal finances. One way to do this is by opening a business credit card, which will allow you to separately track all of your business spending. However, before selecting one, be sure to research available options so that you can find the business credit card that best suits your needs.
It can be difficult for kids of single parents to understand why mom and dad have to work so much, so make sure you establish an open dialogue with your children. Focus on the positive aspects of your work instead of the negative. For example, instead of saying you need more money to put food on the table, spin it as you want to make sure they have everything they need. There’s no need to display a pie chart detailing your family’s financial situation, but the sooner you teach them about the value of a dollar, the easier it will be for them to understand your work schedule.
About the Author: After being in a car accident, Caleb Anderson developed an opiate addiction, for which he received treatment. He is in recovery today and has started RecoveryHope.org with his wife Molly. They now provide resources and support to other couples and individuals to help them face the challenges of drug and alcohol addictions.