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Brainstorming Help Needed

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Well, see, it's like this...

 

I work almost full time at a job (social work type) I love, but it doesn't really pay enough to live on (varies, around $2000/mo, with healthcare for me, but not my kids). Currently, I am also paid $1200/month to care for my mom. She is 95, and we are fairly certain she won't live forever. So that chunk of my income will disappear. We are getting by on the current income, but things would be easier if we had a bit more. There isn't too much room to cut back our expenses - unfortunately, I have a car payment (almost $300, counting the increased insurance required), and our rent is $1200. That's average for a 3 bedroom house in my area. I could probably find an apartment for a bit less, but between the expense of moving, and the need to stay in this school district for YoungSon's last 2 years of high school, the choices are pretty limited. We have no cable or landline, and utilities are pretty much fixed. Our food is pretty basic - little to no processed foods, but nothing organic or fancy either. Mainly fresh produce, meat, dairy, and bread. Occasional sweet treats, usually home made by BigGirl. Gas costs about $400, because I drive a lot for work. My house has a spare room - a converted 2-car garage, heated and carpeted, intended as a rec room.

 

I applied for a new job in my agency (with a significant pay raise), but that fell through. I was planning to become a therapeutic foster home again, but that fell through too. I really am trying to get something in place before Mom dies - I will be upset enough, and don't need a financial panic at the same time. BigGirl is 18, and is looking for a job. She will start community college next term. I will ask her to contribute once she is working, but she also will be saving for college, so it won't be much. 

 

I have had various home businesses over the years, and I know that my weakest link is anything to do with sales. I have a near phobia of presenting myself to strangers in this sort of situation. Here are the avenues I have considered, based on my skills, resources, experience, etc.:

 

ESL - I have an advanced certificate to teach English as a second language, but not a master's degree. I have volunteered teaching through the community college, but never had a paid position. I would enjoy tutoring, general English to adults, or English for medical professionals (I have enough medical background), but I am having a hard time with marketing and sales. I would love to lead an English conversation group for immigrant women, but can't quite see how I could get paid for this. Online tutoring is another possibility, but I don't know how to get started. Or I should say I know how, but can't seem to get motivated to take the first steps.

 

Parrots - I have had a home business raising and training baby parrots, that tanked in the recent economic mess. Although I work well with birds, and love it, I don't see the economic situation in my area as strong enough to support a business based on VERY expensive pets. And again, marketing and sales are not my strength. Plus, it would take a substantial investment to get going again. On the plus side, it would be a very practical use for this spare room, and could be pretty profitable, if it got going full swing. Although it takes a lot of time, it is pleasant for me to handfeed and play with baby birds. I don't like the cleaning up aspects (a huge part of it) so much, but I guess I could get over that. It would take some time to establish myself in the bird community.

 

Overnight childcare - A friend did this and I thought it was brilliant. She cared for infants and kids for working families for the graveyard shift. This could work for me - set up the spare room with cribs, beds, etc. My regular job is flexible enough that I could arrange my hours to start late if I anticipated not getting too much sleep. There is a fair sized hospital a few blocks away, and I imagine there are shift workers who need this service, The main obstacles are: my fear (hatred) of state licencing and inspections,and  the necessity of keeping the house clean all the time (dishes and vacuuming don't always get done on a daily basis around here). Also, I fear I would burn out pretty quickly, as I would nearly never have any real off-duty time between my job daily and babies all night. But, investment would be minimal, and BigGirl is enthusiastic to participate in this. She is great with babies and kids, and uber-responsible.The state licensing would allow up to 6 kids, although I don't guess it is realistic to think that getting 6 kids and babies to sleep in one room is likely.

 

Respite - I am licensed to do respite care through the state department of developmental disabilities. It pays about $10/hour, so for a full 20 hour overnight (for some reason, the state seems to offer most families 20 hours/month), it is $200. If I could line up 8 or 10 regular kids, one or two at a time, for a monthly overnight, I could make as much money as I need. Little to no investment, as I am already licensed and have a spare room (I would move into the rec room, and have the bedroom for respite kids, as logistically it would work out better). Marketing would be fairly simple, as I have a personal friend in the dept who would happily recommend me. The downside is that although I do this pretty well, I don't really enjoy it. The kids are high needs, and it would be pretty exhausting to spend my every weekend at this intensity. Also, YoungSon is special needs himself, and doesn't do too well with the constant comings and goings (different than a daycare, because it would be older, higher needs kids).

 

Elder care - although I have the experience and skills, without the love I have for my mother, I would not have the patience. Besides, it really doesn't pay well enough to make the difference. 2 or 3 hours per evening is all I could handle after work, and I couldn't make ends meet with typical rates (I think $10/hour is average).

 

Renting out a room - pretty much ruled this out. My house only has 1 bathroom. Probably, that is enough reason. The rec room would be the best one to rent, but access to the laundry room is through there. Awkward. I had a roommate for much of last year, and it left a bad taste in my mouth for a variety of reasons. None of them insurmountable, but the going rate for a room is about $350 around here - not enough to work for me anyway.

 

Sewing - I have years of experience sewing commercially. For years, I made custom motorcycle racing leathers. Then I had a business making Hawaiian print baby clothes, and selling on the national craft circuit. That evolved into baby clothes upcycled from used adult clothes. My city has a pretty fantastic year-round craft market, and I have sold my stuff there. I never got going online (neither my own website nor Etsy-type sales), but probably could if I tried. I enjoy production sewing, and my kids and I enjoy the atmosphere at the craft market. They could be counted on to help with market sales, and online sales. The rec room could be a great workshop/office/warehouse for a small business. I don't have a particular product in mind, but could either revive my old designs (only 3 or 4 years ago), or come up with something new. Besides baby clothes, I have made slings, diapers, and fabric toys - many possibilities.I sort of miss the creative side of things. The downsides are: large initial investment. My workshop was destroyed in a fire, so I have no machines. Also, materials for an initial inventory would be $$$. And it is a bit of a crap shoot if I could make much money from this.

 

Parenting classes/support groups - I teach parenting of high needs kids in my job, and also volunteer teach a class through another agency. It is possible that I could set up a sort of free lance, paid version of this for families that aren't hooked up through either agency. Not impossible, but it would take time to get going, and pretty high energy in the development stage. Could work into advocacy in IEP meetings, with insurance providers, systems navigation help, and more. I just question if I have it in me to begin such a project right now. Also, since I already spend 5 days a week doing this work, I think I might burn out if I got too much more intensely involved in the special needs families community.

 

OK- that is all I can think of tonight. Writing all this out has helped me think it through, but I would welcome any input - insights on these or any other directions I might go. When the new job and the foster parenting fell through on the same day, I felt sort of panicky - definitely time for a new plan. I didn't write out my whole budget, but trust me that we are pretty close to the edge with recurring monthly expenses that are non-negotiable. I feel that time is running out for me to set something up - I have the extra income from my Mom right now, but it is hard to predict how long that will last.

post #2 of 13
Just have to say I'm impressed with your many talents; most of them marketable no less! The only thing that jumped out at me as far as ideas is that maybe it would be less overwhelming to cobble together more than one thing. Say, perhaps take a small number of kids overnight- few enough to not need a license from the state- plus maybe whatever crafts require the least initial investment to start, just as an example. Or that might be more overwhelming for you...I just know when we're in "must make more $ any way we can" mode there seems to be less burnout for DH especially if we have our fingers in many pots. wink1.gif

And if I may ask, how do you get paid to care for your Mom? We're caring for my Mom and his Grandmom right now and for the forseeable future and it's put a major dent in our income just from the time it takes away from us working.
post #3 of 13

I have a couple thoughts for you

Respite care- around here you go to the family, they dont come to you. I  know because I look at this as a potential income source as well.  Mostly short term assignments because families need different hours, funding changes etc.  This was not a viable option for me.

 

Overnight care - I used something like this for kiddo a couple times, on a drop in basis for a 'mommy night out'.  It was wonderful.  This was the woman's only job and she paired it with her hubby who worked the night shift and everyone slept in the day.  She was awake while the kids were there.  Maybe offer weekend care or something to keep your regular work schedule a 'safe zone'?  There are lots and lots of parents who work weekends who struggle with child care too - esp for older kids.

 

Do you have 'clutter'  ,  how do you feel about selling things on craigslist and decluttering the house?  I've done that before and made a good amount of money.  Obviously its not a long term solution and right now we dont have anything to sell but its easier IMO than ebay and it's all cash based, no paypal or shipping to mess with.    On the same thought path- how about a yard sale.  IDK where you are at but Fall is a good yard sale time, lots of shoppers looking for holiday shopping etc.

 

Hate to ask but will any expenses decrease if mom is no longer with you?  Will that possibly offset her income?

 

I worked during university (20 some years ago)  I went to classes full time and worked 20-30 hrs a week.  I was responsible for 'my bills' so gas for my car, my clothes, my food on campus etc.

post #4 of 13
Rhu, I so wished you lived near me. I could really use a respite provider right now. My DS is having a really hard time and the post-adoption services are really lacking right now.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks, all.

 

Money from Mom comes through the VA - she is a disabled vet, combat related (She was a nurse in WWII, and sort of lost her hearing then). So she gets excellent medical care and benefits. Based on her needs, she gets an extra amount for "Aides and Attendants" or something like that.

 

I really don't have anything much to sell. We radically downsized a couple years ago when we moved into this house, and have been pretty diligent about not collecting clutter. 

 

Respite here is not in the family's home. I have done it a few times, already registered through Developmental Disabilities Department, so really, that would be the easiest, if I want to do anything childcare related. But I am so tired after work and weekends these days that it is hard to muster up too much enthusiasm. I am also slow to warm up and feel comfortable with Other People's Kids - that is why longer term foster care was appealing to me. Really, doing respite is probably the best solution, at least for now.

 

I have gone back to applying for better paying jobs.I truly love my job, but I can't probably afford to keep it forever. It would be hard to give up the freedom and independence I have, as well as the relationships and loyalty, at this place. And I know my agency does good work, and I contribute and am appreciated. If I could get a state or county job, still in children's mental health or disabilities, or a hospital job as a patient advocate or something similar, I could make considerably more than at my non-profit agency. I am qualified for this kind of position, and the jobs I have looked at start at 25% more than my current job (or better).

 

I think I am just in an overwhelmed, depressed state of mind these days. I have been this way before, and I always get over it, and get on with it. For now, I appreciate the place to ramble and vent. Thanks again.

post #6 of 13
I understand your desire to make more money and think ahead. Personally I would look into non caregiving ways to earn income first. Between caring for your mother, your full time position, and your sons needs I can see the burn out happening fast. Since you are already licensed for respite care I would actually put that on the backburner until your mother passes. So, I guess out of everything I would look at esl first. It is a more needed skill than the parroting, and its less emotionally draining than other prospects. Hopefully you have time to get that in order, and if not then persue the respite care. Also I hope your children will be happy to pitch in since they are seeing you care for your mother, and I hope mom stays around as long as her quality of life is still good. You all seem blessed to have one another.
post #7 of 13

First of all, you have an amazing resume that shows you are super-resourceful. I have no doubt something will work out! And to your benefit is that you are putting a plan into place ahead of when you'll actually need it. It seems like the path of least resistance would be to look around for a better paying day job in the same field, as you said, and pair that with some teaching and/or tutoring English, which hopefully wouldn't contribute to caregiving burnout or cost too much in start-up expenses. Does the community college have an ESL program? Could you look around for an online opportunity? If you did a CELTA certificate, see if the place where you got it has job placement help, even if it was a while ago. I think the one where my DH did his offered this.

post #8 of 13

I would pick out the things you can do that you would ENJOY the most and try those first.  You already have a full time job, it would be good for  your part-time job to be fun and not stressful.  If those don't work out you can move down the list to things you like less.  Though I would never choose things you dread doing. :)

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

Ahh, good advice from the wise ladies here.

 

I have started applying for jobs off Craigslist - a slow but possible solution. Because this isn't urgent, I can remind myself not to panic and do anything I would hate. I think a second job should be my Plan B. I am tired after work, and really need evenings and weekends for my kids, and some me-time. I think I am getting to old to push too hard. But I really don't want to get into a job I hate, just for the money.

 

Very good suggestion to avoid getting myself into much more caregiving roles - burn-out feels pretty close some days already. I think I might start aiming for something more crafty. I think I could start with a very minimal investment to make a bunch of onsies and rompers (upcycled from used adult t-shirts - my pattern is wholly original and pretty cool!). Yard sales and thrift stores for a source, and I already have a snap-press and overlock sewing machine. If I put together a stock of a few dozen, it wouldn't take too much to set up an Etsy shop, and try that. Focused, production style sewing is relaxing for me (go figger!), and I think I could manage sales and shipping. Would only need to buy a digital camera, or figure out how to connect my phone to my computer.

 

As predicted, I am over my brief scared, overwhelmed stage, and back into my normal optimist mode. This is the real me, and it is so much more fun! :D 

post #10 of 13
Post your etsy store when you get it set up..those sound cute and we have some babies to shop for soon.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamarhu View Post
 

Well, see, it's like this...

 

I work almost full time at a job (social work type) I love, but it doesn't really pay enough to live on (varies, around $2000/mo, with healthcare for me, but not my kids). Currently, I am also paid $1200/month to care for my mom. She is 95, and we are fairly certain she won't live forever. So that chunk of my income will disappear. We are getting by on the current income, but things would be easier if we had a bit more. There isn't too much room to cut back our expenses - unfortunately, I have a car payment (almost $300, counting the increased insurance required), and our rent is $1200. That's average for a 3 bedroom house in my area. I could probably find an apartment for a bit less, but between the expense of moving, and the need to stay in this school district for YoungSon's last 2 years of high school, the choices are pretty limited. We have no cable or landline, and utilities are pretty much fixed. Our food is pretty basic - little to no processed foods, but nothing organic or fancy either. Mainly fresh produce, meat, dairy, and bread. Occasional sweet treats, usually home made by BigGirl. Gas costs about $400, because I drive a lot for work. My house has a spare room - a converted 2-car garage, heated and carpeted, intended as a rec room.

 

I applied for a new job in my agency (with a significant pay raise), but that fell through. I was planning to become a therapeutic foster home again, but that fell through too. I really am trying to get something in place before Mom dies - I will be upset enough, and don't need a financial panic at the same time. BigGirl is 18, and is looking for a job. She will start community college next term. I will ask her to contribute once she is working, but she also will be saving for college, so it won't be much. 

 

I have had various home businesses over the years, and I know that my weakest link is anything to do with sales. I have a near phobia of presenting myself to strangers in this sort of situation. Here are the avenues I have considered, based on my skills, resources, experience, etc.:

 

ESL - I have an advanced certificate to teach English as a second language, but not a master's degree. I have volunteered teaching through the community college, but never had a paid position. I would enjoy tutoring, general English to adults, or English for medical professionals (I have enough medical background), but I am having a hard time with marketing and sales. I would love to lead an English conversation group for immigrant women, but can't quite see how I could get paid for this. Online tutoring is another possibility, but I don't know how to get started. Or I should say I know how, but can't seem to get motivated to take the first steps.

 

Parrots - I have had a home business raising and training baby parrots, that tanked in the recent economic mess. Although I work well with birds, and love it, I don't see the economic situation in my area as strong enough to support a business based on VERY expensive pets. And again, marketing and sales are not my strength. Plus, it would take a substantial investment to get going again. On the plus side, it would be a very practical use for this spare room, and could be pretty profitable, if it got going full swing. Although it takes a lot of time, it is pleasant for me to handfeed and play with baby birds. I don't like the cleaning up aspects (a huge part of it) so much, but I guess I could get over that. It would take some time to establish myself in the bird community.

 

Overnight childcare - A friend did this and I thought it was brilliant. She cared for infants and kids for working families for the graveyard shift. This could work for me - set up the spare room with cribs, beds, etc. My regular job is flexible enough that I could arrange my hours to start late if I anticipated not getting too much sleep. There is a fair sized hospital a few blocks away, and I imagine there are shift workers who need this service, The main obstacles are: my fear (hatred) of state licencing and inspections,and  the necessity of keeping the house clean all the time (dishes and vacuuming don't always get done on a daily basis around here). Also, I fear I would burn out pretty quickly, as I would nearly never have any real off-duty time between my job daily and babies all night. But, investment would be minimal, and BigGirl is enthusiastic to participate in this. She is great with babies and kids, and uber-responsible.The state licensing would allow up to 6 kids, although I don't guess it is realistic to think that getting 6 kids and babies to sleep in one room is likely.

 

Respite - I am licensed to do respite care through the state department of developmental disabilities. It pays about $10/hour, so for a full 20 hour overnight (for some reason, the state seems to offer most families 20 hours/month), it is $200. If I could line up 8 or 10 regular kids, one or two at a time, for a monthly overnight, I could make as much money as I need. Little to no investment, as I am already licensed and have a spare room (I would move into the rec room, and have the bedroom for respite kids, as logistically it would work out better). Marketing would be fairly simple, as I have a personal friend in the dept who would happily recommend me. The downside is that although I do this pretty well, I don't really enjoy it. The kids are high needs, and it would be pretty exhausting to spend my every weekend at this intensity. Also, YoungSon is special needs himself, and doesn't do too well with the constant comings and goings (different than a daycare, because it would be older, higher needs kids).

 

Elder care - although I have the experience and skills, without the love I have for my mother, I would not have the patience. Besides, it really doesn't pay well enough to make the difference. 2 or 3 hours per evening is all I could handle after work, and I couldn't make ends meet with typical rates (I think $10/hour is average).

 

Renting out a room - pretty much ruled this out. My house only has 1 bathroom. Probably, that is enough reason. The rec room would be the best one to rent, but access to the laundry room is through there. Awkward. I had a roommate for much of last year, and it left a bad taste in my mouth for a variety of reasons. None of them insurmountable, but the going rate for a room is about $350 around here - not enough to work for me anyway.

 

Sewing - I have years of experience sewing commercially. For years, I made custom motorcycle racing leathers. Then I had a business making Hawaiian print baby clothes, and selling on the national craft circuit. That evolved into baby clothes upcycled from used adult clothes. My city has a pretty fantastic year-round craft market, and I have sold my stuff there. I never got going online (neither my own website nor Etsy-type sales), but probably could if I tried. I enjoy production sewing, and my kids and I enjoy the atmosphere at the craft market. They could be counted on to help with market sales, and online sales. The rec room could be a great workshop/office/warehouse for a small business. I don't have a particular product in mind, but could either revive my old designs (only 3 or 4 years ago), or come up with something new. Besides baby clothes, I have made slings, diapers, and fabric toys - many possibilities.I sort of miss the creative side of things. The downsides are: large initial investment. My workshop was destroyed in a fire, so I have no machines. Also, materials for an initial inventory would be $$$. And it is a bit of a crap shoot if I could make much money from this.

 

Parenting classes/support groups - I teach parenting of high needs kids in my job, and also volunteer teach a class through another agency. It is possible that I could set up a sort of free lance, paid version of this for families that aren't hooked up through either agency. Not impossible, but it would take time to get going, and pretty high energy in the development stage. Could work into advocacy in IEP meetings, with insurance providers, systems navigation help, and more. I just question if I have it in me to begin such a project right now. Also, since I already spend 5 days a week doing this work, I think I might burn out if I got too much more intensely involved in the special needs families community.

 

OK- that is all I can think of tonight. Writing all this out has helped me think it through, but I would welcome any input - insights on these or any other directions I might go. When the new job and the foster parenting fell through on the same day, I felt sort of panicky - definitely time for a new plan. I didn't write out my whole budget, but trust me that we are pretty close to the edge with recurring monthly expenses that are non-negotiable. I feel that time is running out for me to set something up - I have the extra income from my Mom right now, but it is hard to predict how long that will last.

 

 

Hope you get to figure it out. Have you thought about cutting down on expenses? That's always part of our budget plan in our house. We have no cable and have kept water and power costs to the minimum.

Refinancing and minimizing miscellaneous costs are also alternatives. This is just some ideas. What works best depends on your current monthly budget plan :)

post #12 of 13

Girl, you need to learn marketing. I don't mean selling, you already do that every day with your kids and probably with the people you counsel. You need to learn how to  effectively market yourself and then you will be on top of the game. You didn't share why the new position where you are working or the therapeutic foster home idea "fell through". You also didn't tell us about your level of formal education e.g. B.A. in English, psychology etc.

 

It sounds like your job pays you roughly $15/hr (peanuts) with inadequate health care and what's with you paying $400 for gas. Doesn't your firm reimburse that cost? Remember this, you will be paid exactly what you think you are worth. If you have a $10 or $15 an hour mentality, you'll be stuck there. It's time to rethink the value you bring to a company. Ask yourself this question: What do I offer that will make the companies I want to work for more money or serve the needs of its clients (customers)?  Write that down. Stare at it.

 

The next step is to choose where you want to work. Ignore that you don't find a position on Craigslist or other classifieds. Contact the companies you've chosen with your new value mind set. Get to know the right people (network). And when you interview, make them realize it is you that is giving them the opportunity of hiring you because of the many assets you bring to the company. That, my dear, is marketing.

 

Here's where to start. Imagine you were the CEO of a firm that you would like to work for. Pretend this firm has deep pockets about to interview you for a job. With your current skill set, how much would you be willing to pay for the assets you could bring to the company. If the wage is below $25/hr, why?  Only you can answer and fix that. If you would be willing to pay yourself $25 or more an hour, then the only thing left is to learn how to present the assets you offer in such a way that a company will jump at the chance to hire you.

 

Now let's say you were the same CEO of this same firm and you thought you could hire this $25/hr employee for $15/hr. Bet your bippy you'd do it in a heartbeat. However, if that prospective employee presented herself in such a way that made you believe she was only worth $10 - $15 an hour, you would be less inclined to hire her. Why? Because the crowd at the bottom clamoring for the job is so large.

 

I could go on, but I think you now know what you must do if you ever want to move up the financial ladder. It's not about working more hours, it's about working effectively.

post #13 of 13

This depends on whether you are in a major metro area or not probably, but I've made some money recently on the ETC section on craigslist- things like market research, and medical studies. The "gigs" section on craigslist could also be an idea. A friend of mine has been making a ton of money off of Taskrabbit since becoming unemployed and that could be a good source for occasional extra income as well. 

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