By Farnoosh Torabi, REDBOOK
Women around the country are fed up with the snail's pace of economic recovery, and they're refusing to wait politely with their hands folded, hoping that a presidential candidate or a Powerball ticket will solve their money issues. Instead, they're answering the challenge with side hustles-many of which can be done from home or on a flexible schedule. Why is the extra work worth it? The thousands in added income can make the down payment on a house possible, erase credit card debt, provide little luxuries, and, perhaps most importantly, give you back a sense of financial control.
In the words of Hannah*, 30, a single mom of a 5-year-old who added a few waitressing shifts to her full-time job as a school psychologist: "I'm doing what I have to do to keep a roof over my son's head. It almost feels noble."
She's right: There is something heroic about swooping in with a talent or a former job skill you've been harboring all these years and turning it into real money. So how can you help your family's bottom line? Ask these smart, fierce supermoms who have found real-life ways to make more money, their way, on their time. They definitely deserve capes, and so will you.
1. PET BOARDING
If you love dogs, pet boarding can be an easy way to earn anywhere from $20 to $50 a night, per pooch, depending on where you live (rates tend to be higher in cities). Lindamarie Schweizer, 59, regularly boards dogs in her Scottsdale, AZ, home where she lives with her husband and two teenagers.
How to get started: Lindamarie joined sleepoverrover.com, a site that handles all of her advertising, reservations, and payments. (Another option: Partner with a local vet or pet store and ask them to refer people to you.)
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2. VIRTUAL ASSISTING
Earn $45 to $50 a day executing other people's random tasks. The site taskrabbit.com, for example, has a long list of "virtual assistance" gigs you can do via your laptop, ranging from data entry to online research. The best part: You can work from anywhere. Zarah Pimentel, 43, runs a virtual-assistant business from her home in the Philippines and says it helps her make extra money now that her 6-year-old daughter is in school. "I can work in my pajamas without makeup, and I never have to sit in traffic," says Zarah, who earns $6 an hour because she's overseas (assistants in the United States can earn more than triple that rate). "The more technical your skills, the more you can charge," she adds.
How to get started: To sign up with taskrabbit.com, go to the site to submit an online application and do a video interview. In return, the company will send you a copy of its guidelines and quiz you on it. The process usually takes about a week to get through, and 70 percent of applicants are accepted. Similar sites worth looking into are elance.com, odesk.com, and virtualassistants.com.
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3. WAITRESSINGNew mom Stephanie, 31, is an IT analyst by day, cocktail waitress by night. She works one shift per week while her 14-month-old sleeps, with the goal of erasing the family's credit-card debt-some of which comes from basic purchases like groceries. "Waitressing has helped us make ends meet," she explains. It also helps them have a life. "We have cable. We go out to dinner once a month. If I didn't have this other job, we wouldn't be able to do that."
How to get started: Job sites like simplyhired.com and indeed.com often have waitress listings. Servers we spoke with say the in-person approach works well too: Just walk into the restaurant with your résumé after the lunch rush and before the dinner crowd (2 p.m. to 4 p.m. is a safe bet) and ask to speak with the manager.
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4. ONLINE TUTORING
Former high school teacher Kristin Mahoney, 28, tutors physics and math online while she's at home with her two young children. "When I became pregnant, I knew I wanted to stay home, but my husband's salary wasn't enough," says Kristin, who earns $1,000 a month tutoring. She finds clients using tutor.com, an online service that connects tutors with students. The pay is typically $10 to $14 an hour, with monthly bonuses for positive reviews from clients.
How to get started: You don't have to be a certified teacher to qualify, but you do need to have a college degree or be in the midst of earning one. The process isn't just sign-up-and-start, though-there's an online application, followed by an exam, a tryout session, a background check, and another exam. The good news: You only have to test in the area you'll be teaching, from math and science to writing and job-interview prep.
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After nine years of working as a college dining-hall manager, Jennifer Witham Buck quit her job to be at home with her 2-year-old son and make money hand-lettering stationery for weddings and other special events. The gig earns her about $1,600 a month-and that number spikes to $2,500 during the busy summer wedding season. "I first learned calligraphy when I was 9 years old, using Mr. Sketch smelly markers," says Jennifer, 34. "I always liked doing it, and all that practice paid off!"
How to get started: Jennifer got her first clients from a local wedding show, where she paid $200 for a booth and displayed examples of her work. Need to brush up on your penmanship? There are dozens of books on how to do calligraphy, and also instructional YouTube videos.
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Permissions: Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.