In our LV Moms’ Money Mic series, we hand over the podium to people with controversial views about money and parenthood. These views are theirs, not ours, but we look forward to opening up the floor for discussion.
In the past, we've featured writers with controversial views on everything from whether to be a stay-at-home mom to the reason one mom home-schools her kids. This month, a mom reveals how she found a whole new source of income on the internet.
You may have seen those ads online: "Earn hundreds of dollars while working from home!" While that's not exactly what she did, an idle internet search did lead Regina to a new website that allows her to work on "mom" time, bring her son along with her most of the time—and earn an extra $400 a month.
One day, I was browsing the internet while standing in the kitchen drinking my morning coffee and waiting for my son’s toast to make its appearance from the orange glow of the toaster. My first thoughts, I admit, centered on spending money: "What could I buy via Groupon, Living Social, Plum District, GoogleOffers or Gilt City?" I wondered.
Then an ad appeared offering services for the “outsourcing of life’s mundane activities,” such as shopping, driving and doing laundry.
It was advertising a website called TaskRabbit. Even though the idea of using a service to tick jobs off my list tickled my interest, I wasn’t quite ready to invest in the deal. After all, it would be really difficult to convince my “managing partner” (AKA my husband), that, as a stay-at-home mom, I should spend money on the tasks that we both consider, well … my job.
If I weren’t doing Task Rabbit, I would have removed “luxuries” (like my gym membership) to stay within our family budget.
Still, I was intrigued. So I went online, investigated the website a bit more, and realized that, though I didn’t necessarily need to use the service, I could help provide it.
What TaskRabbit Is
In its simplest form, TaskRabbit is an online bidding site that sets people up with tasks to perform for other people. The company was hiring reliable, local people who were willing to go through the interview and background check required to start taking on tasks. With my son in preschool part time, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to earn some pocket money while running my own errands.
I knew that I wasn’t going to solve the economic crisis of our household budget (my husband is the sole earner, so money can be tight) with these jobs, but I felt that it could supplement my gym membership, or justify the splurge of a latte once in a while. After all, I had time, a full-size vehicle and a list of my own errands similar to the posters' on TaskRabbit.
Perusing the site, I saw that I could help with anything from putting together IKEA furniture to planning someone's vacation.
How Do You Make Money on the Side?
What other ways do you find to make some money on the side? Do you now, or have you ever, used TaskRabbit? Would you suggest it for other moms?
Finding My Niche
After passing the phone interview and background check, I made a bid on my first task—to deliver a letter and flowers. It was easy to do, not too far from home and kind of fun to make a secret delivery and walk away with $15.
In fact, I liked it so much, I kept going. The best part of the “job” was that I felt in control of my schedule and could take on as much or as little responsibility per day or per week as I wanted. I began bidding on tasks that I could do with my little guy in tow or at home. Shopping at Whole Foods, Safeway, Trader Joe's, IKEA or Costco and doing laundry became my niche. I would shop during off-peak hours, which sometimes meant grocery shopping at 9 a.m., bringing groceries home to my fridge and then delivering them to my TaskRabbit recipient at 7 p.m.
A Perfect Solution for Stay-at-Home Moms?
I’m selective on what I bid to do and on how much I ask to be paid, so it usually works out in my favor. Sometimes the tasks require that I plan in advance, but that’s never a problem. On the days that I’m running errands, I’ll bid on a task that won’t take me far out of my way. On the days we have other things planned, I choose not to pick up any. Now, thanks to the new TaskRabbit iPhone app, I can even put in bids for tasks I’m interested in right on my phone.
Due to my own time restraints, personal motivation and dislikes, I avoid tasks that require IKEA assembly, house cleaning and ironing. I have plenty of housecleaning and ironing to do at home. Though there are internet-based tasks (or, as Task Rabbit calls them, “virtual tasks”) available, I don’t have the time to search, for example, for “All U.S.-based companies that make straws,” so I usually skip those.
These days we—my little TaskRabbit bunny son and I—make frequent deliveries to the TaskRabbit headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we have become familiar there. I am at IKEA so frequently that I know a couple of the guys in the self-service area on a first name basis, and they load my cart and help me search for my list of items. My son doesn’t mind the jobs, either. He gets to enjoy the kids’ play space while I shop, and he even asks to go with me to do “TaskRabbit at IKEA.”
I do factor the cost of the $1 frozen yogurt that yields a compliant toddler into my bid price.
What This Side Job Does for My Finances
Believe it or not, I can earn up to $400 a month doing these odd jobs—bonus money which I use to pay for my impulse buys, since I’m earning purely for my own recreational use. (You might choose to use your earnings differently.) If I weren’t doing TaskRabbit, I would have removed these “luxuries” (like my gym membership) to stay within our family budget.
Before I became a mom, I had a 9-to-5 job in the Financial Aid office at the California Culinary Academy, and before that in sales with an ATP Tennis tournament. I enjoyed what I did, but since our family expanded, we agreed that my talents and time would be best suited to raising happy, healthy children. TaskRabbit has allowed me to keep some pocket money in my wallet without sacrificing my first priority—my family.
I also volunteer for a mothers' group, and I highly recommend using TaskRabbit to the pregnant mommies on bed rest, new mommies who aren’t ready to venture out with a newborn and veteran mommies who have several children and do not enjoy bringing the kids into a store. It’s the perfect vehicle for these moms to get some tasks crossed off their to-do lists without leaving home.
Now, even my husband is a TaskRabbit customer: He's turned out to be totally in favor of outsourcing tasks on his to-do list in order to spend more quality time with the kids. For example, the other weekend, neither one of us wanted to wrestle with picking up a large piece of furniture from across town, so we outsourced it instead.
In place of that task, he used that time to watch a football game with the kids. And I have no doubt I'll make back what we spent by next week.
Regina is a "play" at home mom who spends her spare time running half marathons. When she is not training, she can be found holding hands with her young son at numerous Bay Area museums, parks and zoos.
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