Whether you already work a full-time job, stay home with the kids, or are in school, making some extra side money from the comfort of your own home is an easy way to pad your budget.
Before diving right into the plentiful “work from home” market, there are some important things to consider.
How to make money from home
1. Think about your time
It’s nice to think you could sit down at your computer, work for an hour or two and make hundreds of dollars, but unless you’re highly skilled in a very niche area, the odds of that happening are pretty slim. Most “make money from home” jobs are things that can be done quickly and easily, without much skill, so they don’t tend to pay a lot.
If you’re just hoping to cash in on whatever free time you have at home that you would otherwise spend trolling Instagram or binge-watching Netflix, then proceed ahead. If you’d really like to make some steady, predictable money, then an actual part-time or seasonal job might better suit your needs.
2. Narrow down your field of work
Google “work from home” and you’ll get billions — seriously — of results.
Start your job search by looking through some of the options to narrow down the area in which you’d like to work. There’s money to be made by answering online surveys and questions, selling your Instagram photos for marketing campaigns and even hosting dinner parties in your home.
The best way to make the most money from your home with one of these opportunities is to pick one you really think you’ll enjoy (and therefore be good at) and really perfect your talent.
3. Weed out the scams
The last thing you want to do is set yourself up with a work from home job only to find out the whole thing is a hoax. Protect yourself by doing your due diligence before signing up with any company.
Signs that a job might not be legit include missing or confusing contact information, overall bad grammar or a sloppy website, high-pressure moves to get you to sign up for the job quickly or a request for personal information — like a Social Security number or bank details — up front.
A quick Google search and a check through the Better Business Bureau will also help give you a better sense of how a company is performing and whether or not it is legit.
4. Sign up for a helpful service
You don’t need to navigate the waters of work-from-home jobs all by yourself. These days, there are plenty of services that can help. For example, sites like FlexJobs, ZipRecruiter and Glassdoor allow you to customize your search for work-from-home options.
5. Get the word out
Using online sites is the best way to see what’s available to the general public, but getting the word out with your former coworkers, current colleagues, and friends that you’re looking to make a little extra cash while working from home is a good way to hear about any other potential opportunities that might not even be listed online.
6. Set yourself up for success
Once you’ve narrowed down a job field and put some feelers out, make sure you have all the resources you’ll need to make the most money while working from home. This could mean upgrading your computer, downloading apps on your phone, making sure you have good cell service or installing a home line. Just be sure to have a plan to at least make back whatever money you have to sink into preparing for your new side job.
7. Have a plan for that money
Once you’ve found a job that’s making you money while you work from home, be sure to use that cash for what you originally planned to use it for. If you want to funnel any extra money directly into savings, set up a separate savings account and plan to make the move from checking to savings once or twice a month so that you aren’t tempted to spend it.
If you want to use it help pay down debts, try putting the money directly towards those debts as soon as it comes in.
8. Don’t forget about taxes
If the money that you are making through your work-from-home side job isn’t taxed, you’ll need to remember to handle that on your own. Consider setting up a separate savings account and putting a certain percentage into it from each paycheck to go towards quarterly tax payments.
An accountant can help you determine whether or not you’ll actually need to make quarterly tax payments based on how much you expect to make, as well as how much you should save for taxes based on where you live and other factors.