When Money Gets Tight, I Bake Bread


When Money Gets Tight, I Bake Bread

Image credit: Shutterstock.com/ESME

Outside-the-box ideas when you need to make the dough

For many moms, the words back to school mean more than just sending our children off to school. I dread those words, and not just because it means my children are another year older or because I miss them while they’re gone. I dread back-to-school season because our family lives below the federal poverty level. With four children to provide for, I’m looking for deals all summer long on school supplies; I stock up on clothing essentials a size ahead when they’re on clearance; and I’m a huge fan of JanSport backpacks because even though they are more expensive, they have a lifetime guarantee, and I know my kids will be able to use them for more than one school year.

My income level also means that I’m always looking for new ways to provide for my family by using the skills I’ve learned through the years. Most of my income comes from working online as a legal assistant and freelance writer, but another skill I learned from my grandmother helps bring in a small amount of income, particularly when times get rough: baking bread.

When we lived in Georgia, I sold bread at the local farmers’ market, and here in Virginia, I sell it to local military spouses and spread the word through Facebook. This extra income has provided money for uniforms and supplies for school, and allows my children to play sports as well. But not everyone out there has an inner Martha Stewart, so I talked to other moms to find out how they earn extra income.

Selling unwanted items on Facebook

Many of the moms I spoke to said that when times get tough, they start looking through their home for items they haven’t used in months so they can post them on Facebook Marketplace. Gone are the days of stowing unwanted items in a garage or basement, waiting for the perfect day to have a yard sale. Now you can post an item online and have it sold and out of your home in hours.

Working for a delivery-service company

A few moms I spoke with work for delivery-service companies that recently launched in their area. To get started, most of these companies require an interview and background check, which can take a few weeks, but the job pays well and you have the opportunity to make tips. Delivery-service jobs present a great alternative for Solo Moms who have considered driving for Uber while their children are in school but who do not want strangers in their car or to be out driving late at night. Christa G. says that she works for Uber Eats and gets paid for the drive from the restaurant to the person’s house, averaging $10 to $14 per hour. Shipt came on my radar when I saw a news article about Ed Hennessey, a former Florida teacher who quit his job and is now making more than $100K per year working for Shipt.

I was recently approved to drive for Shipt, and the process to get started was easy. First, I applied and was selected for an interview, which had both written and video prompts. About a week after the interview, Shipt told me I had been selected and that I needed to submit information for a background check. The background check took about two weeks, and after you clear that, Shipt sends you a starter kit, which includes a T-shirt that you wear while conducting your shopping trips so that when you arrive at the customer’s home, the customer knows you’re with Shipt. Although the hiring process takes a few weeks, once you’re in, it’s an easy way to earn extra money in your downtime.

Teaching English to children in China

To bring in extra money, Betty R. teaches English online to children in China through a Beijing-based company called VIPKID. Because of the time zone difference, she works while her children are sleeping. To get started, most companies like VIPKID require you have a bachelor’s degree, which can be in any field of study. On the downside, not everyone will qualify, as VIPKID also requires that you have some teaching experience. Super Moms who homeschool can rejoice because homeschooling does qualify as acceptable teaching experience.

Transcribing audio files for Rev

Alison T. transcribes audio files for startup service provider Rev. She says Rev currently pays its workers every Monday through PayPal, and that the pay is based on the audio minute, so your pay may vary based on how fast you can accurately transcribe the audio. Alison used her experience with Rev to launch her own virtual assistance company, providing transcription services for her own clients at a much higher rate.

Bartending at your local pub

Through college I worked as a bartender, which allowed me to go to class in the mornings and then hang out with my children every afternoon until my shift started, which was around the time they went to bed. Weeknights, the tips were hit or miss, but some weekend nights I would bring home nearly $1,000 in cash tips, which was especially welcome as a Solo Mom living on one income. Carla S. bartends two nights a week in Pittsburgh and tells me that in one good weekend, she’s able to pay her rent for the month, and that bartending has allowed her to pursue her educational goals and start a college fund for her child as well as an emergency nest egg.

If you’re in need of financial assistance right now, look to your community resources for help, and don’t feel bad about it. At one point or another, nearly every one of us has sought or will seek financial help, and there is no shame in doing whatever you need to do to provide for your family. For some ideas on community resources, check out “Paying the Bills as a Solo Mom,” which describes programs that can help you make ends meet during difficult financial times.

What do you do to earn extra money? Check out these two articles for more useful tips: “Living Well on Very Little Money” and “Solo Mom Side Hustles.


Tara Glenn is a Solo Mom of four who currently resides in Pensacola, Florida. She has a background in public affairs, writing, and photography. Tara spent five years in the Navy and now volunteers with the Civil Air Patrol as a public affairs officer. She enjoys working with small businesses as a ghostwriter as well as encouraging her children’s love for aviation in her free time—the running joke being that she only creates pilots, as all of her children love to fly!

Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.


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