Committing to being a stay at home parent doesn’t have to mean you have to no longer contribute to your household’s income.
I paid off my student loans when I was a stay at home mom of two children, sixteen months apart. My husband and I had just moved back to the United States after an overseas assignment where our first child was born. Settling in to life in the States again, being a stay at home mom of one and pregnant with the second meant I was tired and busy. But making money was possible and even fun.
This is how I started
I started by selling my husband’s old college textbooks, only to realize a better option for that is on sites like Amazon Trade In which allows you to sell to Amazon, not on Amazon. Then, I moved to selling the clothing my children were growing out of. By doing that, I was accumulating money for buying bigger and better inventory without having to come up with the money from savings or elsewhere. Later, and even more successfully, I began selling high end designer clothing I would find at garage sales.
The next discovery made it even easier: estatesales.net. What’s an estate sale you ask? This is when people sell off the contents of their home. Taking advantage of estate sales meant I could literally walk into a home where an estate sale was being hosted and buy any and all of the clothing out of closets. It made things faster for me, and the savings of buying in bulk were huge.
Later, with four children at home, I would write to consignment stores in my area and ask if they’d be interested in selling any leftover bulk inventory to me for one low cash price. A number of them loved this opportunity to get rid of clothing that they weren’t able to move quickly enough in their brick and mortar store fronts, and I was able to move it very quickly online.
The flexibility makes a huge difference
Selling pre-owned designer clothing from home was exactly the flexible schedule I needed. I could determine how often I was selling. If I needed to put my online store on vacation, it simply required the click of a button. My second child had many medical concerns that required frequent doctor appointments. I could still fill orders after my children were asleep for the night. Taking photos of inventory could be done while they played around me. Listing new product generally happened while they napped or before they woke up for the day.
There are no real overhead costs
When I started, I used old mailers or boxes to bootstrap this project. Later, I found getting mailers in bulk made a lot of sense.
The partnership between eBay and the United States Postal Service [USPS] makes mailing really easy. A simple scale from Amazon for under $15 is perfect to start off with. As long as you have the internet, paper and a printer, you can start printing your postage at home (so no need to stand in line at the post office). Additionally, eBay offers discounts on postage when you print from their site rather than the postage rate you’d pay in the post office.
Convenience is key
I’ve learned a few hacks along the way. For instance, you can schedule pick ups from your doorstep by the post office for free. Those pick ups can be scheduled as frequently as daily or as infrequently as fits your shipping needs. No need to take additional trips to the post office with babies and toddlers who need to be buckled and unbuckled from car seats.
Also, when shipping items (those over 16 ounces) via Priority Mail with USPS make sure to take advantage of the free supplies available on USPS.com.
Selling on eBay has been one of the simplest and most consistent ways I’ve found to bring in a good supplemental income while caring for my little ones at home. This was such a doable way for me to pay off loans accrued from getting a nursing certification, an Associate’s degree and a Bachelor’s degree. It’s not just eBay, sites like Poshmark and Etsy are great avenues for selling used goods online.
Melanie Anderson is a mom of four, and the blogger behind Six on a Budget. She is a on mission to help people live a vibrant debt free life.