Choose YOUR Path

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

lifeDave and I both quit our corporate jobs years ago and exchanged our office spaces for classrooms. We went back to school to pursue what we actually cared about, a decision that may have seemed crazy to onlookers and often seemed crazy to us. With 5 kids to support, bills to pay, and current and future student loans to deal with, it may have looked a bit reckless. But for us, it was the best decision.

Neither of us enjoyed working in an office. We had stressful, unsatisfying careers and atrocious bosses that took us away from each other and our kids. We did the only thing that made sense: scratch that plan and begin a new one. Sure, finances were tight for a while and things weren’t perfect, but we hung together as a family. Several years later, Dave and I work from home full time; content in what we do and happy to be accessible to our kids all the time.

Whatever the circumstance, it is perfectly acceptable to make the choices that are best for your life. You only get one life this go around. Even if your choices are unconventional, if it works for you, it’s worth the risk.

 

The Benefits of Working at Home for Moms

As someone who has truly profited (both financially and emotionally) from being a work-from-home mom for the last seven years, it is my pleasure to share the space today with a fellow mom who is trying to help Canadian moms achieve their goals of working from home and having more time with family.

MomsGetReal Guest Contributor Fariza Minhas

Given the choice, half of all stay-at-home moms would join the workforce, and 75% of moms in the work force would stay home with their children. For any business, this means there is a wealth of employable moms out there who wish to work. Even though these moms choose to stay at home with their families for a variety of reasons, these moms have the qualifications and the expertise that would be beneficial to any business

Mothers who stay at home are qualified and experienced for a variety of positions. Stay at home moms seek to eliminate this disparity by creating a market where moms with real qualifications can seek out real opportunities which match their experience and education, without having to leave their home. This can provide many opportunities to generate income for their family without having to leave their home, not only letting moms spend more time with their family, but also earning a income.

If you’re a stay at home mom, you’re spending a lot of time in your day caring for your family. However, perhaps that’s not all you’re looking for. Here are some benefits to working from home:

Extra Income: – By working from home, you save more money than when compared to traditional in-house employment. Not only can you contribute to your family’s well being but now you can also contribute to their finances!

Spend Time With Family: – If you’re working outside your home, you spend a lot of time away from your family. You spend 8 hours at your shift, then an hour traveling to and from work, and you may even bring work home. If you work at home, you can choose your own hours, you can do your work when the kids are at school, or when they’re down for their nap. This means that when they’re around, you’re free to spend time with them!

Save on Costs: – Cut down on a lot of costs that come with working outside your home. You don’t have to buy business attire, you don’t have to get a second car, pay for gas, insurance, pay for all the extra costs that come from leaving your home and working outside.

Keep Your Resume Current: By working from home, you’re keeping your resume current. Even though you won’t be leaving home, you’ll still be getting new experience and staying in a field, making sure your resume stays fresh for when you do want to work outside home.

What does this mean for businesses? This means that there is a wealth of workers out there, who’s potential and productivity could be tapped into simply by creating work at home opportunities. In fact, half of all stay at home moms would join the work force if they had the opportunity to work in a position which they could co-ordinate with their home life.

These mothers come from a variety of fields, they are chartered accountants, marketing professionals, teachers, public relations professionals and so much more.

These women have the talents that could help any business succeed but they do not have the opportunity to put these talents to use because there are few job positions which allow them to be home with their children while working.

If you’re a Canadian mom, learn more about work at home opportunities at Canadian Working Moms.

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Working from Home Is Hard but Rewarding Work

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

When I said goodbye to my “atrocious boss” and decided to work from home almost 10 years ago, the first job I got was to write 100 testimonials for a company. I had two days to do it and they were paying $125. It was the first time I’d ever bid on anything, my first foray into the world of content marketing.

I would never, ever do it again.

In fact, Kira and Dave both had to help me just to get them all done in time, and I probably only made $3 an hour for the trouble.

But, it was a start.

The next job paid $35 an hour (almost twice what I was being paid in corporate servitude) and lasted over a year…so right away, things were looking much brighter than they had that first few days.

Over time, I’ve built a pretty awesome business – a business that has remained flexible and has changed with the times and has clients that have stuck with me for four, five, even six years. When I started, content marketing, SEO, and social media marketing weren’t terms everyone knew, and there was a much different approach to online marketing.

work happyIt’s actually better now, because WHAT you write matters and building real relationships with fans/followers/customers/clients is important. Before, it was all about writing an article so stuffed with keywords that it barely made sense and publishing it to as many places as you could get it.

Now, it’s about value. People won’t read what you’re writing if you’re not giving them something different, something interesting, something entertaining. Even then, you’re competing against a bazillion other things being written every day.

But no matter how hard I have to work from home for my clients or for our business (my husband and I have partnered now to grow what I started), it’s worth the trouble and the effort. I’m home with my kids, I work hours I choose, I travel when I want.

I work harder now than when I worked for Mr. Atrocious, but I work happier.

And in the end, isn’t that what matters?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Your Boss and Work from Home

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

When you’re raising kids, your priority as moms and dads is to make sure you provide them with the best care. This often means mom staying home, eking by on one income, and making financial sacrifices. With the recent twists and turns that have occurred in the economy, you may feel trapped between keeping the outside job and paying huge daycare costs and quitting your job and not knowing where the next meal will come from.  It’s not a pleasant place to be, but more and more families are finding themselves in just such a predicament. What many moms don’t realize is that they have the opportunity to work from home and make money online without having to sacrifice the most important job: being mom.

Flexibility

Regardless of what kind of work from home option you decide to explore, the great thing about moms working from home is the ability you have to set your own schedule. Need to squeeze work into early morning hours before the kids wake up and afternoon nap time? No problem! When it comes to making money on the internet, you have all the flexibility you need to work around the other demands in your life. As long as you are self-disciplined enough to use the time you do have available to you, you can be successful.

Inexpensive Start Up

working at homeFor moms who want to work from home, one of the most attractive reasons is that it is relatively inexpensive to get started; often costing less than it would cost to pay a daycare to keep your child while you work outside of the home.  Imagine the feeling of waking up each day knowing you can contribute financially to your household while still providing the best possible care to your children. It’s empowering and motivating.

It Starts with Believing in You

When you decide to work from home, you have to take a deep breath and commit yourself. You have to decide that you will be successful, enlist the support of your family, and have enough discipline to stick with it. Being able to set your own schedule and work around you kids’ needs makes for easy motivation, but moms need to be able to believe in their ability to be successful, too.

There is no such thing as getting rich quick; you can get rich, but it will take time, effort, and dedication. You won’t be successful if you don’t believe you can be successful.

How I Became a Stay at Home Mom

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was working a what many would consider a great corporate job.  I did work with great people, I loved going to work every day, and made a decent salary.  (I did have an atrocious boss, one of two I experienced in corporate life). I  always assumed I would want to go right back to work, and that I would be able to put my baby in daycare after my six-week maternity leave.  Most of my friends who had recently had babies went right back to work, and I assumed I would too. It never dawned on me that I would not want to return to work.  The idea of being a stay at home mom had never even entered the equation when my husband and I decided to start a family.

That is, it never entered my mind until around the time we got the first ultrasound.  By the time I was feeling the first kicks, the reality of having my first baby set in, and there was no way I was going to do anything but be home to enjoy every single minute of it.  I could not imagine going back to work and leaving my baby.  Not every woman has that choice (or wants it) but for those who do, there are definitely things you should think about when deciding whether or not you can stay home.

Going to One Income

save money to be a stay at home momWhen I first approached the idea with my husband, he wasn’t at all sure we could manage on his income.  We each made about the same salary, so we would literally be cutting our funds in half – and we had just bought a new house and the mortgage was $200 higher than our previous payment had been. Of course, by this time I was desperate to become a corporate refugee, so I was motivated to find a way.

Our first step was to write down all of the expenses we currently had.  We made a list of all of our bills: car, house, insurance, groceries, credit card payments, incidentals.  We tried to include everything possible, even date night.  We then ran two alternate scenarios: one with me working and one with me not.  With me working, we would incur about $1200 a month in daycare costs.  In addition, there were the costs of my commute, work clothes, and other work-related incidentals.  With me not working, we would spend less in gas and not have daycare expenses.

We also talked a lot about the long-term impact of me not working – not building my 401(k) and not having the health insurance (mine was less expensive than his) and whether or not I would still feel like staying home three or six months down the road.  We decided that the extra cost of insurance would be an acceptable risk and that if I really didn’t want to stay home down the road, I was highly employable and we lived in a great area for starting a new career.

My husband’s income wasn’t quite enough to make us feel comfortable, but we still had a few months before the baby arrived.  We took all of our extra money those last few months – when I was too big and uncomfortable to do much anyway – and paid down our credit cards and put a month’s worth of bills in savings. I then talked to my HR department, who advised me to take advantage of my maternity leave and give my notice in the last two weeks of leave.  My company’s policies allowed me that luxury, and it extended our income through the first month and a half of our son’s life, while I was home enjoying every minute of him.

If You Want to Stay Home with Baby, Start Planning Early

Depending on your situation, staying home with your baby might be possible. It’s important to realize how much of your income would be going to daycare expenses and what other expenses you could cut if you were not working.  If we had been forced to, we could have sold a vehicle and lived with only one in order to make things work – we have now been a one-vehicle family for almost six years and couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.  I was also able to do a little bit of work from home to supplement our income, something that ended up translating into a full-time business when my husband made his break from the corporate world to return to school.

If staying home with your baby is your goal, the best thing you can do is start planning early, be flexible, and look for ways to save money and be thrifty along the way.  For me, it was worth every sacrifice to be able to enjoy all of my son’s many progressions through those first months.

 

 

10 Rules for Achieving Success

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

I’m not a millionaire or even close, but for the last seven years, I’ve comfortably worked from home, supporting my family while maintaining a work-life balance that keeps me content. While I have my share of moments where I wonder if my good fortune will continue, I know that achieving success takes time, effort, and integrity. (Unless you’re a big bank, then you can just swindle people out of money to get rich).

These are my 10 rules for achieving success, ones that I use in my credibility, branding, and visibility services for my clients, and ones that I use in all of my other efforts as well.

10 Rules for Achieving Success in Life

10 steps to achieving success#1 – Play twice as hard as you work. Work hard.

#2 – Do not focus on the destination without fully experiencing each step of the journey there.

#3 – Step out of the spotlight and let others shine sometimes.

#4 – Learn how to say no.

#5 – Failure is not a detour from success but part of the journey to it.

#6 – You must believe in what you do. If you don’t, you need to change what you do.

#7 – Never be afraid to admit your mistakes. Then learn from them.

#8 – Never stop learning, never stop seeing the world with fresh perspective.

#9 – Be humble enough to realize there’s always someone better than you. Use knowledge not as threat but as opportunity

#10 – Help others along the way … without expecting anything in return.

What would you add to the list? How do you measure success in your life?

Preschool Homeschool

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

When I escaped the corporate jail I was serving in when my kids were young, I was determined not to go back into the corporate world in any capacity.  I was exhausted from the 60-hour work weeks and felt like I was missing in action from my children’s daily lives.  I was lucky enough to find work to support our family from home, but not without a bit of budget-tightening (my husband was a full-time student with one semester left, so we were one income).

The easiest – and biggest – bill in our budget to remove was the daycare bill, so shortly after I started working full time from home, my then-5-year old daughter, Anika, joined me.  I quickly discovered that being a full-time work-at-home with kids at home mom was a challenge, so I designed a home school preschool for her.

homeschool preschoolThere would not be much point in having a work at home job if I couldn’t be near my daughter, so the first thing I did was make my home office kid-friendly.  I emptied out a cupboard in my office that she could reach and filled it with paper, crayons, pencils and blocks.  Anika is the youngest of our five kids, so knowing what she needs to be prepared for to start kindergarten was the easy part; making her feel like she could do things without mommy’s help was a bit more difficult.

What finally worked was to explain my work and make her my business partner.  Each day when I had to be focused on my work, she would sit at her little table right next to me and work on preschool workbooks and printouts (available online in a number of places).  Her quiet concentration helped me work, she felt like she was mom’s big helper, and I kept my sanity and the extra money we would have otherwise spent on daycare!

Best of all, on days when the work was light, we spent time doing wonderful things together, making the wahm-sahm combo the best of both worlds for me.

 

Work at Home – Can It Work for You?

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

With the precarious nature of our economy, everyone is trying to find ways to have more financial security. Whether you are trying to pay down your debt or prevent your house from entering foreclosure, being able to earn extra money from home can make a difference.

Improving your financial security can improve your life in other ways, too. When you are not worried about debt, you are able to focus on self-improvement and exploring life’s journey, whether you spend more time with your family, travel, or focus on a hobby that brings you pleasure.

Make Work At Home Opportunities Work for You

Whether you simply need to earn extra money from home or want to build a full time work from home career that supports your family, there are many options available to you. The most important thing to consider when making a home business choice is to pick an industry or business for which you have a passion. You need to be motivated and driven; having passion for the business you choose will help you find success.

You also need to beware of scams. Get-rich-quick solutions do not exist. If you choose to work with a company, pay attention to what other people say about the company on the internet, and make sure whatever company or organization you affiliate yourself with can be contacted by phone and email if there are any concerns.

Opening the Door to Work at Home Opportunity

Success comes to those who keep at it. Even if you are simply supplementing your income and don’t intend for it to become a full time endeavor, the more effort you put in to making yourself successful, the more likely you will succeed. Think of how many people you know who have lost jobs or been thrown into uncertainty because of the instability of the economy and the corporate structure. Wouldn’t you like to know that you have a fall back position, that even if your corporate job disappears, you can earn money at home and protect your family and your assets?

Work at Home Success

To earn extra money at home, you need to be able to have a great deal of self discipline. While many web sites will advertise some form of get rich quick scheme, it’s not realistic to think that you can make a lot of money without any effort. In fact, it’s more likely that the more effort you put into being successful, the more financial rewards you will discover.

 

Misconceptions of a Work from Home Mom

Getting Real With Sara Haley

It’s always entertaining when I meet someone new and they ask what I do.  As a freelance writer and desktop publisher, I have the ability to work from home.  I am a single mother to an active, energetic four year old. And according to the rest of the world, I have it easy!

I’m amazed at the number of misconceptions that exist around work from home mothers.  While some “work from home mothers” are selling Pampered Chef products and gathering the occasional order for their Mary Kay director after playing with their children at the park all day, I’m sitting at my laptop each and every day doing something that my household depends upon.  If I don’t work, I don’t make money.  If I don’t make money, I don’t pay my bills.  If I don’t pay my bills–well, we all know where that’s headed.

Working from home as a freelancer is not a part-time gig for me.  I have worked hard to get where I am at.  As a previous stay-at-home mom, my current job did indeed start as a side business.  But when I separated from my husband and went through my divorce, I knew I could sustain a viable income AND stay home with my daughter (thus saving in outrageous daily daycare costs) if I was able to play my cards right.

There have been days where I have been awake well past my bedtime (and my daughter’s) wrapping up an audio transcription because it was the only time during the day I was able to give full concentration to what I was doing.  There have been days where I have woken up a few hours earlier than my daughter in order to start up a cup of coffee and knock out a few hours of content before she woke up and thoroughly disrupted my day.  There have been days where I have shamelessly let my daughter play her Vsmile and Xbox 360 longer than I should just because I was on a tight deadline and had to get something done.  There are days when the dishes don’t get done.  There are days when I order in pizza for delivery because I’m hungry and I need something I can eat with one hand and maintain the ability to click a mouse with the other.  There are days where I don’t even get the chance to shower until 10pm rolls around.

Being a work from home mom is thoroughly misunderstood.  Here are just a few of the phrases I hear from others that comment about what I do, or beliefs that many have about our day-to-day lives.

“So you’re able to join me for lunch today, right?”

Um, no.  If you want to schedule a lunch date with me, it better be about a week in advance.  And it might get canceled if I get bogged with a big project or fall behind on work because I had to reluctantly take a sick day.  I am not available at the drop of a hat.  Last minute plans do not always work for me.  Although my workload may change from day to day, I’m not always wide open for lunch, a play date, or even a quick phone call.  Don’t hate me if I cancel plans on you, and understand that my next rent check depends on it.

 “That must relieve the stress of working with other people or having a boss!”

Stress?  I’m very familiar with stress.  Especially considering my career is freelancing.  Which means no regular, steady, expected paychecks every other Friday.  I get paid as I get work completed.  Sometimes I get paid after assignments are turned in.  Other times I am prepaid.  I am even paid as I go with some of my clients.  But one thing is for sure–I’m never quite sure when I’m going to get a “paycheck.”  This, in turn, causes stress.  Am I going to have enough by the first to cover rent?  Do I have enough cash to fill up my tank with gas until I get paid again?  Should I just get the necessities at the grocery store or stock up?  Trying to figure out how to manage my money with fluctuating pay was difficult at first, but once I learned to just pay the next few bills with each payment I received, I was quickly able to determine when there was surplus to tuck away for more difficult months.  Oh, and being your own boss?  It’s hard, too.  Working from home requires a lot of self-control and self-discipline, since no one else is going to remind you turn in assignments or get your work done except you.

 “You must get to spend a lot of time with your daughter!”

In reality, I do.  But this is because I tend to work around her schedule.  Until my daughter started preschool this fall, I paid my mom to watch her twice a week for daycare so I had two guaranteed work days in which I could schedule larger jobs and projects.  However, on the rest of those days, it was up to me to find a work/life balance.  On days when there was less work or none at all, I took advantage of it and took my daughter for a walk to the park, a dip at the pool, an impromptu trip to the children’s museum, or even a stroll through the zoo.  But on days when my inbox was full, I found a way to pull double duty.  I’d sit in the living room with my laptop while my daughter played, which allowed me to converse with and watch my daughter at the same time.  While this did slow down how fast I was able to work, I was at least able to accomplish something, even if it took me four times longer than normal.  Now, with her in preschool three days a week until late afternoon, I schedule my work during the morning and do my best to have everything done before I pick her up for fun the rest of the afternoon and evening.  We use the days that she is out of school to enjoy lunch out or plan something exciting and engaging for the day.

 “Must be nice to be flexible enough to have sick days and vacations.”

Sick days?  Vacation?  Unlike the rest of the working world that gets to enjoy paid vacation time and sick days, these two things can be detrimental to my finances if I do not prepare for them accordingly.  A week of being under the weather might mean that I can’t set that $200 aside into my savings account because I’ll need it for something important.  When I don’t work, I don’t make money, and being sick and out of commission is definitely not something I’m happy about.  It’d be nice to have a paid day to sit on the couch and sip chicken noodle soup while mindlessly watching daytime soap operas.  However, this just doesn’t happen.  Especially with that energetic four year old running loose!  With vacations, I have been able to enjoy the benefit of being mobile.  I have gone to Minnesota to visit my grandma, bringing my laptop and taking my daughter down to the library to enjoy some quiet time and Wi-fi.  I have been able to take a trip to see friends in Arizona and managed juggling some jobs while my friends were at work for the day.  An extended period of time away from my work is likely not anywhere in my near future.

 “How do you get anything done with a child around the house?”

I have no idea.  Honestly, there are days I get quite a bit done and wonder how it happened, and there are also days where I had some work on my plate and a needy little girl and didn’t get a single project done–or started.  Thankfully, it is rare that I am on a super-tight deadline, so I have a little wiggle room when the unexpected happens.  And thanks to having a house full of fun toys and technological gadgets, my daughter finds a way to entertain herself while I’m working.  Other days, I don’t get five minutes to myself without a request for something to eat, drink, color, watch, or play with.  The only way I accomplish anything is by allowing my “office” to be mobile.  While other parents can enjoy a separate, secluded home office, I am unable to have that privilege.  Unless my daughter is in preschool, I am rarely working at my actual desk.  My laptop gives me the ability to work at the kitchen table, on the living room couch, and–no joke–in the bathroom.  Yes, I have even gotten work done on my laptop while sitting in the bathroom as my daughter takes her hour-long bath.  Hey, when you have work you have to do, you start to get really creative…

 “Do you get distracted?”

Why yes I do.  Who wouldn’t?  I’m my own boss, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.  I have shuffled away from my computer and crawled into bed with my pets to curl up for a bit and watch something on Netflix for a “brain break.”  I am very easily distracted by Facebook, where I am able to converse and interact with the real world outside my apartment, scheduling future play dates and get-togethers along the way.  I am often multi-tasking, taking a break to do a load of dishes, or switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer.  But I consider these no different than any other distractions a person would incur at the everyday workplace: carrying on a conversation about last night’s shenanigans with a coworker, running to the break room for yet another cup of coffee, or taking your 20th smoke break.  I like to think of Facebook as my “smoke break.”  It keeps me sane and gives me a few minutes to clear the brain before starting another project.  Oh, and make dinner plans with friends.  It’s good for that, too…

“Working from home isn’t a ‘real’ job.”

Excuse me?  Yeah, it is.  It is the only income I have.  It is the roof over my head, the food on my table, and the clothes on my back.  It is the money that pays for my daughter’s preschool, her dance classes, my utilities, and my insurance costs.  It is what keeps me afloat.  Just because I work from my home and typically enjoy doing so in my pajamas, it is still a real job.  I am assigned work.  I complete it. I get paid.  That sounds like a real job to me.

Before anyone starts judging what I do, spend a day in my shoes.  I challenge you to write 5000 words on common dental procedures (due by the end of the day!) with a needy four year old vying for your attention.  And once you’ve been able to do that unscathed, I dare you to do it each and every day of your life!

Benefits of an Online Home Business

According to industry analytics, online businesses are growing at the rate of 2600% a year. Steve Strauss of USA Today is calling this shift a self-employment revolution.  There are a number of benefits from being self-employed, not the least of which is more job security. When you work for yourself, no one can fire you.

Some of the benefits of working from home that I love include:

  • Working the hours I want to work. I am not on someone else’s schedule, so if I want to start at 5am, work til 7am, take time off to get my kids ready for school, then work again from 9-2, there’s no one to tell me no.
  • I never have to worry about missing my kids’ dance recitals, concerts, or school events.
  • I am available to friends and family when they need me.
  • I can take vacations whenever I want, and if I want to take a 35-day road trip across the country, I can just bring my work with me.

Starting my own online home business gave me the advantage of being my own boss. The benefits were immediately apparent:

  • At first, we spent less on gas. Then, we were able to go to having one car (one car payment, less maintenance)
  • Daycare costs disappeared overnight, saving us $700 a month
  • Incidental costs – dry cleaning, new work clothes, lunches out, parking fees – disappeared

For me, it’s been paradise. I do, however, get a little offended when people say, “Oh I wish I could sit at home and make money without having to go to work.”

It’s not that easy. In fact, the reason I’ve been successfully supporting our family and growing my business each year for the last 5 years since I’ve been doing it full time is because I WORK HARD.

It’s easy to be someone else’s employee, to show up when they tell you to and only do the work they ask you to do. It’s hard to seek out clients, sell yourself and your abilities, and then deliver on your promises.

I probably work more hours now than I did when I was a corporate stooge…but the difference is, every ounce of work I do benefits me and my family – it isn’t going to line the pockets of a CEO or fill the coffers of some shareholder. The harder I work, the more I do, the better off my family is.

The great thing about an online home business is that it can be in virtually any industry –  any type of service, product, idea, or hobby can translate into a business. But you have to have the drive, dedication, and desire to succeed.