“Did I save enough? If not, where will we pull the extra cash?”

Paying for college: The thought alone is enough to make any parent sweat right through her socks.

You may want so badly to contribute to your child’s college education, even if it’s just a little bit. Maybe you’d like to try to avoid taking out a Parent Plus Loan.

Guess what. There’s no law that says you have to use already-saved money to pay for college. You’re not doomed because you didn’t save money when your kid was in diapers!

I remember meeting with a couple from Chicagoland when I worked in admission. They really wanted to help their son pay for college. The mom decided she needed to get a job, though she wasn’t sure she wanted to spend long days in an office. Her husband said, “Looks like it’s time to get a work-from-home gig.”

She said, “Now there’s an idea!”

So she did!

There’s never been a better time to consider how to make money from home. If the COVID-19 outbreak has done anything, it’s taught that it’s possible to work a lot of different jobs from home!

Before You Learn How to Make Money from Home…

First, it’s important to understand how you’ll be asked to pay for college. Obviously, you won’t need to pay for tuition for the whole year upfront. Here are a couple of quick notes on how to pay for college.

  1. After all scholarships, grants, etc. are taken into account, what’s leftover are your out-of-pocket costs.
  2. You’ll have a few options as to how you want to handle out-of-pocket costs. For example, you (and/or your student) can pay for them outright. You could also decide you’d like to pay for a portion of those out-of-pocket costs and get a loan for the remainder.
  3. Most colleges send a bill twice a year. For example, colleges usually send a bill for the fall semester in late June or early July, with a payment deadline of early to mid-August.
  4. You can break up the cost even more by using a monthly tuition payment plan. Tuition payment plans are installment plans which are usually broken up into equal monthly payments over 12 months or less. (Be sure to ask the college whether there’s a finance charge included and read my post on how a tuition installment plan can make college affordable.)

Tap into Your Talents

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it’s a great idea to leverage your talents, passions and capabilities and use those to make money. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Do what you love, the money will follow?” I love it!

I have a friend who’s an excellent graphic designer. She used to work with me at the college and now she has her own graphic design business. In fact, she’s going to help me redesign my site! She’s a real rock star in my book because she works from home doing what she loves to do.

So what’s your special talent? Are you great at gardening? Tell people about your stellar landscaping skills! (People will pay good money for that, especially if you plant it for them. I wish someone would do that for me!)

Are you or your spouse handy around the house? You’d be surprised how many people will pay to fix a washer and dryer or air conditioner.

Do you find painting to be a soothing activity and wouldn’t mind painting houses, fences, rooms, etc.

Are you a potter? Knitter extraordinaire? Use those talents to your advantage!

Pick Up a Work-from-Home Gig

The on-demand gig economy makes it so easy to get an extra job, even if you work a standard nine-to-five job. Gig websites are .

Some in-demand skills clients are often looking for include:

  • Tutoring: Do you have a passion for teaching a particular subject? If so, now’s a great time to take advantage of lockdown. Many parents will pay to keep their children’s reading or math skills ready to go for next year with virtual tutoring. Some companies require you to have an education degree — check the requirements beforehand. However, some don’t require an education degree.
  • Freelance writing: Many marketing companies and websites hire freelancers to create content on their behalf. If you’re a good writer, learn the art of the pitch and start pitching companies. If you have a good pitch and some writing samples you can share, you’re likely to have a few nibbles in no time.
  • Video editing: Do you have some great experience putting together video footage? If so, seek out clients for everyone from bloggers to marketing agencies.
  • Graphic design: More companies than ever need designers to create websites and redesign existing pages. If you have some coding background, even better!
  • Translating: Sure, automatic translators are a thing now, but if you have a lifetime of French lessons under your belt, know that there’s still a market for your skill. Many translating companies need freelancers to help with translation tasks through Gengo and Unbabel.
  • Coordinate social media: Every brand needs a strong social media presence. If you’ve got a good sense of what companies need for their social media engagement.
  • Freelance consulting: As an expert, you can consult others on their personal or business goals. Clarity can help you promote your consulting services. People who need your services can find you on the platform and book a paid session with you. Once you create your own client base, it might be possible to turn this into a full-time job.

Next, I’m going to list some other options that might be a great fit. They don’t require specific talents but can make you money. Some take more time to accomplish and others can happen lickety-split.

Rent Out a Room in Your Home

Your child’s getting ready to go off to college! Why not consider opening a room in your house up as a guest room? You could convert a basement kitchen to a full apartment living space. You could open up just one room to someone who needs one. Why not rent out a room to travel nurses through Travel Nurse Housing? The possibilities are endless.

I have a friend who lived in a teeny tiny carriage house right after college and she loved it. It was like real tiny house living!

Invest in Real Estate

Does your child need a place to live? Why not invest in real estate, rent to his or her roommates, and make some extra money in the process? It can help pay for college tuition. It’s a double bonus if you can buy the rental house outright.

You could do the house-hunt the old-fashioned way: Call up a real estate professional in the city where your child is going to school. If he’s going to school in North Carolina and you live in Minnesota, you could hire a management company to maintain it so you exert a little more control over the process.

You could also look for homes with Roofstock. Roofstock lets investors manage rentals like stock portfolios. You get to focus on your investment, rather than dealing with everyday headaches, like, “The roof is leaking!” or “The shower head flew off!” Roofstock’s property managers are available to handle operational responsibilities, supervising upgrades and day-to-day management.

You can also diversify your real estate portfolio in different cities.

Drive for Uber or Lyft

Okay, so this isn’t technically working from home. Still, it’s nice to work from the comfort of your own car. You can earn money right now by signing up to work for a ridesharing app like Uber or Lyft. Hospital staff, public safety officers and other essential workers still need rides to work, even during a quarantine.

During a pandemic, it’s especially important to keep your vehicle sanitized when offering rides.

Of course, how much you make is dependent on how many rides you offer. A 2016 Nerdwallet study found that in order to achieve an annual income of $50,000, Uber drivers had to complete 60 rides a week and Lyft drivers needed to offer 84 rides.

You’ll also need to consider maintenance on your car — including gas, repairs, insurance, taxes and the commissions that Uber and Lyft take.

Try Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a good option if you want to own a store without investing a lot or having a lot of risks. You don’t even need to own your inventory. Here’s how it works: After you receive an order, you buy the product from a third party, which is usually a wholesaler or manufacturer.

The third party ships the ordered product to your customer. This way, you don’t need to handle the items, see them or even ship them. You’ll make a profit between the price you charge your customer and the cost of the product that the third party charges you.

You can use an e-commerce site like Volusion to start your own dropshipping business. Try Volusion for free for 14 days.

Evaluate What’s Important

One more thing. If you’re kind of a hustler by nature, it’s easy to get addicted to it. My friend (the graphic designer) loves the hustle and finds herself up at all hours of the night — with kids and a full-time job!

Do you have a full-time job and a side hustle already? Your time is precious! How important is your time with family, time for self-care, time for everything you need to do?

Continually trading your time for money is certainly one way to do it, but consider ways to make passive income first — if possible. Making money in your sleep is always the best way to go.

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