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Working from home


After a recent post  a reader  expressed disappointment in my lack of a job, specifically my lack of working at home, so I felt I should cover the issue in more detail.

I do make a small amount of income from home by providing child care for a neighbor and by renting a room in our home.  While I would love to have a higher income coming from me, there are several factors against it.

1-I have a degenerative vision issue that prevents me driving on a regular basis.   Some days my vision will be just fine, other days it will be so bad that I can’t read the mail.   This said, my issue is not considered bad enough to qualify me for disability..yet.

2-Finding employment near hubby’s  work and carpooling with him seems like a great option, however it would never work.   Hubby is an electrician and goes to different job sites on nearly a daily basis.   Sometimes that means he is working 30 minutes away in town, or an hour away in the city.

3-We live in a rural area where public transportation is unheard of, the closest we get is the school bus that picks up k-12 every morning.

4-Our rural area has spotty internet service, especially in the winter months (yay, for lake effect snow!).

5-Having 1-2 days a week where I can not see well enough to work online (if the internet is working) or to be productive in other ways makes me an unreliable, undesirable employee.

I have in the past experimented with many nontraditional income streams, but, our rural location combined with my vision issue have made each venture impossible as a long term solution.  I would love to hear any ideas that you might have for me!   If I could come up with an income source that works with all those issues, I would snap it up in a heartbeat!

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  • Reply first step |

    One of my friends who has hearing loss and now has cochlear implants works for this job search website that is only for people with disabilities. I’m not sure if anything is available in your area, but it’s work a look: http://abilityjobs.com/

    Good luck with your quest to increase your income!

  • Reply Louise |

    How do you fare with the assistance programs for computer use on your bad days? I have one co worker who uses the built in Windows assistance program to magnify her screen hugely, she is permanently half blind. She has three large computer monitors (27 inches?) side by side, in extended desktop mode, in order to help her manage with the screen magnified. I have also come across a sound engineer with macular degeneration who has other assistance programs that help him use the computer. Just thinking for your own future freedom, whether or not you do paid work online, fully investigating how to use these features would be really great for you. Sorry I don’t know more about which programs or how they are used.

    • Reply Walnut |

      Definitely experiment with magnifying your screen by adjusting your screen resolution on days where your vision is not great. A friend of mine has poor enough vision to be classified as legally blind, so he magnifies his screen significantly.

      I don’t have many suggestions on the internet service unless it is possible to upgrade to a something more reliable. I’m assuming you’re on DSL or something similar, because cable internet usually doesn’t run to rural areas.

  • Reply Maureen |

    I can truly appreciate the limitations you face. It sucks! Without prying too much what category/industry are your previous work/life/education experiences?

  • Reply Laura |

    Could you take on more babysitting kids?
    In the immediate term, since you are home all day and probably have more free time then if you worked full time outside the home, do things that will save money. Cook from scratch, when the weather gets warmer start a garden, call your insurance/cable/ etc companies and see if you can get your bills lower, or shop around for different providers to see if they can get you a better deal. Etc.

    • Reply Laura |

      Meant to add, I also live in a place with very limited public transportation so I feel your pain there.

  • Reply Christopher |

    You can,

    – Make crafts and sell them
    on Etsy
    – Bake something and try to sell it to a local bakery or restaurant
    – Sort garbage and find items to recycle, no glamorous, but many have gotten rich from dirty jobs like this
    – Make clothes or mend them for others
    – Host YouTube classes and try to get donations and/or become an Internet sensation
    – Publish an online cookbook and sell it on Amazon
    – Grow fruit or vegetables, can them and sell them
    – Get bee hives and make honey

    If I were you, I would try all of these if you have the skills. You never know what will take off. Most of these enable time and very little capital.

    If all of these fail, you could publish flyers and see if anyone needs a companion for an elderly relative in your immediate area.

    Good luck,


  • Reply Kili |

    You could maybe also do Work obtained online that doesent require Constant Internet Access e.g.
    – proof Reading Stundents’ Papers if youre Good with language
    – Translations in case your fluent in a foreign language
    – Designing e.g. invitations / Menues (similar to Christophers Etsy Suggestion)

    Would moving to a less rural area be an Option? (I know in The short term this would probably Cost more with all The moving etc.) Are you From this area?

  • Reply dh |

    It’s me who said I was “disappointed”. I feel badly about it given this post, because I understand it’s not easy for you.

    It’s just that I think it will be hard for you to dig your way out of your debt by only cutting expenses. I’ve been on these boards for a long time, and there is a reason that people are advised to both increase their income and cut their expenses.

    I just wanted to clarify that. Please know there was no judgement and no desire to offend.

    I admire you for renting out a room. I don’t know how big your house is, could you rent out another room? Is part of your home independent?

    In any case, I wish you the best of luck.

  • Reply CC |

    It sounds like you are being incredibly resourceful in finding ways to make money within your abilities.

    And while there are times, many times, people are unable to increase their income due to different abilities and different opportunities in their communities I too feel like you may be able to. If only because you are here, on this website, connecting with us. You are willing to consider nontraditional opportunities.

    I wonder if there are opportunities for people to come to you? I also grew up in a rural area and I remember going to the small engine repair shop to drop things off, my parents having their taxes done at someone’s house, etc. What is your vocational and educational background? Is there something that is transferable to a home-based business?

    I wonder if there is a way for you to work online. For example,I know there are internet providers that rely on satellites (probably more expensive but may be offset by employment) which may improve the reliability of your internet access.I’m aware of someone doing medical billing while living in a remote location.

    I also wonder if you have access to employment support? I live in MN where there are Workforce Centers that not only assist with locating and applying for jobs, they have resources to pay for some adaptive equipment necessary for employment.

    No matter if your focus is on increasing income, reducing expenses, or both I appreciate your sharing with us. Welcome.

  • Reply Tina |

    My children (10 & 12) started selling all their old clothes and our house junk on eBay. They make about $100 a month, but they are barely working at it. I am always tempted to take it over because I know I could move stuff quicker. We only use our iPad camera with a white backdrop to photo stuff. It’s been going pretty well. You may consider just shopping goodwill for treasures and upwelling them there. One of my favorite bloggers does this to help pay for her kids college.

  • Reply Rosalind |

    I am currently working a job I hate and hope the suggestions people make to you might help me. I remember someone mentioned making wedding cakes, that may not work for you but I would find making cakes fun.

  • Reply Jenna |

    In my opinion, Amy you have a job. You have two – childcare and room rental that you provide some light house keeping for. Both required you to think beyond the norm.
    I believe you’ve already started your next step which is analyzing your budget and your spending.
    For concrete steps after that I think your part is going to force you to realize you can’t out earn your incomes. And becoming a really strong home economist is going to be your best strategy. When I look at blogs like the Prudent Homemaker or the Frugalwoods I’m constantly forced to rethink my standard of “normal” – and inspired to realign my thought process to somewhere different- for example: today is focused on making all my meals and snacks for the week. Only one has a meat protein and the rest are lentil or bean based and I found cheaper versions of the specialty ingredients in the ethnic aisle for a 1/3 the price. I will save time later, save huge money and my meals will be healthier.

  • Reply Eliza |

    I definitely feel for you — it sounds like you are facing a lot of health difficulties. Compounded by having quite a lot of student loan debt.

    You mentioned in one of your previous posts that you have two cars. Given that your disability prevents you from driving, would it be possible to sell one of the cars to raise some cash to pay off the high interest debt (and lower ongoing maintenance/insurance costs)?

    If regularly using a computer when able wouldn’t exacerbate your vision issues, I would consider looking into Mturk. It’ll take some time to learn/understand/ramp up — but once up and running there is some income potential. (I was generally making $50 a day and others were making more … though others were making less). It’s less money than a normal in-person job, but the beauty is that each individual task is short….so you can work when you are able and not work when you aren’t. (If you are interested in getting started, I would recommend reading one of the worker forums — turkerhub, mturkcrowd, or mturkgrind — they’ll give you an idea of the best way to approach it.)

  • Reply Rebecca |

    In my state, if you have a vision impairment, you can get van/taxi transportation for the cost of a bus ride, even if you are not on a bus route. Any chance that exists for you? If not, can you get a house phone/land line and do any call center work from home?
    You are already earning with having a housemate and doing child care. I wonder if you could do anymore child care to bring in extra money? There’s often a shortage of childcare in rural areas.

So, what do you think ?