Friday, June 29, 2007

Fingers Crossed

Every so often I scan the job listings on craigslist. I like to keep my eyes open for the perfect opportunity as well as keeping current with the going rates for wages, etc. On the wage front I'm sorely, deeply discouraged when perusing the part-time listings. It seems that finding a professional position with flexible, part time hours that pays more than $10/hr is as rare as finding a photo of a celeb with underwear on. In other words, nearly impossible. The part-time jobs all seem to be entry-level positions that require very little experience or education. The jobs that sound intriguing all seem to be full-time with some travel required. In other words, not family-friendly. What's a mom to do?

My job at the YMCA is essentially minimum wage. I make a whopping $7.80/hr caring for the kids who come to the Child Watch center. I don't keep the job because of the wages, I keep it because it gives me my membership for free as well as discounts on all the programs for the kids. And it's a good thing, because I don't know how ANYONE survives on wages that low. I really don't. (sidenote: recently finished reading the book Nickle and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich about this very subject. Very interesting look into the world of minimum wage workers. Recommended.) But for me, I work the least amount of hours possible in order to still be considered an employee and qualify for the discount. That means I work 3-4 hours per week. 1 shift. A ridiculously low amount of hours, I know. But I don't mind because I really don't want to work more than that - not there, at least. It's hard work taking care of kids. That's no surprise. But I really put a lot into making sure the kids have FUN while they're in my care. I get down with them and play. I build towers and color pictures. I read stories. I comfort the kids who are upset. I organize activities. I shoot hoops and work puzzles. I also discipline when it's necessary and praise when it's earned. I also pay attention and find something positive to share with the parents, who always like hearing something good about their child. "Johnny did a really good job sharing the train toys today." I engage. Which, trust me, not every employee does.

But, having said that, I'm not a fan of my job. I'm keeping it for the perks, but without them I'd be outta there. But it would be nice to have some extra money for our household. Earning $35-$43 every 2 weeks isn't exactly contributing enough to make a difference. Shoot, it's not even enough to pay for a whole tank of gas! We're living lean and I'm doing everything I can to save and cut back. No cell phones. No satellite TV and no DVR. I work at the Y to eliminate the membership dues and get the discounts on swimming lessons. We don't really go out to eat. Or to the movies. We're frugal because we have to be. And frankly, it's not always fun. Having more breathing room would sure be nice. But at the same time, I'm not willing to give up being home with the kids at this point. So I keep my eyes open for something that would allow me the opportunity to earn a few extra dollars without putting a big compromise on my family.

I may have found something.

I seem to be a serious contender for a sales and marketing position that is very part-time. And from home. 10-12 hrs per week. FROM HOME - did I already mention that part? And it's not some cheesy telemarketing or customer service, answering ads or data entry job. It's for a small media production company who is ramping up for a new show on cable to compliment their existing syndicated radio show with an internet component. They need help with sponsorship materials, some PR stuff, some sales, etc. Sort of a Jack of All Trades marketing position. It's a bit more admin than I'd like, from what I can tell, but it sounds better than most other work-from-home jobs. My resume bubbled to the top amid over 50 applicants. I was 1 of 8 "finalists", I was told. I had a phone interview and seemed to make the cut. I was asked for a writing sample - a sales pitch for a fictitious product - which I did. It seems it was well received. I've had another brief telephone conversation during which I learned I am going to be e-mailed some actual marketing material and asked for my feedback. After assurances that none of my "work" would be used without my permission should I not be offered, and accept, the job, I'll have this weekend to review, edit and possibly re-write a few pieces. So far, it's looking good.

Of course, there are always catches, right? The biggest is still don't know what the pay will be. It was listed as "negotiable". I believe it would be as an independent contractor, which to me says I would need to earn more per hour than as a company employee as I would need to cover my taxes myself. I don't even know if the pay range I'm thinking of is anywhere close to what this guy is considering. I've already spent two+ hours creating and writing my fictional sales pitch (which was a good mixture of solid business writing with a touch of humor, if I do say so myself. I created a sales pitch for "Pudgie Budgie", a complete, nutritional feeding system for overweight pet birds. Funny, right? But also completely possible and serious.), and now I'm going to invest even more time reviewing and editing more pieces. All without knowing if the pay would be acceptable. The way this guy is talking, it sounds like the job is mine to lose, but you never know. I will be disappointed and frustrated if this doesn't work out. Because a part-time, work-from-home, quasi-professional job? Is rare indeed. And, I could still do my one shift per week at the Y plus this. Without really impacting my family. Perfect, right?

Keep your fingers crossed that this works out and I'm not wasting my time or being taken advantage of. I don't think so, but you just never know. I might be returning, in small baby steps, to the working world. Actually, forget baby steps. That's a huge leap for me. It's been 6 years and I'm getting gun shy.

Funny I should mention guns - this is for a rodeo, ranching, cowboy type of company. Giddyup!

I own the daycare where my children go, I do not have any employee's at all who make more than $7 an hour and they have complete responsibility over a classroom, decorating, lesson plans, serving meals (prepared by someone else but they have to serve them), cleaning, and last but not least, disciplining them.

I can't imagine that if you take $7.80 and add to that the cost of membership and the discounts for activities that you might find you are in better shape than you think.

Just curious, do people around your area make much more than that? Is the cost of living that much higher? I pay $600 to rent a medium size building to care for 73 kids and 10 or 12 adults. I feel that is freakin' outrageous but even my DHR workers think it is good because it is much more in the bigger cities in Alabama.

Just curious.
Hoping that it turns out to be a great job. Working at home definitely has it's positives and negatives, but I'll take it instead of getting kids up, fed & dressed and rushing around to get to the office in the morning. Down side is, it's ALWAYS there. I stay up into the wee hours to get work done.
Fingers crossed.
The new job sounds promising! Hope it all works out for you and I think you're wise for keeping the childcare job, too.
JerriAnn, I can't really say if commercial rents near me are higher or lower than what you pay for your daycare. I CAN tell you that residential rents are much more than that, though. A decent-sized 3-4 bdrm home in the suburbs rents for $1200/mo, give or take. My folks are putting their big house up for rent and are asking $2500/mo. I don't think you can even get an apartment around me for $600/mo. At least, not one that has more than 1 bedroom, and even then the complex might be a bit sketch.

If I was working full-time at my YMCA job, earning $7.80/hr, I would be making just over $16,000/yr pre-tax. Or just $1350/mo. And while that might be fine as a 2nd income, it's not nearly enough as a primary income if I would also have to cover full-time childcare from that. It just wouldn't be worth it. That's what I meant when I said it's hard for anyone earning close to minimum wage to survive in this world. But the perks of my job make it worth it for me to work my single shift per week. I'm getting a full membership comped. That's $78/mo free and clear (or, as my husband the CPA likes to say, "non-taxable income") That's a big help to us.

I think if you love what you do, what you make isn't as important. I don't love that job. It's hard, hard work and not something I really look forward to. It's also not my profession of choice. I have my degree in marketing, and if I'm going to work, that's what I'd like to do. I no longer want to grind away 40+ hrs per week in a grey cubical, which is the environment for the majority of jobs in my profession, so working from home would be ideal. Before kids, I made over $25/hr. So for me, that's my frame of reference. I don't expect to earn that much with this potential new job - this job would have less responsibility - but it will be a helluva lot closer to that number than to $7.80.

You're going about it the right way: OWN the business, don't just work for it. Good for you!
Jerri, I think $600 per month for a commercial building is a steal-- even in Alabama! I'm from the state and can vouch that in my town (which is smallish at about 50,000 people)the rents are much, much higher. (Granted, we do live in probably THE most expensive town in our state.) You can't rent an apartment for less than 750 if you want a safe area. And houses are very similar in rent to the ranges that MP stated~ $1200-1400 for a 2,000 square foot house.
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