Earning an Income as a Stay-at-Home Military Spouse

Stay-at-home mom working from home

Post from MilitaryByOwner

Military spouse employment is one of the larger issues in the military community. There's too much information to share here, so read the results of the Blue Star Family Military Families 2017 Survey and you'll learn just how under and unemployed the military spouse community is.

As a young military spouse who married my service member while in college, I, like many of you, wasn't able to gain experience in the workforce before we started PCS'ing, and I was unable to meet the prerequisites needed for positions that could advance my career. And since my connections and relationships were built with people where I attended school, when we moved I lost what little credibility I had. When we reached our first duty station, I knew that I needed to either choose a job that I was overqualified for or get creative. That's when I found a way to make an income by working from home just like many of my fellow military spouses.

To provide a greater perspective on the matter, I polled a few spouses in the community and will include their experience as well.

Making the Decision to Stay Home

There are a lot of factors that might make you want to leave the outside workforce and stay home.

Childcare. It's no secret that good, affordable childcare is hard to come by, and many spouses I know chose to stay home with the kids because it didn't make sense to work just to pay the daycare bill.

"Things were easier financially when I was also working, but after we added our third child, the cost of childcare and my sanity outweighed the financial gain from me working." -Amanda L.

Stability. Life changes frequently for military families. We move a lot and our spouses deploy. Many military spouses I know choose to stay home so they can provide consistency for their families in the midst of chaos.

"I'm able to stay home with the kids and cart them to and from school, appointments, etc. Our oldest is now in elementary school for the entire day, but our youngest still is only part-time. My husband can work wonky hours and he travels a lot. Logistically, I don't know how we could do it without me being home." -Jennifer M.

Flexibility. Since military life is unpredictable, flexibility is incredibly necessary. Kia Y. says that leaving corporate America to work at home is the best thing that's ever happened to her. "I love not having to ask anyone permission to be with the people that matter most!"

Types of Work From Home Jobs

You might be thinking, What kind of jobs are doable from home?

Network marketing and direct sales. Though this business model has been scrutinized, these types of companies can be a great option for flexible, from-home work. Kaitlyn S. makes about $4,000 a month right now with her network marketing business and shares that "it's a real opportunity for those looking to put in sweat equity."

Consulting. Consulting is an option for experts in a field who want to set their own hours.

Military spouse and communications expert, Elizabeth P., says that she does consulting on the side. "I help people prepare for job interviews, teach them how to be interviewed on TV for a story, and because I'm also in the pageant world, I prep pageant girls for interview."

Services. Photography, pet grooming, fitness or nutrition coach, freelance, tailor: the list is endless. If you have a skill, you can probably make money doing it!

Related: Ultimate Guide for Military Spouse Employment

Uses for Additional Income

Choosing what to do with the additional income you make is important. Any amount, when used wisely, can make a significant difference to your finances.

Pay off debt. A large number of work from home spouses apply their income toward paying off debt accrued from real estate, cars, student loans, and credit cards.

Pay the bills. An equal number of spouses contribute their income toward bills, utilities, and general cost of living.

"I wish I could say my income was for miscellaneous things like extra vacations, eating out, buying things I want but don't need. But my income, even the little bit I bring in right now working from home, is incredibly necessary to pay rent, utilities, etc." -Elizabeth P.

Investments. Investments can include retirement accounts, stocks, life insurance, real estate, and more. Using your additional income as a buffer can help reduce the risk of some of these investments.

"It's handy to have my income when our house back home is unrented and we have to cover the mortgage out of pocket." -Lea H.

Retirement. If your cost of living expenses are covered by your service member's paycheck, many work from home spouses apply their income to maxing out their retirement accounts.

Now let's say that you've made the decision to stay home with your children, but a work from home position is not on the table right now. Mercedes W. shares from experience that living on one income "can be done and enjoyed if expenses are watched and expectations are spoken and shared."

However, you have to be willing to make sacrifices. You may need to cut back your budget for extras like sitters and eating out or find creative ways to save money through couponing and thrift shopping. You may have less money for the "fun" things you want to do, but if you're wanting to be at home and can make a way to live on one income and still meet your financial goals, I call that a win.

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