The Various And Sundry Professions That Allow Frugalwoods Readers To Work From Home
After I shared the logistics of how Mr. Frugalwoods and I both work from home while caring for 18-month-old Babywoods (and thus avoid the expense of childcare), I was inundated with a chorus of requests for more information on how to find a work-at-home job. Since I’m not expert in that field, I decided to crowdsource a rundown of remote jobs from the best experts I know: the readers of Frugalwoods.
As I do every month, I polled our Frugalwoods Facebook group to find out exactly what it is that you people do from home. I wasn’t surprised in the least by the bevy of responses I received and I’ve included a list below, which we’ll get to in a moment. Before we go any further, let me clarify that today we’re discussing work that you’re paid money for. Anyone who is a full-time stay-at-home parent/caregiving is working HARD, but unfortunately no one pays them for their labors.
I also want to point out that some folks derive great satisfaction from their in-office jobs and have no desire to leave them, which is wonderful! The goal today is to offer a few alternatives to the conventional in-office mode of working, not to deride those who enjoy the camaraderie and interaction provided by a traditional office setting. There is no one right way to enjoy the good life!
Sidenote: please, please, please do not get yourself into a multi-level marketing scam of a situation in an attempt to work from home. Don’t buy products that you will then have to sell because you are tremendously unlikely to make any money from this. For more information, here’s an entire website devoted to exposing the scams inherent to these types of organizations.
The Different Methods of Remote Work
From our conversation on Facebook–and my own experience of doing all of these methods–I think there are three primary modes of working from home:
1) Working remotely for a traditional company.
In this instance, you’re an employee of a formal organization, you just don’t go into an office every day. This is what Mr. Frugalwoods does and, let me tell you, it is WONDERFUL. He is on the clock for regular business hours; however, he doesn’t have a commute and we get to see him on his “water cooler” breaks throughout the day.
The flexibility is fabulous and it means we all get to eat breakfast together. Additionally, since he doesn’t have to get ready, pack a lunch, and drive anywhere, he does the household/childcare work in the mornings and evenings to free me up to do my own work/some yoga.
- A standard salary.
- Access to a 401k or 403b retirement savings account.
- Greater job security.
- Regular paychecks (you know how much, and when, you’ll be paid).
- No commute.
- More flexibility to your daily schedule than an in-office job.
- Your home office is tax deductible if it’s used only as an office (note: I am not a tax professional and you should consult one before taking this deduction).
- Less flexibility in your daily schedule than a freelancing position since you’re probably expected to be on the clock for specific hours each day (although this varies by position).
- A requirement to travel periodically either to your employer’s main office or to clients (again, this varies by job).
- There’s a cap on how much money you can earn (aka your salary).
- It can be tough to build rapport with a team if they’re all centrally located in an office and you’re not (again, variable).
- There’s the possibility of missing out on crucial conversations that happen informally at the office (by the proverbial, or actual, water cooler).
- A change in management could bring remote work to an end if the company decides to amend their policies on working from home.
2) Working for yourself as an entrepreneur.
This is what most of my work entails. It means I don’t answer to anyone, but it also means I’m solely responsible for generating work product. If I don’t produce, I don’t earn any money. I personally love this because it means I only do things I believe in and am passionate about. I get to set the direction, tone, and mission of my business (aka Frugalwoods).
- Complete flexibility over your schedule as well as what you work on.
- Manage client relationships yourself with no middle person.
- The freedom to pursue a career you’re deeply passionate about.
- The ability to chart your own work flow and decide how you want to grow your business.
- The sky is the limit in terms of earning potential. Of course the opposite is also true and you might make zero dollars (or even be out your start-up costs).
- Your home office is tax deductible if it’s used only as an office (note: I am not a tax professional and you should consult one before taking this deduction).
- There’s a lot of back-end administrative work that has to happen, such as accounting, paying self-employment taxes, setting up your own individual retirement account, invoicing, etc, which can present a burden.
- A paycheck is not guaranteed and the amount often fluctuates wildly. Some months I make quite a bit of money, other months, not so much.
- No healthcare or other benefits.
- No paid sick or vacation days. If you don’t work, nothing gets done.
3) Working as a freelancer/subcontractor.
This is the other element of my work, but I’m actually phasing this out in order to put more energy into my own business. I find there are only so many hours in a day and I need to focus on how I want my business to grow for the longterm.
The distinction from #2 is that, as a freelancer, you’re working for clients who will often assign you work projects as well as deadlines and the price they’re willing to pay. Although you’re not a formal employee of a company, you’re still beholden to their rules and expectations. However, it’s also entirely possible to freelance while you build up a small business or other entrepreneurial pursuit. Sidenote: if you’re interested in becoming a freelance writer (like me) and aren’t sure where to start, I recommend my friend Catherine Alford’s course Get Paid To Write For Blogs.
- A lot of flexibility over your schedule as long as you meet client deadlines.
- Consistent work if you have reliable clients.
- No (or few) requirements for travel or in-person meetings.
- The ability to take time off as it suits you.
- Your home office is tax deductible if it’s used only as an office (note: I am not a tax professional and you should consult one before taking this deduction).
- You’re not working on your own projects/business–you’re doing work for someone else.
- You might not be passionate about the work.
- The burden of back-end administrative work still exists (taxes, retirement, invoicing, etc).
- Freelance jobs can evaporate quickly if a company changes course or decides to manage a project in-house or cuts back on their budget.
- No healthcare or benefits.
- It can be tough to get paid on time and difficult to know how much money you’ll receive in a given month since clients are often notoriously slow to pay freelancers.
The Elephant of Freelance and Entrepreneurial Work
If you’re pursuing either freelance or entrepreneurial work, there’s an enormous elephant in the room: health insurance. As we all know, healthcare can be complicated to come by on the individual market and can also be exorbitantly expensive.
Before committing to a position that doesn’t provide insurance, I recommend investigating what your premiums would be under the ACA in your state. Mr. FW and I, for example, did this research and are comfortable with the amount we’d pay monthly in Vermont.
My friend Justin (an early retiree with a wife and three kids) over at RootOfGood has written about this topic extensively and I encourage you to check out his thoughts for a deeper dive.
Planning For Freelance Or Entrepreneurial Work
If you’d like to wade into freelance or entrepreneurial work, I encourage you to consider the following:
- Will this income be supplemental or do you need it in order to survive (by which I mean pay your rent/mortgage and buy groceries)?
- Will this be the sole income for the household?
- How will you handle health insurance?
- What retirement account will you set up for yourself? Two common options are SEP IRAs and solo 401Ks.
- What will you do if you don’t earn what you expect to earn?
- What will happen if you earn $0 in your first month? Or in your first year?
If at all possible, I highly, highly, highly recommend building up your remote freelancing/entrepreneurial business prior to quitting a traditional job (if you currently have a traditional job). This is what I did and it made the transition easier because I knew what to expect in terms of income, I was aware of our limitations as a self-employed business of two people (me and Mr. FW), and I had a clear strategic vision for the next year (and next several years) of work.
It wasn’t easy to build up my side hustle while also working a standard Monday through Friday 9 to 5 schedule, but it was well worth it for me. I put in time in the early mornings before going to my cubicle, in the evenings, and on the weekends. What I will also share, in the interest of full disclosure, is that Mr. FW and I both work because we choose to, not because we need the money. Through our extreme frugality, we’ve made ourselves financial independent, which alleviates the pressure of needing to earn an income in order to survive.
Frugality Smooths The Way
As with everything else in life, frugality can smooth the way by ensuring you’re not living paycheck to paycheck and not in dire straights if you don’t make any money at first.
Having enough money on hand to pay rent and buy groceries–even if your freelancing checks don’t come by the end of the month–is the financial position you want to be in before launching a self-employed career. Frugality also gives you the freedom to only take on work that’s fulfilling to you and to expand your business as you see fit–not as you must in order to eke out a few extra bucks every month. Plus, the less money you spend, the more money you save, and the less money you need to earn.
If you’d like to start saving more money and giving yourself a comfortable financial cushion, I encourage you to take my Uber Frugal Month Challenge, which outlines the steps Mr. FW and I took to save over 70% of our income. It’s free and more than 12,400 folks have already taken the Challenge and saved thousands of dollars!
How Frugalwoods Readers Work From Home
Without further ado, here’s a list of jobs Frugalwoods readers do from home. There’s a mix of all three types of remote work represented here and you can also check out the complete conversation over on our Facebook page.
Carol works remotely (anywhere with wifi and a phone) as a nurse case manager for Medicaid patients. Carol says, “I communicate with patients who live at home or in shelters by phone. I keep tabs on their healthcare needs and provide referral services, as well as educational material regarding their medical or mental health diagnoses.” She does this job full-time, but her hours are flexible and she reports that she loves it.
Katie works for a large corporation that offered her a work-from-home option 2.5 years ago and she’s been doing it ever since. She is required to live within 75 miles of one of their sites, but other than that, she’s at home.
Lena is an independent contractor, “primarily in the visual aspect of branding and some marketing.” She’s also a stay-at-home parent to her 3-year-old, 2-year-old and 2-month-old, so she’s working a reduced schedule until her youngest adjusts.
Amy works as a freelance writer, something she started this year after her youngest child went off to kindergarten.
Caroline is a subtitler, transcriptionist, and proof reader, something she does part-time while also caring for her children.
Chrissy and her husband own a small pest control business, which allows them the flexibility they crave to balance their family life with their children.
Derek is a a category manager for a craft beer company. He says that he chose the at-home route because he calculated that commuting to work was by far the most expensive and time-consuming thing in his life that provided no value to him.
Jana reports, “My main job is as a touring acrobat with the circus, but on the side I run all of the social media for the personal training studio I work for when I’m home. I love being able to maintain my job with the gym even when I’m not physically there. Best of both worlds!” How cool is that! Pretty sure Jana wins for most creative jobs!
Faith shared, “I assist my professional photographer husband with weddings… and… I do our bookkeeping and design the wedding albums. I don’t earn a distinct paycheck, but before I took over these roles he had to outsource this work so there is a huge savings. Soon we will be creating a line of natural scenes on wood prints and I will be creating a website to sell online and applying to sell at boutique craft fairs–all from home!” What a fun family business!
Terry does health insurance work for a doctor’s office. She originally worked in the office, but transitioned to working from home five years ago and loves it!
Kellie is a contract writer in the field of industrial psychology for several different companies and calls herself a “digital nomad.” I like that! I think I’m a digital homesteader :).
Sarah has worked remotely for the past three years at two different jobs. First, she was a science writer for her local university. Now, she’s the outreach coordinator for her local humane society. She goes into the office for a few hours each day in order to take photos of the animals ( :)!!!), but otherwise, she does her work from home.
Lydia works remotely for a large investment management company on their private equity team. She says this came about because her husband accepted a new job out-of-state and she told her employer that she’d be happy to stay on in a remote capacity and they took her up on it. Three years later she reports she still loves it!
Julia shared, “I’m about to leave my teaching job to work freelance as a tutor and proofreader from home. I can’t wait – but I’m nervous too!” We wish you luck Julia!
Anne has “worked from home for 9 years evaluating search engine results. I love my flexible schedule!”
Rita is a freelance content editor, which she’s been doing for two years.
Jed is a freelance photographer and does work for his local newspaper, portraits, weddings, Mardi Gras Krewe, and events at his church.
Teresa works from home as an office manager for a construction company part-time and also does some data entry for a friend’s internet-based business.
Sheila reports, “I’ve worked remotely for over 10 years. I am a software developer and all of my current team work remotely in various states across the US.” While she says she loves her arrangement, she also offered the following sage advice, “You do have to work much harder at relationships and at making sure your management knows you are working when you should be – in other words, you need to be at least as productive as you were in the office.” Wise words!
Laura says, “When I worked for pay, I worked from home as an occupational therapist. I would visit clients in their home, but do all office work from my home. These days I am a doctoral student, which is another form of work from home – just without pay.”
Semira works remotely as “a marketing consultant for tech companies.”
Sherry is an adjunct professor of accounting and teaches online-only remote courses from home, something she’s done for over ten years.
Kristen is a nurse who works from home as an infection preventionist providing education for 270 healthcare clinics as well as surveillance. She says, “The best part is being in control of your time which in turn frees you up to make frugal choices like avoiding childcare and cooking at home more often.” So true!
Laura is a consultant and reports, “My hours are flexible and my stress level has gone wayyy down (no commuting, getting dressed, packing a lunch…).”
Meredith has worked from home as an editor for the past five years.
Rebecca does a mix of communications work for nonprofit clients and freelance writing for publications aimed at the public, all focused on the same general topics of wildlife and conservation.
Sandy shared: “I’m a marketing consultant/freelance writer. I started by subcontracting with a small marketing firm, but now I’m starting on my own with a couple of clients while also caring for my two girls.”
Bonnie left her career in IT and now sells on eBay while taking care of her three young granddaughters.
Bridget reports: “I turned my traditional office job into a remote job when I moved from Maine to Colorado. I’m a technical writer and it works really well. I feel it does help that I had in-person relationships with my co-workers before I left the office, but as time has gone by and there’s been turnover, I’ve been able to forge relationships with new co-workers through good communication.”
Mol commented, “I work from home as a patent examiner for the United States patent and trademark office. USPTO allows flexible hours and lots of opportunities for promotion. I love my job!”
And now, a the list of things my friends/neighbors do from home:
- Nannying (my friend has one kid and watches another kid several days a week)
- Pastoral work (I have a friend who was invited to lead an online worship service)
- Book editing
- Renting out a room(s) on AirBnB
- Writing courses for online classes
- All manner of farming/homesteading
The beauty of all of these jobs is that they provide you with location independence. No longer do you have to live somewhere you don’t enjoy simply because your job is there. No longer do you even have to live anywhere period!
Plenty of folks take their remote work on the road–either traveling full-time or living in multiple spots around the globe. For many people–me included–the only requirement is an internet connection and your trusty laptop. Another wonderful element of online work is that your start-up costs and overhead and incredibly low–you’re not purchasing a warehouse, or an office, or products.
Location independent work is also fostering something of a revival in rural areas where there simply aren’t many jobs. That’s certainly true for us. There are precious few jobs in our town of 400 people and we wouldn’t be here without our ability to work, learn, and operate online. Aside from the schedule flexibility and lack of commute that at-home work provides, consider too if it might allow you to move to a lower cost of living area, or, just a place you’d love to live.
Crafting The Life You Want
A gigantic part of my decision to quit my office job and start my own business was the fact that I wanted to be home with my daughter and I wanted to live in the middle of the woods. Those two things weren’t going to jive with a 9-5 corporate job. Instead of spending tons of money militating against that mode of life, Mr. FW and I decided to change the entire equation.
Rather than spending lavishly on high-quality childcare or a vacation home in the woods or other balms to soothe our discontent, we changed the way we live. We simplified and streamlined our existence in order to facilitate the stuff we want to do every single day. As opposed to going on exotic family vacations for a week every year, we’ve designed a life that we love living day in and day out. We had to slash our spending, ramp our savings up to over 70%, and be dogged in our investments, but we made it happen.
Question the traditional mode of living in our modern society: going to an office every day and paying money for conveniences to make your life more tenable because you don’t enjoy your job. We spend the vast majority of our lives at our jobs–it’s valuable to ask yourself if that’s how you truly want to live. It’s also the case that, in many ways, we pay to work in this culture. Clothing, hair, meals out, gasoline for our commute, people to clean our homes–the list of ways in which we pay for the privilege of maintaining an out-of-the-home job is immense.
Consider instead if there’s a way to pare down what you own and what you do. A way to live out your passions and incorporate what matters most to you into your daily routine. Because I gotta tell you, 98% of life is the daily routine. Those meteoric highs of Disney vacations and cruises are fleeting. Soon enough they’re over and we’re back to the grind. Instead of hating that grind, and spending money to try and make that grind more bearable, can you do away with it instead? Can you make your “grind” something that brings you lasting happiness?
Do you work from home? What do you do?
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I might add one more con to the w2 remote job, though perhaps you intended it with the salary comment. Out of sight out of mind. It would be a lot harder to be promoted to new jobs in a traditional company being remote as your not on site. I have had a job the last ten years or so where I could always do it from home. I do so today one day a week because of advice a manager once gave me. Don’t go work from home personally until you’ve topped off your career growth. Mind you half my direct reports in my last role were work from home. I kept an eye out for their development but it was hard for them to find the next jump.
A good point! I think this also depends on how senior you are and whether or not you started off working in the office. Since Mr. FW was in his office for many years before going remote, he hasn’t had a problem with this. But, I think if you started entirely remote, it could be challenging to build those personal relationships that can lead to advancement.
Wow I never thought of how harder it is to get promoted as a telecommuter. I don’t think this is something people talk openly about. I just know the people who telecommute at my job feel like they are not as updated on office news/politics as those in the office.
Yes, this happened to me. I’ve been a remote full-time employee for 7-ish years, and I had a coworker who’d been there less than a year get promoted to be my supervisor. Luckily, I like her! There’s certain aspects of the work that can’t be done remotely, which is why I wasn’t considered for the role. I like what I do and I love working from home, but it’s definitely been a battle to get my own promotions and I know that I’ve been hindered somewhat in my growth within the company, but for the time being the trade-offs have been worth it.
Yes, and having worked from home for 10 years and now seeking full time in-office work again, people question whether you “can” work with other people in an office environment. It’s ridiculous, but people don’t understand it so it can become a ding against you of sorts.
Totally agree with this. I left my previous job to go WFH as a financial analyst. Everyone on my team is remote. It is a great job but they told me up front that growth is slower. The team has less turnover and everyone is much friendlier in this remote role.
When I left my previous job, I told them a big reason was to get rid of my commute and international travel. They had promised multiple times that I could reduce the travel without being able to fulfill it – someone needed to do the work and that ended up being me. When I decided to leave, they also said I could have transferred to a remote role in another group but it’s a very difficult sell. If your work is very people oriented, you may need to be there in person, especially if everyone else is in the office. If one person works remotely, that one person is going to miss out on ad-hoc projects and face time. I felt most effective at my job during face-to-face meetings so remote work wasn’t a good fit. I knew my growth would be completely stalled if I chose that.
In my new role, everyone works remotely so it is an even playing field. The benefits are amazing and I can scale the work as my family grows. They are a front-runner in flexibility and even though I need to work certain hours, I am so much less stressed. I’ve found my team very friendly and eager to make connections even though I’m brand new.
A family friend warned me repeatedly about growth in my field and stalling my career so young. I could become a partner or a VP or I could not. I traveled extensively in my previous jobs and I felt that the personal tradeoffs were too high. I make a great salary and at what point do you say “This is enough for me!”. Do we always need more growth, more money, more success? I’m not sure on that. 😉
I think this is very dependent on the company. I work remotely for a small NGO, and was promoted after a year of work from home (I think it actually made me more efficient), and my boss has told me what she’d like my next promotion to be in the next 1-2 years. That said, you really need to make sure you are NOT out of sight, out of mind. I work on a daily basis with my team, but I make it a point to be responsive/reach out to others in the office as much as possible. I also volunteer for opportunities that allow me to interact with other members of the organization, such as helping to plan the staff retreat, etc. And when I’m there in person (about once every 3 months), I make it a point to have lunch and usually dinner with a coworker every day I’m in town.
Wow, the options are really endless when it comes to working from home. I don’t work from home, other than running my blog, which is definitely work, but I don’t receive a steady paycheck from it quite yet. Hence, why I still work a 9-5!
I think your planning questions are essential and right on point for those considering working from home. I thoroughly enjoyed this read!
Woop Woop for remote work! I started a job two weeks ago that allows me to work remotely, with some travel. I’m an introvert, so I’m way more productive working in the quiet of my home. 🙂 I just work for a traditional company, but I do wish I had more flexibility with my working hours. But it beats sitting in an office!
I’ve been in the traditional work force for 28 years (teacher/school administrator/professor) and it was only a few years ago that I even started to consider options out of the “norm”. This post shows the amazing ways people make a great living after deciding what is important to them and taking time to craft their lifestyle. I love the heading “frugality smooths the way” – this is key! I am leaving traditional work in 28 days at the age of 50. We have crafted a location independent lifestyle and I will be teaching online and consulting part-time.
If I was still in college, I would have stated that my goals were to obtain employment that allows me to work from home. I graduated from college 25 years ago and have never had the luxury of working from home. I could do some of my job from home but my employer is archaic and refuses to even consider such options!
I have mulled about asking my employer if work from home is feasible if we have a kid post maternity. We work in construction related field and regular meetings are required to make sure every one is on the same page. However most of my work can easily be done remotely with remote access to server and I really hope to get it whenever the time comes.
Mr. FW uses video chat for his meetings and I use Skype for mine–seems to work really well to make a meeting feel more in-person. Hopefully you can work something out with your employer :)!
I work from home as a patent examiner for the United States patent and trademark office. USPTO allows flexible hours and lots of opportunities for promotion. I love my job!
That is fabulous! I’m going to add you to the list :)!
Hi Mol! My husband has been a freelance patent agent for many years and is considering this route, and we were wondering: do you have to serve at the main or regional office for a certain time before qualifying to work remotely?
I love this post. Very practical and helpful! I currently work 9-5 and like the traditional office setting. But I am also trying a start a side business with my blog. Thanks for sharing for experience!
I really wish more jobs would open up remote possibilities. As you say, they could really save small town America. As the modern world is turning away from manufacturing jobs, remote jobs are a great way to fill that gap. But that’s why it is important as a country that we support government rules that ensure equal access to high speed internet. You can’t work remotely if all you can get is dial-up internet or overpriced satellite internet (which currently is the case for friends of mine in rural PA).
Yes to this 100%! Internet is paramount, which is why Mr. FW serves on the board of directors for our local fiber internet nonprofit rural ISP. Having fiber internet was a huge factor in our decision to purchase the homestead we did!
This is very timely for me – I am trying to work from home doing some consulting work rather than jumping back into another 9-5, away at an office gig.
My husband is a mechanic, and works from home. He is the stay at home parent, as I work shifts. It affords us great flexibility, but not as much passing trade, as when he had a traditional workshop. All business is from existing clients and referrals. He doesn’t advertise, and since clients come to our home, is relatively picky about the work he accepts. He says we “want clients, not customers”. The only downside is being on call; fortunately breakdowns are few!
I work as a full time equities and options trader. Check out TastyTrade.com for some excellent training. They also have a trading platform that doesn’t eat up all your profits in commissions. Good luck everyone!
We took a full year off of work and then decided not to go back to the 9-5. 🙂 We do pick up a bit of freelance work when we have the time and if it sounds really interesting to us. Frugality helps keep our expenses low, and our passive income covers our bills. It great to just focus on the work we love without worrying about the income. With 5 little kids at home, that flexibility has been huge for us!
Great post. I just shared it with my sister. I especially liked this How true. Since I’m not on FB to see a quiz, I’ll add here that I’m a former engineer who runs an Ebay business while being home with my 2 kids. We are close to FI, should be there within 6 months. Post-FI my Ebay business is here to stay though because I love it.
That’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing!
I sell high quality, gently used women’s clothing on Ebay. I source for goods several times each week. The rest of the time is spent writing drafts for listing, taking photos, shipping, bookkeeping etc. It’s never dull and I love it! I am a former elementary school teacher (retired early) and our four children are grown. It also helps that I live in a large, vibrant metro area in which to look for goods to sell.
I contract with LiveOps, which is a virtual call center/remote customer service company.
I get paid $0.22 per minute to take orders for Pizza Hut. I like the Pizza Hut opportunity because they don’t have high minimum hours. All I have to do to keep my certification active is take 1 call every 6 weeks. Since I have 3 kids and am homeschooling, that fits well with my life. This last 2 week pay period, I earned $172. All my money from LiveOps is put into savings, since we don’t need it to survive.
Other opportunities that they have include taking insurance claims for Allstate, doing roadside service for AAA, doing direct sales for As Seen on TV products, providing customer service for Home Depot, etc.
Yes! 98% of life is the daily routine. So, so true! I love the idea of designing your life to get the maximum joy out of every day, rather than just living for the weekend. You remind me of a former coworker of mine who had o retire a bit early due to medical reasons. She had already lost her husband as well and was facing a lot of challenges in her retirement. She said at her retirement party, “Don’t wish your life away.” That has always stuck with me, as I don’t want to wake up at age 70 and realize I haven’t appreciated life as it happened. So yes, I’m alsk looking into working from home as well in order to spend more time with my sons and enjoy the work I’m doing. I’m fortunate to be able to stay home with my kids for a few years without pressure to earn an income, but I’m working on building up side hustles now so that maybe I won’t have to return to teaching! Thanks for this post!
Your last paragraph describes exactly the challenge I am facing right now. Thanks, what a great description! I am trying to change my grind, but I am not yet sure how it will pan out. Time is tight with having a family, also my current job supports all of us financially. There are days that this feels like too big of a hill to climb. But, my gut tells me if I keep at it, while enjoying the here and now, this large hill will actually bring me part of the solution, as hard and improbable as that seems today. Thanks for the post to keep me motivated!
Amazing overview! I appreciate the real anecdotes from readers. I find that it can be easy to find a list of broad job fields in which folks work from home, but it’s so much more inspiring to hear actual positions. Personally, as a nurse practitioner in an ER, I’m still trying to find a way to work from home. I will still have to maintain some on-site work to continue with patient care (unless I open an urgent care in my garage, hmm…), but I’m hoping that I can start a consulting or freelance business. Alternatively, I can work my butt off for the next several years in hopes of financial independence/early retirement, in which case I can end up doing whatever I want regardless of income. Still trying to figure it all out. Thanks, as always, for the quality information!
My very smart, progressive, high-tech employer has been encouraging work-from-home for 10+ years by closing offices to save on expenses. Lots of technology companies do this, and I know many remote workers who get promoted and win awards – as others have said, you have to be present via phone and email to become a trusted advisor. My arrangement is a critical component of my wellness; instead of leaving the house in the morning, I go for a walk or bike ride in the late afternoon/evening. Most creative class jobs require electricity and internet as their primary resources, so you can work from anywhere. Once the boomers retire, gen X and millennials should easily be able to change the commuting requirement. I still don’t know why so much office space exists and more is being built when so many roles in our service economy don’t genuinely need centralized physical spaces to conduct their business. Smart organizations realize that paying for vast resources that are only utilized less than 50% of the time is wasteful and unsustainable.
Love, love, love this post!! Great ideas for work from home jobs. Thanks for sharing!!
My wife and I both work from home and we couldnt be happier. We take the dogs out for walks during lunch and casually enjoy our days at home while working and also getting house chores done. It truly is amazing and I love it!
I transitioned to working from home just over a year ago and it has been great. I fall under category 1 and agree with your pros and cons. Not many people in my line of work do what I do, but I make it work. It helps that I get great reviews, that I work for a boss who seems to care about my personal well being, and that my job doesn’t really actually need me to be in an office – everything can be done with an airport nearby for client travel, wifi, and a cell phone.
This is definitely one of the benefits of living in this day and age with technology allowing for so many opportunities to work from home whereas not too long ago would have make it terribly impractical – unless of course you were a farmer. Which I hope to be one day…I think. I at least like the idea of it.
Until then I will keep working my day job whilst building up my online businesses income!
I’d love to get more detail from your friend that is a nanny. In my previous life, I was a nanny and as I am planning for the future, am considering doing it again from home when I have my own kids. I’d love any advice on how to go about doing this, particularly because I haven’t been in the field for about 10 years!
There are so many different options to work from home. I think because it’s not the “traditional” thing to do, most people don’t even realize what’s out there. I work in finance & accounting and have always worked in a corporate office, however, I’ve just recently started exploring the work from home options. I never knew about all the different ways of working from home, especially doing freelance work. There’s a lot out there if you just know where to look! Thank you so much for sharing all these great ideas!
The hubs and I are both now self-employed and it’s wonderful!!! I’m a blogger and freelance writer, and my husband is a contractor. We LOVE the flexibility that comes with this!! In fact, he’s on his way home now so we can go on a breakfast date and walk without our older girls haha. Freedom is totally worth it; and I highly recommend anyone try this lifestyle out if they can!!
How much growth is enough? I just started a remote position and I was warned in the interviews about growth. The entire team is remote and there is low turnover. I won’t make it to manager on a set trajectory. I will keep up my certifications and I can transition easily back to office life with this job on my resume. There are lots of project opportunities to meet new people and work with other groups. I make a great salary with benefits which will allow my husband to pursue starting his own business.
I was warned by a family friend that I wouldn’t make it to VP or partner – but what if that isn’t my goal? My goal is a comfortable, happy life with an interesting career and plenty of time for my family and friends. I didn’t have that in my last job where I could have ascended more rapidly. As a millennial woman, there is a lot of pressure to lean in and work hard – I do work hard but my end goal isn’t to be CEO or CFO. I’m capable of being that, and maybe I’m selling myself short, but I think the trade off is good for me.
Rose, thank you! I’m a fellow millennial woman and currently struggling with this exact issue, although I think I’ve reached a similar conclusion to yours. There aren’t many people out there who openly talk about not wanting the super-high-pressure roles which will get you to the “top”.
My husband and I both work from home. He is a water master for a canal company in our rural farming community which includes us living on 2 acres, a company home, paid utilities and a company pick up for my husband to use for work. On our two acres we have a large market garden that we have 10 CSA shareholders and go to the farmer’s market on Saturdays. That is my full time job… lots of garden work!!! I love it and our teenage children get to work for us in the summer when they are not in school. We are also able to raise chickens and sell lots of eggs, we raise rabbits and sell rabbits (meat and pets) and we raise a majority of our own food. We are a pretty lucky family to be able to have this opportunity!
“Anyone who is a full-time stay-at-home parent/caregiving is working HARD, but unfortunately no one pays them for their labors.”
Um, well, being a foster parent to four youngsters is hard work for us but it definitely does pay, the “reimbursements” are actually tax free, and we have 4 more tax deductions, and while it is first and foremost about making life a lot better for the four siblings, I think it qualifies for consideration here – by the right people. Our children have seen the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific, flown many places with us and seen much of America, been to Mexico, etc.
I don’t “Facespace”but as a faithful reader still wanted the opportunity to advocate for doing something meaningful from home.
Such a timely post for my husband and I. We’re both in the beginning stages of looking for remote jobs to allow more flexibility and the ability to spend more time with our toddler. Thanks for sharing the pros and cons of each situation!
I’m a nurse and I have telecommuted from home for a Medicaid plan for almost 9 years. I love it! I had to have 3-5 years hospital experience to be hired and I do utilization management. I approve authorizations and help coordinate care with hospital discharge planners. I had to work in the office at least 6 months before I could apply to telecommute. I also was required to have childcare for every child under 12, as you can’t do the job and watch your kids at the same time. I worked full time until 2 years ago, when I was going to resign due to the demands of my childrens’ special needs. They ended up begging me to stay as a flexible working, so now I am a contract worker and only required to work 32 hours over a 6 week period. I work about 2-3 days a week and make about 50% of my previous salary, but choose the hours and days I want to work. Some days I will only work a half day so I can get a child to a therapy appointment or volunteer as a chaperone for a school field trip.
I don’t get benefits, so no more 401K match, no life insurance,and I am not eligible for a bonus or PTO. I opened a Roth so I can continue to save for retirement though. I have 3 kids and I used to pay about $28K/year for three kids in full time care,and this fall I will be paying about $240/month for my neighbor to watch our youngest and $132/month for two mornings a week preschool at the church a mile walk/bike ride away from our house. We actually are coming our AHEAD with me working from home part-time, eat healthy meals, have time to exercise,and have significantly reduced stress.
I just finished my master’s in nursing education (paying cash!), and hope to supplement by teaching online for RN-BSN programs.
My partner and I both wfh full time and we love the comfort and flexibility. I’m new to the idea of a frugal lifestyle, but once we have our finances in order we’d like to take advantage of our location Independence and buy a house in a more private, natural area. We’re both designers, and I work for a company that has a mostly remote workforce. I found my job through Flexjobs.com, which I highly recommend to anyone looking for a legitimate wfh option. It’s a paid site that curates remote positions and weeds out all the scams.
The healthcare issue has been a major concern for me to think about going out on my own. I’m currently planning to take a 3-month sabbatical from my day job (using my built up comp time so I will continue to receive my regular paychecks and insurance). There are a lot of benefits to my current job, including great coworkers, lots of flexibility, ownership (since we are employee owned), retirement, etc. However, I don’t want to stay in something just because it feels comfortable. My goal with my sabbatical is to use this free time to explore whether I really want to make any of my side hustles my full time gig. It also helps that through my frugal habits I don’t need much to live each month. Therefore, if I do decide to take the plunge, I’ve built up some reserves and also reduced the amount of money I need to make each month to cover my bills.
Thanks for sharing these stories!
Too late for me, as I’ve already taken early retirement and have let go those connections that might lead back to a W-2 job, but it’s worth noting that with the protections of the ACA at risk with a Republican Congress and President, now is a risky time to assume you can get healthcare at ACA rates. For my husband and I these times are scary. We are in our early 50s, and our health care costs would soar to $26k a year (if we could get it) under the GOP plan.
Our office will be closed next month and will be WFH full time. My job is only 10 minutes from my house and it is a jeans and t-shirt environment so it won’t be that much of a savings. At least for me when working from home it is really important to get up and ‘get ready for work’ just like you are going to drive in- it helps you get mentally prepared and also give you a sense of boundary that lets you ‘go home’ when it is time to stop.
I am a senior programmer and have already tried my hand at management (which I willingly gave up) so I am not really concerned about promotions or advancement.
My mom worked from home for 30 years with her in-home daycare. Our state requires a license for watching kids from home, and she needed regular inspections from the fire department and licensing authority, but it also gave my parents the tax deductions for an in-home business space (playroom area). She chose to only care for public school teacher’s children in one district, so she also had the same breaks and holidays as the kids.
I do virtual call center work with a company called LiveOps.
There are various opportunities including insurance claims, roadside assistance, sales, pizza orders, technical support, etc.
Working from home to avoid a commute can be such a huge savings, plus sometimes provide the flexible hours to allow you to take care of business during the day.
Awesome to see so many frugal workers take advantage of this if they can. Thanks for the info !
I absolutely love this article! Working from home is great. I love that I’m able to work from anywhere and travel full-time in my RV!
My husband and I both work from home. He’s a computer programmer that subcontracts with companies for projects. I have worked at home doing telephone sales for a company called LiveOps (they are legit) and am about to start a new work from home job finding loads for truckers to make sure they can keep running. Their are so many work at home jobs!
Thank you so much for this post! As you and some of your readers now know, the work-from-home life is what’s going to (at least partially) make our van trip possible. It’s also something I’m interested in pursuing as a long term lifestyle because I think it would work better for me. Your advice about building up a side business before quitting your job is so important. But it can be hard to be patient! Seeing all the ideas and professions from your Facebook group is inspiring and really drives home the point that if you’re willing to put in the time, effort, and creativity, you can create the life you want.
Great article. It definitely shows the change in workplace environment and remote options. As someone who works remote for a traditional company (as a campus recruiter), another con to note is that some times there are also certain tax implications when you do travel to an office, particularly when travel reimbursement is involved.
I’m a full-time remote “information developer” (technical writer with some coding chops ) since 2 years. Being on a team with other remote members works beautifully — I write documentation; remote folks tend to leave a written trail on wikis/emails/slack, so I have an easier time getting information than I did when I was in office and conversations evaporated into the air. Luckily I got hired as a remote employee just before I moved to New Mexico, where there are scant jobs in my field. Sometimes consider going freelance in order to make a higher hourly rate and have flexibility, though paying higher taxes and dealing w/ the administrative overhead does not appeal…
As a part timer who sometimes works from home, the introduction of slack to our office over the past few years has made a big difference. I no longer miss out on the “water cooler conversations”, as I can be part of our “random” slack channel, and I’m always up to speed on all the projects I’m contributing to. It’s been great watching this change over the 6 years that I’ve been PT / working from home with kids.
My husband works from home full-time as an IT consultant for a hospital in the UK. I agree with the cons in your list and would also emphasise the isolation of working full-time from home brings. I am out of the house full-time and our son is at school full-time now, which leaves my husband alone most of the day. While we are grateful for the ability for him to do the school drop-offs and pick-ups, the impact of a lack of social interaction cannot be under-estimated.
I love working from home – I live in a small town in New Zealand and I work as a freelance illustrator with clients in the US, the UK, Europe, Australia… all over the world.
And I love your work! It’s so beautiful!
I worked at home for years as a medical transcriptionist. This type of work, however, is gradually getting phased out because of voice recognition technology.
oh how i wish i’d had this list of work at home jobs when my children were young! it’s an excellent list with fabulous advice. as it was, work at home jobs were hit and miss, so i hunkered down and simplified to the point that i didn’t need as much….in short, we did ‘without’, but found nothing we slashed was missed. don’t be fooled, it was a big adjustment, but it was so worth it. i picked up little jobs now and then that gave me a bit of ‘pin’ money, but basically, we paid for everything in cash, carried no debt and made it work. there is so much free stuff to be had out there if you look and think creatively, especially where entertainment is concerned…you just have to look for it and think outside the box. perhaps best of all, it was great for our kids too as they grew up not needing – or wanting – a lot of ‘stuff’, so they bought what was really important to them and saved the rest. now, at 23 and 27 they have each been able to buy a house in cash and carry no debt as well. frugal living passes down through the generations!
Oh my word. That is absolutely awesome that they have been able to buy houses in cash. And I’m sure it was worth the sacrifice for you to be able to stay home with them.
Great post! I am a stay-at-home dad who manages a small portfolio of income properties and now a new hobby blogger. Love your stuff, keep it up!
After working for the Federal government for 18 years, I stayed home with our new baby for two years. Then I opened a home-based childcare center. I started off with children my daughter’s age and gradually adjusted the ages as she grew. Once she started sixth grade I switched over to before and after school only. That opened up my day from 9:15 until 4pm closing at 6pm. I closed the business two years ago. I paid taxes and had an umbrella insurance policy . Health care was not a problem since I was covered on my husband’s policy. I also had a county permit, police background checks for all members of my family, fire inspections, and continued training in early childhood development, some of which was provided by the county free and some I paid out of pocket. All states have different policies and requirements. Fairfax County in Virginia has an outstanding program. For our family, this was a hugh success.
Work from home will, we favorable for some individuals who can be particular in their schedule. But coming to the people who can’t maintain a schedule regularly, that was not the best option. But when coming to the healthcare, work from home provides you space for having a healthy lifestyle.
Great article. I’m working from home and still have my 9-5. Hope to be able to work from home full-time eventually!
I was a caterer from my home for 18 years. In this time I had two children, so was also a stay-at-home mom. It was perfect because I could say yes or no to clielnts whenever I wanted. The girls’ school was at the end of our street, which made drop off and pick up easy. My husband is self-employed in IT so my income was for the extras like vacations, kids’ activities, etc. It was the best solution for us.
I just started a full time WFH job last week with a traditional corporate company where most of my teammates work remotely as well. I’m hoping I can adjust, but it is a strange transition to not being around co-workers in an office every day. I live alone too, so I will need to make myself get out more and be social to avoid feeling isolated. I’m going to check out Deskpass so I can visit various co-working offices at least once a week to get out of my house. But I do like the flexibility it offers so that if I decide to move elsewhere in the US, I can keep my job!
I work from home two days a week and commute in three days a week.
An upper manager doesn’t trust anyone to work from home, despite us having to meet a percentage if billable hours and having to have each project align with budgeted costs, which means you would get caught if you slacked off.
Luckily, the head of my department hires carefully, then encourages us to work from home at least one day a week. Each day I stay home saves me a 3-hour roundtrip (!!!) and untold money in the form of gas and tolls.
While I do not work from home, I also do not work in a traditional office either. Actually, I travel to my clients homes so they do not have to bear the LA traffic. That being said, I started my own company mainly in part of the huge benefits of being an entrepreneur. I make my own schedule, have the freedom to pursue my passion and grow my company the way that I want to. I must say that it was the best decision that I could have made. I have been able to tailor my life to what I want and have become immensely happier since doing so.
Can I ask what kind of service you provide?
Thank you once again for linking to my work in covering MLMs.
I often get comments that amount to, “Well, if you are so smart, what’s better?” I have been pointing them to Clark Howard’s resource here: http://clark.com/employment-military/work-home-guide/. Now, I have a second resource to link to.
Quite strangely, and I’m curious about opinions, out of the blue, I started to love my job. I found frugalwoods and other retire early sites because nothing in the world sounded better to me than leaving the traditional workforce. That was maybe 5 years ago. Since then, while nothing drastic has changed with my job, I just suddenly really started liking work. Am I old? Did something finally click? Did I resign myself to working life?
As I was just now starting to type that I still live the frugal life I set out to, it dawned on me, has living frugally simplified my life so much so that I’m just happy? Happy with the simple? Happy to accept life for what it is?
Or maybe all the cash I’ve saved makes me feel like I have an exit plan? Yea, it’s probably the cash, lol.
I love, absolutely love, your comments. You put a huge smile on my face. I think that when we feel “stuck” it’s not fun. Getting unstuck, gaining freedom, takes us to a whole new level of gratitude and contentment. BTW, just curious, are you still feeling the same way??
There are actually quite a few roles in large financial institutions that can be done from home (eg Internal auditors, business controls associates, etc.) However the WFH flexibility could also change depending on changes in the organization/department leaders. Personally I don’t mind going into the office as working from home gives me cabin fever. =P
I work from home full time doing communications work for an NGO and absolutely love it!
I come at this from a slightly different angle. I fall into method 1 part of the time, and not entirely by choice.
I’m a software developer at a small engineering/manufacturing company where it’s been a treat to have everyone under the same roof after years of remote-of-some-flavour in my previous jobs. We have a great culture, so camaraderie and interaction indeed! Plus at our current size, it’s still more likely that each person has many different hats, for which striking up random conversations in the kitchen is super helpful.
Some roles within the company can easily be done remotely, and often when we’re sick but not completely out of it we’ll still work a bit from home if we can. I’ve taken it a step further since I started living with a chronic condition; working from home (on top of having flexible hours to begin with) has allowed me to both keep my job and take better care of myself. Now I work from home between breaks at whatever time of day I’m more alert, and go into the office a few days a week if I’m feeling up to it. I’m more productive at home since I have fewer distractions and pay more attention to when I clock in and out.
I love working from home and have for the past 15 years. Now even my husband is working more from home than ever before. He only leaves once a week, maybe twice to check on jobs. We are an electrical contracting company and were able to move to a much cheaper location since we work remotely. My job is office, and his has transformed from field superintendent to handling the administration for our client who can’t run his office to save his life. We process his invoices, bid projects and translate whenever needed. We love it. Who would ever think an electrician could work full time from home?
Planning to make zero income for a while is a good idea. It can take months or even a year to get fully established. If you have the wrong expectations it can get very frustrating. Plan on not earning an income for at least a year. If you start earning money earlier thats great, but at least you’ll be prepared. Nothing worse than having the stress of starting something new along with the stress of having little/no money.
Great post! I recently just quit my job for freelancing/blogging/writing and insurance was the one thing that kept me there longer than I should’ve stayed! I get COBA for 12-18 months then I will have to figure it out but definitely not easy to understand it all. It’s worth it for the freedom! Great post
I work primarily from home as a registrar for a local Christian camp. I stop at the camp every few days for any snail mail registrations that have come in but other than that, I am able to do most of the work from home. Love it!
Great ideas! I loved reading the professions that real people do, instead of Googling “jobs for a stay at home mom.” I’m so glad you mentioned health insurance; so many people think they have to work the job just for salary but also the benefits, when you can actually provide these benefits like health insurance and retirement savings on your own.
Wow, it looks like you have an awesome life. I can work from home a few days per week when I don’t have meetings or events. I have employees, so I do need to have some face time with them. I try to see them once per week or every other week. Working from home for me has so many advantages. I seem to get so much accomplished when other people are not around to chat with.
Different idea for free childcare: share it. My hubby and I were both poor grad students (but in our late 20s) when we had our first child. We were planning on applying for subsidized daycare, but the waiting list was long. However, we found a better solution. We made friends, during a pre-natal study at the university, with another couple, both grad students too, due the same month as us. A thought occurred to us: with 2 babies the same age, assuming no big health problems with the babies, surely 4 smart adults could rotate to care for both babies at the same time and give everyone enough time to complete their PhDs. It worked! it wasn’t perfect (like the other couple going on long summer vacation), or when one baby got sick, the other ALWAYS got it too, etc, but we made life-long friends and the girls grew up as sisters for 3 years. It was free, it worked, and I was at work 3-4 days a week. I also got to be with my baby and see her grow up!
I am definitely striving for number 2. The fleixibility is what I am after.
Great topic! I’m working from home now and would love to do so permanently, and even applied for a work-from-home position recently (with some travel). You’ve laid out the costs/benefits really well. It’s a great way to live if you can find a way to make it work with your career aspirations.
Built up side gig (real estate buy/hold) then left corporate job eight months ago. I feel healthier and more balanced. Lack of steady paycheck and less $ are downsides. Overall it’s been very nice to do things that are more aligned with my values.