From preparing the baby’s nursery to shopping for all of the new parent essentials, there’s plenty of things to do and coordinate as you wait for your little one’s arrival. One of the biggest and most stressful things for parents to think about before and after their baby is born is how they’re going to afford the many diapers, clothing items, and eventually, save up for a college education for their child.
Whether you’re lucky enough to have six months of paid maternity leave or just a few weeks without pay, there are plenty of ways to get paid while on maternity leave. We’re discussing 25 passive income tips to help make up for time off and supplement the costs associated with having kids.
Need extra cash fast? Use the links below to navigate to each section, or read all the way through for a comprehensive guide on how to make money on maternity leave.
- Find Unclaimed Money
- Sell Gift Cards
- Rent Out an Extra Space in Your Home
- Start Investing
- Sell Your Art
- Save with Online Coupons
- Become an Influencer
- Teach an Online Course
- Get the Right Savings Account
- Minimize Your Bills
- License Your Photos
- Use Your Credit Card Rewards
- Rent Out Ad Space on Your Vehicle
- Explore Peer-to-Peer Lending
- Pet Sit or House Sit
- Drive for a Rideshare Company
- Deliver Food
- Sell Your Clothes
- Take Surveys for Cash
- Start Babysitting
- Test Websites
- Become an Online Juror
- Sell Furniture
Maternity Leave in the U.S.
The United States doesn’t have a historically strong record of strong family leave plans. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported only 17% of all U.S. workers had access to paid family leave, and 89% had access to unpaid family leave in 2018. According to a report from the OECD, the United States remains the only country in the developed world without a nationally mandated family leave program.
Some states do offer short term disability insurance, which can save families a lot of money in hospital bills, but this doesn’t necessarily help cover lost wages as a result of unpaid maternity leave. And of course, many employers do offer some sort of maternity or paternity leave structure for expecting parents, but sometimes the programs are just not enough to sustain the family.
Enter, the gig economy—also known as the digital platform economy, or the shared economy. From driving for rideshare services to selling old clothes online, the internet has made room for parents, students, and independent entrepreneurs to make some extra cash on their own schedule, according to their needs. And parents are among the biggest demographics following this trend, with 16% of gig workers being stay-at-home parents.
While much of your time on leave may be dedicated to preparing for your little one’s arrival or caring for them closely in the first few weeks, there are plenty of ways you can cash in on the gig economy during nap time or while taking turns during play hours. Let’s dive into 25 ways parents can make money on family leave.
How To Make Money on Maternity Leave
1. Find Unclaimed Money
Did you know there could be money just waiting out there for you to find it? It’s true, there’s currently an estimated $42 billion of unclaimed money and property in the United States, waiting to be returned to rightful owners. Now, not everyone has unclaimed money waiting to be reclaimed, but it is worth a try if you’re searching for some extra cash to make ends meet now that you’ve got a tiny human to care for.
Unfound money is often the product of uncashed dividends, stocks, bank accounts, and IRS refunds. There are many ways you can identify and get access to your unclaimed money—you can contact agencies directly, like the IRS or your bank, or you can use websites like unclaimed.org or missingmoney.com to find any unfound funds you’re entitled to.
2. Sell Gift Cards
It happens to everyone. You get a gift card for Christmas or your birthday that you just know you won’t ever use. Whether it’s for a service you already subscribe to or a store you’ve never been to, a “bad gift card” can make any occasion a bit of a disappointment. The good news is you can turn those cards into cash for items that you want or need, like diapers, baby clothes, and kid essentials. Websites like GiftCards.com and Cardpool.com allow consumers to buy and sell gift cards for cash or their preferred electronic gift cards.
Working from home during maternity leave is one of the most effective solutions to help you maintain income as you’re busy welcoming your little one into the world. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics not only reflects the growing work from home structure across the board, but it also suggests that workers with advanced degrees are more likely to work at home. What does this mean for professional parents? Many advanced senior-level careers are transitioning toward remote work, creating more and more opportunities for parents to work from their home while also caring for their children.
Keep in mind: Freelance taxes are a whole new beast from the standard w-2, but with some planning and preparation, you can make the most of life as a parent and professional. Here are some examples of careers with remote work potential:
- Customer Service Representative
- Graphic Designer
- Web Developer
- Online Marketer
4. Rent Out an Extra Space in Your Home
If you’re looking to make the most out of your maternity leave side gig, this may be your best bet. According to data from Earnest, Airbnb hosts make an average of $924 per month on the platform, equating to nearly three times as much as other gig workers using other task-service and rideshare platforms to make money.
Have an extra room in your home that’s not being overtaken by baby gear? You may consider renting out a spare bedroom, guest house, or even outdoor space. Vacation rental sites like Airbnb allow homeowners to lease out spaces on their property for a nightly fee. Owners can then determine when they want to rent, for how much, and how often. This can be a flexible way to put cash toward your mortgage payment and other living expenses. Of course, money isn’t free. As a host, you’ll have to put in the effort of maintaining your guests’ experience by offering help and addressing concerns, which can take up a lot of time as a new parent.
If you want to deal with less maintenance than hosting guests in your home on Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO, you might opt for Hipcamp instead. Hipcamp allows owners to rent out just a piece of their land instead of a place inside the home itself. Hipcampers are then allowed to set up tents or trailers on the site, with much less attention needed than renting space on a home vacation site.
5. Start Investing
If you have some extra cash lying around already, you may want to consider how you can maximize your assets by investing your money. If visions of graphs and stock market reports are the stuff of your nightmares, not to worry. There are plenty of ways to invest your extra change (other than on the traditional stock market).
- Contribute to an employer-matched 401(k) or Roth IRA
- Set up automatic contributions to an IRA or taxable account
- Micro-invest using an investment app such as Acorns, Robinhood, or Stash
- Use extra money made on your maternity leave side gig to invest
A quick search for electronic waste and recycling centers in your city, and you could be on your way to getting paid on your maternity and disposing of your household waste responsibly. There are even services that will pay you for items you might not have considered as recyclable, let alone profitable.
- Sell cardboard boxes on BoxCycle
- Sell moving boxes on Craigslist, OfferUp, or Facebook Marketplace
- Sell your used cooking oil to a local biodiesel company
- Sell old ink cartridges to your local office supply store such as Staples
7. Sell Your Art
If you’re getting antsy at the thought of taking time off, you may consider turning your artistic passions into savings by selling your crafts on Etsy. This site allows creatives to sell their handmade goods—including everything from knitwear to handcrafted kitchen supplies.
8. Save with Online Coupons
Sometimes saving money is about adjusting how you spend money. From diapers to baby food and clothes, you’ll likely start to feel at home while browsing online retailer sites. And while shopping online is a lifesaving invention for busy parents, there’s strategy involved in not overspending. Use a browser extension like Honey or an online coupon site like Groupon to help you save an extra buck or two as you’re shopping for baby and home essentials. And when you’re shopping in-store, download the shop’s app (if they have one) to access coupons and specials there, too.
9. Become an Influencer
“Mommy bloggers” have become some of the most recognizable social media influencers in the recent affiliate marketing trend. In exchange for posting blogs and images promoting certain products, these bloggers are paid both in product and cash. This model has become so popular that MediaKix predicts that the influencer marketing industry will be a $5-10 billion dollar market in the next 5-10 years.
10. Teach an Online Course
If you have knowledge to share with the world, why not get paid to do it? Whether you teach others how to paint, or share your expertise in career development, there are plenty of opportunities to put your years of practice into cash flow. You can use websites such as Udemy, Skillshare, and Video School online to design your own curriculum and teach others all you have to know.
11. Get the Right Savings Account
It may seem counterintuitive to use money to earn money while on maternity leave, but with the right bank account, you can cash in on interest, while minimizing your monthly fees. When choosing a savings account to house your rainy day funds, you may want to be more strategic than going to the first bank you see. A bank account with a high compound interest could help you build your savings as you simply sit and watch. With some savings accounts, you can maximize your interest by leaving the account untouched for a certain amount of time.
12. Minimize Your Bills
Let’s face it, the bulk of your spending is likely going toward bills—your mortgage, utilities, streaming subscriptions, etc. And it’s hard to imagine life without all of these things—so you’ll have to continue paying for them if you wish to maintain your current lifestyle. But while you might not be able to eliminate bills from your monthly expenses entirely, you may be able to reduce how much you’re paying using apps like Billshark and Truebill.
These money-saving apps examine your monthly bills and combine costs where possible, and even negotiate with agencies to reduce the amount you pay each month.
13. License Your Photos
If you’re a creative individual with the eye of Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz, you might want to consider this tip to make money on maternity leave. Whether you have an existing gallery of images to choose from or have a few moments to spare while you’re waiting for your little one to arrive, you may want to use your creative assets to make some extra money online. There are tons of stock photo sites to choose from, including Getty Images, Shutterstock, Stocksy, Adobe Stock, and iStock.
14. Use Your Credit Card Rewards
Depending on which credit card you choose, you may be able to unlock cash back rewards, travel points, and gift cards to help you cover the costs of new parenthood. Many credit card companies even offer additional cash back points and rewards during certain months. And sometimes these rewards programs can be beneficial when you’re making your regular grocery run or grabbing a bite to eat.
15. Rent Out Ad Space on Your Vehicle
Parents are busy people. Whether you’re running errands to the grocery store or driving on the carpool route, the moment you have kids, your mileage is likely going to increase. While this can certainly take a toll on your monthly gas bill, you can use your added mileage to your advantage by renting out ad space on your vehicle. Websites like Carvertise and Wrapify pair drivers with advertisers to place ads on their vehicle. This is an easy way for you or your partner to make some supplemental income for something you already do.
Note: Certain car advertising websites require drivers to travel a certain amount of miles to qualify for the program, so it may be a good idea to take action on this tip when you return to work and start commuting again.
16. Explore Peer-to-Peer Lending
Peer-to-peer lending, also known as “marketplace lending,” provides a way for small businesses and individuals to get access to funding from private investors, rather than a bank loan. As a private lender, you can make interest on the money you loan, using websites like Upstart and Funding Circle.
17. Pet Sit or House Sit
After the baby is born, it may be a little bit challenging to move them around with all of the comforts of home in tow—but if you’re able to spare a weekend or two away from home before delivery, give housesitting a try. If you’re lucky enough to find a homeowner with luxury amenities, it might even feel like a staycation for you to get some time for yourself before the baby arrives!
18. Drive for a Rideshare Company
In a 2015 survey of Uber drivers, Benenson Strategy Group found that nearly half (48%) of drivers had kids under the age of 18 living at home. The rideshare giant says that the work structure of Uber fits around their drivers’ lives, not the other way around. This flexibility could be why the app is so popular with busy moms and dads.
Both Uber and Lyft allow drivers to choose when they want to work and for how long, making it a great match for parents who are taking turns watching the kids or have just a few hours to spare while the kids are away at school. Plus, all of that extra room in your mom SUV or van could qualify you for Uber and Lyft XL programs, which charge more for large and luxury style vehicles.
19. Deliver Food
According to a survey from the Federal Reserve, three in 10 adults worked in the gig economy as a supplemental source of income. One of the most popular mediums for making money in this economy is delivering food for Ubereats or Postmates.
20. Sell Your Clothes
You likely have some clothes you’ll need to retire as you enter motherhood—or baby clothes that your little one has outgrown, way too quickly. Why not make money on these hand-me-downs? Plus, your baby will be growing out of clothes quickly, so it’s a great way to make room for new items while making back some money while on maternity leave.
Websites to sell adult clothing:
Websites to sell children’s clothing:
- Once Upon a Child
- My Kid’s Threads
21. Take Surveys for Cash
One of the simplest ways to make money while on maternity leave is to take online surveys for cash. You’ll likely have plenty to do around the house while the baby’s sleeping, so this makes for an easy money-making solution that doesn’t take up too much time. During downtime where you might pick up your phone to scroll through social media or catch up on the news, try checking out one of these survey sites to make money during your leave:
- Survey Junkie
- Vindale Research
- Inbox Dollars
Each website works differently, so some may pay in cash, check, PayPal, or gift cards.
22. Start Babysitting
If a newborn isn’t enough to handle as a new parent, you might offer up your motherly instincts and talents as a babysitter. You’ll have to confirm with the parents of course, but if you have a friend or family member with a young child as well, you may be able to watch the two kiddos at once. Plus, having a playmate when they get older could make everyone’s lives a little easier!
23. Test Websites
Similar to taking online surveys, there are many companies that look for individuals to test out websites. This information can give developers important user experience data that they’re willing to pay for in cash, check, PayPal, or gift cards. UserTesting is one of the most popular platforms for website testing, with Enroll, and UserFeel among the top website testing platforms as well.
The best part? The only qualifications you need for this maternity leave gig is 1) you have to be internet savvy, and 2) speak fluent English.
24. Become an Online Juror
If you’re looking for ways to make money on maternity leave from home, becoming an online juror may be just the right gig to help sustain your income as you take your leave. There are many different online mock jury sites where you can act as a jury member on a mock trial for attorneys to craft their case before they head to court. This can give them a better idea of how a jury will respond to their reasoning in court. Some mock trial services will even offer in-person trials that pay more than online but are more of a time commitment.
To become an online juror, you must meet the following criteria:
- 18+ years
- U.S. citizen
- Cannot be a convicted felon; or under indictment for a felony or misdemeanor
- Must have basic reading and writing skills
- Cannot be a lawyer, paralegal, or legal assistant
- Cannot work in certain areas of the insurance industry
25. Sell Furniture
Like clothes, your baby will be growing out of furniture quickly—and you’ll likely need to get rid of some old furniture to replace it with new stuff for the nursery, soon-to-be kid’s room. You can use various online marketplaces like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to list old TVs, furniture, electronics, and household wares for sale.
Whether you have paid maternity or family leave, or have to figure it out income entirely on your own, there are plenty of ways to access the benefits of the shared economy. Follow these tips to help figure out which method works best for you to make money while on maternity leave, and share your own tips in the comments below!