Why the Frugal Paragon Loves Leapforce at Home
UPDATE: As of June 2015, I am no longer working for Leapforce at Home, simply because I haven’t had the time. My referral link will no longer get me any money. Please feel free to post your own referral link on the comments for people to use! I remain grateful for the time that I spent with Leapforce and I continue to recommend it as a flexible way to earn a little extra money.
If you are an enterprising type with a passion for something and energy to spare, you can make a good bit of money working out of your home. This post is not about that. It’s about how to work from home and make a modest amount of money with only a modest effort, when your other commitments (children, full-time job, education you may be pursuing, etc.) mean that “modest effort” is the best you can muster.
For me, since several months before Big Brother was born, my answer has been Leapforce At Home,* where I work as a Search Engine Evaluator. The main advantage of this company is flexibility. You can work as little as twenty or thirty minutes a day; you can work twelve hours straight if they have enough work available. You can work for five minutes and then log off because the baby woke up early from nap, or you can squeeze in a couple hours if you have a good sleeper. Most importantly from a stay-at-home parenting perspective, you can bring in money without paying for childcare.
Leapforce is an obvious choice for stay-at-home parents, but I also worked at Leapforce pre-kids when I worked full time. It’s a way to get a second job without actually, you know, having to get a second job. You can do it in the evening or on the weekend even if you are too tired to get off your couch.
There are other companies that do similar work, but I’m going to dance with the one that brought me. I love working for Leapforce, and it has made the lean times a lot less lean.
That said, it would be disingenuous for me not to acknowledge the complaints that some people have about Leapforce. For one thing, there’s the pay–it pays like low-level office work, think file clerk or answering telephones. (But without commuting costs, work wardrobe, etc.) And there is extensive, unpaid training, mostly upfront but also continuing at a low level. They can do that because you’re an independent contractor. Personally, I’m a fast reader, so I don’t find this requirement too onerous.
It’s also impersonal, but that, too, can be an advantage. I have never, ever interacted with a real person. I receive e-mails so polite and emotionless that they could have been written by the computer from Star Trek. Then I never have to worry that so-and-so’s feelings are hurt or that such-and-such thought I should have done a better job on some project. I don’t have to get to know people or try to remember whose kid was sick and whose father was having surgery and so on.
For some people, having to pay self-employment tax is a big turnoff. You may need to either adjust your spouse’s W-4 or make estimated tax payments. I haven’t had to do either because the child tax credit swallows up anything I might owe. Actually, I got tax benefits–when I was in my grad program, I needed child care to get my classwork done, but you can’t take the child care tax credit unless you are either bringing in money or in school full time–not part time, like I was. But since I did have some earned income, we qualified for the tax credit. (Usual disclaimers… talk to your accountant, this is not real tax advice, etc.)
For me, it’s perfect. Here’s how the middle of my day goes: After lunch, I change Little Brother’s diaper, read him a story, and tote him upstairs to nap. Then I get Big Brother on the potty, read him a story, and install him in his room with strict instructions to read quietly until his OK To Wake! Owl turns green, which happens after an hour and fifteen minutes. (His compliance with this instruction is spotty, but he stays put.)
Then I maybe put some laundry in the dryer, get a cup of coffee, and sit down with my laptop in a comfortable chair. I log into Leapforce and clock about an hour before that damn owl lights up. Meanwhile, I’ve been relaxing, drinking coffee, and essentially getting paid to look at stuff and respond to it. I have felt productive without having to get off my ass and clean something. Sometimes the work’s reeeeally boring; sometimes it’s pretty interesting. I might learn an interesting science factoid or discover a funny series of YouTube videos, for instance. And if I log another hour that evening, I’ve probably made more actual profit than if I had a “real” job but was paying for full-time day care.
*This is my personal referral link. I don’t get paid just for people clicking on it, but if you like it, sign up, pass the test, and complete some work, then I would get a little bonus. In other words, I don’t paid unless you do. If you’re interested, please do use the link and support this blog!
UPDATE: As of spring 2014, Leapforce At Home has gotten a little better! They have simplified their invoicing requirement, which used to be fairly onerous; instead of laboriously entering each individual work session using drop-down menus, now you simply enter your total for the day. And I found a Google spreadsheet template to calculate all my time for me.