That's what Jackie Booley did. In 2007, she retired from her position as an AT&T call center manager. Her husband had recently died from chronic kidney failure, and Booley, then 61, was exhausted from serving as his primary caregiver while holding down full-time employment.
But retirement proved to be short-lived. Two years later, with energy restored and her nest egg depleted, she found a part-time job that allowed her to work from home. Now, when you dial Office Depot's toll-free number, you may be speaking with Booley in the spare bedroom of her Ocala, Fla., home.
She doesn't work for the office-supply retailer, however. Rather, Booley's employed by Alpine Access, a call center service headquartered in Denver. Incoming calls to Office Depot are routed to her in Florida. Alpine has 4,500 work-at-home customer service agents in 1,700 cities.
Booley logs in anywhere from 18 to 30 hours each week answering questions and processing orders. At $9 an hour, she usually earns between $500 and $600 per month. It's not a fortune, but the extra money does allow her to go out to dinner and a movie without worry.
"I absolutely love it," says Booley of her work-at-home job. "It gives me flexibility. I feel like I'm my own boss, and I can fall out of bed and go to work in seconds." The topper: She's banked enough hours with her virtual employer to take a paid vacation to England this year.
Beware of work-at-home scams
Working at home has a nice ring to it, sometimes too nice. Work-at-home scams have been around for decades, but in the past few years, the FTC has seen the number of complaints nearly double.
Two glaring red flags to look out for: Jobs touted via e-mail that promise to pay more than you ever dreamed, and firms that charge you a fee to obtain more information about a job. "Payment for the privilege of working is rarely acceptable, in our view," says Christine Durst, an Internet fraud and safety expert and co-founder of ratracerebellion.com, a website on home-based work that screens job leads.
That said, there are legitimate work-at-home jobs in customer service and other fields, but you'll need to do legwork to avoid scams. Here are five work-at-home jobs to consider. Pay ranges, which will vary based on experience and other factors, are primarily derived from employers and U.S. Department of Labor data.
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