Motherhood has been described as a juggling act but sometimes feels more like a three-ring circus. Here are five "mompreneurs" who have created products and services to ease the stress in our everyday lives.
THE MEALTIME MAGICIAN: MELISSA LANZ
Founder and CEO of The Fresh 20(thefresh20.com)
Location: Los Angeles
Company launched: 2010
Children: Alden, 8; Eliott, 7
Favorite part of the job: "The freedom to live life on my terms and the flexibility to enjoy my family. To me, those two things are what make being a mompreneur special."
Three years ago, Lanz was the mom of two toddlers working nearly 70 hours a week. She rarely ate dinner with her kids, and her own evening meals consisted of frozen burritos and take-out meals. Fresh produce often languished, unused, in the crisper. One day, she had it; "I can do better," she thought.
"I got tired of the waste in my refrigerator at the end of the week. I got tired of not having a plan, of coming home every single night and thinking 'What's for dinner?'" she says.
Mostly, though, Lanz wanted to strengthen what she calls her "family food culture." Instead of the evening chaos, she wanted meals that centered on healthy habits, eaten together at the dinner table. She scoured the Internet for menu-planning services but couldn't find one that provided recipes for healthy, unprocessed meals using a minimal amount of ingredients in efficient ways. So Lanz—who has a cooking background—started her own service. The Fresh 20 was born in April 2010.
Roughly 85,000 people now subscribe to The Fresh 20. They pay $49 a year to access weekly menus online, complete with a shopping list and recipes for five dinners. The five dinners are created from just 20 fresh ingredients (excluding pantry items like olive oil and spices) with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce. Most recipes are interrelated; leftover taco meat from Day One, for example, is used to fill enchiladas on Day Three. The method saves time and reduces waste.
Seventy percent of the company's growth occurred during the last year, which Lanz attributes in large part to word-of-mouth recommendations from other mothers who use The Fresh 20. "When you're a mom and you get the solution to something, don't you just tell everybody?" she says.
Amanda Steinberg is the founder and CEO of Daily Worth. She posed with kids Dylan, 6, and Maya, 4.(Photo: J. Kyle Keener)
THE POWER SAVER: AMANDA STEINBERG
Founder and CEO of DailyWorth (dailyworth.com)
Children: Dylan, 6; Maya, 4
Favorite part of the job: "I'm modeling for my kids what it means to live a life of no regrets."
By age 30, Steinberg had made a mint as a computer programmer. The only problem? She hadn't managed to save a dime of it.
She turned to traditional financial magazines for information but found them to be "really boring and inapplicable" to her life. And she knew there had to be other women in her shoes.
In 2009, Steinberg created a solution: a fun, female-focused financial e-newsletter and website called DailyWorth. And like a true multitasking mom, she launched DailyWorth the same week she gave birth to her daughter.
Modeled after the popular lifestyle platform DailyCandy, DailyWorth combines slick design with smart, engaging content that speaks just to women. The advertising-supported website has investment guides, self-guided virtual learning programs and advice for entrepreneurs and small-business owners.
It includes stories about women who have overcome financial obstacles and tips for families on saving money on vacations, clothing and more.
Steinberg was raised by a single mom who instilled in her the importance of being financially independent. Now a single mother herself, she wants to empower other women to take charge of their financial destinies and understand more than just the day-to-day budgeting.
"For many women, money is a source of deep anxiety," Steinberg says. "What I want them to do is to take ownership of money and to stop saying, 'I'm bad with money.' I would love for women to say instead, 'I'm learning how to become a money manager.'"
Steinberg's money-wise tips
• Fix your budget for all purchases. Steinberg has one checking account to pay her monthly bills. She then puts $1,200 into a different checking account to pay for variable expenses such as groceries and shoes for the kids. She checks the account on her smartphone, so she always knows exactly how much she has left to spend.
• Expect the unexpected. In addition to an emergency fund, every woman should have a 'curveball' fund that should be used for unexpected expenses. Put $500 in a separate bank account dedicated to this purpose. Use the money to pay for things like dental bills or summer camp, and replenish it as soon as it gets wiped out.
• Track everything you buy, from a car payment to a cappuccino, for one week without judgment. Once you identify where your money is going, you can rein in unnecessary spending. Challenge yourself to take it one step further by not spending anything—not a single penny—for a whole day, or even a whole weekend.