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Friday, October 31

Freebie Friday!

It's Freebie Friday and Halloween, so I'm sure you'll get your fill of freebies (at least the candy) tonight. Otherwise, here's what I have for you this week:

  • In case you don't get enough chocolate, get a free Turtle Chex Mix bar here.
  • Get a free shaker cup from Spiru-tein here, which I know my DH likes for his protein shakes! (Thanks, Mommy Snacks!)
  • Free coffee, which is always welcome in my home, from Folgers and Dunkin' Donuts.
  • Walmart free samples here.

**Giveaways**

  • Win a $50 GC to Box Tops Marketplace from Coupon Cravings.
  • My favorite giveaway of all - Starbucks from Our Frugal Life.
  • Win 9 Baby Einstein DVDs here.
  • Super-cute Nina Ballerina barettes here.

Thursday, October 30

Start Couponing Today - part 3

Let's talk about places to get really good coupons. The easiest way to get coupons is to buy multiple copies of your local newspaper on Sunday which typically has a few inserts in it. The first week of the month is typically the best because it also includes the P&G insert. You can get a preview of the coming week's coupons here. I usually get 2-4 papers a week unless it's a really good week. Some weeks I will even get 10 if the coupons are really, really great.

This is my coupon binder:





Other places to get coupons:


  • Ebay. You can purchase coupons on Ebay, although you're technically not purchasing the actual coupons. You're paying for a person's time and effort to cut, sort and send you the coupons. If there's a really great coupon out there for an item you want to stockpile, check ebay. You can often get 10 to 20 coupons for less than $2. If you're looking for coupons for the current week's sales, use the Buy It Now feature to be sure you get them in time!

  • Online Coupon Sites. Some of the best coupons are found online. You can use the coupons.com widget to the right or you can check out Smartsource.com.

  • Company Websites. Check out the websites of your favorite foods or products for printable coupons or sign up for their newsletters. If you e-mail companies about their products, they will often send you coupons in the mail. Check out RedPlum, Right at Home, Pillsbury and P&G Everyday Solutions.

  • Vocalpoint. Today in the mail from Vocalpoint I got a Venus razor and five $4 off coupons. That's pretty fantastic! I get nice little packages from them on a weekly basis and they usually include a product or sample or high value coupons - or both! Sign up for this and participate in the surveys or discussions.

  • Shopper Card Coupons. You can load coupons directly onto your shopper cards that will come off on top of your manufacturers coupons. Click on the UPromise link on the right and visit Shortcuts and P&G eSaver.

Since I've become a couponer, I'm on the lookout everywhere for coupons. I pull them from the blinkies at Kroger, I check in fliers at the pharmacy and the meat counters and I pay close attention to packaging. Often when the coupon matchups are done for weekly deals, any printables are included there. If I don't have a coupon in hand for a product I have to buy, I Google it. It's hard for me to buy things without a coupon anymore!

Changing Things Around



I usually take Thursday to post the next week's CVS deals but from now on I'm going to direct you to Andrea at Mommy Snacks for this. She does a great job and frankly, why reinvent the wheel on this one?

You can see the monthly deals for November here.

Wednesday, October 29

Applying for Work-at-Home Jobs

There's more to finding a work-at-home job than filling out an online form and hitting submit. Work-at-home jobs are highly in demand, so you need to do something to separate yourself from the crowd. A well written cover letter and resume can really help you get ahead.

E-mail: The first step you should take before applying for anything is to set up a separate e-mail account for work-at-home stuff only. I recommend gmail because it has a larger file capacity than most other free services, which can be helpful if companies want to send you training materials or tests - but any Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. will work just fine.

Cover Letter: Next, you want to create a cover letter. It does not need to be (in fact should not be) a long novel or restate all your qualifications. Keep it short and simple. The best thing to do is create a cover letter template and then tailor it for each job you're applying to.

A cover letter should do the following things:

  • Address the company by name. Tell them what position you're applying for with "XX Company." To add a little more, you could even tell them how you found out about the job.
  • Mention any specific skills that were listed in the job posting that you posess. If they were looking for someone who "has experience working with tight deadlines," then you need to tell them specifically that you "have experience working with tight deadlines."
  • Say a few words about your skills that are not necessarily job specific, but are necessary for working at home. I'll say more about this below.
  • Let them know that you actually want the job. This may sound obvious, but people are always mass-applying to lots of different positions, just hoping to get a hit on one. Let the employer know you're truly interested.
  • If possible, mention something you know about the company or its reputation. "XX Company has an excellent reputation and I'm excited to have the opportunity to join your team."
  • Save the cover letter as a plain text file. You can do this by choosing "Save As" in Microsoft Word and choosing "Plain Text" from the drop down box next to "Save As Type" at the bottom of the box. This allows you to easily cut and paste the letter into the online form boxes and it will look neat and uniform.

Resume: Your resume is the most important element of applying for a job. Often you won't need the cover letter, but you'll almost always need the resume. If you're just starting out and you have no work-at-home experience or at least none in the field you're applying for, then you want to play up your skills and abilities and play down your work history.

There are lots of resume writing services out there who will create a resume for a fee. If you truly feel lost creating one or you have just been looking for months and months with no luck, then this service might be useful for you. But I urge you to go it alone at first because you often don't need someone to create something for you, particularly when you're paying for it!

Here's what you want to put in a resume:

  • Make sure your contact information is included, particularly your e-mail address. You'll find that most work-at-home employers will contact you through e-mail.
  • Make a bulleted list of your skills. Highlight things that are important for work-at-home positions: ability to work well independently, efficient, self-motivated, coping with deadlines, prioritizing, adapting to new procedures, organized, etc. Also highlight skills that are specific to the job you're looking for. If you want to do transcription, for example, include your words per minute. You can take a free typing test here to determine this.
  • Make a bulleted list of your techinical skills. You're working at home, which usually means you're on your computer. Let the employer know what your abilities are: MS Office, applications like Pagemaker or Photoshop, certain databases, etc.
  • Next, include your employment history. Just do the two or three most recent or most relevant to the position for which you're applying. List the company, the dates, location and your primary duties. Again, try and tailor them to skills and duties relevant to the job for which you're applying.
  • Finally, add a piece on your education. Do the highest level only, whether it's college or high school. Add a couple of points about what you studied or what you learned.
  • Save this as a plain text file.

I recommend that when you're emailing your application, you copy and paste both your resume and cover letter right in the body of the e-mail. Include a line in your cover letter saying something like "I invite you to view my resume below." Often employers will not open e-mail attachments and it's to your advantage to give them the resume right there in their inbox. This is why saving them as plain text is key - especially your resume. All those bullets will really get jumbled up when copied and pasted into online forms or e-mails otherwise.

Make a list however you like to do it - writing on a piece of paper, Excel spreadsheet, etc. that details which companies you've applied to for which position and when. Also make a note of what they've said, "You'll hear from us within 2 weeks," "No e-mails, please," etc. so you know which course of action to take. That will also help you keep track of where you've already applied because you may be doing a lot of this!

I've said this many times already, but I truly believe the number one way to find a job working from home is by hanging out (virtually, of course) with those who are already working at home. That is why I always recommend checking out WAHM.com and starting in the Telecommuting Moms folder. Work Place Like Home is also a great forum. There are always new jobs being discussed on there. These are not simply job postings (although those are on there). These are other moms saying, "Hey, this company I work for is hiring," or "What do you know about this company?" and then those who know are chiming in with information.

As I've said before, I spent every night for a couple of months on those boards, just researching, getting ideas and learning from those who were doing what I wanted to do. It's way better than going it alone and doing Google searches for working at home.

If you're working at home now, please let us know what steps you took to get your job. I'm always interested to hear how other moms made things work for them!

Tuesday, October 28

Deed Collector is hiring!

A couple of weeks ago I talked about court researching. It's a good way to earn some income if you're looking for something flexible that still gets you out of the house. It's data entry but you will go to the local courthouse to collect your data.

Deed Collector is currently hiring in the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado (Morgan County)
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine (Sagadahoc County)
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska (Papillion and other counties)
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee (Obion County)
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming (Laramie County)

Go here to apply. When you complete the application, put "WAHM.com" in the field where it asks "Where did you hear about us?" and your app. will get bumped to the top. You can visit the posting on wahm.com here.

Monday, October 27

Making Money with Basic Writing


Writing articles is a nice little way to make some extra cash. If you like to write, you can be paid for your articles or your opinion. A basic way to do this is by joining a pay-to-write site such as Associated Content, Constant Content or My Lot. You can choose a topic and write about it. Then you can submit the article for payment approval.

Different sites work differently. Some sites will pay based on the value of the topic you choose or article length. Some sites have content available to be purchased by others and you're paid when your articles are purchased. This type of writing gig varies greatly in requirement and pay. You can make as little as $3-$5 for a simple article to $20 or more. It's not high paying, but it's a great way to get your foot in the door.

If you're a little more experienced in your writing, you could consider writing an ebook to market and sell. Ebooks are great because you can avoid the cost of not only creating and publishing the book, but shipping costs are also nonexistent because you're sending it via email or download. One simple way to market an ebook is to find blogs that are compatible with your subject matter and see if the blog owner might be interested in being an affiliate to promote your book for a percentage of the profits.

Some companies will also pay you to post on messageboards. One company that does this frequently is Paid Posting Tools. You choose the subjects on which you'll create posts or add to conversations and you're paid a few cents per post. Typically a certain number of posts are required per week and they can start to add up to a decent amount of income.

There are much more lucrative ways to earn money writing, but these are just a few to get you started. Writing is another great work-at-home activity that can easily be done on your own time, without a set schedule or a need to get into the office. It does require quiet, non-kid time, but it's definitely something that allows you to start small and grow bigger as you want to.

Sunday, October 26

Tag! I'm It!

Katie at Cincinnati Cents tagged me this week, which is a fun little thing we have going on in the bloggy world. Here are the rules:

  • Link back to the person who tagged you and share the rules on your blog.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Tag seven people and list their links in the post.
  • Tell those seven people they've been tagged by commenting in their blog.

Here are my seven facts:

  1. A couple of years back I had a job lined up with a federal intelligence agency in Washington, D.C., but we decided to give that all up to stay here, buy a house and raise a family!
  2. I am a huge Ohio State Buckeyes football fan!
  3. My husband and I have seriously considered (despite fact #1) packing up and moving our family to Europe in the last year, possibly to France, just for the adventure of trying a new culture and showing our children something new. The language barrier is what's holding him back (I can speak some French) - I'm ready to do it!
  4. I teach Mini School, which is the once-a-week preschool at our church.
  5. Once I start, I can't seem to stop eating candy (mostly chocolate).
  6. I met my husband on a blind date our first semester in college and we've been married now for five years!
  7. I love sushi and now that I know how to make it, we have it a lot more often!

Here are the blogs I have tagged:

Saturday, October 25

*~* Super Deal Saturday *~*

Here's what you should be sure to grab this week at the grocery store:

Meijer 10/26 - 11/1

  • Buy 2 Oreos ($2.50 ea) and get a free gallon of milk
  • Eggs - $.99
  • Tyson boxed chicken - $2.50 Coupons: $1/2 mealbox and .55 10/19 SS = $1 ea (wyb 2)
  • Healthy Choice entrees - 1/2 price Coupons: $1/4 mealbox and Buy 5 Get 1 10/19 SS or $1/2 printable here = prices vary
  • Breyers ice cream - $2.50 Coupons: $1/2 mealbox = $2 ea (wyb 2)
  • Edwards Pies - 1/2 price Coupons: $1 mealbox and $1/2 8/24 SS = prices vary
  • Jack's frozen pizza - $2.50 Coupons: $2/4 mealbox = $2 ea (wyb 4)
  • Birdseye frozen veggies - $1.33 Coupons: $1/2 mealbox and .35/1 10/12 SS = $.13 each
  • Dynamo laundry detergent - Buy 1 get 2 free = 3 for $13.99
  • Orajel toddler toothpaste - $1.97 Coupons: $1 coupon in this weekend's SS = $.97
  • Theraflu - $4.00 Coupons: $2 10/19 SS = $2 (Use MIR from 10/19 SS = free)
  • Dimetapp - $3.99 Coupons: $2 printable here = $2.99

Remember to print your Jello and Taco Bell coupons from Meijer Mealbox to get these items for free or nearly free!

Meijer doubles coupons up to $1.00, only two like coupons per transaction.

Kroger 10/27 - 11/2

**8 hour sale at Kroger this Tuesday 10/28 from 4pm to midnight**

  • Tombstone pizza - $1.99
  • Kroger hot dog buns - $.50
  • Fritos or Cheetos - $1.27
  • Big K soft drinks - $.39
  • Caramel apples 3ct. - $.99
  • Nestle, Hershey's or Mars candy - $1.47 Coupons: Nestle $1/3 10/12 SS or $1 printable here, Mars $1/2 10/12 RP
  • Oscar Meyer beef hot dogs - $1.99
  • Hormel party trays - $7.99

Regular sale items:

  • Bananas - $.38/lb
  • 3 lb bag apples - $1.88
  • 4 lb bag navel oranges - $1.99
  • Sun Maid mini raisins - $1.67 Coupons: $1/2 10/5 SS = $1.17 ea (wyb 2) Also look for specially marked packages offering a free Blues Clues book with two proofs of purchase.
  • Hillshire Farms somked sausage - BOGO $4.09 Coupons: .55/1 10/5 RP = $1.04 ea
  • Hillshire Farms Deli Select lunch meat - $3.00 Coupons: .55/1 10/5 RP = $2
  • Cambell's soup - 10/$10 Coupons: various coupons from October inserts
  • Starkist tuna can or pouch - $1.25 Coupons: BOGO from Vocalpoint mailing, $1 10/12 RP = .25 to .62
  • International Delight coffee creamer - $1.99 Coupons: .55 10/12 RP = $.99
  • Purex - $1.99 Coupons: $1/2 10/5 SS = $1.49 ea
  • Aquafresh - 10/$10 Coupons: $1 printable here = free

Kroger doubles unlimited coupons up to $1.00

Friday, October 24

Getting the House Ready for Winter


We've lived in our house for three winters now I think we may have solved the mystery of the freezing cold bedrooms. Every winter our bedrooms are about 10 degrees colder than the rest of the house. We've tried everything - plastic sheeting and blankets on the windows, space heaters, turning up the heat - and nothing has worked. I am tired of being cold, so this year we're being proactive.

Heating bills in the winter months can be a huge expense, but many people don't realize that there are many small improvements you can make around your house that will allow you to heat more efficiently, thus wasting less and lowering your energy bills. A couple of months ago we took advantage of Duke Energy's free home energy audit. An auditor came out and inspected our appliances, windows, doors, basement and attic and made several recommendations, which we're working on implementing. If you're a Duke Energy customer, you should definitely take advantage of this free service! If you have another energy provider, check to see if they offer something similar.

Here are the recommendations he offered that may help you as well:

  • Don't use space heaters! You will read stories about the safety concerns, but they are also extremely expensive. Using one in a cold space can add as much as $80 or more to your monthly heating bill!
  • Check your attic insluation. The recommended measurement for attic insulation is R-38. You should check to see that your attic is insulated properly everywhere. Otherwise you're losing heat through your roof.
  • Be sure your attic door is insulated. If you have one of those drop down attic doors with a ladder and it's not insulated, you are losing tons of heat through that opening. You can alleviate this by building a shell: Build a six inch border around the door opening inside the attic and buy a thick piece of styrofoam to cover over it like a lid.
  • Check weather stripping on all exterior doors. This is a simple one - easy to fix but also easy to overlook!
  • Water heater - For safety reasons (and energy savings) turn it down to 120 degrees. Also insulate the hot water tank pipes to conserve the heat.
  • Go green. Many changes that are good for your wallet are good for the environment as well, so consider switching to CFL bulbs in your lighting - they even make them for dimmers now.
We have oil heat in our house, which doesn't seem to be as expensive as gas heat but it did cost us about $900 to fill our 250 gallon tank this year. We invested in a programmable thermostat a couple of years ago that has really helped us reduce costs by setting the heat to automatically adjust at times when we're not home, for example.

I'm hoping that this year, not only will we save some money, but these changes will make it a little warmer in here. We haven't turned on our heat yet - we're hoping to hold out until November, but I don't know....my fingers are a little stiff from the cold while I'm typing right now!

Freebie Friday!

Here's what you're getting for free this week!

  • Freebies from Walmart this week can be found here.
  • Folgers coffee sample - just what I need!
  • Starbucks coffee at Barnes and Noble here.
  • Reusable tote from Mantra Venture Group.
Lots of great enter-to-win giveaways to check out:
  • Win an envelope full of 200 coupons from Once Upon a Qpon.
  • $10 Panera gift card giveaway at A Nest for All Seasons.
  • Books and Starbucks GCs to be had at One Room Schoolhouse (scroll down for this week).
  • Have a home improvement project? Enter to win a Home Depot GC here. She has lots of giveaways this week!
Happy Friday!!

Thursday, October 23

*~* CVS Deals 10/26 - 11/1*~*


There are a few of the spend xx/get xx ECB deals next week, so check Hot Coupon World for more details.

  • Spend $20 get $10 ECBs: Dimetapp $8 - $1 q 9/21 RP or $2 printable here; Children's Tylenol $6 - $1 q 10/5 RP, $3/3 or $2/2 9/14 SS; Benadryl $6 - $1 q 9/7 SS or 9/28 RP or $1 printable here; Tylenol Cold/Sinus $6 - $1 q 9/14 RP, 9/28 RP or 10/5 RP or $1 printable here; Theraflu $6 - $2 q from 10/19 SS plus MIR in 10/19 SS; Airborne $7 - $2 q 9/7 SS; Sudafed PE $4.50 - $1 or $1.50 q 10/5 RP or $1 printable here.
  • SoyJoy bars 4/$4 - get $4 ECBs = free - Buy 2 get 1 q 10/19 SS, $3 WYB 5 printable here makes this a moneymaker!
  • Renu contact solution $7.99 get $2 ECBs - $2 printable here = $3.99 after ECBs
  • Bic Comfort 3 Advance Shavers 4 pack $5.99 get $4 ECBs - $2 q 10/12 SS = free after ECBs

Non-ECB deals:

  • Atkins bars Buy one get 1 50% off, starting at $1.39 - $1 q 8/17 SS = .04 each
  • Almay products BOGO - $1 q 10/12 SS - prices vary

Wednesday, October 22

So many magazines, so little time


I....give....up.

I have subscriptions to 3 or 4 different magazines and I have unopened copies from as early as June. I haven't read a single one in this stack. I probably never will. So do I just recycle them? Do I attempt to read what will mostly be outdated information by the time I get to it? I really enjoy sitting down and reading them but apparently that "me" time has totally gone by the wayside. Sigh...

Work at Home Possibilities - inbound customer service


One of the most common work-at-home jobs is an inbound customer service representative (CSR) or as some in the work-at-home world call it, "phone work." Many people start their careers as work-at-homers by doing some kind of phone work such as this. These jobs are common and there are lots of companies that hire for them, so the jobs are relatively easy to get. Another great thing about them is that often the training is paid and begins right away (though sometimes there is a wait). So if you need a paycheck now, you can start earning asap.

The requirements of working over the phone vary from company to company. But there are two requirements that are almost non-negotiable with everyone. You must have silence in the background and you must purchase a headset.

There are so many companies that will hire you to work at home doing different aspects of customer service. Here are some of the most common (legitimate) companies. Not all are hiring right now, but continue to check back because their hiring needs could change at any time.


  • 1800flowers.com - Look at their requirements here. They are hiring temporary employees - apply here.
  • Alpine Access - Look at their requirements here and apply here.
  • Arise - **One of the very few work at home jobs where you will have to pay a fee to start** Info and apply here.
  • Convergys - Info and apply here.
  • Teletech - Apply here.
  • West (or Work at Home Agent) - Info here and apply here.
  • Working Sol - Info here and apply here.

There are a couple of other companies, including U-Haul and Staples.com that do hire at home employees from time to time but not regularly, so I did not include them above.

Keep in mind that with many of these companies, you will be considered an independent contractor, not an "employee." That means you'll have to withhold your own taxes. For more info on that, see my post about working at home and taxes here. If you're just getting started, also check out my post about spotting a scam.

I mentioned that this is one of the most common work-at-home jobs. If this is the type of work you do, tell us about it! If you know of other companies like these where people can be hired on to work from home and you can share them, please do so.

Tuesday, October 21

Trunk or Treat....

Well, I had lots of treats in my trunk today...here is the best of what I got. Thanks to Mommy Snacks and Cincinnati Cents for providing me with the deals this week - my crazy weekend didn't allow me to post it myself!!

CVS:


    I LOST my CVS envelope containing my card and my ECBs last week. In case you're wondering, they cannot be replaced - so guard them like cash! I had to start from scratch. Luckily when I went on Sunday to get my free pumpkin pails and lights I recieved a $10/$50. I was planning to do the diaper deal anyway because we're almost out. So for the same price I would have spent to do that, I was able to get all of this. Total OOP (only $5.25 in ECBs to start): $24.67.
    • I had enough Coke Rewards points for FOUR BOGO coupons. They're bricks coupons, so you can print two! Yes, that's EIGHT 12 packs of Coke you're counting there!
    • Excedrin $1.99 - free after $2 printable here.
    • Colgate Max Fresh $2.99 - $1.00 coupon from All You (Sept or Oct) - get $2 ECBs
    • Huggies diapers- 2 $1.50 coupons - supposedly 2 $1.00 upromise coupons, but it doesn't look like those came off, so I'm going to have to check that out.
    • Huggies wipes - $2.79 - 2 .50 coupons (Buy $25 in products get $10 ECBs)
    • GUM toothbrush $3.99 - get $3.99 ECBs = free
    KROGER:

    I also did very well at Kroger, where there were a few freebies or almost freebies . Total OOP: $8.58.
    • I was all set to buy Nestle hot chocolate at Meijer, but discovered that it's on sale for $1.25 at Kroger! With this .75 cent printable it was only .25!
    • Celestial Seasonings tea was 10/$10 which means free with the recent $1.00 coupon.
    • Tennessee Pride sausage gravy was $1.19 regular price. I used a .55 coupon to get them for only .19 cents.
    • Nesquick was .99 cents 0r free after .50 cent coupon from the 9/14 Red Plum
    • Grapes .99/lb
    • Cotton Balls 10/$10

    I have recently started going to Walgreens, but I didn't do pictures of that. This week I got:

    • Gillette Fusion Razor - $8.99 - $4 coupon (from P&G insert) = $4.99. I got $4 RR, so .99 total
    • Theraflu (part of a buy 3 get $8 in RR deal) - I bought 3 Theraflu at $4.99 - 3 $2 off coupons = $8.97. I got $8 RR, so .97 total. There was a mail-in rebate form in this past weekend's inserts for 1 Theraflu at the price minus the $2.00 coupon - so it's a moneymaker!

    I also went to Meijer, but not too much special there. They do have General Mills Cereal $1.80 per box, but I usually try to avoid sugary cereals (except for the occasional Fruity Pebbles treat for DH). I did get a couple of boxes of Total and Cheerios Crunch.

    I also got my free Jello and Taco Bell taco shells courtesy of the Meijer Mealbox coupons. Did you know that Jello has a Pumpkin Spice pudding flavor out?? I picked up 2 boxes today! I'm sure this is a limited time item, so if it's something you like check it out now. Apparently the Meijer prices on Jello and Jello Pudding vary, but at my store the pudding is on sale for .88 right now. With the $1.50/2 Mealbox coupon, that's still only .13 a box.

    Could you make $1500 in one day?

    It's funny that I just had a thought about this and then Dawn posted it today on her Work at Home blog.

    There are so many little things here and there that our family has going on that we need some extra cash to get accomplished outside of our regular budget. The little things can add up quick. Thinking about that made me just wonder about other things we could do to earn some extra money. You know aside from the 100 ways I already know of!

    For those who have taken Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, you will understand this: Dave talks about building an emergency fund and uses the hypothetical sick child example. If your child became gravely ill and you needed $10,000 for medical treatment to save his life, could you come up with it? We would find a way, wouldn't we?

    So if you needed to make $1,500, to use Dawn's example, in the next 24 hours, what would you do? Would you sell things? Take on extra work? Side jobs? We would have to do a combination of things. It would have to go beyond the regular jobs that my husband and I do now. We would definitely be selling some things. My husband is extremely handy and would probably be doing work around the house for every neighbor we have. If I had the time to think about it, I'll bet we could be pretty creative.

    What are your ideas? If it were you, how could you earn that kind of money in such a short period of time?

    Monday, October 20

    Making Money - What I've Been Doing

    I decided it might be helpful to post the things that I actually do to make money. I've been giving ideas on ways for you to make extra money doing side jobs and different projects. I want to tell you what I did to earn some money last week.

    • Market Research - I did a research study for P&G Consumer Village this week which paid $35. It was about laundry booster. They paid me to go in, look at the product, fill out a short questionnaire and answer 3 questions. It was less than 10 minutes! Check out more information and opportunities to participate in market research here.
    • Transcription - I did almost 4 audio hours of work this week, which translates to about $250 to $275. (I haven't calculated it exactly yet.) Learn more about how to get started with transcription here.
    • Grocery Shopping - While I technically did earn a little money on the things I purchased this week, I made a ton in grocery savings. I saved about $200 by using coupons and shopping based on sales this week at Kroger, Meijer and CVS.
    • Side Project - My husband and I helped one of his family members do a project that involved putting about 30 large stickers on a poster - we did 100 of them. It took about 8 hours for both of us to complete and paid $200. If you're on the lookout, odd jobs like this may show up from time to time and while they seem a little tedious (this was not a fun way to spend the evening) you can earn a nice chunk of change.

    Disney on a Budget


    We took the kids to see Disney on Ice this weekend and managed to do it on a super low budget - less than $45 for five of us. It could have been done for less than $20 if we hadn't fed them dinner, but we did that pretty inexpensively as well!

    My husband always says that shows like that are money pits - and they are. They were selling toys for as much as $18 - and people were buying them! We were very excited to go see the show, but I am always worried about the bottom line. With a little planning I was able to keep that bottom line low enough for my comfort level - so I had a great time along with everyone else and didn't have that constant nagging feeling that we'd just spent money that was designated for something else. By considering all the areas in which we would potentially be spending money, I could figure out how to get the most out of the event by spending the least amount of money.

    • Tickets. To begin with, the only reason we were even going to the show is that we were given the tickets for free. Our one-year-old didn't need a ticket, so we were able to let our four-year-old bring a friend. If we had paid for all those seats, it could have cost $80 or more. Our total cost: $0.

    • Parking. Another serious cost pitfall can be parking. It all depends on where you park. If we had gone on Sunday (football day), we would have paid as much as $25 to park in the arena garage. We parked behind the arena at the public landing next to the river. We walked up four flights of stairs right to the main entrance. Our total cost: $0.

    • Food. I brought a few light snacks along to keep the kids occupied without having to spend a fortune on carnival food. It's definitely not easy to completely avoid the temptation of all the cotton candy, sno cones and candy floating around. We did spring for a large tub of popcorn that kept them happy, in addition to the snacks I brought along. The arena did allow one sealed bottle of water per person (which we brought but never even opened). Our total cost: $4.00. The snacks I brought were already part of my grocery budget, but if I had to put a price on them I'd say I paid less than $3 for the Cheerios mix, raisins and M&Ms.

    • Souvenirs. As anyone would expect, there were lots and lots of ridiculously overpriced goodies available for purchase. Why pay that much for a toy that's going to end up in the corner of the toy box and never played with again? To completely avoid the begging, I went to KB Toys the day before the show in search of some Disney items. I found these little Mickey Mouse cell phones that light up and make noises, which I gave them when we got to our seats. I didn't think they were anything special, but the kids were so excited about them! They were such a hit. I also used a $5 coupon which the store told me won't be available after Oct. 25th, so get yours now! Our total cost: $12.00.

    • Dinner. This is an area that could have been skipped. But we went to a Saturday afternoon show that got out just in time for dinner. If I hadn't planned it, it would have happened anyway. A few months ago we purchased gift certificates from Restaurant.com at an 80% discount when they were having a special promotion. I found a restaurant in the area that only required a $35 minimum purchase for a $25 gift card. We ended up coming pretty close to that with 3 kids and 2 adults. Our total cost: $26.00.

    When we first found out we were able to get free tickets to this event, I thought it was going to just be a good time doing something that we never would have been able to afford otherwise. But adding in all those extras that really are involved in the process can easily make something like this cost a lot, even without the price of tickets! But with a little advanced planning, you can definitely do even a Disney show without spending a fortune!

    Saturday, October 18

    One Hectic Week

    This week has been a little crazy and I haven't been able to post as much as I would like. It looks like I'm going to be doing the Meijer and Kroger deals on Sunday instead.


    I did want to post this cute picture of something I found in the All You September issue. This is one of the Halloween decoration ideas they featured and I am trying to make things more festive around here. This project actually wasn't very inexpensive - it cost about $17.00 for the materials. The foam balls for the head were $5.00 each at Michaels! But still, it did turn out cute and I've gotten some nice comments about them.

    We're headed to Disney on Ice today, which we're pretty excited about. I think I've figured out a way to do this very inexpensively, so I'll report on that a little later in the week.

    Friday, October 17

    Freebie Friday!

    Some freebies and giveaways to get the weekend started right - TGIF!

    • Free sippy cup from Juicy Juice here.
    • Free cappuccino from Barnes & Noble with coupon.
    • Free book from Sports Illustrated: The Baseball Book.
    • Just in time for cold weather comfort food, free online cookbook from Celebrate Autumn.

    ***Giveaways - enter to win***

    • Amy at A Nest for All Seasons is giving away a $10 GC to Panera. Enter here and here.
    • Win a Baby So Real doll from Centsible Sawyer.
    • Coupon Cravings is giving away 4 Litewear T-shirts - a new Halloween line from Wal-Mart. Hurry! This one ends Sunday, 10/19!
    • Free 2 Be Frugal is giving away one Pillsbury Savorings gift bag.
    • Win a Halloween candle set from Frugal Fulfillment.
    • Mommy Managing is giving away a free ready-to-use coupon binder!

    Not an actual giveaway, but Sam's Club is currently offering a 10 week membership for only $10! (Thanks for the info, Centsible Sawyer!) Read more about that deal here.

    Thursday, October 16

    This Week at Meijer

    I have to post how I've done at Meijer this week because there are many deals there this week that are super-dee-duper (as my 4-year-old would put it)! If you haven't been to Meijer this week (or you normally don't) you really MUST GO!


    • Glade catalina deal - Buy one Glade Scented Oil Warmer, get a $4 catalina. These are priced $4.69 to $4.99. But what makes this deal really sweet is the BOGO coupon in the 9/28 SS insert. Each warmer scanned prompts the $4 cat to print automatically, so you're getting $8 in cats and only paying for the first warmer!
    • Fleischmann's catalina deal - This one isn't nearly exciting, but when you buy 2 yeast strips at $1.45 each, you get a .50 cent cat. There were .45/1 coupons in the 10/5 SS. This isn't a moneymaker, but if you use yeast, you're getting 2 strips for $1.10.
    • Birdseye Viola deal - These are on sale for $3 this week. There are $1 coupons in the Sept. and Oct. issues of All You or a $1.00 printable from coupons.com - click on that in my right sidebar. There is also a $1/2 Meijer coupon you can stack on top of these manufacturers coupons. (The printable Mealbox coupons exclude combining coupons, but if you got the ones in the weekly ad last week, it does not say that). That makes them $1.50 each, which is a great price. But what makes this deal even better is that for every three bags you buy, you can get a Charlie Brown holiday DVD free. And the limit is 8 per household!! Download the form for that here.
    • Deli Creations - This was not in my local ad, but these are on sale 3/$5. With this $1/1 coupon, they're only .67 cents each! These are great for DH's lunch.
    • Jello - Mealbox currently has a coupon for $1.50 off two of these and they're .64 cents regular price, so that's overage!
    • Goldfish - 1/2 price this week at $1.09.
    • Orville Redenbacher's Popcorn - 1/2 price this week, making most boxes around $1.59 each. With the .40/1 from the 10/12 SS, the $1/1 Natural from the 9/28 SS or here, these boxes are .79 cents or less!
    • Hillshire Farm Sausage - Smoked Sausage is $1.39 and the $1/2 from the 10/5 RP makes them .89 cents each. The cheddarwurst and beef sausage are also $1.39 with a .55/1 from the 10/5 RP, which makes them .39 each.
    • Green Giant Steamers - They're 5/$5 this week and that makes them free with the $1 coupon from the 10/5 GM or here.

    Here's how I did. Keep in mind that coupons like the Meijer Mealbox (Jello) only allow one per transaction and Meijer only doubles 2 like coupons per transaction, which makes it kind of a pain to do these deals. They are split in to quite a few transactions. I will be doing a few more trips this week when my popcorn coupons arrive that I bought on ebay. DH loves the pour over movie theater butter and at .59 a box it's too good to pass up!




    I paid a total of $14.48 OOP for what I have here, including 4 $4.00 Glade catalinas.


    I paid a total of .75 cents for all of this! That includes 2 more $4.00 Glade catalinas, not to mention the .57 cents Meijer gave me back for each transaction with the Jello!

    There was one small trip that I did not include in the photos that included some fruit, 3 more Voila meals and another Glade. It totaled $7.78.

    So for $23.01 this week at Meijer I got:

    • 9 Voila meals
    • 3 Charlie Brown DVDs (from Voila UPCs)
    • 8 Glade Scented Oil plug ins
    • 2 Band-Aids (free from last week)
    • 4 boxes Orville Redenbacher popcorn
    • 2 strips Fleischmann's yeast
    • 2 Goldfish crackers
    • 2 Hillshire Farms cheddarwurst
    • 2 Hillshire Farms smoked sausage
    • 2 Juicy Juice
    • 6 Green Giant Veggie Steamers
    • 1.5 pounds of plums
    • 1 large eggs
    • 1 lunchable
    • 6 boxes Jello
    • 2 Deli Select sandwiches

    See? I wasn't kidding. Go to Meijer before Sunday!

    Wednesday, October 15

    Work at Home Possibilities - Court Researcher



    This is not so much an actual work-at-home job, but it does offer the flexibility and independence that many people seek in a work-at-home job.

    A court researcher works as an independent contractor for companies who do data collection at local courthouses. The companies will provide all the training and information on what you're collecting. Typically you will be hired on to handle the counties in your area that you choose. The more counties you take on, the more work available to you.

    It is not work-at-home. However, you can easily do this type of work around your schedule, especially if you happen to have school-aged children. It mostly involves going to the county courthouse during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 8-5). The company you work for and the county you work with will determine the frequency with which you'll make these visits. It varies from a few times a year to weekly visits.

    The pay is based on how many records you collect and often works out to be somewhere between $7 to $15 an hour. This is one of those positions in which your income will increase with your efficiency level. It helps to have a laptop, as you're collecting a lot of information which could require a lot of writing. Some companies require it, but many don't.

    JB Marketing Services, one of the companies who hires independent contractors, gives a good in-depth description of the position here.

    There are several companies that contract people to do this type of work nationwide. Wolfgang Research, Sunlark Research and Deed Collector are a few reputable companies to check out.

    This is not the type of thing where you're able to bring children along. But like many work-at-home jobs, you're able to set your own hours, work independently and in some cases you can even make as much as you want depending on how hard you work! For more ideas on jobs with this kind of flexibility working outside the home, check out my post on in-store marketing and merchandising.

    Tuesday, October 14

    Erin from Coupon Cravings on NPR



    Did you catch the story on Morning Edition (NPR) about couponing? If you didn't, click here to read or listen to it. It was only a matter of time before it hit the national news, given the times we're in. People are always looking for ways to cut back in their budget and since everyone needs groceries, coupons are a great place to start!

    The subject from the story was Erin of Coupon Cravings. It's a great couponing site - be sure to check it out!

    Monday, October 13

    Making Money with In-Store Merchandising


    Do you ever wonder how those blinky machines and tearpads magically appear on shelves in your local grocery or drug store? In-store merchandisers put them there!

    Marketing is serious business and if you think about it, it's everywhere! It comes in the form of coupons, floor and shelf signage, video and audio commercials and even the shelf placement of products. Those companies need people to go in the stores on a weekly basis and place these merchandising tools to maximize sales for the companies.

    This is a great part-time job with flexible hours. The job consists of doing things such as affixing signage, putting up coupon machines, store displays and other marketing adventures :). Typically you're given a diagram or some type of instructions, along with a set of stores within a certain area that you're responsible for. Typically the pay is by the hour and (depending on your market) is somewhere around $7 to $10 an hour. Be aware that the job is very physical. It often involves lifting packages of 15 to 20 pounds, not to mention the tremendous amount of time you spend on your feet.

    One company that I have personal experience with is News America Marketing. They do, among other things, the Smart Source advertising and coupon machines you often see in stores. In my area they do Kroger, Meijer, CVS, Walgreens and Biggs, to name a few stores. I really enjoyed working with them. You can look at Volition.com for a comprehensive list of companies on that offer this type of work and explore your options here.

    When I worked as an in-store merchandiser, one of the appeals for me was I could set my own hours. As long as the work was finished in the parameters of the dates required, they didn't mind when I did the work. Often I would get up really early in the morning before my husband went to work. I could also do it in the evenings, late at night or on weekends. It makes the childcare issue less of an burden. If your children are school age, this job can easily be done during the school day!

    Another perk is the coupons! Do you know what they do with all the coupons in that blinky machine when the campaign is over (and they don't expire for more than a month)? They throw them away! Depending on the company, you can often keep the coupons yourself.

    This is a real part-time out-of-the-home job. Normally when you apply for the company, they'll contact you and you will interview, train and go through the paperwork process with them. Now that you know about it, you might even notice them the next time you're in the store! Give it a try if you're looking for something very flexible that still gets you out of the house.

    Sunday, October 12

    Start Couponing Today - part 2



    I started to talk the other day about couponing and why you should do it, which you can read here. With grocery prices constantly getting higher, I would have a lot of trouble buying what we need and sticking to a budget shopping the way I used to. It's definitely become a necessity in our house and I'm sure it's getting that way for more and more people.

    So I told you to get all these coupons. Now what are you supposed to do with them? Start using them to your advantage. A .50 coupon is good. But when you use it at a store where it doubles and it's worth $1.00 it's, well, twice as good. Combine that with a good sale and you've got the beginnings of a stockpile!

    You want to buy items when they are the lowest possible price and then buy lots. I have about a year's worth of Electrasol tabs under my kitchen sink and I paid .75 cents for each box. I probably spent $15 on dishwashing detergent at once, but I won't spend another dime for at least a year. The alternative is that I buy one box on sale (maybe $2.99) and then when it runs out I have to buy another box. And if it's not on sale I'm probably paying $3.69 for the same box that I got for .75 cents combining the sale and the coupon.

    Obviously you need to acquire multiple coupons in order to get more than one of each item. You can do this a number of ways. You can buy multiple newspapers or you can purchase individual coupons or entire inserts from sites like eBay or The Coupon Clippers.

    So how do I find these deals? Once you've been couponing for a while, you'll have no problem spotting these deals yourself. In the meantime, you can start where I did with the Grocery Game. This is a service you pay for, but you can try it out for four weeks for only $1. You can choose the stores where you normally shop and it will combine all the good deals at that store with the coupon you should use. They will tell you when to buy items to get the best deal.

    But here's a secret: you can get the same thing here on Violet's College Fund, on Mommy Snacks, on Money Saving Mom and other places free! Many places go through the deals and do coupon match-ups for you. All you need to do is take a look at the stores where you shop, make a list based on what you need and what the stock up deals for the week are, put your coupons in a little envelope and head to the store!

    So your second task is to start learning how to spot the deals and where to find them in the meantime. You can also sit down with your stores' ads for the week, if you're familiar with the coupons that are out there, and easily do this yourself.

    I should mention that task 2A is that you must learn your local stores' coupon policies. Find out if they double them, how many they will double and about their policy for BOGO items. For example, if an item is BOGO and you have a BOGO coupon, are both free? Also, if you have a coupon for an item that is BOGO, are you allowed to use the coupon on both items, even if one is technically free? The more you understand how your store handles coupons, the more equipped you are to get the best deals!

    Saturday, October 11

    *~* Super Deal Saturday *~*

    Not a huge list this week, but here's a list of the honorable mentions:

    Meijer 10/12-10/18

    • Dole bagged salad BOGO = $1.50 ea. (YMMV) - $1/2 q (9/14 SS or other sources = $1 ea
    • Goldfish crackers - 1/2 price
    • Juicy Juice $2.25 - $1 q (8/3 RP) 0r $1/2 here = as low as $1.25
    • Jif peanut butter - $2 - .55 q (8/24 RP) = $1
    • Eggos $1.67 - .55 q (9/21 RP) or $1/3 Meijer q = as low as .67
    • Ore Ida select varieties $2 - $1/3 Meijer q = $1.67 ea (buy 3)
    • Chicken Voila $3 - $1 q (All You - Sept) = $2 ea (also in Sept. All You there is a mail-in form for a free Charlie Brown holiday DVD wyb 3 Birdseye Voila)
    • Chex Mix & Bugles $1.25 - .50 q (9/7 GM) or here = .25
    • Campbells Soups - chicken or tomato .60 ea - .40/4 (9/7 SS) = .40 ea (buy 4), Select $1.25 - .50/2 q (9/7 SS) = .75 ea (better q's in recent Kroger mailer), microwave bowls - Chunky or Select $1.25 - $1/2 q (9/7 SS) = .75 ea (buy 2), Ready to Eat or Soup at Hand $1 - .50/2 (9/7 SS) = .50 ea (buy 2)
    • V8 Soup $2 - $1 q (9/14 SS) = $1
    • Lean Cuisine entrees 1/2 price - $1/4 Meijer q = (prices vary)

    Kroger 10/13-10/19

    • 1/2 gallons of milk & juice $1.20
    • Driscoll's strawberries $1.50
    • grapes .99
    • Kroger cheese (bars, shredded, sliced) $1.67
    • Stouffers red box or Lean Cuisine $2 - Buy 5 get 1 free = $1.67 ea
    • Tennessee Pride sausage (any variety) $2 - .55 q (9/7 RP) = $1
    • Hormel bacon BOGO $5.19 - .55/1 (8/3 SS) & use 2 coupons = $1.59 ea
    • Cambells soup (select varieties) $1 - various q's (mostly from 9/7 SS)
    • Ore Ida (select varieties, including Steam n Mash) $1.99 - $1 q (from a Kroger tearpad) = .99 ea

    These deals are based on my local stores' policies, where Kroger has unlimited double coupons up to $1 and Meijer doubles 2 like coupons per transaction up to $1 .

    Friday, October 10

    Freebie Friday!

    More freebies for the taking and some great giveaways to try and score this week!

    • Get a free bag from Mantra you can use for groceries - or anything else! (Thanks to Andrea @ Mommy Snacks for the find!)
    • Change up your hair care routine and try Dove's new Therapy System with a sample here
    • Free sample of Betty Crocker potatoes to try while you're pulling out those comfort food recipes for the winter!
    • Walmart samples to check out
    • Get a free sample of Christina Aguilera's "Inspire" fragrance
    • Free Kotex sample pack - comes in a cute little gift box, which is funny but still free!

    ***Giveaways (enter to win)***

    • Amy @ A Nest for All Seasons is giving away a $10 Panera GC! You can enter here and here.
    • Here's a cute Halloween Tee for your little ghost.
    • Centsible Mommy has a week of giveaways going on!
    • Common"cents"ical is giving away a Blush Topless Undershirt - these are so cool!
    • Get the boost we probably all need with this $5 Starbucks GC.

    Wednesday, October 8

    *~* CVS Deals 10/12 - 10/18 *~*

    Here are the best deals at CVS next week. Check for other details on Hot Coupon World.

    • M&Ms, Milkyway, Snickers, 3 Musketeers (and others) fun size - 2/$3 - $1/2 q = $1 each
    • Revlon - BOGO (prices $1.79 to $21.99) - $1 and $2 q's
    • CVS trash bags (I've heard these are good quality) - $2.99
    • ROC save $3 (prices normally $7.99 to $24.99) - $3 q here
    • Almay products BOGO (prices start at $1.99) - $1 q's
    ECB deals:
    • Nestle Pure Life 24 pack $4.49 = $1 ECB - $1 q = $3.49 or $2.49 after ECBs
    • Spend $10 on Swiffer $6.99 & $7.99 = $5 ECBs - $1 q from P&G Home Made Simple Booklet = $5.99 or $6.99 or $.99 to $1.99 after ECBs
    • Buy 2 Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew or Ultra Lift starting at $12.99 = $7 ECBs - $1 q from 8/24 or 9/14 RP
    • Buy 2 Garnier Nutritioniste Nutri-Pure = $3 ECBs - $1 q from 8/24 or 9/14 RP
    • Spend $10 on CoverGirl = $3 ECBs - Buy 1 foundation Get one face product or $1 q off any from 10/4 P&G
    • Spend $10 on Jergens, Curel = $3 ECBs - $1 q Jergens from Sept. All You or BOGO Curel from Oct. All You
    • Spend $15 on John Frieda = $5 ECBs - $3/2 q from 8/24 SS or $1 q from Sept. All You
    • Colgate Total $3.49 = $2 ECBs - $1.50 Oct. All You or $1 q from recent inserts
    • Accu-Check Glucose Meter $19.99 = $10 ECBs - $9.99 on-package mail-in rebate = FREE

    Using a Sitter - Update

    Yesterday went very well. I dropped the kids off at Susan's house, ran to Meijer for a quick grocery trip and then came home and got to work. I worked a lot! It's hard to tell how much I made right now, but my earnings are posted online and updated every couple of days for me to see.

    In between, I managed to clean up and vacuum my living room. Then I picked the kids up late in the afternoon. We got home, my four-year-old walked in the door and said, "Wow! This looks like Susan's house!".....I'm glad somebody can keep their house clean...

    Work at Home Possibilities - ChaCha

    There's a human powered search engine out there called ChaCha. If you've been looking for a work at home job for any length of time, you might have heard about it.

    Basically it's a service where people ask questions via text or by calling a number and a ChaCha guide responds to the question. It's all done completely online on the guide's end, no phone work required.

    The pay is somewhat low - approximately $3 to $9 an hour depending on how quickly you work. You're paid by the search. The service is 24/7 and guides are able to log in at their leisure to work. The amount you make basically depends on your ability to spend time doing the work. There are four different guide positions available: Expeditor, Generalist, Specialist or Transcriber. Details on that are here.

    This type of work-at-home position is ideal for someone who needs to make a little bit of money (not a lot) and has some time to spend hanging out on the computer. You could do this while you're watching Grey's Anatomy (or insert favorite here)!

    To get started, you can visit ChaCha online or you can request an invite from an existing guide. Give it a try! It's something you can do even if you already have a job - reason #569 to try working at home online!

    Tuesday, October 7

    Working at Home and Using a Sitter Anyway


    Today we're doing things a little differently around here. I'm taking the kids to the sitter so I can get some work done. I know it may seem funny to use childcare if the whole point of being a work-at-home mom is that I can actually be at home with my kids, but there's a little more to it than that.

    Something I've discovered about doing transcription at home is that I basically set my own salary. The amount I make is simply based on how much work I do. Contracting with more than one company makes it more likely that I can get as much work as I want. So now that we have student loan bills rolling in, it's time to kick things up a notch. If I work at home full-time just one day a week, it could really boost our income. But that means I'm going to have to enlist some help. Contrary to popular belief, you actually can't work at home with your kids under your desk or sitting on your lap. Time to call Susan!

    So last week I made the call to our sitter, Susan, who watched our son for 3 years while I was working full-time, and she was more than happy to help out. We've decided to start taking the kids there once a week, so I can get in a full day's worth of work. The key part of this is the bottom line: Can I earn more in one day than I would have to pay our sitter for both kids? Significantly more? For me, the answer is yes.

    I'm happy with this arrangement for a few reasons:

    • It will make a significant difference in our monthly budget, even after paying the childcare bill each month.
    • It's only one day a week, so it's more like a "fun day at Susan's house" for them than another day that mom's "working."
    • I will probably be more productive at home, because it's impossible to sit at the computer transcribing all day non-stop. Breaks are necessary to avoid what I call "brain fuzz" or you may call semi-insanity. I'm looking forward to having a more tidy home.
    • The kids will have a great time playing with other kids their own age.
    • I have a free day each week where I can get other small errands done as well. It also gives me one definite day a week where I can participate in the market research studies I often turn down because I have no one to watch the kids! That's another opportunity to earn more.

    The trick is going to be tweaking my workload so I take on the right amount. I'm confident that this is a good choice for us. Not every work-at-home job affords the ability to simply take on more work and make more money, but mine does. And from my experience, hourly jobs often offer lots of over time and pick up shifts if necessary. It sure beats getting a part-time job somewhere.

    I'd like to hear from other work-at-home moms. If your children are not school age, do you have any kind of childcare arrangement (or did you when your children were younger)?

    Monday, October 6

    Free Blue's Clues Book from Sunmaid

    I stumbled onto a nice little find at the grocery store last week, when my son was begging for raisins. I can't complain about that can I? At least it wasn't something worse...

    Anyway, the Sunmaid Mini Snacks bags have an offer for a free Blue's Clues book with the UPC from just one pack! And at Meijer, where I purchased mine, they're only $2.19 regular price. So you get 14 mini raisin boxes and a free book.

    **I just got around to looking at last weekend's coupons - there's $1 off 2 6 packs or Mini Snacks bags in there!**

    You can download the order form here.

    Catch Me at Money Saving Mom!


    I'm hanging out over on Money Saving Mom today - doing a guest post on how to get started working at home. It's a little more in-depth than what you've seen on here.

    I know so many people who just want to stay home with their kids. Or money is getting tight and they just need to find a way to bring in a little extra. Working at home can seem a little confusing and mysterious, but it's ideal for many people. I worked so hard to find a way to work at home so I could be a stay-at-home mom and still have an income. If I help one person by sharing what I've learned, then I've really accomplished something great.

    If this interests you, keep coming back! I'm always uncovering and examining new ways to work at home, make extra money and save a little in the meantime.

    I Overdid it at CVS

    I just spent $25 out of pocket at CVS. I totally went overboard!! Here's what I got:



    I did two trips in order to maximize my ECBs. I only had $11.98 to start with this time. So on my first trip I got the Always, Bic Soleil, Vitamin Water and M&Ms to round it out. Of course, my CVS looks like it never had any of the Colgate MaxFresh toothbrushes or toothpaste, so that was a lost cause.

    Then a $10/$50 printed out. And I was going to come back in anyway to do the Tylenol deal.

    So I thought, well I might as well use it now since I'm going to spend at least $20 already. There were a few things that I could've gotten that I didn't get the first time. So I sat in my car for a minute with the ad and my coupons, made a quick list and went in. This time I had only $11.29 in ECBs to work with.

    I went in and got 2 Tylenols, one Children's Tylenol and one Children's Motrin. Then I grabbed a Bic Soleil cartridge that I didn't have a coupon for, but I love the razors and at $1.99 after ECBs, it's a pretty good deal. I grabbed my husband's favorite razor, some sale-priced batteries and the Renu that I could kick myself for not going to get Saturday - when it was still on sale for $6.99 - even though I did have a $2 coupon.

    My total came to $59.00 before the coupons. Oops. I only needed to spend $50 in the first place. I used all my coupons, all my ECBs and she still wanted more. So begrudgingly, instead of digging in the bottom of my purse for loose change - my usual CVS checkout method - I pulled out......the debit card. (Can you sense the hanging of my head in shame?)

    This is what happens when you do things in haste! This is what happens when you go into battle unprepared. I had a list, but it was a lame attempt at organization. I didn't add. I guess I thought that the register would be on my team? I know, I know, I cut my total by more than half once all everything was taken off. Maybe the average person would think that's pretty darn good. But many of you know what I'm talking about. I did horribly!

    I hope my husband is not reading this blog today. Perhaps he's busy using the shiny new razor I bought for him =). I had to use my own money this time. Ouch.

    Have you ever done this? Please share your stories, so I know I'm not the only one who has had a math meltdown while bargain shopping!

    Sunday, October 5

    Learn to Spot a Scam

    One major pitfall of finding ways to work at home is trying to navigate all the murky waters of scams and illegitimate offers out there. If you're unfamiliar with the work-at-home world, you aren't aware of specific companies that are known to be legitimate and common scams that are out there to prey on individuals trying to find jobs working online.

    Here are some things to avoid, avoid, avoid:

    • Never pay for a job. There are few legitimate companies that require you to give them any money for training. Never pay a fee up front, never give credit card information. Paypal info (a common way to be paid as an independent contractor) should only be given as part of a formal hiring process once you're sure the company is legitimate.
    • Do not expect to "get rich quick." Any company that promises you're going to make an unusually high income - "Six figures for part-time work!", etc. - is giving you a line. The paycheck you'll make working at home is just like the one you make working out of your home. You're paid a reasonable rate hourly, per piece or project, or on commission. You will not get rich working at home.
    When you begin the search process, to begin with it's best to start looking on legitimate sites where work-at-home jobs are the norm. WAHM and Work Place Like Home are two forums to check out. Elance and Guru are two sites where employers will look for your resume. Craigslist often has work-at-home postings, but this is an easy place to get scammed and I would not recommend that newbies start there.
    • Research the company. Google the company name and check out their website. You can often get a sense from the website whether or not they are legitimate. Check forums like WAHM by doing a search to see what else has been posted about them. If nothing, post a question and ask. Finally, you can check out the BBB for more information.
    • Don't necessarily be put off by someone responding to you with a Gmail account or a non-company e-mail. Keep in mind that individuals or small businesses often hire freelancers to do work for them, so don't let that be a reason to discount a company.
    Often you'll see information posted on messageboards or non work-at-home job sites. Or you may get an unsolicited e-mail.
    • Be wary if the the source is not forthcoming about what they actually do. Legitimate work-at-home companies will post an ad that looks just like a regular job ad. They'll give a detailed description of the job, company information and sometimes salary information. If they can't be clear about what they do or they mention an "opportunity" (which is not a job) then that is cause for concern.
    • Always be wary of unsolicited work-at-home job e-mails. There are many people looking for work-at-home jobs and typically companies do not have trouble filling positions. There is no need for them to e-mail real work-at-home positions to job seekers in most cases.
    There are some very common schemes out there that can get you into trouble legally or cause you to lose money.
    • Check cashing schemes are very common. If you hear anything about depositing money into your account or sending you checks that you then cash and send money, RUN. These are not only scams, but they're illegal!
    • There is always a new e-mail or post being circulated about someone in Africa who is in need of money and has a very sad story. Commonly you will read about Nigeria or South Africa. Again, avoid anything that tells you to send money first. This should be obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people will quickly send money for the opportunity to work from home.
    • Do not give out personal information until you've taken all the necessary precautions to be sure a company is legitimate. As with any job, it's normal for a compay to get personal info, including social security numbers, when they're paying you so don't be surprised by that.
    Finally, you really must pay attention to your instincts. If something seems wrong, let that opportunity pass by and look for the next. Companies who hire work-at-home employees go through a formal hiring process, where they do some combination of interviews, taking your resume, training, etc. There are very few companies who are just looking for people to sign up or they're hired on the spot. You must do your homework. Remember, a work-at-home job is still a job. Most of the structure is the same. It's just that you're working in your office instead of theirs.

    Friday, October 3

    Update - Donations for Village Life Outreach

    Here is an update to the post I did here about Village Life Outreach.

    A new trip is being planned for next week. Anything that can be donated by Friday (October 9) could be packed up and sent. Of course, they will accept later donations for future trips. Again, they are in need of any OTC pain relievers and anti-fungal creams. They also always in need of financial contributions for items like mosquito nets, medications for specific tropical diseases, as well as equipment for their water filtration systems.

    Where to donate: Alliance Primary Care - 3306 Ruther Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45220.

    I'm going to scramble together everything I can between now and then and make a trip down there next week. I hope those of you in the area will consider donating some of your extras for this cause as well. If you're not in the Cincinnati area, I encourage you to find a similar program in your area.

    Freebie Friday!

    Free Schick Razor - my husband loves this one!

    Wal-Mart freebies

    Free subscription to Scholastic Parent and Child

    Free kit for teachers

    - thanks to Money Saving Mom!

    Del Monte - $35 worth of coupons here!



    **GIVEAWAYS (enter to win)**

    The Not So Blog Blog is giving away some super-cute Halloween totes. Hurry! Ends Oct. 5!

    Mommy Snacks is giving away Target gift cards.

    Momma Findings has - halloween kids T's and a Dora Halloween Shirt

    Having Fun at Home is giving away two Max Lucado kids books.

    *~* CVS Deals 10/5 - 10/11 *~*

    Head over to Mommy Snacks for the details on CVS next week, including where you can find the coupons. Here are the items of most interest to me next week:

    • Colgate Toothpaste - .99 - $1 coupon = FREE
    • Aquafresh Toothpaste - .99 - .75 printable coupon = .25
    • Herbal Essences Shampoo or Conditioner - $2.88 - $2 coupon = .88

    ECB deals:

    • Buy $20 Tylenol, Mylanta, EPT, KY, Monistat, Viactiv, etc = $10 ECBs - details and coupon matchups on Mommy Snacks!
    • Colgate Max Fresh Toothbrush or Toothpaste $2.99 = $2 ECBs - $1 coupons = $1.99 or FREE after ECBs
    • Bic Soliel Disposable Razors $5.99 = $4 ECBs - $2 coupons = $3.99 or FREE after ECBs

    There are a couple of blood glucose meter deals that are free or moneymakers. More info about that on Hot Coupon World.


    Thursday, October 2

    Village Life Outreach


    Dig into your stockpiles! For all of you who have a mountain of Advil from that recent Kroger deal or any other extras laying around, I've got a great opportunity for you.

    The University of Cincinnati's DAAP program has teamed up with the medical volunteers of Village Life Outreach to begin work on a year-round medical clinic in Tanzania. Currently the group sends a medical team twice a year, but they are now considering what it will take to build a permanent, year-round clinic - independent of electricity and running water!

    They need donations. And what they're looking for are exactly the things that every couponer probably has stockpiled on his or her shelves right now: pain relievers and anti-fungal creams, including Gold Bond, etc. This is a great opportunity for those who have been searching for a place to donate all of those extras you may have gotten for free or as part of another deal.

    The people in Tanzania live in some of the poorest conditions in the world. Many would never see a doctor, if not for programs like Village Life Outreach. Those of you who know me probably know that a large part of my college education was devoted to African development and it's something that is very important to me. You can make a difference in small ways, even without planning a mission trip and traveling there to live for a year.

    I'm waiting to hear back on where to send the items when they're collected, so for now start assessing what you can afford to give up! I'll post an update as soon as I have the details. If you can't wait, you can call 513-584-8630 in the meantime!

    Working at Home...at Tax Time


    One of the biggest concerns people have with working at home is the tax issue. How do your taxes work?

    Not everyone who works at home will have to worry about paying taxes. If a company hires you as an independent contractor, which they will tell you, then you will be required to withhold your own taxes and (most likely) make quarterly estimated payments.

    Kristine McKinley is a Certified Financial Planner and CPA. She answered many questions for me when I was starting out. She offers a great (FREE) tax course for work-at-home moms. If you're considering working at home or you've just started, I highly recommend this resource. It takes a lot of complication out of the process. When you sign up, the lessons are e-mailed to you.

    Don't let the uncertainty of taxes be a reason to keep you from working at home. Here is the least you need to know:

    • If you expect to owe $1,000 in taxes (minus withholdings and credits), then you need to make quarterly payments.
    • The 1040-ES is the form you will use to file. It explains everything in IRS-lingo.
    • To figure out how much to send, estimate how much you expect to make for the year and divide it by four. You can base it on what you make the first month or two working at home.
    • Page 6 of the IRS form will tell you where to send the payments. Once they get your first payment, they will send you stubs to send with future payments.
    Tax payments are not complicated once you understand how much and who to send it to. I have a separate savings account set up and I take 25% of each check I receive and deposit it into this account. It makes the process much easier and the money is there when the tax man comes!

    Wednesday, October 1

    Work At Home Possibilities - Online Tutoring and Teaching


    Tutoring students or teaching courses online is another possibility for those looking for work at home. This was one of the first actual jobs I'd ever heard of anyone doing at home. It was also one of the first work-at-home jobs I had, with Tutor.com.

    In most cases, it's done entirely online using the company's forum or "virtual classroom." There are positions for tutors and teachers in every subject and the student age ranges from early elementary to adult. The pay varies, but you can expect to make anywhere from $8-$10 an hour starting out and as you're promoted to different levels, you will make a little more.

    While most companies do require a Bachelor's Degree (in any discipline), some will hire those who have attained a certain number of college credit hours even if they don't have a degree. If you have a teaching certificate, the opportunities are even better! Typically the application process will include a sort of test in the subject and level you want to tutor in.

    In my experience, tutoring can be very flexible in terms of schedule, because you basically set your own. The scheduling procedure varies by company, but often you'll either tell them when you're available and they will give you a schedule or you will go into their system and set your own. The downside to this process is that with some companies scheduling is normally based on seniority. That means that as a beginner, you'll be the last to make your schedule and you might not get all the hours you'd like to have in a typical week.

    If you enjoy teaching or are looking for a job that allows you to be very flexible with your time, does not require phone work and leaves you with the ability to have noise in your background (no problem with kids, adults or pets at home while you're working), then I recommend looking into tutoring. The school year has just started, so there are opportunities out there.

    In addition to Tutor.com, check into Brainfuse, eSylvan and Kaplan. And as always, I urge you to check out WAHM.com if you're looking for any kind of legitimate work-at-home job!