Sunday, August 16, 2009

This week got away from me!

I have no idea where the week went! Too much working!

I have had a few panic moments this week. The one thing that I hate about being on such a tight budget is that some bad timing can really screw you up. Our payroll company is HORRIBLE at sending in the payments for our Flex Spending Accounts on time. Horrible. I have had to call and yell at them on more than one occasion. As a result of the bad timing, the $360 for my daughter's before and afterschool program is due tomorrow and I don't have the reimbursement to pay for it! Holy crap balls!

So good thing is that I have an envelope of money sitting aside for our Napa vacation in a week and a half, so I pulled out the $360 from there and will have to wait for the funds to direct deposit next week to replace the money back in. It's frustrating because I have had all the timing of putting everything aside for the trip while making sure everything gets paid. I have been looking at my accounts and budget on a weekly basis in order to plan as I need to. And then, of course, something like this throws me for a total loop. Not fun.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A new level of excitement!

It's been a busy few days! I mentioned earlier that I have started a greeting card business that I am really excited about. The great news is that it is working and really fun! I love this company. I have made a few realizations in the last few days about trying to make money at home or online.

It doesn't need to be hard and time consuming. I am spending very little time a day on this and it's quality communication over quantity. For example, my business is greeting cards. I send greeting cards. I make money sending greeting cards. I show others how to make money sending greeting cards. Really, that's it. I send one heartfelt and unexpected card a day to someone and include an informational DVD if I think they might be interested. I call back a few days later and check in. If they are interested, I sign them up with a gift account. If not, I just move on. Lather, rinse, repeat.

You don't need to spend a lot of money on inventory. I've seen so many friends that have spent their hard earned money on Silpada jewelry, Pampered Chef products, HerbalLife samples, etc. It ends up taking space in their house and they have to cart it around everywhere. The return on the investment isn't strong because people make a one time purchase and then the deal is over. The sales rep now needs ot start all over again with the next party.

You don't need to spend hours in front of a computer. Oh, the time I have spent filling out surveys. Creating those email accounts and hitting radio buttons all day long. It's exhausting. I still think that if you can get a good line of referrals from a mass form of communication it can work. But trying to get a referral here and then is just deflating.

On that note, small successes and payouts keep the mind motivated. I have been doing the greeting card business for two weeks and have my first sign up. $120 commission. Done. Now I'm more excited than ever and want to keep going!

Lastly, support is the key. I have a team leader that is amazing and willing to help me every step of the way. He helps me do gift account walk throughs, keeps me motivated, invites me to coffee socials with other team members and passes tips along to me. It has been integral to getting this started right.

It's nice to have something that I feel good about. A product that is geared toward making people feel good. I can stand behind that. That sells itself. I'm doing somethng that make me happy and makes others happy. How can I go wrong?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Making money off referrals

I was reading a forum for one of the sites I use for making money online, a survey site, where people were sharing their incomes for the month. One guy was making over $1500 a month. I was floored. It was all referrals.

He would put his Cash Crate referral link everywhere he could - grocery stores, bus stops, you name it. He had whole bunch of people signed up and they referred people and it just grew. Really, Cash Crate does have a pretty damn good referral program - $3 for each person that hits $10. At this guy's level he was making 30% of his 1st line and 20% of his 2nd line. Not bad.

My boyfriend and I were talking about it and I had a really good thought. School is starting very soon and college kids are going back to school. I live in a city with a very large university. So, boyfriend and I are going to make about 500 fliers and put them in every possible location we can find at the university. We figured it would take us an entire day to do it but we wouldn't have to do it that often. Then there's the community colleges that we could do throughout the year.

College kids are perfect to market to because they all want to earn extra money and this is convenient for them. They also will be good at getting friends to sign up. I figure it's worth a shot. If I can get 100 college students to sign up and earn $20 a month on Cash Crate, I will get the easiest $500 a month ever. With over 65,000 kids at the university, 100 should be a good target and very reachable. We're going to get started with that in about two weeks when the school session resumes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New month, new ideas, new goals

I'm excited about this month! I like planning and I like when plans come together. The great thing is that if my plans come together, my debt is going to dwindle. May hard work and crossing fingers commence.

I remember reading in Rich Dad, Poor Dad, that most people who made good money and had financial security had 5 income streams. This is going to be my major area of focus this month. I have some ideas that I like and I'm trying to find ways to really work hard and add income doing things I really enjoy, as well.

Income Stream 1 - This is going to be my real live day job. I've got strong job security and the odds of a year end bonus are very good at this point!

Income Stream 2 - Greeting cards business. I just became a distributor for a greeting cards company last week and I am REALLY excited about it. There is a very good potential to make a lot of money here. It's network marketing based and the product is easily marketable to businesses, it's fun. Think Tupperware, Pampered Chef, or Silpada only a lot easier and with much better residual income. There was really low out of pocket costs to get started and, if I can work hard, should make back my investment by the end of the month. My goal is to get two distributors under me by month end. My coach will be incredibly helpful in getting that done.
Income Stream 3 - Did you know that The Little Dough Girl is a creative freak? No! It's true! I can seriously get my Martha on. I make jewelry, clever saying cards, iPod covers and a bunch of other fun stuff. The cool part is that it's fun and I like to make stuff while watching football. Sweet. So I'm setting up an Etsy shop and getting to it. I want to go with the tag line of nothing over $20. Income Stream 4 - Ebay. I have been selling stuff for the last few months and it works! The only problem I have is not having the money to buy the items I need to resell. Let me just say that I have found a product that women love that costs a lot that I can get for incredible sales prices. No, I'm not telling you what it is! But, by the end of the year, if I can keep rolling any income toward buying more product, I could be looking at $500 a month easy.

Income Stream 5 - Blogging. I have a few niche blogs that I am going to get started later in the month. I'm excited about trying it but I need to learn much more about SEO first. If people can't find my blog in web searches, I'll never be successful. I'm not looking to be the next John Chow, but $100 a month would make me happy.

It's a lot going on. None of these are an overwhelming amount of time. Well, other than my 40 hour a week job. I'm willing to do the hard work. I know that getting started is the hardest part. The biggest obstacle is going to be keeping my energy and excitement up. If I see some results, I'll be able to do that. Ahhhh, the vicious cycle...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What works for internet income

I have read a lot of blogs where people want to earn money online. I have tried about every damn site at this point. If you're interested, trust me, you don't want to waste your time on bad sites or wade through a million sites. So here is the 411 to save you some time and get you started.

Paid to Click (PTC) and Get Paid To (GPT) Sites
Inbox Dollars - I love this site. They send you about many emails a day. You get about 1 cent for each email you read by takes two seconds. They also have daily surveys for $.50 and you can do one day. They're pretty short. TIP: let all the emails just accumulate for about three days and then just take 20 minutes and get them all done.

CashCrate - This is still a favorite because of the referral program. I continue to make residual income on referrals. They also have daily surveys that can get you $1.85 a day. I have a plan for August on how I'm going to make money by getting a whole lot more referrals. Come on back later this week for more info on that.

Send Earnings
- Works just like Inbox Dollars, and I love it just as much as they send you a lot of emails. They have the daily surveys, as well. You see how easy it is to get to the $5 a day just doing the daily surveys on some of these sites?

There are a bunch of sites that send you emails and have really low cash out rates. I signed up for a lot of them but the only ones that really seem to work for me and send emails are Hit4Pay, DealsNCash, MatrixMails, Charmed Ideas, and Fishing4Mails. Most of them also have ways for you to log in once a week and check the PTC mails and surf the web to earn for money. Simple here. They send you the emails, you read them and they give you $.01 to $.04 for every one. Join a few of the sites and they'll add up!

Hope that helps. I'll keep you posted on how they work for me and if anything else comes up. But really, it's a quick little bit of money for really no work at all. Think of it as putting your change aside in a jar...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

How July looked for me.

I started back with this blog the middle of last month and set some goals to start. The biggest was just to make $5 a day through the end of the month. The only problem with this has been my utter lack of ability to check all of my different methods on a daily basis to see if I was successful. I did set our everyday to make it work and I did A LOT.

Adsense has been pretty good for me. Well, by my standards. A dollar and a half here and there is just fine for me. As I have been spending a good deal of time trying to grow the readership of this blog, I have been focusing on some GPT (get paid to) sites and PTC (paid to click) sites. There is a gaggle of them out there. Some good, some not so good. Tomorrow, I'm going to break that down for you and tell you what I think and what is worth your time and not worth your time.

Ebates is a genius idea and I am SO glad I found it. I not only saved a bunch of money on gift cards that will save me money at some restaurants I love, but they have an amazing referral program. You get $5 every time someone you refer signs up and uses the service just once. If you get three people, they double it to $10. That's $30 easy. Let me tell you, it's an easy thing to get friends and family to use. Go sign up and get $5 just for doing it. You can cash out any time you reach $5.01.

I am trying to reduce my household bills and took the advice of a reader and applied for a new credit card to transfer my incredibly high percent rate balance to. I chose an airline card that had great rewards and 0% interest on balance transfers for 6 months. As I want to have the card paid off in that time, it works. It will also help me with future planning as I'd like to travel more but for less in the future. Right now, I don't do any traveling really.

Survey sites have been very helpful in meeting the daily goal. I got one survey from Survey Savvy that paid $8. They, by far, have the highest payout and no minimum payout so a check is on it's way to me. Your Free Surveys is another one I like a lot because you can check their website for new surveys all the time. They pay well and I have $18.85 in my account toward the $30 cash out.

Essentially, I'm just trying to find as many different ways to make some of that money in the spare minutes I have here and there throughout the day. It builds slowly but surely, which is fine by me as long at it's building. I feel like that damn tortoise...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Feeling festive!

Hey kids! Look who's in this week's Festival of Frugality!

Festival of Frugality

Save money by switching to a local bank.

It's not secret to anyone that I hate Bank of America with the white hot passion of a thousand suns. I loathe them. If I could conjure a plague of locusts to best their banks, I would. You get the idea, right?

After going through the worse customer service imaginable in the last few months, I switched my accounts over to a locally owned bank that is very solvent, reliable and because they only have two branches, offers me much better service.

What I am noticing is that when you have more face time with your bank, it allows you to get better advice find better options and solve issue quickly. Though I can make deposits through any Wells Fargo, I often drive to the branch just so that I can see and talk to people face to face. This way they get to know me and what my needs are.

The focus is on the customers and not on meeting major quotas or bottom lines for a larger corporation. The great thing is that I have an opportunity to go in with all of my financial data and see what ways they may be able to help me. This may occur in the form of a debt consolidation loan or refinancing of current loans including my home mortgage loan.

Even better, when I have specific needs I can talk to higher ups (i.e. bank vice president or even the president) to figure out how to make the best of the relationship I have. What makes me able to sleep at night is knowing that I am well taken care of. For example, I had an expense that was going to hit my account but I wasn't sure on what day it would happen. I had an expense check that was delayed in getting to me that brought me down to the wire. I got help up in a meeting yesterday and missed the cut off point for deposits to credit that day. Guess what? Yep, the debit went through before the check. It caused two items to go through without the funds and overdraw the account. Not good.

If I was with Bank of America, i would be looking at $70 in overdraft fees today. However, my new bank set me up with a line of credit for $500. This works as my overdraft protection. I will get charged interest if the balance stays on there. But, the check will credit today and not cause any interest due. They charge NO fees for use of the credit line. Everything should be back to normal by the end of the day.

Here's the kicker, I got a call about an hour ago. It was from Lisa at the bank. I have spoken to Lisa and can tell you exactly what she looks Like called because my account went into the negative and they wanted to make sure I knew and to see if anything was the matter. I told her no, I got held up in a meeting and missed the deposit deadline. I told her the deposit about and when I made it and she said there should be no problem. They called me. She was delightful.

I have been very vigilant in balancing my checkbook, but we all know things happen. I like knowing that my bank understands that.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Well, that's a pretty tasty deal.

One of the hardest parts of trying to cut back and save money is losing out on entertainment and dining. My boyfriend and I have been talking about staying in for the weekends as we're saving every dime we have right now for a trip to Napa through my timeshare. It's the first week long vacation I have had in 8 years. I'm due and I want to make sure I can enjoy myself. More on that in a later post.

When I went to pay my Discover card I was struck by an idea. Discover has certain places where you can earn up to 5% cash back in certain months. Thank God for timing as I should get 5% cash back on nearly everything for the trip to Napa (gas, restaurants, etc.) I love the cash back program and have found it a pretty good way to save.

I had heard that there were other websites through which you can get rebates for shopping online so I set out today to check them out. TOUCHDOWN!

The first one I went to was First, I got a $5 bonus just for signing up. Sweet. Then I surfed the site for their coupons. I found the is having a smokin' deal: 80% off if you use the coupon code AND 15% cash back. So I got a $25 gift card to a great locally owned restaurant ($35 min. purchase) for $2 after the 80% discount! After the cash back, I only spent $1.70.

The second one was Another $5 bonus! Worked the exact same way. Lather, rinse, repeat. I got a second gift card at another restaurant for $2, as well. Perfect. The great thing is that it's not chain places. These are locally owned and really good deals!

So now I have more than doubled my $5 a day goal and have some major deals printed out and ready to use within the next year. I plan to use both sites whenever I shop at the cash back is between 4% and 15%. I am a total freak over a smokin' deal.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saving money? Check!

Okay, I had set a goal of no more than $75 a week in groceries for my daughter and I. She's five now and eats ALL the time so this is not always easy. I must say that I rocked it and I don't think this is going to be that hard at all. Here's what I found is working for me.

  • Weekly mailers - I have combed through the grocery mailers and made a list of all the items at the store that I may need and what the prices are. Mind you, if you have an iPhone, there are some shopping applications that make keeping track of this really easy. I take all the items at all the stores and make my list from there.
  • Making a weekly menu - From that list, I think about what I'm going to eat all week. Every meal. Every things. Good for my waistline and good for my pocket book. Right on!
  • Checking coupons - I'll go through my file of coupons to see if I can find anything that matches my list or if there is anything else I may need that I can look for on sale at any of the stores. I haven't tried the online coupon websites yet to see if I can find any matches, but that is next.
  • Make a plan for shopping - I laid out which stores I went to in what order and then just went from there.
Yesterday, I went to two grocery stores - Albertson's and Fry's (Kroger). At Albertson's I spent $46.26 and saved $36.64. At Fry's I spent $24.66 and saved $31.03, more than my bill. As McLovin' would say, "chicka chicka yeah..."

I felt like I rocked yesterday. I know it's totally geeky but getting a tube of Crest toothpaste for $.25 was awesome.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Getting a plan together.

Okay, now that I have seen the ugliness (not too pretty eh?) I am really glad to have focus back. I am happy that I am able to make all of my bills and pay the minimum amount on my cards. This is a good thing as I'm not concerned with having anything get behind. My concerns lie in not having much money left over after bills are paid. Something as simple as a doctor's copay could throw things out of whack. That is WAY too close for comfort.

So part of my plan is to go back to trying to make just $5 a day in extra income. I'm going to be pulling form a few areas for this. I had done a few GPT sites in the past and was actually REALLY pleased with the results.

I just signed back up with Inbox Dollars. The sign up bonus is $5 so that worked well. They send you emails and if you read them you get $.02. I know that sounds tiny but you get 2 - 5 a day and it can add up. You can also do surveys there and get $.50 to $1 a survey. This is perfect in getting me to my $5 a day. Also, I just realized you can shop through the site and get cash back on purchases. Very excited about this as back-to-school is going to hit and Old Navy is one of the sites. Cheap back to school clothes for my daughter and cash back! Yea!

The other one I am going back to is Cash Crate. It's another GPT site where I made about $80 a month. Really easy survey site and works much like Inbox Dollars. I've like this one the best as you can set a really low payout of about $20. It does not take that long to get there. I'll post earnings on a weekly basis so I can track my progress.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I have updates - and they are scary.

Whoa boy. If there was anything that confirmed that I need to get my ass back on track it's what I found today. All my figures have been updated. Read 'em and weep.

The good - My move last year to pay my mortgage on a weekly basis has proven to be a great idea. This has allowed me to reduce my overall mortgage balance greatly. It turns out to be an extra payment a year and my house should be paid off in 23 years as opposed to 30. This is good as it should take that long for the damn market to recover!

Also, my 401K and stocks have not suffered that bad. They tanked in October of last year. I know, you feel me. But I have recovered all the money back and am now back to rebuilding. I just shifted my allocations in my 401K to start investing in a more aggressive fund that is offered. I didn't move any money, just changed allocations.

The bad - I didn't get a bonus last year, which I was going to use to pay a good chunk of my car off so that didn't happen. Still, I am getting close to having it paid off. I think I want to set a goal of having it paid off in 9 months. That means trying to find an extra $250 a month in funds. Yikes.

The value of my house is down, as is any house in my area. That is killing my net worth. I am actually in the red. There will be more on that later. I have to finish crying first.

The ugly - My credit cards are out of control. I had a number of expenses that came up last year and put the money on the cards thinking that my bonus should be able to cover what I have spent. That was a fine idea until I didn't get my bonus. Not a pretty thing at all. I am currently paying $400 a month on the cards and I'm not even making a dent. They got hiked in the Great Credit Card Screw Over and everything that I am paying is going toward fees. And ideas on how to get this done faster, let me know, I am all ears.

So now it's time to work on a plan...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Holy falling off the wagon Batman!

I started this blog over a year ago to help me get my finances in order. EPIC FAIL. It started out strong and then fizzles due to major changes at work and the need to focus a significant amount of time there.

Sadly, the repercussion of this horrific economy hit me hard not only at work but in the pocketbook as cuts in pay, lack of bonuses, plummeting of 401K stocks and making ends meet has become a serious issue.

So, I come back here to start all over again. I hope you join me again as I restart my journey. There are a lot of us rebuilding out there and I'd love some help and to be able to help people myself. This week, I'll be checking all of my accounts and updating them on the right so I can see where I am. It's going to be scary, especially as I post how much I have rung up in credit card debt trying to make ends meet and trying to pay that off wihtout a usual year end bonus.

Please come back often. Subscribe in a reader. I promise to be 100% honest, offer insight and give you well crafted (and frequently entertaining) posts. Salud.