Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Alice.com, a new way to shop and save!

Wow, I recently stumbled upon a new website that can really change the way we save and use coupons. Alice.com scours the internet for sales and coupons and automatically applies those savings to everyday products. They have a section for best bargains, and some of those prices are unbelievably good! Plus, they ship free!

If you sign up with this link, you will save $10 off your first $50, and it doens't have to be in one transaction, it can accumulate to that amount. They have a good selection of dry goods and non-perishable foods, and it seems to be growing every day.

One more feature I really like, you can set your own "pantry" where you list the things that you regularly use. They will let you know when they have sales you may be interested in, or you can set it for them to let you know when you should order more before running out. 

The coupon potential on this site is great! Granted, they don't double or triple coupons, but for a busy stay at home mom who doesn't like to actually clip coupons this is a great option. I recently saw deoderant for .58 cents apiece there! I'm really excited about this opportunity, I think this will be a great way to save money on groceries. The prices are so low, it might take a while to hit that first $50!  

Monday, September 28, 2009

MTurk, making money in my spare time

I'm buckling down more and more with MTurk. This can really be a profitable website for a stay at home moms. The biggest problem with me, is finding the time and sticking with it. There are too many distractions on the world wide web sometimes to keep focused. Finding work with MTurk that is enjoyable helps overcome some of those issues. Staying on task and devoting time and energy to it really brings in a decent little income. Of course, the longer you devote to it, the more money you make!

I'm setting aside at least three hours per day to work on MTurk, at least an hour and a half both morning and evening. This will leave the rest of the day to take care of the house and kids, make dinner, and focus on other online earning oportunities. Plus, setting a realistic schedule can help reduce burnout so you can work harder and more efficently. Every little bit helps when trying to work from home!

Another time zapper for me is continually checking the dashboard to see how much money I've made. This is a bad habit! Just keep plugging along is the best way to really add up some income. Plus, it makes the time go by so much faster. 

MTurk is one of my important tools in becoming a stay at home mom. I can make quick and easy money there, while waiting for my residual income from places like eHow. The combination of both types of income are handy, you know you can count on the residuals, but when something comes up you have the opportunity to make it up quickly. 

On to Infobarrel

Well, I was very excited to apply with Suite 101, but my application was denied. I think I need to strengthen my writing a little more and will probably apply with them at some point in the future. They do only accept 20% of applicants, so I really need to get a little stronger before trying again.

However. For now I am giving Infobarrel a shot. It utilizes Google AdSense as a means of payment, offering a nice share of ad revenue. The writing style seems easy to work with, and the residual income will be much appreciated. Every little bit helps when trying to become a stay at home mom. Plus, having multiple streams of residuals is always a good bet. 

I plan to go through my eHow library to spawn ideas for Infobarrel articles. Not to copy them, just for brainstorming purposes. Their writing also does not have to be in the how-to format, which opens up a lot of possibilities to write about. This is an exciting step for me, definitely a way to broaden the writing horizons! On the bright side, I had to write two sample articles to apply on Suite 101, so my first two submissions are already taken care of. 

I'll keep this updated with progress with Infobarrel. I do think this will be a great opportunity in my journey to become a stay at home mome.

Infobarrel does have a referral program, so if you are interested in writing for Infobarrel please check out this link

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Expanding writing skills and trying Suite 101

After doing a little research, I'm finding people on WAHM.com are saying Suite 101 has higher residual income than eHow. There is an application process, and active editors involved. Eh, things could be worse. I like the idea of editors being involved, unlike eHow, to provide higher quality writing. I'm still somewhat new to writing online, but have learned a lot about SEO and article marketing along the way. I think the next logical step from eHow must be to Suite 101! 

Some of the WAHMs on the message board were posting their numbers of articles compared with the montly earning between the two sites. It was a huge difference, some of them three to four times as much residual income from Suite 101! Since there is no cost to apply, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. This could very well the the means to becoming a stay at home mom!

Straying from the how-to format is seriously going to stretch and improve my writing. It's ridiculously easy to put a how-to together into actionable steps. I've just ran somewhat dry on ideas I can do that with. I have "the list" but just have been having trouble adapting ideas I have into articles. Remove the how-to and actionable step issue, and voila, I have tons of articles ready to go for Suite 101. Problem solved!

They do have a set amount of articles they want written, but it's fairly small. I believe it's 10 articles per three months. When I was going strong with eHow, I was churning out 15 per week, so I know that won't be an issue. Obviously, it would not be wise to just copy the eHow articles to put over on Suite 101, as this hurts search engine ranking. Plus, I believe they frown on exact copies, as well. However, I plan to use the same byline, so I can modify existing articles for use on their site. 

I'm really excited about this opportunity. If I spend two hours each morning on writing, my odds of becoming a stay at home mom raise substantially. No more scrambling to find a babysitter for me, hopefully! Wish me luck!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Update on eHow earnings

I am taking a good hard look at eHow, and how much money I am currently making from my efforts there. To date, I have made almost $750 in just over a year writing for eHow. I estimate that I spent around 82 hours in my time writing there, which would make about $9.14 per hour for my work. Here's the catch, once the work is done, the earnings keep coming in, so even if I never write another article there my hourly wage is only going up. Not bad for passive income for a stay at home mom!

Obviously, the way to raise this even more is to churn out more articles. Easier said than done. I've mentioned before keeping a running log of article ideas to draw from in moments of writer's block, or to just keep on paper before I can forget. Then there's the issue of time. What stay at home mom has enough of that? There's always laundry that needs done, always dishes in the sink, always life in the way. I'm making it my goal to FIND time to write more articles, and up my passive income.

Another important thing. You can never know enough about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It's not good enough to just throw it out there and hope your writing just strikes it rich. If you are counting on this for another stream of income, make the most of it! Use Google's Keyword Analysis Tool and find the keywords that are searched for and have a decent pay per click. I was going about this wrong in the beginning, going for keywords with tens of thousands of searches AND a very high CPC. Those keywords often have very heavy competition, which means it will be hard to get on the front page of searches in search engines. 

Finding keywords with a couple thousand searches per month and a decent payout (between $1 and $5) means there is a demand for the subject, but not so much competition that your article gets buried in thousands of other search results. A little bit of homework in this area goes a very long way with passive income!

How does that work with "the list?" Finding which keywords to use for your subject is tricky. It may involve wording that you're not very comfortable with, which can show through in your writing. Take the time to MAKE it work, to make it sound natural and you will see much better rewards in your writing. Go through "The List" from time to time and do your homework, and take notes. If you think BBQ is going to provide better results than Barbeque, take note. It's the little differences like this that can make a huge difference in the long run in passive income. 

When using passive income and writing online as a means to becoming a stay at home mom, you've really got to stay on top of things. Read through everything you can get your hands on to ensure you are finding the best way to maximize your time, thus maxmizing your income.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Maximizing coupon potential

Today I'm brushing up on my coupon skills as this step of my journey to become a stay at home mom. I recently stumbled upon a penny pinchers section of my favorite online community and have spent the morning learning a ton of new ideas! I already have a Kroger card, so I signed up with Kroger's website and you can load coupons straight onto your card. They also link to a few other companies who will also load them directly to the Kroger card. So much easier than printing coupons off the computer or clipping the old fashioned way! I have done this before with a few items, and it really did come off the total at the register. I match my shopping list with the sale flyer found either in the Sunday newspaper, or on their website.
Another discount card I'm checking out is the CVS card. I had one a few years ago when I lived right by a CVS and used it from time to time. I do remember when I did that it saved a lot of money. With CVS Extra Care Bucks coupled with coupon use and sale prices, the potential for savings is astronomical! Think of the ECB is a bonus or rebate, you get them for the next trip, so that first trip is almost like an investment. After that, it's like they pay you to shop there. I love this idea! Checking their weekly sale flyer can easily be done online, as with most stores, and it even shows what items are eligible for Extra Care Bucks and how many you get for each purchase. Match these with the coupons you have available and use your card and watch the savings really start adding up.
This is a huge step in my journey to become a stay at home mom. My grocery budget was out of control, and I cringe when I think of how much money I wasted throughout the years by not shopping wisely. I've already reduced my grocery budget by about half, and haven't even implemented the more aggressive approaches at saving money just yet. I'm so excited about the possibilities with this!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

TV programs online, saving money and time!

Lately I have been watching my favorite TV programs online. We no longer have TiVo or DVR, so finding the time to catch my favorite shows can at times be an issue. Watching movies or TV online can be not only more convenient for a busy stay at home mom, but if you can get used to it you can trim your cable bill substantially this way. No more need for TiVo or movie channels, simply catch what you what when you want on the computer for free. Awesome! Another added perk is that the commercials are usually much shorter, so you can finish up an hour long TV show in around 40 minutes. Yay! Saving time AND money is always a good thing!

I actually stumbled upon this quite by accident. Without having the DVR, I forgot to catch the season premiere of one of my favorite shows. I searched on the show's main website and sure enough, there was the whole TV program online. Gracie was watching Sesame Street, so while she was occupied I was able to catch up with Chef Gordon Ramsay. Yay! Another plus was being able to pause in the middle of the show when she needed my attention, which was one of the features of DVR that I liked, too. 

There are several ways to go about this, Hulu.com has TV shows and movies both online, most regular series websites also have links to entire episodes. There are other websites that offer these services for free as well. The possibilities seem to be endless! Although I haven't found my favorite soap opera online just yet. For that I still have to check their website for a daily recap if I miss it. However, especially with movies, it's like having an entire Blockbuster store at your fingertips. And free! I would bet you won't always get the newest movies this way, but for free I'll wait a little while.

Plus, I like the freedom of not feeling like a slave to my favorite shows. I no longer HAVE TO be free Tuesday evenings at 8, I can jump online the next day and watch the whole thing. I really am happy with the flexibility of this, and of course free is always in my price range!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Making time to make money.

I'm going over my list of articles to write on eHow today. My eHow income is steadily rising, but I sure would be happier if it was higher. The best way to increase this income is of course to write more! I have my list handy to start working on this today. Finding time is my biggest challenge. I have to make time for this if I am ever to become a stay at home mom! 
Today I am hoping to focus on writing recipe articles, as they are quick and easy. They are often not the best earners, but mostly steady. There's another website, Type-O Mom, who also pays for articles online, and I'm hoping to find time this evening to check it out as a possible income stream. The more streams coming in with income the better, in the online world. Well, if time was not a factor, I suppose the same could be true in the real world, too!
Passive income is a fantastic idea. Although there is nothing passive about getting it off the ground and running. It takes hours of work to go into the perfect article, researching to double check facts, keyword research, photo selections, etc. But for the amount of time you put in and the continual reward for it, it's the perfect fit for a stay at home mom. This is where taking notes and keeping a running list comes in handy. It can help save time overall. I often spend and hour or two just researching keywords on article ideas and jot the info down along with the list, so my "job" for that article is already started. So when I do have a free hour or two, I'm already half done.
So today my goal is to write at least three recipe articles. I will probably lean toward some holiday recipes to give them a little time to mature before the holidays arrive. I already covered a few last year, and they did perform well. Here's to hoping one will strike it rich in the long run with lots of passive income!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Trimming the budget with iced tea and lemonade

I'm going to the grocery store today, and the other big budget killer is not going to be in my cart this time. Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper! We go through entirely way too much soda here, so I'm making the switch to iced tea and lemonade. Per serving, it's SO much cheaper! And probably a lot healthier, too. Now and then I'll buy the store brand soda, and I always buy the generic lemonade. Ditto for tea bags. Every little bit adds up. For the price of one twelve pack of Coca-Cola, you can make gallons upon gallons of tea! Plus, I actually like iced tea better, too.

I've been making more meals from scratch, lately. It really has cut down on the grocery spending. And it tastes better, too! Stocking up on meats that are on sale also really help. The best prices on meats can often be found in the family sized packages, and then they can be portioned out into freezer bags and stored in sizes used for meals. Just make sure to date the freezer bags and rotate your freezer to ensure the meats are at their freshest when you use them. I try to use meats within three to six months of freezing them.

Instead of Shake n Bake, I've been making my own with seasoned bread crumbs and a few spices. It turns out even better, and saves quite a bit of grocery money. I'm trying to get each meal at or below five dollars per meal. Lately, I'm big on doing a meat, a starch, and one veggie. I used to make huge meals with lots of trimmings, but found a lot of it was going to waste and it just plain cost a lot more, too. I freeze leftovers in individual portions to cut out the need for TV dinners when time is short, or for a lunch for me and the little one.

I didn't have time to clip any coupons this week, but there is a website that will load coupons onto a Kroger's card. I can't remember what it is at the moment, though! The last time I looked at it, there wasn't a huge amount of coupons listed, but it was still fairly new and I assume would grow in time. I used it, and it did work. That is the best way, no clipping or sorting through them at the store, just swipe the card and the money comes off the bill! I'll update later when I find that website.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Life's been crazy!

It's been a little hectic around home the past couple of weeks, so I haven't had much time to focus on becoming a stay at home mom. Things have settled down, so I'm stepping up my efforts. Tackling the budget a couple things at a time is my goal for this month. Getting rid of the cigs and laying off soda are my first two big ones, they're huge drains on my grocery budget!

Up until now, my efforts to become a stay at home mom have been centered around eHow and MTurk. I would like to get some more articles up on eHow to build that residual income up a little higher. Heading into the holidays leaves a lot of room for seasonal articles, and I just want to expand the numbers a little, too. I keep a little log of article ideas handy, I'll often be in the middle of doing something and think "This would be a great idea for an article!" but when I sit at the computer later on I have no idea what to write. Keeping a list handy makes it much easier. I have a list of about a hundred articles I need to get back to work on.

MTurk is doing well, but I am still open to new opportunities. I just don't seem to have enough time on my hands! Even an hour a day, or a half hour twice a day, seems to add up with MTurk. It's actually been a stretch to find even that much time lately! I'm stepping up the efforts, I want to be a stay at home mom and it's up to me to make it happen. 

There's other writing sites I am looking forward to checking out. Helium and Examiner are two I've heard a lot of good things about. I'm not too sure about Bukisa, I've heard good and bad, and I'm just not sure I want to devote the time to it just yet. They have an affiliate program, so it seems a little spammy to me. 

Oh yeah, affiliate programs! I hear this is a fantastic work at home opportunity. I gave it a shot with some of my eHow articles, and haven't seen much success with it just yet. It is probably next on my list to try out, though. It's worth a shot, it doens't cost anything but time to try it out. Maybe it will work, maybe not. Only time will tell!

Trimming the budget, quitting smoking

Within the week I'm going to start actively trying to reduce my budget with the biggest step, quitting smoking. At around five bucks a pack, a pack a day, this should save around $150 per month. This is by far going to be the biggest challenge! I'm going to start cutting down on cigarettes over the next few days, and hopefully start the patch on Monday.  This is a huge step in becoming a stay at home mom, as this is one of the biggest drains on my budget.

One thing I did last time that really helped was to keep a dirty ashtray laying around. When the urge to smoke becomes more than you can handle, take a big whiff of that nasty ashtray. Craving gone. Deep breathing exercises also helped. In the middle of being stressed out and thinking about cigarettes, take a deep breath in, hold for five seconds, and slowly exhale. Do this a few times in a row. Your brain will get a rush of oxygen, and you will appreciate how much better your lungs feel. 

Last time I stopped smoking, I joined the website Quitnet.com. It almost felt like AA for smokers. There is a message board that was invaluable those first few days and weeks, being able to talk to people having the same effects of withdrawal as you and tips and tricks from the seasoned vets really helped. They also have a widget that tracks from the time you quit smoking, how much money you've saved, and how much time you've added to your life by quitting. THAT is very motivating. It shows your progress updated frequently, so when you SEE how far you've come you're less likely to slip up. I highly recommend this for anybody trying to kick the habit.

There is nothing wrong with getting a little help when quitting smoking. The odds of quitting are much higher when using a smoking cessation program. Many can be costly, but in the grand scheme much cheaper than continuing to smoke. Shop around for cessation products to get the best price.

Quitting smoking isn't just a financial decision, the health benefits of quitting smoking can't be overlooked. I know I'll feel better being nicotine free. I hope I can quit for good this time. With the goal of becoming a stay at home mom, quitting smoking seems more important now. Wish me luck, I'm going to need it!