Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More on HASP

As I told you yesterday, we decided to try to modify our mortgage using the Homeowner Stability and Affordability Program that President Obama set up last month. If we're approved for this, we'll be able to stay in our home, since hubby's work (as a journeyman plumber) is still hurting and his hours are low.

In fact, today his work schedule fell through (they currently have him doing service calls) and they're talking about sending him home. This would be very bad, considering he still isn't allowed to work Mondays, so that would give him just barely over a three day work week. If this happens, we'll have to use another of his already few vacation days (who can afford to take a real vacation anyway, right?) to make up for the shortage on our budget--which I'm constantly working to lower.

So yesterday we applied for HASP. I sent our Mortgage Company (Countrywide Financial) a 42 page fax--the longest fax I've ever sent in my life! Haha! Details of HASP can be found in this post I did yesterday.

I called Countrywide this morning to make sure they had all my paperwork. They did, and complimented me on how thorough I was (I'll gladly take the compliment!). They told me to continue making my mortgage payments as usual (which I planned to do anyway for as long as we're able), and that they will process everything once they know what's going on.

This wasn't really a big surprise to me. HASP is a brand new program, and while many mortgage companies are climbing on board, they are still unsure of all the details. In my mortgage company's case, they said they hope to have everything set and ready to go by April, which starts tomorrow! LOL. Anyway, they said it shouldn't take too long to get things up and running, and in the meantime they have all they need from me.

I'm telling you all this so that you will know that this is more than likely the situation with all the mortgage companies participating in HASP. They're still working out the details, and don't know everything yet, so make sure that you realize that when you call them. The company's participating in this program have said they will hold off on foreclosures for those trying to get approved for HASP.

In yesterday's post I gave you a link for participating mortgage companies, so if you haven't already, check to see if your company is on the list. The list is pretty long, so there's a good chance it is. If it isn't, you aren't out of options. Just call your mortgage company and ask what plans they offer for financial hardship. If you get someone who doesn't seem to know what they are talking about, ask to speak to someone else.

Another good resource is the Making Home Affordable website. It was set up for those looking for more information on HASP, but they offer information to anyone struggling financially.

Don't give up. This is a hard economy for so many of us. With the right tools we can all get through it together. You're not alone.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Loan Modification to Save Your Home

I spent over three hours this morning getting together all the materials I needed to do a loan modification with our mortgage company. We looked into refinancing first, but while our credit is good for the moment, our house has dropped at least $40,000 of its value in the last two years. Because of that we wouldn't meet the required loan-to-value ratio and so we didn't continue down that avenue.

We thought of selling, but we couldn't get what we needed and none of the houses in our area are selling (and there are so many!). So that idea was also quickly scrapped. I decided to find out what exactly our options were, and I'm going to share them here with you.

We were told by several of our friends the nightmare stories of trying to get the mortgage companies to work with you. We were told mixed stories of what your status on the loan had to be (some said you had to have missed a few payments, others said the loan had to be current). I decided to stop taking other people's words and experiences for it and give my mortgage company (Countrywide Financial) a call.

They were surprised, it seemed, to hear from me. "But you're not behind on your payments and your credit is good." Yes, I know this, and I'd like to keep it that way, but with no end in sight to hubby's pay cut, our savings is nearly gone, we're eating mainly out of our food storage and things don't look promising, to say the least. When I told them this, they transferred me to their Financial Hardship Department and I talked to a consultant there.

The woman I talked to was very friendly and helpful. She asked me a few questions about our situation, I answered her, and then she asked if I would be willing to tell them all of our expenses, fax them our recent tax returns, a 4506-T form, checking, savings and 401k statements, credit card and loan statements, and the last two months' pay stubs. I also had to write a Letter of Financial Hardship. I was more than willing to do whatever she asked if it meant we might be able to afford to stay in our home.

I got the 4506-T form off the IRS website. I found out what a financial hardship letter should include. I went to the Making Home Affordable Government website which I was told by the mortgage consultant to look at. On that site you can find out if you may be eligible and if your mortgage company participates in Obama's Homeowner Affordability and Stability Program (HASP) set up in February. So far, it looks like we meet the requirements.

What HASP does is lower your mortgage payment within 31% of your gross monthly income. They can lower your interest rate down to as much as 2%. If that won't do it, then they look at extending the life of your loan to 40 years. If approved, you are put on "probation" for three months. If you make your payment on time for those three months, then you get that lowered rate for five years. If, in that five years, you have made all your payments on time, they will pay $5,000 toward the principal of your loan balance.

After five years, your interest rate will increase one percent each year--but will at no time go higher than what the current rate was at the time you modified (currently around 5%). This would be a great option for us, so we've sent them all the information they've asked for and are now awaiting the approval. They say the whole process takes about a month, so we'll just have to wait and see how it goes.

Beware of Foreclosure Rescue Scams. This whole process is free and can be done by yourself. You do not need to pay anyone for this process and should not be charged for a single part of it. If you wish to know more about this program, go to the FAQ on the website.

If you're struggling to make your mortgage payment, please look into this program. If your bank doesn't offer it to you, ask them to. Don't necessarily take no for an answer. Ask to speak to someone else if you're not getting anywhere. Keep calm, you'll get further if you're clear-headed and non-threatening. Be persistent, the squeaky wheel gets the grease:)

If you have any questions throughout this process feel free to shoot me an email. I'll be happy to help if I can.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saving on Garden Needs

I can't believe how much money we're saving doing our garden this year. As I told you over a week ago, we decided to start our own seeds (and they're growing beautifully under the florescent lights we bought from Walmart). We decided we needed to condition our soil before planting this year. We have clay dirt here and while the fruit trees don't seem to mind it, the garden didn't do as well as we'd hoped it would last year, and didn't produce enough for us to do any canning.

We knew from all the calling we did last year that compost wasn't cheap if you buy it from companies that specialize in it. It runs over $100 for a truck load (and sometimes closer to $200). That's just not financially feasible for us this year with hubby's pay cut. Here are a few options we've looked into instead:

To lessen the amount we'd need, we started our own compost pile. Not only is this a money saver, but it's a great way to reduce your waste. We bought a bin from Sam's Club for about $40 and started putting our table scraps and grass clippings in it. We have such a large garden area though that the one little bin isn't going to create enough right now to cover the whole area we're planting. It's a good start though, and we're going to keep it up. For more information on doing your own composting, go to the article I found on Earth911.

Some of our neighbors got some compost from the local sewer district. Yeah, I know what many of you are thinking, I've been thinking it too. Poop dirt? Haha! Well, it's really cheap (about $7 a cubic yard) and the plants love it. It's really stinky though from what I hear and I'd make sure you wore gloves while working in it (as you should anyway whenever working in any kind of soil).

Many landfills offer compost too. It's suppose to be high quality and very cheap. We priced out two landfills in our area. The first one, Wasatch Integrated Waste Management, offers it at $25 per 1 1/2 yards. The second was Bountiful Landfill, who offers it at $30 per ton. The research I did says that a ton is about one cubic yard. So they're pretty close in price (though not as cheap as the sewer district).

If you're looking to get your compost for less money where you live, just do a search for landfills or sewer districts in your town or county and then go to their websites. Most will tell you on their sites if they sell compost. You can even call them and find out.

We've already spent far less this year in our garden supplies than we did last year, and we'll be planting so much more than we did before. If you want to learn more about what we're doing to become more self-sufficient and save money, go to my article on gardening here. You dont have to have a large space to do this.

We won't be planting until after Mother's Day (that's the rule of thumb here), but we're doing all we can to be ready before then. It's so easy and you can do it, too. It's not too late. So go ahead, save money, eat better and be one step closer to being self-sufficient, too!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Text Me Those Coupons!

This world is full of technological advances and I'm forever being surprised by what they come up with next. I'm happy to say that this newest way to utilize technology means more savings for me and you.

In our family, with the our recent pay cut, we are always looking for ways to save money. Unfortunately, this has meant we have much less--if any--discretionary, or entertainment money. That was one of the first things to go. It just made sense for us to not go out anymore (not that we did much to begin with), and to make all of our meals here at home.

There have definitely been times when I didn't feel like cooking and longed to dine out with the family instead of coming up with a meal to please six people. I actually do enjoy cooking, but there are days that just get away from me and I'm left feeling exhausted and still have to figure out dinner (or lunch if we've been away from home and doing errands all morning). I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

We haven't gone out to eat in quite a while, because I just couldn't justify the expense when it costs so much less to make the same meal at home. For our household, we can easily drop $40 (with tip) at Wingers, and that's with the adults drinking only water. Conversely, if we were to make everyone a nice burger (we actually do those very well on the grill) and homemade french fries at home, and even splurged on a two liter of soda, we would spend maybe eight dollars--max.

Yesterday, however, I did not want to cook. It was my birthday and I wanted to take it easy. Go figure. Well, dear hubby was fine with that. He had planned, after a long day at work (trying to get 10 hours in one day to make up for the Mondays he is no longer allowed to work), to pick up some steaks at our favorite butcher shop and make me dinner. I was very much looking forward to this.

Well, he gets to the butcher shop and finds it closed. The sign on the door said it was due to the hard economy. So....that was out. He went to our second favorite place to buy steaks and found they discontinued the ones we liked, but were offering lesser quality steaks at a higher price. I told him to just forget it and come home.

Our good friends offered to get some take-out with us, but they've already done so much for us, I couldn't possibly let them do this. Though I did like the idea of eating out with them. We decided to look for coupons online for restaurants in our town and go out to eat together.

As a result of this online search, I found the coolest site! It's called Frogzog-Mobile Frugality. You go there, type in the keyword of the type of business, or thing you're looking for, then enter your zipcode. It pulls up all businesses that work through them (and there were quite a few in our little town), and tells you the offers they have. You then choose the one you want, enter your cell phone number and they text you the coupon. That's it. No spam, no cost, just an easy way to save some money with a coupon. We got $5 off our order with this service. All we did was show the coupon when we got our check and it was taken off. Easy, easy!

So while I could feel guilty for splurging, I actually feel pretty good because we I found another way to save money. They have more than just food services participating in this, so go ahead and check it out. Of course, you do have to have a cell phone with text messaging for this to work.

There was another site I found, but it's only for the state where I live. It's called Go Utah. There you can print or email the coupons you find. We would have used this service, but the coupons we wanted were actually expired, so I think they need to work on keeping it updated.

If you don't have a cell phone, or if you aren't in Utah, just try doing a search for the coupon/business your looking for, you can usually find some great deals this way.

Also, I know that if you go to Coupon Mom, you can buy gift cards for restaurants at a reduced price and get more for less when you dine out. Sounds good to me!

I'm not planning on doing more dining out now, because we still save money by cooking at home, but it's nice to know that if we do decide to splurge on special occasions, we can find some great deals and it won't break the bank.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Go for those Samples

Sorry for the delay in posts these few days. My family has a stomach bug working its way through our house. It started with the baby, then with me, and is currently working on my poor hubby. So, of course, he has no hope of trying to get his 40 hours in this week, since he already has mandatory Mondays off and had to take today off. Thank heavens we haven't touched his vacation days yet (he only has seven to begin with, now we're down to six). Fun times! I'm really hoping it will stop with him, and spare our other three children. We can hope, right?

Anyway, to the point of today's tip: how to get free samples. Today I went to check the mail and to my delight I found that General Mills had sent me a whole box of FiberOne Granola Bars. I didn't pay a cent for it, nor the bunch of coupons for $1.35 off one box. I'm to give these coupons to family and friends (no problem) and try the product for myself. The best kind of new product to try is a free one, in my opinion. It just so happens, too, that I'm already familiar with FiberOne and buy those products for our household anyway.

I am also likely to receive more products/coupons like this in the future, too. How did I get this deal? It was easy, and didn't cost a cent. I joined Pssst. This is a word of mouth networking program designed to get the word out there for new products. I'm more than willing to do that if it means I get some perks. I'm always up for some freebies, and also another way to save money on my food budget.

If you're interested in joining you can go to their website. It's entirely free and all you have to do is answer a few questions. I assume this is so they have a better idea of what kind of products you use, and how you can help them get the word out. Anyway, I say it's entirely worth my time, especially since it requires so little.

If you're interested in looking for other freebies you can go to Freebies4mom, Freeflys and Sweeties Swag. Who says you can't get something for nothing? Check it out for yourself!

Friday, March 20, 2009

I Saved Money!

In my mission to cut the bottom line of my budget by lowering my bills, I'd say: Mission Accomplished! My budget plan for my gas bill came and they lowered my payment by $14 a month. I honestly think it will end up going even lower, but I'm happy to see it go down at all.

I also called my motor club company to cancel my benefits and they said if I kept it they would cut my payment 35%, so that was a win, too. They told me if I registered on their website, they even had discount offers for companies I'm already using, so I plan to look further into that to save more money. By the way, I use Allstate Motorclub, and have been with them for six years. I've successfully used the benefits they offer on a few occasions (flat tire once and my car broke down at the grocery store the other time--both times hubby was out of town!).

I already told you that I cut my phone and internet bill by switching to Comcast. I wasn't too happy with my first week of service because they kept having outages (I'm told that's rare). So I called in after the third one in a week and complained (nicely) and they credited my account for my first week of service! It can really pay to let companies know you're unsatisfied.

On that note, when I called to cancel my service with Qwest, they offered to give me six free months of internet if I stayed with them. I chose not to, but they said if I changed my mind at a later date they would offer me some good promotions. We shall see how Comcast does with my service for now, but it's good to know that I can get a good deal if it doesn't work out. See? Playing your company against their competition can save you money, too!

So, all-in-all I'd say I've had a successful time cutting down our spending. I'm not done yet, but I thought I'd let you know my progress and encourage you to do the same. We can make it through this hard economy!

If you're looking for ways to cut down on your grocery bill, you can read my article on Ehow. You can also check out the links I have on this page (toward the bottom) that will take you to coupon and freebie sites.

I wish you all the best of luck on lowering your bottom line. Now go save some money!

Scams and more scams

As cautious as I am, I suppose even I miss things. I decided to look further into the company I mentioned to you all not too long ago. It was called My-Data-Team. When I read the review, it said that there was another company by the same name who had a bad reputation, so I didn't focus too much on the name, but the detailed review I found on them.

Since then, I've continued to look into it and found another report on them on Reviewopedia. One part of that review says:

"I wouldn't call My-Data-Team.com a scam as they do provide some links to freelance resources and show you how to get jobs doing things for webmasters and bloggers such as getting paid to write articles.

They are different enough from the common data entry programs to not be called a scam but their main section on global data entry is still a training system that deals with affiliate marketing."

So while it may not be a scam, perhaps they aren't all they claim to be. I took their link off my "Make Money" listings and am going to modify my posting about them. I'm doing this because I'm not going to refer anyone to what I myself am not willing to try. That would be bad business on my part.

I found several sites that you can look up scams on. I'm going to give you the links here, so you can do your own homework too. I advise you to always check things out for yourself. Don't just take anyone's word for it, no matter how convincing they sound. I'm going to continue looking for legitimate work at home opportunities, as I know there are some good ones out there.

Ripoff Report
Better Business Bureau

If ever you're being asked to pay money for something, I would advise you to go to any or all of those sites to find out more about the company you're thinking of paying. If it turns out to be legit, it will only make you feel better in the end. If they aren't, then you won't be out that money and will be patting yourself on the back.

Best of luck to you! I'm going to keep on looking for us all:)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shopping for Money

I can't believe I didn't know about this before now. I mean, I'm always looking for ways to make some money, and I've tried my hand at many things, but it seems there's always something else out there. Well, I'm no longer in ignorance of this particular avenue.

I received an invitation last week to join a company called Shoppers Hotline. I tend to be cautious by nature, so before I even looked further into what the company was offering me, I did a search about it online. They checked out!

So I went to their website and filled out their questionnaire. I thought I was done for when they asked me if my phone was a land line or digital. Well, as of a few weeks ago, it's digital. When I clicked on that option, it asked me if I was sure, because that could possibly exclude me from being eligible to participate. It turns out, since I was willing to use my computer to run their software, I was again included.

What software? What is all this about? Well, I'm going to get paid for doing my shopping. No, I'm not teasing. They sent me a scanner, I installed the software on my computer, and so from now on when I make my shopping trips I will scan my purchases when I get them home. I will answer a few simple questions when they come up, let them know where I shopped, and consequently I will be awarded points that will be redeemed for cash on a debit card. I also signed up for the opportunities they offered for more points by telling them when I do or don't get a prescription and let them see how I use my internet (much like the Nielson Netratings Panel only this pays a bit more). Since I'm not doing anything fishy with my internet, I have no problems with this.

Anyway, I guess that if you have a land line phone then you don't have to install anything on your computer (unless you were going for the extra points), you would plug the scanner into your phone line instead. Easy, easy! And if you decide for whatever reason it's not for you, they include a free shipping return label.

Did I mention that this program is entirely free? I didn't pay a cent. This isn't a get rich quick (or anytime) scheme. This is just a way for you to make some extra money in this bad economy. It's not difficult, it's free and I don't really have to change my habits--only add the scanning step to them. They give you 40 points each week you participate in just the scanning portion.

So, I'm going to give this a shot. I got the scanner today, installed it (easy!) and completed my registration. I then clicked on their "Get More Rewards" tab and Viola! I'm ready to go!

So if any of you are interested, go fill out their questionnaire to see if you qualify (you can find the option to email them about your interest to join). Or for an even faster response, you can call this special number: 1-877-999-2949, ask for operator 10 and tell them member #041119255 referred you (They pay for referrals, so you can tell your family and friends). There's nothing special about my family (well, not to them anyway), and we qualified. Give it a shot and make some extra money from home!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Making Money from Home

Well, folks, making money from home isn't easy, and don't let anyone ever tell you it is. There are a lot of scams out there, and you have to weed through those to find the good opportunities. A lot of the working at home jobs are in sales, and I'm not much of a sales person (though I could be, I suppose, if I had the time and wanted to put the effort into it).

Some of the work-at-home opportunities I've been alerted to just aren't feasible for me with four very noisy little ones at home. But I'll pass on the information to you. These are call center jobs you do from home. They used to be sent overseas, but these companies realized they could still save money by letting people do these jobs from home.

The time is dedicated, so you can't have a lot of background noise going on while you do it (exactly the reason why I can't do it). Apparently you can set your own hours, so that's a real plus. I guess if I wanted to go to bed later, or get up earlier, I could do this, but I really value the little sleep I get with a baby in our home! Haha

Here's the links to those sites (thank you to Jody Connolly, for sending them my way):

Alpine Access
West at Home

On another note, I've made a few bucks off the survey sites (you can find the links to the ones I use on this site), and I also made a bit from youdata (which they transferred right into my paypal account at the end of the week.

My most promising opportunity ($50 from surveyspot for shopping at a location I've never been to before) has hit a glitch, in that I had problem with the links, but finally got through to participate in the 60 minute panel. There was an issue in the end where the link took me back to surveyspot and mistakenly said I didn't qualify for the survey (which obviously I did, and had already completed it), so I've emailed their member services and hopefully it will be taken care of. They are backed by the Better Business Bureau, so I have high hopes.

I've been checking out some of the employment websites we got at the agency last week. One that is all for those who want to work from home is called Rat Race Rebellion. They try to check out all their opportunities before listing them, but wisely caution you to be careful and check things out for yourself before signing up for anything (especially jobs that you have to pay for).

That's all for today. More to come.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Be More Self-Sufficient

Let's face it, if you don't have something you need, the easiest thing to do is to get it from someone who has it. When it comes to food, most of us get what we need by buying it from the grocery store. There are definitely times when that is unavoidable, and it's one of the biggest expenses here at our house. Okay, so we can't stop going to the store for a lot of our needs, but we can cut a big chunk out of what we spend there by having to buy less. How do we do that? No, we're not planning on booting out any of our kids--haha. But we are planning a garden.

Even if you think space is an issue that would exclude your from this option, keep reading, there is usually a way around this.

In our area, the general rule of thumb is to not plant anything until after Mother's Day--about the middle of May. We use to go and buy all of our tomatoes, squash, watermelon, pumpkin, cucumbers, cantaloupe, peppers and everything else at the garden centers. They were already started for us, and we just took those leafy greens out of their pots and transplanted them in our prepared soil.

We'd tried the seeds before, but the birds got them all, and we never got so much as a baby carrot. Instead of putting our thinking caps on, we gave up on them and would drop about $80 or so on the starters.

This year, we're planning ahead. My hubby got the idea to start our seeds inside. We didn't even come close to spending $80--It was $20 at the most, and with the seeds in each pack, we'll have so many more starters to transplant than our previous seasons that it's laughable.

We've done our homework. We're going to start them next weekend, giving them close to two months before we plant them outside (lessening the risk of freezing). We've saved up our cardboard egg cartons, have potting soil, are getting some florescent light bulbs and setting up shop on a big work table in our garage. For information on lights for your seedlings, you can go here. From what we've read, windowsill light is not always enough.

We've been enriching our soil with grass clippings and manure (fun stuff). And will also be picking up any extra soil or compost we need at the local landfill (saving quite a bit).

Another way to save with coupons, receiving email and postal mail offers, and also get gardening tips is to sign up for Home Depot's Garden Club, or Lowe's Learn2Grow Garden Club. You can even sign up for both and get double the offers and tips. We also have signed up at our local nurseries for offers and email tips. Look in your area to take advantage of those avenues.

We've already planted strawberry, raspberry and boysenberry bushes last year--along with several fruit trees. While the fruit trees won't produce much this year, the fruit bushes should do pretty well.

Not everyone has a lot of space for gardening, and in those cases you can look into container gardening, or even a garden box in your yard. It's a lot of fun, tastes so much better than store bought and gives you sense of accomplishment you can't get by going to the grocer's produce department.

So if you haven't considered doing this before now, you're not too late. If I can do it, anyone can. I didn't grow up doing this, but I wish I had! If you end up growing more than you can possibly use, then you can move on the the next step for self-sufficiency and start canning your harvest!

Happy Growing!

*The links in this post are not advertising, but will take you to more information on the topics that are highlighted.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Free Samples and Advertising

So I found out about a really cool program last night. This program is beneficial for both those just looking for ways to save and make money and get stuff for free, and also for you blog/website owners looking to generate more income. I put all the ads down below here so you wouldn't have to search for them.

First, about the free stuff. You just follow the links to the sponsors and they will give you free samples of their products:

Warm Delights

There were so many offers to choose from, I couldn't possibly list them all here. If you have any in particular deals you are looking for, let me know and I'll be happy to check for you.

Now for the money-making opportunities:


Now you site owners are probably all wondering where I got all these, and there were many to choose from. I got them all from Logical Media. I was approved as an affiliate for them and now have access to more offers for my readers and also more revenue for me! They also pay for referrals, if you sign up with them.

So get busy saving and making money!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Another Way to Make a Little Money

I found another way to make a little cash from home, using your computer. If you have an email account and a cell phone with text messaging service, then you qualify to take part. The company's name is YouData (youdata.com). When you sign up with them you are given ads to look at, and paid for each one. You don't have to follow through with any of the offers, just look at them and you get paid. They give you a referral link so you can make money off of others signing up under you, too. It's not a whole lot of money, but any little bit helps and it only takes minutes to make a couple dollars.

To make things even easier, they also offer an email template, with much of the information I have here, for you to send to your friends and family to sign up under you. There's nothing to lose here.

By creating a MeFile at YouData.com, I now control what ads I see and when I see them. I can even put their widget on my desktop so I don't have to login to their site to see the ads I'll be paid for looking at. I can use the funds to buy music and video online, donate to charities, give to my favorite blogs and websites, or keep the change myself and do whatever I want with it.

It's real. They pay. You should check it out.

Click this link to sign up. My MeFile ID, nell79, in the "Referral Code" will tell them I sent you.


You should also know that they have excellent customer service. When I had trouble receiving the activation code via text message, I let them know and they worked quickly and efficiently to set my account up. I'd say this one is definitely worth your time to check out.

Take care!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Get the Word out

I promised I would share more of what we learned at the employment agency, and I intend to keep my word. She asked if my husband had done any networking. My ears immediately perked up because I've become very familiar with that term over the last few weeks. After all, it's the key to becoming a successful blogger and making a good living off the internet.

Of course, it would apply to a regular job too. It was another "oh, duh" moment. It makes sense that if you have experience and expertise in a certain area, and you're in need of work, that you would get the word out to others in that area. Our close friends and family all know what's going on, but we never thought of telling them, or anyone else for that matter, that my husband was looking for more work and would love for them to spread the word.

If you want to be successful in any business and you are looking to make money, you can't do that by being quiet and accepting things as they are. At most, we get what we ask for out of this life. If you work hard and ask for more, you're more likely to get it than someone who doesn't ask, right?

Anyway, make sure if you're looking for work, that you let friends, family, neighbors and even people from your church know that you are. This keeps more eyes looking and can produce more results for you than you'd get on your own. It's especially important that you connect with people in the same field as you're in so that they can let you know of available jobs too.

As for you blog/site owners, make sure you're networking too. Search out sites that are similar to yours. Connect with the owners and see about doing link exchanges. Make sure you're also connecting with people who would be your audience. Forums are a good place to start with this. One of my favorite places to network and do traffic exchange is LinkReferral.

Now get out there and spread the word:)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

$50 Walmart Giveaway

It seems a fellow blogger is looking to pass some of her good fortune on to someone else. This mommy and her family are being featured in March's Redbook in an article to do with coping in this recession. This is definitely a topic affecting so many of us and should be a good read. She's offering a $50 Walmart giftcard to one lucky subscriber of her blog. She also offers a second entry to those who will link to her site about this offer. I just thought I'd pass this along to all of you! If you're interested, just click on the title of this post and it will take you straight to her site.

Back to School

So my husband and I were given some food for thought. He went into an employment agency yesterday to talk about his options. While he does still have a job, he's not getting enough hours to cover the bills right now. We're digging into our savings, which will only last so long.

So, in the interest of being proactive, we went to see what was available to him. We actually got quite a bit to think about. I'm going to have to split things up into different posts because there was so much information. Today's post will focus on furthering education.

My husband has a diploma and 3 1/2 years of trade school. He was able to skip the last half of the the fourth year because he had enough school and work experience to take the test. He took and passed the journeyman test and got his license as a journeyman plumber. While he does believe that things will eventually pick up (most people in this country do have indoor plumbing after all--and several even have outdoor), he didn't become a plumber because it was his dream, he just sort of fell into it. He does have interests in other areas, but never really had a strong motivation to look into any of those areas--until now.

So, the woman who helped us at the employment agency talked to him about (among several other things) going back to school. She told him it would be beneficial for him to get his associates. He could even, if he wanted to, look into getting an education in another field of work. Of course, he would have to continue to work while attending school, if we went this route.

We automatically told her that we didn't have the money to go back to school. It's odd that what she told us next had never even occurred to us. She said with the cut in pay we've experienced, that raises our chances of qualifying for financial aid. We were stunned that we hadn't thought of that. So now we have pamphlets of information on how to apply for grants and other financial aid.

I thought I'd pass on the information here, since it very much applies to both saving and making money. Applying for Federal Aid is free. These are funds available through the U.S. Department of Education for eligible students enrolled in eligible programs as regular students at schools that participate in the federal student aid programs. These funds cover tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and transportation. It can also help pay for a computer and child care expenses.

You can get more information from a school counselor if you're still in school, or the financial aid office at the college you're wanting to attend, or from the US Department of Education, Federal Student Aid or 1-800-433-3243.

If you're not planning on attending college this fall, but want an idea of how much aid you might qualify for you can go to the FAFSA4caster to check things out. You can apply online on the FAFSA website and find a full list of the documents you need there.

When considering a college or career school to attend make sure you do your homework. Find out if you meet the admission requirements, if the school offers the courses for the type of program you want to go into, if they participate in the federal student aid programs and if there have been any complaints filed against the agency with the Better Business Bureau offices.

Be careful of scholarship scams. According to The Guide to Federal Student Aid, millions of dollars are lost every year to scholarship fraud. The Federal Trade Commission cautions students to look for these types of lines.

-"The Scholarship is guaranteed or your money back."
-"You can't get this information anywhere else."
-"I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship."
-"You've been selected by a 'national foundation' to receive a scholarship."
-"You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.

For more information on scholarship scams or to file a complaint with the FTC call 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit the FTC website.

Well, I hope this information has been useful to you. I'm going to dive right into it all here, too! Who knows, maybe both the adults in this household will be furthering their educations! Best of luck!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Let's Talk Video Games

Whoa! I can't believe how expensive these things are when you buy them new! My sister bought my son a $50 video game and within a week it was toast. My daughter, two at the time, thought it looked pretty tasty and tested her new chompers out on it. My son was devastated and I vowed I would tell everyone to only get used games from then on out (we were already doing this ourselves).

The cool thing about the used video game market is that most of the video game stores will give you cash or credit for the old games you're tired of playing. They also offer membership cards which will give you more credit on each item traded in, and also gives you a lower price on the used gaming products you buy in their stores. We've taken full advantage of this and saved mega bucks. Our kids don't care if the games they're getting once belonged to someone else, so long as they're getting one and it works--and all games are guaranteed by the stores.

Our favorite places to go when we have a little cash to burn, or if we want to unload our old games, are Game Crazy and Game Stop. They each offer a one year subscription (with membership) to a gaming magazine (different ones), so your kids--or even you--can see what's new and sometimes even get coupon offers inside them.

One nice thing that Game Crazy does is fix your scratched video games. If the scratches don't go too deep, they have a pretty good success rate. We've saved many a game this way, and we got it done for free with the membership. If you don't have a membership, last I checked it was only a dollar for them to fix each disc for you. They also will do CDs and DVDs, so that's pretty cool.

If you're not into trading for games, or you don't care about memberships, you can also find games for good prices on Video Gamesby clicking that link for Amazon. Ebay is also a great place to either sell your old games or buy some new-to-you games.

Don't forget that you can also save or make money on your video games or equipment by going to the pawn shop, too. If you go this route, don't necessarily take the first offer they give you. It doesn't hurt to ask for a better deal. What's the worst they can tell you? "No"?

Anyway, these are my tips on cheap video game entertainment. Make a buck or save a buck. Do with them what you will.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Working from Home

If any of you are like me, then this economy has probably put a big dent in your cash flow. We're lucky in that my husband still has a job though his hours, and therefore his paycheck have definitely been cut. I count ourselves lucky though--there are plenty of other people who weren't so lucky and lost their jobs.

I've been looking for more Work at Home opportunities, and it seems they're being advertised everywhere. Before I feel comfortable listing them though, I try to research them, because the last thing I want is to be responsible for referring someone to a scam, but I still caution you to do some homework of your own before signing up for anything.

I found a couple of sites that I'm willing to share here. One of them is OGC Work at Home Directory. The other site is called My-Data-Team (Not to be confused with My Data Team with no hyphens). I found a thorough, and more importantly, independent review on My-Data-Team on a site called Data Entry at Home, where you can also find other work from home jobs listed.

You can view the other job opportunities I've found so far by looking in my labels here, or scrolling down to my Make Money links on this site. I wish you all luck in your pursuits and welcome any input or knowledge you may have on this subject. In the meantime, I'll continue my research in this area:)

*After further investigation, while I won't say it's a scam, I wouldn't recommend My-Data-Team to my readers. While it may not be a scam, it may not be all it claims to be. If you have experience with this company, please feel free to share it here with us.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Blogging Shmogging

I have to say that I do enjoy writing here. However, there is a not so fun side--and that's working to get my blog on the radar--but it's not too tedious. I've spent a lot of time promoting my blog on Link Referral and I've signed up with Traffic Swarm, Technorati, Easy Hits4U, Traffic Splash, I Love Hits, Dragon Surf, Blog Top List, Blog Catalog, and Ongsono. I've also been promoting myself on eHow when it's relevant, and posting my link in my article resources there when my article has to do with something I've discussed here.

I found a new site for website/blog owners called The Website Owner Zone, where you can make connections with others and promote your blog. It looks interesting and I'm trying all I can to get the word out there, since I am hoping to eventually make money doing this.

My husband is talking about looking for a second job until his first one's hours pick back up. I really hate this idea, since it would mean we wouldn't see him much. My family is so important to me, they're all I have that really matters. When you grow up the way I did, you never take that for granted. They're what I've always wished for, and I still can't believe how lucky I am to have them.

But anyway, off the mushy stuff. I was just really hoping I could help him, and others too, by starting up my writing again and making a profit off the advertising and affiliate programs. I'm using Google Adsense, AdBrite, and Amazon. I've also applied for the Ebay affiliate program. I hesitated, but figured it couldn't hurt to put a paypal donate button here too. These are all places I found while researching how to get a blog off the ground.

I also found a useful website called Self Promotion. On there, the site owner gives you lots of useful tips, including a way to find out if you're listed yet with the big search engines. I found that I was with most of them, but not with Open Directory, so I submitted my site for approval there, too.

I also learned that I could submit my eHow articles to the search engines and to Pingomatic for driving traffic there, too. So I think I've been accomplishing quite a lot, and I'm happy to share these tips with all of you so that you don't have to do all the digging:)

One downside of all of this work is that I feel like I'm dropping those juggling balls when it comes to the homemaker side of things. I've told my family that I know I'm not quite as available as I was before, but once I've got this up and running, it will be mostly about maintaining. I hope that's right. I'm wondering how long it takes to get it up in the air though.

I'm enjoying writing again though. It's such a great release and even if this doesn't all go the way I'm hoping it will, I won't regret it. Plus, if I help anyone with what I'm doing here, that's payment in itself. If I can make money from home doing what I love that is a bonus!

I did have a company call me, I believe they said they were "Orange Soda." The guy was really nice and offered his company's services to promote my blog, though he said it would be easier to do with a website. When I asked him how much the services would cost though, there was no way I could do that. I'll just have to try this all on my own. So far, everything I've done here hasn't cost me a penny, and I like it that way! Saving money is definitely a plus!

Well, good luck to all you bloggers and siteowners who are working to promote your sites! I hope this has been helpful for you. I'll be looking for more ways to help us out here. Until then.....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New vs Used

Okay, now I know as much as the next person that you can't get everything used, like underwear for example. Haha. I don't care how much you boil it, if it's been on your unmentionables, I don't want it anywhere near my unmentionables;) And I personally prefer my shoes new, unless they're given to me by someone I know (and they don't have really stinky feet), and they're still in good shape. The shape is important because, let's face it, they're only comfortable after we've worn our foot print into them, and unless someone has your same footprint, it's just not likely to work right the second time around. Also, I've got a phobia against foot fungus.

But actually, there are a lot of things I don't mind getting used. I love hand-me-downs for my kids, so long as they're in decent shape (so they don't become targets for the lucky kids who have never even had to think of hand-me-downs). It's pretty cool when my friends have been able to pass things on to me, too and vice versa.

I also like getting good deals on other used things, and I've listed a few places to get great used things for a fraction of what you'd pay new.

You can find just about everything you want, that someone else no longer needs at thrift stores. I've actually found clothing in there with the tags still on--no kidding. But they also carry furniture, electronics, books, games, movies.....you name it. Sometimes you just get lucky and hit the motherload.

A friend of mine got a baby exersaucer in nearly new condition (because really, how long do they actually use it?) along with some other baby goodies for free just because she happened by when someone was waiting in line to drop off some things at a thrift store, and she asked if she could have it. I'm probably not that brave...but I'm sure it would have still been a great deal once it made its way inside the store.

Yard sales and swap meets are other good places to get things, and more often than not, the price is negotiable. I've actually made money doing both of these things, and I have to tell you that I never refused an offer that I felt was good enough, simply because I didn't want to pack those things back up again. I wanted them gone.

If you don't want to go outside looking for your deals, you can find plenty of them online. We got a killer deal on a bunkbed set that had the attached dresser and desk with it. We'd priced the same set new for about $800 and then bought one in great shape from KSL Classifieds for $300. Check out the classifieds for your area, you'll be surprised what people are willing to settle for.

You can also find Used Items on Amazon and Ebay. With Ebay, you can either bid for your deal, or you can find one for a set price. On Amazon, the price you see is the price you get, but you have several vendors competing so the pricing is competitive.

So I'll leave you on this note. New is not always better (unless it involves the unmentionables or old stinky feet). Happy hunting!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

List Items You Want to Sell for Free--(Discovered by Accident)

Did you know you can list stuff you want to sell for free? So you get to keep more of the money you make off of an item because you're not paying for an advertisement. I actually got an unplanned lesson in this, though I ended up being grateful for it later. I have to tell you how this all happened:

We have a purebred Black Lab. Her name is Shonie and she's nearing six years old now. When we bought her, we couldn't afford to pay full price for her, so the guy we bought her from made a deal with us. He really liked her bloodlines, so he asked that we let him breed her one time, and he would cut the price in half.

Since he was willing to work with us and seemed like a responsible breeder (he didn't even want to consider breeding her until she was at least two), we went for it. There was no way we could walk away from her after seeing her, so we were hooked. She's beautiful! So, long story short, we never got her spayed. She was pretty good about sticking around, and she's also an alpha female, so even when we did the agreed upon breeding, she had to be held in place since she thought she was supposed to...um...be the one on top--sorry for the visual folks. Haha!

Now, let's fastforward a few years. Since Shonie hadn't been very cooperative with the male, and we kept a pretty close watch on her when she was in heat, we hadn't rushed to get her spayed, mainly for financial reasons.

I admit though, I watched Oprah, and saw that show she did on dogs. So I was thinking maybe I should stop populating the earth with more puppies when there are so many dogs out there needing to be adopted. I had the plan that as soon as we had some extra cash (which wasn't looking like it would be soon with the bad economy starting), I would take her in and get her spayed.

God had other plans. Shonie went into heat again. I wasn't sure at first, but thought I noticed the signs. I let her out one afternoon, and then opened the windows so I could hear her. I sat by the window and started to nurse my baby. A few minutes later, I heard yelping and jumped up quickly, with my poor baby trying to figure out why her meal was interrupted.

I started yelling like a maniac when I saw she was....um....connected.....to another dog. "Why?!" I screamed. Why was this happening? What was I going to do now? I put down the baby, told my preschooler to stay there with her little sister for a moment, and ran outside. I was going to get that dog. I noticed he was wearing a collar and planned on giving his owner a call.

Turns out, the dog traveled three miles to get to our house, went around to our back yard and laid in wait for our dog to come out to greet him. I don't know how I missed him when I let her out. The good news was (yes, there was good news) he was a purebred Chocolate Lab with decent bloodlines.

We were able to sell every puppy without paying a cent in advertising. I did a search on free online classifieds. The popular one in my area that sold better for me is KSL Classifieds, but I also got calls from listings I made on: Go County, Kaango, Kijiji, Superads and Domestic Sale.

You can use these links I've given you, or you can do a search for free online classifieds in your area by typing in "free online classifieds" and your state. We sold all our pups in less than two weeks from the time we listed. We also made some much needed cash at a time when we definitely needed it. See? Even if we don't always understand God's plans for us, He knows what He's doing:)

So, the point of this post is: if you're looking to make some money from selling something you have at home, don't pay for that ad, list it for free!

Stay strong and have faith!

*I do have to add one caution and that's to watch out for scammers. There are some people who lurk in these sites and will tell you they're from out of state, working in some profession or other that will make you think they're honorable, and they'll offer you a deal that's too good to be true--because it is. They'll offer to give you more than your asking price, ask that you keep some for your trouble and ask you to send the rest back to them. It's a scam and you won't be making anything. In fact, you'll be losing whatever you send them, plus whatever the fees are for the bad check. So be leery of email-only inquiries, or Relay calls.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Find out about Your Credit for Free

This is such an important subject, and one that is too often overlooked by so many people. Do you know what's on your credit report? There was a time, I'm ashamed to admit, that I could actually say no to that question. Once I set out to change that (when we were interested in buying a house), I had a crash course in credit bureaus, credit scores and credit repair.

You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com and get all three of your credit reports for free, without having to get out your credit card or subscribe to a service. This site takes you to Equifax, Transunion and Experian. You can do it all in one visit, or you can spread it out over the year. Since it takes you directly to the credit bureaus' sites, you can also take action immediately if you find errors on your credit report. You can use this site to gain access to your reports once a year for each credit bureau.

You might not think that there would be errors on your credit report, but you could very well be wrong. We found out, by doing this very check-up, that there was another man, living in our state, who shares my husband's exact name. I only wish I were kidding. We found hospital bills, cell phone bills and judgments against this other man on my husband's credit report. It was easy enough to fix once we found it, since the social security numbers and birthdays didn't match up, but if we hadn't fixed it, it could have prevented us from getting any credit.

Errors do matter and they can affect whether or not you get a job, how much you pay for insurance, whether or not you're approved for a loan and even whether or not a landlord will approve your application for renting a place.

If you find an error in your report, you don't have to hire anyone to fix it. It's so easy to fix it yourself. You dispute the item online (which can be done at the credit bureau's website), or even over the phone if you prefer. You will also want to call the company that is involved in the item you're disputing to make the updated report go through faster (and in your favor).

We had so many errors in our report, that by the time I was finished disputing and making phone calls, our credit rating went up about 100 points. This dramatically lowered the interest rates we qualified for, and our home and auto insurance rates were dropped quite a bit as well.

Also know that if you have been turned down for credit, refused insurance or lost out on a job because of your credit, this automatically entitles you to a free credit report. So don't be afraid to get yours ASAP!

Here are the credit bureaus websites. You cannot access your free yearly credit reports by using these though. For that, use the link I gave you at the beginning of this blog.


For more information on credit issues, check out this site I found:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Free Magazines for Parents of Babies and Toddlers

This little tidbit is especially for expectant parents, or parents of babies and toddlers. I know that when I learned I was going to be a parent for the first time (and also every time after that), I wanted to gobble up all the information there was out there. The easiest and most available source seemed to be parenting magazines. But since we also had much to buy in preparation of our little bundle of joy, we couldn't spend a lot subscribing to all those baby magazines out there (though I probably would've if I could). It was very refreshing to learn I could catch up on the latest parenting and baby news without emptying my pockets.

Luckily, it's pretty easy to get all that information, and it doesn't cost a thing. You can get American Baby magazine (http://www.americanbaby.com/) and Baby Talk (http://www.babytalk.com/) for free. All you have to do is go to their websites, find the link to subscribe, enter your information, and they'll give you your free subscriptions. You can also do this for a friend.

You can also read a lot of other magazines' content online for free. My favories were http://www.parents.com/ and http://www.parenting.com/ (who also puts out Baby Talk). The free magazines have great websites too. There's even some tools on there to help you keep track of things.

In this same line, if you're familiar with the What to Expect...books, you'll know they have a lot of valuable information in each of their books. As it turns out, they also have a wealth of information online too (http://www.whattoexpect.com/). They also have some great forums (as do the other sites I've mentioned here.

So if you're feeling overwhelmed with the idea of spending a lot of money to help you become a better parent--don't. You can spend the money you have on more important things, without losing out on the parenting tips.