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Abby emailed in the following tip:

I am writing about a mobile website called AdsMoi that allows users to watch advertisements and get paid. It isn’t much (like a $1 day) but it adds up.

I have used it for almost a month and was able to cash out to an Amazon gift card for about $25. Anyone can sign up for free. My 16-year-old son also uses it. -Abby

Have any of you used AdsMoi before? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences with it.

To earn more Amazon gift cards, check out Swagbucks.

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5 Frugal Ways to Show Love on Valentine’s Day

5 frugal ways to show love

Guest post by Abby Winstead Wandering

Valentine’s Day is a polarizing holiday. On one side, you have Team “every day should be a celebration of love.” Those people argue that February 14, is a “Hallmark holiday”, a day manufactured by greeting card companies and chocolate makers to boost sales. They say that, if you really love someone, you’ll spend all 365 days each year showing it.

On the other side, you have Team “Valentine’s Day is a day for you to lavish me with all the presents I didn’t get at Christmas”. That team asserts that… well, I’m not sure what their reasoning is.

I fall somewhere in the middle. In no way do I think V-Day should consist only of the obligatory exchange of gifts. I also don’t think it’s necessary to skip the day altogether. I think that, like Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day should serve as a reminder to treasure the things and people we should be grateful for every day.

For those of us who want to find a way to our love to the special people in our lives without breaking the bank or giving into the commercialization of the holiday, I have 5 ideas to help you out!

1. Write a love letter.

There are a hundred little things about my husband that I’m thankful for each day. From his patience with the kids during bath time to his enviable laundry skills, I’m constantly reminded of why I love him.

While we both say “I love you” on a daily basis, we rarely expound on the reasons why. Annual birthday and anniversary cards are about it. I know both of us would be thrilled to receive a handwritten letter from the other identifying all the reasons we’re still so happy to be a part of this marriage.

2. Do something they love.

My husband and I have divergent interests. He loves playing golf and watching futuristic TV shows, and I love spending time in the kitchen and watching cheesy dramas. Shock your spouse this year by planning a day dedicated to something he or she loves!

3. Give the gift of alone time.

I love my husband. I love our children. But from the time I was young, I’ve occasionally needed time alone to recharge. I’d guess that many parents are the same way. As much I love being with the ones I love, sometimes it’s necessary to have a break from questions and diapers and being “on”.

I never want or need much time to myself; I usually only last a few hours before I begin to miss the noise and the sloppy kisses.

This Valentine’s Day, giving the gift of alone time can be a thoughtful no-cost or low-cost gift. Consider allowing your spouse to get out and about alone, or maybe with a friend. A few hours sipping fancy coffee or browsing a favorite store might be the perfect gift. Or, if possible, take the kids out or to visit family while the other parent hangs at home, napping or catching up on a favorite show.

4. Take a walk down memory lane.

If your relationship is anything like mine, it has evolved over the years. The new and exciting affection of the early years has been replaced by a deep, steady love born out of confronting the raw realities of life together. That transition is natural and necessary.

I wouldn’t trade the lessons we’ve learned or the way we’ve grown with each other for anything, but it’s easy to get caught up in the details of day-to-day life. Sometimes it’s nice to remember the people we were when we fell in love nearly ten years ago (or more!) This February 14, dig out those old photo albums and love notes. Remind yourselves of the reasons you fell in love.

5. Prepare a special meal.

Tastes and smells have the power to take us back in time the same way sights and sounds do. Think back over the course of your relationship, particularly the beginning, and focus on the meals you enjoyed together.

What stands out in your mind? Maybe it’s the cuisine you enjoyed on your first date, or the first time he made you breakfast in bed. For dinner on Valentine’s Day, recreate that special meal in your own kitchen.

What are your favorite frugal ways to show your love?

Abby is the wife of a patient man, mom to their two baby bears, and teacher of some cool kids. She loves dark chocolate and pretty napkins; the kitchen is her happy place. She lives in Mississippi and blogs at Winstead Wandering, where she shares the wandering thoughts of one who is not lost.

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How We Saved This Week: Eating leftovers for dinner

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As we were eating leftovers for dinner last night, I realized that making a habit of eating up leftovers a few meals each week instead of forgetting about them at the back of the fridge is one way we save a little money every week.

It saves time, because we don’t have to plan a dinner or make dinner or clean up the dishes from dinner. And it saves money, because we don’t have to buy the ingredients for another lunch or dinner.

It’s such a simple, no-brainer thing, but saving money in simple ways on a regular basis adds up over time!

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We’ve also found that serving leftovers for dinner on busy nights cuts down on the temptation to grab carryout. So on busy nights, I’ll often set out all the odds and ends in the fridge and declare it a Leftover Buffet night.

For those of you who wish you had leftovers but it seems like your hungry teens or growing kiddos eat everything you make, consider doubling a casserole or soup recipe you’re making a couple times per week and sticking half the recipe in the fridge or freeze before you eat dinner that night.

That way, you’re guaranteeing you’ll have “leftovers” to eat later in the week! :)

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My favorite part of eating leftovers for dinner? Less kitchen clean-up!

What’s one way that your family saved this week? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

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We Paid Cash: New Siding for Our Home

We paid cash!

A testimony from ProteanMom.com.

Not long ago, we paid cash for a minivan using the Envelope Budgeting system. It was an exciting (and addicting) moment. We’ve been paying with cash ever since!

Our Fixer-Upper Home

We knew that we would need to replace our home’s wood siding – eventually. Within a few months of buying our minivan, however, we realized that “eventually” had caught up with us. Our siding still looked good from a distance, but it was molding and rotting. At best, we had a year to save up for new siding.

We decided that this was our next big-purchase project. We also determined that this was a project that we did not want to do ourselves, which meant paying for labor on top of materials.

Adjusting the Budget

We put other projects on hold, scaled back on outings, and delayed fun purchases. It was hard, but we were diligent in putting any extra funds into that new siding envelope.

It helped that we knew we had to be good, because otherwise we’d also be paying for potentially massive interior repairs, too. By adjusting our budget, we knew that we would have almost enough money by our self-imposed year mark.

Wanting to avoid debt for siding, we tried hard to cut from other areas to save even more. It was hard to forego activities with friends and eating out, but we knew it would be worth it.

By the year mark, we were *so* close to our goal. Thankfully, my husband then got a larger than expected bonus at work. Putting that into our siding envelope, we would have enough money for siding *if* we could get a great bid.

Shopping Around to Hire a Contractor

We got bids from several different companies, and the bids ranged widely. The highest bid came in at more our minivan had cost us! We chose a reputable, but reasonably priced, company to install our new siding. Their quote was *just* under the amount we had saved!

We paid half up front (and the rest when they were done) and the company got to work.

They were shocked that we didn’t need financing – or try pay with a credit card. In fact, they almost looked confused (but happy) to see a check! Our home ended up needing more siding than the contractor had originally thought, but this amazing company held to their quoted price.

They did an amazing job, our house looks great, the extra insulation lowered our power bill, and we stayed within our budget!

siding before and after

On to the Next Project…

Since the siding was done, we’ve moved into another home that’s closer to family. Here, we’re trying to decide which is next: replacing the roof or a getting a new-to-us car for my husband. It’ll probably be the roof. Wish us luck!

Kim loves her life; she lives with her husband, their two boys, their dog, and is happily expecting boy #3. She writes about life as a ginger, geek, Doctor Who fan, triathlete, mom, wife, nurse, teacher, and more at ProteanMom.com.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

 

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How I Landed My Dream Job Working from Home

crockpot

Guest post by Stephanie O’Dea

In 2007, I quit my job. I was a young mom of two children, and I hated going to work. I was blessed that I taught preschool and could take the kids to work with me, but almost every day I hoped and prayed that this day would be my last day of going to work.

And then the baby started getting sick. I couldn’t figure it out — I tried everything I could think of, but she just kept vomiting sporadically, and it became obvious to me that I needed to pull her out of the daycare setting and stay home.

So I quit.

My husband wasn’t all that thrilled with me (be careful what you wish for, right?)

[PS, my little one is now ABSOLUTELY FINE. We learned after some testing that she had Celiac Disease, and after being put on a gluten-free diet she made an immediate recovery and now is a super strong and healthy 10-year-old.]

Because we live in a tremendously expensive part of the country, I needed to quickly find a way to replace my income in order to meet our monthly expenses. I became determined (and slightly obsessed) at trying to find a legitimate way to make money from home.

I started living a secret life, and began answering work-at-home ads found in the back of parenting magazines, and on Craigslist.

They were all scams.

After months and months of searching, I started feeling lonely, afraid, and guilty. I knew that I had to find something that was “for reals” and that didn’t cost an upfront fee the way a lot of the online direct sales businesses I researched did.

So I tried my hand at blogging.

In 2008, I started a free blogspot blog at Crockpot365.blogspot.com and told the internet that I had a New Year’s Resolution to use my crockpot slow cooker every single day for a year.

And I did it.

This simple idea, this crazy and absurd idea, has since launched a full-time income for myself. This site has led to 5 books, numerous national TV and radio spots, endorsement opportunities, and a job.

A legitimate job that I do all by myself, from my own kitchen, in my fuzzy slippers, while I am home with my kids.

I truly couldn’t be any happier. I do believe, with all my heart, that I am living my version of The American Dream.

I’ve now had my site for 7 years, and decided to write down all that I’ve learned along the way. I’ve been lucky enough to mentor many other bloggers who have followed the steps that I took and they, too, have been successful.

I’d like to show you how. My newest book, The Mommy Blogger Next Door: Real Moms Making Real Money Blogging at Home, In Their Pajamas is now available.

Moms Making Money

Crystal has been gracious enough to provide the quote listed on the cover, which reads: “Stephanie’s practical advice and spot-on tips will give you the confidence and tools you need to start your own mommy blog.”  — Crystal Paine

Want to win a copy of my new book? Enter below — and here’s to your blogging success!

Stephanie O’Dea is a New York Times best-selling author, slow cooking expert, and a mommy blogger. You can find her online at StephanieODea.com, or on twitter @stephanieodea.

Enter to Win a Copy of Stephanie’s Book!

Would you like to win a copy of Real Moms Making Real Money Blogging at Home in Their Pajamas? Stephanie is giving away 10 digital copies to readers here this week.

To enter, click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. 10 winners will be chosen and posted next week. This giveaway ends Friday, February 13, at 11:59 pm, CST.

Enter the Giveaway

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