Ask The Readers: How Can I Supplement My Income From Home?

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Today’s question is from Carrie:

I would like to supplement my full-time job to pay down some debts. I want to do it from home as I am a single mom and I always have my kids with me.

I could do something in the evening while they are sleeping or on the weekends when they are playing. I’ve tried the online surveys. I’ve sold Avon. I have good computer, typing, and proofreading skills.

Does anyone have any ideas?

Do you have a question you’d like to ask Money Saving Mom® readers? Read the submission guidelines and submit it here.

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Our $2 Weekend Getaway

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Guest post from Asheritah of One Thing Alone

Are you looking for a cheap weekend getaway before the busyness of the holidays sets in? Here’s how my husband and I went on “vacation” for less than $2 and had a blast:

1. We Stayed Local to Save Time and Gas

Although our total vacation cost was less than $2, we originally started with a budget of $250 for a two-night vacation. Even with a $250 budget, we knew would would need to get creative and stay locally.

I asked friends for local recommendations and settled on a nearby national state park. Staying local meant we saved on transportation and maximized our limited time frame. And due to our fuel-efficient Corolla, we got great mileage on our short drive. It’s a win-win.

Total spent on fuel: $14.50 

2. We Searched For Amazing Lodging Deals

During my online search for local vacation destinations, I found a resort offering a free 3-day/2-night stay.

Though I was suspicious at first, I called the number provided and was greeted by a courteous customer service rep who confirmed the deal if I sat through a 2-hour, no-obligation presentation. I agreed!

Total spent on lodging = $0

3. We Packed Our Own Food

The cabin we stayed in had a fully-functional kitchen, complete with fridge, stove, microwave, pots, pans, and dishes.

Since I knew this ahead of time, I packed cold cuts, tomatoes, cereal, milk, and leftovers. We also enjoyed homemade brownies, my mom’s baklava (both of which I packed from home), and ice cream on the ranch as desserts.

Unfortunately, I forgot to pack water, so we ended up paying a premium for two gallons of water. Lesson learned.

Total spent on food = $13

4. We Enjoyed Simple Entertainment

Since we were saving on housing, transportation, and fuel, I wanted to splurge on activities we wouldn’t normally do.

We rented a canoe (which was a first for my husband) and we planned to go horseback riding, but the stable had to cancel for whatever reason. So instead, we hiked the trails, went mountain biking, played ping pong, table pool, Scrabble, watched America’s Ninja Warrior, went star-gazing, and swam in the pool and the lake.

We also had LOTS of good conversations about what we want our lives to look like after we pay off the house. Sometimes it’s good to remember what we’re aiming for so that we can stay on track.

Total spent on activities = $24 

5. We Asked for Extras

Remember earlier, when I call the resort’s customer service number to inquire about the free 3-day/2-night stay? Well, when I was on the phone with them, I asked if there were any additional perks.

They quickly offered to throw in an extra $50 gas card if we attended the presentation that weekend!! Done and done!

Total SAVINGS = $50

After we factored in the FREE $50 gas card, our vacation cost us less than $2!

While it wasn’t the most spectacular getaway we’ve experienced, it definitely was a lot of fun to spend time together without breaking the bank. And it brought us into the homestretch to fulfill our dream of financial independence.

Saving money doesn’t mean depriving yourself of fun experiences. With a little work and a lot of creativity, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: a tight budget AND a great vacation!

Asheritah is a writer, speaker, and blogger who helps overwhelmed women find joy in Jesus through her blog One Thing Alone. There she offers written encouragement, short video devotionals, and beautiful Scripture art. She’d love to share a streusel blueberry muffin and hear your story there.

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5 Ways to Save Money on School Lunches

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Guest post from Adeline of Frugal Fanatic

Now that school has started, you may have noticed how quickly all of the different costs add up. Not only did you need to purchase new school clothes and supplies at the beginning of the year, but now you have to figure out how you are going to afford school lunches.

Many parents plan ahead and budget for school supplies throughout the school year, but they forget about school lunches. Having your child buy their lunch from the school each day will quickly add up.

You want to send your child to school with a healthy lunch, but you do not want to spend a ton of money. Here are 5 ways to save money on school lunches.

1. Think Outside the Sandwich

Lunch does not have to be a sandwich every day. Invest in an insulated container that will keep food hot or cold. Leftovers from the night before are perfect. When you make some of your child’s favorite meals you can inexpensively double the recipe to allow for extra servings for lunch.

Not only do you save money, but your child will be happy to be eating one of their favorite foods at school.

2. Slice Your Own Meat and Cheese

If your child likes to eat sandwiches for lunch buy the sandwich meat and cheese in unsliced blocks, and do the slicing yourself. This will save you money instead of spending more to have it sliced at the deli counter.

Even though you will be taking the time to slice it you will quickly see the savings add up.

3. Make Your Own Lunchables

A lot of kids love Lunchables, but they can be pretty expensive. Instead, buy containers with different size sections and make your own version of the Lunchable.

You can use crackers, meats, cheese, veggies with hummus, and fruit. Plus, you will get to use all food you just sliced from our previous tip. This is a frugal alternative and much healthier also.

4. Buy in Bulk and Divide Into Servings At Home

Do not buy single serving packs of snacks like chips, cookies, yogurt and pudding. You are paying for the convenience factor. Instead buy larger packages and separate them into single servings yourself using bags and small containers.

This is a real money saver especially if you used reusable containers.

5. Get Your Kids Involved in the Process

Do not try to force your kids to eat things they really do not like. If you send them to school with a lunch they dislike, chances are they will throw it away. That is like throwing your money in the trash!

Instead, get your kids involved int he lunch-packing process and try to compromise — finding healthy foods that they love and will eat.

It may be difficult at first, but once you get into a routine and find out some of your child’s favorite foods, you can save money while still packing foods they enjoy.

If you are already calculating how much money you are going to spend this school year, try some of these ways to save money on school lunches. You can be frugal and still give your kids a healthy and tasty lunch each day.

What tips do you have for saving money on school lunches?

Addi Ganley is a work-at-home mom of 3 young boys. Her blog, Frugal Fanatic, focuses on how to live a frugal lifestyle. She is passionate about saving money and believes that if you save where you can then you can spend where you want to. Frugal Fanatic is her way of helping other people learn how to manage their finances in every day life.

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How I’m Helping My Daughter’s Special Needs via Swagbucks, Surveys, and Coupon Apps

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Testimonial from Samantha

About 9 months ago, we found out that my daughter had autism, it was a shock and has been something we have spent these last 9 months dealing with, as well as proactively seeking treatment for her.

We have gone the traditional routes with speech, occupational, and physical therapies for her (which are thankfully covered by insurance) as well as the biomedical route.

We also immediately started her on a Gluten-free, Casein-free diet. It is expensive but I have been able to find great deals using the coupons and match-up from your weekly Organic and Natural coupon posts.

One thing that kept coming up in my web research was a cookbook called “Special Diets for Special Kids“.  I really wanted this cookbook, but couldn’t justify the splurge on our already tight budget — so I check my Swagbucks and saw that I had enough gift cards to cash out for $25 (which was enough to pay for the book!)

Another route I have been researching (and was happy to see your post on) was essential oils. I am trying go avoid medications whenever possible, but still keep my family healthy.

While we are somewhat obsessive about hand washing and have started taking a daily multivitamin and even probiotics, I wanted to try some essential oils too. I have been able to purchase “Essential Oils for the Healthy Child” as well as few synergy blends from Plant Therapy using my various on-line earnings, as well as a sample pack from Native American Nutritionals.

So how have I been able to make money online?

Most of the ideas below came directly from your website!!

1. Swagbucks:

I try to run the Swagbucks TV app on my phone or tablet throughout the day as well as do the Daily Poll, Encrave, NOSO, and Discover Content.

2. Surveys:

I have also signed up with several survey companies including Pinecone, MyPoints, Opinion Outpost, Survey Spot, Inbox Dollars, and MySurvey.

While I don’t do those every day or even every week, when I get a free moment or while I’m watching TV with my husband, I will do a few surveys. I have earned about $10 or more from each of those survey companies — which I then cash out to my PayPal account.

3. Coupon Apps:

My final avenue of income as a SAHM is coupon apps such as Ibotta, Jingit, Shopmium, Checkout 51, and Saving Star.

I check each of those after a trip to the grocery store and upload receipts to those for matching offers. Most of those have a PayPal option as well, which I often choose.

This has been a hard year for us, both emotionally and financially, with little money to throw around. But with using my precious free time (I don’t have much as a mommy to 2 preschoolers and an infant) I have been able to make a bit of extra cash to purchase some helpful items for my daughter and my family as a whole.

Thank you!

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How I Slashed My Monthly Vegetable Bill By 53%

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Guest post from Cassie of Vegan Insanity

I’ve been vegan for over a year now. When I first made the switch to a plant-based diet, I spent an enormous amount of money on vegetables. Since I have them with pretty much every meal, I was buying them in abundance, and my bank account was showing that.

I started doing a bit of research and experiments to see if I could save a serious amount of money on my produce – and I did! In fact, last month I gave myself a budget of $30 per week for my produce purchases (at that point I was spending about $60), and came in under budget by $6!

Here’s what I did to save money on vegetables:

1. Check the discount rack.

My local grocery store has a discounted produce rack, and every time I went shopping, I would check it out for veggies that I could use. I often walked away with peppers, eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes (among other things) for 50% off or more!

Some vegetables had to be used right away, some would last a few days, and some of them I would stick in the freezer for later use.

2. Scour the farmer’s markets.

Farmer’s markets were a lifesaver for me last month! I went every weekend, and I always scored a ton of great deals when I was there.

I would usually show up about 30 minutes before closing time, and would ask the vendors for rock-bottom prices on their remaining vegetables. Most of them accepted!

One of the best deals I scored at the farmer’s market was a 10 pound box of bell peppers for just $5! I brought them home, washed them, cut them up, and popped them in the freezer. Now I have months’ worth of peppers in the freezer for soups, chili, and more!

3. Pick your own.

If you don’t have a farmer’s market nearby, check to see if there are any farms in your area, and if they offer “pick your own” vegetables.

Many farms allow you to pick your own potatoes, tomatoes, fruits and more – for a lot less cash than what you’d pay at a grocery store.

Plus, a trip to the farm is a fun family outing!

4. Shop in season.

One of the biggest things I did to lower my costs on veggies was to stop buying things I wanted, and instead only purchased the things that were in season.

When produce is in season, it’s not only much cheaper, but it also tastes way better.

Visit Fruits & Veggies More Matters to learn all about in-season produce and when you buy your favorite vegetables (and fruit).

These are the ways that I was able to cut my bill on veggies by 53%. Since this experiment was so successful, I’ve decided I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing.

There are always ways to save on foods that make up a big part of your diet, no matter what they are!

What are some ways that you’ve been able to save money on vegetables?

I’m Cassie – vegan food lover, money-saver, and blogger. I live in Vaughan, Ontario, right near the big city of Toronto, with my husband, our 2 kids, 3 cats, and a dog that thinks he’s a cat, too. I love to cook and share delicious vegan food with everyone I know.

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Five Frugal Family Fun Ideas (+ Win a Copy of In This House, We Will Giggle!)

frugal family fun

Guest post from Courtney of CourtneyDeFeo.com

The conversation starts so pure and with great intention. You are a fun mom, thank you very much! You want your kids to have fun – but you forgot one thing. When you ask your kids questions, you will get honest answers.

For instance: “Kids! How would like to have some fun today? What would you like to do?”

Child 1 – “Go to Disney?”

Child 2 – “Go buy new clothes?

Child 3 – “Go get ice cream?”

Child 1 – “Okay, fine, how about Six Flags?”

Child 2 – “Just a headband then?”

Child 3 – “Can we make milkshakes?”

And you just see dollar signs and exhaustion. Here are just a few simple ideas on how to have some family fun without spending money and or too much time.

1. Have Box, Will Create

The next time a box comes in your house (or you see a giant moving box around a friend’s house) – grab it! Save it!

Challenge your family to make it into a sailboat, rocket ship, school bus or playhouse. You would be surprised what a family can create together – just need imagination and household supplies.

2. Raid The Closets

Set the timer and tell the kids they have 1 minute to find their best outfit in mom and dad’s closet – they will have two minutes to prepare a song or dance for the group.

If they picked dad’s outfit – they must sing or dance like him. If they picked mom’s outfit – yep, they are impersonating mom. Respectfully, of course.

3. Hide That Treasure

Our family started this tradition years ago and it’s a winner.

We had an old antique “pink lady” that I strongly disliked as a child. I wanted it out of my room. So my mom hung onto it and planted it in my home as an adult. I discovered it and giggled. Then, I hid it back in her house and then it became a game.

Find an old treasure or trinket and keep moving it from house to house in your extended family. The hunt and thrill of the game becomes highly amusing among the cousins.

Or, play the same game with your immediate family members: hide an item somewhere in the house and then see who finds it first. When they find it, they have to re-hide it. And so on and so forth.

4. Sneaky Giving

There is something in your house that a neighbor would enjoy. As a family, make a surprise treat bag or donate a toy to a child. Go deliver to your neighbor’s porch with an anonymous note. All the family has to sneak together.

Don’t get caught! Generosity is more fun when it’s a surprise!

5. Kitchen Dance Party

Our family loves all of the free stations on Pandora. Get dad to play DJ and just pick your nightly dance spot. Challenge each family member to their best moves – the sprinkler, the worm, anything goes.

Remember, family fun doesn’t have to cost a dime. Just pick a tradition and go for it. Don’t forget to giggle!

Courtney DeFeo is the creator of ABC Scripture Cards featured on “The View” and author of In This House, We Will Giggle. She is a graduate of Auburn University and has worked in marketing for Chick-fil-A. Courtney and her husband, Ron, are the parents of two children. To connect with Courtney, visit CourtneyDeFeo.com.

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Win a Copy of In This House, We Will Giggle!

Need some fresh ideas and inspiration for making virtues, love, and laughter apart of your daily life as a family? Check out Courtney’s new book, In This House, We Will Giggle. I got my copy recently and can’t wait to read it soon!

I’d love to give away a copy to three readers today. Just leave a comment telling us your favorite frugal family fun idea.

I’ll choose three comments on Wednesday and will send you a free copy of Courtney’s book!

 

Update ~ And the winners are:

Shanda (sgcwarren@)
Karly (mommy2boysx2@)
Jocelyn (providentmom@)

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