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Category: Earning & Managing Money

Blogging for Profit – Part 2

Yesterday, we started a series on blogging for profit and I talked about how important it was that you begin your blogging venture with a dedication to be in it for the long haul.

Building up a readership which in turn will produce a steady income from blogging takes time. But it is so worth it; I’ve experienced this firsthand.

I used to think that making a decent income from blogging was pretty much impossible or unreachable for most people. Then I started learning more and experimenting more and I found that it really wasn’t hard to make the equivalent of a part-time or even full-time income from blogging. With effort, time, and patience, I’m learning more and more just how much potential is out there–it’s practically limitless!

Did you know there are a number of bloggers making a
six-figure income from blogging? Some are almost making seven figures!
From blogging! Anything is possible nowadays!

To begin earning money blogging you must first start by, well, starting a blog. Blogger is a free and easy way to begin, though I’m not such a big fan of Blogger after my whole spam-block debacle!

After you set up your blog, write! I recommend you set a goal to post something three times per week. You can always blog more often than that, but three times per week is a manageable goal and one that most people can accomplish.

If you want to develop a strong readership (and a strong readership is one of the cornerstones to profitable blogging), it is much better to write less often and write regularly, than to write  and only do it in fits and starts. In other words, posting consistently three times every week for months, will develop a much stronger readership than posting 15 posts once every 3-5 weeks will.

It’s a proven fact that people like to read blogs they know are going to be regularly updated. So, make the commitment to write three times per week, and then get to it!

Q&A: How much should a family of eight spend on groceries?

If you spend $40 a week on groceries, what do you think a family of 8 should spend on their food bills for the week? -Kate

My
goal price range is $0.25-0.50/person for breakfasts and lunches and
$1.00-$1.50/person for dinners. Basically, I shoot for it to cost
around $2/person per day for food and household items. However, we
don’t actually spend that much since we have two adults and two little
children and only spend approximately $38-40 a week on food and household
items.

As our children grow older and we have more
children, I’m curious to see how much we’ll need to adjust our budget.
Since we have not raised our budget by much in spite of our expanding family, I’m hoping we can continue to keep it low.

I would
like to never go above $75/week–no matter how many children we have (and we’re hoping for at least eight or more!), but I have to test that out with a
brood of children before I can say for sure! One thing I do know is that the longer I bargain shop, the better I become at stretching our dollars.

When
you are first starting out with creating a budget and a menu and
sticking with it, I suggest you begin with something very doable.
If you’ve never had a grocery budget before, just sticking with the
same budget every week is a new challenge. Start somewhere but don’t
make it too hard at first. Keep it simple.

For a family of
eight, maybe you could try to stick with $150/week? That would be about
$21/day or about $2.60/person per day ($0.87/person per meal). Your
eventual goal might be to cull that down to around $100 or less, if
possible, but start out with something manageable. This is supposed to
be a fun process not a stressful process! If $150 sounds way too low,
try starting out with a $200/week budget. As always, starting somewhere is better than not starting at all!

Whatever
you do, choose a budget amount that you think is possible, but might
be a little bit of a challenge. Keep in mind your family’s eating
preferences, where you live and what the prices are in that locale,
what your husband likes to eat (don’t scrimp there!), how often you
have others into your home for meals, and how much time you have
available to spend cooking and planning.

I also think it is good
to not have the budget so low that you can’t splurge on certain things
sometimes. We splurge every week on organic hormone-free milk and eggs
from a local dairy. We also often use our overage from CVS to splurge
on "fun things" like dark chocolate and ice cream. Always remember that
the purpose of saving money is not to deprive yourself, but to make the
most of what you have!

Once you feel comfortable with your
current grocery budget and feel like you could do better, try shaving
off a little more and a little more until you get your budget down to
where you’d like for it to be. Remember, if at any time in the process
you stop looking at it as a fun challenge and start seeing it as a
stressful frustration, back off a bit and allow yourself a little more
wiggle room.

As you gradually improve at your bargain-hunting
skills, are able to stock up on good deals, and start planning your
menu more based upon what is on sale at the store and what you already
have on hand, you’ll find it becoming easier and easier to lower your
weekly budget.

What is your weekly budget and how many does that regularly
feed? Do you include your household items in that budget? Are you
satisfied with your budget or do you think you could improve it?

Blogging for Profit – Part 1

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked in person or by email
how one can make money online. I’m no expert and still have much to
learn but after lots of reading, learning, and trial and error over the
past few years, I have found many ways to make a very decent income
online.

Since one of my passions is helping moms come home so they
can be there for their children, I’m always happy to share what I’ve
learned in hopes that it will encourage those of you considering
"making the plunge" from two incomes to one or that it will help those
of you who are struggling to make it on one income.

Despite what some of the ads might portray, making money online doesn’t just happen; it takes work–lots of work. But if you stick with it, the work eventually can really pay off.

Over
the next few days, I want to share about one of my
favorite ways to make money online–blogging. I believe that blogging
is something anyone can do and anyone can also make money off of it.

As
I said, though, it takes time. You cannot just put up a blog, write a
couple of posts, and expect the money to start rolling in. No, it takes
time, effort, and consistency.

So, my first piece of advice for anyone who would like to make money blogging is to be prepared to be in it for the long-haul. This might seem like a no-brainer but I think sometimes people miss the big picture when it comes to making money online.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about choosing a blog topic and the actual writing of
the blog. These are important facets that you must have in place before
just jumping ahead to making money blogging. Because, as we all know,
if you don’t have traffic, you can blog all day, but you’ll never make
a penny.

Have you made money
through blogging? If so, how? Share with us, we’d love to hear! Once I
lay the foundation here, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite blogging
money-makers and those which haven’t worked for me.

Related: Darren Rowse, the ProBlogger, tackles a related issue on his video post here. It’s worth watching.                                  

Originally published October 2007.

How to keep meat from breaking your budget

Meat
can be a budget-breaker, can’t it? Because we’ve only budgeted $40/week
for groceries, I’ve learned to get really creative when it comes to
meat. There are many things we do to help stretch this, here are a few of my favorites:

1) Don’t serve meat as the main thing at a meal.
When we serve meat for dinner, unless I got some incredible sale on it,
it is not a stand-alone thing. I have come up with lots of recipes
which are hearty and delicious, but that don’t require using $8-$15
worth of meat to pull off for our little family. We do eat soup and we
do eat casserole, but I try to be creative and use lots of variety.

I
also try to make sure that dinners are a hearty affair around here. My
husband might be thin, but he can eat like you wouldn’t believe (As an
aside, how come guys can eat so much and never gain a pound?!)! If we
have chili or a similar bean type of soup, we’ll serve it over steamed
brown rice and sprinkle cheese on top. If we have chicken noodle soup,
we often serve it over mashed potatoes (I know, talk about a carb-rich
meal! But it’s delicious!).

Start thinking outside the box when it comes to the dinners you serve and have fun being creative. If it flops and doesn’t go over well, you don’t have to make it again.

2) Have at least 1-2 meatless meals per week.
Yes, I know, a lot of people turn up their noses at the thought of
going vegetarian a few times a week but if you get creative, you can
come up with quite a few hearty meatless meals. Try making spaghetti
casserole or lasagna without meat in it (I put extra chunky sauce with
lots of onions and diced tomatoes in it and double the cheese and we never
even miss the meat). Or try serving breakfast for dinner sometime.

3) Never buy meat unless it is marked-down or on sale.
I usually always get meat on sale or marked down and will not pay
anymore than $2/meal for meat. Watch for the sales and mark downs and
stock up! Ask your grocery stores when they mark meat down and make
sure you shop at those times.

4) Make the main dish go further by starting out dinner with soup and bread or salad and bread.
If you’re already somewhat filled up before the main course hits, you
are bound to eat less! Plus, starting out with a nice big salad and
fresh bread will add so much to the meal!

5) When you buy meat, cook it up ahead of time and freeze it in meal-size portions.
I’ve found when I divvy the meat up ahead of time, it somehow stretches a lot father. If the thought of going meatless is too much for you
right now, consider cutting back on some of the meat in some
of your meals. You might be surprised at how little you miss it.

6) Get creative with leftovers.
My goal is to never throw food out. Every once in a while it
does happen, but it is a rare occurrence. Constantly be looking for
ways to remake meals to stretch them farther and eliminate waste.

How do you keep meat from breaking your budget? What are some of your favorite meatless meals?

Reader Tip: Save time and money by starting your own cooking club

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Yesterday, I posted a review for Social Suppers and wanted to share a tip Amanda had recently emailed in which might be a more-suitable option for many of you who are on tight budgets. Amanda wrote:

I wanted to tell you about a cooking club that I am a member of.  It saves me time and money because I am less likely to eat out and more likely to plan ahead and try and match my dish to coupons or sales.  Also, it gives my family a chance to try foods and recipes that we might not otherwise try.

We have 8 busy moms who are members of our cooking club.  Each month they have the option to participate or not. Each member makes a main dish for all the other participating families and freezes it (and usually keeps one for her family).   We meet in someone’s garage to swap and go home with fully-stocked freezers of ready to thaw and reheat meals that are great for those super busy days.

We also did a side dish exchange this month, too. I made beans and received a dozen fresh ears of corn (a member’s family owns a local farm), cheesy potatoes, and twice baked potatoes. We have done soup groups, brunch groups (so we all have non-burnt toast on Mother’s Day!), sweet groups (for entertaining around the holidays) and appetizer groups (for New Years or Super Bowl time).

I love this idea and would totally join a group like this (anyone in this area interested?)! Does anyone else do something similar? If so, tell us about it!

Graphic from AllPosters.com

Input needed: I’m buying a laptop tonight

After a series of unfortunate events, I am buying a new laptop. And, because we’re leaving on vacation tomorrow and I need to have it in hand as soon as we arrive home, I’m buying it tonight.

I knew this purchase was inevitable as the problems with my laptop have continued to increase and the 3-year warranty is almost expired. The plan was to buy one before the end of the year and I have had the money set aside for it for a number of months.

Being the frugal person I am, though, I held out for as long as possible but the time has come to hold out no longer since my laptop is completely shot. (I’ll spare you the extensive run-down of problems it’s experiencing, the biggest of which is that you cannot get on the internet and it randomly freezes up after around 2-3 minutes of use.)

So, Jesse and I will be ordering a new laptop online tonight and I thought I’d ask all of you bargain-shoppers here for some input on how I could snag the best deal. I’m really great at scoring grocery deals, but electronics are a bit out of my league.

I’ll be getting a Dell (sorry, Mac people, it’s impossible to change my mind so don’t even try!) and I need something that can withstand lots of use and abuse and last me for at least a few years.

Where should I look? What should I get? And how can I score the best deal? Any and all feedback is welcome and appreciated.