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Category: Earning & Managing Money

Becoming a WAHM: Prioritization and Organization – Part 2

Last week in our Becoming a WAHM series, I talked about how
working at home is just that—it’s work. If you are not prepared to put in lots
of hours and lots of effort, there’s likely no point in starting in the first
place since I can guarantee you that it won’t be easy. Building a successful
business takes time, diligence, and lots of plain ole’ hard work.

Once you are determined that you’re willing to exert the
energy it will require, you’re not ready to start working from home just yet. First, you need to
take some time to examine your life. Step back and ponder
how organized (or disorganized!) your life is.

Do you feel like things are running smoothly most days and
that you have extra time to devote to a new endeavor? Or do you feel like you
are running around like a chicken with your head cut off barely keeping your
head above water?

If the latter describes you, then now is definitely not the
time to be adding something like working from home to your plate. Instead, I
recommend that you take the next month and evaluate your priorities, schedule, and activities. Are you willing to cut activities from your life in order to
focus part of your time and energies to starting a business? If so, what can
you start cutting back on today to free up more time for entrepreneurial things?

Don’t just think about cutting back or paring down—do it! If you’re
really serious about becoming a WAHM, it’s going to mean some temporary
sacrifices in order to achieve your long-term goals.  You can’t do everything so in order to say “yes” to something, you invariably need to say “no” to something else.

I also highly encourage you to spend a few months
developing a good routine and solid organization into your life. Running a successful
business requires organization—not only
on business pursuits, but also when it comes to home management. Balancing
business stuff with your much more important priorities of being a wife, mom, and
home manager mean you must have a plan and you must have order in your life.
Otherwise, you’ll become slave to the tyranny of the urgent.  Ask me how I know. 🙂

If you are struggling with time management, I wrote a series
on this subject on my other blog which you can read here (I’ll warn you, it’s rather long–start at the bottom of the page to read the posts in order!). For those interested, I also recently did a series on Successful Home Management with Toddlers.

Please know that I’m
still sorting things out myself and we definitely have days when I run around
in circles and accomplish next to nothing besides putting out fires; however,
by purposefully committing to develop organization and routine into our home,
things run much more smoothly. And it’s most assuredly only the grace of God and purposeful organization that enables me to be a wife, mom, homemaker, and blogger.

Just for fun: For those of you who work from home or have quite full plates, what’s your biggest time management tip or helpful idea for those who feel like they are drowning? I’d love to hear!

Reader Tips: Best Buy, Half Price Books, Ace Hardware, EBates, Pampers Gifts to Grow

Best Buy: Free Gift Cards for Report Cards* – From Stacie:

Our local Best Buy store is offering "gift cards for scholars". It
breaks down like this:

1 A= $5 BB gift card

2 A’s=$10 BB gift
card

3 A’s= $15 BB gift card 

4+A’s= $25 BB gift card.

We went
last night and got some great FREE goodies!! I have also heard that
the clothing store Limited Too does the same.  Do you know of any other
chain or franchise stores participating in a program like this?

(*Note from Crystal: The Best Buy deal might only be a local deal available at Stacie’s Best Buy store. Anyone know? If you know of any other great report card offers, please share them in the comments section!)

Half Price Books: Make A Profit Off the Free Magazines – From Catherine:

As I’ve been going to Half Price Books once a week
to get the kids’ the summer reading program sheets and free books
, I have
been taking in some books we don’t need anymore and haven’t
successfully sold any other way.

One week I noticed that our Half Price Books has a
magazine section, so this week I took in several of the magazines I
have already flipped through but didn’t want to save (now that I get
tons of free magazine subscriptions I’ve found out about through Money
Saving Mom!).  They gave me a great price for them, between 50 and 75
cents each.

Given that I didn’t spend anything on the magazines in the
first place, I thought that was a pretty good deal, and it more than
paid for my gas to get over there (although fortunately for me, HPB is
on my usual errand route anyway). I just thought I’d pass that along,
as other people may have basically new magazines sitting around the
house. Getting money for them is better than throwing them away!

ACE Hardware: Rebate Sale This Weekend – From Renee:

I just wanted to let you know that
Ace Hardware is having a huge rebate sale this weekend. They have many free items after rebate and many items
that are just $0.99 cents after rebate. More details can be found here.

Ebates: Refer a Friend and Make $5 – From Becky:

Did you see the ebates.com
tip in the AllYou magazine this month?  Apparently, if you refer
someone, you and they get $5.

(Note from Crystal: For those who haven’t signed up to EBates yet, I highly recommend it. You only have to spend an initial $5.01, and you get $5 back for signing up. And then you can encourage your friends to join and earn an additional $5 for each friend who signs up with the promotion going on right now. Sign up here.)

Pampers: Gifts to Grow Program – From Jessica:

I know you mentioned Pampers recently on your blog and I wanted to be
sure that you knew about Gifts to Grow. We use Pampers too and I just
recently discovered what the stickers on the packages are. You can
find out about it at www.pampers.com. Every Pampers product comes with a code that you can enter into your
profile on the site and you can use the points to earn free toys, gift
cards, etc.

(Note from Crystal: I have not used this program yet–bad me for all the Pampers I’ve purchased (well, I got them mostly free at CVS, but that still counts!) in the last two years!–but I just bought another package and can’t seem to even find the code on it. Where should I be looking? And how many packages do I have to buy in order to earn anything of value? Just curious.)

What’s your best money-saving vacation tip? (24-Hour Giveaway, too!)

It’s Summer and that means that many of us look forward to special memory-filled vacations with our families. Our family is planning a short vacation this Summer and we’ve been saving a little bit each month for the past six months in order to fund it. By the time August is here, we should have plenty saved up to be able to enjoy a simple and fun few days at a lake in Arkansas. We’re so excited about it!

Do you take a trip or two in the Summer? If so, what are your best money-saving vacation tips or great ideas for an inexpensive family vacation?

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Leave a comment by Friday evening with your idea or suggestion and just for fun, you’ll be entered to win one of two $25 gift certificates from Hanes for Kids! (Winners will be posted late Friday evening.)

By the way, did you know that Hanes for Kids has teamed up with Disney World and they will be giving away entire vacation packages to seven families this Summer? Every time you purchase a Hanes® product, you could be one of seven winners of a Walt Disney World®
vacation. And you don’t even need to buy Hanes products to enter to win! You can go to official rules to see how you can get a free code. It’s your chance to experience
The Year of a Million Dreams in Hanes comfort! 

Writing to companies = Free stuff and coupons!

I often receive emails from people thanking me for all the money I’ve helped them save. While I’m so glad to be helping save you money, I have to tell you that this blogging thing is a two-way street: I’ve saved so much more money myself since I started blogging on saving money.

Case in point: a number of you have mentioned writing to companies when you have a problem with a product. Honestly, the thought would have never crossed my mind to do so but with your encouragement I tried it twice in the last two weeks.

And guess what? Both times I scored free coupons.

First I wrote to Pampers because I recently bought a package of diapers that was cut funny and the tabs kept pulling off. We are almost exclusively a Pampers family and I have purchased who-knows-how-many diapers from them in the last four years I’ve been diapering babies, so I knew that this was not typical.

I shot off a simple emailing explaining what had happened, telling them how much we like Pampers, and asking if there was anyway they could send me some product coupons. In less than a week, I’d received an email back and a letter with two $5/1 Pampers coupons. Thank you, Pampers!

Armed with this success, I wrote to Lipton tea as I’d bought a box of tea a month ago which had mostly-defunct tea bags in it. When I’d pour the boiling water over the tea bags, they would explode and I’d have to throw out the now-tea-leaf-filled tea and try again.

Once again, I explained the situation, expressed my appreciation for their products (which I usually enjoy), and requested a coupon for a free product to replace the box of tea bags I was unable to use.
I promptly received both an email and a letter containing not only a coupon for a free box of tea, but a sheet of high-dollar coupons for other UniLever brands. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty–I’m impressed!

So folks, it never hurts to write and ask. Don’t complain and don’t take advantage of companies, but if you sincerely encounter a problem with a product, drop the company a line. Your few minutes of effort might pay off with free stuff and great coupons!

Reader Tips: TD Bank reading program, Ralph’s, Perfume Emporium

TD Bank North: Read 10 Books, Get $10 – From Rachelle:

I just found out that my bank TD BANK NORTH has a summer reading program. Children under 18 can join. When they read 10 books, TD Bank will put $10.00 in their bank account! This can only be done once but $10 is $10! This program is available in Vermont,
New Hampshire,
Maine,
Rhode Island, and
Connecticut.

Perfume Emporium: Free $10 in Beauty Bucks for Signing Up – From MaryBeth:

When you sign up for the Beauty Bucks program from Perfume Emporium, you’ll instantly get 50,000 Beauty Bucks–the the equivalent of $10 to spend on their products. They also offer a referral program and you get 2500 Beauty Bucks for every friend you refer.

Note from Crystal: From the research I
did, you can’t order anything for the initial $10 Beauty Bucks earned but you could order something for free, it appears, if you have friends sign up with your referral code. I’m curious to know if any of you have had success with this program? Let us know.


Ralph’s: Lower Prices and Change in Coupon Policy – From Kristy:

This article explains the new changes in Ralph’s prices and coupon policies. It appears they will now only be doubling coupons up to $0.50 and everything after that will "double" to a $1.

Coupons for TV Converter Box – From Nancy:

When you go to this website, you can sign up for two coupons for a free or heavily discounted TV converter box for when it all goes digital in Feb of 2009.  I signed up and was told they would be sending out my coupons in July.  Pretty cool deal.

Becoming a WAHM: It’s work – Part 1

One of the emails I receive time and again is from moms who want to
find a way to earn money from home. While I don’t consider myself to be
a WAHM (work-at-home-mom) expert, I have worked from home for five
years now and have learned a lot along the way. This series is for
those of you who are contemplating working from home, those of you who
think you’d really love to work from home, and those of you who just
wonder what working from home involves.

I’ve read a lot of books and articles over the years on the subject
of working from home and find that often they are somewhat unrealistic. This series will not
be about get-rich-quick schemes (I hope you know by now that there is
no such thing!), how to work for one hour a week and make $100,000 a
year (that’s also a fairy tale!), or how making money from home is a
simple, easy thing.

What I will aim to share with you is my personal journey in
becoming a WAHM,  what things have and haven’t worked for me, what I
wish someone had told me when I was first contemplating starting a
business from home, and how you, too, can become a WAHM.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m currently making a good income
from home–last year, I made the equivalent of a good part-time job and
this year, if things continue to go the way they are going, I will
likely double that figure. I’m doing the majority of my work in the
early morning hours and during my girls’ afternoon quiet time/naptime
and am thrilled to have the opportunity to bring in a good income while
not neglecting my most important priorities–that of being a wife and
mom.

I’m sure many moms could look at me and want what I have–the
ability to make a good income while staying at home, choosing my own
hours, and taking care of my husband, home, and family first. I can
take a day off (or even a few days off!) whenever I like and
the money continues to come in at the same rate because of the many
multiple streams of income I’ve set in place.

All this might sound really cool (and it is!) but what most people
often don’t add into this equation are the countless hours, days,
weeks, months, and even years that I spent building my online earnings up to the point they are at. I
do not care to recall all the failed income-earning things I’ve tried
nor the incredibly naive mistakes I’ve made. You don’t want to know
about the sleep I’ve missed or the outside opportunities I’ve had to
say “no” to in order to stay focused at keep at it–even when the going
got tough.

The effort has paid off and I’m now reaping the fruits of my labors
(though I’m still making lots of mistakes and I’m sure I’ll continue to
do so until the day I die!), but I won’t ever forget the struggles I
had to go through to get me where I’m at or the mountains I’ve had to
climb along the way.

I am a firm believer that, with God’s blessings and lots of hard work, anyone can successfully work from home. However, I will be the first to tell you that working from home is just that–work.
I’m by nature a positive person but I won’t sugar-coat the truth when
it comes to working from home: if you are not prepared to put in lots
and lots and lots of time and effort, working from home won’t work for you.

So, before you even consider working from home, I cannot stress how important it is that you are prepared for the long-haul. It often takes months or even years
to see results and steady, reliable income. If you stick with it,
though, it will eventually pay off–and likely it could pay off beyond
your wildest imaginations!

Just for fun: How many of you currently work from home? Tell us a little about what you do and what has and hasn’t worked for you.