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Category: Series

Having a Baby Without Breaking the Bank: Part 1

Do you have a baby on the way, but you're worried about your finances? Read this encouraging series on how to have a baby without breaking the budget! TONS of great tips!

My wife and I are expecting our first child. We were wondering if you had any tips that we could put into place now to start saving as we shop. And also if you had any websites that offer freebies for mothers, and any other good info you may have out there. -Jonathan

I often receive questions like the above from new parents-to-be and while I don’t feel like I’m the most-qualified person to talk on the subject, since we have had two babies (so far!) without spending much money at all in the process, I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far in this new series Having a Baby Without Breaking the Bank. I hope that those of you who have had children will also chime in and share what you’ve learned as well!

Despite what you often hear, having a baby doesn’t have to cost you an arm and leg. We had our first daughter when my husband was in law school and we were living on around $1000/month. By the grace of God and lots of creativity, we managed just fine!

There is often a tendency as soon as one finds out they are pregnant for the first time, to want to start buying things–baby things, maternity clothes, baby books, nursery furnishings, and on and on and on. My advice? If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

There are so many things that pregnancy books and magazines and even friends will tell you are must-haves. And you can fork out hundreds (or even thousands!) of dollars on these items needlessly.

In my first pregnancy–when we were living on our very meager budget–we actually didn’t buy anything aside from a few maternity clothes, a few blankets, a few packages of diapers, and a few sleepers. Everything else we needed for the pregnancy and our little girl we either borrowed from some one, were given as a gift, or did without.

My mom had advised me not to buy anything since it was our first baby and she was pretty sure many folks would be generous in their gifts to us. She was exactly right. Though we were in a small town that was new-to-us and didn’t have a lot of local friends, we still ended up having three baby showers and receiving plenty of gifts. We didn’t have an abundance, but we had exactly what we needed.

The good news was that since we were living in a tiny basement apartment, we didn’t have room for much of anything either so if we had purchased a lot of stuff, we would have quickly run out of space to store it. And we also learned that you can survive quite fine and have a happy baby without all of the dozens of gadgets and gizmos advertised everywhere as the latest and greatest things for wee ones.

So if you are a first-time parent, I’d advise you to think twice before buying a lot of stuff before your baby is born. You might end up with being given almost everything you need–or even more than you need!

In the next installment, we’ll begin discussing the items I see as necessities for pregnancy and the first six months of a child’s life and ways to get these inexpensively or even for free. Stay tuned…

Guest Post: Avoiding Work-At-Home Scams


photo by atconc

Guest Post by Mandi from

If you’ve spent any time looking into working at home, chances are you’ve come across scams. The truth is that legitimate opportunities are highly sought after, and the scams take advantage of the number of women who desperately want to be work-at-home moms (not that there aren’t other demographics of people who want to work at home, but that is by far the largest).

Here are a few things you should know as you search:

1. Run far away from anyone who charges you a fee for a list of companies who hire home-based contractors or who charges you to get started working for them. I can think of a few very exceptions:

::There are private groups that charge for “exclusive” job leads. I have never paid to join one of these groups myself, but there are legitimate ones out there. However, if a company is trying to sell you a static list of companies, don’t fall for it. You can research and find the information yourself.::The only company I know that legitimately charges you to begin working for them is LiveOps, a call center company. Once you are hired, you must pay a fee for a background check. It’s possible there are others, but I would be very, very wary of any that charge even a nominal fee.

::The third exception is for home-based businesses such as Pampered Chef or Southern Living. You do need to purchase a kit to get started with them, the obvious difference being that you receive products that are worth significantly more than the price you pay.

2. Envelope stuffing jobs are not legitimate. You will NOT make any money doing this. The envelopes you are stuffing are to convince other people to sign up to do the same thing. Stay away!

3. Legitimate data entry jobs are very hard to come by. I actually have one of these that I applied and tested for over two years ago and was just able to start working. It’s worth saying again–do NOT pay for a data entry job.

Don’t be discouraged! There are legitimate and lucrative work-at-home opportunities out there. How do you find them? There have been a lot of tips and ideas shared on this blog such as selling things on Etsy and blogging for profit.

Another valuable resource for looking into opportunities to earn an income at home is to join the forums at or Work Place Like Home. Not only will you find job leads, but you can also ask the other members about the opportunities you come across so that you’re not trying to sort through them all on your own.

As has been said here before, there are plenty of opportunities for you out there. However, it does take time, hard work and patience, and you need to use discernment as you consider your options!

Mandi Ehman is the chief deal finder behind Jungle Deals & Steals, where she and her mom find and share the best Amazon deals every day! She’s also the founder and publisher of Life Your Way, a magazine-style blog inspiring readers to live intentional lives.

Guest Post: Finding a Work-at-Home Job

photo by Johan Larsson

Guest Post by Emily Howard from Violet’s College Fund

Two years ago I was a working mom of one with one on the way. All I thought about was staying home with my children. I just didn’t want to miss a single thing that they might do during the day while I was sitting at a desk and they were with a sitter. Not to mention, by the time we paid for two children in childcare it almost wasn’t worth it for one of us to work to pay that bill. Just before our daughter arrived, my job started to change. My husband and I discussed it and decided it was time to make a change.

I know there are so many people out there who feel the same way and you just wish there was an alternative. If you’re like us, simply quitting my job simply wasn’t an option. I had to have some kind of income because we were in debt and my husband’s paycheck simply wouldn’t pay the bills. So I got to work.

The first thing anyone who wants to work at home must do is consider what you can do. What skills do you have? What degree or certifications do you have that may lend itself toward a certain type of work?  What do you like to do?

There are many types of work-at-home jobs that will require specific training or certification, such as scoping, coding, and medical or legal transcription. But there are many jobs out there that will not require anything more than the training the company provides.

You must also consider what your working environment will be. Do you have an office or workspace that is isolated from the rest of the house? Will you be working while your children are home?

These things matter because there are basically two types of work-at-home jobs: those done entirely online and those that
involve phone work. Online positions are more flexible, because it typically doesn’t matter where you’re working. Phone positions, however, often require specific working conditions, including no background noise.

One of the biggest obstacles for those who want to work at home is not knowing where to find the jobs. I suggest forgoing the do-it-yourself search and going straight to the experts. and Work Place Like Home are two very reputable work-at-home websites with message boards featuring people who are actually doing these jobs.

The discussion all day, every day on these boards is which companies people work for, who is hiring and what is a scam. Once you have a general idea of what you’re looking for, visit these sites. I spent every single night for a month on the message boards at and I covered an entire 8.5 x 11 inch paper
with ideas!

While you’re busy looking for companies and positions, you’ll want to dust off your resume. A work-at-home resume will look very much like a typical resume, but you’ll want to tailor it to highlight any skills you have that will make you more marketable
to companies who hire virtual employees. Highlight your computer and technical skills, your ability to work independently, meet deadlines and any experience or specific skills you may have in the field you’re looking at.

Save a copy of your resume in a text format and make sure it looks presentable that way, so you can easily copy and paste it
into website forms and in the body of your e-mail. Often, companies prefer to see your resume in text format in an e-mail and won’t bother to open an attachment. Pay close attention to the company’s instructions for how to apply, whether it’s through their online form or by e-mail.

A few words on scams; they’re definitely out there. Unfortunately, there is probably no one more vulnerable than someone who is desperately seeking a certain type of job so they can work at home.

First, never pay for a job. I always say you would never pay a bricks and mortar company for an interview, so why would you pay a virtual company for the opportunity to work for them? There are few exceptions to this rule.

Secondly, you can often find out information on a company by doing a simple Google search or checking with the BBB. If all else fails, check with one of the message boards I mentioned. The people on those boards can easily smell a scam. If you’re unsure about a company, search there. If you come up with nothing, ask.

There is just one more important thing you should know about working from home. It’s very important to have a plan for
when you will work and be realistic about it. If your children are in school, then finding time to work should be simple. If you have small children and/or homeschool, you should understand that you will not likely be working if they are at home, unless they’re sleeping or someone else is there to care for them.

If you have a newborn, you should know that the sweet, sleeping-all-day phase lasts about 2-3 months. But don’t worry, the beauty of working at home is that it is often very flexible. Many types of work can be done any time of the day or night. I personally work after my children are in bed and on weekends.

Finding ways to be a work-at-home mom (or dad or grandparent) is not impossible. It just takes work. Sure, there are scams and it might be hard to find a position that suits your needs, but a little hard work will produce results. Regular people do it every day.

If this sounds like something that might be a good fit for your family, don’t be afraid of the unknown. I took my full page of ideas and narrowed it down to the ones I wanted to start with and I started off trying two or three different things to find what
worked best for me. I applied, got hired, and I quit my job. I’ve stayed home with my children for two years while doing my work in my free time. I haven’t missed a t-ball game or a swimming class yet!

Emily Howard is a work-at-home transcriptionist and a mom of two. Her blog, Violet’s College Fund, is dedicated to helping other moms find work at home, as well as other ways to make money, save money, and get out of debt.