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Tag Archive: Reader Tip

Reader Tip: How To Give Yourself A Weekly Raise


Tshanina from Thrifty T’s Treasures emailed in the following tip:

I always cringe when I hear friends share their excitement about getting a tax refund. It’s as if they’re getting an unexpected bonus every Spring.

What they might not realize is that their tax refund is actually their very own money and the government’s been keeping it all year! Yes, you heard me right, the government has been earning interest on your hard-earned money!

How would you like to give yourself a raise?

If you consistently receive a tax refund every year, with just one simple step you can give yourself a weekly raise. All you have to do is change the withholdings on your paycheck.

Talk with your H.R. person at work and take a few minutes to change your withholdings. If you’re not sure what your withholdings should be, ask your tax person or accountant.

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10 Easy Ways to Save $5 or More Per Month


Rhonda emailed in the following tip:

Are you looking for a few simple ways to save $5 a month (or more)? Here are 10 ideas:

  1. Install the Walmart Savings Catcher app on your phone. Then scan those and pocket the savings if prices on your items are lower at area stores.
  2. Join Inbox Dollars and earn money through taking survey and reading e-mails.
  3. Make online purchases through Ebates and earn a percentage of your total back.
  4. Sell one item you want to get rid of on Craigslist or eBay
  5. Take aluminum cans, obsolete electronics, batteries, cell phones, old non-working metal items and others to the scrap/salvage yard to sell them.
  6. Go to the thrift store to buy one item that you would normally buy new.
  7. Use the $5 off $25 purchase from Dollar General (good most Saturdays of each month)
  8. Buy greeting cards in a box, at dollar stores, or make them yourself.
  9. Donate items to Goodwill and receive a coupon worth 25% off your purchase of $15 or more – spend $20 and you will save $5 off the amount. Plus you get a tax deduction for your donation, which saves you money if you itemize deductions on your tax return. It’s a win-win situation!
  10. Cook a meal at home that you would have eaten at a restaurant.

What are your favorite ways to save at least $5 each month?

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How I save money on greeting cards — and actually guarantee that I send them out!

greeting cards

Rachel from OrdinaryHomemaker emailed in the following tip:

I love sending greeting cards to people. It’s such a great way to encourage and stay in touch with family and friends. Unfortunately, it can also be very expensive and many simple birthday cards are around $5 each!

Also, it can be hard to keep track of all the birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions. I recently got married, so adding in my husband’s side of the family made things even more expensive and complex!

I want to share with you a simple two-step system that will save you money, keep you organized, and help you never forget to send another card.

STEP 1: Purchase all the cards you plan to send in a year at one time.

Buying all your cards at once saves you a lot of time and money in the long run. I usually purchase my cards in the 2/$1.00 section at Dollar Tree, so I end up paying just $0.50 per card!

Bring a list to the store of all the friends and family members you plan to send cards to throughout the year so you don’t forget anyone. I often buy a few extra “generic” cards so I have some spares on hand in case there’s anyone I forgot.

You could save even more money buying pre-packaged boxed cards, although they are often not as specific to the occasion.

STEP 2: Organize your cards by month in a hanging file system.

I have 12 hanging files in my file box – one for each month of the year. I use my monthly files to store anything specific to that month (for example, if we have tickets to a concert in March, the tickets would go in the “March” folder). You could also use an accordion file, or a binder with divider pockets for this purpose.

After my trip to stock up on all my cards, I put a sticky-note on each card with the name and date of the birthday (for example “Dad – July 21”), and drop it into the correct monthly folder.

At the beginning of each month, I pull out the stack of cards for that month and get them ready to go.

Using this method is so simple and easy. It cuts out all those last-minute trips to the store when I suddenly realize Grandma’s birthday is in two days!

You can easily purchase and file all your greeting cards for the year in just a few hours, and it makes the rest of the year so convenient.

Rachel is a stay-at-home wife who enjoys reading, playing the piano, and spending time with her husband. She blogs about finances, devotional ideas, organizing, recipes, and more at OrdinaryHomemaker.

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How to Save Money by Taking Pictures at Home


Liz emailed the following tip:

As a new mama, I worked outside of the home and had a very nice income, so I took my daughter to a professional photographer for all her first year pictures without blinking an eye.

Once I started to stay at home and we added three more kiddos to our family, professional pictures were no longer the rule, but a very rare exception.

Although, we couldn’t afford professional pictures of our kids all of the time, I still wanted to have some sweet, quality pictures to hang on the wall. So, I began to experiment and research great ways to get high-quality photos of my kids, without breaking the bank.

taking photos collage

Here few tips for taking great pictures in the comfort of your own home:

  1. Set your baby up a few feet off of the ground. This puts your child at an easier level for you to photograph. I always have someone there to help in case the babe begins to roll or squirm — safety first!
  2. Grab some cute blankets, quilts, fabrics, or even a simple sheet. In this shot, I had a vintage quilt that was a family heirloom, a black and white striped blanket, and a fuzzy, white bathrobe that I used for the base prop. It is always good to use texture below the baby if you are doing a naked-baby shoot. If your babe was clothed with color and pattern, go with a simple, solid base blanket.
  3. Gather a few simple baby props. I used a baby bonnet in this photo shoot. I have used hats, headbands, wraps, and even kept a bare head before. Again, the key is to not have too much texture, but to also have enough to add interest.
  4. Make sure you have good lighting. In this example, we are in our nursery next to the window.  This ensures that I don’t have to use the flash and my camera can gather enough light to make the picture crisp and clear.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and found inspiration to take your own photos at home! Once you take the leap, you’ll never go back (or at least not very often!)

How Facebook Can Save You Thousands on Kid’s Clothes


Ashley of Lies About Parenting emailed in the following tip:

I was tired of buying nice clothes, only to see them dirtied, scuffed, and stained within minutes. On a play date, I mentioned my frustration to a good friend whose daughter always looks so trendy.

She understood how I felt, and mentioned that most of her daughter’s clothes are now purchased through Facebook BST sites for less than half the price of stores.

BST = Buy Sell Trade

BST Facebook groups are closed groups for moms to buy, sell, and trade their favorite clothing brands. There are literally thousands of these Facebook groups, for every popular brand.

I figured it couldn’t hurt to try, so I ordered 10 items from a Mini Boden BST group. My total cost was only $17 for 5 pairs of leggings, 5 coordinating tops, and shipping. Similar items, new on the site, would have totaled over $200!

If you want to explore BST sites, here are a few helpful tips:

Critical Facts About Facebook BSTs:

  • BST sites are not like eBay. Fakes are very rare and group admins are quick to remove members who don’t abide by the rules.
  • Groups are self-policed and serious about fair pricing, authenticity, and fast shipping.
  • Act fast. If you want it, say so, because the best deals are gone in the blink of an eye!
  • It’s not all second hand. Moms pick up steals at their local store/outlet, and pass along the savings in their fave BST groups.
  • Learn the lingo. The group will usually have a file with a list acronyms and abbreviations.

How To Find The Best BST Groups:

  • Size matters. Look for a group with a few hundred to a few thousand members. Too few, and there’s no selection. Too many, and fraud becomes common.
  • PayPal safely. Always send payment marked for Goods/Services, and never gift money. You pay a small percentage to Paypal (about 2%), but it’s worth it for the buyer-protection.
  • Look for fast sales. In the best groups, items are pended (considered sold, pending payment) almost immediately.

Give it a try. Search for your favorite clothing brand using the Facebook search tool. Add “BST”, if needed, join a few groups, and let the savings begin!

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Reader Tip: Make Money From Home With MTurk


Jason of Home Life Organized emailed the following tip:

If you’re looking to make a little extra spending money, I recommend looking into Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk).

MTurk is a site for taking surveys and doing small tasks (like verifying information on a receipt, or copying text from an image) that only a human can do. You get paid for each task that you complete, ranging anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars.

When you first sign up for MTurk you have to wait for approval.

NOTE: Set up your payment and complete your tax information as soon as possible after you’re approved. (I’ve read about people having issues with getting payment and tax info squared away so make sure you complete this step before you invest too much time and effort.)

After your setup is done you can log into the HITS tab and start looking for tasks to work on.

At the beginning you’re limited to the kinds of tasks you can do, and for the first 10 days you’re limited to the number of tasks you can complete. In a nutshell, the longer you stick with it, the more tasks you’ll be eligible for and the higher paying they’ll be.

Which Tasks Should You Focus On?

On one hand, you can find tasks that have many HIT’s available, like transcribing information from a receipt. You can complete a HIT and stay within the same listing and transcribe a second or third receipt. These types of tasks are usually low paying, but help to increase your total approved HIT’s number.

I didn’t want to burn myself out by doing only monotonous tasks and find a few pennies in my account at the end of the day, so to keep up my motivation, I looked for surveys, tasks with bonuses, and searched for tasks that had ‘fun’ in the description. I interspersed the quick but low paying HIT’s for higher numbers.

To date I’ve completed over 500 tasks and have earned over $400 (including a month I took off because life got busy). Overall I’ve had a great experience with MTurk and plan to continue using it. -Jason