Save Money with Your Smart Phone: Ibotta

Check out this cool video tutorial on how to use this app to earn and save more money. Then, let us know what you think in the comments!

Stop leaving money on the table!

These three tips will help you save (and earn) some cash.

Join the 52 Week Savings Challenge!

The savings challenge is on! Are you game?

Is Project Payday a Scam?

When I was invited to join Project Payday, I admit, I was skeptical. After all, I have seen all the ads, read all of the hype and got sucked in to an MLM or two in my days --and I am not a fan of MLM's by the way. Yet, I figured that since this website was free to sign up for, I would give it the good old "college try".

Cash Crate: An In Depth Review

I’m not just going to write a blog telling you how much I love Cash Crate or how much money I earn using it –anyone can do that. I’m going to give you a realistic idea of what you can make, every day, in about an hour of your time, and I’m going to do it step-by-step.

Money Earning Ideas: Low-Cost Start Up of the Week


Make up to $54,000 a year as a dog walker


When I rang in the New Year, I promised my readers that I would incorporate more money-making ventures into the blog. I know that there are a lot of folks out there who are trying to dig out from the long-term unemployment chasm and it’s time to get down and dirty and revisit some ideas with a fresh perspective. So, I bring you, the low cost start up for the week:

Dog walking and pet sitting

Materials: Leashes (start with one)
                 Treats
                 $25

Total investment: $40 - $50

Potential: Up to $30/hour or $57,000/year                   

How can you start a lucrative business for $40 to $50? I will tell you.

1.   Get a website. I wrote a post awhile back about using Yahoo to start a business website. Check it out. Point, click and done. A website legitimizes your business, even if you are running that business out of a 600-square foot apartment.
2.   Get a domain name. Select something people will remember, like “Peggy’s Pet Sitting”, check Godaddy.com, and see if peggyspetsitting.com is available. Play with variations until you find a winner.
3.   Know your price point. Research other pet sitting services and dog walker rates in your area and set yours comparably.
4.   Put contact information on your website. Yahoo even lets you put in pre-programmed “Contact Me” forms that go straight to your email (so does Wordpress if you want to run a blog) and you don’t have to be tech savvy to do it. Once your website is up and running, it’s time to go after clients.
5.   Advertise on Craigslist, Ebay classifieds and even on Facebook and Twitter. The key is to do this every day. You can’t just put an ad up and wait. You have to be proactive. Since these are free advertising methods, consider using your $25 start up investment to put an ad in the local paper, a newsletter or print up some flyers and leave them around your neighborhood.

You can (literally) have your website live in an afternoon and start getting clients contacting you by that evening, if you do this correctly and if you are diligent about it. From there, open a business checking account, deposit all of your profit, live off half of it (at the beginning) and put the other half into expanding your business. Hire more dog walkers, take a cut of that pay and handle scheduling; start looking for a place to set up a pet hotel; buy more (and replenish supplies). Forward thinking is everything, even if you are starting small.

Questions? Just ask! Leave me a comment or use the contact form up top. 

 

I Found $10,000 in Unexpected Places

I am not sure exactly why I get such a thrill every time I happen upon loose change in the sofa or a wadded up dollar bill in a pair of freshly washed jeans, but I do. Perhaps it stems from primitive hunting and gathering instinct, or maybe my DNA dial is set permanently to "tight wad." No matter the reason, I love finding money I am not looking for. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I recently expanded my hunting grounds to include five new areas.

Cash back rewards programs. If the words, "cash back" are attached to it, chances are, I know all about it. I am a member of several cash back online portals, that pay me five to eight percent cash back on every purchase I make. In addition to that, I pay my monthly bills with a cash back credit card and pay that credit card off each month with a cash back debit card, earning me four more percent.
Annual unexpected windfall: $2,640
 
In-store rewards programs. Recently, when my older dog required a specific medication, my Pet Perks card (at Pet Smart) saved me $8 a month. When I purchase everyday beauty items at CVS or Drugstore.com, I earn bonus dollars, saving me $15 a month or more. There are others, but those are just two examples of how I use merchant rewards programs to increase my pool of unexpected money.
Annual savings from vendor rewards: < $300
 
Paid to click programs. You might turn up your nose at any "internet income" opportunity. I know I used to. However, I found a few pay to click sites that actually pay, and that don't require an investment. I put seven of these different websites on my daily task list, and click ads while I am surfing my Facebook feed in the morning. It takes all of about 10 minutes to do, and I earn $5 to $8 a day doing it.
Annual cyber payday: < $2,900
 
Paid to read email programs. I earn $0.50 a day, or more, simply by clicking on a few email links. It might not sound like much, but it adds up.
Annual email payday: < $150
 
Affiliate marketing. When I find a website I love or a deal that is unbeatable, I share it. I share the link on Facebook, Twitter and even on my blogs. However, my shares don't always come free. For instance, I earn $5 for each person I refer to one of my rebates portal websites when they signs up for a free account. I also earn bonuses from that website and others. Being paid to share a link online (if you ask me) is not too shabby and it's a great extra source of income.
Annual sharing income: < $4,300
 

If you have been keeping up, it's clear that my annual "pennies from heaven" ante up to a little over $10,000 year; a lot more than I have found in fresh-from-the-dryer jean pockets in my lifetime.

Love is a Many Costly Thing: Infographic


Money Making Idea: Start a Web Business

What's your passion? Here are is a list of 11 businesses you can jump start offline and easily take online:
  1. Baking
  2. Jewelry making
  3. Bow making
  4. Scrap-booking helpers
  5. Personal organizers
  6. Social media marketing helpers
  7. Ad posters (data entry)
  8. Sewing and embroidery
  9. Pet sitting
  10. Daycare and baby sitting
  11. Catering
I know many women who have turned their hobby into a business. I looked at several different offerings and I think Yahoo Small Business is a powerful resouce for even the least tech savvy person out there. Check them out and let me know what you think!

Slaying my Income Taxes

Save 15% on H&R Block At Home

I don’t know what it is, but I get a serious sense of satisfaction when I do my own taxes. I also save money compared to taking my receipts and statements in and paying someone else to do them for me. And, since finding deductions, money and all of that good jazz isn’t rocket science, I have been successful at keeping Uncle Sam at bay over the years. 


Lately, I have noticed many of the tax software or online tax prep options offer the same levels of protection (audit, errors and so on) that I would get if I went in and paid them to do it. 

I see this as a win/win.

Since I had to hurry up and file this last year thanks to needing to get the twins FAFSAs completed, H&R Block’s online tax prep software was my personal hero. I paid $49.95 for the premium online edition and e-filing with audit protection and I couldn’t be happier with my results. It was really easy, and I mean REALLY easy. I was able to get my taxes done in just a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, my return was accepted by the IRS on Monday, and I was able to file the FAFSA for the twins immediately after. 
If you are eligible for a 1040EZ, H&R block will even help you e-file your taxes for free! Check them out for more info. I wouldn’t trust my money to anyone else. 

And no, I didn’t get paid to say that. 

Have you filed yet? I'd love to hear from you! 

Do You Track Your Savings? I Do.


How do you know what you are saving if you aren’t tracking it? The simple answer is, you don’t, but I do. Because a penny saved, is a penny earned.

I have a straightforward savings system in place from which I can easily monitor and cross-reference every cent spent and saved. As a self-professed spreadsheet fanatic, Microsoft Excel is my weapon of choice. I break it down into five tabs, as follows:

Tab 1: Fixed expenses. On my first tab, I define my fixed expenses. Things like my mortgage payment, car payment, insurance premiums, health insurance premiums and the like live here. I review this tab once every six months to see what I can adjust.

For instance: Could I save more on my mortgage by refinancing? Could I pay less in premiums if I increased my car insurance deductible? Am I getting all the discounts I deserve? These are the questions I ask myself twice a year, and twice a year, I usually find a way or two to shave a few dollars off these costs.

Tab 2: Variable expenses. On this tab, I sort monthly variable costs like cell phone bills, cable bills and utility bills. I revisit this tab once every year and comparison-shopping or evaluate savings from energy-improving enhancements or plan changes. If the savings are there, I take the plunge.

For instance: Investing $1,000 on solar screens shaved 20% off my electric bill ($480 a year) and increased my home value, essentially paying for itself in 18 months, and saving me money every year after that.

Tab 3: Groceries. On this tab, I list the trip-by-trip savings I net using coupons and in store sales. My grocer makes this easy for me by printing out my total savings at the bottom of each receipt. This also helps me keep a price index of things I buy most often.

The money I “save” in coupons and in store bargains is money I transfer to my “mad money” (fun) fund. I found that by rewarding myself with my grocery savings, I am consistently motivated to stay on the fiscally conservative straight and narrow at the market. 

Tab 4: Entertainment. On this tab, I total up my what my entertainment expenses would have cost me in one column, and then what I saved by using daily deal sites and coupons in the second. I adjust my entertainment and vacation budget annually, based on these savings. The more I save each month in entertainment costs, the more money goes into my family vacation fund. Again, the payoff is in the rewarding myself. It works.

Hint: I never take family outings or paid for trips unless I have a Groupon or cash saving coupon. Last year, I saved $1,200 because of this.

Tab 5: Cash back. Here, I list all of the cash back savings I receive each month when using cash back credit cards, debit cards and online cash back shopping portals.

I revisit this tab once per quarter and weigh my current savings against new offers, and see who is ultimately giving me the better deal. Then, I go where the savings are.

Using this method, I have tracked over $3,600 more savings in 2011 than I had in 2010, which I can largely attribute to spending smarter using cash back cards and portals. Since I know I have $3,600 in disposable income, I can add a little extra each month to my entertainment budget, add on to my annual vacation budget and increase what I give to charity; things I wouldn't know if I wasn't tracking my savings.

Do YOU track your savings? Leave me a comment and let me know what you do.


Check out these other articles on Yahoo!:

Money Making Idea: Domain Reselling and Cash Parking

Cash Parking Means $$$

I could talk to you until I’m blue in the face about how much I believe in having multiple streams of income. Often I am asked about mine. Well, if you want to know all my secrets, you’ll have to wait for the E-book. But, until then, I have a tidbit of knowledge I’m going to drop on you.

Domain reselling and Cash Parking
Wait. Stay with me. I can see that glazed look in your eyes already. You are already technolgied out.
It’s really easy. Here’s an example.

I get my free Godaddy account and decide I want to dabble in domain reselling. I purchase righteousideas.com for $9.99 a year and then buy the .net .biz and .me variations for an additional $5. I spend a grand total of $14.99.

On these domains, I click a button that says I allow Godaddy to park ads on that page for free –because I’m not going to do anything with it. Now, whenever someone goes to righteousideas.com, they see adds. When they click on any one of those ads, I get paid. If I pick a domain name that is likely to get a lot of traffic, I make back my $14.99 in a matter of a few days. The rest is profit.
From here, I wait. I put righteousideas.com up for sale in the Godaddy auction house and in a few other auction houses across the web. My starting price is $50. A couple of people get in a bidding war and drive the price up to $100. Now, I made my profit back and then some. 

Of course, you have to use common sense. Not every domain is going to be hot, and you do have to have a fair amount of patience for some domain names to sell, but if you are smart, you start buying domain names in bulk –maybe even a few off the auction house. Then, you wait for the hungry young entrepreneur to come to you with their idea. You hold the cards…well, the domain names anyway.

This is a great, powerful, inventory free way to make some extra cash. I love it and it takes a minimal amount of effort –I put in maybe 2 hours per week and net a few hundred dollars a month.

Here’s the thing: You don’t have to be tech savvy (well, really tech savvy to do it). Go daddy makes it easy. Sign up for a free Godaddy account and they walk you through the steps of domain name reselling and cash parking without a lot of tech talk. Best thing is, you don’t need to invest in it. Just  go read more about it and see if it’s for you. Then, let me know how you fare.

Happy earning! 


Check out other ways to earn on the blog!

You Get the Best Tech, I Get the Last Laugh....


First Person: You Get the Best Tech, I Get the Last Laugh


I have seen the photos rife with processions of tech-starved consumers lasting 12 blocks. I have shaken my head in disbelief when people by the dozens head to my local Apple Store because it has suddenly converted to some kind of tech Mecca, rather than a place of business. I have watched the crowds avidly pursue the latest and greatest iPhone, iPad, iPod or other device with a tiny dotted vowel at its helm. No thanks, not I.

It isn't the lines that turn me off. It isn't the scads of people with restless leg syndrome and Starbucks breath. I just don't believe in buying new tech. In fact, I will never buy new tech because I stand for two things: the bottom dollar and the bottom line.

Read the rest on YAHOO!

What is YOUR Debt Goal?

Are you in debt?
I know a lot of people who “say” they are paying off their debt and who say they paid off their debt. Trouble is, I look at their budgets and their words don’t always jive with their claims.
People are secretive about money. In my experience, people are more secretive about their cash blow than they are their sex lives. While I don’t quite understand the stigmata, and while I don’t expect you to confess to me about either, I do want to tell you about something I believe in: paying off debt.

I believe in paying off debt because I was in debt up to my eyeballs, and the anxiety and stress that went along with that is no way to live. Now, my one and only debt is my mortgage. My “disposable income” goes into a series of piggy banks (investments) and I am more “zen” than I ever have been.

The “Total Money Makeover” was my solution. I picked the plan, I stuck with it and now I can look you in the eyeball (almost) debt free. However, I realize that not all folks have the self-discipline it takes to stick with the debt snowball. Sure, you start with great intentions, but great intentions aren’t going to change your life. For you, I’d recommend a solution like the Debt Goal Program. This is a very powerful program that even gives you access to your very own free counselor –and you might need that.

Give it a click and let me know what you think! Make 2012 the year you commit to really getting out of debt. You can do it. I believe in you.