Archive for the ‘Making Money’ Category

I haven’t been depositing much into the emergency fund lately, but I’ve got projects in progress which will help to boost the fund within the next few months as payments come in.

  • I am doing a short project distributing signs for the 2010 Census to 32 convenience stores (average 15 minutes each, or one very full day), and I’ll be paid $256.
  • I’m babysitting one evening later this month, for another $40.
  • I’ve continued to do mystery shops and expect to make at least $200 in mystery shopping income for the month of March.
  • This month, I opened a savings account at my bank, and after 3 months they’ll give me $25.
  • We’re planning a garage sale in April, so I’m boxing up everything I can find to sell.  Lots of our dining room stuff is packed up and ready to go, and I’m working my way through the wall of cabinets in the living room and the outgrown kid stuff this month. Also, Mr. Penny is going to clear out the garage-turned-office in the next month, and we’ll have plenty of “guy stuff” – tools and electronics – to sell. Last year, we had two garage sales and made over $500.
  • I’ve done some rebate-coupon-sale combining this month at Rite Aid and will be getting $20 in rebates at the end of the month. I’m also starting to stock up for Christmas. For example, this week, Rite Aid has a deal where if you buy Gillette razor refill cartridges, you get a free shaving gel. There is a coupon in Sunday’s paper for a free razor when you buy the refills, and online I found a printable coupon for $5 off any $25 purchase. Rite Aid is also offering a $10 rebate when you spend $30 on P&G brand products this week. The three products are $29.97 before coupons and discounts, but I got all three for free after coupons and rebates. (I had to add toothpaste to get to the $30.00 rebate level, but it, too, had a coupon and a rebate on it, so I spent just an additional $.50 for that.) They’ll go in the Christmas gift box for my brother.  Gillette routinely has coupon-rebate combos, so by the end of the year he’ll get a full basket of personal care products that I acquired for next to nothing.

Online Money Makers

  • I have done a few online surveys at SurveyHead, but haven’t signed up for any others yet. I hear good things about Pinecone Research, but they weren’t accepting new applications.
  • I discovered ChaCha and kgb.com, websites that does something like online directory assistance and answering questions for people on their cell phones, but I haven’t become a guide/agent yet. I’ll let you know how that works out. Has anyone tried it? Any suggestions for a newbie?
  • Another recent discovery is online tutoring through Idapted, particularly in English for non-native speakers. I am signing up and will let you know how that works, too.
  • I’m up to 4,500 points on MyPoints, more than half way to a $50 gift certificate, most from pay-per-click e-mails. I also use them instead of coupons.com to print coupons for grocery shopping, and I get points in addition to the coupon value. Additionally, I’m expecting 5,000 points for using their NetQuote feature on auto insurance and switching to a considerably cheaper insurance carrier. That will be another post! If you’re interested in signing up for MyPoints, e-mail me at thesavedquarter (at) gmail (dot) com for a referral and we’ll both benefit.
  • I continue to earn through Swagbucks, and with a few referrals (thanks, guys!) and their birthday bonanza, I’ve cashed out $25 in amazon.com gift certificates. I’m holding on to them to use for Christmas shopping. I anticipate that I’ll be able to do most of my Christmas shopping with Swagbucks this year, just by searching the internet!
  • I’m expecting about $4 from Ebates for my Old Navy purchase earlier this month.

I continue to be open to legal and legitimate online sources of income, so please leave me a comment if you know of something I haven’t found yet!

And finally, I wanted to share another money saver that I found this week: the Orowheat Outlet store!   I stumbled across this blog post by Fancy Frugalista, where a link is given to the Orowheat outlet, and we made a trip down to find some great deals – I bought 10 items, all whole wheat and HFCS free (Orowheat bread, Thomas’s bagels and English muffins, and Bob’s Red Mill grains) for just $14.31. That would easily be $40 at the regular grocery store!  I love a great find like that!

What are you doing to make or save a little extra money these days?

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I’ve been keeping busy with money making ventures, some more lucrative than others, and am excited to report that I’m back on track to meet my goals once I receive the payments! I wanted to post an update on what I’ve done so far to make extra money. I’m open to more legitimate, legal options for making money at home if you have more ideas!

Cloud Crowd: I did about a half hour of work and made a measly $.76. I don’t know if it will get better as my skill level increases, and their site doesn’t have a whole lot of work so I don’t know when I will get the chance to find out. I’m going to try again, since they pay within a day or two on PayPal and I can do it from home while the kids play.

Surveyhead: I’m awaiting my payment of $26.50 and have earned another $3.50 by doing two surveys this week. I’m going to try to do one survey per day, which should add about $60.00 a month to my goal. I haven’t tried other survey sites. Do you have any favorites?

Swagbucks: I’m up to $15.00 in gift certificates for amazon.com, just for searching the ‘net!

Ebates: I’m expecting a check for $11.29 from E-bates.

MyPoints: I cashed out 1,600 points for a $10 CVS gift card. I got all these points for pay-per-click e-mails and online surveys, which I do while watching TV at night. Not bad! You also get points for any E-bay purchases if you sign in through MyPoints first. If you want to sign up, please leave a message in the comments and I’ll send you a referral e-mail!

Focus Groups: I’m signed up for two this week, which will bring in $100.00 for about 3 hours of work. I’m finding them in the Odd Jobs section of Craigslist.

Babysitting: I made $30 babysitting in January and will make another $30 this week.

Mystery Shopping: This is doing really well for me! I am expecting almost $200, not including reimbursements, for mystery shops completed last week and this week. I’ve also gotten for free (after reimbursement): 2 meals, a brake check, oil change, $25 in children’s clothes, beauty products, Valentine’s cards, and a date night of bowling with Mr. Penny. I’ve done almost all of them evenings and weekends when Mr. Penny is home with the kids.

Rebates: I am now awaiting $27.00 in mail in rebates. I added a $10.00 for buying 10 bottles of Naked juice; I found the juice for $.99 each at the Grocery Outlet, so the rebate will make them free.

To see what’s working for other moms, head over to Works for Me Wednesday at We Are That Family.

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I cashed out of one of the survey sites I’ve been using, Surveyhead, which will add $26.50 to my savings! You receive $5 just for joining; I did 10 surveys, and they take a few weeks to clear, so this is money earned in December that I’m cashing out today. It should hit my Paypal account soon.

Also, I’ve done three mystery shops this week and anticipate receiving $32.76 from them in the coming weeks, including reimbursements. I’ve spent $7.76 out of pocket, so I’ll have made $25, plus a free lunch, brake inspection, and Valentine’s day cards.

I’m also waiting on $17.00 in mailed in rebates.

So although I’m not adding much on a day to day basis to the savings, I am doing the work that will go into building the savings up, and the total is steadily climbing. I’m on my way out to crush cans for the recycling center this afternoon, and I’m almost ready to take in January’s saved quarters (and dimes, nickels, and pennies) to add to the pot. Small amounts add up!

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I did Mystery Shopping as a way to make a few bucks and try new stores and restaurants in the days before having kids. It doesn’t pay much, but we often went out to eat or got services like oil changes and salon hair cuts for free. In brainstorming money making ideas, being a secret shopper came up, and it is something I can do to add to the savings goal.

Yesterday, I shopped a party supply store, getting a few little Valentine’s Day treats that will be reimbursed, and making $7. I’ll post it in savings once it hits my PayPal account. Next week, I’m signed up to have my brakes checked for free, and I’ll be paid $12.

Here’s a great place to start in getting started looking for companies. I’ve worked for several companies working with the Sassie system, and here is a link to a bunch of their companies. Although they use the same system, you have to sign up for each individually. NEVER pay to get secret shopper jobs!

Edited to add: I found the site JobSlinger, which is great for searching multiple companies for jobs in your area. In the past week, I’ve signed up for kid’s clothes, golf, restaurant, appliance, oil change, and bowling shops.

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The $24,000 Question

I had a question about the $24,000 income upon which I’m basing our savings goal. I am the stay-at-home mom of two small people – a 4 year old boy, Peanut, and 16 month old girl, Sweet Pea – which has great benefits to our family, but income isn’t one of them! Money that I bring into the family isn’t included in the $24,000 estimate, as I don’t know how much I will earn.  I’ll post as I earn, though, and keep the savings goal up to date.

My husband is a small business owner and currently takes a salary of about $18,000 a year (gross) for 2010, after quite a substantial pay cut to make ends meet for the business. There is a possibility that as business increases, our income will as well, but I’m not counting on it.

We will also get the Earned Income Tax Credit of  about $4,000 and the Child Tax Credit of $2,000 for our two kids.  They are included in the $24,000 estimate, but we don’t use them for month-to-month expenses. Last year they paid off medical expenses, and this year, part will pay off the car and part will go into savings.

I admit up front that by the end of 2010, the $6,000 saved may not be a quarter of the actual money that enters our lives throughout the year. The goal stands, though, as it  is a quarter of our anticipated income, and 3 months’ worth of living expenses to have on hand in case of emergency.


The Goals and Progress page has been updated with my current savings progress. I have saved $213.01 as of this morning!

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In order to meet my financial goals this year, I’ll need to save $500 per month. I don’t work outside the home, so I’ve been trying to come up with ways to cut expenses and bring in extra money. Here are the ideas I have so far for bringing in extra money throughout the month:

  1. Swagbucks
    Earn gift cards for searching the internet. So far, I’ve earned $10 in amazon.com gift cards in two months. When you sign up for Swagbucks and use it to search, you and I both receive points toward free gift cards!
  2. Ebates
    Receive cash back for purchases I would otherwise make online. When you sign up, you and I both get $5, free! I have used Ebates for cashback on deeply discounted clearance items at The Children’s Place, on Ebay, and for my sewing machine at overstock.com.
  3. MyPoints (Ask me for a referral and we both benefit)
    I’ve been doing the pay-per-click e-mails, points back for online purchases, and surveys to earn points toward free gift cards. Most of my points come from the pay-per-click e-mails, which I do while watching TV once or twice a week.
  4. Online surveys through Surveyhead and others. Surveyhead is the only one I’ve done enough to receive a paycheck from, and I won’t recommend one if I haven’t actually seen the money!
  5. Online tutoring.
  6. Babysitting.
  7. Find a job on Saturday mornings, when Mr. Penny is home with the kids.
  8. Participate in Focus Groups.
  9. Write E-How articles.
  10. Sell crafted items on Etsy.com and at craft fairs.
  11. Sell unwanted items on Ebay, Craigslist, Half.com, or yard sales
  12. Take cans and bottles to the recycling center rather than recycling at the curb.
  13. Sell plasma. I have donated blood but never sold plasma; I have no idea what it pays or how long it takes, but it’s an idea worth exploring.
  14. Rebates for things I would buy anyway. I particularly like Rite Aid’s rebate program, which is online (no mailing required) and leaves the receipt free to send in to a manufacturer’s rebate if one is offered. You can use coupons at the same time to triple-dip. Between rebates and coupons, I recently left the store with 28 items (diapers, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, Christmas clearance coloring books for next year’s stockings, and Soy Joy bars) for $.36.
  15. Get $100 for depositing $100 a month into a TD Ameritrade “Save Yourself” account. That’s almost an 8.5% return, which is not bad in the current economic climate. I’ll be looking into other accounts that pay a new account reward and ones that offer higher than average interest payments as well.
  16. Odd jobs, like delivering phone books, helping a friend with a paid sewing project, etc.

Did I miss any obvious ideas for things that I can do at home legally and legitimately without spending money upfront? I’ll post a page of everything I’ve done to make extra money throughout the year as the project progresses, so you can see what’s working.

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Putting away $6,000 is a lofty goal for me. I’ve never been able to save that much, and it will take diligence and creativity to stretch each quarter as far as it will stretch and bring in extras to supplement the savings. I’ll be testing as many ideas for finding and earning extra money as I can, and documenting it along the way.  Here are a few of the ways I’m planning on saving, and what you can expect to find on the blog:

Scratch vs. Store Bought

In this weekly article, I’ll be determining whether it is more cost effective to make from scratch such items as condiments and convenience foods, household cleaners, and bath and beauty products, testing recipes and reporting the results.

Dialing for Dollars

Our service providers will be receiving a phone call to reduce rates for regular expenses, like auto insurance, phone service, and even the water company. I’ll post the outcomes of my negotiations, hopefully finding significant savings!

Menu Planning

Wasted food wastes money, and having a plan is the most effective way I have found to reduce food waste. I’ll be posting my low-cost menu plans each week.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Use it up, wear it out, make do, do without

Finding creative uses to keep things out of the landfill, keeping spending on new products mindful and to a minimum, and keeping our things in good working order will certainly keep money in our pockets. As I try new ways to use items up and do without, I’ll be sharing them with you.

No-Spend Days

Clearly eliminating all spending for a set period of time will save me money, but it may also help me to redefine and focus in on needs vs. wants, hopefully helping me to spend more mindfully when I do shop. My goal to start is 7 No-Spend Days each month.

Money Making from home

I’ll be exploring a number of options for making money at home, with a more detailed list of ideas tomorrow. Your suggestions for legitimate, legal ways to make money from home without upfront costs are welcome!

You’ll also find a monthly wrap-up to see what’s working and how well I’m doing at reaching my goal, tips for frugal home making, crafty goodness, and inexpensive activities, projects and products for the family.

Sound interesting? Subscribe now and don’t miss a thing, and post your comments with ideas, questions, or encouragement!

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