Saturday, December 15, 2007

Candy Cane Outdoor Christmas Decorations

Another outdoor Christmas decoration can be put together quickly and fairly cheaply. Candy Canes made out of PVC pipes and red duck tape are durable and weatherproof.


  • PVC pipes, white, about 2-3 foot lengths

  • Red duck tape

  • Scissors

  • Optional - Christmas lights

Wrap the pipes with the tape to create the swirls.
Cut the tape and add pieces to the ends of the pipes if you choose.

You can connect the candy canes with Christmas lights or just line your driveway or walkway with them.

Wrapped Candy Outdoor Christmas Decoration

Save some money on your electric bill this year by decorating your yard with festive items rather than stringing Christmas lights and keeping them on all night. One quick cheap project is making oversized wrapped candy to hang or place in your yard.


  • Heavy duty white paper plates

  • Clear packing tape

  • Colored cellophane

  • Scissors

  • Twine or thin weatherproof ribbon

Tape two plates together with the bottoms facing outward.
Set the taped plates in the center of a large rectangle of cellophane and fold over the 2 long sides of the cellophane like you're wrapping a present. Tape the cellophane together
Twist one end of the cellophane like a candy wrapper and tie it with the twine or ribbon, then repeat with the other end. You may want to tape the ends before putting the twine around them for extra security.
Add a length of twine or ribbon across the back or a loop at the top of the candy with tape if you want to hang it.

Use different colors of cellophane for a bright display. You can also color the plates like peppermints before wrapping them in the cellophane.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Practical Christmas Gift Idea - Gas Gift Cards

When you just can't think of something to get for someone on your list, try something practical. Though gift cards are viewed by some as a way to get out of actually putting effort into gift-giving, with the way gas prices are these days, an opportunity not to have to spend money to fill up the tank would be welcome.

Gas gift cards are available online at SVM Cards for Exxon, Texaco, and Shell gas stations in various amounts. Local stations offer them as well. The cards are often good for not only gas but non-fuel items too.

So when you're stuck trying to figure something out for someone who's hard to buy for, consider a gift that will actually be used and appreciated.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday Budget Tip - Cheap Christmas Garlands

The idea of making garlands out of popcorn has been around a long time, but that's not the only thing that can be used. Uncooked pasta such as macaroni or penne painted in red and green, or construction paper cut and decorated on both sides then glued to yarn or string, or even cinnanmon sticks tied at intervals can make a festive garland to display. Glue wrapped peppermints from a dollar store, or make a pattern with several types of wrapped candy attached to a length of string. If you have any unused green glow sticks from Halloween make a garland out of them. Little matchbox cars can be tied onto a heavier weight string for a whimsical garland. Take the time to look through things you already have to save some money and make your own unique Christmas garlands.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Gifts - Kids Paper Crafts

Several paper crafts for kids can be used as budget Christmas gifts. I've found a number of ideas for my youngest to do just with materials we already have.

DLTK has great printable templates to use to make coupon books to give to parents for such things as taking out the trash and doing homework. There are color and black and white templates to print as well as instructions for putting the book together.

Make bookends out of shoeboxes and scrap materials such as bits of wrapping paper. This site includes detailed instructions with an illustration showing how to cut the shoebox correctly.

Creative Kids at Home explains how to make a Memory Book including categories to use and suggestions to modify the gift for teachers and grandparents.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lucky Penny Gift Idea

If you're so broke that you feel you literally only have pennies to spare for Christmas gifts, here's a cute idea to actually give a penny as a gift. Make a Lucky Penny pin.

I ran across this idea on under Family Crafts, and it's very simple to do. All you need is a penny, some net or tulle fabric, ribbon, and a safety pin. Wrap the penny in the fabric and tie the top with ribbon, put the safety pin through the back of the fabric, and add a little note to say that this is a Lucky Penny Pin to give good luck. A picture of a finished pin can be seen here.

So even a penny can be made into a thoughtful gift for the holidays.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas Craft for All Ages - No Sew Fleece Scarves

A super simple gift that is pretty inexpensive and fast isn't impossible. Fleece scarves can be done in about an hour, and would work for any age or gender.


  • Fleece Fabric, solid or printed, about 6 inches by 60 inches

  • Scissors

Use the scissors to cut 5 inch strips about 1/2 - 1 inch part on one end of the fleece fabric.
Tie a knot at the top of each strip.

Repeat the steps for the other end of the scarf.

That's it!

Crafts for Kids - No Sew Sachets

Let your kids make their own special gifts for family, friends, and teachers. Scented sachets can be put together quickly, easily, and fit well into a limited budget.


  • Pieces of scrap material

  • Bag of potpourri

  • Scissors

  • Fabric Glue

Cut the fabric into squares about 5 inches. Put glue along 3 sides of one square of fabric, then place a second square on top of it. Placing glue along the edges helps prevent fraying. You can also cut one piece of fabric into a 5 inch by 10 inch rectangle and fold it to make a 5 inch square, then glue 2 sides, leaving the top open.

Once dried, put about 1/2 cup potpourri into the sachet using the open end, then glue that end closed.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Recycling Christmas Cards

I know, I'm doubling up on the posts. I've been flaking on the Wednesday budget tips with the holiday season so...

Anyway, the annual Christmas cards are starting to trickle in, and I'm running out of room to keep them. To be honest, I ran out of room last year, but I crammed them in anyway. So now I'm starting to think about what else could be done with them, and I've run across a number of sites with different craft ideas to recycle Christmas cards.

Different Ornament
Star Decoration
Gift Box

All of these crafts are made from Chritmas cards. A great way to keep them around without (over)stuffing them all into a box. Happy holidays!

Cheap and Easy Christmas Gift Bags

Get rid of those last bits of wrapping paper left on rolls that aren't enough to really cover any present by using them to make gift bags. All you need, aside from the wrapping paper, is glue and a package of paper lunch bags from the grocery store.

Cut pieces of the wrapping paper and glue them along the sides and bottom of the bag, keeping the paper smooth. If you have enough of one roll cover the entire bag, or piece multiple rolls of leftover wrapping paper together for an interesting collage. Allow them to dry and you have unique gift bags that are cheaper than store bought.

Let the kids do this craft for you to give them something to do and have one less thing to have to handle yourself this Christmas.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Late Budget Tip - Dammit Doll Christmas Gifts

Sorry I missed Wednesday, the holiday season's so hectic I just realized today was Friday. But that made me think of a great cheap Christmas gift - dammit dolls.

The idea behind a dammit doll is simple: when you get stressed, take it out on the doll rather than something you'll miss. The construction of a dammit doll is just as simple. If you do any sewing, you probably have all the materials already.


  • 2 pieces of scrap material, about 1/2 yard

  • Stuffing such as batting

  • A fabric pen for mouth, eyes and belly button

  • Paper for the pattern

  • Any optional embellishments such as ribbon, etc

Make a pattern by folding the paper in half and cutting out a basic body shape. You might want to draw the shape first, then fold the paper in half and cut it.

Pin the pattern onto the 2 pieces of scrap material and cut the pattern out of the material. If you're using thick fabric, you may want to cut out one piece at a time. Make sure the 2 pieces are identical.

Put the wrong sides of the material together and stitch around the doll, leaving an opening at the head to add the stuffing. Turn the doll right side out and put in the stuffing, making sure it's pushed firmly, but not overstuffed, into the arms and legs. Stitch the opening closed and use the fabric pen to add eyes, nose, mouth, belly button, etc. You can also embellish it with yarn hair, a ribbon around the neck, whatever you choose to make it special for the person you're giving it to.

Finally, print the following poem (or just print the first verse if you want) and include it with the doll when you wrap up the gift.

Whenever things don't go so well...
And you want to hit the wall and yell...
Here's a little dammit doll
That you can't do without.
Just grasp it firmly by the legs
And find a place to slam it
And as you whack the stuffing out

If Dammit's not a word you say
Then twist its little neck
And grumble out repeatedly
Oh Heck, Oh Heck, Oh Heck!

And once you're done abusing it
Just sit it on the shelf.
But hug it first, as I'd hug you
If I were there myself.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Budget Christmas Gift - Cinnamon Sugar Mix

You definately feel a tight budget at Christmas time. And somehow it seems your list is getting longer while your paychecks dwindle. But even if you don't think of yourself as a crafty person, there are still some homemade things that are cheap to do and will be appreciated too. A mix of cinnamon and sugar in a decorative shaker is fast, easy, and inexpensive.

What you need to make about 1/4 cup mix:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 4 tsp cinnamon

  • Salt shakers from a dollar store

Mix the cinnamon into the sugar thoroughly. Use a funnel to put the mix into individual shakers. You may wish to decorate the shakers as well.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday Budget Tip: Quick Easy Thanksgiving Recipes

I'll admit it, I'm disorganized. While a lot of people have established traditional recipes to pull out each Thanksgiving to cook, I'm just not there yet. And I tend to procrastinate too, so I'm usually scrambling looking for some last minute fast and cheap Thanksgiving recipes beyond the turkey. I thought there might be some others out there in a similar situation, so here are some recipes I've found that can be put together fast and have only 3-5 ingredients each.

Caramel Apple Dip


  • 8 oz package cream cheese, softened

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Blend ingredients together in a bowl, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold with red, green, or yellow apples

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: About 5 minutes
Cook Time: None

Sweet Potato Apple Cranberry Bake


  • 29 oz can sweet potatoes

  • 21 oz can apple pie filling

  • 16 oz can whole berry cranberry sauce


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Carefully fold ingredients in the casserole. Bake until sweet potatoes are heated through, about 30-45 minutes.

Yield: About 4 servings
Prep Time: About 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30-45 minutes

Baked French Onion Rice


  • 1 cup long cooking rice, uncooked

  • 14 1/2 oz can beef broth

  • 10 1/2 oz can French Onion soup

  • 4 oz can muchroom stems and pieces, drained

  • 1/4 oz cup butter or margarine


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine rice, broth, soup, and mushroom pieces in an ungreased 2 quart casserole dish. Dot mixture with butter and bake for 50 minutes.

Yield: About 4 servings
Prep Time: About 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes

Easy Berry Crumble


  • 4 cups berries (blueberries, blackberries, etc)

  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar

  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

  • 3 1 1/2 oz. packages maple and brown sugar flavored instant oatmeal


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix berries and sugar together in an ungreased 9 inch pie pan. Put the oatmeal packages into a separate bowl, cut the butter into the oatmeal until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle the crums iver the berries and sugar. Bake until topping is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.

Yield: About 5-6 servings
Prep Time: About 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wednesday Budget Tip: Thanksgiving Dinners

No matter how you coordinate the family/friend gatherings this year, someone's probably going to end up doing most of the cooking, with only a few guests maybe bringing one special dish. Why not share the burden, and the expense, by getting everyone to agree to bringing one thing. Assign people to the side dishes and desserts, even drinks and decorations for those who don't cook. That way everyone contributes something unique, and no one feels overwhelmed.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wednesday Budget Tip -

If you're looking to get rid of some things or need to find something, consider joining a local Freecycle group before turning to eBay or garage sales. Joining the group closest to you through their Yahoo group is free.

Once you have located the group using the main Freecycle site, follow the instructions to join their Yahoo group. Then you'll have access to those things that members are offering and will be able to offer your own unneeded or unwanted items yourself.

The purpose behind Freecycle is to reuse things, keeping them out of landfills. It's a great opportunity to clean out your own unused stuff and possibly find things you need, all for free, and help the environment at the same time.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wednesday Budget Tip - Quick Recipes

I thought this week I'd offer some quick budget healthy recipes to help offset sugar highs from all the Halloween candy :)

Fried Rice


  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper

  • 2 eggs

  • 4 cups cooked rice

  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce


Spray a skillet with nonstick cooking spray, then add green pepper and saute until crisp-tender. Add eggs and cook until they are completely set, stirring frequently. Add the rice and soy sauce; heat through.

Yield: 7-8 servings
Prep Time: About 5 minutes
Cook Time: About 10 minutes

Speedy Tortilla Soup


  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

  • 4 cups water

  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken

  • 4 flour tortillas cut into 2-1/2-inch strips


In a saucepan, bring the soup and water to a boil. Stir in the chicken and tortilla strips; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: About 5 minutes
Cook Time: About 30 minutes


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Weekly Budget Tips

Introducing.....weekly budget tips! I'm really going to try to stick to at least a post every Wednesday with some idea relating to working within a current small budget, even if only a quick and cheap recipe. And my recent hard drive crash is the inspiration for my first Wednesday Weekly.
(I know, not a very exciting name. I can't manage originality and organization at the same time)

Having back ups of your files in case of a crash is vital. You know you can use CDs, USB drives, zip drives for saving copies, and while those are all good options you're still subject to potential loss, damage, or theft. Or, in my case, apparently forgetting where you put it. I know I chose a safe place...

Another choice, or even in addition to other methods, is to back up your files online for free. Not necessarily the same thing as sharing files at places such as Photobucket and Flickr, many sites offer up to several GB worth of space specfically for backing up important stuff.

  • XDrive allows up to 5GB of online storage free with no obligations. You can also upgrade to 50GB for about $10 a month.

  • Orbitfiles offers 600MB of storage for free with access from any computer, cell phone, or PDA, and allows scehduled automated back ups as well of uploaded files.

  • MediaFire does not require a sign up and allows file uploads of up to 100MB with unlimited disk space.

Using a free file storage site to back up your files either alone or with other methods can give you some peace of mind that you'll be able to recover files lost by damaged hardware or simply not remembering where you put it yet without adding another expense.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hard Drive Loss

You just don't appreciate something until it's gone. My hard drive crash a few weeks ago affected more than I realized. Aside from the replacing of the drive itself and loading all the programs again, login info for a number of sites was lost as well as many things I hadn't backed up. So I'm sorry for the long delay in posts.

I'm not doing so good on the consistancy thing, am I? But I promise I'll get better.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Budget Halloween Garlands

This Halloween, don't rely on store bought decorations. Make your own Halloween garlands quickly and easily with simple and cheap craft items. You only need the following materials:

  • Plastic spiders, bugs, pumpkins, or skulls

  • Glue (or glue sticks and a glue gun)

  • Black Yarn (or string or ribbon)

Glue or tie the plastic spiders, bugs, pumpkins, or skulls along the black yarn and then choose a place to hang your garland. It's that easy. You can make the garlands out of one item such as spiders or use them all in a pattern along the yarn. If you want to use the garland outside, you can tie glow sticks from a dollar store into it as well.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Update - Global Test Market

I thought I'd pass along something I discovered today on the Global Test Market website. I'd received a notification of another survey, but when I logged in the survey showed that it was closed. I also noticed that all the profiles I'd filled out, which are supposed to allow for more opportunities for surveys, all had a status of Not Started. Additionally, I appear to have lost points I had earned for previous surveys.

I don't know if it was a glitch on the site, but it's rather frustrating to have to go through the whole process again. I'm going to continue monitoring this site to see if my information is lost again.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Auto Insurance Quotes Online

You know that in order to save money you need to shop around. And with so many demands on time as well as money, it's great when a website can do the comparisons for you. Advantage Auto Quotes gives you a quote online and sells all types of car insurance including commercial and student policies. Even drivers with a bad record can be insured.

Advantage Auto Quotes also offers GAP coverage for new car purchases, which covers the difference in cost between a new car and a recently-depreciated vehicle of the same make and model, and classic car policies. Their website even includes information on what exactly affects your insurance rate.

Find low rates for all automobile insurance policies and all drivers easily and have them sent to you at Advantage Auto Quotes.

Brought to you by your friends at Advantage Auto Quotes

Friday, August 31, 2007

Get Paid While You Blog - Blogsvertise

If you're going to be blogging anyway, you might as well make some money at it, right? A growing number of sites are taking advantage of the popularity of blogs, and one in particular, Blogsvertise, caught my eye due to the fact that your blog only has to be 60 days old. Other pay to blog sites require the blog to be live at least 90 days.

The website is easy to navigate, the Rules and FAQs are straightforward and informative, and the response time is fast. Blogsvertise pays for your entry after 30 days from approval via Paypal. Newer sites are placed on a probationary status, meaning they will earn less money until they are approved as full-fledged members.

One important note, though, is that Blogsvertise does not accept Wordpress blogs. As Wordpress does not allow blogs with paid content on them, take the time to set up a blog on another site before submitting.

You've Got to Spend Money to Make Money

It's an old saying, and one that's not necessarily true anymore. If you're trying to make money online; whether through photography, blogging, writing, or other means; you have to promote what you're doing. "If you build it, they will come" is really just wishful thinking. But when you're broke, paying for advertising isn't an option. So what promotion can be done for free?

Link trading is a good way to get started. Finding other sites in your niche and requesting to trade links with them offers more exposure for everyone and chances to compare your site to others, as well as receiving important feedback.

Forums are another free option, but remember not to spam. Signing up for several forums and just posting links to your site can get you ignored at best and mess up your credibility. Take the time to actually join some forums and become a part of the community. Like link trading, it's an opportunity to network.

Social networks like Digg and StumbleUpon are gaining popularity. However, like forums, you need to be careful not to spam. Make sure what you're trying to promote actually fits into a category or all you'll be doing is wasting time.

Free promotion can take a little more time to build traffic than paid advertising, but patience and dedication can make it work.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Focus! The Most Important Tip for Work at Home Success

It's vital, and it can be overlooked. To be successful in making money at home, you have to be disciplined enough to stay focused. At a regular job, you have supervisors, managers, and co-workers to help keep your mind on your work. Even if you are generally unsupervised, the environment alone is usually enough. In your own home you are responsible for staying motivated.

You can see the evidence here on this blog. I had a family issue come up, and haven't posted since 7/11/07. I couldn't focus. But that excuse wouldn't be acceptable at a regular job, and it shouldn't be acceptable when working at home either. You have to work, even when you don't feel like it. And no one's going to be looking over your shoulder to remind you of that.

So before you leave the rat race behind for the joys of being your own boss, keep in mind that making money from home usually involves more time and work than a regular job. Ask yourself if you have the discipline to keep going, or if you want to create a supplemental income.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Get Paid to Take Surveys! Real Sites

Earn hundreds of dollars just by taking simple surveys at home!
Your one-time fee of (whatever $ amount here) gives you access to lots of sites that will pay you for your opinion!

Hey, I actually wrote those "ads" better than some of the sites I've seen them on.

Actually, there are two websites that I've been satisfied with as legitimate. I haven't made "hundreds of dollars weekly" from them, but every little bit helps.

Note that these are the links to the main sites, not referral links of mine.

Global Test Market allows you to build up points for cash. Filling out their different profiles makes you eligible for more surveys that they will email to you. They are fairly steady in their survey offers, so points can build up at a steady pace. You need a minimum of 1000 points for a payment, and they pay via mailed check.

Greenfield Online offers sweepstakes to all members in addition to earning cash, and they send out several surveys. As with Global Test Market, filling out the profiles can make you eligible for more surveys.

If you don't mind spending a little time giving your opinion, you can earn money at these survey sites. Not a full-time income, but a small steady stream for a few minutes here and there.

Money Saving Tip - Quit Smoking

No, this isn't a lecture on the evils of smoking. It's a logical conclusion I've come to in an effort to cut my budget. I smoke a little under a pack a day, depending on how late I stay up (usually pretty late). So at about $4.50 a pack I'd save roughly $135 per month. If I can get my husband to quit with me that's about $275 saved monthly.

An added benefit to quitting, aside from all the healthy stuff, is that it can also cut the monthly health insurance payment by about $50 by my calculations. So that would be around $325 saved a month just by both of us giving up smoking, or about $160 if it's just me. Not bad.

Since I can't afford kits, patches, gums, etc, to help me quit, I've found a couple of free online resources that seem to be pretty helpful.

Quit4Good is a website dedicated to helping people quit smoking. Categories include ways to quit, weight gain, and common triggers.

Quit Smoking Journals offers free journals to keep while you're quitting with a large group of supportive people in different stages of quitting smoking themselves.

So I'll quit smoking and save money, and maybe when my budget allows I'll start again. But hopefully not.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

DIY Budget Web Design

I mention being a former web designer in my profile. That's not entirely true. I've been a freelancer off and on for years, I'm just not actively seeking web design jobs right now. But designing websites is one of those types of businesses that can be started from home fairly inexpensively and easily, and can produce a decent income for creative types.

The main program you'll need is a good HTML editor, although you should also have a graphics program, and a flash authoring program too. The following is the software I've been satisfied with for features, ease of use, and price.

I've used TopStyle for creating web pages for years. You can edit XHTML and CSS, update old HTML, and validate your code with W3C. The preview pane lets you see how things look while you're coding, and the harmonious color picker helps choose workable palettes quickly. For creating standards-compliant, cross-browser compatible sites this program is great, and pretty cheap at about $80.

Another choice is CoffeeCup HTML Editor. It includes several wizards which can be helpful for new users or when you're in a hurry, and also has a built-in FTP. It's also cheaper than TopStyle, at about $50.

CoffeeCup offers a whole range of products for web design in addition to the HTML Editor; including various Flash programs, Stylesheet Maker, and add-ins. All them have a free trial version so you can see if you like them before committing to buy.

For graphics I use Paint Shop Pro. Aside from costing less than Adobe Photoshop, I prefer the interface. And as far as features go, they really are comparable. They're even compatible, to an extent, as you can open Photoshop (.psd) files in PSP and save images in .psd format. You can find versions 9 and X on eBay and Amazon for as low as about $30.

On a side note, I've also written a number of tutorials for Paint Shop Pro - a link list can be found here.

Though not essential, if you really want to get people interested in hiring you to build a website for them, knowing some Flash is very useful. I found Swish Max to be easy to use for full sites and animations, and reasonably priced too at $99.

As for the other aspects of a home business, has links to several resources, including state-by-state information for starting a business and business calculators.

Doing web design is a good business to start in your spare time. With a little artistic flair and some patience, it can end up generating a nice income from home.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Amazon Unbox Downloads

DVD box sets of your favorite shows are great, but you know you like some episodes of a season better than others. It'd be nice if you could choose the ones you want, rather than paying for the whole thing and ending up with some episodes you'll never watch. Amazon Unbox Downloads allows you to do just that, for a reasonable price. You can keep purchased videos on two PCs or TiVo DVRs and two portable video players at the same time. Individual episodes of certain shows are available for $1.99.

Unbox downloads also offers video rentals which can be stored on your PC or TiVo DVR for 30 days. Once you press play, you have 24 hours to watch the video before it expires. Rentals are typically $0.99 - $3.99.

There are some restrictions, though. The offer is only available for US customers located in the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia. You will need to install the Unbox Video Player. Requirements are a Windows-based PC (XP or Vista) or a broadband-connected TiVo DVR (Series2 or Series3). It is not compatible with Apple/Macintosh operating systems. Amazon states that while it may be possible to run the Amazon Unbox video player on an Apple computer running a required Windows operating system, they cannot guarantee performance on those systems. Minimum hardware requirements are a PC with a 1.5-gigahertz (GHz) processor or faster, at least 256MB of memory, and a DirectX 9.0 compliant Video (64 MB Memory) and Sound Card.

Amazon Unbox downloads can help keep your entertainment budget within limits. I've linked some of my favorites on the right that I didn't think I could get for awhile due to money constraints. Don't forget their other choices in movies, music, and books as well. Sometimes Amazon prices can beat eBay.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Get Paid To...waste my time

If you've Googled making money at home, you've probably run across GPT and PTC/PTR/PTS (paid to click/read/surf or sign up) sites. I did some research, admittedly maybe not enough, but what I found was enough to convince me I'd make money faster scouring parking lots for change. And end up with a far more manageable headache.

I'll be fair to anyone who wants to give this a try. Most of these sites have the same basic format and rules. Some have a very low minimum for payout, such as $2 at Cash Lagoon, others pay monthly or weekly. They have free offers which are generally surveys and sign ups that pay anywhere from about 20 cents to up to a couple of dollars. There are also trial and credit card offers where you pay a small fee at first to get a much higher return. And of course there are referral systems for building residual income. I'm not going to go into all the details here - there are sites galore dedicated to explaining this, even down to how many pages you should do on the survey/sign ups like here. I'll let them do it.

I started with Cash Crate. I jumped right in without having any real idea what I was doing. I figured the FAQs would be enough. In a word, no. I signed up and immediately started a free offer, a survey. Ten pages later in this apparently never-ending survey from the place none of us wants to go I just closed the browser window. I submitted it for payment and decided I needed to learn more about this. Surely not everyone would think this was so great if every offer was like that, right? But while I'm browsing, I'm suddenly buried in pop-ups and redirects. I've done tech support, I know my computer's been infected with something. Long story short, it took 2 hours to clear all traces of spyware, including a backdoor trojan, that had suddenly appeared on my system. I'm not saying it's Cash Crate's fault (actually it's my own for not being more careful), but that's a coincidence I'm not going to chance occurring again.

So I researched GPT sites, how people are making money using them. Here's a very basic list of things you should do:

Sign up for multiple email addresses to handle the flood of spam you'll get. Keep track of all these, because many offers require an email with a verification link being sent to the address you provide in order to get credit. Also, if you do too many offers with the same email address you won't get credit at all (I found this out at Cash Lagoon, I had about $20 worth of offers disapproved).

Sign up for a free voicemail number to handle the flood of telemarketing calls. A good site is Private Phone.

Get a prepaid credit card to use for the higher paying trial and credit card offers. Note, though, that many GPT sites are no longer accepting them. Here is a blog with a list of sites that still allow them, along with information about other recent changes in GPT sites.

Download an autofill program like Roboform to take care of the tedious surveys and sign ups. It is free with no spyware or adware.

Download CCleaner to delete your cookies and cache and make sure you're cleaning both after every single offer so that you're properly credited.

That's more effort than I personally want to go through. If you want to try GPT/PTC (etc, ad nauseum) sites, I sincerely wish you the best of luck. Me, I'm just going to hope I find some dropped change in parking lots.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


I didn't mean to do this yet, really. But it said "claim your blog" so I did and now I'm signed up there. Because I'm new (and I have hardly any content yet, at least not here) I have no Authority, which is the number of blogs linking to a website in the last six months. So I know what it means, but if my kids ever saw that "You have no authority" I'd never hear the end of it. Hopefully I'll be able to fix that soon. Anyway, my Technorati Profile.

Aspiring Photographer

I check the forum on Associated Content (more in previous post) regularly, and found an interesting site called VuMe that allows you to upload photos, videos, and audio files and pays $3 per 1000 views. They will deposit money into your Paypal account when your balance reaches $25. The site is pretty new, and I still have a way to go until I hit the minimum amount, so I don't know how good it is yet. Guess not too many people are interested in looking at my cats.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fancy yourself a writer?

One way I've found to make money at home is through a site called Associated Content. If you have a talent for writing I highly recommend it. They offer pay both by article and by page views on your published articles, so you can build a nice little residual income without having to bother friends and family to sign up for something under your referral.

The FAQ section is clear and detailed, and there are several helpful articles and videos both for writing and increasing page views from experienced Content Producers on the site.

And of course, I will shamelessly plug my own page while I'm blogging.

And just how are you going to do that?

An excellent, and legitimate, question. One for which I'm still working on an answer. Like moving into a new place, there's alway that period of time during which you're unpacking, shifting things around, deciding what works where, etc.

Starting with why I even created this blog in the first place seems like a good place to begin. I chose to stay at home early this year. At the time, it was the best solution to family scheduling conflicts. But life goes on. And beyond just paying bills and surviving, it's hard to give up those extra things that cost money. Music, movies, and family entertainment come to mind. And I've become interested in environmental causes over time. It's hard to donate money you don't have.

So I thought that I'd look at ways to still have a life within a limited budget in addition to throwing in my two cents on ways to make money at home. We'll see how it works.

Why read this?

There are so many sites tackling the whole "work at home" thing, do we really need another one? Probably not. But then, did we really need a Fantastic Four sequel? Probably not.

So, I'm going to try to give this a unique spin, and hopefully not follow the same well-worn path of so many sites before me.

And just maybe, one or two people might be interested.