Tuesday, July 31, 2007

07/31/07 - Daily Progress Report

Whoooo-hoooo!! I did it!!

Today's Cash Crate earnings: $6.98.

Also got an offer of $8.01 for the last article I submitted to Associated Content.

Earned $44 from my ebay auction that ended today.

So, I just added it all up and it turns out - I made it!! I earned $1,007.29 this month putting me just over my goal of at least $1,000 a month. I am very happy. It was a little close this month and I wasn't sure I was going to make it. But I did!!

If I can keep this up we will really be able to have a large snowball to pay off our debts faster. This is going to help our financial situation a lot. We only have 8 years until our oldest daughter will go to college and we need to get focused on that as soon as possible!

Starting tomorrow I will be posting my budget and my daily spending. This will be a challenge for me but should help make the most of our earnings by making sure we stick to our budget. :)

Thanks for everyone's encouragement this month!

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $58.99

Monday, July 30, 2007

07/30/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's Cash Crate earnings: $2.50. And, I got another referral, so my rank has gone up to "Silver". Yeay!

Update on ad earnings: $.80

Also, one of my ebay items has a bid of $44! The auction will end tomorrow so I won't add this income in until it ends. Maybe it will ends even higher. Anyway, I'll end at least at $991. I'm sure I can come up with something to earn at least another $9 tomorrow. So, I will break $1,000 this month after all. I am very happy about that!

Starting on Wednesday, August 1st, I will be tracking all of my expenses also. This will give a much more accurate picture of my progress and will hopefully help to keep expenses low to maximize the overall effect on our finances.

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $3.30

Sunday, July 29, 2007

07/29/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's Cash Crate earnings: $4.13. (I'm also only one referral away from bumping up to the next level.)k

Worked at the Church nursery today. Earned: $28

Only need $57 dollars more in the next 2 days to make my $1,000 goal! Hopefully some of my ebay items will sell. :)

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $32.13

Saturday, July 28, 2007

07/28/07 - Daily Progress Report

Submitted another article to Associated Content today. Should earn another $8.

Haven't gotten any bids yet on the two items I have listed on ebay.

Going out to do some returns now. Should earn some extra funds by this. (Update: returned $94 worth of stuff!)

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $94

Friday, July 27, 2007

Credit Card Tempting Offers: New Update

Okay. After a few MORE calls to American Express, I was assured by two different people that if you sign up for the Business card you will earn 25,000 points which you can use to get $250 in gift cards. (Someone at AmX told me you could only use the 25,000 points for a free airline ticket, but two different people assured me that was incorrect.)

So . . . I took the plunge. I signed up for it. I feel a little guilty as I know Dave Ramsey definitely would not approve. Hopefully I am savvy enough to play with these snakes and not get bitten! :)

My plan is to use the gift cards to purchase Christmas gifts and take $250 out of my Christmas budget to use for the debt snowball. So, that was an easy way to "earn" $250 (I hope!).

If anyone else is interested in applying for the card, you can read the article by Five Cent Nickel and click on one to complete the online application. (It is a short one page form with only basic name, address, phone, etc. and it will tell you if you are approved in literally 60 seconds!)

07/27/07 - Daily Progress Report

Finally, got an offer of $8.22 from Associated Content for my last article (yeay!!). I am very happy about that small achievement. Also decided to submit my book review on The Four Laws of Debt Free Prosperity. I submitted as non-exclusive since I already published it here. So, well see if they offer me anything for it.

Also posted another item on ebay today. A coach purse, so hopefully that should bring in a good size chunk of change. Starting bid is at $35, so at least that much if it does sell. I saw other bags like mine selling for between $50 and $100, so that would be good.

Also got out all the returns I need to do. Have quite a few. I haven't added it all up yet, and dug out all the receipts yet (I hate that job. I need to be more organized!) But, if I can get all those done it will probably be close to $100 I think.

Oh, and I just checked my ad revenue, and I earned another $8 so far this month. So that made me happy.

So, earnings are looking a little brighter today. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed!

Updates: My first ebay auction ended and I earned another $15 - yeay!! And now the big one - I broke down and signed up for the American Express business card to get 25,000 points which I can use to get $250 in gift cards. So anther $250 "earned", bringing this month's total up that much closer to $1,000. :)

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $281.22

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Anyone Interested In Joining Cash Crate?

Cash Crate is a great site I use to earn extra money on line. I need only three more referrals to bump my earnings up to the next level, so I thought I would put out this plea to see if there is anyone who might be on the fence and if I could convince them to give it a try.

At Cash Crate you sign up for free and take surveys to earn money. Once you join you see a list of different offers available for you and it shows how much you will earn for each offer. Many of them are just a series of ads offering you different products and services. You just click on "no, thank you" and you will earn the money for completing the offer.

There is also a Daily Survey that pays $ .80 and you can only take one of these surveys per day.

Lastly, you can also earn money by referring new members to Cash Crate. You will earn $3 for each active referral and also earn 20% of what your referrals earn and 10% of what their referrals earn. (I know, sounds like a MLM, but it's not because there is nothing for you to purchase.)

Basically, companies pay Cash Crate to have their members be exposed to their products and services, clearly hoping their ads will entice you to become a customer of their (but we know better!). So, Cash Crate passes along some of this advertising money to you. The way I look at it, we get exposed to ads all day long. This way we get to choose when and where we will be exposed, and we get paid for it.

I have averaged $50 a month earnings from Cash Crate over the past couple of months.

Please consider signing up for Cash Crate through my referral link and maybe we can both get a little closer to being debt free!

07/26/07 - Daily Progress Report

Well, I got a few bids on one of my ebay items. Currently up to $12. I won't count the earnings until the auction ends tomorrow. But I'm happy.

I am still considering the American Express Business Card. Five Cent Nickel had contacted me and insisted that you do get the $250 in gift cards, so I may call again tomorrow and find out for sure. I'm feeling the pressure to reach $1,000 this month!

I should be writing more for Associated Content. I'm still waiting for an offer on my last article and for some reason I find it hard to write the next article until I get an offer on the first one. Makes no sense. I'd like to say I'll write several articles over the next few days, but in reality it is unlikely. Two of my sisters from out of state are coming to visit this weekend and will be staying with me. So, I'm sure it will be a busy few days.

My one bird in the hand is I do have several returns I need to do. If I can get them done this weekend, that will be a little more (maybe a lot) "earnings" for this month.

Today's Cash Crate earnings: $ .72.

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $.72

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Four Laws of Debt Free Prosperity (Book Review)

The Four Laws of Debt Free Prosperity by Blaine Harris and Charles Coonradt with Lee Nelson is an excellent book that explains the principles of financial control necessary for enjoying a well-balanced life. I liked it so much that I added to "Books I Recommend" that are available for purchase through Amazon.com.

The book is entertaining and easy to read as it explains the laws through the story of a man named Paul Smith and his neighbor Mary Sessions (based on a true story). Paul is a man deeply in debt and on the brink of financial disaster. Mary is his elderly neighbor who befriends him and teaches him The Four Laws of Debt Free Prosperity.

Though the book was written in 1996, its financial principles are timeless and in accord with the teachings of many of today's financial gurus, such as Dave Ramsey.

Tracking - The First Law of Debt Free Prosperity

The book asserts that, "Tracking daily expenses is the first necessary step toward any kind of financial success." It goes on to explain that without record keeping, you have no way of telling how well you are doing. It suggests that you keep a record of every single expense. I started to think about this and came to the conclusion that recording only my daily earnings and savings is not giving an accurate financial picture. I think I could use some improvement in this area, so beginning in August, I am going to add a record of my expenses to my Daily Progress Report.

Targeting - The Second Law of Debt Free Prosperity

The book claims that setting targets, or goals, is necessary for financial success. It presents some guidelines on setting and achieving goals from the book The Game of Work by Chuck Coonradt. (I have added that book to my list of books to read.) He asserts that goals must be written ("goals not written down are wishes"), they must be your own, they must be measurable and specific, they must be stated in the most visible terms available, and they must contain a deadline. I figure that I've pretty much got this one covered with my clearly defined goal of paying off $44,000 by 10/01/10. And I figure that it doesn't get much more visible than on a blog!

Trimming - The Third Law of Debt Free Prosperity

"The third law is: live on less than you earn so you can have a surplus to get you out of debt and invest in assets that appreciate." Also described as trimming, as in trimming your expenses. They suggest that you pay yourself first, by using 10% of your income to pay off debts or invest, and living on the 90% that is left. In this way you will automatically adjust your spending, whereas if you try to wait and see what's left at the end of the month, there will be nothing left. (I can attest to that!)

Training - The Fourth Law of Debt Free Prosperity

The book asserts that "The people who understand money spend it on assets that generate wealth. Those who don't understand money, spend it on things that consume wealth, and thus the rich get richer and the poor get poorer." So, financial education is necessary for financial success. I think this makes sense. When I am finally out of debt, I will need to brush up on what to do with my money. (I got a good start with this from another book that I will be reviewing soon.)

So, that is a summary of the four laws. The book also explains how to pay off your debts from smallest to largest, using the "debt eliminator" strategy, which is exactly the same thing as a Debt Snowball.

It also contains several investment tables that are very encouraging. One shows how in just 6 years you could pay off $31,131 of debt AND save $51,467 by paying/saving $1,120 a month (which happens to be very close to my current debt and the amount I am currently snowballing!).

Another is titled "Save to Become a Millionaire" and shows how much money you would need to save monthly to have $1 million, $2 million, and $3 million by age 65 (invested at 15%). For someone 40 years old (I'm 39 1/2), I could have $1 million by saving $300 a month, $2 million by saving $600 a month, and $3 million by saving $900 a month. It is even more encouraging if you are younger. If you are 25 years old you could have $1 million by saving just $30 a month, $2 million by saving just $60 a month, or $3 million by saving just $90 a month!

Yes, 15% interest might be a stretch, but I find the figures very inspiring. I have two sisters who are 27 and 29. I so want the to start now!

Anyway, I found this to be a really good book. None of the Laws are really anything new. But financial success is like dieting success. We all know what to do, but we may need some encouragement to do it. I found this book to be great encouragement!

07/25/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's Cash Crate earnings: $ .75.

Returned two pairs of sneakers I had bought my daughters and re-purchased them with 20% off coupons, saving/earning - $17.

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $17.75

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

07/24/07 - Daily Progress Report

Finally broke $500 in earnings this month, with only one week left to earn another $500 to reach my $1,000 a month goal. This will be difficult. But I'm feeling up for the challenge!

Got another jewelry order today (yeay!). Earned: $25

Today's Cash Crate earnings: $6.20 (This site has been earning me money continuously. I love it!)

Listed two books for sale on ebay today. Hopefully that will generate a little.

Also, finally submitted another article to Associated Content. That will hopefully earn another $8.

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $31.32

Monday, July 23, 2007

Credit Cards: Tempting Offers Update

Well, you know what they say, if it seems too good to be true it probably is!!

A couple of weeks ago I posted about Credit Cards: Tempting Offers that I had read about in a post from Five Cent Nickel. He outlined several credit cards that combined were offering a total of $700 in sign up bonuses.

Well, I had considered signing up to take advantage of some of these offers, even though I know from Dave Ramsey that if you play with snakes you will probably get bitten. So I held off, until today. Now that I am back from vacation I realized that I have earned less than half of my $1,000 earnings goal and there's only one week left in the month. So, I reconsidered the credit card offers.

The one I was considering was the American Express Business Reward Card because it claimed to give 25,000 bonus points that you could use towards $250 in gift cards. So, I checked out the website and saw a great list of stores from which the gift cards were available. I decided that I could use the $250 to purchase Christmas gifts for my family and relatives, and take $250 out of my gift budget to use for the Debt Snowball.

Seemed like a quick and easy way to add $250 to this months "earnings".

Well, after reviewing several pages of fine print in the credit card offer, I finally decided to call and speak with someone who could answer my questions in person. So, I asked about the 25,000 points and the gift cards and was told you can only use the 25,000 points for an airline ticket. If you want to convert the points to buy gift cards, you only get 5,000 - which will only get you $50 in gift cards. :(

So, no deal for me. Not worth the risks for only $50 in gift cards.

Back to the drawing board to come up with another $500 this month! (I'm thinking Associated Content, ebay, yard sale.)

07/23/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's Cash Crate earnings: $7.00

Ad revenue: $4.00

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $11

07/22/07 - Daily Progress Report

On vacation in the Bahamas. No progress to report.

07/21/07 - Daily Progress Report

On vacation in the Bahamas. No progress to report.

Friday, July 20, 2007

07/20/07 - Daily Progress Report

Enjoying the Bahamas!

Today's Cash Crate Earnings: $5.21.

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $5.21

07/20/07 - Shut Down by Google

Sorry I haven't been able to post for the last couple of days. Yes, I am on vacation in the Bahamas, but I am still a blog addict! :)

Google temporarily shut down my blog because robots determined it might be a spam blog????

Anyway, they checked it out manually and now I am good to go. My last three Daily Progress Reports are now posted. Not too much to report since I am on vacation. Luckily most of our expenses are paid by my husband's company so we're not doing too much damage.

I will need to really buckle down when I get home. Have to admit I'm really considering those credit cards offers to earn some quick cash. (See my article Credit Card Offers.) I am going to be pressed to pull in over $1,000 this month - but I am determined!

I've read three financial books while on vacation. I'll be posting their reviews in upcoming posts.

Bye for now!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

07/19/07 - Daily Progress Report

Okay. I'm in the Bahamas having fun, but I can't help checking in anyway. Obviously not doing much saving or earning. Did manage to make $2 from Cash Crate though. :)

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $2

07/18/07 - Daily Progress Report

Vacationing in the Bahamas (free trip). No progress to report. Will return on Sunday 7/22/07.

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $0

07/17/07 - Daily Progress Report

Packing for the Bahamas today. No progress to report. (This is a work trip for my husband with all expenses paid.) :)

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $0

Monday, July 16, 2007

07/16/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's Cash Crate Earnings: $1.12.

Finished a two strand bracelet order. Earned $70. (Yeay!)

Got half way through an article for Associated Content that I will finish when I get back from vacation.

I had a lot of errands to do today, including picking up rain ponchos for my girls for camp. I so wanted to pick them up at CVS but they were $5.99 each there and I knew they had them at the Dollar Store. So I drove a little out of my way and got 2 for $1! So I saved $10.98. :)

Total Saved: $10.98
Total Earned: $71.12

Sunday, July 15, 2007

No More Spending nominated me for a Rockin' Girl Blogger Award! Thank you, No More Spending!

The Rockin' Girl Blogger award was started by Roberta Ferguson at Blogging Made Devilishly Simple. If you want to learn about the award please visit her website.

If you want to participate you have to

  • Put the badge on your blog
  • Give credit to Roberta
  • Nominate 5 other bloggers

Here's my 5 Rockin' Girl Bloggers:

Kris at Simply Us.

Jennifer at Broke Ass Student.

The Frugal Babe.

Tricia at Blogging Away Debt.

Amy at My Debt Free Goal.

07/15/07 - Daily Progress Report

Earned $28 working at the Church nursery today.

Earned $1.08 from Cash Crate today.

The above earnings put me just over $400 earned so far this month. Still $100 short of my goal of $500 for the first half of the month. I did get a bracelet order that is not finalized yet. Will either be a one strand for $45 or a two strand for $70, so that will help, but I'll have to do better the second half of this month to break $1,000.

I'll have to make a real effort with writing for Associated Content and selling items on ebay for the second half of this month if I have any chance of reaching my goal.

This week won't be much of a money earning one though. My husband and I are leaving on Wednesday for a work trip to the Bahamas! It's an all expense paid trip that my husband earned for exceeding his sales goals. So while the trip won't cost us anything really, I won't be around to earn anything either. Not that I'm complaining. We are so looking forward to this trip. My parents will be taking the kids so they'll have fun too.

So, next week the pressure will be on, big time!

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $29.08

Saturday, July 14, 2007

07/14/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's Cash Crate Earnings: $ .75.

Tomorrow will be halfway through the month so I really hope I can get a little closer to $500 in earnings. I really want to make at least $1,000 every month if I can.

Updated our Debt Payoff Progress in the right sidebar today. Our debt has gone down from $44,000 to $36,347. Averaging $1,500 paid off each month. Not bad since our budget was so tight I didn't think we'd be able to pay more than the minimums which is around $500. Should be able to get the amount we pay each month up a little if my extra earnings continue. There is a slight lag between earning the money and getting paid and paying the debt so that should show up more by next month.

Also updated my Debt Payoff Chart (from No Credit Needed Network) and my Net Worth Chart (from Net Worth IQ) also shown in the right side bar. (I love both of those sites as it is fun to mark your progress on a chart.)

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $ .75

Friday, July 13, 2007

07/13/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's Cash Crate Earnings: $4.50.

Got a rebate in the mail today for $12.

My Jewelry party that was supposed to be on Wednesday night was rescheduled for tonight. So I'll check in later with my earnings from that party. (Update: Disappointing sales from the jewelry party. Only made $73.50. Oh well. Every little bit helps.)

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $90

Thursday, July 12, 2007

07/12/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's Cash Crate Earnings: $1.50.

My last article I submitted to Associated Content was rejected because they said they have a lot on that topic (the beach). Bummer. :(

On the plus side, we did find our digital camera that was MIA. So now I can start taking photos of things to sell on ebay. Also found out that my neighbors are planning a joint yard sale in August so that should work out nicely with my yard sale plans.

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $1.50

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Personal Finance Blogs dot Org

My blog has been added to the directory of Personal Finance Blogs at pfblogs.org. Check it out.

This site is extremely cool. It is an aggregator of all personal finance blogs. So, instead of spending hours checking out the latest posts of all of your favorite pf blogs, you can go to this site and see a listing of all the posts from personal finance blogs listed in time order, with the newest posts at the top. The title of the post is shown, along with the name of the blog, and the first thirty words of the post. You can scan the list of all the posts and click on the links to the posts that interests you. This will take you to the site where you can read the rest of the post.

You can also narrow your selections by choosing to view all blogs, or only personal finance blogs, real estate blogs, or investing blogs.

I think this seems like a great way to get all your personal finance blog posts in one place, in less time.

The Dollar Store

You can save a lot of money by shopping at The Dollar Store.

I know. You're probably turning up your nose (as my husband does). The Dollar Store - yuk! Yes, there is usually a lot of junk at The Dollar Store, but if you can look past the junk and know what to buy you can really save a lot of money.

My favorite local dollar store is called The Dollar Tree. At this store, all of the items are actually one dollar. (I don't bother with Family Dollar and others where the items are $1 and up.) I make a trip to the Dollar Tree at least once a month, and often more than that. Most of the items that I feel are a good buys are household items. Many of these items would cost three or four times more if purchased at any other store.

Here is a list of items I typically purchase at The Dollar Tree: (yes, for $1 each!)
- Greeting Cards (2)
- Gift Bags (2)
- Gift Tissue (40 sheets)
- Balloons
- Party Stuff (plastic table cloths, plates, cups, utensils)
- Dishwasher Detergent (a great buy!)
- Band-Aids (70 - not brand name)
- Crest or Colgate toothpaste (brand name)
- Liquid Hand Soap (huge bottle)
- Dish Soap
- Laundry Stain Remover Spray
- Shampoo (Suave, VO5)
- Kid's Shampoo (Breck)
- Kid's Detangle Spary (Breck)
- Hairspray
- Pain Reliever (50 count - not brand name)
- Vaseline (not brand name)
- Baby Powder
- Paper Towels (2 rolls)
- Napkins (250)
- Liquid Plumber (not brand name)
- Sun Block Lotion (great buy!)

All of the above items I purchase on a regular basis and am pleased with the quality of the products. Once I got some Band Aids there that were terrible because they didn't stick. But I have since purchased Band Aids there that were perfectly fine. A friend of mine once got some no name Q-tips there which she said were terrible. But for the most part, I haven't had many problems with quality. And the way I look at it, you're only paying $1 so you can afford to take the risk.

Many of the items on my list would cost up to $3.99, almost four times more, if purchased at another store. Like Band-Aids, pain reliever, dishwasher detergent, gift bags, sun block - all of these items are often sold for $3.99 and up!

So, if you haven't already, save money by adding The Dollar Store to your monthly shopping list!

The 108th Carnival of Personal Finance

Check out this week's 108th Edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance over at Broke-Ass Student. There are some great articles including my own Why You SHOULD Pay Off Your Home Mortgage Early.

If you have an article you would like to submit, check out the Carnival of Personal Finance - Submission Guidelines and use the submission form on that link.

Happy reading!

My Alexa Page Rank of 17

Well, yesterday The Old Vic from Net Monetization left a comment asking me how I got an Alexa Page Rank of 17. Well, that was news to me.

So I checked it out, and he was right. The page rank for Finding Financial Peace is listed on Alexa as 17. Wow! I thought. How did that happen? (This was, of course, after I confirmed that this was a good number, since I figured out that 1 is the highest, not the lowest. lol!)

Well, I visited The Old Vic's blog and read a very interesting post he wrote about Blogger Revenue And Alexa Rankings - Are They Related? He basically went through Paula Neal Mooney's List of Blogger's Salaries article (on which I am listed at number 62!) and checked out the Alexa ranking of each of the blogs listed. He determined that while there was some correlation between high blog revenue and a good Alexa ranking, the correlation was not absolute.

So, I scanned the list anxiously searching for my blog's listing only to be disappointed that it wasn't on there. Bummer, I thought. How did I get onto Paula's list but left off of this one? Then I saw it, way down the bottom of the list, a note that says he can only classify the reason my blog (and one other) got such a good Alexa ranking as a "strange aberration".

Later he noted in comments that the ranking could be because of the ranking of Blogger. I checked this out and at first I thought he might be right but then I found other Blogger blogs with different rankings. So, I really have no explanation, but I'll take it!

You know what they say - Any publicity is good publicity!

07/11/07 - Daily Progress Report

We're back from the beach. We had a great time but now it's time to get back to saving and earning! Luckily I have a Jewelry Party to do tonight, so hopefully I'll make some decent money from that.

Today's Cash Crate Earnings - $3.

My clout level has gone up to Level 3 at Associated Content. And I earned $ .84 as a performance bonus. Still waiting on an offer from the last article I submitted.

AdSense earnings: $.16

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $4.00

07/10/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today is our last day at the beach. We had a really great time but over spent on eating out. That combined with saving nothing and earning nothing is a big bummer. And it is already the 10th and I have fallen behind miserably in my goal of submitting two articles per day to Associated Content.

I'll have definitely have to pick up the pace of all my efforts when we get back home!

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $0

Monday, July 9, 2007

07/09/07 - Daily Progress Report

Still at the beach. No progress to report.

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $0

07/08/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's Cash Crate Earnings: $3

Worked at the Church Nursery today - $28.

I'm at the beach for a couple of days so no other progress to report.

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $31

Saturday, July 7, 2007

07/07/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's Cash Crate Earnings: $1.

Got a check for $51.19 from a local boutique that sells some of my jewelry on consignment. Yeay!

Got an order for a custom bracelet for $47.50.

Booked a Jewelry party for this Wednesday night, which is really great. This should really help with my July earnings!

Got paid $8 for an article I already submitted to Associated Content. Also submitted another article to them today that should earn another $8. Hope to get another article in today to keep up my two per day goal.

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $98.69

Friday, July 6, 2007

Associated Content - Special Content Offer

Join Associated Content

Kris from Simply Us mentioned in comments earlier this week that Associated Content's Summer Special Content offer just might entice her to sign up, so I thought I should elaborate on the details for everyone, in case anyone else might be interested. Associated Content is offering a Summer Special Content Offer. During the month of July they will pay $8 and up for "how to" articles on any subject. The articles must be well written and be at least 500 words in length.

I have had a good experience with Associated Content and have made a little over $60 in the past two months writing for them. My average payment has been $8 per article.

It is free to sign up at Associated Content and you do not need any writing experience. After you sign up you can click on "submit content" to submit an article. You can submit as often or as little as you'd like. After you submit an article you will be contacted by e-mail with an offer for payment within two weeks, usually sooner. You then have the option to accept or reject the payment offer. If you accept the offer you will be paid immediately through PayPal. (If you don't have a PayPal account you can sign up for one for free.)

If writing's not your thing, you can also submit videos that you produce.

In addition to the initial payment you will receive for your submission, you will also receive a performance bonus based on the page views your article or video receives. And you will receive a bonus for any referrals who sign up at Associated Content and get published.

Even if you're not interested in submitting content to Associated Content, it is a great site to visit to read information on every possible topic.

My goal for this summer is to submit two articles per day and earn $480 in July and August for a total of $960.

Check out Associated Content today.

07/06/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's Cash Crate earnings: $3.30.

Today we canceled HBO. (Big bummer!) We had an introductory offer for a package with phone, cable, and internet. But that ended. My husband had negotiated extending the offer in the past but now it has ended for good. So bye-bye HBO. Oh well. We'll save $27 a month, so that's good!

Total Saved: $$27
Total Earned: $3.30

(I have been playing around with the template for my blog. Still trying to find the best colors, layout, and format. Any opinions?)


Agloco is a company that might help you earn a little income from your normal web browsing activity. (Yes, I am always on the lookout to earn money on line.)

Agloco stands for A Global Company. Basically, you sign up for free, and then download their viewbar, also for free. This viewbar will track your web browsing activity and display relevant ads. You will eventually get paid for the time you spend on line with their viewbar installed. They get paid from the advertisers that will be displaying ads targeted to your interests right in your Agloco viewbar, and Agloco will pass on a portion of this money to you. The way I see it, that's free money for doing something you'd be doing anyway, surfing the web.

You apparently will also earn shares of stock in the company based on the hours you use the viewbar. And you also earn money through referrals.

It remains to be seen how much income can be earned from Agloco, but I thought I'd give it a try. If you're interested, check out the Agloco website. And I'll keep you posted on how much I earn with them.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

07/05/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's Cash Crate earnings: $6

My husband took a couple of vacation days and we were going to go out for breakfast this morning, then we decided to just make a big breakfast at home instead. Saved: $50

Finally got an offer on 3 of the articles I submitted to Associated Content. Got $8 each. Earned: $24.

Returned some clothes I bought the kids earlier in the summer that weren't the right size or style. Earned: $29.77

Total Saved: $50
Total Earned: $59.77

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

07/04/07 - Daily Progress Report

Happy 4th of July!

Today's Cash Crate Earnings: $4.00

Need to get back to the grocery store to stock up on the Diet Coke twelve packs for $2 each. That's a great deal.

Signed up for a mystery shop for Friendly's at National Shopping Service. Will earn $25.

Submitted another article to Associated Content. Am now waiting for payment offers on four articles. Need to step up my writing schedule to take advantage of their Summer Content Special Offer which pays $8 and up for "How To" articles. I set a goal of two articles per day and I'm already falling behind.

Still thinking about signing up for some of those credit cards to take advantage of the sign up bonuses ($700!). Can't quite make up my mind.

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $4.00

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Why You SHOULD Pay Off Your Home Mortgage Early

It is amazing how many people believe that you should not pay off your home mortgage so that you can take advantage of the tax savings.

Whenever I mention that I plan to pay off my mortgage early someone will invariably tell me that I shouldn't do it. Some of these people themselves only have a vague notion of why they believe it is a bad idea to pay it off. Keeping your mortgage to take advantage of the tax savings is so common an opinion that many people view it as a fact and are shocked that I would be ignorant of this fact.

While it is true that the interest you pay on your home mortgage is tax deductible, sometimes people forget exactly what that means.

Let's take a look at the numbers. For the sake of simplicity, let's say you have a mortgage of $200,000 at an interest rate of 5%. So, each year you are paying the bank $10,000 in interest.

So, what happens at tax time? At tax time you would get to deduct $10,000 from your adjusted income. However, this does not mean that you are saving $10,000 off your taxes. Depending on your tax bracket, you are only saving a percentage of this amount. Let's say you are in the 25% tax bracket. You would then be saving 25% of $10,000 - or $2,500.

So, what really happened in this scenario? You sent $10,000 to the bank so that you wouldn't have to send $2,500 to the government? Doesn't make sense to me.

I'm going to keep my plan of paying off my home mortgage early!

This article was included in the Carnival of Personal Finance #108 over at Broke-Ass Student.

Buying In Bulk

I am a big fan of buying groceries and as well as other items in bulk.

If you find an item that you normally purchase on sale for a good price, you should buy several to multiply the savings. So,if your kid's favorite cereal is on sale for $1 less than you usually pay, you will save $1 if you buy a box of that cereal.

But why not buy five boxes of that cereal and save $5?

Keep in mind the expiration date of anything you buy in bulk. You will want to be sure that you will use it up before it expires.

You will also need to make sure that you have the space to store your bulk purchases. I have a large pantry where I keep all of my bulk purchased food items. Non food items I keep stored on shelves in the garage.

Below is a list of some of the items that I purchase in bulk along with the prices I usually pay.

pasta - $ .25 per lb.
canned spaghetti sauce - $ .74
canned soup/broth - $ .50
boxed mac and cheese - $ .20
ramen noodle soup - $ .10
salad dressing - $ .99
taco shells - $ .99
taco seasoning packets - $ .25
granola bars - $1.50
brownie mix - $ .50
cake mix - $50
ketchup - $ .99
mustard - $ .79
Diet Coke - $1.99
wheat thins - $1.50
saltines - $ .99
crackers - $ .99
rice - $3.99 for 10 lbs
cereal - $1.50

shampoo - $ .50
soap - $ .20
deodorant - $ .99
toothpaste - $ .99
toilet paper - $ .19 per roll
paper towels - $ .50 per roll
feminine pads - $1.99
adhesive bandages - $ .99
napkins - $ .99
sunblock - $ .99
shaving cream - $ .99
scotch tape - $ .50
envelopes - $ .50

When you buy in bulk it changes the way you do your weekly grocery shopping. You no longer shop for the items you will need for the upcoming week. Instead you are shopping to refill your pantry supply with items at rock bottom prices.

This is a great way to save money and make your grocery dollar go farther.

07/03/07 - Daily Progress Report

Today's earnings from Cash Crate: $10.94

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $10.94

Monday, July 2, 2007

07/02/07 - Daily Progress Report

Completed one Cash Crate offer today and got credit for another. Earned: $ 2.24

Got a rebate check in the mail today. Earned: $15

Bought Diet Coke on sale for 5 twelve packs for $10 (normally $3 each is a good price, $2 each is really great, or course it would be even better if I could just drink water! lol). Saved: $5

Google AdSense Earnings: $ .67

I need to start planning my yard sale and find my digital camera so I can sell more stuff on ebay! I got a lot of money from selling my Dazzling Jewelry Creations jewelry in June because of teacher gifts and graduation gifts. There will probably be less jewelry business this month so I will need to try to replace that income.

Total Saved: $5
Total Earned: $17.91

Cash Crate

Cash Crate is a great site that I use to earn money.

I earned a little over $50 in May and a little over $50 in June from Cash Crate.

Check out the Cash Crate website. It is free to sign up and the offers are very easy to do.

Companies want people to learn about them and their products, services, and websites. They pay Cash Crate to have their members take surveys, sign up for free trials, or just to be exposed to their advertisements. And Cash Crate gives up to 75% of this money back to its members.

After you sign up you will see a list of offers on the Cash Crate site. Each offer explains what is required (such as fill out a form, or take a survey, etc.) and how much it pays. Once you have completed the offer, it will go to "pending", and once it has been verified that you completed the offer, it will go to "completed" and the payment will be listed in your earnings. You are free to do as few or as many offers as you would like. There is also a Daily Survey that pays $ .80 and you are only allowed to take one Daily Survey each day.

Cash Crate also pays a $3 referral bonus for each person that you refer that signs up at Cash Crate. Your $3 bonus is credited to you once the person you referred has earned $10. ($10 is the minimum payout.)

Lastly, Cash Crate pays you a percentage of what your referrals earn. You will earn 20% of what your referrals earn. And if they sign up referrals, you will earn 10% of what those members earn.

Cash Crate pays you by check. You will receive the payment at the end of the month following the month you earned the money. So if you earned $50 in May, you will receive that check at the end of June. (See my post "Cash Crate: Proof of Payment".)

Sign up with Cash Crate today!

Cash Crate: Proof of Payment

Here is a copy of the first check I received from Cash Crate for $51.47. This has been a great site. Very easy to do. Great payout. I highly recommend it if you are looking to earn a little extra income.

Frugal Ideas - Part I

There are many simple frugal things you can do on a daily basis that will save you small amounts of money. These frugal things, when done consistently, can turn small amounts of money into large amounts of money, and can have a big impact on your finances.

The trick is to choose the frugal ideas that work for you. If a frugal activity or sacrifice makes you feel deprived, it won't work. It's like being on a diet. Deprivation will eventually lead to indulgence, and often over indulgence. That can sink your diet and your budget.

Being frugal is different for everyone. What works for one person may not work for another. But don't be too quick to reject a frugal idea before trying it. If you keep doing things the same way you always have, you'll keep getting the same results you always have.

Here are a couple of frugal ideas to get you started. (I will continue this list with weekly updates, so that is why this article is labeled Part I of Frugal Ideas.)

1. Use Less Paper/Disposable Products

Use a real cup instead of a paper cup, a real plate instead of a paper plate, a dish cloth instead of a paper towel, a handkerchief instead of a tissue, a cloth diaper instead of a disposable diaper, a washcloth instead of a baby wipe, a cloth napkin instead of a paper napkin, a dust rag instead of a disposable duster.

It seems that every month some new disposable products are introduced into the market. These products are very convenient but also very expensive. Even if you purchase them on sale, they cost you significantly more than their non disposable counterpart.

Take paper towels, for example. If you buy paper towels on sale for $ .50 a roll and you use one roll a day (which is easy to do!), you would be spending $3.50 a week, and over $14 a month just on this expense. Add that to all the other types of paper and disposable products you might use and that becomes a significant monthly expense.

Use less paper/disposable products or switch to all non disposable products and save big! (And you'll be helping the environment as well!)

2. Cook From Scratch

Cooking from scratch instead of buying convenience foods can save you a lot of money.

Take rice, for example. I grew up having Minute Rice so when I began to cook I also used Minute Rice.

It didn't seem too expensive to me at about $1.99 for a box that would last for a couple of meals. Then I found out how inexpensive white rice actually is. You can buy a 10 pound bag of white rice for $3.99 (or less) and it will last for several months!

So, let's compare. For my family of five, the minute rice works out to cost $ .66 per meal. (One box will serve 3 meals. $1.99 divided by 3 = $ .66 per meal.)

The regular white rice works out to cost $ .20 per meal. (A 10 pound bag will serve about 20 meals for my family. $3.99 divided by 20 = $ .20 per meal)

So the Minute Rice costs more than 200% more than the regular white rice. Yes, it cooks in five minutes opposed to 20 minutes but is that convenience worth a 200% increase in price?

You will find similar savings by cooking most items from scratch.

Credit Cards: Tempting Offers

I came across this great article at Five Cent Nickel today. It is about how you can earn $700 just by signing up for some credit cards.

This goes against everything that Dave Ramsey teaches . . . but I must admit that $700 is very tempting. I can always cancel the cards later . . .

What's your opinion?

John Chow Update

John Chow confirmed my review of his blog. My blog will get a link from his in Batch 94 (he adds the links in groups, or batches, a couple of times a week).

I think he is on Batch 84 so it could be a couple of weeks.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Networth IQ

Today I joined Networth IQ. It is a great site where you can enter all your financial information and track your net worth as it changes from month to month.

I entered our information since we started our financial journey in February and was pleased to see our net worth growing. The increase has been mostly from paying down our debts with gazelle intensity.

I will include the updated graph of our net worth in the left side bar so we will have another measure of our financial progress.

Despite our heavy debt load our net worth isn't looking so bad at over $380,000. This is primarily because we are lucky enough to have substantial savings in our 401K as well as quite a bit of equity in our home.

It is slightly inflated as it includes a large end of the year commission that my husband received this month, but $8,500 of that has been set aside to cover future monthly expenses when the commissions could be low. It also includes $4,500 of savings for a Disney World vacation we are planning for the end of this year. (I know that money could go towards debt and I would like it to but we had planned this trip with the kids before we found Dave Ramsey and started our financial journey. So now our goal now is to pay cash for that whole trip.)

So, we will see some fluctuations in our net worth chart as we spend the Disney money and dip into the $8,500 but we'll be expecting that.

I can't wait to see what it will look like when we are completely debt free, including the home mortgage!!

07/01/07 - Daily Progress Report

I can't believe it is July already. I hope I can earn as much this month as I was able to in June!

Worked at the church nursery today. Earned: $28
From Cash Crate today: $ .51
Interest from Emigrant Direct: $13

Total Saved: $0
Total Earned: $41.51