Just a thought about money...

Thursday, August 20, 2009
OK... So I was awake in the wee small hours of the morning today. A raging case of sugar/caffeine overload from a generic brand cherry cola had my mind spinning and my limbs twitching well after 4am. I was thinking, I need to keep track of all of the little things I am doing to save money and to make money. Maybe seeing everything in black and white will help me feel a little better about the things I've given up in order to get a handle on the debt we've created over the last few years.

I've signed up for two online money making programs. One is Swagbucks and the other is YouData. I haven't been using either program very long, but here is what they say they are.


I spend a lot of time on the internet, and anytime I want to know about ANYTHING, I use Google. You probably Google all the time, too. Swagbucks is an alternative to Googling, but the results are powered by Google and Ask.com, both of which are great. One way to win Swagbucks is by searching. I set their search page as one of my homepage tabs on Internet Explorer so that I'll remember to use their service.

I like Swagbucks so far because you win Swagbucks just for doing something you already were doing anyway - searching the internet. They start you off with 3 Swagbucks for free and then you WIN Swagbucks when you search online. After only two searches last night, I had already accumulated 5 Swagbucks. I hope I'll earn even more after a week or two.

The best part - you can turn them in for cash, gift cards, and other items. I am seeing FREE Christmas gifts on my horizon!

A Few of my Favorites:
70 bucks = $5 cash in your PayPal account (they're on sale right now!)
45 bucks = $5 e-gift card to Amazon.com
220 bucks = $20 gift card to Target
130 bucks = $10 gift card to Starbucks
185 bucks = $15 e-gift card to iTunes
785 bucks = $50 gift card to Bass Pro Shop

You can also earn points for finding Swagcodes. There are hints for how to find those on the Swagbucks homepage and on their Facebook page. You can also earn a few bucks with referrals, so if you decided to try this out, sign up under me!

I also tried YouData tonight, and I love their concept! The premise of their site is that you should be charging advertisers to see their ads. And there are advertisers who will pay you. You can fill out profiles and give as little information as you want, so it doesn't seem invasive. Hardly any information is required. All you have to do is log in and they will tell you if advertisers are willing to pay you to look at a text ad. They pay you to look at an ad - doesn't take but a minute or so. You earn cash. Real Money! Every Friday they deposit your money in your PayPal account. They won't send you emails,you just visit them whenever you want. I like that. I also set their homepage as one of my tabs so I won't forget about them, either. Just looking at a few ads last night earned me $1.46! It took about five minutes. I haven't had any ads available today, but I will keep checking in!

And then REALITY strikes!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
After all of the running and fun of the summer it's finally time to try and buckle ourselves down for another school year. School starts tomorrow, and just like Katie, I CAN'T WAIT! David and I are planning some "school like" discipline of our own. We have decided that we REALLY need to get to work on our debt. Like SERIOUSLY work on our debt!

We each have one more trip planned for September, but after that, we'll be home for a while... A LONG while! Fortunately, both of our September trips will be extremely frugal. I am going to Cape Cod with my friend, Rhonda. Since we will both be flying for free (thanks to David's airline miles) and staying for free (with David's hotel points... thanks Honey!), Rhonda has generously offered to pay for the rental car we'll be using on our trip. My only expense will be food for the days we're there. We won't arrive until midnight on a Wednesday night and we'll be flying back out at noon on Sunday. If I know Rhonda and me, we'll be eating at the free hotel breakfast and only paying for dinner. Since that means we'll probably have dinner three times, that shouldn't come to more than $100 for the whole long weekend for me, and that's leaving plenty of wiggle room. I seriously doubt it will cost me more than $20 per meal. We are planning to take a whale watching cruise, so I'll have to check on the price of that, but I don't expect it to be outrageously expensive. We've even talked about just taking one of the ferries and watching for ourselves! I don't know if we're experienced enough for that. Even if it costs me $200 total that's not to bad for a vacation at the Cape!

David is planning to go to Michigan for a salmon fishing trip with his dad and his brother for a week. He'll be flying there for free, of course, and will be staying (for free again!) at his Uncle John's cabin. He will have to pay for a fishing license and some groceries, but it still shouldn't be very expensive. This is the one time every year that we both manage to get away for a while and just let go of the responsibilities of home. I know I look forward to the break, and I'm sure David does, too.

Anyway, back to our debt problem. I say problem, because that is EXACTLY what it is. We recently had a scare about David being laid off from his job. We're still not 100% in the clear, but things are looking up as more projects become available to him. Looking at our finances immediately told us that we wouldn't be able to make it easily on his unemployment income. We could pay our house payment, but it would be tight on everything else! The fear I felt made me sick. I know it's time to kick it into overdrive and get this debt paid off. Here are some of the things I've planned to do to get a jumpstart on our debt repayment plan:

1. HUGE YARD SALE - I plan to do some major decluttering and have a huge yard sale. Every little bit will help, and getting my house cleaned out will make me feel better!

2. GYMNASTICS FUNDRAISERS - Katie and I have been working tirelessly to raise money for her gymnastics fees, which are a big chunk of our monthly budget between June and October. All of her competition fees are due in those months, so our monthly fee pretty much doubles. The more of the fees we can pay with fundraising, the better! You'd better watch out! We'll probably be flocking you soon!

3. NO EATING OUT - This is a biggie for us. My family usually lives out of a McDonald's bag... I hate to cook... So far in August, we've only spent $26 on eating out. Compared to the $400 we spent last month, that's a great start!

Those are my best three efforts for now. Do you have any ideas for me? I'd love to hear them! Leave me a comment!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Did you wake up this morning to find a flock of beautiful flamingoes in your front yard? Are you wondering what in the heck they're doing? Well, hopefully the paperwork that was with our lead bird gave you a big hint!

You've been flocked!

Flocking is easy and fun. We go late at night and plant my girls in someone's yard. We started by flocking friends that we thought would appreciate the idea. In order for the birds to be removed from their yards, they needed to pay us off (a tax deductible donation, of course) and give us the name of the next flocking victim, and so on. It actually took me a couple of days to get the guts to go plant my birds in my neighbor's yard. I mean, you never know how someone will react! However, we had no need to worry! Overall, most people are really loving the whole idea and we've never had more fun fundraising!

If you know of someone in the Searcy area that you would like to have flocked, please post a comment and let me know! The cost is $15 (or more!), and we will get your flocking taken care of right away! We are trying to raise all of the money needed to cover Katie's competition fees for the year. Anything you can do to help would be greatly appreciated!

Happy flocking!