Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I got up this morning intending to wish everyone a Happy New Year on New Year's Eve and guess what? Yahoo was kind enough to tell me that New Zealanders are already enjoying 2011. I know there are time zones ahead of mine but geez . . . I feel so left in the dust!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Aren't grandkids just the cutest?
Merry Christmas to all - may you experience the magic and wonder of Christmas today and throughout the coming year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wear Out or Rust Out - Which Do You Choose?

The Body in the Library: A Miss Marple Mystery
I'm reading The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie and ran across an interesting line that really hit home. One of the key characters is an older gentleman confined to a wheelchair due to a tragic accident in which he lost his wife and both children. He was a friend of the murder victim and during the investigation, the police superintendent is questioning his doctor. Here's an excerpt with emphasis added by me:
"Yes, Mr. Jefferson's health is in a precarious state. For several years now the man has been driving himself ruthlessly. In his determination to live like other men he has lived at a far greater pace than the normal man of his age. He has refused to rest, to take things easy, to go slow, or any of the other phrases with which I and  his other medical advisers have tendered our opinion. The result is that the man is an overworked engine. Heart, lungs, blood pressure - they're all overstrained."
"You say Mr. Jefferson has resolutely refused to listen?"
"Yes. I don't know that I blame him. It's not what I say to my patients, superintendent, but a man may as well wear out as rust out. A lot of my colleagues do that, and take it from me, it's not a bad way. In a place like Danemouth one sees most of the other thing. Invalids clinging to life, terrified of overexerting themselves, terrified of a breath of drafty air, of a stray germ, of an injudicious meal."
Think about that for just a minute. Wear out or rust out - which do you choose? Now don't get me wrong - I'm not advocating being hard on your body or ignoring your doctor's advice. Quite the opposite, in fact - I firmly believe everyone has a personal responsibility to take care of their health. But as we age, it is easy to allow our fears to separate us from people, places and activities that would enhance our lives and the lives of others. So make a commitment to go forth and really live your life. Do what you can while you can - and don't let that rust start building up!

Please note: The image above is an Amazon affilitate link but please, go to your library and borrow this book if you want to read it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Back Up Your Data to Avoid Disaster

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk 2 TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive STAC2000100 (Black)
I recently experienced a near disaster. My computer crashed - and I mean really crashed - and for a brief time it looked like everything on my hard drive was lost. How could this happen? Why didn't I have a back up? Both good questions for which I do not have an adequate answer. It is just so easy to procrastinate, isn't it?

Anyway, it was a total wake-up call and I now have a beautiful 2TB external hard drive (just like the one in the picture) that automatically backs everything up as I go. So if you're not backing up your data, stop procrastinating! Spend the money to get some sort of back up system in place so that you don't see all your hard work (or worse yet, digital photos!) vanish into thin air.

Data Backup is Simple and Affordable

I understand that there are services that can often recover your data even after a catastrophic crash but it comes at a high cost - like $1,400 was the quote I heard. I think $100 or so is a better price, don't you? And the peace of mind I now have is priceless. Although the image and link above are for Amazon, I actually got my Seagate 2TB external hard drive on sale at Costco.

In looking at the product on Amazon, I see that there are a few negative reviews. Thankfully I did not experience any of the problems mentioned. We just hooked the thing up and it went to work. About 15 hours later, I was all backed up. Now I've got it unhooked. I could leave it on all the time but for my purposes that isn't necessary. My plan is to just hook it back up periodically or when I'm working on something really important. So please, please, please - do yourself a favor and get a backup system in place. This is an instance where redundancy is a very good thing!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Writing for Dollars Review - Another Great Resource for Writers

I’m taking my first ever online class, Writing for Fun and Profit, through KSurf. A resource given in lesson one is What a great site! In addition to a weekly newsletter and some other cool stuff, Writing for Dollars has a guidelines database (link below) that is searchable in several ways. You can find a market by name, subject, rate of pay, etc. Some are well known, such as AARP or Good Housekeeping (what do these examples say about my age group and gender?), but many I’d never heard of. Regardless, there’s a short synopsis and an online guidelines link for each.

As I’m actually a quilter/sewer/crafter first and a writer second, I searched for quilting, sewing and craft related markets. To my most pleasant surprise, there are about two dozen matches. Some are specific to subjects about which I have no interest, such as homebuilt aircraft, but many show promise. Even the lowest paying market I found beats what I made per how-to article writing for Demand Media Studios.

As I move forward toward a new year, I’m taking stock of where I am, how far I’ve come, and where I want to be next year at this time. I spent a lot of time and energy writing for up-front pay in 2010. This was good for me on several levels, including financial. In 2011, however, rather than writing so much for up-front pay, I want to redirect my energies toward accomplishing some long-term goals that took a backseat while I indulged myself with the instant gratification of immediate money. It appears that the Writing for Dollars Guidelines Database may provide leads to more lucrative gigs to satisfy my cash flow needs without sucking me dry.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Working From Home in Any Weather

I was going to title this post "I’m Dreaming of a White . . . Thanksgiving?" but changed my mind. After all, a white Thanksgiving isn’t all that unusual here – we always get our first real snow around turkey time. But waking up to a rising blanket of white (and with Thanksgiving just around the corner) set me to thinking about how thankful I am to work at home. I sure wouldn’t want to be out commuting to a job in this weather, although I did for a lot of years. Just one of the many joys of being a self-employed early retiree! Now if our power stays on, I’m all set for whatever work I choose to do. If the power goes out, I guess it’s hot chocolate by the wood stove.

Actually, as a writer and quilter, I can do several things without power. I enjoy composing with pen and paper part of the time. Although it’s slower and less neat, I often think best with a pen in my hand. Quilt design can be also an electricity-free activity. So while I’d rather the power stay on, if it doesn’t and I’m so inclined, I can still be productive.

Working from Home has Many Advantages

The ability to get to work safely and comfortably despite inclement weather is just one of the advantages of working from home. Setting your own hours, wearing the clothing of your choice and attending to other issues as they arise are others. Whether you need to support your family or just supplement other income, there are a variety of viable work at home options available, my favorite being writing.

Some Work-at-Home Ideas

If you’re interested in pursuing freelance writing but don’t know where to start, check out No Job For Mom – that’s where I found out most of what I know. If other avenues appeal to you, such as online selling, do a ton of research online first. Always type the site, company, or whatever into a search engine with the word "complaint" or "scam" or "review" afterward. And always beware of any offer that sounds too good to be true or requires you to buy something first – for the most part, making money shouldn’t cost you money. Your goal is to be on the paid end of the equation rather than the paying end, right?

In addition to writing online, my other at-home moneymaking ventures include editing for other writers and creating custom memorial quilts, examples of which can be seen on my Custom Memorial Quilts website. These income-producers all grew from my hobbies so think about what it is you like to do and find a way to turn those very things into a work-at-home job.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Time Management is the Key to Accomplishing Goals

When it comes to time management, the advantages and disadvantages of being retired are often the same. A set schedule fosters productivity while lack of a schedule may lead to wasting time. I know when I have lots to do, I generally get it all done but when I don’t have time pressure, I get less accomplished. So for me, developing (and following!) a daily schedule is critical to accomplishing my goals.

Time to Focus!
I’m on a quest to get really focused lately. I’ve been spinning my wheels too long! I recently read a really good eBook which I will review as soon as it’s officially launched. As a result of my reading and the workbook exercises, I’ve clarified what it is that I really want to accomplish in four main areas and am now developing a plan of attack.

To move steadily toward my goals, I plan to get something done in each of four focus areas every day. Currently my four chosen areas are health, organizing, writing and creating. The way I plan to make progress is to schedule at least one small task that moves me toward my goals in each area each day.

Tools for Success
My first tool for success is a printable daily schedule sheet. I made a table with hourly time slots and space to fill in the applicable focus area and specific tasks. Each morning I’ve set aside a half-hour in which to plan my day. I may switch over to evening planning, or a combination of the two as time goes on. Rather than a rigid schedule, what I’m after is a flexible framework to provide structure to my day so that I don’t mindlessly let time slip away.

Olympus Digital Voice Recorder (VN 6200PC)My second tool for success is a digital voice recorder. For me, physical activity inspires random thoughts and I usually get some of my best ideas while stretching or walking. To capture those fleeting thoughts when writing down notes isn’t practical, I keep my voice recorder handy. Interested in trying a digital voice recorder? I recommend Olympus and have provided an Amazon link.

Monday, November 8, 2010

How to Keep Your Unused Credit Cards

Do you have credit cards that you never use? On the one hand, this is good – it means you’re not racking up debt. On the other hand, a significant portion of your credit score is based on how much credit you have available in comparison to how much you’re using. So if you have an unused credit card, the available credit on that account is helping you. If the issuer cancels the unused card, your credit score will suffer.

Does This Apply to Me?
But wait a minute – I have no credit card debt as I use my cards as a convenience only and pay each in full each month. If you're like me, does having an unused credit card cancelled really matter? Actually, it could. Remember – the higher the amount of unused credit you have the better your credit score.

I’ve actually been worrying about this periodically as I have a VISA card that hasn’t been used in many years. It’s through a credit union so I don’t know that I’m in danger of being cancelled but the credit limit on that card is close to one-third of my available credit. Should the card be cancelled, that’s a big hit on my credit-to-debt ratio!

A Simple Solution
Suze Orman addressed this very issue in the November Costco Connection. A gal wrote in about receiving notification that one of her credit cards would be cancelled at the end of the year due to lack of use. Suze’s solution? Contact the card issuer and ask if they’ll keep the card active if it gets used once or twice a month. If so, pay one or two recurring expenses with the card such as the cable bill.

So why don’t I use my credit union issued card currently? Because years ago, every time I got the bill it looked like junk mail and I was afraid I’d toss it accidentally. So I just quit using the card. Fast forward to the present – I’m totally into paperless billing and don't get bills in the mail anymore. I guess it’s time to rethink my credit card usage and maybe use that card for some recurring expense as Suze recommends.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How to Transform Your Relationship with Money

Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: Revised and Updated for the 21st CenturyI was cleaning today and ran across some old files from a decade or so ago. In the mix was a bunch of worksheets detailing my finances at the time - to the penny - for over a year. I also found graphs and other cool stuff I’d forgotten that I’d done. Fortunately I found a reference to creating a new road map and did a quick Internet search, which revealed that I had undertaken a very cool process presented in “Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.

My Life HAS Changed
Although it was a time commitment, reading the book and actually completing the exercises did transform my relationship with money. At the time, I was working in an office and in debt - nothing too serious - mortgage, car payment, some low credit card balances, and maybe some student loan payments. Now I owe no money and can work at home when and if I choose. Life has certainly improved since I took the advice in the book to heart and started valuing my life energy.

Looking back on the facts and figures, I am blown away by how different things are now. And also by how easy it is to forget previous details. But my handwritten income and expense sheets don’t lie. I think I’ll see if I still have a copy of that book around here somewhere. And if not, maybe I’ll check one of my book swap sites. I don’t think I really need it much now but it might be fun to read again anyway. And if I decide to do the exercises with the detailed accounts and graphs, it will be so much easier this time!

Get the Book!
Anyway, get a copy of this book. And I suggest you actually buy one (fyi - book image is an Amazon affiliate link). Anyone who has read this blog at all knows that I usually recommend borrowing from the library or a friend to save money, but this book is an exception. You just can’t digest it in one or two readings.

Now get busy and change the way you look at, think about, and act toward money!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Would You Rather Look Rich or Be Rich?

Life or Debt 2010: A New Path to Financial FreedomI just ordered a book by Stacy Johnson titled “Life or Debt 2010: A New Path to Financial Freedom,” which I discovered in My 10 Dumbest Money Moves - And How You Can Avoid Them.” I raced to Amazon and ordered the book due to a quote under mistake number 3: Attempting to derive self-esteem from possessions, “You can either look rich or be rich, but you probably won’t live long enough to accomplish both.”

Think about that for just a minute. How much money have you squandered on appearance? What could you have done with that money instead? Are you sacrificing your future security to buy trendy clothes, a fancy car or more house than you can afford? Owning nice things is wonderful - IF you can afford them. But if owning nice things means payments over time, then you don’t really own them - they own you.

Now, I’m not saying that all debt is bad. I know that a mortgage is the only way most people will ever own a home; I’ve had a few mortgages myself. An education is also an investment in the future that may be worth financing. Just be realistic about what you can afford and err on the side of caution. Buying a modest house or attending a local college will usually accomplish the same goal at a much lower cost.

Back to the book. No, I don't really need it as we've been completely debt free for nearly a decade - but I love reading and passing along this kind of book. Yes, I’ve included an Amazon affiliate link for your convenience. However, when you get to Amazon, check out the available used copies. I just ordered mine for $5.76 including shipping, which is well below the price of a new copy. Better yet, although it wasn’t an option for me, check your local library and borrow the book for free. Happy reading!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Readbud IS a Scam

Update 12/9/10: Red Alert! Readbud IS a SCAM! It’s official - see PTC Investigations for full report.

Ok - I’m finally tired of Readbud. Even if I eventually am paid, I’m not recommending anyone waste their time on the site. Is Readbud a scam? If you define scam as a site that never pays, I don’t know yet. If you define scam as a site that doesn’t deliver as promised? Then yes, Readbud IS a scam.

One Reason Readbud IS a Scam

The site states “readbud offers hundreds of articles daily across all our Interest Topics. On average, a readbud member will receive just over 50 relevant articles daily assuming they've chosen the maximum 50 interest topics from over 340 interest topics we provide for selection.”

I’ve chosen 50 topics and have followed all other Readbud guidelines. I’ve never received 50 articles in a day so I guess I’m not average? But 2/day for weeks on end as I approach payout? It’s obvious that Readbud would like me to give up. I’ve sent them messages and received no reply so there’s another indicator of a scam, right? In addition, my husband, mom and sister-in-law have never received 50 articles either – 15-20 has been the max. I guess none of us is average.

Dismal Readbud Earnings

Once I reached about $30 in my Readbud account, the articles for me to read dried up. Over the past several weeks, I’ve received just two articles per day and have earned $.03-.$.21/day, with an average of just over $.08/day. I am at $47.26 right now and figure at the rate I’m going, I won’t hit the $50 payout for another 25 days. Will I persevere? YES! Why? To see if they actually pay, of course. Either way, I will be posting here.

In a previous post, I had my husband and sister-in-law on board with a Readbud experiment. Due to site glitches and low earnings, we’ve abandoned the idea. At this point, if I can just hang in there to payout and see what happens, I’ll be happy.

Bottom Line – Avoid Readbud

The bottom line from my perspective is that Readbud does not live up to their end of the bargain and should be avoided if you ever want to actually be paid for your efforts as promised by the site. I did a web search and found a real person who reached payout in May and was never paid, and another real person who finally gave up in July when her articles slowed to a trickle. I’ve yet to find a real person who has actually been paid although that individual could certainly exist out there somewhere.

If you enjoy reading and don’t mind a lot of substandard writing with a few well-written articles thrown in occasionally, then Readbud may be for you. I’ve enjoyed many of the articles and have even given a few the highest rating. For the most part, however, the articles contain numerous grammar, punctuation and even spelling errors. Those receive a lower rating but who cares? Does the author ever get feedback? I don’t know. And if so, do they have a clue why they received a particular rating? No, there’s no mechanism to explain your rating.

I’ve removed all links to Readbud from my blog. If I’ve missed any, please let me know. I will continue to read articles in my most-likely futile attempt to reach payout but still recommend against Readbud – even if I'm eventually paidas the site does not deliver as promised.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Is Readbud Legit? The Jury is Still Out . . .

Update 12/9/10: Red Alert! Readbud IS a SCAM! It’s official - see PTC Investigations for full report.

Update 10/8/10: Readbud links removed as I no longer recommend Readbud.

I signed up for Readbud April 26, 2010. Initially I was earning over $1 each day reading articles based on my chosen interest categories. In mid-May, the Readbud blog announced an upcoming system expansion that was to include a new way to earn money and rewards, such iPhones and Xbox. On June 24, Readbud announced an infrastructure relocation to the US. On July 27, Readbud announced that the previously touted expansion was on hold until further notice, due in part to the infrastructure relocation. On Aug 22-26, Readbud underwent an extensive server upgrade. During these months, the number of articles available to me each day decreased significantly – some days just a few, some days none at all. I stuck with the program hoping things would improve after the move. Well, guess what?

No Improvement in Sight
It’s been nearly a month since the server upgrade was finished. Instead of an increase in articles each day, I’ve dropped from three to two. Hmm. Beings you have to earn $50 to reach payout, it’s going to take a while! In my post one week ago, I estimated reaching payout in 5-6 weeks based on an earning rate of 15-20 cents/day. Well, as of Tuesday, my available articles have dropped to just two and my average earnings are now 13 cents/day. I still may make payout in 5-6 weeks since I only need $4.45 more – unless they drop the articles to one or even zero. Can this happen? It rather looks that way.

Does Readbud Purposely Delay Payment?
My family kindly calls me tenacious for not throwing in the towel. What they really mean is obsessed but I’ll take tenacious any day. Anyway, I’ve gotten a couple of them on the bandwagon here. My DH and SIL both joined when I did but grew tired of the site glitches and slow earnings within a few days or weeks. Well, they’re both now active again. What better way to test if Readbud purposely delays payment than to compare their current experience to mine? One had earned under $5 and the other under $20. Guess what? They’re both earning over $1 each day by reading 15-19 articles. Hmm. And I only get two? What’s up with that? So we’ll see how it goes. They both predict my number of articles will drop to zero so that I can never reach payout. I predict that one of them will soon see a decrease in articles (at around $25) and the other will still have many each day.

So is Readbud Legit?
Only time will tell. If I do reach payout and actually see $50 deposited into my PayPal account, we’ll know that Readbud is legit to a point. But if Readbud purposely delays payment through lack of opportunity to earn, aren’t they actually a scam? Some would argue so, myself included. Luring participants with no intention of actually paying qualifies as a scam, right? Just because the mechanism by which non-payment is achieved is through participant opt-out due to difficulty and/or frustration is irrelevant. So once again, I’ll keep you posted as time goes by. I’m keeping stats on the number of articles and total earnings each day for the three of us and am anxious to see how this unfolds over the next several weeks.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Readbud - Will I Ever Reach Payout?

Update 12/9/10: Red Alert! Readbud IS a SCAM! It’s official - see PTC Investigations for full report.

Update 10/8/10: Readbud banner removed as I no longer recommend Readbud.

I’ve been hanging in there with Readbud, more out of stubbornness than anything else. I was enthusiastic when I joined in April and had a great time the first few weeks. Then things got iffy. But I stuck with it through the slow times (and non-existent times) while the company promised upgrades and a better experience with more earning opportunities. Now 4+ months later, the site does seem improved but the paid articles are extremely limited. So I’m getting three articles daily and earning at the exhilarating rate of about $.15-$.20/day when I’m lucky. That’s right – a little over $1/week. Compared to the initial $1+ per day in the beginning, the current rate is a huge disappointment.

Earnings To Date
Like I said though, I’m hanging in there. My earnings now total $44.46 and I am determined to see if I actually get paid once I reach the $50 limit required for payout. And you can bet I will be posting here either way. I’ve seen a few instances online of payout “proof” but will remain somewhat skeptical until I actually see the money in my PayPal account. For all I know, Readbud planted the proof I’ve seen. Would they do that? I have no way of knowing. It does appear that the number of articles each day diminishes significantly once earnings exceed $10 or so. At the initial rate of reading, I would have reached payout in a less than two months. At the current rate, it would take almost a year. I should be there in just another 5-6 weeks, however. How many people get discouraged and give up? I know at least two personally. So why did I stay with it?

Why Bother with Readbud?
I actually enjoy reading the articles. During the painful transition period that began shortly after I joined, I often found myself gritting my teeth just to get through. How many times can I read a poorly written article about government college grants for single moms? There were many articles that didn’t even rate a single star. But lately the content has improved. I actually found all three articles today interesting and reasonably well written. And the ads have improved, as well. At least now I’m seeing ads for tankless water heaters instead of nothing but online gaming.

Bottom Line
The bottom line is I plan to stick with Readbud at least until I reach payout. If I’m actually paid, I will probably continue simply because I do enjoy many of the articles, which I read while drinking my morning tea. I also have a few people signed up under me and if they ever reach payout, I supposedly get $5. I figured out, however, that to actually receive payment, my account total would have to reach $50 again. So we’ll see how it goes and I’ll be sure to report my experience here.

Please note that the above banner is a referral link. So if you click on it and sign up, I will receive $5 once you reach payout (supposedly).

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Best Resource for Budding Freelance Writers - and it's FREE!

Felicia at NoJobForMom has written an ebook titled "So You Want to Be a Freelance Writer." And she's offering if for FREE! How cool is that? For those of you who don't know, Felicia is the reason I know anything about anything about making money writing. Through her blog just over a year ago, I discovered Textbroker and a lot of other online writing opportunities, and I've been busily earning ever since. Felicia's kindness and generosity know no bounds - she's a true inspiration! So go to her blog and find the download link for her great ebook. And while you're there, peruse her blog - there's a wealth of information that you won't find anywhere else.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Work At Home Site Directory

Many people would like to work from home. College students to retirees often need to supplement their income and can’t or don’t want to seek an outside job. While there are numerous purported work from home opportunities, how do you know which are legitimate and which are scams? Well, first off – if the opportunity promises you a quick road to riches, it’s a scam. The only people who are making big money while they sleep are those who are successfully scamming others into sending it to them. So, if it sounds too good to be true or if you have to pay to play, run the other way!

Which brings me to the point of this post. Through a comment on this blog, I recently “met” a nice gal named Victoria who has put together a Work at Home Site Directory. The directory is an extensive and varied list of legitimate work from home opportunities. So if you’re looking for a way to make some money from home, check it out. And thanks, Victoria, for creating and sharing this valuable resource!

Update from Victoria on August 6 2010:

I just wanted to post that I took the site down. I found a huge list here:
I think any site I had listed is likely in this list too. I haven't found any others that includes as many as About, but if I find a good one, I'll let you know.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Great Advice from The Mom Writes Blog

Ran across a really nice blog that I’ve added to my sidebar. The Mom Writes purports to give simple, practical tips for moms but I think many of them are for everyone. For instance, take How to Get Motivated and Stay Motivated or How to Have a Simple To-Do List - is there anyone that can’t use this advice? I don’t think so.

Friday, July 9, 2010

How to Add a Subscribe by Email Link – Step-by-step Instructions

I got up this morning to a really nice comment from a reader that made my whole day! Right before bed last night, I got an unpleasant revision request on a recent article submission so it was really nice to get up to the following comment:

I really like your blog and I'd love to keep up on new posts, but I don't like readers and I don't see a Subscribe Via Email widget. Maybe it's there and I'm just not seeing it. If not, could you please-please add one? Here's the directions:

1. Go to

2. Add your blog if it's not there and click on your blog name.

3. Click on the Publicize tab.

4. Go to Email Subscriptions in the left-hand column.

It's easy. Just go to the middle of the page and choose Blogger. It will insert the code for you. (If you want to move it to a different location on your blog, you can't move anything around from here. Just go to your Layout page in BlogSpot from the Dashboard and you'll be able to move it from there.)

If you want to see what the widget looks like, there is one on my blog.

Thank you, Victoria! I had no idea how to do this and didn’t even know it was an option. I copied the instructions here for others who may be in the same boat. My only problem was that the form widget wouldn’t work so I just went on to the subscription link option and now it is right at the top of my sidebar. How cool is that? Apparently the form widget has a glitch as another person posted to the Blogger help forum with the same problem. Anyway, thanks again, Victoria – I also prefer email updates and am thrilled to add this option to my blog!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Readbud 503 Error – Temporary Glitch or Gone for Good?

Update 12/9/10: Red Alert! Readbud IS a SCAM! It’s official - see PTC Investigations for full report.

I was excited about the prospect of Readbud as indicated in previous posts
. It was fun to read the articles and I was making about $1 each day. Not a windfall by any means but worth the time it took. Payout doesn’t happen until you but $50 but I figured I’d be there in about 2 months. Then things changed. And not for the better!

A few weeks after signing up for Readbud, the articles dried up. Instead of getting 12-14 each day, I was getting less than 5. I noticed right off that the Google Adsense ads were gone. I had wondered if Readbud was violating Google’s terms of service and had even questioned them by email. It’s unclear whether they decided to discontinue Google Adsense of whether Google pulled the plug – but I strongly suspect the latter. Anyway, things haven’t been the same since. Instead of accumulating about $1 each day, I’m lucky to make a quarter. So payout is coming much more slowly!

Well, this morning the service is unavailable. Yep – a 503 error. Never a good sign. And they supposedly just moved their service to the US for more stability. I guess that didn’t work out as intended. As I recall, they’ve been down a few times before so maybe this isn’t a dire sign but it sure makes me wonder. I’ve been giving Readbud the benefit of the doubt during their lengthy transition but maybe my optimism was misplaced.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How to Prepare for an Early Retirement eHow Article

I’ve got about 20 or so articles published to eHow under the discontinued Writer’s Compensation Program, which pays a share of the ad revenue generated each month. Usually the money trickles in a few cents at a time, but so far this month my How to Prepare for an Early Retirement article has earned me a few dollars already! Don’t know how but I’m not complaining. Based on my article earning stats, I doubt this is a trend but it’s kind of fun. Anyway, I reviewed the article page to see what kind of ads were there and they look the same as usual. So I guess I just got lucky.

The article is pretty good, if I do say so myself – simple and to the point. It’s actually good advice for anyone, not just those preparing for an early retirement. In a nutshell, assess your current situation, cut expenses, pay off debt, start saving, be frugal, and practice being retired. That’s it. Easier said than done, I know, but you’ve got to start some time and the best time is now! Retirement will be here whether you’re ready or not, so quit procrastinating and take some positive action, ok?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Writing for Textbroker – One Year Update

The World Wide Web is such a great thing. Who knew this would ever be our daily reality? I remember when I got my first computer at work (1990) and when I was first “required” to do some of my work over the Internet a year or so later. Anyone remember Compuserve? Are they even still around? How about dial-up? Anyone still using that? Anyway, things sure have changed!

I’ve been earning money online almost a year, having submitted my first paid article to Textbroker July 20, 2009. Now 237 articles later, I’ve pretty much moved on to more lucrative writing opportunities. I may still write for Textbroker periodically but intend to focus my efforts where I earn the most money for my time. Makes sense, right?

I will always appreciate Textbroker and the editorial team there for providing me with what basically amounts to a paid education. Through Textbroker I was able to hone my online content writing skills and earn $1,235 in the process. As my goal there was to earn $100 per month, I guess I can check that off my list! Anyway, Textbroker provides consistent work, pays on time and even offers bonuses now and again. Textbroker isn’t for everyone and may no longer be the best fit for me, but that is where I got my start and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Looking back on the past year and the changes in my life, I have to give major credit where credit is due. I will forever be indebted to Felicia at No Job for Mom. It was through her writings and generous sharing of experience that I came to appreciate the possibilities and gained the courage to apply to various sites. I know I've saved many hours of valuable time and a ton of aggravation. I also continue to learn from her posts and the comments posted to her blog – so thanks Felicia!

A word of warning – although the Internet provides countless opportunities to make money from home, you have to be extremely careful. There are a lot of scams out there just waiting for another unwary victim. Do your research before signing up for anything – Google the site with “scam” or “review” or “complaints” added and see what comes up. And if it’s a writing opportunity you’re looking at, search the NJFM site for posts and check out Felicia’s NJFM Writer Resources Database.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Year, New Beginning – On July 1st?

I’ve been distracted away from this blog for a couple of months now. In fact, I’ve been distracted away from everything. It’s funny how life gets in the way of living sometimes. Anyway, I’ve decided to start anew again – just like on New Year’s Day. Rather than continuing to muddle along and concerning myself with what I haven’t gotten done lately – goals not reached or abandoned altogether, projects left half finished, good intentions gone by the wayside – I’m granting myself a fresh slate. Starting tomorrow is a new day and a new month – and for my purposes, a NEW YEAR!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Life Insurance - Do You Need It?

In my opinion, the only purpose of life insurance is to provide for those who would be financially devastated in the event of your death. I realize that this is not an attitude life insurance companies appreciate and it may be foreign to many people, as well. But think about it - why do you actually need life insurance if you have no dependants relying on you financially?

That said, there are many instances when life insurance makes sense - families with children or retired couples who must rely on both incomes to make ends meet, for example. So life insurance does have a place and term life insurance is usually the best bet. With term life, the contract is for a specified time period and the rates are usually much lower than whole life insurance. Also, you get to pick the term and coverage level that makes sense based on your circumstances. So consider whether any type of life insurance coverage is needed and then shop around for the term life insurance policy that best meets your needs.

Please note: This is a sponsored post. I have taken a look around the linked website, however, and it appears to offer a variety of good info on insurance.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Is the Chi Blocked in Your Bedroom?

Essential Feng Shui: Your Practical Guide to Health, Wealth and Happiness
According to the principles of feng shui, the free flow of Chi (energy) in the home is essential to health, happiness and prosperity. In the bedroom, it is believed to be especially important to allow Chi to flow freely beneath the bed. Guess what this means? That’s right – clear out everything from under the bed.

What? No more storage? Can that be right? Actually, yes. And for reasons unrelated to feng shui. Whether or not you adhere to these ancient Chinese principles, keeping the space beneath the bed free of clutter is a good idea for a t least two other reasons:
  • You can more easily keep that area clean, reducing a build up of potential allergens.
  • If you want to rearrange the room, or just need to move the bed temporarily, doing so is a snap!
I've been reading Essential Feng Shui by Simon Brown and yesterday was inspired to do some deep cleaning, starting in the bedroom. First I stood the mattress, box spring and frame up against the wall. This gave me easy access to all the stuff store underneath and allowed me to vacuum the carpeting really well. What did I find there? A few under-bed boxes with extra linens and card-making supplies, some free weights, a box of paperwork and the electric blanket controller. Not too bad, actually.

What did I do with it all? Not much yet – some of it is actually stacked in another room for now. The card-making supplies will go to my craft room, the paperwork has been filed away and I’ll make room for the linens in a closet. As for the free weights? Not sure.

Did we sleep better last night with our freshly freed Chi? Well, we both slept fine. I was actually up a couple of hours early but felt refreshed so must have slept well prior to awakening, right? Anyway, I’m on a quest to declutter and I like empty space so this is a win-win for me. Will I become a total feng shui convert? Likely not beings the free flow of Chi under the bed is about the only thing I’m doing right in that room according to the principles. But it makes cleaning and decluttering fun and it can’t hurt, right?

So how about it? Are you ready to release the Chi in your bedroom?

Here are Amazon affiliate links for a few other Feng Shui books that look interesting.
Feng Shui Your LifeClear Your Clutter With Feng ShuiMove Your Stuff, Change Your Life : How to Use Feng Shui to Get Love, Money, Respect and HappinessThe Western Guide to Feng Shui: Room by Room

Monday, May 3, 2010

Early Lesson Learned as a New Demand Studios Writer

In my new gig as an eHow turned Demand Studios writer, I’ve submitted five how-to articles with sewing and quilting related titles. It’s been fun and I’m definitely getting better at thinking step-by-step and figuring out how to explain things without the benefit of photos as backup. But I’ve just experienced my first rejection!

Yes, my How to Make Rag Quilted Curtains article was rejected for an erroneous formula and sewing steps that “are difficult to visualise for someone who does not know how to rag quilt.” Fair enough. Upon telling my sweetie all about it, I realized that I said “add” when what I meant was “multiply” and in checking the article – yep – that’s what I wrote, as well. So indeed, the formula for calculating the needed number of squares was in error.

As for the steps being “difficult to visualise” (my editor must be British), I guess that’s why it would be nice if we were able to include photos. But DS only allows photos from their library and the pickings are pretty slim when looking for specific shots. And considering that the photos attached to my already published articles aren’t showing up on eHow anyway, I guess it’s a moot point. So it is what it is.

And what is that? Why, an opportunity, of course! I have a good article and a digital camera. I could:
  • Post the article on another how-to site with an modified title and appropriate photos.
  • Post the article on one of my blogs or websites.
  • Develop it into a pdf pattern to sell.
  • Use it as part of a rag-quilting eBook.
So basically I have several options to consider and I’m sure there are more. And I’m not limited to just one! An article rejection transformed into a variety of opportunities – how cool is that?

For those who might be interested in giving rag quilting a try, be sure to invest in rag snips if you plan to make more than one or two - especially if you're using denim or other heavy fabric.

Fiskars 12-99367097 Rag Quilt Snip, Softouch

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Grandma's Little Black Book for Freelance Writers

Grandma is a well-known name among Textbroker writers old and new. On the No Job for Mom blog, she's the go-to person when questions of any kind come up about Textbroker. I've been writing for Textbroker about 9 months and am really grateful for all the advice she so generously shares. And now she written an eBook called "Grandma's Little Black Book - How to Make Money Freelance Writing for Textbroker."

I ordered a copy as soon as I found out about the book on NJFM. It's 19 pages chock-full of valuable info including tips from Grandma based on her vast experience there. Although I thought I was totally familiar with the Textbroker site and process, I learned several new things. Sure would have been nice to have this resource when I first started! The guide is written specifically about Textbroker but a lot of the info would be of use to any budding freelance online writer. So if your interested in starting or furthering an online freelance writing career, get yourself a copy - especially if you're interested in writing for Textbroker or are already writing there.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Readbud Update

Update 12/9/10: Red Alert! Readbud IS a SCAM! It’s official - see PTC Investigations for full report.

Update 10/8/10: Readbud banner and links removed as
I no longer recommend Readbud.

Well, I’ve been a Readbud participant for 5 days now and am having fun for the most part. I get to read and rate articles of interest and get a few cents each for doing so. Sounds like a win-win to me! So far I’ve made nearly $7 so I won’t be quitting my day job (wait! I don’t have a day job!) but it’s a little extra money piling up for a rainy day. Anyway, I’ve yet to reach payout so have no first-hand experience on how that will go but I’m optimistic based on what I’ve read online. It takes a while to hit the $50 mark so we’ll see what happens in another month or so.

I’ve discovered a work-around on what may be glitches in the system or a problem with my computer or a combo of both. Periodically the articles freeze up during download. Try refresh but if that doesn’t work, just close the browsers and open the Readbud site again. This usually works for me.

To rate articles that may have been skipped due to closing and opening browsers, just go to Article History. The titles of every article you’ve read or been offered to read are listed there. Just click on any that show as not rated and proceed as usual. Be sure to do this promptly, however – the opportunity to rate and be paid expires the same day.

All in all, my Readbud experience has been positive. There was a problem with the site a couple of days ago and it was down mostly all day. Things seem to be back to normal now, however. So happy reading!

Please note that the links in this blog post are referral links. So if you click on one and sign up, I will receive $5 once you reach payout.

Monday, April 26, 2010

More Paid to Read Online Info

Update 12/9/10: Red Alert! Readbud IS a SCAM! It’s official - see PTC Investigations for full report.

Update 10/8/10: Readbud links removed as I no longer recommend Readbud.

Well, I’ve done some more research on this fascinating and totally-new-to-me topic. What I’ve discovered is that there are a lot of paid to read (PTR) scams but so far, Readbud doesn’t appear to be one of them. I did happen across a couple of interesting sites, including a good article on Consumer Reports WebWatch about Online Work-at-Home Schemes. Although it was written in 2004, the info and warnings are still valid.

In my web travels over the years I’ve heard of paid to read email schemes where you click through to advertisers from email that comes to your inbox. No thank you - I don’t need more spam! With Readbud, the articles are accessed online at the site and no click through is required. So again, this seems like a legit opportunity but only time will tell. At this point, it’s fun and I’m only spending time that would likely be wasted surfing anyway, so nothing lost and a few cents gained!

Make Money Reading Articles Online

Update 12/9/10: Red Alert! Readbud IS a SCAM! It’s official - see PTC Investigations for full report.

Update 10/8/10: Readbud banner and links removed as 
I no longer recommend Readbud.

There’s a new online moneymaking opportunity that shows promise and appears to be legit. At Readbud you simply read and rate articles based on the areas of interest that you’ve chosen. For each article rated, you receive a few cents. While it isn’t much, the articles are short and don’t require a lot of time. This has proven to be a really enjoyable way for me to spend time while having my morning tea. Also, it's fun to read and rate articles rather than write and be rated for a change.

Here are a few tips based on my limited experience with Readbud:

  • Select the maximum number of interest areas (50). The articles you receive will be based on the areas you choose but can be changed daily.
  • Do not skip an offered article unless the title really holds no interest for you. I discovered that skipping an article not only decreases earnings, but shows up in the stats. I will not be skipping any more!
  • Read all articles available at one sitting, when possible. So far the most I’ve gotten is 8 or 10 in a row so it doesn’t take a lot of time.
  • An article to be rated opens in a new window. Once you read and rate, close that window. You cannot open the next article with a previous article still open.
I signed up yesterday and so far have earned a couple of dollars on Readbud. Payout requires a $50 balance so I’m a ways from that but my online research indicates that some folks have reached payout and been paid so I’m cautiously optimistic that I will be paid once I reach $50, as well. Anyway, if you’re interested in being paid to read articles online, check out Readbud. And if you know of any similar sites that appear to be legitimate, please leave a comment here!

Update: I've done some more checking and have written another post with additional info on avoiding scams.

Please note that the links in this blog post are affiliate links. So if you click on one and sign up, I will receive $5 once you reach payout.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Are You Sabotaging Your Plans for Retirement?

Who would sabotage their own retirement plans? Well, a lot of people do whether they mean to or not. There's an interesting article in the yahoo finance section on just this topic. Common ways in which you might be sabotaging your retirement are by over-spending, under-saving and indulging bad habits. Remember that for the vast majority of us to live comfortably in retirement, it is imperative to reduce expenses as much as possible and live below our means. Starting NOW. Read 6 Things You're Doing to Delay Your Retirement and see which areas you can improve immediately and work toward improving all areas over time.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

New AdSense Revenue Sharing Writing Site – 80% Revenue Share!

There’s a new revenue sharing writing site on the web that pays a generous 80% of Google AdSense revenue to the authors! Launched just a few weeks ago by, an SEO and Web Services company based in Texas, purports to be similar to

I found out about ArticleShare when I was invited to do this sponsored post. So I signed up. The site uses a WordPress blog platform for publishing articles. Although I haven’t published yet, I’m somewhat familiar with WordPress due to previous blog experience. Anyway, the publishing part shouldn’t be a problem.

My concern at this point is the inability to locate the full text of the License Agreement, which I had to accept when registering. There’s a check box but no way that I’ve found to access the agreement. So I need to read that little piece of legalese before proceeding. I plan to email them but don’t see any contact info either. Hmm. Anyway, I’ll get on the site and bring these two things to their attention.

The rules spelled out on the site are simple. There are only three – SPAM is prohibited, clicking on your own ads is prohibited and you are limited to two links per article. While freedom of expression is nice, I personally would prefer a little more structure – like a detailed Terms of Service page maybe? For instance: What about copyright? Are pictures allowed? Any restrictions re: profanity, porn or other offensive material? I wouldn’t want to be associated with a site that allows inappropriate content. 

At this point, I plan to proceed cautiously. I want to ensure that I retain full copyright to any articles placed on the site. I also won’t be entering my Google Advertising ID until my questions have been answered. So I’ll keep you posted as I find out more!

Update to above info (and this part has NOT been sponsored):

Now that the Terms and Conditions are posted on the site and the Rules have been completed, count me in! As far as I can see, ArticleShare is a total go – I’ve received a prompt email response to all my concerns and I'm satisfied that this is a great new online writing residual income opportunity. I've got my profile done and am in the process of posting my first article. Isn’t this exciting?

Monday, March 29, 2010

15-Carb Candy Filled Easter Eggs for Diabetic Children

Our 9-year-old granddaughter was recently diagnosed with juvenile onset (type 1) diabetes, which makes the typical sweet-treat holiday festivities less enjoyable. She is allowed a 15-carb snack a couple of times a day, however, so I got the idea to fill plastic eggs with exactly 15 carbs worth of Easter candy. While it would be unwise and unhealthy to eat candy as a snack on a regular basis, I figured this was a way for her to not be left out and not have to calculate carbs in candy that she might eat.

To make these eggs, I bought a variety of Easter candies and did all the calculations to determine how many carbs were in each kind. I then filled a bunch of eggs with exactly 15 carbs worth. I did include some marshmallow candies in a couple of eggs but am afraid they may get sticky so probably would advise against that. It seems best to use candies that are individually wrapped but that isn't how favorites like jellybeans are packaged. So we'll have to take our chances and try to ensure that the plastic eggs don't draw moisture.

It was somewhat of a challenge to figure the carbs so better to have it all done ahead of time. The amount of candy in each egg is rather small but at least none go over the 15-carb limit. What really surprised me is that sugar free jellybeans had the same amount of carbs as regular ones. So don’t assume that sugar free means a diabetic can eat all they want!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hypertension Basics – Who, Why and What?

Omron HEM-712C Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor with IntelliSenseOne of the sites where I am published online is Suite101. They’re having a couple of contests right now, which has prompted me to get busy writing more articles. As hypertension is an issue that affects many in my family, I published an article yesterday on high blood pressure basics. I’m actually planning to do a series – home monitoring how-to, lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure, etc. – if my adult onset ADD doesn’t get the better of me and send me off in another direction! Hey – maybe I should do an article on that?

Anyway . . . What was I saying? Oh, yeah – there are a variety of blood pressure monitors available for home use. Some are designed especially for women, some have larger cuffs, and others even fit on your wrist! If you have hypertension or prehypertension, it is advised to monitor your blood pressure at home. Here are a few Amazon affiliate links to blood pressure monitors you might want to consider. Be sure to ask your doctor which type is best for you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Choosing the Right Structure for Your Home-based Business

Many retirees start home-based businesses, either to make money at home to supplement retirement income or to stay active – or both! Often these entrepreneurial endeavors just sort of “evolve” without any real planning. But did you know that the type of entity you choose (or fail to choose) for your home-based business can have serious tax and legal ramifications?

Basically, there are just a handful of structures from which to choose. But the differences between them are significant. An individual or married couple may choose to go the easiest route and operate as a sole proprietor. Two or more individuals who desire to conduct business together must form a partnership of some sort – unless they get way more formalized and set up a corporation or Limited Liability Company. This can all be so confusing!

Well, I’ve written an article on Suite101 on this very topic. For more information, see Small or Home-based Business Ownership Options. In addition, here are a couple of Amazon links to Home-Based Business for Dummies and Best Home Businesses for People 50+, both by Paul and Sarah Edwards.

Please Note: These are affiliate links and I will receive a little kickback should you click and order.

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's Tax Time!

As the old saying goes, there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes. And what time of year is it? Why, tax time, of course! The time when accountants across the land are busily crunching numbers and good old John Q. Public is busy biting his nails. How much more fun could you ask for?

I’m the resident income tax preparer in our little group. I actually don’t mind – which is good beings no one else wants to do it! I only take care of the personal taxes, however, and not the taxes for Horn's Jewelry. But between all of us and a few friends and relatives, I stay plenty busy. Here are a couple of tips to make tax time less stressful.

Keep Good Records

It may be too late for the 2009 tax year but certainly not for 2010. Especially if you’ve started a new home based business, keeping good records is crucial. In a previous post, I talked about but I’d like to mention them again. After discovering them in January, I entered all my 2009 info for both my freelance writing and custom memorial quilt businesses. When it came time to fill out my federal tax return, actually generated the needed Schedule C forms for me! It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Don’t Make It Harder Than It Has To Be

I also use TurboTax Home & Business for all our tax prep. I used to buy the H&R Block or J.K. Lassiter tax guide each year and study like crazy but now I let the software do all that for me. I still stay on top of tax changes and double check the completed forms to make sure nothing is amiss but it sure is nice to just enter the info and have the program put it all in the right place and make all the calculations. Pretty much eliminates the inevitable human errors that tend to occur when using a calculator and filling forms out by hand.

The IRS also has a terrific website where you can access all the forms and publications and more info than you’ll ever want to read. Anything you need to know about your federal taxes is right there, neatly organized and readily available 24/7. Have fun!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Refocusing My Freelance Writing Efforts

One of the great things about being your own boss is the ability to re-evaluate and make adjustments as the need arises. In my quest to make money at home during retirement, I’ve tried a few different freelance-writing options – both up-front pay and residual income opportunities. Based on my experience with each and my future goals, I’ve recently concluded that I need to refocus my writing efforts.

Over the past seven months, I’ve spent the bulk of my time writing for up-front pay. While this is good for right now, it does nothing to secure the future. When I made my New Year’s goals this year, I’d planned to continue the paid writing at the same pace while working toward financial freedom by simultaneously developing the residual income side of things. Well, guess what? I can’t do it all!

Then to top it off, I started the Rugged Canyon Jewelry blog last month. It’s a lot of fun and really important for our business but does take a bit of creative energy and time. And then there’s this blog and my contributions to Spilled on this Earth. Anyway, I was feeling the need to let some things go and have fewer deadlines from clients.

Since making this slightly overdue decision, I actually feel as if a large weight has been lifted from me. I’m wrapping up my current obligations and will be able to start really focusing on publishing articles that generate residual income later this week. I recently purchased an ebook to help me with key word research so am anxious to read that first thing. I’ve really enjoyed my writing journey thus far and am looking forward to seeing how it evolves over the next few months!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Etsy Update – Back in Business!

Well, I have to admit it – I didn’t do a single thing with my Wilderness Crafter Etsy shop during the month of February. Nothing. Well, I looked at it a few times but I didn’t add a single item until the 28th and that doesn’t really count for February, as it was merely a jump-start on March.

I also didn’t make a single sale in February. Hmm. Think there’s a connection? If so, you’re right. I decided to post one item daily during March and was rewarded with my first sale today! For three items! Apparently you get more business when you actually show up for work! So lesson learned – if I want to have any success with Etsy, I need to maintain my shop.

Another interesting Etsy happening this week was a question I got from a customer in Australia. She wanted to verify the shipping amount on a book, as it seemed high to her. I use the USPS for all my shipping and have everything but Canada set to International flat rate priority which is over $13 for a 9”x12” envelope. Well, I discovered that the book in question wouldn’t quite fit into that envelope, as it is 2” thick.

Not to be deterred, I began researching other options. The silly book weighs over 3 pounds and the cheapest I can send it USPS to Australia is over $25! So I checked UPS figuring I could go to the extra trouble of shipping through an alternate carrier if it would make the item affordable for her. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? UPS was over $100! Needless to say, she’s no longer interested in the book.

Bottom line is that shipping out of the US is expensive when things get over a pound or so. Patterns can be sent first class pretty reasonably. But once you get into global priority, watch out! Makes me really thankful for media mail beings a lot of the stuff in my shop at present is craft books.

So that’s the Etsy update. I’m still hoping to destash all my stuff and make money at home in the process. Now that I’m “back to work” it looks like I may meet my goal yet!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Take a Virtual Vacation

There are many places I will never visit in person but I can easily take a virtual vacation anytime I want. I have a particular fascination for the castles and old churches that are scattered across Europe. Maybe it’s because we don’t have any buildings that are really old over here in the USA. Or maybe it’s because I’ve never lived with the cold and damp that I imagine accompanies life within these beautiful structures. Whatever the reason, I am drawn to them.

Today I happened upon a site called Sacred Destinations that has beautiful photos and history and other detailed info on numerous sacred sites around the world. I haven’t indulged in a lengthy virtual vacation as I have writing assignments that need to be finished. But I did tour the Kilpeck Church in England and the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. I plan to continue my virtual tour as time allows. Care to join me?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Another Great Resource for Entrepreneurs!

Update 2/25/2011 - I'm no longer recommending and have removed the link. See Goodbye Outright for my reasons why.

I have found the coolest FREE bookkeeping system online and thought I’d share. provides a very nice bookkeeping system that also generates a Schedule C at the end of the year! How cool is that? All you do in input your income and expenses (correctly categorized, of course) and the program will create exactly what you need for your tax return.

I found out about shortly after starting my Etsy shop. It was a fortuitous discovery as I had on my calendar for THAT VERY DAY to develop a bookkeeping system. I was going to create my own in Excel and was dreading it. See how procrastination pays?

Not only have I used the Outright system for my Etsy shop, I also set up separate accounts for my freelance writing and custom memorial quilts business. For those of you who have your taxes done by an accountant or CPA, this may not seem that exciting. But I do all the personal taxes around here and I’m telling you, I’m thrilled to have found this! (Can you tell?)

Of interest to anyone with a business will be the YTD Profit feature. On the top right of the page, the system tracks your profits for the year as you input income and expenses. (This would be of especial benefit to my brother-in-law if I could just get him to sign up.) For folks that don’t have a business, I can see that this could also be a really good way to track personal or family expenditures. So check it out and sign up if you feel it might be of benefit.

Please Note – I have no affiliation with other than being a happy user of the system.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Great Resource for Entrepreneurs!

Whether you’re retired or 20-something, whether you’re interested in starting a business or already have one, I’ve found a great resource for entrepreneurs – Packed with info, the only negative I can find is that there’s so much that it’s a little overwhelming. So I’ll try to make it easy by linking to some areas directly.

First – check out the interview with Gaines on Starting a Jewelry Business. Didn’t he do a nice job for Horn’s Jewelry? If you’d like to read other entrepreneur interviews, there’s over 250 from which to choose. Lots of in-the-trenches wisdom there! I plan to sift through them slowly when I have a few minutes reading time. Maybe I’ll shoot for one a day. Hmm. That will take the better part of a year. Well, I really don’t have to read them all, do I? I guess I can focus on just those that seem relevant to what I’m doing business-wise.

Next – check out the Entrepreneur Resources page. They’ve got a TON of quality articles on starting a business, business ideas and so much more. Good thing this is all online rather than in print - just think how much paper that would take!

If you’re thinking about starting a business, or know someone who is, check out Remember that the second half is often the perfect time to start a home-based business. If you’re approaching retirement, a business of your own might be a great way to augment other retirement income and may even allow for an early retirement! If you’re already retired, beginning a new venture may help you stay active and involved. Just be sure to do your research and avoid investing too much money or time until your research shows that the venture under consideration is a viable option for you.

Please Note: This is NOT a sponsored post. Sorry if I sound like a groupie but I really do think they’re a really valuable resource.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thoughts Turn to Gardening -

Staying active throughout retirement is important to both mental and physical health. Around here, gardening is big! We (well, not me personally – I am NOT a gardener) have several plots that produce a wide variety of fresh vegetables and herbs each year. There is also a variety of fruit, grapes and berries to harvest each fall. And the flowers are unbelievably beautiful!

Tending gardens and flowerbeds provides a good physical workout and allows for creative expression. In addition, it just makes good economic sense! Why buy what you can grow yourself? Consider growing at least a bit of your own food. If space is a problem, try growing tomatoes and peppers in containers on the deck or patio. Add a few marigolds of a scented variety to repel some common pests and you’re all set!

Please Note: Photos are courtesy of Karen Balvin, Sunlitway Photography. It's really nice to have a professional photographer onsite!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Two Great Cleaning Products – Good News and Bad News

We have a few rentals and one just became vacant. In preparation for cleaning, I went to the store to buy my all-time favorite tub and shower-cleaning product, Shower Power. It works great on built-up soap scum – no scrubbing or nasty fumes. Imagine my dismay when I discovered not only that they didn’t have any in stock, but also that it wasn’t even listed as available from any distributor. So I settled for an Arm & Hammer product that worked ok but not nearly as well or as effortlessly as Shower Power.

During the same cleaning spree, I discovered the magic of Holy Cow! all-purpose cleaner. I’d bought a bottle months ago because it was on sale (and it was pink) but hadn’t really tried it yet. Had I not seen the results with my own eyes, I would not have believed anything could clean that well! And the best part? The product didn’t eat the skin off my hands! How cool is that? Quite a pleasant change for me.

Now for the good and bad news:

Shower Power is actually still available but must be ordered online. Apparently the owners retired and closed the business down. There was so much interest in the product, however, that their sons resurrected it as an online only (at least at this time) venture. So that’s the good news.

You won’t believe the bad news. While online searching for what happened to Shower Power, I decided to check out the Holy Cow website. Guess what? It no longer exists. You can find lots of buzz on various blogs about how great the stuff is but no website. Thinking this was kind of strange, I did a Google search for the originator’s name. Guess what? They sold their interest under two years ago and the current owners filed bankruptcy on Dec. 30, 2009. Holy Cow! Another great product gone!

So there you have it – the good news and the bad news. Maybe I should contact the Shower Power guys and see if they want to buy Holy Cow, as well?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Can You Really Make Money Blogging?

Have you seen the “Get Paid to Blog!” ads? I used to wonder what that was all about. I guess I still do beings I have no idea what those ads are trying to sell – but then again, I don’t even want to find out. I’m sure it’s a scam of some kind. At least the ads look and sound like a scam.

I can tell you that I am legitimately getting paid to blog, however. Not right this minute as I write this post but in the past 2 days I’ve written 5 posts for 4 different blogs. These are all clients for whom I did orders on Textbroker who liked my work enough to request direct orders from me. The one client I’ve been writing for regularly since Oct. The others are new in the past few weeks but look like they might each need one post per week. And I have a couple more waiting in the wings.

The challenge in blogging for others is generating quality content that is accurate and relevant to their particular target audience. My longest-term paid blogging is specific to home and garden tips, which is something I know about so I’m pretty comfortable with that. The new ones are in less familiar areas so I’m getting to learn something new. I look at blogging for others as similar to developing a newsletter which cuts down on the intimidation factor somewhat.

I’ve also made a few dollars with this blog doing sponsored posts. I may be doing more of those in the future but will always clearly disclose within the post that it has been sponsored. The ones I’ve done so far have been vision or hair related. Who knew you could make money just putting information for others on your own blog?

Another blogging for pay opportunity that I checked into several months ago was through I was all ready to apply when I found a clause in the small print that I couldn’t agree to although it makes sense. They pay bloggers to post and then they own copyright to everything that’s posted. Well, it’s their blog so that makes sense but I was unwilling to give up rights to my writing for so little pay. I’m sure it’s a nice opportunity for some folks but just wasn’t a good fit for me.

There are also several ways to generate income with paid advertising. Although I have Google Adsense and Amazon ads on my blog, I have yet to make any money. But that’s no mystery – anyone who has read much of my blog knows that every time I include an amazon ad in a post, I also give suggestions of where to get the item for free. And I don’t have the traffic to attract paid advertisers to buy space but I do know of other bloggers who do make a respectable amount of money through paid ads. And if you are savvy enough to develop a niche blog and do everything just right, it’s possible to make a significant income. I’m just not there yet.

Anyway, bottom line is yes, you really can make money blogging. Are you going to get rich blogging for others? No. Are jobs easy to find? Not really – I think I just got lucky. Might you get rich with a niche blog? Maybe – but it’s a lot of work and won’t happen in a hurry so plan to spend some time and don’t quit your day job just yet!