Category Archives: Finances

Supplementing my income as a single parent without child support

Legitimate ways to make money online!

Legitimate ways to make money online!

Like many single mothers, I often find it hard to support a family on my income alone. And like most people who divorce an abuser, I rarely, if ever, get any child support. So it’s all on me. When I had two children under three, I found that holding a full time job without any outside support or help was not working. I had so many appointments for the kids, but my employer would not let me off work. There was no one else to take the kids, so now what?

I stepped down into a more flexible, but lower paying position, and I started focusing on ways to supplement my income from home where I wouldn’t need to hire a baby-sitter or pay more for daycare.

Over the years, I have come to count on the money I make online to keep me afloat and I’ve learned what sites work best for me. In the past, I’ve written a few blogs about my ongoing favorites, but the best options are always changing. I do a lot of freelance work, but my favorites are surveys. Not only do they pay me to answer questions while I watch TV, but I often get to test new products, which is interesting and saves me money.

Christmas is coming, so most of us are going to need money for gifts. I also need to get out of debt, so I’m doing as much online as I can. Each time I get a Paypal payment from a site, I transfer it to my bank account and post it towards a bill. It’s a good feeling!

Anyway, I thought I’d write an updated post about what sites I use since people ask me so much.


Right now, my top site is Mintvine. I like this one because it grows faster than other sites. Each day, I take their daily poll for a few extra points, then I start trying my surveys. It puts you in a queue where you keep trying surveys until you run out of options, (or stop for the day.) I get to finish a lot of surveys–usually a few dollars a day, but they also randomly award you points when you are disqualified from a survey. So, sometimes I get thirty cents just for them to tell me that survey didn’t work for me. Usually it’s five cents, but it adds up, especially when I complete surveys that can be worth up to a few dollars each. I count on cashing out at least $10 to $15 a week with minimal effort each night. When I want more, I do more…and that’s the plan since the holidays are coming!

My second go-to site that I check into every day is Swagbucks. I like this one because it lets me earn in a variety of ways. Some days while I’m cleaning or cooking, I play videos to watch while I’m working. I’ve made up to a couple dollars a day just doing that while I multi-task. Of course, add in surveys and other offers, and it adds up. Earning $25 a week is not unusual. I cash out for $25 in Paypal, but you can buy your first $25 gift card each month for a discount of $22, so that is good for getting gifts.

My third daily site is Paid Viewpoint. This one sometimes takes more time to add up, but it is also very easy to use and takes minimal effort. Also, I use about twenty sites. While some are my main money makers, I also keep a bunch going slowly each day, because eventually they will pay out and be a nice little bonus.


There are far more ways I earn extra money each day, but I’ll start with those and not overload you! Those are the ones I recommend the most because they are easier, and don’t require a lot of time each day. Although, you can certainly earn more if you want to, which is nice if you know you have a big expense coming up.

Good luck!

How to make your new cell phone pay for itself with money making apps

Legitimate ways to make money online!

Legitimate ways to make money online!

Recently, I was getting pretty tired of my old cell phone. I bought it in 2012, so it’s basically a dinosaur in cell phone years! The battery wouldn’t hold a charge there was hardly any memory, I couldn’t use newer apps and I got poor coverage. I wanted an upgrade! But I also wanted to be frugal. I was able to do both. First of all, I got an LG phone that costs me less than $7 a month in installment payments. Not so bad. BUT, the good part is, now that I have a newer phone that can handle newer apps, I can use money making apps that make up for my cell phone payment and then some!

There are a lot of options out there, but let me tell you my two favorites.

To start, use Swagbucks. I already make money on Swagbucks by running their nCrave videos, but now I can use six different mobile video apps that will all pay a minimum of 10 SB a day for me to play videos for a few minutes. That’s 60 cents worth times 30 days a month? $18.00. More than covers my phone payment.

But I also added an app called AdMe. It uses an ad for your lock screen, which isn’t as fun as using your favorite pictures, but does pay a bit. It gives you a $3 bonus to sign up, then a few cents a day. I’m up to about $6 in under a month just to use the lockscreen I’d have to swipe anyway. If you decide to use AdMe, please enter my code as your referral if you don’t mind. It is y3uZxhO498 and will give both of us a little bonus.

I’d say these two are the easiest and fastest growing, but there are others as well. I will update with another post soon to review some other popular apps that pay.

As it is, even if I just focus on these two, my phone payment is covered plus I have extra. I’m happy with that! 🙂

An overview of my favorite money-making survey sites!

Legitimate ways to make money online!

Legitimate ways to make money online!

I found that working full-time with two little kids and doing everything on my own was leaving me little time to actually live, so in the past couple years, I’ve found ways to survive on part-time hours and still pay my bills…and even have some fun!

I have a number of things I do to earn extra money, including product testing and using survey sites. Depending on how much time I devote, it is not unrealistic to make $5 a day doing the bare minimum in surveys that are mailed to me. If I have an emergency, I do more. (For example, a couple weeks ago, I had a pipe burst under my kitchen, and I didn’t have enough money to cover the repair. I got online and started taking surveys!) It’s not a lot, but it helps. I can’t count the times that cashing out on a survey site has rescued me from a financial bind or helped me make the last few dollars to pay a bill.

People often ask me about what sites I use, and I’m glad to tell! But, I’ve been doing this for over a year now, so I’m really familiar with the sites and the ways to optimize my earnings. For a newbie, it’s probably completely overwhelming. So, I decided to post a basic overview of the sites I use, how they pay, and how much you can earn. I would recommend starting with a small number of sites at first, then adding more when you get used to them. When you first start doing surveys, you will earn a lot faster at first, because all of the surveys will be new. After a while, the old surveys are all done, and you just get the new ones in your e-mail. At that point, it’s easier to start adding other sites. These days, I just try every survey that comes in my e-mail, because sites usually only send you the best options. If I need to make money more quickly, I can always go to my favorites sites and look for more surveys.

Some sites will allow you to put in a bit of time and earn more quickly, while other sites take just a few minutes a day to earn slowly. Still, I take the couple minutes it takes on the slower sites, because they do add up–especially if you use a bunch of sites at once.

Soo…’s part of my list:

Inbox Dollars: This was the first site I joined, and I still use it, (and cash out,) regularly. I would suggest starting here, because Inbox Dollars pays you for using their links to join other survey sites. (Hint: That’s a very easy way to hit your first pay out. Many times, you will earn $1 or more just for signing up for another survey site through Inbox Dollars. Plus, you can then make money on those sites, too!) Their rewards are paid in dollar amounts instead of points, so it’s easy to keep track of your balance. You have to earn at least $30 to cash out, then when you try to cash out, you get a prompt to earn to $40 and save on the processing fee…so I do that. I cashed out my first $40 after two weeks! This site has more than just surveys. There are plenty of free offers, as well as offers to earn points on purchases, and more. Plus, for every survey you attempt, you get a spin on the Spin and Win wheel which often awards prizes like a bonus 5 cents, a bonus dollar or a bonus five dollars.  Once you’ve used all the initial offers, it is still easy to maintain about $20 a month in earnings just by taking the surveys they send to your e-mail. If you work harder to do more surveys, $40 a month or more is possible. (I just did that to help pay for my broken pipe.)

Global Test Market: This site is currently my favorite. You have to earn 1000 points to cash out–and it’s possible to do that in a month or less. I usually save up a bit more because the payout options don’t add up to exactly 1000 points. For example, at 240 points, you can get $10 in a Paypal payment. For 220 points, you can $10 in a gift card, (I always choose Amazon!) The average survey pays 30 points and takes 5-10 minutes. The surveys are plentiful, and it’s easy to surf through and finish several surveys a night. It is not hard to reach your first 1000+ points in a month and get $40-$50 in rewards.
Also, some of GTM’s surveys are screeners to find people to test products at home. I have tested a bunch of different products–things I would actually buy–which has saved me quite a bit of money on home goods and toiletries. Plus, some of these products are really good, so I enjoy them!

Mintvine: This is another site with plenty of surveys, (plus points for taking a daily poll or being rejected for a survey.) It is easy to earn points very quickly. Their point system is pretty easy–1000 points is $10 worth of credit. You can get gift cards or Paypal, but you have to have at least 1000 points first. It is not hard to get to the first payout, especially since there are several new member bonus options. I would say it is possible to earn $20 a month on this site if you take all your options. The most I’ve earned was $40 in one month.

Swagbucks: This isn’t really just a survey site, although there are survey options. I usually don’t even take many surveys there, unless I’ve used up my other ways to earn points. This site pays in gift cards based on points. You can cash out as little as $3 for 300 points. On this site, I make points by watching videos, watching ads, interacting with ads, taking short polls, and more. Each day, Swagbucks assigns you a point goal, and if you hit the goal, you get a bonus. I always try to hit the smallest goal at least. That is about 30-50 points a day to get a 10% bonus. It’s not hard to get there with very little effort. In fact, since Swagbucks randomly rewards you for using their search engine, you might get 15 points for just one search! The more you search, the more you can earn. I’ve have earned as much as 300 points in one day just by doing easy things. Typically, I hit around 50–which equals out to about $15 a month. If you do surveys, it adds up a lot faster.

In my experience, this is a good start to making some extra money online. I will continue posting some more overviews soon!

Looking around and learning about coping and life improvement skills

In my previous post, I wrote about how opening my mind to self-help books and trusting a therapist was a huge help for me to start overcoming the legacy of secrets and denial I learned in my dysfunctional family. I started learning how to live in a functional manner and how to set boundaries about how I wanted to be treated. Not only did I become eager to learn from books, but I started looking everywhere for life tips.

O’s Big Book of Happiness: The Best of O, The Oprah Magazine: Wisdom, Wit, Advice, Interviews, and Inspiration

For many years, I stopped reading magazines because I felt like they were a waste of money, space and paper. Then a couple years ago, I got a really good bargain on O magazine. Now, I have never really been a fan of Oprah Winfrey, or of talk shows in general, but it hit me that, even if I wasn’t a fan, I had to admit that she was a huge success and obviously knew how to do something right. I realized I could learn something from her and what her company promoted. There’s definitely something about her that attracts people and I wanted to evolve into one of those women who really had good things going for her. Who better to learn from than women who can demonstrate the way I want to be? I found that Oprah’s magazine promotes really great life skills, positivity, success, self-esteem, and more–all things that I was lacking, and all things I wanted to learn more about. There’s even an interesting series of books related to her magazine.

Part of living a good life is also learning to manage time, prioritize, and reduce stress, so I started looking at more magazines for ideas in these areas. As much as I love reading books, one benefit to magazines is they are colorful, cheerful, and have short articles. They are good when you only have a few minutes to relax between appointments, for a break on my front porch, for a while before work…. It sounds silly, but I have found that reading them again, is a good “investment,” because I pick up quick and fun ideas that inspire me or help me with life. One of my current favorites is Real Simple. In every issue, I end up bookmarking a few spots with good ideas, or quotes that make me think. I find they are a good inspiration for learning valuable life lessons, and they often inspire me to think about things for this blog. One of their recent issues is a 15th anniversary issue called “The Ultimate Life Handbook,” and it has a a lot of excerpts from their new book called The Real Simple Guide to Real Life: Adulthood made easy. There are a whole variety of good ideas in here for living a smart, functional life, and I’m really enjoying them.

I’m sure many of us look at the magazine racks at the grocery store, but I’ve started looking at them in a new light. They aren’t just there to help me kill some time, they are full of smart ideas from empowered women, as well as inspiration. More and more as I open my heart to healing, I realize I can learn something from nearly every resource and situation. There’s good stuff all around us!

Not feeling guilty about being paid for your work

IMG_1245final A little over ten years ago, I started making beaded jewelry for fun. Pretty soon, I had tons of necklaces and not enough time to wear them, plus it’s kind of an expensive hobby, so I was running out of money! I decided to start selling some of my jewelry that I made. I always bought premium supplies–real gemstones, real sterling silver, quality glass beads, and more. Plus, I got a lot of compliments and gave necklaces as gifts, so I knew that people liked the things I made, and I knew they had some value. I was making pretty things for people who wanted them, so that’s a fair deal, right? The thing is, I always felt weird and guilty about it. I felt like I was selfish to ask people to buy my jewelry. I felt greedy asking for higher prices even though my jewelry-making mentor kept telling me I didn’t charge enough for my time.

Now this was kind of silly! Artists and authors sell their work all the time without feeling guilty! But I felt strange about it. This was just another symptom of low self-esteem. I didn’t feel comfortable acknowledging my own value, my talents, or the value of my skills and time. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten better about reminding myself I don’t need to feel guilty for asking for a fair price for my time! It takes time to plan and assemble a unique necklace, but I was so afraid to charge for my time that I was basically making less than minimum wage. It’s taken me years to get over that awkward feeling of greed when I am not being greedy and I’m only being fair to myself.

Last year, after some friends encouraged me, I sat down and started writing eBooks about my experiences in abusive relationships. Of course, it took me a long time, as did editing, formatting, making covers, and all of those other details. But again, I felt guilty. Was it wrong for me to charge people to purchase my story? My lessons I’ve learned? I looked at Amazon and saw plenty of other people selling similar stories for higher prices, so I knew that others didn’t seem to be hung up feeling guilty.

From reading online, I’ve learned that I’m not the only low self-esteem person who has these feelings of inadequacy or being afraid to value myself and the things I do. But, I know that these feelings aren’t completely valid. Of course I don’t want to sell junk, but I was putting time and effort into items that I felt were helpful or pretty. It’s completely reasonable to charge for my time! CEOs get millions for their work. Everyone with a job gets paid for their time. Some artists sell their original paintings for high dollars. There’s nothing wrong with my selling the things I make.

I think many “normal” confident people wouldn’t even think twice about respecting their own work. Just as with assertive people who negotiate higher salaries at work, it is a good thing to offer good results and charge a fair wage for them. I’m really trying to keep that in mind these days. 🙂 Just as with the other areas of my life, I’m learning my own value!

If anyone is curious, my jewelry site is, (where I also sell jewelry I didn’t make,) and I have an Etsy store too just for my original items.

Get a 10% bonus on your tax refund

I did this last year and am excited to see it’s an option this year again!

I use Turbo Tax every year anyway because it’s much easier and faster for me, plus it catches a lot of credits I wouldn’t know to look for. Last year, they had an offer that gave you an extra 10% when you directed part of your refund directly to an Amazon gift card. Since I buy a lot on Amazon, from books to diapers to wipes, to household cleaning items, some groceries and more, I sent $500 of my tax refund directly to my Amazon account balance and got an extra $50 added on for doing that. Since I would have spent the money on Amazon eventually, I appreciated that I got an extra $50 to do it all at once. That balance last at least six months as my monthly Subscribe and Save orders came directly out of it. I think this is a great deal!

I have blogged about the benefits of Amazon in the past. I really save a lot of time and money with Subscribe and Save and this 10% bonus will come in handy. Here’s my previous blog about it.

Tips for being successful and getting rich

Napoleon Hill’s A Year of Growing Rich: 52 Steps to Achieving Life’s Rewards

Click here to purchase Napoleon Hill’s a Year of Growing Rich: 52 Steps to Achieving Life’s Rewards

Napoleon Hills book “Think and Grow Rich” is considered a classic self-help book along the lines of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” or “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Many people swear by it. This book is a companion to it and includes many of the same ideas, except in shorter excerpts that are easier to read. It’s broken down into 52 short chapters–one for each week. I admit, I’m reading one per night. (I’m ready to be rich 😉 ) Okay, so I’m not rich yet…but this book is very inspiring. When I read it and the examples, I feel like I really can use my talents to make my dreams come true. Hill makes riches and success seem achievable. But, he focuses on the importance of devotion to your goals, being specific, working hard, and having a strong desire to succeed. You can’t just want it to happen, you have to make it happen. He emphasizes that you need to have a real plan, and you need to believe in and stick to it. He also points out that the people who succeed are those who persevere through multiple failures–the people who don’t give up.  Overall, each chapter emphasizes a characteristic that could help us in many ways. Plus, rich is subjective. Maybe rich is being self-employed, having your dream career, being happy…or maybe it really means having tons of money. Any way you look at it, you can benefit from reading and using the ideas in this book. I’m currently job hunting and working on multiple start-up business ideas. I’m using Hill’s tips, so hopefully I can write a very positive blog update in the future!

Money-Making Tip

I think we all would love to find a legitimate way to make money online, right? Well, you aren’t going to get rich, but there are some sites that will pay you to do tasks or take surveys. I’ve made about $35 this week, which isn’t so bad! I aim for $5 a day and it takes minimal time. I have two main sites that I use and this one is my favorite right now:

It’s called Inbox Dollars. What I like about it is, they send you a few e-mails through the day called “PaidEmail” that allow you to make a few cents just by clicking on them and reading them. It adds up…. There are also numerous offers for free surveys–some of which are one-time-only and others are daily options. They are short and pay anywhere from 35 cents to over a dollar. I do one or two in between chores or a few while I’m eating a meal and makes some extra spending money. Also, for every survey you take, you get a free spin on their virtual wheel. You can win anything from a few cents to $5. There are also options for making money for trying free trials or for purchasing items, but you aren’t required to purchase anything to participate in the numerous free offers. Some of the offers are for placing an order through various online websites to get an incentive payment, so if you know you want to do some online shopping, just make sure you click through Inbox Dollars. For example, you can get 2% through Wal-Mart or Target, 3% through Kohls, 5% through Avon or 15% through (I wish I’d known this when I did some fall clothing shopping on, but I’ll keep it in mind for the future!) This isn’t everything–there are a lot more options for making money. Once you accumulate $30, you can cash out. It honestly doesn’t take long to get to that point. I’ve made more than that in a week and I have only done the free offers! One thing I will recommend is that you use an e-mail account that is separate from your personal or business accounts because you will get a lot of messages. Small price to pay to make extra money easily from home!

Making money by testing products!

If you live near the Cincinnati, Ohio area, you might want to consider testing products for Proctor and Gamble. You can sign up online to be considered for their research center. Most of the offers are for baby products, but they sometimes have options to test other products. The test studies require at least one visit to the center, and often more, but they can pay off quite well. My son was involved in a diaper study as a newborn and I received a $250 gift card! Most of the studies we’ve been offered have been for lower amounts, but every bit helps and it’s fun to try the new products! The payment amounts are based on the time required, but I have found them to be very generous. They always come in the form of a pre-paid gift card that you can use as a major credit card. You do want to make sure you live nearby, though, to make sure the drive is worth the reward.

Money and investment skills for building credit and savings

The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman

I admit, I am not as young as the young people Orman is targeting. Fabulous is iffy–I spend most of my day with two toddlers! I am definitely broke, though, so I still look to this book for guidance on digging out of a financial hole. Some financial goals are common sense, (at least I hope!) You shouldn’t spend more than you make, you want to pay your bills on time, etc…. But other areas are a bit more confusing. For example, if you have credit card debt and student loan debt, should you still contribute to a 401k? Or if you have no emergency fund, do you build one before trying to pay off your debt? Which debts do you pay off first? The format of the book is very user-friendly and easy to read. The advice is set up as questions and answers and the answers are basic enough for someone without a finance background. The information is enough to help you without overwhelming you. Orman gives her expert opinions on these issues and explains her reasoning.  Of all the famous financial advisers out there, she’s my favorite.

Here are the chapter titles:
1. Know the Score
2. Career Moves
3. Give Yourself Credit
4. Making the Grade On Student Debt
5. Save Up
6. Retirement Rules
7. Investing Made Easy
8. Big-Ticket Purchase: Car
9. Big-Ticket Purchase: Home
10. Love & Money

To start, Orman explains credit scores and how they are determined as well as what your score should be for your best credit offers and how to raise your score. She gives practical career advice and tips on how to get your best salary. She tackles the idea of student loan debt–and advises that it is “good debt,” (with an explanation, of course.) She gives ideas on how to prioritize your money, your saving and your investing, (as well as how to get by if you don’t earn enough.) And she gives a good overview of the various retirement and savings plans available, along with their benefits and tax advantages as well as their guidelines. As a beginner who is overwhelmed by IRAs, HSA, FSA and 401ks, I enjoyed her easy-to-understand descriptions. I think this book makes a good overview for someone who is looking to build a healthy financial future.

Lasting Lessons:
If your student loans have low interest rates, it’s not necessarily best to pay them off quickly. 
Avoid non-conventional mortgages–especially variable rates and interest-only loans.
Avoiding leasing a car–when your lease is over, you still don’t own a car!