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05/07/2010
IconHomepublishing Made Easy By Tom Kelly Dodd Necessity is the mother of invention and the need to eat was our necessity. With our last few dollars, no experience, and no equipment my husband and I began a publishing business, TableTop Tidbits News. That was seven years ago. Today our paper is in six cities, the papers content is generic and can work in any town. Now we want to expand and help others do the same. After a corporate disaster, my husband took off on a cross-country bicycle trip. He came home with the idea that we could make money by publishing a paper for restaurants. Neither of us had any journalism, advertising, or publishing know how. We definitely needed to find a business that did not require capital to start. We did some cut and paste and developed a prototype of our paper. We then took the prototype around and got support from the restaurants. We were off. At first it was a lot of work, selling ads, writing stories, getting cartoons and trivia. The longer we did it the easier it became. Today we have professional writers helping and advertisers are calling us. We even have a waiting list for ad spaces. Best of all we have a good deal of free time as well. Tom and I are certain that by syndicating the paper it will be a perfect stay-at-home business for parents. When the kids are in school a Mom or dad can put their education, computer and personal skills into a career that generates substantial supplemental income. If Mom and dad want to make a team of it, Table Top Tidbits News can be a family's entire income and all done from home. The paper is successfully syndicated in two states, Price, Utah and Colorado Springs, Colorado. The local publishers pay a fee for special software, training, printing and the exclusive territory. The money from the ads they sell is theirs to keep. When we were raising our three children, I was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home Mom. It saddens me to see so many of our little ones being raised by day care centers today. Hopefully Table Top will be an avenue for more Moms and/or Dads to spend more time with their children. If this sounds like something that would appeal to Dr. Laura listener and they would like to know the nitty gritty details they should look at our website www.tabletoptidbitsandnews.com or e-mail us at tabletop@gj.net . We hope to have several more local publishers going this year. Tom Kelly Dodd, Loma, Colorado More >>

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05/07/2010
IconWORK-AT-HOME SALES: THE NEW CONTACT SPORT By Cheryl Gochnauer It's fundraising time at my 8th grader's school. Competition is fierce forbuyers of magazine subscriptions, which translate into prizes for the kids.Heaven help any adult with a checkbook! Fortunately, the yearly promotiononly lasts a couple of weeks, then it'll be safe to sit on our front porchesagain. Just as teens are driven to achieve with their fundraising programs, parentswith in-home businesses are motivated to succeed. Without that income, manyat-home parents would have to go back to work. It's no secret that the bulk of work-at-home opportunities involve selling.Cosmetics, children's toys, kitchen gadgets, household cleaners - theconscientious work-at-home parent has a wide variety of legitimate productsto pitch. The wrinkle is in finding prospective customers in a legitimateway. "One of the moms from my son's preschool called to set up a play date at herhouse," says Linda. "I've been struggling to make new friends, and wasfeeling so isolated. I was looking forward to visiting and talking withher. "In between conversation about the kids, she began telling me about thebusiness she and her husband started a couple of months ago - they offerfinancial services - it's a big company - etc., etc., etc. "So the real reason for the visit wasn't the play date, I guess," Lindafrowned. "I don't even have any money to invest!" Linda ended up disappointed, and I suspect the other woman was, too. Presentation is everything, and deceit will kill the deal every time. Sowhat are some steps work-at-home salespeople can take to keep theirpotential customers happy? Don't disguise a sales pitch as a social event. Choose appropriate settings. For instance, most people attend church toworship, not shop. Know your customer. Financially-challenged at-home moms should not betrying to sell expensive gadgets to other financially-challenged at-homemoms. Make your presentation as low-key as possible, allowing people tocontact you if they're interested. No response means no. Following up isoverrated, and often resented. Support other work-at-home parents by occasionally purchasing theirproducts or services. Resist turning every conversation into a sales pitch. "Did Johnny leavehis backpack at your house?" "Yes, he did, right here next to my catalogs.I'll just slip one into his backpack and drop it by personally. Is 3 p.m.good for you?" Don't spam in cyberspace or in person. Today, I've received 15 emails,2 phone calls, 6 pieces of mail and 1 knock at the door - all from people Idon't know, pitching me products I never asked for. Can you guess howlikely I am to buy their stuff? Once a prospect agrees to hear your presentation, value their time. Forexample, Debi was too rushed to listen to a salesperson on the phone, so sheasked him to email the info. He did, then called to make sure she hadreceived the email and to explain it. Click! Don't ask questions with an ulterior motive. Build relationships, notdatabases. Only represent products you enjoy yourself. That way, you're sharing ablessing, not simply selling something. When you encounter customers whoenjoy the product, too, it's a win-win situation. (Comments? Email Cheryl@homebodies.org . Or visit her website at www.homebodies.org where you can read a sample chapter of her book, "So YouWant to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom" (InterVarsity Press). Copyright2001 Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.) More >>

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05/07/2010
IconA Beautiful Way to Make a Living By Angela Corbell I'm thrilled to let you know about the opportunity I discovered that hasallowed me to FINALLY be a stay-at-home mom! When I had my second daughter last year, I was determined to find a way tobe home with my children. I searched the internet for months and talked toeveryone I could find! I knew there had to be a way to work from home andmake money. What I found was so much more! I have found a tremendousopportunity for one of the finest companies in the United States. I'm soproud to represent them! Southern Living at HOME is a new division of the Southern ProgressCorporation. They are well known for Southern Living magazine, CookingLight, Oxmoor House Publishing and Coastal Living magazine. For the past 9years they have been working to create a company that would allow people todecorate their homes, kitchens and garden/yards, so they would look like thebeautiful pictures in Southern Living magazine. They decided to create a"home party plan" so women could meet in homes and visit with one another.It would be a warm and inviting atmosphere, rather than a store-front or website. They began business in January of this year and are already thefastest growing Direct Sales organization in the United States. Thewonderful thing about Southern Living at HOME is that they represent all thewonderful values and traditions that are important in my family. I love mynew job and would love to share this fabulous opportunity with others. Weneed consultants nationwide! Please feel free to contact me at 512-863-7529or e-mail me: atHomeAngela@msn.com Angela Corbell Southern Living at HOMENew home-based business backed by Southern Living Magazine Dr. Laura Schlessinger and DrLaura.com does not assume responsibility for advice given. All advice should be weighed against your own abilities and circumstances and applied accordingly. It is up to the reader to determine if advice is safe and suitable for their own situation. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconiHomeSchool.tv By Fasi Filiaga I wanted to let you know about a home school project that has turned into a home-based business called iHomeSchool. The failures of Public schools and even for that matter, Private schools, brought some serious in-depth soul searching, for my wife and , I about our children's education. So, I'm going to begin by addressing the issue of education from my personal perspective. The Issue I am the product of Public schools. My views on education and the predominant views that I see from children attending Public schools today are on different ends of the spectrum. When I attended school in the 1970's, my first concern was getting an education and receiving good grades so that I could attend the college of my choice. In return, I believe that the school I attended wanted the same and therefore curriculum and activities where supportive. Today, I see and experience something completely different. Kids go to school, in my opinion, to "socialize". (This issue of socialization, by the way, is the major objection that I get when I talk about Home Schooling - and it is by far overrated). It also seems that Public schools center education on politically correct issues and ideologies - a "feel good" policy (this indoctrinates them with values completely opposite the traditional Judeo-Christian values that I hold dear) - rather than offering an education that gives children basic reading, writing, and math skills. The Challenge Here was my dilemma. Public schools offered limited educational value and Private schools offered much of the same but were also cost prohibitive (I do realize that there are many exceptions to the rule and Private schools offer good alternatives). My wife and I had been discussing Public vs. Private schools for over a year. When I mentioned home schooling it brought up other challenges: 1) my wife did not feel that she had the skills and resources to adequately home school, and 2) I felt that I had the ability to home school, but I am the sole income earner for our family. Nevertheless, our conclusion was that Home Schooling would be the best solution for our Children. The Solution So, rather than dwell on the negative, I started a project called iHomeSchool. I have been working in an industry that provides training to the corporate world and this industry has been using interactive technologies to deliver classes on the Internet since 1997. (Granted, the technology improves as rapidly as most computer technology and as a result, costs have come down substantially.) With the above in mind, I asked myself, "Why can't I put together a product that brings an alternative educational resource to parents that have the same challenges as I"? Well, after about six months of asking questions, developing relationships and partnerships I developed a viable solution. iHomeSchool provides to parents four specific solutions all related to home schooling. It offers all the tools, skills, and resources parents need to home school and they include: 1) an online Virtual Private School, 2) Tutoring Services, 3) a Do-it-Yourself program, and 4) an iHS Learning Center for groups and large families (this particular solution can also be a nice home based business as well). Parents are intimately involved in their child's education; iHomeSchool provides K-12 curriculum and course lessons and the parents provide moral and religious teachings. In addition to the K-12 home school solutions, I also wanted to address post-secondary education and college planning. For that purpose, I've teamed up with a Broker from Dreher Associates, Inc., an Investment Securities Firm out of the Chicago Illinois area. Five percent (5%) of a students tuition (for iHomeSchool's first two programs only) will be set aside for enrolled students and controlled by each students' parents using Education IRA's and State 529 programs. In Summary I have to admit that this project was and continues to be a bigger undertaking than I had first envisioned, however, the nice part of this whole project is that it is allowing me to resign from my job to educate my own children and to work from home. When you get a chance, please view my Website at www.ihomeschool.tv Fasi Filiaga www.ihomeschool.tv (877)256-6914 ext. 258 Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconGet The Legal Edge Working At Home By Jill Garcia Moms, Dads want to stay at home? Here is my formula. Get The Legal Edge Working At Home It too was my dream to stay at home with my daughter. I tried operating adaycare but WOW not my thing. I was at home but there was no real time forjust me, and my daughter. So I began looking around for a job that wouldallow me to make ends meet and keep my priorities of being a 110% Momfufilled! An old family friend came out of the woodwork and introduced me toa business that allows me to work around my little bunchkins hours. Mybusiness has expanded into the US from Canada and soon our company will bemoving into Britain as well. This is a sales job but it is the easiest thingI have ever done. No Kidding! I help Middle Income North Americans protect their legal rights. Thataccounts for 80% of us living in North America. The other 20%, is 10% thatcan afford to have a lawyer on retainer. The other 10% have access to legalaid. That leaves the rest of us too timid to contact a lawyer, knowing thatwe will have to pay them in excess, of $150 - 200/hour. So, we usuallyignore the problem or try to handle the situation personally. We want tobelieve that Equal Justice under the Law is a reality. Well, now it is withPre-Paid Legal Services Inc. For a small monthly fee you have unlimitedaccess to the provider attourney in your state or province. That includes aWill and Power of Attourney, plus many other benefits (too long to list themall) at no additional- charge. It is a no brainer that most of us need thiskind of protection. So far in this business, I have been making a niceliving just by contacting my friends, family, neighbours and small businessowners all in my backyard. I get paid three years advance commission andbonuses here and there so, Prepaid Legal is my perfect Home Based Business. Prepaid Legal began in 1972 and started trading on the NASDAQ shortly thereafter. PPL is now the 33rd fastest growing company on the NYSE (PPD-US). Weare growing by leaps, and bounds, now is the time to get in. People aresaying that this is a Trillion-dollar Industry. The figures and charts speakfor themselves. We live in a litigious society but the majority of us do nothave the money or means to protect our rights. All that has changed now. Iam enjoying the growth of my daughter and the growth of my business with thiscompany. I enjoy incredible compensation just by simply letting people knowthat this service exsists. Picture this demand, only 1 in 10 people knowabout Pre-Paid Legal services. 52% of all households need legal protectionright now and only 10% of society can afford the alternative to a Pre-PaidLegal membership. So what does that tell you? The product is in demand. Today 80% of Europeans enjoy some form of a Pre-Paid Legal membership. NorthAmerica now has 1.5 million families enrolled and the demand for it increaseseveryday. I saw the opportunity to make a living while being a stay-at-homeMom so I grabbed it, and now I would like to share it with you. Everyday that I can help another person protect their legal rights is a goodday. They get the help they need at a reasonable price. I get to spend theimportant years with my daughter, and I am paid more money selling onemembership than if I were to go out and get a J.O.B. (Just over broke). Theopportunity is limitless and the potential for my daughter is now limitlessbecause she gets her Mom full time! I can only hope that this letter mayhelp someone that is in the same position that I was in One Year ago. If you would like information on how you too could benefit please e-mail me or visit my site www.prepaidlegal.com/go/jillgarcia , or email me at jgarcia@canada.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconTHE GIFTED WORK-AT-HOME PARENT By Cheryl Gochnauer Every week, I receive emails from parents who want to trade in their 8 to 5jobs for work-at-home opportunities. I continually hear this phrase: "Idon't really know what I want to do - but I know it's not sales!" That probably disappoints a lot of companies seeking trainees who will jointhem in marketing everything from software to cooking supplies. But I'mhappy to hear these prospective work-at-home parents whittling down theirprospects. After all, it's no good to jump into something, then jump rightback out again when you realize it's not for you. If I could ask one question of everyone who wonders what they should do, itwould be, "What is your gift?" Everybody has a gift. Some gifts are moreobvious than others, but we've all got at least one. The key to choosing asuccessful at-home business is matching your gift - including sales, ifthat's your specialty - with your endeavor. For instance, though my ministry revolves around parenting, I'd last about 3hours as a daycare provider. I've always been great at spelling, grammarand telling stories, however - all natural assets for a writer. Someone whoknows me well is more likely to recommend me as a freelancer than as ababysitter. Not sure what your gift is? Often other people spot our strengths longbefore we see them in ourselves. Sit down with a friend, your spouse, yourparents - anyone who has known you for a long time; someone you can trust tobe truthful with you. Ask what gifts they see in you; things you're goodat, areas where you excel. As you listen to their answers, mentally test their observations againstwhat you know about yourself. When the comments ring true, write them down.This is a solid lead. Now concentrate your search on jobs that complimentyour personality and giftedness. Depending upon the opportunities available in your area, you may or may notbe able to find that perfect match. But having an idea of where yourstrengths - and weaknesses - lie will help you in your search. (Comments? Email Cheryl@homebodies.org . Also stop by www.homebodies.org . Her book, " So You Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom ," isavailable through Dr. Laura#146;s Reading Corner . Copyright2001 Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.) More >>

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05/07/2010
IconLive in So. California? Looking For That Perfect Part-time Job? Here's An Idea. www.ExtraEyes.net Dr. Laura, I quit my #147;job#148; last December and am finally home for my kids. I started my business from scratch (and a lot of #147;scratching#148; along the way) about two years ago, sowing the seeds that would turn it into a way for me to #147;come home#148;. I still go out into the field, but I can make my own schedule and still be home when the kids get home from school. The response to the service my company provides has been terrific. I believe that the Lord has blessed my endeavors, as new clients continue to contact me. My business is: www.ExtraEyes.net I send #147;secret shoppers#148; into stores, restaurants and other businesses to evaluate customer service, product quality and other key focus points. I have a variety of clients from Ventura County down to the California/Baja border and I need help! I NEED PART TIME SHOPPERS! This job is terrific for your listeners because they can work as much or as little as THEY CHOOSE. They can take their kids with them to the shops AND they get paid to do so. I would appreciate so much your telling your listeners about this great opportunity. God bless you and the work you do. Suzette www.ExtraEyes.net Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconFlamingo World Connie Berg made a million dollars last year with her website, Flamingoworld.com . Her husband manages a bakery part-time and they have three kids. A 20 year-old stepson, a 13 year old daughter and a son, 6. Her interview for stay-at-home parents is both inspirational and informative. Connie Berg is living proof that you can get started with next to nothing. In her case she was depressed and hopeless when she stumbled across a goldmine on the Internet. As a stay at home mom what inspired you to start your own home business? CONNIE BERG: Our house burned down Mother#146;s Day, 1997. The day of the fire my husband was away visiting his 16 year old son at a drug rehabilitation treatment center. Meanwhile, my daughter was spending the night at her friend#146;s house and my son and I were home alone. After the fire, it was a very stressful time for us, my son was very clingy and I was seeing a doctor for depression. I started using my computer to search for jokes, to cheer myself up and to help me manage my stress. I had a program that came with my computer called Front Page Express so I used this to teach myself to make my own web page for my jokes and started sharing it with friends. I quickly discovered you could shop on-line and there were ads saying you can make money on the Internet. KB Kids was the first company that said "sign up for our affiliate program" #151;so I added their link to my web page of jokes. Here#146;s how it works, if people bought something on my website I would get a 10% commission. But there were stores that offered ten bucks worth of free stuff for first time buyers so this attracted my friends and relatives to my web site. It was unbelievable#151;the UPS man was coming to my house everyday delivering free stuff. Once my friends and relatives started shopping on my web site, it went really quickly from a joke page to a shopping website#151; I was having fun trying to see how much stuff I could get without spending money. So basically I started the business by accident and that was back in October, 1998. I love to shop, it#146;s a hobby of mine so I just kept adding more and more stores to my web page and every time someone buys a product I get a commission check. How did your site grow in popularity from friends and family to a million dollar business? CONNIE BERG: All my friends and relatives told their friends and relatives and by June 1999 my web site traffic went way up, so I started a mailing list and I began sending everyone the special discounts every week, and the rest is history. Did it take a lot of money to start the business? CONNIE: It cost nearly nothing to start. I use a really cheap computer from Sears, I don#146;t have expensive equipment. I know people think you have to have really expensive equipment but you really don#146;t have to. I#146;ve used the same computer since September, 1997. Monthly I pay $114 for my DSL line and $24.95 a month to have the site hosted. How did you come up with the name Flamingo World? CONNIE: When I was in high school I had a tank top with flamingos on it and they called me Flamingo Girl. When I started with the jokes I decided to call it Flamingo Girl#146;s home page and then when I switched to shopping I changed it to Flamingoworld.com . What was life like before you stumbled across your little goldmine? CONNIE: Before I started Flamingoworld.com , my husband was making less than forty thousand a year. After the fire we were getting food from the food bank to make ends meet. We lost everything and had no money, but since I have been making money I#146;ve paid it all back to the people who helped us. How long have you been a stay-at-home mom? CONNIE: I#146;ve always been a stay-at-home mom, the few times I#146;ve worked it was to help my husband out at his job. He was a manager at a bakery#151;and he worked 60-80 hours a week, sometimes he even had 2 jobs. We were committed to doing whatever it took for me to stay home and raise the kids. All he had to do was work and I handled everything else. How has your life changed with your success? CONNIE: My husband works 4 days a week and he#146;s cut his hours to 32 hours a week. Now that he#146;s off 3 days a week we#146;re both stay-at-home parents. I guess I made it up to him for working so hard all those years. He can semi-retire a little earlier. It#146;s funny because when I first started looking for jokes and shopping deals on the Internet he was getting mad because I was spending so much time on the computer. Then when the checks started pouring in he wasn#146;t mad because he saw I wasn#146;t just wasting time on the computer. Last year I made a million dollars with Flamingoworld.com . What advice do you have for stay at home moms and dads who want to make money on the Internet? CONNIE: Find something you like to do and research similar businesses on the Internet who are doing the same thing. Even if you like collecting things like matchbox cars you can start your own website. If you find something that really interests you or you have a hobbie, there#146;s a way to make money on the Internet for you. The affiliate programs help you link to companies that can pay you for having them link to your website. For me it started out as something I did as a hobby and to take my mind off of my problems. I started having a lot of fun and I got really lucky when I found something I really liked doing and could make money at it too. The checks are sent quarterly from all the links I signed up for. I use companies like www.Linkshare.com and CommissionJunction.com . They have an assortment of catergories to select items from for your website. People enjoy websites that give them information too. Are there any books you can recommend people read to start a business on the Internet? CONNIE: I really haven#146;t had time to do any research or read books. Whatever you need to learn you can learn for free on-line through sites like Linkshare.com. They give you pointers and they#146;re all tried and true. Why did you design a plain website without lots of graphics? CONNIE: If I tried to make my site look too professional it would be a turn off to the people who rely on me for shopping deals and freebies. I#146;m just their friend Connie and I have about15,000 people who visit my website and receive my newsletter. What do you do in your sparetime? CONNIE: I like to shop but I feel funny going to thrift shops but I do because I#146;m addicted to saving money. Who knows how much longer I#146;m going to do this. It is important to me to help others and to give back to the community. I bought school supplies for all the needy children and I donate money to several charities#151;so I don#146;t feel guilty for getting assistance when we had that awful fire in our house. It#146;s a fun life now, it#146;s really nice to take care of my parents#151;they live on social security and my mom#146;s medication eats up all her money. So now I can yell at her about her health because I#146;m paying for it. The bottom line is that If you#146;re really depressed#151;things can get better. Connie Berg enjoys married life, raising her children and working from home. Her highly successful website Flamingoworld.com has given Connie and her family the income and flexibility to live a wonderful life. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconABCs for the Work at Home Mom - Part 2 By Jill Hart CWAHM.com Work-at-home moms face many different challenges. From learning to accept help when needed, to building confidence in ourselves, to remembering the reasons why we chose to work from home. Below is the second in the series of tips to help work-at-home moms in the simplest of ways - the ABC's. N = No - Work at Home Moms need to be able to say "No" when the situation calls for it. Don't be afraid to stand up for your business or to choose NOT to work with a customer who is more trouble than it's worth. O = Office - As Work at Home Moms, we usually put ourselves last on the list. However, when we're in business it's important to have some room (even a corner) that is set aside strictly for business. P = Priorities - It's hard to keep your priorities straight when raising a family and building a business. Take some time each week/month to sit down and evaluate your priorities and cut out things in your schedule that don't fit in. Q = Quiet Time - It may seem impossible to find a time to sit, relax and be quiet when you have so many demands on your time. However, it's more important than ever that you take a little time for yourself to rejuvenate and renew when you grow weary. R = Respect - Like the golden rule says, it's important to treat others as we'd like to be treated. This is so true for work at home moms - we must show the utmost in professionalism and treat even the most difficult clients with respect. S = Significant Other - As work at home moms it's easy to get wrapped up with our business, our kids, ourselves. Don't forget to take the time to appreciate your husbands! T = Time - As work-home-moms time is the ultimate enemy. :) Learn to prioritize and delegate whenever possible. Take time out for your kids each day - you'll be glad you did! U = Unique - Your business needs to be unique to stand out from the crowd. Even if your product isn't unique you can always find a unique way to approach marketing, customer service, etc. Get creative and stand out from the rest! V = Vision - It's so important to have a clear vision of where you want your business to go. Sit down and make a list of where you'd like to be in 5 years, in 10 years, etc. Without goals you won't get anywhere. W = Wisdom - It's important to seek wisdom when running your own business. You won't always know the answer, so you need to find others that you trust that you can turn to when these things arise. X = eXcitement - Celebrate each success! Keep yourself motivated and excited about your business. Try to share your business with someone new each day. Just telling someone about what you do can bring back that "spark" of excitement about your career! Y = Yes - Yes! You CAN do it! Each of us started with a dream, a vision and the faith that we could make it happen. It takes hard work, determination and a "Yes!" attitude, but it CAN be done! Z = Zoo - Yes, life as a work at home mom really is a zoo, but it's worth it! Being at home to see your child's first step, hear their first word - it just doesn't get better than that. Working from home can be difficult, but it is well worth the effort. By keeping things in perspective we can reduce the stress that we put on ourselves. Remember these ABC's and you'll go far in your work-at-home career. ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Jill Hart is the founder of Christian Work at Home Moms, CWAHM.com . Hart is also the co-author of the upcoming book, Home Based Blessings, due out in November 2006 for Christian moms who want to work at home. Hart and her husband, Allen of CWAHD.com (Christian Work at Home Dads) reside in Nebraska with their two children. Permission Granted for use on Dr.Laura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconEXAMINING ONE FAMILY'S STAY-AT-HOME BUDGET By Cheryl Gochnauer Recently, I received the following e-mail: "Have you considered sharing your'stay-at-home mom's tight budget' with your readers? I would be veryinterested in reading it." There are lots of practical steps a family can take to bring their financesunder control and unlock the door to Mom coming home. I'll be happy to letyou peek at my own budget, to get some insight on living frugally. You maysay, "Gee, that's a lot of work for such little return...", but keepreading. Consistent cost-cutting over the broad scope of your finances canreap significant rewards. The secret to pruning your budget is mastering the ability to separate wantsfrom needs. Got your highlighter handy? All right...on your mark...getset...SAVE! We sold our financed vehicles and bought two reliable older cars for cash.Even with the occasional breakdown, the overall cost is still less than amonthly payment. Because our cars aren't mortgaged, we carry only liabilityinsurance, which slashes premium costs. By securing a no-fee mortgage refinance, our monthly house payment dropped20 percent, with no out-of-pocket expenses. All it cost us was time - a fewphone calls to go through the application process, then a short drive to themortgage company to sign the papers. A home equity loan paid off all credit cards and installment loans andfinanced some remodeling. Interest is tax-deductible, we pay one billinstead of four, and I'm enjoying a new home office...all for $70 less amonth than we were paying before. We raised deductibles on policies, after shopping around to secure thelowest price on life, homeowners and car insurance. We chose comprehensivemedical plans that limit out-of-pocket expenses and allow us to pay a flatrate per office visit. Jealously guarding my at-home status, I resist paying full price foranything. I stick to that conviction while watching for coupons and weeklysales, taking stores up on their price-matching offers. Carrying threedifferent ad flyers into a local department store, I save gas as I do all myshopping in one spot. There is usually a 30-day price guarantee, too. After making your purchase,watch advertisements over the next month. If the item you bought goes onsale, you can visit the service desk with your proof of purchase and get acash refund for the difference. I don't go to the mall, unless I'm carrying a sale flyer which places itemswithin my limited budget. When buying big ticket items from commissionedsalespeople, be prepared to negotiate. You probably already know you canhaggle over cars, but what about furniture? Or appliances? Anywherethere's a commission to be made, there's a salesperson who has a vestedinterest in selling you something. Be wise as a serpent, gentle as a dove -and demand the best deal available. When shopping for groceries, make a detailed list before you leave the houseand stick to it. Take coupons for items you've selected, and patronizesupermarkets that give you double and triple their face value. Invest in afreezer and stock up on "loss leaders", the low-priced teaser items storesuse to lure you. Many clothes marked "dry clean only" can be handwashed in gentle soap fordelicates. But a sure way of saving money is avoiding buying "dry cleanonly" clothes in the first place. Speaking of buying clothes, don't overlook those neighborhood garage sales,especially the ones held in more upscale areas of town. Kids grow out ofclothes so quickly, these sales can be a blessing. Often, gently-worn jeansand dresses are found for pennies. You can garner some cash and free upspace by cleaning out closets and basements for your own sale. Our credit union offers no-cost checking. By purchasing checks through themail, I pay a third of what banks are charging. For that inevitable loan,I've found credit unions consistently charge lower rates than banks, sothey've got my business when it comes time to buy a big-ticket item. We paid off, then canceled, all our credit cards except one. This majorcredit card carries a low fixed rate, with no annual fee. We try to use ourcard only to the extent that we can pay it off each month, avoiding debt andinterest charges. If you have an excellent credit history, request theannual fee be waived. There's a good possibility they'll agree, sincecompetition for trustworthy credit customers is fierce. The first time I stroked out opening an outrageously high electric bill, Icalled the utility company and learned about level payment plans. Now wepay a predetermined amount each month, protected from burdensome chargesgenerated by July's heat or January's freezing temperatures. Take advantage of buy-in-bulk opportunities on everything from frozen foodsto Internet access service. Send e-mail messages to on-line friends andassociates instead of calling long distance or using snail mail. I don'tput a stamp on any mail I can deliver myself. Fill out and mail those rebate forms. I've received a computer modem, 200diskettes, extra memory and a software upgrade for free, just because I tookthe time to fill out the proper paperwork. Often, I'll come out ahead when using a combination of coupons and mail-inrebates. For instance, a shampoo was on sale for $2.50. I used a 50 centcoupon, and the store doubled it. My cost for the shampoo was now $1.50. Itook two minutes to fill out the $2.00 mail-in rebate attached to thebottle. Even after the cost of a 34-cent stamp, I had a free bottle ofshampoo and 16 cents to the good. I don't pay for baby-sitting when I can trade with a friend. A filmfanatic, I've been known to trade typing services for show tickets. But Ionly go see movies I'm dying to see. All others, I rent on video whenspecials are running: 2-for-1 Mondays, etc. Whether minding our manners at a sit-down restaurant or pigging out at thelocal buffet, my family uses newspaper coupons and Gold C or Entertainmentcoupon books. Sometimes it's cheaper to eat out than cook at home,especially when you visit an establishment where kids eat free. Penny-pinching aside, there are some things you just gotta have. Aftertrying to live without it for six months, our family decided satellite TVwas a necessity. So, we'll cut somewhere else. Instead of taking a daily newspaper, I buy the Sunday edition, which usuallypays for itself because of the coupons inside. I don't purchase books ormagazines I can check out of the library, unless I can use the informationin them on an on-going basis. Networking is important. Find out whose brother-in-law works on homecomputers... whose friend knows lawns...whose sister holds a once-a-yearprimo garage sale with upper-class outfits going for a pittance. Don't pay someone else to do something you can do yourself. Use the morerelaxed time schedule of an at-home mom to expand your horizons in ways thatwill benefit your family. Learn to maintain your automobiles, do your owntaxes, perform your own repairs. Wear out your library card, checking out"how-to" books. By applying thrifty principles liberally, you'll be surprised how muchyou'll save. Then, when it comes time to splurge on something that's justpure fun, you won't feel guilty -- it'll be your reward for being such agood steward of your finances. (Comments? Write Cheryl@homebodies.org , or visit her website at www.homebodies.org . Her book, " So You Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom ," isavailable through Dr. Laura#146;s Reading Corner . Copyright2001 Homebodies.Org, LLC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.) More >>

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