The plan to stay home... again

On November 10th I went back to work in a position that was "part time" meaning it was a minimum of 20 hours a week and up to 39 hours. Well, yesterday I resigned because with the hours varying and after gas, childcare, and other work expenses I was barely breaking even (and could possibly lose money)! With two young children I feel like it's almost impossible for me to find a job where it would actually be worth my time and the sacrifice of being away from my kids. So here I am, back at home again and trying to come up with a plan to make it work. Here are a few things I'm going to focus on that have worked in the past and will hopefully continue to ease the financial burden of being a stay at home mom:

1. Surveys - For the past couple years online surveys have been a great way for me to buy extras, make deposits in the bank account, and even pay for essentials (especially on baby items ordered with Amazon gift cards earned). Typically I can earn an average of $5+ a day on surveys and often get free products.
2. Swagbucks - Swagbucks is an easy way to earn Amazon gift cards or Paypal money simply by using it as a search engine. There are lots of other ways to earn points as well!
3. Groupons - I frequently buy Groupons for eating out, entertainment, shopping, etc. When I see a good deal I also share it with friends and sometimes earn free credits. Some of my other favorite sites are Plum District, Living Social, Eversave, and Scoutmob.
4. Mypoints - I earn gift cards from Mypoints frequently, simply from reading emails or purchasing Groupons and shopping online through Mypoints.
4. Participate in marketing campaigns - A couple of my favorite websites that provide opportunities to try things free are bzzagent.com and houseparty.com. With coupons from Bzzagent, I was able to pick up these items for FREE last week. Bzzagent also rewards you with Mypoints points for activities you complete!

Around the house:
1. Cutting down on utility bills - I'm making a serious effort to unplug things like cell phone chargers when they are not in use, to turn lights off when I am not in the room, and to wear a jacket and socks instead of cranking up the heater.
2. Dusting off the cloth diapers - I stopped cloth diapering for a little while because I needed a break, Jacob was soaking through diapers, and we were on the go a lot and I did not want to deal with it. However, now that I am back home with the boys, I'm going to cloth diaper Elliot during the day. On average 5 cloth diaper changes a day would save me $.80-1.00, so up to $30 a month. That's a really easy way to save money!
3. Clear out the clutter - I know that I can go through my closet, books, baby items, and more to downsize and possibly make a little extra money through Craigslist
4. Re-purpose - I'd love to add some flavor and design to our house but home decor can be pricey! I think in the process of clearing out clutter, I'm going to look for DIY ideas that re-use things I already have. Pinterest is a great place to find ideas :)
5. Clothes swap - I have a couple friends that I swap clothes with and it cuts down on expenses especially for the kids.

1. Coupons - I use some coupons when I shop, however there are a lot of items I buy that there are not coupons available for, such as produce. I also quit getting the Sunday paper because in our efforts to eat healthier, I found that most of the coupons I didn't end up using. Now I mostly print the coupons I want online through Mypoints (so I earn more points) or from finding high value coupons on Facebook.
2. Buying in bulk - I buy items like toilet paper, paper towels, natural laundry soap, and other foods items that we use frequently from Sam's Club. I can also order items from Amazon through their Subscribe & Save discount and save that way.
4. Plan ahead - I want to start freezer cooking, meal planning, and in general using my time more efficiently.

1. Kindle books - I don't have a Kindle so I can't take advantage of the new Kindle library through Amazon. However people are able to personally loan books to others for a couple weeks and they can be viewed on Kindle reading apps. I loaned a book to a friend a few months ago and hopefully I can convince a few friends to loan to me soon. Also there are tons of FREE Kindle books available on Amazon.
2. Groupons, gift card deals, etc. - When going out we use groupons, coupons, and gift cards I've earned online or purchased at a discount.
3. Redbox - Redbox offers free rental codes all the time, this is a great way to save money on movie rentals
4. Ask for a discount - I've been able to get a discount on our Directv and internet bills by calling and asking for a discount. Also when we travel, we always ask for a military discount, or deal through an auto club membership, etc.

Side Jobs:
1. Selling Scentsy - My friends and I purchase Scentsy items, so I figured why not sell it? The start up cost  wasn't too high and it's already paid for itself.
2. Photography - I'm a portrait photographer and have had a steady increase in business over the past year. I think with a little more marketing, things could pick up even more!
3. Offer to help others - Dog sitting, babysitting, etc. I will see if there are other tasks I can assist friends with because trading favors is a wonderful way to help and get help when you need it.

What other tips do you have for me???

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My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software #Giveaway (11/25)

My Memories Suite version 2 software is a complete digital scrapbooking solution that provides a powerful set of creative tools and multiple sharing options that no other software can offer. Its intuitive workspace and enhanced time-saving features are perfect for a beginner to build an entire album in minutes, or to empower the design pro to build a scrapbook album masterpiece.

My Memories Suite is rated #1 by Amazon and TopTen Reviews. Using this software, anyone can create digital scrapbooks, photobooks, cards, calendars and gifts without having to buy expensive and complicated software programs.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoy using My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software! I'm not much of a scrapbooker, but I do take tons of photos and like designing photo books. Let's face it though... scrapbooking and making photo books can be expensive! Plus all of the papers and embellishments for scrapbooks take up quite a bit of storage space, which I do not have available. With the My Memories Suite, you get a good variety of album templates and embellishments for only $39.97. From browsing around their website though, I can tell I will probably end up buying a bunch of additional kits. Yet, with most kits costing less than $5 and having the flexibility to be reused over and over (unlike papers and stickers) this is certainly a more frugal option than traditional scrapbooking. My Memories Suite is also quick and easy to use, and gives you the freedom to personalize your work in many different ways. Something in particular that made me really happy is that the various fonts I've downloaded from Dafont.com showed up in the My Memories Suite. This means I can easily personalize my projects with my favorite fonts!

Here is a sample album page that I created using photos I took of my friend's newborn:

I love how it turned out! I need to take a day to go back through my favorite photos of my two boys and create albums for both of them. 

Oh and did I mention that it's easy to share your albums with friends and family? And with the holidays approaching quickly, don't forget that My Memories Suite would make a great present! Sold yet?

Buy It: Head over to www.mymemories.com and get a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite v2.0 with code STMMMS81036

Win It: One of my readers will win a digital download copy of the My Memories Suite v2.0 (a $39.97 value)! To enter, please tell me what you'd like to make using the My Memories software, or one of the digital scrapbooking kits you like.

Extra entries: You must complete the mandatory entry above before you qualify for any extra entries! Post a comment below for each entry you complete, along with your email address if it is not visible in your blogger profile.

1. "Like" My Memories on Facebook 
2. Follow My Memories on Twitter
3. Subscribe to Cheap and Creative by email or RSS
4. "Like" Cheap and Creative on Facebook
5. Follow Cheap and Creative on Twitter

6. Tweet about this giveaway: #Win My Memories Suite digital scrapbooking software @cheapandcreativ @MyMemoriesSuite http://cheapandcreative.blogspot.com #giveaway
(1 once daily, leave a comment and a link to your tweet)
7. Grab my blog button and comment with the URL of where it's posted (2 entries)

The giveaway ends November 25, 2011 at 11:59pm CT. One winner will be selected using random.org and notified by email. The winner must respond to the email within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected. Open to readers in the contiguous US.

Disclosure: A complimentary software download was provided for review and giveaway by My Memories. No other compensation was received, all opinions are 100% my own.