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Tally it up!

Here's my tally for money saved and earned this week:

CVS-
saved: I purchased $150 of merchandise (and that's at the sale prices!) and paid less than a dollar out-of-pocket (oop).
earned: $17 ECBs to add, making my totals $49 on one card, and $38 on the other.
Pics and details of my purchases are posted here.

Project Payday-
earned: $75 freebie trading
earned: $14 through referrals

Revolution Money Exchange-
earned - $50 for signing up ($25 each for me and my husband)
earned - $120 for referrals

Totals:
Saved: $150
Earned: $259

Not bad for being fairly new to online money making! I'm going to keep trying to find new and easy ways to increase our income, but in the meantime, this week was a phenomenal week, thanks to the current promotion at Money Exchange.
If you haven't yet checked it out, you have 2 days left to get your free $25 just for signing up for a free account! The company is completely legitimate, started by the founders and CEOs of AOL, and you don't have to add your bank account info to cash out your free money, they'll send it to you in the form of a check. Click on the ad below to go to the site to sign up:

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*For more great savings stories, visit Crystal's Super Savings Saturday!

Super Savings Saturday

This week was a great CVS week for me. I have heard from others that they didn't fare as well, due to the lack of new $/$$ CVS coupons, but both of my local stores allow me to use them until they "beep", which isn't until two weeks after they expire. So I have two more days of using the $5/$15 printable from Wellness360 (no longer available at the site to print, but I printed TONS when it was available) and the $3/$15 Beauty purchase coupon that was on the CVS site.

Here's what I bought this week (on 2 cards, one in my name and one in my husband's):

On the first trip (2 transactions), I actually left with a lot more ECBs than I spent. I was happy to find Nivea coupons in the store for $2 off, which sweetened the already great scenario I had planned. I used those coupons, as well as $2 Pantene coupons from the Beauty magazines I bought last week as fillers at CVS, Softsoap Spa coupons from a recent newspaper insert, and the $5/$15 and $3/$15 beauty (my total was well above $30, so I was able to use both of these coupons).

On the second trip (again, 2 transactions), I spent $0.02 oop, and 37 ECBs, and got back 35 ECBs. I used the $5/$15 on both transactions, as well as the $3/$15 (not sure if razors and toothpaste really should count as beauty purchases, but when I asked the cashier, he laughed and said, "why not?" and scanned it through. I also used coupons on the Hershey's Bliss from the Beauty book, Febreeze coupons from last week's newspaper insert, and printable Excedrin and Arm and Hammer coupons from the internet.

I also bought 2 of the CoverGirl TruBlend whipped foundations this week, but forgot to photograph them. Used the B1G1 coupon from last week's paper.

All in all, a great week. I'm lookinf forward to trying the Nivea Sun Kissed gradual tanning firming lotion, the Arm and Hammer Whitening gel, the Pantene styling products, and the TruBlend foundation. I love it when I get to try new things for free. And I told my husband that with all that Febreeze spray, we should have the freshest smelling house in the neighborhood!

On a final note, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for new $/$$ CVS coupons to come soon!!

*For more great deals, visit Crystal's blog at moneysavingmom.com!

Recovering from Hurricane Autumn

Yesterday, I did the most dreaded and put-off task of all: I helped my 10 year old daughter clean her room.
To be clear, it's not a common occurrence for me to clean her room with her. Usually it's Autumn's responsibility, and the rule is that she can't make any allowance for doing other chores around the house unless her room is clean. Truth be told, though, it hasn't been clean in a LONG while.
Our newest daughter, Callie, turned a month old this week. With her birth, and the end of a long, painful pregnancy before that, our normal routine around the house kind of fell by the wayside. And Autumn's room became ever increasingly more and more messy. In defense of her laziness (ever the enabler, I am), a lot of the mess was due to her having too much stuff in too small a space. So Tim agreed to watch the younger girls while I spent a little while helping Autumn clean her room and purge it of toys, books, and things that she no longer needed or wanted.
A little while turned into 2 1/2 hours, but the final result was a sight almost long forgotten - a clean, vacuumed carpet, an empty clothes hamper, and dresser and nightstand tops that were cleared and dusted.
Autumn worked very hard right alongside me, and was actually more willing to give up her unwanted things than I was. She kept saying things like, "What would they say on Clean House?" and putting things in the piles to throw and give away. I think I was more attached to some of the things than she was! I could remember her sitting there as a younger child, playing with her ponies or reading her Disney Princess books. Nostalgia just flooded over me, but I was sensible with what I decided to keep for the younger girls and what I decided should go.
My two year old, Zoe, already has more toys that she needs or plays with, and will most likely keep accumulating them from family and friends in the future. And Zoe's toys will be passed down to Callie later, on top of the new things she'll accumulate, also. So it just isn't reasonable or practical to hand down too many things from their much older sister. And our home is not very large, so there's only so much storage space.
As dreaded as the job was, it actually turned into some good bonding time for Autumn and I. We talked, and laughed, and sang and danced to her new favorite CD, Michael Jackson, Number Ones. She got the CD for Christmas, because as silly as it sounds, in the past year or so, she's become a huge fan on Michael Jackson's old stuff. And since I grew up listening to those songs, it was fun to sing them together while we cleaned.
I'm glad to have her room cleaned, and so is she. And so is Tim, who was growing more and more irritated with tripping over her things on his way to adjust the thermostat, which is in her room.
Now I just need to get the mound of this week's clean clothes folded and put away, and the house will be back to it's normal clean and organized state!

Frugal Friday tip

Here's my tip for this week's Frugal Friday post over at Crystal's blog!

I have been considering buying reusable shopping bags to take with me when grocery shopping. I have seen them around and I do like to do my part to help keep our earth clean. I have been looking around for some to buy that are cheap and that will last a while, preferably with flat bottoms to make it easier to bag the groceries.
While at Kroger this week, I found an idea that, for me at least, is even more economical than buying reusable bags, and saves me money on my groceries as well!
There was a rack by the U-Scan machines with reusable bags for sale, and while I was looking at them, the cashier overlooking the U-Scans started a conversation. She told me that Kroger pays you $0.05 off of your grocery order for every bag you bring in and reuse. This includes the regular plastic grocery bags! So from now on, I plan to always keep at least 15 clean used plastic grocery bags, put inside each other, in the trunk of my car, so I always have them when I need to stop at Kroger. I typically use at least 8 bags, which would be $0.40 each trip, and I shop once a week. Bringing in my own bags could potentially save me $20 a year on my groceries. Hey, every little bit counts, right?
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*If you want to make a quick, free $60, and you haven't yet signed up for a free account at Revolution Money Exchange (a new site like paypal that allows you to send and receive money), do it now! They'll put $25 into your account, no strings attached! If you have more than one adult in your family, go to the site using your referral link and sign them up as well, they'll get $25 and you'll get $10 for referring them! That's $60 for less than 10 minutes work... if you can call that work! And you don't have to add your bank account to your account to cash out your money. There is an option to have it sent to you by mail!
Hurry, though, the offer ends April 15th!

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Reducing Monthly Bills

Before working on my new budget, I decided that it would benefit me more and make the most of the new budget if I re-evaluate my monthly bills and try to lower them where possible.
This is my current budget, soon to be changed:
$400.00 - Rent
$208.04 - Car payment
$172.00 - Insurance
$135.00 - Cell phones
$130.00 - Cable and Internet
$ 75.00 - Electricity (this will go up when we start using the AC soon)
$130.00 - Gas (this will go down as we start using the heat less soon)
$ 30.00 - Credit Card payments (this is an estimated amount, but it's usually pretty accurate)
$214.00 - Student Loan payment

That's it. Doesn't seem like much, huh? Well, with just my husband working and only making $13 an hour with no option for overtime, it's almost all our income with not much left over after food and gas.
So I try hard to stretch what we have and come up with new ways to earn money at home and new ways to save what we have.
So looking at the bills, there isn't really any way to reduce our lot rent, unless we got rid of our dog, who we pay $20 each month for in our rent total. But that's not an option, so we'll leave that alone. Actually, it will change with the new budget, because we got a notice in April that the rent will be increasing $20 starting May 1. This increase affects everyone who lives in our mobile home community.
Car payment can't be changed, either.
Insurance , however, was a different story. We had Progressive, and at the time we got the policy 2 years ago, it was as low as we could find after shopping around. We still felt we were paying too much when we compared our ages, good driving records, and type of vehicle (Scion XB, which is considered a station wagon, I believe) to friends of ours who have lower premiums, sports cars, and accidents and tickets on their records. A friend of ours referred us to his mom who works for State Farm, assuring us that she could get us lower than we're currently paying. Well, yesterday I finally got around to making the call. She got us a rate that is $30 less per month, which is fantastic. While I still think $142/month is high and I don't really understand why, I'm thrilled to be saving our family $360 a year in insurance payments alone.
I also took a look at our t-mobile account. We were on a 1000 minute shared family plan, plus extra for blackberry internet service one each of our two blackberry phones. The internet service can't be changed, because t-mobile requires it for blackberry phones with their service, but I realized that in the last 6 months, we haven't come close to using all 1000 of our minutes. We haven't gone over 600, and usually are much lower than even that. So I dropped our plan down to 800 shared minutes (Tim didn't want me to go lower than that for fear that if we do go over, we'll be paying $0.40 a minute). This will save us $20 a month, and $240 over the course of the year!
I also called our cable company, Comcast, and told them I'm thinking of canceling our cable service and switching to the Dish (which Tim and I have been talking about) and just keeping our internet service through Comcast. The representative negotiated me down to an internet plan that is supposedly slower (I haven't noticed a difference at all since switching) but costs $20 instead of $40 a month, so now I'll be saving $20 a month there!
Needless to say, I'm thrilled that I'll be starting my budget with lower bills, and I was able to save our family $840 a year just by taking an hour of my day to make a few phone calls.
Now if only I could figure out a way to negotiate my gas and electric bills!

I would encourage all of my readers to set aside some time one afternoon to look and your bills, call your companies, and find out where you can cut back and save!

Revolution Money Exchange

Want to make $60 in the next 10 minutes, no strings attached?
Sign up for a free account on Revolution Money Exchange (which is a new site like Paypal that allows you to send and receive money) and they'll put $25 into your account right away. But wait, there's more- don't cash out that $25 just yet! If you have another adult in your home, have them go to the site through your referral link and sign up for an account, too. They'll get $25 and you'll get $10 for referring them. Then they can send their $25 to your account, and you'll have $60 to withdraw. I signed up for myself and then my husband, entered the same address and phone number for both accounts, and it went through with no problems.
Making $60 in less than 10 minutes Works for Me!

Project Payday works for me!

Like most people, I am pretty skeptical of "get rich quick" schemes and most work-at-home online business opportunities. Which is why, when I first read about Project Payday on FemininePursuits, I didn't put much faith in it. I did think it was worth looking into, however, so I made a note to go back and at least read into the details.
It was definitely worth the trip to the Project Payday site. The site explains how you can make money consistently, with little to no money out of pocket, by participating in freebie trading. And while you won't get rich with freebie trading, it's easy and doesn't take a lot of time, and you could make an extra $100 or more a week if you stick with it.
I started on March 10, and I have made $346 profit, in my paypal account. To make that, I spent about $55 on my credit card, in small amounts. I now have gotten to a point where I no longer need to spend anything to earn money. In the beginning, I spent an average of an hour or so, a couple days a week. Now I spend abot a half an hour each evening, and am making between $50 and $75 a week. The more time you devote to it, the more you earn, of course.
If you want more info, go over to projectpayday.com
and read up on the details. As always, you can email me if you have any questions!

*Find other helpful tips and tricks at WFMW over at Shannon's blog!

Changes in FInances

For those of you who don't already know this, my husband Tim works at a Nissan dealership as their Business Development Manager. That's a fancy title for a job that's isn't really that fancy. He's responsible for taking care of the customers who contact the dealership through their website or through other internet means. He then tries to get them in the door for a test drive and hopefully to purchase.
He's been working there, in this position, for a year and a half. About 3 weeks ago, he was approached and offered a promotion to IT at another dealership in the franchise, but at that time they didn't give him any of the details about any potential change in his pay.
This week, he had a chance to sit down and talk with the woman who will be his boss in the new position, and he found out that he'll be paid $3/hour more, but the new position doesn't pay commission (which his current job does) so I'm estimating that his net pay should remain about the same. The main difference is that instead of getting a commission check around the 11th of each month, he'll be bringing home more weekly.
This has given me the push I need to make a new budget, which I have been mulling over for a while now.
Our current budget hasn't changed since he started at his job, and it includes:
  • our rent (we live in a mobile home that we own, but we pay rent for the lot we live on)
  • car payments
  • insurance payments
  • utilities
  • payments on our two credit cards
  • my husband's student loans
The budget was centered around four weekly paychecks a month. Our bills require us to set aside about $370/week, and the money left over weekly after bills pays for gas and food and usually one meal at a restaurant. His commission check wasn't budgeted, and occasionally there are months when there are five Fridays, so he gets an extra check those months, which also wasn't budgeted. The plan always was to use this "extra" money for things like clothes for the family when needed, gifts, household items that aren't necessities, and once a year, in the summer, we spend a day taking our oldest daughter to Cedar Point theme park, and once a year, in the winter, we spend a weekend at Kalahari Resort, which has an indoor water park. And presumably, the remaining money from these checks would go into savings. In all honestly, however, we have nothing saved right now. As humbling as that is to admit.
So that's a huge problem that I want to tackle with the new budget. It's been a source of stress between my husband and I on many occasions, because he and I look at money very differently. He would be happy putting every spare penny in savings, and he is hesitant to make purchases until they're absolutely necessary, if not overly so. Now, I wouldn't call myself a shopaholic, and neither would my husband, I'm sure. On the contrary, compared to most of my friends who have pretty common shopping habits for the most part, I am the frugal one. But given the fact that we only make a small amount more than we need for our living expenses, I need to be more respectful of that money and the hard work my husband puts in to earn it.
With the new budget, I plan to incorporate those "extra" things like clothes, gifts, vacations, etc., and set aside a budgeted amount each month so that the money is there when we need it. I'll use an envelope system for this, with envelopes marked with each category. I also plan to budget our savings, to make sure that there is money being set aside for that purpose.
My husband likes to put our savings into low-risk stocks, and last year we were able to increase the humble amount we were able to save by about 20%. Those stocks have since been sold to pay for Christmas and taxes, so now we're back to square one.
I am excited to get to work on the new budget and to start implementing it. I also would like to make a list of both long term and short term financial goals that I'd like to achieve once the new budget is in place.
I'll be sure to update with the new budget as well as the list of goals once I've finished setting them in place.

CVS


By far, the most fun and rewarding way that I have found recently to save money for our family is by shopping at CVS. To be honest, I have shopped at CVS off and on for years. I have had an Extra Care card on my key chain for almost as long, but I only stopped in sporadically and never took advantage of or even realized the potential that that little card has.
Until one day I stumbled upon a post over at moneysavingmom.com.
My way of buying toiletries will never be the same...
Here's the skinny: I have been taking advantage of the Extra Care program to the fullest since the second week in February of this year. I also buy the Sunday paper now (sometimes 3 or 4 of them!) just for the coupon inserts, and I find additional printable manufacturers coupons at various places online (links at the bottom of this post) and coupons that CVS occasionally issues online, and I pair up those coupons with the advertised items at the store that earn Extra Care Bucks (ECBs). The result? I have spent about $30 altogether in 2 months, and saved over $1700! I have a closet that is stockpiled with shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, medicine, makeup, styling products, etc. I have given away even more to family and friends.
And I never pay more than a dollar out of pocket for each transaction, usually less than 20 cents.
That's $15, $20, $30 or more worth of products for under 20 cents. Amazing.
Here are links to the sites that I have found most useful in learning about CVSing, finding online coupons, and planning out my deal scenarios to make the most of every sale.
If you want to know how to get started, look over the sites above to learn the ins and outs of the "game". Feel free to send me an email anytime if you have any questions about getting started. It can seem confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's fun and wildly addicting!

The Deals

This page is constantly a work in progress, so check back often to see what updates have been made to save and earn you money!




This page is divided into two sections: Money Makers, and Money Savers.




Money Makers

In Money Makers, you'll find the online sites that I consider to be the best for making fast, easy, and free money online. Each of these sites are tried and tested by me, and I am either using them now, or have used them in the past. All of them are reliable and they all pay when they say they will, which is the most important thing, right?


  • Cash Crate: make money by taking surveys and completing trial offers. I have never paid a dime to make money on this site, and I get a decent check from them monthly, never fail. Even if you don't even visit the site once that month, you make 20% of what your referrals make, so if you refer people and they're active on the site, you get paid!


  • Pay Per Post: This is a great way for you to set your own online earnings. Once you become a member and your blog is approved, you can view a list of opportunities to choose from to post about on your blog. Once you submit the post and it is accepted, you get paid. I can't imagine a better way to get paid than by doing something I already love- blogging!
  • Logical Media: This site is an affiliate site that allows you to post banners of freebies and offers on your site. You get paid per click, per sign-up, or per sale, depending on the campaigns you chose to advertise. They also offer a referral program, which pays you 5% of your referrals' earnings!



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Money Savers

In Money Savers, you'll find money saving deals and freebies that I have compiled from around the web.



:: Stores and Restaurants that offer free things for your birthday (thanks Carrie at MoneySavingMethods!):







Home Made Simple Coupon Book


Receive a Kaboom® NeverScrub!® Starter Kit












2 Free Boxes of Coffee, a Free stainless steel travel mug, Free 30-day trial, & Free Shipping, with no obligation. There is NO intitial cost to consumer. US Only.













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Request a Free Sample of VCF (Vaginal Contraceptive Film) Click Here

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Contact Me

Please send me any questions, comments, or deal ideas to my email at:

economicendeavors (at) gmail (dot) com


I enjoy hearing from you and read every email that I receive. I try to respond to every one, but I apologize if I'm unable to reply 100% of the time. If you have a question, I suggest posting a comment in addition to emailing, because sometimes other readers are available to respond and answer your questions before I am!

If you are the first to submit a deal idea or tip that I post about, I'll gladly post your link to credit you for the find.

If you have written an article that you think would be a good 'guest post' on my blog, please email it to me to consider. If I like it, I will most likely post it and will definitely give you the credit!

I thank you in advance for taking the time to write!

The most important things about me are:

My name is Lavonne, I am 32 years old and I live in Southeast Michigan.

I love my Lord and Savior. It is my desire to serve and follow Him.

I have the most amazing family. I consider my husband and three daughters to be my greatest blessings. I have been married for 3 years to a wonderful, hard working man, and my beautiful daughters are ages 10, 2, and 3 months.

Here are a few pictures of us:

Tim, me, and my daughter Autumn on our wedding day.
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Me, Tim, and Zoe (our middle daughter) on the day she was born.
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A more recent picture of Zoe, with our newest daughter, Callie.
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Callie
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Zoe
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Autumn
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Introduction

Well, I suppose you could say that this is my pilot post. How exciting!
I'm starting this blog because my interests for a while now have been finding ways that I personally can help my husband and family by earning and adding to our finances, and trimming our budget by saving money and cutting costs wherever possible. And in my research and findings, it has occurred to me that there may be others out there in the inter-world who could benefit from what I am learning and achieving.
So this blog will be an outlet for my trials and errors and a record of my successes.
I hope you'll come along for the ride with me, and I hope that you'll find a few tips or suggestions here that you can utilize in your own family!