Friday, September 12, 2014

Tips for Saving Money This Christmas

Christmas is coming. Is your bank account looking a little the worse for wear? Are you considering a payday loan to help get you through the holiday shopping season? A short term loan can definitely help you fill in the gaps in your holiday budget, but sooner or later that loan is going to come due. However, there are some simple things you can do this year to help keep your Christmas spending under control. These tips are easy to follow, and won't disrupt your holiday plans one little bit. Better yet, they will help you save money so when you ring in the new year your bank balance will still be in the black.

Revise Your Shopping List

Christmas may be a time for giving, but no one should go broke trying to buy gifts for everyone they know. Before the holiday shopping season hits its full force, take some time to talk to your friends and family about limiting this year's gift giving. Perhaps everyone could just concentrate on the kids and immediate family members. Trust me, you are not the only one trying to stretch their holiday budget. Chances are, your friends, co-workers, and distant relations will be happy to forgo the gift giving this season.

Make It a DIY Christmas

If the idea of shortening your shopping list doesn't appeal to you, why not make this year a do-it-yourself Christmas. Instead of spending huge amounts of money at the shops, use your own creativity to make home made gifts for friends and family. There was a time when home made Christmas gifts were the norm, and they can still pack an emotional punch. It's only natural to want to treat you loved one to something expensive at Christmas, but trust me, they'll be just as thrilled with something you created with your own love and imagination.

Set Price Limits

Setting cost limits on Christmas gifts is something most of us are familiar with. It's common practice at the office and workplace. The same thing can be done with friends and family. Before the holiday shopping melee begins, discuss setting dollar limits on everyone's Christmas gifts, and work out a fair price range that suits everybody's budget. One extra tip here, however. Make it clear that the price range is firm, and that it's bad manners to simply ignore it because someone has a little extra cash. Once the price range is agreed upon, everyone has to follow the rule.

Save Money With Gift Cards

Gift cards are always popular as Christmas gifts. They make it easy to find the right gift for those hard to shop for people on your list. Gift cards are also particularly convenient for friends and family members that may live out of town, and won't be making the trip home for the holidays. More importantly, gift cards are a great way to save money. If you plan it right, and begin your shopping early, you can often find brand name gift cards at great discount prices. For example, if you buy your gift cards online through Costco, you can often save up to 20% off the face value of each card. That will definitely help to stretch your holiday shopping budget.

Yes, Christmas is on its way again, and soon the shops will be filled with anxious and excited shoppers. It is the season of giving, but that doesn't mean you have to land yourself in debt. This year, plan ahead and be a bit more thoughtful in your gift giving. There's no reason you can't save a little money, and still give everyone on your list something truly special.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

5 Great Home Business Ideas for Moms

Starting your own business can seem overwhelming. The good news, is that it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need a sizeable starting cash flow or investors lining up at your door. You can actually start a business with relatively little cash and do it all from your home. All it takes is hard work and a desire to succeed.

So now that the main question regarding cash is out of the way, what business should you start? The answer to this will be based off of what you enjoy, what your skills are, and what you can see yourself doing for an at home business. Below are just a handful of ideas to get you started.

1. Medical Coding

Medical Coding has incredible earning potential, although it will be a bit more challenging to get yourself started.

Medical coding requires training and coding software. Certifications are also needed as it will ensure potential clients of your validity.

As a medical coder, you’ll work with doctors’ offices and hospitals to code documents for insurance purposes. It is up to you to find these clients through networking opportunities and other marketing channels.

One of the biggest issues when starting a medical coding business is the amount of scams that target would-be medical coders. These scams promise to provide software, training, certification, and even clients providing you with incredible revenue. Always remember, if it seems too good to be true, it usually is.

2. Freelance Writing

Freelance writing requires almost no cash to get started. The basics to get started are a computer and email address.

The opportunity for freelance writing is abundant. Marketing firms and departments are beginning to create a plethora of content for their websites. With so much content to create, many marketing teams are turning to freelance writers to get the job done.

The range of topics available to write about are vast. You may be writing about technology, consumer goods, animals, sports, or even marketing. There are a handful of sites that connect you with work needed such as Guru, oDesk, and Textbroker.

Additionally, freelance writing could take you towards the non-profit sector. A grant writer helps connect funders and grant seekers.

3. Pet Sitter/Walker

If you’re an animal person, starting a pet sitting or dog walking business is right up your alley.

A pet owner never wants to leave their pet cooped up inside all day. However, most people are extremely busy with their jobs, their children’s activities, and more. Having the option to leave their dog with a pet sitter is a great alternative.

A great way to get started is through word of mouth. Letting your network know that you are starting a business and looking for clients will help to get the ball rolling. Consider working with apartment communities and home communities to spread flyers about your business.

Additional places to market your services are the dog park and retirement communities. A lot of pet owners at the dog park only get to take their dog there on occasion. Chances are they’ll want their dog out and about a lot more.

Retirement communities are a great place to start because many pet owners in these communities may lack the energy or capabilities to walk their dog.

4. Wedding Planner/Bridal Consultant

Creative, organized, detail oriented and level-headed moms make for great wedding planners. Starting a wedding planning business puts you in an industry that is never going away and only seems to spend more as time goes on.

Weddings have become extremely lavish over the years with increasingly larger budgets. A lot of details go into making a wedding a success and sometimes the bride can’t or doesn’t want to handle it herself. This is where her wedding planner comes in.

You’ll handle all aspects of the big day including tiny details such as table centerpieces all the way to large items such as venue deposits. It takes a very specific type of person to do this job but it can also be an incredibly fulfilling job.

5. Crafter: Sewing, Soap Making, etc.

By now, you’ve probably heard of Etsy. It is a crafter’s version of Amazon with beautifully displayed goods.

Another business venture for the creative mind is to start your own crafting business. Sewing, crocheting, soap making, and more are all different types of businesses a mom can start from home.

Homemade soap has become increasingly popular as consumers become more in-tune with what they are putting on their body. Organic soaps made with various herbs and ingredients make for soothing and deliciously scented baths.

Crafters can sell their goods online, at craft fairs, farmers markets and even through major distributors if you can make a decent splash with your product.

Overall, the possibilities for a home business are endless. These five are great starts and have been successful ventures for many moms out there. Now, it’s time to start your business.

Andrew Fujii is a marketing professional with expertise in digital/web and content marketing. He is also a copywriter for multiple agencies producing copy for blogs, articles, websites, product packaging, mobile apps, and more.

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