Work From Home - Call Center Verification Agent

Sep 30, 2009

If you have any experience working for a call center, then this next Work-From-Home company may be the one for you!

The company is called VoiceLog. If you have ever been on a phone call with a company and they have asked you to “stay on the line for a verification operator to confirm your choices,” then you were speaking with someone who works for a company like this one. And, there’s a good chance that person you spoke with was working from home!

VoiceLog is a leader in third-party verification and they hire people to work from their homes and serve as live operators to verify calls in hopes of combating sales fraud.

They hire people to work the phone lines (as a Live Operator Independent Contractor) and also people to listen to the recorded calls (as a TPV Verification Agent). It appears that right now, they are only hiring TPV agents who speak specific foreign languages.

The pay is not fabulous - $8.50 an hour and $9 if you are bi-lingual – but you can do it from HOME!

To be a Live Operator, it says you need at least one year of call center experience. I realize that many people may not have this – but, then again, there are a lot of people out there who do!
So, if you’d information on this company and would perhaps like to apply, click here.
Happy Job Hunting!

Note: I do my best to research all the companies I write about. To my best understanding, they are legitimate. But please, do your own research and NEVER pay money to work for a company!

Free Tickets for Live Theater

Sep 29, 2009

I LOVE going to the theater. I just love it. I try, every year, to attend at least a few of the Broadway Across America shows that come to Austin. If possible, I also try to take my daughter to at least one production. But, going to the theater can be very expensive – especially if you purchase more than one ticket. I know it’s the cost that keeps many people from ever seeing a live show.

Thus, if this is the reason YOU have not gone to see a professional play or a musical lately, I may have the solution for you!

There is a program called Free Night of Theater. It’s an annual program that allows you to select from a variety of plays and performances in your local city. They then give away free tickets (for two) to select shows and times.

To find out what shows near you are participating, click here. You can then select your city and once you do, you’ll see what shows are a part of this program. There will be a time next to the show when the FREE tickets are made available. Many of them begin this week, on October 1. Some are later in the month. If it says tickets are available at 1 pm, you need to call right around that time to try to reserve your free tickets. No doubt, they only give away so many free seats and you want to get them! So, don’t wait. Call right away.

Let me know if you get to see any great shows in your area. I quickly search a few TX cities and saw Greese, Alice in Wonderland, Little Shop of Horrors, Hamlet and the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (which was nominated for and won a bunch of Tony Awards!) - just to name a few. It’s a great way to get your kids interested in going to the theater. Or, perhaps, a nice gift to give someone who you know can’t afford to go any other way.

What Do You Mean It's a Boy?

Sep 28, 2009

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I just knew, from day one, that she was a girl. We didn’t allow the doctor to tell us the baby’s gender, under the guise of “wanting to be surprised.” But honestly, when she came out with all those female parts, it wasn’t that much of a shock. I knew she was a girl. I just knew.

And then, four years later, I had my little boy, Bennett. From the moment I found out we were expecting, I was certain he was male. This time, we asked for the ultrasound technician to tell us what she saw and when she said the words, “You’re having a little boy,” I didn’t even blink. It was a boy. Of course it was a boy. What else would he be?

And then, about a year after Bennett was born, I found out I was pregnant again. I knew . . . just knew deep in my heart . . .that this was a girl. When I went for my ultrasound, I told the technician – the same one as last time – “There’s no need to tell me. I know this is a girl. We’re having another little girl.” And, I was thrilled. I lay on that table in the doctor’s office, imagining her wearing all of my other daughter’s old dresses which I had packed away so neatly and saved for close to six years so that I could have one more chance to see a little girl of mine in them. I had dreams of my older daughter and this younger one growing up to be close friends. I wondered if she’d have dark hair and dark eyes like me, or be blonde and blue-eyed like the rest of my family.

“I see a penis.”

I came out of my fog.

“What did you say?”

The technician said to me, “I see a penis. See that? That’s a penis. You’re having a boy. Congratulations!”

I almost threw up.

No joke.

Isn’t that awful?

I wanted to vomit.

“No," I told her. "I’m having a girl. I’m sure of it.”

“Well, not this time, sweetie,” she said. “This time, you’re having a boy.”

She left the room and I got dressed back into my clothes. I don’t remember walking out of the doctor’s office that day. I don’t even remember seeing the doctor after my ultrasound. All I remember is getting into my car, putting my head down on the steering wheel and starting to cry.

A boy? I didn’t want a boy. I wanted a girl. I had a boy. Why did I need another one? The one I had was perfect. More boy than I could handle, for that matter.

I called one of my best friends and, through my tears, told her the news. She was thrilled.

“No!” I told her. “I wanted a girl.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “When he’s here, you’ll be happy he’s a boy.”

Whatever, I wanted to say. Sure. What do you know? You have two girls.

This wasn’t my plan. I’d had it all figured out. My older daughter would have been so much older than the younger one that there would have been no jealousy between the two. And Bennett, well, though he’d be the middle child and have to deal with all the problems that comes with that position, he’d be the only male. No one to compete with. No envy among children.

What’s that they say about how, if you want to make God laugh, you should tell him your plans?

He must have been a hootin’ and howlin’ that day.

I somehow made it through the pregnancy with minimal crying. I think I consoled myself by believing that we’d just have one more baby after this one – and that child would be a girl! I’d get my girl. It might take a little longer, but she’d arrive. And then, I’d have two boys and two girls. I always did love even numbers.

The big day finally arrived and Maclain was born. My boy. The moment was filled with immense excitement and love, but also sadness because there were complications during delivery and even as he was entering this world, the doctor was telling me I could have no more children. This would be it. This would be my last baby. There’d be no other little girl for me.

Amazingly, though those 3 days in the hospital were tinged with sadness over knowing this would be my last stay there after giving birth, once we brought Maclain home, I gave little thought to that other child we were supposed to have. Life with three kids somehow sent us off the deep end. We lost all control. Every breath we took was one of survival – we just needed to get through each day with the kids we had. The thought of a fourth child was so unbelievably overwhelming, neither my husband nor I would have entertained the idea even if it had been a medical possibility.

Fast forward through my life . . . Maclain is now 16 months old. Just yesterday, as I was driving along in the car, I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw both he and his 3-year-old brother dancing along to a CD I had playing. They were clapping and giggling with each other, making one another laugh. I began to think about how well they play together . . . how much they love to lie on the floor and roll their trucks along or sit side by side and build towers of Legos. My husband is always commenting on how he and his brother never got along so well. It is clear that they love being brothers. I can see, even now, that this is a bond that will last a lifetime.

As I was watching them tickle each other, it suddenly occurred to me that there is not one bone in my body that wishes Maclain had been born a girl. I love that he’s a boy. I love that he and his brother are so close – in age and to each other. I love referring to them as “my boys.” I love everything about him – his smile and his little temper and the way he waves “bye-bye” to me when I put him in his crib.

He is exactly who he was supposed to be.

And, I recognize fully now that, though I thought I didn’t get what I wanted, I actually got exactly what I desired.

He was the child I was meant to have – penis and all.

Gym Memberships - Part II

Sep 25, 2009

One of the things I love about writing this blog is the money-saving advice I get from people who read it! I may be sharing money tips with everyone, but I am getting a lot of them, too!

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how to save money on gym memberships. If you haven’t read that one yet, click here for it. After I wrote that, a friend emailed to share with me other ways to save on getting a workout.

It turns out that many places, (like your local YMCA) may allow you to use their fitness facilities for free if you volunteer there during the week. What a great way to get a free gym membership! You get the joy of volunteer work and you (in-a-round-about way) benefit financially from it.

My friend also told me that he gets a free fitness center membership by volunteering at his local hospital. He told me that hospitals often have a gym they use for their physical rehab (and sometimes sell memberships to the public). He said that the hospital where he donates his time provides their volunteers with either free or discounted use of the gym facilities (in addition to a free meal!)

So, if any of you have a few hours a week to give to the community, there could possibly be some perks that make it well worth the effort (besides that good feeling you get for doing for others, of course!).

Costco Electronics Trade-In Program

Sep 24, 2009

Okay, we all like to get new electronics. Whether it be a new computer or cell phone or MP3 player, it’s fun to have a brand-spanking new one with all the latest features. But then, there remains the question of what to do with your old “toy.”

You can, of course, try to sell it on Craigslist, but that’s not always easy to do and it’s hard to know how much to charge for it. So, I have another solution for you.

Costco is running a program right now where they will allow you to trade in and recycle your old electronics (such as laptops, cell phones, monitors, digital cameras, MP3 players, Blu-Rays and gaming systems) for Costco cash. What’s Costco Cash, you ask? Well, it’s basically a gift card that’s good for anything at the Costco warehouses or on their website.

If you want to know how much you’d get for your item, you can click here and type in the product information. They will calculate for you the Costco cash you will earn for that item. Then, all you do is ship the item to them (and shipping is FREE!)

Costco has teamed up with Gazelle for this program (the industry’s leader in electronic trade-ins.) They will safely and securely remove all personal data from your system. According to their website: “All items are wiped of personal data and reset to factory settings. For items with hard drives, Gazelle utilizes Department of Defense approved software and performs all tasks in a controlled, secure environment.”

So, look around the house and see what there is that you might like to trade in for a little bit of Costco spending money. For those of you are truly entrepreneurial, you could even go so far as to shop at local garage sales or on Craigslist for cheap items and see if you could get more Costco Cash for them than what you paid elsewhere.

But, you need to do it quickly! This program is only good through October 15!

Work From Home - Handmade Crafts and Antiques

Sep 23, 2009

Happy Work-From-Home Wednesday!
Today’s company is a little different than the ones I have previously profiled. It’s not a company you work for, but rather, a way to work for yourself, doing what you (may) love.

Let me explain. If you are someone who loves making crafts or homemade items, this may be a way for you to make a little extra cash selling your items.

It’s a website called Etsy and it works in a similar way to Ebay, in that you list your items for sale online. The difference, though, is that it’s not an auction-style website. You set your price. And, the only things you can sell on this site are things that you, yourself, have handmade. (You can also sell crafting supplies and vintage items, which are 20 years or older.)

So, if you are a crafty person and wanting to find a way to make a little extra cash with your talents, this might be the way for you to go about it.

And, if you are into antiquing, you might be able to make a profit on some of the “finds” you acquire during your trips to second-hand stores or garage sales.

This could be a great way for you (or someone you know) to make money by starting their own craft or antique business. Don't forget to keep me posted if you start decide to try it out!

Note: I do my best to research all the companies I write about. To my best understanding, they are legitimate. But please, do your own research and NEVER pay money to work for a company!

Free Coke Zero at Chick-Fil-A

Sep 22, 2009

Chick-Fil-A is the best about giving out free food, isn’t it?

Well, I have another deal for you. If you go to Chick-Fil-A’s website right now, and register for their Wave Club, they will send you a coupon for a Free Medium Coke Zero. Plus, they’ll enter you in a drawing for prizes, like a $50 Chick-Fil-A gift card.

A free Coke isn’t huge, but it’s FREE! And, as we know, FREE is very, very good.

To participate in the deal, click here.

Learn How To Do Home Repairs

Sep 21, 2009

I would not say that I married a “handy man.” No. Those aren’t words that would have come out of my mouth when I got married nearly 13 years ago.

I remember a few years after we were married, we were having problems with the air conditioning control panel and I wanted my husband to fix it. He looked at the unit and told me he didn’t know what to do about it. This really frustrated me. At the time, Rob was active duty Army and so I said to him, “You can clear a land mine and yet you can’t fiddle around and fix that AC panel?”

He told me that clearing a landmine was easy. According to him, “All you do is blow it up”.

I told him, “Well, clearing landmines is not a valuable skill that we can utilize in our marriage. Fixing things around the house – now that would be useful!”

I’d like to say that Rob took what I said to heart, but since he seems to rarely listen to me (as, I hear is common with husbands), I can’t take credit for what happened next. But, someway, somehow . . . Rob became handy! It didn’t happen over night - but during the next half dozen years or so, he began to repair things.

I think it started when he became the Battalion Maintenance Officer of his Army Battalion. It was a job he really didn’t want and did not enjoy and yet, when it was over, lo and behold, he could work on our cars! That has saved us a ton of money over the years. About a month ago, I began having problems with my brakes on our minivan. I got an estimate on the troubles and they quoted me $1200. Ouch. Rob spent a weekend working on them and when it was over, he had spent about $200 on parts. Now, that charge to my credit card hurt a lot less than the mechanic’s bill would have stung!

Over the past few years, Rob has repaired our sinks, toilets, refrigerator, computers and air conditioning unit - yes, he did eventually learn how to work on that pesky thing! He, with the help of his dad, replaced our sliding glass door (which basically leaked air) with beautiful French doors and when my parents were robbed earlier this year and their back door broken down, he was able to replace their whole door, too. He’s the family’s go-to-guy when it comes to installing ceiling fans, working on electrical wiring and repairing leaking sprinkler systems. He not only tiled our bathroom, but installed laminate wood flooring in our entire family room – all by himself.

Now, as those of you who really know me recognize (my husband included) it is highly unusual for me to devote a whole blog post to singing his praises. Even he was startled by today’s topic (and I think, perhaps, he did bit of a double take over it. I am much more prone to tease him and am constantly warning him, if you do that again, I’ll have to talk about you in my blog tomorrow! ) His technical abilities and “know-how,” however, have easily saved us thousands of dollars over the years – money we have been able to save or put towards other, more exciting, ventures in our life.

How did he learn how to do all of this? Some of it came from the Army, but a lot of it came from asking questions – from his dad and people who already knew how to do the repairs. He’s read a lot of books on home improvement (there is a stack of them on his nightstand) and he’s found a lot of information on the internet. However he’s acquired it, it has most certainly been worth his time and effort.

So, why am I telling all of you this? Well, in a way, I feel kind of guilty about what I’m going to promote in this post. After all, it’s not as if I was the one who learned how to do these repairs. Oh, no. I have pretty much left it totally up to my husband.

But, I am nonetheless going to encourage you, if you or your spouse are not handy . . . well . . get working on it! Repairs cost a fortune! Unexpected expenses like a broken-down car or a leaking air conditioning unit can wreak havoc into your monthly (if not, yearly) budget.

So . . . to get to the point of this post . . . I am going to help you get started.

Home Depot offers a series of “Do-It-Yourself” workshops - and they are FREE! If you go to their site right now, you can sign up for classes such as Interior Painting, Tiling Walls and Floors, Installing Energy Efficient Doors and Windows and Putting Up Moulding. In addition, if you’re a woman (and might be a little intimidated by taking a class with a bunch of guys who are already pretty good at repairs), they have a series called “Do-It-Herself” workshops. The next class they are offering for this program is this Thursday night (September 24, 2009) at 7 pm and it’ll teach you how to create your dream kitchen by yourself. And, they don’t mean what to cook in it. They'll teach you things such as how to install new cabinets, a sink and a faucet. You can sign up by clicking below.

I really, truly encourage you – or at least, someone else in your home - to learn how to do some repairs around your house. Trust me. It’ll save you more cash than you could ever imagine!

Because, I promise you, whether you like it or not, things WILL keep breaking!

The Gift Closet

Sep 18, 2009

Even if you are careful with how you spend money on yourselves, it is easy to shell out more than you’d like when it comes to gifts. When you buy for yourself, it’s easier to save your money and make the purchase you’re hoping for when you find a good deal or the item goes on sale. For gifts, though, it’s not always so simple. I find that my kids are always being invited to birthday parties with just a week’s notice. I don’t have time to shop around for a great price on toys or kids’ clothes when I’m pressed for time.

That’s why I have a “gift closet.” Actually, I have more than one of them. And, if truth be told, they’re not so much “closets” as much as tall cabinets in my garage. I used to keep all of this stuff in my own closet, but when I found I had no more room for my clothes, I told my husband we needed a new system. Thus, we spent this past Valentine’s Day building cabinets in our garage until 1 am. It was oh, so romantic . . .

Anyway, all year long, whenever I’m in a store, I scan and scour the clearance shelves and racks. I find that the best time to do this is right after Christmas. For the holidays, stores, such as Walmart, stock up on lots of extra items, such as little girls’ makeup and beauty kits and baby bath toys. Once the holidays are over, they put these items on clearance, often at 75% - 90% off. Craft stores, such as Michaels, put their big craft kits on sale for a dollar or two, also. That’s when I buy! I can often get a $10 item for $1 or a $20 one for $2. I buy a lot of them. Enough to last me for a whole year’s worth of kids’ parties. This way, whenever one of my kids is invited somewhere, he and/or she and I can go out to our garage and “shop” for a gift. There’s no need to run out to the store and no need to spend a lot of money. I’m still giving a really nice gift – it just didn’t cost me full price.

I do the same things for kids’ clothes. When the stores have their ends of season clearance sales, I stock up on stuff, not just for my own kids for future years, but also on outfits I can give as gifts at a later date. Sometimes, I have a specific child in mind when I shop. For example, I know that we have certain friends’ kids or my niece whom we give a gift to for their birthday and Christmas. If I see something for them that would be great for next Christmas, even if it’s in May, I buy it, stick a Post It note on it (so that I remember who it is for and don’t accidentally give it to anyone else) and put it away in the closet.

In order to keep track of who I need gifts for, especially for Christmas, I keep a list in Word on my computer. I have everyone’s name written down and, as I buy presents for them throughout the year (as I find things on sale), I write down the item I purchased for them. This way, I don’t buy something, put it away, and forgot I bought them a gift – causing me to rush out at the last minute and spend a lot of money on something else because I think I have nothing to give them. If I come up with something I’d like to give them, and thus, need to search for a good price on the item, I write it next to their name, but in the color red. This way, I don’t forget my gift ideas and the red reminds me that it hasn’t been purchased yet. Once I buy it, the color gets changed to black.

I also stock up on books – especially kids’ ones. We have a great store here, which I’ve mentioned before, called Half Price Books. All books are, of course, half price – and some are even less than that. The kids’ section is the best, though, because many, if not most, of those books seem to be brand new. And, the store always has a bunch of clearance racks on the sidewalk in front of the store where they are selling hardcover kids books for $1 - $3. Whenever I go there, usually when my supply starts to run low, I stock up on books to keep in the closet. Again, it’s a great gift to give to kids and I can give them $40 or so worth of books for two or three bucks.

I also keep a stash of “grown-up” items in the closet that I can grab if I’ve forgotten I need a gift for something like Teacher Appreciation Day or we get a last minute email saying that it’s our child’s teacher’s birthday the next day. The more kids you have, the more teachers there are who become a part of your life. And, for years, I was a teacher. I, though, rarely recieved any gifts from my students. So, I try to make a conscious effort to let the teachers know that I appreciate them – with a little gift. True, I don’t spend a lot of money on these gifts, but when I was teaching, I would have been grateful for at least a card.

Does this whole concept of buying gifts on sale, in advance, make me seem cheap? Perhaps. Do I care. Nope. If I spent $10 - $20 on every kid’s birthday party my three children are invited to all year long, we could very possibly go broke. Kids don’t care how much you spent on their gifts – they’re just excited to get them. So, why should I pay a fortune for a toy in June that I could get for less than half the cost if I buy it in January?

So, next time you pass a clearance aisle at Target or Kohls or somewhere else, ask yourself if you might want to buy a few extra presents you can keep around the house for when you’re in a pinch. It’s inevitable. You’re going to need a gift sooner or later. Won’t you be proud of yourself if you have just what you need, just when you need it, for just the right price?

Kid Speak - America's Got Talent

Sep 17, 2009

My daughter and I have a nightly ritual of watching a few acts of America’s Got Talent before she goes to bed. Because she only gets to watch two or three performances each night (via Tivo) I am able to drag out each week’s regular show and “results” show a whole week. (I don’t know what I am going to do once we finish watching last night’s finale!)

Anyway, the other night, she and I were lying on my bed watching a group that neither of us have liked all season (and cannot fathom how they keep getting through week after week).

When they were done performing , Jordan turned to me and said, “If you were a judge on that show, would you have buzzed them tonight?”

“No,” I told her.

“Why not?” she asked me. “You don’t like them.”

“I know, honey, but I wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings.”

“You wouldn’t hurt their feelings by buzzing them,” she said.

“I think I would,” I told her.

“No, you wouldn’t,” she insisted. “If I were a judge, I’d buzz them, but I wouldn’t hurt their feelings. I would say to them, very nicely, ‘I like you a lot. But, you just need more . . . uhm . . . talent.’”

Silly me. Why didn’t I think of that? I’m sure that wouldn't sting at all.

Work-From-Home Jobs - Nursing

Sep 16, 2009

Wednesdays sure come around quickly, don’t they?

The work-from-home company I’m profiling this week is Fonedmed. According to the description on their site, they use “communications technology to provide individuals with round-the-clock, telephone or web-based access to medical advice, information, products, and services.”

They are looking to hire Registered Nurses (RN) to provide “outsourced nurse triage services.” If you are a RN and are looking for ways to supplement your income or work in a non-traditional medical situation, you could give advice to callers requesting information on medical conditions or reactions to medications.

They are hiring RNs throughout North America and Newfoundland. The majority of hours to work are nights, evenings and weekends –when traditional doctors’ offices are closed.

If this is something you (or a friend) are qualified for and are interested in, click here for information on how to apply.

Note: I do my best to research all the companies I write about. To my best understanding, they are legitimate. But please, do your own research and NEVER pay money to work for a company!

Cash for Cans

Sep 15, 2009

When I was a little girl, my grandfather used to take me down to one of the local grocery stores. We’d go there with a big ol’ bag of aluminum cans because, in front of the store, was a can recycling machine. Back then, in NJ, you could get one cent for every can. I didn’t care about the money, though. I just thought it was a blast using the can machine. I had to feed every can individually into a little “hole” and then turn the lever, allowing the can to be put inside the machine and crushed. I thought it was great fun.

Looking back, it was probably pretty monotonous and chances are that is why my grandfather brought me to the Pathmark to do it! No doubt he didn’t want to wear out his arm loading cans for a penny a piece!

But I always looked forward to going. I probably made less than a dollar each visit, but it was the process of saving the cans and “turning them in” that I remember the best.

I’ve tried to give my kids a similar experience (though in Texas, I haven’t seen any of those one-can-at-a-time machines – thank goodness!) But, you can sell aluminum cans here for a little bit of a profit. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, my daughter and I started a “vacation fund” where we are saving money to take the family on a cruise. Most of our money in the account has come from selling things on Craigslist. Some, however, has come from selling aluminum cans.

In Austin, there are a bunch of places you can go where they buy aluminum (cans included.) Right before writing this post, I called two of them. One is currently paying 37 cents a pound and the other is paying 41 cents.

So, though I send all of our other recyclables to the city center, the cans, in our house, are held onto.

We keep a separate bag in the kitchen for our aluminum cans. When it gets full, we take them out to the garage to “store.” (We have also recruited my parents and some of our neighbors to help us out on this.) When we have accumulated about 3 or 4 big trash bags full of can, the kids and I make a trip to the closest (or highest paying) recycling center. We don’t make a lot per trip – maybe $8 - $10, but my kids are always thrilled with the money that we can now add to our vacation fund.

My favorite part is that the center just weighs the whole bag and gives us cash. No loading cans one at a time anymore!

My daughter’s Girl Scout Troop decided to do the same thing last year as a way to raise some extra money for trips and activities. The girls and their families collected the cans and then, one parent (usually a dad) took the cans to the center. The troop made about $40 doing this last year. Granted, that’s not a whole lot of money, but it’s enough to off-set a few expenses. And, these days, every little bit helps!

Last week, while listening to the radio, I heard a story about an 81-year-old man who spends his time going through the trash at local parks, searching for aluminum cans he can recycle for money. When he makes $250 from his cans, he sends the money to Operation Smile – an organization which goes around the world fixing cleft pallets of children who would otherwise never be able to afford the surgery. $250 will pay for one child to have a brand new smile.

So, before you throw away those aluminum cans, or even recycle them, think about how you can make a little extra money from them – for yourself, your family or even a meaningful charity.

Facebook Status

Sep 14, 2009

I don't generally post my Facebook status on my blog, but this one seems to have people laughing. So, I thought I would share it with those of you who aren't my FB friends. I posted it last night. Hope if makes you chuckle:

I am trying to get a straight answer from my children regarding why there is poop on the chopsticks.

Get a Free Pass to Shop at Sam's Club

As you all must know by now, I am a HUGE Costco fan. This doesn't mean, though, that I am anti-Sam's Club. I just don't have a memerbership there and have only been in the store once or twice.

I might like to check to check it out, though, just for fun. And, I thought, so might you.

If you click here, it will take you to their website where you can request a FREE temporary pass to shop at their warehouse (it's probably a day pass, though it doesn't say on the site).

You can "uncheck" the box at the bottom so that you don't receieve any emails from them in the future, if you want to avoid that.

This might be the time to stock up on some items you have been wanting to buy at warehouse prices, but didn't have a membership in order to do so (i.e. diapers, wipes, formula, etc.)

Hope you have a fun time browsing the store.

September 11 - I'll Never Forget

Sep 11, 2009

As today, September 11, 2009, has gone on . . . I can't help but remember that horrible day eight years ago when the world, as we knew it, halted. A few weeks after the attacks, I flew home to be with my family and on the plane ride back to Texas, I wrote about what I experienced while there.

I'd like to share that with you . . .

The side of my face aches from pressing against the airplane window. My mind tells me that if I twist enough or lean in a little more, I’ll find what I seek. Those towers are out there . . . somewhere. I must just be missing them. Am I looking in the wrong direction? After all these years, how can I not know where to find them? I thought they were to the right of the Empire State Building. Maybe if I turn a little more . . .

But they’re not there. And the skyline that was as familiar to me by the age of three as Big Bird and Barbie dolls no longer exists. For the first time ever, my last view of home is not the World Trade Center. Elevator music pipes through the airplane as we taxi down the runway. Do they always do that? Or am I just suddenly aware of it because the words are so bitterly true?

Smile, though your heart is aching. Smile, even though it’s breaking.

I start to cry and instantly I’m afraid that the people next to me will think I’m strange. I glance at them. They, too, have tears in their eyes. It’s impossible to look across that river and not weep.

From the first moment I saw the twin towers on fire, and knew there was a great chance my father was in them, I needed to be there. Even after I heard from my dad – knew he was okay – I had this overwhelming desire to go home. I needed to see my family and friends, touch them, know they were alright. Mourn the people we lost. And then, when that was done, I needed to see for myself what remained of the city I love.

What follows are the details from my visit. Never one to lack things to say, I find myself unable to talk about what I saw this past Saturday. The thought of it makes my eyes well with tears. I feel the need to throw up. I cry myself to sleep. I will never be the same again. I wish I could forget. I hope I never forget.

The first thing you notice is the smell. I wish there was something with which to compare it. But, just like you can’t explain colors to a blind person, there’s no way to illustrate the odor that hits you when you first rise from the subway stairs. It’s not a rotting smell, like I imagined it would be. It’s not a burning smell, either. It’s the smell of tragedy. It’s all around you and as you walk, you can feel yourself breathing it into your lungs. I know now why they wear those surgical masks. You inhale the smell and the ash, your breath becomes labored and it burns. The ash doesn’t just get into your mouth, though. It flies into your eyes and they sting and hurt. They start to tear, but it doesn’t really matter. That’s all they want to do anyway.

The second thing that strikes you, almost as quickly as the smell, is the stillness. There’s a reason New York is called “the city that never sleeps.” One of my favorite places has always been Times Square at midnight. It’s as bright and busy as if it were noon. This past summer, I took my best friend to New York City for the first time. Her continual question was, “Why is everyone beeping their horns?”

I laughed and told her, “They beep because they’re in New York. That’s what they do.”

But they don’t do that anymore. There are no horns. There isn’t even any talking. There’s just silence and it’s frightening. I videotaped the financial district on Saturday and when I showed the tape to a friend at night, she said, “Where’s the noise? Doesn’t your camcorder have sound?” I told her there was no sound because there was nothing to hear.

For the past three and a half weeks, I have been mentally walking the streets in the financial district. In my mind, I’d get to the end of each street and there’d be a blank space. I didn’t know what to put there. I no longer knew what I would find. Thus, when we got into the city, I told my dad that there was a certain way I needed to approach the disaster. I needed to walk down Liberty Street and Nassau and Church and Wall. I had to see what was at the end of each street. I wanted to fill in the question marks in my mind.

I was told you couldn’t get near the disaster, but that’s not really true. Oh, you can only get within a block on all sides, but that’s close enough. You don’t need to be any closer to see it. The rubble is so massive – so expansive – it’s overpowering. I now understand why more bodies haven’t been recovered. There’s still so much wreckage to search. Overall, the disaster covers 17 acres of the financial district. In some spots, it’s easily 40-50 feet tall. In other spots, it’s much higher. The actual rubble looks just like it does on TV, but a million times worse, a million times larger. The lower walls remain of the towers – at least, parts of them – and one can see that the towers truly did implode. The walls surround the piles and piles of steel and glass and ash. They are a brownish color, which seems confusing at first because they always seemed gray and silver. It takes me awhile to realize that they are the color of the ash. From numerous spots, smoke billows out of the ground, soaring hundreds of feet into the air. On Friday, many new fires had begun. The workers removed pieces of steel and inadvertently, released oxygen to areas of smoldering ash that had been buried and they began to flame. The bombings occurred weeks ago, but it looks like it just happened.

There is ash everywhere. It’s light tan and resembles sand, especially since it rained all day Saturday. There are clumps of it on the ground that make you feel like the beach must be nearby. It covers doors and fences and windows, even 20 stories high. People have taken their fingers and written things in the ash. “Thank you, firefighters.” “God bless America.” Even blocks away, when you’re certain you’ve left the nightmare behind, you find ash on window sills, on the road, and when I look at my dad, I see it is on his coat.

Broken windows are more common than whole ones. There is still glass on the ground and my dad continually tells me to watch where I step. There are cars on the roads that are covered with ash, their windows blown out. Someone has taken the time to cover the windows in plastic, but the cars remain untouched. It seems there is no one to retrieve them. A nearby parking garage holds hundreds of vehicles. The exits are blocked off, so even if the owners have survived, there’s no way to drive the cars out of the building.

I am overcome at the sight of a bicycle on Nassau Street, chained to scaffolding that covers a sidewalk. It’s a black bicycle, but it’s covered in ash. The lock and chain are nearly tan with the dust. I stare at it for what seems like hours. I take pictures of its loneliness. I’m desperate to know, did someone ride it to work on the 11th? Did he chain it here and then walk into his office building? If no one’s claimed it after all these weeks, does that mean that there isn’t anyone to do so?

Workers surround you on the streets. There’s so much to do that doesn’t even involve sorting through the rubble. Buildings need to be secured, electricity needs to be reinstalled, roads need to be fixed, phone lines need to be rerun. I walk past a construction worker on the street and smile at him. He surprises me when he stops what he is doing, stares directly in my eyes and says, “Thank you for that smile.”

On every street, every street corner, you see soldiers, police, and firemen. The roads are lined with military vehicles, police cars and repair trucks. My father refers to it as “New York under siege.” We can’t help but say, “Thank you,” as we walk by each one.

At times, we turn onto a street to find it completely deserted. Never in my life did I think I’d find an empty New York City street.

I videotape the wreckage from all angles. I try to show the enormity of the attack. I find it odd to be carrying a camera into the city. I can count on two fingers how many times I have ever had a camera with me in New York and both of those times were to photograph visiting friends, not buildings. But New York is no longer regular to me. It’s somewhere I barely recognize and I need to capture the change on film. As I tape, I can hear my dad behind me, talking to a group of people. He’s telling them about that day. What it was like, what he saw, what he heard. I shudder as I listen to him.

There are people on every street corner, passing out small booklets with titles such as “Fallen, But Not Forgotten” and “After the Dust Settles.” They contain photos of the attack, of the leftover rubble, of the victims. Some booklets contain inspirational or Biblical messages. In the past, such “religious” material would have been quickly discarded. How many times have I, myself, walked by people handing out fliers and ignored them? Now, New Yorkers grab what the people hand them. They are told, “God bless you. God bless America.” They say, “God bless you, too.”

My dad and I speak little as we walk. There’s nothing to say. At one point he puts his arm around me and whispers sadly, “Look what they’ve done to our city.”

I carefully read the “Missing” fliers posted around the area. There aren’t as many as we saw on the news. Many have been taken down. Some have blown away. The ones that remain are a sad reminder of the hopeful wishing that existed in those first few days.

American flags and flowers are draped over fences near the site. Signs that scream “Crime Scene. Keep away” remind you that this was no accident.

I was certain that I’d break down into tears the moment I first saw the disaster, but I find that I can’t. I’m too shocked, too stunned, too busy trying to look at everything around me. It’s so hard to take it all in at once. My eyes don’t know where to look first. I can’t afford to cry. My eyes have to be clear. I need to see.

My dad and I come to the intersection of Liberty and Church Street and suddenly, I’m confused. I know where I am, but something doesn’t fit. I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be looking at. All I see is a huge area of concrete, full of makeshift tents and military personnel. My dad senses my confusion. “That’s Liberty Park,” he says. I don’t understand. Liberty Park is where I used to go watch people play chess under the trees. Where are the trees? “Sucked out of the ground,” is all he says.

“Do you want to walk anymore? Is there anything else you want to see?” my dad asks me. I tell him I’ve seen more than enough. I had thought I’d go to a nearby fire station which lost 11 men. I’d planned on going to Union Square to see the memorial. But I no longer want to do any of these things. I need to leave this area. These streets with closed stores, empty of vendors and tourists. These roads full of death, not life. Full of sadness, not joy.

We make our way to midtown and I’m relieved to see that life there, if not normal, still exists. People are shopping. Some are even talking. We walk into Macy’s and I’m accosted by 25 perfume vendors. I smile as I make my way through. New York will come out of this, as strong as ever. Nowhere else has the strength, the determination and the will of New York. Nowhere else has such passion to survive.

We head to Penn Station and I pass a vendor selling t-shirts. I see that there’s a variation, now, on an old saying. “I still love New York,” the shirt screams. I finally start to cry. In this world of uncertainty, that’s one thing, I know, which will always be true.

Free on Your Birthday - Ice Cream

I have been well aware, for years now, that you can get free “stuff” on your birthday if you visit different stores or restaurants – or, if you register online for them. Sometimes I remember to participate. Many years, however, I just forget about it. Maybe it’s because, when my birthday comes around, I am always too busy with the kids (who are out of the school for the summer) to go searching around for these giveaways.

Well, not any more. I am about to do myself (and you, in the process) a favor. I’m going to begin compiling a list of all the free things you can get on your birthday. That way, when my next birthday comes around (or yours rolls around for you) we will all know exactly where to go.

So, let’s begin, and what better way to start off than with ICE CREAM!

It seems there are a number of places you can get free ice cream on your birthday.

Baskin Robbins: If you register online, you will receive a coupon for a free 2.5 ounce scoop of ice cream. The coupon is good for one week before and one week after your special day. To register, click here.

Carvel: If you are lucky enough to have one of these ice cream stores near you (and unfortunately, I am not), you can receive a free cup or cone of soft-serve ice cream on your birthday. Register online by clicking here.

Cold Stone Creamery: Register online by clicking here and receive a free ice cream. The deal is good for a week before and a week after your birthday.

Friendly’s: Once again, we do not have Friendly’s where I live. (What I wouldn’t DO for a Reese Pieces Sundae!) But, if you are fortunate to have one nearby, click here and register to receive a free ice cream cone for your birthday. (And their offer lasts a whole month!) And, if you sign up your kids for the Kids' Club, they get a free Sundae AND a free meal on their birthday.

By the time your birthday is over, you should be stuffed FULL of ice cream! Enjoy!


Sep 10, 2009

I do not have a green thumb. I can’t even keep my houseplants alive. This past Christmas, I actually asked my parents to buy me those Aqua Globes that you see on TV. I figured, with those, I would only need to worry about “watering” the plants every two weeks.

How’s it going, you ask? Two weeks was apparently too often because my once green plants are now a nice shade of coffee brown.

On occasion, perhaps in his quest to be “helpful,” the way only a husband can be, Rob will make a comment to me about my drooping plants or my empty Aqua Globes. I always reply with, “Do our children look like they’re starving?”

“No,” he tells me.

“Good. Then at least I’m making sure they are fed. I can only deal with the needs of so many living things at one time.”

Despite the fact that Rob does not step up to the plate and water the plants spread out throughout the interior of our house regularly, he is, in fact, the one with the talent for growing things in the dirt. We have a great backyard with lots of flowers and plants and trees and cacti. We even have a large coy pond that Rob dug ten years ago with just a shovel – an impressive feat considering the fact that Texas ground is nothing but rock and the pond is now 10 feet long and 6 feet deep.

On the side of our house, we have a vegetable garden, which this past summer produced lettuce, carrots, peppers (lots and lots and lots of peppers), radishes, tomatoes and even a cantaloupe (we’re not quite sure where that came from!).

And, next to our beautiful garden is our very picturesque compost pile.

Okay, it’s not very picturesque. It’s not even very appealing to look at. But, none the less, we do have a compost pile and it is on the side of our house and it does fertilize our garden and backyard plants. (And, luckily, it’s on the side of the house where no one can see it!)

I must admit, I fought the idea of composting for a long time. It just seemed so dirty to me. And, in Texas, I was afraid that leaving any food scraps out there might attract snakes – or even worse – rats!

I would voice my concerns to Rob, who I’m not sure every listened to them, because he continued to compost – though, mostly the pile was just full of tree, grass and plant trimmings. I am in charge of the food preparation in our house and so, in order to get any leftovers from the kitchen, Rob would have had to get by me. And, I wasn’t totally convinced that this whole composting thing was worth my while.

That is, until I saw an Oprah show about two years ago. Oprah had on Julia Roberts and she was talking about composting. She demonstrated what she puts into her compost pile, how she “mixes” the pile every week, and what types of food are good for composting and which ones are “rat” attractors (my greatest fear) and should be avoided. (If you’d like to read about that show, click here.)

When the show was over, I jumped on the compost wagon. I am all for recycling, as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now. On a whole, I feel like, as a family, we do not waste a lot of food. I do my best to use all of the groceries we buy and we do not have a lot to throw away on our plates each evening. But, once you start taking note of all you do throw away (the snapped-off part of green beans, the ends of broccoli, the stems of grapes, the tops of strawberries, the onion skins, the apple cores . . . coffee grinds . . . the list goes on and on) you will be shocked at how much food you throw away that could be composted and made into fertilizer.

Through trial and error we have come up with a system that works for us. At first, we were just keeping the composted items in a bucket in the kitchen until it got full and then one of us (or sometimes one of the kids) would go “dump it” on the pile outside. But, that quickly attracted a ton of fruit flies. What we now do is we use an empty Clorox wipes container. (Actually, it is the Costco generic brand – no shocker there), but it has a very tight lid that goes on it (and keeps us bug-free). As I am cooking and cutting up food, I throw the scraps in the container. As with the bucket system, when it is full one of us takes it outside. Rob is in charge of “mixing” the compost pile – there is only so much I am willing to do!

And then, in a relatively short amount of time, the compost from the bottom of the pile is ready to be used as fertilizer for our garden and other plants. It saves us money when it comes to not having to buy fertilizer, plus we are eliminating the amount of trash that leaves our house in plastic bags – and that makes me very happy. And, as a bonus, we are (hopefully) teaching our children the importance of not wasting what you can "recycle."

As I learned from my new buddy, Julia Roberts, you should never compost animal products, such as meat, cheese, eggs (though the shells are okay) because those will attract animals you do not want near your house!

If you are not able to, or willing to, have a large compost pile in your yard, there are compost “bins” you can purchase that you can keep either in or outside your house. They “hide” the pile in a much more attractive way.

Rob, every once in awhile, will make a comment about how he tried to get me to compost for years and I wouldn’t. But then, he says, I saw Julia Roberts and Oprah doing it and I was all gung ho!

“What’s that about?” he wants to know.

“Whatever it takes, babe.” I tell him. “Whatever it takes.”

Work-From-Home Jobs - Customer Service Rep

Sep 9, 2009

Yeah! It’s Work-From-Home Wednesday!

The company I’m featuring today is called Alpine Access. They hire people from across the country (but only in 33 states, so check their website to see if yours is one of them before you apply) to work as a Customer Service Professional. This means, if hired, you will be working as if you were in a call center, taking incoming phone calls. The difference? You’ll be doing it from your own home.

They require that you have internet access, a home phone line, a headset for the phone and a very quiet place where you can work.

If you work 20 hours or more, you are eligible to participate in their benefits package.

On average, employees are paid $9 an hour. You may not be on the phone the whole time, but you need to be available to answer the phone for the entire time.

You do not make phone calls or do sales. You are strictly answering the phone for one of their clients. Generally, you will be taking orders for products or services or answering questions about products or previously placed orders.

There are no fees involved, however, if you are offered a position, you will have to pay $45 so that they can perform a background check on you.

You can apply online by clicking here.

Good luck! Please keep me posted if you gain employment with any of the companies I feature!

Note: I do my best to research all the companies I write about. To my best understanding, they are legitimate. But please, do your own research and NEVER pay money to work for a company!

Free Breakfast at Mimi's Cafe

Sep 8, 2009

About two years ago, I discovered (with the help of two of my friends), a great restaurant called Mimi’s Café.

They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner – but seem to be best known for their breakfast items, such as their omelets and Eggs Benedict.

If you would like to experience one of their breakfasts, go to their website and join their E-Club. When you do, you will receive a coupon for a Free Breakfast there! You’ll get to chose from items such as cheddar and broccoli quiche, cinnamon raisin french toast, and banana chocolate chip pancakes.
Personally, I think I might take my kids to school one day and go have a nice, quiet breakfast all by myself! Maybe, bring a few magazines (which I never get to read) with me?

The offer expires 15 days from the day you sign up, so I wouldn’t “join” until you were sure you had time to head over there in the near future.

I realize that Mimi’s Café is not in every state, so I apologize to those of you who don’t have one near you!

If you’d like to find the nearest restaurant to you, click here.


Medicine Deal at Walgreens

Sep 7, 2009

I apologize in advance if this deal is not one you are able to take advantage of in your local area Walgreens. I’m not even sure if anyone in Austin will be able to find the same deal at any Walgreens other than the one I visited last night (which was on Brodie Lane, by the way). But, the deal was so good that I figured I’d “put it out there” and you can figure out if it’s the same where you live.

Last night, I made a late night trip to Walgreens. As I was walking up the center aisle, I noticed a shelf full of 75% off items and amongst them were a ton of medicines. Available there were things like generic children’s Benadryl, regular Children’s Tylenol Plus Flu, Plus Cough and Runny Nose and Plus Cold. There was also Triaminic Nighttime Cold and Cough and Nasal Sprays, among other medicines. Not all were for kids. Many were adult medicines, too. None of them had yet expired. In fact, most of them don’t expire until about August of 2010. And, the best part? They were all $1.99 or less! For the generic Benadryl, I paid $1.12.

As I mentioned, none had expired, but even if they had, awhile ago I came across a few articles regarding how unimportant the expiration dates on medicines really are. If you’d like to read more about that, click here.

So, naturally, I stocked up because, I don’t know about your house, but in MINE, someone is always, always sick. And, when someone is sick, I am stuck running out to the store to get the correct medicine, generally late at night, and it is usually not on sale when I need it.

In addition, and I don’t know why this is, when I checked out, the cashier handed me two coupons that had printed out with my receipt. Both were for $5 off my next purchase of $5 or more at Walgreens. What I bought must have been part of their Register Rewards Program. Whatever the reason, that made the purchases even better.

So, if you have a minute this week, you might want to stop by, or at least call, your local Walgreens and see if they have a bunch of medicines in their clearance section right now. Even if no one is ill in your house at the moment, winter is coming and it’s just a matter of time. It wouldn’t hurt to be prepared – and to save money in the process.

You Have to Share

Sep 4, 2009

The other day, as I was once again trying to get my three-year-old son, Bennett, to fall asleep in his bed (by making the cardinal mistake of lying down with him), he began to throw a temper tantrum because he wanted me to put his closet light on for the nap.

“No,” I told him. “You don’t need the light. It’s daylight outside.”

“I want the yight!” he yelled.

“No!” I said.

“I want the yight!” he screamed louder.

“No!” I said, beginning to match my voice to his. “No light!”

“You have to share!” he cried.

“Share?” I said. “This is not about sharing. This is about compromise. Can you say compromise?”

He looked at me blankly.

“Compromising,” I continued, “means that if I have to give in and sleep in this miserably uncomfortable bed, though I’d rather be in my own, so that you will fall asleep, YOU need to give in and leave the light off. Got it? Compromise.”

He stared at me like I had lost all my marbles.

And then, as I could have predicted, he screamed again. “I want the yight on! You have to SHARE!”

I closed my eyes and tuned out the racket he was making until he fell asleep.

And then, once again, I began to think about the situation. (It seems I do my best thinking, lately, lying in that little blue car bed while he snores next to me.)

“You have to share!” he’d said.

He says that a lot these days. About everything.

Whenever he wants something of his sister’s or brother’s or mine, he informs us that we have to “share.” And, to be honest, why wouldn’t he use that phrase? I mean, he certainly hears it enough in his own life. I am constantly telling him that he needs to share his toys with his brother or his goldfish crackers with his sister. He goes to school and they tell him, all day long, that he has to share –the crayons, the cars, the dress-up costumes – with his friends. So, why wouldn’t he tell me that I have to share, too?

The thing is, though. I don’t want to share. I’m tired of sharing. Sharing is one big drag.

I know. I know. That sounds so terrible. I mean, life is about sharing, isn’t it? I share a life with my husband. I share my paycheck with him and he with me. We share the cars. We share the responsibility of raising our kids (though, of course, most of that falls on me, but I won’t get into that in this post. In fact, I only added that because I want to see if he’s reading my blog. If he is, I’m sure I’ll hear about that comment!)

And, when you have kids, you are constantly sharing. I share the food on my plate with them. I share my hair ties with my daughter. I share my bed with them at night when they want to sleep with us. I share the computer when they want to play games.

But sometimes, a lot of the time lately, I just don’t feel like sharing with them.

I don’t always want to let them have the last sip of my very precious, caffeine-filled, Coke. I don’t want to share half of my cookie, the last one in the box, with them after dinner. I would much rather not have to share the granola bar that I keep in my purse in case I ever need an energy boost. I’m the one who needs the energy. Not them, that’s for sure.

My son is always getting into my makeup. “Stop it!” I tell him.

“You have to share!” I hear.

No, I don’t have to share. I do not want tiny fingerprints in my foundation. I do not desire to have my mascara wiped across the bathroom mirror. I do not want to share, Sam-I-Am (or whatever your name is).

I don’t want to share my sunglasses with the kids. Why? Hmmm . . . maybe because the kids’ idea of sharing is breaking them.

I hate the thought of sharing my toothbrush with them, yet they always seem to use it. And, as for my closet . . . can a woman not have one spot in her entire house that is off limits to the people under four feet? Or, do I have to let them rummage through my jewelry and try on all my shoes, too?

Am I selfish? Maybe a little. Am I a terrible mom? I’d like to think that I’m not. But, if not wanting to share every little thing all the time makes me one, well then . . . I’ll take the label.

Because, sometimes, I just need an item, or a space, which is all mine. I need to remember what it felt like when everything I had (including my body, which is constantly being climbed all over, spit on, pooped on, and puked on) wasn’t community property.

Now, don’t worry. I recognize that when my kids are all grown up, there are a lot of things I’m going to miss. I try, all the time, when the natives are driving me nuts, to hum the chorus to that Trace Adkins song, “You’re Gonna Miss This,” in order to remind myself that these are precious times and to not take them for granted.

But, despite all of that, I am pretty certain that I will never, ever, ever miss having to share every little thing with every little, tiny person in my life.

And, if you happen to hear me, one day, say differently, please show this blog post to me.

That reminder, I promise you, is one thing I will not mind sharing.

Free Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich

Sep 3, 2009

It’s been awhile since I posted a deal where you can get something free. So, today is your lucky day!

This Monday (Labor Day) if you go into Chick-fil-A, wearing a Team Logo – on your shirt or hat or wherever - you will get a free Chicken Sandwich!

Now, we’re not a big “sports” family – and we certainly don’t own a lot of team paraphernalia, but you KNOW that I will be locating some athletic shirts or hats and heading down to Chick-Fil-A with all my kids (and possibly my husband) in tow!

Free Chicken Sandwiches mean that I don’t have to cook dinner that night and I LOVE that!

Hope to see you there!

Work From Home - Virtual Assistant

Sep 2, 2009

Okay, it’s Work-From-Home Wednesday and I have a new company for you!

It’s called Virtual Assistant Jobs and they hire people to work from home and perform a variety of duties. Those jobs can include, but are not limited to, data entry, legal assistance, typists, customer assistance, medical billing and transcription and designing and updating websites.

You work on a Freelance and temporary basis, with your skills being matched to various projects. Once you complete a project, you will receive a rating. The more work you do, receiving high ratings, the more projects you will be assigned.

To qualify, according to their website “you must have a complete home computer system that includes a printer, modem, and Internet access. Your computer must be a newer model with plenty of storage space. Voicemail and faxing (sending and receiving) capabilities is REQUIRED. You must be fully equipped to work online.”

From what I can find on their site, the data assistant project they have now pays $12-$15 an hour. It says you can request a current project list via email, so that will probably provide information on some other jobs and what they pay.

So, good luck with the application process! Please let me know if you find work from home this way!
Note: I do my best to research all the companies I write about. To my best understanding, they are legitimate. But please, do your own research and NEVER pay money to work for a company!

Buying Discounted Gift Cards

Sep 1, 2009

As you all know by now, I do my “darndest” – nearly always – to find items we need either on Craigslist or Ebay or at garage sales or by using coupons. But sometimes, even I (the crazy bargain chic) cannot find a less expensive way to purchase what I need.

Nevertheless, I persevere and do not give up! There is nearly always a way to get something for less. You just need to be creative. And, I’m going to let you in one a “secret” strategy I have used in the past.

I buy discounted gift cards online.

Okay, I better slow down and backtrack. Let me explain.

Last year, before our third child arrived, we had to do a little rearranging of our house to make room for this new “bundle of joy.” Without getting into all the details, we sold all of our bedroom furniture (on Craigslist, for about what I paid for it 12 years earlier – though, that’s not the story). Anyway, I needed to buy new nightstands for our room and I wanted them to be black. You would not believe how hard it is to find black nightstands! I looked on Craigslist for months. I occasionally found one for sale, but never two. Target and Walmart had some but they were too small and not very nice. I finally found some I loved at the store Rooms To Go. But, they were expensive – at least by my standards. They each cost $250. I didn’t really want to spend $500 on two nightstands, but I couldn’t find a way to spend any less.

And then, I got an idea. I went on Craigslist and searched for Rooms To Go gift cards. I found one for sale. It was a $50 gift card that someone was selling for $30. (Sometimes, people are given gift cards as a gift that they do not want to use.) I bought it. And then, I went on Ebay and found a $500 gift card that was being sold for $400. I bought that one, too.

So, for $430 I received $550 worth of gift cards for Rooms to Go. With that money, I purchased the nightstands, with tax, and had enough left over for a nice vase from the store - saving myself about a $100.

But, before I end this posting, I need to give you some words of advice if you ever choose to do something like this.

When you buy on Ebay, it’s always best if you pay through Paypal, because that allows you some protection against a Seller trying to rip you off. In addition, always makes sure to check that the Seller has a 100% satisfaction rating (or close to it) with many sales behind him or her.

When you are buying on Craigslist, if you meet the person somewhere, have your cell phone with you. Before you pay for the card, call the number on the back that allows you to check the balance. Make sure the gift card has the correct amount on it. Or, you can always meet them at the gift card’s “store” and go inside to check the balance there.

If you are super paranoid (because, in all honesty, the seller CAN write down the number to the card, sell it to you and then an hour later, go online and buy something with that number), you should go straight to the store and either buy your item right away OR, if you’re not ready to buy the item just yet, buy something else and return it right away. This way, the store will give you store credit that will have a different number than the gift card and the Seller will no longer have the information.

I have never had a problem with dishonest Sellers when I buy gift cards, but I’m sure they are out there, so just be cautious.

Then, when you have the gift card(s), saving yourself some money, try to combine your purchase at the store with a sale or promotion they may be running. You can save yourself a bundle that way!

Good luck and happy Gift Card shopping!

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