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How to Significantly Increase Your Income Without Working Harder (Part 1)

Many times, I’ll receive emails from people saying how they wish they could be in the financial position we’re in but it’s just not possible because they only make $20,000 per year. Not too long ago, making $20,000 per year would have been a significant pay increase for us as we were barely eeking by making $600 to $1,000 per month.

We knew that we needed to increase our income if we were ever going to get financial traction, but we decided to go about it in non-traditional way: instead of focusing all of our time and energies on getting a better job with better pay, we looked for ways to build additional income streams outside the 8 to 5 traditional job. This has been the key to our financial success. The 8 to 5 jobs have helped to pay the bills, but the nontraditional income streams have allowed us to save aggressively and give generously.

In this series, I’m going to share some things we’ve learned over our eight and half year journey of entreprenuerial endeavors and failures. My hope is to help you see that you’re not stuck, no matter how bad of a financial situation you may feel like you’re in right now. There is always hope–especially if you’re willing to think outside the box.

So, let’s dive in with what I feel is a foundational principle for increasing your income and achieving financial success:

1. Set Big Goals and Break Them Down Into Bite-Sized Pieces

By now you probably know that this is one of the core facets of most advice I give. And there’s good reason for that: I believe that strategic and specific written goal-setting may well change your life–and your finances.

If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you know when you’ve gotten there? If you don’t live with purposeful intention, aimlessness will be the default.

One thing that has been amazingly effective for us is to set specific goals for our businesses: from the income we hope to generate in a week, month, or year to detailed projects we hope to accomplish in a specific time frame. We don’t just set big goals, we also break these down into bite-sized chunks.

For instance, I remember many years ago when I had an online book business, I set a goal to make $200 each week. This meant that I had to make $40 each week day. Once I had this goal on paper, then I started to brainstorm every free advertising option I could contrive. Some of them worked, some of them flopped, but had I not had that very specific goal, I doubt I would have been as driven to be creative.

Our business goals propel us to constantly be tweaking our processes so that we’re more efficient in running our businesses, they motivate us to look for out-of-the-box marketing ideas, and they challenge us to not be content with the status quo.

Where do you hope to be financially in a year from now? How about three years from now? What about five years from now?

Choose three to five specific financial goals for the next few years and start thinking of practical ways you can get there. What can you do outside of your 8 to 5 job to build additional income streams? What can you cut from your current expenses to allow you to save and invest more? How can you increase the return on your investment of what you’re already doing right now?

(By the way, if you have consumer debt, I recommend paying it off as quickly as you can. It’s a heavy chain around your neck that will bog you down and keep you from making much traction. In addition, if you are not on a written budget, make that your highest priority–far above and beyond increasing your income. You’ll probably find you give yourself an instant raise when you do so. Plus, if you can learn to live on what you make now, as your income increases, you can continue to keep your expenses low and increase your savings and giving instead.)

Once you have your big goals written down on paper, break them down into bite-sized monthly and weekly chunks. Don’t be afraid to be very specific. Even if you don’t come close to hitting them every week and month, you’ll be much farther along than if you didn’t try at all.

…to be continued next Wednesday

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Saving Money On Groceries In New England

Guest post by JessieLeigh from Parenting Miracles

When I learned we would be moving from Indiana to Connecticut, one of my biggest fears was this: How will this impact my grocery budget?

Over and over I had read how expensive things were on the East Coast. So many times I had seen comments from New Englanders sighing over how they “couldn’t get those deals” or “match those prices.” Happily, it didn’t take me long to find my groove here and my budget hasn’t had to budge.

So… how can you save money on groceries when you live on the East Coast?

1. Face the facts.

The cost of living is higher here. Our base prices are almost universally higher too. That’s just how it is.

Do not waste time and energy bemoaning the fact that you can’t get milk for $1.49 a gallon like someone in Texas or purchase quality beef for the price you’d pay in Kansas. It’s discouraging but, more to the point, irrelevant. Throwing your hands in the air and declaring it hopeless won’t help. Acknowledge that regular prices are high here. Then move on…

2. Celebrate the advantages, no matter how small they may seem.

Here, in my neck of New England, I can get much fresher, and often more affordable, seafood than I ever would have found when I lived in Indiana. We also seem to get “new” products on our shelves faster than many regions.

And, while most prices here seem astronomical compared to when I lived in the Midwest, I have noted that dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and half and half frequently go on sale for better prices than I paid in “middle America.” Much more productive for me to focus on those things than the fact that I can expect to pay at least twice the price for meat here.

3. Embrace more generous policies.

Do you want to know what floored me when I moved out here? Most of the major supermarkets double coupons up to and including ninety-nine cents. That’s fantastic!

A seventy-five cent coupon, doubled, and paired with a sale makes cereal just as affordable here as it ever was in the Midwest. The fact that the small box of Cheerios regularly retails for $4.99 here doesn’t matter. What matters is that I can still get it for less than a dollar.

4. Look beyond the supermarket.

There are two major supermarkets in my town. I usually scan both ads to see if the deals are worth it. Most weeks, one is and one isn’t. But I don’t stop there.

Before even moving here, I searched for the closest Aldi; it’s forty-five minutes away. I can no longer “drop in” for a few things as needed like I did back in Indiana when Aldi was down the street. But I can plan a big monthly trip to pick up staples. (Aldi’s prices are very consistent on most items across the country.)
I also drop by a small neighborhood market on occasion. Their regular prices are ridiculously high, but they have good sales on a few items. In addition, I’ve gotten bunches of bananas, cartons of organic milk, and bouquets of flowers there for free; since they don’t have the turnover or brisk business of a larger store, they just wanted to get rid of it.

5. Seek out creative money savers.

There are more ways to save than just sales and coupons. One of our supermarkets gives you a nickel off for each reusable bag you use. That adds up!

Some stores offer their own coupons in their ads or online. I have discovered an amazing reduced produce rack in the corner of one of our markets. The other sells gourmet cheese as “cheese ends” for a song. I even save money on meat, dairy, and more by scanning and bagging my own groceries as I shop at a local store.

Will all these options be available to you? Probably not. But you may have other unique ways to shave some pennies off that grocery total! Look around, ask around, and don’t be afraid to try something.

Finding deals in New England looks different from finding deals in the Midwest. If I were to focus only on the shelf prices, I’d probably want to crawl into a hole. But, by using the above strategies, I find I can most definitely save money here. It just required learning a new kind of savvy shopping.

JessieLeigh is the mother of a former 24-week micropreemie and two full-term blessings as well. She is a determined advocate for the tiniest of babies, including the unborn, and a firm believer in faith and miracles. She shares about raising such a precious, tiny baby over at Parenting Miracles.

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48-Hour Giveaway: $50 Gift Certificate to My Baby Clothes Boutique (3 Winners)

My Baby Clothes Boutique offers adorable and unique baby clothes at a guaranteed lowest price. They offer baby clothes, baby headbands, baby hats, tutus, and more. Best of all, they offer free shipping on every order. I’m pretty sure that’s my favorite feature of their site!

Even if you don’t have little ones at your house, the cute children pictured in their clothes are their site make it worth visiting! And be sure to check out their Last Chance Clothing page for some of their clearance deals.

If you’re considering ordering something, they are offering a 10% off coupon code good on any $40+ orders. Just use moneysavingmom10 at checkout to get 10% off.

My Baby Clothes Boutique is giving away three $50 gift certificates to readers this week. You can use them purchase anything you’d like in their store. And let me tell you, after browsing their site, whoever wins this giveaway is going to have a blast doing a little online shopping at their site.

For more information, visit My Baby Clothes Boutique or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

To enter to win a $50 gift certificate to My Baby Clothes Boutique, click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. Three winners will be chosen and posted on Monday. This giveaway ends Friday, September 2, at 11:59 pm, CST.

Enter the Giveaway

Ask the Readers: Quick breakfast ideas for kids?

Today’s question is from Carrie:

Our oldest daughter is starting kindergarten this year so it is going to be a real adjustment for us to get up and get 0ut the door in the morning. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for quick and easy breakfast ideas that kids will love? -Carrie

Do you have a question you’d like to ask December212012® readers? Read the submission guidelines and submit it here.

Q&A Tuesday: How can we improve communication about finances in our marriage?

My husband and I are newlyweds and are living off of my income while he is in school. We are trying to find a budget that works for us but I find that since I am in charge of the finances primarily I worry about money while he relaxes. Part of this is poor communication but part of it is that I am really focused on tightening up our budget to pay off debts and he thinks we are fine as we are.

So what is the best way to work with your spouse to plan a financial strategy for your family, especially when you may have different ideas or approaches to it? Money is the number one fight in marriages and I want to find a better way to communicate about it so we can work together rather than against each other. -Alice

Disclaimer: I’m not a marriage counselor, nor do I have years of marriage experience under my belt, so I can only speak from my own personal experience as to what has worked for us in our eight and a half years of marriage. This may or may not work in your situation and it may be wise for you to seek out marriage counseling or to find a wise older couple who lives locally who can counsel you as you’re beginning your marriage.

1. Accept That You Are Different

First off, I’m pretty sure all husbands and wives have different ideas about money when they first come into marriage–I know we certainly did. Even though we were both raised by financially conservative parents who taught us the value of hard work and stewardship and even though we spent a lot of time before marriage discussing finances, we definitely still came into marriage with different views and ideas about money.

You didn’t marry your clone–and it’s probably a good thing! You need someone who is different from you to help balance you out. Instead of being discouraged or disheartened that your husband has different views, accept him as he is. Don’t try to change him and make him just like you; it won’t work. Believe me, I’ve tried.

2. Learn to Appreciate the Differences

I tend to be ultra frugal, while my husband tends to be more extravagant (at least according my standards!). This can be a source of frustration for both of us, but we’ve also learned to appreciate and learn from each other.

My husband will readily admit that we’ve saved quite a bit of money over the years thanks to my thriftiness and he’s learned that being frugal doesn’t have to mean you are a miser or miserable. He’s also gotten quite good at saving money himself; in fact, he can sometimes outdo me when it comes to using coupons or getting a great deal!

On the other hand, my husband has taught me much about relaxing a little more when it comes to finances. He’s helped me to think in terms of return on investment and constantly motivates me to make the most of my time when it comes to money-saving ventures. If it weren’t for him, I’d most assuredly be wasting hours on supposed “money-saving projects” that, in reality, would result in little money actually saved.

Together, we make a much more balanced and stronger team than either of us would be on our own. That’s the beauty of learning to appreciate and build on differences instead of letting them just become big battles.

3. Be Willing to Compromise

Since both of us don’t naturally see eye-to-eye when it comes to finances, we’ve had to learn to communicate and compromise. While my husband does all of the bill-paying and budget-tallying at our house because he enjoys that sort of thing (while I find it incredibly tedious!), we both work together on creating and maintaining our budget. This has been key in us getting on same page with our finances.

I’d heartily encourage all couples to have regularly-scheduled monthly Budget Accountability Meetings to discuss your financial situation, to create and revise your written budget, to talk about financial issues that have arisen in the last month, and to review your financial goals and objectives. If you’ve never done this sort of thing before, it may be very difficult going at first, but I promise it will be worth it.

There is one rule that must be followed at these meetings: it must be a mutual discussion. Neither of you should be trying to force anything on the other person. There should be give and take and open discussion. You must both be willing to compromise and talk things through to come to a point of agreement.

Dragging your spouse to the meeting and berating them for their handling of money probably won’t get you anywhere–except in the wrong direction. However, graciously explaining to your spouse how you’ve been struggling with the financial situation and feeling like there is constant tension and frustration in your life as a result of not being on the same page will probably get you somewhere. And showing that you are very open to compromise and reaching agreement that is mutually beneficial will go a long way, too.

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4 Ways to Make Money With Your Home

Guest post by Kyle Taylor from The Penny Hoarder

I started clipping coupons with my mom when I was just 10 years old. At the time it wasn’t just a fun hobby, but a serious way for us to help make ends meet. Nearly ten years later I started college and I really put my coupon clipping hobby to work to help pay for the costs of my schooling.

The only problem was that every semester my tuition bill seemed to get a little bit higher, until suddenly clipping coupons was no longer enough. I simply was already cutting every corner I could and I needed to increase the other side of the ledger–my income.

I already had a full-time job, along with school, so I had no choice but to get creative. I now blog full-time about my wacky adventures to make extra money and I think some of my favorite ways to make money are when you can leverage the assets and skills you already have at your disposal. For many people the biggest asset that they have is their house, so I wanted to share with you four of my wacky ways to use your house to make extra money.

1. Rent out Your Closets, Attics, Storage Areas

As we Americans accumulate more stuff, huge storage facilities have been popping up at a rapid pace. A few years ago, two veterans had the novel idea to start an online marketplace that gave homeowners the opportunity to rent out their extra space thereby creating a lower-cost alternative for storage seekers.

The result is a great website called Store At My House, where you can create a free listing to rent out your attic space, extra shed, spare closet, etc. As the renter, you get to choose who to rent to, what is allowed to be stored, and how long the contract will last.

2. Rent Your Backyard to Campers

A few years ago I worked for a non-profit organization that wanted to do some environmental work in Key West, FL. We had a very small budget and thought that we could save some money on a hotel by pitching a tent in the state park.

The only problem is that campsites in Key West are booked six months to a year in advance and we needed a space in a few weeks. Our solution was to one of our members who graciously offered up their backyard as a place for us to set up camp.

Camping in backyard ended up being tons of fun and a great way for us to save money. Well, it turns out the idea is not so novel because there is a whole website dedicated to letting people rent out their backyard to campers called Single Spot Camping. It’s free to list your backyard or extra lot. However there are several terms everyone must agree to so that your property is protected and the camper enjoys their stay.

3. Find a Roommate

Roommates aren’t just for college kids anymore. More and more families are taking in renters to make use of an extra bedroom or a mother-in-law suite. It’s a great way to make extra money and despite the connotation some of us have, it can be a fun experience to have someone new around the house.

If you do decide to rent out an extra room, be sure you run both a background check and a credit check before agreeing to rent. If you need helping finding a roommate there are several great resources online such as Roommate Locator and Craigslist.

4. Rent Out Your Driveway

If you live near a large city or in an area with limited parking, you probably know that parking costs are skyrocketing. This may surprise you but according to a new report the average monthly parking costs in downtown Manhattan are $541! Agh, can you imagine?

It turns out that parking garages aren’t the only ones taking advantage of skyrocketing prices, because you can actually rent out your driveway on site called You also get to decide how much to charge and the terms of the contract. If you’ve got an extra lot on your property why not think about renting it out for special events?

For more information about ways to make money, visit The Penny Hoarder, where you an read about topics like how to make money selling crafts, how to make money attending movie premieres, and how to make money as a used book hunter.
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