How I Make Extra Money Testing Websites

As a stay-at-home mom, I am always looking for ways to make money at home. Just because my husband brings home the bacon doesn’t mean I can’t help out; especially with the holidays right around the corner. But I have a new reason for wanting to make a few extra bucks. My best friend and I are obsessed with Outlander; the books and series on Starz. Our love for Jamie Fraser has inspired us to take a trip to Scotland to live out our fantasies (well… sort of). Of course, this trip through the standing stones won’t be cheap. So, I’ve decided to make a little extra money on the side to dedicate to this trip without adding a strain to my family’s finances. After many attempts to find a way to put a little more money in my dream vacation fund, without having to also pay for childcare, I think I have finally found my new favorite way to make money at home. The answer, testing websites!

What Does a Website Tester Do?

As a website tester, I simply visit websites and follow directions that are provided to me. I have to thoroughly explain my thoughts and actions while my voice and screen are recorded. Each test takes about twenty minutes and usually pays about $10 per test (Although, I once took a five-minute test which paid about $3).

Requirements

What I love about testing websites is that anyone can do it! The companies want everyday people testing their websites in order to gain insight and make the websites more user-friendly. All that is needed is:

A Computer

Internet Connection

A Quiet Space

How to Become a Website Tester

There are several different companies that pay website testers. All you need to do is sign up and download their voice recorders onto your computer. The tests are then posted onto your dashboard and available on a first come first serve basis. For this reason, I use two different sites, usertesting.com and trymyui.com, to increase the number of tests available.

And that’s it! Easy Peasy! Please let me know if you have used any other user testing sites in the comment section. I’d love to try them out myself!

Five Ways to Cut Down on Cleaning Costs

One of my least favorite things to buy is cleaning products. As necessary as they are they’re just no fun! They don’t taste yummy and they don’t bring me joy and yet, I’m constantly buying more and more. I’m always trying to reduce my cleaning cost. From clipping coupons to making my own products I’ve learned a lot and now I’m ready to share with you!

So without further ado here is how I cut down on cleaning costs!

1. Ditch The Chemicals

I don’t know about you, but there was a time in my life where I had a different chemical for every surface in my home. Why? Because I fell for the advertising. Buy this product! It’s perfect for natural stone surfaces, this one is good for windows and glass, this one is “all-purpose.” So I had them all. In reality, a lot of these products had the same ingredients and some were completely unnecessary.

For example, window cleaner. As a mom of 2 young children and 2 slobbery dogs, my windows tend to be a nightmare. A never-ending battle of smudges that required a constant supply of window cleaner. Until one day I discovered that I could get my windows just as clean with a spritz of water. I simply spray some water on my windows then wipe my window down with a wet microfiber cloth and then buff the window with a dry one. If this method cleans my windows, you know it’s effective.

Instead of using so many different chemicals I now use a natural cleaner that is safe for all surfaces for my everyday cleaning, a bleach and water (or vinegar if bleach is inappropriate) solution for deep cleaning, and toilet bowl cleaner. That’s it. My house is just as clean, my wallet is happier, and I eliminate a lot of unnecessary chemicals from my home.

2. Coupons

So as much as I do really hate clipping coupons (it’s very time-consuming!), I still always search for coupons and sales for cleaning products. Often I can find coupons for Seventh Generation cleaning products that make them comparable in price to standard chemical cleaners. And of course, I always like to stock up on bleach and toilet bowl cleaner when I find them at a great price AND with a coupon.

3. Concentrates

One of my favorite cleaning products is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Concentrate. Just ¼ of a cup of this concentrate makes a gallon of Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner. For less than $10, that’s a steal!

Even if you are still a fan of the harsher chemical cleaners, buying concentrates and making your own cleaners is still a great way to reduce your cleaning budget.

4. Do Away with Paper Towels

Okay, before I get into this, I am not anti-paper towels. I still buy and use them. Just not as often. I think they are great for absorbing cooking grease. And believe it or not, companies that make paper products often use sustainable farming practices that actually CREATE forests that we wouldn’t have otherwise. (Don’t believe me? Check out Adam Ruins Everything, the going green episode.)

That being said It’s easy to overuse paper towels. Which is why we switched to microfiber cloths. If you’re skeptical, don’t worry so was I. It just seemed, “icky” to clean my house with something that I had previously used to clean my kitchen or bathroom. But after a lot of research, I found that often cleaning with a microfiber cloth and water can actually be more effective than using an all-purpose cleaner and paper towel. The best part? You only have to buy them once!

This brings me to number 5…

5. Norwex

If you haven’t already heard of Norwex you’ve been missing out! Norwex is a company that sells microfiber cloths as well as other home and cleaning products. Their quality is top notch. If you are like me and a little grossed out by using a reusable cloth for cleaning your bathrooms, Norwex is perfect for you. Not only do their cloths pick up 99% of bacteria but they also have bits of silver in the cloths which inhibits bacteria from being able to survive on the cloth and discourages mold, mildew, and odors as well.

The best part is that because Norwex is available through a consultant, it’s really easy to get what you need at a low price; by either hosting a party or taking advantage of other savings the consultant might offer. It’s a great way to get quality products on a tight budget.

Need a Norwex consultant? Check out my friend Shari’s website!

I’m always looking for effective and CHEAP ways to save on cleaning costs! What budget-friendly cleaning ideas do you have? Let me know in the comments below!

Six Things to Consider Before Joining a Multi-Level Marketing Company

Plus your recruiter interview worksheet!

So, you are considering joining a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) company. Maybe a friend told you about the opportunity, maybe you were at a party and thought, “Hey, why can’t I do this?” maybe you even read my post: The Truth about MLM: From Someone Who’s Not Trying to Recruit You. MLM’s can be a great side hustle, but before you jump in there are a few things to consider. It’s important to know what to expect before getting into any business; which is why I created a Free Recruiter Interview Worksheet to help you make an informed decision.

1. The Product

obviously working for an MLM (or Network Marketing as they are sometimes called) means that you will be selling some sort of product. Whether its jewelry, skincare, books, or healthcare products it should be something you really care about. Although the consultants usually say, “The products sell themselves!” The truth is if you’re selling jewelry and you don’t wear it regularly you may find it very difficult to sell the products. People can sense when your heart isn’t into it.

Some questions to ask about the product:

  • What is it?
  • Is it easy and convenient to use?
  • Is this a product I am passionate about and will use every day?
  • Can a potential client easily buy this from a store?
  • Why might a potential client prefer to purchase this particular product over a similar product at a retail store?
  • What is special about this product? (Does it help others? Is it vegan? Is it more ethical than similar products?)

2. The Company

Another thing to consider is the actual company. Some companies have been around for a long time. And for a good reason! It’s because they really do care about their products and their consultants. Now, this doesn’t mean that a good company doesn’t have consultants that fail. It means that they go out of their way to help you succeed. A good company has ethical business practices and a good reputation. You may even want to check with the Better Business Bureau.

Questions to Ask about the company?

  • What is their reputation like?
  • How will they help me succeed?
  • What kind of advertising do they allow?

3. The Initial Investment

Joining an MLM is similar to buying into a franchise. Just like a franchise, it requires an initial investment. In return, you are given access to the products, a website, and training to help you sell the products from your home. Unlike a franchise, the initial investment is usually fairly small. Many companies allow you to get started for under $100! However, often this advertised investment isn’t the true amount it costs to join. Buying inventory or paying extra fees for websites and other products you need to be successful need to be accounted for.

Questions to ask about your investment:

  • How much do I need to get started?
  • Am I required to buy inventory?
  • Are there other fees for websites or other products I need to get started?
  • How much do I need to sell in order to make back my initial investment?
  • Am I required to meet a sales quota? (Just a note here! Any requirement that involves placing a certain number of orders IS a sales quota.)

4. Making Money

Now we get to the part that I’m sure you are most interested in. Making money! That is the whole point of all this, isn’t it? This is important because it can affect how you sell your products. If the company sends you a commission check you may only be able to sell your products for the amount the company requires. This means that if you want to give a hostess discount (or a VIP/Friends and Family discount) you can only give discounts when the company approves it. However, if you pay the company the wholesale price of the product you have more control. For example, If you sell a lipstick for $20, you would have to give the company $10 (the wholesale price of the product) then you pocket the extra $10 as profit. This gives you the freedom to run your own specials and sell the product for less, should you choose.

Even more important than how YOU make money is how your up-line makes money. Usually, multi-level marketing works like this, for every amount that you make, your up-line makes a percentage of that. Now, a credible MLM company will pay your up-line out of the company’s pocket. If at any time YOU are required to give up your own money to pay someone else it is a scam.

Questions about making money:

  • How do I make money from my sales?
  • Are there other ways to make money in this company?
  • How much commission would I make?
  • How does my up-line make money?

 

5. Community

One of the best things about joining an MLM is that you don’t have to do it alone. As they say, “You’re in business for yourself but not by yourself.” So when you are deciding on embracing the business opportunity remember you will also be embracing a community too. For this reason, I recommend asking about training and area meetings that would be available to you as a consultant. Most recruiters will even allow you to attend a meeting before joining so you can see what it is like. This is a good opportunity to meet others involved in the company and ask them some questions about their success and how they feel about the work involved.

Questions about the community of consultants

  •  Does this area have success meetings or training?
  • How often do they take place?
  • Can I attend a meeting before making a decision to join?

 

6. Do You Have What it Takes?

Finally, and probably the most important consideration is something you need to ask yourself. Do you have what it takes? In order to be successful in MLM businesses you have to be passionate, borderline obsessive, about the products and you have to be persistent, or maybe even stubborn. And you definitely need a thick skin. Although many consultants like to say that the products sell themselves, the successful consultants will tell you that they had to hear a lot of, “No’s” before getting a “yes.”

 

One Last Thing

Remember this is YOUR business. If you don’t feel passionate about a particular product line or you don’t feel a certain company is right for you, don’t be afraid to say no. It is perfectly acceptable to shop around for your ideal MLM company.

The Truth about MLM

From Someone Who’s Not Trying to Recruit You

My guess is, if you clicked on this blog post you have been approached by someone trying to recruit you and you are considering joining. If this is true for you then this may be worth reading.

Every time I log into Facebook anymore it seems like someone is trying to sell me something. There are so many people involved in various multi-level marketing (MLM) companies that it’s hard to avoid them. Some people may think these independent distributors are suckers, but the truth is, they’re just trying to help out their families. Everyone is looking for a side-hustle these days and MLM companies make it easy to get started.

Although I am no longer involved in MLM I have actually been a part of two different companies. Yes, I am a two-time MLM failure and I’m still not willing to call it a scam! The First time I became an independent distributor it was for a company that sold jewelry. I will be honest with you. I was nineteen at the time and I thought of it as more of a job than a business. My up-line may have taken advantage of this just to get a new recruit. The second time I joined, I was the one who sought out a company to be a part of. Unfortunately, when I was looking for information about MLM all I could find were posts from people who had failed at MLM (they usually said it was a scam and to stay FAR AWAY!) and post from people currently involved with MLM who were looking for new clients or team members (obviously they only had great things to say about it). This was hardly helpful. For this reason, I would like to tell you my, only slightly biased, review of the multi-level marketing business opportunity!

“Unfortunately, when I was looking for information about MLM all I could find were posts from people who had failed at MLM.”

Why I Joined

For the purposes of this post, I am going to focus on my most recent experience in MLM. I was involved with a company that sold makeup and skin care products. My family and I had just moved from New Jersey to Texas. Since it was such a big move I did not feel comfortable putting our 4-month-old daughter in daycare right away so I could return to work. So, I decided to look into working from home. Multi-level Marketing seemed like a good way to do that.

Other than just making a little money from home I had a few other reasons for joining. First of all, I wanted to meet new people. Being a stay-at-home mom so far away from everyone you know, can be very isolating. I thought even if I don’t actually make any money I could probably get products I already use for much cheaper and at least save us money. Finally, I was interested in someday starting my own business. This seemed like a good way to learn about running a business without a huge investment or returning to school.

What I learned

First things first, no matter what company you get involved with it IS a business! And just like many small businesses most of them fail. So be sure to remember that when people try to talk you out of it or tell you it’s just a get rich quick scheme.

Because it is a business you really do need to treat it as such. That means doing things you may not want to do, consistently. It also means managing your finances like a business too. One of the best things I learned from this experience was how to use the money I was bringing to invest in my business without going broke.

The most important thing I learned is to never take business advice from someone who will benefit from you taking it. When you are a part of an MLM the person who recruited you is part of your up-line (various companies will call it different things, sponsor, director, etc.). The good news is that they want to help you succeed. When you succeed, your up-line is rewarded; so they can be a great asset. The problem is that sometimes they can encourage you to make certain decisions because they know that they will be rewarded if you do.

For example, my up-line was very happy with me. A few months after I started out I was making a profit. I had consistent clients and was mostly making sales online. Honestly, it was turning out to be a pretty good drop-shipping endeavor. Unfortunately, the more orders I placed, the more money my up-line made. So, for months she had been encouraging me to purchase a large amount of inventory. I decided from the start that I would not buy inventory because most of my sales were purchased online and delivered directly from the company to my clients. It just didn’t make sense for me to have a lot of inventory. My up-line insisted that buying inventory would motivate me to move more product and gain more local clients. After some time I finally caved and this was the downfall of my business.

For the record, I do not blame my up-line for MY decision to buy inventory. I really do believe that she believed she was helping me… and also herself.

Now, I am going to contradict myself here. You really SHOULD listen to your up-line. Especially if they are doing well within the company. Their experience could really benefit you. But before you take their advice be sure to get opinions from others who won’t directly benefit from it. And of course, always trust your gut.

So, if you are looking for a truthful opinion about these multi-level marketing companies, here is mine. No, it’s not a scam. Yes, it IS a business. Your success depends on you; your reason for joining, your management, and your decisions. And remember whether it is a success or failure it is a learning experience!

There you have it, an actual, only slightly biased review of multi-level marketing. If you liked this post be sure to follow my blog. And check out part two of this post: Six Things to Consider Before Joining a Multi-Level Marketing Company.

Save Money on Groceries WITHOUT Coupons!

Is your grocery bill out of control? Do you need to cut down on some household expenses but don’t have the time to clip coupons? Well, you’ve come to the right place, my friend! I used to be one of those crazy couponers and not only is it a great way to save money but it also gives you a nice stockpile which can come in handy during natural disasters and other emergencies (or even just not running out of diapers after you’ve just had a baby!) The downside is that it can be time-consuming. Not only was I constantly clipping coupons and searching circulars and couponing sites for sales, but in order to get those rock bottom prices, I had to go to multiple stores. It can very quickly become a full-time job. I was okay with this until I had a colicky baby. After my darling daughter was born I could hardly manage to get through the drive to the store; let alone shop at more than one place. And forget about trying to sit down and clip coupons! Unfortunately, I also just started my journey as a stay-at-home-mom and could not afford to start spending a ton of money on groceries.

Don’t Worry there is another way and I’m going to tell you how to do it!

MEAL PLAN

Yes, you’ve heard it before. Plan your meals out so that you know what you’re making and have all the ingredients. This way you don’t have an excuse to run out to eat and spend more money. BUT you can take this a step further by meal planning around sales.

How; you ask? First, I like to find out what meat and produce are on sale. Meat usually ends up being the most expensive item on the menu but if you’re not buying produce when it’s in season your grocery bill can get out of control just as easily as if you’re buying filet mignon! Instead of shopping around your recipes, pick your recipes based on what is on sale and in season. Many times I will even supplement vegetables with sale vegetables. For example, my recipe may call for bell peppers but sweet peppers are usually less expensive (and honestly, I can’t taste the difference). So, sweet peppers it is! It’s also a good idea to use the same vegetables in most of your dinners. This way instead of buying a different vegetable for every night, you buy the same vegetables at the sale price and eat them all week.

You can use this handy Free Printable Meal Planning Worksheet! to help!

SKIP FRESH PRODUCE

Okay, I know I just said to buy produce on sale, but a lot of times frozen produce is actually cheaper. Not only is it usually cheaper, often it’s even better for you! This is because the produce is picked at its peak and then frozen. Giving you all the nutrients without the expense!

MEAT

Once you find what meat is on sale, it pays to buy it in bulk and freeze what you’re not using during the week. You can find more tips on buying meat in bulk here.

Another way to save on meat is to eat less of it. Instead of making meat the star of the show use it as an add-in. Instead of pot roast, make beef stew heavy on the veggies. Or add beans into your taco meat to make it stretch. Our family even has “Meatless Mondays.”

QUICK SALE!

You may have seen items in your grocery store with a sticker that says, “manager’s special,” or “marked for quick sale.” Pay very close attention to this! These items are usually close to the expiration date or need to be moved for shelf space. Don’t be afraid to purchase these products! This is a great way to save money on groceries. Common places to spot these stickers are the meat department and bakery. Even if it’s about to expire you can store it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. Just last week our bakery had quick sale bread for $0.58! Our local grocery store has even done this with wine!

STOP FOOD WASTE

We live in a very privileged time and society. Food is abundant and most of will never know true hunger. While this is something to be grateful for it has also caused us to take food for granted. Every time food is thrown in the trash your money is being thrown out too. There are a few ways to solve this problem.

Serve less food. Something I have found to be effective is actually put less food on my family’s plates. If they want more, they are more than welcome to a second helping; but I found that often they are satisfied with what they have and throw less in the trash. (Okay this works for everyone except my two-year-old. Toddlers.. am I right?)

Freeze your leftovers. Just like you would make ahead and freeze dinners, do the same with your leftovers. Once everyone is finished eating, put enough leftovers for the next day in the refrigerator (because let’s be honest, usually if it hasn’t been eaten within 24 hours it’s getting thrown out). Whatever is left can be frozen in single serving portions for a quick meal for one!

Get creative with leftovers. Another way to eliminate food waste is to re-purpose your leftovers. Our family likes to do a pizza night every Friday. It’s a great opportunity to use leftover produce, meat, and cheese before it goes to waste.

REBATE APPS

One of my favorite rebate apps is Ibotta! It’s super easy to use. You just download the app pick your stores, scan your purchases, snap a picture of your receipt and your account is credited. The best part is that you can cash out for gift cards or even have the money deposited directly into your PayPal account!

Another great app is the Walmart savings catcher app. I love that it does the work of comparing lower prices for you. Just snap a picture of your receipt and you’re done! Then you can use your refund on your next Walmart shopping trip.

ALDI, ALDI, ALDI!

Yes, Aldi! My favorite place to grocery shop. You just can’t beat Aldi deals on the essentials. Milk, eggs, butter, and pantry staples are always the lowest price at Aldi. (I have never even seen a gallon of milk cost more than $1.90 at our Aldi!) Even their generic products are high quality. And don’t even get me started on their Little Journeys baby line! The small store is becoming a big hit. I could probably do a whole post about everything there is to love about it (and I probably will).

A couple of things to know about shopping at Aldi:

  • Aldi does not accept store coupons. So if you plan on purchasing a name brand product. Go someplace else where you can use a coupon.
  • You have to bag your own groceries. You also need to bring your own bags or you can purchase bags at Aldi. Don’t worry, once you see your receipt this won’t seem like such a pain.
  • Don’t forget a quarter! In order to use a cart at Aldi, you need to insert a quarter. Don’t worry, you’ll get it back once you return your cart!

I LOVE learning new ways to save at the grocery store. If you have your own tips I’d love to read about them in the comments!

How to Save Time and Money with Your Freezer

Have you seen those post?  You know the ones. MAKE 30 MEALS IN ONE DAY AND SAVE MONEY! It sounds great, doesn’t it? Spend one day cooking and have a month’s worth of dinners in your freezer ready to go. And since you have all this food, you won’t be tempted to eat out all the time! Sounds awesome, right? While I think this idea is wonderful for busy families who are trying to save time and money, I had a few issues with it.

First, in order to have everything you need to make these meals you’re not able to cook based on sales. So sure you’ll save money by not eating out but not necessarily on your grocery bill. Second, most of these meals require a slow cooker. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my slow cooker! but I’ll admit I get a little bit tired of slow cooker meals after a while. Lastly, THIS IS SO MUCH WORK!!! I know it’s only one day BUT, I attempted to do this before my first daughter was born and after about seven meals, I tapped out.

So if you’re looking for something a little less extreme, please continue reading.

BUY IN BULK

It never fails. Some of the most expensive items on the grocery list are always meat. And if you’re a meat lover like me, you can’t avoid buying it. So the first thing we need to discuss is buying meat in bulk! I know you’re probably thinking, “I’ve already tried to buy meat in bulk but I never use all of the meat in the package. It ends up getting thrown away or sitting in the freezer getting freezer burnt.” Yes, I understand. I have committed the crime of throwing pounds and pounds of freezer burned chicken in the garbage. But I promise there is a better way.

When meat goes on sale, buy it in bulk. Then when you get home COOK it. I’m not kidding that is my secret. As soon as we get home from the store, we put away the groceries and either grill or bake all the chicken. Then I’ll put a couple of breasts in the refrigerator to use in recipes for the week and the rest will go into freezer bags and into the freezer. Why is this more effective than just freezing raw chicken? Because, now, I am stocked up with chicken that I purchased for a low price AND since it is already cooked it will save me time. Therefore, I am more likely to use it. 

This method also works with other types of meat. For example, you can buy ground beef in bulk and make and freeze hamburger patties and meatballs. Or, simply brown the meat and place enough for one recipe in each freezer bag.

PRODUCE

Produce can be another easy way to lose money. This is mostly because a lot of it gets wasted. To prevent this it’s a good idea to freeze produce before it goes bad. The best way to do this is by flash freezing. Flash freeze your produce by cutting it up then laying it on a sheet pan lined with parchment or freezer paper. Pop it in the freezer for about 2 hours then place the food in a freezer bag. Frozen fruit is great for smoothies or just a nice cold snack on a hot day!

DOUBLE DUTY

This next method might seem obvious but maybe you have never tried it. Instead of making one meal, make two. One for now and one for later! For example, lasagna is a lot of work to make. But it doesn’t take any more time or energy to make two lasagnas at the same time. Just simply double the recipe. Then place one lasagna in the oven and the other in the freezer! Then, in a few weeks when you’re ready for another lasagna night, simply thaw the frozen lasagna in the refrigerator overnight and bake it for dinner the next day.

Worried about losing all your dishes to the freezer?

Try this! line your dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil before placing the meal in the dish. Freeze for 2 hours. Then lift the foil and the meal out of the dish. Wrap with clear plastic wrap, label it and place it in the freezer to be consumed at a later date (see photos below).

 

Take a Walk

Not sure what will keep well in the freezer? No problem! Just take a walk up and down the freezer aisle. Odds are, if you can find it in the freezer section, you can probably make it yourself and freeze it too.

Do you have a favorite meal or ingredient that you like to freeze? Tell me about it in the comments!