• Success
    WAHM Entrepreneur Success Stories

    WAHM Success Story: Lynn Terry of ClickNewz

    Lynn Terry is the owner of ClickNewz and has been working full time from home since 1997.

    Lynn TerryClickNewz offers practical advice and detailed tutorials for people that want to start an online business, or promote their business online.

    ClickNewz allows Lynn to share her experiences – sharing what works, what doesn’t, what’s new, what to do – and what NOT to do to make money online. And she offers this advice all for free.

    More importantly, Lynn also DOES what she teaches – and that’s how she makes her revenue.

    Lynn is a work at home mom with two children.

    Check out her take on being a WAHM entrepreneur below.

    What made you start your business?

    I was married at the time, with a combined family of four children: one mine, two his, and one ours. My husband was out of work and we were barely scraping by on my just-over-minimum-wage job.

    During my pregnancy with “ours”, I worked up to 50 hours a week. I scheduled her delivery, took off one week before, and was back to work within two weeks total. And going that two weeks without a paycheck was hard times.

    I started my first business offline in a market where my husband could use his trade. We did six figures the first full year in business. I started my web based business that same year. The rest is history. 🙂

    How did you finance your business in the early days?

    We had no credit, no savings, and zero to start up. We sold everything that wasn’t nailed down – clothes, furniture, dishes, the kids’ toys, you name it. We ended up with a whopping $600. LOL.

    We moved into a small rental house outside a big city that had a workshop/shed. We had no business cards, no sign, nothing – not even a phone line to start. It was a rough start up. And while it seemed impractical and impossible, silly even, all I could think is “What’s the worst that could happen? We’re already broker than broke!” Worst case scenario we’d just have to find another job, right? Something had to give…

    What is your average workday like?

    Fast forward 15 years and I am a single work-at-home mom. I went through an unexpected divorce just a couple years into the business, which was 12 years ago. In the beginning I worked 14-16 hours a day, 7 days a week, while taking care of our family of six ranging from 5 months old to 8 years old.

    My own two children are now going on 16 and 21 years old, and my son has moved out on his own. My business has also matured, and I can manage it in as little as 5-10 hours a week. That said, I LOVE what I do and always stay busy finding fun new things to test or get into.

    I start early (before sunrise) and usually have my priority tasks knocked out before most people even make it to their desk. After that I take my day as it comes. I may meet friends for lunch, take a long afternoon nap, or take my great danes for a walk. The rest of the day is open to creative inspiration and whatever I feel motivated to work on – if anything at all. But I usually do. 😉

    What has been your biggest challenge as a WAHM Entrepreneur?

    My biggest challenge was finding balance, particularly after my divorce, as an entrepreneur and a parent. My children and always have been my highest priority. As a single mother, that included creating a lifestyle for them, and putting food on the table – so my business had to take an almost equal priority in the earlier years.

    This is one of the reasons I started getting up early and taking care of priority tasks first thing. I wanted to be available to my children if something came up, or if they just really wanted to spend quality time with me. Those moments are precious, and no task on the list should ever get in the way of going out to breakfast or having a good chat on the back deck!

    During my start-up years though, it was definitely a challenge. There never seemed to be enough hours in the day to do all or be all. But I busted my butt to get my business to a point that it earned more money in less time, which was the key to overcoming that challenge…

    What has been your biggest success as a WAHM Entrepreneur?

    My biggest success, hands down, was raising two children into beautiful well-balanced young adults. I was sure they would turn out crazy growing up in my home office and during my start-up years, lol.

    As for business – I did it. I created my ideal lifestyle, and I’m living it. For me it was never about money, it was about peace and happiness. About providing a good life for my children. My business was simply the source for that.

    How do you stay motivated when working from home?

    They key is doing something you love – something you truly ENJOY. My first business online was service-based, back in the 90′s, and while I enjoyed it then… I grew to dislike it over the years. I found that having clients was very much like having a boss – you just had multiple bosses!

    I changed my business model completely, and have been much happier since. I now focus strictly on blogging and affiliate marketing. My favorite phrase these days is “I’m not for hire.” LOL.

    When you really enjoy what you do, you can’t wait to jump out of bed in the morning and get straight to work! 😉

    How do you balance your work and family?

    This is a tough one, as I mentioned above. Especially if you are a single parent and your business is your sole source of income to provide for your family.

    When I home schooled the children I would work early mornings before they woke up, and late nights after they went to sleep. And of course I would cat nap in the afternoon while they played. I did what I had to do.

    I was also very open with my children, even when they were younger, and they understood what I was doing and why – what my goals were for us as a family. And they supported that, even more so as they got older. They’ve been very appreciative of what I invested to create a better life for them.

    I always put them first. Always. If they needed me, I was there – and I dropped everything to listen, apply bandaids, take them somewhere, you name it. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in work and deadlines… but I reminded myself constantly WHY I was doing what I was doing.

    What has been your most successful marketing tactic for your business?
    As a marketing strategy, search engine optimization hands-down. You need to be where people are looking for what you offer, at the exact moment they’re looking for it, period.

    While other methods and strategies have come and gone over the years, the search engines have provided a steady source of targeted traffic for me without fail.

    What is your favorite productivity tip or tool?

    My favorite tool at the moment is my mobile device. I use a Droid Razr, but any smart phone is tops for productivity these days. It allows me to work on the go, and I get an amazing amount of work done in the smallest spots of free time. While waiting at the doctor’s office, for example – I can fire off important email replies. Or while traveling, I can draft blog post ideas in my Evernote app while waiting for my flight, etc.

    Having my business in my back pocket means I’m not stuck in the office. And since I started using a smart phone… I’m rarely EVER in my office anymore, which is nice!

    Who do you admire most and why?

    I admire Rae Hoffman aka Sugarrae. She has always inspired me, simply because she worked against difficult circumstances to reach her goals… and never complained, never gave up. She is walking proof that ANYone can start a successful business online, regardless of their circumstances, if they’re willing to go the extra mile.

    There are many other people I’ve watched rise above difficult situations to become super successful, and they all inspire me greatly. I love to see people put up a fight, refuse to accept “what life handed them”, and walk out on the other side a winner. Everyone has that option, but it’s a very small percentage that take it…

    What is something most people would be surprised to know about you?
    I’m an introvert. 😀

    Most people assume that I am extroverted and outgoing, given my online personality and strong social media presence. That said, I am usually at home alone while working – which is where I prefer to be.

    While I’m not “shy”, and I do attend events all over the world, you’ll catch me taking frequent breaks and even having dinner alone in my room. And I blush “out loud”. Like three shades of purple. LOL.

    Where do you see your business at two years from now?

    My business has consistently grown every single year, both in terms of income and reach. I expect it will continue to grow over the next two years. I am also in the process of publishing my first set of books, and look forward to adding “published author” to my list of accomplishments!

    What advice would you give to aspiring WAHM Entrepreneurs?
    Dig deep and know what you want to achieve. And more importantly, WHY you want to achieve that goal. Keep that in mind every single day.

    Also know that being an entrepreneur means going with your own ideas, working on your own schedule, making your own choices and decisions, and turning failures into learning experiences. It can be tough to get out of the “employee mindset” we were all raised with. Don’t look for blueprints or instructions, or guidance. It’s your business, and you’ll do best to run it YOUR way. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about! 😉

  • School
    Productivity Tips For Work At Home Moms

    Busy September with Kids Back to School? Time to Outsource!

    September generally means back to school. Whether you’re homeschooling or your kids go off to school during the day, those first few weeks can be stressful.

    Movies and magazines might have you believing that the first week back to school is great for parents who need to get stuff done during the day. Who are they kidding? It’s a week filled with paperwork signing, sports physicals, applications, shopping for additional supplies like extra flash drives and fancy calculators for geometry and searching the city for the last pad of graph paper, not to mention the registration for activities, clubs, sports, picking up band instruments and football equipment. And if you’re homeschooling then you have new curriculum to plan out, worksheets to print off, supplies to get, paperwork with the state, and a bunch more to-dos on your list. By Friday you’re wishing it was summer again and not just the weekend.

    It’s no surprise to me that September is when a lot of the outsourcing happens in online businesses. I’ve been doing freelance work online for 10 years now and September through mid-October is almost always my busiest time of the year for me. Not only is it back to school time, but it’s also when people are organizing projects and marketing efforts to be done before the big holidays at the end of the year. Huge end of year goal pushing is happening in this quarter of the year too.

    On one side of the coin, if you’re a freelancer this can be a great time to pick up some extra work or take on new clients. Of course that means you are going to be extra busy too. On the other side of the coin, you might be looking to outsource a bit of your own workload. So let me tell you a virtual assistant secret. Even virtual assistants have virtual assistants – we know more heads are better than one and having a team of people working together will get the job done. We network, we team up, we get things done so we finish in time to attend back to school night. It’s pretty darn awesome.

    So what can you outsource this month to save yourself some time during this busy back to school month?

    My suggestion is to think about the things that are not your favorite things to do, the things that take you the longest, the things that you will procrastinate on and put off because you just don’t like doing them. Those are the things to outsource.

    Struggling with customer service? That’s an easy enough thing to outsource. Let your VA put out the email fires and monitor your customer help desk.

    Need marketing materials put together but don’t want to spend days fiddling with fonts and graphics? A VA can knock that out of the park in a few hours.

    Need some new articles or blog posts but don’t have time to sit down and write? A freelance writer or virtual assistant can write those up no problem.

    There are hundreds of things that you can outsource. The best feeling is when you find someone who has a strength in the little things that make your day feel long. Then you’re both done with work early, your project is a success, everyone gets paid and the to-do list is checked off.

    If you have questions about outsourcing or working with virtual assistants – drop a note in the comments section and let’s talk about it.

  • Productive
    Productivity Tips For Work At Home Moms

    Avoid These 3 Morning Time Suckers to Kick Off a Productive Day

    Morning is viewed as a fresh start to the day and a chance to start anew. So why is it that we get sucked into our most distracting time wasters first thing in the morning? It’s crazy.

    Facebook – Just don’t open it in the morning. Skip it, save it for later, outsource it, whatever you need to do to avoid opening the bottomless pit in the morning. Twitter, Pinterest and other social media is also guilty of time sucking, but Facebook seems to be the one with the power to make you disappear for three hours in the blink of an eye. I’m starting to think that Facebook has some voodoo spell on it that pulls you into it’s time warp, like the island on Lost.

    Email Inbox – Not quite as much of a time warp as Facebook, checking your email usually starts out as a productive task with good intentions and quickly turns into doing a whole lot of nothing. Do you really need two hours to go through all that email? Probably not. I find setting a time limit on this really helps. I’ll spend maybe 15 minutes on my email in the morning, and then I won’t check it again until after 2:30 in the afternoon. Closing that Gmail tab during the day has proved to be one of the best things I’ve ever done. Email rarely needs an immediate response from you, so close it up and go get stuff done.

    Watching the News – (or Charmed, or Angel, or whatever else is on in the morning…) You turn on the TV for background noise in the morning and you turn on the coffee pot. Walking back to your desk from getting a nice hot cup of coffee and something catches your attention and you sit down “for just a minute” and the next thing you know it’s nearly lunch time. Seriously, watching a television program of any kind in the morning is almost as bad as visiting Facebook, the time just disappears away from you.

    Okay, so that you’ve successfully avoided these three obstacles, get to work and be productive. I dare you to not open your email until after 5:00 PM today (no peeking on your phone either.) I bet you’ll get at least three things done off your to-do list if you can handle the separation anxiety from your inbox 😉

  • Quest
    Productivity Tips For Work At Home Moms

    My Quest for Inbox Zero

    I always see people posting about how they are down to “Inbox Zero” and I get a little jealous. My inbox usually runs between 100 and 200 messages, depending upon how much I have worked in a given week, whether I am in the middle of a lot of promotions, and the shopping season. The closest I ever got before now was around 70 (specifically it was 69, but I sound like a perv for remembering that).

    In my forever quest for Inbox Zero, I have come to realize that it may not be 1) practical, or 2) even desirable given the way that I organize my email. I’m sure that we all do it differently. Some of us use a lot of labels/folders; some very few. Some of us are email packrats; others delete anything over 24 hours old. Some of us use a lot of rules and filters to separate the email; others send everything straight to the inbox.

    My technique has always been to use my labels/folders as long-term storage and my inbox as short-term storage. If something comes in that needs to be done, I keep it in the inbox. If I set it up as a task instead, I could move it to my tasks and delete it from my inbox. Boom! One email closer to Inbox Zero. But that’s not how I do it.

    Right now I am down to 41 messages with a goal of Inbox Zero by the end of the day Friday. That’s literally my one work goal for the week. Do the other crap that needs done because it is important but focus on the inbox. It’s a great week to do it because I’ve already done all of the end of month/start of month/start of quarter stuff. A lot of people are out of office for the July 4th holiday. And it’s a pretty easy week as far as kid stuff goes.

    Can I do it? I hope so. But even if I don’t, I am feeling pretty good about the progress I have made. Nothing is hiding in the inbox anymore that risks me missing an opportunity because I didn’t see it. Nothing expires this week that I have to remember to jump on quickly. It’s just a lot of work that eventually needs seen to or discarded based on priority.

  • Vacation
    Productivity Tips For Work At Home Moms

    4 Vacation Tips for Mompreneurs

    As a business owner, I know the feeling of being constantly swamped with work. Running a business isn’t easy, whether you’re in the early stages of a developing a new company or celebrating your 10 year anniversary.

    Reaching a point where you can reward yourself with a vacation is a great treat in itself and I’m about to do just that, when I leave this weekend for a 2-week wine-tasting vacation through Italy and France.

    But, since work as a business owner never ends, in order to create this dream vacation for myself, I’ll be putting in some extra work before I leave.

    A big part of this preparation is readying my businesses to function without me, even for just a short period of time.

    Here are four tips that I recommend that have helped me successfully plan and enjoy a vacation without hurting my businesses:

    Get Your Staff Ready

    No employee is going to do well when his or her supervisor up-and-leaves without any notice or preparation. You’ll need these workers to take on some of your duties and know how to respond to tasks and needs without your authority. For their sake and the sake of your business, you need to take steps to prepare your employees.

    Making these preparations can be a lot of work, especially when you leave your business for the first time. Employees and contractors need to be trained on where to get the answers to everything they need. They need to know how to handle various tasks that you normally do, and this requires establishing training time. In a sales environment, you might want to hand off customer interactions responsibilities to some of your workers and observe them for a period of time before you leave — this will give you reassurance of their performance even as you help them polish their own skills.

    Ultimately, you’ll probably need at least a week to get things ready, but consider your unique circumstances and adjust accordingly. You might need several weeks or even a month to get everything together.

    Travel in the Slow Season

    Most businesses see peaks and valleys in terms of how much work they get throughout the year. Sometimes this changes on a weekly basis, with weekdays or weekends seeing a decline in sales. Other times it’s a particular part of the calendar year that tends to be slower than the rest. Whatever the case for your particular business, try to plan your vacation around these periods to keep yourself at work when you’ll be needed most.

    Maintain a Line of Communication

    Most business owners would love to cut the cord and be completely disconnected from their businesses while they’re on vacation. But that’s not always practical, and the isolation could actually make it tougher to enjoy your escape from real life. Despite your desires, it’s smart to keep a line of communication open between you and your business. Whether this is email or phone is up to you, but it reduces the anxiety of having to cover every last detail while making you available for any urgent or emergency needs.

    In some cases, simply knowing that everything is running well will be reassurance enough to let you get back outside and work on that tan.

    Create a Back-to-Work Plan

    If there’s a downside to going on vacation, it’s usually waiting for you when you return to work. Business owners typically return after a period away to find themselves swamped with work and overwhelmed. It’s hard to erase those obligations, but you can create a system to better address those needs.

    For starters, set aside time upon your return to attend to the work that has piled up. Keep your schedule free of obligations on that first day as you catch up with your business. Meet with employees to discuss operations while you were gone and get a sense of your duties in the coming days. Once you’ve re-oriented yourself in your environment, you can move ahead with scheduling meetings and getting back in the swing of things.

    By taking the proper precautionary steps, you should be able to enjoy a stress-free vacation while your business floats on without springing any leaks. It’s not easy for hands-on owners, but even a short getaway will be rejuvenating for you and good for the business.

  • possible
    Productivity Tips For Work At Home Moms

    Maintaining Focus When It Seems Impossible

    The last couple of weeks have been a blur to me. One of my daughters finished elementary school. Another finished intermediate school. Every day there was some kind of recognition ceremony or Field Day or talent show. It was my birthday. Then the Indy 500. Then Memorial Day. We had company in from out of town. I didn’t know what end was up but was expected to be in multiple places at once. Trying to work seemed impossible!

    This week should be better, right? Quite the opposite. The kids are home and we are trying to establish a new routine. I am behind on work from the last 2 weeks. And I am frantically trying to prepare to go away on vacation for the next 2 weeks (including a week without Internet access).

    Part of me just wants to panic and curl up on the couch with a book and ignore everything. But then there is the other part of me that likes to afford a room over my head and food. That part of me understands that I need to get focused and get everything done. How to do it? Here’s what has worked for me in the past and will hopefully work again!

    Make a list. Or lists. I have a Packing List, a Family To-Do List, and a Business To-Do List. I am constantly adding and subtracting from them as the days go by. It’s the only way that I am going to ensure that something doesn’t get left out.
    Block out chunks of time for certain types of tasks. I am a multi-tasker by nature, but sometimes it is more efficient to group work together to get it done. For example, I’ll play 3 hours worth of errands and only leave the house once in a day. Or I’ll shift focus from work to packing for 2 hours and completely block out email to keep from getting distracted. Then when it is time to work, I’ll shut my office door and pretend all that other family stuff doesn’t even exist.
    Let other people do things that you don’t absolutely have to do. Delegate things out so that you can keep focused on the most important tasks that others CANNOT do for you.
    Get enough rest. I know you just want to keep working as late as you can when the house finally gets quiet. However, if you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to focus tomorrow. It can become a vicious cycle.
    Turn off. Lastly, and most importantly, turn off the distractions. In an ideal day we get to keep our TweetDeck open and listen to the radio and answer the phone and still get all of our work done. But when other distractions like kids and company and house work are already getting in the way, you need to cut out as much of the other “noise” as possible.

  • Business
    Home And Business Finances For Work At Home Moms

    12 Awesome Tools for Your Home Based Business for Less Than $75 Per Month (Combined)

    Running a home based business quickly gets complicated – especially once you start finding success and your business continues to grow.

    Below are some of the tools and services (both free and paid) that I use to help me keep my business organized, functioning smoothly and growing – and the grand total for them all combined comes to under $75 per month.

    Basecamp (As low as $20 per month)
    Basecamp is a project management tool that allows you to organize your workflow. You can give access to team members, contractors and clients – and you can do it on a project by project basis. I find Basecamp extremely effective for ensuring tasks that need to get done don’t get lost in a sea of emails. Their file sharing allows us to upload documents and keep them attached to the comments or tasks related to them. The calendar functionality is also killer for helping to keep you on pace (or helping you notice that you’re very OFF pace) for deadlines as well. The $20 per month plan allows you to store up to ten projects at once and includes 3 GB for file storage.

    TripIt (FREE)
    If you travel a lot for your business, I promise you that creating an account at TripIt will be one of the best things you ever do. It helps you keep every trip organized and best of all? You can simply forward confirmation emails from services like Expedia, UrbanSpoon, EventBrite and pretty much every airline and hotel in existence. No more searching through emails trying to find confirmations or figure out “what’s next” in your day. I always joke that if I’m traveling and a plan is not in my TripIt, then it doesn’t exist. You can access TripIt on the web or via their mobile app – which is available on all platforms.

    Shoeboxed (FREE – but in reality, as low as $9.95 a month)
    Shoeboxed is an online receipt scanning an organization service. They DO have a free plan, but it only allows you to scan 5 documents a month and that doesn’t seem realistic to me for 99% of small business owners. Their lowest priced paid plan is $9.95 per month and allows you to scan up to 50 documents per month. Shoeboxed has free mobile apps available to let you input receipts on the go as well. Bonus points? Shoeboxed can also integrate with Quickbooks.

    Mom in Business

    Dropbox (FREE)
    Dropbox allows you to share and store files and folders “in the cloud” for free. You can even increase the amount of free storage you get by referring friends. This is a MUST HAVE for anyone using multiple computers or frequently sharing files with collaborators or telecommuters. Their free mobile apps also let you access and share documents on the go.

    QuickBooks (as low as $12.95 per month)
    Quickbooks is hands down the most popular accounting software for small businesses. They can integrate with your bank and various other services to help you get an accurate handle on your business accounting. While it can be a little daunting to learn, I prefer Quickbooks for our business accounting for several reasons: 1. Most accountants are familiar with it 2. They offer mobile apps on every platform, 3. It’s one of the better MAC accounting software options (and I haven’t used a PC in over four years now) and 4. I can use it 100% online so whether I’m traveling with my Macbook Pro or on my iPad or using my desktop iMac, I can always access the program.

    Google Analytics (FREE)
    Google Analytics is a free analytics program that can help you get valuable insight as to who visits your site and why. You can set goals for nearly any action taken by visitors that you’d like to track, as well as figure out which keywords are converting into the actions you’re looking for. And if you don’t “get” how Analytics can help you grow your business, Google will teach you the ins and outs for FREE – offering lessons on obtaining everything from beginner through expert level knowledge.

    Skype Premium (As low as $4.99 per month)
    I’ve written about Skype Premium before. The premium version allows you to do group video calls and group screen sharing. If you’re doing any sort of long distance managing of or collaboration with multiple people, you’ll likely find Skype Premium to be a vital tool in your business arsenal.

    Anymeeting (FREE)
    Anymeeting is a free webinar service that allows you to host a webinar with up to 200 attendees for free (the free version is ad supported). Hosting a webinar with a co-host(s)? You can show video feed from up to six people during a meeting. If your business is on a tight budget, Anymeeting is your solution to holding professional webinars for free.

    MozyPro (as low as $5.99 per month)
    MozyPro is an online computer backup service. Backing up your computer can often be something we mean to do, but never get to. The first time you lose all your data before you “had a chance to get to doing it” I promise you that you’ll be beyond sorry you didn’t make the time. MozyPro has “personal” plans that will likely suffice for many “one woman show” home based businesses. Best of all? You can automate your backups so you don’t even have to remember to do it and since it’s “in the cloud” you don’t have to worry about storing your backup in a different building than your computer like you would with a physical external hard drive.

    Aweber (As low as $19 per month)
    Aweber is the mailing list service that I use on all of my sites (however, Missy prefers Constant Contact so that’s what we use here on It’s a WAHM Thing). Plans start at $19 per month and you can have up to 500 subscribers for that price and send unlimited emails to those subscribers. Mailing lists are an extremely effective outbound marketing tool and I highly recommend every business have one (as with any marketing tool, you need to WORK IT for it to have benefit though).

    Chandler (FREE)
    Chandler is a free “note to self” tool that basically is a “todo” list software on technological steroids – complete with alarms and reminders. This is a GREAT tool for combining your business and personal tasks into one master list as well.

    Business Classes from MIT (FREE)
    Yep, FREE classes about business, entrepreneurship, marketing and more from MIT. And yes, THAT MIT. As your business grows, there is not a single person out there who couldn’t benefit by growing their own knowledge about running said business along with it.

  • Teaching
    Home And Business Finances For Work At Home Moms

    Teaching Your Children About Loans

    My kids are constantly asking for money. When they were little, they wanted candy, toys and computer games. Now, it’s Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch clothing, data plans and money for the movies.

    At some point, they’ll want a car, an education and a house. As such, they’ll need to understand how loans work so they can make wise financial decisions.

    Be the Borrower
    To teach my kids how loans work, I’ve borrowed small amounts of money from them.

    After I knew they had saved some allowance money, I asked to borrow five dollars. I agreed to repay the principle amount plus 10 percent interest in one week.

    We made the experience realistic with a formal, written contract that resembles typical bank loan paperwork. It included the principle, interest and repayment amounts as well as the consequences for late payments. I also used a repayment coupon book to add realism to the experience.

    The first few times I borrowed money from them, I repaid the loan on time. Eventually, I purposefully defaulted on a loan in order to teach my kids how to calculate compounding interest. With each default, the total loan amount grew and they learned quickly that one missed or late payment can greatly increases the amount of money owed to the lender.

    Borrowing money from your kids teaches them about loans firsthand. They also learn what it feels like to be the lender when the borrower does and doesn’t repay the loans. That feeling might help them be conscientious about repaying loans when they’re ready to borrow from the bank.

    Be the Lender
    Instead of sending my kids to a regular bank, I opened the Bank of Missy. My kids continue to learn how to borrow money wisely, in a safe environment, under my tutelage.

    Before lending money, we agree on an amount they can borrow. I don’t talk my kids out of making purchases. They can buy whatever they want. I remind them, though, that the interest payments are higher when they charge more. If they want to have money for future purchases, they can’t charge too much now.

    We also discuss the repayment terms. My kids repay the loan with money from their allowances. I also pay them for completing extra jobs, like pressure washing the deck.

    I add consequences for paying less than the full amount. An extra fee or loss of a privilege helps my children understand the seriousness of borrowing money.

    I recently put this principle to the test. My son wanted to buy a Nintendo 3DS and had a little more than half the money saved.

    After I agreed to lend him the money, we calculated the monthly repayment amount and how many months it would take for him to repay the loan. I wrote out a contract and a designed a quick little coupon book. I also set the late payment fee and told him I’d take his new 3DS away for a month, if he missed a payment. If he missed more than two payments, I would repossess it and put it up for sale on eBay. He agreed to the contract, and we both signed it.

    My son never missed a payment. He even repaid the loan in full, a month early.

    Teaching your kids about loans is part of your responsibility as a parent. When you act as both borrower and lender, you confidently share the ins and outs of consumer loans and give your kids access to the financial wisdom they need for success as adults.

  • Business
    Home And Business Finances For Work At Home Moms

    Get Pocket Your Dollars by Carrie Rocha and Save 50%

    My blogging friend (and past contributor to itsaWAHMthing.com), Carrie Rocha from Pocket Your Dollars, wrote a book called Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, & Keep More of What You Make. It’s Barnes & Noble’s Deal of the Day now through Tuesday 11/20 at 8:59 EST, which means you can get it through that time for half-price at just $6.99!

    Pocket Your Dollars hits shelves nationwide on January 1, but pre-ordered books will ship on or about December 19. (This offer is not available in-store).

    This $6.99 price is the best price we’ll see for this book, or its Kindle or Nook versions, for months. If you want to buy Pocket Your Dollars by Carrie Rocha for yourself or as a gift, NOW is the time to do it.

    I was pretty excited when Carrie sent me an advance copy. It’s a great angle for a personal finance book in that it doesn’t start with the budget worksheet, but with your attitudes about money.

    Here’s how Barnes & Noble summarizes the book:

    “Carrie Rocha, founder and owner of Pocket Your Dollars.com shares the secrets that will help you change the way you think about money. Seven years ago, she and her husband were surprised to discover the mountain of debt they’d accumulated. They knew they’d have to make big changes. Thirty months later they were debt free and have stayed that way ever since.
    How did they do it? It wasn’t through a step-by-step financial program or spending plan. It turns out, budgets can’t fix everything—real change takes an attitude adjustment.”

    Turns out that my attitude towards money needs more than just an adjustment. It needs a complete overhaul!

    The book gave me some great ideas and tactics that my entire family can get on board with.

    Go ahead and pocket those dollars by pre-ordering your copy of Pocket Your Dollars today while it’s 50% off. I definitely recommend it.

  • Business
    Home And Business Finances For Work At Home Moms

    Taking Steps Towards A Healthy Financial Future

    With the economy the way it is right now, it very important to stay on track financially. No one knows what tomorrow is going to bring. You want a financial plan to follow to best stay in control of your finances.

    There are several things you should be doing in order to stay on track financially:

    Pay your bills on time. Pay your bills in full and on time. Late payments can affect your credit histories. They often times cost you more money in late fees too!

    Save a minimum of 5% of your income. After all of your expenses, if you are able to save 5% of your income you are directly on target towards a healthy future.

    Having an emergency fund that equals a minimum of 3 months’ worth of expenses. I have actually heard some financial experts recommend 6 months to a years worth of expenses with the state of the current economy. If an emergency arises (sickness, layoffs, etc), you will be fully prepared. Not having an emergency fund can kick your entire financial plan off track. I have seen people end up losing their houses and in bankruptcy over it.

    Plan for large purchases. If you plan to purchase expensive items ahead of time, you won’t be hit as hard when it comes down to making the purchase. Save monthly until you have the full amount for the item you need. You also are usually able to get a better deal, because you can look for deals or sales on the item too!

    Stick to your budget. If you stick to your budget, all your finances will fall into place. Budget your important items first and cut back on the things you do not need.

    Regularly review your credit. Review your credit at least once a year to check for accuracy. For us, my husband and father-in-law have the same name so we have to do this yearly. We luck out that they have just as good credit as us. However, I still don’t want their stuff on our credit report. Discrepancies can hinder your credit score and report overall. This also allows you to see if somebody stole your identity. Even if your kids are under 18, you should be running a credit report on them also!

    Examine all of your statements for errors. Go through your statements each month to verify you have made all the stated purchases on it and that the amounts are correct.

    Continue to financially educate yourself. Take advantage of all of the financial seminars, classes and events that are offered in your area. Many banks hold numerous seminars all year round to assist you in your financial needs.

    Your financial security is very important to every facet in your life. Hopefully this list will help you to take steps towards a healthy financial feature.

  • Business
    Home And Business Finances For Work At Home Moms

    Using Barter to Help Your Home Business Succeed

    Bartering makes sense for Mompreneurs. What’s better than exchanging services instead of spending cash to buy necessary goods or services? Especially during seasons when your home business runs short on cash or your favorite customer gets laid off from her job; bartering can help your home business succeed.

    What is Bartering?
    Bartering has been around since the beginning of time. Exchanging gold for salt or pottery for rice met a need in the community while providing the backbone of the economy. Today, bartering holds a smaller role but remains important nonetheless.

    Bartering allows you to give a product or service in exchange for a product or service of equal value. Instead of paying cash for services received or products purchases, bartering serves as a financial resource. It helps you navigate an unstable economy and receive the goods and services you need. It also enables you to create greater visibility in the community and build your home business’s reputation.

    Do you need a new website design or business cards? Perhaps you need monthly administrative services or a one-time plumbing repair. In exchange for these services, you provide a decorated cake, a vehicle tune-up or free babysitting.

    How to Barter Successfully
    Successful bartering requires practice, practice and more practice. For maximum success, start small by approaching long-time customers first. As you grow confident in your abilities, gradually expand your bartering partnerships to vendors.

    Before entering into a bartering relationship, do your homework.

    What will you trade? It could be your handmade necklaces or an hour of accounting services.
    How much is it worth? Assign a fair rate to your product or service. Bartering is not charity. Give your product a fair monetary value.
    What do you want to receive in exchange? Maybe you want a computer upgrade or need a new roof on your home office. Be sure you offer a financially even trade for the services you want.
    With answers to these questions, you are ready to approach a customer or company with an invitation to barter.

    Most barter agreements occur once, but other partnerships continue indefinitely. Resist verbal agreements. Instead, write down the details of the barter arrangement. Add the services or products that will be exchanged, the barter’s time frame and other applicable information. Both parties sign the agreement and receive a copy of the form. This step keeps both partners honest and prevents you losing time and money on the deal.

    Because bartering is easy and increasingly popular, you might overextend yourself. While exchanging goods and services works for some items and for limited time frame, you eventually need cash. Set a limit to your barter partnerships so that you don’t run into cash flow issues.

    Finding Companies Who Accept Barter

    After you start bartering with customers, branch out to vendors. Prepare your bartering pitch then approach the customer service rep with whom you normally do business. Maybe your gem supplier needs a catered meal or the local printing company needs exterior paint. With a thoughtful proposal and agreeable terms, many companies willingly barter.

    For additional outlets, try Craigslist or Trashbank. With these options, you target local residents and receive free advertising for your home business.

    Are you ready now to enter the world of bartering? This ancient financial concept can become an essential tool for making money and growing your customer base. Cash is king, but remember the value bartering holds in your successful Mompreneur home business.

  • Financial
    Home And Business Finances For Work At Home Moms

    What Financial Planning with your Kids can Turn Into

    I laugh. Actually I don’t laugh, I scratch my head. My parents were the instigators of my financial success – both on purpose and completely by accident.

    I am 30 years old and have done well in life so far. I have quite a few assets and investments and my only debt is in my home and two condos I own in downtown Vancouver.

    I don’t have excess cash flow with a million bucks sitting in the bank. If I’m lucky you can call me a “thousandaire” on a good day. But I’m also not in credit card, school or personal loan debt. Why? And how did I get all this stuff if I’m not rich per say? Again I attribute that to my parents. Good planning, careful spending and smart decision making as a result of their lessons (and lack of) made the all difference.

    My parents are very modest people. My dad was a stay at home dad on unemployment. My mom worked 60 hour weeks trying to keep our family above water. To this day they still don’t own a house. They are a year away from trying to retire at the age of 65. But are they ready? No. Not even close. They don’t have enough to last them to 85 should they live that long, which I hope they do. They are likely going to end up working till they are 70 years old and then still have to pay rent in one of the most expensive cities in the world just to be close to their kids.

    But, as a result of their lack of long term planning (which inspired me NOT to be in the same situation) and good teachings about short term money management when I was young, I’ve been able to make some good decisions so far. Here’s what they taught me:

    1. Never, ever spend more money than you have, unless it’s an emergency and you have no other choice for your or a loved one’s life. Cash flow is king. You don’t need a credit card to buy something you want. Just slowly save for the things you would like and buy them only once you have the money in the bank.
    2. Start building up your credit when you’re young, then make sure you pay it off right away – always! This will help you build up your credit which will allow you to be approved for thing like mortgages, business loans, and personal loans.
    3. Pay off your highest interest debts first. The accumulation of interest that goes unattended can drive you quickly into the ground. You may never recover.
    4. Invest in assets, not liabilities (unfortunately something my parents learned WAY too late in life, which is why they don’t own a house but have travelled to almost every remote tropical beach in the world :P)
      Put together a five year financial plan. I did my first when I was 18 with the goal of having $10,000 saved by the time I was 23 to buy my first house, which I did.
    5. I’m sure there were a lot more things my parents could have taught me about money if they knew better, but look! I learned five great lessons that made all the difference to me and my family now, and for that I’m grateful.

    If you have the chance (and even if you don’t, MAKE the time), try to teach your kids responsible spending and money management when they are young. They may hate how boring it is when they are 9 years old, but they will reap the benefits of it when they get older and have to manage their own financial decisions in the real world.

  • Money
    Home And Business Finances For Work At Home Moms

    10 Ways To Spend Your Flexible Spending Account Money

    Can you believe that it is almost the end of the year? It has flown by fast, so if you have a flexible spending account, it is time to find out what you have left in your account. Did you know you will lose the money in your flexible spending account (FSA) if you don’t use it before December 31st? (For those who don’t know what a FSA is, it allows an employee to set aside a portion of their earnings to pay for qualified expenses. The money is then deducted from an employee’s pay and put into a flexible spending account that is not subject to payroll taxes). Here are a few ways for you to get the most for your money and spend it before you lose it:

    1. Get a second or third pair of prescription glasses. Who wants to wear the same pair of glasses every day? Plus, this is super helpful if you can’t find a lost pair! If you have kids, they definitely need to have more than one pair of glasses, and this is a great way to pay for it!
    2. Stock up on your contact lenses or try new ones out. The amounts you pay for contact lens solution, supplies, exams (including fittings), and associated warranties are also qualified expenses under most plans.
    3. Make that yearly physical that you have been putting off all year!
    4. Protect your eyes with prescription sunglasses. It is important to protect your eyes in every season – not just summer.
    5. Upgrade your lens to premium lens options like no-glare (anti-reflective) coatings and Transitions lenses that change from clear to dark.
    6. Fill any prescriptions you need before the end of the year!
    7. Refill your medicine cabinet. If you aren’t sure what OTC (over the counter) items are covered in your flexible spending account plan, Drugstore.com(the online version of your local pharmacy) has a special “FSA store” featuring OTC products most commonly reimbursed. Even if you end up not buying from them, it’s a good place to browse for ideas.
    8. Review your expenses incurred earlier in the year that may be eligible for reimbursement. You may have copays or prescriptions that you have not turned in for reimbursement yet.
    9. Work on your first aid kit. First aid creams, bandages, etc can all be reimbursed. (Some of these products you may need a prescription for if you want to be reimbursed.)
    10. Join the gym. When recommended by a health care professional for a medical condition, dues paid to a health club, YMCA or YWCA are qualified medical expenses. You will have to submit evidence of medical necessity (e.g., prescription, doctor’s note) with the request for reimbursement.

    Every flexible spending account runs different, so you do have to check your own flexible spending account plan to see what exactly is covered. However, these ten ways should give you some idea on how to spend any remaining amount in your flexible spending account.

    Do you have any money left if your flexible spending account? How are you spending your flexible spending account money before you lose it?

  • Reality
    Work At Home Mom Issues

    Everyone Thinks Being a WAHM is Great and Easy – Reality Check

    So today’s blog post is sort of multipurpose – it’s a personal confession, a bit of a reminder to everyone, and there might be a little slap in the face on the side.

    We’ve all talked about how important it is to have a support network of people that support your decision to work from home. That’s extremely true, and it certainly makes life a lot easier. Easier – not easy.

    So I’ll get to the confession part first so that you have a little background. Lately, I haven’t been feeling so well. I’m not sick or dying of some horrible disease, I’m just not feeling the best. I’ve long dealt with things like anxiety, depression, insomnia and nightmares.

    I don’t know what causes these things to happen, I just know that they make me feel like complete and total crap. I’ll be honest, it’s one of the reasons that I first started working from home, to make it easier to deal with days and weeks where just getting out of bed was a long and difficult struggle. Over the years I’ve found out that many of my work at home colleagues have done the same thing and for similar reasons …. essentially making it so that when they aren’t feeling well they don’t have to call off sick or have someone asking them 20 questions about why they’re not in the office today.

    It’s a huge relief in a lot of ways not having to call off sick or try to save sick days. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to work from home. It’s still not easy. It’s often actually more difficult. People think that because you work from home you can work whenever and wherever, even if you’re sick. And the feeling is contagious, because we tend to think that we should be working even when we’re not feeling our best and we push through and carry on thinking that’s the best thing to do, or it’s what we should do, or some other thing that we tell ourselves…

    And all of that somehow leads us to forget to take care of ourselves. There’s no boss looking over our shoulder saying, “Hey, you need to go home and get some rest,” so we push through the day and we put too much stress on ourselves, making us sick, making us feel like crap, and we pile it on until finally our body physically starts to reject what we’re doing and we feel sick.

    Sometimes a project or a goal requires pushing through the rough water, I totally get that. Sometimes the electric bill needs to get paid so your family will have heat in the winter and you work extra hard to make a little extra money to take care of that, I totally get that too. The problem starts to occur when everything becomes a rush, everything becomes urgent, everything becomes “just one more thing,” and we let ourselves take on too much and tell ourselves that it will all work itself out later.

    I want you to stop for a moment, evaluate your situation, evaluate your to-do list, evaluate yourself and your health, and I want you to take some time for you. Take care of yourself. Have a cup of tea, chat with a friend, watch a movie with your kids, get away from the computer, go do stuff. While you’re at it, schedule your annual doctor’s check up – and I mean that, as women we tend to forget our own healthcare because we’re so busy trying to take care of other people.

    What did we learn today?
    Working from home is not easy, it’s hard.
    We push ourselves too hard sometimes and our bodies can only take so much stress.
    We need to take care of ourselves

  • Motivated
    Work At Home Mom Issues

    Quick Tips For Staying Motivated

    Do you have trouble focusing on work during the summer months? If so, you’re not alone. It can be hard to juggle a business when the weather is nice and you have other things on your mind. Here are some tips to help keep you productive:

    Write It Down – It may not seem like a big thing, but writing out the things you need to do can be a big motivator. A to-do list helps you prioritize your tasks and tells you where you should be focusing your attention.

    Make A Plan – Once you have your to-do list written out, create an action plan to get things done. When are you going to work; what needs to be done as soon as possible; what are the things that you can outsource? Seeing these things in writing can help you get a clear picture of what you need to work on in order to reach your goals.

    Get An Accountability Partner – An accountability Partner can keep you on track. Meet each week and tell them your goals; at your next meeting, you will have to let them know if you accomplished those goals. It can be easy to let your goals fall to the wayside if you are the only one who knows them, but once you tell someone else, it is harder to put those tasks off. Do you want to come back to your next accountability meeting and confess that you spent the week being lazy? No way!

    Get Rid Of Distractions – When you work from home, there isn’t a boss looking over your shoulder to keep you on task. You have to be the “bad cop” and limit your distractions, whether it’s watching television or spending too much time on social media sites. What do you find to be your weakness? Limit the time you spend on that activity when you’re supposed to be “working” and you’ll find out that you can get a lot more accomplished within your business.

    Doing just one of these things can make working from home a little bit easier and a lot more productive. Doing all four of things will make you a productivity ninja, knocking out big projects in days instead of weeks.