Work at Home Opportunities

October 11, 2008

The economy has affected a lot of consumers, businesses and employees. We’ve experienced a pay cut at my work. I have many co-workers who were barely making it paycheck to paycheck and now they even have to squeeze their budgets a little tighter.

I have a co-worker who showed me an ad for a WAH (Work-at-Home) Opportunity by assembling crafts.  It was a company looking for people to make Angel Pins.  She said she’s going to try it and maybe I should to. I told her I’d look into it.  

That’s exactly what I did. I searched for this website, www.angelpin.net. One of the red flag warnings of a scam is the presentation of the website. This one seems a little believable. The pictures seem like a crafter’s website. It’s not techy or fancy. It did bother me that some of the pages are undone. And there were some misspellings as well. I’m not too sold about the site. Ultimately, they charge $19.97 for the starter kit and $29.95 for the registration.

While searching for this website, I stumbled upon New England Crafters. Their website is Magical Gift Company. This website is also not professional by any means. But it looks believable as well. They offer more than one kind of craft. They sell their starter packs for $44.95 and offer a full refund after completing your first 250 pieces.

Since I was in the mood for researching some Work at Home opportunities, I decided to search an old company I saw a few years ago, the Disciples’ Cross. Their website is
Disciple’s Cross
The starter kit is $69.95 and has enough materials to make 25 crosses. They do a buy back option or you can sell the crosses yourself. People have mixed comments bout this WAH opportunity. Some people are happy about it, while others are not.

To anyone considering any of the above (or other) opportunities trying to make some extra income… Be careful before your send your money to anyone. If it sounds too good to be true (even if it might be), just follow your instinct anyway. And don’t forget, it’s still WORK so don’t think it’ll be THAT easy!

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to Buy or NOT to buy

October 10, 2008

I’ve subscribed to ZipRealty’s updates on available homes for sale within our search options. Once in a while we get listings that really get us interested and my husband has even driven by some of the properties.

I’m so glad Susan Wong-Ulrich has her own show finally. It’s called ON THE MONEY on my favorite cable channel, CNBC. Her show is different from Suze Orman’s, but they have both have good ideas.  

One useful information Susan Wong has shared is the 3 C’s of buying a house.  You have to have 1) Credit 2) Capacity 3) Collateral.

1) Credit- In order to get the best interest rate and best deal possible, it’s important to work on getting your credit in great shape.

2) Capacity- This means that you have to prove that you can repay the mortgage, meaning having a stable income.

3) Collateral- The rule is to at least have the ability to put down a 20% down. This is not only for the banks but for your advantage as well.

And of course there’s this rule of your mortgage and monthly home expenses should not go over a certain % of your take home pay. I always see a variety of suggestions for the actual number.  I think maybe it shouldn’t go over 30%, just to make sure you can afford your other bills.

We’ve toyed with the idea of owning a home and once in a while when we get a listing of a home that we can consider, I can’t keep myself from computing numbers in my head.  So, I look back to the 3 C’s,

1) Credit-Our credit’s not too bad, although it can be better. I’m sure our interest rate won’t be too high.

2) Capacity-Knowing how the economy is right now, how stable are all jobs really?

3) Collateral-20% is a lot to save up right now. And even if we come close to saving that much, wouldn’t I rather put it in our emergency savings. Again, it’s always good to be prepared, especially nowadays.

So, my conclusion, for now, we’re going on the side of NOT buying. What works for you?

401k cashing out dilemma

September 1, 2008

On tv the other day, a lady asked Suze Orman if she should cash out her 401k worth $125,000 to pay off her $125,000 debt.  Suze mentioned a good point why the 401k should stay where she is.  Computing the penalties (about 10%) and taxes the lady will have to pay on that $125,000 withdrawal, she’ll only end up having about $60,000.  Yikes!  That would be a great waste of money.  The $60,000 is not even enough to cover half her debt.  And check this out.  The lady had previously taken out a $30,000 loan from the 401k. If she closes out her account, she’ll have to pay an additional 10% from that loan. Double yikes! So pretty much, the advice was to leave her money in the 401k. She was told to consider filing for bankruptcy instead because the 401k is protected from bankruptcy.

I’ve never taken money out from my 401k, whether its a loan or withdrawal.  I’ve been tempted, believe me. A few years ago, when we considered buying a home, we even put the money in the 401k out as source of emergency income.  Thank goodness we didn’t buy a home. Whew! (That’s a totally different post altogether.)

My co-workers have told me about taking out loans from your 401k and said that you end up paying yourself the interest, so its not too bad.  Well, I thank God I never really had to take a loan out yet, but I’m too scared to do it anyway.

Things are finally making sense. When I started contributing to my 401k, the thought of the economy being the way it is right now was totally inexistent. The reason why its called a hardship withdrawal is that they want you to keep your money there until you’re ready to retire.  With all the penalties and taxes, it may seem unfair to pay extra for your own money. But the truth of the matter is, the whole point of a 401k is to save for retirement.  It’s the money that you will live on when you either get too old to work or too tired to work.  Unfortunately, bills will never disappear no matter how old you become. It would be nice if you have someone who can take care of you, but what will happen if you don’t? 

Ultimately, it’s your money, it’s your decision.  If you decide to cash out your 401k, just consider all your advantages and disadvantages.

I saw this on MSN Money today and thought I’d share.
Weird stuff that hurts your credit
1. Voluntarily closing credit cards
2. Settling Debts
3. Opening Accounts
4. Transferring Card Balances
5. Using Limitless Cards 
6. Incurring library and parking fines

More on this article here

CVS Savings

June 3, 2008

I’ve been coming across some frugality blogs and many mommy bloggers talk about CVS for savings. So I decided to give them a try. I started in May and got addicted.

You can easily save money if you have a CVS card. Then, you can earn ECB (Extra Care Bucks) when you purchase certain items. ECB’s are rewards points that you can use on your next purchase. The best part of it is that some items that give ECBs is practically for the same price that you got it for. So its like getting things for free (you just pay tax). And they also accept coupons, how neat is that!

This is a scenario that happened to me…
An Aquafresh Toothpaste was $3.49.
I got .50 off because I have a CVS card so my price was $2.99
It so happened that Aquafresh toothpaste comes with an ECB of $2.99
I also brought a coupon for $1.00 off Aquafresh
So my final price for the toothpaste, $1.99 plus tax
And I even have $2.99 for my next purchase, woohoo!

Here are a few things I’ve learned regarding CC Balance Transfers:

1. Balance transfers can be done from one credit card company to another. Some credit card companies allow you to transfer funds between cards from the same company, others do not.

2. Funds from balance transfers can be directed to you checking account.  This can be helpful if you’re going to use the funds for a car loan, student loans, etc. 

3. Be aware of the Balance Transfer Fee.  If your Balance Transfer limit is $10,000, make sure you only transfer about 9,500.  They add a percentage as a fee that might stretch you to your limit.

4. Ask about all other fees if any to avoid surprises. 

5. Ask about minimum amounts and pay by dates.

6. Ask about default APRS after the promotion is over.

7. Try to ask for a credit line increase before you do a transfer. It might help to keep you from exceeding your credit line.  Besides, it won’t hurt to ask.

8. Balance transfers are similar to Cash Advance.  But with Cash Advance, you get your money immediately. With a Balance transfer, you’ll get it in several days. For this reason, Cash Advance fees are much higher.  So if you can wait a few days to receive your funds, you might as well save some money and do a Balance transfer instead.

I just realized that hubby and I have managed to waste a few thousand dollars on something that we could have avoided, high interest rates. Grrr!  I’m very annoyed, but it just goes to show that I still have much to learn.  

I’ve always know about using balance transfers on credit cards to have lower interest rates.  I’ve never done it with other debt, so I was hesitant.  Besides, for a while, we were toying with the idea of purchasing a home.  I figured, having the cash available in the credit card will be helpful if we needed extra cash.  Also, I didn’t want to increase our debt to credit ratio and affect our credit score when we’re applying for a loan.  So, here we are, we still haven’t purchased a home and we’ve easily wasted our money by not using a balance transfer.  

Before I started writing this entry, I was very upset. I couldn’t stop computing all the numbers in my head and with a calculator. I kept thinking of the “woulda, shoulda and couldas.”  But as I wrote down the reasons why I hesitated in the first place, I felt relieved.  There was a plan involved from the beginning. We didn’t do it just for the sake of it.  Unfortunately, it eventually came back to bite us on the “beeehind.” But that’s besides the point.  I could keep kicking myself for this mistake or, I can move on.  

With that in mind, I did it!  I finally did a balance transfer. I’m still concerned about our FICO and our possible need for cash in case we end up getting a place in a few months. But now, instead of a plan, we have a perspective.  “If our score gets affected and funds do not become available when we want to get a home, then, it’s not the right time to get a house. Because when the right time comes, everything will fall into place!”

What I learned, take mistakes as opportunities to learn and become better!

Save Money on Gas

April 2, 2008

Yes, gas prices may be high, but here’s a little relief…

I saw an article on realsimple.com that mentions 2 websites you can enter your zipcode and they can tell you how much the gasoline stations in your area is charging. How cool is that?

gaspricewatch.com

gasbuddy.com

Hope you find these links useful! =)

We owe on taxes

March 30, 2008

So, we finally started working on our taxes….
Unfortunately, we found out that we owe quite a bit since my husband’s work was not taking out as much as they were supposed to. Gggrr on them!

Thank goodness we have a little bit saved up. This helps a lot! whew! 

First CRV redemption

March 22, 2008

We’ve never really recycled before and our empty containers are starting to take up a lot of room. We finally have about 1 big bag and a half of recyclables, both plastic juice bottles and cans. I asked my husband to find a redemption center close by to finally take them in, but to my surprise, many places that used to do recycling have already shut down. Very interesting.

Anyway, thank goodness that I was reading an article in a Parenting Magazine about Recycling. It mentioned a website called earth911.org. I remembered the article, went to the site and voila! I found a redemption site close to our place.

We only got $4.00, but that was $4.00 that could have been in the trash! Yay for recycling! This isn’t too bad, something I will definitely encourage my kids to do if they want extra money. =)