October 24th, 2017

50 Free Or Cheap Ways To Play With Your Kids

50 Free Or Cheap Ways To Play With Your Kids

When was the last time you played with your kids?

Playtime with your kids can be hard to fit into your schedule. Life gets so busy between work, school, and activities. The days go by, and you realize it has been a long time since you did anything fun as a family. It’s helpful to think of free and cheap ways to play with your kids in advance, so you can be spontaneous about it later.

Play is one of the big ways kids and parents build memories together. Fun kinds of work builds memories too – think of something you made with one of your own parents. But that kind of work is often close to play as well.

Play is important at all ages. The kind of play your kids consider fun will change as they get older – you do not want to play with your kids in elementary school the same as you would a high school student. You’ll get major eye rolls if you try most of the time. There are only a few things that will keep being fun no matter your child’s age, and that will in part depend on his or her personality.

50 Free Or Cheap Ways To Play With Your Kids

  1. Build a couch fort.
  2. Play dress up.
  3. Make homemade ice cream.
  4. Bake cookies.
  5. Bake a cake from scratch.
  6. Make homemade pizza.
  7. Have a tea party.
  8. Have a water balloon fight.
  9. Have a squirt gun fight (try it in the rain!).
  10. Run through the sprinklers.
  11. Go swimming.
  12. Have a picnic.
  13. Make an obstacle course.
  14. Teach your child to do flips, cartwheels, etc.
  15. Have a scavenger hunt.
  16. Ride bikes.
  17. Go on a hike.
  18. Fly kites.
  19. Play their favorite sport together.
  20. Stargaze, especially if there’s a meteor shower.
  21. Camp in the backyard.
  22. Climb trees.
  23. Go geocaching.
  24. Plant a butterfly garden in the spring, and observe the results for months after.
  25. Catch bugs. A bug vacuum is helpful for getting a good look.
  26. Teach your kids to sew. A stuffed toy snake is easy (just a tube).
  27. Play a board game.
  28. Have an indoor “snowball fight” with cotton balls.
  29. The floor is lava.
  30. Blow bubbles (try touchable bubbles and build with them).
  31. Draw with your kids (consider a speed drawing challenge).
  32. Go to a playground and both of you play.
  33. Play Mad Libs.
  34. Pretend to be animals.
  35. Home spa day. You paint their nails, they paint yours.
  36. Play with Legos.
  37. Make origami.
  38. Solve a jigsaw puzzle.
  39. Play video games together.
  40. Pillow fight!
  41. Play tag, hide and go seek, etc.
  42. Play Simon Says.
  43. Act out a play.
  44. Paint.
  45. Make a cosplay outfit.
  46. Fly quadcopters.
  47. Build something together.
  48. Launch rockets.
  49. Bad movie night – pick a movie you know is awful and have fun picking it apart.
  50. Movie marathon – pick a favorite series and watch them together. Try to stay up all night if necessary.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

October 19th, 2017

How Are You Holding Yourself Accountable?

How are you holding yourself accountable

One of the wonderful and terrible things about working at home is the lack of supervision. It doesn’t matter if you work for yourself or someone else, the lack of supervision is a challenge at times. At the same time, it’s nice having the flexibility to do things without a supervisor wandering by to check on you. It’s not always easy to keep working when no one else is directly holding you accountable. You need to get comfortable with holding yourself accountable.

Just because your boss isn’t in the same building as you doesn’t mean you aren’t supervised at all. If you work for someone else, they certainly have expectations of you. It might be when you work, how you work or how soon things will get done. If you have a business of your own, you may have clients who expect you to get things done in a timely manner or customers who expect their products promptly. You might also have family members who need you to keep up a certain income level for the good of your family.

But that isn’t always enough to keep some of us going. It’s too easy for things to slide just a little bit over time until productivity gets to be a problem. If you aren’t being held sufficiently accountable, this can continue until you lose your job, your clients or a significant chunk of your income. What can you do?

Get an Accountability Partner

One simple thing to do is make yourself accountable to someone. It can be a friend who works at home, your spouse, or anyone who you’re willing to talk to about what you’ve gotten done each day or week. Pick a time to check in with each other. Make check ins frequent enough to motivate you, but not so frequent that they interfere with getting work done.

Decide on what counts. This will depend on what exactly you do. It may be working a certain number of hours on your job, getting a certain amount of billable work done, earning a particular amount of money, etc. You decide.

I think it’s ideal if in some ways you’re accountable to each other. Challenge one another to reach your goals. It gives you both motivation, rather than having one person always listening to what the other has accomplished. That’s not a requirement, but I would consider it a help.

Set Daily Goals

How Are You Holding Yourself Accountable?

You can also be accountable to yourself. Set goals for every day as well as times you expect to work. I have particular times I expect to be working. This varies day by day. I don’t have the same expectations of getting work done if I know there will be a lot of interruptions as I do on days I know should be quiet.

Your daily goals should be things you can reasonably accomplish in a day. Don’t make your goals so difficult you rarely reach them or so easy they don’t challenge you. For myself, I might set a goal of writing one article a day (not quick, two paragraph posts, but serious articles which may require research or careful thought), or a particular amount of marketing done.

Review Your Progress, Good and Bad

Most jobs have regular performance reviews. There’s no reason why you can’t do that for yourself.

Take a look every few months at how you’re doing. What are you doing well? What should you do better? What do you need to make it easier to do even better? This is a good time to consider any tools you might need for your work or business, and decide if it’s time to spend money on something.

For example, you might realize that you need to do more keyword research so that your blog posts can rank more easily. Market Samurai is a tool to make this easier. It generates keywords for you and provides information about how competitive the keyword is and more. Market Samurai has a free trial, so you can find out if you like it before you buy.

You might also decide that it’s time to subscribe to a tool to make your social media marketing easier. I like Hootsuite for scheduling my basic social media posts. I can schedule out a large number of posts in an hour. It’s a huge help to not need to focus on my basic posts. Social media needs more than scheduled posts, but it’s a part of the job out of the way.

Come up with a plan to improve your problem areas. This isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary. It might be how you deal with the many distractions inherent to working at home. You might realize that you’re charging too little for your work. Find ways to take action and fix the problems you’ve noticed. Keep holding yourself accountable.

Take Pride in Your Accomplishments

Celebrating the things you’ve accomplished is important too. It’s very motivating. You don’t have to do big things to celebrate, and you don’t only have to celebrate huge accomplishments. Have little goals as well as big ones. Make your rewards appropriate to the accomplishments.

I’ve taken my family to dinner to celebrate certain income goals being reached. It’s fun for all of us but doesn’t happen so often as to become meaningless. We don’t eat out very often, so this is a special thing, but the cost is far less than the increase being celebrated.

Working at home is hard in many ways. You gain freedom, but you also gain responsibility. If you don’t motivate you, it doesn’t happen. Try some of these ideas to make it easier to stay motivated by being accountable.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

October 16th, 2017

5 Online Business Owners Share Their Best Social Media Advice

5 Online Business Owners Share Their Best Social Media Advice

Have you ever wished you could learn to use social media more easily? It doesn’t come easy for a lot of people. I put a question out there for online business owners to share what they’ve learned and give their best social media advice.

I didn’t ask about particular platforms, as it’s interesting to see which ones different people prioritize. Some advice is good for multiple platforms, but others are better for specific sites.  I hope you will find some useful advice for your social media marketing for your online business.

Get Active

Tip 1: Getting active in Twitter chats. These chats are great for further establishing yourself as an expert within your given field and also for networking with other like-minded Twitter users.

Tip 2: Maintaining an active blogging presence. We are extremely active now (blogging up to 4-5 days a week), but in the early days our blog was spotty at best. We didn’t have many posts up and didn’t include visual aids like images or video either.

Tip 3: Keeping social media accounts neat and tidy. This is found in the little details, like shortening longer links with bit.ly or owl.ly, keeping hashtags separate from their caption, and including engaging, aesthetically pleasing pictures. Again, much of our improvements over the years have come by trial and error… as I suspect is true of most everyone with a social media presence!

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. Follow her on Twitter @mycorporation.

It’s so important to be active in whatever social media you use. What active means can vary from platform to platform, but you’ll never succeed with any of them if you rarely post.

I also like the advice about keeping hashtags separate from the caption. Hashtags have their uses, but most of the time people don’t need to see them right with the rest of the post. Appropriate use of hashtags varies quite a bit from platform to platform. They aren’t as effective on Pinterest, for example, as they are on Twitter or Instagram. On any platform, be careful about how much you use hashtags. Misuse of them can limit your results.

Be Ready For Changes

Tip 1: Social Media changes daily. There are perpetual little tweaks to Facebook’s algorithm or the way Pinterest ranks pins. Even if you’ve found a really solid strategy for your social media, you have to be willing to toss all of it out the window and make the tough choices.

I’ve always had pretty good traffic from Facebook and Pinterest, but I’ll wake up one morning and my traffic has dropped off a cliff on one of those platforms. Don’t panic! It happens, but that is the time to start reevaluating your strategy, making minor changes, looking for what may have changed on blogs and forums, and then adapting to the current requirements of that social media platform.

Tip 2: Get the resources you need. I rely mainly on schedulers and automated processes to promote my artwork and blog posts on social media. I use RecurPost for Facebook and Twitter, Hootsuite for easy Instagram uploads, and I use a plugin that automatically shares to social media when I publish a post on my blog. I also use industry blogs to find out when I will need to adjust my strategy. I follow the MeetEdgar blog, SocialMediaReport.com, and a few others to find the best information.

Tip 3: Personal brands should be just that — personal. If you are a personal brand or blogger, you should have a very different tone of voice than a company or business. Share a bit of behind-the-scenes content, talk as you normally would, or share other people’s content that has inspired you.

It is those little things that will make you different from corporate entities on social media and will make you trustworthy and personable. You may be trying to sell something, but always remember that it is a person-to-person relationship, not a normal customer-business model of selling.

Sarah Donawerth

Being ready for change in general comes with running an online business. Social media changes, as Sarah Donawerth mentions. So do search engines and every other method you have for generating traffic. Anyone who has run an online business for any length of time has had to face sudden changes that impact their traffic.

I also love the advice about being personal on social media. It’s a huge help even for big companies. Just look at the delight over the accidental post over on NPR about Ramona and the cats. It happened at the perfect time, right when people really needed something to smile about.

Be Willing To Experiment

Tip 1: When in doubt, post more often. When I first started on Instagram i posted once a day, like everyone said to. After a while, I got eager to get all of the great content I had stockpiled out, so I increased my posting frequency to 2, then 3, then 4 posts per day. At every step, our engagement and follower count soared. Now do you want to be posting 27 times every day? No. But it’s worth kicking your frequency up a notch to see what it can do for you.

Tip #2: Experiment constantly. Don’t decide what your social media should look like in a vacuum, try different approaches, mix it up constantly and learn from what worked and what didn’t. The only way to find the perfect content, voice, and frequency that resonates with your audience is to try new things, take what works, and leave what doesn’t.

Scott Marquart is the founder of Stringjoy Guitar Strings and a zealous advocate for personal, relatable marketing and branding in the online economy. MailChimp says, he keeps his tone personal, both with his guitar strings and his online brand. He’s helped companies in the music, electronics, and health products industries grow their revenues and develop closer connections with their customers.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stringjoy

I love the tip to experiment. That’s an extremely important piece of social media advice. You don’t know what works for you if you don’t experiment.

Test how often you post, regardless of what others say is the right amount to post. Test the times you post and see which ones work best for you. Your audience is not exactly the same as anyone else’s audience. Learn what they like by trying things out.

Have A Plan

Tip 1: Start With A Plan – There are dozens of ways to use social media. Make sure you select the right social media strategies that fit your plan to market and promote your site.

Tip 2: Always Invite – If people like you and the advice you are sharing then invite them to take the “next step” to get to know you better. It could be something as simple as an invitation to a complimentary gift to opt-in to your email list or to join a webinar to learn more about how you help people solve a specific problem.

Tip 3: Be Consistent – Create a plan of how many times you will post a day or week and stick to it. Don’t expect to see results immediately. It is kind of like starting a diet or a healthier lifestyle meal plan. You don’t expect to see a lot of results within the first week or two.

Crystal Olivarria is a Career Coach at Career Conversationalist. Parents hire Crystal to help their child select a relevant career. Crystal invites you to receive your complimentary gift 7 Ways To Help Your Child Select A Relevant Career, Regardless What Age Your Child Is at 7WaysToHelp.com.

Having a plan is great advice. It’s a help to know how you’re going to attract people’s attention as well as what you’re going to do once you’ve got it. Every plan takes time to create and see results, but it’s usually more effective than just winging it.

Social media advice that takes into consideration why you’re using social media is particularly important. It isn’t all about getting a ton of followers. The results that build your business and improve your income are vital to the success of your online business.

Spending Some Money Can Help

Tip 1: I wish I knew how to effectively use Facebook ads sooner. When I first started practicing, I used Facebook ads to drive traffic to my blog as a content marketing strategy. It worked well and quite a few of my patients stated that they first came across my practice on Facebook. The problem was allowing Facebook to set my bid (e.g. how much I am willing to pay for a click), which is the automatic setting.

When I realized that I could actually say, I don’t want to spend more than X amount of money for a click, I was better able to control my ad spend in a way that made sense for my business.

Tip 2: I also wish I knew about running contests as a means of raising awareness for my business sooner. We have tried a variety of different methods in an attempt to raise awareness about what we do, but nothing seems to have worked as well as holding viral contests using a plugin like King Sumo or software like Gleam or UpViral.

Viral contests work by encouraging people who enter your contest to share it with their friends. Each person receives additional entries when people who they share the contest with sign up, so the incentive is there to share. As a result, more and more people learn about your contest or giveaway, you gain additional targeted leads, and awareness is raised for your business.

Tip 3: Regarding Instagram, I wish I knew that having a recognizable visual pattern to your feed helped to increase the likelihood that people would follow you (e.g. aesthetics really do matter) and I wish I knew that I could use a site like https://linktr.ee to include more than one clickable links attached to my profile.

Dr. Janelle Louis ND. My new mental health blog is located at The MHA Spot. My
Instagram account for it is here: https://www.instagram.com/themhaspot/

Making the decision to spend money on your social media isn’t always an easy one. It’s a risk. The benefits can be very well worth it. You will need to test ads to see what works for you so that you don’t waste your money on things that don’t work.

Has This Social Media Advice Been Helpful?

The final piece of advice I would like to give is “keep on trying.” When you’ve decided that a social media platform is a good match to your business needs, don’t give up on it too easily.

If you want to learn more about social media marketing, you may want to consider taking a courseicon through Udemy. I’ve found their courses to be quite helpful, and you can get some good deals on them. I have also given some advice on making the most of Pinterest as a home business in an earlier post.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

October 13th, 2017

11 Companies That Offer Remote Medical Coding Jobs

Companies That Offer Remote Medical Coding Jobs

Remote medical coding is a popular choice for people who want to work at home. Once you’ve finished your online medical coding training, it’s time to start looking for a job. The hard part is finding companies that offer such jobs.

Most companies that have remote medical coding jobs require at least 2-3 years of experience. This means that no matter how well your training went, you probably won’t find a remote or online position right away.

This is actually a good thing, as experience teaches you things you won’t have learned in your training. Working in an office with more experienced people around you will help you gain the experience you need to do the job successfully at home. Some companies will even let you transition to a remote position once you’ve proven your accuracy.

Get the credentials needed for better medical coding positions as soon as you can. A CCS, CCP or other credential can open up opportunities to you.

Here are some companies that offer remote medical coding jobs. Most will require experience and are fairly strict about it.


Accentus is a part of Nuance Health, a company that offers healthcare IT solutions such as speech recognition and tools for more accurate medical coding. Accentus offers jobs in both Canada and the United States. Coders must have a CCS or CCS-P and/or CPC or CPC-H, RHIT and RHIA as well as 3-5 years of coding experience.


Acusis hires medical transcriptionists and medical coders. Each requires 3+ years of relevant experience. Medical coding positions require appropriate AHIMA or AAPC certifications. Most positions are home based, although some may be available in an office.

Altegra Health

Altegra Health hires for a variety of remote medical coding jobs. They typically require about three years of experience plus appropriate certification, but this may vary by position. Not all positions are home based.


Aviacode offers contract remote medical coding jobs. Applicants must have appropriate certification through either AAPC or AHIMA as well as at least two years of experience, depending on the positions.


Lexicode is now a part of Excela, a global provider of transaction processing solutions and enterprise information management. Some positions require only 1-2 years of coding experience. Appropriate certifications such as CPC, CCS and so forth are required.

HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare offers a range of work from home opportunities. It’s not just for medical coders. However, as that’s the focus here, note that they expect the usual credentials and at least two years experience for medical coding positions.


Himagine Solutions hires medical coders for a variety of specialties, such as inpatient, outpatient, HCC, emergency, and others. Positions typically require a RHIA, RHIT and /or CCS as well as at least three years of experience.


Humana hires various work at home health care professionals, including medical coders. Some positions may require limited travel. Medical coding jobs require a CPC, CCS, RHIA, or RHIT.

Maxim Health Information Services

Maxim helps many well known organizations fill medical coding positions. These positions may be long term, short term or permanent. Full time positions include benefits.


nThrive hires medical coders and clinical documentation improvement specialists for remote positions. These positions require certifications such as RHIA or RHIT or CCS, CCA or similar, and prefers certifications relevant to your specialty. Two years of recent, hands on medical coding experience is required.

United Health Group

United Health Group has a range of telecommuting positions available, not just medical coding. Optum is the part of the company that handles medical coding. Appropriate AHIMA or AAPC certifications are required, along with 3+ years of coding experience.

These are just some of the companies out there that hire people for remote medical coding jobs. You can find more listings on the Home With The Kids Online Job Board.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

October 9th, 2017

How to Get Into Medical Coding at Home

How to Get Into Medical Coding at Home

Medical coding is one of those jobs that many people would love to do from home. It’s not easy to get into, however. Worse, there are scams out there aimed at people who want to do medical coding from home and just need a little help getting started. With the right training and experience, it is possible to get into medical coding at home.

Find a Medical Coding School

The first thing you need to do is find a reputable medical coding school. Don’t fall for promises of quick training and an easy path to a job. There are scams out there. Research any schools you’re considering. I suggest looking at schools approved by AHIMA. They have approved several online and local programs for you to consider.

For online courses, I recommend Career Step. I’ve recommended them for years for medical transcription training, but they also offer training in medical coding, as well as other programs. You can complete the course at home on your own schedule – just be aware that your initial enrollment lasts one year. Their program can be completed in as little as 4 months, but needing 8 months is not uncommon. They are on AHIMA’s list.

What Medical Coding Certifications Are Available?

There are several medical coding certifications available. Many employers will require specific certifications, while others are more flexible. Getting at least one certification can be a help in finding medical coding jobs. They are not required by all employers, but they qualify you for jobs you might not have qualified for otherwise.

You become certified by taking a test to show you are competent as a medical coder at the level required. AHIMA and AAPC offer certifications for medical coders. Qualification to test for a certification depends on a combination of training and experience.

You do not need every certification. As your career goes, figure out which ones will give you the most opportunities and ignore the rest. You will probably want one of the basic certifications, such as a CCA, but you do not have to get any if you find a job that doesn’t require them.

CCA (Certified Coding Associate) – CCA is a coding certificate suitable for new medical coders. It’s a two hour test, and you may be able to pass it right after you finish your training. It is offered by AHIMA.

CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) – The CCS certification is offered by AHIMA and is for coders with some experience. Usually, you need at least of coding experience after your training to get this certification. If you don’t get your CCA or similar credential, you will need at least two years of coding experience to qualify. Having a RHIA, RHIT or CCS-P also qualifies you.

CCS-P (Certified Coding Specialist – Physician Based) – The CCP-P credential is for coders who work in physician based settings, such as physician offices or specialty centers. This certification is for those who have mastered their coding skills, not for those who have just begun.

CPC (Certified Professional Coder) – The CPC certification is offered by AAPC. The AAPC says it is the most recognized medical coding certification in the industry. The full certification requires two years of coding experience, but there is an Apprentice level for those without sufficient experience. The exam takes 5 hours, 40 minutes.

RHIT® (Registered Health Information Technician) – A RHIT certificate (offered by AHIMA) is available for those who have completed a HIM program at an associate’s level. This certificate may be useful for medical coders or cancer registrars.

RHIA® (Registered Health Information Administrator) – A RHIA certificate (offered by AHIMA) has more rigorous academic requirements, requiring either baccalaureate level or master’s level completion of a HIM program. I’ve seen many medical coding jobs list a RHIA or RHIT as a qualification, even though they aren’t specific to medical coding.

The possible certifications go on. If you want to specialize in outpatient coding, you might want to get a COC. A CIC would be useful if you specialize in inpatient facilities. The certifications go on for the different specialties as you go through your career.

Be Ready To Specialize

Many medical coders specialize. It makes it easier to get a job within your specialty and can make you more productive. The most commonly used codes for your specialty will be familiar.

Specialties may include inpatient or outpatient coding, emergency room coding, obstetrics and so forth. You may find that you land in a specialty simply because that’s the job you found which hired you.

Don’t Assume Your First Medical Coding Job Will Be at Home

You’ve done all this with the intention of working at home, but now all the work at home medical billing jobs you can find require 2-3 years of experience, or even more. It’s frustrating.

There’s a simple reason for this. Medical coding requires a great deal of accuracy, and few employers are willing to take a chance on somebody entirely inexperienced working at home. They want to know that you can do the job with minimal supervision and assistance. Experience is the easiest way to prove that you can do the job.

Don’t give up on the idea of being a remote medical coder. If the training is good enough, you might land that remote job as your first. Just don’t limit yourself to the home based jobs when you don’t have experience. Career Step has a list of employers who have hired their graduates, which is a great place to start.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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