Last Updated April 3rd, 2018

Should You Ever Let Unexpected Guests Interfere With Your Work At Home Day?

Should You Ever Let Unexpected Guests Interfere With Your Work At Home Day?

Have you ever had unexpected guests show up on a day you need to work at home? It can really mess up your productivity. If you want people to take your work at home job or business seriously, you usually have to enforce your work hours strictly. But are there times you should give in and just be with your unexpected guests? That depends on a few factors.

I had this situation recently, although it was entirely my own doing. I ran into a friend at the store and invited her over spontaneously. She moved out of the area a while ago, so I very rarely see her. It was a snap decision to change my schedule so that we could catch up for a while.

That’s not always a good idea, but it worked for me this time. We had a great visit, and I worked extra another time. That’s the nice part about being self employed. I can get away with that. Not everyone can.

How Strict Is Your Work At Home Schedule?

If you work for someone else and you have a strict schedule, you probably cannot afford to let unexpected guests interfere with that. With some companies, it would mean risking your job. That’s almost never worth it.

If someone shows up wanting to visit and your schedule simply won’t allow it, say so or don’t even answer the door. No matter how some people may try to guilt you, you are under no obligation to play host just because someone else has the time to visit.

If you have a lot of trouble with unexpected guests coming to your door when you need to work, consider investing in a Ring doorbell or similar. This can make a lot easier to see if you want to answer the door at all. Keep it muted if you can’t have background noise, of course.

Can You Adjust Your Schedule?

If you can change your schedule so that you have time to visit with your unexpected guests. As I said above, that’s what I did so I could visit with my friend.

If you can work later in the day or on a different day without creating problems for yourself, you can decide if you want to visit with your guests more than you want to work at that moment.

I do not recommend doing this often, as you will create an expectation that of course you will drop everything. That’s bad when you can’t change your schedule. I doubt that I change mine for unexpected guests more than once a year.

Do You Think You Can Spare The Time?

Even if you can adjust your schedule, can you really spare the time? Be honest with yourself.

If you have a deadline, that time has to be made up somehow. If you don’t have a deadline, will adjusting your schedule make it harder to reach your goals?

Be very careful in how often you spare the time for guests when it wasn’t planned ahead. You don’t want anyone thinking this should be a routine thing.

When you can spare the time for guests, it’s one of the perks of working at home. When you can’t, it’s the same disadvantage as any other job.

Set Time Limits

If someone comes over at a time you consider it reasonable to call it a break time, make sure they understand that. Explain that it’s just like your break time at any other job – you have maybe 15 minutes for most breaks, or however much longer if it’s a meal break.

Then enforce those limits.

Time limits can be more difficult to enforce than a flat out “no.” You know how conversations can carry on. You may have to be as strict with yourself as you are with your guest.

Make Plans For Later

If now is not a good time, but sometime later is, let your guests know. Just tell them “I’m off work at x, and I’d love to see you then,” and send them on their way.

This may be easier said than done, but making your work hours clear and enforcing the idea that you are truly busy at those times is important. You’d do the same to someone who interrupted you on the way to an outside the home job, right?

Can Someone Else Entertain Them?

If you aren’t home alone while you work at home, maybe the other people there can entertain the guests.

This is why my kids can have friends over while I work without disturbing me, provided the parents aren’t along. If the parents want to stay and chat, I need to be in a situation where I can afford the distraction.

I don’t have to be on the phone to work, so children playing is only so distracting. It helps that my kids are old enough that I don’t have to supervise, and the garage is set up to be a lot of fun. That keeps them well away from my office most of the time.

If your spouse has company, you may want to be polite and say hello, but you should also explain if you are not to be disturbed. Your spouse could do that as well, of course. If you do a job where background noise is not allowed, make sure the rules are well understood, as well as the reasons for them.

Can You Work And Chat?

This won’t work most of the time, especially if you have to be on the phone or otherwise undistracted. But if you can work and chat with your guests, you can be at least a little productive.

My mother recently commented on how I manage to work even with distractions around. That is one of the great parts about blogging – I can listen to the conversations around me but not take part unless I want to. Some routine tasks are even easier to handle while chatting with others.

Chatting with guests will slow down your productivity. Don’t fool yourself about that. But if it’s worth it to you and doesn’t create a complete mess of your work day, do it.

What If The Unexpected Guests Don’t Want To Hear “No?”

Some people are really bad at taking “no” for an answer. They don’t tend to take “I’m working” much better, if at all. It can be very difficult to get this kind of person to respect your work hours.

If you can get away with not answering the door, that’s one way to handle the situation. This won’t always succeed – some people will keep knocking or ringing the bell a long time. They may even call or text to insist that you answer the door.

Start with a conversation to explain why you can’t drop everything for them. It may or may not work, but it’s usually the best place to start. Not everyone understands that working at home is the same as having any other job. Help them learn to respect that.

If that isn’t enough, find someone you can enlist for help. Your spouse, a sibling, inlaw, or mutual friend may be able to get things across better.

If all else fails, be consistent in your refusals. One “yes” will make your life that much more difficult. It will take time to make stubborn people understand that they need to respect your work hours just as they would anyone else’s. The fact that you’re at home must not be allowed to make any difference that you don’t welcome.

This Goes For Texting Chats Too

These days, you may have more trouble with friends and family who want to chat all day on text or other apps, rather than visit in person. The issues are much the same, however. You have to learn to say no when it’s too distracting to your workday.

Some people may not like it, but if you can’t text at the time, a quick “I’m at work, can’t talk now” reply should be good enough. Once you’ve said that, ignore the person trying to get your attention. I know some people feel it’s rude to ignore a text, but if you’ve made it clear that it’s not a good time, the person ignoring that is the one being rude.

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.

Last Updated April 2nd, 2018

25+ Basic Life Skills Parents Need To Teach Their Kids

25 Basic Life Skills Parents Need To Teach Their Kids

Have you ever met an adult who didn’t know how to do a basic life skill that you thought should have been obvious? It’s amazing sometimes what people aren’t taught when they’re kids. If you don’t want any of your kids to be that occasionally helpless adult, make sure they learn these basic life skills.

1. Laundry

It’s amazing how many people head out on their own with no idea how to do the laundry. My husband sometimes talks about how often he would see people in tears in the college laundry room the first weekend of school. Other times he would see people hauling bags of laundry home each week for their parents to handle.

Laundry is a basic household chore kids should be helping with as soon as they’re old enough. Folding laundry can start at a pretty young age. Loading the washing machine, adding the soap and choosing the right cycle should wait until the kids are tall enough for the job. Even very young kids can help push clothes into the dryer, though. My youngest thought that was fun for the longest time.

2. Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping sounds so easy, but it’s not that easy to do right. Teach your kids how to do grocery shopping on a budget and for specific meals. Have them go through the weekly ads so they know what the best deals are that week during the planning process. If you’re out of a basic ingredient they might not notice right away, they’ll remember that lesson for the next time.

Older kids can be sent to the store to do much of the shopping themselves, but you don’t have to leave the younger kids out of it. As soon as they’re old enough, start sending kids to different parts of the store to fetch things for you. This way they’ll be more comfortable when it comes time to do the whole job.

3. Cooking

It can be truly horrifying when you realize how many people have no idea how to cook a healthy meal, something better than food from a box or a can. You can get by that way, but your kids will be better off as adults if they can handle cooking healthy meals from scratch.

Of course, even in healthy cooking, canned foods may have their place. Make sure your kids can use the can opener too.

One other important cooking skill is knowing what to do when the smoke alarm goes off because dinner is getting a little smokey. That’s the one time when it makes more sense to disconnect the smoke alarm and air out the house, rather than assume a fire has started somewhere. There’s always the standard “dinner’s ready!” comment you can make as the smoke alarm screams… so long as they also understand when it’s serious.

4. Table Manners

You may or may not eat at the kitchen table regularly as a family. No matter what, your kids should know the basics of table manners.

You don’t have to cover every place setting for a huge, fancy meal. Do make them comfortable with using the usual utensils correctly, passing food around, using napkins properly and so forth.

This may be important in their careers, depending on what they do. Some people meet with clients over meals, and lots of jobs have occasional company parties to attend. Having proper manners will keep them from making a bad impression. Not to mention how they may look on dates.

table manners

5. What To Do With Leftovers

Lots of people are bad about leftovers, or at least eating them. There’s a reason why most people have to clean them out of the refrigerator so often.

Teach your kids about how long leftovers stay good in the fridge, and what containers are safe for reheating in the microwave. Not every to go food container belongs in the microwave, nor do all dishes.

6. Taking Medication Safely

Taking medication safely isn’t that difficult in most ways, but it’s very important. Antibiotics, for example, are most effective when taken on the prescribed schedule at the correct dosage.

You can start out by teaching your older kids what dosage to take of relatively safe medications. My older kids handle it themselves if they need some ibuprofen, for example. My youngest is not yet allowed to do this on her own.

7. Expiration Dates

Food expiration dates can be a bit tricky, but it’s important to understand that they don’t always mean the food has expired. More important to know is how long foods should stay good in your refrigerator, and what it smells like as it goes bad.

Medication expiration dates can be important too. Some medications can become poisonous over time, while others will merely be a little less effective. Teach your kids to look up expired medications before use for safety.

8. Ordering At A Restaurant

Don’t always place food orders for your kids. Have them order for themselves. Do this not only at fast food places but at sit down restaurants as well. It’s not difficult once your kids are used to.

Your kids should also learn the basic etiquette around tipping. Who to tip and how much can be important in certain situations.

Teach them the easy way to calculate 10% by simply moving the decimal over on the bill total, and then going to 20% by doubling that. Rounding the numbers off makes it all easier, of course.

9. Money Management

It’s important for kids to have limited spending money from a young age so that they learn to manage their money well. This is an incredibly important yet basic life skill so that they know what they can afford to spend on things as adults and stay within their budgets.

You can start this one out with budgets for buying gifts for friends, as well as using their own spending money for things. As kids get older, give them an appropriate budget to buy their own clothes. This one can make picky kids a lot less choosy, as they realize they can’t buy everything they want.

piggy bank

10. Basic Computer/Tech Troubleshooting

I know this is a weakness of many adults, and it might be for you as well. But the more basic troubleshooting you can handle on your own technology, the less you have to call for help. Of course, depending on your kids, they may be handling the tech troubleshooting for you.

Sometimes this is as simple as restarting the device. That’s the first thing I ask my kids when they say something isn’t working. If they haven’t done a reboot, I send them to do one. This solves a ton of problems. It even works for a lot of router problems if you reboot the router.

Other problems are more serious. Make sure your kids know how to run a malware scanner so they can handle things if they suspect a computer virus or similar problem.

Many computer problems can be resolved by searching on the problem, and then following the directions you find. I always have people in awe of the things I can solve on the computer, but really it was all Google. I just followed the directions.

If you’re more ambitious, some basic troubleshooting and repairs can be done to the components of the device itself. I’ve helped my son build a computer, but even before that I had switched out RAM, replaced a power supply and a fan on various computers of mine. Much of this is not all that hard to do, and kept us from needing expensive repairs.

11. Keeping Tech Use Legal

Lots of people make mistakes in using technology. I remember when downloading music illegally was a huge thing. Then lots of people were sued by the music companies, and the illegality of the whole thing became clear. Many people learned painful and expensive lessons.

Illegal downloads are still a problem, and as parents, you should teach your kids to keep things legal. It could save you trouble, as well as help your kids down the road.

For example, I found out my oldest was watching anime on a website her high school anime club used. When I looked it up, I had to inform her that there was a problem – the site wasn’t streaming legal copies. Fortunately, it also turned out to be easy to find legal sites for her to use. It had never occurred to her that someone might use an illegal site at school.

Sexting is another thing you want to discuss with your kids. Even sending a picture of themselves could be considered child pornography when they’re underage. There’s also the risk of having pictures shared to other people without permission. This may not be a comfortable topic to discuss with your kids, but it could be an important one.

12. Following Directions

Whether it’s following the directions given by a GPS, directions on how to build something, following a recipe or following instructions from their boss, kids need to know how to follow directions.

Have your kids do these things as they grow up. Get them kits to build things. When they’re old enough to cook, have them follow recipes. You could even write out directions to a place you want them to go and have them walk or ride a bike there.

13. Mailing Things

I know, most people don’t mail a lot of things right now. Email and texting are so much easier, as is online bill pay. But there will be times in your child’s life that they have to mail something.

Setting your child up with a pen pal could be a fun way to teach this. Don’t let them just email – have them send letters or small packages back and forth. And tell them how lucky they are that they don’t have to lick stamps anymore.

14. How To Clean Everything In The House

Kids should have age appropriate chores starting at a young age. Sometimes their “help” will make the job go more slowly for you, but that’s how they learn to do things.

As kids get into their teens, make sure they know how to do everything it takes to keep a house clean. This should eventually include the jobs that are done relatively rarely, such as cleaning the refrigerator coils – an important job if you have cats or dogs who shed a lot!

If you’re comfortable opening up a computer, you may also want to include how to dust the inside of a computer. Dust gets really bad in most of them, and it’s better for your computer if it gets cleaned off sometimes.

kid cleaning

15. Household Repairs

Teach your kids how to handle basic household repairs. This can include painting walls, hanging pictures with a nail, dealing with a running toilet, dealing with minor clogs, and so forth.

Just how many household repairs you teach depends on what you can handle and what you’re comfortable learning yourself online. The more you can handle yourself, the less often you have to pay a professional to do it for you.

16. Car Maintenance

While you don’t have to teach your kids how to change a car’s oil unless you want to, they must learn how often the job needs to be done. This is also a good time to teach your kids how to talk to a professional. Confidence in dealing with the various professionals you have to deal with in life is a big help.

How to change a flat is also important. Fix A Flat is often an option, but it may not be the best one all the time.

17. Safe Sex

It doesn’t matter if you believe that sex should be reserved for marriage or if your only concern is that your kids take appropriate precautions when having sex. All teens need to know the rules for safe sex. This may help when relationships move toward the physical side of things. Many well meaning teens let things go further than they meant to in the heat of the moment.

Talk to your kids about your beliefs about sex and marriage at the same time. Just give them the tools to protect their health and decide if they want to risk a pregnancy at the same time. Teens will do what they’re going to do no matter what parents teach them.

18. Taking Public Transit

Having your own car is a wonderful thing. You may plan on your kids each having their own car as they reach appropriate ages. But they should still learn how to take public transit.

Find your local bus schedules online and help your kids figure out how to get from Point A to Point B using public transit, and head out together. Have your kids handle as much of the process as possible.

This is important because you never know when the need to take public transit may come up. In some places, it’s a major way of getting around.

19. Job Hunting & Interviewing

Looking for a job is no fun for anyone, and interviewing can be scary. Make sure your kids have some idea what to expect with each.

Remember that some of the rules for job hunting have changed in recent years. Going from business to business and asking if they’re hiring isn’t as effective as it used to be. Lots of companies only want people to apply online, and they don’t want to be called and asked about applications. That’s often seen more negatively now.

That said, if your teen sees a company hiring the old fashioned way, with a sign in the window, have them go in and apply. Those first jobs can be hard to find.

For interviews, practice keeping eye contact with your teen and help them learn how to deal with the questions that are likely to be asked. Teens spend a lot of time using technology these days, so they aren’t always good with eye contact or knowing when to shake a hand.

20. Advocate For Themselves

I know how tempting it is to be your child’s best advocate. There are lots of times when it’s appropriate. But there also comes a time with most kids when it’s better for them to learn to advocate for themselves.

You can start this when they’re at an appropriate age in school and need to go to a teacher to discuss a problem with an assignment. Don’t insist on doing this for them throughout their entire school careers. There comes a time when they should handle it.

The ability to speak up for themselves will help your kids as adults. They need to be comfortable saying something when issues come up at work or with friends. This is especially important in learning to say “no” to people, whether in a romantic relationship or a professional one.

21. Packing For A Trip

I know a lot of parents prefer to pack for their kids when going on a family trip. This ensures that the kids have everything they need. No forgotten toothbrushes or other important supplies!

Kids need to learn to do this themselves. Once they’re old enough, start by telling them how many days to pack for, and then check what they’ve packed. Talk about where they packed too much or too little. Eventually, they’ll know how to do the job right.

When visiting family, I also extend this to packing up stuff to return home. My kids have gone weeks without a beloved toy because they left it at Grandma’s. They don’t forget things often now, because they know I won’t let Grandma mail anything forgotten to us without very good reason. Most items can wait for us until the next visit.

22. Doing Things On Time

How good are your kids at getting up on time for school? Turning in assignments on time? What about handling chores in a reasonable timeframe?

All these things are basic life skills. Lots of people lose jobs because they’re chronically late or frequently take too long to complete assigned tasks.

For school assignments, my kids’ middle school has them keep an agenda with assignments and due dates. I love that the school teaches them to track assignments.

Teach your kids to start work early on long term assignments. I’ve had the occasional run-in with my kids with the old “this huge assignment is due tomorrow and I need books for it right now!” thing. I’ve snoozed on the couch so they could ask for help late at night… our printer can be really fussy at inconvenient times, and it took a while to teach the kids how to handle the various issues.

As we’ve worked through these issues, my kids have greatly improved their time management abilities. Late nights are a rare thing for my high schooler, when they used to be common. My middle schooler has always been the organized sort. We’ll see what happens with the youngest.

23. Helping Others

Have your kids do volunteer work. What they can do will depend on your area and what’s permitted for their ages.

We’re lucky that a local animal shelter lets us volunteer, right down to my youngest child. We’re kind of grandfathered in, as they changed their volunteer minimum age a year or two ago. But since they know my youngest is not only good with animals but wants to be a vet, they’re willing to let her keep volunteering.

kid volunteering

24. Talking To Strangers

You’ve heard of the old “Stranger Danger” thing no doubt, but I believe there are better rules than that to teach your kids to be safer around strangers. The big one is that there are appropriate times to talk to a stranger, but it’s not safe to go places with a stranger.

Many people feel that it is better to teach kids about “tricky people” rather than stranger danger. This takes more judgment on the part of your kids, but good judgment is something you want them to learn.

Just think about how likely it is that a child may have to ask a stranger for help. Being mildly lost is an even more scary thing if you aren’t supposed to talk to strangers who might help you.

Teach your kids that it’s okay to yell for help if there’s a problem, fight back if attacked, and so forth. Teach them which adults are the best to approach if they are lost, such as a parent with kids, or an employee of the place that they’re at.

As they get older, help them get comfortable with the everyday conversations adults have with strangers. Even little kids can chat with the cashier or the friendly person you’re talking to when you’re out and about. So long as they know what the limits should be and what to do when there’s a problem, it’s pretty safe. It’s also necessary if your kids are going to function as adults later.

25. Swimming

You may not have a swimming pool. I don’t have a swimming pool. But you better believe my kids know how to swim.

Swimming may not be vital for day to day life, but most people will have an opportunity to go swimming at some point. Maybe a friend will have a pool, or the apartment complex will have one. Maybe they go to the beach, lake or river. Knowing how to swim makes people much safer when they’re around the water. It’s also fun.

26?? Can You Think Of More Basic Life Skills?

What other basic life skills can you think of that should be shared with kids as they grow up? I must have missed some. Tell me about them.

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.

Last Updated March 26th, 2018

Where Are The Stay At Home Jobs For Moms That Are Not Scams?

Where Are The Stay At Home Jobs For Moms That Are Not Scams?

As many families struggle financially, more and more stay at home moms are getting serious about earning some money. But when you start looking, it seems as though everywhere you look are work at home scams. Where are the stay at home jobs for moms that are not scams?

They’re out there. They’re just hard to see through the haze of work at home scams. As technology has made it easier to allow employees to work remotely, more companies have included it as a possibility. Some companies are entirely remote now.

Stay At Home Jobs For Moms

Just because they’re all around doesn’t mean it’s easy to get a stay at home job or to earn any sort of decent income from home. It’s difficult for most people. It’s a lot of work added to a busy lifestyle.

That’s especially true when you have small children. They can limit the jobs you can do from home because they’re noisy and need attention.

If you haven’t really looked at stay at home jobs for moms, you might be surprised at how many there are. I used to do medical transcription at home until this site took off well enough that it wasn’t necessary anymore. Medical transcription is still out there, but it has changed since my time!

One of my sisters did software development from home for a while. The work at home lifestyle didn’t suit her, so she returned to the office, but many other software developers enjoy working remotely, and her current job allows her to do that sometimes.

And don’t forget the stay at home jobs that many people think of when first considering the option, such as data entry and customer service.

Some stay at home jobs will require that you get some training on your own. Medical transcription and medical coding do, of course. Software developers either need to have gone through college or have such a good portfolio that they interest employers anyhow.

If you’re considering data entry as a possibility, I would suggest looking more toward general transcription. Legitimate data entry jobs are few and far between. There are more opportunities with general transcription. You don’t have to have as much training as a medical transcriptionist, but if you want to improve your chances, I suggest you get some general transcription training so that you know what you’re getting into. This course gives you a free sample so you know if you like it before you pay anything.

For any home based job, make sure that you can meet the qualifications for your workspace and noise levels. Some require that you work regular hours and have no background noise. Others only care that you get your work done. Most are somewhere between. Your situation must match your employer’s requirements, or you won’t keep the job for long.

You can find a lot of stay at home job leads on my job board. I can’t guarantee 100% that there are no scams, but I try very hard to keep them off the job board. Do your due diligence as you look for jobs, and you should be able to weed out scams wherever you search.

Become A Freelancer

Offering your skills as a freelancer takes some work, but it’s something many of us can do and doesn’t involve paying someone for the business opportunity. It does involve risk. You have to check with your city hall to see about home business licensing and business name requirements. You have to set up bank accounts. Then you don’t know when you’ll get your first jobs. And there’s always the worry about how good a particular client will be about paying you.

All that is still usually faster than landing a job working for one of the usual stay at home jobs. Get good at it, and it’s more profitable as well.

You might be amazed at how many opportunities there are for freelancers. You can do freelance bookkeeping, writing, programming, marketing, website designing, graphic design, or be a virtual assistant. Just look at your skill set and figure out a way to offer your services to local businesses or to businesses online.

There are plenty of traps to fall into as you get started, however. The most common is to set too low a price for your services. That may not get you more clients. That may get you clients who are looking for cheap but still want everything they’d get for a higher price. It’s better to set your prices based on what you need to earn for your efforts.

Start A Home Business

Want a stay at home job that doesn’t involve getting scammed? The simplest way to do that is to go into business for yourself. And it’s really not that simple.

Blogging is a very popular home business, and with good reason. Costs are low. There are lots of bloggers out there trumpeting how much money they’ve made blogging. Plus you get to write about things that interest you.

While I strongly recommend blogging, I’m not going to pretend that it is always easy going. Sometimes it’s rough. Most bloggers do NOT earn thousands of dollars per month. Many don’t earn that much per year. I can teach you to handle the basics of blogging, and you may be surprised at how simple some of it is.

Some parts of the learning curve will be difficult, depending on your comfort with the technology. But once you get things going, it’s a nice business. Just give yourself time so you don’t get frustrated that you aren’t earning the same money as other people are. It’s a business. There are no guarantees.

You could also set yourself up to sell products you’ve made on Etsy, write books to sell on Amazon, sell physical products on Amazon or eBay… the list goes on. If you want a really traditional home business, you could even start a daycare.

Whatever home business you start, make sure that you keep it legal. Get your business license and business name registered. See if your particular business model has any other legal requirements to deal with, such as collecting sales tax. Skipping the legal side of things will give you huge headaches later on.

Requirements will depend on where you live, so there is little specific advice I can give here. Check on your local city and county websites to find out what you need to do. SCORE.org may also be a help.

Remember The Scams

Don’t get overconfident as you look at stay at home jobs. You don’t want to fall for a scam just because you decided that this time you didn’t need to do a little extra research.

The main times to be careful are when you spend money and when you share your personal information.

The quick and easy way to spot stay at home job scams is when they promise too much money for too little effort. Home business scams can be more difficult to spot, but if it seems as though they’re promising more than they can deliver, they probably are.

Read reviews – not just the ones they share on the site, and hopefully not just reviews from affiliates trying to earn a commission. Seek out negative reviews. They’re often far more informative than any glowing positive review. At the very least, you need to know that not everyone succeeds in every opportunity.

I’ve written a lot about work at home scams. You may want to read The Work at Home Job Seeker’s Guide to Scams as a quick start to understanding what’s out there.

Avoid “SHINY!” Syndrome

The last trap many people fall into when seeking ways to work at home is to jump from opportunity to opportunity. The next opportunity always sounds so promising, and if you aren’t seeing enough results with what you’re doing right now, it’s very tempting to make the switch.

Don’t. At least not that quickly.

There are times when it makes sense to try out a new opportunity. But too many people spend money on one thing and then another, and then another. They never give any of the opportunities a fair chance.

That’s how you end up frustrated and feeling that all stay at home jobs are scams. Maybe you fell for some scams along the way also, but maybe some things you just didn’t give enough time and effort.

The only time you should buy something for a home business opportunity is when you’re ready to make use of it. Don’t buy for later. You’ll forget about it and the money will be wasted. Bookmark the interesting stuff you might want to try later, and go back to it when you’re ready. You’ll be amazed by how rarely that happens.

Sometimes the best thing you can do to find a stay at home job is to make your own opportunity. It won’t always work out, but it’s amazing when it does.

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.

Last Updated March 22nd, 2018

How to Save Money on Children’s Clothing

How to Save Money on Children's Clothing

How much do you spend on children’s clothing? It’s easy to spend too much. They outgrow clothes so quickly, especially during growth spurts. Finding ways to save money on children’s clothing can be a help to your budget.

Some tactics are easier when the kids are younger and don’t much care about where their clothes come from. Older kids may want more say in what they wear and where their clothes come from.

The first rule is, of course, to avoid impulse shopping. Buying only what you need will always help you save money.

Infants and Toddlers

Infants and toddlers are in many ways the easiest to shop for, if also the most tempting for dressing them up cute. Most parents end up with far too many clothes for their kids at this age after baby showers. They’re so easy to buy for and the clothing is often just so cute.

If you had a baby shower, take a good look at what you really have for your baby before you start buying. You may not need that much. Keep doing this as your kids grow and you fail to realize just how many clothes they have received as birthday presents or at other times.

It’s also a great time for shopping thrift and resale shops. An amazing amount of infant and toddler clothing makes into such places unworn or so close to it you’d scarcely notice the difference. The savings can be a real delight.

Don’t stress about sizes on baby clothes. They vary so much! Go by what fits your child, not by what the tag says. This will be true to a degree as kids get older, but is especially an issue in baby clothes.

Shopping for Older Children

As kids get older, shopping for them gets more difficult. Even preschoolers may start to develop a distinct fashion sense or start to prefer name brand clothing. Gently used clothing that still meets their preferences becomes more and more difficult to find.

You can still find some good clothing at resale or thrift shop for your kids. As they develop an interest in how they are dressed you will need to let them help you pick appropriate clothing. Some kids can develop a real sense for the bargains to be had at resale shops.

As long as you can, discourage them from wanting only brand names. And if brand name isn’t in your budget, consider it a lesson for your children on living within your means. There is no rule saying children have to be dressed in brand name clothing, no matter how much they want to be like their friends.

Outlet shops can also be a great resource. When you give in on brand names, try the outlet shops rather than the department stores. You should be aware of the regular price as well as what you could get the items on sale for, so you know what a good price is at the outlet.

Shopping at the right time matters as well. You won’t always have your choice with kids – if they have a growth spurt and outgrow the clothes you have for them sooner than you are ready for them to do so.

But whenever you can, be prepared to shop at the right time. Good times to find the best deals include the end of the season and after holidays. Just be careful about buying too much in advance – you might end up buying items that never get worn.

Then there’s the piece of advice my son’s pediatrician gave at his most recent checkup. My son is at that age where he is getting tall! She told me to buy shorts rather than long pants as much as possible for him. Long pants are outgrown much more quickly than shorts.

Handmedowns

At any age, don’t forget the value of handmedown clothes for children. My sisters and I passed so many clothes down through the years, starting when the kids were babies. Some outfits made it through five kids, and there’s one jacket, still going strong, that is nearly 20 years old now. It’s still beautiful and every girl has been reluctant to give it up even after outgrowing it. Yes, that’s it in the snow picture above.

Handmedowns went so well for us that the younger kids had almost too many clothes at times, as each family would add just a few new items to the batch. It was pretty amazing how well this worked for us.

You can do handmedowns with friends too. All you need is a group of people willing to pass kids’ clothes back and forth, and kids with the right age separations to make it practical.

Some kids will get grumpy about handmedowns as they get older. The big thing I do is make sure that there are some new clothes for each child, and not just handmedowns.

Timing of handmedowns can help as well. My kids have to wear uniforms to school, so they get their handmedown clothes at the end of the school year, when they can actually wear them regularly. This makes them a lot more exciting. They get out of school and have a whole new wardrobe for summer!

Kids who don’t have school uniforms are more likely to appreciate new clothes when school starts. There’s something so nice about having new clothes for school, and I think most of us remember that. Even if it’s just new to your child and not new from the store.

Online Shopping

Shopping online with a trusted merchant can be a fair deal as well. You can find quite a range of clothing at Amazon, for example. The one disadvantage is that the clothes cannot be tried on beforehand. If you have Amazon Prime, it’s usually not much of a problem, as many clothes will have free shipping.

There are a lot of other places online where you can get children’s clothes for cheap. If you want used clothes, ThredUp may be an option.

Rarely Worn Clothes

Some clothes your kids will wear only rarely. Sometimes you can get away with buying an extra large size in rarely worn clothes, so that you get an extra year or so out of them.

Think about winter jackets in places with mild winters. My kids need a heavy jacket no more than a couple times a year, so if I have to buy one, I get it in a larger size than they need. Same for snow boots. Boots can be worn with extra socks to make them fit better, which isn’t a bad idea in cold weather anyhow.

Don’t buy oversize in things that oversize will be uncomfortable or awkward. You want your kids to use the clothes, not hate them.

Sell Old Clothes

If you aren’t doing handmedowns, selling old clothes can be a great way to get some money back on anything your kids haven’t completely ruined. Many will go through phases where they ruin a lot of clothes, but anything still in good shape could be sold.

You can go the traditional route and have a garage sale every year or two, for example. You can sell some clothes on eBay or Poshmark, or sell them to ThredUp or Swap.com. Just make sure you understand what you’re getting into if you send your clothes to ThredUp so that you aren’t disappointed in what they give you.  And of course you can shop for clothes on any of these as well.

Some people do well selling their clothes on Instagram. The advantage here is that you don’t pay a commission, although you may have to deal with Paypal fees.

Avoid Single Use Items

When it comes to special occasions, it can be easy to want to buy something special for your child. These special items can cost more than regular clothes, yet you might only use them once.

Special occasion clothes were always my favorites for handmedowns or thrift stores. They don’t cost much that way.

I also do what I can to find special clothes that can be worn more than once. Don’t choose a super Christmas-y outfit for a child if there’s one that could be used for other holidays as well.

I also suggest buying fancy shoes for kids as rarely as possible. Kids want to run around, and fancy shoes make that more difficult. Sure, they’re cute, but they scuff up too easily, or the decorations get ruined. Kids don’t need really dressy shoes for most occasions. Take some time to consider if this is really one of those times.

It’s not always easy to save money on children’s clothing. Doing so can mean you teach them not only about how to look nice but also how to live within your means. Both can be valuable lessons.

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.

Last Updated March 21st, 2018

10 Common Blog Title Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

10 Common Blog Title Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

How much time do you spend on writing your blog title for each post? One minute? Five? Do you write it before you write your post or after? Your blog title is the first thing most people will see when discovering your most recent blog posts, yet many bloggers spend very little time crafting them. Most bloggers make a lot of mistakes with their blog titles.

1. Your Blog Title Isn’t As Important As What You Write

There’s a certain degree of truth to the idea that your blog title isn’t as important as the rest of what you write. In terms of informing the reader once they’re on your site, that’s true enough. A perfectly crafted blog title won’t give the reader a fraction of the information the rest of your post will.

And yet, how will you get readers to your blog if the title doesn’t drag them in?

Your blog title is the first thing readers will see when they find your post in an online search. If they use a feed reader, it’s what they’ll see there too. It may even be what they see first in social media posts. If the title doesn’t catch their attention, they will scroll on by.

2. Your Blog Title Doesn’t Have To Be Accurate

How often have you clicked on a blog title, started reading, and been frustrated because the post has very little to do with the title? It’s super annoying and is a huge blog title mistake.

When writing your blog titles, make sure they remain true to the rest of your post. If your title promises a solution to a problem, your post better solve that problem. If your title promises cute cat pictures, those cats better be adorable.

3. Your Blog Title Has To Be Clickbait

How often have you heard people grumble about clickbait titles? They can be super annoying, but they can also work. That’s why many bloggers feel that their blog titles need to be some sort of clickbait. They want to go viral, and clickbait titles look like the way to go.

The problem with clickbait it that it often overpromises. It may get the clicks, but does it make your readers happy with your post after reading it?

There’s a fine line between clickbait and a title that brings readers in. Clickbait may bring people in, but quality is what keeps them coming back. It often pays to dial back the clickbait-ish titles in favor of an interesting but more accurate blog title. Building trust pays off in the long run.

4. Failing To Edit Your Blog Title

Some people argue about whether you should write your title before or after your post. This can be a major part of some bloggers’ creative process, and they feel strongly about it.

I usually start with a basic title, and improve it after writing the post. Some posts completely change direction during the writing process. Others become more focused.

Either way, reviewing and possibly modifying your blog title after writing the actual post is an important part of the process. Don’t be satisfied with the first title you come up with. Take some time and refine the title so that it draws people in and best reflects what readers can expect from your post.

5. Blog Title Idea Generators Are All You Need

I love using blog title generators to get ideas for posts. You take a keyword, drop it into the generator, and refresh it until you have an idea you want to work with. It makes coming up with blog post ideas a lot easier sometimes. Here are a few I like:

SEOPressor Blog Title Generator
HubSpot’s Blog Idea Generator
Blog Post Title Idea Generator from FatJoe
Portent’s Content Idea Generator

But they aren’t enough, not by a long shot.

If you don’t have the right keywords for your post, for example, the title generator won’t give you anything. You have to do that part of the work first.

There are several keyword research tools out there, both free and paid. Google’s Keyword Planner Tool is one of the classics, but you must have an AdWords account to use it.

You can also use Moz’s Keyword Explorer, Google Trends, and relevant forums to find keyword ideas. Each of these has a different function to help you get the widest range of possible keyword ideas for your blog posts.

Once you have your keywords, you may also like Answer The Public, along with your usual blog title generators. Answer The Public finds the questions people have asked on search engines. The ability to answer actual questions people have searched for on your keyword can be a huge help in ranking for that search.

6. Vague Titles

Can readers tell what your post is about just by reading your blog title? If they can’t, they probably won’t click.

Consider a post titled “Spring Break.” This may relate to what the post is about, but there’s not enough information for someone to decide to read your post. It doesn’t draw them in.

Change that to “10 Tips For A Spring Break To Remember” and you’ll get more readers. They’ll know what to expect.

7. Your Blog Titles Are Bland

Boring blog titles with little more than the keyword in them won’t bring a lot of readers to your blog. They don’t capture the eye.

Think about someone looking for a recipe. Will the be more attracted to a post that is simply “Recipe Name” or by “Kid Friendly Recipe Name?” What about adding other descriptive words to that title? The recipe hasn’t changed at all, but you can make it more interesting to readers with a well written blog title.

8. Writing Super Long, Excessively Wordy, Hard To Read Blog Titles That Try To Say Too Much

Yeah, that’s a bit long up there, isn’t it? Do you think it would appeal to anyone as a blog post title? Me neither.

While you want to write an interesting title, there is such a thing as too much. Search engines display maybe 70 characters of your title in their results. Make your title too long, and they’ll cut it off. That will ruin the effect you were going for.

9. Getting Technical In The Title

Are you trying to teach your readers something new in your blog post? Sometimes you have to use terminology that is specific to your industry to get your point across in your post.

The title of your post may not be the best place for that terminology unless you are explaining that term specifically. Stick to language your readers will understand in the title.

10. Failing To Give A Reason To Click

People need a reason to click on your blog title when they come across it. If they think it doesn’t apply to them or their interests, they will scroll on by.

If I write a post titled “I Love Cats,” I’ll get some clicks, but most people will pass on by. They may love cats too, but who really cares why I love them? Change that title to “Unexpected Ways Cats Can Make Your Life Better” and more people will read it, even if the post is otherwise identical. Just make sure that some of the things you list really are unusual, not just the usual reasons people have cats.

Every blogger will make blog title mistakes once in a while. No one gets it right all of the time. But if you pay attention and take some time with your blog titles, they will get better.

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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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.