12 Easy Ways to Save Money

July 7, 2018

See a penny, pick it up – all the day, you’ll have good luck.  A penny won’t buy much, but hundreds or thousands of pennies will.  For example, two hundred and fifty pennies will buy a share of Pacific Coast Oil Trust.  ROYT is a perpetual oil and natural gas trust for reserves in California.  ROYT pays a dividend every month of between $0.02 and $0.03 per share.  Lots of shares add up.

This post is about saving money.  Many ways to save, every day.

(1.) Plan a weekly menu and cook in bulk. This is a good idea for full-time workers that are busy with careers and commute. Planning meals helps control portions and avoids excess calories, too.  Dinners, even at fast food places, will cost $10 to $20 for one or two people.  Save $50 to $100 per week.  When shopping for food, eat before going and have a list.  Shop the list.  Take coupons, too.  Here is a link to 12 coupon websites.

(2.) Limit or cut out soda, junk food, and fast food. Pack healthy lunches and snacks to avoid buying junk food and fast food.  Each hamburger or sandwich lunch costs between $5 and $10 with chips, fries or soda.  Bringing food saves $25 to $50 each week.

(3.) Save money on clothes.  Build a wardrobe with key pieces. Be willing to pay more for a pair of trousers or slacks, button-down polos, and a jacket or blazer if they can be used for a year or more.  Shop at outlet stores and buy name brands for business and casual clothes.  Look good for less!  Polo is Polo, no matter where bought.

(4.) Pay for quality footwear.  Buy two to three pairs of shoes that are pricier and  durable instead of several cheaper pairs that last for months. Choose neutral colors like black, navy, brown or tan and they will fit most wardrobe combinations.

(5.) Save loose change. Use empty jars or containers of almost anything.  Save change from purchases and found coins.  When full, take the containers to a local bank and convert to a couple hundred dollars. Some coins in circulation may have value.  Rare coins in circulationAnd this article from Mashable.

6.) Reuse, repurpose, recycle. Make a habit of saving aluminum cans or anything made of brass or copper.  Local recyclers will pay you cash.  Convert shipping boxes into storage bins and plastic fruit cups for storing screws and pins.  Donate clothes, books, videos, and other unwanted stuff to Goodwill.  Save money, reduce clutter, and create tax deductions.

(7.) Give up expensive entertainment. If you still feel like going to the movies, do it less often. Host potluck dinners or poker and game nights at home instead of drinking at bars. Spending money is inevitable when going out.  Choose indoor activities that you can do alone or with family and friends.  Cook for a date and spend the night watching a good movie or see a play at a local community theater.  Local high schools and colleges usually have good arts programs.  Groupon often has great deals on local events.

(8.) Limit media and social media consumption.  Instead of watching television or surfing the ‘Net for hours, set limits to avoid seeing ads that will entice you to spend money.  Clean up, work on a story or write that eBook you’ve planned.

(9.) Skip expensive gym memberships and exercise classes. Find ways to incorporate exercise into a daily routine. Park the car farther from the office building and walk.  Use the stairs instead of taking the elevator, spend 15-20 minutes every morning doing stretches, steps, or lunges while listening to a fav morning radio show or go for brisk walks after dinner.  Buy used exercise equipment if necessary.  A simple platform for a step routine is cheap.  Pushups and pull-up bars instead of weights.

(10.) Limit gift giving. Make a list of recipients that must receive gifts for holidays and birthdays.  Craft goods, either DIY or bought at local art and craft shows are a much less expensive than department or specialty store prices.  Parents usually have everything they need.  Give them special ‘time’ coupons for errands, car washes or home repairs.  Little kids don’t care and like simple, colorful things.

(11.) Email birthday greetings to relatives and friends. This saves card and postage costs and there are many free websites for downloading and customizing cards.  Ecards, Hallmark, and others are free ecard websites.

(12.) Energy savings.  LED or CFL bulbs in every lamp, no exception.  When the old incandescent bulb burns out, replace with either LED or CFL ones.  The newer bulbs last longer and use less electricity.  The bulb comparison grid below is from The Simple Dollar.  My house has a hundred bulbs, inside and out.  In the long-run, I’ll save hundreds to thousands of dollars.

$aving$ count!

And the usual disclaimer – I own a position in ROYT and get dividends.  This is not a recommendation to buy ROYT or any other stock, ETF or other investment.

Dion

Dion Shaw is founder and owner of Homepreneurs.  All articles written are copyright to Dion Shaw and Homepreneurs.  No reproduction is permitted without express written consent and violators will be prosecuted.  Neither Dion Shaw nor Homepreneurs is paid or otherwise compensated for suggestions in these posts.  No responsibility is assumed by either Homepreneurs or Dion Shaw.

©Homepreneurs 2010-2018

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Turn a Blog into a Book

June 27, 2018

Are you a writer?  With a blog?  Interested in creating a book or eBook with content?  I did some research and testing, and found a site that converts blogs into Word or PDF format.  PDF and Word files are easily converted into ePub or MOBI format for SmashWords, Amazon or Google.  The formatting isn’t perfect and images are low resolution in free mode, but from the pages of this WordPress blog, I created a full PDF document with a few clicks.  Below is a screen shot with part of the table of contents:

Blog to Book

My PDF document is 74 pages long after conversion.  PDFs are easily converted to ePub or MOBI format for eBook or eReader use.  Kindle eReaders prefer MOBI, something to consider when preparing an eBook for sale at Amazon.  SmashWords prefers ePub but accepts versions of Word, RTF, PDF and more.  PDF is generally safe for all self-publishing efforts.

This post doesn’t cover details for eBook formatting, but less complex text documents are better for publishing.  Word has many hidden formatting features that may cause issues when publishing eBooks.

Blog to Book with BlogBooker

Some plugins for WordPress claim to convert blogs to eBook formats, but don’t always work as advertised.  I found and tested BlogBooker and the ToC results are above.  The website has a very simple and free process.  The home page is below.  Clicking on the blue “Make your BlogBook” starts the program.

book to blog

Bloggers can choose content from WordPress, Blogger, Medium, Twitter, Tumblr, TypePad and LiveJournal.  Simply select the desired platform, register with an email address, and follow the simple instructions.  Choose from Microsoft Word or PDF for the final format, choose convert, and in minutes, receive a full PDF or Word document that may be converted into an eBook.

BlogBooker Limits

BlogBooker isn’t perfect, but it is a good tool.  Below is a clip from one of the pages I converted.  Note that each of the bullet points converted into numbers.  Each was a hyperlink in the blog post, but not in the PDF.  Be sure to carefully proofread the converted product.  BlogBooker can also be used to see what a completed conversion looks like and writers can adjust accordingly.

book to blogBlogBooker only allows a few conversions for free.   BlogBooker has paid plans that allow higher resolution pictures and unlimited conversions. Prices range from $19.00 (basic) to $79.00 for premier.  Payment in U.S. dollars, British Pounds or € Euros.

——–

Homepreneurs has instructions for step-by-step publishing on Smashwords and on Kindle/Amazon.  Google instructions will be a future post.

Creating an eBook-ready document is simple with BookBlogger.  Self-publishing is easy on the major publishing websites.  All instructions are written on Homepreneurs.  Everything is free.

And the best part?  When the eBook sells, you get paid.  Month after month after month.  Do very little work and earn passive income via royalties for years.

Please leave any questions or feedback in the comments.  I’m happy to answer questions.

Dion

 

Dion Shaw is founder and owner of Homepreneurs.  All articles written are copyright to Dion Shaw and Homepreneurs.  No reproduction is permitted without express written consent and violators will be prosecuted.  Neither Dion Shaw nor Homepreneurs is paid or otherwise compensated for suggestions in these posts.  No responsibility is assumed by either Homepreneurs or Dion Shaw.


Start a Business for $50

November 18, 2015

Yes, you can start a business for $50.  The business can be product or service-oriented, full-time or part-time, from home or not.  Here is how the costs break down:

  1. Using Google, enter godaddy into the search box.  Click on the $0.99 domain name box.

start a business for $50

 

2. Go to 1 Dollar Hosting.  Buy 12 months of website hosting for $12.00

3. Go to fiverr.com and hire someone to design a logo for $5.00

4. Design a website on WordPress.com for free.

5. Host the website on 1 dollar hosting.

6. Figure out what you want to sell or a service to provide.  Candles to yard work.  Whatever you want to do

7. Partner with a friend and double your efforts.

8. Set up a PayPal account.  Integrate the PayPal account with the website.

9. Sign up for social media platforms, hopefully with the same domain name

10. Start blogging or put product on your site to sell.  Advertise your services.

You spent $18 and a little time.  Spend the rest on materials if you need them or buy a few pizzas.  Or save the $32.00 for a date.

Whichever way you choose, start a business for $50.00 or less.

You’re welcome.  Have a nice day.


Dragon’s Loyalty Award

April 21, 2014

Recently, I was given an award from Linda at http://naturerestoresme.wordpress.com – The Dragon’s Loyalty Award. I am touched that Linda thought of me – she is a good friend and wonderful person that I’ve had the fortune of meeting in person more than once – we happen to live 20 minutes or so from each other. Linda is a great nature photographer – something I aspire to be. She has a knack of catching the right shot at opportune moments. From flowers to birds to everything nature, Linda has captured it and shared her talents with us.

naturerestoresme.wordpress.com

I have met some wonderful people in the blogging world, either in-person or online. Linda, April, Mark, Rose, Caroline, and more. Blogging has truly made a difference in my life and opened my eyes to the world’s wonders. I am very thankful to WordPress and all associated with it.

The rules for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award are:

1. Display the award on your blog.

2. Announce your win with a post and thank the blogger who nominated you.

3. Present 15 deserving bloggers with the award.

4. Link your winners in the post and let them know of their being awarded.

5. Present seven interesting things about yourself.

Here are 7 odd things about moi:

Seven interesting things about myself:

1) I am a citizen of the United States and was at birth, but I was born in Dublin, Ireland. My father was teaching at Trinity College in Dublin when I came around.

2) I am not a picky eater at all, but can’t stand beets!

3) I do some things right handed (write, throw a baseball), but some left handed (coil a rope, shoot a rifle, use a keypad mouse on my laptop). When I played little league some years ago, I would bat from both sides.

4) In Chicago-land, one is either a Cubs fan (north side) or a White Sox fan (south side) and never the twain shall meet. I am a Chicago sports fan and am not particular to either side of town.

5) I am the default eulogy writer and giver for friends and family.  Linda helped me with a difficult one last year for a young man.

6) My first big job was as a home furnishings manager at one of the Marshall Field store chain.

7) My taste in music is very diverse. I’ve seen 100 or so major rock concerts, but enjoy classical as well. I’ve seen wonderful performances by the CSO, Eagles, Rolling Stones, and many more!

Thank you, Linda.  Very much.  🙂


WordPress.com Business Users: eCommerce Has Arrived!

February 26, 2014

This is big news for WordPress.com users!

The WordPress.com Blog

We’re thrilled to announce that, starting today,  WordPress.com Business users can connect their sites to their online stores. With three leading ecommerce partners to choose from — Ecwid , Shopify , and ShopLocket — you can showcase, promote, and sell products to your customers directly from your site.

If you’re already a WordPress.com Business user, or are thinking of becoming one, here’s how the ecommerce feature will power your WordPress.com site.

A simple, hassle-free connection

Users with the WordPress.com Business upgrade already enjoy great features like live-chat support, unlimited storage, and free access to all our premium themes. Now, you can turn your site into a sleek online storefront, and let visitors shop from any post or page. The partners we’ve teamed up with — Ecwid, Shopify, and ShopLocket — all provide a smooth and secure ecommerce experience for you and your customers.

Connecting to your store is…

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A Call To Arms For Illinois Senators

February 24, 2014

This letter was emailed to Illinois Senators Durbin and Kirk, and Representative Duckworth over the weekend.  Neither Senator received the email, though it appears Rep. Duckworth did.  Hard copies are going to the these individuals today in the hope that someone in a position of power will help those of us afflicted with chronic conditions, including multiple sclerosis, ALS, Lupus, and many others.

The Honorable Richard Durbin
United States Senate
711 Hart Senate Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Mark Kirk
United States Senate
524 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510

The Honorable Tammy Duckworth
United States Representative
1701 E. Woodfield Rd., Suite 900
Schaumburg, IL 60173

Sirs and Madam:

Sometimes it is difficult to see real-world problems from different viewpoints and circumstances.  If you would indulge me for a moment, I’d like to tell you about my circumstances that affect many others in similar situations.

I live in Schaumburg, Illinois.  I grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, attended St. Giles grade school and Oak Park River Forest High School.  My alma mater include College of DuPage and DePaul University.  I graduated with 4.0/4.0, and 3.9/4.0, respectively.  Growing up, our family of 4 (sister included) was an upper middle class family with many advantages: private primary school, nice house, travel, and numerous cultural events.  Both parents are PhDs and my father is a retired university professor and WW II veteran (Army, Pacific Theater).  My parents, even at advanced ages, are active and doing well.

I am not. I was unfortunately diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1991. I was 23.  Though still ambulatory, most of my walking is brief and with a cane.  I have little control over bowel and bladder functions as well as many other typical M.S. symptoms.  I am male and 46.

The last few years have been very difficult: I’ve been laid off twice (4 times total in my life) and unable to work a full-time job in recent years because of M.S.  Further, though I’ve had health insurance, I have paid over $34,000 out of pocket just for medical expenses the past two years.  Last year I made only $26,400 (from Long-Term Disability) – the majority paid for medical expenses.  I’ve had to raid my retirement plans (another $10,000 requested today on top of $25,000 in 2013) and over the weekend I sold much of my AT&T stock (from my days as an employee).   My furniture is either second hand (Craigslist) or ready-to-assemble furniture from IKEA.

Last month I lost my long-term disability plan, carried by The Hartford insurance (adjuster Natalie Bourne), despite my neurologist’s instructions to file for social security disability.  I did so immediately of course (with attorney Jeff Rabin), and my claim is somewhere in process (aka limbo).  The Hartford claims I am able to work full-time, despite my neurologist’s (Dr. Daniel Wynn) assertion to the contrary.  Thus far in 2014, I have earned $600.00.  An attorney (Mark DeBofsky) advised me that The Hartford may be in violation of ERISA but said his costs were more than I would recognize in return.  I am very fortunate to have these fine attorneys on my side.

I also signed up for an Affordable Care Plan in December of 2012 and received a partially subsidized plan with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.  I have since learned that BC/BS will not cover two prescriptions at all and the cost of my catheter supplies has escalated to $900.00 for 90 kits or 4 to 6 weeks supply.  I have zero income, except for a few dollars from published eBooks.  I have yet to fill my two most expensive prescriptions and have no idea if BC/BS will cover them at all.  I was advised not to earn more than $800.00 per month at the risk of losing any chance at SSDI. My mortgage payment is $825.00 on a very modest townhouse/rowhouse.

I was compelled to drop out of my master’s degree program at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville.  This is a shame; I am three classes short of a master’s degree in Project Management.  Following a lay-off in 2009 from Wisconsin Tool and Stamping (I was MIS Manager), I volunteered for Illinois Worknet (Mohamed Faheem) and started a blog for the unemployed: http://homepreneurs.net with related social media outlets.  The various sites – Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Twitter, et al. – have well over 100,000 visits, presumably from some of the many millions of unemployed and underemployed.  I have attempted to assist those that I can.

I have enough money to survive for perhaps two more months.  I will then default on all debt.  I do not live frivolously: I drive a 2006 Toyota Matrix and live in a simple townhouse in Schaumburg with a second floor that is useless because of stair climbing issues (falling).

I know I am not nearly the only one in this situation.  Many other friends and acquaintances with M.S. suffer from similar situations.  Several either have gone into bankruptcy, live even at older ages with parents, or are on the precipice of financial ruin every single day.  We have no savings, no cushion, and no room for error.  This is very disturbing for a country that has so many millionaires and other wealthy individuals.  I was born into a solidly upper middle class environment; I am now well below the poverty line.  I am educated, experienced, and intelligent, yet have virtually zero recourse.  Even with SSDI and a part-time job (an extra $1000 per month), I will not survive financially.

I have consulted with a bankruptcy attorney (Nate Pomrenze) and determined that even Ch. 7 bankruptcy (full liquidation) is unrealistic, insufficient, and inadequate.  Basic monthly living expenses – food, shelter, medication – are not wiped out in Ch. 7 and SSDI (even with a part-time job) is simply not enough to survive, given my condition.

In 2012, I attempted and was approved for a stem cell transplant at Northwestern University and Hospital in Chicago with Dr. Richard Burt in the hopes of arresting or reversing my condition.  Cigna medical (my insurance at that time) would not cover this still-experimental treatment and a third-party evaluator (appointed by Cigna) also ruled against my claim.  I would need to pay for the transplant from my own pocket: the cost – $120,000 at minimum.

Why do I send this email?  Each of you has faced difficult medical challenges in life for either yourselves or family members.  You have better coverage of course than I, and the means to pay for better treatments and therapy.  I represent an increasingly frustrated and “dismissed” segment of the population.  We are a growing group of Americans – 400,000 cases in the U.S. (200 new cases per week) with a life expectancy of 6 years less than healthy persons, according to a recent study by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  Though we are ever-hopeful of better treatments, most have seen scant progress in 100 years.  We suffer indignities of falls, diapers, and struggle to get dressed and function every damn day.

Our hope for an affordable health care alternative has not occurred: as indicated for me, at least 2 prescribed medications are not covered at all in my Blue Cross “Gold” plan, and medical supplies are more than I can possibly afford (I boil catheters for multiple uses).  Our hope for a faster transition to SSDI or financial assistance is non-existent.  Instead, we spend what little we save over a lifetime with little hope for the future.  Any chance at potentially life-altering treatments is likely impossible with AFA.

I am not asking for your pity, condolences, or sympathy.  I am asking each of you to examine your own past medical situations and realize that millions in the United States are in similar circumstances (with MS, ALS, Lupus, et al.)  You are somewhat fortunate: Annette Funicello, Richard Pryor, David Lander, Montel Williams, Teri Garr, and myself, not as much.  I lay no claim to fame as the named individuals; I am Joe Average.  The Joe Average you represent and I put into office with my votes.  The Joe Average that coached kids’ little league baseball and basketball teams; the Joe Average that serves as an election judge; the Joe Average that worked his tail off to earn college degrees despite medical issues; the Joe Average that is shamed and regarded as irrelevant by society; the Joe Average that is facing homelessness in months.

I ask that you stand up and speak out for Joe Average and that you help me and others afflicted with better financial and medical options.  We are American citizens and we should be afforded the rights and dignity of every citizen and certainly more than non-citizens.  While I cannot speak for others, my father’s North American family history traces back to somewhere around 1790 when a Joseph Shaw arrived on American shores in an unknown ship.  My family fought in WW 1, WW 2, Viet Nam, and Gulf Wars.  We are free because they contributed and in some cases, paid the ultimate price.

There are two choices all face in some way: either we use our power and influence to help others survive and succeed, or dismiss emails, letters, issues and complaints as ranting from the disenfranchised.  It is my hope that my votes over the years were not in vain.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Most Sincerely,

Dion D. Shaw

P.S. Many dozens of people are bcc’d  on this email (lawyers, media, Illinois residents) and I will post it on Facebook and other social media outlets I control as well.  I am not afraid to speak up for myself, but I will not identify other individuals for reasons of privacy and no prior notification.  I attempted to email each of you at the same time, but two of three were returned from servers.  Rep. Duckworth seemed to go through.

P.P.S. This letter was posted on WordPress, Facebook, and Homepreneurs website over the weekend and distributed to various social media outlets as well.

America


10 Free Business Ideas from Idealab IdeaDay

January 21, 2014

Business Ideas for you

David Cummings on Startups

Idealab, the most famous tech startup incubator in the world, just released a 90 minute video from their IdeaDay event last week. The goal with IdeaDay is to share 10 business ideas they’re excited about in the hopes that potential entrepreneurs, team members, and investors come forward to partner with Idealab in some way on them. Of course, the ideas are free and people can take them and run with them on their own as well.

Here are the 10 free business ideas from Idealab’s IdeaDay:

  1. Too Many Pictures – With digital pictures stored in so many places there’s a growing need to wrangle them all in a manner that’s more maintainable (e.g. photos on Facebook, Picassa, Instragram, Dropbox, etc)
  2. ActionMail – Interface with email in a more manageable manner through features like pulling questions out of email text and prompting for answers, prioritizing inbound email based on whether…

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