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Showing posts with label Finances. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Finances. Show all posts

Thursday, May 17, 2018

6 Ways to Help a Family in Need

6 Ways to Help a Family in Need


As y'all know Anthony and I have been on this yo-yo unemployed/underemployed life for 10 months now and we have had so many people in our life help us along the way to make this time a tad easier although the only thing that would make this easier would be a stable income (just being honest). Often times people do ask how can they help and maybe it's pride or maybe it's not wanting to be a burden or maybe a mix of both but it is hard just saying what you need so I decided to put a list together of the ways you can come alongside a family you may know that is struggling with unemployment or underemployment and help them during this difficult time.

1. Monetary donation 

We were blessed at the beginning of this journey by a family that gave us a monetary donation and we held on to it until we absolutely needed to use it on bills. This is honestly the biggest way you can help someone although you know the family best and know if they would be wise with this donation or not. If you feel they would spend this unwisely, maybe pay a bill for them yourself as in you call the company and give the account number and payment.

2. Food

There are so many subscription boxes out for everything including meals so gifting a one time (or reoccurring) meal box to a family in need would be an amazing blessing. You could even consider preparing a meal yourself and dropping it off to the family to avoid high cost on yourself (this is also a great idea for families welcoming new children either by birth or adoption, I also plan to share ways to help a family with a new baby/child in the future so stay tuned for that as well). 

3. Gift cards

Provide gift cards from a local grocery store (possibly one that also has a gas station). This will allow the family to get food as needed, household items like toilet paper, laundry soap, etc., or even gas for their vehicle.

4. Diapers/Wipes

If there are young children in the family consider donating diapers and wipes to them (if they cloth diaper ask what type of detergent they use and donate that to them). Also consider donating menstrual items for the young girls and women in the family or teaching them about menstrual cups and cloth pads that can be reused each cycle (I also plan to discuss this in the future further).

5. Clothing

Again if they have young children, they grow out of things extremely fast so consider offering them your children's hand me downs or even buying clothes from a second hand store (see my tips for thrift shopping children's clothes here). Helping a family in need doesn't have to be expensive.

6. Pray

And I mean really pray for them. In our society, we easily say "I'll pray for you" or "We are praying" and never do or my favorite and unrealistic phrase "claim it in the name of Jesus and it is yours" as if Jesus is a genie and we rubbed his lamp for three wishes. But really truly pray for them as you pray for your own family and your own needs, pray that God will build their trust and faith in Him, that God will be glorified in their struggles and that they will cast their worries onto Jesus and God will lead and guide them on their real life scary decisions that need to be made.


Often times, it is better to just do these things without asking the family in need because sometimes it is hard to swallow the pride and admit you need help so just ask the type of laundry soap they use or for their account number to a billing company (I wonder if you could just provide the name and address to the billing company and surprise the family with an anonymous bill payment). There are so many other ways that you could do to help a family in need, these were just the ones that have been incredibly helpful for us personally thus far so if you have any other ideas, please leave them in the comments below and as always I created a pinnable image to share with friends and family as you see fit.

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Stormie Ramirez
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Unemployed Life + Five Month Update

Unemployed Life + Five Month Update


This will probably be one of the most vulnerable posts I write. I have debated sharing this part of our life in my public social media life because I do not want pity at all (pride much?) however the longer we are in this season, the harder it is and if I can help just one other person or family who may be on this same journey then it would be worth sharing. I briefly mentioned Anthony was back working but the contract ended much sooner then anticipated so we are back at square one except this time we don't have the security of unemployment since it ended a few days before he was offered the contract position. When we asked for an extension for unemployment, he was declined because Texas Workforce Commission is out of budget from extending unemployment to the numerous Hurricane Harvey victims who are also out of work. So it has been 9 months of the unemployed life and the longer we do not have a steady substantial income, the more assistance we need (obviously).

Over these last few months, I have been doing research as well as friends and family sharing different assistance programs that are out there and offered not only by our government but also local and/or national organizations so I wanted to compile a list of all the programs I know about and a little bit about what they offer. Some will be local to me (Houston area) while others are national and you will just need to find the location in your area.

Food Assistance

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) - The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Eat On Feets - a network where families can share their breastmilk in a safe and ethical manner.

Human Milk 4 Human Babies - global milk-sharing network

Diaper Assistance

Share the Love Program - low-income families who receive assistance from programs like WIC and TANF may be able to receive a set of cloth diapers — for free.

The Diaper Foundation - Houston area assistance for disposable diapers

Cash Assistance

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - from what I can gather on the application process is you are given cash assistance either on a monthly basis or a one time lump sum payment. I will keep you all updated if I learn more based on approval otherwise feel free to comment if you know more about the TANF program.

I am sure there are numerous other programs so if you know of any that I did not mention, please feel free to share in the comments below so if anyone else needs more assistance it can easily be found all in one place. Even though this is a really tough season, it has been amazing seeing the ways the Lord has provided for our NEEDS and the people he has used in our lives. We have seen how far he has carried us thus far and know he will continue to provide for us.

Five Month Update

It's so crazy how fast time goes when you are the parent but when we were kids time couldn't go fast enough. My big guy is definitely our happy baby, always full of smiles and giggles to anyone around. He loves talking non-stop and sometimes I wonder if he will start talking before Sophia (although her vocabulary has increased tremendously the last few weeks). He is finally an amazing napper but that's because he decided he wanted more one on one time with mommy at nights so you win some and you lose some (sleep).

Five Month Stats
Weight: ???
Height: ???
Head Circumference: ??

Firsts
big boy convertible carseat (still rear-facing)
Easter

Loves
mommy
daddy
smiling

Hates
dirty diapers
waiting to eat
anything being taken away from him

What I Want to Remember
his laughter
the long pieces of hair on his right side of his head while on the left side rubbed short
his screeching voice when he baby talks

Again please comment below of any other assistance programs you may know of that I did not mention so this can be a place to help others who are in a similar situation as this. I do also plan to share more posts in the future for those of you who have never been in the situation and want to know how you can help families in need so stay tuned (UPDATE: see 6 Ways to Help a Family in Need here). Please feel free to share this post with your friends and family and as always I created a pinnable image below.

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Stormie Ramirez
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Baby Registry | Tips & Tricks

Baby Registry | Tips & Tricks


On Monday when I shared the latest of what's happening in Little Love's nursery, I mentioned spending the cash/check gifts to purchase her vintage French provincial dresser. And I thought I would share tips and tricks on what you should do with all those monetary gifts including gift cards.


One of the greatest pieces of advice I was given during my pregnancy was to hold on to all my gift cards until after the baby comes. I gotta say this one piece of advice benefited us greatly. Mostly as new parents you really don't know how to separate what babies actually need to what's nice to have. I remember asking my friend for advice on my registry and she pointed me to Babies R Us Registry Checklist and said it was pretty accurate for the most part and in some aspects it is and in another aspects is not.

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Stormie Ramirez
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Monday, April 18, 2016

Tips & Tricks for Making Money on eBay

Tips & Tricks for Making Money on eBay


A few months ago, I shared some ways to bring in a little extra money. One of those ways was selling items on eBay and since that is where I bring in most of our extra income I decided to expand on what type of items I sell and what my monthly profit has been looking like to give y'all a general idea.

1. Clothes - this is the biggest category of items I try to sell. They range from brand new never worn items with or without tags and used clothing that is name brand and in good condition. The reason why I only sell name brand on eBay is because buyers are looking for a good deal on brands they love and typically you can't get much for clothing items that are not of a popular brand. For example, I have sold an H&M shirt, Under Armour clothing items, Nike, Kenneth Cole, etc.

2. Shoes - the shipping cost on shoes is high because they weigh so much and most times require you to do Priority shipping. I charge the buyers for shipping but you must know the exact weight of the item to determine what you should charge for shipping. I don't have a postage scale so it's kind of a hassle but I do plan on getting one so I can get better at charging the correct amount. I have cut into my profit numerous times by undercharging for shipping. This is one of the highest profit items though so it's worth trying to sell shoes as long as they are in good or better condition.

3. Hats - I really thought this item would be the fastest selling item yet I only sold 2 hat out of the 7 I had listed for the past two months. Hoping they sell soon though as I made some adjustments to their listing!

4. Watches/Activity Trackers - these items are the quickest and highest bidding items I have sold. People go into bidding wars for these items, I guess because of the fitness trend right now. 


Extra Tips & Tricks

Before listing an item, if I do not know their worth I try to find the exact item on the stores website. If the item is new with a tag, I try to get the actual value amount. If the item is new without a tag, I try to get at least half the value or more (this is where setting the item as an auction item comes in handy). If the item is used than I typically go with eBay's suggested starting bid price and hope I get numerous bids. Sometimes I do research the eBay site for similar items that others have sold to get an idea of what buyers are willing to pay.

If an item doesn't sell I relist it, sometimes at a reduced price depending on how desperate I am to get rid of the item. For example, I have a pair a KSwiss shoes I'm trying to sell and I have the bid starting at $30; I noticed I get watchers and a lot of views but no one has placed a bid so after relisting it numerous times I now dropped the starting bid to $20. We will see what happens. Sometimes you just have to be patient for the right buyer to come along.

My Monthly Profit

So how much profit have I made these last few months? Well I have had good months and I have had really slow months. I can't make a living off eBay but it helps having extra cash here and there. 

November - $43.54
December - $80.25
January - $284.69
February - $159.45
March - $8.01
April - $56.40 and counting

I determine my profit by subtracting shipping cost, shipping materials (I buy these in a bundle as needed), eBay fees and PayPal fees from my sell price. I have created a spreadsheet in Excel to help keep me organized and calculate my profit for me.

I hope these tips and tricks helped you out and you were able to get a realistic view into how much profit a regular person makes selling stuff around the house.

What do you do to make extra cash? Do you keep account of your profit? If so, do you have an excel spreadsheet or do you do it by hand?
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Stormie Ramirez
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Monday, January 4, 2016

Extra Income Ideas | A Review

Extra Income Ideas | A Review



So you know how on other blogs, you always read stay-at-home moms are making money and it makes you wonder if these people are for real or if its just a scam? Well, since we will be losing one income once Little Love arrives, I decided to try different ways to bring in extra money to see what actually works and is worth while so I can still bring in some money as a SAHM. I decided to give ya'll my thoughts and reviews of what I have tried and if I actually made money or not. These are not get-rich quick jobs, these are just ways to bring in a little extra money.

1. Fancy Hands - This was the first company I tried, it is a virtual assistant job where you take on task that a client sends in such as calling to make a reservation, doing internet research, calling to compare prices, etc. Each task states what you will be paid for completing the task which majority of tasks pay about $2.75 however there are some that pay more depending on the difficulty of the task. Also, each task normally doesn't take more than 20 minutes to complete. While I like that this job can be done when you want to do it, I just haven't had the motivation to actually do the tasks that are available but that may change once I am a SAHM. All in all, money can be made with this company and it is legit. You are paid through a company called Dwolla that can be linked to your bank account. Disclaimer: I do get a small compensation for you using my referral link to sign-up however all opinions are my own.

2. Textbroker - This company is a freelance writing company and the one I was most excited about however I was very disappointed. When you apply, you submit a writing sample that will be rated from 2 stars to 5 stars, depending on your rating depends on the pay you receive. The higher your rating the more pay and the more assignments available to you whereas the lower the rating, less pay and less assignments available. Once you have written multiple articles with this company, your rating is based on the average of your last 5 assignments. This is the disappointing part, I joined textbroker in the beginning of November, I was rated 3 stars with my sample writing. I honestly have no idea how I scored low but I pushed through because I can make up my rating by submitting really good articles. There are barley any articles available for 2 stars or 3 stars writers and the ones that are available just don't interest me but I still pushed through so I can boost my rating and write about good content however the editors of textbroker have yet to rate my articles and it has been 2 months. If you get a high rating with your sample writing, maybe you will enjoy this freelance writing gig but I have given up on it. The other thing is, in order to get paid, you do have to submit an IRS form which you do with any job but I wanted to wait until I reached a decent amount of money before submitting personal information and as I only have $3.33, I have not done so, so I cannot say if this company is fully legit. I did read reviews that others have received money from them but they were just as unsatisfied about the rating thing as I was.

3. Receipt Hog - This app is really neat and basically free money. You take pictures of your receipts and earn coins from any store that sells groceries, health items, beauty products, etc. such as Target, Kroger, Wal Mart, Petsmart, Raceway, etc. Depending on the amount you spent at the store determines how many coins you earn. You can redeem your coins for either a PayPal payout or you can redeem an Amazon Gift Card (1000 coins=$5, 1800 coins=$10, 3200 coins=$20 and 4500 coins=$30). Again, this is not a get rich scheme, just a little extra money in your pocket. If you do sign up and use my referral code fot39693 I earn extra spins at the Hog Slots.

4. Ibotta - I really don't have much to say about this app as I only used it for 10 minutes before giving up. I just didn't like the fact of how much effort it took. With Receipt Hog, I just snap a picture of my receipt and I am good to go, Ibotta offers coupons on items but you have to search for the ones you want and you have to submit your receipt and take a picture of the item you are trying to get qualified or something like that. It sounds simpler written down but actually searching their app was difficult. Also, if you do sign up and decide you don't like it be sure to contact Ibotta telling them you want to cancel your account or else you will be charged for inactivity (something else I didn't like). There is not a cancel option, you have to actually contact them via email.

5. eBay - This is where I have had most of my success thus far. I sell items we no longer need or want or have yet to use. Make sure to take good quality pictures as that is what attracts buyers. Also, do your research on shipping cost, its not that hard to figure out but you don't educate yourself on it you can lose money, something I had to learn my first month selling on eBay. The items I have sold range from used clothes (that are still in great condition and are name brand such as Under Armor, Nike, Adidas, etc.) watches, shoes, activity trackers, Pokemon cards, Nintendo 64 games and accessories. Basically stuff we don't use or need that is laying around taking up space.

6. Craigslist - I sell items here, that I am not able to sell on eBay such as old TVs, laptops, furniture etc. I just don't want to deal with trying to ship a 42 in TV or a dresser so I choose to sell items locally through Craigslist.

7. Local classifieds - Same as above and I also list our puppies in the local classifies when we have litters.

8. Blogging - I have been blogging off and on for about 5, maybe 6 years but I have never tried or really knew how to make money with blogging. Its something I am still learning and we will see how much extra income I can bring in by doing something I already do and enjoy.

9. YouTube - Same as above, I have posted videos sporadically through the years mostly of our dogs and just learned you can make money off your videos if its original content. This last litter of puppies we had, I posted daily videos of them before learning about monetization. I have now monetized all my videos so we shall see what kind of income this will bring in for me.

And that folks, is what I have tried so far. Am I ready to quit my day job today? Um, no unless Little Love decides to come early than I have no choice but no I do not. All these extra income jobs, gigs, hobbies or whatever, take time and some only give you extra change but it's extra change you didn't have. So for the third time, these are not get-rich schemes just little things you can do for extra money.

Sharing at: Made In a Day, Remodelacholic  and A Life in Balance
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Stormie Ramirez
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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mission: Let's Get Serious COMPLETED


The past few months, Anthony and I have been working on paying down our debt. Honestly we don't have that much, just our house, Anthony's student loans and our credit card. It's not a lot of places we owe but the amounts do add up to quite a bit. We decided to start with the smallest debt which was our credit card.

We have struggled to pay down this debt for years, as soon as we would make progress, we would max it out. For years this happened but we decided to get serious (hence the name).

Before we decided how much to pay a month or our goal date, we broke down our bills with the average amounts. Other monthly expenses followed including Mission: Let's Get Serious.

Once we were able to see what our income looked like in ratio to bills and necessities, we decided on a goal date. To find out the amount we needed to pay each month to make our goal we divided the debt into the amount of months. For example, we started in February and wanted to pay off our credit card by June so we divided the amount of our credit by 5 which gave us the monthly payment we needed to pay. It was a reasonable amount so we decided it was a go.


We completed our mission and have now began discussing which debt we will tackle next. We started with the smaller debt first because we knew it would be easier and now discussing the next one is difficult because it's not going to take only 5 months or even a year to tackle the rest. However, that won't stop us from our bigger goal of being debt-free.

I share this with you not to brag but to give inspiration to others to tackle their debt now. I was inspired by Kelly at View Along the Way when she humbly shared the news of being completely debt-free.

Do you have debt? How are you tackling it, smallest to biggest or biggest to smallest?
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Stormie Ramirez
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