Money Tight This Christmas? Give the Best Gift Money Can Buy

My heart goes out to parents struggling financially at Christmas. Been there. But when I see people overspending and buying a lot of junk they don't need, my sorrow dims and I get a little annoyed. Call me Scrooge, but it's time we quit confusing debt with poverty. Poverty is no running water, living in open sewers, having no food, no medical care. First world consumerism "poverty" is mostly funds mismanagement. Like people who have iPhones and EBT cards, Medicaid and new cars. Cable, Blu-Ray, satellite TV, games systems and welfare. Gambling, lottery and unemployment. Tattoos, salon nails and food stamps. Drowning in stuff and crying about being poor. Money Tight This Christmas? Give the Best Gift Money Can Buy

Free Printable Hanukkah Crafts

Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) is the Jewish Festival of Light. It begins the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, November 27, this year (very early). On the Hebrew lunar calendar it's always the 25th of Kislev. This eight-day feast lands some time late November to early December on the Gregorian calendar.

Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas. The two holidays share nothing except calendar proximity. Hanukkah celebrates the Miracle of the Maccabees, when the temple lights did not burn out for eight days. The festival involves lighting the menorah, feasting, dreidel games and other activities.
Free Printable Hanukkah Crafts, Kids Activities

Free Printable Thanksgiving Activity Book with Gratitude Theme

Here are links for free Thanksgiving activities. You can print games, crafts, gratitude lesson plans, puzzles. Kids can enjoy these activities while waiting for Thanksgiving. You could use as lesson plans, too.Free Printable Thanksgiving Activity Book with Gratitude Theme

How to Recognize Referral, Affiliate Marketing Links on Bubblews

Okay, so this post isn't exactly a free thing I'm sharing. But it's free advice (woo-hoo, like I need more of that you're thinking). But this advice could save you headaches and money if you write or share things online. Here's the tip from an 8-year freelancer: know and avoid referral and affiliate links. Posting referral and affiliate links within articles violates many share site and content site protocols. But there's some confusion about what constitutes such links. Here’s an FAQ to explain.

What’s a referral/affiliate link?

Any link that when clicked, earns money just for clicking. Referral links pay users to direct traffic to a site. Users get paid via affiliate links to advertise a vendor’s specific products, like Amazon Associates. It’s not ad revenue sharing. It’s a direct marketing relationship where user chooses what he wants to sell on his site. Read on How to Recognize Referral, Affiliate Marketing Links on Bubblews

Free Printable Catholic Saints Paper Dolls and Coloring Page Activities

I write a lot about freebies, particularly coloring pages to print. I provide links for cartoon, educational, movie and book based coloring activities. It's been inspiring to see that my most popular coloring page articles are those about Catholic and Bible things. Ash Wednesday, Lent, Catholic faith and free printable homeschooling lesson plans top the charts in most wanted. So for All Saints Day, I'm sharing free printable saints paper dolls for kids to cut and color. These would make great lesson plans for Christian school and home educators.Free Printable Catholic Saints Paper Dolls and Coloring Page Activities 

Advent Math, Writing Project Craft

So many of us have found Christmas to be far more about receiving than giving with our children. It's not that kids are so selfish, it's that marketing campaign target kids and bombard them with images of thousands of 'must-have' toys, gadgets and goodies. Who can blame kids for wanting all that cool stuff. To say, 'you're selfish' to a child is to state an obvious, but not necessarily negative fact of childhood. Telling them not to want things is pointless. But we can give them lots of positive, proactive opportunities to practice giving, sharing and caring.  Advent Math, Writing Project Craft

Convert Summer Toys for Indoor Play

I homeschooled four kids in a single-wide old mobile home. So I know about space-saving as well as money saving. My secret is repurposing. We made outdoor toys do double duty in winter with indoor uses. For example, their Little Tikes Sand Turtle was filled with Lake Michigan beach sand and enjoyed all summer. Then in winter, I cleaned it out, bleach and sanitized and brought it indoors.   Repurpose Summer Toys for Indoor Preschool Play

Cheap (Free!) Family Bonding Activities--After School Kuchen Klatsch

 I'm writing a series on Family glue recipe tips--how we have stayed connected to our family as kids enter adulthood. Being a frugal mama, I look for inexpensive, preferably free ideas. Today's costs only a few cookies and a little milk. It's an after school kuchen klatsch--a catch-up, reconnect time enjoyed with an after school snack.

When the older ones were younger, we homeschooled. After losing our last two babies, then our older kids transitioned to public school, I didn't want to homeschool the youngest alone. So she began school in 2nd grade. We started that after-school tradition that continues in high school After School Kuchen Klatsch with Kids

Free Ad Revenue Sites to Earn Income, Monitize Blogs

Google Adsense, Chitika, Bubblews and Infolinks all earn ad revenue. Here's how I use all four to earn sustainable income--as in enough to pay taxes on and qualify as a home business- writing online and blogging. My best secret to earning money online? NEVER pay to blog, write, or utilize ads. Companies should pay you or allow you to use sites free if you show ads. Read more Best Ad Revenue Sites to Earn Income, Monitize Blogs

Tightwad Mama Saves Money with Common Sense Christmas Shopping

I love buying presents for people, or more specifically, I love gift giving. But I won't overspend to do it. I have a long shopping list of people to buy for at Christmas and birthdays. Four kids and their three significant others, 15 extended family members, husband--and I buy several church giving tree gifts. And there's no need to buy expensive gifts. Here are penny pincher shopping tips to save money, keep costs low and buy meaningful gifts for everyone.  Tightwad Mama's Common Sense Christmas Shopping Tips

Note to Self--Check Spam Folder Regularly

 I just checked my spam folder on my email and was troubled to find some important emails had been diverted there. These were not from new contacts, but long-term connections. I had emailed back and forth with these. So how did these particular missives end up labeled spam? I have no idea.  Note to Self--Check Spam Folder Regularly

Free Ways to Earn Money--Think Divergent Employment

Unemployment is decreasing. Jobs are being created and the economy is improving. Or so we hear. I think such optimism premature and fanciful. Personal experience has shown me the way financial solvency in this quicksand economy isn't necessarily job hunting, college or even working a traditional job. Survival requires proactive, divergent thinking.

Step off the job-chase grid. I left my job teaching adult education in 1996 to homeschool. I re-entered the work force in 2005 and had to take classes to renew my teaching certificate. I couldn't find a job. I subbed, earning at most, $400 a week, before taxes, no benefits. I worked on-call and only when school was in session. Most weeks, I got 2-4 partial days. Earnings barely covered gas, insurance, vehicle costs, required business wardrobe and child care. I couldn't recoup tuition costs incurred to keep my license valid. Job-hunting for a permanent teaching slot cost me and meant missing subbing opportunities. Working put us in a higher tax bracket. We barely broke even. Even in my wealthy community, many are in similar situations.
For more on this read Step Out of the Job Hunting Market; Think Divergent Employment

Free Content Writing Site That Earns Money

My third payment just cleared and I've only been on Bubblews for about three weeks. I'll be hitting "redemption" today or tomorrow. I don't write every day, so it probably averages to four payouts in three weeks. I don't say this to brag, only to share what what's working for me. What's Bubblews? Click my referral link and find out. For more on how to make Bubblews earn money for you, read on.  Bubblews Tips That Earn Four Redemptions in Three Weeks

Cheap Summer Family Fun Ideas from Tightwad Mama

We raised and four kids in an 800-square-foot mobile home. We were solvent and debt-free on one income while I homeschooled. I know about pinching pennies and cheap family fun. Here are tightwad mama's tips to stretch your summer fun buck.

* Make money multitask. Pay with the payment form that saves most and earns best rewards: store credit cards, debit card. Save points for better rewards.

* Get admission deals. Use buy-one-get-one-free deals from vendors like Daily Deal Superstore. Save on concert, museum, amusement park, restaurants and vacation tickets. Look for events offering free kid admission with paid parents. Contact event websites for deals. I got half-price student opera tickets from the box office. An air fair distributed free tickets to school kids. They send me tickets to distribute to our home school group. Cheap Summer Family Fun Ideas from Tightwad Mama

Free Google-Friendly Ad Revenue Sites to Earn Money Blogging

I don't fully understand the magic that earns money from blogging. I do know, with ad revenue, it's the sweet spot of online freelancing. Since 2008, blog ads have supplemented my income--not just a little, $200-$800 a month. Here are free ad sites to monetize blogging. These aren't click fraudsters. They're Google-approved sites.

* Blog-Freelance Win-Win: First a word on how that sweet spot I mentioned works. Write articles for upfront pay (or performance only). Earn performance payments on page views. Several content sites pay upfront and performance. Others, one or the other. Companies form, disband or change, so search opportunities regularly. If company terms of service allow and you earn page views, blog snippets of articles with links back to original. This earns page views plus ad revenue if readers click ads while on your blog. I have blogs on Google Blogger and Wordpress. Read more Google-Friendly Ad Revenue Sites to Earn Money Blogging

Free (or Cheap) Mood Lifters, Stress Busters, Pick-Me-Ups

Depression. It's everywhere I look. Medicated or not, more people seem to getting less satisfaction from life. Here are free (or cheap) mood lifters and stress busters.

* Avoid drugs. I don't say this pedantically, but from painful experience. I took Paxil for several years. It caused health problems, didn't help depression and left me dull and listless. I believe it caused me to give birth to a stillborn baby. It was mentally addictive. I put on 100 pounds taking it. If you take antidepressants, get brand facts and don't expect a panacea.

* Don't self-medicate. Street drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine don't beat depression. They cause it. A social drink is okay but consider your mood and the timing. Don't drink alcohol or caffeine on an empty stomach.  Free (or Cheap) Mood Lifters, Stress Busters, Pick-Me-Ups

Free Printable Mother's Day Cards to Color

Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. Looking for free printable crafts to make with children for Mother's Day? Children feel proud to make crafts for mom. Here are free printable cards that children can color themselves and give to mom. Family Fun (click here) has 10 free printable Mother's Day cards. Some are designed in black and white to be colored. The other cards that are designed in color, can be printed in black and white and made into coloring cards for Mother's Day. Set your printer properties to 'black cartridge' or 'print in grayscale' from the color option tab.  Free Printable Mother's Day Cards to Color

Swagbucks Earns Gift Cards, Freebies and Discounts

In 8 years of freelancing, I've tried just about every points company there is to make a little extra income. Here's my favorite: Swagbucks. Do all the things you normally do online: shop, search, answer questions, socialize, watch TV, play games, read emails and articles. And get rewarded for doing it. It's easy and takes almost no time at all. I've earned enough points to buy over $100 in gift cards to Amazon. The best point value is $5 Amazon cards for 450 pts each. You can use as many codes (online gift cards) as you want on any Amazon order. There's no limit. I bought all my Christmas gifts for two kids this way. Here's my Swagbucks referral link. Tell 'em Marilisa sent you! Click on the title link for more paid online survey companies. The article is from 2008, so some have changed but the links take you to the new companies. Your 2 Cents isn't in business anymore. 

Spring 2013 Festivals and Fairs in Detroit

Say "spring," and what leaps to mind? In Michigan, picnics, flowers, parades, and festivals -- a chance to sweep out winter blues with the last, dingy snow! Here are must-not-miss spring 2013 festivals in and around Detroit.Spring 2013 Festivals and Fairs in Detroit 

Free Printable Easter Cards for Children

February is the shortest and longest month of the year. Now that March is here, we have several special occasions to celebrate, with St. Patrick's Day on the 17th, the first day of Spring on the 20-23 and Easter, when it falls in March. Are your children getting restless? I'm nearly 49 and I'm ready for spring! Do you need fresh activities to get them through till nice weather? Here areFree Printable Easter Cards for Children
color-your-own Easter cards to make and share. I've listed websites to print free Easter cards for children to color; these are non-secular cards so that you can use them in any public or educational setting. Look for my upcoming article on free printable religious Easter cards for your church activities and celebrations also. 

Adult Homeless Shelters, Rescue Missions, Warming Centers in Detroit

According to Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, over 18,000 people are homeless in Detroit. 30 percent of that number are chronically homeless. Most face other issues: abuse, physical disability, mental challenges, addiction, poverty, joblessness and illness. Fortunately, there are agencies to help. Here are rescue missions, homeless shelters and transitional housing programs for adults. Most all provide or connect clients with food, shower and laundry facilities, education, medical needs, counseling, employment and substance abuse treatment.  Adult Homeless Shelters, Rescue Missions, Warming Centers in Detroit

How I Save $1,500 a Year on Family Personal Care Products

Do girls or boys cost more for hygiene and personal care? I've got two of each and they are evenly matched. Each has product preferences. I never minded buying what they liked, but I did it cheaply. Here's how I saved at least $1,500 a year on personal care products for a family of six. And no, I didn't get rid of two kids! Not free, but very cheap and when you count money saved, it's like getting stuff free! How I Save $1,500 a Year on Family Personal Care Products

Free Printable Valentines, Coloring Pages, Cards, Craft Activities

At each holiday I have a few bookmarked websites that I check for free printable crafts, greeting cards, coloring pages and activities. Here are my top favorite free printable valentines crafts websites for Valentine's Day activities. Cause' free is good, right? Free Printable Valentines, Coloring Pages, Cards, Craft Activities

Free Printable Chinese New Year, Year of the Snake Activities

The Chinese New Year, a calendar system centuries older than the Gregorian calendar, begins in 2013 on February 10. This year celebrates the year of the snake. If you are a classroom teacher, home-schooler or in charge of any group which educates children, one of the most instructive and interesting subjects you can explore with students is the cultural practices of different peoples and groups. Here are some free resources for you to print to explore the Chinese New Year. You will find lessons, crafts, puzzles, games and materials to print free.  Free Printable Activities for the Chinese New Year 

Free Printable Valentine Crafts, Decorations

Looking for cute free Valentine's Day craft activities and party decorations? Here are websites full of free printable crafts, games, party supplies, greeting cards, valentines and holiday activities. Perfect for classroom valentine exchanges and parties.  Free Printable Valentine Activities

Free Dessert from Chili's

Sweeet! I'm getting a free dessert @Chilis Jan 22-24. Get your coupon here or copy image and print. You have to buy an adult entree to get it. Be sure to sign up for Chili's coupons at 

Free Clinics for Uninsured Adults in Detroit

As health care costs escalate, more people are struggling to access and pay for basic medical needs. According to S.A.Y. Detroit, 550,000 people in the Detroit area lack health insurance, and nearly 100,000 of these are kids under 10. To bridge this gap, several Metro Detroit missions and community organizations offer free clinics and health services to uninsured adults.  Free Adult Health Clinics Detroit Uninsured 

Free Printable Games, Puzzles, Crafts, Worksheets, Coloring Activities

When my oldest three children were young, the internet wasn't available or was limited. Now we can find anything we want in a moment, including free kids' activities. Here's a list of 20 websites that offer free printables. There may be a site fee for some, but there will be many items you can print free without paying or subscribing. You'll find games, puzzles, coloring pages, activities cross-words, Sudoku, skill builders, cut and paste, dioramas, paper dolls, figures, for just about any subject you can name!  Read more

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education.