Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Financial Status

It's not often I post about the 'richer' part of my goals...but I've had some relative success with my writing lately, if you consider a piddling to be relative:)

I decided that I really needed to put more time and effort into writing articles on The way to earn money on this site is by having writing and rating "stars" - the more stars you have, the more cents you earn. The higher rated your articles are, the more cents you learn. So I have been taking the time to revise some of my lower-rated articles (known on Helium as leapfrogging) and was pleasantly surprised to see most of them then climb up a few notches, in some cases by leaps and bounds.

In addition, Helium now pays you an "upfront" payment each month, calculated by the number of new articles you've written (low-rated or not) and how many writing stars you have. I currently have 2 writing stars (out of a possible 5 or 6) and this month I wrote 7 articles. So, $7. If I were to write 20 articles in a month, I would earn $20 (probably more, since writing that many would up my star level.)

Helium also has a Marketplace section, where publishers list specific titles they need an article for, and then you write for it. You are able to see how your article ranks numerically among the others, although you can't read the other submissions like you can with regular Helium articles. The publisher then picks an article to purchase. This month I sold an article written about how to take care of pregnant dogs. It sold for $24.

The final way to earn money at Helium is to participate in the writing contests. Every two weeks there are topics, and within each topic, 20 titles. For each title you write to, you earn or lose points based on how well your article is ranking. The contests can be lucrative, with first prize for each topic being $60. This month, one of the topics was Babysitting (think: "How to Hire a Babysitter" or "Leaving Your Child with Their First Babysitter). I wrote to about 8 of the titles, and 6 of my 8 articles were ranked number 1. Meaning, I was winning the contest!! I have since been booted to 2nd place (grrrrr) and the door for writing is closed, but there is still one more week of rating left. So its possible I could move back to first or down to third (or lower.) Still, it's a lot of fun and a good way to exercise my writing muscles. If I should win 2nd place, I will win $40. Which would make my total earnings from Helium about $70 for this month. It's not a living by any means, but it's something. Especially when you consider that's from an average of 1 hour of work a day, maybe 15-20 days of the month.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Semi-Success at CVS

I did the CVS thing today, and while I feel that I did score a few deals (and definitely scored some ECBs) that I didn't do as well as I have in the past. I spent $50, although I did get 2 packs of diapers, so right there is $20...

Here is the run-down...for $50 I got:

* 2 jumbo packs of Huggies

* 1 50-ct bottle of Aleve

* 1 8-pk AAA batteries

* 1 4-pk C batteries

* 1 bag of fun-sized York Peppermint patties (ooops, how'd they get in there??)

* 12-ct package of Scott tp

* 1 36-ct box of tampons

* 2 of those magnetic photo frames (since the little one has broken all the hard plastic ones!!)

So, while $50 seems like a lot for CVS, I did get a hefty return with $11 in ECBs for next time. And I can pretty much always justify spending a bit for things that we are always going to need (diapers, toilet paper, and batteries of all sizes for the gazillion toys our son has). We also go through Aleve like its candy in this house, since its the preferred pain reliever for both my husband and I. Tampons are always needed...and sometimes, so are Peppermint Patties:)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Better Late Than Never!

So I had intended to write out my New Years resolutions as they pertained to the topics of this blog before New Years...or at the very least, while January was still in the single digits. But alas, time has gotten the best of me so here I New Years Resolutions as of January 13th!

1. Avoid Plastic Water Bottles. I actually have one triumph under this resolution already--I purchased an aluminum water bottle from A bit pricier than the average bottle, I figured it would be worth it to have one that would stand the test of time, and--having spent $15 dollars on it (I purchased one on ebay)--I would feel compelled to use it. So far I am extremely happy with this purchase. It makes me feel cool:) I'm not saying I won't purchase water in a bottle ever...if I'm somewhere like a concert or a fair and I'm thirsty, I'm going to buy a drink. But no more buying cases of water...even if I was reusing them a few times its still bad.

2. Up The Ante on Exercise. I have to say the month of December was a wash. I barely worked out (aside from a few leisurely walks here and there, during which no sweat was broken) and I've paid the price to the tune of 2# gained over the holidays. The first week of January was also a bust...half was spent on vacation and the other half being lazy. Starting this week I'm 2 for 2 and hoping the trend continues. My husband is planning on investing in an elliptical machine, and while I'm not looking forward to the giant eyesore that will be hogging space in our basement, I am looking forward to another option for exercise. Walking/running is great--except when it's below 30 or above 75, which is pretty much half the year. DVR'd workouts suffice, but are boring as hell. I've done elliptical training before, and I do enjoy it, and its definitely a calorie burner. And, if G2 lives up to his word, our small flat screen tv will finally come out of the box its been living in for 2 years and be mounted on the wall in front of the elliptical. Time will tell...

3. Cloth Napkins. We have them, 8 beauteous striped napkins that I believe we got as a wedding present...and have been used about 2 times ever. 1 of those times was the other night, when our fellow greenie friends were over for some sushi and taboo. It was the exact amount of effort as getting out the paper ones, and throwing a few napkins that weigh less than air in the laundry is also no trouble. I think investing in another set to ensure that we don't run out between laundry days is in my future....

4. CVSing, Bargain Hunting, Couponing. Another habit that has fallen wayside due to the holidays. Why is it so hard to keep on track during December? Nonetheless, taking the time to investigate deals, find coupons, and replenish our stock pays off. I made my first CVS run in over a month this Monday, and for $32 I got some serious loot: 2 10-pks of batteries, 2 boxes of cereal, a large thing of mouthwash, 2 bottles of dish detergent, a box of trash bags, a bottle of Aquaphor for my poor chapped hands, and 2 bottles of shampoo. AND $8 in ECBs for my next run. Not bad.

5. Composting. I have been meaning to look into this. It seems that with the right set up it will be little or no extra work and will cut down on disposed trash. I need to figure out if a real compost pile is do-able, or if a fancy schmancy composting bin would be better. We do live in the woods, but my main concern is that my Labrador Retriever will see the compost pile as his own daily buffet.

6. Saving My Money vs Spending It. We have a pretty rigorous budget in place, and each week of the month I write out a bunch of checks and give it all to the bank and various utility companies. We are slowly improving our grocery habits by attempting to make a menu for the week and stick to it. (We could be doing better in that department.) My main goal here will be with "my" money...ebay earnings, writing earnings, "extra" things like rebate checks or Christmas money. I have the tendency to spend this money on "stuff"...basically I can piss it away in a matter of hours. Already by not spending the cash I received for Christmas on clothes and whatnot (as I did last year, running through the Tannersville Outlets like a crazy person) I have more than enough money set aside for a projected trip to visit my sister later this year.

That's it, for now. Some of these goals are simple and easy...the kind of resolutions they say you're "supposed" to make, some are more open-ended and vague...the kind that are harder to keep. It will be interesting (to me at least) to look back on this in 1 year and see how I've done...

Happy (belated) New Year!!