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When you consider pharmacy work, the idea of working at home may not come to mind right away. Surprisingly, there are remote pharmacist jobs available. That’s because pharmacists do more than count pills. So how can pharmacists work at home?

The simple answer, of course, is technology. You use a lot of it when working at the pharmacy already. A pharmacist at home uses a little more.

Most work at home pharmacist jobs require experience, usually a couple years or more. Employers want people who know the work, after all.

What Do Work At Home Pharmacists Do?

There are a few possibilities you can consider when looking for remote pharmacist jobs. Some are pretty obvious.

You could be a telepharmacist, for example. This is much like other pharmacist positions, in that you review prescriptions and provide remote patient consultations.

Pharmacists may do centralized order entry or remote order entry of prescriptions. This involves verifying prescription orders, confirming dosage recommendations. and making sure the medication is appropriate for the patient. Catching errors is important, just as it is in any other pharmacist job.

Remote pharmacists may also screen and verify prescriptions to ensure that they’re accurate and that there are no unsafe interactions with other medications the patient is on.

Some positions may require that you get your pharmacist license in other states.

Your experience can also help you land freelance writing or consulting jobs. Get creative in your job hunt. You may even decide to leave the field entirely if the right opportunity comes along.

Who Hires Work At Home Pharmacists?

Remote pharmacists can work for a variety of companies, including insurance companies, online pharmacies, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, clinical research, and more. Even some retail stores use remote pharmacists.

Often, the challenge is figuring out who is hiring work at home pharmacists in your area. Even companies that hire them won’t be hiring all of the time. You may need to be persistent.

Here are some places you can search for work at home pharmacist jobs:

Aetna – May allow for partial telework, such as three days in office and two at home, for established employees.

Cigna – Has a variety of work at home pharmacy positions. Some may require travel.

HCA Healthcare – Search for “work at home pharmacist” or “centralized order entry pharmacist.”

Humana – May offer work at home positions that require experience as a pharmacist. Search for pharmacist jobs, then check the Work At Home box.

Magellan Health – Clinical pharmacist positions may allow you to work at home.

PipelineRX – Offers telepharmacist positions.

Walgreens – May offer occasional work at home pharmacist jobs in certain areas. Most jobs are in stores, not remote, so pay attention to the details.

Sites Which May List Remote Pharmacist Jobs What Will You Need In Your Home Office?

A completely private home office is vital for a work at home pharmacist. You’re dealing with people’s medical information, after all, and that means you need to respect all the laws dealing with that, such as HIPAA.

Your home office will need a door you can close. Your computer may need to be dedicated to the job, and not used for other things. Appropriate security software is a must.

If you do consultations on video, your home office must present a completely professional appearance. Your employer will no doubt have standards for what you can have visible in the background, and of course, you can’t have background noise.

And finally, make sure your home office is as comfortable as the rules allow. Consider the ergonomics of your workstation. Put up appropriate decorations to make it a more comfortable space.

What Are The Disadvantages?

Now, one disadvantage of being a work at home pharmacist is that you don’t get that direct patient interaction, which some pharmacists value. You might talk to them on the phone or online, but it’s just not the same as being face to face.

The other disadvantage is that many view remote verification pharmacy jobs as where pharmacist careers go to die. I saw that many pharmacists have a very negative view of such work. Not all work at home pharmacist jobs are of that nature, however.

It is also possible that you’ll earn less in remote positions than you would in other pharmacist jobs. Only you can decide if the convenience of working at home is worth that.

Overall, if you choose wisely, finding a home based job as a pharmacist can be a good way to continue your career while being there a bit more for your family. You won’t be able to have anyone right there in your home office, but you won’t have that commute eating up your day either. If you can handle the challenges, it may be a good career move for you.

The post How Can Pharmacists Work At Home? appeared first on Home with the Kids Blog.

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It can be difficult to feel romantic after spending all day with the kids. You’re often worn out by the time your husband gets home, and there are probably still the dinner dishes to be done and the kids to get ready for bed. It’s often no wonder romance falls by the wayside for stay at home moms.

We can’t all have the grand romance of a Disney princess or Gomez and Morticia Addams. What we can do is find ways to add bits of romance into our lives. It takes effort, of course, from both of you.

Why Are You Too Tired For Romance?

Many stay at home moms are simply exhausted by all of the things they have to get done every day. This is especially true when you’re chasing after babies and toddlers, although older kids can be exhausting too.

If sheer exhaustion is a part of the problem, make sure your husband understands that. And then tell him if you need more help when he’s at home. His job has definite hours. Yours does too if you consider 24/7/365 definite. Make sure these things are well balanced.

That doesn’t mean hand your husband a long list of chores the minute he walks in the door, of course. But things like doing the dishes together and putting the kids to bed together are quite reasonable to ask.

Make Time For Touch

Take the time for touch in your relationship. It doesn’t all have to be overtly sexual – holding hands or just leaning on each other counts. It’s a little reminder of the closeness the two of you share.

But when you have the energy and the kids are in bed, haul out the massage oils and take turns massaging one another. Even if you’re too tired for more than massage, you will both feel better for it.

Of course, if you’re not up for touch because you’re all touched out, make sure you express that feeling too. There are times when the kids will leave you too tired of physical contact to really enjoy massage. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do things you really aren’t up for.

Try not to neglect the sexual aspect of your marriage too much. If you’re not interested in sex often, you need to have a talk with your spouse and possibly your doctor. Depression and hormone issues are real possibilities when your sex drive drops.

Remember The Everyday Romance

Romance in a relationship isn’t all about big dates nights. It’s in the little things too.

If you pack his lunch, leave little love notes in it. If he doesn’t, how about sneaking a note into his pocket or wallet. Just a little something to make him smile, nothing that would embarrass either of you should a coworker get a glance.

Don’t forget to kiss each other every day. Really kiss, not just a peck on the cheek. And tell each other “I love you” every time you think of it.

Don’t be embarrassed about showing your affection for each other in front of your kids – appropriately, of course. They should see that it’s normal and healthy to be physically affectionate with your spouse.

It can be tough keeping those romantic feelings going when you have children, rougher when you spend your entire day caring for them and just feel wiped out. But romance does not need to disappear from your marriage just because of that. Take the time and show your husband that a stay at home mom still knows her romance. You’re not only a mom, after all – you’re a wife too.

Romance Doesn’t Have To Mean Going Out

Date nights are tough to come by when the kids are little. You’re tired, the budget is tight, and it’s just hard to find the right time to do things together.

But you can make it easier if you take away the pressure to go OUT for date night. Staying in is a perfectly valid option.

If you can get the kids out of the house, plan a special dinner for just the two of you. Haul out the good china you got for your wedding but rarely use. Make something special for dinner. Light candles. Dress for it. Try to have everything ready before he gets home. And try to have most of the cooking mess cleaned up. You don’t want dirty dishes to ruin the mood.

If you can’t get the kids out, make dessert special after they’re in bed. Make or buy something just for the two of you.

If you have a fireplace, take advantage of it. Light up a fire and cuddle up together in front of it. No TV, no interruptions. Chocolate covered strawberries are a nice touch for this one, and super easy to make so long as strawberries are in season.

On the other hand, the right movie makes for a great date night at home too. Find something you both really want to see. Depending on the streaming services you subscribe to, you may even be able to get this for free. If not, Amazon Prime has lots of movies available to rent or buy on their streaming service.

Love to dance? Put on some music and dance together at home. Enjoy each other’s company.

Going Out Can Be Cheap

Going out on a date night with your spouse can be quite affordable. You can get out without the kids for cheap if you know how.

Childcare is often the most expensive part of date night when the kids are little. Sitters don’t come cheap. If you have friends or family who are willing to trade date night babysitting, however, you can cut this cost right out.

Look for free and cheap things to do in your local area together. My town has a market night on Friday nights during the summer. There’s live music too. It’s pretty small, but it’s an excuse to get out for a little.

The free summer movies in the park are fun too. Yes, they’re geared mostly toward the kids, but we get there early, send the kids off to the playground and have some time together.

If you’re short of ideas, ebooks such as 300 Creative Dates can help you come up with fun and interesting ideas for dates.

Have Fun

Sometimes it’s easy to forget to have fun in your daily life when you have kids. Being fun is one of the ways stay at home moms can keep romance alive in their marriages.

Make jokes together. Tease each other – nicely, of course! Flirt.

This takes communication, to make sure that what is a joke to one person isn’t hurtful to the other. There’s nothing romantic about hurting your spouse’s feelings.

You can also have fun just talking. If you can’t think of what to talk about, 1000 Questions for Couples may be a help.

Talk Your Problems Out

When you have a problem with your spouse, talk it out! Don’t let the problems fester. Ignoring problems and letting them fester is a sure romance killer.

Sometimes this means asking for what you need. It’s not fun when you have to ask, but it can be necessary. Odds are that you did not marry a mind reader.

If you need more help around the house, ask for it. Household chores are not yours alone just because you’re a stay at home mom. It’s too easy to make being a SAHM a 24/7 job if you don’t plan out an appropriate division of household labor.

I don’t mean have a gripe fest of all the problems you’re having, or all the faults your spouse has. That’s not helpful to either of you.

Instead, work on having an adult conversation about the problems you see and what you would like done about them. You should both be able to acknowledge the hard work each of you puts into the family, as well as the weak points you may each have.

Ideally, of course, you don’t want one parent taking on all the mental and emotional labor of keeping your family running. If you’ve fallen into the habit of handling everything of that sort, it will take time to make a change, but nothing will ever change if you don’t point out the problem and work together on fixing it. Once again, figure out an appropriate division of labor.

You may find out that your spouse is dealing with things you weren’t aware of. Working outside the home has its own stresses, and while it doesn’t excuse anyone from helping out at home, there are times when work stress means you need to let them have a little more relaxation time for a while. Just make sure you don’t overstress yourself in the process.

Consider reading books such as 50 Secrets of Blissful Relationships to get more ideas on how to improve your marriage. It rarely hurts to get advice from someone who has a lot of ideas on how to keep a marriage happier.

The post Romance And The Stay At Home Mom appeared first on Home with the Kids Blog.

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Everyone admires a child’s creativity. It’s amazing seeing what they come up with, especially when they’re young and utterly uninhibited about expressing themselves. How can you encourage your children’s creativity over the summer?

Encouraging your children’s creativity is a great way to pull them away from electronic screens. These can be useful in coming up with ideas or learning a new skill, however. My kids love looking up how-to videos on things they want to learn to do, for example.

The other key is to have plenty of supplies waiting for them, of whichever sort your kids prefer. We have a craft cabinet which is full of paints, different types of paper, pens, crayons, crafting foam, and much more. They are also encouraged to use age appropriate tools.

1. Encourage them to read.

Reading is a great way to encourage the imagination, whether you’re helping your child learn to read or they’ve long since mastered it. Let your child pick the books he or she enjoys for the summer – time enough for required reading during the school year.

Take advantage of any reading programs in your area that may encourage your child. Many local libraries have summer reading programs. Barnes & Noble usually has a program over the summer where children in grades 1-6 can earn a free book by reading 8 books and writing the titles in a reading journal. The free book titles are listed on the reading journal.

Don’t push your child to read something they don’t want to over the summer, even if it means they read very little or at all. Do keep looking for what they want to read – even comic books have value as reading material.

2. Encourage them to make things.

There are so many ways your children can use their imaginations while making things, and so many different toys that make it possible, from the long-popular Legos and K’Nex to programs such as Minecraft. You don’t want your kids to overdo it on the computer all summer, of course, but Minecraft and similar programs offer a great deal of flexibility and much less mess than toys which can be left on the floor.

Don’t forget traditional tools and materials as well. Once your kids are ready, they can learn to use a drill, screwdrivers, hammers, saws, and other such tools to make more challenging things.

For younger kids, you can check with your local hardware store, such as Home Depot, to see if they have any kids’ workshops available. Some do, some don’t. These are mostly geared toward younger children and are a great way for kids to learn some of the basics.

Arts and crafts are a good choice as well. You can get cheap crafting supplies at most dollar stores. Older kids and teens may want better quality supplies, of course, but younger kids can be so hard on them that cheaper markers and such can make a lot of sense.

3. Encourage them in music.

Learning to play a musical instrument is good for kids in many ways. Let them choose the instrument they’d like to learn if at all possible – they will enjoy the lessons more this way.

Even if they don’t want to learn an instrument, you can encourage their enjoyment by having music play during the day. Turn on something they’ll enjoy – they might sing or dance along.

We keep a variety of musical instruments available. We have the inevitable recorders they learned to play at school, of course. But they can also play on a keyboard or a small harp.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to let kids make music. Even if they don’t want to sing, you can teach them how to blow across the top of a bottle to make sound.

If your kids are really into music, you may want to encourage them to learn about electronic music production. This could be a great creative outlet for them.

4. Encourage them to play outside.

It may be hot outside in the summer, but your kids can play outdoors anyhow, just as you probably did. Have cold drinks and treats available so they can cool down as needed, but get them outside. Encourage them to catch bugs (at least the non-stinging sort), have water fights, climb trees and play with friends. Let them roam the neighborhood as they get old enough.

Bikes are a great way to get your kids out and exploring. My son love to go out riding in the wash near our house. I usually have him go with a friend, as there’s poor phone reception in that area. Usually, they’re so tired at then end that they text for a ride home, even though it’s less than a half mile back.

It is, admittedly, hard to get kids out when it’s miserably hot outside. You probably don’t want to leave the nice, cool house either. Just remember that playing outside in the evening is perfectly reasonable – plus you don’t have to worry about sunburn.

There are also lots of fun summer night activities you can do as a family. Get everyone out and have fun together!

5. Don’t overschedule them.

Don’t overschedule your children’s summer days. Give them time to just be themselves. Classes of various sorts can be good for your kids, but more important is that they have time to do whatever they want.

Free time is truly one of the best ways to encourage your children’s creativity, so long as you don’t let them sit in front of a screen the whole time. Let them be bored. Boredom is good. Kids who are bored are kids who will come up with something interesting to do.

This can be one of the more difficult things to avoid, as kids who are in activities are busy kids, and that means a nice break for parents. Also, many kids want to take fun classes over the summer, to learn things that are of interest to them.

You don’t have to deny them that. Just make sure that your children have a significant amount of time over the summer with nothing on their schedule. That downtime is healthy.

My personal suggestion for summer classes for kids includes swimming lessons. Even if they don’t have regular access to a pool outside of class, it’s a good idea. You never know when a friend will have a pool or you’ll have some other opportunity as a family to go swimming. It’s more fun when everyone knows how.

6. Spend time together as a family.

You don’t have to do anything big, but do things as a family. Have game nights. Watch a movie together. Have a picnic. Go camping. Go on vacation. Have a water balloon fight. Read. Talk about things you’ve done and dreams you have. Big or little, do things together as a family.

You can also take on a family project for the summer. Work on a garden. Build a fort. Make it fun for everyone.

Volunteering over the summer can also be good. You don’t have to sign up for anything formal if you don’t want to – cleaning up the trash in a local park is always an option. But you can also see if any local retirement homes need volunteers, or animal rescues, or whatever you want to do. Get together and do something to make the world just a bit better.

The post 6 Ways To Encourage Your Children’s Creativity Over The Summer appeared first on Home with the Kids Blog.

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Pinterest is one of the most popular social media sites for bloggers, reaching more than 250 million people each month. Better yet, more people on Pinterest say they find content from brands useful than on other platforms. Used right, it’s a great place to drive traffic to your blog or home business. So how do you get started on Pinterest?

It’s not complicated, but there are some things you need to be careful of. It’s easy to make mistakes that will limit your reach on Pinterest or even get you in trouble.

1. Get started on Pinterest with a great Pinterest profile.

Your Pinterest profile can help you look more professional. The first thing you need to do is make sure that you verify your account as a business account. This will give you access to tools and statistics you won’t have otherwise.

Ideally, you want your business name as your user name and your account name. These will show up to visitors. If this is already taken, find a similar alternative.

Include a personal photo or business logo as your profile picture. Which one is most appropriate depends on the kind of image you want for your business. Are you focused on building your brand or are you more personal?

You will also want to fill in the about your profile section of your profile. Use it to describe what your business is about.

2. Separate your personal and business Pinterest accounts.

Pinterest allows businesses to have their own Pinterest accounts. This is a good thing. You can make your business account focused on items relevant to your business while keeping your personal pins to yourself.

If you don’t want to have multiple accounts, you can hide your personal boards by making them secret. This way you can keep saving all the fun pins you want while maintaining a professional image.

3. Make your boards relevant to your niche.

Set your Pinterest account up with a variety of relevant boards to pin your content on. It is often recommended to have 4-5 related but not identical boards per topic.

Let’s take parenting as an example. You could have a parenting board, but there are several related boards you might want to include as well, such as:

  • parenting teens
  • stay at home moms
  • parenting toddlers
  • working parents
  • kid activities
  • parenting styles
  • kids and chores
  • parenting books
  • single parenting.

Having a range of board subjects means that each pin you make may fit on more than one board. That gives you multiple opportunities to promote each blog post.

Make sure you give each board a relevant description and category. You can do this by clicking on the pencil button that you see when you hover over the board, or when you’re on the board itself.

4. Be sure you have permission to pin images on Pinterest.

Many people assume that they can pin just any image they want. That’s really not the case.

If you’re pinning from someone else’s site, check for a Pin It link or other indication that it’s okay to use. It’s kind of a drag when you really want to pin something, but if there’s no indication that it’s okay, you could be committing copyright infringement if someone doesn’t want their images shared on Pinterest.

If it’s a photograph you took or a graphic you created from scratch, obviously it’s fine to use on Pinterest if that’s what you want. This has the advantage of being unique to you, rather than an image several other people have used.

If it’s a stock image you got on another site, it may not be okay. Check your license. Some stock image licenses significantly limit what you can do with them.

There are sites that offer photos and graphics that should be free to use. Just be careful, as you can’t be absolutely certain that the person sharing it on the site actually has permission to declare it free to use. Look for Creative Commons Zero and public domain images on trusted sites.

5. Use images on your site with Pinterest in mind.

Make sure the images you place on your site are Pinterest-friendly. That not only means using images where you have the copyright issues under control, but that will help draw people to your post when they see it. Make it relevant, and use text in your images to help people know what it’s about.

This doesn’t mean you have to make huge images on your site, even though long images tend to do better on Pinterest. You can control which images are pinned to Pinterest so that the images which show on your site are sized to go with your style, while the associated pinnable images are optimized for Pinterest.

You should create multiple pinnable images per blog post if at all possible. They don’t all have to be visible – you can even hide images if you need to.

6. Use keywords in your pin descriptions.

Use relevant keywords as you write descriptions for your pins. This makes them easier for people to find when they search Pinterest.

If you aren’t sure which keywords to use, do a little research. Type your main keyword into Pinterest. Pinterest will give you the pins that come up for that plus suggested words to add onto your keyword. Use the relevant ones as appropriate.

You can add Pinterest descriptions to your images by adding

data-pin-description=”your description here”

to the HTML of your images. In WordPress, you can do this by clicking on the three vertical dots near the top of the block and selecting “Edit as HTML.” WordPress editor isn’t terribly fond of this code – it always tells me there’s an error – but it works just fine in the actual post.

7. Use hashtags.

Pinterest did not support hashtags for a long time, but they do now. But unlike Instagram, they don’t want you to use a ton of them. They recommend no more than 20 hashtags, but I’ve seen others suggest as few as 2-3 per post. Given the character limitations on Pinterest descriptions, I would suggest balancing your descriptions with your hashtags.

Hashtag search is displayed in mostly reverse chronological order – that is, the newest pins will show first. This means their benefit may be limited. Use them right, however, and you might give your pins an early boost.

8. Pin regularly.

Building the habit of pinning regularly to Pinterest may be one of the hardest parts of getting started on Pinterest. It’s something I struggled with for a long time, being just one more thing on top of everything else I had to get done.

These days, I use Tailwind to schedule my pins. It’s much easier. It takes just a few minutes to schedule pins out for each post.

I still have to go to Pinterest regularly to pin content other than my own, but that’s fine. Many people believe that pinning directly from Pinterest has advantages, but that’s not something I’ve tested.

Do not do all your pinning all at once. This is one of the things I love about Tailwind – that it spreads my pins out throughout the day. People use Pinterest at different times of the day. Scheduling means I don’t have to figure out for myself what the best times are. Tailwind does that for me.

Especially do not pin the same blog post all at once. Not only does it look terrible on your profile, Pinterest may view it as spamming. Schedule your pins out. I prefer to go about 24 hours between pins of a particular post.

9. Share more than stuff from your own site.

As a blogger, you’re probably using Pinterest in part to promote your own stuff. Share more than that – it makes your account more interesting for people to follow.

If you join any group boards on Pinterest, sharing from them will likely be required. Group boards are a way for your pins to get in front of people who don’t already follow you. It can be difficult to get onto the best ones, but it’s worthwhile.

You can also join some Tailwind Tribes. These are groups on Tailwind that share pins based on a particular subject and require that for every pin you add, you have to pin one or more of someone else’s. You can try it out for free!

10. Don’t expect immediate results.

As with any other free promotion method, it takes time to see results for Pinterest. You have to build a following and get a feel for the things that do well on Pinterest.

Remember that all those people you see with thousands of repins on their posts were once in the same position. They had to develop a following. The post may have been updated and reshared, so that it has been gaining pins for years, not just a few days.

Give yourself time when you’re just getting started on Pinterest. Test styles and use the right tools to make it easier. It won’t be fast for most people, but Pinterest can be an extremely valuable source of traffic.

The post 10 Tips To Get Started On Pinterest appeared first on Home with the Kids Blog.

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Summer break is getting close for schoolchildren. That means all too soon the kids will have many extra hours in which to express their boredom. It pays to prepare for summer as a work at home mom if you want to get some decent work hours in.

Not all of my ideas are about making things fun for the kids. Fun is good, and children need plenty of it, but you have to expect them to help around the house too. They don’t have school over the summer, and that means they have more time to help you, like it or not. And so…

Plan Ahead

The very first thing you need to do to prepare for summer as a work at home mom is plan ahead. There are several things you need to consider:

  • Will you make any changes to your regular schedule?
  • What do you need from your spouse?
  • What do you need from your kids?
  • How are you going to keep the kids out of your hair when you need to work?
  • What will you do when the kids say they’re bored?
  • Do you need to put the kids in daycare?
  • Are there vacations or events you need to plan around?
  • Of the things the kids want to do over the summer, which are realistic?
  • What could possibly go wrong?

Depending on what you do from home, you may have to keep to much the same routine or you may be able to change things around to suit yourself. Not all work at home jobs have flexible hours, after all. Be realistic when making your plans.

The changes you have to make to prepare to work at home during the summer will depend on the ages of your kids, of course. Kids who are too young for school won’t change much at all. School age children will have a more significant change, but their needs will change as they get older. A time will come when they won’t need all that much from you aside from rides and such.

Talk With Your Family

Once you know what you need, it’s time to talk things over with your family so that everyone’s on the same page or close to it. You can’t assume that they’ll understand otherwise.

Remind the kids of the rules regarding your work hours and interruptions. This is especially important if you’re going to be on the phone or if distractions are a major problem for you.

Be sure your spouse or significant other is on your side and ready to help. If they’re home during your work hours, they should be the one to help the kids with whatever – the kids should not be interrupting you at all if there’s another responsible adult available. They should also know how much background noise you can handle while working.

Once everyone understand your expectations and needs, you can think about the other things your family can do over the summer. You don’t have to manage every minute of your kids’ days, but you can make some plans.

Add New Chores To The Kids’ To Do Lists

Children are quite capable of helping around the house, and they should do it often. How many people have stories about the college freshman they knew who had never done his or her own laundry and was at a complete loss, or the friend who didn’t know how to cook even the most basic of foods?

Summer is a great time to encourage your kids to start cooking, even if they don’t want to. It’s an important life skill. If you have any doubts about how well kids can do in the kitchen, watch shows such as Masterchef Jr. Those kids are amazing.

If they can cook already, consider having them cook more often.

Think about what your kids are capable of cleaning, even if they won’t immediately do it to your standards. Dusting, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, laundry, all that fun stuff. Surely some of it can be made at least partially a chore for the kids.

Keep Their School Skills Fresh

One big problem with such a long summer break is that children forget what they learned in school. Then their teachers have to go over all over it again at the start of the new school year. Summer learning loss is a real problem for kids.

There are plenty of websites which can help you help them retain the things they learned at school. You can find printable math worksheets and more online. Khan Academy has only a little suitable for elementary school aged kids, but it gets better as they get more advanced. Prodigy is better for younger kids, as it’s more game based.

You can also make up your own assignments for them. I prefer to keep summer work within the interests of each child when I can. The child who loves cats, for example, will read books about cats or with cats in them much more willingly than other books. Comic books and other easy reading are perfectly acceptable too. Reading anything is better than reading nothing.

I don’t suggest hours of schoolwork a day or even necessarily doing schoolwork every day. Even a half hour once or twice a week may be plenty, depending on the skills you’re working with.

Summer Camps And Classes

You don’t have to do all the educational stuff on your own, and it doesn’t all have to be educational anyhow. Look into summer camps and classes for your kids that fit into your budget and their interests.

When my kids were younger, for example, I insisted on swimming lessons for them every summer. My older ones have aged out now, but the youngest still gets them. My main reason for this was because their grandparents had a pool, as did some friends. These days we have less pool access for them, but it’s still a good idea to teach kids to swim. It’s a big part of water safety.

If camps and classes don’t fit into your budget, don’t feel bad. There are lots of other things your kids can do. Believe me, I know how hard it is to afford these things at times. There have been times where getting the money for swimming lessons was hard, and they’re relatively affordable. Fortunately, there are lots of free and cheap things you can do as a family that will be lots of fun.

Go To The Park

Getting out to the park regularly gets the kids away from the electronic forms of entertainment, and if you have one young enough to nap yet, encourages naptime later on. If your kids are old enough to only be lightly watched as they play, you may even be able to bring your laptop and work while they play.

I suggest going either early in the day or in the evenings after dinner, as those are the cooler times of day. You’ll also have to worry less about sunburn.

We like to go to the movies in the park our local parks do in the summer. Free movies and a good chance of running into friends makes for a great evening for all concerned.

Trade Time With Other At Home Parents

If you know other stay at home or work at home parents, consider trading times where you have each others’ kids come over. If the kids are friends, this works great! They’re excited to see their friends, and no matter which house they’re at, they’ll probably be more focused on having fun together than on you.

Obviously, if you need quiet because you have a work at home customer service job or other phone work, don’t schedule your turns with the kids when you have to work. They’re going to be loud.

Alternatively, you may be fortunate enough to have family who can help you out. My kids sometimes spend a part of the summer with their grandparents. My sister and I will sometimes trade kids around, although that’s a 1:1 trade which means I still have kids around. But the cousins get along well and generally enjoy their time together, leaving me out of it.

Get A Mother’s Helper

I loved it when I had a mother’s helper when my oldest was a baby. It made life much easier. My helper was too young to be a babysitter, but quite aware of how her older sisters made money with babysitting. Of course she cost less to hire, as I was right there, able to change diapers and so forth. She just had to keep the baby entertained.

If you have a toddler and an older child, you can also pay the older child to have more specific duties toward the younger, beyond what you expect simply for the fact that you’re all family. It’s a good way to teach them responsibility and the value of earning money.

Go To The Library

If your kids love to read, heading to the library is a great way to encourage the habit without spending a fortune on books. Younger kids in particular have changing tastes which can make it difficult to keep a decent selection of books for them. The library, on the other hand, should have lots of books available.

Libraries can have a variety of programs for kids over the summer. Many have reading challenges, but they may also have events. We’ve seen magic shows at our library, for example, as well as many other fun programs. Check your local library’s website to see if anything interesting is coming up.

Have Arts And Crafts Supplies Available

Just how available you make the arts and crafts supplies depends on how much you can trust your kids to use them properly. You may need to keep some out of reach of younger children who might misuse them, while older children should have more or less free access. You know how far you can trust your kids.

As kids get older, the supplies should allow for their greater skills. We have a soldering kit for my kids, tools they’re allowed to use, good quality paints and more.

If your kids aren’t sure how to do something, encourage them to find resources. Library books can be a great place to start. YouTube videos are available on all kinds of subjects. It’s much easier to pick up a fun skill than it used to be.

Get Them Playing Outside

I know summer is hot and kids will grumble about it, but they should still play outside when possible. The trick is to make sure that they will have fun.

The first thing to do is to have lots of fun things they can do outside. Consider all of the fun things you could have ready for them:

  • Bikes
  • Skates
  • Skateboards
  • Water toys
  • Soccer balls, baseballs, footballs, etc.
  • Sandbox
  • Swing set
  • Sidewalk chalk

If the days are too hot or you’re concerned about sun exposure, encourage your kids to play outside earlier or later in the day. Many outdoor games are more fun at night anyhow.

If you’re ambitious, set up the barbecue to cook dinner outside some nights. Dinner outside makes for great family time and gets everyone outdoors. Don’t forget the marshmallows!

Have A Dedicated Play Area

Just as you are better off working in a dedicated home office space in most cases, kids are often better off in an at least somewhat dedicated play area. It might be their bedrooms, but at least they’re playing someplace where they’re out of your hair. Just be sure to check out that suspicious silence. They’re either up to something or being so cute you’ll need a camera. Maybe both.

You don’t have to do all of these suggestions, of course. These are simply ideas that can help make your summer as a work at home mom better so you can be productive while letting your kids have fun.

The post How To Prepare For Summer As A Work At Home Mom appeared first on Home with the Kids Blog.

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The biggest problem with working at home is getting started. It’s tough! There are more scams than real opportunities out there, and lots of people get sucked in, not knowing any better. There has to be a way to avoid work at home job scams, right?

Actually, there are several ways.

There’s no way to 100% guarantee you won’t fall for a scam, but many are so obvious that you can avoid them just by paying attention.

1. Ridiculously high pay.

If the pay is amazingly high for the amount of effort, it’s probably a scam. Thousands of dollars a month for easy, part time work – scam!

This is particularly common with the classic check cashing or shipping scams. No one is going to send you a check to mystery shop a place and have you send back the excess. That’s not how it’s done. That check is going to bounce hard, and you’ll be responsible. That part of the money you got to keep won’t compare to what you lose.

2. No resume required.

Real employers want to know about your past work experience. They are not going to hire every person who contacts them. They want the best person for the job, and your resume is a part of how they screen out the people they know they don’t want.

Scammers don’t much care about your resume. They don’t care about your past work experience. They want to suck you in quickly and get your personal information and/or money. Resumes are nothing to scammers.

3. Call for information.

Work at home positions don’t have people for you to call for more information. Real businesses are too busy with their business to deal with that many job seekers. When it’s a work at home job on the line, there will be a lot of people calling if there’s a number available, and employers know it.

Scammers want to talk to you. How else are they going to get you to bite? They want to appeal to your dreams of an easy work at home job with high pay. That’s easier to do with personal contact.

A similar scam is on social media, when the company asks you to pm them for details. This happens a lot in groups for job seekers. Legitimate companies will tell you who they are. A request for a pm is either a scam or an opportunity that for one reason or another can’t be posted publicly. If you do respond to one of these, use caution.

4. Ad says “work at home.”

For the most part, legitimate work at home positions are labeled as “telecommute” or “remote” positions. It’s certainly not a featured part of the ad. Real employers want the best person for the job, not the one who first notices the chance to work at home and then the job requirements.

Scammers know people type things like “work at home” into job boards and search engines. Having that phrase feature prominently in the ad is one way to get your attention.

That said, some legitimate jobs will be listed as “work at home.” Consider this a caution sign, not an absolute dealbreaker.

5. “No Experience Necessary.”

Sure, there are remote jobs out there that don’t require experience. They aren’t that common, however. Working at home is demanding, and employers want to know that you have at least some sort of work experience, preferably in the industry you’re about to start working in. If experience isn’t an absolute necessity, they may call it something more along the lines of “entry level position.”

Scammers, once again, don’t care about your work experience. They count on your desperation to find some sort of work at home.

6. Vague job listing.

One of the great things about the internet is that employers can give details about what they’re looking for in an employee. It’s not like it was when job ads were usually in the newspaper, and space came at a premium.

These days you should expect to see specific skill and/or experience requirements in job ads. Employers don’t want tons of resumes from people who aren’t remotely qualified for the position. They want to hear from people who have as many of the skills listed as possible and a willingness to earn the rest.

Scammers don’t need to give a lot of information. They know the suckers are going to contact them anyway.

7. Pay to show your interest.

Scammers love to talk about how many people are interested in their opportunity. That’s why they need you to send them some money to show that you’re serious about the opportunity. It gets rid of all the people who aren’t serious about this fantastic opportunity you’re going to miss out on if you don’t send in your money.

When was the last time you heard about a company wanting people to pay to apply? Never sounds about right.

8.They want your bank account information.

Some scams will ask for your bank account information, saying they want to direct deposit your pay. Direct deposit is a wonderful thing, you get your money faster, but be careful in sharing your banking information with anyone.

If you want direct deposit for your pay, make absolutely certain the opportunity is legitimate first. You may have to work a while and receive paper paychecks for a time to be certain if the company is not well known. Even if you have researched the company, make sure you’re really dealing with who you think you’re dealing with, as some scams steal the names of legitimate companies to gain your trust.

9. The interview is through Google Hangouts.

I don’t know why it is, but many scam companies like to use Google Hangouts or other messaging apps to conduct “interviews.”

Online interviews are common enough, these days, but Hangouts isn’t where they usually take place. Video interviews or interviews over the phone are more common.

10. They use Gmail or other free email.

Legitimate companies use email addresses set up through their own domains, not Gmail. It’s a great service for individuals, but utterly unprofessional for real businesses.

Scammers, on the other hand, love how easy it is to set up free email addresses. They can often get a free email address with the name of a legitimate company as a part of their email address.

When in doubt, check with the company you think you’re in contact with another way. Go to their website and find a different way to contact them. Companies that hire people who work at home are generally well aware that scammers steal their good names to trick people. They should quickly be able to tell you if you’re really in contact with them.

Knowing how to avoid work at home scams is vital to your work at home job hunt. There are few things as frustrating as falling for a scam. It takes away from the time you could better spend on finding a legitimate work at home job. Do your best to avoid work at home job scams so you don’t waste your time.

The post 10 Rules To Help You Avoid Work At Home Job Scams appeared first on Home with the Kids Blog.

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You can take inspiration for running your online business from all kinds of things. Just about anything in life can be a lesson if you let it. But some sources give really awful advice. That’s why I’d suggest that you be careful when taking online business tips from your cat.

Don’t get me wrong. I love cats. They’re cute and fuzzy, and odds are that there’s one on my legs right now. Not just when I’m writing this… when you’re reading this. Seriously, mine won’t leave me alone most days unless I insist.

It’s just that some things that work for cats really wouldn’t work so well in your business. Other things they do… brilliant! And if cats could talk… well, I’m pretty sure they’d play lots of mind games with us.

Shed Everywhere

Most breeds of cats shed a fair amount, some more so than others. It’s not their most endearing characteristic, and somehow they always manage to shed light color fur on dark fabrics, and dark color fur on light fabrics. Just a bit of feline magic, I suppose.

I think of this as being similar to spam comments on blogs. Think about the badly spun comments some people leave in the hopes of getting a backlink from your blog, or the “good post” comments the lazy leave behind. Usually, it’s some vague sort of praise that sounds nice until you realize several different people are saying about the same thing to you. “Great post,” and all that.

If you look at the links included with such comments, the sites are usually awful. Poorly written, and clearly meant to get ad clicks, not to work for the long run.

Some spammers even share the feline gift of leaving black fur on white fabric. That is, they leave entirely irrelevant comments everywhere they go. They stand out and are super annoying.

Of course, if you’re alert and have a good quality antispam plugin on your blog, these comments are much easier to get rid of than fur on your clothes.

Don’t shed your comments just anywhere. Blog commenting software may speed up the process of posting comments, but you’ll lose out as soon as your comments start getting marked spam, and even legitimate comments are harder to get published.

Hunt Your Prey

Cats are great hunters. Birds, mice, lizards, your feet as you get out of bed, nothing is safe from a cat on the prowl. They watch their prey carefully, choosing just the right time to strike, then play with it for a time until it either escapes or dies.

Just as there are some things you want your cat to hunt and others you wish they’d leave alone, this is not a behavior you want to mimic without some thought.

You certainly want to know what your target market wants, and for that, you have to know something about their behavior. Don’t do it to the degree that someone might call stalking, but do know what kinds of things people might want to buy from you and why. It helps to make sales.

You should also consider the cat’s focus on its prey. A cat doesn’t go for two mice at a time or a bird and a lizard at the same time. The cat keeps its focus on whatever it’s trying to catch. It may switch focus if something better comes along or if the other prey gets away, but they’ll maintain focus a good while.

Similarly, you should keep your focus on your target market. Don’t go for several all at once. You may be able to serve more than one market over time, but early on it’s a mistake that will slow you down.

Once you’ve captured your audience, don’t make them feel like prey. Offer products to them you think they’ll want. Give value. The best relationships with customers are the ones in which you both benefit.

If you just play with your audience and offer whatever products offer a commission, regardless of quality, they’ll leave you. And unlike a cat, you can’t drag them back unless they agree to stick around. A customer who unsubscribes cannot be put back on your list just because you want them back.

Squeeze Into Tight Spaces

Cats can get into amazingly small spaces. There’s a reason why some people joke that cats are both solid and liquid.

This is much like choosing a niche for your online business. Some people choose a niche so tight that others are amazed there’s room for anyone to run a business in it. Others want more room, so they can show their own style more. They want to be themselves, not confined to a small box.

Deciding how tight a niche you want your online business to fit into may not be easy. Most of us want some flexibility. We don’t want to be so tight in our niche that there’s no room to be ourselves. But only you can decide what’s right for your business.

Get In the Way

Any cat owner knows that cats have an absolute gift for getting in the way. They’ll be under your feet as you try to walk. They’ll lie down on your laptop and get in the way when you’re reading. Small as they are, they’ll even hog the bed.

Often enough, you are your own greatest obstacle. If you make too many excuses for why you can’t work, it’s very hard to own a successful online business.

There may be days that you don’t feel like being productive. If you want to succeed, work anyhow. Don’t let your mood get in the way.

How you set up your home office or other workspace can make a big difference in how productive you are when you work at home. Make sure it’s a space that lends itself to productivity, not to distractions. It may even help to keep the cats out or at least be ready to distract them so they don’t distract you.

Chase Lasers

A small laser has to be one of the best cat toys ever. Cats will chase that little dot of light, determined to catch it, but never getting it. Turn it off when they get tired, then turn it on again and the cat will be after it.

Many people are like that with their online businesses too, always chasing the latest bright and shiny offer they see, but somehow never able to catch the success it promises.

Of course, the cat will never catch that laser, no matter how hard it tries, because light cannot be caught. You may or may not ever reach the level of success you want, but if you try as hard as you can, you improve your chances.

Keep It Clean

Cats wash a lot. If they feel even a slight need, they’ll wash themselves thoroughly. This is one of the great examples cats make, although their technique leaves something to be desired.

Similarly, you should keep your business practices clean. Treat your customers right. Don’t mess around with poor SEO practices. Be honest.

And when you make a mess of things, do the best you can to clean it up. We all make mistakes sometimes. The important thing is how you deal with it after.

Take Lots of Catnaps

Cats sleep a lot. They may be very active when they’re awake, but there’s a reason why it’s called a catnap.

As an online business owner, this isn’t something you can usually get away with. Most people have to spend a lot of hours building their online business. Sure, you can walk away and leave it for a time, and a good business will keep earning for you, but you’ll usually do better if you keep working on it regularly.

This is especially true when you’re trying to build your online business. Don’t assume that the Four Hour Workweek will come true for you right from the start. It probably won’t. It’s far more likely that you’ll have to work a lot of hours for a long time before you can afford to ignore your business for a long period of time.

Push Boundaries

Pushing boundaries can be both the best and worst online business tip from your cat that you can get. Anyone who knows cats knows how they love to push boundaries. That rule that they can’t get on the counters, for example.

Yeah, that one only applies when you’re not watching. Trust me, they get onto the counters when they think they won’t get caught.

Pushing boundaries in your online business can be a great thing. You can go beyond your comfort zone and try new things. That may be what helps you succeed.

But going so far as to break the rules may come with consequences, as any cat knows. Be sure that you can afford the consequences that come with pushing the boundaries.

Be Curious

Curiosity is one attribute of cats you should certainly emulate, within reason. They say curiosity killed the cat, but learning new things is often good for your business.

Learning new things only becomes a problem when you overdo it. If you spend too much time learning and not enough taking action, your business won’t grow.

Find that balance. Keep learning things that will help you grow your business, but be ready to put that information to good use. This way your curiosity about new things you should know for your business won’t kill your business.

I hope this has made it clear why you should be careful about taking online business tips from your cat. Make sure you apply similar caution when taking business advice elsewhere.

The post Be Careful When Taking Online Business Tips From Your Cat appeared first on Home with the Kids Blog.

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Many families are on tight budgets these days, and that can hold particularly true for families with a stay at home mom or dad. Getting by on a smaller income is challenging at times. Sometimes it’s the simple money saving tips that can help you get started.

Not all of the ideas here will be useful for everyone. If your budget is super tight, you’re probably doing most or all already.

At the same time, there are things you can do to save money that aren’t the best idea. These can cost you more money in the long run, and that’s a problem. Sometimes you have no choice, as it may be a choice between doing the thing and eating, but do your best.

20 Simple Money Saving Tips 1. Make a list before going shopping.

A shopping list is a great way to control what you spend at the store. If you can discipline yourself to sticking with the list, you can cut out those impulse purchases that add the small amounts that add up so quickly.

This idea is best combined with the next one:

2. Plan your meals for the week.

Having your meals planned out allows you to more easily make your shopping list and helps you avoid food spoilage, as you know what you’re going to use. Plan to use foods that spoil quickly earlier in the week.

This will also encourage you to eat more often at home, as you’ll know what you were planning on making. You’ll have less reason to eat out because you can’t decide what to make.

3. Make the most of leftovers.

Many people dread leftovers, but they don’t have to be that bad. Some can be frozen so that you eat them a while after you had the meal, rather than so close that you’re tired of that meal. Others can be made into entirely new meals.

4. Buy in bulk when it makes sense.

Buying in bulk does not always make sense. Sometimes it’s one of the worst moves you can make. But when it makes sense, it’s a good money saving move. Canned goods, rice, personal care items and so forth can be cheaper if bought in bulk. Be sure you compare the price per unit (ounces, for example) so that you know for certain that you’re getting a better deal. Sometimes the bulk price difference isn’t worth having to store the extra.

We buy rice at Costco, for example. It’s a huge bag, and most of it goes into our earthquake kit. That excess runs down as I go through the bag, but it ensures that at least some of the food in my earthquake kit is rotated regularly.

5. Just how many phones does your family need anyhow?

Lots of families have more than one phone these days. Cell phone for mom, cell phone for dad, maybe even a cell phone for each of the kids, plus the landline phone for the house. Just how many of those do you really need?

The answer to this will vary depending on your family, but if you need to cut back on expenses, it’s worth reconsidering how many phones you have. Some families get by with no landline phone, but if it’s bundled in with your television or internet service you need to look at what you’d really save by cutting that line.

You may be able to replace some paid options with cheaper or free options. Look at the plan your cell phones are on, and make sure you have the most cost effective one for how your family uses them. My family uses Ting, and our combined bill is rarely over $40. We have four phone lines with them.

Look into services such as Google Voice for when you don’t need a cell phone. It’s a great way to have a free phone line for your home business. Keeping business and personal calls separate is a huge help.

6. Cancel subscriptions you don’t need.

Sometimes subscriptions and memberships are well worth the money. Other times they’re a waste of money you keep paying because you swear you’re going to use it again eventually. If you’ve been promising yourself that for a long time, it’s probably time to save your money and give up the subscription.

One thing we like to do is rotate through a variety of video services, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and so forth. There’s only so much you can watch at a time. Subscribe to no more than one or two at a time and you’ll have plenty to watch without paying for every service out there. Do it right, and you may be able to comfortably cut your cable subscription to save a bunch of money.

7. Walk.

Do you really need to drive everywhere you go? If you’re going someplace close and the weather is right, try walking instead. It takes a little more time, but it’s healthier and cheaper to walk.

If possible, have the kids walk to school. You can go with them if you like.

When we lived close enough, my kids always walked to school. Now that we aren’t so close, I miss it. Not only do I use a lot more gas now, but it takes more time out of my day… and I don’t even get into the pickup line early.

8. Use your local library.

Libraries are a great resource that many people don’t take advantage of often enough. You can get books of all sorts to read for pleasure or to learn from. You can often order in books from other branches if your local branch doesn’t have a title you’re after.

Many also offer DVDs for rent. With all the streaming services available, the library may not be as appealing as it once was, but it may still be a good option for movie rentals.

9. Keep your car maintained.

Cars can get expensive sometimes. Basic maintenance adds up fast, and breakdowns can be even worse. Even so, that maintenance is important, as it keeps your car running longer and more efficiently.

Some things you can handle on your own, such as keeping tires properly inflated. This helps them wear more evenly, and improves your gas mileage.

Sometimes you will have to decide if a repair is worth doing before it’s urgent. My husband’s car had a transmission fluid leak that wasn’t causing problems as such yet, but eventually could have. It cost $400, but that’s better than what it might have cost later.

10. Sign up for free customer rewards programs.

Stores love customer rewards programs, as they give them a lot of data about your shopping habits. I don’t think the privacy lost is too big a deal, but not everyone likes sharing their shopping habits like that. In exchange, you get discounts on certain purchases. These can be quite significant.

That said, my favorite stores give you discounts without requiring the cards, but when the discount is offered, why would you skip it? You can keep some of your privacy by using a Google Voice or other number to sign up, rather than your home or cell phone number. Alternatively, get friends or family to agree on a single phone number to use, and all shop through that card.

11. Make the most of handmedowns.

If you knew how rarely I bought new children’s clothes when my kids were little, you might be shocked. I didn’t buy them much at all, despite having three children. I got plenty of handmedowns, and that solved most of their clothing needs.

They weren’t all from family either. I had friends with children give handmedowns as well. I don’t think I could add up how much handmedowns have saved me. Just be sure to reciprocate as possible.

12. Wait.

If it’s not an immediate need, try waiting before you buy. This is a great way to control impluse purchases at the mall or online.

Wait at least a couple hours, but several days is better. Get past that initial reaction so you know why you want to buy that item. The less it matters, the less likely you are to even remember that you wanted the item in the first place.

Yes, sometimes you’ll miss out. Odds are that it will be okay.

13. Don’t buy your kids so many toys.

Kids will beg for just about any toy they see on television or online. Most won’t be played with all that much and won’t be worth the money they spent.

If you want your kids to be happy, spend more time with them and do things with them. Show them how to do things that don’t require so much equipment. There are lots of free ways to play with your kids.

14. Combine errands.

Gas prices have been pretty painful of late, making it all the more important that you use your car efficiently. The more errands you can take care of in a single trip out, the less gas overall you should be using, plus it’s a more efficient use of your time.

I do grocery shopping after dropping my kids off at school, for example. Not only does it help me save gas, as the store is near the school, it saves time since I’m not going out twice.

15. Find free places to go in your area.

It’s fun to get out as a family, but tickets to get into things can really add up. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do for free.

Pay attention to free events in your area. Your city’s website will often have a calendar of things that are going on. My area, for example, just had a music festival that was free to get into, although it would be all too easy to spend a fortune at the booths.

Take your kids to the park if you want a simple way to have fun together, or look for local hikes. You can make fun time out as a family without impacting your budget.

16. Hide your credit cards and debit cards.

Only carry these cards when you need them. You’ll need the debit cards sometimes to get cash, but other times you won’t need to have them with you.

Carrying these cards leaves you more tempted to spend extra money. You can’t do that if you limit yourself to the amount of cash you need at the moment.

17. Pay down debts.

This is especially important for any high interest rate debts such as credit cards. Interest rates really eat up your minimum payments, so the more you can pay down your credit card debts, the better off you’re going to be in the long run.

Paying down credit cards is often difficult. When you’re carrying a balance on a credit card, there’s often a reason. If it’s due to poor spending habits, it’s time to work on that. But if you used them when your income wasn’t enough, it’s more difficult. You may need to find a way to make more money so you can pay off your credit cards.

18. Avoid bank fees.

Banks love fees. They make good money off some of them. It’s to your advantage to be aware of what’s going on with your accounts so you can avoid ATM fees, overdraft fees, monthly fees and so forth.

Take a good look at your monthly statements to see when you’re getting hit with a fee by your bank. Decide if it’s worth sticking with that bank if it’s a fee you can’t avoid, or how you can avoid that fee in the future if you could have avoided it.

There are a lot of online banks to choose from. Many offer better benefits than traditional banks. Look over the possibilities to see which would work for you.

19. Swap babysitting when you need a night out.

If you don’t have willing grandparents in the area available for babysitting, swapping babysitting with friends or family members is the next best thing. Trade off taking care of each others kids so you can all get breaks without spending a fortune on the sitter.

20. Learn to do basic repairs around your home.

If you have basic tool skills, there are a lot of repairs you can handle on your own around the house rather than call in a professional. Add in the resources available on the internet, and you may be able to fix things you didn’t realize you could.

YouTube is an amazing resource for learning how to do basic repairs in your home. I’ve used videos to do a variety of plumbing repairs. I’m too chicken to mess with electrical, though.

3 Money Saving Ideas That Aren’t Worth It

Not every money saving idea is brilliant or worth the trouble. Here are just a few that usually aren’t worth the money saved.

1. Dropping car insurance coverage.

In many states, car insurance is required, making dropping the insurance even less worth your while, as you may have to prove you have it in order to register your car. But even if it’s not required, car insurance is worth the money it costs if you have an accident.

If you want to save money on car insurance, compare plans and make sure you have the best price for the coverage you need.

2. Buying bulk items you can’t use or store effectively.

Buying the right items in bulk is a great plan. On the other hand, buying bulk items you won’t use fast enough or can’t store properly is a huge waste of money.

Some bulk items will need to be broken down into smaller portions so that you can use them effectively. This costs money in the form of packaging, and so may not save you as much as you think.

If you buy meat in larger packages, for example, you need to have the freezer space to store the excess until you’re ready to use it. A large pack of toilet paper, on the other hand, is much easier to break up and store.

3. Buying the cheapest appliance with no regard for quality.

Whether it’s a blender or a washing machine, you should consider quality when buying an appliance for your home. It usually costs far more over time to buy several of the cheapest quality than one of a decent quality. You don’t necessarily have to go for top quality or the highest price, but buying appliances that do the job well and are expected to last should save you money.

You won’t always be able to buy better quality, of course. That’s one of the costs of being poor, that sometimes you have to spend more money in the long run because you don’t have enough money to buy better quality from the start.

The post 20 Simple Money Saving Tips And 3 That Aren’t Worth It appeared first on Home with the Kids Blog.

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There are good reasons to choose to be a stay at home parent, especially when the kids are little. Some choose to stay home with the kids until they’re all grown. It’s a good thing to do for your kids when your family’s situation allows it, but you should be aware of the risks. Life rarely goes as smoothly as we’d like, and that’s why every stay at home parent should have a safety net.

Your safety net isn’t just financial, although that should be a big part of it. You never know when or if a financial crisis will hit you.

Death, disability, divorce, unemployment… these are just some of the things that can devastate your finances. There’s no guarantee that you can avoid any of them. But you can plan for many of the problems that can come up while hoping they never happen.

Life Insurance

Having at least some life insurance on both parents is an important safety net for your family, regardless of who works or doesn’t. But if one parent has no income coming in, life insurance can be a way to ensure that in the event the working parent dies, the surviving parent will get some money, which gives them some time to get things going again.

Finding a job while grief stricken isn’t easy, after all.

Don’t buy a minimal policy if you can help it. Think about how much financial help your family would need if either parent dies while the children are still growing up. What is the financial value of each parent? How many years will you need that value to continue? What about medical bills and funeral costs?

Find a good insurance professional and talk about what kind of life insurance coverage your family should have. Be sure you understand the different kinds of life insurance. Get coverage on both parents, regardless of who earns an income. Stay at home moms and dads contribute significantly to the family in ways other than by earning an income. Money from an insurance policy can help the family deal with those issues after an at home parent dies.

Of course, life insurance only handles one of the potential problems that can arise for the family. It won’t help at all in many other situations. If divorce, disability or unemployment are causing financial issues, it won’t help at all.

Talk About What If Something Happens To You

Don’t just consider what happens if something happens to your spouse or significant other. What if something happens to you? I promise, it will be a significant impact to your family, and something you should plan for.

Go beyond the life insurance mentioned before. Stay at home parents can become disabled too… how would you handle that as a family? Is your health insurance good enough to cope with that, and what about long term disability? It may not hurt to look at the costs of long term care insurance for the stay at home mom or dad. If you aren’t earning an income, you may not be able to get disability insurance, which is meant to replace the income you earned by working. Long term care insurance will ensure that you receive care if you need it for a long time, so your family doesn’t have that strain.

If disability insurance is what you want, you have to have an income. If you’re working now, look into an independent disability insurance policy. Pay attention to the terms, especially how long you need to have worked before quitting for the insurance to be effective. Make sure your policy will continue as long as you pay the premiums – the coverage is based on your paycheck when you were working, even if you later quit. This will probably be more expensive than disability coverage provided by an employer, but coverage from an employer only helps while you have that job.

Several Months’ Savings

Saving up several months’ income is another way to be ready for those problems life loves to throw at you unexpectedly. Having enough money to live on while you get things figured out for a few months is a huge help.

Saving up a lot of money may not be easy, depending on how close your expenses are to your income, but if you can manage it, do so. Living off savings is far better than using credit cards and having to pay them off later, believe me!

Start small if you need to. It takes time for most families to create a respectable savings account. There may be setbacks as urgent needs come up, but that’s the way it goes. You can’t delay that car repair just because you want to save money, after all.

This should not be the same as your retirement fund if you can help it. By the way, you should have a retirement fund for yourself too, even if you have no other personal income.

Instead, the idea is to protect your family through any kind of financial crisis, from needing to replace a vehicle, to home repairs, to the loss of income. Having money saved up can make big problems easier to face.

Your Own Retirement Plan

Just because you’re a stay at home parent doesn’t mean you don’t need to contribute to a retirement plan for yourself. It’s a vital safety net for when you get older.

Whether you go back to work when the kids are older or not, contributing to a retirement plan for yourself is very important. A lack of income means you aren’t contributing to Social Security, and that effects the benefits you would get when you’re older. There are a variety of plans you or your spouse can contribute toward for your retirement. Talk to a professional to learn more.

Up To Date Professional Skills

If you had to work outside the home, what would you do? What kind of work have you done in the past?

Make sure that you keep up on any qualifications for work you’ve done in the past, or work on qualifications for work you’d like to do. If you have to go back into the workforce because that’s the only way you can support your family, do what you can to make it the job you’d like, not just the first one to come along when you’re in a crisis.

Be very careful when choosing an online college or vocational program. Many programs are not worth what they cost. Others are excellent. You want a program whose graduates find appropriate work after graduation. If too many graduates have trouble finding employment related to their training, that’s not a good sign.

You can also read up on what’s happening in your industry. Read trade journals when you have the time. You can also consider joining a professional association. This can help you to keep in contact with people in your industry, which may become valuable if you go back to work, as well as help you be aware of changes in the industry.

Earn Income From Home

Of course, you can always do your best to earn income from home, as I and so many others do. There are many ways to do this, from working for an employer to working for yourself.

Don’t just look at how someone else is earning money from home, however. They’re doing what works for them. Look at what you can do. Other people can be an inspiration, but you’re more likely to succeed if you work things in your own way.

Do not expect earning an income from home to be easy. It rarely is. In fact, getting started is often the hardest part. You have to figure out how you’re going to earn money and make it happen while managing your at home life.

Working at home often requires sacrifices. It can involve using some kind of childcare if your work requires more focus than you can manage with your children around. Alternatively, it may involve early or late hours and less time for sleep.

Earning an income from home is my personal safety net because it doesn’t rely on how my husband is doing. If (god forbid) something happens to him, I’m still earning a living. My income has helped keep us afloat in the past.

I’m going to be blunt here. If your marriage fails and you end up divorced, or your spouse dies, working from home can save you from disaster. A lawyer friend of mine once told me how relieved he was that I worked at home because he had dealt with too many stay at home moms who had no idea how they were going to earn a living without their husband.

Being entirely focused on your kids as a stay at home mom or dad is a lovely ideal, but it’s smarter to have that safety net of your own income.

Build A Support Network

If all else fails, or even if all else is working pretty well, make sure to have a good personal and professional support network. Your support network can help you get through tough times and may even help you find what you need to improve things, whether that’s a new job, the right doctor or something else. They might be there as a shoulder to cry on or bring a meal over to help you out.

Maintain or build your professional network on LinkedIn. Connect with former employers and coworkers. Look for relevant professional groups to join. Participate.

Keep in contact with friends and family in person as well as online. Getting some time with your parents, siblings, friends and so forth is important. You need time to be yourself, not just a mom or dad 24/7. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so forth have their place and you should take advantage of your preferred social networks, but for most people there’s still nothing like getting together in person and having fun.

Also network with your fellow at home moms and dads. Many of them will have had professional careers too. You may be able to help each other keep up with your former careers, even if they were entirely different. You can always compare how you each keep up with things.

You don’t need to limit yourself to just one of these, of course. The more things you do to protect yourself, the better off you are if things go wrong.

The post Why Do Stay At Home Parents Need A Safety Net? appeared first on Home with the Kids Blog.

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Once you’ve applied for a work at home job, you need to be ready for interviews. You need to prepare yourself for your interview, so you do well. It can be different from what you may be used to from other jobs, as your work at home job interview may be done over the phone or by video. Make sure you’re ready to show your best qualities during your interview.

Make Sure The Interview Looks Legitimate

It’s not unheard of to realize that you’re on the path of a work at home scam when you schedule the interview. Some scams hide pretty well until they give themselves away at this point.

For example, work at home job interviews held over Google Hangouts are almost always scams. If things are looking good but they say the interview is on Google Hangouts, consider this a red flag. It’s possible that a few legitimate employers use this, but it’s far more commonly used by scammers.

Schedule Your Work At Home Job Interview Carefully

You can usually request a particular interview time frame. Make the most of this and choose a time when you won’t be interrupted. Make arrangements for any children to be gone at school or with friends or family if at all possible. The fewer people in the house, the less likely it is that they will interrupt your work at home job interview.

Make sure you know what time zone your interview is scheduled in. A 10 a.m. EST time is very different from a 10 a.m. CST time. Getting the time zone wrong can make your hours early or late for your interview.

You should also find out what kind of interview you will be preparing for. There are several types, and knowing which sort to expect can help you prepare for it.

Research The Company And Position

These days it’s easy to research potential employers online. Most have websites which give at least basic information about the company. Search for news releases about them as well.

You can also learn about them from what they post on social media. Consider the kinds of things and the tone they use. This can give you a feel for how the company wants to be seen.

It’s can also be a good idea to find out what working for a potential employer is really like. Look up potential employers on sites such as Glassdoor to see what others think of them. Glassdoor is a great place to find out what employees really think of the companies they work for.

That said, remember that these reviews can be done anonymously, and may not be completely accurate. A disgruntled employee or customer may post things that aren’t true.

Be Ready For The Usual Questions

There are some questions you will almost always be asked during an interview. You should be ready with clear answers for them. These include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What’s your biggest weakness?
  • Questions about your work history and qualifications.
  • Why are you interested in the job?
  • How will you handle the lack of face to face interaction while working remotely?
  • Why do you want to work remotely?

When possible, use solid data in your answers, especially when discussing your accomplishments. If you work in sales or marketing, you may be able to discuss dollar figures or percentage improvements you’ve made. Writers can discuss how many words or articles they can write in a time frame. Managers can include how many people they supervised and the results.

Be sure that your answers are focused more on how you benefited your previous employer, not on yourself. Focusing too much on yourself can make discussing your accomplishments look like bragging.

When it comes to your reasons for working at home, go ahead and mention your personal reasons, but also discuss how working remotely will make you an effective employee.

Whatever you do, don’t create scripted answers for yourself. You can create notes on points you want to cover, but you’ll sound more natural if you don’t force yourself to keep to a script. After all, the things you want to say may change during the interview. If you’re relying on a script, you could end up struggling for words.

Review Your Qualifications

Go over the job listing carefully, paying close attention to the qualifications required. Consider how your skills, training, and experience meet these qualifications.

Think about what you can say about your qualifications during the interview. How did you get these skills? Are they advanced or is this your first job in this area out of school?

The more closely you meet the requested qualifications, the more the company is likely to be interested in you. It’s vital that you be able to talk about them clearly.

Be Ready To Demonstrate Skills

Sometimes interviewers will ask you to demonstrate some of the skills you would use on the job. A customer service interview, for example, may have you pretend to be helping a customer. Software developers may have to demonstrate their coding skills.

It’s also a good idea to develop your skills with common online productivity and communication tools. You may need to be familiar with Skype, Slack, Trello, Basecamp, Dropbox, Google Docs or other such tools.

Try to find out what the company uses in advance so that you can learn how to use any tools which are unfamiliar. It’s a big advantage if you can say you know how to handle these things. Not many companies do significant team communication over email during the workday.

Prepare Questions

Employers expect you to have questions during the interview. You want to ask the right ones.

Don’t ask questions that you can readily find the answers to on your own. Some positions, for example, will tell you straight up that there are no fees associated with the work, or that there will be a fee for a background check. If you ask questions on this subject, make sure your question shows that you know the basic information, but simply want more detailed information.

Have a list of questions ready beforehand, but be ready to cross some off if they are answered earlier in the interview. Also be ready to add some new ones if you come up with ideas during the interview.

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • What is a normal workday like?
  • What challenges can I expect on this job?
  • How will I be trained?
  • What opportunities are there for advancement?
  • What are your expectations of employees in their first 30, 60, and 90 days?
  • Are meetings by phone, on Slack, or otherwise online?
  • How frequent are meetings?
  • How often do you gather in person?

Ask for more information on the responsibilities of the position, training, scheduling, minimum/maximum hours allowed, and similar subjects. You can also ask about opportunities for advancement. Ask when the job starts and when you might hear back about it. You want to show your interest in the job.

Have Work Samples Ready

Having work samples ready to share at your work at home interview can also be a huge help. There’s only so much you can do for some positions – it’s not likely that you have a sample of a customer service call you’ve taken, for example. But for any position where samples are relevant, have them ready.

Depending on your work, this could be a link to a blog, a GitHub repository, or files saved to your computer and ready to share. Actual samples of your work can show far more of your ability than anything else you do in an interview.

Prepare Your Workspace

Make sure the place you’re going to work in is ready before your interview. This is especially important if you’re doing a video interview or if you need to send pictures of your home office.

This means having a clean desk in an uncluttered area of your home. Be sure that the space you use for your interview would be acceptable to the employer as a workspace should you be hired. If they expect you to be in a room where you can close the door, you need to interview in a room with the door closed.

Test Your Equipment

One of the surest ways to fail a work at home job interview is to have an equipment failure. If it’s beyond your control, you may be able to explain and get a new interview, but if it’s something you should have prepared, that’s a major problem.

An interview over the phone will be pretty easy to handle. A landline may be a safer bet than a cellphone if available, as the connection may be clearer.

If the interview is over Skype or similar services, practice on it with a friend. This is especially important if it’s a video interview – you need to be sure that you know how to make it all work.

You should also turn on your webcam if it’s a video interview to see what your interviewer will see. You may notice some things you hadn’t spotted just looking around the room. Position your webcam right above your monitor so that you appear to be looking at the camera when you look at your screen.

Headphones with a good microphone will be a huge help. This will help keep other noises out and avoid echos.

If at all possible, use a landline telephone or wired internet connection for your interview. The connection will be faster and more reliable. Cell phones, in particular, may have poor connections right when you need them.

No Background Noise

This is utterly vital if you’re trying for a job that requires you have a quiet workspace, and still very important for any other work at home job. This shows potential employers that you won’t be constantly distracted by things around the house as you work.

Talk to your kids, spouse, and anyone else in your home about what you’ll need from them during your interview. If someone can take the kids out of the house during your interview, so much the better. They can’t make background noise if they aren’t home.

Another advantage to getting everyone out of the house is that it keeps them off your internet. You don’t want your connection to lag because someone else is streaming videos or playing online games.

If you have pets, make plans for them as well. The dog may need to be taken for a walk, and the cats closed up in a room well away from your home office or wherever you’re doing your interview.

Contact Your References

If you haven’t already let your references know that you’re job hunting, now is a good time to do so. It’s nice for them to know that they may be called.

Help your references out by letting them know what kind of work you’re interviewing for. This will help the know what to say if they’re called. If there’s a particular skill you want highlighted, don’t be afraid to let your references know.

You can also try to get more recommendations for your skills on LinkedIn. Potential employers are likely to check you out there as well as on other social media.

Practice

Whether your interview is over the phone or on video, or even in person for a more local company, take some time and practice for your interview. Read up on job interview skills and have someone help you practice using them. Remember to smile – a smile can help project a positive attitude even if they can’t see your face.

Have a friend or family member help. This will be more effective than practicing on your own.

Plan For Problems

No matter how carefully you prepare for your work at home job interview, sometimes things will go wrong.

Some may be minor. A sick child might stay home, in which case you need to make sure they stay quiet. Your internet connection might lag. A neighbor could start mowing their lawn during your interview.

Others can be disastrous. Know what you’re going to do if your internet connection completely fails or other such problems occur.

These preparations will also be useful if you get the job. The day I was supposed to start my work at home medical transcription job, the phone line I was supposed to use for it was turned off for fraud. It took hours to convince the phone company that their employee had entered some information incorrectly (I used to work for that company and knew exactly how it had happened), and that there was no fraud on my part. My employer, fortunately, was both understanding and amused, as that was the most unique reason they’d ever heard for failing to start work on time.

Dress Appropriately

If your interview is by phone, this is less important, although you may find it helpful to dress nicely for psychological reasons. If it’s a video interview, you definitely want to look appropriate. For home based work, this is probably not a suit, but you should be neatly dressed. A video interview may be your potential employer’s only visual impression of you, and you want it to suit the position you’re after.

Get Some Rest

All this interview prep can be exhausting, but you need to get some rest too. This way you don’t look completely stressed out when it’s time for your work at home job interview. If you’re tired during your interview, you probably won’t perform as well as you would otherwise.

Be Ready Early

Don’t wait until your scheduled interview time to get set up. Have your computer on and log onto anything you’ll need to be logged into for the interview several minutes before your interview is scheduled to start. This will give you time to deal with any minor issues that may come up.

Punctuality is a huge deal for some remote jobs. If you’re taking technical support or customer service calls, for example, you may be expected to adhere to a very strict schedule. If you’re late for your remote interview, that won’t look good to the employer.

For other positions, it still matters. Being punctual shows that you are capable of managing your time well.

The post How To Prepare For A Work At Home Job Interview appeared first on Home with the Kids Blog.

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