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Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Archive for Jill’s Blog

Feb
10

The ABC’s of Working from Home

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home-officepebbles2015Any mother can tell you how exhausting juggling family, home, and a 9 to 5 job. When spending too much time in an office job, your family life suffers. This is because you tend to miss out on the memories and your children growing up. In addition, some jobs require a lot from you in terms of long hours, out of town trips, and sometimes working on weekends and holidays. It is for this reason that a growing number of parents are all for working from home.

It is usually a terrifying experience leaving a solid source of income into a world of the unknown but you must look at it as a chance for growth and being your own boss. In fact, working from home trains you on time management. The great thing is that you now have the ability to juggle family life, errands, and your home office in a flexible manner. Working from home can have its disadvantages because you may be distracted by the kids when they cry or when company unexpectedly stops by. The trick to handling this is to train the kids to keep away from your home workspace within set hours and informing family and friends of days you can avail yourself socially.

The key to success in working from home is balancing work and home. It is not always easy but with time, you can definitely handle and enjoy both. One of the things you can do is to create a timetable for each day and how you intend to have family time, do your chores and errands and when to buckle down and get some work done. If you are doing work that excites you and requires flexible time to handle it, then it means you will have more time for other things in the home and about town. Read More→

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Feb
09

Are Computer Backup Services Worth the Money?

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coffee and computerRecently, a friend of mine messaged me horrible news. Her house had been robbed and along with that her electronic valuables. She had no backups! Thankfully, she had some files on Google Drive, but her story reminded me of the importance of always having a backup of computer files.

I’ve been caught several times, too. Not by theft but by the inevitable crashing of hard drives in laptop computers. It only had to happen to me a couple of times to realize–using a backup service is essential to running my business!

Also, years ago one of my external drives had failed. One company quoted me $3,000 dollars to recover the data! Thankfully, a computer whiz I knew managed to restore the data for $75. That was a bargain!

And computer backup cloud services are a bargain, also!

Sure, you can do it yourself. For Macs, there is Time Machine. Um, can’t remember the last time I did it. Besides, if there was a disaster or a theft, most likely your external drives would be history, too!

So if you don’t want to go to the expense of a cloud service, at least backup your computer to a drive you will keep off site!

But suppose you are sold on the idea of paying for a service? Where do you turn?

Here are three companies that can help:

1) Carbonite.com

This is the service I have used for years. It’s a no brainer in that it automatically backs up my computer as I work on it. For one or two computers, it’s reasonable. The payments start at $59.99 annually so it’s easy on my budget.

The negatives are that when I did have a computer crash, recovering the files was not as smooth as I would have liked. Some files didn’t appear to work. But I managed to download everything that was important so I don’t think I lost much.

The other drawback is that the charge is per computer. However, if you purchase the office plan you can get unlimited backup for computers, devices, and external drives for $269.99 per year.

One more negative–if you are working on a file and then realize later you need to restore it to its original, it will be too late. The backup is actually so fast that whatever’s on your hard drive currently is what will be on the Carbonite cloud soon after. For those projects that you are continually working on, it would be beneficial to periodically backup these files independently to another cloud service (like iCloud. See below).

2) iDrive.com

iDrive promises to be much more competitive. I like that I can backup all computers (Windows, Macs, external drives, and devices) in one account. It starts at $69.50 for the first year (but there is a sale as I write this so it is even less). It will even do older operating systems. And it has a 5 GB offer that is free. So you can try it and see if you like it.

I did try the free account awhile ago and I found it a bit more complicated to use than Carbonite. But I’m not sure I didn’t give it a fair shake. Considering the amazing deal I will probably try again! Read More→

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Feb
08

Self-Employed Financial Management 101: 3 Strategies to Adopt

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As a parent who is self-employed or works from home, you are no stranger to the struggle of time management, multitasking and prioritization. Carving out that precious, uninterrupted time for yourself is a necessity to get anything done, but it requires a lot of juggling to get there, with school runs, snack prep and babysitter scheduling.

Most days it feels like you can barely keep your head above water, but somehow you still manage to get many of the most important things accomplished. However, there are many less time-sensitive to-dos that often get pushed down your priorities list that could really use some attention — like financial management. Here are three strategies to implement to make your money management more efficient and effective.

Stay on Top of Bookkeeping

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work duties and overlook seemingly simple tasks like bookkeeping. Then, all of a sudden, the year ends and you begin scrambling to file your taxes and realize that it’s been over six months since you last properly tracked your business expenses.

Avoid the headache of trying to get everything done at the last minute by automating your process as much as possible. Sign up for cloud-based software like QuickBooks Online or Xero to track all of your business expenses in a format that your accountant can easily work with. Choose a service that syncs with your business banking institution so that you can skip entering every line item manually and instead simply categorize and approve each expenditure before reconciling your records with your bank statement every month.

To avoid months of bookkeeping work piling up, create a recurring calendar event every month a few days after your monthly bank statement becomes available so you can update everything for the previous month. Typically, this will only need to take an hour or two.

Diversify Your Income Stream

For the majority of people, working on your own means forgoing a consistent paycheck in favor of flexibility. Sure, by the end of the year, you may even make more money than you would working for someone else, but that money is never really a sure thing until the work is complete and you get paid, making it somewhat unpredictable at times.

To balance things out and try to make your income a little more predictable, try diversifying your income stream. Choose a reliable form of income like renting out a real estate property that you own for a minimum a one-year lease. Or take advantage of a gig economy opportunity with a company that has a strong focus on creating jobs in the U.S., like Amway.

Create a Monthly Budget

If you thrive on structure, a monthly budget could really help you save more money while still covering all of your family’s basic needs. Since your income likely varies on a monthly basis, aim to underestimate your income and overestimate your expenses to help make sure there is money left over for your savings.

If possible, “pay yourself” first by putting a predetermined amount of money into a savings account or 401K at the beginning of every month before you start paying for other routine expenses. If you procrastinate doing so until later in the month, you’ll be less likely to actually put any of that money away and will often use it to pay for other less necessary expenses ahead of time.

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Feb
07

Hypocrisy and Parenting

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Becoming a hypocrite is very easy for parents. Do what I say, not what I do, because sometimes adults can do things children cannot, but it still makes adults look like hypocrites. I strive to set a good example for my children, and sometimes I actually succeed. One thing I have done is not teach my children there are bad words (aka swear words); there are adult words and children words. My children have no right, whatsoever, to correct an adult they hear swearing. No, no, if I hear my children correcting an adult, even a stranger, I will stop them. Adults can swear, children cannot. If you say swears are bad words you are setting a precedent and telling your kids, adults who swear are doing something wrong. Now, this isn’t to say swearing is right, but the point is to teach the children they cannot correct adults because children are under a different set of rule than adults.

This is the point, children are under a different set of standards than adults. The difference is in the home and in society. Teachers at school can use the microwave to heat up leftovers for lunch; students do not have access to microwaves. There is a different set of rules for teachers than for the students. Mom and dad can stay up late and play video games; children cannot because there is a different set of rules.

What I want to share with you today is a memory from a few years ago. First, I need to say Christians have a different set of rules than non-Christians. Read 1 Corinthians and see what Paul has to say about this topic. Right now, I am building up to something and need you to understand that the rules for my children and the rules for Christians is why I am bringing this story up.

When I was in college, studying the Old Testament, I was learning about the different ceremonies God commanded His people to celebrate. Now, I have no intention of following all of the Old Testament ceremonies and feasts, I am not under that covenant as a believer in Jesus, but the Sabbath is another story altogether. The Sabbath is mentioned in the second chapter of Genesis, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day, he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on that day he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” The Sabbath’s holiness is mention before God has established a covenant with any man or group of people.

Not only is the Sabbath mentioned in the very first book of the Bible, but it is also referred to in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8). Now, the Ten Commandments do fall under the Old Covenant but are still the commandments by which we are governed (along with the new commandments to love God above all else and to love others as we love ourselves. Found in Matthew 22:36-40). The Ten Commandments still serve the purpose of recognizing sin and showing we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), even under the new covenant. Read More→

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Pebbles Jacobo, All Things VA bloggerpebbles-reasonsFor a busy entrepreneur not to have a virtual assistant on staff, or at least on retainer, is for a king not to have his knights or a coffee shop not to serve coffee. Scratch that. It would be the same as a king CHOOSING not to have or make use of his knights, being a wayward traveler and lone ranger or a coffee shop CHOOSING not to serve coffee. None of those work out very well.

Simply put busy entrepreneurs are just that – they’re busy! A virtual assistant is akin to an off-site employee providing web and general administrative assistance.

1.      Versatile Skill Sets: Virtual assistants, like other employees, come in all manners of knowledge, experiences and skills. Often times their versatility enables them to easily switch gears, modes and even programs easily. Often times a virtual assistant you use for research and database collection might also be the same one you can use or web design or document formatting.

2.      Cost Effective:  You pay only for time spent on tasks as opposed to coffee breaks, late starts and vacations. Granted, you’ll want to check with your virtual assistant before you hire them to verify whether they round up their time ‘spent’ on projects to the nearest quarter hour, which is a common practice for freelance workers paid hourly.

3.      Excellent Resource:  Whether hiring directly or utilizing specific skill sets, virtual assistants are excellent resources, especially when used to manage off-site teams, no matter the project. Most virtual assistants, by nature, are capable of working remotely with very little input. This, in and of itself, reduces time spent on spinning ones wheels trying to complete specific projects and tasks. Read More→

Feb
02

The Guilt of a Work at Home Mom

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Especially as women I find we are more susceptible to false guilt than men.

How often do you find these words coming out of your mouth “I feel guilty….”?

“I feel guilty for not spending enough time with my kids”

“I feel guilty for losing my temper.”

“I feel guilty for not having a better relationship with my mom.”

Can you distinguish between false guilt and real guilt or conviction? False guilt leaves us striving in our homes, work and church.

The enemy is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). Satan is working to make our thoughts accuse us – it gives him great delight to see us fall into the trap of feeling guilty for everything. On the other hand with Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1), because if we confess our sins He forgives us (1 John 1:9) and doesn’t remember our sin anymore (Hebrews 8:12).

When we have sinned and we go to Christ asking forgiveness our guilt is erased and our sin no longer has hold over us. However, guilt can produce compulsiveness because it torments us. (Beyond Head Knowledge)

The tormenting voice of guilt stems in part from our childhood. A good article from Focus on the Family points out that “hypercritical upbringings create a hyperactive conscience.” Perhaps growing up you never felt good enough, your best efforts didn’t measure up and you felt like you always had to apologize for everything. It could be that you always feel guilty for not trying harder. Or maybe you struggle with feeling bad that you haven’t done better even though you have tried. Read More→

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Feb
01

Why Did God Give Us Winter?

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heart in snowLiving in Florida my idea of winter is anytime the temperature drops below 60°. At that point, I do the shiver-me-timbers dance. You don’t want to know!

I have a rare disease called Coldaphobia. As far as I know, there is no cure for this except escaping to Florida. Even here, cold will manage to sometimes poke its nose into my business. All I can do at the time is sneeze, hoping it will scare the cold away.

Experiencing a rather cold afternoon this past week, I queried the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage on this subject.

“Why,” I asked rather philosophically, “did God give us winter?”

There are times when I do muse philosophically with a far-off look.

In this mode, I sometimes think about that philosophical question, “How many angels can dance on the point of a needle?” I’ve often mused on this question, but the problem is I do not know how big angels are and if they really can dance.

I guess it is in the same category as the question, “If a tree fell in the middle of a forest and nobody’s around, does it make a sound?”

I like to think along those lines because there is no correct answer to any of them. So, my answer is right, which makes me feel good about myself. If there is anything I want to do, it is to feel good about myself. After all, nobody else feels good about me so it might as well be me.

With all that in mind, the question that I posed to my wife deserved an answer. “Why did God give us winter?”

My wife was busy in the kitchen at the time, but she turned around, put both hands on her hips and said, “So you could go out and buy a new sweater.” Then she went back to her kitchen activity.

Of course, it did not really answer my question. Why is God interested in my sweaters? Why can’t he allow me to have a climate that eliminates the use of sweaters? I could handle that.

Then my wife interrupted my muse session and said, “God gave us winter so that we would appreciate summer when it came.” Then she went back to her kitchen work.

As I thought about that, I had to admit that she is right. Read More→

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Jan
31

11 Steps to Creating a Blog that Gets Noticed

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Blogging. It’s all the rage. It seems that everyone and their mother is blogging. As a work at home business owner, what are the step by step actions you need to take to get your blog noticed?

First of all, realize the power of blogging. Your goal is to get eyeballs on your brand. It’s all about leading with value. Giving helpful information that will help your audience. Once you have prospects reading your blog over and over again, you can ascend them up your sales funnel, meaning:

• Offering your target market an irresistible freebie in exchange for their email addresses
• Promoting a low-cost offer to acquire them as customers
• Present your main product or service
• Recommend additional products or services that will further help them

This is how you can MONETIZE your blog, other then ads on your page or affiliate links.

So what are some of the steps you need to take? Here are the exact steps that I’m going to use to develop my husband’s blog about architectural design. I came up with this plan after going through an extensive certification course in digital marketing.

1. Keyword research

What is your target market searching for? What are some of the problems that they desperately need solutions for? What would they write in Google when searching for your product or service? Brainstorm some relevant keywords and identify the top 10 that your market would use to find your product or service. Use a keyword planning tool to analyze competition and volume of searches. You want to choose long tail keywords (a phrase rather than one word) that has highest volume possible at the lowest competition.

2. Brainstorm titles

Think about search marketing when you create a title for your blog. There’s great debate whether the title should be your “personal brand,” but if you are just starting out, how will they know who you are? A descriptive title that includes your main keywords will help you attract more readers. Make sure the title is easy to remember.

3. Reserve a domain

Make sure your title is available for your domain. The easiest site I’ve found to use is GoDaddy. There are many choices these days for an extension, but the most common one is .com.

4. Plan a silo
What is a silo? It is planning blogs around a hub of keywords. For instance, if your blog is about dogs, you might plan the keyword hub “dog training,” and then link a series of blogs to that hub with the keywords “dog training aggression,” “dog training collar,” “dog training at home,” etc. Read More→

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Jan
30

Be Green: Work from Home

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jill-new14housegreenI don’t know how most people do it, but when I brush my teeth I like to rinse using a cup. I prefer the little dixie paper cups because I can toss it and there’s no mess. As a mom, I love disposable items – no washing necessary. Sounds harmless enough, right? I thought so, until recently when my husband began giving me little “hints” about throwing away so many paper cups. He finally won me over when he explained that he and the guys at work had been discussing what they could do to be more ‘green’ and this was one of the ways they’d come up with.

Now that I knew my husband and ‘the guys’ were discussing the topic at work, I knew it was something I needed to take more seriously. As I began to take a look at our lifestyle I found many things that I could change to make our home a more eco-friendly place. I also realized that overall, working from home may be one of the best eco-friendly decision one can make.

Less Gas – Other than the occasional errand running, telecommuters use their cars much less frequently than their counterparts in the workplace. This, of course translates into less gas usage, less fumes and smog produced, etc. Simply by staying home, they are making the world a cleaner, healthier place.

Less Paper – Businesses today make it very easy to save paper by allowing home-based workers to do most everything online. When my husband does work from home, he’s able to log in securely to his corporate email account, log his time and even download his pay stubs online. I’m fortunate that as a website owner, very rarely do I make use of paper. The occasional document needs printed, but other than that my work-life takes place entirely on my computer.

Less Grease – Home-based workers tend to eat more meals at home than than employees in the corporate world. My lunches usually consist of something simple and easy to make – fruit, a quick sandwich, etc. Compared to the fat and grease of a fast-food meal, a healthy meal at home goes a long way in becoming ‘green.’ Read More→

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Ivette Muller - Direct Sales SuccessBad stuff happens.wood tower

No matter how hard you work in your direct sales business, something will go “wrong” and a customer will not be happy. Whether it’s a defective product, back-ordered or canceled item, lost order or product quality, it’s all a negative experience in the customer’s eyes.

Don’t let negativity scare you about your business.

There are ways that you can turn negative situations around and make it a positive experience for both the customer and you.  Remember, direct sales is a business of relationships.  So the better you take care of your relationships, the better your business will be.  Read More→