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Road Noise - Life one mile at a time with business owner, author, and professional artist, Michael Blackston

A life journal podcast from the viewpoint of a Christian husband, father, author, professional artist, and business owner. Topics range from opinions about every day family value issues and spirituality to helpful tactics that help make life easier and beyond. Michael is a southern story teller and cherishes the opportunity to help others through their struggles by sharing his own experiences. You're invited to come on along and join him in learning to live life one mile at a time.
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Oct 8, 2016
Christmas On A Budget - RN 052
"Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice." - Dave Barry

Should I start Christmas shopping now?

I have a good reason for doing a Christmas episode in October. To those who know me, it’s no secret that I would do Christmas 365 days a year. That’s no exaggeration. I love it that much. But Christmas can be a strain on the pocket book and when that happens, it’s not so fun.

I’ve put together some ways I think you can do Christmas on a budget and help ease the burden, if that’s what you need, allowing for a stress free and enjoyable holiday season.

Here’s how to do Christmas without breaking the bank!

I’ve broken the process down into three categories:

GIVING

  1. Start early. During the 2015 Christmas season, I made some much business for myself and waited so long before starting to get things done that it came and went before I could say “Jingle Bells”. So for 2016, I made the decision to take it easier, go slower, and start earlier so that when the actual Christmas season officially rolled around, I could soak it in and savor my favorite time of the year. Getting you list together early and keeping it in front of you will help with that. Go ahead and budget out some of the easy gift purchases a little at a time so that you’re not doing it all at one time.
  2. Thrift stores. They can be wonderful places to purchase nice items for pennies. I had the idea of developing a theme for the person I am buying for and looking for items that fit that theme to put together into a gift basket, all retrieved from thrift stores. For instance if your person is a sports fan, look for items representing their favorite team.
  3. Make it yourself. Adding the personal touch of creating the gift yourself means you put thought into it and will be special and usually costs a fraction of what you’d spend at a store. As an additional touch, add a personal note or short hand written letter telling them a special message from the heart.
  4. Your time. Some people, especially the elderly, don’t need much and will get plenty of essentials like soaps and shampoos and perfumes from everybody else. Those things are great and they are needed, but most often you can give the gift gift of yourself – spending quality time with them – and that will mean the most.
  5. Food. I didn’t mention this one in the episode, but I add it here because it’s a good idea. Do you have a cooking specialty? Cakes and cookies, etc. are a wonderful way to give of yourself if you have the knack for it and not a lot of money to spend.

RECEIVING

  1. Ask for gift cards. While this doesn’t necessarily help with your budget ahead of time, it can definitely help ease the financial burden of the after Christmas pocket book blues. Just make sure it’s appropriate., as in if someone draws your name and asks what you want.

CELEBRATING

  1. Your time. Not to be redundant, but make yourself available for celebrating with others. Your time may be your most valuable asset, but it actually costs nothing dollars-wise.
  2. Spread it out. Don’t blow all your yuletide steam in one weekend or a day or two before Christmas, trying to cram it all in. That just causes more stress and tends to be more expensive, too. Plan your celebrating out over the whole month of December and as I said up top, savor the season. By making a plan, you can get out ahead of your spending and schedule activities and venues that cut the costs without sacrificing celebration.
  3. Thrift. Gifts aren’t the only thing thrift stores are great for. Most of them are chock full of decorations and art that are MUCH cheaper than going to your closest chain store to make your home holly-jolly.
  4. Start a tradition. They can be cheap, fun, and meaningful. The thing that kicks off the Christmas season for our family is getting up early on Thanksgiving Day and putting up/decorating the Christmas tree while we watch the Macy’s Parade. This year, we’re planning on putting our heads together and creating a brand new tradition as well. Perhaps your could build a brand new tradition every year and add it to your celebrating.

Christmas doesn’t need to be – it shouldn’t be – a chore or stressful. All it takes is planning ahead and in doing so, you’ll find your holiday experience to be richer and one that will enable you to focus on the reason the season was begun in the first place; the birth of our Savior.

This week’s Positive Review: The QT chain of convenience stores

Jul 15, 2016
Six Ways To Earn Extra Income From Home - RN 040

6 Ways To Earn Extra Money From Home

If you’re like me, you know what it’s like to have too much month left at the end of your money. It’s one of the things that drives my entrepreneur minded life.

There are things you can do from home to help ease the burden and bring a little extra money into your life. Most of them won’t make you rich unless you get really lucky, but they are legitimate income streams.

These six ideas can be categorized as either “active” or “passive”. The first two are active and the second four are passive.

Active/Passive Definition:

Active – More work is required after initial release for sale, i.e., shipping, production.

Passive – Little or no work is required after initial release for sale. Most work is done on the front end. For instance, Digital or downloadable products or products available through a second party drop shipping arrangement.

  1. Sell art or photography prints on sites like Etsy.com or Ebay.com
  2. Sell services you can perform from home on sites like fivrr.com
  3. Sell art or photography prints on sites like shutterstock.com
  4. Write an ebook and sell it online on sites like Amazon KDP
  5. Create an online course in something you’re experienced in (usually a video format) that you can sell as a digital download
  6. Create an online how-to guide (usually in a text format) you can sell as a digital download

No matter what you decide to do on the side for extra income, there will always be some work, especially continued marketing, that you will need to do in order to make it viable. But if you’re willing to put that work in, whether on the front end or over the course of the sale, you may be able to find something that will help ease that financial burden.

This week’s Positive Review: CafePress.com

Mar 25, 2016
A Simple Way To Save Money - RN 024

"Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don’t want..to impress people that they don’t like." –Will Rogers

How can I save money?

I've never been the type who could say they have "extra" money lying around. To be honest, until recently, I lived paycheck to paycheck like most people. I had to devise a way that worked for me to help save money and taking advice from others, found a great way to have a little extra lying around. What's the secret? I don't spend one dollar bills and loose change. When I pay with cash, I use nothing smaller than a five spot and I've found that by putting away the change I can save money I didn't realize I was foolishly spending. These are just some of the things that this technique is beneficial for:

It helps you save for a rainy day or a purchase you've been planning.

It keeps you from "nickel and diming" yourself. Small change in your pocket is easier to spend on things you don't need like colas and snacks. It adds up quick and before you know it, you've spent way more than you thought. Larger bills tend to be held on to for larger, more important purchases.

It helps keep you from snacking. As stated above, with small change it's easier to find a reason to purchase impulse items, especially snack foods, that are bad for you. This can benefit your health in the long run.

It can build good savings habits for the future once you realize how much better you feel when there's more left over at the end of the month than there used to be.

Positive Review: The Write Now Podcast with Sarah Werner is a fantastic podcast seeking to help inspire writers to write every day.

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