When One Thing Leads to Another And. . . Business and Ministry Collide???

bitcoinAs anyone who follows this blog now knows, I began a blockchain experiment back in February, outfitted my day-job’s website to accept Bitcoin as payment for services in May, and began a new business venture in late June. More recently in August, I found a marketing platform that has potential to earn a decent monthly income once I can find 4 people to copy me on that platform. I have 9 immediate referrals in that program and two more referrals under two of them, but so far no one is following my lead despite weekly team mailings. I’ve set up a support group on Facebook hoping to get the team members over there to share tips and tricks, but so far no one has taken action to join the group.

While the lack of action in this marketing platform is a little disappointing, I have run across another user somewhere around the world who is using the platform in a very surprising, encouraging, and uplifting manner. Two others are using another marketing platform I am part of, for similar purposes.

Christian flagImagine using your primary source of income to share the hope of the Gospel with people?! It is my hope that this marketing platform will become a significant monthly source of income, and I came to that conclusion early in August when the income-generation side of it was first made clear to me. Here we are almost at the end of September now, and this ministry opportunity is staring me in the face!

It’s interesting that I’d come across these users’ methods of using these platforms this week. I’d realized after a tea with a friend earlier this week, that not everyone who might want to use this platform to bolster their income will have anything to promote. The platform is a marketing method, so you do need something to market to others. If I run into Christians who could use this system of income, I now know what to suggest they promote: None other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The Salvation message! The current user doing this has created a page called The Four Steps to Salvation, complete with Scripture, video, and links to more information. Another user on the other platform has a picture of Christ and John 3:16 under it before carrying on with sharing their business opportunity. That user has created quite a gap on their page between the salvation message and the biz opp.

Earning commissions on advertising sales while sharing the Gospel of Christ is probably the best merging of two worlds I’ve seen so far! I am a huge proponent of the fact that the Internet is the final missions frontier. I had never thought of using existing marketing methods as a way to spread the Gospel, but stop and think about it a moment. . . Other business owners, other affiliates, other networkers, other opportunity seekers are signing up to use these services. They see your site just like you see theirs because they want to get their own message out about their opportunity. However, in the process of getting their own message out, they run across yours – the Gospel message. Opportunity seekers are often desperate for financial help. Affiliates are trying to augment household income, and business owners are looking for traffic as well. But while their goals may be somewhat different from each other, they ALL need Jesus. Once again we see another opportunity to use the tools of the day to spread the message of hope and healing, provision and eternity. Talk about tent-making! If Paul could make tents while preaching, we can earn sales commissions while sharing too! So far as I can tell only three people are doing this on two platforms, but hey, the door is there. . .

Now I know why I created the FB group image the way I did! (see image at top of post) It captures several things all at once:  Technology (the bitcoin), teamwork (team songdove), and the Holy Spirit (the dove). My username (songdove) incorporates music too, because singing has always been my love language between me and God.  Whether music plays into the business venture I don’t know, but the other elements now all make sense.

“To Infinity and Beyond!” In a Way You May Not Expect!

simple chart illustrationSo far in my “after hours” quest to find ways to actively accumulate usable levels of Bitcoin, it’s been quite an adventure. Part of that adventure has been the rise and fall of the BTC value when compared to the US dollar. Earnings now on Faucet Alley are significantly lower on a per-claim basis since BTC swung past $2k, $3k, and now in the $4k range. However, it is still possible with my daily schedule to be earning 0.00015 satoshi roughly every 5 days or so, which I’ve learned after 30 days is enough to cover my HP Connect InstantInk monthly subscription. All this JUST with a few remaining faucets still making earnings possible AND useful!

Xapo made things more interesting in the late spring by deciding to have members pay the miner’s fee when doing external transfers to or from Xapo. This made me wish I’d sent ALL my xapo earnings over to Freebitco.in before this change took place, as now I have .001 BTC stuck in Xapo because to move it would eat up most of that amount, leaving me with maybe .00008 left over to earn any interest with.

Moonbit and Bonusbitcoin have both moved over to coinpot now as well, which makes it easier to accumulate satoshi for moving over to freebitco.in. I’ve added bitfun to that mix as well, so between the three of them, I am earning satoshi, then moving it every .00016 (paying a small fee resulting in 0.00015 in final deposit) to freebitco.in to earn interest. I will be adding bitfun to the faucet alley shortly.

I’ve run across another xapo faucet however that doesn’t seem to have redirects or popups, but also has a site-connected app you can run on your computer. My computer’s processing power isn’t enough to make it meet the site’s claim of being six times faster, so I don’t run it much, but otherwise this faucet is earning roughly 64 satoshi per hour, which is more than freebitco.in’s base roll amount of 46-49 satoshi per hour as of the time of this writing. I’ll be adding that to the safe section of the faucet alley.

I still plan to keep my xapo account, because once I have enough BTC to purchase their debit card, I want to use it at the grocery store. I still plan to go through with that portion of the experiment. Currently, Xapo is one of very few wallets that have their own BTC-connected debit card. All other BTC debit cards online are pre-loads. The card I am using to pay HP is a preload for example. It is virtual only, so fees are cheaper than the cost of purchasing and having a physical card shipped to me.

The BTC experiment has taken another turn in the adventure with my marketing and promotion of SFI and Tripleclicks. I’ve discovered that some traffic exchange websites will not only give you so many views for so many clicks, but they will also PAY you for those clicks!

Earn 3.24BTC in JUST 51 Days!

The best site for that so far is InfinityTrafficBoost. In August, they released an earnings plan where, with just 4 active referrals under you, in 51 days you can earn 3.24BTC! It takes 51 days because first you have to earn you way to the bottom traffic boost purchase, which takes 30 days at roughly 30-45min per day. After that, if your four active referrals do what you are doing and you all upgrade together using the BTC you earned in the first 30 days, you earn commissions on their sales, and you enter what ITB calls their “fast track”. If your four referrals have their own 4 referrals actively surfing, and all of you carry on with the plan, 21 days after that first purchase you will have earned the 3.24BTC, or currently over $12k in US dollars!  The above banner ad is one I created and had approved by ITB, and I’ve linked it to a splash page showcasing a video they made and a PDF they put together.  I read the PDF because I prefer to read than watch videos.  But the plan as it is laid out there, has me hooked!

The trick of course is finding those 4 referrals who want to follow the plan themselves. I have 7 referrals in ITB now, but none of them are currently following the FreeWay Plan as ITB calls it. I myself have enough BTC to equal 21 days in the plan already, so I had a 10 day head start when the plan was announced. In 9 days from the date of this post, I will be able to enter the “fast track”. Whether it is “fast” or not will be decided if I get 4 active referrals under me or not. But $12k USD would go a very long way to getting bills paid around this house right now!

It takes me roughly 45 minutes to surf the 100 sites necessary to do the daily task for the first 30 days. Technically-speaking, at only 15 seconds per ad viewed, it should only take 30 minutes, so advertising states only 30min of your time is needed. In reality, there is a captcha every 5 ads which will take you a few seconds to a minute to do, as well as two clicks between each ad, adding at least another second or so per ad viewed. So when you do the math, the 30min of ad surfing is augmented by the time it takes for the other clicks to take place as well. The 30 min is not a lie, but it is part of a slightly larger time block. The speed of your Internet connection will also determine how fast those 15 seconds do or don’t pass per site. So how long it takes to do your daily task for those first 30 days could be quite fluid. But if you want a relatively brainless way to earn some BTC without putting your own money into it, and if you have a site or sites you want to promote, InfinityTrafficBoost is the way to go.

Imagine this scenario then:

51 Days with 4 active referrals equaling 3.24 BTC being paid into my freebitco.in account. I take half of that and send it back over to Xapo, apply for the debit card (which is in US, not CAD) and wait a month to get it. During that month, my earnings continue to be earned from commissions under me (that’s how sales work) and sent over to freebitco.in to earn interest. Once that debit card arrives, bills start getting paid down and a form of income has been uncovered that I can do at any time of day as time and health permits. But I had to slog through that first 30 days of 100 sites viewed per day to get there. Who do you know could benefit from that kind of work? Perhaps sign up and try it out yourself before answering that question so you know who might be a best fit for this portion of my experiment.

Life has so many twists and turns. The world of BTC is no different. What I like about it, is being able to break into this new currency without spending any of my own!

Earn 3.24BTC in Just 51 Days Without Investing More Than Your Time!

I shared this on the Facebook page already, but have to share it here too!  Not everyone is on FB, and this is set up to spread it further than merely FB and Twitter.

I am terribly excited about a brand new method of using a traffic exchange I recently joined to promote SFI and Tripleclicks, where in the process of advertising, I also earn BTC.  This site is a traffic exchange that gives your site one view for every four sites you surf.  Every 10 sites you surf earns you a BTC pool share that gets paid to your TE account at midnight.  The site’s name is InfinityTrafficBoost, and last night at midnight, they released a brand new way to use their site!  This brand new method of using InfinityTrafficBoost will earn me 3.24BTC in just 51 days!

Now as you know, BTC has been rocketing in value and is now in the $4000 USD range. This is making faucet earnings more difficult, although there is now a faucet that pays you interest if you leave more than 30,000 satoshi there. Freebitco.in pays you 4.08% annual interest, in daily compounding increments on your running balance. My affiliate url is; https://freebitco.in/?r=3872765

The 3.24 BTC earned at InfinityTrafficBoost however, will have a rough USD exchange value of over $12k!!!

That’s assuming it’s value doesn’t keep climbing! (and also assumes you didn’t transfer your balance over to freebitco.in either, to get the compounded interest)

All for just 30 minutes of your time every single day for the first 30 days of the plan!

I am currently stone broke, so discovering such a workable way to earn so much BTC without any money out of pocket is HUGE! When news broke about this method of earning BTC, I had already earned myself 10,300+ satoshi, so according to the PDF linked above, I’ve got a 10 day head start on the process.  If I can find just 4 other people who want to give this a 51 day test FOR FREE, then I can complete my own experiment using this venue as well.

As far as my BTC experiment in general is concerned, I am now using a Uquid.com pre-paid VISA BTC debit virtual card to pay my HP Connect InstantInk monthly subscription.  I will be transfering more funds to this card soon to ensure August’s payment is covered.  They have physical cards too, but if I get this 51 Day plan to work, I may still put funds into XAPO and get their card although it’s more expensive, because it is linked directly to my XAPO account and doesn’t require topping up periodically.  Apparently Uquid is looking at direct-linking, but that’s still in research stages.

So my BTC is already being put to good use.  3.24BTC would go a long way to curbing the current financial challenges I face and then start me down the road to savings and debt elimination!  That’s the long term goal.

So I encourage you to check out the Freeway Plan here:
https://infinitytrafficboost.com/FreeWay.pdf or log into your dashboard after signing up here: https://infinitytrafficboost.com/songdove-t-musings to view the video instead.

Hope you’ll join me!

When the Digital Intersects with the Offline World

bitcoinIt isn’t quite how I envisioned it. . . I’d dreamed of taking out my cellphone and opening the camera. I saw myself change the settings to video and then hand it off to my daughter as I prepped to open the envelope. My dream had me talking on camera excitedly about the trip to the store I was about to make, then we hopped in the van and ran off to the store. My dream continued with me picking up a few items then going to the self-checkout where the camera’s video function was turned on again. I dreamed of that moment when I punched in the card’s PIN and pulled out the receipt, triumphantly announcing that I’d just bought groceries with my BTC debit card!
 
No. . . it’s not going to be that way. Instead, in order to keep my HP Connect Instant Ink subscription going, I am needing to obtain a debit card that has a virtual number rather than strictly physical as is the case with the XAPO card I wanted to get. As of tonight, I have begun a slow transfer from freebitco.in over to the wallet of this virtual card. We’ll see how that went by morning. If successful, I’ll be able to order the virtual card tomorrow morning and then update my payment settings over at HP Connect Instant Ink to maintain my monthly subscription. Doing this makes the cost of ink so much more manageable and the printer gets used for everything from resumes to printing to music.
 
bitcoin faucetOn the plus side, thanks to the meteoric rise in value of BTC, the faucet earnings I’ve accumulated since mid February’s experiment began will be enough to pay for at least two month’s worth of this subscription as well as fees for use of the card and exchange rates from USD into CAD. So it’s nice to know I have accumulated useful coin that can have a real-world benefit to this household even if it isn’t a bag of groceries at the store. Still looking at that keychain flashlight I posted about earlier as well, but ink is a little more important at this time.
Hopefully, if all went well, I can post an update to my FB page saying HP Connect InstantInk is saved by the bright, shiny new world of Bitcoin!

Comparison Shopping in the Modern World

comparison shopping Marilynn Dawson budgetingComparison Shopping: Discovering the benefits and differences of a product or range of products before making a purchase.

The art of comparison shopping has saved many people money, and it can save you money too! If you’ve never done it before, this is typically how I do it:

1) Know exactly what you’re after. Sometimes figuring out exactly what you’re after is a step all by itself if you were told by a doctor or friend or co-worker or family member that you really should get such and such because you need/want it for some particular reason. In the old days, as recently as the ’80’s and into the ’90’s even, this step was accomplished by walking, biking or driving downtown and checking out the stores that might contain what you thought you were after. Occasionally this step meant stopping a store worker and asking them where to find something, only to be told it was referred to by a different name. Once you knew the exact name of what you were after, you could assess if it was what you were told about, or if you had to keep looking.

These days, figuring out exactly what you’re after can take place online using search engines and search functions of favourite stores or manufacturers’ websites. Sometimes an email or click of the live chat button is still required to figure out exactly what you’re after, but this step in today’s world can be far less time-consuming and far less of a drain on your gas tank.

numbers money calculating calculation2) Have a budget in mind. You didn’t expect to come across an article like this on THIS blog without some mention of that all-important financial word, did you? Once you know what you’re looking for, build an understanding of how much this product typically costs and assess whether or not it can fit into your budget right now. If the price is all over the map, ask yourself why? Sometimes the item can come in different sizes, quantities, quality, list more or fewer benefits, come with sales, deals, add-on’s, member-only pricing, etc. Narrow down the criteria you are after, then compare pricing to your budget again. If you only have a certain dollar value you can put toward the purchase, this will narrow the field all by itself. You may have to choose between quantity and price, or quality and price, just as two examples of the decisions you may have to make.

Shopping decisions3) If you are shopping solely online, you also have to factor in shipping. Compare the cost of purchasing online versus going to the local offline store to get it yourself. Is there enough of a price difference between in-store and online to warrant paying the additional shipping charges, or is it cheaper to drive down there instead? Depending on what you are shopping for, this answer will vary, particularly when considering outlets where it may be purchased.

An example of this kind of shopping from my own life involves looking at adrenal support. For more than 10 years, I suffered from adrenal fatigue without knowing it, and it finally caught up with me in a bad way in May of 2013. Adrenal health books and advice from the local natural healthfood store led me and family to a range of products to get my healing kicked off to a solid head start. Two of those products were 5-HTP and later when my budget didn’t allow for 5-HTP, swapping to L-Tryptophan supplements instead, and products containing it.

One of the local stores I can drive to in town also has a website where I can buy this online. Out of curiousity, I looked up these products on their website and found the following:

NOW FOODS 5-HTP 60caps 200mg Tyrosine NEW ROOTS L-TRYPTOPHAN 220MG 90 VC NOW FOODS 5-HTP 60caps 200mg Tyrosine $32.99

NEW ROOTS L-TRYPTOPHAN 220MG 90 VC $14.99

I added them to a shopping cart to check out what the shipping would be like, and learned it would cost $10.00 to have them shipped to me for a total cost of: $57.98

I could drive to the local store, spending roughly $5 of gas round-trip, and save myself roughly $5.

However, what if I didn’t live here where this store is available, and my only option was to get it online? There are so many stores online to choose from! I’d originally been curious if the local store had the NOW version of L-Tryptophan because I’d found it on another online store. Unfortunately, they don’t, so my comparison shopping couldn’t give me an exact comparison. A different store however, did, but not the same quantity.

NOW FOODS L-Tryptophan 500 mg 60vcaps $13.59NOWFOODS L-Tryptophan 500mg

Shipping at that location was $9.99 to get this product to my door.

The online store where I found both NOW FOODS items was over at Tripleclicks. How did vendors there compare? (DISCLAIMER: I am an affiliate for Tripleclicks https://www.tripleclicks.com/17849708.99 and will receive a small reward if you purchase through the next couple links)

 tripleclicks.com

L-TRYPTOPHAN NOW FOODS — CA$26.46 (Save 4%!)

L-Tryptophan supports relaxation

Pharmaceutical grade (USP)

Vegetarian formula

L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid important in human nutrition for the synthesis of…

L-TRYPTOPHAN NOW FOODS

L-Tryptophan supports relaxation

Pharmaceutical grade (USP)

Vegetarian formula

L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid important in human nutrition for the synthesis of melatonin and serotonin, hormones regulating sleep, positive mood and immune function. As an essential amino acid, it is not synthesized by the body and must be obtained from the diet. NOW L-Tryptophan is pharmaceutically pure–every lot is tested to be free of Peak E and microbial contamination. Contains no sugar, salt, yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, milk, egg, shellfish or preservatives.

500 MG, 60 V-CAPS

21
USD
InStock
 ************************************
Shipping on this product costs $10.08 from this vendor.
 tripleclicks.com

5-HTP, 200 MG, 60 V-CAPS NOW FOODS — CA$31.49 (Save 26%!)

Neurotransmitter Support

Supports Positive Mood

With L-Tyrosine

5-HTP, the intermediate metabolite between the amino acid L-tryptophan and serotonin, is extracted from the…

5-HTP, 200 MG, 60 V-CAPS NOW FOODS

Neurotransmitter Support

Supports Positive Mood

With L-Tyrosine

5-HTP, the intermediate metabolite between the amino acid L-tryptophan and serotonin, is extracted from the bean of an African plant (Griffonia simplicifolia) . Contains no sugar, salt, starch, yeast, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, milk, egg, shellfish or preservatives.
200 MG, 60 V-CAPS

24.99
USD
InStock
 ************************************
 Shipping on this product was not listed. Normally shipping is listed in the product’s right-hand sidebar if it is being charged to the customer.

So the total cost of ordering both these items from Tripleclicks would be: $68.03. That’s roughly $11 more than getting similar products from the website of a local store. It’s $2 more if I bought one from the local website and the other from another website and paid shipping at both. So for an extra $2 more, if I was living in a small town without a local affordable health food store, I could get both products from one place.

Fortunately for me, I can save myself $15 by driving down to the local store. Comparison shopping needs to take all these details into account, or all it becomes is expensive window shopping. Remember what I’ve said in the past, that a few minutes spent with a calculator can mean the difference between a runaway budget, and having funds to spare at the end of the month. Because I am an affiliate for Tripleclicks, if I chose to add these to a standing order, I’d pay an even cheaper rate than the retail member prices I already shared. Yes, all the stores I did my research at had both member and “regular” prices, offering the guest visitor the better of the two prices assuming they wanted to become a member of course. I also quoted you Canadian prices, because I am Canadian and interested in doing my comparison shopping in my own currency.

4) That’s actually a point worth making because of the international nature of online shopping these days. Always ensure the website you are on is showing you their prices in YOUR country’s currency! Your efforts will be meaningless and quite unhelpful if you don’t at least have a conversion site up helping you make sure you are comparing prices online to what you might buy at your offline store.

5) Member pricing goes a long way when comparison shopping! Take Amazon for example. As a Prime Member, you can eliminate shipping altogether on orders over certain amounts, or ask for shipping to be expedited to within 2 days of your order. This is only available in certain countries of course, but membership has its perks! You could continue today’s illustration by searching for the above two items there and comparing brand, quantity, price etc. just as I did for the three sites linked to here. I am an affiliate of Amazon’s as well, but I’m not too happy with how they are doing things these days, so I’m not as keen to take a piece of their pie at the moment. However, if you wish to use my affiliate link I’ll start you at my course for budgeting:

From any of those links, you can continue today’s example, or do your own comparison shopping for something entirely different.

So what are those points again?

1) Know exactly what you’re looking for, and get help narrowing that down if required.
2) Have a budget and stay within it.
3) If comparison shopping online, factor in shipping costs.
4) If comparison shopping online, be sure you are getting prices in your own currency.

Always settle on the location that will give you the best price for the quantity and quality you are after. Sometimes your budget will have you settling on price more than quality or quantity. If you are in that boat, don’t be upset by it, but work within it to make life easier in the long run. If you have the money, settle more for what gives you the best quality for your money. Lastly, remember that membership has its perks. You could save yourself even more money simply by signing up at the site of your choice as a member. Not all online stores work this way, but many do and more are coming onboard with the idea in order to get and retain customers. Use it to your advantage when you find it!

Berry Season Has Arrived! Finally!

Yes, finally!  We now have Oregon grape gracing our wild salads and it has been SO missed!  This week, we began bringing home chokecherry, a month later than it’s supposed to show up.  In fact, many trees still haven’t ripened yet.  We have two strains of chokecherry in the valley, picked one strain for the first time this week and it makes a very dark-coloured juice after boiling.  At first, I thought I’d boiled it way too long, but all that did was concentrate the flavour.  The second batch from that picking got boiled last night for the proper 5 minutes, and it was still that colour.

Black ChokecherryI like to use chokecherry in making vinegar for salads, pancake syrop, and using the leaves, dried crushed berries, and bark in teas and hot cocoa.  Chokecherry really adds to the richness of cocoa!  We don’t drink coffee, but when my daughter added some of the concentrate to a friend’s cup of coffee, supposedly it tasted really good.

While I was boiling the chokecherry last night, I paid a trip to the baking soda box as well, saving myself roughly $10 off grocery store pricing for toothpaste and facial scrub.  I also made another batch of anti-bacterial hand soap.  I have a jar of herbal infused vinegar in a corner of the counter for my next batch of vinegar hair rinse.  That will save another $3 roughly.  So all totaled, I’ve saved an estimated $15-$17 because of last night’s efforts.

We have half a turkey roaster filled with dried purslane to pound up, as well as more dried nettle to crush as well.  My daughter brought in more Mountain Sage to dry and we finally crushed our first round of dried narrow plantain leaf this week.  Broadleaf plantain is growing well finally!  Looking forward to gathering their seeds later this fall.  Gathering salsify roots to do more test boils.  See how the stringiness changes as the plants die.  Got three more on a hike a few days ago.  So foraging is slowly picking up steam.  Not a good year so far, but we’ll see what we can lay aside for the winter this year.  If the roots soften up decently, we’ll have a root veggie this winter, and if the false Solomon’s Seal berries thaw out nicely, we’ll have wild peas for dinners as well.  I need to test that theory now that we have a decent handful in the freezer.

Serving up a Buffet of Savings Today

From food to clothes to summer electrolyte boosting, today’s blog post is a little bit of everything.

First up, foraging this summer continues to show just how badly the wet and windy Okanagan spring affected local flora and fauna.  Our favourite chokecherry trees are slim pickings this year in the usual haunts.  We’ll have to go up further into the local woods to get even close to what we harvested last year, and we’d vowed to get more than that this year. . . not sure if that’s doable now.  Our usual plantain harvest is slow to get going as well, although we finally got some decent narrow plantain leaves for drying in our medicinal cabinet.  Oregon grape is growing well however, and I gathered some more Salsify roots from dead plants to boil up and see how their taste and texture changed from when they were alive.  False Solomon’s Seal berries taste just like raw snap peas!!!  Who knew?!  So we’re gathering those and freezing them for a winter vegetable this year.  I should take a picture of those at some point. . . forgot to do that before they went into the freezer.

Salads this year are largely legume oriented with a healthy helping of thistle/dandelion/chicory leaves and false solomon’s seal.  We’re adding broadleaf plantain whenever we can.

On the money-saving front, my daughter has discovered an infusion of plants and berries that not only act as an electrolyte, but also a brain and stamina booster as well.  She’s nicknamed it her “Stamina Potion” and anyone she’s given a taste to loves it.  Some even say she should sell it.  She usually buys Powerade or Gaterade or similar products to get her through the summer at her job, but not this year.  She’s probably already saved herself at least $10 by making this infusion instead.

Also on the money-saving front, I’ve been given over 24 pieces of high-end clothing, sized Small or Extra Small that I need to sell to help pay a few bills that piled up this Spring.  If you are interested in any of these, drop me a line to author@fa-ct.com.  Send payment via e-transfer to songdove@fa-ct.com along with a note containing which item you are buying, the password to accept the transfer and the address to mail it to.  All pricing is half off the original in keeping with my goals here on this blog, and some pieces are priced less than that.  Brand names are given where possible so you can look them up to verify price ranges of new clothing.  If you are like me, you’ll see those new prices and gag.  If you regularly buy high-end clothing, the sticker-shock won’t be so bad.

Now I know some people will read my blog and be more interested in how they can maintain a personal or household budget more than the foraging, so let me share a way to potentially save money on food and clothing items from a new site I’ve joined recently.  The site is called “Tripleclicks”, and they feature sellers based in countries all over the world selling their local wares to the international community.  Some are selling used goods while clearing out their closets.  Others are selling hand-crafted goods you won’t find anywhere else, while still others are selling commercial goods from their own businesses.  Check out these links to discover what might fit into your budget a bit better.

Becoming a shopping member earns you member reward points that make things even cheaper as you can apply those points to the cost of the purchase instead.  You’ll earn T-Credits as well, which can be used to enter auctions for items, further reducing the final cost of what you wish to buy.  Put the two together and there might be occasions when all you paid was shipping, assuming it wasn’t an item where free-shipping was also being offered.  So yeah, give these links a look-see and check it out for yourself.

Grocery Shopping:  https://www.tripleclicks.com/collection?id=51746

Clothing (what appealed to me, there are tons more): https://www.tripleclicks.com/collection?id=51398

Yard and Gardening: https://www.tripleclicks.com/collection?id=51399

Computer-related: https://www.tripleclicks.com/collection?id=51397

Amazon vs Tripleclicks! The Mat’s Been Thrown Down!

amazon logoYes, indeed it has!  A news article released recently, continues to show Amazon’s ambition in maintaining it’s growing stranglehold on the online e-commerce marketplace.  Not everyone is happy about this.  In somewhat older yet still current and ongoing news, creatives are getting increasingly frustrated with Amazon’s ability to crack down on plagiarism taking place on their site.  Reporting mechanisms put in place are not moving very quickly, if at all, to deal with this growing problem.

There’s a new player on the block that’s been lying low for a while.  It has begun to pick up steam and now has well over 93,000 products being sold by sellers living all around the world.  This company, according to its parent company’s tech support service, does NOT make any use of Amazon services whatsoever.  This makes them a TRUE competitor against the Amazon monolith.

If you are a creative looking for another large e-commerce site to latch onto, then be sure to check out Tripleclicks!  You can click this link here, or on the garage sale link in the sidebar.  These links will show you the wide range of products people are selling, from stuff in their closets to handmade goods to small business outlets, sales and closeouts.  If you’d rather skip the introduction and head straight to where you can sign up to start selling your stuff, click this link here.

Just like Amazon, you’ll be able to pick categories for your stuff, choose shipping options, add photos of your goods, add descriptions and keywords, pick your price, or offer shoppers the ability to suggest a price, and more.

A reasonable online competitor to Amazon DOES exist!  Pass this on to your creative friends selling their goods online.  Perhaps if Amazon starts losing sellers to Tripleclicks, they will wake up and realize they need to address plagiaristic behaviour.

More Ways to Earn an Income Online

One way to earn money online, is to work as an affiliate for another company. This is one way Amazon gets word out about their products. It’s become a big way anything anyone wants visible, can get it out via word of mouth. Companies have sprung up to facilitate easier joining and managing of affiliate programs such as JVZoo, Clickbank, and others. These companies don’t merely act as liquidation centres for companies offering affiliate programs, they also offer affiliate ranks and with those, pay structures that reward active affiliates. However, there’s just one small problem with earning funds as an affiliate. If you are not good at sales, chances are it is a dead-end proposition.

In the early days of affiliate programs, people would try to build entire webpages built from nothing but affiliate banners and advertisements in the hopes people would find their pages and click on their banners. The Google search engine discovered 1000’s of these pages being created, and clamped down on what they felt was not very useful content. Suddenly these pages of nothing but ads and banners weren’t getting traffic anymore. The answer? Writing blog posts that contained so many links to affiliate program content that again, Google got upset and changed the rules.

Ever since then, bloggers who wish to create content that sells a product via an affiliate link needs to do two things:
1) They need to ensure that each affiliate link is surrounded by honestly useful information that fits the flow of the article. If the blog article is too “preachy”, it is seen as evangelizing the product and visibility is reduced or wiped out in the search engine.
2) Bloggers need to have a disclaimer stating that some links may go to affiliate content where the blogger will be paid for your visit if you choose to buy. Bloggers that make a living testing or reviewing products are the ones most likely to have such a disclaimer.

For myself, I’ve tried to join various affiliate programs, but have largely failed at all of them up until now. I actually have had the odd sale grant me commissions over at Amazon, a few sales over at JVZoo, but nothing contributing to monthly earning potential. What I have noticed however, is that companies are starting to take an approach that looks incredibly reminiscent to the Multi-level marketing before the Internet really took off. Examples of MLM’s today include DoTerra Oils, Amway, Mary Kay Cosmetics, etc. Generally-speaking, working for one of these companies labels you a consultant and for good reason. You have to study your product and really know it inside out to help your clients get the best use and bang for their buck. If you don’t have any value to add to their lives, you’ve probably joined a pyramid scheme instead. You’ll see these all over the place now with slogans such as “Send just $5 to your upline and encourage your downline to do the same! Imagine, $5 every day in your inbox for life!”

I’ve recently come across a company that calls everyone affiliates, but runs more like an MLM company. This company has been around since the late ’90’s, and therefore has a ton of information to read through and digest before sales even begin! Talk about “learn while you earn”! They have several ways to earn an income, affiliate propagation being one of them thankfully. The other two major methods are via sales from their online department store, and earning a portion of their executive pool, also known as leveraged income.

The online department store could best be called an online bazaar similar to Etsy or another free site I used to be part of where you could buy or use points to get things. In fact, the entire store is populated by goods from literally around the world! E-commerce Associates sell anything from books and USB sticks to organic teas and cosmetics to garden hoses and automotive toolkits! Some sellers offer free shipping, others only ship to certain countries. Canada for example has 87 resident online sellers. Canadian prices aren’t that bad either, considering what other online stores charge around the country. So if you’re looking for a cross between Amazon and Etsy with a dash of backyard garage sale thrown in, you’ll want to check out Tripleclicks.com. The garage sale part comes in where members such as myself can list stuff we want to get rid of and sell it on the site. As a result, Tripleclicks has a banner ad billing itself as the largest garage sale online! You might see this in the sidebar here.

So I’m trying this out now. While I did have to sign up as an affiliate, the process did not cost me anything other than time. The parent company has built their system so that you can do as much as you can for free before putting any money out. This means anyone out there in my financial situation can begin the process of earning money without putting it out first! I don’t know about anyone else, but constantly seeing work-from-home opportunities that require you to put out money first are not only frustrating, but insulting. Frustrating because the money just isn’t there. Insulting because many people out there honestly can’t believe that someone might actually be literally, truly, honest-to-God stone broke or worse, be in debt so bad that money disappears into the hole before they can even buy gas or groceries. Therefore, coming across an opportunity that I can begin working when funds are short, is a real God-send.

Life has gotten financially tighter since moving last November. Prior to that move, funds were tight, but somehow workable. In years prior, I had learned enough about how to live on less than a shoestring budget that I’d actually written a course on the subject. I just might figure out how to offer that course on Tripleclicks in coming months. If you read this blog, you’ll read about some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way, and you’ll also discover last year’s beginnings of our foraging journey. Foraging has helped stretch what comes in even further, at times making sure salads are on the table without the funds required to otherwise buy the ingredients at the store. These lessons are invaluable and I’ll continue to write about them going forward. However, now I will also be writing about my journey getting started with Tripleclicks.com. Don’t worry, I’m not going to attempt talking you into joining as an affiliate under me. I learned a long time ago that I am not a salesman. Instead, I will encourage you from time to time to check out something I found on the site that is a great value, or a great find, or supports a great business, etc.

Already I am finding sellers of Bibles, Christian books, jewelry, even Bible cases and handbags with Scripture verses on them. Considering sellers are already offering well over 1000 books on the site, this will be another great outlet for authors to check out to sell their books around the world. When I was looking at clothing the other night, you can buy clothes from Japan, South Korea, India, Brazil, as well as North America, the UK, etc.

The site encourages members to transfer the shopping they’d normally do downtown, to the Tripleclicks website. We do so little shopping that such a thing might not be as close a reality for us as it might be for others, but we’ll see. The trick is getting into the habit of checking the site before the next shopping trip to see if someone on Tripleclicks is selling that item. If you like visiting markets and bazaars, you’ll enjoy visiting Tripleclicks. International markets and bazaars normally only occur in places like Vancouver, Toronto, NYC, etc. But at Tripleclicks, the international bazaar is right there at a click of the mouse or a tap on the screen.

So the introductory exploration stage has begun. Let’s see where this takes us, eh? (couldn’t resist, I’m Canadian)

Foraging and Friends: The Wild Adventure Continues. . .

Lovage leaves drying on the deckForaging in my part of the world has received quite the setback thanks to a very wet spring. The plantain plants are only now in enough abundance to start harvesting. Wild strawberries are several weeks behind as well. Domestically, we were blessed with a huge amount of Lovage, a cousin to the celery only stronger in flavour. I managed to dry and crush most of the leaves to make a very nice celery spice! After being given some salt, I intend to take some of it and turn it into Lovage celery salt.

RhubarbWe were also given some very nice Rhubarb that has already made one beautiful batch of pancake syrup and seen entrance into batches of scones and pancakes themselves. I plan to make several more batches of the syrup as that will save money having to buy it at the store. Not only will it save money at the store, it will cut down on the chemicals and preservatives being ingested as well.

Sometimes doing things yourself is not always a money-saver, healthier perhaps, but sometimes more expensive. Around this house, we are about both saving money AND eating healthier! So being able to make celery salt without the additives and make syrop without the extra ingredients as well, hits the best of both worlds.  Some of my readers might laugh, but I’ve decided to ensure I have enough sugar for baking, cereals, pancake syrop and a pine needle syrop intended for lung ailments.  I therefore divided up my current sugar stores into several containers!

Wild ParsleyWe have wild parsley growing up in the hills and have made two harvests so far. One has been nicely crushed into just under half a usual spice bottle. The other harvest still needs to be washed, dried, and crushed. It is currently in the back of the fridge freezing. Gotta love it when fridges do that, not merely their freezer boxes.

Wild Parley, Prairie Sage, Crushed Juniper BerriesWe also found Prairie Sage growing on the property where we live. It is a milder smelling sage than what is bought at the store, but still a pleasant smell. It’s first use has been in a bottle of home-made fly spray for the two horses.

That third bottle there on the counter is crushed juniper berries! When crushed and stored like that, it emits a very strong scent when the container is opened. I’ve already learned the hard way that when seasoning meat with it, a little goes a VERY long way! I look forward to experimenting a little bit this coming Canada Day as we cook up some lamb ribs we were given, and creating a stew-like sauce to go with them featuring elements such as diced lovage, wild parsley, crushed juniper among the usual onions and garlic. Yes, the foraging lifestyle has its own unique flavours.

Purslane HarvestOur dinner salads have finally come back full swing. Plantain, dandelion, false solomon’s seal, purslane, and finally chickweed and a ground vine for good measure. I need to make more chokecherry vinaigrette, but that won’t happen till we are harvesting those berries this summer. One major thing we learned over the winter months was that we hadn’t harvested nearly enough chokecherry to get us through till the next harvest season! We hope to change that sad state of affairs this summer!  Nor had we harvested enough purslane!  Needless to say when my daughter was asked to weed a garden at her place of work, she came home with a huge haul of both purslane AND chickweed!  Both have been divided in half for either immediate consumption or drying and crushing for use in teas, baking and medicine.

Chickweed in the Salad SpinnerNear our home and up a logging road, there are many chokecherry stands, so we hope to overrun the house with them until they are either boiled, frozen, or dried. Those same harvesting areas are also crawling in oregon grape, kinnickinnick, and surprisingly the wild strawberry as well. Our home could be very interesting as we end up with stuff drying all over the place at various times in the season.

Drying Nettle leavesAlready, we’ve harvested, dried, and begun putting to use the nettle in our area. Nettle gets used in baking, tea, shampoo, conditioner, and its seeds are also a wild seasoning. Again, we almost didn’t have enough once I began using it in crackers and more teas, so we need to get far more this year to last through until next Spring.

Yes, there were some lessons learned over the winter regarding how much we did or did not store up for ourselves! Hopefully this year we display learned behaviour on that front. It isn’t enough to pick only for one week. We are now picking such that we split each week’s harvest in half thanks to our salad fixings also being used for teas, medicines, baking, and hygiene products. So we take each salad harvest and dry half of it for current and future use.

By now, the rough estimate in savings is somewhere around $500 since last August. We have only bought dried cranberries and apple sauce this spring because our windfall apple harvest ran out in April and our berry vinaigrette ran out around March. If we do things correctly this year, we’ll reduce those store purchases even more next year.