19 Home Business Ideas That Work (And 4 That Don’t)

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6355388579_0312787bde_zsource: 401kcalculator.org

This is the time of the year that everyone is looking for ways to make extra money. Between unpaid credit card bills from Black Friday and overly generous seasonal gift giving, a lot of us are scrambling for extra cash.

If you already have a full-time job or have small children at home, the best way to earn money may be to start your own mini business. You can set your own hours, choose your own pay and do the kind of work you enjoy.

I know quite a few people (including myself) who have made money working from home. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.

A neighbor used to make money each year by delivering the new Yellow Pages to our area. She had a big van and a good back but it was still a lot of hard work.

My mother sold rubber stamps and Spanish videos at the flea market (what a combination!). She ordered the products wholesale and rented a booth in a popular indoor flea market. She made about $1000.00 profit in good months. Warning: Don’t just jump into a flea market business without a lot of research. This business is a lot harder to pull off than it sounds.

A friend of mine has done daycare in her house for many years. She always has to be home and her house needs to be constantly spotless but she actually makes very good money.

Another neighbor made good money running a long distance van service. He advertised in the community newspaper for customers who needed to go from Baltimore to New York or Baltimore to New Jersey. My neighbor also did airport runs. He charged a flat rate, irregardless of the number of people traveling.

My mom ran a notary service from her house. She made only a few dollars per notary and had the aggravation of strangers coming to her home at all hours. She hardly made any money but she did for many years. Update: Several people are now offering mobile notary services (for a high price) and this may be a more profitable endeavor.

I use self-employed plumbers, electricians, handymen, movers and cleaning help. My father-in-law uses self-employed painters, carpenters and caterers. I assume each of these contractors makes a decent living.

My husband worked for a man who sold t-shirts, undershirts, underpants and socks at flea markets. The man would buy “imperfect” merchandise very cheap and sell them for a small mark-up. In order to earn a reasonable living, instead of just selling at one flea market, he hired enough teens so that he could sell at several.

I tutored Russian and Israeli immigrants in English. I found some students through my part-time ESL job and others through advertising in the community newspaper. I was able to do the work without knowing either Hebrew or Russian, as the lessons were all given in English. I will probably write a longer post about this later.

My niece runs a nursery school from her home. She has a degree in early childhood education and teaches the class in Hebrew. She has six to eight children each year and provides a complete preschool curriculum.

My daughter’s 20 year old friend made $10.00 dollars an hour babysitting. Babysitting doesn’t seem like a very grown up way to make money, but it is actually quite profitable.

I used to send my son to a man who specialized in teaching religious studies to homeschooled boys. The man charge several hundred dollars a month and taught the boys in groups of eight. The classes lasted three hours daily and took place in his dining room. He taught a group of younger boys in the morning and a group of older boys in the afternoon. If you have a important skill to pass on, teaching homeschool classes may be the way to go for you.

My husband and I had a business called Baltimore Computer Repair. My husband made house calls to sick computers at night, after his day job was through. He found his customers through advertising in our daily newspaper. My son, who is A+ certified, now does this same work in Israel.

The husband of a friend makes money at home doing telephone soliciting for charities. He works his own hours and is on commission.

My husband made close to $1000.00 a month on weekends by doing computer programming for businesses. He got the first job, writing an inventory program, for a distant friend who owns a pizza shop. The pizza shop owner recommended him to a man who owned three grocery stores, who recommended him to a print shop owner, etc.

When I was a teen, I made a small amount of money doing grocery shopping for senior citizens. I advertised in the community paper and got plenty of calls. I charged a $5.00 minimum or $.15 per item. Nowadays, I would have to charge a lot more to make this worthwhile, probably $.30 per item.

I see plenty of boys (and men) making money shoveling snow, mowing lawn or raking leaves. As a matter of fact, I’ve paid for these services plenty of times myself.

My mother sold Avon for many years. Unlike lots of other direct sales programs, you do actually make money from Avon. Mary Kay and Tupperware also make a profit for their salespeople. I have friends who sold both, quite successfully.

I had a very successful business selling hats and modest skirts from my basement. I sold to a specialty crown (religious women and cancer patients). I sewed the hats myself and outsourced the simple skirts to neighbors. Besides selling from home, I had several retail distributors.

In the past, I have made money from this blog. Right now this blog is making less than $100 a month, but several years ago it was doing slightly better. The money comes from Google Adsense and is deposited in my bank account each month.

Now for a couple of businesses that don’t work (at least for me)!

I used to have my own flea market business, selling kitchenware, novelties and kid’s toys. I ordered products wholesale through the Thomas Register and through flea market merchandise catalogues. I also bought merchandise locally at wholesale stores. I lost a ton of money on this project and to this day I don’t know why.

I had a business where I tried to outsource computer techs to busy companies who needed help with their overflow. Another big failure. The cause of this flop was easy to understand after just a few weeks. The smaller companies didn’t have any overflow work to offer us and large companies wanted an established business to work with.

I made handmade gifts and jewelry to sell at flea markets. After a month of Sundays I finally sold one pair of earring. The cause of this disaster was simply a lack of thinking on my part. I didn’t realize that people go to flea markets to get great deals…not art jewelry at medium to high prices. I really had no excuse for this stupidity because I already had flea market experience.

I once tried selling greeting card ideas to the companies listed in the back of Writer’s Digest. Yes, people said it took years to break into the greeting card market, but I didn’t believe it. I sent out hundred of greeting card ideas and not one of them sold. I guess sometimes you need to listen to advise.

If you have a successful business, please let me know about it in a comment.

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2016 Book Haul and Used Book Buying Tips

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7947961744_d6d4ba38ee_zsource: Pascal Maramis

My hobby is used book collecting and this has been a massive book buying year for me. It’s amazing that I’ve bought so many, because I live in a non-English speaking country.

For anyone else living overseas, here’s where I find used books.

  1. http://www.betterworldbooks.com – Better World Books offers free shipping to a lot of countries. The prices on new books are very high however, so I only use them for used books that are on sale. In addition, the books can take several months to arrive, depending on your location.
  2. http://www.bookdepository.com – Book Depository also offers free international shipping and the prices for new books are highish, but reasonable. Faster shipping than Better World Books, but can still take over a month or more.
  3. Libraries – We have several English libraries scattered throughout the country. The library closest to me has an ongoing book sale and two yearly sales. Prices are about $1 per book and they have a good selection.
  4. Private book sales – I belong to many mailing lists and I constantly look for books being given away or sold cheap in English speaking neighborhoods.
  5. Yard Sales – Yard sales are a good place to find used books if you live in an English speaking neighborhood. Besides individual sales, a local English speaking organization also has a yearly yard sale for books.
  6. Used Book Stores – There are several English used book stores here and though the prices aren’t rock bottom, I frequently trade in books I’ve gotten for free (see Number 4 above).
  7. Freecycle – Most countries have at least one freecycle or ReUseIt. I don’t use them often but they do occasionally have English books.
  8.  Second Hand Stores – Most countries have an equivalent to Goodwill and the ones in English speaking neighborhoods obviously have English books.
  9. Friends – My friends all know I collect books, so when they have something to get rid of, I’m usually the first person they think of.
  10. Trips To US – Whenever I, my friends or relatives go to the US, I always have at least one book brought back.

As you can see, purchasing used books overseas can be a little time consuming. However, I find the hunt enjoyable. It’s kind of like a scavenger hunt.

Here is what I amassed this year.

Basic Cookbooks

The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook

Joy of Cooking 1975

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Cooking

The American Century Cookbook

The Essential New York Times Cookbook

The Good Housekeeping Cookbook: 1,039 Recipes

The New Basics Cookbook

The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes

Silver Palate Cookbook

The Best of Gourmet: The World at Your Table

The Bon Appetit Cookbook

The New York Times International Cookbook

Entertaining by Martha Stewart

Julia Child & More Company

The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book

Martha Stewart Living: Annual Recipes

60 Minute Gourmet

The New York Times International Cookbook

Fannie Farmer Cookbook

New York Times Heritage Cookbook: Over 2,000 Recipes

Sunset Recipe Annual by Sunset Books

Jewish Cookbooks

In the Jewish Tradition

Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lover’s Treasury of Classics

The Flavor Of Jerusalem

Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Greene, Gloria Kaufer

New Jewish Cuisine

Seasoned with Love: Culinary Treasures from the Breman

Not Chopped Liver

New Kosher Cuisine for All Seasons

Jewish Holiday Treats

Shabbat Shalom: Recipes and Menus for the Sabbath

Quick and Kosher

From Our Table To Yours

A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking

Enlightened Kosher Cooking

Jewish Holiday Style

Rika Breuer Teacher’s Seminary Cookbook

The Passover Gourmet

The Low-Fat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook

For The Love Of Cooking

America Cooks Kosher

Jewish Vegetarian Cooking

Sephardic Cooking: 600 Recipes Created in Exotic Sephardic Kitchens

Levana Cooks Dairy-Free!

Jewish Cooking Secrets from Here and Far

Vegetarian/Vegan/Vegetable Cookbooks

Vegetable Love by Kafka, Barbara

Moosewood Restaurant New Classics: 350 Recipes for Favorites

The Uncheese Cookbook by Stepaniak, Joanne

Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Greens Restaurant

Vegetables by Peterson, James

15-Minute Vegetarian Recipes: 200 Quick, Easy, and Delicious Recipes

Raw Food Made Easy: For 1 or 2 People

Eastern Vegetarian Cooking by Jaffrey, Madhur

Indian Vegetarian Cooking

The Bold Vegetarian Chef: Adventures in Flavor

Vegetarian Express: Easy, Tasty, and Healthy Menus in 28 Minutes

Vegetarian Dishes from Across the Middle East

Appetite For Reduction

Rose Elliot’s Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

Vegetarian Celebrations

Jean Hewitt’s International Meatless Cookbook

Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe

The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

The Vegetarian Lunchbasket: Over 225 Easy, Low-Fat Recipes

Recipes From An Ecological Kitchen

International Cookbooks

The cooking of India by Rama Rau, Santha

Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook

Cooking of Provincial France by Fisher, M. F. K.

Cooking of Japan (Foods of the World) by Steinberg, Rafael

Cooking of Italy by Root, Waverley

Latin American Cooking by Leonard, Jonathan N.

Cooking of the Caribbean Islands (Foods of the World) by Wolfe, Linda

Cooking of China by Hahn, Emily

Healthy Cookbooks

Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook

Weight Watchers Versatile Vegetarian by Weight Watchers Editors

Weight Watchers Make It in Minutes: Recipes in 15, 20, and 30 Minutes

Light & Tasty Annual Recipes 2004 (Taste of Home)

Taste of Home’s Light & Tasty Annual Recipes 2003

American Heart Association Meals in Minutes Cookbook

The New American Heart Association Cookbook

Other Cookbooks

Real Fast Food: 350 Recipes Ready-To-Eat in 30 Minutes

Pilaf, Risotto, and Other Ways with Rice

The Dumpling Cookbook

Stuffings: 45 International Recipes

50 Best Stuffings and Dressings

Mostly Muffins

Blue Ribbon Winners: America’s Best State Fair Recipes

Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook

Six Ingredients or Less

Ice Pops by Shelly Kaldunski

Favorite Restaurant Recipes by Bon Appetit

How to Cook Without a Book

Perfect Pops: The 50 Best Classic & Cool Treats

Southern Heritage Breads Cookbook

The New Woman’s Day Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Every Occasion

Family Circle All-Time Favorite Recipes

Muffins by Alston, Elizabeth

American Cooking : The Eastern Heartland

Candy by Time-Life Books

Junior League Centennial Cookbook

Forum Feasts: The Classic Community Cookbook by Forum School

American Cooking (Foods of the World)

The Best American Recipes

The Best American Recipes 1999

Craft Books

Making Memory Books by Hand

More Making Books by Hand

Home, Paper, Scissors: Decorative Paper Accessories

1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse

Encyclopedia of Origami and Papercraft

Realistic Collage Step by Step

Paper Sculpt Sensation

Paper: Making, Decorating, Designing

Books Unbound

Making Books by Hand: A Step-By-Step Guide


Cardboard Folk Instruments to Make and Play


Eco Craft: Recycle, Recraft, Restyle

Homemaking Books

The Penny-Pinching Hedonist

America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money

The New Food Lover’s Tiptionary

It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff

Penny Pincher’s Almanac: 1,552 Surprising Ideas

Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House

Psychology Books

The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest

Innovate Like Edison: The Success System of America’s Greatest Inventor

Your Creative Brain

Make the Most of Your Mind by Buzan, Tony

A Sheep Falls Out of the Tree

The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures

One Minute for Yourself by Johnson, Spencer


Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving in

The Mindfulness Solution

Your Memory: How It Works and How to Improve It

Get out of Your Own Way

Psychology and the Challenges of Life: Adjustment and Growth

Eat That Frog

Psychology Applied to Modern Life

Happier at Home

What You Can Change and What You Can’t

Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being

Better Than Before

Supercoach: 10 Secrets to Transform Anyone’s Life


The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

The 9th Wife by Amy Stolls

Snow by Orhan Pamuk

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

The Norton Anthology of Short Stories


Angela’s Ashes

Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness

Learning to Breathe: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life

My Fair Lazy

The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life

Jewish Books

Too many to mention

Kids Books

The Dangerous Book For Boys

Bonjour, Babar!: The Six Unabridged Classics by the Creator of Babar

A Treasury of Children’s Literature

Pinkalicious: The Princess of Pink Treasury

Activity Books/Writing Prompts

Art Before Breakfast

Everything That Can Happen in a Day by Horvitz, David

The Anti Journal

Nat Geo Action Journal: Talk Like a Pirate, Analyze Your Dreams

The Pointless Book

This Book Will Change Your Life Again!

Tag This!: A Doodle Book by Price Stern Sloan Publishing

This Book Will Change Your Life

Take Ten for Writers: 1000 Writing Exercises to Build Momentum

The Write-Brain Workbook

Other Books

Best Food Writing 2005

You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls

The Novel Cure

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

Read For Your Life

The Geography of Bliss

Nickel and Dimed

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3 Ingredient High Protein Salad

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5346503674_111c08a7a3_zsource: Kris Donaldson

I eat this yummy salad all the time. It takes about a minute to make and tastes delicious. In addition, since I’m a vegetarian, I can always use the extra protein. By the way, you can cucumber and diced tomato if you want, but it’s totally unnecessary.


mixed greens

cottage cheese

creamy garlic dressing


Place the greens in a plate. Add a scoop of cottage cheese. Dallop with a generous amount of garlic dressing.

Serve immediately so the lettuce doesn’t wilt.

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Annette’s Easy Tortilla Soup

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annettes-easy-tortilla-soupsource: miss_yasmina

This recipe is a convenience food version of a soup I found online. The original dish had over 20 different ingredients, but the use of taco seasoning and a few other simplifications has produced a much easier to make meal.


1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 package taco seasoning mix

1 can tomato paste

2 tablespoons onion soup mix

3 cups water

1 cup mild salsa

2 can black beans, drained

spicy tortilla chips


Fry onion in oil till golden. Stir in all other ingredients except chips. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add additional water if needed.

Garnish with chips immediately before serving.

Optional: Shredded cheese and sour cream also can be used as garnishes.

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101 Baked Potato Bar Ideas

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15061201353_2eb671a869_zsource: Pedro Fernandes

Baked Potato Bars are a perfect way to feed people. They are relatively inexpensive, offer something for just about everyone’s taste, and are easy to throw together.

In addition, it’s easy to vary the number of folks you prepare for. I’ve made baked potato bars for my immediate family using just butter, sour cream, shredded cheese, imitation bacon bits, broccoli florets and chives. I’ve also made potato bars for company, but these have featured at least a dozen ingredients.

Another convenient feature for me is that you can feed both vegetarians and meat-eaters at the same meal. Just have a separate sections; one for  the vegetarians and one for the carnivores.

I’ve thrown together a quick guide to making your next baked potato bar perfect. Please email me if you have any further questions.


2509961072_b6b2936bf1_zsource: Ryan

Step 1: Choose the perfect potato.

Most people prefer a russet for baking. They are cheap and have a delicious tasting peel.

On a personal note, I actually prefer Yukon Gold potatoes, but alas,  I have been told by the experts that I’m wrong.

Irregardless of the type of potato you choose, check to make sure there are few discolorations and NO foul smell.

2628138967_6252ee24c7_zsource: bourgeoisbee

Step 2: Preparation, preparation, preparation

To prepare the potatoes, start by giving them a good cleaning. There are brushes made for this purchase, but unless you are buying directly from the farm, I believe a strong stream or spray of water and your hands are good enough.

When clean, cut any discolorations from the potatoes. If the discolored bits are too large, don’t be afraid to throw the potato out or save it for another use.

4339682644_ef11644389_zsource: Jesse Menn

Step 3: To wrap, or not wrap… that is the question.

When making a single potato for myself, I usually pop it into the microwave for six minutes, turn it, and then do 3 or 4 minutes on the second side. This doesn’t work, however, when you’re preparing for a crowd.

When cooking potatoes for a crowd, you’ll need to use the oven.

According to the official Idaho Potato website, potatoes should be baked for one hour at 400 degrees.

In addition, and I found this strange, they suggest skipping the foil. I was always raised on foil wrapped potatoes, but according to the site, these potatoes will come out steamed instead of baked.

Finally, skip the salt and oil. Just place the potato directly on your oven rack in a single layer.

101 Baked Potato Bar Ideas

source: Mattias Handley

Perfect Baked Potatoes

If you are not serving any other dishes, prepare 1 large or two medium baked potatoes per person. If other foods are available, like salad or a main course, prepare a medium large potato for each guest.


Idaho Potatoes, washed and cleaned


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes directly on the racks of the oven, in a single layer. Cook for 50-60 minutes, depending on size.

4087787233_52e7599ee6_zsource: Nathanael Coyne

101 Potato Bar Ideas

• Meat & Fish Proteins •
taco meat
flaked tuna (water or oil)
smoked salmon
real beef crumbles, sauteed
chopped salami
chopped/shredded chicken
shredded beef
chopped grilled chicken
meat chili
chopped barbecue

• Vegetarian & Vegan Proteins •
canned chili beans
fried egg
vegan beef crumbles, sauteed
lentil soup
leftover vegan chili
imitation bacon bits
black beans

• Dairy Proteins •
grated Parmesan
crumbled blue cheese
shredded cheddar cheese
cottage cheese
feta cheese
shredded Monterey Jack
Greek yogurt or plain yogurt
goat cheese, crumbled
ricotta cheese
mozzarella (chunks/shredded)

• Garnishes •
chopped chives
chopped green olives
sour cream
chopped black olives
chopped onions
toasted bread crumbs
crumbled tortilla chips
chopped scallions

• Oils & Butters •
garlic butter
dill butter
paprika butter
butter or margarine
plain olive oil
garlic olive oil
truffle oil

• Sauces •
pizza sauce
marinara sauce
Alfredo sauce
pesto sauce
cream of celery soup
ranch dressing
mild salsa
blue cheese dressing
beef gravy
mushroom gravy
onion gravy
homemade guacamole
cheese sauce
creme fraiche
garlic dressing
nacho sauce
barbecue sauce
cream of mushroom soup
hot sauce
buffalo sauce

• Vegetables •
roasted red peppers
sauted mushrooms
cooked peas
chopped tomatoes
avocado chunks
steamed broccoli florets
steamed cauliflower florets
diced red pepper
artichoke hearts
chopped green pepper
cooked mixed vegetables
roasted garlic
steamed vegetables
chopped sun dried tomatoes
creamed corn
creamed spinach
sliced jalapenos
steamed green beans
steamed asparagus
grilled corn
grilled onions
caramelized onion
sauteed spinach
mixed grilled vegetables
stir fried vegetables
alfalfa sprouts
cooked mixed vegetables
chopped sun-dried tomatoes
chopped artichokes
grilled eggplant

• Herbs & Spices •
regular salt
seasoned salt
sea salt
black pepper
crushed red pepper
chopped fresh basil
fresh chopped rosemary
fresh fresh cilantro
fresh fresh oregano
chopped fresh parsley
fresh chopped dill
chopped fresh chives
chopped green onion

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Reduce Your Heating Bill by Adding a Sweater

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reduce-your-heating-bill-by-adding-a-sweatersource: somarj

Now is the perfect time for a quick rant:

Why do my son and husband wear light weight clothes in winter and then turn on the heat? Or, wear heavy clothes in summer and complain they’re hot? Don’t they realize it’s a lot cheaper to put on temperature appropriate clothing than use the fan or heater?

Apparently not.

And, though I haven’t actually taken a survey, I think that this is pretty common in many homes.  People either wake up in the morning and wear whatever is most attractive without thought for the weather or they wear what is comfortable in the morning and don’t change as the temperature fluctuates throughout the day. Either way, they give no thought to dressing for the weather.

No more!

For now on, I will not be accepting any requests for turning on heaters or fans from people wearing inappropriate clothing.  You want to be comfortable?  First change your clothes.  Afterwards, if you are still too hot or too cold, then we will discuss it.

If they are annoyed with me, I don’t care. I’m betting my next utility bill will provide me with all the comfort I need.

Read More: Utility Bills or Home

Beautiful Spaces November 2016

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7529595228_00dfe728bb_zsource: Tim Gorman

10208196373_58c3aea37b_zsource: ukgardenphotos

2999552958_9d429899ff_zsource: Stuart Richards

4278146127_a55b24a469_zsource: Casey Yee

4278893510_e153060c22_zsource: Casey Yee

15621017957_670c93d44f_zsource: Nicolas Raymond

Read More: Beautiful Spaces or Home

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