20 Ways to Make More Money and Cut Your Expenses

Filed in Budgeting, Money, Saving, Spending by on January 15, 2013 23 Comments

How to Make More Money and Cut ExpensesRecently I confessed to you that we’re living paycheck-to-paycheck.

The comments that you all posted in response to the post were pretty awesome. It was comforting to hear that some of you all are living paycheck-to-paycheck, too.

(But shout out to Holly, from Happy Food Healthy Life who commented that her family is DEBT FREE thanks to her success in using the Dave Ramsey plan!)

Some of you have families that took pay cuts, and some of you are just trying to pull yourselves out, too.

But I know it doesn’t have to be this way.

There are things we can do to get our “side-hustle on” for 2013. Here’s just a list of things that I’ve identified that I am going try, and hopefully there are some suggestions in there that you’ll find helpful, too. By all means, PLEASE leave a comment and add some additional suggestions! We all can benefit from a little extra cash in our pockets 🙂


Ways To Make More Money


    1. Find a new “9-to-5.” Do you have the skills you need? Can you command more money if you find new skills? Definitely check out sites like Alison.com which offers free, certified online classes. My favorite site is Lynda.com where you can learn virtually anything, from how to interview, write a resume, photography skills–you name it. Sign up here for a free 10-day trial.
    2. Sell stuff around your house. We all have clutter sitting around that we’ve stored in the basement or garage. Don’t just donate it if you’re de-cluttering. Why not sell is on Craigslist? Try a consignment shop, especially for baby clothes and baby gear. eBay is an option for selling, but careful with the fees they charge. Sometimes you end up making very little profit. Be sure to calculate in shipping costs when you list your item on eBay. Use flat-rate shipping if you can!
    3. Be a guinea pig. Do you live near a teaching hospital or university? I used to do MRI studies and got paid a handsome amount just to fall asleep in the MRI scanner 😉 By all means, take pics of my brain. MRI studies generally aren’t invasive. If you do decide to do participate in research, be sure to understand the full benefits and risk before consenting. To search for available clinical trials in all 50 states, check out ClinicalTrials.gov.
    4. Become a babysitter. Register as a sitter on Sitter City, an online site to find babysitters, nannies, and nanny services.
    5. Make something and sell it. This option is great for crafty people. I used to make baby carriers, cloth diapers, baby shoes–you name it. It’s time to start making and selling. Etsy is a great place to list these things.
    6. Sell your services. What are you good at? I’ve got a good friend who is majored in Engineering and now has a tutoring business helping young students with math.  What crafts do you do? Teach someone else your craft. I taught myself how to sew over the last 12 years, and I think I am also pretty creative at making over thrift store furniture, so I sometimes offer furniture painting classes in Maryland, DC, and Virginia.
    7. Check out Inbox Dollars. Trust me, I’m not trying to sell you some website; I’m not making a profit recommending this online reward club. I actually use this site. You get a few dollars here and there for signing up for trial offers for things like Netflix, or trying some product, or even taking surveys. I have only done the trial offers, where you can make $5.00 or something. I usually cancel before the free trial period ends. The surveys only pay about 25 cents, or something so ridiculous that there’s no way I would waste my time on it. They also send you “Paid Mail” where if you click on the link, you get 2 cents. Okay–not a lot. But for just a click, why not? And once you reach $30 or so, they will cut you a check. It’s legit. This year, I am going to do more trial offers and see how much I can rack up from this site!
    8. Do your own fundraiser. When I was in middle school, I used to sell candy to kids while at school. I was an entrepreneur even then! Pack of gum cost me $0.25….lollipop cost me $0.10….and I would sell them for $1.00 as a package deal. Whoa, $0.65 profit was pretty good! I upgraded to Sam’s Clubs Reese’s Cups, but I ended up eating all my inventory. HA! But why not try something similar as an adult? Bake cookies and sell them at work, 3 for $1.00? I wouldn’t be surprised if people started hunting you down at 3 p.m…..
    9. Sell your blood. Okay, slightly unethical, considering that you should donate from the kindness of your heart. Do they even PAY for blood anymore? When I was in my 20’s and worked at the National Institutes of Health, I actually participated in a procedure every few months call apheresis, a procedure where they run your blood “through an apparatus that separates out one particular constituent and returns the remainder to the circulation.” Um…Okay. I was 23 at the time. It wasn’t dangerous. They gave me free snacks afterwards. I got to watch a movie. It paid $50. Sweet. Where can I sign up again?
    10. Start a blog. Don’t expect to get rich quick. Or maybe ever. Yes, some bloggers make bank, but many don’t make diddly-squat. Building a successful monetized blog takes time. But if you’re looking to get started, you can first sign up for hosting with Bluehost and get yourself a “.com” name. I currently earn about $2,000 a month blogging. With good content, networking, Google  AdSense, and other affiliate marketing, you can eventually start to turn a profit. Eventually. If you’re willing to put in the hard work. It’s got to be your passion, though, not just about money.


Ways NOT to Make Money


And while there are things you can do to make more money, please don’t try these things. ;-P

  1. Sell ad space on your head. Or your face. Or Legs. Okay–NO WHERE on your body. Yes, this man actually sold ad space on his head. What was he thinking?!
  2. Sell prescription pills. A friend’s daughter was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and we were talking about people are taking ADHD meds for weight-loss reasons. Her daughter joked about selling them. Um, yeah, don’t do that, unless you want to go to jail. LOL
  3. Anything illegal. Jail time is NOT cool….follow the law!
  4. Sell your kids. Mine work my nerves to no end. But I love them. They’re staying.
  5. Sell your body parts. You need those kidneys. They can have them when you die. But not until that time.


Ways To Cut Your Expenses


If you’re going to be bringing in some extra loot, you may as well find ways to cut your expenses. Here’s what I plan to do. If you’ve got some cool ideas, by all means, please a comment! 🙂

  1. Check your bills. Are you being overcharged for things? Comcast does some questionable stuff. I recently discovered they’d been charging me for services that I shouldn’t have been charged for. Thankfully, they credited my account. But had I not checked, I would have continued to be charged. Check your other accounts where errors could be happening, too.
  2. Cut OFF your cable. Just cut it off. It’s got to be cheaper to do Netflix, or Hulu (some content is free), and even Amazon Prime has unlimited streaming with its yearly membership. Cutting off cable has been hard for me to do, even though I don’t even watch TV (it’s hubby and kids that are addicted). I’ve decided, though, that I’m going to try to do this for one month, if I can get the cajones to do it! Keep you posted on this one!
    Say NO to cable.

    Say NO to cable.


  3. Track your spending. It’s easier to cut back when you know where your money is going, right? Then use those tracked figures to create a realistic budget.
  4. Stay HOME! It’s true–if you stay home, it eliminates the ability to spend (not counting shopping online). It means you have to pass on activities with friends, or not taking your kids to cool places. Don’t deprive yourself or your kids, but PLAN those outings by working them into your budget. When there’s no more “fun” money, then you stay home!
  5. Use coupons. But only clip the ones for things you already use. Clipping coupons for crap you don’t ever buy, in my opinion, is a waste of time and creates a cluttered wallet. For example, if you love Pantene condition (like me), do a Google search for “Pantene coupons” and see what comes up. Use sites like Coupon Mom or Coupons.com. I like using Targets mobile coupons where they text them to you and the cashier simply scans the barcode on your phone.
  6. Use Ebates. Again, this isn’t a sponsored recommendation. I try to use Ebates.com when I buy anything online. How it works is, by accessing a website (for example, Kohls.com) via Ebates, it creates a tracking cookie on your computer. That retailer offers a % rebate (e.g. 4% back) on your total (some sites offer rebates up to 20%). If you spend $100 at Kohls.com, your eBates account is credited $4.00. Once you reach a threshold (e.g. $30 balance), Ebates sends you a check. This is helpful for purchases you already make online. Don’t go buying unnecessary stuff just to save a buck or two.
  7. Decide what you can live without. Do you really need that Weight Watchers membership for $18 a month, or can you just find an awesome free online weight loss site? I just cut off my Weight Watchers and signed up for 411 Fit, which is free. I’ve used it before and really liked it. And can you cut your gym membership and walk with a friend at lunch? I love the gym at my job, but at $40 a month, I just can’t swing that. I’ve taken to doing stairs at lunch. I also stopped buying the expensive hair gel for my hair, and have bought a gel that works just as well, for a fraction of the cost.
    Run stairs instead of joining a gym.

    Run stairs instead of joining a gym.



  8. Use your programmable thermostat.  I’m not kidding when I say for the past year that we’ve had our programmable thermostat, we never “used” it; we just set it on “hold” and forgot about it. Granted, I only set the heat on 70, which is still low. But I just recently (like, last weekend), set it up to adjust to 65 at night when we’re sleeping, and to adjust to 68 when we’re home and during “wake” hours. I can’t wait to see how this affects our gas bill this season!
  9. Buy in bulk. Yeah, shopping at Costco or Sam’s Club is awesome. I’ve started going there to buy bulk broccoli, TP, sugar, grapes, and a few other things. But even if you don’t have access to a warehouse membership, buy bulk at your local grocery store. I can’t tell you how many times my stupid ass would buy, like, one box of Cheerios, only to run out a few days later, and then have to waste time, money, and gas going back to buy another box. I would end up buying 5 other things, in addition to the box of Cheerios. Talk about wasteful! This is common sense. But trust me–I was doing this *blush blush*. No more!
  10. Menus, menus, menus. I think this is pretty common sense, but I’m going to be honest with you–I’ve never kept a successful menu. The reasons why could be a whole ‘nutha blog post. But for the past 2 weeks, I have kept one, and it’s been working out! More on that in another post!


Ways NOT to Cut Expenses


Since there are some suggestions above about how NOT to make money, LOL, here are some things that you really SHOULDN’T do to cut your expenses 😉

  1. Turn 2-ply toilet paper into 1-ply. It’s okay to use 2 sheets! Promise!
  2. Go through McDonald’s drive-thu only for condiments. HAHA, I’ve actually done this, eons ago. But yeah, in a pinch…. Still…just put it on your grocery list! LOL
  3. Cancel your trash bill. Then drive your trash over to the nearest apartment complex. HA! (We actually did this when we first moved in, ONLY because we hadn’t set up the trash account yet! But definitely don’t do this on the real!)
  4. Flash your college ID to get discounted movie tickets. You’re 35 now. And graying.
  5. Sneak into Costco or Sam’s club ONLY to feed your kids lunch from the samples. Those employees are membership ninjas! They WILL call you out! Trust me, they almost kicked me out last week! Long story….
  6. Steal toilet paper from public restrooms. It would be even worse if you’re stealing it and THEN pulling apart the ply-sheets. 😉


Okay, sooooo……HAHAHA, there ARE some serious suggestions above! And clearly, there are not the end-all, be-all solutions, but they’re just some things that I identified that I’m going to try to make more money and cut our monthly expenses.

Please leave a COMMENT below and tell me what things YOU do (or are planning to do) to make more money and to cut expenses! Can’t wait to hear them!

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About the Author ()

Serena Appiah is a wife and mom to 3 boys in the Washington, DC metro area who enjoys writing about family, finances, and raising children.

Comments (23)

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  1. Stephanie says:

    Mystery shopping is great option for making a few bucks too!!


    • Serena says:

      Hey, Steph! I totally forgot about mystery shopping! I have another friend that does this and she gets paid lots of extra spending money for this. Question, though: how much do the shops usually pay?

  2. Chris Deals says:

    I think I used or is using all the ways to cut your expenses you mention.

    Here are some of my tips:
    Buy in bulk from BJ’s Wholesale Club (they are like Costco and Sams) but you can use manufacture coupons in addition to the coupons they offer. So If you plan right, your Cheerios will be an even better deal 🙂

    Make more money by offering a service on Fiverr. I know you only get $4 after fees but it can be an sure easy way to make any extra $100 bucks per month offer a services that takes your a few minutes to complete. You have to be creative and think outside the box.

    • Serena says:

      Chris, great suggestion! I’ve never used Fiverr but for some reason it sounds really familiar! And I had no idea BJs allows coupons! What does their annual membership cost? We are with Costco and my mother in law allows us on her account. It doesn’t cost me to be under her. But Costco only has their own coupons.
      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Karen says:

    lol you had me laughing!!!! another way that I’m saving $$ I don’t really use paper towel only to clean mirrors but they last longer. I bought drying rags to use in the kitchen I also bought the blue fabric wipes (I’m not sure what they’re call) to clean around the kitchen; like the countertop even my table things like that….

    • Serena says:

      HAHAHA, glad you liked the post! You know what’s really good for cleaning? Those microfiber towels. Are those the ones you’re talking about? I had a whole bunch of them at one point, but have seem to lose them all. I plan to buy more; you can get a whole set for maybe $10 at Target. For those things, you don’t even need anything but WATER to clean windows. It’s amazing!

  4. Ha ha ha… sell blood. That one hit very close to home. Believe it or not that is exactly what my wife was doing for some time. She didn’t get money (cash in hand) but they would give you a debit card with X amount of dollars and she would use it for gas money. I thought it was wierd, but it worked for her until they changed it to ordering junk from a catalog.
    I loved it. Thank you.

    • Serena says:

      Dad of 2, love that! How much did they pay? For some reason, I have $50 stuck in my mind. Funny, the things we do for extra money. I just called the other day to try to get into some research studies, and I’m on the wait list for one! 🙂 It’s good money, though!
      Thanks for your comment, too!

  5. Desiree says:

    I have been blogging for almost a year now. I am not making enough money to pay bills but it has definitely changed our lives. Blogging is fun but there is definitely a lot of work in it.

    • Serena says:

      Blogging is DEFINITELY a lot of work! But it’s fun, isn’t it? I totally don’t look at it as work! It’s like a hobby that I hopefully will one day get paid to do 🙂 And it’s not for the faint of heart, either! lol
      (Thanks for your comment!)

  6. Driving through the McDonalds drive through for condiments! That’s funny!

    My plan to make extra money is to continue to grow my blog.

    • Serena says:

      HA! Yeah, I’m sure there are some people out there that do it, because I have (when in a pinch!!). I also have plans to grow my blog. It’s sooo much work, but it doesn’t feel that way. I absolutely love this. If only I could do it 24 hours a day…..But I guess I gotta sleep sometime, right?? 🙂

  7. Dee says:

    I cracked up literally at “don’t sell the children” picturing someone on the corner tryna sell their kid.

    I don’t think I have anything new to add to the list, everyone has added such great stuff. I had been thinking of trying Fiverr…now that commenter makes me want to go try it again.

    I guess what I would add is: plan your rewards so that even though you’re on a budget, you can have the splurge experience in a controlled way. That way, you don’t get discouraged because you’ve been without something so long without any visible reward in sight (besides the obvious slow descent of the bill totals)

  8. Jodie Baity says:

    Academic difficulties are also frequent. The symptoms are especially difficult to define because it is hard to draw a line at where normal levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity end and clinically significant levels requiring intervention begin. To be diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms must be observed in two different settings for six months or more and to a degree that is greater than other children of the same age.

  9. Diane says:

    When the tornado took our dish last year we decided it was a good time to cancel it. We’ve been on antennae ever since, we just now added netflix. I sell my plasma twice a week and do online surveys (building up my points to get a nice gift card). We’ve sold a lot of our stuff and really live with just bare minimums. We use coupons and I search the sale ads for specials. Its a lot of work to save money.

  10. Georgetta says:

    Great ideas. I am going through your budget for next year.

  11. Joshuazek says:

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    Is incredulous when it is about Pimco’s Bill Gross, Who this morning that “Without a federal guarantee, Mortgage rates would certainly be hundreds hundreds of basis points higher, providing a moribund housing market for years, “the original estimate in the literature is that Fannie and Freddie reduce mortgage rates by 25 basis points or less, tells Kling, And he’s the right: That is indeed the conventional estimate. But the standard estimates were all calculated in older days, When no one concerned much, whenever, About home owner loan default risk. let me provide Gross again: It’s an $11 trillion secondary home mortgage market. groups are about a half of it. The spouse, Or a good portion, Were financed anyone thought housing couldn’t go down in price. We know that’s incorrect now. So to suggest there’s a large place for private financing in later life of American housing finance is unrealistic. The 25bp figure dates back to the time when Frannie landed roughly half of all mortgages: Back then the best estimate was that Frannie conforming loans were about 25bp cheaper than plr loans, All other belongings being equal. That 25bp wasn’t only a function of the government guarantee, So much as it was a function that the Frannie’s capital requirements were much lower than banks’ capital requirements, And the fact that Frannie had huge economies of scale when it came to things like managing the risks because of prepayment and negative convexity. proper, conversely, everything has changed: Frannie accounts not for half of the real estate market, But for mainly all of it. And while private money is happily pouring into corporate bonds and other credit assets, It’s still shying away from house loans, Partly because no one can tell how to price them any more. in an attempt to price a mortgage, Lenders and investors really need an idea of what the borrower’s default risk is. And presently, They haven’t got a clue. We know that default risk is highly related to house prices. My own interpretation is that the FOMC action led investors to believe that the economic situation within the was worse than they, The shareholders, Had made up. for my part, This response is unwarranted. The FOMC’s decisions were largely predicated on freely available data about real GDP, Its various sections, joblessness, And blowing up. I would say that there is no new concerning the current state of the economy to be learned from the FOMC’s actions or its statement. Kocherlakota points out that the Fed balance sheet was falling quicker than anticipated transformation high level of refinancing as mortgage rates have declined. But Kocherlakota fails to note that the mortgage rates have declined because of weaker economy and the Fed appears to be behind the curve in adjusting their views lower. Kocherlakota is forecasting [url=https://russianwomendate.weebly.com/]ukraine chat[/url] that real GDP growth in the 2nd half of 2010 will be on the same as in the first half: Based on estimates from our new york forecasting model, I expect GDP growth to be around 2.5 percent in the other half of 2010 and close to 3.0 proportion in 2011. There is a recovery under way in the states, And I expect it to go. Although Kocherlakota forecast is possible and is a weak recovery I think the economy will slow in the 2nd half. and i think the growing view isn that the economy is worse than investors had imagined, But that the Fed is once again behind the curve on the cost-effective outlook.

    reference point: thought out Risk Blog

    today the Census Bureau released the, documentation for Q2 2010. mouse click on graph for larger image in new window. This graph shows the NSA quarterly starts intent for four types since 1975: Single family built for sale, agent built (Includes building contractors built for owner), Starts produced for rent, And condos intended for sale. Condo starts in Q2 were just above the in history record low (4,000 as opposed to 3,000 back in Q4 2009). Units built for rent set a record record low in Q1 (19,000 moments in Q1 2010) and therefore rebounded to 31,000 models in Q2. Some of this increase is holiday, But it does appear that many large apartment owners think the vacancy rate has peaked and some builders and owners are starting to build new apartments (may for deliveryin 2011). Starts for owner built units huge too. using Q2, there were 44,000 owner built units tookthe first step up from 38,000 with Q2 2009. And the greatest category starts of single family units, Built for sale inflated to 93,000 in Q2 by means of 86,000 having Q1. Some of this is seasonal, And some was to do with the tax credit (Although the majority of the tax credit starts were probably in Q1). it goes without saying single family starts, built for sale, Will decline dramatically in Q3. looking at Housing Starts and New Home Sales Monthly housing starts (Even single family gets going) Cannot be compared instantly to new home sales, your monthly housing starts report from the Census Bureau includes apartments, Owner built units and condos that are not included in the new home sales report. However you can actually compare “Single Family goes, built for Sale” To New Home revenues on a quarterly basis. This is not perfect because of reporting differences and changes in termination rate but it is close. The questionnaire shows that there were 93,000 single family start, built for sale, within just Q2 2010, and that’s exactly just below the 97,000 new homes sold for similar period. This data is Not Seasonally tweaked (NSA). This suggests that home builders are starting.

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    Just in case you missed this in The Hill, The headline will save you from any suspense: Banks to benefit most from White House program to help fight home. Here’s the not so great: “Banks will get the biggest benefit from an federal government housing program designed to help unemployed homeowners escape foreclosure. Housing experts listed concern that banks, Not dwelling, Will be helped by the White House’s $3 billion funding infusion $2 billion from the Treasury Department and another $1 billion from the Housing and Urban Development Department going to those states hit hardest by the housing business crash and unemployment, This is no surprise, As we have mentioned routinely (,, to ), The what is known as mods and abatement programs are thinly disguised back door bailouts for banks. generally if the July existing home sales data is released, can we see 12 months of supply? Double digits supply is confirmed. huge for this cycle was 11.2 months instruction online 2008, And depending on preliminary reports, I think a new high is very likely and 12 months of supply is a practical possibility. CoreLogic house offers were flat in June (it’s a 3 month weighted average of April, may possibly and June). Altos lookup compiles a price index for 10 cities that shows prices falling in July. we “The upvc composite, Which was sensibly flat in June, Showed a marked lowering in July, Falling over fifty percent a percentage point (0.63%), RadarLogic CEO ellie Feder writes: Moody’s housing economist Celia Chen has released a forecast of housing that is pretty dire. Enters a doubledip economic, gives advice Chen, Home prices could fall another 20% before stabilizing in early 2012. That compares to a baseline forecast that calls for another 5% decline in home values and a bottom early next year. Chen puts it can be of a nearterm doubledip at one in four. As observers of the actual housing business, While we can’t say these numbers are right, We without a doubt support Chen’s concern. economic conditions. The NAHB showed declined in August and is now at the minimum level since March 2009. Other reports interesting. Another amount on Sovereign Debt from “Some people who trade Guy” NY provided with: For week of August 15th for week final point Aug 15th. A post on Saturday about the approaching Also from Saturday about. On a lightweight note, A new song from Merle risk to safety

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    jot: CoreLogic reports the year over year change. The headline for this post is for the vary from May 2010 to June 2010. in CoreLogic (recently First American LoanPerformance): as per the CoreLogic HPI, National home prices, Including affected sales, gone up by 1.4 percent in June 2010 comparability June 2009 and increased by 3.7 percent [revised] In May 2010 when you compare May 2009. unquestionably the June 2.3 percentage point deceleration from May is big by historical standards. The deceleration was most pronounced in better quality and distressed segments of the market. Excluding distressed sales, year over year prices only increased by 0.2 percent in June and May’s non troubled HPI increased by 0.5 zero per cent,. “Home price movements and collateral risk remain very high. The stablizing phase and policy intervention since the spring of 2009 has run its course. Prices are expected to further moderately decline as the economy remains weak through the fall ” claimed Mark Fleming, prime economist for CoreLogic. take a look at graph for larger image in new window. This graph shows the nation’s LoanPerformance data since 1976. jan 2000 = 100. The index increased 1.4% over the last year, And off 28% ones peak. CoreLogic wants prices to “medium decline” (More harmful view than last month). I expect that we will see affordable prices on this index later this year and into 2011. The second graph is an update on the price to rent ratio the same as the approach used by Fed economist John Krainer and researcher Chishen Wei in 2004:. Kainer and Wei presented a price to rent ratio using the OFHEO house price index and the owners Equivalent Rent (OER) ones BLS. This graph shows the price to rent ratio using CoreLogic data (present cards 2000 = 1.0). This suggests that house prices are much closer to the bottom than the top, But that prices have a ways to fall on a national basis. This data is for June and was still impacted by the tax credit. my hubby and i

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    Windermre/Cronin Caplan real estate Group, inc. : After tearing down an existing bungalow, the proprietor built this 7,581 sq. ft. home on a hill in Portland, Ore, To capture state views. Here a look at real estate news in this weekend and Monday WSJ : A wave of combination is forcing smaller banks to offer better terms than ever. : Standard Pacific has entered a $150 million deal that gives the home builder the right to buy 468 acres of land in northern San Diego County over the next two years. : As industry executives and government officials prepare to meet to debate the long term of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, There is an urgent problem: The housing field appears to be stalling. Consumers looking for home loans backed by the Federal Housing software will face tougher hurdles and higher costs under new legislation and new rules that could take effect as soon as this month. The Brownstone Diarist pays a steep price for switching the plans for the kitchen in her Harlem renovation. Are rippling across the country. A homeowner wonders how sections will impact a home resale value and if it better to rent or buy them. June Fletcher has feedback. : After tearing down a preexisting bungalow, the master built this 7,581 square foot home on a hill in Portland, Ore, To capture metropolis views. It delivers three bedrooms, A wine basement and a lap pool.

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