Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Meal Planning Saves $$

       With a new year came a new method of saving money on groceries. 2017 showed me what I was doing wrong and how I could start doing it right. My usual method of saving money was using coupons, apps, and searching for deals. While this method works, and isn't necessarily wrong, it is draining. I never wanted to make the effort to try and save money at the store because it meant that I had to cut out coupons, look for redeemable offers on Ibotta, and search online and through newspapers for cheap deals. Therefore we started spending so much money on our groceries and didn’t bother to care we were spending so much. I finally broke down and told myself there has to be a happy medium! There has to be a better way and still save a good amount of money each month. I found the light at the end of the tunnel and started to meal plan. Avidly.

     In July 2017, my husband graduated college and we moved to a tiny town in Utah for a teaching job. Tiny, as in, middle of the desert, at least an hour in any direction to walmart. It was so hard to adjust our budget to fit a tiny grocery store that was overly expensive. My first shopping trip to that store was depressing. I thought I had gathered about $50 worth of things, to find at the checkout it was $90! Oh. My. We can't afford this store! What do we do?

    After weeks of buying groceries at the little grocery store, I came up with the idea of getting a Sam’s Club membership. Yes, Sam’s was an hour and a half away. Yes, we would spend a ton of gas money just to go shopping, but it would be more affordable than shopping in our local town. Our plan was to go to Sam’s twice a month and get everything we need in those two trips for the month. It worked! It worked so well. How? Because I meal planned. Down to the T! The day we were to head to Sam’s I would go through our cupboards and take note of everything we had and create a meal plan that would get us through 2-3 weeks.

     It was not easy at first. But I did get the hang of it. While I can’t really share the exact numbers of how much money we saved, I can say that it was drastic. Like hundreds of dollars drastic. It did take some dedication but nowhere near the amount it took when I was couponing. Pinterest is a great way to find budget friendly meals and makes meal planning easier. I usually search through pinterest, create a menu, write all my ingredients I need, and then I can head to the store. If you are needing to cut down your grocery bill, I would suggest by meal planning. And really sticking to that meal plan. I helps you save money and keep your kitchen organized. I will never stop meal planning because it has literally been our budget saver. Plus, I get to cook yummy meals! WIN!

Questions for YOU!
Do you meal plan? What sources do you use to create a menu?

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Hands Free Mama?

 Confession... I am on my phone a lot. There. I said it. It's a fact that I have come to terms with and I'm doing my best to change it. I wouldn't say its something I'm addicted to, but more so I love learning about new things. So, I find myself doing research and reading all the time on my phone. I am on social media quite a bit as well. When I realized how often I was on my phone I felt so guilty and horrible. I have two children and I am missing so much in their lives because I am staring at a screen rather than watching them grow in their accomplishments or giving them more attention.

        What am I doing about this problem that I have created for myself? I am fixing it. I found a book called "Hands Free Mama" by Rachel Macy Stafford. I absolutely love this book! I found it on Amazon and without ever hearing anything about it, I bought it. Since I have started reading it, I have found myself making more efforts to put down all my technology and spend more time with my kiddos. Having my hands free means more hugs, more playing with toys and coloring books, more cooking, more treasured moments.

         In this book Rachel talks about many experiences she had that opened her eyes to what she was missing out on. She was missing time with her children and her husband. I love the way she tells the stories and then offers you a challenge to do better in your week. This is well written and offers lots of advice on how to stay away from your phone, meaningless work, and free yourself from feeling like you are missing out on so much that happens each day. My favorite part about this book is the fact that she turns to God for help. We can't do everything on our own and she comes to terms with that and hands her problem over to God for help. This is what I am doing. I am the worst at trying to do everything on my own. I feel like if I can't do it myself, then I can't do it at all. I believe that in order to become a "hands free mama" you must find humility first and ask for help from God.

        This is what I have done. I am seeking help from God and together we are going to make efforts to be WITH my family, rather than just being around them. What efforts am I making to be with my family? I am leaving my phone in my room. I am thinking of more fun activities to do through the day with my kids. I am working to keep my home cleaner. When my home is messy all I want to do is be lazy. I am praying for help. These are my efforts I am making along with many others. I am choosing to be with my family.

Questions for YOU!
What efforts do you make to be a "hands free mama"?

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Renderforest Review

      If you haven't seen already, I have recently started a YouTube channel. I am loving the learning process of getting familiar with YouTube. There is so much that goes into making a video. Finding time to film, getting all the details ready, filming, editing, and uploading. Even more so, the fine tuning and details of getting your channel up and running.

IMG_5855.PNG  The past several days I have been searching the web for a website that makes intro sequences for YouTube videos. I came across a website called Renderforest. I was drawn to their website because it was easy to navigate and looks professional. I loved the options I was given to work with. They have many templates to choose from and you can make the video your own. They give you options to make promotional videos for your brand, intro videos, and even slideshows for your photographs and meaningful memories. I was able to utilize these features to make an intro video for my YouTube videos on my channel. I was so impressed with the quality of the video and the professionalism that it has brought to my brand.

Renderforest also has a blog on their website in which they offer tips and insights on how to make your video spectacular. The blog also has featured articles you can read that give you great insights on how to use video to represent your brand in a professional manner. If you are interested in seeing what you can achieve using Renderforest.com click here to view a gallery of videos.

Overall, I have been very pleased with the company so far. I am excited to get my intro video up and running on my YouTube channel. I know that with the quality of the video it will do wonders in helping me expand my outreach and audience. Thank you Renderforest!

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

5 Ways to De-stress as a Mom

    Moms, we all have been there. It’s the end of the day. The kids are finally asleep and you are ready to let the stress of the day melt away. But how? Sometimes my day has been way too long and feels like it will never end. I forget to take time for myself and then, before I know it, tomorrow has come. Some moms don’t realize how important it is to take a few hours for yourself each day. If not every day then at least a few times a week. Being home with children day after day can do a number on your sanity. So, take some time for yourself.

    If you find yourself at a loss on what to do at the end of the day, here are a few ideas:

  1. Take an epsom salt bath - This has to be my favorite thing to do to end my day. I will get my bath ready and pour in a few cups of lavender epsom salts and watch friends in the tub. I love to get my essential oil diffuser going as well. Epsom salts are good at releasing tight and achy muscles. And let's face it, if you have kiddos running around you are going to be sore come the day's end.

  1. Meditate - This is a very easy and quick way to let go of some of that stress that has been weighing on you all day. I’ve used an app called Simple Habits. It walks you through all of the steps of meditating. Doing this really brought peace to my mind and was a great way to end my day.

  1. Go shopping by yourself - Sometimes we just need to get out of the house. You don’t necessarily have to go on a shopping spree, but window shopping is a great way to get out of your crazy day for awhile. Hopefully your husbands are willing to take the kids for a few hours. After all, you deserve some time to yourself. They must understand that.

  1. Listen to music - If you don’t have a spotify account, go get one. There is nothing that can make my day easier than listening to some calming music. If you need some time for you, plug in some headphones and go to your room with a good book. Ending your day on this note with make for an easier tomorrow. I find that when my day ends well, it will start well.

  1. Realize you have been successful today - If your stress is brought on by feeling like you did not do enough today, then you need to stop right there. Did your child get fed today? Did your child get to play today? Take out some paper and a pen and reflect on your day. Write down all the things you did for your family. Is it a long list? Probably. You as a mom did everything that you could for your children and family. You were successful. Now take that into mind at the end of the day and relax.

Questions for YOU!
What are some ways that you unwind at the end of a day?

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Friday, February 24, 2017

I'm On Youtube! Say What?! + A Giveaway for YOU!

            If you want to win some free cloth diapers checkout this giveaway I am doing! I have teamed up with Mama Koala Cloth Diapers for this giveaway. Click on the picture to open my YouTube review. The link to the giveaway is in the description box on my video.

            It's super easy to enter and the diapers I am giving away are super cute! The prize is a 6 pack of cloth diapers. The value is close to $40! 

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My Top Five Don'ts With a Credit Card

     So, we are going to talk about the dreaded topic of credit cards. For some people this is a scary subject, but it really doesn't have to be. For me, I was terrified to get a credit card. First off, I was horrible with money growing up and well into being a young adult, so I just avoided the subject of credit cards in all of its entirety. But when the time came for me to get a credit card I just jumped right in without doing any research… at all. NEVER do this! Not that it has hurt me in the long run but I could have at least avoided a few mistakes along the way. Here are a few “don'ts” you might want to look at before you apply for that card.

  1. Don’t get a store credit card just for the discount you get the day you sign up!
          Once upon a time, my husband and I were shopping at Kohls. I saw that we could get 30% off our purchase if we applied for a credit card and then I could just cancel it if we don’t use it… so we got the card. We got approved and saved about $90 off our purchase. Hurray! Who doesn’t like saving that kind of money? Well, a few weeks later I do some research and find out that if you cancel a credit card it puts a pretty big ding in your credit score. My husband and I have been trying to build our credit score so we can buy a house so we can’t afford to put a ding in our credit scores. Well, I guess I’ll just buy from Kohls every now and then. Wrong again. I don’t know about you all but Kohls can be tricky when it comes to ordering online. I get the amount I need to avoid shipping fees, add a promo code, and bam! The shipping fees are back. $9 to ship something is a bit pricy for me. So now I am stuck with a card that I don’t really like, but have to keep using every now and then so it doesn’t get cancelled. See where I’m going with this? Do your research!

2. Don’t charge more than what you have in your bank account!
    Credit cards are tempting in the sense that you can charge as much as your limit allows you and then pay it off over time. Please don’t do this unless it is your last resort in an emergency. Not only will this drastically lower your credit score but it is immediate debt that will take a long time to get out of. My husband and I had a time where we were living off our credit card because our options were limited at the time. Thankfully we were able to pay it completely off the next month. We had zero interest on it, but it was still stressful having so much on our card. Now we are able to just use it for groceries and gas and pay it off each month. That is the way to go! It will build your credit score and teach you how to properly use a credit card.

3. Don’t apply for multiple credit cards around the same time!
   When you apply for a credit card you get what is called a hard inquiry on your credit score. Getting a hard inquiry will lower your credit score by a few points. A few points isn't too big of a deal, but if you apply for several credit cards all at once those few points will add up putting a major dent in your credit score. Fortunately I did know this when I applied for my first card. I waited a few months before getting another. So be mindful of this when you are wanting a card. Do your research and apply for the one you want, wait and then if you want/need to, apply for another.

4. Don’t get a credit card if you are bad at managing money!
   I’m hoping this is a no brainer for most of you, but sometimes you just don’t think about the consequences of mismanaging money when you get your first credit card. Credit cards are a very easy way to fall into debt. If you are already in some serious debt or are just not very good at setting a budget and managing your money then I would steer clear of a credit card until you feel you are responsible enough to manage it. This is the reason I never got a credit card when I was younger because I was horrible with money. If I had money I felt the need to spend it all immediately.

5. Don’t be afraid of your credit card!
   I know all of these things I’ve touched on make credit cards seem like they are a scary thing but they really aren't. It take a responsible individual to use a credit card properly. If you treat it like a scary thing you will probably never use it. Neglecting to use your card may lead it to be closed. Having a closed account on your credit score is never a good thing. But neither is spending too much money on your credit card. There is a balance that must be learned when using your card. Use it, pay it off ASAP, repeat.

Questions for YOU!
Where you ever a bit nervous about having a credit card? Did you feel you could handle the temptation of having a large credit line?

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

I Work Full-Time!

     If I were to write an ad seeking to hire someone to fill my position in my place of work, what do you think it would contain? Bachelor's degree required? Entry level position accepted? Or perhaps something like this: Seeking someone with experience in these fields:

  • Cooking for several people 3-4 times a day.
  • Housekeeper in at least a four person home, with two children.
  • Must be able to manage finances and a budget on a weekly basis.
  • Must be able to come into work early and work late.
  • Sick days are not an option.
  • Must be able to communicate with someone who cannot talk.
  • Must be willing to give up personal time to ensure the livelihood of others.

    And the list goes on. Now I have to ask, would you apply for this job? Would you be willing to accept all the terms above and many more? It might not sound too appealing to certain people. But to me, this would be my dream job. Oh, wait! I am living my dream job. I’m a full-time mom. That’s right, I work full-time plus overtime in my home doing everything from waking up at 4 a.m. to change and feed a baby, to cleaning up a toddlers throw up. (We just got over the flu.) Yes, I really do love my job! I get to raise children. I get the privilege to teach them everything that they need to know in life. I get to comfort my son when he gets an owie. I get to cuddle a smiling baby just because she wants to be close to mommy.  

    My children are my world. I would sacrifice anything for them. That is what motherhood is about. Sacrifice. Sacrificing my time, my warm meals, my sleep, time to myself, and sometimes my sanity. It’s all worth it though. It’s worth every tear I cry when I feel like I’m failing. It is worth every smile I get from my children when we celebrate a new accomplishment. It is worth every hug, every kiss, every cuddle and every doubt. I work full time. I work full time physically. I work full time mentally. I work full time spiritually. Anybody who says that we as mothers don’t work as hard a someone working a fulltime job outside of the house can come spend a day in my shoes.

   Mothers are not working towards retirement because there will never be a day that we won’t be a mother to our children, grandchildren, or just someone in need. Motherly instincts kick in the day our first child is born to the day we take our last breath. It is more than a job. It is our calling. It is our purpose here on earth. Mothers are divine in what they do. Cherish and fulfill it.

Questions for YOU!
What was the first feeling you had when you became a mom?

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