8 Ways to Save Money and Make Money

There are times in life where you need to stop spending and are in a position where you need to save or even make money right away. Perhaps you’re saving for a vacation or it’s right after Christmas and you’re trying to rebuild your savings. Maybe your family is a position where there is limited income. Maybe you just want to rein in your savings and make some money. Here are some tips/suggestions that have helped me!

  1. Go on a spending freeze.

You heard it straight. STOP SPENDING MONEY. I have been able to do a successful spending freeze for about two weeks. The goal can be up to YOU. A spending freeze means you complete freeze spending on anything. Ideally, you want to try this for about a month, but you can adjust the time as necessary. One of my favorite bloggers writes in detail about this here. I have also shared my experience about what it was like to go on a spending freeze. You can save money REALLY QUICKLY doing this. You would be shocked at what you might spend on a daily basis, though it does take some prep work! A coffee here, a quick snack here, a stop over at this restaurant. Freeze your budget, expand your savings.

2. Download the Ibotta app and start cashing in.

I heard about Ibotta a long time ago and used it awhile ago! A friend recently sent me a link and was telling me about it and I decided to use it. It’s ridiculously easy. You shop at a store of your choice. After you’ve finished shopping, you look to see if any of the items you purchased offer a cashback reward on Ibotta. You scan your receipt, scan the item, and voila – you have money. After you’ve made $20 you can withdraw it and SPEND. This is by far an easy way to make a few bucks. It works even better if you look on Ibotta first and see what items you can receive cash back for!

3. Ebates.

Ebates is THE BEST. I’d heard about Ebates for awhile but didn’t get all of the hype. Finally, around Christmas season, I decided to look into it. Ebates offers a rebate anytime you shop online. This means that I can spend $50 at a store online and if Ebates offers 10% back, I automatically earn $5. You can also make major bucks for referring friends. They issue out two “Big Fat Checks” each year. I have one coming to me for about $50. There are Ebates for almost any store imaginable.

4. Sell your stuff on Ebay.

I started selling things on Ebay when I was pregnant and really started picking it up after the boys were born. Ebay is by far my favorite way to sell and in my opinion, the easiest. I have sold on Facebook group sites but I don’t like meeting up with strangers face to face. I’ve had the most success selling baby/toddler/children’s clothing and women’s clothing. Those jeans that don’t fit from American Eagle or Express? Sell them. That top you bought at Target that you don’t love anymore? Sell it. Those clothes your kids only wore a few times? Sell it. I’ve made a few hundred dollars doing it and it serves two purposes – you clear out your house while making money!

5. Yard Sale.

I recommend selling anything that you couldn’t sell on Ebay at a yard sale. These items will be priced to sell, so when you have a yard sale you should have a lot of items and be willing to haggle. This works best in the spring or summer. For example, our neighbor was having one and advertised well, she encouraged us to have one too to drive more traffic to the neighborhood. We made about $150 and we literally threw it together. I think with more planning and pricing things well, we can make even more. This is an easy way to make money.

6. Cut those coupons. 

It sounds like common sense, but this one will make a big difference in your savings. The average family spends about $380 a month on groceries! Grab your weekly newspaper, look at coupon websites, and get to clipping. Consequently, I saved $65 grocery shopping last week! As I was looking through our budget interested in ways to slash the budget (because who doesn’t like to save); I decided to resurrect my coupon binder. I divide the coupons into categories and when I make my list each week, use the coupons that I can. Combine your coupons with what’s on sale and you will slash your grocery spending greatly. Some websites will even show you how to be an extreme couponer if you’re interested!

7. Stop going to your guilty pleasure stores. 

We all have them. Well, I know I do. The stores that you go to and can’t help but spend money in. “This is on sale…” or “It’s SUCH a good deal.” Anyone who knows me knows what this store is for me – TARGET. I can go to Target for toilet paper and walk out with everything short of the end caps. When I’m trying to save or am in a freeze, I’ll avoid going here unless I have to.  I avoid the temptation.

8. Side Hustle.

Pinterest the term “side hustle.” You will find loads and loads of ways to work a side hustle, a.k.a to make extra money on the side. My suggestion is this – if you are good at something, find a way to cash in on that. My husband is the kind of person that’s good at so many things (piano, photography, Photoshop, and a bunch of other things), work a side hustle. Sell on Etsy, write for money, do online surveys, drive for Uber. I would say my side hustle is probably selling on Ebay!

There are so many other ideas, but these are some of the things I’ve done and have worked for me. What works for you?! Would love to hear some of your tips and suggestions!

 

How to Trust God When It’s Hard

Have you ever been in a season of your life where your future seems so uncertain? You are trying to look a few steps ahead but can’t even see what’s in front of you? You feel anxiety creeping in, doubt screaming in your face, and fear threatening to consume you? Maybe you find yourself in a situation you simply don’t understand? How do we trust God when it seems hard?

I’ve been there! I’ve said the words, “God – I want to trust You. But it’s hard.” Yet, I recognize that true peace and freedom is ONLY found in complete and total surrender and trust to God. And it’s not hard.

The question is – how do we do it? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Commit to prayer.

Coming to a place of trusting in God starts with talking to God. Make this a part of your every day life by inviting God into every aspect of Your life. I used to run to my comfort zones when I was stressed out about things and made turning to God secondary, or sometimes the last resort. It was “easier” to distract myself with other things – mindless entertainment, hanging out with friends, shopping, etc. Yet, the end result of that was pain for me because it always left me desensitized and apathetic.

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11

Commit to prayer when you feel like running or turning the television on. Have an honest and open conversation with God – He hears you, He cares.

2. Commit to His word.

Commit to reading the Bible every day. Replace checking your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and all of the like with opening the YouVersion Bible App. The more you do it, the more habitual it will become. Seek HIS truth. If you are in a place where you need answers or guidance, there is no more solid place than the Word of God to start with.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – Psalm 119:105

God’s word will give You clear direction and guidance.

3. Commit to spending time with people who will build your faith.

I learned this the hard way. The worst thing you can do when you are struggling with trusting God is to surround yourself with people who are in a similar boat. NO.

Don’t fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you. – 1 Corinthians 14:33

Surround yourself with people who will speak life, encouragement, and faith over you. Spend time with people who will remind you of all that God has done in Your life. Go out for coffee for a friend who will pray WITH you and remind you of God’s wisdom and promises.

4. Commit to remembering what God’s done in Your life.

I recently heard in a message, “Sometimes you need to recount the victories.” It resonated in my heart because it’s something that God reminded me I need to do! Take a minute to remember all of the amazing things God has done in your life. You’re still breathing aren’t you? There are times where we look back and can so clearly see God’s hand of protection over us, perhaps we remember His clear guidance or direction on a topic. REMEMBER these things. The same God that’s taken care of you then, is the same God watching over you now.

Our Lord, I will remember the things you have done, your miracles of long ago. – Psalm 77:11

Sometimes I read through my prayer journal and am amazed at how many prayer’s God has answered. It’s encouraging!

5. Commit to worship.

I was listening to a worship song and the singer said, “Don’t let fear steal your song.” Those words landed on my heart with a thud. I was so worried and letting anxiety consume me, that I didi just that. I stopped worshipping God and started focusing on my problems. When we worship God, we take the focus off of ourselves and onto HIM. We take the focus off of our problems and worries and onto HIM. I don’t know what worship looks like to you, but to me it’s putting on some worship songs and sitting on the floor, listening, praying, singing…walking around. I look at these songs as more than just a song – declarations they are. Of my total trust in Him.

6. Commit to surrender.

This means that we let go our fears and worries and we literally give them over to God completely. We recognize that we have no control and God has all of the control. We recognize that at the end of it all, God opens the right doors and closes the wrong ones.

Surrender to God All-Powerful! You will find peace and prosperity. – Job 22:21

A surrendered life is a peaceful life.

7. Commit to trusting Him.

Wait, is this a trick  Nope. It’s not. How do we trust God when it’s hard? We trust Him. Even when it’s hard. We just DO. We know He holds our time in His hands, our life in His hands. We know that if he cares about the birds, how much more does He care about us? We know we can trust Him. So trust Him.

Thanks for stopping by and reading a topic that’s been so close to my heart lately because God has been working with ME in this area. Until next time!

 

 

 

“So Do You Want More Kids?” and other “Fun” Questions

When I was dating Jose for awhile, the line of questioning was as follows:

When are you getting engaged?

After we were engaged, the next question was:

When are you guys getting married?

Shortly after we were married the question was:

So when are you guys having kids?

*Insert struggle with infertility here which made for a really ‘fun’ time of questioning*

After we had the boys, TWINS might I add [this means two babies came out of my belly]:

So when are you guys having more kids? Don’t you want to try for the girl?

I have been guilty of this line of questioning myself. It’s rather obnoxious though, isn’t it? Just a tad? Yet, I wanted to share my thoughts especially on the last one.

I will admit, I always without a shadow of a doubt thought that I would have a girl. I thought this because I knew that for the life of me, I was as girly as all get out. I wanted life to be sprinkled in glitter and covered in pink. I sulked for awhile when I realized I couldn’t paint my entire house pink and all of my rooms pink, because marriage is about compromise isn’t it? Just trying to paint a picture for you. Literally. I also figured God knew I wouldn’t even know what to do with boys. However, a day before the ultrasound to determine gender, I had a dream and woke up knowing with all that was within me, I was having boys. And it was OKAY. Better than that, it was an amazing blessed. I was pregnant with twins, healthy, and the boys looked fantastic.

When they were born, they stole my heart and I never felt sad, bummed, or like I missed out on something. Yet, people didn’t wait long before the question:

“So are you guys going to try for the girl?”

My heart is full, content, and COMPLETE with my little boys. I am a boy mom and proud. My house is chaotic, full of superheroes, sports, and lots and lots of wrestling. I am open to God’s plan, but feel completely fantastic about where we are as a family at this point in time!

That’s all folks.

2016, I Won’t Miss You

While everyone is over here writing really emotional posts about 2016…I’m over here like:

2016. I won’t miss you. Yes, there were so many amazing highlights to this year:

  1. My family – my sweet boys, my amazing husband. This year more than any other year, I have never been so grateful for this squad that I get to call my own family!
  2. My niece and best friend moving to the East Coast.
  3. An awesome student teacher who literally made this school year a million times greater because she was so amazing.
  4. A church family I love, pastors who are the REAL DEAL. Love them so much.
  5. Husband making a career move to full-time agent which opened up so much more family time.
  6. Home renovations.
  7. Boys went to preschool and are slaying the game.
  8. I’ve really learned who “my people” are this year – this has been amazing.

There are a thousand blessings upon blessings that I can go on and on about!

But…if I’m being truthful. I won’t miss this year. This year was a HARD year. There was so much triumph, but a lot of pain as well. I ended this year being confident in who I am, being unshakable in what I believe, learning how to prioritize my life (God, family, ministry) and the lessons continue to unfold. I am so tremendously grateful for such an awesome husband and two gorgeous little boys who give me endless joy every day. For that, I feel like a winner at life. Nonetheless, 2016…

I won’t miss you, don’t want to repeat you.

On the other hand, 2017…

The Power of a Forever Friend

Every woman needs a forever friend. That 3 am friend you can call at any moment and they will have your back no matter what. They listen. They don’t judge you. They don’t gossip about you to others. When you hurt, they hurt. Their victory is your victory.  You want to see each other win at every single turn and celebrate each other when you do!

I once read this post about how childhood friendships are the BEST friendships you’ll ever have. I agree with so much of it. I have been blessed with SOLID friendship from two people in particular who have been there through the best and worst moments of my life. We have had ups down, we have loved each other, fought with each other, forgiven one another…and over fifteen years later, are still the ones I can go to no matter what. Life has proven this repeatedly and I realize how blessed I am to have this! Maybe you don’t have that kind of friend yet. Can I make a suggestion? BE that kind of friend for someone else. Here are the qualities of a forever friend:

  1. They’ve seen you at your absolute worse and absolute best. And still love you.

In literally my best and worst moments, my forever friends have been by my side. Engagement? Check. Wedding? Check. Parenting craziness? Check check. When

2. They aren’t intimidated by your success. When you win at life, they win and celebrate you.

Sometimes women don’t do well with celebrating other women. In a culture that at times, tries to pit us against one another, it’s a great thing to be surrounded by people who WILL celebrate your life wins with you. Promotions, meeting the love of your life, a new house, new car, exciting achievement. I wasn’t always so good at this! I struggled with comparison! I can honestly say, I’m not at that place and have grown, and I’m proud of that.

3. They’ll keep it real with you when no one else will.

My forever friends are the first one to call me on my crap. If I’m being a diva? They won’t tippy-toe around it. They’ll call me out quicker than you can blink an eye. They don’t do it to hurt me or tear me down, they do it because they love me. And so when it’s hard to hear what they might be saying in that particular moment, in the longterm, I’m grateful.

4. They hear you.

Good listeners are EVERYTHING. Nothing is worse than being around a person who doesn’t genuinely listen when you’re talking to them. Instead, they are thinking of what they can say next or cut in with what they want to say. A forever friend will hear you out, process what you’re saying, and then respond. Or sometimes say nothing. And that’s okay too.

5. They know how to laugh. At you and themselves.

They don’t take things too seriously! I love being able to laugh simply by making direct eye contact and thinking the EXACT same thing when you probably shouldn’t be. When everyone was taking tennis quite seriously, we were thrilled we found the perfect air guitars!

6. Major life moments – they’re there.

You’re not an inconvenience, burden. They do everything they can to support you at every turn. My girls have stood with me through dating, engagement, graduation, marriage, first home buying, preemie babies, and more. Even in the little life moments, it’s not a burden for them to be there because they want to be!

7. They make time for you. You make time for them.

Not a novel concept, but one of the biggest friendship killers out there. If someone or something is important to you, you make time for it or them. With one of my girls, we actually get our families together once a week and eat dinner, watch our favorite shows, catch up on life. We trade off on who will cook and where it will be. With both, if we can’t see each other we will call each other on the way to work, when we get off work, or text throughout the week.

8. They’re ridiculously loyal.

This means they have your back. You know that no matter what, they are your “ride or die.” The end!

I feel grateful that our friendship has withstood the test of time. Circumstances have shown me the solid, steady, strength I have in these amazing women. For that, I am insanely grateful.

Expectation vs. Reality – Christmas Pics 2016

Christmas pictures. When some people hear this phrase they feel excited as they anticipate taking family pictures and choosing from a variety of lovely photos. When I hear this phrase, I feel…slight dread. You see, I am a twin mom of two toddler boys. Getting two energetic little guys to stay still, smile, and pose for an indefinite amount of time is nothing short of mission impossible.

Still, I put my best foot forward and decided to do a portrait studio this year if only for time’s sake. My favorite picture takers are my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, who typically take our Christmas pics but I decided to give them a break since my SIL is preggers. So, off we went.

On the way up, JoJo was in a bit of a mood. “This was a bad idea, wasn’t it?” I asked my husband as we drove along, regret lacing my tone. He shrugged in resignation and sighed, “We’ll see.” When we got to the place, all was going well it seemed. Both boys were playing with some of the toys left out and having a good time. TOO good of a time, I started to notice.

“Um, do you think it’s going to be easy to get them out of this section to take pics?” I asked my husband nervously.

“I don’t know…” his voice trailed off unsure. Uh-oh.

So off I went in search of reinforcements. I.E. bribery tools, I.E. candy. After I purchased some favorites, it was our turn. Immediately, Josiah wasn’t having it. He started to cry and my hopes of an easy picture session were dashed. The more we tried to get him to smile, the worse it became. I went in for the reinforcements, grabbing the jelly beans and offering them up as a token of peace in exchange for pictures. Here’s the thing – Josiah didn’t want to let go of the jelly beans. So he didn’t. So they were in literally the majority of our pictures because we’ve learned early what battles to fight and knew this wasn’t one of them.

Josiah – One.

Parents – Zero.

Meanwhile, Micah was striking a pose like he was David Beckham, being a complete ham for the camera.

Nonetheless, the pictures appropriately captured what being a twin parent of three years old is like and overall, I’m happy.  We did get some pretty good ones! But I had to laugh because of expectations vs. reality. Here’s what I expected….

Here’s what actually happened:

Here were my expectations…

Here’s what reality delivered.

Thank goodness we can laugh about it! Here’s to another Christmas session checked off the list.

And here are some of the solid ones:

Until we meet again, photographers.

Tattling? Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That.

So I recently have had a love/hate relationship with this stage of the age of THREE. Oh, there are so many things I LOVE about this stage. But gosh, there are some things that I literally can’t even deal with. I think this may be super specific to raising twins.

THE.CONSTANT.BICKERING.AND.TATTLING.

#doesitEVERstop

#noSeriously

#helpmeJesus

The boys have been at a stage where they love each other so much than two seconds later are airing out each other’s dirty laundry to us. We are the lucky recipients of their complaints which are super logical and include statements such as:

“Mommy, Micah said chair. MOMMY, MICAH SAID CHAIR!”

“Mommy, Jojo said dinky. MOMMY, JOJO SAID DINKY!”

In which our responses have been super patient and along the lines of:

“Guys, no one likes a tattle.” [From Mom]

 

*Ignore and avoid eye contact in hopes that tattler will become distracted and not tattle.*

They have fought long and hard over toys, over what shows to watch, over what clothes to wear, down to the pajamas. Connor McGregor would be proud. These parents though? Not amused. This has felt especially long and drawn out now that we are forced inside due to the early darkness and colder weather we’ve gotten. Because they are together in a closed space known as home, they are in each other’s faces all the time. img_0846

Evidence as follows:

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The highlights of this age?

They apologize to each other and to us, kiss and makeup.

Their vocabulary has exploded out of the park.

They are easier to take places and when we take them out, it’s usually a blast.

I JUST NEED THE BICKERING TO END. AND THE CONSTANT TATTLING. NO ONE CARES THAT JOJO SAID “BLUE.” The end.

Okay bye.

Why Giving is SO Important

livinggenerouslygraphicLately, God has been teaching me about giving. Through different people, through His word, through different sermons, through hard life lessons.

The conclusion that I’ve come to is – GIVING IS ALWAYS GOOD. GIVING IS RIGHT. BE GENEROUS.

We reap what we sow. It’s a biblical principle. Check it out:

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. – 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Why should we give? Why should we live lives of generosity?

  1. The bible tells us to.
  2. It’s more blessed to give than to receive.
  3. God is able to bless us and make sure we have all we need. *Note that needs and wants are different!*

We DO NOT give because…

  1. We want something in return.
  2. We feel forced and want to check it off the list.
  3. We want the pride, affirmation, accolades that come with giving.

We don’t give with an attitude either. “Okay, God. I’ve given so this is what I want…” God is not a genie. If you want a genie, check out Aladdin. We give to others because God has given to us so freely. First, we have salvation and it’s something completely FREE. God loves us and we don’t have to earn His love. We can’t buy our way into heaven or into His promises. But when we give, we are so richly blessed.

We should give AT ALL TIMES, even when it’s really hard!

But my spouse lost his job. We are really tight right now.

GIVE.

But I am single parent struggling to make ends meet.

GIVE.

But I’m going through a really hard time in life right now.

GIVE.

I’m speaking to this because I have been there. We have been in situations where we have been on one income. We have been in situations where we have watched the lives of our children flash before our eyes. We have been in situations where people have hurt us. Nonetheless, I have experienced the overflow of God’s blessings every single time without fail when we have been consistent in giving. We have always experienced his provision. We have never been without what we have needed.

Giving should flow from a heart that is willing and pure. If you are ever in a place or even a church where people are guilting/coercing/begging you into giving, RUN! It needs to come from a heart that wants to be generous because in the end, YOUR HEART IS WHAT MATTERS THE MOST. If you give with a crappy attitude, you might as well not give. I think motive matters greatly.

Can I give you examples of how God has provided for us through challenging times?

  1. When the boys were sick as preemies and I had to take a longer maternity leave without any disability, God used a blogger friend to supply a case of expensive formula Micah needed just when we ran out. Formula landed on my doorstep from TEXAS. During that time we also received random checks in the mail, hand me downs from others, even a check from the mortgage company. God took care of us.
  2. At the end of my school year, after my long maternity leave, I had a crazy check come in (by the thousands) that was completely unexpected to the point where I e-mailed my HR director asking her about it. She explained how it was rightfully mine, even though I couldn’t believe it! I don’t even remember her explanation, all I remember is being so grateful.
  3. When my husband left the only job he ever had for over ten years, God opened up a door for him with a job where he eventually became a real estate agent, which has been a huge blessing for our family.
  4. When my husband was in a sudden transition between brokerages, God used someone anonymous to supply us with a $500 grocery gift card and $250. This is all without us asking or even announcing it (our Pastor mentioned it at the end of a Sunday service, our church responded by being generous…anonymously! We are grateful to be part of this kind of church.)

HE HAS ALWAYS TAKEN CARE OF US WITHOUT FAIL. Everything I have I owe to Him. Therefore, I can give to others and live generously!

The Bible tells us this story of Jesus sitting down in the temple watching everyone give. All these rich people are throwing in tons of money. Then, all of a sudden, this widow comes up and she drops in two coins only worth a few cents. Jesus points her out and says, Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

This tells us Jesus isn’t impressed by a monetary amount. You can’t buy your way in. This woman gave from the depths of her heart because she literally gave all that she had. Jesus essentially says, “Hey guys! This widow here? She nailed it. She gets what it means to give.”

I want to be like her. I haven’t always lived generously, but I have come a long way and want to continue to grow in this.

Look out for part 2 – What Giving Looks Like, where you’ll find practical applications and ideas/thoughts on how to give. 

 

 

POTTY TRAINING UPDATE. Progress! Finally!

pottytrainingprogress

If you’ve been following my blog you’ve read this post and this post, where I bemoaned the difficulties of potty training and how I failed because I basically didn’t really try. Well, over the summer, my awesome neighbor offered to help me train them on her days off, which happened to be the week before they were going to start preschool. Since she works at a preschool and has experience, she had amazing tips and pointers and came over to help me train them. So we went to work.

The strategy was:

  1. Put their potties in a separate part of the house, away from the TV.
  2. Time them every five minutes and have them sit on the potty.
  3. While they are sitting on the potty, read them a book. Make the time that they’re sitting on it “fun” and something they can look forward to.
  4. Time them sitting on the potty for five minutes. Five minutes on, five minutes off. You can increase to ten minutes, fifteen minutes, half hour, etc. as you see they are getting the hang of it.
  5. Rewarded them with something they don’t typically get to eat – jelly beans.
  6. Let them run around the house naked in the meantime.
  7. Be consistent, don’t give up, be prepared for accidents.
  8. It’s okay if they don’t poop in the toilet right away, it takes time.

I give all credit to my neighbor and her encouragement and willingness to help! It really is awesome having another set of hands and just someone to encourage you when you feel like giving up. She was great.

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We are a long way from where we started in the best way. I would say one is pretty much totally potty trained and the other is 85% there!  THIS MAKES ME FEEL LIKE WE ARE GROWING IN LEAPS AND BOUNDS. And I’m so proud, thrilled, emotional because they’re just not babies anymore. One wears pull-ups but stays dry the majority of the time, going on the potty while the other is in his underwear now all of the time. Hooray!

The thing with having twins is that they encouraged each other! This helped and I think going to pre-school and watching all of the other kids do it pushed them forward in a big way.

This whole potty-training thing is a journey! It is imperfect, messy, crazy…but we are well on our way!

My encouragement to you:

  1. Don’t give up like I did right away.
  2. Don’t be discouraged.
  3. Be persistent, steady, consistent.
  4. Dedicate several days, or a week to this completely.
  5. Realize, they will go eventually. Don’t be hard on yourself.

These are the things I wish I told myself! But I’m really thankful that I had someone to tell me these things! But we have progressed, and for that I am proud!