Friday, November 17, 2017

Are You Thinking Of New Year's Resolutions Yet?

I usually start my New Year's resolutions around Thanksgiving. Once they are written down, I start keeping notes so I can devise the best plans possible for each one. Of course, they rarely last past March but, it's fun while it lasts! The only resolution that ever really sticks is saving money. It may not be a whole lot of money but, it's something and that's what I'm after.

Unless you already have a trillion dollars saved up for retirement, you're probably trying to find some easy ways to start socking money away in such a way that you won't miss it, right? This is typically my goal and what I try to figure and refigure when working on my family's budget. I don't claim to be Dave Ramsey or anything like that but, maybe some of my tips will resonate with you!

Save Save Save! 

A few years ago we started an "envelope budget" and filled each envelope with cash. After I wasn't able to work anymore due to a disability, it was a little harder to try and stash the cash in the envelopes. (I bartended so this was simple to do with tip money!) Now, I would have to travel 20 miles to remove the actual cash from the bank or I end up paying an ATM fee. (Which kind of defeats the whole purpose, right?) So, I try my best to have cash on hand for most of the envelopes each month. 

The whole point behind this was that we tend to spend less when using actual cash as compared to debit and credit cards. It's super easy to overspend when using a card but, if you can see the real money in your hands, disappearing, you will probably start putting some impulse items back on the shelf. (I overspend at the grocery store most often when I use a card.)

Every family will have different envelopes to go along with their personal budget. 
We have the following envelopes for ours: 

Groceries, gas, school supplies/school store, pizza, clothing/shoes, entertainment. 

Clothing/shoes and even entertainment are very rarely used in full so at the end of the month we take that money and add to our savings. There are a few times during the year when we do have to spend more on clothing and shoes and I do shop online most of the time so, I use bank cards for these purchases. (But, there are ways to save with these too!)

Another tactic we use for savings which have proven to be quite successful is an online savings account. We started this several years ago and also started our children's savings accounts through the same bank. You simply set up a recurring deposit to come directly from your checkings account and you can make this a weekly deposit, bi-weekly, monthly, whatever you choose! I like to have our deposits come each week on payday for each account. Plus, our kids deposit 10% of their allowance each month into their savings accounts. 

It isn't too hard to retrieve your money from an online savings account if an emergency pops up. But, when there aren't any emergencies, it can tend to be too much of a hassle to bother. If you're at the mall and think you need to buy a new dress or new shoes, you will have to wait a few days for the money if you do decide to transfer. By then you may have decided to just keep your money anyway. 

If you do have unsecured credit card debt and need to try to save on your monthly bills, check our Nationwide Debt Direct. They do have options available for you if you are looking to repair your credit and repay your debt. This will help tremendously if you are trying to help your financial situation and save money!

Saving With Credit Cards

Believe it or not, there are some tricks to shopping online and using credit cards. If you aren't a total shopping addict, it could be seriously easy to save money this way! 

There are always so many deals, discounts, sales, even cash back sites to use for virtually everything and anything you can think of. I'm sure you have probably noticed different rewards sites and cash back offers all over the Internet numerous times. If you haven't already signed up for one, make sure you find an offer for a startup bonus! There are programs that will pay you in cash and some will give you a percentage back in points. You can redeem the points for gift cards and sometimes PayPal payments. I have a few accounts with these types of sites and I always check for the best deal before clicking. 

You will have to wait anywhere from 30 days to 90 days to receive your reward so this is an easy way to just deposit the check you receive into your savings account or let your gift cards pile up and use them for holiday shopping, school shopping, or for your linens and towels. As I mentioned, I have a few accounts so, I do have a goal for each one. I use one account for holiday shopping, another for school shopping, and the cash back account for our savings account. I also have our bank cards and credit cards tied to a college savings account so each purchase that fits their criteria will automatically be deposited for me and I don't have to do anything but keep my cards updated! 

Another bonus to using credit cards are rewards programs. (You can easily double dip when shopping online!) There are so many different options out there to fit different needs. Our favorite allows us to choose whether to receive a check, statement credit, or credit to be used for shopping. We use this one card to pay bills such as our cell phone bill and we use this one for anything from business expenses to clothing and shoes. We do our best to pay this card off in full each month so there aren't any fees or interest added. (If there is an emergency, this is one of the last ones to be paid in full but, we typically manage it well.) It's a lot of fun to watch the rewards pile up and at the end of the year, we make a decision on what we're going to use the money for. We actually used the money to pay a month on our mortgage payment a few times! But, you could also take this money and deposit into your savings!

Always pay attention to anything you might receive in the mail from your cards too! Sometimes you'll find offers for no interest purchases and other ways to save on your card. Just pay close attention to the fine print. While the "No interest for 12 months" might be an incentive for you to splurge, you may end up paying more in the long run if you do not pay it completely off within those 12 months.

If you are in need of any advice regarding unsecured debt, check out Nationwide Debt Direct!

There are so many small ways to grab a few extra dollars to stash! It may take a little extra time for math and planning and you'll need a notebook to keep track of some things but, it gets much easier after you're used to it! Just set some goals, sign up for some programs and you'll start seeing savings and money (or gift cards) coming in that you can use to save or for whatever you choose. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Kiss The Ground Book/Facebook Live Event

** I received a copy of this book in return for promoting **

Kiss the Ground is a powerful, provocative new look at how we can all participate in honoring Mother Earth. Our food is the source of our life and the soil is the source of our food. This book shows the simple steps each one of us can take to restore the health of our bodies and our planet. – Woody Harrelson, actor, environmentalist
What you put on your fork not only impacts your personal health, but the health of your community and the environment. – Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., Medical Director, the UltraWellness Center

Join Kiss The Ground on Facebook for a Facebook Live event on Tuesday, November 14th 7pm-9pm Pacific Time. Everybody can join the "Green Carpet" with THRIVE, Annie's, Nutvia, and Bonterra!

Kiss The Ground is a great resource for anybody interested in learning more about how to transform your kitchen, diet, grocery list, and ultimately, the planet.

Thrive Market will be hosting the party for Josh Tickell and his new book! If you haven't ever checked Thrive Market out, you totally should! (You can get 25% off of your first order here!) We've been shopping there for a few years now and I save a great deal on some of our favorite foods and vitamins. You save a great deal with your membership and can often score freebies with your orders!

If you were thinking of a New Year's Resolution, why not jot clean eating on your list? This is the perfect time to start to learn about how to clean up your kitchen and family's food!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Evgie Giveaway

This information is brought to you by EvgieNev Wall Decals. All opinions are my own.
Win A $150 Gift Card To EvgieNev Wall Decals #WallDecals Are you itching to make some changes in your home? Painting is a lot of work - but it does look nice with a fresh coat of paint. Have you considered using wall decals to redecorate a room? Evgie Wall Decals are more than just wall decorations; they are detailed themes with animated characters, live illustrations, and designs. The decals are very educational and help to develop your child's imagination and cultural knowledge of the world around them. They are easy to apply and in just a few hours you have a fresh new room! EvgieNev Wall Decals are customize-able: they can changes sizes, colors, add or remove elements to facilitate any ideas and styles.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Support Independent Artists With Personalized Holiday Cards

** This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will earn a commission. **

From now through Mon 11/6, enjoy 15% OFF holiday cards with code JOY17

I know, it is unreal how fast summer flew by. As it always seems it does! I have to admit, I love the colder weather, I love Halloween, lots of snow, warm, fuzzy blankets, hockey games, and the holidays. Oh and Charlie Brown specials! I think the most annoying part of the holiday season would have to be shopping. I didn't seem to mind it years ago but as I got older and moved to a rural area, I prefer shopping online. I probably shop online almost 75% of the time and for everything.

Another tradition we recently started is mailing holiday cards. I was never one to have a long list of addresses and photo cards to send to everybody until we had 4 kids and friends and family moved away and we moved away. There is just always something more special about mailing actual cards than a Facebook post or an email. Plus, our kids really enjoy writing notes and signing the cards and adding a school picture or something they drew. One of our favorite places to shop for stationary and holiday cards is

Shop Minted's 2017 Holiday Card Collection

I'm sure you've seen plenty of ads for "personalized cards" or "photo cards" and you may have started thinking about which photograph you will be using this year or maybe you haven't even gotten that far just yet. I am always on the lookout for the best deals and the highest quality that will fit in my budget. Especially if you're planning on buying a few dozen or over a hundred cards. One thing that I absolutely love about the Internet is the small businesses and independent artists that it connects us with! I go crazy over all of the artisan foods and small batch bath bombs out there and I'm always on the lookout for the most unique ideas. It's kind of my weakness when it comes to shopping. This is also why I am always so excited about new Minted products! I can order a bunch of cards from independent artists until my heart's content! (Or I run out of money! Whichever comes first!)

Minted's Top-Voted Holiday Card Designs

If you like to help small businesses and crafters, you will fall in love with Minted! I like to read about each of the artists behind the cards. (Or any of their products really!) They have an "about me" section complete with pictures and you can get to know the person behind the art. Plus, you get to check out all of the other items the artist has available for sale. You know, just in case you need to snag a notebook or some extra stationary while you're there!

The other fascinating thing about Minted personalized holiday cards is that it literally means much more than just "Upload your picture and we'll print your name inside!" Depending on the cards you choose, you are actually in charge of colors, shapes, paper upgrades, backers, interiors, and free recipient and return addressing. It's almost like they're your own creation!

Minted also launched a new service this year called, Text Us Your Photo. You just need to text your favorite holiday photo and your Minted stylist will text you back with your photo styled in 5-holiday card designs for FREE!

Have you ever tried I would love to read comments about what you thought!

Don't forget to order your cards while they are offering 15% off of your holiday card order! (Use code JOY17 at checkout.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Music Is Essential For Child Development

Music is very important at our house. It's one of those things that is always there. Everybody has their favorite types of music, favorite bands, has a turn listening to their CDs or their favorite station on the radio when we're driving somewhere, and of course, our kids will try musical instruments, 2 have gone as far as to play guitar on a regular basis! We start with an instrument through school and they take it from there.

Playing music while your baby sleeps and even before they are born, helps to soothe and strengthen memory skills. It also helps to strengthen the relationship between the body and the brain to work together. Music is much more than just entertainment.

Musical Intelligence

Some say that musical intelligence is just as important as logical and emotional intelligence. Children can develop better motor skills while dancing and they also learn the sounds of tones and words when singing along with their favorite music. 

Playing music from birth through age 6 will help children speak more clearly and develop a larger vocabulary. Listening to music also helps strengthen emotional and social skills. If this doesn't have you sold so far, think about the impact that listening to music or even playing music together could have on the bond with your children! 

Whether you're a professional musician like John Jesensky or you sing along to your favorite songs in the car or the shower, you can make a world of difference in your children's life! 

Bringing Music Into Your Home

Even if you don't come from a musical background, you can still find many different resources for helping families bring music into their lives. 

Music Together is a wonderful program for parents and children from birth to age 7. They offer classes across the country and if you don't find one nearby, you can apply to train to be a teacher and start your own class in your community! 

Kids enjoy spending time with their parents and they don't care what your singing voice sounds like or if you can really dance. You can make musical instruments out of random things you have around your house! (We've used coffee cans and wooden spoons plenty of times!) It's very easy to bring music into your home and your little ones will have a blast! Having fun together is very important and building a lifelong appreciation for music is also crucial. 

Listening to a variety of music is essential to opening your child/children up to different sounds, varieties, and finding their own taste in music. There are so many genres of music out there it's very hard to choose just one. The more options you offer, the better! I agree with John Ross Jesensky, that an open-mindedness to all musical styles is vital to a musician's development. I also believe that this is vital for those of us who aren't musicians. I don't necessarily fall in love with everything I hear but, I do have a wide variety of music that I listen too. I have my very favorites, my husband has his, and our kids each have their own individual favorites. Appreciating other people's tastes and talent is another valueable lesson that reaches far beyond music. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Overcoming Blogging Pitfalls

I don't know how many times I've made absolutely ridiculous mistakes and spent an entire day just to fix them. Sometimes more! I always look at it as a learning experience. Which it is. However, when you're trying to meet a deadline and Twitter decides to change your "following" list from 8,000 to 4. Or facebook decides to notify you of several posts they decided may be tied to a sponsored post or a paid ad and you have to explain yourself. Or if you're like me, you spent an entire day trying to remove the period from a link because an advertiser asked you too. (That was one of my most favorite adventures!)

I have a couple of blogs and have social media accounts. Just like every other blogger. I have days where I log on and have an hour to myself to catch up, only to find that somebody has been applying for credit through my Amazon account or that somebody hacked Yahoo emails and my email account has been compromised. Of course, that ends up eating up that quiet and cozy hour I had with just me, my laptop, and a fresh pot of coffee.

List Your Priorities

One of the easiest ways for me to attack the constant pileup of emails and what I call "tidbits" (check-ins, blogger groups, Tweets, little things.) is to make a list of 5 separate parts of my business. 

For instance, I will have emails/filing/replying/connecting in its own group. Next will be social media. Tidbits, networking, and posts. It took me a few years to find a system that would work. I think I must have ordered and used and gave away at least 2 dozen agendas and blogger planners I've found until I realized that somebody else's system may not work for me. There are a lot of great planners and agendas out there! I love being organized as best I can and I love having a planner I can keep notes in. If only I could create and produce my own...

Keeping notes on paper and in an agenda of some kind has proven to be the best way for me to make sure I don't miss a deadline or a possible connection for an upcoming gift guide. We all have our own ways to stay on top of the world. We just have to find it and stick with it! 

Health And Emergencies

This is something I struggle with a lot! If I ever have the opportunity to hire somebody as an assistant or train one of my older children, I will be jumping at that chance! 

Owning and running your own business is so fulfilling and rewarding. But, who do you call when things get rough? (I usually text or call my mom.) Things can start to become overwhelming and you feel like you're drowning and can never keep up at times. When an emergency happens or you have a disability or an illness of any kind, there may be times that you have to "shut down due to emergency". I've had to do this a lot, due to disabilities and illnesses and it's a terrible feeling. I try to at least always have my cell phone with me so I can contact super important contacts about posts or anything that needs to be done. Times like this are where a virtual assistant would come in handy! 

How do we overcome this type of pitfall? I don't know just yet. But, if you have any ideas, please share! The only thing I can come up with is to hire somebody, ask somebody for help if it is only temporary, hope to be able to get home from the hospital or out of surgery soon enough to apologize to everyone, or hope to have good WiFi in the hospital. If you are working with a client you have worked with in the past, they are most likely aware of any disabilities and/or illnesses you may have already and are a bit more forgiving than others may be. Just know that you're not alone in this! 

Family And Kids

It happens to everyone. There will always be something that just pops up out of nowhere. Whether it's a fall and a quick trip to the ER, a day filled with appointments, the dog got loose, somebody forgot to tell you they need a white 3 ring binder with pockets on the inside and a black lead pencil by tomorrow and you live 30 miles from the closest store, something always pops up. This always makes it hard to plan and get everything done when it needs to be done. 

It seems that every time I wake up, something new happens that has never happened before and you just have no choice but to make it work somehow. That's just life and I wouldn't change it for the world! But, there are times I feel like ripping all of my hair out of my head! This is where some aromatherapy, an entire pot of coffee, or whatever it is that you do to help yourself relax would come in handy. Much like the above dilemma, I don't have an answer for you. Other than to find somebody to be on call or go through the steps in the previous section, you just have to deal with it, accept it, and learn to love it. Running a business is tough but it can still be so rewarding! (Always remember that because sometimes, that is all you have to get you through!) 

Technical Issues

I know I already touched on this earlier but, this is an important part of blogging. You're going to have to learn a little bit so you can fix some of your own problems. I usually try to read up on everything when I see something new about SEO or any guides I find about how to do well, pretty much anything. I'm a big fan of eBooks and how to guides. 

When an expert writes an eBook on how to better organize your blog or how to use plugins, I'm there! If you haven't already had any concerns about whatever it may be about, you probably will in the future. So, go ahead and download until your heart's content! You may be relieved one day in the near future! 

I like to try my best to remain positive and to understand that I can't possibly do it all. One thing that really helps is when I find somebody like, Grace Lever reviews, who is a positive role model for many female entrepreneurs. 

You could always network and find somebody to barter with or somebody to hire to be on call for tech support. Commenting on other blogs, sharing some posts, Retweeting, these are all ways to find some good, trustworthy blogger friends. Besides, we should all be supporting each other out here! 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

In Honor Of Natalie Wood

This is a new fragrance collection in honor of Natalie Wood. (I haven't tried this yet but, I am anxious to!)

Click here to try this new fragrance and don't forget to use code: 10OFFNF for 10%!

I would love to know what you think!