Friday, April 6, 2018

Managing Your Income When You're Self Employed

Many people dream of having their own business one day. I think there is something very satisfying about being your own boss and making the decisions yourself. Of course, we all want to be successful and wish for financial freedom but sometimes, being running your own business may not be everything it’s cracked up to be. It takes a lot of discipline when it comes to managing your income.

When you work for someone else you don’t necessarily have to worry about how you will pay for an expensive piece of equipment if it breaks or making sure your quarterly taxes are mailed in by the deadline. There is also something called, a paycheck that employees receive and they only have to worry about depositing or cashing their check in the bank each week and taking care of their personal finances. There isn’t much to fall back on when you are in business for yourself.

One of the most important steps you must take immediately after starting a business is separating personal and business. It helps to start a new bank account for your business rather than keeping everything together. Keeping a notebook of personal bills, basically what your mortgage/rent cost, utilities, car loans, groceries, everything in your personal budget is also beneficial. Making sure you have enough to survive and allowing a little extra for spending is crucial when determining whether or not you are even earning enough when you’re self employed. But, you also need to have enough money in your business account to take care of your taxes and the cost of running your business. If you don’t already have a savings account, now is a good time to start one. You can deposit a percentage of your profit each month (or week, depending on how you are paying yourself.) later, you can make decisions on starting a retirement fund. Keeping accurate records is crucial when you are self employed. Not just for Uncle Sam but for yourself too. You want to be sure you are staying above water and you want to be sure invoices are sent out on time and bills are paid. I like to use various programs on my laptop but I also keep paper records. Stocking up on manila folders, envelopes, legal pads, and pens is important and a tax deduction too!

There will be times when you may find yourself short and it might seem like a quick fix to start using credit cards. However, this could lead to some serious trouble depending on your interest rates and how much you are piling onto them. Sometimes, checking into self employed loans is a much better idea considering your monthly payments may be far lower than credit card payments and the interest rate isn’t typically as high.

When shopping for a hard money loan, you will need to have your records in order so you can show your loan agent that you have money coming in and are capable of handling your personal expenses. They may ask for your last year’s tax return or a profit and loss statement as well. It’s important to keep in mind that it is common for a small business to need help from time to time. Don’t get down on yourself if you feel like everything is falling apart. Chances are, it isn’t and after some brainstorming, seeking help from a professional whether a lawyer or a financial advisor, and taking a minute to relax, you will find that you will bounce back up in no time. Always remember that these small setbacks are some of the best learning experiences.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Do Those Discount Pharmacy Cards Really Work

The last thing anyone wants to worry about when they or a family member become ill is the high cost of prescription medications. Whether they are prescribed temporarily or long term, these medications can put quite the dent in your pocket. Especially if you don’t have health insurance or have a plan that doesn’t cover all of your prescription needs.

I’ve learned to ask how much the cash price is at the pharmacy as compared to co-pays through my health insurance because sometimes, it ends up costing much less if I just use a pharmacy discount card and pay cash. I learned this after searching online for discount cards and checking prices of my husband’s heart medication. After finding that the price was substantially less than what we paid through his health insurance, I called the pharmacies and asked if this was true. Sure enough, it was! (This isn’t something all pharmacies will tell you!)

I make monthly trips to our local pharmacy for everything ranging from vitamins, first aid supplies, over the counter medication, and to pick up our prescriptions. We have 2 long term prescriptions in our family and of course, whenever anyone gets hit with something like the flu. So, rather than paying what could end up being a second mortgage payment, I got my pen and paper and starting searching online for the best discounts I could find.

I have also noticed that our prescriptions have increased several times over the years and I don’t think there are any plans of this stopping anytime soon. Why does it seem we are paying more for our medications than a new car payment each month? Sadly, it is a fact that we pay more per capita in The United States, than any other country. Actually, by more than double.

So just like looking for the best interest rates when it comes to buying a home or starting a savings account, it is just as important to find a discount or some sort of savings on your family’s medications. There are several different websites where you can find and compare the best prices, find nearby pharmacies who will honor the cards, and most of the time you will find that these cards are free! (That’s the best part!) There is no reason to not search for a card that works for you! I’ve found that some of these discount programs also offer savings for dental, vision and even on demand virtual doctor visits too! It’s also important to note that they work for your entire household so you usually only need just one card.

Whether you have a current prescription or you want a backup plan just in case something does happen, these cards can and will come in super handy! I keep mine in my wallet because it is even more important than all of my frequent shopper cards. For instance, we only pay $12 for a month’s supply of my husband’s prescription rather than the $180 cash price our pharmacy charges. I also save about 50% on my medication! You can search for whatever your family needs or compare lo loestrin fe cost or any other common medications or contraceptives directly on their website.

After you find the card that is accepted at your local pharmacy and gets you the best prices, simply take your card and your prescription and save some money! You can use some of the cash you just saved to treat yourself to a latte or stock up on first aid supplies or vitamins while you’re waiting at the pharmacy! When you find a card that works for your needs, don’t forget to spread the word! Your family and friends will be very grateful. (If you’re like me, you’ll end up telling everyone else in the pharmacy too!)

Sunday, March 25, 2018

ERA Organics Giveaway

This giveaway is sponsored by ERA Organics. All opinions are my own.

Taking good care of your hair is essential. Between all the coloring, heat from an hair dryer and flat iron, and other things, your hair can easily get damages. Finding a good shampoo and conditional is essential.


I think you are going to love ERA Organics Natural Shampoo and Conditioner. You dont have to have dull lifeless hair! These products will help you strengthen follicles, fight frizz, prevent breakage, strengthen and moisturize your hair and scalp with our robust 9-in-1 hypoallergenic shampoo formula. And if you don't love it - you will get your money back!
The ERA Organics Natural Sulfate Free Moisturizing Shampoo is a sulfate-free, moisturizing shampoo that includes ingredients to nourish from scalp to split end, including organic Argan Oil, Aloe Vera, Kiwi Extract, Kukui Seed Oil, Marula Oil, Moringa Seed Oil and Meadowfoam Oil. The natural and organic shampoo ingredients are paraben free, SLS free, sulfate free, non-toxic and cruelty free. Proudly made in the USA.

You always need a great conditioner to go with your shampoo so they compliment each other. The ERA Organics Premium Natural Hair Conditioner. The natural and organic hair conditioner with ingredients proven to give you stronger, healthier, more luxurious hair. Say goodbye to brittle, frizzy, unmanageable dry hair. The robust, award winning natural and organic formula is designed to nourish your hair from root to tip. Whether you have dry hair, dry scalp, curly hair or damaged hair- get thicker, more manageable hair you’ll love. It has ingredients your hair and scalp will love, including: Argan Oil, Kiwi, Pomegranate, Kukui Seed, Ginger Root, Burdock Root, Aloe Vera, Sunflower Seed Oil and more. Best conditioner for damaged, dry hair. It is also Silicone free, sulfate free, cruelty free with no parabens, toxins, SLS, alcohol and it is non-toxic. and actually good for your hair.
As a small family run business, they want you to love your hair and be totally satisfied with your purchase. Buy now with their 60 Day “Love Your Hair or Your Money Back” Guarantee!

Special offers and product promotions

  • Save 10% each on Qualifying items offered by Era Organics when you purchase 2 or more. Enter code ERASALE1 at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)
  • Save 15% each on Qualifying items offered by Era Organics when you purchase 3 or more. Enter code ERASALE2 at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)
  • Save 20% each on Qualifying items offered by Era Organics when you purchase 4 or more. Enter code ERASALE3 at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)

Giveaway Details:

Friday, March 9, 2018

Standing Out In A Crowd

No matter what your niche is, no matter what you are creating, selling, or writing, you’re going to find that there are others out there who might be doing the same thing. You might start comparing yourself to others in your field which is fine, just don’t get stressed out over it. You might question yourself sometimes and if you lose an account, no matter how small, you might start questioning what you could have done differently.

It always seems easier to find the cons and figure it has to be something you did wrong. Even though you should take each negative as a learning experience and use that experience to get back up, wipe yourself off, and work harder next time. (It is definitely OK to take some time to relax, eat a pint of ice cream or homemade brownies and catch up on your favorite TV show!) Life would be kind of boring if everything always went the way we wished it did. Not only would we never learn from anything new, we wouldn’t be able to grow or improve.

There will be many dark days as an entrepreneur no matter your field. But, there will be many successes too! A lot of your success will depend on how you fail and how you come back up from it. This is one of my most favorite uplifting quotes:

Everyone is an entrepreneur. The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur: an ability to fail, an ability to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on those ideas, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move onto the next adventure. James Altucher

If blogging is your thing, you probably get exhausted from seeing so many similar posts out there by other, more popular, or bigger bloggers. It’s bound to happen. There are over 150 million bloggers out there and we’re going to end up posting a lot of the same posts. So, how do you stand out? Maybe you have a sparkling personality and your readers love to interact with your posts because you always reply and engage. Maybe they look to you as an expert and ask questions. Or maybe you’re a great storyteller. Either way, we’re all different and finding the differences can sometimes help you grow your business. Finding motivational stories from others who have been there, like, Chrissy Weems, is a good way to keep the positivity flowing! This doesn’t just apply to bloggers either.

There are so many meal subscription boxes out there these days. But, you have the best idea ever and you just know that you can become successful because you already studied everything there is to know about meal delivery subscriptions. “What does the customer want?”, “What are the others not doing that I can add to my service?” But, a lot of your friends say, “Oh, there are so many of these businesses out there, how will you ever succeed?” Well, you could pitch your idea on Shark Tank! Or you could devise a plan, stay confident, and just jump right in!

It’s all about doing something you are good at. Doing something you absolutely love doing. You probably noticed a business that really stood out in the front of a crowded market and you probably thought, “WOW! I really love the way this place does this!” It could be something small. Like, maybe they add humor, maybe add a character or a really witty advertisement. Anything that will make people remember you and what you do will help create future success! One of my favorite stories out there is about Chrissy Weems and how she was able to find success. There are many more stories out there that will help boost your attitude and your mindset! You might read about them online, in newspapers, or meet them at conferences. Whichever way you do it, keeping a journal of uplifting quotes and ideas is a great way to help when you’re stuck in a rut.

Don't Ignore Personal Injury

Years ago I started having ankle and foot issues. They started as just basic sprains and breaks but over the years, this led to a whole new list of problems. After a couple more injuries due to my field of work, (bartending) and complete negligence in a couple of cases over the years, I ended up needing reconstructive foot and ankle surgeries. While I’m not sure whether there was much else I could have done that would have stopped everything from progressing or not, it is imperative that you not only seek medical advice, immediately after a personal injury of any kind but also seek help from a professional. Otherwise, you may end up where I am. Which is not necessarily a very fun place to be! 

From red, hot, burning welts to severe swelling to several pain layers to torn tendons, I deal with a great deal of symptoms and only seem to get progressively worse. On top of that, my surgeries were scheduled and only one was ever completed because that first one was a failure.

I was diagnosed with RSD (CRPS) shortly after my surgery. RSD is a progressive disease of the Autonomic Nervous System and more specifically, the Sympathetic Nervous System. Besides being extremely painful, this also ends up causing things such irreversible tissue, muscle, bone, and joint damage. This is just one of many problems you could end up with and this can stem from a very small injury as well.

Of course, I am more prone to breaks and sprains and they do happen often! Tendonitis is another disorder I struggle with that only started to be a problem after spending years wearing walking casts and working as many shifts as I could. (Even with an injury.)

I was always worried about losing my job if I would have attempted to apply for workers compensation or contact Tampa injury attorneys. I wish I had known then what this could turn into and I wish I would have known what options I had. Especially for my family. It is very hard to try to move each day and depending on the swelling, the weather, and what the activity is. I find myself rescheduling more often than anything and it definitely puts a strain on my husband and children. There are so many things I can’t do anymore and so many that it takes so much longer to do and most of the time, we just have to wait until the day of or at least the day before to even see if whatever it is will be possible or not.

If you are unsure about whether or not your personal injury is going to turn into a settlement of any kind, you could always call someone like personal injury lawyers Tampa. It’s best to check with a professional before ignoring something this important and before you end up hurting yourself even more in the long run.

Be sure to keep a record of any symptoms, injuries, medications, medical records, letters from a doctor, witness information, cause of personal injury, your attorney’s contact information, any friends, relatives or co-workers who can speak on your behalf, and anything else you might think is important to your case. Maintaining proper records and having good communication with everybody involved is an excellent way to make sure you have everything covered.

You can also find some more information about personal injury claims, here. There could be time limits in your state so, it is very important to check on things like this before you end up waiting to long! You don’t want to end up being completely immobile or having more diseases, injuries, or disorders piled on because you didn’t take care of things properly the first time around. If there is a chance for you to get the proper care right away and have these things resolved before ruining your credit, take it! You owe it to yourself and your family. Your health should always be top priority!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Cleft Palate Isn't So Scary

When I was pregnant with my youngest son, we were told he would have a few “issues” when he was born. Clubfoot which was a fairly easy fix and cleft palate which was also supposed to be something common that could be repaired over time. We were referred to a cleft palate clinic nearby and started appointments before he was born. This was a great help considering we didn’t have a baby with cleft palate and we didn’t know anyone who went through the same thing.

Of course, we had a million questions and everyone at the cleft palate clinic was extremely helpful, very friendly and optimistic! We spoke with the different specialists they have available for patients and learned a great deal about cleft and what to expect. From speech therapists to hearing specialists to dentists, we started to understand what we were dealing with. (It certainly isn’t as scary as it may seem!)

Our son was born the day before Mother’s Day in 2010 in an ambulance. I must have waited a little too long to call the hospital because a minute after I hung up, my water broke! It ended up he was born just a few miles away from home, in an ambulance and he was healthy as can be! I couldn’t have asked for an easier birth or nicer “doctors and nurses”. A young EMT said, “Um, he’s very healthy and adorable but, he does seem to have something wrong with his lip!” I explained that I was already aware of the cleft and they seemed relieved. This was their first childbirth so they were just ecstatic he was OK.

When we got to the hospital, our family doctor met with us after Deegan was looked over and said, “You know, he doesn’t even have cleft palate. He has cleft lip.” Shortly after this, a cleft palate specialist came to visit and he was just delighted by Deegan’s big dimples and calm demeanor. He discussed the surgeries he would need and gave me information on his appointment at the cleft palate clinic. Everything went smoothly! It was a little hard to get him to eat at first but we eventually figured this out too. (They do make special bottles for cleft babies so there is no need to be alarmed!)

Deegan after his surgery and stitches.

A few months after his cleft surgery!

Deegan is 7 now and has had his surgeries for his club foot and cleft lip and is just left with a little scar and no cupid’s bow. His speech is fine, he does sometimes ask about why his nose is a little different than his brothers or sisters and he recently noticed that he has a slightly different upper lip than his siblings. This makes me sad and we try to focus on keeping his self esteem and confidence up and often! He seems to understand what happened. He actually seems to be very proud of himself for getting through surgeries and overcoming everything and he should be! Most recently, however, we are seeing the effects that his cleft lip has had on his teeth.

Children and even adults who were born with cleft palate or cleft lip can run into a lot of problems with their teeth. It is very important to find a good dentist who has experience with cleft palate because these children do require special care. Some cleft palate clinics will have a dental team on hand but if you don’t have a clinic nearby, finding a trustworthy dentist with experience could be a chore.

They do suggest to make an appointment with a dentist like Karl Jobst Grove OK before any teeth come in. This way, they can start to evaluate what may be needed in the near future. The amount of dental care depends on the severity of the cleft palate or cleft lip. Some may not be as noticeable until after their first teeth appear. From what we are discovering, some may only start after the baby teeth start to come out and the adult teeth start to come in. Whatever your baby might need, do not be alarmed! With proper dental care and treatment, babies with cleft palate and cleft lip will be just fine and can look perfectly fine too. Just like with everything, you might just need a little extra work to get there.

Deegan’s baby teeth came in OK. There are a few that never came in. However, after transferring to our family dentist and he had X-rays, they noted that all but a couple of his adult teeth would come in just fine. So far they have been with the exception of the exact spot where his cleft lip was. We are in the process of moving back to the clinic to hopefully schedule his treatments and surgeries in the future.

It is very important to take very good care of your children’s teeth at home, whether they were born with cleft or not. Brush 2 times 2 times per day! When they are a little older, mouthwash and floss are also extremely important! Our rule is; brush after breakfast and before bed and use mouthwash and floss! There are so many options and flavors to make brushing your teeth fun! One of our favorites is the mouthwash that shows the little particles in the sink so you can see that it’s working. We also have our favorite brands of toothpaste and each kid has their own favorite flavors. (Deegan loves orange and strawberry flavors the most.) Toothpaste with fluoride is especially helpful for maintaining healthy, strong teeth. Our town does not have fluoride in our water so we also opt for multivitamins with fluoride.

Children who were born with cleft lip or cleft palate will be at greater risk for cavities. You can thank weaker enamel and less effective saliva for this. This is something we struggle with and something I’m hoping will be easier for others after more studies are done. It was recently discovered that children born with cleft lip or cleft palate also have abnormal development in salivary gland ducts and they can not properly pump the buffering liquid and protective immune compounds into their mouths.

Saliva is crucial to a healthy mouth. Saliva contains the essential immune compounds that fight tooth decay. A few years ago when Deegan’s baby teeth started to come in, we noticed that one tiny tooth that was located directly where his lip was affected, wasn’t altogether there. We mentioned this to our dentist but he said that with proper brushing he should be fine. When that baby tooth came out we expected to see another tooth shortly after but, it never showed up. There was also a tooth that seemed to be a cavity as soon as it came in. I was pleased to read about their new findings and that they will be continuing research because this could end up opening new doors for both children and adults who struggle with tooth decay, cavities, or any other dental issues.

If you are looking into a career as a dentist or a dental hygienist, please check into Karl Jobst! Maybe you could end up helping to further research on salivary glands that would benefit children and adults born with cleft palate or cleft lip. Not only would this help ease the financial burden on families of these kids, it will help their smiles become bigger and brighter!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ERA Organics Tea Tree Oil GIveaway

** I received free samples in return for my honest review and promoting a giveaway. All opinions are my own. **

Tea Tree Oil has been know to be very beneficial. It well-known for its powerful antiseptic properties and ability to treat wounds. And for over seven decades, it’s been documented in numerous medical studies to kill many strains of bacteria, viruses and fungi. (Source) It is becoming popular to help things like acne, clean your scalp, a household cleaner, and more. Era Organics has created a face cleaner and cream that is balanced, healthier and can clear your skin without harsh chemicals. Introducing Era Organics Tea Tree Oil Cleanser made for oily, acne prone skin with 7 natural acne-fighting ingredients in one bottle. Their pH balanced face and body wash is made for men, women and teens looking to fight pimples, back acne and oily skin with natural and organic ingredients proven to cleanse pores, reduce blemishes, soothe inflammation and reduce redness.

How It Works:

  • Wash away excess oils, dirt, build-up and dead skin cells while nourishing the skin.
  • Naturally antimicrobial to kill acne-cause bacteria.
  • Moisturize to the base of the skin while boosting its ability to heal and recover.
  • Soothe inflammation and redness while promoting healthy blood flow
  • Open clogged pores and shed dead skin cells to fight blackheads
  • Soften your skin while improving skin texture for balanced, more supple complexion.
Get Clearer, Healthier Skin You Can Be Proud Of or Your Money Back! As a family owned company, results are everything. They take customer service and satisfaction quite seriously. That’s why they have a “Love Your Skin or Your Money Back” 60-day money back guarantee. Buy now with confidence and see what nature can do for you.

About ERA Organics Tea Tree Oil Face Cleanser:

Whether You’re Fighting Acne, Oily Skin, Rosacea or Chronic Dry Skin - get healthier, smoother skin thanks to one of the most robust natural facial cleanser formulas on the market. Don’t Just Wash Your Face & Body – cleanse, soothe and nourish your skin thanks to powerful ingredients your skin will love, including: tea tree oil, goldenseal, burdock root, aloe vera, pomegranate seed oil, st. john's wort and dandelion root.


It is safe and effective. The sulfate free cleanser is made with natural and organic, food-grade ingredients. Wash with confidence without chemicals, toxins, paraben free, perfume free and SLS free. Cruelty free, made in the USA. Fight pimples, blackheads and breakouts in minutes a day. ERA Organics Tea Tree Oil Face Cleanser moisturizing facial cleanser is made for all skin types to help balance oils, reduce redness, nourish to the base of your skin and help fight acne causing bacteria.

About ERA Organics Tea Tree Oil Face Cream:

Extra Strength Nourishing Formula- Most acne treatments are too harsh on the skin, leading to irritation, redness or dry skin. This facial cream is formulated to soothe, nourish and hydrate oily skin, dry skin or combination skin. Perfect for men, women and teens!

It has ingredients your skin will love. They combine powerful natural and organic ingredients to nourish and balance the skin, including: St. John’s Wort, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Salicylic, Zinc, Burdock Root, Dandelion Root & Goldenseal. The natural face moisturizer is non comedogenic, cruelty free and vegan friendly. To make sure people with sensitive skin can use it, it’s also paraben free, non-toxic, no hormone disruptors and gentle – yet effective. You can purchase many different products from ERA Organics on Amazon. The more you buy, the more you save:
  • Save 20% on Qualifying items offered by Era Organics when you purchase 2 or more. Enter code ERA20VAL at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)
  • Save 25% on Qualifying items offered by Era Organics when you purchase 3 or more. Enter code ERA25VAL at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)
Now for the giveaway! There will be 2 winners - each winner will receive the ERA Organics Tea Tree Oil Face Cleanser and Face Cream. This giveaway is open to residents of the US only. It will end on 3/1/18 at 1159pm EST. Good Luck! Enter below:
ERA Organics is responsible for fulfilling the prize.

Make Traveling With Kids Fun

Every year we plan a trip or two. (Depending on where we’re going, we can sometimes fit a couple of small trips in.) Our favorite thing to do is to go camping so, we try to fit one of those in for sure. Our second one might be the beach or something educational, like, Williamsburg, VA. Even when we visit an educational site or even visit the beach, we always try to find a good campground nearby.

Believe it or not, we used to do the whole “real camping” thing. We slept in tents, brought coolers and backpacks and cooked our meals with a campfire. That was before we had 4 kids though and before it started getting just a little too hard to get off of the ground in the mornings! We still cook with real campfires but, we might have our food in the kitchen of a cabin instead.

 Don't Overpack! 

I make this mistake every single time. No matter how hard I try, I always pack more than we really need. Not only is it annoying to unpack when we get there but it takes up much needed space and often ends up sitting in the truck anyway.

I make a list for each person but everyone is limited to one backpack of whatever they want to bring but that backpack also has to include their clothing. They can bring books, notebooks, pens, whatever special toys they want and of course, their tablets for the drive.

I make sure to have a backpack just for first aid and toiletries. This way it doesn’t take up too much room or take from anyone else’s space! This is also sometimes where I tend to go overboard since we have so many toiletries per person. So, I started buying special toiletries that can be shared for camping trips. For example; We don’t really need our own special shower gels! One for boys and one for girls is good enough. Same with shampoo. Of course, feminine products, deodorants, razors, and some skin care products will need to be packed per person but for the most part, double or even triple duty products work well!

Sunblock, bug spray, a small first aid kit, ibuprofen, batteries, flashlights, radios, whatever medications (if any) that your family needs are very important to pack. I’m all for buying when you get there but a lot of these things are very expensive when you reach your destination. It’s always best to grab these types of items before you leave.

Mad Libs, Rory’s Story Cubes, and playing cards are something else I like to pack to help pass the time. (Most definitely when you have little ones along!)

Whether camping somewhere local or a few states away, snacks are also important for the trip there! Considering how much snacks and drinks cost at rest stops, it is always a good idea to shop for everyone’s favorites before you head out!

Plan Ahead!

If you’re traveling abroad, for instance, camping in Panama or some other fabulous destination, you’ll probably want to check with your travel agent or Google search what types of clothing you should pack, what you can take on the plane, what will be available when you arrive, and of course you’ll need your passport! You can usually check with the campground or hotel you’ll be staying with also. If you’re planning on an internship with Kalu Yala, they will help connect you with travelers who have been there who can help you with any questions you may have. You can find more about the truth about Kalu Yala on their Facebook page! This way you won’t have to worry about any issues or concerns regarding Kalu Yala problems.

I always map out which route we will be taking so I can check for rest stops, stores, gas stations, and restaurants. Sometimes it pays off to go ahead and start checking websites out for anywhere you plan to visit just to get information on hours, menus, coupons, or even discount or rewards cards. I try to sign up for any types of email newsletters or coupon clubs so that we can save a little extra money. (Packing snacks helps a great deal but, you’re probably going to want to stop for an actual meal a couple of times a day!) It’s also best to map out local restaurants or chain restaurants that are away from the rest stops, turnpikes, or highways. They tend to be less expensive and have a better variety of choices on their menus.

Checking for local shops or any malls where you might want to get some shopping done is also beneficial when planning! You could also sign up for any frequent shopper cards, travel discount books, or even find deals on sites such as Groupon. Depending on how often you plan on visiting, you could also check for coupon and discount books like, Entertainment books for the place you’re going.

You may want to read some reviews online about where you’ll be staying, eating, or visiting. I like to read a variety of different website reviews and I like to keep an open mind considering there may be some very good reviews and some very bad reviews depending on whether that person’s vacation went OK or not. I don’t know how many times I have read reviews for a hotel or a campground that ended up not really being about the actual place itself but more of a rundown on that person’s entire trip. I get it, I mean, we all have bad days and bad vacations sometimes but unloading on a review site and bad mouthing a hotel when your trip started out bad ever since leaving your house, isn’t very cool. Have some questions in mind when reading reviews and find a good reviewer who actually answers those questions rather than paint a horrific picture of “the worst vacation ever!” It’s best to take each review with a grain of salt, whether good or bad. Just like with Kalu Yala criticism.

Of course you should remember to have cash with you whenever embarking on a journey. Not every tiny town, out in the middle of nowhere will accept credit or debit cards. Think of realistic emergencies that unfortunately, sometimes occur and plan accordingly. You may want extra blankets in your vehicle, an extra cell phone battery, cell phone chargers, change for vending machines, health insurance cards, and identification.

Once you create a list of everything you need, buy ahead, plan ahead, take some fun games and books for your kids, kid friendly snacks and you actually head out on your well deserved adventure, you can finally relax and enjoy yourself!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Join The Ester-C Community

** I received free samples thanks to Ester-C, in exchange for sharing online on my blog and social networks. All opinions are my own! **

If you have been following my blog or my Facebook page or Twitter, you're probably aware of my autoimmune disorders. I try to load up on vitamins, iron, avocados, mangoes, pistachios, and anything I can get my hands on that will help build my immune system. (and it has to be pretty scrumptious too!) It's so hard to find something that isn't chalky, icky, trustworthy, and something you'll find again. (It seems there are so many of these pop up "vitamin" companies that it is so hard to keep track of!) I like to stick with well-known brands and it doesn't hurt to have the OK from my favorite pharmacist and doctor!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

BOGO 50% Skyn Iceland

** This post contains affiliate links. I do earn a percentage of sales if you make a purchase. **

BOGO (buy one, get one) 50% off the following products:
Plumping Lip Gels 5-pack
Arctic Elixir Serum
Hydro Cool Firming Face Gels
Nordic Skin Peel and Pure Pore Minimizer

This offer is valid through Tuesday February 13, 2018 at 11:59PM PST.*

You can also use code: WINTOFF15 for 15% off any additional purchases!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

$100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

 $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Hosted By
~ 1 Winner~
Open to US
1/21 12am ~ 2/04 11:59pm

$100 Amazon Gift Card 

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Reading Is Such An Extraordinary Gift

One of the most amazing things to witness on this planet is when your little kid (or any little kid. I'm sure it's the same for teachers too!) magically understand phonics, words, word families, etc. Basically, learns how to read. 

I homeschool my youngest son because he is most likely in need of some dental surgeries and he is very self-conscious about this as well as his cleft scar and nose from his surgery. It's heartbreaking to know that a small child can feel this way. It's bad enough anybody can. So, he's super duper reserved and is just starting to "come out of his shell" around people he doesn't know. (Another amazing thing to watch!)

But, we use a few different reading programs and he is great with sight words and all of the basics. He excels at math but, cannot stand reading. Until today. 

He started school around 9am this morning and worked straight through until about 5pm. 
Around 10am this morning, something clicked and Deegan just started reading everything on the page lol. He said, lol, "My brain just told me that he understands these sounds now!" (LOL he always has messages from his brain which is awesome since, when I was pregnant with him, he was missing a section of his brain but amazingly, a few months later, at another ultrasound, it started reappearing. Long story but he's perfectly fine and only had a cleft lip and club foot when he was born.) 

Anyway, he went crazy and just started reading and that was that. He didn't even work on any math today because he didn't want to stop learning words. Actually, he learned 46 new words today and took 2 tests and had a 93% and a 100% so, he's a badass. 

If you can ever witness the exact time that something clicks inside of a little one's brain that makes reading an easy task, you will find that it is very hard to top! 

I was only able to witness this once before when my 11-year-old daughter had that light go off and all of a sudden, she ran to the 1 bookshelf and just started tearing books out. (Apparently, my other 2 had this happen during school lol!)

Reading is the most important and most fascinating gift that we have!

I wish I would have recorded both of these times because the looks on their faces when they have that "click" is such a rewarding and memorable experience. They are so grateful for this gift and so excited when they hone those skills. Both of these days will be 2 of my most favorite memories of my children growing up. (Of course, there are many more!) 

We have been using Reading Eggs, ABC Mouse, as well as several different books, flashcards, the old school way of learning to read. If you have any other ideas or tips for teaching your little ones to read, please let me know in the comments! The possibilities are endless and I want to be able to offer as many options as possible for him to really get as much as he can!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Free Mrs Meyers Set From Grove Collaborative

** This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you choose to order through my links. ** 

Create a Better Home Care Routine with Grove Collaborative January is a great time to start practicing a better home care routine.

But what does 'better' look like? For me, it's about finding simple, healthy solutions I can stick with all year — even when things get chaotic.

Enter Grove Collaborative! Grove simplifies tasks like shopping for home and personal care products. Instead of making an extra stop at the store, you can come home to all your favorite healthy, affordable products sitting on your doorstep.

 Now is a great time to give Grove a try, because they’re offering a free New Year, New You Set with your first order of $20  to help you create your own healthy home care routine:

Free Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap
Free Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap
Free Mrs. Meyer’s hand lotion
Free Grove cleaning caddy
Free Grove walnut scrubber sponges
Free Shipping & 60 Day VIP Trial

If you’re already a customer, you’ll get a free set of Grove walnut scrubber sponges, which are so pretty you won’t mind leaving them out by the sink.

Switching to beautiful home care products has been a real game-changer for me. Because I look forward to getting out this stylish cleaning caddy, I'm much more inclined to stick to my cleaning routine. And dishes don't feel like such a chore with a stylish sponge and lovely smelling dish soap.

I can’t say enough good things about Mrs. Meyer’s soaps and lotions. They were some of the first natural products I started using, and they’re still a staple in my kitchen and bathrooms. All the products are non-toxic and made with plant-derived ingredients so I can feel good using them around my family. Right now I’m using the basil scent because it really perks me up on grey days!

When I first started developing a natural cleaning routine, I spent a lot of time (and money) experimenting with making my own cleaning products. It turns out that spending hours mixing glass cleaner isn’t necessarily sustainable for me when things get busy. Healthy living is all about balance, and for me that means buying mostly ready-made products from companies I trust.

With Grove Collaborative, I don’t have to stand in the grocery store aisle Googling hard-to-spell ingredients before I add an item to my cart. They’ve done their homework, which makes it easy to know which products are better for my family.

 In addition to the free New Year, New You set, here are the top 10 products I’d order from Grove if you’re looking to create your own healthy cleaning routine:

Seventh Generation laundry pods
Ecover stain remover
Grove Collaborative wool dryer balls — these are genius!
Grove Collaborative kitchen towel
 Seventh Generation auto dish packs
Bee’s Wrap assorted wraps — perfect for storing bread or wrapping leftovers Grove Collaborative cleaning concentrates
Grove Collaborative glass spray bottle with silicone sleeve
Grove Collaborative microfiber all-purpose cloth
Smarty Pants adult probiotic complete — to keep yourself healthy, too!

Once you submit your Grove order, you’ll also be signed up for the free 60 day VIP trial. For 60 days, save even more with free shipping, free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales and personal service. My VIP membership has paid for itself in shipping alone!

Here’s how it works:
Sign up for Grove Collaborative here.
You will receive the New Year, New You Offer for free when you sign up!
To receive this offer, your order needs to be a minimum of $20.
Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive your first box within a few days. You made it!
Click Finish & Pay and place your order.

Do You Have What It Takes To Survive?

Everybody always talks about how important it is to plan for your future. "Save your money!" "Invest your money!" "Save for your kid's college education!" "Make sure you have a life insurance policy!" It all seems to revolve around having enough money, paying off debt, not having credit cards, spending a fortune for college, and then making sure you leave enough money behind for your family. But, there are more important things to think about. Such as: How to survive a zombie apocalypse, a nuclear war, a civil war, robots taking over, or an alien invasion. You may think this is funny but it isn't. (Ok, I guess the zombies and aliens might be a little funny.) But, survival is key to well, surviving and that's extremely important!

You might be thinking, "Ok, well, I am not going to dig an underground bomb shelter and store 100 years worth of food in there!" That's ok. I'm here to tell you that isn't necessary! As a matter of fact, a lot of items that could save your life are things you have inside of your house right now. Of course, some other tools, weapons, and food like this 72 Hour Kit from My Patriot Supply. But, you don't have to spend a fortune to make survival kits. 

Best Forever Foods

You most likely already have these items in your pantry. If not, it wouldn't hurt to stock a bit. Make sure that if you are stocking to use these items for a survival kit, they should be stored in the appropriate containers. They won't all last forever in their original packaging. 

Instant coffee
White, jasmine, or wild rice. (Not brown rice!)
Dry beans.
Dry Pasta. 
Cornstarch. (Cornstarch can also be used to make adhesives, cosmetics, deodorant, and to help loosen knots!)
Pure vanilla extract. 
Salt (No iodine!) Salt is also handy to help preserve meat. 
Maple Syrup
Distilled white vinegar. (can also be used for cleaning!) 
Beef Bouillon 

Stock These Regular Household Items

This is a list of some very simple household items that are usually found in your house. Some may not be, so, it wouldn't hurt to grab anything that is missing. You know, just in case! 

One of the most crucial things any survivalist needs is tinder for a fire. Be sure to have some tampons, matches, petroleum jelly, corn chips, Qtips, and chapstick. If you have any or all of the above, you'll be alright! Besides starting a fire, these simple items have many other uses as well. 


These are great for everything from gauze to tinder to waterproof cases. You will want to make sure you have regular tampons. The kinds that come with an applicator and a string because each section can be great for many things. 

You can unroll the tampon and use as gauze or to stop bleeding. They are very absorbent and if you have a bad nosebleed, as funny as it may look, you could even put one in your nose to stop the bleeding. 

The plastic wrap and string could be used to store things inside and keep dry. For instance, you could pack some matches inside of the plastic wrap and tie shut at the top! The plastic wrap could also be used as a fishing bobber! 

Unroll the actual tampon, tear in half, add some petroleum jelly and you have a longer lasting, slower burning fire. 

Dental Floss

Dental floss is great for keeping your mouth healthy and can still be used for this in a survival situation. Storing dental floss is easy because it is very light and small. So, you'll want to have a few of these in your survival kits! 

Dental floss can be used for stitches, sewing clothing or any kind of fabric, you could use it to cut some foods. (Which will come in handy especially if you have to ration!) It could also be used to tie things. For instance, if you need to tie your belongings in a tree to keep off of the ground, use a few strands of dental floss. You'll want to test it to see how much you will need but for backpacks and other small things, a few strands should do the trick. 

If you do have to make any sort of weapons, dental floss may be used to tie branches together and to save rope from being frayed at the ends, and it works great for tying plants in your garden!


If you have a million tubes of chapstick hanging around like I do, grab a few of these and keep them with your survival gear! Yes, they are great for chapped lips and even chapped hands but did you know you can use chapstick to help loosen tools and to fix zippers? Not only that but, chapstick is great for keeping knives rust free. Just slide some across the blade and the chapstick will protect it. 

Chapstick is also great for protecting leather, protecting glasses, putting on your heels to protect from blisters if you're walking or hiking a lot, and when it's empty, you can use the tube for hidden treasures, like cash or to keep things dry. In a pinch, you could also use a little bit of cotton for a fire. 

Coffee Filters 

Coffee filters are excellent for many things! I use them for well, coffee of course but also to clean windows and mirrors. If you're really down and out, coffee filters are good for using as paper towels, toilet paper, a bowl for your pets, for yourself, as a plate, to clean things with, scrub pans, and as a candle holder. 

Water is key to survival. You can only really survive for 3 days without it. Believe it or not, a coffee filter makes a great pre-filter and can keep a lot of the dirt, bugs, all the ickiness out of your drinking water. Just remember to boil it after filtering! 

Seeds are always necessary and coffee filters will help here too! Just put some seeds in the middle of the filter, tie it up with some dental floss or twine and add water! You should start seeing sprouts in no time and then they will be ready to plant. 

Last But Not Least 

Steel wool and a 9 V battery can start a fire in no time! (Steel wool would also be great for scrubbing your pan used for cooking!) 

Alcohol is perfect for many, many things. Bartering, medicinal, mouthwash, (It seems gross but it will kill germs!), lowering stress levels, of course! It also works great to clean out wounds and to use for swimmers ear. (The alcohol will dry the water right up!) 

Non-lubricated condoms are better when you expand them first! Blow them up like a balloon and they can stretch and be used to store water, to tie down gauze for wounds, to protect feet and keep them dry, as rubber gloves when caring for a wound, as a fishing bobber, and one of the coolest uses, to seal jars or bottles! (Yes, they could also be used for what they are actually intended for too!) Actually, I should have given condoms their own category because the possibilities are endless! One of my most favorites is using a few condoms and a few sticks to make your own bow so you can shoot arrows! I bet you had no idea you could hunt your own meat with a condom, right? 

There are several websites and lists that come in handy for planning for emergencies. It's best to have a few days worth of food and water for each person in your house, at all times. Some would say that it would be even better to have more if you have the room and the money. My Patriot Supply has a variety of options when it comes to making sure your family is prepared when it comes to food. This is arguably the most important but, make sure to stock up on some non-lubricated condoms, tampons, alcohol, even cigarettes, (another good bartering idea!), dental floss, and coffee filters! 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

What Can Your Small Business Deduct

When my husband and I started our trucking business years ago, we were quite a bit younger and didn't really have all of the information I wish we would have when it came to what we could deduct for business expenses. For instance, we didn't realize that we were able to deduct things such as mileage on our personal vehicle when used for business. We started going to HR Block the following year and learned about more business expenses we could deduct and after lots of research, receipts, talking with others who were in business much longer than we were, I compiled a list of what is allowed. (I also learned to keep every receipt just in case you ever run into a situation where you may need to prove your expenses!)

Popular Business Expenses

No matter what type of small business you own, there are a lot of similar business expenses. (Blogging and freelance work fit here too!) If you run to Staples or Office Max for office supplies, keep those receipts! Anything you are buying for your business is, of course, deductible. This includes items such as; paper clips, staples, notebooks, pens, pen holders, envelopes, and printer ink. Be sure to keep track of your mileage on your vehicle too! Be sure to pick up a ledger, some legal pads so you can keep track of dates, beginning and ending miles and destination. This will not only help you during tax season, it also makes this deduction legal and acceptable if the IRS would ever happen to ask for your records. 

If you have employees or if you pay independent contractors you can also deduct their payments. 

If you rent a business property, this is also deductible. However, if you are working from your home, there are some strict guidelines to follow if you would like to deduct a home office deduction.  Most importantly, it is a good idea to document and have evidence, just in case you need it later on. Taking a picture of your home office would suffice if the IRS asked for proof. 

When it comes to a home office, you can not just deduct your kitchen because you sit there and do some work. It must be a space that you use exclusively and regularly for your business. For instance, I have been using my kitchen table as a home office for everything since we are remodeling and my new office isn't done yet. I cannot take this deduction because we also use this space for many other things. You can read more about what forms you need to file appropriately and if you qualify for the home office deduction here

If you are paying insurance for your business, this is also deductible. Health insurance is not allowed. At least not on a Schedule C. We pay for 3 different types of insurance for 3 separate trucks so, we do take this deduction each year. 

Licenses, regulatory fees, registrations, tags, anything that is required for you to run your business is also tax deductible. 

If you pay advertising fees or commissions, these would also be fully deductible. 

We pay a lot out each year for repairs for the trucks. We paid for one motor overhaul for one of our trucks this year which is a ridiculous amount of money! I can choose to either take the full amount from our 2017 taxes or I might depreciate this over a few years. All repairs, maintenance, services, are all fully deductible. 

You may also include legal fees, accounting fees, even half of your business lunch tabs are dedcutible. (Within reason, I'm sure!)

Since we have a small trucking company, we also deduct fuel, tolls, trailer rental, (any equipment rentals needed for your business are tax deductible!) various taxes and fees required such as Heavy Highway Use Tax and IFTA. Rather than deducting entertainment since we really don't have entertainment expenses with clients, truck drivers are allowd to deduct a certain amount and then take a percentage of this amount for each night they are out on the road. (Per diem.) Certain deductions do depend on the type of business you have.

Other forgotten deductions include; interest on loans obtained for your business, business credit card fees, bank fees and ATM fees, accounting fees, money paid to file your taxes, post office fees such as stamps, shipping expenses, and packing material, (only if used for your business of course!), business related travel, cleaning supplies, work boots, uniforms, address labels, cell phones and chargers, laptops, cdesktops, printers, basically anything you buy for your business. Just be sure to keep records, receipts, and document everything. This helps to make tax time a breeze for you!

Not So Legal Deductions 

There are some business expenses that aren't necessarily legal to take. Most are obvious. But, there are a couple that might be a little hard to miss. 

Cell phone bills are tax deductible. But, only the business part. You would actually need to keep a record of business and personal calls. You can deduct things that you use for personal and business but you always have to record accurately. This applies to the personal and business use of a personal vehicle as well. Keep a monthly spreadsheet and notate everything if you want to take these deductions. 

Home phones and WiFi are also necessary for most businesses. But, when you are working from home you are probably going to end up having to split these as well. If any of your Internet services are used for personal use, you need to determine how much. Maybe half and half or maybe 75/25. Home phones/landline phones are not deductible unless you have a second line. Then the second line would be 100% deductible. 

Mileage on a personal vehicle is fine as long as you keep records. You might drive to the airport, a trade show, deliver to customers, or drive to pick up supplies, or when one of your trucks breaks down. Some people think this means they can also deduct the mileage it takes for them to drive to and from their place of business and well, this is actually illegal. 

You may not deduct your previous year's tax bill that you paid into the Federal Government. (Or any other year.) You also may not deduct fines, (including speeding tickets or any other traffic violations.)  penalties, bribes, or money you may have paid a hitman or any other illegal activity. 

As much as you may wish you could deduct outrageously expensive gifts for business gifts. It was very gracious of you to give your employees and business associates those $7000 watches for Christmas but, you're not really allowed to deduct anything more than $25 per gift. 

If you end up receiving a letter from the IRS, you may want to contact an attorney. Not that it has to be scary. You never know! They could end up owing you money. (Wouldn't that be nice for once!) Really, having an attorney on hand that you can call for advice such as tax advice, investments, and contracts is a very wise idea. You want to be sure you're protected and have someone you can trust, like personal injury attorney Tampa, when it comes to owning a business and protecting your family. Even from things that you may not plan for like accidents and injuries.