How I Landed My Dream Job Working from Home

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Guest post by Stephanie O’Dea

In 2007, I quit my job. I was a young mom of two children, and I hated going to work. I was blessed that I taught preschool and could take the kids to work with me, but almost every day I hoped and prayed that this day would be my last day of going to work.

And then the baby started getting sick. I couldn’t figure it out — I tried everything I could think of, but she just kept vomiting sporadically, and it became obvious to me that I needed to pull her out of the daycare setting and stay home.

So I quit.

My husband wasn’t all that thrilled with me (be careful what you wish for, right?)

[PS, my little one is now ABSOLUTELY FINE. We learned after some testing that she had Celiac Disease, and after being put on a gluten-free diet she made an immediate recovery and now is a super strong and healthy 10-year-old.]

Because we live in a tremendously expensive part of the country, I needed to quickly find a way to replace my income in order to meet our monthly expenses. I became determined (and slightly obsessed) at trying to find a legitimate way to make money from home.

I started living a secret life, and began answering work-at-home ads found in the back of parenting magazines, and on Craigslist.

They were all scams.

After months and months of searching, I started feeling lonely, afraid, and guilty. I knew that I had to find something that was “for reals” and that didn’t cost an upfront fee the way a lot of the online direct sales businesses I researched did.

So I tried my hand at blogging.

In 2008, I started a free blogspot blog at Crockpot365.blogspot.com and told the internet that I had a New Year’s Resolution to use my crockpot slow cooker every single day for a year.

And I did it.

This simple idea, this crazy and absurd idea, has since launched a full-time income for myself. This site has led to 5 books, numerous national TV and radio spots, endorsement opportunities, and a job.

A legitimate job that I do all by myself, from my own kitchen, in my fuzzy slippers, while I am home with my kids.

I truly couldn’t be any happier. I do believe, with all my heart, that I am living my version of The American Dream.

I’ve now had my site for 7 years, and decided to write down all that I’ve learned along the way. I’ve been lucky enough to mentor many other bloggers who have followed the steps that I took and they, too, have been successful.

I’d like to show you how. My newest book, The Mommy Blogger Next Door: Real Moms Making Real Money Blogging at Home, In Their Pajamas is now available.

Moms Making Money

Crystal has been gracious enough to provide the quote listed on the cover, which reads: “Stephanie’s practical advice and spot-on tips will give you the confidence and tools you need to start your own mommy blog.”  — Crystal Paine

Want to win a copy of my new book? Enter below — and here’s to your blogging success!

Stephanie O’Dea is a New York Times best-selling author, slow cooking expert, and a mommy blogger. You can find her online at StephanieODea.com, or on twitter @stephanieodea.

Enter to Win a Copy of Stephanie’s Book!

Would you like to win a copy of Real Moms Making Real Money Blogging at Home in Their Pajamas? Stephanie is giving away 10 digital copies to readers here this week.

To enter, click on the graphic below and type in your name and email address. 10 winners will be chosen and posted next week. This giveaway ends Friday, February 13, at 11:59 pm, CST.

Enter the Giveaway

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Silas and his self-imposed “budget” (AKA: Yes, your children are watching you!)

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We were at Cracker Barrel last week to celebrate Kathrynne’s 10th birthday. (I still cannot believe I have a daughter who is 10 years old. How did that happen?? I still feel like I’m 17!)

After we ate dinner as a family, we went out to the store to window shop for a bit. (My kids think Cracker Barrel is just about on the same level as the LEGO store! They love that place and I don’t blame them; they have such fun kid’s toys and games!)

I noticed Silas was on a mission in the toy section. He kept picking one toy up, looking at the price, and then putting it back. As he did this over and over again, I started following him around to try to determine what he was doing!

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It was then that he picked a toy up and triumphantly exclaimed, “Yes!! This is in my budget!”

I about burst out laughing right there in the store. First, because I hadn’t heard him use the word “budget” before. And secondly, because it sounded so grown up and funny to be coming from the mouth of a 5-year-old.

But I held my laughter in and instead asked him more about this budget of his. He explained to me that he has $30 at home in his piggy bank — money he’s collected from doing chores, birthday gifts, etc. — and he decided that he had a $10 budget to spend on something from Cracker Barrel. He didn’t want to spend all of his money, so he’d set the $10 budget to make sure he didn’t spend all his money.

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He said he hadn’t brought his money this time, so he was just looking to see what he could buy in his budget. Next time, he’d bring his money and buy the $10 or less toy.

As he recounted all of this to me, you can imagine how much I was grinning from ear to ear. I love that he’s learning money management skills from a young age.

But more than that, I was reminded of how much our kids are watching and learning. We’ve talked about basic money management with Silas (spending and saving, etc.), but we’ve never actually gone over what a budget is or why you should have one. So Silas has picked up the idea of budgeting from watching us and hearing things we’ve told to Kathrynne and Kaitlynn.

Silas and his "budget"It also reminded me of how important it is that I set a good example before my kids. Because it’s not just the words I’m saying that they are paying attention to; the life I’m living before them is what they are paying the most attention to.

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How to Save Money by Taking Pictures at Home

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Liz emailed the following tip:

As a new mama, I worked outside of the home and had a very nice income, so I took my daughter to a professional photographer for all her first year pictures without blinking an eye.

Once I started to stay at home and we added three more kiddos to our family, professional pictures were no longer the rule, but a very rare exception.

Although, we couldn’t afford professional pictures of our kids all of the time, I still wanted to have some sweet, quality pictures to hang on the wall. So, I began to experiment and research great ways to get high-quality photos of my kids, without breaking the bank.

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Here few tips for taking great pictures in the comfort of your own home:

  1. Set your baby up a few feet off of the ground. This puts your child at an easier level for you to photograph. I always have someone there to help in case the babe begins to roll or squirm — safety first!
  2. Grab some cute blankets, quilts, fabrics, or even a simple sheet. In this shot, I had a vintage quilt that was a family heirloom, a black and white striped blanket, and a fuzzy, white bathrobe that I used for the base prop. It is always good to use texture below the baby if you are doing a naked-baby shoot. If your babe was clothed with color and pattern, go with a simple, solid base blanket.
  3. Gather a few simple baby props. I used a baby bonnet in this photo shoot. I have used hats, headbands, wraps, and even kept a bare head before. Again, the key is to not have too much texture, but to also have enough to add interest.
  4. Make sure you have good lighting. In this example, we are in our nursery next to the window.  This ensures that I don’t have to use the flash and my camera can gather enough light to make the picture crisp and clear.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and found inspiration to take your own photos at home! Once you take the leap, you’ll never go back (or at least not very often!)

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How We Paid Cash: Braces… Not a Car

We paid cash!

A testimony from Karen

After six years of living cash-only on a modest salary, I thought I had learned all the lessons this way of life had to teach.

I was wrong.

Two years ago we decided that with two aging cars, we needed to begin saving. After a year we were close to having enough for a decent used car.

However, while refinancing our house we discovered an outstanding credit card debt that somehow had fallen through the cracks. We needed to use the car savings to pay that debt.

While that was difficult, we knew for certain at that point that after three years of hard work we had paid off over $200,000 in debt and were now debt free except our mortgage.

With my teacher husband home for the summer, I took on a full time summer job so we could save more; and in 4 months we were able to save $4,000!

We began to get excited and projected that in a few months we would be able to buy a car.

And then we learned our daughter needed braces. Not the vanity kind of braces to make good teeth perfect, but the palette-expanding-there’s-not-enough-room kind of braces. After insurance we owed $4.700.

My husband and I had meltdowns. It wasn’t pretty. You see, along with a car there are many things on our wish-list. House projects. Vacations. Retirement funds. College Savings. Not braces.

We outlined our options and made the difficult decision to use the car savings to pay for the braces.

Here’s why:

  1. The orthodontist offers an 18 month no-interest payment option, but because they also offer a discount if you pay in full, that option really costs $250 – the amount of the discount. Technically, this is borrowing.
  2. We could pay for the braces out of our emergency fund and keep the car savings on track, but this wasn’t an emergency. We don’t need a car, we want one. If one of our cars breaks down, then we’ll have a real emergency and can consider those funds.

So we start again at ground zero, armed with two valuable lessons.

Appreciation

It was through the experience that I was able to make a mental/spiritual shift from focusing on what I didn’t have to an honest, deep contentment for what I did have.

I realized that if I never had anything more than I had at that moment I would be happy because I was blessed beyond measure in so many ways. How could I truly think I needed more?

Living Our Values

Making the tough decision to delay buying a car forced us to examine our values and make the choice that supported those values.

We have done it for years every month when we make our budget, but had never thought about the fact that we were doing it.

It feels good.

Much better than a new car would!

Karen Lasher is a chef and writer who teaches how to bring peace, calm and serious creativity to everyday meal preparation at Joyful Dinners.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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