How To Define Success For Yourself

How-To-Define-Success-For-Yourself

Guest post from Jamie of From His Presence

Have you ever looked at successful people around you and felt discouraged? Have you ever felt like you can’t measure up?

I used to feel that way all the time. I had such big dreams, and was working so hard to achieve them. However, I was discouraged most of the time.

The opportunities I wanted just weren’t coming. Certain people weren’t responding the way I wanted them to. I couldn’t compare to all the accomplished people around me. My efforts to be successful were not working!

Then one day, I realized I was trying to copy other people’s success instead of running in my own lane. I realized I needed to define what “success” meant for my own life.

So I thought about it a bit and wrote down this definition of success for myself:

“Success for me means to make continual progress toward my destiny in this age and in the age to come.”

When I wrote that sentence, I suddenly felt a level of relaxation that I had not experienced in a long time. Before that day, I had been measuring my level of success by:

  • How I compared to other people who were doing what I wanted to do;
  • How people treated me or responded to me; and
  • The opportunities that did or did not come my way.

However, when I defined success for myself, I realized that I did not need to compare myself to other people in order to live a successful life. I did not need to wait for people to give me the opportunities I wanted in order to feel successful. Instead, with God’s help, I can be successful in the way that He has called me to be.

Do you feel like you’re batting at thin air, trying to measure up to other people’s success? If so, why don’t you take a moment and define success for yourself? Here’s how:

1. Decide what are the most important things to you in life.

It would be horrible to get to the end of life and realize that you were successful at all the wrong things. So determine now what your priorities are. Write them down in order.

2. Make sure your definition of success only depends on things you can control.

You can’t control how people treat you. You can’t force opportunities to come your way. All you can do is what you can do.

However, you can live intentionally. You can control how you treat other people, or how you respond to tough situations. You can control how ready you will be when that longed-for opportunity comes your way.

3. Write down your definition of success.

Put it somewhere you can see it and refer to it often. It will help you remember what’s truly important in your life.

You weren’t made to fill someone else’s skin; you were made to fill your own. By defining what a successful life means to you, you can free yourself from always trying to measure up.

Jamie Rohrbaugh is a wife, financial analyst, Sunday School teacher, musician, and unlikely worship leader from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her passion is to encourage and equip people to live powerful lives and to function in their gifts. She blogs at From His Presence about how to live ordinary life in God’s manifest presence.

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Swagbucks Paid for My Snorkel Gear

snorkle gear

Today’s Swagbucks success story is from Jen:

I’ve been using Swagbucks for almost 5 years now. I started after my first child was born when a frugal friend referred me.

Early on, I used Swagbucks to help pay for diapers and wipes on Amazon.com. Now I use them for almost anything from Starbucks gift cards or to help pay for birthday and Christmas gifts on Amazon.

My husband works a demanding job and I stay home with our 2 kids. His work recently rewarded him by sending him to a conference in Hawaii, and I got to go too! We were very excited, but we also knew that in general, Hawaii is a rather expensive place to visit.

I started researching frugal things to do in Hawaii, but my husband had the best idea — he loves snorkeling and said we should take our own gear. All the beaches in Hawaii are public, so we could snorkel almost anywhere.

I didn’t have gear, so my husband turned to Amazon to find something for me. He found a good set for around $40, and since I had been saving my Swagbucks for a while, I had more than enough saved to cover the cost of the snorkel set. I was so excited to show my husband that I got them for free as he sometimes makes fun of my Swagbuck addiction. :)

As far as earning Swagbucks, I devote a few minutes everyday to it — sometimes I spend a little more time depending on what’s going on at home and if there are any promotions. I only get on a computer once a week, so I do most of my earning on a smartphone.

  • I always do the Daily Poll and the NOSO (No Obligation Special Offers). These are good for 3 easy Swagbucks.
  • I search throughout the day as I need information. I also use the search feature to connect to sites like Money Saving Mom. I’m going there anyway, so I take the second to type it into the search field at Swagbucks.
  • I use the Swagbucks TV App on my phone which gives me 2 bucks for every 5 videos — a little better than doing it via the computer.
  • I also check the Swagbucks Blog and Facebook pages every so often. There are often Swag Codes for 2-6 bucks. These sites keep me informed of promotions — for instance, every year on their birthday Swagbucks gives away tons of Swagbucks via Swag Codes.
  • When I can get on a computer, I check the special offers on the homepage. I do occasionally find something that interests me.

I love Swagbucks. It has been a great way for us to fill in some of the holes in our budget over the years. It won’t make you rich, but it can give you that little something extra when you need it.

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4 Ideas for Frugal Parent/Child Dates

frugal parent:child dates

Guest post by Kimber

This year, I’ve had a fun opportunity to spend two hours a week, one-on-one, with my sweet kindergartener. Once a week, my 3-year-old son is in preschool until 2:00pm, while she gets out at noon. I quickly realized that this little chunk of time is precious… so we instituted a tradition: Mommy-Daughter lunch dates!

I know what the most frugal idea is for a lunch date: make it yourself. But she and I both love going out to lunch, and frankly, it’s a splurge-worthy treat for “just the girls”!

Our lunch dates are a special thing for us, and it’s worth spending a little bit of money on. But our weekly adventures could easily end up costing us at least $50 a month. So here are a few tips I’ve learned to make our dates more affordable:

1. Use coupons.

This is a no-brainer, I know. But make sure you look all over as you never know where coupons might be “hiding”!

I’ve found Chick-Fil-A and Panera coupons in the back of our phone book. Schools and libraries often offer free kids meals as rewards. Check out RetailMeNot’s app (or website) to see what deals are available at your favorite restaurants.

If you have the Ibotta App, check for restaurant rebates. And if there are any restaurants you love, sign up for their e-mails and keep an eye out for great deals! Instead of asking, “Where should we eat today?”, I tell my daughter, “These are the places we have coupons for. What sounds the best?”

As an example, right now I have an iBotta rebate for $1.75 back if I buy an $8 “Southwest Pairings” meal at Chili’s. I also have a free kid’s meal coupon that they e-mailed me. So after my rebate comes through, I will have paid under $10, tip included, for a meal for both of us at our favorite lunch spot.

2. Don’t feel like you have to order two full meals.

If your children are like mine, a lot of the fun of going out to eat is to get a meal that comes with a little prize. But it’s okay to think outside the box. If I have a coupon for a free appetizer, we’ll share an appetizer and then share a meal. Or sometimes we’ll order several things off of the dollar menu.

In the past, when money has been really tight, I’ve fed my kids a big, healthy snack right before we’ve gone out to lunch. You’ll spend way less, but you’ll still have the fun of a lunch date.

3. Earn gift cards.

There are several ways I do this. One is to use Swagbucks – I’ve cashed in several times to pay for dates. Sometimes I will use other survey sites, cash out, and use my cash to pay for lunch. I’ve ordered gift cards using our credit card points. I’ve even used my Jingit debit card to pay for lunch at Sonic.

Since all of this is “extra” money, I don’t count it in my budget. And it’s fun to do a little bit of extra survey-ing (or Swagbucks-ing), knowing that the end result is a date with my sweet little girl.

One more tip – check out websites that sell discounted gift cards, like CardCash.com. I just cashed out my Swagbucks account for a $50 Paypal deposit. I am planning on turning around and using that money to buy discounted Chili’s and Applebee’s gift cards, saving me around 10%!

4. Ask for gift cards as gifts.

This isn’t something I’d ask for from many people – in fact, we specifically request no gifts at our kids’ birthday parties. But if you have family members who ask for gift ideas for birthdays or Christmas, you might suggest a gift card for lunch.

It doesn’t have to be expensive – I’ve told family members that even a $1 gift card to buy an ice cream cone would thrill my kids. I’d much rather my kids get a gift card (and a fun date with Mom) than more stuff.

These are a few of the things I’ve done to help pay for my special lunch dates with my daughter. Would I have saved money by staying home? Absolutely.

But I am so, SO glad that I’ve taken this special time once a week to create memories. We’ve had so much fun, and we’ve even stuck to our budget.

What are some ways that you’ve inexpensively “dated” your spouse, significant other, or children?

Kimber is the happy mom of two beautiful kids and the wife to a hardworking man. She has lived in five states, and she’s currently loving life in Texas. She loves reading, chatting, napping, and shopping year-round for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

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How We’re Saving $50 Per Month on Our Bills (and it just took two simple phone calls!)

How We Negotiated Lower Monthly Bills

Guest post from Lydia of Five4FiveMeals.com

There are some bills you have no control over, like your electric bill. Yes, you can turn the air conditioner off and not use as many lights, but you are still at the mercy of what the power company charges per KWH.

However, there are some bills you can negotiate down with your service provider.

Last week, my husband called our internet service provider and cell phone carrier to see if we could lower our rates. We have been long-term customers of both and thought it wouldn’t hurt to see what they could do. Two phone calls later and we were saving a little more than $50 a month… and we could all use an extra $600 a year, right?

If you’d like to lower a few of your monthly bills, here are some of our tips:

1. Look for a cheaper package.

If you have had your same package for a long time, rates may have change. We found that was the case with our service provider, Verizon.

They had recently upgraded us to a larger data plan for free as part of a promotion to get us to buy a new phone. But we were not using the extra data and don’t need a new phone and asked to be bumped to a lower plan. That saved us about $25 a month.

2. Find where you’re wasting money.

Our internet bill was the next place we looked and we realized we were wasting money by renting our modem. We could purchase a modem for about $75, while we had been renting it for $7.95 a month for the past 26 months! If you do the math, that’s over $200!

Of course, if something happens to your modem you have to replace it on your own dime.

3. See if a long-term contract is worth the money.

We have very few internet service providers where we live. And we have had the same one for over two years. We realized it was about $15 a month cheaper to just go ahead and sign one-year contract with them.

Since I use the internet to run a business from home, I don’t see us cutting that expense within the next year — so that simply change saved us another $180 per year.

4. Ask the right questions.

My husband just flat out said, “Your competitor has a cheaper rate and we are thinking about switching, what can you do to change our minds?” That got a quick response and a small discount!

You might also ask if they have a customer appreciation discount. Some providers will knock a few dollars off your bill as a one-time discount if you ask politely. Politeness goes a long way.

These are just a few of the ways we’ve successfully lowered our monthly bills. Have you tried anything similar? Or do you have other ideas and suggestions?

Lydia Senn is a Jesus-lover, wife, Mama, blogger, writer, small business owner and reluctant domestic. She’s a former stressed out newspaper reporter who turned in her reporter’s notebook for cloth diapers and a simpler life. She lives in rural Alabama with her husband and two sons. You can visit her at Five4FiveMeals.com

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10 Healthy and Cheap Vegan Snacks for Kids

vegan snacks for kids

Guest post from Koren of The Little Green House

Feeding children can be tough, huh? Especially between meals when they’re grizzly and starving and demand something to eat right now.

Because you’re busy, right? You don’t have hours to spend slaving away in the kitchen creating kid-friendly snacks that are gobbled down in seconds.

Sometimes it just seems easier to buy pre-packaged snacks, especially for fussy eaters. But actually, if you pick the right recipes, making your own treats can save you both time and money. Plus, you can sneak healthy ingredients into homemade snacks for a secret nutrition boost your little ones won’t even suspect.

Vegan snacks are a great way to up your child’s daily fruit and vegetable intake and can also help youngsters who have troubles digesting dairy products. They’re almost always cheaper to prepare, too.

Here are my 10 favorite fun yet frugal vegan snacks for kids:

1. Breakfast banana pops

This ridiculously simple recipe makes a healthy breakfast fun. Best of all, the popsicles can be frozen and then pulled out on those crazy busy mornings when your family needs to eat on the run.

Breakfast banana pops

2. Homemade muesli bars

Muesli bars make great lunchbox fillers but often store-bought versions are high in sugar and preservatives. Try this simple recipe for a cheap and healthy homemade slice that can even be frozen in small portions for an instant snack.

Homemade muesli bars

3. Healthy rice crispy treats

These gluten-free brown rice crispy treats are a cinch to make and can be thrown together in just five minutes. They’re also incredibly nutritious, full of protein, vitamin E, and fiber thanks to healthy lashings of almond butter, cinnamon, and coconut oil.

Healthy rice crispy treats

4. PeaWee kiwi pops

Up your child’s vegetable intake without them even noticing with these genius bright-green homemade popsicles. Kids love the summer-fresh and nourishing flavors of kiwifruit and orange with little pops of frozen grapes in between. The perfect snack for a warm summer afternoon.

PeaWee-Kiwi-Pops

5. Fruity summer skewers

Sometimes getting kids to eat more fruit can be as easy as serving it up in a more interesting way. These super simple fruit skewers are bright and colourful and travel really well, making them an ideal snack for summer picnics or beach days.

Fruity summer skewers

6. Ants on a log

Use any kind of nut butter or seed butter and some yummy dried fruit to make this fun and protein-rich snack, which can be thrown together in a matter of minutes.

Ants on a log

7. Apple cupcakes

These super cute little cupcakes require zero baking and minimal fuss… yet still taste divine. They’re a great way to enrich your youngster’s daily fruit snack with a little nut butter protein.

Apple cupcakes

8. Choc-peanut brownie balls

If you’re after sweet yet wholesome snacks, try these completely sugar-free brownie balls. They have more fiber, protein, and healthy fats than cookies and cakes but taste so good your little ones will never guess they’re so healthy. You can skip the peanut butter if nut allergies are a concern.

Choc-peanut brownie balls

9. Date and coconut balls

Another easy recipe for delicious yet healthy balls, this option requires only pitted dates and a little desiccated coconut. The recipe makes a big batch that keeps for a week or so in an airtight container.

date and coconut balls

10. Chewy maple cookies

If you can’t live without cookies, these insanely delicious and chewy numbers bake in just nine minutes. The recipe also makes about 4-dozen cookies, so you’ll get a huge yield for minimal effort.

chewy maple cookies

Do you have any favorite recipe ideas for quick and healthy snacks that children will happily gobble up?

Koren is an Australian who likes to eat well without spending the earth. She and her sister, Alana, create simple and cheap vegetarian recipes for everyday people at The Little Green House blog, plus offer inspiration for kind and sustainable living.

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How We Fund Purchases With Cash We “Found” Around Our Home

cash around the house

Guest post from Tiffany of Don’t Waste the Crumbs

Since climbing out of debt seven years ago, my husband and I have made purchases based on a motto: “In order for something new to come in, something else must go out.”

While our motto has helped us keep house clutter down, it’s also helped us to afford items we ordinarily wouldn’t be able to. Essentially since what we own is given monetary value, which means we have money in places we never thought to look!

If you’re wondering how you might fund your next purchase without breaking the bank or dipping into your savings account, try looking around your house. You might be surprised how much “cash” you find!

Here’s how to get started:

1. Inventory what you have.

Make a list of items that you have that you don’t use, hardly use, and/or that you’re willing to part with. Write these items down on a sheet of paper, whiteboard, or track them in a spreadsheet.

Keep these items out in the open, not in a closet or storage, so that you see them everyday. This will make you want to get rid of them that much faster.

2. Determine the market value.

Find out how much your items are worth by checking sites like Craigslist, Ebay, and other online auction type sites with buyer/seller relationships.

Be realistic. What you paid $500 for two years ago, may only be worth $75 now. Don’t hold on to items just because you think you paid a lot for it. It’s a fact that items depreciate over time. Sell it now and recoup what you can.

Tip: When selling locally, consider asking a little bit more than the going price. This leaves you room to negotiate down, but always have a lowest price in mind.

3. Sell it.

When marketing your item, clean them up, take good photos, and write a very descriptive ad. These extra steps add “curb appeal” to your items and help them sell faster.

Four places to sell your stuff:

1. Craigslist. Our preferred method since it’s free, local, and easy.

2. Ebay. The final price is not set in stone, but you have a wider audience. Be sure to consider shipping and packaging costs into your asking price.

3. Garage Sale. Advertise your sale in the local paper and online. Be willing to negotiate.

4. Newspaper. Although the internet is more popular, this is still an avenue that may work well in your area!

4. Barter if necessary.

Bartering is viable alternative to selling when cash to buy is unavailable.

5. Use funds to buy new item.

Before you spend anything, check Freecycle to see if anyone is giving what you’re looking for away.

In the same way you used Craigslist, Ebay, garage sales, and the newspaper to sell, check those same places when you buy!

Over the years, we’ve used these methods to buy lots of higher-end purchases — including a laptop, bicycle, dining room set, and iPods.

There is always a market to buy and sell, and remember that one man’s “trash” is another man’s treasure!!

Tiffany is a frugal foodie – passionate about feeding her family healthy food while being a good steward of her family’s finances. She shares her enthusiasm for affording real food without going broke at Don’t Waste the Crumbs.

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