Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

Category: Contentment

Why I Made My Teenagers Buy Their Own Food

children buy their own food

Guest post from Teresa of

It was nearing dinner time, and the question kept drifting through the kitchen… “Mom, what’s for dinner?”

My answer was met with varying degrees of dissatisfaction. I was growing really frustrated when suddenly, I had an epiphany!

“I’m not buying groceries, or cooking at all next week!” I announced.

My four kids, ages 12-17, were curious and a bit concerned. But I had a plan that would teach everyone just how grateful they should be for all my planning and preparation.

Our Family’s Meal Planning Experiment

The next week, I took out our budgeted grocery money and divided it up evenly between the six of us (my husband and myself included). It came out to only $35 per person.

I told the kids they would be in charge of planning, purchasing, and preparing all of their food for the entire week.

I admit that my motives weren’t exactly pure when I had this idea. I wanted to teach everyone a lesson in gratitude. But despite my distorted motives, something wonderful happened!

I was so impressed with my kids. They definitely took the opportunity to buy things that would never make it into the house on my watch; but overall, they did a fabulous job!

It was fun walking through Aldi and hearing them strategize with each other…

“If four of us go in together, we can each get one stick of butter from this pack.”

“Does anyone want to split a loaf of bread with me?”

At home, we unloaded the groceries and labeled everything with our initials.

The evenings got a little chaotic with six people in the kitchen, all preparing meals, but overall, the week was a huge success! When it was over, almost everyone asked, “When can we do this again??”

The first time we had a BYOF (Buy Your Own Food) week was about seven years ago. Since then, it has become a fun activity we do a couple of times a year, with some variations!

One year we had them take turns shopping and cooking for the entire family. They bought breakfast and lunch items as well, but weren’t required to prepare those meals for everyone.

At times when we needed things like paper goods or toiletries, we had everyone pitch in to cover those costs, or we assigned each person something to buy.

Here were some added benefits to BYOF week:

  • Everyone was a little more aware of and grateful for the work of being a planner, shopper, and chef.
  • My kids learned to budget, plan a menu, shop, and prepare basic meals.
  • When Greg & I had to travel together, we knew the kids wouldn’t spend the whole week eating frozen pizza for dinner!
  • As they’ve all grown up, they’ve taken these skills into adulthood and built on them.
  • What started out as a mom’s desperate need for a break and a reality check for her kids, morphed into a well-loved family tradition!

Person holding produce bag

Is this something you would try with your kids?

If so, here are a few suggestions:

1. Set general guidelines.

For example:

  • You have to buy at least 2 fresh items – fruits/vegetables)
  • You have to make at least one meal that involves a recipe (you can’t have all frozen dinners).

2. Think about the ages of your kids.

My kids were on the older side when we started this, but I definitely think an 8-year-old could handle it. If you have a wide range of ages, maybe pair a younger with an older to help in the kitchen.

We had been rotating the chore of “Dinner Helper” for some time, so my kids knew the basics already. Before starting something like this, make sure your kids have SOME experience in the kitchen with you.

3. Let them eat cake.

One week of junk food won’t kill them. I remember the first time we did this, the child with the most junk food was most grateful for my cooking the next week!

4. Help them make a plan.

It helps to give them ideas of a sensible menu and an idea of prices to get them started.

5. Allow your kids to fail.

What better place for them to learn than in the safety of your own home?

I’d love to know how this goes if you decide to try it. Your kids’ choices may surprise you. And who knows? You might start a new family tradition!

Teresa Whiting lives in Northeast Ohio. She is a mom of 5, grandma of 1, writer, speaker, and ministry wife. Through spoken and written word, her passion is to hold out hope to women in the midst of their mess. Visit her at

Sign up for my free 5 Days to a Better Morning Challenge!

Need help setting up and staying on track with a good routine each day? Sign up for this free challenge that will give you accountability with your goals!

Psst! Have you transitioned to working from home and need some help setting up a better routine each day? Sign up for this free challenge!

If you want some accountability with your intentions and goals each day, be sure to sign up for this completely FREE 5 Days to a Better Morning Challenge.

I designed this to give you a sort of shot in the arm to help you thrive in 2020!

When you sign up for this challenge, I’ll send you a short email every morning with a short motivational message and video from me plus a simple, practical strategy for you to implement immediately.

Plus, you’ll also get access to an exclusive Facebook Group (this is optional; I know not everyone is on Facebook!) so you can engage with others who are going through this mini course and we can all keep each other accountable to follow through with our daily projects.

>>Yes, I’m in! I want to take the 5 Days to a Better Morning Challenge.<<

I can’t wait to cheer you on in this process! Here’s to an amazing year!

What to Do When You Lose Your Job

Did you recently lose your job and you’re wondering what to do? Read this post for lots of practical ideas and encouragement on the next steps to take!

Psst! Be sure to check out these Income-Earning Ideas and these Easy Ways to Save & Make Money at Home!

What To Do When You Lose Your Job

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people are losing their jobs.

And while I recognize everybody’s experience is different, I wanted to offer some practical ideas and encouragement for anyone facing unemployment — whether it’s you or a spouse.

What To Do When You Lose Your Job

1. Try not to freak out.

Freaking out doesn’t fix anything, and it doesn’t do anything productive. Worrying and stressing won’t help.

I know it’s easier said than done, but it definitely helps to try not to freak out and instead focus on the next right step!

2. Trim everything possible from your budget.

What can you eliminate? What can you do without? Is there anything you can cut, reduce, or put off?

How can you try to live more frugally?

Stretch your budget as far as you possibly can.

3. Sell everything you can sell.

Usually after you lose your job, it’s hard to find another job right away — especially right now in this economy.

While you’re in the interim period of trying to figure out what the next step is, selling items can definitely help add money to your budget.

Look around your house and see if there’s anything you can trade or sell to give yourself a little bit more wiggle room in your budget. Every little bit helps!

4. Use what you have.

Look around and see what you already have that you can use.

Maybe this is a great time to challenge yourself to eat from the pantry and freezer. See how long you can go using what you have and not going to the store.

If you feel like you need to buy something new, look around and see if there’s a way to make do with what you already have.

This is a great time to research free and frugal ideas for having fun when you’re in a tight place financially.

5. Pray.

If you’re a Christian, this is your time to call out to God and remind yourself of God’s faithfulness.

We’ve gone through really lean times in the past, and it really helped to remind ourselves of the truth that He will provide!

6. Focus on your blessings.

It’s so much easier to focus on what you don’t have than what you do have.

Focus on the good — there is always something to be grateful for!

If you have a roof over your head, warmth at night, running water, and can read & write…you already have so much to be thankful for that a lot of the world doesn’t have!

7. Think outside the box.

If you can’t get another job right away, this is your opportunity to get really creative and put on your thinking cap!

Come up with some creative ways to make extra money. Ask people around you for their input on ideas. Maybe they’ll even have a connection for a job opportunity!

Think about odd jobs you can do, skills you have, and services you can provide.

When my husband lost his job, I started this blog in a place of desperation to try to make money. And we learned so much from that time that has helped us get where we are today.

Sometimes the hardest times will teach you the most and eventually lead you to a great place you never thought you’d be!

Do you have any other ideas on what to do when you lose your job? Please let us know in the comments!

3 FREE Things You Can Do This Weekend to Change Your Year

Want to set yourself up for success in 2020? Here are three things you can do this weekend to have a happier, healthier, and more joy-filled new year! Best of all, these are all free!

Change Your Year

It’s the first weekend of 2020! And it’s the perfect time to be intentional and strategic to set yourself up for success and peace this year! I’ve got three suggestions of things to do this weekend to help you have a better year…

1. Do a Budget Audit

The new year is a great time to sit down with your budget and really analyze every penny you spend. If you are married and share the budget with someone else, be sure to do this as a joint audit! (Here’s a post on How to Have a Budget Meeting.)

As you go through each budget category, ask yourself:

  • Do we need to spend this?
  • Is this budget category still serving us well?
  • Is there a way we could decrease this expense category?
  • Do we need to tweak this category at all?

Jesse and I use the YNAB software to track our personal and business expenses. We love it and highly recommend it. It especially makes it easy to see all your expenses and income at a glance so you can easily do a budget audit together.

Note: If you don’t have a zero-based budget in place, this weekend is the perfect weekend to set one up! I highly recommend reading The Total Money Makeover to help with this (your library should have it!). But for this weekend, you can start with this article on How to Make a Zero-Based Budget.

2. Declutter Your Space

What areas of your home are particularly cluttered or disorganized right now? This weekend would be a great time to spend some clearing out the clutter and making more breathing room in your home. (Need some motivation on what you should declutter? Check out my post on 5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Clutter.)

We’ve been working hard at decluttering our home from top to bottom this past week. We’ve been amazed at how much happier and simpler our life feels now that our closet and storage room and library are pared down and much more organized (pictures coming tomorrow to share the progress we’ve made this week!

By the way, I highly recommend that you go ahead and get rid of what you declutter. Go drop it off at a donation center this weekend. No need to lug it around in the back of your car for weeks. Or worse, to have it sit by your back door for the next two months!

While you’re decluttering your home, think of other areas you might need to declutter:

  • Can you delete some emails from your inbox?
  • Should you unsubscribe from email lists that are no longer serving you?
  • What about Instagram accounts or Facebook Groups that aren’t bringing joy and life to your life?

3. Downsize Your Commitments

Don’t just do a budget audit or declutter your home, if you want to have a great year, it’s time to take a hard look at your calendar and commitments and see if any of them need to be pared down, too.

Look at your calendar for January. Does it feel overwhelming or doable? Does it feel life-giving or life-draining?

Now take a hard look at the rest of the year and see how it feels. Are there weekly commitments you have that are sucking the life out of you? Are you doing anything just because you feel you have to or because you feel obligated to do so?

Could you cut back, tweak, delegate, ask for some help, lower some expectations, or just say no to something (or many somethings) for 2020? There’s no point in running yourself ragged and not having any time to breathe and love the life and people right in front of you!

There you have it. Three FREE things you can do this weekend to set yourself up for success this year!

I challenge you to pick one (or ALL!) of these things and commit to making it happen this weekend. If you plan to do so, leave a comment below and let me know.

Not only will it provide a little extra accountability for you, but I’d love to cheer you on in your endeavors!

photo credit; photo credit; photo credit

Maybe you needed this reminder this Christmas?

I wanted to post an upbeat and cheerful, “Merry Christmas from our family” type post. And yet, I keep thinking of the many for whom Christmas is just bittersweet… or maybe plain sad.

I think of the kids in foster care who are separated from their parents and families this year.

I think of the women who have written me in the last few weeks about losing their husbands this year.

I think of the singles who thought surely they’d be sharing this Christmas with a special someone.

I think of the families who are struggling financially who couldn’t really afford to do much for Christmas this year.

I think of the moms who lost babies this year and the women who so desperately wish for a healthy pregnancy.

I think of the couples whose marriages are on the brink of divorce or whose spouse walked out on them this year for someone or something else.

I think of the families with estranged loved ones who would give anything to get to celebrate with them this year — or even to just hear something from them.

I think of those undergoing chemo, those waiting for a difficult diagnosis, those who are in chronic pain, those caring for a loved one who is dying.

I just want you to know that if you are struggling with sadness or heartache or disappointment this Christmas, I see you. You are not forgotten. You are not alone. And I’m pausing in the middle of this week to remember you, to hurt for you, and to pray for you. You are not forgotten.

And if you are having a wonderful Christmas season, I’m thrilled for you! But please remember to look around and show some extra love and kindness toward those for whom Christmas feels anything like the, “most wonderful time of the year.” The world could use a lot more kindness, empathy, and compassion.

P.S. If you are struggling this Christmas season, it would be my honor to stop and pray for you by name. Just leave a comment with your name and/or special request and I will take time to pray for you this week. Even in the middle of your pain and darkness, I want you to know that you are loved.

Feel like a failure?

What do you do when you experience failure in your life or your business? One of our wonderful listeners asked how you get back up and keep going after failure, and Jesse and I had a lively and honest discussion around this in this week’s episode of the The Crystal Paine Show.

Failure is a part of life, but it shouldn’t define who we are. For instance, for a long time, Jesse identified as a lawyer and that title made up his identity in many ways. If he failed or if he perceived a failure, that lack would directly impact his identity. 

For many others, they don’t feel like they are good enough. When this is the case, it’s so easy to see failure and setbacks as defining you as a failure personally.

The truth is that true failure only occurs when you stop trying and give up. Until you stop trying, you haven’t failed!

So keep moving and learning and growing from your mistakes. Also, don’t forget to stop and celebrate your wins. It’s so easy to focus on what we’re doing wrong instead of recognizing what we’re doing right.

In This Episode: 

[01:23] What’s saving our lives? Under Armour hoodies and my Sole F80 treadmill.

[07:36] I’m reading Tasting Grace by Melissa d’Arabian.

[12:25] Jesse shares how he gets up and does the next thing after a big fail? 

[16:03] So many people identify as “failures,” how do you separate the act of failure from your overall identity? 

[19:01] Everyone fails and each failure is a lesson learned.

[21:51] True failure is when you stop taking action. Just keep moving forward.

Links and Resources:

How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show

The podcast is available on iTunesAndroidStitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.)

Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!