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Category: Earning & Managing Money

This crazy journey I’ve been on the last 14 years (and yes, you CAN make money blogging!)

Yes, you can make money from blogging! In this post, I share my story — and I tell you how you, too, can start making money from blogging!

My Journey to Making Full-Time Income as a Blogger

How I Started to Make Money Blogging

In 2005, I started this thing called a “blog” — something that most people in my circle of friends and family had never heard of before. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I had a big dream: I wanted to find a way to earn enough money from home so I can supplement our meager income to allow me to be able to stay home with our baby girl, Kathrynne.

In addition to my big dream, I also had perseverance — something I was going to need in big supply over the next few years. I was very, very determined and that determination drove me not to give up even during the many, many times when I wanted to.

That little blog had a few readers. Then a few dozen. I kept blogging, kept commenting on other blogs, kept writing articles for other sites and linking to that blog, and kept networking with other online entrepreneurs.

Over the course of many months, that little blog grew a tiny bit and then a tiny bit more. Pretty soon, I woke up one day and realized that I had a few hundred readers. That idea just blew my mind.

My first blogging header{My first official professionally done website header — added when I switched from Blogspot to Typepad.}

The Income Began With a Little Trickle

I started watching what other successful people were doing, read books and blog posts on monetizing a blog, and jumped out and experimented with a number of things.

Pretty soon, there was a little trickle of income coming in from that blog. When I say “trickle”, I truly mean it. It started with $10 per month, then $20 per month, then $50 per month.

If you would have divided my blogging income by the hours invested in blogging, I was probably making what would amount to a few nickels per hour. However, I was learning, the blog was slowly growing, and I was truly enjoying the process of writing and interacting on a blog.

Speaking at My First Blogging ConferenceSpeaking at my first blogging conference — I was a scared, insecure mess inside and I can see it written all over my face in this picture.

Starting to See the Potential to Make Money Blogging

As time marched on and I kept plugging away, I found other creative ways to make money blogging — like selling ebooks and then an online course on cutting your grocery bill. I went from making $50 a month to a few hundred dollars per month.

I started to see the potential. And I began to believe that it truly would be possible to earn a part-time income from blogging someday.

My husband and I began talking about adding a niche blog dedicated to frugal living. There was a lot of interest in the topic, it was something I was passionate about and experienced in, and I was pretty sure I could do some specific things to monetize a frugal living blog that I couldn’t do on the blog I currently had.

My Second Blogging ConferenceMy second blogging conference — I was still nervous and scared, but I felt more myself and more whole and I can see it in my face here.

How MoneySavingMom.com Began

It took about a year from the time the initial idea was birthed to when the final product, MoneySavingMom.com actually happened. But in the fall of 2007, I announced the launch of MoneySavingMom.com on the other blog I had.

I still remember the post where I let the world know MoneySavingMom.com was official. I said that I was probably going to blog on MoneySavingMom.com “about 3 times per week”. {Yes, 3 times per week. That still cracks me up!}

The first version of MoneySavingMom.com was on Blogspot. It was an all white background with capital letters at the top of the page that said MONEY SAVING MOM. {Clearly, I was very into bells and whistles. ;)}

I had spent $10 to buy the website URL and that was all I could afford. Later, I paid $25 to have the teen daughter of a mom I knew design a header for me. But those were the very humble beginnings of something that I could have never imagined…
My first radio interviewMy first radio interview — again, this was a completely unnerving experience for shy me. I felt like just going back to my hotel room and crying when it was over because I was sure I had totally bombed it.

Rapid Growth Beyond What I Could Imagine

Since I’d already put in countless hours to build an online platform over the two previous years, knew how to run a blog, and had a pretty good grasp on what topics people were interested, jumping in with MoneySavingMom.com was much easier than it would have been had I been starting from scratch.

I also was at the right place, at the right time, because the economy was beginning to tank, coupons were becoming popular, and the media started to do a lot of coverage of money-saving ideas and frugal living topics.

My initial readers told their friends who told their friends, people found me from random searches and stuck around, and within a few months, MoneySavingMom.com had grown to 14,000 to 16,000 pageviews per day.

It. was. mind-blowing!

I didn’t really know what to do, but I knew that I needed to continue to produce good content and continue to do all I could to help people save money. I also continued to learn all I could about win-win ways to make money blogging.

My First BookMy first book: basically an exercise in how to do everything wrong! I learned so much, and wished I could have done it all over again because there would be so much I would change!

Fulfilling My Dream — and Making So Many Mistakes

Within a few months, I was making $800 to $1200 from MoneySavingMom.com. And the income just kept increasing. By the end of the first year, I was making the equivalent of a full-time income from blogging.

All of a sudden, I woke up and realized that not only was I living my dream, it was a LOT more work than I could have ever imagined — especially as the blog continued to grow!

The Story Behind MoneySavingMom.com

The past 14 years have been a journey… one riddled with many ups and downs. I’ve made many mistakes, let people down, and sometimes posted things before taking time to really think through what I’d written.

Over the years, I’ve also been arrogant, said and written hurtful things, and taken on too much and stretched myself too thin. Many times, I’ve had my priorities out of whack and given my family the leftovers instead of my best.

Through it all, I’ve grown, matured, been humbled, had to ask forgiveness, and learned a great deal about my own limits. I’ve gone from a very black and white person who thought she had everything figured out and thought she should share her very legalistic, dogmatic views with everyone, to discovering this beautiful thing called “grace” and realizing that there are very few hills worth dying on.

My First TV Interview

My first TV interview — I was a complete nervous wreck. Literally shaking from head to toe!

I’ve grown up a lot,  faced a lot of fears, and done things I never thought I was humanly capable of.

In addition, I’ve confronted many of my long-held insecurities head on. And I’ve had many opportunities to work through my long-held tendencies to be a people-pleaser.

Scared of the Scrutiny from Making Money Blogging

You see, as the blog took off and became something more than a little mommy blog, I struggled a lot. Part of me was so excited about the growth and the possibilities. The other part of me wanted nothing more than to just run away from it all and go back to being a stay-at-home mom.

As a normally private person, I hated having my life scrutinized by people I didn’t know. I was scared to come out and talk much about the business side of my life — the meetings, the responsibilities, the opportunities — because I knew some people wouldn’t be happy and would criticize the fact that I was making a good income, was running a thriving business, and was no longer just the frugal stay-at-home mom blogger struggling to make ends meet that I had been when I started blogging.

My Second Book

Growing Into My Own Skin

I love being a wife and mom, managing my home well, saving money, and getting great deals. I’m also a business woman who loves marketing, entrepreneurial ventures, and strategy and monetization.

It took me awhile to be brave enough to say that I am both out loud. But once I did, it has freed me up to make decisions that were best for our family.

Knowing who I am and embracing that has been so freeing for me. Yes, I still regularly get emails and comments from people who wish I was different. However, for the most part, this community has rallied around our family. You have no idea how much you bless us.

allume-conference-smilebooth-0154My 4th(?) blogging conference: This time, I went with the sole desire to pour into others and look for other people to bless. Guess what? I completely forgot about my usual insecurities and ended up having a blast!

I Would Have Never Imagined This Life

Looking back over the past 14+ years, I never would have imagined what my life would look like today. I never would’ve pictured myself running a business with multiple team members, speaking at events, working with brands, teaching people how to blog, doing media interviews, or being a New York Times bestselling author.

Nor would I have pictured that this blog would be the catalyst for our family to get in a much better position financially. I never, ever envisioned blogging would allow us to no longer live on a beans and rice budget.

And I couldn’t have dreamed that blogging would allow us to could pay cash for a house and give generously. Or, that it would open the door for Jesse and I to work together from home.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to get to work together with my husband and best friend! While we have our disagreements and struggles, we are a definite team. I wouldn’t be who I am today without him encouraging me, supporting me, and being my biggest cheerleader.

THANK YOU For Being a Big Part of This Journey

You all have been a big part of this journey. This blog would never have grown like it has nor would the doors of opportunity have opened without you. I am forever humbly grateful for each of you.

While the income from this blog has been a blessing, the community I’ve found in you all has been priceless. You’ve supported us, loved us, prayed for us, and cheered us on — through thick and thin. And you’ve forgiven me when I’ve made mistakes and you’ve been incredibly loyal.

Looking Ahead to the Future

I don’t know what the next 14 years of my life will hold. Right now, I’m just focusing on living one day at a time!

I want to live each day that I’m given to the best of my ability. As long as I’m given the privilege of blogging here, I want to use this platform to make an impact.

Blogging has broken me. Blogging has healed me. And, more than anything, blogging has taught me that perseverance pays off.

So no matter where you are in life right now, I want to encourage you: Keep on. Press forward. Keep learning, keep experimenting, and keep holding onto hope. And most importantly: don’t give up! The best is yet to come!

Want to learn how to make money from blogging?

Are you a new blogger or a longtime blogger? Are you still trying to figure out how to really make money from blogging? You don’t want to miss my new brand-new class on How to Make Your First $100 From Blogging. Best of all, it’s FREE!

In this free class, you’ll learn:

  • 5 tried and true ways YOU can make money from your blog today
  • The #1 mistake most bloggers make that keeps them from earning an income
  • My secrets for building a 7-figure blog on a shoestring budget
  • Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me your burning questions about monetizing a blog

>>Yes! I want to learn how to make money from blogging!<<

12 Ways to Get Cheap Photo Prints

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Looking for the best online photo printing deals? If you love to order prints online but hate paying full price, check out these tips for getting cheap photo prints!

{Looking for all the latest photo deals? Go HERE.}

Get Cheap Photo Prints

Reader Kara wrote in with this great question:

“Hello, I was wondering what is the least expensive way to print pictures? I used to wait until Shutterfly did their free prints deals but last time I did that it seemed that their shipping fees had gone up. Any other suggestions?”

How to Get Cheap Photo Prints

I know many of you are probably like Kara and on the hunt for the best online photo printing deals!

So I decided to take this question to the readers on our Facebook page to see what their best tips were (thank you to those of you who commented!). They came up with a lot of great suggestions, but these were the top companies!

Before you go to order prints online, be sure to check out these tips for getting cheap photo prints:

1. Shutterfly

While shipping costs have gone up slightly over the years, Shutterfly is still a go-to option for cheap photo prints because of the amount of coupon codes they offer on a regular basis.

In fact, Shutterfly regularly offers free print deals to new and established customers. New customers receive 50 free prints and select free products when they sign up. Shutterfly also has prepaid print plans that can give you photos for just 9 cents each.

Shutterfly Photo Prints

To keep shipping costs lower, try ordering 95 prints when a free print deal is going on. The shipping fees can be up to $4 less by simply decreasing your order by a few prints.

Or, consider doing in-store pickup instead. During the checkout process, click the “1-Hour Pick Up Available” link under eligible 4×6 prints to search for your preferred local Target, Walmart, or CVS store by zip code.

2. Snapfish

Snapfish offers standard 4×6 prints starting at 9 cents each, plus shipping. They regularly offer free and discounted print deals to new and established customers. New customers receive 100 4×6 prints when they join.

Sometimes they even offer deals where you can get FREE prints with FREE shipping!

If you choose to pick up your prints in-store from participating CVS or Walgreens stores, you can see the cost difference on the order screen. For instance, you can get up to 49 prints from CVS at 29 cents each. If you get 50 or more prints, the price goes down to 19 cents apiece. It might end up being cheaper to choose this option instead of paying for the 9 cent prints plus shipping.

The Snapfish App gives you 100 free prints each month for the first year you sign up with the app. You only have to pay for shipping and one reader reported her shipping was only $2.95. Shipping costs may vary according to where you live. You can edit photos within the app and see how they will print.

3. Amazon Prime Photos

An easy and budget-friendly way to order prints online is Amazon Photos — where they offer 4×6 prints for 9 cents each with free shipping.

Members receive 5 GB of storage free but after that, you’ll need to choose a digital storage plan. If you’re a Prime member, you get unlimited storage for free!

They do occasionally offer free prints.

Note: If you’re not a Prime member, you can sign up for a FREE 30-day trial!

Free Prints App

4. FreePrints App

Another great way to save when you order prints online is to use the FreePrints app!

Customers receive 85 free 4×6 prints per month and only need to pay for shipping. You can get up to 1000 free prints in a year! If you need more than 85 prints, you can pay for those.

Shipping starts at $1.99 and is never more than $9.99 no matter how many prints you order. There’s also a FreePrints Photobooks app, which will give you one free photo book per month.

There are no subscriptions and no commitments.

5. Walmart

Walmart offers 9 cent 4×6 prints for home delivery, plus shipping. If you do the 1-Hour Rollback option in the store, it’s 25 cents per print for 74 photos or less and then 15 cents apiece for 75 photos or more. They offer free shipping on orders over $25.

6. Adoramapix

Readers really loved Adoramapix’s photo quality, especially for photo albums. Their 4×6 photos are currently 29 cents each and economy shipping is $5.95. (See their price list.) They also offer a full range of photo sizes, so they’re a great option if you need a non-standard print.

order prints online with Adoramapix photo printing

You can sign up for special deals on their website. And if you’re a new customer, you can get 15% off your first order with coupon code Pixnew15 at checkout.

They also have an app for Apple products.

7. Mpix

People who prioritize photo quality will also want to take a look at Mpix, a service even photographers recommend! Readers are impressed with the quality, as well as the care they take in packaging your products. Their 4×6 prints are 29 cents each. Economy shipping is $3.95.

They have a Reward Program where you can earn points towards discounts and special offers with every purchase you make. You can earn 100 points just for signing up for a Mpix account. When you reach 500 points, you’ll get free shipping or a $5 coupon.

8. Costco

A lot of readers said Costco was a great inexpensive option for photo prints.

If you do a mail order and have them shipped to the warehouse, you’ll pay as low as 9 cents for 4×6 prints. And shipping is free if you opt for standard delivery.

If you want to do in-house warehouse pick-up, you’ll pay 17 cents each for the first 99 4×6 prints or 14 cents each for 100 or more prints.

order prints online with Sam's Club Photo

9. Sam’s Club

At Sam’s Club, 4×6 photos are 10 cents each for 1 Hour Photo. They are 8 cents each if shipped to your home.

They regularly offer special deals and you can upload your photos on their app. New customers get 50 free prints when they sign up for an account.

10. Walgreens

Walgreens offers your first 74 4×6 prints for 33 cents each. If you order 75 or more, you’ll pay 23 cents each. The price is the same for in-store pickup or mail delivery. Standard shipping costs start at $0.99 and go up to $5.89.

Many readers report they’ll place their order through the app or website and pick it up at the store an hour later or at their convenience instead of having it shipped. The Walgreens app allows you to print the photo directly from your phone.

Customers can also sign up to receive special deals by email. And Walgreens regularly sends out free print and coupon deals to make their print prices even better. (You can also earn Balance Rewards points!)

One reader went so far as to say she’s saved more money than she’s spent on prints at Walgreens!

11. CVS

As a competitor of Walgreens, they have a very similar pricing structure.

The first 74 4×6 prints from Walgreens are 33 cents each and 75 or more prints are just 23 cents each.

order prints online with Groovebook Photos

12. Groovebook

Groovebook is a unique option that lets you create a 4×6 “photo book” with between 40-100 pictures each month. The photo are perforated, so you can tear and share them just like regular photo prints.

Subscriptions cost $3.99 per month — so it’s like paying just under $0.04 per print! You can get your first Groovebook for FREE with code MYFREEBOOK at checkout.

If you have fewer than 100 photos that month, they’ll fill the rest of the book with duplicates. The app seamlessly integrates with the photos on your phone and is available for iPhone and Android.

I’ve heard from a lot of people who use and love Groovebook!

Bonus Tip: You might also try your locally owned photography shop, because they typically offer coupons and have some of the best quality around! While this will vary by location, it’s definitely an option to look into!

Do you order prints online? What are your best suggestions for getting cheap photo prints and finding the best online photo printing deals?

15 Ways to Eat Out on the Cheap

Want some tips on how to eat out on the cheap? Here are 15 tried and true ideas to help you enjoy restaurant food — on a budget.

How to Eat Out on the Cheap

Love eating out? Don’t love how much it can cost? Here are 15 ideas to save money on eating out:a

1. Go out to lunch instead of dinner.

2. Always use restaurant coupons.

3. Order water instead of beverages that cost.

4. Split an entree with someone else when possible.

5. Sign up for Birthday Freebies and use those when you eat out.

6. Go out for dessert instead of a full meal.

7. Use restaurant gift cards that you bought discounted.

8. Sign up for restaurant apps and email lists to be notified of great coupons and specials — or even freebies!

9. Earn free restaurant gift cards from Shopkick, Fetch, and Swagbucks.

10. Go on Kids’ Eat Free nights.

11. Eat a snack before you leave the house so you’re not as hungry.

12. Don’t order appetizers or desserts.

13. Eat out at Costco or IKEA instead of a restaurant.

14. Apply to be a mystery shopper and you could get paid to eat out! (I have done this many times in the past!)

15. Go to a fast food restaurant with a dollar menu and let everyone choose 1-3 items off the dollar menu!

What are your favorite tips for saving money on eating out? Share them in the comments!

P.S. For more ideas, check out this post on How to Save Money on Eating Out.

Earn money for taking surveys with Opinion Outpost!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Looking for ways to make a little bit of extra cash from home? Sign up for Opinion Outpost to get paid for your opinion!

Sign up for Opinion Outpost to earn money taking surveys!

Sign up with Opinion Outpost to earn money for taking surveys!

Opinion Outpost pays in point rewards for every completed survey. You can cash these in for instant win opportunities, sweepstakes, or cash. There are also opportunities to do free product testing.

You can choose to get paid at $5 for an Amazon gift card or at $10 for cash. Get started here.

Surveys are a great way to make some extra income on the side! This is a great list of legitimate survey sites you can trust!

Looking for more opportunities to make money from home? See my list of recommended survey companies here.

10 Ways to Make $100 With Your Blog

Is making more money with your blog one of your big goals this year?

If you love blogging but would love to generate more income, be sure to download my FREE cheat sheet on 10 Ways to Make $100 With Your Blog!

Looking for more in-depth advice on how to make money from home?

Be sure to check out my book Money-Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make A Difference, where I share creative ways to manage money, generate income and–most importantly–live a life of deeper meaning, fulfillment, and generosity than you might have ever imagined possible. This book is packed with hard-won wisdom, real-life stories, and practical tips to help inspire and motivate you!

I also highly, highly recommend Angie Nelson’s eCourse: How to Land Your First Work-At-Home Job. This step-by-step guide is packed with valuable information and tips!

15 Dinners to Make When Your Cupboards Are Bare

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Looking for dinners to make when your cupboards are bare and money is tight? Here are some of our family’s favorite ideas. Best of all, most of these are super quick and easy ideas, too:

Meals to Make When Your Cupboards Are Bare

1. Grilled Cheese

You can use any kind of cheese and any kind of bread!

2. Eggs and Toast

This is an easy meal that even younger kids can make!

3. Loaded Baked Potatoes

Get creative with whatever you might have on hand that would work as a topping: taco meat, chili, beans, ham, bacon, cheese, broccoli, sour cream, cottage cheese, etc. You could even do chopped chicken, salsa, and cheese.

4. Any Pasta With Pasta Sauce

If you have any canned tomatoes or ground beef or onions, you can add it to the sauce. Then, serve it sprinkled with any kind of cheese you might have on hand.

5. Sandwiches

The options are pretty ended here: Peanut Butter/Jelly (or PB & honey — we love to toast the bread for a little extra something!) Egg Salad, Meat/Cheese, etc.

Tip: Did you know you can freeze PB&J sandwiches?

6. Build Your Own Taco Salad

Use whatever taco-like ingredients you have on hand: Ground beef or turkey with homemade taco seasoning, beans, lettuce, chips, tomatoes, cheese, etc.

7. Crockpot Sausage and Peppers

This is a staple at our house. If I have kielbasa in the freezer and I’ve gotten peppers on markdowns, I’ll chop up both and add some onions or potatoes or sweet potatoes (if I have them) and cook this with a little water and seasonings in the crockpot for 4-6 hours on low. You can you serve over rice or pasta (if you didn’t include potatoes).

8. Meat/Potatoes/Frozen Veggies Hash

This was a standby recipe at our family’s house growing up. If we needed a quick dinner, we’d brown some ground beef with onions, and then add some chopped potatoes and fry those until tender. Then we’d add corn or peas. I think this recipe originally came from the More With Less Cookbook.

9. Refried Beans and Cheese

We like to spoon refried beans into a baking dish and top with cheese and then heat these up in the microwave (or you can bake in the oven) until heated through and then serve with chips and salsa or spread onto tortillas to make bean and cheese burritos.

10. Breakfast For Dinner

Breakfast foods are always a quick and easy pantry meal idea, depending on what you have on hand. Pancakes, Waffles, or French Toast served with eggs and/or bacon (if you have any) and fruit. You could also do a big pan of Baked Oatmeal and top it with any fruit you have and serve it with yogurt or milk.

Tip: Have extra eggs on hand and some meat and cheese? Make these yummy Egg & Cheese Bites.

Pantry Meal Ideas From My Followers:

11. Quesadillas

Betsy said, “We have what I call refrigerator quesadillas. Tortillas, cheese and anything else leftover– chicken, ham, zucchini, corn, etc. Stick it in between tortillas and cheese and you’re pretty much set!

12. Have a Chopped Competition

One of my followers, Amanda, said that they love to play Chopped when they are trying to use up what they have on hand. (If you’re unfamiliar with it, Chopped is a TV show where contestants are given random ingredients and they have to make a recipe with those ingredients.) What a fun idea!

13. Tortilla Soup

Charity said: “I almost always have bullion, diced tomatoes, canned black beans, an onion or garlic and some veggies (typically celery, carrots and corn) and a handful of rice and crushed tortilla chips around. We’ll top it with shredded cheese.”

14. Cheater Chili

Tanya said: “I always have the ingredients for ‘Cheater Chili’ in my pantry and boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix. A can of chili beans, a can of white beans, a can of kidney beans (or whatever kind you want really) and a jar of Pace Picante sauce. Heat until hot. I add ground beef when I have it or have time, but it’s great without it too.

15. Barbecue Cups

Amanda said: “We make Barbecue Cups — ground beef with bbq sauce, place on top of raw biscuit in a muffin tin add cheese to top, bake in oven.”

What are YOUR favorite budget-friendly meals to make when money is tight?

P.S. For more ideas, check out this post on my Facebook Page.