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Category: Earning & Managing Money

My Top Four Tips For Those in Financial Despair

1) Put God first and recognize that all you have is given to you by Him. He is the Creator and Sustainer of life, we owe everything we have and are to Him. The least we can do is give back the “firstfruits” of our earnings to Him in gratitude for all He has given us. (By the way, if you are unfamiliar with your Creator and would like to know more, please email me. I’d love to tell you more about how I’ve found true peace and contentment in my soul for Eternity–something which all the money in the world can’t buy.)

2) Have a positive, grateful attitude. I cannot tell how much a can-do, cheerful attitude can affect your finances. As the saying goes, “Can’t never did anything.” If you sit there and sulk about how hard things are for you financially you’ll never get very far. If you instead seek to be thankful for what you have, to make the most of your situation, and to be creative with what you have, you might just be surprised at the possibilities.

3) Become a Dave Ramsey “junkie.” I know I talk about Dave a lot and some of you might get tired of me plugging his stuff till I’m blue in the face. I was once there, too. My husband had started listening to this “Dave guy” on the radio and kept telling me I really should listen, too. I didn’t get what the big deal was but I finally heeded my husband’s encouragement and I’m so glad I did! If you feel financially hopeless or like you are stuck in a hamster wheel, go get yourself a copy of The Total Money Makeover. You can thank me later. 🙂

4) Get on a budget. Read Dave’s book first, he’ll walk you step-by-step how to do it and give you all the motivation you need. You can also download a FREE budget spreadsheet here to help you out. And here’s a free 5-day Jumpstart Your Budget Challenge.

Becoming a WAHM: Prioritization and Organization – Part 2

Last week in our Becoming a WAHM series, I talked about how
working at home is just that—it’s work. If you are not prepared to put in lots
of hours and lots of effort, there’s likely no point in starting in the first
place since I can guarantee you that it won’t be easy. Building a successful
business takes time, diligence, and lots of plain ole’ hard work.

Once you are determined that you’re willing to exert the
energy it will require, you’re not ready to start working from home just yet. First, you need to
take some time to examine your life. Step back and ponder
how organized (or disorganized!) your life is.

Do you feel like things are running smoothly most days and
that you have extra time to devote to a new endeavor? Or do you feel like you
are running around like a chicken with your head cut off barely keeping your
head above water?

If the latter describes you, then now is definitely not the
time to be adding something like working from home to your plate. Instead, I
recommend that you take the next month and evaluate your priorities, schedule, and activities. Are you willing to cut activities from your life in order to
focus part of your time and energies to starting a business? If so, what can
you start cutting back on today to free up more time for entrepreneurial things?

Don’t just think about cutting back or paring down—do it! If you’re
really serious about becoming a WAHM, it’s going to mean some temporary
sacrifices in order to achieve your long-term goals.  You can’t do everything so in order to say “yes” to something, you invariably need to say “no” to something else.

I also highly encourage you to spend a few months
developing a good routine and solid organization into your life. Running a successful
business requires organization—not only
on business pursuits, but also when it comes to home management. Balancing
business stuff with your much more important priorities of being a wife, mom, and
home manager mean you must have a plan and you must have order in your life.
Otherwise, you’ll become slave to the tyranny of the urgent.  Ask me how I know. 🙂

If you are struggling with time management, I wrote a series
on this subject on my other blog which you can read here (I’ll warn you, it’s rather long–start at the bottom of the page to read the posts in order!). For those interested, I also recently did a series on Successful Home Management with Toddlers.

Please know that I’m
still sorting things out myself and we definitely have days when I run around
in circles and accomplish next to nothing besides putting out fires; however,
by purposefully committing to develop organization and routine into our home,
things run much more smoothly. And it’s most assuredly only the grace of God and purposeful organization that enables me to be a wife, mom, homemaker, and blogger.

Just for fun: For those of you who work from home or have quite full plates, what’s your biggest time management tip or helpful idea for those who feel like they are drowning? I’d love to hear!

Writing to companies = Free stuff and coupons!

I often receive emails from people thanking me for all the money I’ve helped them save. While I’m so glad to be helping save you money, I have to tell you that this blogging thing is a two-way street: I’ve saved so much more money myself since I started blogging on saving money.

Case in point: a number of you have mentioned writing to companies when you have a problem with a product. Honestly, the thought would have never crossed my mind to do so but with your encouragement I tried it twice in the last two weeks.

And guess what? Both times I scored free coupons.

First I wrote to Pampers because I recently bought a package of diapers that was cut funny and the tabs kept pulling off. We are almost exclusively a Pampers family and I have purchased who-knows-how-many diapers from them in the last four years I’ve been diapering babies, so I knew that this was not typical.

I shot off a simple emailing explaining what had happened, telling them how much we like Pampers, and asking if there was anyway they could send me some product coupons. In less than a week, I’d received an email back and a letter with two $5/1 Pampers coupons. Thank you, Pampers!

Armed with this success, I wrote to Lipton tea as I’d bought a box of tea a month ago which had mostly-defunct tea bags in it. When I’d pour the boiling water over the tea bags, they would explode and I’d have to throw out the now-tea-leaf-filled tea and try again.

Once again, I explained the situation, expressed my appreciation for their products (which I usually enjoy), and requested a coupon for a free product to replace the box of tea bags I was unable to use.
I promptly received both an email and a letter containing not only a coupon for a free box of tea, but a sheet of high-dollar coupons for other UniLever brands. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty–I’m impressed!

So folks, it never hurts to write and ask. Don’t complain and don’t take advantage of companies, but if you sincerely encounter a problem with a product, drop the company a line. Your few minutes of effort might pay off with free stuff and great coupons!

Becoming a WAHM: It’s work – Part 1

One of the emails I receive time and again is from moms who want to
find a way to earn money from home. While I don’t consider myself to be
a WAHM (work-at-home-mom) expert, I have worked from home for five
years now and have learned a lot along the way. This series is for
those of you who are contemplating working from home, those of you who
think you’d really love to work from home, and those of you who just
wonder what working from home involves.

I’ve read a lot of books and articles over the years on the subject
of working from home and find that often they are somewhat unrealistic. This series will not
be about get-rich-quick schemes (I hope you know by now that there is
no such thing!), how to work for one hour a week and make $100,000 a
year (that’s also a fairy tale!), or how making money from home is a
simple, easy thing.

What I will aim to share with you is my personal journey in
becoming a WAHM,  what things have and haven’t worked for me, what I
wish someone had told me when I was first contemplating starting a
business from home, and how you, too, can become a WAHM.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m currently making a good income
from home–last year, I made the equivalent of a good part-time job and
this year, if things continue to go the way they are going, I will
likely double that figure. I’m doing the majority of my work in the
early morning hours and during my girls’ afternoon quiet time/naptime
and am thrilled to have the opportunity to bring in a good income while
not neglecting my most important priorities–that of being a wife and
mom.

I’m sure many moms could look at me and want what I have–the
ability to make a good income while staying at home, choosing my own
hours, and taking care of my husband, home, and family first. I can
take a day off (or even a few days off!) whenever I like and
the money continues to come in at the same rate because of the many
multiple streams of income I’ve set in place.

All this might sound really cool (and it is!) but what most people
often don’t add into this equation are the countless hours, days,
weeks, months, and even years that I spent building my online earnings up to the point they are at. I
do not care to recall all the failed income-earning things I’ve tried
nor the incredibly naive mistakes I’ve made. You don’t want to know
about the sleep I’ve missed or the outside opportunities I’ve had to
say “no” to in order to stay focused at keep at it–even when the going
got tough.

The effort has paid off and I’m now reaping the fruits of my labors
(though I’m still making lots of mistakes and I’m sure I’ll continue to
do so until the day I die!), but I won’t ever forget the struggles I
had to go through to get me where I’m at or the mountains I’ve had to
climb along the way.

I am a firm believer that, with God’s blessings and lots of hard work, anyone can successfully work from home. However, I will be the first to tell you that working from home is just that–work.
I’m by nature a positive person but I won’t sugar-coat the truth when
it comes to working from home: if you are not prepared to put in lots
and lots and lots of time and effort, working from home won’t work for you.

So, before you even consider working from home, I cannot stress how important it is that you are prepared for the long-haul. It often takes months or even years
to see results and steady, reliable income. If you stick with it,
though, it will eventually pay off–and likely it could pay off beyond
your wildest imaginations!

Just for fun: How many of you currently work from home? Tell us a little about what you do and what has and hasn’t worked for you.

What have you made yourself?

Simply Thrifty has a post up here (hat-tip to Lavonne!) with links to directions for 100 different things you can make yourself.

Just for fun, I’d love to know which of these items you’ve made yourself. Check out the list here and then tell us in the comments section!

Here’s what I’ve made from the list (not necessarily using the same directions, though):

Applesauce
Syrup
Jelly
Guacamole
Salsa
Gravy
Wedding Cake
Pancake Mix
Icecream
Pizza
Pickles
Playdough
Bubbles
Books
Laundry detergent
Baskets
Paper
Rubber Stamps
Jewelry
Candles
Skirt
Blouse
Bread
Pretzels
Doughnuts
Bagels
Tortillas

Now, not all of the items from the above list were great successes, but I have tried my hand at making them at least once. What about you? Oh and feel free to tell us if there are other things you’ve made which weren’t on this list, too!

I have a hunch that there’s probably at least a reader or two who has
made just about every single one of those 100 things. Some of you are
just amazing!

The Master List of Kids Eat Free (and Almost-Free) Restaurant Deals

 Kids eat FREE at ALL of these restaurants! This is a massive list!

This list was last updated in February 2018. As always, these deals may vary by region/store. Check with your local stores ahead of time to see if they participate.

Kids Eat Free

Atlanta BreadAtlanta Bread: Tuesdays 4pm – close—One free kids meal per adult purchase.

backyardBackyard Burgers: Tuesdays—Buy one adult combo meal and get a kids meal free for kids 12 and under from 4 pm to close.

Baja FreshBaja Fresh: Sundays—Free kids meal with an entree and large drink purchase.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’sBeef ‘O’ Brady’s: Tuesdays from 4-8 p.m.— Kids ages 12 and under can get anything off the kids’ menu with the purchase of an adult entrée.

bennigansBennigan’s: Tuesdays after 4pm—Kids 12 and under eat free with the purchase of an adult entree.

blackBlack Eyed Pea: Tuesdays—Kids 12 and under eat free. One item from the kids menu is free with each purchased adult entrée from 5 pm to close.

bluemesaBlue Mesa Grill: Sundays—Kids 5 and under eat free with the purchase of adult brunch from 9 am to 3 pm. Check individual locations for participation.

bobevansBob Evans: Tuesdays—Free Kids’ Meal with every Adult meal purchased after 4pm.

brustersBruster’s Real Ice Cream: Daily—Kids under 40 inches receive a free baby cone.

Captain D’sCaptain D’s: On Tuesdays and Thursdays—Kids can eat for free. Limit of 2 free kids meals per adult entree purchased.

Chick-fil-AChick-fil-A: Tuesdays between 5:30-7:30 p.m.—Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult combo meal. NOTE: some locations charge $0.99 per kids meal.

ciciCici’s Pizza: Daily—Kids 3 and under eat free. Ask server for specific details.

culvers_logoCulver’s: Daily—Kids 12 and under receive a free custard with the purchase of a meal.

dennysDenny’s: Tuesdays—Kids eat free from 4-10 pm. Restrictions may apply. Ask your server for details.

DICKEY'S BARBECUE LOGODickey’s Barbecue Pit: Sundays—Kids 12 and under eat free. One free kids meal for every adult meal purchased.

doubleDouble Dave’s Pizza: Daily—Free kids buffet with purchase of an adult buffet. Qualifying age varies by locations, so call ahead or check with your server.

firehouseFirehouse Subs: Wednesdays—Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult combo. Participating restaurants only. Varies by location.

Freebirds World BurritoFreebirds World Burrito: Tuesdays from 10:30am – 9pm—Kids 11 and under get a free burrito or quesadilla meal with the purchase of an adult entrée.

Fricker’sFricker’s: Daily—Kids can eat free all day, every day – valid for dine in only.

gattitownGatti Town: Wednesdays—Kids 10 and under get free kid’s buffet with the purchase of adult buffet at regular price. Limit 1 child per adult.

Genghis GrillGenghis Grill: Tuesdays—Kids 12 and under can eat Free with the purchase of an adult full-price bowl.

Godfather’s PizzaGodfather’s Pizza: Tuesdays—Kids aged 10 and under can eat for free from 11am-2pm and 5pm-8pm at the buffet.

Golden Corral LogoGolden Corral: Mondays—Kids 10 and under eat free from 5-9 pm. Two kids per adult. Kids 3 and under are always free.

ihopIHOP: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday—Kids 12 and under eat free from 4-8 pm. One kids’ menu item per adult entree. Drinks not included.

ikeaIKEA: Tuesdays—Kids eat free at some locations. Check with local store for qualifying ages and participation. There are also specials throughout the year. Check the store page for your local store to see current specials.

Jason's DeliJason’s Deli: Wednesdays—Kids eat free all day. One free kids’ meal per paying adult.

Jose Pepper'sJose Pepper’s: Sundays—Kids eat free all day at Jose Pepper’s.

LoneStarSteakhouseLone Star Steakhouse: Tuesdays—Kids eat free all day. One child entree with each paid adult entree. Not valid in Orlando, FL.

lubysLuby’s Cafeteria: Wednesdays—Kids eat for free after 4 pm with every adult entree purchase.

maggianosMagganio’s: Saturdays—Kids 5 and under eat free. Check with your local restaurant for participation.

Margarita's Mexican RestaurantMargarita’s Mexican Restaurant: Saturdays and Sundays—Get two complimentary kids meals (12 and under) per adult entrée purchased.

marieMarie Callender’s: Tuesdays—One free Kid’s Meal with each adult entree purchased.

moeslogoMoe’s Southwestern Grill: Tuesdays—Kids eat free all day. One free kids’ meal for each adult meal purchased. Choose from Power Wagon (hard or soft taco), Mini Masterpiece (cheese quesadilla) or Moo Moo Mr. Cow (burrito). Each kids’ meal includes a cookie and beverage.

ontheborderlogoOn the Border: Daily Kids receive a free sundae with meal purchase. Participation may vary.

perkinsPerkins: Tuesday—Kids eat free all day. Kids eat free at Ohio and Pennsylvania locations on Wednesday and Saturday from 4pm-9pm.

PicadillyPicadilly: Fridays—Kids under 6 eat free all day.

pizzahutPizza Hut: Tuesdays—Some participating locations offer an unlimited pizza buffet for just $6.99. Kids 10 and under eat free with the purchase of an adult buffet.

Planet SubPlanet Sub: Sundays—Kids eat free with adult meal purchase.

ponderosaPonderosa Steakhouse: Tuesdays—Kids eat free from 4pm to close. You can get up to 2 free kids’ meals with each adult entree purchased. Ask server for specific details.

qdobaQdoba Mexican Grill: Sundays or Wednesday—Kids eat free on Sundays or Wednesdays. Participation and day of participation varies by location.

Red RobinRed Robin: Mondays—Kids 10 and under eat free.

Rock Bottom CafeRock Bottom Cafe: Mondays and Tuesdays—Children aged 12 and under can eat free from the kid’s menu.

Ruby TuesdayRuby Tuesday: Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to close—Ruby Tuesday offers free kids meals with the purchase of an adult entree.

Salsarita's Fresh CantinaSalsarita’s Fresh Cantina: Thursdays—Kids eat free all day with a paying adult.

Shoney'sShoney’s: Fridays—Kids under 4 eat free all day with paying adult.

skylineSkyline Chili: Mondays—Kids 4 and under eat free from 4-9 pm. Check ahead for specific participating locations.

Slim ChickensSlim Chickens: Sundays—Kids aged 10 and under eat free.

SmashburgerSmashburger: Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday—Get a free kids meal with the purchase of a regular burger or salad after 4 pm. (Day various by region.)

Souper! Salad!Souper! Salad!: Sundays—Kids ages 4 and under eat for free.

steakSteak ‘n Shake: Daily—Free kid’s entrée for every $9 purchased. Participation varies by location.

TGI Friday'sTGIFriday’s: Mondays & Tuesdays—Kids eat free, though offers vary by location. Call ahead or check with server for specific details.

tonyromasTony Roma’s: Sundays—Kids 12 and under eat free with a purchase of an adult entree.

Tropical Smoothie CafeTropical Smoothie Cafe: Sundays—Kids eat free all day.

unoUno Chicago Grill: Tuesdays—Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal.

Kids Eat For Almost-Free

buffaloBuffalo Wild Wings: Wednesdays—Kids 12 and under can order from the Kids’ Menu for just $1.99 from 4-10 pm.

fazolisFazoli’s: Tuesdays—Get 2 kids’ meals for $0.99 each with the purchase of 1 adult entree. For children ages 12 and under. Offer valid from 5-8 pm each Tuesday at participating restaurants.

firemountainFire Mountain: Thursdays—Two kids’ buffets for $0.99 each with the purchase of an adult buffet. For children ages 11 and under. Participation varies by location.

fuddruckersFuddruckers: Mondays & Tuesdays—Kids 12 and under can order from the kids’ meal menu for $0.99 (drinks included) from 4-9 pm. Locations and participation may vary.

mcalistersMcAlister’s Deli: Daily—Kids’ meals for $0.99 all day at select locations. Call ahead for participation.

oldcountryOld Country Buffet: Thursdays—Two kids’ buffets for $1.99 each with the purchase of an adult buffet. For children ages 11 and under. Participation varies by location. Offer also available at participating HomeTown Buffet and Country Buffet locations.

ryansRyan’s: Thursdays—Two kids’ buffets for $1.99 each with the purchase of an adult buffet. For children ages 11 and under. Participation varies by location.

WhichWich-logoWhich Wich Superior Sandwiches: Mondays & Saturdays—Kidswich meals are $0.99 with the purchase of a 7″ small Wich. Kidswich meals include a Wich, treat, and drink. Valid for children ages 12 years and under at participating locations.

If you have any restaurants or details to add to this list, please leave a comment. Thanks!