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Category: Earning & Managing Money

I’m super excited! My new site is live!

It’s taken months of dreaming, brainstorming, planning, and effort, but I’m SO excited to announce that my brand-new site, YourBloggingMentor.com is live!

Why I Started YourBloggingMentor.com

This new blog is a something I’ve been contemplating starting for the past few years. Many people have come and begged for me to write more about how to make a part-time or full-time income from blogging and I really wanted to share practical tips, advice, and strategies I’ve learned and am learning from 12+ years of blogging.

However, I wasn’t in a position to start something new when I had so many other irons in the fire. So I set the idea aside for a long time.

But last year, during my Year of Rest, after I had said no to so many, many things, I started asking myself, “What do I want to say yes to? What really sparks joy for me? What do I want to spend the next 10-20 years of my life online doing?”

I knew without a doubt that I wanted to help other women share their stories and wisdom through blogging. I have a passion for helping women live out their fullest potential and I also have a passion for blogging, marketing, and online business strategy.

Creating YourBloggingMentor.com was the perfect fit for melding both of those passions of mine into a product that will (hopefully!) inspire thousands of women in the months and years to come.

My goal in creating this site is ultimately to not only give people the tools, steps, and strategies to make a part-time or full-time income from blogging, but to encourage people to build a life and business that matters and brings joy and blessing to your life.

To read more about why I started YourBloggingMentor.com, read my post over there on Why I Started This Blog.

What You Can Expect from YourBloggingMentor.com

I will be posting one new blog post every week, sharing snippets on blogging advice on the YourBloggingMentor Instagram and Facebook Page.

Here are a few of the posts I’ve already posted, to give you an idea of what the content will be like:

We’ve also been working really hard behind the scenes the past two months on a HUGE project connected with YourBloggingMentor.com. We’re going to be launching a series of $37 courses for beginners on specific topics related to blogging and social media and monetizing your blog.

My goal is that these will give you the formulas, steps, and tools you need to set up your blog for success all at a price that you can afford when you are just working on getting your blog up and off the ground.

Look for our very first course launch in the next week!

Sign Up to Join Me on the Journey!

If you are interested in blogging, are currently a blogger, or are thinking of starting a blog, I’d love to have you come over and check out YourBloggingMentor.com. While you’re there, be sure to sign up to get my free cheat sheet: 10 Ways to Make $100 From Blogging.

In addition, I’d love for you to follow my new Instagram and Facebook Page. I’ll be sharing tips and encouragement there that you won’t find anywhere else online.

We Need to Have an Honest Conversation About Budgeting

Scared of the word "budget"? Read this post for an honest conversation about budgeting and 7 ways it can make a positive impact on your life! You'll be encouraged!

We need to have an honest conversation here. Because there’s a big problem I’ve been noticing over the past few years. It’s causing all sorts of financial issues, marriage tension, and stress.

It’s a big problem, but there is a pretty simple solution. And I want to get up on my soapbox today and talk to you about this problem. Because it’s high time we not only acknowledge the problem, but we talk about a solution.

What’s the problem, you ask?

It’s this: people have a negative view of the word budget.

Like, it’s all fun and games until I bring up the word “budget” and then everyone looks at me like I suddenly grew horns and contracted cooties.

Y’all, the word budget is not a bad word.

It’s not an inappropriate word.

It’s not even a negative word.

For real.

It’s a POSITIVE word.

And the sooner we can start believing that, living from that belief, and celebrating the amazing-ness that is a budget, the sooner we’ll start experiencing more financial success, more unity in our marriage, and so much less stress.

As someone who has lived and breathed by a written budget over 14+ years of marriage, I’m a living testament to that.

A budget is not something that will make your life miserable. It’s not a ball and chains. It’s not bondage. It’s not a straight jacket.

It’s not any of the negative, icky things you’ve pre-determined that it is. In fact, it’s the opposite of negative… if you choose to view it that way.

Here are just a few reasons I believe that a budget is a very positive thing:

A budget is a powerful weapon. It is your best hope for getting out of debt. It is your strongest tool for being able to make financial traction. A budget helps you to know where to spend your money and where not to spend your money. Instead of having to stress over where to spend your money, a budget will direct you to exactly how you should spend your money.

A budget is a marriage unifier. Sitting down and creating a budget together forces you to learn to communicate and get more on the same page financially — and probably in other areas of your marriage. It will likely open the door to many conversations about a variety of subjects and will give you the opportunity to have discussions you might have no even known that you needed to have!

A budget reduces fights in our marriage. I’m a natural saver and Jesse is a natural spender and we are so different in so many ways. We have had to work hard to not let our differences break us apart. Creating and following a budget helps us to learn to work together better and to compromise in a healthy way. And ultimately, it removes so much tension that could come from our spender/saver relationship because we’ve already pre-determined how much money we feel is good to have in each spending category.

A budget makes decision-making easier. If you usually struggle to make decisions, a budget can simplify your decision-making process by helping you to know quickly whether or not something is a wise purchase for you right now. It will save you time and it will eliminate post-purchase regret!

A budget is a gift to your life. The clarity that creating and following a budget will give you will bring so much added fulfillment and purpose to your life. Plus, if you’re a person who likes to spend money, a blow category in your budget can give you just the breathing room you need to be able to spend money for fun — without the guilt!

A budget brings so much freedom. If you often stress over purchases and wonder whether you really have the money to make a certain purchase, you need a budget. A budget gives you the peace of mind to know that you have enough money to cover your expenditures for the month and that when you go to the store and spend money from your grocery category, you’re not eating into your ability to pay your electricity bill this month.

A budget is a roadmap for success. When you create a budget, it challenges you to think longterm where you want to be financially. It allows you to set goals — to pay off debt, to save up to pay cash for something, to slowly change your financial position — and then serves as a guide to help you achieve those goals.

I look back over the past 14 years of our marriage and can point to our decision to follow a budget as one of the biggest keys to so much less stress, tension, and the thing that has brought so much more peace, calmness, and joy into our life.

Which is why I just can’t understand why anyone would think negatively about a budget. Because, for us, it’s been the best thing ever and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

The solution to this big problem is simple: stop viewing a budget as a negative thing and start celebrating all its positive attributes. It might be a slow process of reshaping your viewpoint and shifting your belief system. But it can be done… little by little, day by day.

I challenge you to put the effort to change your perspective on budgeting from a negative thing to a positive thing. Your perspective can change everything — including your success at budgeting.

And when you can set up and follow a budget + experience the freedom and joy that can come from it, you could very well completely change your life and the lives of your family and your future grandchildren and great-grandchildren!

How has a budget positively impacted your life? I’d love to hear! Share in the comments.

photo credit

Whatever You Practice At, You Will Improve At

It’s a simple rule of life: “Whatever you practice at, you will improve at” (Elizabeth Gilbert).

And this applies to all areas of life. If you want to improve, get better, learn a new skill, or see success in a specific area, the best thing you can do is to practice. And then practice some more. And then keep practicing.

You don’t become a great writer, a five-star chef, a talented musician, a highly-sought-after speaker, or an outstanding manager of money without a lot of time, effort, and practice.

There is basically no such thing as overnight success. Almost all success is the result of hard, hard work.

If you want to be a wise money manager, it’s not just going to happen; you’re going to have to be intentional, strategic, and disciplined.

You’re going to have to practice, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, practice some more, get better, and keep practicing.

Maybe you didn’t grow up in a household where you had financially responsible parents. That doesn’t mean you are doomed to always being a poor manager of money.

Here are two strategies to break the cycle and practice your way to better financial choices:

1. Surround Yourself With Frugal Advice

Find some frugal friends to regularly hang out with. (Need some ideas on how to find frugal friends? Read this post.)

You often are very influenced by the people you surround yourself with. If everyone you associate with is spending money pretty extravagantly and telling you that you “deserve” this, that, and the other — even if you can’t afford it — it’s going to be hard to stick with your resolve to live frugally.

On the other hand, if many of your friends are living frugally and simply, if they are content and totally “get” you when talk about buying something secondhand or saving up to pay cash for things, it will be a lot easier to keep on your slow and steady journey toward debt-freedom or achieving your other financial goals.

This is why I can’t encourage you enough to make the effort to surround yourself with friends who don’t think you’re crazy for being so frugal. And not just friends who don’t think you’re crazy, but friends who are just as frugal — or more frugal! — than you are!

In addition to hanging out with frugal people, read books on saving money, investing, and getting out of debt. Anne from Modern Mrs. Darcy made a great point on her blog a few years ago. She talked about how you should read blogs that are on topics related to areas of your life you want to improve in. I love that!

2. Challenge Yourself to Try New Things

Immersing yourself in frugal advice and money-saving ideas is great, but it’s not just enough to read about or be around frugal advice; you have to go out and experiment with some of the ideas. And then you have to keep experimenting and practicing.

For example, when I started learning how to use CVS Extra Bucks, I had no idea what I was doing. Even the store employees didn’t have much insight into how the extra bucks worked because the store was converting into a CVS from another drugstore.

At the start of learning how to play the Drugstore Game, I searched around on forums and read everything I could to learn how it worked. Then I would plan out my shopping trip (usually something really small and simple) and would go to the store to try it out.

I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning (and I’m so glad I kept my transactions really small so that it was only a dollar or so lost if I messed something up), but after 5 shopping trips, I had gotten the basic handle on it. And by my 20th shopping trip, I was good enough that I started helping my friends learn how it worked, too.

It took time. It took research. It took trial and error.

But it all paid off, because not only did I get hundreds of dollars worth of household products for pennies on the dollar and save our family a LOT of money while Jesse was in law school, but it also was the inspiration for starting MoneySavingMom.com! (So many people were asking me about my drugstore shopping trips and I wanted a place to be able to share them plus other shopping trips and how to save money on your grocery bill!)

Not every idea you try will be a home-run for you. And that’s why it’s called “experimenting”. Not all experiments are a success! 🙂

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to people who are trying to re-train themselves in the ways of saving money, sticking with a budget, and getting a good handle on their finances is this: true frugality considers the ROI (return on investment of time) as the bottom line.

There are thousands of ways to save a buck. But each family needs to carefully weigh how much time it is going to take to save that buck. Time is money, too.

So, as you are experimenting, be sure think in terms of what money-saving efforts are worth your time and that work for your own family and own situation. Don’t feel guilted over the fact that you might not be doing all the frugal things some other family is doing. You can’t do it all, so pick and choose what works for your family in the season of life you’re in.

Practice doesn’t necessarily make things perfect, but it certainly will mean progress over time — especially if you stick with it. So I challenge you to consider what areas you want to improve in in your life and then go start learning, experimenting, and practicing!

“Whatever you practice at, you will improve at.”

photo credit

The jeans I’m going to be wearing over and over again this spring (they were just $14.99!)

(Note: This post was sponsored by thredUP. Read our disclosure policy here.)

Need to freshen up your wardrobe or your kids’ wardrobe for spring and summer? Have your kids grown since last summer and you need to buy clothes for them for this summer?

I highly recommend checking out thredUP — especially if you’re like me and don’t love the process of having to go to multiple stores and shop for clothes! thredUP is the world’s largest online thrift store and is a great way to help you afford the brands and designers you might not normally be able to.

thredUP sells high-quality, practically new women’s and kids’ clothing and accessories, with a range of great brands to choose from at up to 90% off the original retail price! They have a HUGE selection of items — from baby clothes, kids’ clothes, and clothes for women.

I’m always impressed by the variety they offer and just the sheer number of items they have available on their site at any given time. It’s WAY more than you’d find at your local consignment sale!

Now, if the thought of them having so many different options to choose from feels like it might be overwhelming to you, I can guarantee you that it won’t be because their search features are so incredible. You see, they allow you to search by what types of clothes you are looking for, what colors you like, what brands you prefer, and/or what price range.

This allows you to really find exactly what types of things you are looking for quickly and efficiently — and saves you lots of time and frustration having to wade through pages of pages of items that aren’t your style, aren’t in colors you like, or are out of your price range.

I love getting great deals and shopping secondhand, but honestly, at this season of my life, digging through racks at the thrift store or going to garage sales just isn’t really my cup of tea. So I love that there are options to shop secondhand clothes online. thredUP is one of my favorite online sites to buy secondhand clothes.

thredUP prides itself on the “unboxing” experience. When you receive your thredUP box, all of the clothing items will be hand-folded with cute thredUP tags attached to each. The items are wrapped in nice tissue paper and delivered to your doorstep in an cute polka dot box.

We’ve ordered many, many clothes from thredUP over the years and many of the clothes we’ve ordered have been items we’ve worn over and over again.

One of my favorite ways to shop thredUP is to search for deals on high-quality brands I already know that I love and adore but would never pay full price for. For instance, you can choose from popular brands such as Lululemon, Gap, J.Crew, Express, Forever 21, H&M, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Anthropologie, and many more.

You can often find name brand items that are in like-new condition (or even new with tags!) — for up to 90% off the retail price! And my favorite thing is that they have lots of items for $5-8 each — and if you use the 40% off coupon code (below), you’ll be able to find some amazing deals!

Note: thredUP also offers an easy way to clean out your closet. You can check their website to see which brands of your secondhand clothes they take and what the payouts are. Simply order a thredUP Clean Out Bag, fill it with items you no longer want, and place it at your door for pick-up.

I needed to freshen up my wardrobe for spring/summer, so I ordered some new and like-new items from thredUP two weeks ago. I was so happy with some of my finds!

These J. Crew shorts were just $17.99 (originally $65!) and this Express Sleeveless tank was just $11.99 (originally $40!). Both of these fit me so well and are in great condition. I can dress them up or dress them down, depending upon the occasion. (See how I wore the Sleeveless Top today here.)

I love this purple Black Saks Fifth Avenue Sleeveless Top I found. It was just $16.99 (originally $60) and in excellent condition. I actually wore this on Sunday for Easter!

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what I would think of this top, but I went ahead and got it because I knew that thredUP has a great return policy. If an item doesn’t fit you, you can log into your account within 14 days from when it’s delivered to say that you want to return it. You can then opt for free shipping if you want store credit or simply pay the price of return shipping to get a refund.

The purple Black Saks Fifth Avenue Sleeveless Top is perfect to wear with my very favorite find… these American Eagle white jeans!

I’ve told you all how jeans are a struggle for me. I’m short, but not petite. Small, but not tiny. So finding jeans that fit without being too long, too short, too loose, or too tight is a constant challenge. I have a few pairs that I wear over and over and over again.

So I was thrilled to find these American Eagle white jeans for just $14.99 (originally $50) in excellent condition. They fit me like a glove! They are a little long, but look cute when rolled at the hem. My only complaint is that you can see the pockets through them, but if I wear a longer top, you won’t be able to.

I already know that these will be jeans I will be wearing again and again and again this spring and summer!

Would you like to try thredUP?

thredUP is offering MoneySavingMom.com readers a special offer! The first 100 new sign-ups who place an order and use coupon code SAVING40 at checkout will get 40% off your purchase (up to a $50 discount). This coupon is valid for new thredUP customers only.

Have you tried thredUP before? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on your experience with it.

Eat at Home Challenge: Italian Seasoned Salt Chicken in the Slow Cooker (Day 3)

Welcome to Day 3 of the Eat at Home Challenge — a one-week challenge designed to encourage and inspire you to make more meals at home in order to save money and eat more healthfully!

I’m following the Eat at Home Slow Cooker Menu Plan and I have been SO impressed with this plan. The recipes look so yummy, there’s lots of variety, and they only look like they’ll take me a few minutes to put together every morning!

Details on The Eat at Home Challenge

The Eat at Home Challenge runs through April 21, 2017. Every weekday morning around 9 a.m. CT, I’ll be on Facebook Live prepping our dinner to throw in the slow cooker for the day so that when 6 p.m. rolls around dinner is READY!

Every day, in addition to doing a Facebook Live video on my Facebook Page, I’ll be posting here on the blog what I made that day, along with a link to my video (in case you missed it).

I’m using the Eat at Home menu-planning service for my recipes for this challenge. You can sign up and get the recipes if you’d like to follow along with me! Scroll down to the bottom of this post for all the details on this menu-planning service + a 25% off coupon code good for this week only.

My hope is that this will inspire you with some new recipe ideas, encourage you to not wait until the last minute to think about what you’re having for dinner, and motivate you to eat at home more (even on busy nights!) so you can save money.

I’d love for you to join me in this challenge! To participate, go join the Facebook Page here so you can share what you are making every night and see what readers all over the country (and world!) are making for dinner each night, too!

What I Made Today

For dinner tonight, I made Italian Seasoned Salt Chicken in the Slow Cooker. This recipe was SO simple to make and I think it’s going to taste really good!

We’re going to have a fruit salad (already made) + some whole-wheat biscuits (I’m making those this afternoon) + (possibly) some steamed veggies or Sweet Potato Fries.

Watch the video below for the recipe details and to see me make it LIVE:

What is the Eat at Home Menu-Planning Service?

I’m using the Eat at Home menu-planning service for my recipes for this challenge. I usually make my own menu, but I thought it would be fun to try out a menu-planning service and see what we thought of it. So far, I’ve been very impressed!

Eat at Home is a menu-planning service designed to make getting dinner on the table much easier every night. It was a service created by Tiffany, a mom of 4 who loves to cook and loves to gather her family around the table, but has found that if she doesn’t have a quick and easy plan, it’s hard to make that happen.

How Does the Eat at Home Menu-Planning Service Work?

The Eat at Home menu-planning service is an incredible way to help you save time and save money. You don’t have to worry about planning menus OR grocery list, because Tiffany does all of that for you as part of the menu-planning service.

She has designed it specifically with busy families in mind and the menu plans offer:

The recipes can all be fixed quickly, with only a few minutes of hands-on prep. Because the recipes use common pantry ingredients, it’s likely that you have everything you need to make many of the recipes.

It’s so convenient because all the work is done for you! You just choose which menu plan you’ll use, print the grocery list, go shopping, and then spend a few minutes prepping food each day and dinner is D-O-N-E!

When you sign up for the plan (it’s just a few dollars per week — or less!), each month, you’ll get:

  • An entire month of Traditional Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • An entire month of Slow Cooker Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • An entire month of Whole Food Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • Each menu plan comes with recipes created for small family (3-4 servings) and large family (6-8 servings)
  • Color-coded grocery lists make it easy to swap out ingredients or whole meals
  • Printable Menus to hang on the fridge or near your calendar, so you can easily see what’s for dinner that week and your family can too
  • Access to the entire month at once!
  • 1 Hour Freezer Stash Plans – a new plan each month to stock your freezer with 6 meals in 1 hour!

You can choose to stick with just the traditional menu plan or just the slow cooker menu plan or just the whole foods menu plan. Or, you can rotate different menu plans on different weeks, depending upon what you feel like cooking or how much time you have!

Get the Eat at Home Menu-Planning Service for as Low as $1.21 per Week!

If you struggle to make menu plans and would love for someone to make them for you + make a grocery list for you, it’s well worth spending a few dollars every week to let Eat at Home do the work for you.

This week only, when you sign up for their plan (either the monthly plan, the quarterly plan, or the yearly plan, you can get 25% off by using coupon code MSM at checkout!

That makes the done-for-you menu plans and grocery lists just $1.21 per week. And you get access to all three plans and the freezer cooking plans for the whole month at the rate!

Go sign up for this incredible menu-planning service here. 

(Oh and they have a fantastic money-back guarantee if you think you want to try it out but aren’t sure whether it will work for you or not!)

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our disclosure policy here.

Eat at Home Challenge: Slow Cooker Smoked Sausage & Sauerkraut Soup (Day 2)

Welcome to Day 2 of the Eat at Home Challenge — a one-week challenge designed to encourage and inspire you to make more meals at home in order to save money and eat more healthfully!

I’m following the Eat at Home Slow Cooker Menu Plan and I have been SO impressed with this plan. The recipes look so yummy, there’s lots of variety, and they only look like they’ll take me a few minutes to put together every morning!

Details on The Eat at Home Challenge

The Eat at Home Challenge runs through April 21, 2017. Every weekday morning around 9 a.m. CT, I’ll be on Facebook Live prepping our dinner to throw in the slow cooker for the day so that when 6 p.m. rolls around dinner is READY!

Every day, in addition to doing a Facebook Live video on my Facebook Page, I’ll be posting here on the blog what I made that day, along with a link to my video (in case you missed it).

I’m using the Eat at Home menu-planning service for my recipes for this challenge. You can sign up and get the recipes if you’d like to follow along with me! Scroll down to the bottom of this post for all the details on this menu-planning service + a 25% off coupon code good for this week only.

My hope is that this will inspire you with some new recipe ideas, encourage you to not wait until the last minute to think about what you’re having for dinner, and motivate you to eat at home more (even on busy nights!) so you can save money.

I’d love for you to join me in this challenge! To participate, go join the Facebook Page here so you can share what you are making every night and see what readers all over the country (and world!) are making for dinner each night, too!

What I Made Today

For dinner tonight, I made Slow Cooker Smoked Sausage & Sauerkraut Soup. I subbed sweet potatoes for the white potatoes the recipe called for and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

I’m going to make some Homemade Bread in the Bread Machine to go with it and will probably serve some sliced apples, too.

Watch the video below for the recipe details and to see me make it LIVE:

What is the Eat at Home Menu-Planning Service?

I’m using the Eat at Home menu-planning service for my recipes for this challenge. I usually make my own menu, but I thought it would be fun to try out a menu-planning service and see what we thought of it. So far, I’ve been very impressed!

Eat at Home is a menu-planning service designed to make getting dinner on the table much easier every night. It was a service created by Tiffany, a mom of 4 who loves to cook and loves to gather her family around the table, but has found that if she doesn’t have a quick and easy plan, it’s hard to make that happen.

How Does the Eat at Home Menu-Planning Service Work?

The Eat at Home menu-planning service is an incredible way to help you save time and save money. You don’t have to worry about planning menus OR grocery list, because Tiffany does all of that for you as part of the menu-planning service.

She has designed it specifically with busy families in mind and the menu plans offer:

The recipes can all be fixed quickly, with only a few minutes of hands-on prep. Because the recipes use common pantry ingredients, it’s likely that you have everything you need to make many of the recipes.

It’s so convenient because all the work is done for you! You just choose which menu plan you’ll use, print the grocery list, go shopping, and then spend a few minutes prepping food each day and dinner is D-O-N-E!

When you sign up for the plan (it’s just a few dollars per week — or less!), each month, you’ll get:

  • An entire month of Traditional Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • An entire month of Slow Cooker Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • An entire month of Whole Food Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • Each menu plan comes with recipes created for small family (3-4 servings) and large family (6-8 servings)
  • Color-coded grocery lists make it easy to swap out ingredients or whole meals
  • Printable Menus to hang on the fridge or near your calendar, so you can easily see what’s for dinner that week and your family can too
  • Access to the entire month at once!
  • 1 Hour Freezer Stash Plans – a new plan each month to stock your freezer with 6 meals in 1 hour!

You can choose to stick with just the traditional menu plan or just the slow cooker menu plan or just the whole foods menu plan. Or, you can rotate different menu plans on different weeks, depending upon what you feel like cooking or how much time you have!

Get the Eat at Home Menu-Planning Service for as Low as $1.21 per Week!

If you struggle to make menu plans and would love for someone to make them for you + make a grocery list for you, it’s well worth spending a few dollars every week to let Eat at Home do the work for you.

This week only, when you sign up for their plan (either the monthly plan, the quarterly plan, or the yearly plan, you can get 25% off by using coupon code MSM at checkout!

That makes the done-for-you menu plans and grocery lists just $1.21 per week. And you get access to all three plans and the freezer cooking plans for the whole month at the rate!

Go sign up for this incredible menu-planning service here. 

(Oh and they have a fantastic money-back guarantee if you think you want to try it out but aren’t sure whether it will work for you or not!)

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our disclosure policy here.