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Category: Earning & Managing Money

Join me next week for the Eat at Home Challenge!

Do you struggle to find the time or make the time to make meals from scratch? Do you need some inspiration to cook and eat at home instead of running through the drive-thru or getting takeout?

Next week, I’ll be doing a fun Eat at Home Challenge all week long, in partnership with the Eat at Home Menu Planning service.

How This Challenge Will Work

The challenge will run April 17-21, 2017. Every 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).

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!

Want to Make What I’m Making Every Night?

I’ll be following the Eat at Home Cooks Slow Cooker Menu Plan, so if you want to make what I’m making every night, you can sign up for the Eat at Home Cooks Menu Plans here.

When you sign up, 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!

And as a special offer for my followers only, you can get 25% off the price of the Eat at Home menu plan subscription when you use coupon code MSM at checkout. That makes the monthly subscription $10.50 or the annual subscription just $63 ($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 Cooks do the work for you.

Go read more about 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!)

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

This Month’s Blogging/Business Income Report (February)

Thinking of Starting a Blog? Over the years, I’ve received many requests from folks for help on how to start a blog and how to make money blogging. That’s why I put together this comprehensive guide on How to Make Money Blogging with updated information and links.

It includes step-by-step help on how to set up your blog, get started, and make money from blogging. Go here to learn how to make money blogging and get started today!

In 2005, I discovered this thing called “blogging” and decided to try it out. I was a brand-new mom at the time, had recently quit working as a nanny, and was hopeful I could make enough on the side through online ventures to be able to replace my income and be able to stay home.

My husband was in law school and we were living on a beans and rice budget, trying to stay out of debt. We never, ever dreamed that my little blog idea would grow into what it has become.

In all honesty, when I started, I remember telling people that I hoped to make a side income from it. I never could have imagined that by the end of 2008, I’d be making full-time income from blogging!

And in all my wildest and craziest dreaming, I never would have envisioned that this blog would allow my husband to come home full-time, would provide the means for us to support ministries we love dearly (in the US, in the Dominican Republic, and in South Africa), and would enable us to provide incomes for our small (but amazing!) team.

How I Make a Full-Time Income from Blogging

Over the years, I’ve heard the question again and again and again: How do you actually MAKE money blogging??

People seem intrigued by the idea that our family actually makes a really good income from this blog and other related online ventures. In these monthly posts, I want to give you a comprehensive and detailed look at our different income streams and expense streams to give you a better idea of what’s working, what’s not working, and how I actually make money blogging.

I always find these posts fascinating and inspiring when I read them from other bloggers. It helps me to learn the real nitty-gritty details of what is and isn’t working, how bloggers are diversifying their income, and what they are experimenting with.

Some bloggers share these types of posts and include specific numbers of exactly how much they make every month. I’ve opted not to do that because I feel like sometimes people can get hung up on numbers and miss the bigger picture.

Instead, I want share detailed percentages of our income and expenses — not only will this give you a very accurate picture of our earnings, but it will be something that is relatable, no matter the size of your blog or the income you make.

My hope is that these detailed reports not only help give you a better picture of how I make money blogging, but I hope they inspire you with new ideas on how you can increase your income or improve as a blogger or online entrepreneur.

Ready for the numbers? Here’s our income and expenses report for the month of February 2017:

February Income

Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. All of the products listed below are products and services we’ve used before. If you have any questions about any of the income or expenses, you can leave a comment and we’ll do our best to reply.

All Revenue Streams

Affiliate Revenue Streams Detailed Breakdown

Want to know more how affiliate programs work? Be sure to check out my post on How to Make Money Blogging.

February Expenses

  • Charitable contributions — 33%
  • Payroll expenses — 25%
  • Partner & affiliate payments (Sign up for our affiliate program for our products here.) — 10%
  • Subcontracted services — 9%
  • Web-based tools (InfusionSoft*, Feedblitz, GoDaddy, Dropbox, Harvest, etc.) — 7%
  • Other (Office space rent, PayPal fees, shipping/postage fees, merchant account fees, bank service charges, utilities, travel expenses, wifi, etc.) — 6%
  • Computer, hosting, Internet expenses — 5%
  • Health insurance — 3%
  • Professional fees (for our CPA, payroll management, etc.) — 3%

Percentage of Income Versus Expenses

Recent Experiments

New Sites Coming Soon!

We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes putting the final touches on my brand-new sites, and The designs are almost done and now I’m working on putting together content, posts, and more. I cannot WAIT to unveil them very soon!

We’re also hard at work putting together strategic email series for those who sign up for our email newsletters. We’ve never been very strategic in the past with our on-boarding process for new email subscribers and that is one thing I knew I wanted to make a big priority if I were to ever start a new site.

Working Smarter, Not Harder

One thing I changed in the last two months was delegating even more of my usual responsibilities so that I could have good boundaries with work and home life and also be able to devote time to the two new sites.

My sister, Gretchen, has been helping Meg with posts here every day and they’ve been doing a fabulous job of finding, vetting, and posting the deals.

This has allowed me to spend a lot less time in the nitty-gritty daily details and a lot more time in the big picture details. It’s also freed me up to have more time to devote to writing — both for blog posts and for other projects (see below!)

Brand-New Courses Are in the Works!

One of the BIG things we’re working on is putting together a series of courses for beginning bloggers which we’ll be offering on We batted around a LOT of ideas as a team for what digital products we wanted to offer on YourBloggingMentor and I’m super stoked about the final result of all of our ideas and brainstorming.

If you are a new blogger or even someone who is considering starting a blog, I can’t WAIT to share what we’re putting together. It will be affordable, step-by-step, go-at-your-own-pace, customizable, and simple. Stay tuned for more details!

This Month’s Featured Question

This month’s featured question is from Lauren at Funky Monkey Children:

Do you have recommendations for where to find VAs?

This is such a great question! In all honesty, I can’t give you a simple answer, because there are so many variables.

I think you first need to determine what type of VA you are looking for (Someone to do admin work? Someone to help format blog posts? Someone to oversee your inbox? Someone to help with social media? etc.)

Once you know who you are looking for, then determine how many hours of work you think you have for them to do and how much you can budget to pay them.

I personally start by thinking of people I know would be a good fit — usually someone who has some experience online, is someone I have a relationship with of some sort, or someone I know and trust has a relationship with. I will sometimes ask others I know and trust for ideas or names of people they’d recommend, too.

You can also use a VA service (these are usually more expensive, but you’ll typically get higher quality work) or find another blogger who has experience with blogging and who has some extra hours to devote online. Jessica commented and said that she has found great VAs through this Facebook Group.

Don’t ever hire someone whom you haven’t vetted well ahead of time. I prefer to have met face-to-face, have had some phone calls, and have some recommendations. I also always start with smaller, short-term jobs first before moving to a more permanent working relationships.

Remember, that it’s very important to vet your VAs to make sure they’re a good fit for you. See my recommendations on this past income report.

Note: Finding a good VA isn’t always about finding the most experienced person for the job. If the chemistry isn’t there, it can end up being a total flop hire. Hire the person who is reliable, willing to learn and grow with your business, and who comes through for you — even if they aren’t an expert! 

Highly Recommended Blogging Resources

Make Money Blogging

Want to Start Your Own Blog?

I’m here to help! Check out my comprehensive guide on How to Make Money Blogging with updated information and links. It includes step-by-step help on how to set up your blog, best practices for blogging, and all the details on how to make money from blogging.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up for my FREE 5-day course on How I Make a Full-Time Income From Home. This video course will give you an inside peek into my blogging and business journey, will share lots of inspiration and hard lessons I’ve learned in the process, and will encourage you with ideas on how you can make a part-time or full-time income from home, too.

Previous Income Reports

More Posts on Blogging

How to Freeze Avocados

Can you freeze avocados? I set out to answer that question a few weeks ago and here are my results!

Yes -- you can freeze avocados! Read this post to find out how! It's actually SUPER simple!

Y’all know I love me some clearance buys at Kroger. I mean, really, those yellow WOOHOO stickers make my heart skip a little beat.

{I might have issues. Okay, let’s face it. I do have issues. But hey, this weirdness has saved us a LOT of money over the years and it has certainly helped to keep life interesting! ;)}

Our Kroger has a section for marked down produce and they have these red mesh bags that they fill with produce. Each bag is just $0.99. Sometimes, it will be a pretty sorry deal — like 3 half-rotten apples for $0.99 or 5 potatoes for $0.99. But oftentimes, there are some really amazing deals in these red mesh bags.

Case in point, a few weeks ago, I went to the store and saw an incredible deal on avocados. And by incredible, I really mean incredible.

They had bags of 6-7 avocados that were ripe (but not overripe) for just $0.99 per bag! I love avocados and I eat a LOT of them on the eating plan I’m on.

Right now, avocados are usually priced around $0.88 per avocado (I’ve seen them for as low as $0.25 to $0.30 each at ALDI, but that’s very rare) and I usually eat one avocado almost every single day.

So this was a BIG score for me! The only problem? I knew I couldn’t eat them all up before they went bad.

I remembered something I’d read somewhere online about freezing avocados, so I literally whipped out my phone in the middle of the store and googled, “Can you freeze avocados?”

{What did we do before the days when we could stand in the grocery store and have all of the internet at our finger tips??}

From what I found, it looked like it was worth the risk to attempt freezing them. There were six bags and I decided to play it safe and only buy 3 bags, just in case my experiment was a flop.

To freeze them, I pitted them, scooped out the insides, and then mashed those up and added some salsa and lime juice. I then stuck them in freezer bags, pressed them flat and put them in the freezer.

A week later, I thawed one out and it tasted great! I stored it in the fridge for a few days and ate some every day to see how it fared. I’d say that it’s best to use it the day you thaw it, though it was still fine a few days later — it was just a darker brown color and didn’t look too appetizing!

I opted to freeze my avocados with salsa and lime juice for flavoring because I usually eat my avocados with salsa. You could also add other seasonings, herbs, or flavorings to it — such as salt, cilantro, tomatoes, onions, or cayenne pepper. Onions and tomatoes can be a little on the iffy side to freeze, though, so you could also add those in fresh after you thaw the avocados.

You can also freeze avocados halved if you want to use them in smoothies.

Want more details? Watch my quick YouTube video to see how I made this! (Psst! Are you subscribed to my YouTube channel? If not, what are you waiting for? Go subscribe here so you never miss any of my new weekly videos!)

“I am a multi-millionaire!”

I read a book recently that talked about the importance of saying affirmations daily for things you want to become. The author encouraged you to speak it until you become it.

Truth be told, I’m sort of on the fence about this idea.

On the one hand, I think it’s fantastic to know what you are aiming for and I think it’s much, much more effective to visualize yourself winning and succeeding in life than to envision yourself failing at everything.

There’s a good chance you will end up making a lot more progress if you believe that you can do something than if you assume or predict you can’t do something. In fact, there’s a high probability you won’t even bother to try a lot of things if you tell yourself that you can’t do it from the get-go.

For instance, if you believe, “I’ll never get out of debt.” There is a very good chance that you won’t even be motivated to make a plan to try to get out of debt. Because, why bother if you already think it’s a hopeless cause?

On the flip side, I think that this whole repeating daily affirmations things can become detrimental or unhealthy if your affirmation is based on a self-focused premise or an unrealistic ideal.

One of the affirmations this book encouraged people to repeat over and over was, “I am a multi-millionaire.”

That just rubbed me all kinds of wrong.

Why? Because our culture is obsessed with the belief that money is the answer. That if you just made twice as much money (or five times as much money) or inherited a million dollars or won the lottery, then all your problems would be solved.

As someone who has been on both ends of the spectrum (having very little and have an abundance), I can tell you this: money is not the answer to all your problems. Money can do a lot of amazing things, but having money doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have problems. Just like not having money doesn’t necessarily mean your life will be filled with all kinds of terribly hard things.

If you chase after more money and make more money your end goal, you’ll never, ever be satisfied. Because there’s no such thing as “enough money” when more money is your goal. If you finally end up making $100,000, you’ll then aim to make $200,000. If you end up becoming a millionaire, you’ll then shoot to become a multi-millionaire.

And on and on it will go.

Money doesn’t satisfy. Money isn’t the answer. If you chase after money, you’ll always be chasing after more

If you are struggling with this concept, I encourage you to ask yourself two questions that have changed my entire perspective in how I run my business and the choices that I make in my personal life:

  • When is enough, enough?
  • Would I be content if I knew that where I am right now will never change?

I cut back, streamlined, said no, and stripped away so much from my life as a result of these two questions. Why? Because I realized that I was chasing after more when I already had enough.

Instead of spending most of my days pursuing new opportunities, researching new possibilities, planning and mapping out new ideas, exhausting myself trying to reach new goals, or stressing over setting up new strategy, I want to spend the bulk of my time just loving the life right in front of me and embracing and being grateful for the more-than-enough life that I already have.

From first hand experience, I can promise there is much more joy, fulfillment, and life right there.

Now, let me be clear: There’s nothing wrong with wanting to increase your income, grow your business, or hit certain financial goals, so long as you have a healthy WHY in place for doing so and you have healthy boundaries in place for achieving these goals.

Instead of chasing after more or coming up with a daily affirmation or goal of becoming a millionaire or multi-millionaire, start with a WHY that matters.

Maybe something like, “I will help as many hungry children as possible have nutritional meals.” Or, “I will find ways to help eliminate hunger in our city.” Or, “I will make an impact in teen girls’ lives.”

You know what’s different with those goals/affirmations? All of them are ones that you can start right now. You don’t have to wait until you are a millionaire or a multi-millionaire. You can begin today!

Your why might be something that requires a lot of money to pull off. Some of my goals and the whys behind those goals definitely do or will require a significant amount of money to make happen. And for me, this is certainly a reason to be strategic with opportunities I accept, to work on growing the business while having healthy boundaries, and to look for ways to work smarter, not harder.

But I can tell you from personal experience that there is so much more joy and fulfillment and purpose when you have established your WHY and you’re not just chasing after something for the sake of chasing. Not only that, but it also helps me be a lot more intentional about how I spend my time, what I say yes to and what I say no to, and it allows me to embrace and enjoy the here and now instead of just focusing on trying to get where I want to go.

So, I challenge you to stop chasing after more for more’s sake, to establish your WHY behind your goals, and to begin today to embrace exactly where you are. Don’t wait until you get where you think you want to be to start loving the life you have. 

photo credit

I got all of this at Kroger for just $8.24!!

I went to Kroger a few days ago to take advantage of some freebie coupons I had and I was so excited with the deals that I found!

Only one coupon — the Gillette Razor coupon — was one I had signed up for online. The other freebie coupons were ones that Kroger sent to me in the mail.

For years, we stopped getting Kroger coupons in the mail. I think it was because we had forgotten to change our address on our account when we moved.

So we recently got a new card and put our new address on it. Well, would you know it? Within a few weeks, we got a packet full of amazing free coupons in the mail! And then we just got another packet of high-value coupons a few weeks later!

My Kroger Deals

In addition to some freebies I got, I also found some great markdowns at Kroger, too! Here are the deals I got:

  • 2 loaves of Whole Wheat Bread — marked down to $1.49 per loaf
  • Dole Salad Blend — originally $3.49, used FREE coupon
  • Jif Peanut Butter — originally $2.69, used FREE coupon
  • Silk Almond Milk — originally $2.69, used FREE coupon
  • Suja juice — marked down to $0.79, used $1/1 Kroger coupon = FREE + overage!
  • 1 package Private Selections Bacon — originally $4.29, used FREE coupon
  • Gillette razor — originally $9.99, used FREE coupon
  • 2 pounds of bananas — marked down to $0.78
  • 3 bags of avocados — marked down to $0.99 per bag (there were 6-7 avocados in each bag!)

My total with tax ($1.72) was $8.24!! You can watch my video here where I share more about this grocery haul.

What are you going to do with all those avocados???

Yes, I know that that is a LOT of avocados. And many of you asked right away when I posted this on Instagram Stories, what on EARTH are you going to do with all those avocados.

I asked for suggestions from you all on how to use them and I ended up taking your advice and decided to try freezing them.

You can watch this video to see how I froze them. And then look for a post soon with more details and step-by-step instructions.

Why I Buy Almost All of My Jewelry at Kohl’s

Why You Should Buy ALL Your Jewelry at Kohl's! These are GREAT savings tips!!

I love jewelry! It’s such a fun and quick way to take a simple outfit and make it look much cuter or more professional. It’s also a way that I mix things up while still having a very simple wardrobe.

If you watch my Facebook Lives, you already know that my very favorite place in all the world to get great deals on jewelry is the Kohl’s clearance rack. I rarely wear jewelry that comes from anywhere else (unless it’s from my free Rocksbox jewelry!)

Here’s why I love shopping the Kohl’s clearance rack:

1. The Prices Are Fantastic

Seriously, where else can you find cute and durable earrings for as low as $2.80? I know! Kohl’s clearance is the best!

Don’t look at their sale prices; head straight to the clearance section — the one where the jewelry has bright yellow tags and is usually marked down by 80% to 90%. That’s where it’s basically a jewelry goldmine!

Hot Savings Tip: Download the Kohl’s app and log onto the Kohl’s wifi while in-store and check what coupons you have in your wallet on their app. There will usually be some great coupons — often one for 15% off that you can stack with the great clearance deals to make them even better.

2. The Selection is {Usually} Great

You might have to dig a little, but take your time and really start looking through the racks, and looking back behind the jewelry at the front of each rack. Because the more you dig, the more you’ll probably uncover some really great pieces at really great prices.

3. The Quality is Good

I’ve purchased a number of different pieces of jewelry from Kohl’s over the years that I have worn again and again and again. And I’ve never had an issue with quality or a piece of jewelry not holding up well!

Want to see all the details on the jewelry I got from the clearance rack last week? Watch my video here.

Where do YOU find great deals on jewelry? I’d love to hear!