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Budget, Family Finances, Frugal living

Budget Friendly Birthday Party for Our Frugal Family

October 19, 2015

When I found out that I was expecting for the first time, I knew that I would be cutting it pretty close to my own birthday with the due date. Little did I know, instead of going to my birthday dinner reservation, I would be spending the evening in the military hospital, meeting our daughter for the first time.

It’s pretty cool that my daughter and I have the same birthday. It’s an extra special day in our family not only because we share the birthday, but also because I shared the birthday with my great-grandmother. I always felt like I was in a special club, sharing my birthday on October 9. My great grandmother has since passed on, but now the club continues with me and my daughter.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but two people in the same family having the same birthday is a really great way to cut down on the costs of birthday celebrations. You don’t buy two cakes or have two parties, so the costs are essentially slashed in half. My family is pretty frugal, so this has worked out pretty well so far. I don’t mind eating whatever kind of cake my daughter chooses. Also, for the moment, her friends are the children of my friends, so parties aren’t an issue either. 

This year for my daughter’s birthday, she wanted to invite her friends to the park to eat cupcakes and hit a piñata. So, that’s what we did, and it cost next to nothing. It was a very budget friendly birthday party. My husband did go a bit overboard at the store, but try telling him that his 5 year old doesn’t need helium balloons at her birthday party…wasn’t going to happen. So I just let it go, because it made him happy to do that for her and it made her happy too.

The only thing she specifically asked for was a unicorn piñata. Our local Walmart doesn’t carry unicorn pinatas though, which really left me in a bind. The one she really wanted in particular is sold on Amazon for $30. I didn’t want to spend that kind of money on something that would only last ten minutes. So, what’s a frugal mama to do?

To remedy the unicorn pinata situation, I bought the My Little Pony piñata from Walmart for $10 and decided to make a unicorn horn myself. With just 15 minutes of extra effort, I saved $20.

IMG_0287

Turning the pony piñata into a unicorn, instead of buying one, basically covered the cost of the impromptu purchase of a helium tank, so we’ll call it even. Making 24 cupcakes for the party only cost me $5 for cake and frosting supplies, and we had fruit, veggies, pretzels, tea, and water for the party guests to snack on. All in all, it was a really affordable, fun, and budget-friendly birthday party for our frugal family. There was gorgeous weather at the park the day of the party too, which made the day even nicer.

Saving money, one unicorn horn at a time

Even though our daughter is only 5 years old, we’re already finding our groove with how to celebrate two birthdays on the same day. We also have a few family traditions now because of our unique birthday situation. For example, we go to the pumpkin patch every year on the weekend nearest to our actual birthday. I love all things fall and all things pumpkin, so going to the pumpkin patch is how I get to celebrate my birthday in my own way while also doing something the kids will enjoy.

This year, my parents, sister, and soon to be brother in law were able to join us, which made our pumpkin patch weekend even more special. As an added bonus, the pumpkin patch we went to this year was really affordable. It was also only $8 per child with accompanying adults getting in for free for all of the activities (maze, fun house, and petting zoo). They had free hay rides out to the pumpkin field to pick your own pumpkins as well. They also had a fun deal where you could get as many pumpkins as you can carry in three steps for only $20. My husband decided to do it, and he ended up carrying 6 or 7 full size pumpkins and a whole bunch of smaller ones.

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My big strong husband carrying all of the family pumpkins so that we could get them for only $20.

My favorite part of the weekend was getting our family picture taken. We look forward to it every year. Taking a family picture in the hay has kind of become an annual thing for our family. We have never had professional family pictures done, so these pictures are precious to me. Our pumpkin patch picture from our birthday weekend has become one of my most cherished memories. I love that my husband and I get to make such sweet memories with our beautiful kids.

annual family photo

Do you have any family traditions on your birthday? What are your cost-saving measures to have a budget friendly birthday party?

Blog and life updates, Family Finances, Police wife life

Financial Leap of Faith and FinCon15

September 14, 2015
Financial leap of faith and FinCon15

14 months ago, to say that my husband and I were “struggling to make ends meet” would have been a gross understatement.

My husband was working 40 hours a week at his full time job as well as working the reserves one weekend a month. I was providing childcare during the week to try to help pay the bills. I even started a small craft business. It wasn’t enough. Working more wasn’t an option. I had newborn, and we were already working as hard as we could.

My husband was already working as a police officer, but he was being paid the same rate as he was making as a security guard before he finished the police academy, which was pennies. He wasn’t earning what he was worth, and his superiors kept coming up with a lot of empty promises for his actual police rate pay (which never came).

Facing foreclosure

We were facing foreclosure. The food that we put on our table came from the garden and government assistance food checks from WIC. Too many dinners were rice with vegetables that I grew. We were one or two weeks shy of my husband re-enlisting as an active duty member of the military and having myself and our two kids move in with my parents for a while. It was a dark place, emotionally and financially, that we never thought we would have to come to.

My husband took a financial leap of faith and started looking anywhere and everywhere for a new job. He had just achieved his goal of finishing the police academy, and he was done with his term of field training, but he was willing to go back to selling motorcycles or joining the military again, just to make ends meet. We both hoped that he could find a job for a different city working as a police officer.

One town with an open position seemed like our only hope. As my husband got further along in the hiring process, first passing the physical and written tests, the back ground check, and then the home check, we had more and more hope that this position was the answer to our prayers. He wasn’t even guaranteed the job yet, but we started packing boxes.

Our financial leap of faith 

I don’t like to talk too much about my faith online, but I wouldn’t be able to explain this story without it. I had a quiet peace in my heart about this potential position. After a lot of prayer, we both felt the need to pursue this job with alacrity and ready our home for sale or new renters.  We took another financial leap of faith, and we moved to the new town before he was even offered the job. There weren’t many homes for rent, and we found the perfect house for our needs which was within our budget. We had to pounce, or we would have lost it.

Anyone looking in from the outside would have seen our decision as brash, financially irresponsible, and foolish. Our extended family thought we were insane. But I knew in my heart that it was the right decision. This was a high risk, high reward situation, and we were willing to take the gamble. Since we were already facing the loss of everything, we literally had nothing to lose. We even had a renter lined up. Our good friend wanted to rent our house for herself and her three kids. I couldn’t have imagined anyone better as a renter.

Our financial leap of faith paid off. Two weeks after we moved into the new rental house, he was offered the job.

Since that financial gamble, we have had 13 months of financial security, money for rent, and food for the table. We have met new friends that are more like family, and we are happier than we have ever been. We still have a lot of debt, but we are working hard to pay it off and be free once and for all from that awful time of our lives. Our financial leap of faith paid back in dividends. We couldn’t have imagined a better outcome.

A new financial leap of faith

I took my own financial leap of faith in March of this year, when I took a course to learn how to get paid to write for blogs. That course was worth the investment. Cat, the instructor of the course, is both my friend and mentor. She helped me to reach the level of success with writing that I now have. I even paid taxes on my earnings for the first time yesterday. Nobody likes paying taxes, but that was a great feeling.  

I love writing from home, and I love working as a contract writer and freelance blogger. I am ready to take my business to the next level though, so with Cat’s experience and advice, I am taking another gigantic, financial leap of faith. I took on $1500 dollars of debt so that I can attend FinCon15.

FinCon15

This Wednesday, I will be driving to Charlotte, North Carolina for the four day conference. My dear friend designed and ordered 500 business cards for me to distribute, and I already have a few potential client meetings lined up. I am ready to work harder than I ever have before to meet new clients, make connections, and get my name known in the financial writing world.

I have never been more nervous for anything in my life, but I have the same kind of peace in my heart about this conference as I did when we moved without a guarantee of a job for my husband. The experience we had by flinging ourselves into the financial unknown, and surviving to tell the tale has made me more willing to take risks for the reward. I have faith in myself that I will be able to pay back my debt quickly. I made $450 dollars last month writing from home. Even if I don’t win a single new client at this conference, I will be able to pay the debt off relatively quickly. I see FinCon15 as a good debt, not unlike taking out a loan for school. 

I am ready to hustle hard, work harder, and make my own career dreams come true. I’m ready to take the financial writing world by storm.

What is the biggest leap of faith that you have ever taken? Was it in pursuit of your personal goals or your financial goals?

Blog and life updates, Family Finances, Motherhood

Employment Boundaries and Knowing Your Value

September 4, 2015
employment boundaries

Do you believe that money can buy you happiness? To a certain extent I believe that it does. Money certainly makes things easier. I would be more than willing to endure some unpleasant positions to make more money for my family. If someone told me that I could make 3 million dollars by shoveling out manure pits for the next three years, I would definitely do it. Most people probably would.

What if the same person offered you only $30,000 to shovel manure for the next three years? Unless you were homeless, unemployed, and starving the answer would most likely be a resounding NO. That level of physical discomfort just isn’t worth the meager paycheck. Everyone has their employment boundaries. They know when a project is worth the value or not for their time and effort involved.

This past week I learned what limits are and employment boundaries are as a writer. I did something that, three months ago, seemed inconceivable. I turned down a writing client for the first time.

After learning how to get paid to write for blogs, I have been hustling to find new clients, start new projects, and bring in more income for my family so that we can pay off debt. I’m willing to put in the time and the hours writing for free, doing guest posts, or getting paid low compensation to build up my name, my business, and my writing portfolio. Like Mark Twain is remembered for saying, “Write without pay until somebody offers pay.”

Until this week, my motto has been “any money for writing is good money for writing.” After contacting a potential client and writing a sample article, I was seriously low-balled in return for a writing project. I don’t want to get into the details, but let me just say that the time was not going to be worth the effort or the money. Compensation was going to be less than minimum wage. Significantly less. I turned down the client, letting them know that my time is worth more than they were offering, but thanks for the opportunity.

A project like the one in question would have made me crazy, the quality of my work would have been terrible, and my family would have suffered with me working so much…all for pennies. Although I am still a new writer, I know what my value is, and I know what my employment boundaries are.

I am so glad that I was able to say no. I love working from home as a contract writer, because I get to choose which projects I take on, meaning I enjoy my work and I get to be home with my kids.

I enjoy my work as a writer, and I enjoy my work as a mom. Any job that would make me unhappy with both of those positions is a job I have no desire or willingness to take. I know what my goals are as a writer, I know what my employment boundaries are, and I will only take on projects that will help me reach those goals.

What are your employment boundaries? Do you know what your bottom line amount is for the value of your work?

If one advances confidently in the direction

Before you go, here’s a roundup of some of my recent posts around the web:

Careers that Offer Student Loan Forgiveness

3 Fool-Proof Ways to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse While Shopping Online

10 Great Alternative Christmas Gift Ideas

3 Reasons Millennials Should Invest in Dividend Stocks

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Put Off Your Bucket List until Retirement

Why Paying Off Debt is Like Losing Weight

 

Also check out these great posts by other bloggers

Why You Shouldn’t Let Your Spouse’s Career Hold You Back

10 Ways to Get Yourself Out of a Funky Mood

How to Check the Real Savings on Amazon Gold Box Deals

Life After Debt…Remembering Your “Why”

5 Simple Ways to Get Your Productivity Back

 

Have a great weekend!

Family Finances, Uncategorized

Don’t Allow $1.25 to Ruin Your Day

August 31, 2015
$1.25 really isn't worth the frustration

Yesterday started out great. My 18 month old woke me up at around 6:10, and even though I had only gotten about 4.5 hours of sleep, I actually wasn’t at all tired. I got little-man situated, made myself some coffee, and decided to bake banana muffins for breakfast. While he was playing and the muffins were baking, I worked on invoice sheets for a bit. 

My husband and daughter both got up right around the time the muffins were done baking, and we all ate breakfast together as a family. Shortly thereafter we went for a 2 mile family run, came back, and then quickly got ready and left for church. 

Fresh muffins. The promise of future payment. Great Workout. Inspiring Mass. I felt fantastic yesterday, like my body, mind, and soul were being taken care of, and I was in a great mood. 

Then I made the decision to stop at Food Lion on our way home from church. 

Before walking into the store, I knew my budget would be about $25 and I had a list of the basic items I needed: bananas, eggs, milk, etc. On the way into the store, I noticed that cereal was on sale for $1.74. That’s a great deal, especially when it’s one of the few items your 18 month old will actually eat for breakfast.

Anyway, I walked down the cereal aisle, found the shelf with the advertised cereal with big red arrows exclaiming “GREAT VALUE” “ON SALE” etc. and picked up a box off of the clearly marked shelf. I grab my other few items, wait in line, pay, and head out to the car, at which point I noticed that the cashier hadn’t rung up the cereal box as on sale.

My receipt listed it for $2.99 instead of $1.74. So I went back in the store and asked the same cashier why it hadn’t rung up as on sale. Her reply was that only the 12 oz boxes were on sale. I had bought the 9 oz box. I said, “Well, the store clearly has this box labeled as on sale.” To which her response was, “Someone must have just stuck that box there.” To which I replied again, “No, really. It is very clearly marked on that shelf that all of this size box is on sale.”

Long story short, I left the store very angry, with absolutely no help from the cashier who very clearly didn’t care at all that I had just paid $1.25 more, for 3 fewer ounces of cereal than the on sale box. 

I was fuming, steaming mad when I got home. I was putting groceries away with much more force than necessary, all while snapping at my family. I realized how crazy I was being and wondered how I let myself get so angry over a box of cereal. 

Instead of punishing my family for something that was clearly not their fault, I tried to use that negative energy for something productive. I finished my invoices, and then we went for a walk down to the park for some fresh air and to let the kiddos play for a bit before dinner and bedtime. 

As much as I really want to blame the store, because someone clearly didn’t properly label the sale items,  I should have double-checked the bar-code before putting the item in my cart. I really shouldn’t have gotten so upset over $1.25. I was about to let a fantastic day get ruined over something as trivial as 5 quarters.

So today, with just an ounce of bitterness,  I will sit and enjoy a box of my not on sale cereal at the crack of dawn, with my sweet 18 month who I love to pieces. I will be grateful that I have the money to put food on our table and in our children’s bellies, and I will never let $1.25 almost ruin my day again. 

I learned a valuable life lesson yesterday: don’t let savings, or a lack there of, decidedly ruin an otherwise great day. It’s just not worth it. I choose to be grateful and learn from my mistakes instead. 

Have you ever let something as trivial as $1.25 ruin your day? 

Blog and life updates, Family Finances

Frugal Florida Vacation

August 19, 2015
Castillo de San Marcos

Last week my family and I were able to spend the week vacationing in Florida to visit my husband’s parents. We don’t have a lot of excess cash flow, so our vacation needed to be pretty well planned out to include mostly free or cheap activities.

By going to historic sites, national parks, and doing free outdoor activities, we were able to have an amazing vacation without having to shell out a ton of money. We had a fantastic time, but the best part of our vacation was that we didn’t go over budget. It really helped that we were staying with family, and we were able to eat at home for about half of our meals.

North Florida tends to be overlooked by vacationers because of the big ticket attractions like Disney World, Universal Studios, and Downtown Disney etc. If you are willing to look beyond Orlando though, you can have an amazing, frugal Florida vacation.

Monday: Amelia Island, Fernandina, FL

Fort Clinch

Fort Clinch

View from the top of Fort Clinch

View from the top of Fort Clinch

 

We started our vacation with a trip to see Fort Clinch which is just a few miles down the road from where my husband’s family lives. It was $6.00 for our vehicle to enter the park and $2.00 per person to see the inside of the actual fort. After exploring the endless tunnels of the fort and walking along the top of the walls, we went wading in the water along the beach to look for shark teeth.

Fort Clinch State Park was a lot of fun. The tunnels and walls of the fort were really cool to explore, and the view was amazing. I would definitely recommend a trip to see it if you ever visit North Florida. If you add in the cost of 4 popsicles to cool down and a post card to send to friends, we spent a grand total of $22.00 for the day.

Tuesday: St. Augustine, Florida

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos

 

I have been wanting to visit St. Augustine for years, and I am so excited that I was finally able to make the trip. We started out at the Castillo de San Marcos. Since my husband is in the military, we had free admission for our family to go into the monument. The history was haunting, the architecture was amazing, and the view from the top wall was breathtaking.

From there we went for a walk down St. George Street, adjacent to the Colonial Quarter, which is across the street a ways from the Castillo de San Marcos. We stopped inside of the Spanish Bakery for an empanada for lunch. We also stopped in Whetstone Chocolates for gelato and smoothies.

On our walk back to the car, we found a great playground called Park Project Swing for the kids to get out some energy before traveling again. This park was hands down one of the most fantastic parks I have ever taken my kids to.

From there we headed over to the Alligator Farm Zoological Park to get up close and personal with the alligators. The Alligator Farm was expensive, but my father in law treated us to the experience. The kids had a great time seeing all of the animals and feeding the alligators.

Although the Alligator Farm cost about $75 for the five of us, we personally only spent about $30 for the entire day in St. Augustine.

gatorland

Alligator Farm Zoological Park

Wednesday: Fernandina Beach day and picnic lunch

We parked at Peter’s Point Park to have a day at the beach. Parking is free there, and you have access to bathrooms, showers, and picnic tables. You can even drive your vehicle down onto the beach if you want to. We brought a packed lunch and enjoyed a day playing in the sand and swimming in the ocean.

Total amount spent for the whole day was $8, because we stopped at a drive through to get drinks on the way home.

Thursday: Jacksonville, FL

Pretty fountains outside of M.O.S.H.

Pretty fountains outside of M.O.S.H.

Hands On Children’s Museum: Our kids seemed to have fun, but this was a waste of money. I wish we had read more reviews before going. It was in a not so nice part of town. We actually killed a cockroach while the kids were playing there, and the equipment felt run down and dirty. Some of the play equipment was actually falling apart. I would steer anyone away from visiting here.

Museum of Science and History (M.O.S.H.): This museum was fantastic. It had dinosaurs, science, natural history, the history of Florida, a native plants garden, and an indoor play area. Our kids loved it, and so did we.

Between the Hands on Children’s Museum which was $20 wasted, the M.O.S.H which was $24, and lunch while out, we spent about $60 for the whole day.

Friday: DeLeon Springs, Florida

Make your own pancakes at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Pancake House

Make your own pancakes at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant

Friday was one of my favorite days of our trip. We spent about half of the day at De Leon Springs State Park where we first ate breakfast at the converted Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant on site at the park. Each table has its own built-in griddle to cook your own pancakes made from stone-ground flours. After breakfast we went swimming in the natural spring on site. It was freezing but so much fun.

Our grand total for the outing was $6 for parking, and $5 per person for pancakes.

Saturday: St. Mary’s, GA and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

We started out our Saturday by going to the local farmer’s market in St. Mary’s, where we spent about $20 on local honey, fresh peaches, and a hand-made ninja turtle hat for our daughter.

Okefenokee

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

From there we went to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge to go on a boat tour of the swamp. It was terrifying to be literally feet away from alligators in the wild. You don’t typically imagine swamps as being a beautiful place, but It was surprisingly breathtaking. There were endless “water prairies” covered in lily-pads and water lilies. The Spanish moss draped down over all of the trees, and big graceful water birds took flight over the water. It was quiet, serene, and beautiful. If you ever get a chance to visit, ask for Steve as your tour guide. He did a fantastic job of giving us an entertaining and informative tour.

The boat tour costs $19.95 per adult, but children 5 and under are free. This was another excursion that my in-laws wanted to foot the bill for. I am so grateful that they took us out to see the park, because we all had a lot of fun.

Our frugal Florida vacation grand total: $450

Our frugal Florida vacation grand total includes the cost of driving and all activities. $450 isn’t too bad for a week long vacation for a family of four. We had such a great time visiting all of the parks and seeing the sites. It goes to show that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a great time on vacation. The less hectic and more scenic options can be just as much fun as the big tourist sites.

Have you ever been to North Florida? What are your favorite inexpensive things to do while on vacation?

DIY, Family Finances, Self Suffiency

Basic Vehicle Maintenance Will Save You Money

July 24, 2015
Basic vehicle maintenance

This is dedicated to my amazing husband who I consulted to write this post and who has taught me more than I ever thought that I wanted to know about basic vehicle maintenance.

Summer time typically means road trips to visit family or driving longer distances to vacation destinations. In the next four months, my family will be making two 13 hour trips each way to visit family. All of that travel means that we will be doing some basic vehicle maintenance before we head out on the road. We hope to save ourselves the headaches and stresses which could result from not properly taking care of the engine or tires.

When planning ahead for travel, it’s easy to overlook the importance of making sure your vehicle is up for the drive. I can’t stress enough the importance of doing a quick run-through of basic vehicle maintenance before heading out on the road. You don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road in an unfamiliar area, when you could be enjoying those precious vacation hours instead.

Here are 7 basic items of preventative vehicle maintenance to save you money. Continue Reading…

Budget, Family Finances

Can You Be Both Spontaneous and Frugal?

July 20, 2015
Can you be both spontaneous and frugal?

I rarely spend money without first planning for it. Having been on such a tight budget for so long means that I usually have to pry my wallet open. I don’t go shopping unless I need something in particular, and I hate when unexpected expenses pop up.

Even grocery shopping entails about 30 minutes of clipping coupons and writing a list of items by department. Saving $20 at the grocery store could be the difference between being able to pay the utility bill on time or facing over-draft charges. Every purchase for our home is usually calculated, literally and figuratively, into our finances, because we don’t have much wiggle room in our budget for error.

A bunch of home-bodies

What this boils down to is that, as a family, we aren’t very spontaneous. Both because of our tight budget and my husband’s erratic work schedule, we don’t just pick up and travel on a whim. We’re very much home-bodies who would rather rent a red-box movie than go to the theater. Most of our day off activities are free or really inexpensive and planned in advance. Now that I have kids, I have a tendency to equate spontaneity with wasted money and poor financial choices.

Ditching the deliberate and dull 

As newlyweds we did a fair bit of spontaneous travel and made impulsive purchases. While not always the most responsible, spontaneous use of our money was fun. Spontaneity keeps life interesting and fresh. Being willing to jump up at a moment’s notice and take off helps rub the sheen back into a dull life. Until last night, we hadn’t done anything spontaneous in a painfully long time.

Last night we had finished the post-dinner routine, and the kids were watching a cartoon. Since I had a free minute, and inspired by an article by Carrie of Careful Cents to create a productive work space, I got on Craigslist to see if I could find an inexpensive desk or entry table that I could buy to use as my own work space. We have a desk in our office, but my husband’s desktop computer takes up the whole surface, and it’s in the den where the kids tend to spend quite a bit of their time. I have a hard time getting work done in that room while the kids are awake.

After only about 10 minutes of different search terms, I found a beautiful, solid wood desk, with the exact dimensions I needed, listed for only $25. At 7:30 last night I called the sellers to see if the desk was still available. It was, but they were selling it out of Richmond, and they were moving so they needed it gone immediately. She sent me the address, and I told her that we would be there by 9:30.

Spontaneous frugality

So, instead of quiet, lazy bedtime routine, we quickly got our kids in their jammies, brushed their teeth, and piled everyone in the van for a three hour round trip to Richmond and back. Since it was his bedtime anyway, our son fell asleep before we even reached the highway. Our daughter chatted our ears off from the back seat the whole way to Richmond. Getting in the car that late, with no prior notice, was like a shot of adrenaline for her. She was so excited to watch the sunset come down over the trees and watch the deer grazing the edge of the tree line. We danced to music, talked, and enjoyed this spontaneous adventure as a family.

Our daughter fell asleep after we had gotten the desk, so my husband and I had a solid hour and a half ride home uninterrupted by kids, phones, computers, or the television. For $25 for the desk and $20 in gas, round-trip, I have a beautiful, solid wood desk and a fun memory of that time we allowed ourselves to be spontaneous again.

My new  work space

My new work space

Being spontaneous can save you money 

Sometimes you can still be frugal while also being a bit spontaneous. Not only did life unexpectedly give me the opportunity to save some money, but going for a late night trip to pick up a desk off of Craigslist was like a breath of fresh air for the whole family. The experience put a pep in my step, I don’t have quite as bad of a case of the “Mondays” today, and I have a beautiful desk to organize as my own work space.

Do you ever allow yourself to break away from routine? Do you think that you can be both frugal and spontaneous?

Budget, Family Finances, My journey to moderate minimalism

Not Primed for Prime Day Deals

July 15, 2015
Not primed for prime day deals

Any other year, I would have been enthusiastically clicking the refresh button to get in on the new deals offered every ten minutes by Amazon Prime Day. I have always loved Black Friday shopping, and I can’t resist a good deal on quality items. We are on such a tight budget right now, I really can’t justify the expense of any “deals” no matter how much money I would be saving.

Especially since we pledged as a family to get rid of half of our stuff by the end of the year, it would be a bit ridiculous to spend money on items just because they’re on sale. I might consider looking at the deals if there was something that we actually needed right now.  As it is, I would just be tempted to spend money we don’t really have on items we don’t really need. 

When preparing for big deal days, I ask three questions before participating Continue Reading…

Blog and life updates, Budget, Family Finances, Motherhood, Self Suffiency

Learn How to Get Paid to Write for Blogs

July 7, 2015
How to Get Paid to Write for Blogs

This post is a part of the Get Paid to Write for Blogs Course Launch! Get Paid to Write for Blogs is a brand new course created by Cat Alford of Budget Blonde. Cat makes a full time income from writing for blogs and her course will teach you how to do the same.

Six months ago I saw an advertisement on my Facebook news feed for a course on how to get paid to write for blogs. After discussing the cost, both my husband and I knew that it was something that I needed to do. I had been feeling stagnant at home without professional aspirations and without any sort of creative outlet. Knowing that taking the course would be an investment in my future, I took the plunge and paid for the first month of the course.

Taking that first step was exactly what I needed to feel like I was grabbing life by the horns again. Creating a website from scratch, deciding on content, and putting myself out there has helped me to grow in unimaginable ways. I have a platform for telling my stories, sharing my knowledge, and inspiring others.

Six months ago I was a mom and a wife. Today, I am a mom, a wife, a blogger, a freelance writer, and a woman who has professional aspirations again. I am making money while getting to stay home with my kids! It’s a win-win scenario. Learning from Cat how to get paid to write for blogs was the greatest investment I could have made for my future.

Here are 12 reasons you should learn how to get paid to write for blogs:

1. No previous experience necessary

People of all backgrounds can learn what it takes to become a paid blogger. Taking a course on freelance writing will teach you everything you need to know to get started and to become a successful paid blogger.

2. Work in your pajamas

Who doesn’t love earning money while wearing yoga pants? Some of my best writing is done late at night, in the comfort of my jammies.

3. Blogging is a creative outlet

As a mom especially, I tend to put my needs on the backburner while I take care of my family. Committing to becoming a paid writer has forced me to set aside time for myself and my career. As if that wasn’t enough, blogging serves as an outlet for all of my unused creative energy, because I’m able to pursue my interests and passions through writing.

4. Location flexibility

Anywhere that you have access to Wi-Fi, you can get paid to write for blogs. You can work at the local library, the coffee shop, sitting in airports, or even on the beach. You can side hustle as a paid blogger from anywhere in the world.

5. Extra Income

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little bit of extra money to save for vacations, pay down debts, put aside money for your kids’ college funds, and to build a nest egg for retirement? Extra income earned from being a paid blogger will help you achieve whatever financial goals you set for yourself and your family.

6. Create Your Own Workload

Paid bloggers set their own writing hours, so you can work as often or as little as you choose. Depending on what your writing and financial goals are, you could write just two articles per month, or you could continue taking on clients and writing jobs until your schedule is full.

7. Schedule Flexibility

Researching for and writing articles does not have to happen on a typical 9-5 business hours schedule. You can work whenever you want to or have the time. Some people make blogging their full-time job and others just write at nights and on the weekends.

8. Learn new skills

Six months ago I knew nothing about website management, SEO, pitching to clients, or affiliate marketing. An entire world of knowledge opened up to me through learning what it takes to become a paid blogger.

9. It will help provide new opportunities

Sometimes a bad credit score is the only thing holding you back from applying for the job of your dreams, getting approved on a loan for a home, or getting the bank assistance you need to start a business. Extra income from your writing for blogs will help you pay down debts and improve your credit score, giving you a second chance to fulfill your dreams.

10. Make new friends

Bloggers form a very close-knit community. By joining in as a fellow side hustling blogger, you will make great and lasting friendships with like-minded people.

11. Have a backup plan

Extra income from becoming a paid blogger can help you build up an emergency savings fund. You could also utilize blogging as a safety net career to fall back on if you were to lose your regular full-time job.

12. You’ll Have a Support Network

Life is unpredictable at the best of times. It’s even more so when you have kids. Fortunately, the freelance blogging community is filled with parents who understand that sickness, ER visits, and broken bones are par for the course. Your online community will be there to get you through family emergencies by covering your deadlines. Then, when you’re able, you’ll be there to help someone else out as well.

Why wait to get started? Get hustling!

Taking a course to learn how to become a paid blogger could be the decision that changes your life. Don’t feel stuck in a job you hate, stagnant without a creative outlet, or struggling to live paycheck to paycheck. Side hustling as a paid blogger can help you achieve both your family and your financial goals.

Are you ready to invest in your future? Learn how to become a paid blogger so that you can pay down debt, build up an emergency fund, and start truly enjoying your life again.

Get Paid to Write For Blogs is a comprehensive online course that teaches you everything you need to know about getting hired to write for blogs. With 29 videos within 8 modules, this course covers every single step to start a successful and lucrative writing career online. Click here to get 15% off your course!

Budget, Family Finances, Self Suffiency

Personal Finance Goals for the Future

July 3, 2015
personal finance goals for the future

The past week has not been great for the Muse house. My grandfather passed away last week, which is still really affecting me. Also, our fridge broke down, and we have been fighting with the warranty company to fix it for almost a month now. Now, both of my kids are sick with fevers, congestion, and nasty sounding coughs. Bad things come in threes right? Wrong. Whoever came up with that adage is a schmuck. The sump pump in our basement quit working and excessive water from some bad summer storms flooded everywhere.

With one stressful situation after another, I have been neglecting both this blog and other things that are most important to me…like exercise. I haven’t gone for a run in over a week now. I guess that is a natural side effect of when things go awry, but I am trying to refocus on my goals and become more organized. I have been meaning to write a financial goals post for a few weeks now, but I have been lacking the motivation/energy necessary to get it done. I really felt the need for a pick me up, so I started hashing out ideas to motivate me for the future. The following list represents my biggest personal finance goals for the future.

10 Personal Finance Goals for the Future

  1. Immediately reduce household expenses by $200 a month
  2. Start Roth IRA and 529 accounts for both kids
  3. Earn a steady $500 a month through online writing by December 2015.
  4. Put 10% of all income towards retirement savings
  5. Start saving 10% of all income for a down payment on property
  6. Pay off personal loan debt by April 2016
  7. Eliminate all credit card debt by December 2016
  8. Purchase a property and build a berm home by August 2017
  9. Save $5000 to take a 10 year wedding anniversary vacation to Scotland with my husband (2019)
  10. Have enough money invested to retire by 2027

Looking toward the future

Some of these goals are easier to accomplish than others, but what fun is life without a little bit of a challenge? My biggest dreams for the future involve travel and living in a self-sustaining home. I want to be free of consumer debt, and I want to be able to pursue whatever it is that brings my family joy. My goals will most likely change a bit over time, but this is my motivating list for now. Creating this list of personal finance goals for the future has given me renewed direction, purpose, and focus. Life is too short to dwell on the negatives. You need to just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and look towards the future with hope and a plan.

What are your personal finance goals for the future? Do you have specific dates planned for your goals?