Creative Ways to Earn Extra Money

table with computer and ways to earn extra money

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When finances are extra tight and a Total Money Makeover seems impossible, sometimes we need to look at ways to earn extra money! It very well could be we have an income problem, not a budgeting or spending problem.

Discouraging, I know! Especially as busy moms, with a lot on our plates, finding ways to earn extra money can seem pretty daunting.

Little bits of extra money you earn here and there add up over the months and years! It really can make a difference in your finances. I know it has in mine. It’s how we paid off our house early, saved up for house projects, and, just this last year, took a trip to Disney World. Has it always been easy? Nope. But all the work really has been worth it. Promise.

Here is a list of ways to earn extra money that will hopefully help get your brain going so you can find something that works for you and your family! Don’t give up – it might take some experimenting!

Another resource to check out is Crystal Paine’s book Money Making Mom!

Ways to Earn Extra Money

Swagbucks

There are several ways to earn with Swagbucks – everything from surveys, games, watching videos, and searching on the internet. You can see some of the details on earning Swagbucks here and here. Sign up using my link and you can get 300 Swagbucks!

When you earn Swagbucks you can purchase gift cards from many retailers. Amazon is one of my favorite ones to buy. I love that you can start buying gift cards with 300 Swagbucks so no waiting for an exorbitant amount of time. Use them for gifts or even supplement or food items!

Part Time Job

I know this one is hard, especially for us moms with little kids. But it is worth looking for a part time job you can work around your husband’s hours. Maybe something as simple as delivering pizza one or two nights a week or finding a seasonal weekend job at a retailer.

Watch the classifieds, ask around, and also pay attention in Facebook groups. You might be surprised with what you find.

Fiverr

Can you write, edit audio or video, record voice work, do graphic design, or any of numerous other things? Check out Fiverr! No start up cost and low time commitment to start up, so it will be easy to experiment with and see what you can offer. My husband does voice on Fiverr periodically.

Virtual Assistant

Skilled at organization, writing sales copy, running social media, editing? There is probably someone out there that can use your help! Check out Moms Work Hard for information.

Babysit

Watch your friend’s kids a couple hours after school until she is off of work. Have date night babysitting you offer monthly.

pile of $1 bills and ways to earn extra money

Present Wrapping Service

I can’t be the only one that is horrible at wrapping presents and gets absolutely no enjoyment out of it. But I know that some of you love it. Sell your gift wrapping skills! Christmas time you could pick up a lot of business and during the year advertise your services for birthdays.

Sell Baked Goods

I enjoy baking and cooking. Some people don’t. If you are skilled at baking bread, Christmas cookies, dinner rolls, fudge and so forth considering selling your goodies. Please research Cottage Food Laws for your state before you get started. Rules and regulations greatly vary. You will also need to register with your state to file sales tax.

Rake Leaves/Shovel Snow

Get your kids involved and depending on the season rake leaves or shovel snow. Weeding would be another option. Print up flyers and hand them out around your neighborhood.

Clean Homes

Do you have cleaning down to an art form? Clean a few houses (or businesses) on the side each week. Businesses you could likely do during the evening hours.

Help with Parties and Events

Especially during the holiday season, but also through the rest of the year, Individuals and business are both hosting parties. If you are a skilled organizer and hard worker, market your services as either an event planner, event host, or an event assistant. Christmas or New Year’s parties, baby showers, birthday parties, work events and retreat and more could use your services.

Photography

Are you skilled behind a camera? Look into doing photo shoots! I know the market can be hard to get into in some areas, but start with your friends and family and give them a discount as you build your portfolio. Even if you just do this once or twice a month, it will add up.

Teach Music Lessons

Can you sing or play an instrument well? Considering giving weekly lessons! Set aside one afternoon each week to teaching. My sister gives lessons each Tuesday afternoon and evening. If you are just getting started make sure your prices are competitive.

Graphic Design

If this is your talent, there are so many people that need you! Whether an individual designing an invitation or large or small businesses. Businesses needs logos, graphics for social media, business cards, presentation and so forth done with a professional look all the time! You can save them time and give them a better result with your services.

Sell Another Skill

Think about what other skills you have. Are there ways you can market your skill and sell it to others? We’ve already talked about babysitting, baking, photography, graphic design and cleaning. That is just the beginning. I know people that are talented artists and get hired to paint murals on bedroom walls. Think about what excel at doing and how you can market that talent.

Sell Stuff

I dare say the majority of us have too many things. What do you have that is quality and something that others will want? Places to possibly  sell are Ebay, Facebook groups, declutter.com, or even a garage sale. This is an immediate way to earn money and you will also be organizing and decluttering items you don’t use – win win! Some people take this a step further and find things on clearance or at thrift stores or garage sales that they know they can resell on Ebay for a decent profit.

Donate Plasma

I’ve never done this but I have a sister that has sold plasma to save money for gifts and other fun items she wanted.

Surveys

This won’t make you rich but would allow you to save up a dollar here and there as you take surveys. Swagbucks, as I mentioned above, has surveys but also check out places like Pinecone Research.

Grocery Apps

Here comes some bonus tips that save/earn you money. Try using Fetch Rewards (use referral code: XF5MX to get 2,000 points for signing up) to scan your grocery receipts and earn a few extra pennies each time to head to the store. Check out Ibotta (receive a welcome bonus for using my link) and Checkout 51 for coupons on items you are already purchasing.

Ebates

We love Ebates. Don’t go and buy something you weren’t already planning on but anything you are buying online, check and see if you can go through Ebates. We use it when booking hotels through Hotwire, when we need to make purchases from Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, Vitacost etc! It’s nice to get even the small percentage back.

Join Ebates through my link and spend at least $25 and you’ll get $10!

Remember to check every time you are going to order something online! (Or see if you can order online and do in store pick up.)

Find Ways to Save Money

One of the best ways to “earn” money it to find ways to spend less and rework your budget! I’d say it’s one of the easiest ways as well – because it doesn’t involve finding extra hours each week to work. But it does take discipline to say no to those little splurges. Make a menu plan and spend less on groceries, say no to coffee, drink water, have a no spend challenge. Here are some ideas on ways to save even on a tight budget!

What ways to earn extra money are your favorites? Anything else to add to this list? Pick a few of these small ideas and one of the bigger ones and give them a try! See how much money you can earn in the next 6 months.

desk with computer and magazines. Ways to earn extra money

Healthy Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry

plate with broccoli chicken stir fry

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During our recent Whole30 we made this recipe three times. We also served it with brown rice for the reintroduction phase. All that to say, we are fans of this easy, healthy broccoli chicken stir fry! My husband proclaimed it his favorite way to eat broccoli.

Most days I don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen so fast recipes are my favorites. This one is really so simple!

If you are gluten free or on Whole30 soy sauce is a no no, however coconut aminos is an option, but I couldn’t find it in our Wal-Mart and didn’t want to spend a fortune on a small bottle so we did without. Even without soy sauce or coconut aminos this recipe had great flavor.

I recommend that you make this broccoli chicken stir fry without the soy or aminos and instead have the bottle of coconut aminos or soy sauce at the table to use to taste.

If you like an extra kick, I highly recommend serving this with Sambal Oelek chili paste! It’s how I had mine and it was so good. I love the spice and depth of flavor the paste adds. (I also always add it to my serving of fried rice.)

We loved this served with either cauliflower rice or brown rice! Both ways made a delicious meal.

Ingredients:

Chicken. I used boneless chicken breasts each time, but boneless thighs would work as well.
Broccoli. Fresh broccoli is the best for this recipe! I buy a head and wash and cut it myself.
Onion. Half of a fresh onion, diced!
Garlic. Don’t skimp! Get two large cloves of fresh garlic. I love to use a microplane to grate it.
Ginger. Buy a knob of fresh ginger. Keep what you don’t use in the freezer for later. Again, the microplane is perfect for grating the ginger.
Chicken broth. Because this recipe doesn’t use soy sauce, you need broth instead of water to get a good depth of flavor.
Arrowroot PowderYou could also use cornstarch. You just need a little to thicken the liquid slightly.
Rice Vinegar. Rice vinegar is so good! I love using it in pretty much all stir fry type dishes.
Sesame Oil. Another of my favorite ingredients for this type of food (and for Asian style salad dressings)
Coconut Aminos or Soy Sauce. Totally optional. We did without during Whole30.
Sambal Oelek. I love adding this chili paste for an extra kick!
Cooked Rice or Cauliflower Rice. Choice one to serve the broccoli chicken stir fry on. Both are amazing!

plate with broccoli chicken stir fry

How many does this serve? My family of 2 adults and 3 kids got one meal out of this recipe. It would depend, also, on how much caulirice or brown rice you served it on and if you had any sides.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

P.S. The other recipe we ate weekly on our Whole30 were these amazing baked crispy chicken thighs!

Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry

Healthy Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • oil for sauteing
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked brown rice or cauliflower rice
  • soy sauce or coconut aminos, optional, for serving
  • sambal oelek, optional, for serving
Instructions
  1. Cut and wash the broccoli.
  2. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the chicken and diced onion in the hot pan. Cook a few minutes and then add the garlic and ginger. Continue cooking until the onion is tender and chicken almost cooked through.
  3. Add the broccoli and continue to cook.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the chicken broth, arrowroot power, and rice vinegar. Pour over the broccoli chicken mixture. Cover the pan and cook until broccoli reaches desired tenderness.
  5. Remove from the heat and add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve over prepared brown rice or cauliflower rice with soy sauce, coconut aminos, or sambal oelek if desired!

plate with broccoli chicken stir fry

 

Easy Valentine’s Day Party Ideas for Your Kids

It’s February. In our house that means birthday season begins and Valentine’s Day! Let’s chat easy Valentine’s Day party ideas today!

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I’m not big on Hallmark holidays or gimmicky events, but I have kids and they like to enjoy life. If your kids are in school, I’m sure they have a Valentine’s party or two. We homeschool so our Valentine’s celebrations, beyond what we do as a family, consist of handing out cards in Sunday School and giving treats to some of the elderly members.

After years of talking about it, this year my daughter is going to have a simple Valentine’s party with a few of her friends!

Two things have to happen for this to come together. First, simplicity is a must. I can’t do over the top, time intensive events. It’s not my personality and I don’t have the time to pull it off. Second, an event has to be budget friendly! I’m all about living within your means and finding ways to stick with a budget – even for a party. 😉

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get into these Valentine’s Day party ideas that are both easy and budget friendly! Double win. If I can do it, you can do it – trust me!

Easy Valentine’s Day Party Ideas for Your Kids

Guests

Let’s start with the guests! Coming up with a reasonable number of kids to invite is a great way to keep things simple and frugal. If you have a lot of kids, maybe let them each invite a certain amount of people. If you have one child that’s “hosting” the party, you could just have 3 or 4 other kids over.

Decorations

Keep it simple. The kids don’t need it to be elaborate. Just decorate the table and area where they will be eating and call it good! We picked up some window clings and a banner on clearance a few years ago and the kids love putting them up each February. Pick up a white, red, or pink tablecloth and some candy hearts or confetti to sprinkle on the table and you are good to go! You could set the table with glass dishes for a “fancier” look or pick up themed plates from the dollar store.

Food

If you ask my kids, they would say this is the most important part! They get so excited thinking about what they want to eat it’s comical.

I have two simple food ideas for your Valentine’s party. Let your kids choose between them each year. Remember that less fancy appeals to more palates – especially when your kids are young. So don’t go crazy!

Option 1: Breakfast Theme

Almost every child loves pancakes. Make up a big batch of pancake batter and cook them fresh for the party. You could even get fancy and make them in heart shapes. I know my 8 and 5 year old are obsessed with shaped pancakes.

Of course have syrup set out. If you wanted to get extra fancy, put out a dish of whipped cream and some sliced strawberries.

You really don’t have to even do anything else. Sure, you could add some fruit or bacon or sausage but honestly, it’s a party for kids – so you don’t have too! You can serve juice or water for drinks.

Option 2: Make Your Own Pizza

This will be a huge success! Make pizza dough (my recipe is here) and pizza sauce and prepare all of the toppings ahead of time.  Have a pizza station set up on your table or kitchen counter and give each child a lump of dough and have them roll it out. Put it on a baking sheet and let them add toppings.  Then it’s time to bake and eat!

They will think this is so much fun. Again, this is a party for kids. Don’t worry about the sides. If you really want something, put out some carrots sticks but I think they’ll be thrilled with just the pizza.

We’ll talk about dessert coming up! It gets to play dual purpose!

Activities

Have one or two simple activities.  Maybe an easy craft and then dessert.

Painting

Pick up a pack of small canvases (5×7 or 4×6 is fine) at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon and a bottle of red or pink paint (or even blue)! Raid your craft supplies for some heart stickers and have the kids make a canvas like this to take home.

Decorate Cookies

Combine dessert and an activity into one. Have heart shaped sugar cookies already cut out, baked, and cooled. Prepare little bowls of frosting (and sprinkles if you’d like) and let the kids all decorate cookies! They can have a few to eat and then also bring a small plate home.

That’s it! With these easy Valentine’s Day party ideas you will be mom of the year!

Simple decorations, some kid friendly food, a few friends and an activity or two and your kids will have a blast!

If your kids are a lot older or younger than mine, adapt the ideas to work! Older kids will know what they do and don’t want to do. A movie night might be more their style or simply hanging out with friends. Kids a lot younger, keep it even simpler!

I hope your party is a success and stress free! Do you have any favorite Valentine’s Day party ideas to share? Leave them in a comment!

My Favorite Books I Read in 2018

I am a huge fan of reading! It keeps your mind thinking and learning and allows you to see things from other’s perspectives.

I set a reading goal for myself last year and didn’t  come close to making it.

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But that’s okay . Because after several off years, reading again became a habit and I made it through many good books. So that is a success.

This next year I hope to read at least double and am currently making good progress.

As you are choosing books to read, I suggest selecting a variety of genres. I’m reintroducing children’s literature into my rotation and so enjoying it. It’s been so great to re-read some of my childhood favorites.

This list  does include a lot of non-fiction but I’m hoping that this year I can increase the number of biographies I read.

I’ve divided my reads in these categories:

Children’s Literature (GREAT read aloud options for your kids)
Marriage
Biographies
Diversity
Other (Primarily: spiritual, self help, and parenting )

After the list, I’ll share a few of my favorites from the the past year. Most all of these books are worth reading, but I have a few that come to mind I enjoy talking about.

Children’s Literature

Sarah Plain and Tall
Skylark
Caleb’s Story
More Perfect Than the Moon
The Hundred Dresses
All of a Kind Family
Understood Betsy
The War That Saved My Life
Bud, Not Buddy
Shiloh

Marriage

What Did you Expect Paul David Tripp
The Meaning of Marriage Timothy Keller
When Sinners Say “I Do” Dave Harvey

Diversity

Under Our Skin
Just Mercy
I’m Still Here
Foreign to Familiar

Biography

The Lady of Arlington

Other (Spiritual, Self Help, Parenting)

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus
Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes
Different
Your Best Year Ever
Book Girl
Hands Free Life
In Bloom
Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes
Life Together
Nothing to Prove
Own Your Life
Raising World Changers in a Changing World
Just Open the Door
You Can Stay Home With Your Kids
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World
Sun Stand Still
Made to Crave

Let’s get to a few favorites. I loved, loved, loved Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus and Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes. My eyes were completely opened to how I have been reading the Bible with my own limited Western view. There is so much there that we miss out on when doing that! I learned so many things and I want to learn more. I highly recommend every believer read these books.

I also very much enjoyed Lady of ArlingtonYes, it was the only biography I read, but it was so interesting. I knew nothing about Mary Lee and basically nothing about Robert E Lee so it was like meeting and getting to know someone for the first time. Mary was a pretty amazing woman.

Paul David Tripp’s What Did You Expect was excellent! So convicting. I have his book Parenting on my list for 2019.

Different was an encouraging read as you parent kids who have their differences.  It’s an especially important read for parents with kids who have a lot of different diagnoses – OCD, ADD, ADHD, etc. It’s written by Sally Clarkson and her son Nathan who grew up struggling with being different.

I also discovered that I have a soft spot for children’s novels and rereading them and adult classics I read as a child. They are such a good comfort read. They made me feel at home and happy. Most of my childhood/teen rereads were better than I remembered!

Just Mercy was a hard, good read about inequality and  unfairness in our justice system. It is one of those reads that makes you sad and angry.

If hospitality is something that you are wanting to pursue this year, Just Open the Door is a great book! Hospitality doesn’t have to be flashy and impressive, just open your door where you are at.

What were your favorite reads of 2018? For some other great books, check out this list of my favorite reads from a few years ago!

Affordable Birthday Traditions Your Kids Will Love

Here is a great list of birthday traditions that your kids will love! Fun ideas that are also cheap and easy and don’t involve a party.

Birthday cake with colorful candles as part of birthday traditions your kids will love.

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Whether you do a big birthday party with friends or not, these suggestions will help make your child’s birthday special.

I love finding simple ways to celebrate and make memories. The easier and more affordable a  birthday celebration is, the more doable they are to keep up with year after year (and kid after kid).

Being on a tight budget and not having money to spend doesn’t mean a birthday can’t be special. You can still find ways to make your kids feel important. I think your kids (and you) will love these new birthday traditions so much they will want to continue them even year after year (if you are throwing a huge party).

We have one birthday a month for 4 months in my house and I know that’s really nothing. Growing up 3 of my sisters all had birthdays within 28 days of each other! We loved February because it meant lots of ice cream and good food. 🙂

Easy Birthday Traditions

Breakfast in Bed

This is so much fun when you are a kid! Selecting a birthday breakfast and then getting it served to you in your bed makes you feel like royalty. My mom did this for every birthday all of our growing up years. Even more fun when parents and siblings sit in the room and chat while the birthday child eats. Of course, as they get older they might enjoy eating breakfast alone better. 😉

Bedroom Door

Have streamers either hanging down from their bedroom door frame or taped across it (and they can break through) to greet them when they wake up.

Balloons

Again, while they are asleep, blow up dozens of balloons and scatter them around their bedroom floor.

Birthday Dinner

Let your birthday boy or girl pick what they want you to make for supper – main dish, sides, and dessert!

Side note, it’s perfectly fine if your child doesn’t want a traditional birthday cake. There’s a lot of kids that don’t love cake. Let them choose what they want. Growing up we had a lot of crazy chocolate cake, angel food cake, Mississippi mud pie along with other assorted desserts. Both of my older kids’ current favorite birthday dessert is a cookie cake.

Birthday Plate

Have a special “fancy” plate that you only use for a birthday child or other special occasions and let them use a fancy cup.  It’s all about making the child feel special.

For a “birthday” plate, here is one option. (Not super cheap.)

For a “special” plate, it can really be anything. Growing up we had a big blue pottery plate. What we use now is a Pioneer Woman dinner plate  (without any flower print) that we bought at Wal-Mart.

Hiding Presents

I loved this as a kid and now all three of my children have to do it this way too. Instead of simply putting the presents in a pile for the child to open, hide the presents (in age appropriate locations) and let the child go and hunt them down and open them after all the presents are found.

The nice thing about this is that it extends the present opening time that otherwise goes way too quickly.

Birthday Date

Have dad (or mom) take the birthday child out on a date around their birthday. Dress up fancy, go to the restaurant of their choosing, and again make them feel special. Keep the phone put away and really focus on them.

Birthday Banner

Have a birthday banner that you put up in the dining room for every birthday! It’s not a decoration that will be destroyed so you should be able to use it birthday after birthday.

Check out these cute ideas:

Write a Letter

Each year, on their birthday, write a letter to your child from ages 1-18. Keep the letters together and gift them to your child when they turn 18, or move out, or have their first child.

Kind Words

At the birthday dinner table have everyone take turns sharing their favorite things about the birthday child. You could also share favorite memories from the past year.

Do Their Favorite Activity

Do something that child loves. Whether it’s finishing the day with a game or movie night, going to the park, taking a walk, or heading to the tennis court do what that child enjoys!

Birthday Hat

Have a silly birthday hat that the child (or adult) has to wear at the dinner table! A goofy tradition is always a fun idea. Amazon has several options like these.

Look at Pictures

Take some time each year to pull out the photo albums (or open up Google Photos) and look back at their pictures from over the years and reminisce and laugh and share stories.

Tell Their Birth Story

You can tell the child part of the story surrounding when they were born.  Kids love re-hearing these stories over and over again.

As you make plans for the next birthday that comes along try incorporating a few of these ideas.  Your child will feel like a million bucks and will probably request you to do them every year. I know that’s how it works in my house, anyway. We do something once and the kids see to it that it becomes a tradition. 🙂

What are your favorite birthday traditions?

A fun birthday hat as part of easy and affordable birthday traditions your kids will love!

Important Tips For Teaching Kids About Money

Dare I say, you’ve been teaching kids about money since they were born.

Let that sink in.

piggy bank and teaching kids about money

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When you think about it, what we actually do has much more influence than what we teach, lecture, or discuss.

Money lessons we teach our kids are no different.

The most important way to teach your children about money is to lead by example. Everything else will fall into place.

Let your child see you budget, discuss finances, save up for a goal, work hard to pay off debt. Let them see you say no to buying something because it’s not in the budget or is not what you are choosing to spend your money on.

If you are trying to teach your child to save but they see you buying everything that you want, they will see the hypocrisy. If you buy more than you can afford and take out loans or make payments, they will grow up thinking that’s the answer.

Getting your own finances in order is the first step! Total Money MakeoverIf you don’t know where to start, is a great book to read.

As they see your healthy relationship with money, there are other things you can do to teach your children financial responsibility.

child putting money in a piggy bank and teaching kids about money

Teaching Kids About Money

It Belongs to God

If you are a believer, this step is a foundation to teaching kids about money. Everything we have comes from and belongs to God! Isn’t that a scary thought? The Bible says “the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains”. When we use our money wisely, we are using God’s money wisely. As you talk to your children, make sure they know that everything is the Lord’s.

Take them Shopping with You

Even as a preschooler, your child will start picking up on things like price comparisons, saying no to purchasing a food item because there’s not enough money in the grocery budget, and that wanting an item doesn’t mean we need to purchase it.

These little weekly, if not daily, occurrences are being observed and taken in by your children with no extra work by you. Talk to your children as you are shopping so they know what you are doing – turn it into a money lesson and interactive experience.

Giving

My parents taught us how to tithe before we could work! Growing up, when we received birthday or Christmas money we got to tithe on it. My kids now get to tithe on their money and will even give beyond the 10%.

Again, lead by example. Let your children see you tithe off of your income. Let them see you give to charities and individuals. You can even get them involved in projects beyond tithing to church. (Like we did with the Operation Christmas Child Shoe boxes.)

Saving

Saving money is a part of life. Always will be. This is a skill even a born spender needs to learn.

Teach your kids to set aside a portion of all the money they receive. Just because you received money doesn’t mean you need to spend it all! It’s good to learn patience and self-discipline even if it can be hard – especially when the cash is burning a hole in their pocket. 

For young children, consider getting a save, spend, give bank. You can simply label three clean jars (or plastic containers) or you can purchase a bank like this. There are also these cash envelope zippered pouches you could use.

Setting Goals

This is a part of saving. Teach your kids to set financial goals. Whether it’s saving money to buy that expensive toy, a laptop, camera, or even to purchase a car or go to college it’s good to set age appropriate goals. Especially for your kids that are “spenders” because having a goal and tracking their progress can help their motivation and willpower stay strong when temptations come up.

For older teens, check out this list of financial goals they can consider as they move toward adulthood.

Teach Them To Work

Money doesn’t grow on trees. Sometimes our kids think it does. Learning to work for money helps teach them the value of money and of hard work. We didn’t get an allowance growing up instead we pitched in and helped around the house (sometimes quite begrudgingly) because we were a part of the family.

We earned money doing extra jobs that weren’t a part of regular chores. Even for young kids you can come up with little tasks (that you know won’t be done perfectly) and pay for their help. This is how it works in our house now.

As your children get older, getting an outside the house job is a great way to earn extra money. Teaching them to work hard as kids and do an excellent job will be appreciated by future employers and will most likely set your kids apart from most of the other employees.

Raising them with that work ethic starts now. (Yep, I know it can be hard. My 5 1/2 year old still thinks any sort of cleaning or picking up is torture.)

Teach them the Dangers of Debt

If you are debt free, you can still talk to your kids about what debt is and why you don’t do it. Tell them how much you would have spent on interest.

If you are in debt, let your children see you working hard to pay it off.

Teach them how to avoid debt and make sure that they know it isn’t required! Culture all around them is telling them that debt is an everyday part of life.

Say No

Please, please don’t always tell your children yes. Your kids need to learn that they don’t need to have it all. It’s okay for them to walk away from something they think they want.

They need to see you sticking to your budget even when they are begging for something.

Learning to be content and to appreciate what you already have is so important. Stuff will never satisfy a person – there will always be something else. As a toddler the next flashy toy will grab their attention, Shopkins will be enough until the next fad comes out. Even as adults we are like this. Our phone is great until the newest one comes out. The same thing with cars and houses.

This is something so much easier to learn while you are young, so help your children out.

You might tell them a straight up “no, we aren’t having this in our home” or it might be a “no, we aren’t not buying this for you. If you want it, you’ll have to buy it yourself.”

Teach them to Set a Budget

Once your children are living on their own, they will have no choice but to budget (or else, most likely, get themselves into a financial mess). So do them a favor, and teach them how to budget their money now. It’s a great money lesson and life lesson.

As young kids it might be something as simple as: tithe 10%, spend 40%, save 50%.

When they get older they may want to break down their spending and saving categories further.

Once they are bringing in more money and have more expenses, teach them to write down their income and expenses and make (and stick with) a budget. Car insurance, gas money, cell phone, outings with friends, gifts, trips etc.

Let them learn while you are there to assist and help. Then, when they are off on their own they will (hopefully) simply continue what they already know.

Additional Resources:

Dave Ramsey has a set of storytime books for kids ages 3-10
Dave Ramsey also has Financial Peace Jr
Larry Burkett has a book Money Matter for Kids
Larry Burkett also has Money Matter for Teens and a workbook as well

Raising our children and teaching kids about money can be a daunting task. One that we won’t ever do perfectly and that’s okay.

Hopefully these ideas on teaching kids about money will help as you are on the parenting journey! You don’t have to make it difficult or time consuming, just start the conversation and begin taking steps to give your children the opportunity to handle money wisely.

piggy bank and teaching kids about money

Easy Ways to Celebrate a Family Valentine’s Day

February 14th. When you are dating, or married with no kids, you might go on a date or cook up a fancy dinner at home. Once you have children, even if you do go on a date, will have to plan to celebrate a family Valentine’s Day as well!

mug and heart cookies for a family Valentine's Day

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I like to find simple ways to make memories with my children and Valentine’s is a perfect opportunity to do that. Sometimes, life can be crazy and money can be tight. We don’t have to be elaborate. Even small things can get them excited and make a special family Valentine’s Day.

Family Valentine’s Day

Food

Yes, food is always prominent for holidays. You have to feed your family anyway, so you might as well make it special. Look at doing all heart shaped or red colored foods! Your kids will think it’s so much fun. When they get older they won’t care about the shape, they’ll just enjoy eating! 😉

Check out these ideas:

Heart shaped pancakes
Heart shaped pizza
Spaghetti
Strawberries
Heart Sugar Cookies
Brownies cut with heart cookie cutters

Think of your family’s favorites and see if you can turn it into a heart. The pizza is our go-to every Valentine’s Day. The kids talk about the heart pizza all year.

I want to try this artificial color free food coloring!

Also, consider setting a fancy table and lighting candles to make the meal more special.

Treasure Hunt

We loved this growing up and it is now my kids’ favorite! Instead of just giving them their Valentine’s gift/candy, make them a treasure hunt.

For pre-readers, draw picture clues that lead to the prize. For young readers have simple riddles and as the kids get older you can use more difficult ones. We try and have 6-10 clues for each child.

I will try and update this post with the clues we use for my three kids this year. In the meantime, here are some ideas you can use!

Heart and Love Themes

You don’t have to go crazy, unless you want to, but put up at least a few heart and love themed decorations. You can make them yourself or use something you buy even as easy as window clings or a banner you bought. Check Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, and even the Dollar Store for options.

The same with crafts. Either purchase a kit or come up with your own. This post has 25 cute ideas! This is a perfect afternoon project.

Tip: Keep your eyes on the Valentine’s clearance to pick up some craft and decoration items for next year.

Love Your Family

Use this day to purposefully share with the members of your family how special they are. Have each person write a note to each family member and have them at each person’s place at the dinner table.

Throughout the day, secretly do special things and kind deeds. You could either do them for everyone or draw names the night before. The name drawn is the person you try to secretively do kind things for.

Give your kids ideas – it might be doing chores, picking up something their secret partner forgot, leaving a piece of candy, nice words, asking them if they need anything etc.

Spend Time Together

Just spend time together. Put away the phones and focus on each other. Engage with them, be excited to spend time with your kids. Plan something your family will enjoy and have a blast.

The options are numerous. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Game Night
  • Puzzle and popcorn
  • Movie
  • Park
  • Any other family outing or activity at home

Just intentionally putting a little thought into your family Valentine’s Day can help create memories and traditions that your kids will remember years to come. They might even carry on one to their own families.

You don’t have to be fancy, elaborate, or expensive. Just do something and have fun!

What are your favorite Valentine’s Day traditions with your kids?

heart shaped candies for a family Valentine's Day

Disney World Tips You Need to Know

Last year we took our kids to what some call the most magical place on earth. It also has to be one of the most expensive places. My husband is a Disney fanatic, so he spent lots of time figuring out how to get the most out of the parks.  What resulted are some great Disney World tips.

Disney world castle at night and Disney world tips

I’m the queen of living on a budget and saving money. Our budget still isn’t exactly extravagant so you might be surprised to hear we went on this trip. Honestly, it took me a while to warm up to it. We probably never would have gone at this time had it not been for a friend offering us 7 nights of free lodging. Since it was my husband’s dream family vacation, we went for it.

Free lodging helped tremendously, we also applied our Christmas budget (the kids okayed going on a trip over getting presents), and put Christmas money we received towards it.  We just made up the difference of what was left.

Today, I want to share with you some of the Disney World tips we found most helpful – so you can make the most of your trip and also do it as frugally as possible.

Disney World Tips You Need To Know

Touring Plans

My husband highly recommends this service. It’s run by mathematical geniuses who work full time analyzing stats about the crowds, the wait times, and various other planning aspects for a Disney trip.  Their website has some free information but if you want to fully take advantage of what Touring Plans offers they also sell a year subscription which includes a mobile app for use in the parks. My husband used it frequently during his plannings and it saved us lots of time in lines and we were able to do more while in the parks. You can buy a membership for the standard price $15.95. He used this link to get 20% off!

Buying Tickets

One of the free features Touring Plans offers is finding the best ticket prices. You can search at this page. They will check prices from authorized third party dealers to help you get the best price. You will save hundreds of dollars on all the tickets for your family compared to buying tickets from Disney direct or at the gate.  Also, scroll down further on that same page for more tips on how to save money on tickets. Our tickets ended up coming from The Official Ticket Center, but depending on how many days and family members you have, it could be cheaper from a different 3rd party vendor.

Important: If you buy tickets through one of the third party sellers, you usually have to exchange for the actual tickets at a park will call booth before you can enter the park. We didn’t want to take time doing this on one of our actual park days so we exchanged for them the day before when we were out riding the Monorail.

When to Go

Touring Plans has a free 2 month predicted crowd calendar, but with the subscription you can see what crowds should be like for an entire year. Take this into account when planning your trip! Also, use it to select which park to go to on which day. Less crowds is always a good thing. Granted, these are just predictions so sometimes they change slightly, but they are usually pretty close and you can even check their historical accuracy on the website.  The crowds on our day at Magic Kingdom turned out to be a little bit higher than predicted for some reason, but overall we knew that the week we went was going to be one of the least busy weeks of the year.

disney castle at night

Setting Up Fast Passes

If you stay at the Disney resort you can book fast passes for rides 60 days in advance. If you are staying off the Disney resort you can book 30 days in advance.  You will be able to schedule 3 fast passes per day via the My Disney Experience app. You’ll be able to enter your fast passes at 7am EST 30 or 60 days before the day you go to the park . Be sure to set your alarm if you want to get fast passes for the most popular rides as they will fill up fast.  Some rides such as “Flight of Passage” at Animal Kingdom and “7 Dwarf Mine Train” at Magic Kingdom were already out of fast passes before we could book them. But don’t worry, later on I’ll tell you another way to ride these popular rides quickly without a fast pass.

Once You Are At Disney World Tips

We continue with Disney World tips for once you are actually in Orlando and at the parks. First, you’ll want to have the following two apps handy on your smart phone:

My Disney Experience App

This is the official Disney World parks app.  You can view your fast passes, book dining reservations and more.  You can also schedule new fast passes in the park. (After your original three have all been used.)

Lines App

If you purchased a Touring Plans membership, you get access to this app. They give you average wait times which are more accurate than the wait times listed at the actual ride entrances.  Sometimes Disney either doesn’t update the correct wait times or changes them on purpose to manage crowd control in the parks.  Users can help with inputting data by timing your own wait in line if you desire.  There’s a timer right there in the app.

Rider Switch

If you have a child or infant that’s too short for a ride, take advantage of using the Rider Switch option. One parent stays with the too short child/infant and the other parent goes on the ride with the rest of the group. Once the first group gets off the ride, the 2nd parent goes right on through the fast pass line with up to 2 other people.  If group 1 has a fast pass for the ride, they get to use that, but if not they will have to wait in the stand by line.  Rider switches are scanned on your ticket/magic band by a cast member at the ride entrance. Take this into account when scheduling fast passes!

girl hugging minnie mouse

Rope Drop

There is a big advantage to being at the park before they open. For one, the crowds going through baggage check and the ticket scans will be way faster but you will also be able to go straight to one of the big rides with little to no line when the cast members drop the rope to first let people in. This is especially helpful for those popular rides you weren’t able to get a Fast Pass to. We did this to ride the new Avatar: Flight of Passage ride at Animal Kingdom. Its also good to do this for the 7 Dwarfs ride at Magic Kingdom and will probably be essential with the opening of the new Star Wars land later this year at Hollywood Studios.

Bring Food and Water

One of the generous things Disney lets you do is bring in your own food.  We saved so much money packing food. Sure, it might not have been the most amazing food, but it saved us hundreds of dollars versus buying food in the parks. Even if you want to purchase some Disney food, at least considering bringing your own for a few meals. We packed granola bars, fruit, vegetables, snacks, sandwiches, chips etc. Enough to get us through until we got back to our resort (at 10-11pm) each night. Store in a backpack or bag attached to your stroller. No glass containers.

We also brought bottles of water, however you can get a free cup of ice water at any Disney quick service location in the park or refill your own water bottles at drinking fountains.

Souvenirs

You will save so much money buying these off site. Check out a Wal-Mart near Disney World and there will be vast options. Countless t-shirt options, hats, autograph books, mouse ears, bags, magnets, postcards, mugs, and on and on! We were surprised at how much there was. One thing our kids enjoyed buying in the park were those souvenir pennies from the machine.

family with mickey mouse

Stroller

If you have young kids, bring a stroller. It’s great not only for the kid, but also for hauling your stuff around in. All the food, jackets if it’s cool, umbrella etc. Our youngest was 2 1/2 and used the stroller most of the time. The 7 1/2 and 5 1/2 year old did lots of walking. The only time the 5 1/2 year old used it was getting from the bus back to the car because he fell asleep.

Parking

If you drive and park at Disney, it costs $25 a day! Crazy expensive – especially if you go multiple days. Staying at a Disney resort, you have access to their bus system. If you are staying off site, there is one parking hack you can use. It will add a bit of time to your commute, but you will save a lot of money.

Park at Disney Springs in the Strawberry parking lot. You will want to go as far back as you can. These lots are free. Hop on the nature trail sidewalk and walk across the bridge that goes through the golf course, keep following the trail and turn right at the guest drop off area when you first get to Saratoga Springs Resort. You’ll then take a left at the first sidewalk and use the bus stop on the other side of that road. It is called The Springs. Because this is a resort bus stop, that bus will take you directly to any of the parks. Be sure to have your stroller folded before loading the bus.

Why walk to Saratoga Springs instead of taking a bus at Disney Springs? If you take the bus stop at Disney Springs Town Center, it won’t take you directly to a park. It would take you to a resort and then you’d have to get on another bus to go to a park.

Monorail and Downtown Disney

If you have free time on a day before you go to a Disney park, there are a some free “teaser” adventures you can do.  One thing is to ride the monorail.  There are 3 monorail lines.  The Epcot line actually goes in and around the park.  You can also stop and get off to walk through the resorts it travels to. Another free area of Disney is the recently renovated Disney Springs shopping area.  The Boardwalk is another nice free place to stroll through and shop or eat at.

Space Your Days Out

If you can plan a day off between park days, do it. If not, try and do no more than 2 days in a row. We had all 3 park days back to back (simply because that’s how it worked with our schedule) and I don’t know that any member of my family could have done 4. It was exhausting. We left where we were staying between 6:30 and 8 each morning and didn’t get back to the resort until between 10-11pm. The kids definitely slept soundly. Off days would have helped them recover, though, and we probably would have been able to make more than one rope drop.

I hope these tips help you if you are planning a Disney World vacation.  If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll try and help (or I’ll have my husband answer 😉 ).

Have you done a Disney World trip before? What are your best Disney World tips?

P.S. If you can’t afford a Disney vacation right now, be encouraged. The first 12 years of our married life, our trips have been to see family/with family and a few mini 1 or 2 day trips we took our kids on. Not going to Disney doesn’t make you a bad parent. Find ways to make memories with your kids without the expensive vacation. Work on getting situated financially and then you can start saving for your dream trip.

Disney world castle and Disney World tips Disney castle at night and Disney world tips

Printable Goals Planner To Get It Done

Are you making some goals? I want to help you out with this goals planner you can print off and use as you are planning.

samples pages of the goals planner

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Goals are a great thing. Or great as long as they are the right goals for you and you actually follow through and take the steps you need to get them accomplished.

As moms, our focus is going to be different than what they would have been as a college student or if we were single business women.

We want our goals to help and set us up for success, not be a source of conflict and frustration with us and our families. I find goals help motivate me and also cause to to slow down and evaluate my life and my family.

Printable Goals Planner

Let’s start with making your goals.

I’m sure you’ve seen the acronym SMART. When you come up with your goals, you need to make sure they are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound.

Let’s stop here for a minute. I just read a book by Michael Hyatt called Your Best Year Ever. He changes things up a little. His acronym is:

SMARTER

 In SMARTER the first “R” stands for risky. If you stick with super realistic goals, you’ll be setting the bar too low.  So be sure to realistically push yourself.

The “E” stands for exciting. Choose goals that inspire and excite you – it will help you stay motivated.

The final “R” stands for relevant. Please, make sure your goals are right for you and your season of life and what you are wanting/needing to accomplish.

As you fill out this first page, be sure to keep SMART/SMARTER goal making in mind.

Now, that you have your goals written down, use the next page to break them down into action steps. Give yourself a deadline as to when you want to accomplish your goal. You can even set a reward to help keep yourself motivated.

From here you will want to take your goals as a whole and break them down into quarterly steps. This way you will know what you are focusing on when instead of being overwhelmed by all the things.

Yes, certain more habit goals you will be doing throughout all 4 quarters but others will have steps you need to take.

After you have your quarterly goals figured out, each week as you plan the next 7 days figure out exactly what steps need to happen to get you to accomplish those quarterly goals.

I know some weeks won’t got as planned (all of us moms say “amen”), so break these items down into most important, would like to, and if I have time. Then when a kid gets sick, or you have an unexpected problem that pops up, you know what to focus on.

You probably know where this is headed, but lastly there are daily goals. Each day, looking at your weekly goals write down what needs to happen. Go beyond the goals here and also include household cleaning tasks, appointments, errands etc.

Taking a few seconds each day to think over what you are grateful for also helps keep life in perspective and can change your attitude.

Have you made goals this year? Do you struggle coming up with a good plan? Some of my goal categories this year are reading, fitness, Bible reading, health, business, and of course financial goals. Hopefully I can get them accomplished!

I have these goals planner printables available in my resource library for free to my subscribers! Sign up below!

picture of the goals planner and a sticky note that says set goals

Yummy Healthy Winter Recipes on a Budget

pictures of 25 delicious healthy winter recipes

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Winter. The perfect time to turn on the oven and do some cooking and baking! It’s actually kind-of nice to heat up the house when you are in the kitchen. Unlike the summer, when I cringe at the thought of having to use the oven. The problem is coming up with healthy winter recipes – one’s that won’t break the bank!

So often the typical winter recipes are overly processed and just not that great for you. It also tends to be the time of year I don’t get outside and run near as often – so I don’t need as many calories to fill me up. 😉

So today, I wanted to share a list of healthy winter recipes we can pull from to enjoy cooking and filling our families up with nourishing foods at the same time. They aren’t even all soups, so you will be able to find something for everyone. My brother is one of those people who doesn’t like soup – crazy!

If you are looking for more ways to eat healthy on a budget, check out these ideas!

For some more recipes, check out these cookbooks.

Healthy Winter Recipes

Sheet Pan Dinner

This recipe for roasted sausage and veggies is so easy and delicious. Perfect healthy dinner for even busy nights. You can even change up the veggies. Check it out!

Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs

These are incredible and can be in the oven in 5 minutes! Super flavorful and crispy on the outside and tender perfect on the inside. | I'm adding these to my menu this week!

Chicken Spaghetti Made Over

Chicken Spaghetti without Velveeta or cream of chicken soup! Yay! We love this and the leftovers are awesome.

Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls

Spaghetti squash burrito bowls are the best! Full of Tex Mex flavors and so healthy. The entire family loves this recipe!

Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein

spaghetti squash chow mein in the shells. this recipe is so good and healthy!

Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore – from Sweet and Savory Meals

Chicken Parmesan Casserole – from Thriving Home Blog

Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp – from Dancing Through the Rain

Healthy Stuffed Shells with Ground Turkey and Spinach – Mighty Mrs.

Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli – Sweet and Savory Meals

Shepherd’s Pie – Iowa Girl Eats

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken with Veggies Thriving Home Blog

Whole30 Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Butternut Squash Mom Foodie

Ground Beef Cabbage Casserole – Melanie Cooks

Slow Cooker Cranberry Chicken Strength and Sunshine

Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili Margin Making Mom

Chicken Noodle Soup

bowl of delicious homemade chicken noodle soup. Healthy, easy, and so good.

One Pot Orzo Vegetable Soup

Healthy Crockpot White Chicken Chili Heidi’s Home Cooking

Hearty Pumpkin Chili Recipe The Flying Couponer

Cabbage Roll Soup The Rising Spoon

Green Chili Chicken Stew Mooshu Jenne

Split Pea and Ham Soup Savor the Best

Balsamic Oven Roasted Root Vegetables The Rising Spoon

Healthy Sweet Potatoes

Chocolate Banana Oatmeal Muffins

baked chocolate banana oatmeal muffins in tin and a muffin split in half

Do you look forward to being able to use the oven in the winter without heating up the house? Hopefully this list will help you come up with some new, yummy healthy winter recipe ideas to add to your menu.

What are your favorite recipes to make in the winter?

3 pictures of healthy winter recipes