Get Your Sh*t Together: How to get it all done

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how to get it all done, how to do it all, how to be efficient, efficiency tips, working mom tips, time management, meal planning, meal prep, time management

Have you ever wondered how to “get it all done”?  Or if “getting it all done” was even possible? I work full-time, I’m a wife and mommy to two very active little boys, and I’m building this blog into a full-time gig. There is never enough time for all the things I want to, but I have had a lot of people ask how I manage to handle everything that I do accomplish on the daily.

The thing is, I didn’t always get everything done. I used to be extremely disorganized, hardcore procrastinator, and okay with just surviving my days. I thought being late or disorganized or constantly behind was fine (even normal) because I was working and had a baby, but I realized the legacy I was teaching my son was just to survive. I decided just surviving wasn’t going to be one of the life lessons I wanted to leave my son, and I could actually accomplish so much more with my life if I just applied a small amount of diligence. Discipline and reaching goals are definitely traits I want to teach!

With a little big of planning, I’ve figured out how to actually put the tedious parts of life on autopilot to create space for the best moments. I call this weekly practice my  “Get Your Sh*t Together” (or GYST day), and it’s become my favorite day of the week!

I realized that the things that took up the most time in my week were small, mundane events I had been avoiding or didn’t plan ahead for during the week. Since Monday is a new work week, Sunday seemed like the best time to GYST.

Between my family, my work, and building this blog, a lot of my time and energy is focused on big things. I tend to procrastinate the shorter tasks during the week (like paying bills, renewing library books, etc). I know they are important and only take a tiny amount of time, but for whatever reason I’m just not as likely to take the time to do them during the week.

Basic Food Prep

My GYST days start with food, because of course it does. I loooooooove food! And coffee. But you already knew that.

We usually do our grocery shopping on Saturdays, so I start off Sundays with a fully stocked kitchen. I go through all the groceries and create a basic (flexible) meal plan and start to prep some breakfast foods. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I like to have plenty of options ready for me to create a big meal quickly. Typically, my breakfast involves my coffee, a smoothie, and some sort of baked goods. On Sundays I like to do all my baking for the week, so I’ll usually make at least one batch of muffins or breakfast bread (usually either pumpkin or banana, depending on what I have on hand). Once the batter goes in the oven, I clean up the kitchen and will either start a batch of brown rice or throw a few chicken breasts in the Instant Pot.

Need some help with meal prep? Download my free ebook, Meal Planning for Busy People!

The Necessary Computer Work

With the food going in the kitchen and the kitchen cleaned up, I’ll sit down and pay the bills. This only takes a few minutes and takes a huge load off my shoulders. It’s amazing how important financial fitness is to mental health!

Since I’m sitting already, now is the time I pull out my planner and look over the week. Any appointments, social events, and deadlines are reviewed and planned for appropriately. I have a running list of blog topics and networking opportunities going on a page in my planner, and I review those and map out the following week. January was all messed up with illnesses, but thankfully we are getting back on track in February and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s safe to say I love routine and I thrive on checking off my to-do lists!

I also take this time to do any necessary paperwork, or prepare mail to be sent. Any important documents, handwritten notes to friends, or blogging paperwork is prepped and ready to be taken to be sent on Monday.

Self Care

After all of this is done, it’s time for some self care. When I was single, Sunday used to be my home spa days. Now with two little boys creating chaos over here, usually the best I can do is maybe a bentonite clay mask and filing my nails. If I get really lucky, sometimes I can get my nails painted, but I only risk that if both boys take a nap at the same time. Whatever I do, it’s important that I set aside at least 5 minutes for something just for me. I’ve noticed a direct relationship between how I feel about myself and how I react to stressful situations or interact with my little family. If I feel gross and run-down, I’m not as patient or giving as when I have taken a minute to prepare myself mentally and put myself together.

The best part about GYST days is that they are relaxing while being incredibly productive. The idea is not to start the week in a stressful way with a long list of to-do items, but to calmly prepare for a good week by taking care of a few key things before they have a chance to become problems.

Obviously, the decision of what to include in your GYST day is completely up to you, but I would recommend at least some basic meal preparation and something for self-care. This sets up your week for success immediately.

The benefits of a GYST day are exponentially increased when you are intentional about each day. Creating a functional morning routine and an evening routine gives you even more success and space throughout your days to reach whatever goals you are working towards, and will absolutely skyrocket your productivity (and keep you sane through it all)!

Do you have a weekly routine that helps you? Leave me a comment!

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January 2018 Income Report

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make money blogging, passive income, income report, work from home ideas, work from home blogging, blogger, full-time blogger

Welcome to this month’s blog income report! I’ll be sharing an update each month, both for accountability to keep working on my blog and also an encouragement for those just starting out.

I’ve been blogging for over 12 years now. When I first started this blog over 4 years ago, my goal was to make money from it. Somehow, even after reading countless income reports and “how to make money blogging” articles, how to make consistent and significant income didn’t click until early November 2017. When I shared my new income with my friends, so many asked how I was making money with my blog that I wrote an ebook with my top 5 tips. Download it for free and learn from my mistakes!

Blogging Basics

Since this blog isn’t about blogging, blogging tips posts are limited to these monthly income reports. If you would like further tips and info about blogging, please join my blogging email list and receive my free ebook as a thank you for joining!

To get started making money from a blog, you need to have a blog on a self-hosted site. This opens you up for opportunities like joining ad networks, the ability to customize your site with your choice of plugins, and protects your blog from being deleted by outside sources (yes, it happens). You can start a blog for as little as $3.95 per month, so the investment for starting your blog is minimal. I use Siteground for my hosting and recommend it to anyone wanting to start a blog (set up through the free WordPress.org). The customer service is the best in the industry. I’ve used the other popular hosting site and found them confusing and difficult to work with, but I have had nothing but great experiences with Siteground.

After you purchase your blog hosting space, then it’s all about the set-up. Setting up your email list is absolutely critical for success, as you can build relationships with your readers and learn what kinds of things they would like to read about as well. All of social media is based on algorithms, so not all your readers will be shown what you post on Facebook or Pinterest, but you can reach them all by email. I’ve tried several email list programs and found the easiest to use is Mailerlite. They have a free program for lists under 1,000 subscribers, and all features are available. You will find that other companies might have free programs, but some features are unavailable with the free option. Mailerlite also has a drag-and-drop newsletter feature, which is great for non-techy people such as myself.

Okay, so now that you know my two favorite tricks of the trade (and how inexpensive blogging really is!), be sure to download my 5 top tips for blogging for profit. It’s free!

For even more resources on how to make money from your blog, check out my Resources page. 

January was extremely hard for my family, and that’s reflected in the smaller income – it’s actually bigger than I expected! In the first week of the new year, Peter came down with the flu. Halfway through the week, both boys had a fever and just as they were getting better, I got the stomach flu. I am so thankful for my mother-in-law, who spent the night so she could help with the boys while Peter and I were both down for the count. We have finally turned the corner back towards health and I am so grateful!

January 2018 Income

Here’s the breakdown:

Amazon: $0.96

This amount seriously makes me laugh to even include it, but it’s income, so it counts.

Google Adsense: $3.50

This is passive revenue just from having a few ads on my site. I just got approved for a better paying ad network, so I am excited to change that over to the new network, and I hear it pays better.

Shop Style Collective: $2.85

I didn’t even put out any fresh affiliate post through SSC in January, and this network pays per click. Again, it counts!

FlexOffers: $4.92

I’m liking this network, I get affiliate links for places like debt relief companies, Groupon, and Macy’s .

ShareASale: $1.60

Everyone really likes ShareASale as a network, I’ve only found a few brands that fit my mission statement. My current favorite is IdealRaw organic vegan protein powder.

Commission Junction: $50
Siteground: $50
Private agreement: $10
Total: $123.83
Total earned in 2018: $123.83

In December I was able to re-invest some of my income into the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing class. The instructor, Michelle, makes over $130,000 per month from her blog, with a large percentage of it coming from affiliate marketing. Her course is absolute brilliance, and I am going through all my old posts, applying the material. There are several bonus courses included, as well as a mastermind Facebook group. I’ve learned so much and am excited to see how much our income increases as a result of applying everything I’m learning with this course. As you can see, the majority of my blogging income this month came from affiliate marketing, and I thank Michelle’s tips for keeping my income up when I wasn’t able to complete any sponsored work this month.

I am also learning and applying analytics-focused tricks I learned from the ebook Pinteresting Strategies, and I’m loving the growth of my Pinterest performance as a result! My traffic is now up over 50% and about 70-80% of all views are from Pinterest!

I set a lot of goals for January which didn’t end up happening because of our recurring illnesses. For February, I’m going to finish the revamp of older posts, and create two new big resources for you all. I put out polls on Instagram and Facebook to get an idea of what people are interested in, so I’m excited to put those together. They will be time-intensive, but I think it will be an important use of my energy.

One thing I’m especially excited about for this month is welcoming my husband Peter on board as my social media manager! Preserving family time is very important to us, and with the growth and goals of the blog for this year, I just wasn’t going to be able to get everything done without sacrificing family time. I’m so excited for his strategic mind and his vision! Last month I mentioned I wanted to rebrand. He has started working on rebranding and I’m hoping to start the transformation over the weekend.

As I said in my post about why I’m not setting New Years Resolutions this year, I mentioned that I am returning the blog to its original purpose, and I have created a mission statement. I have been working with several brands to bring you incredible content this year, all relating to living a natural lifestyle on a budget. I am so thankful and humbled for all of you readers, and I want to bring you the very best content for your very best lives!

Happy February!

Are you getting ready to start a blog or know someone who is? Share this post as an encouragement that you can make money blogging!

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13

Completely Honest Review: ThredUp online thrift store

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ThredUp review, online thrift store, buy kids clothes online, buy womens clothes online, how to buy clothes from thrift store

This post is sponsored by ThredUp.

When I started my first job at a clothing store at the mall, I became responsible for my clothing budget. Wanting to stretch my money as far as possible, I decided to check out the local Goodwill. $20, an hour, and a few bags of clothes later, I was completely hooked on thrift store shopping.

The thing about thrift store shopping is the time investment. I developed a system to streamline my time looking through clothes and then trying them on.  Now that I’m a mom of two, one of whom is quite mobile, I can’t spend as much uninterrupted time meandering through the aisles of the thrift stores. The baby in the carrier also inhibits me gathering armloads of clothes. It’s okay though, I love them.

So when I found ThredUp, I was intrigued. An online thrift store? With all the brands I would snag at Goodwill, but all were previously evaluated for quality and organized by size, brand, and price? This might be too good to be true!

ThredUp Online Shopping Experience

I spent a long time perusing everything in my size on the website. I had to hold myself to a strict budget or else I would have ended up with 3 pairs of Banana Republic jeans, a Michael Kors vest, and a Coach diaper bag (but even all that was only around $150 total). I finally settled on a green tunic and pair of Banana Republic wool pants.

I also love shopping for my boys, so I looked around in their various sizes. I found a pair of Hugo Boss pants, a shirt that says “my big bro is my hero,” and a pair of overalls for Dean and I squealed with excitement when I found this perfect condition Spider-Man hoodie for Tristan. My excitement paled in comparison to his reaction when it arrived! He loves it and only answers to Spider-Man while wearing it.

thredup hoodie, marvel hoodie, shop secondhand, thrift store shopping, online thrift store

My total for all of this? $52.93! The Hugo Boss pants for Dean and Banana Republic pants for me were on sale for only $3.99. I couldn’t pass them up, even though I don’t actually have a “need” for office wear anymore. But, you know, if something business casual comes up at some point, now I have something to wear!

My favorite part was going through all my favorite name brands (at 2am). Before marriage and babies, my closet was stuffed with Banana Republic, J. Crew, Gap, and Express. Now that I’m getting back to being able to wear my pre-baby clothes, it’s so fun to spruce up my wardrobe with some new items in my favorite styles. I was especially tempted with all the Lululemon they have stocked right now!

Selling Through ThredUp

ThredUp makes it super easy to clean out your closet, too. Just request a “clean out kit” on their website, and the package will arrive in a couple days. The “kit” is just a big, polka dotted, postage-paid bag. Fill it, close it, and put it on your porch for your mailman to pick up. Since I tended to drive around for weeks with my car full of clothes to donate, this was especially handy. While the payout isn’t very high, it’s such a handy service, and I’m all about convenience right now.

I mean really, not only can you go thrift store shopping, but you can also send your items in for consignment, all without leaving your home? This secondhand-loving mama says, “yes, please!”

ThredUp has a special deal for you all that I’m so excited to pass on to you! The first 100 readers to use the code CRUNCHYHIPPIELIFE at checkout get 50% your first order, up to $50! This code is good through March 2018.

Be sure to share this post with your secondhand-loving friends!

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13

How to do Laundry in an Apartment – Without Hookups!

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how to do laundry in an apartment without hookups, laundry no hookups, apartment laundry

This is the blog post I was hoping to find four years ago. This is the blog post where I share with you how to do your laundry in an apartment when you don’t have hookups.

Once upon a time, we lived in an apartment without laundry hookups and were determined to use cloth diapers. Since we didn’t want to lug around a basket of stinky diapers around to the laundromat, or sit there with an infant for hours on end, we got creative.

First, we got a laundry pod. This thing looks like a giant salad spinner, fits about 3 diapers at a time, but it does work pretty well. Of course, this process takes pretty much all day if you have more than 3 things to wash. We hung them to dry on folding dryer racks. I usually did laundry every night to keep up with the cloth diaper demand. I did get a pretty good arm workout in, though.

After a few months of hand cranking my child’s cloth diapers, I decided we needed a different option. I did hours of research. Surely, someone had to have come up with a solution, right?

YES!

This portable washing machine became my new favorite appliance. At 2.5 cubit feet of space, it was big enough to fit our queen comforter, but small enough that I was able to maneuver it around with ease. It also had standard hookup capability, so we were able to use the same machine when we moved to a place with actual washer hookups. We did diapers in what felt like a flash, and hung them to dry. We bought more dryer racks because we could now do all our own laundry in our home. It was so exciting!

Most dryers require a special plug to run, requiring specific wiring (aka, “dryer hookups”). When we arrived in Iowa, our house had washer hookups and a dryer hose vent, but only the standard 110/120V plugs. It was then I found this dryer that can plug in to any standard 3-prong outlet. We were able to donate the drying racks and do all our laundry on our own, in only a matter of hours! We had a vent hookup in the Iowa house, but if you don’t, you can purchase this nifty little lint trap and keep it vented inside.

The biggest difference with apartment-capable washers and dryers is obviously the capacity. The washer we had did not have an agitator in the center, which meant that we were able to fit more in. Everything we washed came out clean, so we didn’t even miss the agitator. The dryer took a little longer than your standard 220V dryer did to dry a load, but that was fine with us since we were finally able to do laundry on our own terms, and multiple loads in the same day.

When we moved into the RV, we sold our washer and dryer, since the RV came with a combo unit. We now live in a townhouse with our own laundry room, and we purchased a standard washer and dryer set. Aside from the size difference in capacity, I haven’t really noticed any difference between clothes cleaned in our apartment washer vs. our new traditional one.

As you might imagine, it is less expensive to purchase a portable washer and portable dryer than a standard set. The savings are especially high when you consider the time, effort, and money spent per load doing laundry at a laundromat. I love that our portable washer and dryer allowed us to do laundry and continue on with our lives, without the need to go back and forth to a laundromat/apartment laundry center or try to entertain little people for hours on end while doing laundry.

If money is tight, check out my list of 25 ways to save money in 2018. This isn’t your standard “use coupons at the grocery store” list. These are tough love, actionable ways you can save big money this year. Implement an idea or two and put those savings towards your new system. It will pay for itself very quickly.

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13

December 2017 Income Report

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how to make money blogging, make money with a blog, frugal living blog, money-making blog, healthy living blog

Welcome to this month’s blog income report! I’ll be sharing an update each month, both for accountability to keep working on my blog and also an encouragement for those just starting out.

I’ve been blogging for over 12 years now. When I first started this blog over 4 years ago, my goal was to make money from it. Somehow, even after reading countless income reports and “how to make money blogging” articles, how to make consistent and significant income didn’t click until early November 2017. But as you can see from last month’s report and this month’s report, once it all clicked for me, I earned over $1,200 in 2 months! When I shared my new income with my friends, so many asked how I was making money with my blog that I wrote an ebook with my top 5 tips. Download it for free and learn from my mistakes!

Blogging Basics

Since this blog isn’t about blogging, blogging tips posts are limited to these monthly income reports. If you would like further tips and info about blogging, please join my blogging email list and receive my free ebook as a thank you for joining!

To get started making money from a blog, you need to have a blog on a self-hosted site. This opens you up for opportunities like joining ad networks, the ability to customize your site with your choice of plugins, and protects your blog from being deleted by outside sources (yes, it happens). You can start a blog for as little as $3.95 per month, so the investment for starting your blog is minimal. I use Siteground for my hosting and recommend it to anyone wanting to start a blog (set up through the free WordPress.org). The customer service is the best in the industry. I’ve used the other popular hosting site and found them confusing and difficult to work with, but I have had nothing but great experiences with Siteground.

After you purchase your blog hosting space, then it’s all about the set-up. Setting up your email list is absolutely critical for success, as you can build relationships with your readers and learn what kinds of things they would like to read about as well. All of social media is based on algorithms, so not all your readers will be shown what you post on Facebook or Pinterest, but you can reach them all by email. I’ve tried several email list programs and found the easiest to use is Mailerlite. They have a free program for lists under 1,000 subscribers, and all features are available. You will find that other companies might have free programs, but some features are unavailable with the free option. Mailerlite also has a drag-and-drop newsletter feature, which is great for non-techy people such as myself.

Okay, so now that you know my two favorite tricks of the trade (and how inexpensive blogging really is!), be sure to download my 5 top tips for blogging for profit. It’s free!

I did a lot of extra writing this month. One of my favorite projects was another mini ebook with 25 tough-love ways to save money in 2018. This isn’t just another list like “use coupons at the grocery store.” It’s called the Tough Love List because these are big-change kinds of ways to save money. If you’re looking for ways to save big money in 2018, download your free copy today.

For even more resources on how to make money from your blog, check out my Resources page. 

This month was a little lower than last month income-wise, but since December is so crazy for my family (Tristan’s birthday and our anniversary are both a week before Christmas!), I honestly expected that. However, I was still able to make a significant income from my blog this month!

December 2017 Income

Here’s the breakdown:

Ebates: $30

Ebates is changing their referral program, going away from the tiered bonus system. Starting January 1, you get $15 for every referral, no limits! The person you referred still gets $10 instant rebate with their first purchase of $25 or more. I’m a big fan of this change, since the ROI per referral will be higher, and takes away the chance of missing a big bonus by one referral. Be sure to check out my review of how to make money from Ebates.

Amazon: $8.89

Obviously a smaller amount than last month’s impressive start, but again, I wasn’t very consistent with my linking.

Google Adsense: $5.41

This is passive revenue just from having a few ads on my site. Once my page views are higher, I can switch to a different ad network with a higher payment opportunity.

Sponsored posts: $500

I wrote two sponsored posts this month.

Total: $544.30

I was able to re-invest some of my income this month into the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing class. The instructor, Michelle, makes over $130,000 per month from her blog, with a large percentage of it coming from affiliate marketing. Her course is absolute brilliance, and I am going through all my old posts, applying the material. There are several bonus courses included, as well as a mastermind Facebook group. I’ve learned so much in the past two weeks and am so excited to see how much our income increases as a result of applying everything I’m learning with this course.

I am also learning and applying analytics-focused tricks I learned from the ebook Pinteresting Strategies, and I’m loving the growth of my Pinterest performance as a result!

I have big goals for January, including a Pinterest challenge with my blogging tips email list  and finishing the revamp of my old posts. I would like to create a new logo and give the blog a little face-lift for the new year, but that will wait until the income-generating projects are complete. I have to set priorities for myself or else I would probably spend several hours a day blogging – and with a full-time job and a family, that’s just not a wise way to spend all my time.

As I said in my post about why I’m not setting New Years Resolutions this year, I mentioned that I am returning the blog to its original purpose, and I have created a mission statement. I have been working with several brands to bring you incredible content this year, all relating to living a natural lifestyle on a budget. I am so thankful and humbled for all of you readers, and I want to bring you the very best content for your very best lives!

Cheers to 2018!

Are you getting ready to start a blog or know someone who is? Share this post as an encouragement that you can make money blogging!

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13

Why I am not setting New Years Resolutions this year

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new years resolutions, goals, new years goals, 2018 goals, 2018 resolutions,

I love the New Year, I always have. For a girl who spent most of her life looking through rose-colored glasses while meeting goals, there is nothing better than the new year. A new year brings a beginning, another challenge, a brand-new planner, and usually a new journal (since I had filled the others up). I would also tend to set several resolutions or goals at the beginning of the year, fully intending to see them through.

It usually lasted about a week.

This year looked absolutely nothing how I thought it would. A year ago today I was sitting in our house in Grinnell, probably reading books with Tristan and answering text messages from work because they called me constantly. Now we are back in Missouri; 3 moves, a new family member, and one ill-fated RV idea later. I work from home and am seeing excellent progress being made towards my goal of being able to be a full-time blogger, which has been my dream since before the creation of this blog.

It’s time to pause, to reflect. It’s a lot to reflect on.

So in the spirit of personal growth, I will be doing things a little differently this year. I’ve been mulling over ideas, and have been discussing them with Peter. The biggest thing we have been talking about is the difference between setting a resolution vs a goal.

Peter never sets New Year’s Resolutions, but always accomplishes his goals. I always thought the terms “resolution” and “goal” were interchangeable until I married him. Even after marrying him, I still set resolutions that I believed were goals. So for clarity’s sake, some vocabulary:

(From Webster’s Dictionary online):

Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. 

Peter explained it to me this way: Resolutions are things you say would be nice to accomplish. Goals are roadmaps to a desired outcome. One is a wish, the other is a map.

I like resolutions, and I like goals. The thing is, I’m very good at getting excited by something and throwing everything else to the wind, including previously set goals or resolutions. Most things that I wanted to do last year I didn’t accomplish, except for our family vacation and having our second child.

So this year, our goals for the year are very simple. We have a few family goals (2 vacations to specific places and a move to our dream neighborhood later in the year), financial goals (we are back to being debt-free after we sold the RV and now we just want to build up our savings again), and my blogging goals.

On social media recently I’ve alluded to some changes I’ll be making here on the blog. One of those changes is to return the blog to its original purpose. For that purpose, I have created a mission statement. This mission statement will be the filter I use when deciding what types of things to write about and promote:

CrunchyHippieLife.com is where readers learn how to live a healthier, natural, and environmentally-responsible lifestyle on a budget. 

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this change. I’ve felt a little all-over-the-place when it came to the blog. I knew it had lost its purpose, and I’m so pumped to refocus.

I’m especially excited to get back to the frugal finances aspect, and help you all save money. I created a list of 25 ways to save money in 2018, available as a free download. It’s not your average “use coupons at the grocery store” list either. This is 25 legitimate “tough love” actions we have taken to cut our expenses down. These ideas are sure to save you hundreds each month!

Related: How to Make (not just save) Money using Ebates

Since I’ve learned so much about blogging, I started a new page on my top menu “Make Money Blogging.” I want  to protect the blog from blogging about blogging (a common joke among bloggers is that the only ones who make money are those who blog about blogging), but I also want to share my resources. I wrote a 10-page mini ebook about everything I’ve learned in the 12+ years I’ve been a blogger. This ebook covers multiple topics related to a profitable blog, and includes my resources that have helped me become successful. It is also available for a free download, because I want to share this knowledge with you.

As far as learning about blogging goes, I was able recently to invest some blogging profits into the popular Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, and am working through that now. It is so full of actionable information, I am very excited to be learning from a blogger who makes over $100,000 per month from her blog. She is very knowledgable and makes it so easy to understand. It will take me a while to go through all my old posts and get them “Pinterest-ready,” but it will definitely be worth it.

I have also committed to posting monthly blogging income reports, both for accountability purposes and to measure my progress. My first one was written last month about how I made over $650 on Black Friday, and I am excited to start working on December’s in the next few days.

If there are things (within the mission statement) that you would be interested in reading about, please leave me a comment and let me know!

Thank you so much for being a reader this year, I look forward to growing with you all in 2018!

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13

Stress Free Parenting

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stress-free parenting, parenting without the stress, happy parenting

 

*This post is sponsored by Palmer Lake Recovery*

Everyone jokes about parenting and how hard it is. The truth is, even though I babysat more times than I can possibly count, I never expected parenting to be this stressful. How did I create a tiny tribe of people who cry, simply because I put a shirt on them?

We do not spank our kids. Spanking a child teaches fear over wisdom, and is far too easy an out that allows parents to express their own frustration and negative emotions by hurting their children. There are plenty of studies that show how spanking negatively effects children, even as adults, and we agreed to never allow it in our home.

Because we were both raised in “spanking” homes, this commitment to gentle parenting takes an incredible level of calm and self-control. I will admit that I’m not always the calm parent. There is only so long I can hold it together when I have a tiny tyrant whining, asking the same question 50 times in a row and crying before he even hears the answer.

The other day, after my toddler had done a lap around the living room, intentionally destroying everything in his path because he was so tired you could almost see his brain shorting out, I put him on the couch and told him to stop. In a split second, his eyes broke my heart and changed my entire parenting. His eyes told me he was experiencing stress and didn’t know how to control himself. He looked so helpless. I turned off all the lights (except the Christmas tree), turned off the tv, and held him on the couch. He fell asleep within the minute.

It is absolutely not always easy to control my emotions. As a parent, you have little sleep, constant noise, and no alone time. It’s like a lesser form of torture. It can drive a sane person a little batty. It’s definitely stressful.

Related: Your Brain on Exercise

Setting boundaries for yourself as a parent is just as important for your mental health as it is the mental health of your children. Children learn how to interpret and react to the world from their parents first, so it is important to emulate emotional maturity and how to deal with stress.

Although it sounds silly, setting boundaries with your little people isn’t that difficult. It just takes consistency. Here are a few healthy boundaries:

Respect your children

Children are people, just like their parents. They experience stress and don’t know how to handle it. As a young child, I heard the definition of stress and off-handedly remarked to my mom that I was “so stressed” and I was told I didn’t know what true stress felt like. While I didn’t know the stress of balancing bills and keeping humans alive, I remember feeling the weight of living up to expectations placed on me, learning so many new things, and learning how to balance the discipline of completing my work when I just wanted to go play with my friends.

Children don’t reach a magical age where they all of a sudden “get it” and become an adult. It’s a process that everyone goes through. Respecting their journey is the foundation of understanding and helping them learn to work through their experiences.

Count to five

Kids go nuts. They just do. They experience big emotions and aren’t able to fully express them, so they just kind of explode from the stress. Count to five before you respond so you don’t respond in anger.

Change the focus

My toddler is the King of the Target Meltdowns. We are that family that you can hear across the store. Before kids I was making faces in the aisles, wondering why the parents couldn’t control those noises. Heh….heh….yeah. In those moments, rather than get upset by my son embarrassing me (because it’s not like he cares anyway, nor do I want to train him to behave in a way that makes *me* look good), we change the focus. I have been known to lead Tristan in sun salutations (yoga poses) with Dean strapped in my baby carrier in the middle of the shampoo aisle. This helps Tristan take a few deep breaths while doing something he thinks is silly (which helps him calm down). It also gives me a minute to stop, breathe, and recenter.

Eat well

Did you know that your gut health directly influences your mental health? Most of your brain hormones are actually formulated in your gut, so eating healthy actually helps stabilize hormones and facilitate mental wellness. Eating foods rich in probiotics and probiotics and limiting processed foods are ways you can nourish your mind and maintain your calm.

Get help

Occasionally, mental health as a parent requires extra help. In those cases, look for a therapist or a doctor with a holistic mindset, who will provide you with a toolbox of aides like recognizing and responses to triggers, nutrition suggestions, and therapy if necessary (with or without medication).

The important thing to remember is that parenting children will effect them for their entire lives. Raising the next generation of world leaders isn’t just a cutesy saying, it’s a reminder of the heaviness of the reality of parenthood – these children, who ask 50 times in a row if they can watch Teletubbies and eat M&Ms, will one day be adults, and they will learn how to be adults from their parents. These adults will vote, interact with other people in the world, and create their own families. It is our job to help these children master the big challenges (like self-control and inner strength) so they can focus on their gifts to create a better world.

For more ideas on stress-free parenting, be sure to check out the Parenting Super Bundle, with tons of ebooks, worksheets, and more to help you be the best parent possible.

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Your Brain on Fitness

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How does physical fitness benefit your mental health?

This post is sponsored by Palmer Lake Recovery

It’s almost January, aka the month where the majority of New Years Resolutions center around getting healthy. Traditionally, this means a new (or, often renewed) dedication to physical fitness. What many people don’t realize is the connection between physical fitness and mental health. Physical fitness can be a wonderful form of mental therapy.

To channel my early 2000s examples, I will let Elle Woods of the movie Legally Blonde explain:

“Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.” 

Thank you, Elle.

Elle’s example is accurate. The act of exercise does release endorphins (the “happy hormone”) as a response to the physical movement. In the short-term, the release of endorphins does make you feel happy. In the long-term, it benefits much more than that.

We all know that the practice of fitness is good for your body – it delivers extra oxygen, strengthens your muscles, and improves cardiac health. But did you know that exercise also has profound mental health benefits?

Yoga

Yoga has been gaining in popularity as students recognize the incredible benefits of regular yoga practice. Studies have actually indicated that practicing yoga consistently goes beyond increased flexibility and muscle strength. The practice of yoga is actually used alongside psychotherapy and noted to show improvement in mood stability, depression, and even schizophrenia. Some drug and alcohol rehab centers have even incorporated it into their therapy programs, to help patients recover the sense of belonging and purpose that comes with the slow and intentional movements of yoga. You can do yoga at home via YouTube videos, or try out local studios with Groupon discounts.

Running

I have a love/hate relationship with running. I love it because once you hit that stride, it’s like nothing can stop you and your endorphins are just incredible. I hate it because I haven’t been able to do it in so long that I get easily winded and I will be starting all over again.

The thing I loved most about running was the empowerment I felt. When I wanted to give up and just walk, when I was whiny about how far I’ve already gone, I would pick a stop sign or a tree out in front of me, and I wouldn’t stop running until I got there. There is nothing quite like doing something you didn’t think you could do, and then doing it over and over again. Pretty soon you find yourself smashing other goals and formerly limiting beliefs.

Studies have shown that running is an effective coping mechanism for anxiety, depression, and even a weak memory. The confidence and calm that came from completing a good run was always the motivation I used when motivation was otherwise gone (I did start running while working night shift as a nurse, after all). My best runs were always after dealing with frustrating patients, or if I found something in my life to be stressful. Running was definitely my favorite form of therapy.

This spring we plan to get a double jogging stroller so Peter and I can start running with the boys. I figure pushing the stroller will slow Peter down enough that I will actually be able to keep up with him. 🙂

Pick and Commit

Small steps make up big movements when strung together. These sorts of self-improvements tend to have a snowball effect on life. Once one habit is created, it makes way for another new habit to be formed.

This January, when making your list of goals for the year, don’t forget physical fitness – and stick with it! Your body – and your mind – will thank you!

 

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How to Make (not just save!) Money with Ebates

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How to create an income with Ebates, make money online, make money with Ebates

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a huge fan of saving money using rebates sites. Since I have not only been using Ebates myself more frequently and exploring all its deals, I can give you my completely honest opinion – this is my favorite.

You may have noticed in my income report that most of my Black Friday income was from Ebates. Today I’m following that up that post to show exactly how anyone can actually make money using Ebates. It’s so easy!

The Basics

First, create your free Ebates account. Sign up for one here!

Second, take a minute and browse around at all the stores that you probably already shop at online. Everything from Kohls, Target, AMAZON (I mean, c’mon, this is almost too easy!). Even Groupon got in on the Ebates action. Save 40-90% on your purchase AND get money back?

selection of ebates stores

Third – Given that it’s the gift-giving season, I’m sure you have online shopping that needs to be done. Pick your store and click on it through the Ebates link.

Now it’s time to do your shopping. The computer can’t tell what’s already in your cart, so be sure to add your items to your cart after signing in through Ebates. Make sure your total is above $25.

There. You have just completed your first transaction through Ebates! And bonus – you just earned yourself a $10 bonus rebate, in the form of either a Walmart gift card or it can be added to your next Big Fat Check.

Which brings me to…

The Big Fat Check

The BFC is sent out quarterly, so check the calendar to see when you can expect to get your rebates in the mail. Depending on how often you shop online, this could end up being a nice chunk of change! We are currently in the last quarter. so checks will be sent out by February 15th, according to the table.

Making Money with Ebates

Now that we have gone over just how easy it is to save money with Ebates, you want your friends to know too, right? Friends don’t let friends leave money on the table. And in the world of online shopping, there is a lot of money being left on the table!

Making money with Ebates is so easy it’s almost stupid. As a thank you for sharing money-saving tips with your friends, Ebates will give you $15 for every referral who makes a purchase of $25 or more. See? So easy, it’s crazy. Why aren’t you already doing this?

How Do You Get Referrals?

First off, share your link (Captain Obvious, at your service)! But – and this is the most important part – you have to provide value. I would not have gotten 110 people (and growing!) to sign up with my link if I just flung it everywhere the way my toddler throws leaves.  No one would have cared, it would have just seemed like an extra step in the way of buying their Instant Pot. My Black Friday post showed why people would benefit from signing up for their own account and making a purchase – it created an absolutely crazy deal for the must-have appliance of the year!

Other Reasons to Love Ebates

Their rebates are in the form of actual money, no matter how much you earn. None of the other rebate websites offer cash back, they offer points that you can trade for gift cards after you reach a certain points balance. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

You can install an Ebates button on your browser that you click whenever you visit a website to shop. This eliminates the need to go to the Ebates website first.

They have way more ways to earn cash back than online shopping, including an app, instructions on how to connect your account with a credit card of your choice, or you could even open up an Ebates Visa Card if you’re into that sort of thing. We don’t have credit cards, but you can bet I will be activating cash back deals when we shop with our debit cards at regular stores!

Recap

So to recap, making money with Ebates is a great way to make money while helping your friends save money. The more people you help to save an epic amount of money, the more money you make. It’s absolutely the best! Join today and start making money!

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How I Made $674.88 on Black Friday: November 2017 Blog Income Report

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Everything I do to make money affiliate marketing, how to maximize affiliate marketing,how to make money blogging

Have you read blog income reports before? The super amazing inspirational ones where top bloggers lay out exactly how they make over $100,000 per month? Yeah, I love those. I try to read 1-2 a week. They are so inspiring!

Why I like affiliate marketing

I’ve done several direct sales in my day. We still love and use and share essential oils and my beloved salad bar capsules, but I find my sharing is more authentic (for me) when I’m not trying to reach a new rank.

Affiliate marketing is different. With affiliate marketing, I post links to things I love, and when purchases are made through those links, the companies pay me a small percentage. The way I see it, you’re going to buy diapers and cold medicine anyway, I just share links to them and make it easier for you. I don’t have to tell you they work. You won’t ask to see studies. It’s less pressure on all of us – and it doesn’t cost you anything! Win-win, amIright?

I’m still a small blog, but since I’m now working on increasing my Pinterest presence and am determined to get a firm handle on this crazy opportunity they call “affiliate marketing,” I thought I would share my results from my first month truly applying everything I’ve been learning.

The Blogging Aspect

First off, while you can make money from Pinterest alone with affiliate marketing, to make money blogging, one needs to first start with a blog. I have my favorite resources listed for starting a blog and where to go to host on my resource page.

About Black Friday

It is absolutely no secret how much I love my Instant Pot. I firmly believe everyone needs to own at least one (I’m still trying to talk Peter into getting me an 8qt as well so I can make big cheesecakes, but kitchen space is limited so he wins. For now).

In the week leading up to Black Friday, I wrote my post about why I love my Instant Pot. I shared it on Pinterest and it got a few repins. For me, any engagement over 5 is a big deal, and this one is at 146 at the time of this writing.

Since all the deals go live on Thanksgiving now instead of Black Friday, I wrote a round-up of my favorite Black Friday deals and how to use Ebates to save an extra $10+ off your purchase. When I got word that the 6qt DUO (the model I have) dropped in price, I re-worked the numbers, edited my post, and shared my strategy with the Instant Pot community.

I had over 100 people sign up, and of those, 39 made their purchase through my Ebates link, which gave them each a $10 bonus rebate.

I shared my link on several threads, on posts where people were asking for help finding the best deal. I saw a huge spike in traffic every time I posted “here’s how to get one for less than $40!” This seemed to work well, and it wasn’t just spamming people with affiliate links.

As the stores started selling out, I shared my Facebook page link and letting people know I would be watching all  weekend and posting every link for Instant Pots and accessories still in stock. I got over 130 new followers, and a few new blog subscribers!

Throughout my blog posts and on my Facebook page, I used Amazon affiliate links.

Here’s the breakdown of my Black Friday earnings:

Ebates

Ebates has an incredibly generous referral program (more on that later this week). $470

Amazon

$171.46

Flexoffers

This is an affiliate program that has several of my favorite stores on it, including Kohls and Groupon. $4.01

Google Adsense

This is set up through Google, and they currently run most of the ads on my site. $23.56

ShopStyleCollective

This program is amazing because it makes sharing links so incredibly easy! Plus, it pays per click as well as per sale. $5.85

Grand total: $674.88!

I definitely lucked out with my first month seriously making money from my blog was also during Black Friday. However, I am very excited to continue learning and growing this into a steady income! I’ll be posting income reports each month as a way to keep myself accountable, as well as hopefully answer the questions I’ve been getting recently on how to actually make money blogging. This will not become a blog about blogging, but these income reports will point to the best resources I find along my journey!

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