Why I am not setting New Years Resolutions this year

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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Stress Free Parenting

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

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

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

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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