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So, I feel like it has been a while since I had a “down to earth” post for you all. So many changes have happened in my life recently, which makes me think that one is past due.This being said, get ready, because here I go.

This year has been one of many changes and realizations for myself and my family already. These changes are going to shape a lot of my upcoming blog posts, so I felt it was only fair to share them with you. Some changes are fun, others are adultish, but all of them are realities of my world. (Whether I really want to admit them or not.)

Hopefully, you can relate to one, if not more of the topics. I will be further elaborating on them over the next several months in efforts to help others who have struggled with some of the same things that I have struggled with.

If you do not relate to any of these changes however, you can always just stick around for the humor. (We all know I cannot be completely serious about anything, so there’s that.)

Now, onto my list….

The Diet/Lifestyle Change of the Year

Yes. I was one of those people who made the New Year’s Resolution to start a diet. It was one of my bigger changes, but so totally worth it!

Guess what though, I actually stuck with it and, as of today, I am 6 weeks in! (Yeah, how many of you other resolutionists made it that far?)

How did I do it? The Keto diet!

For those of you who have not heard of going Keto, stay tuned. I am going to be sharing my tips, tricks, favorite recipes and more! For those who have heard of it, just wait until you hear my 6 week results. I am seriously stoked about how well this lifestyle change has went over. I cannot wait to share my journey with you all!

More Time for Self-Care

I know we all talk about self-care. Heck, I even did a post on it last year that you can find here.

Problem is, how many of us actually practice what we preach?

I found that this was one of the areas that I was majorly lacking in last year, and this year, I made a change.

Reading, baking, DIYing, going out. These have all come to be on my self-care list, and I am so excited to share my suggestions and recipes that I am finding solace in. And honestly, this is one of the easier changes I have made, so it is so much fun to share!

It has really been a great month and a half implementing my newfound “Me-time”!

Digging Back into my Mom Hustle

For those who know me, you know that I do not do well without having 500 things going on a once. Guess what, I am back at it again.

My mommy blog, my direct sales, my crafting.Yep, I kind of do it all.

And I want to share my tips, tricks, and products with you over the next couple of months, so that maybe you can capitalize on them too!

Also, my blog will be undergoing some major changes in the next couple months. Edits, a full blow post schedule, and freebies are coming soon, so be on the lookout as I transition my blog from hobby, to business!

Screen Time has been Drastically Cut

As a mom, I have been known to use screen time in my house as a quiet time more often than I would like to admit. Within the past few weeks however, screen time has been depleted. (Talk about a scary change.)

While my kids are having a hard time adjusting to the lack of TV, video gaming, and tablet time, I am amazed at the amount of playing they are actually doing. (A lot of it is occurring around a mass of whining, but I digress.) Imagination is a powerful thing folks, and if we are not forcing our kids to use theirs by removing the screens, they will never learn how awesome it is!

Over the next several months, I hope to share with you some of the toys my kids are really loving, books they are getting lost in, and games/crafts that are making their lack of screen time enjoyable.

I know it is a rough transition to make, but trust me, it is worth it! (Now if it will only warm back up so I can ship them outside!)

Getting Off of the Financial Struggle Bus

Debt.

Yep, I said it.

It sucks.

Since it sucks so bad, I have decided to get out of it.

I have already shared with you all how to create a debt payoff plan, and the 11 Apps I am using to make extra money to pay off my debt. Over the next couple months however, I also plan to share with you other bits of knowledge that I uncover as I continue this debt relief journey.

(I told you that some of these topics were going to be adultish.)

Also, I plan to share with you some tips and ideas that my family has used to change our day to day frugality. We want to be able to afford to go on fun vacations (Disney anyone?) and yet make creditors stop calling all at the same time. So, we are finding ways to make it happen, and I want to share those ways with you.

Phew, that was a lot.

Ok, so maybe not as long winded as my previous posts, but I still managed to put it all out there. The last month and a half has really been an eye opener for myself and my family. With that being said, it has also already brought about a lot of lessons for the New Year.

What new developments has 2018 brought your family? Any big changes happen for you? What new topic are you most excited to read about on the blog in the next couple of months? Let me know below, because, as always, I love hearing from all of you!

The post Changes for a Better Mom Life in 2018 appeared first on TheCrazySAHM.

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It is that time of year again. Tax time.

You know what that means?

Time for those who are getting back tax returns to become rich for a week, and then whittle away their yearly refund.

But what if I told you that there are ways to spend your return to make you feel the affects all year long? What if I told you that there are things that you can buy, or ways that you can spend that will improve your family’s way of life, as opposed to buying TV’s and video game consoles until your refund is gone?

Yep, this is one of those posts. One of those posts that will leave you thinking if maybe, just maybe, you need to rethink some of your tax refund spending.

So, how do I suggest you spend your tax return that will make your next year so much easier? Let’s start at the top.

Pay Down your Debt

We all hate the word debt, and we hate talking about it even more. But if you sit down and think about it, wouldn’t paying off a nice chunk of it at tax time be way more helpful than hurtful?

January is one of the hardest months of the year for families financially (probably because a good number overspend during the holidays like me). This being said, as your tax refund rolls in during February/March, getting rid of some of those monthly bills by paying them off completely may help you avoid being in that same financial crunch in the months to come, and may have you in a different position come next January!

Plus, wouldn’t it be so much easier to be able to go out and do something fun once a month with the freed up funds? (Or, if you are on the snowball debt method, grow your debt snowball faster? Check out how to set up your own debt payoff plan here! )

Advance Pay Bills

This one goes somewhat hand in hand with paying off your debt, but it is another suggestion that is worth mentioning.

Once your tax refund comes in, consider advance paying a couple of your bills. Rent, electric, gas. Many of these bills can be paid in advance (with refunds given later if they are overpaid). This will not only free your finances in the next couple of months, but will also leave you with a lot less stress.

I know, it may not be so exciting right now, but your family will thank you later in the year when you are not pinching pennies to pay bills.

 

Invest in Annual Museum/Zoo Passes

It may not seem like it with this cold weather, but sunny days are coming sooner rather than later! With the nice weather, comes the kids wanting to go cool places more often, which also can be a financial constraint on the family throughout the year.

What if it wasn’t?

Consider taking a small chunk of your tax refund this year and investing it in an annual pass to a local museum, or a zoo your family loves. Maybe even throw a couple extra dollars back for a summer pool pass. These passes will grant your family entrance to some really need attractions/learning experiences for your kids, and if you use them, will save you money in the long run.

Pro-Tip– Splurge the extra $30 bucks on your annual pass and get the plus 2 option when it is available. Then you have the option to take a friend for the kids (Or a mom friend for your sanity!).

Purchase a “Big Toy” for the Household

After listening to me go on about paying off debt and advance paying bills, I am sure this suggestion may come as a shock to you.

Perhaps, however, the time you receive your tax money is one of the best times to consider buying a “big toy” for the household. Not a TV, or video game console, but something to get your kids outside once the weather turns nice.

A pool? A trampoline? Bikes for the family? All of which could provide hours of outdoor fun for your family once the weather became nice. Provide adventures for your children, your family, all for just a couple hundred dollars of your tax refund.

 

Set Aside a Summer Fund

It never seems to fail. Summer comes, the weather is nicer, and my family is broke.

Yours too?

This tax season, set aside some of that tax refund into a summertime fund!

Maybe you have been wanting to take the kids to an amusement park. Maybe you want to go on a state park adventure. Or maybe you just want to have the extra money to go to the ice cream stand once a week. Whatever you want the extra money for, putting it back now will ensure you are able to have the spending money when you want it later in the year.

What do you usually spend your tax refund on?

Do you set aside tax money in any of these ways to help your family throughout the year or provide more activities for them? Let me know below!

Looking to save a bit more than what you are getting back in taxes? Check out my post on 11 apps to start making/saving you money today!

The post Tax Refund Ideas to Keep your Family Happy all Year appeared first on TheCrazySAHM.

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 It seems that in the mom community, meal planning is perceived to one of two extremes. Either it is absolutely the best thing to happen since sliced bread (it was actually around way before sliced bread), or it is loathed entirely.

Either way you look at it, when you actually sit down and think about it, there are many, many benefits of meal planning.

These benefits have been what has caused me to start meal planning in my home, and while it is tedious at times, it is so very worth it

Why you ask?

  Meal Planning Saves you $$Money$$

One of the biggest benefits of meal planning, (and the biggest reason I started doing it), is that it saves you money.

And who doesn’t want to save money?

Meal planning not only saves you money because you are not grabbing take out, but it also saves you mullah in the grocery store too!

I do not know about you, but prior to starting meal planning, my family was eating out at LEAST once a week. Now, we are down to maybe twice a month. Considering we spent on average $30 (on cheap nights) to eat takeout, that saves us at least $60 a month!

When you are meal planning, you also go into the grocery store with a list. (something I never did in the past. Who needs a stupid list anyway? **Slowly raises hand while avoiding eye contact**) The list helps to keep you on task and buying what your family needs, instead of what you think they might need (but will never eat). You list also ensures that you get everything you need from the grocery store in one trip, as opposed to buying a few things now, and then making 4 more trips over the next week.

Yeah, that is a thing.

Meal Planning Saves your Sanity

Tired of hearing “What’s for dinner?” 15 times a day? What if I told you that one of the benefits of meal planning was that DAD would be able to answer that question?

And that is only one way that meal planning is going to save your sanity!

When I meal plan, I ensure to post my monthly (sometimes biweekly) meal plan schedule on the refrigerator where everyone in the house can see it. This helps to cut down on the endless questions of what we are having for dinner.

This also helps me to know first thing in the morning how much time I need to be allotting to dinner prep for that night. Will I be starting something in the crockpot at noon, or cooking once kids are picked up from school and everyone is back at home? I now know by 8am which it will be.

Also, remember that grocery list I was talking about? Guess how at peace with yourself you feel once you complete you shopping trip and have everything on your list?

Knowing that your grocery shopping is DONE and you do not have to go back to the grocery store again for at least 24 hours does wonders for your sanity!

Meal Planning Reduces time in the Kitchen

So since I began my own meal planning journey, I have quickly come to the realization that I really enjoy cooking.

The catch?

I enjoy cooking when I do not have to spend all day in the kitchen.

It may sound kind of arbitrary, but actually think about it.  How much time do you spend each day wondering aimlessly around your kitchen trying to come up with something to cook?

If you are like me, the answer is way too freaking long.

This is another of the great benefits of meal planning, as when you already know what you are making, you do not spend unnecessary time scouting for what you could have for dinner.

Meal Planning Provides more Family Time

So as you are now spending less time in the kitchen, guess what that means?

More time with your family of course! (Or maybe more time to hide in the closet and drink a glass bottle of wine. I’m not judging)

Not only do you have more time to spend with your family, but it is also so much simpler to incorporate your children into cooking time when you know what you are making ahead of time! (This task may require more wine if you are like me, but I digress.)

Meal Planning Means Less Food Waste

Another of the great benefits of meal planning? You will have so much less food waste!

If you are anything like me, you get to open the refrigerator once a month to find all of the spoiled produce.

(I really did have good intentions.)

With meal planning however, since you are going to the store with a specified list, you do not end up with a bunch of dead good intentions. This is even more helpful when your husband is no longer looking in your refrigerator making comments on the broccoli that you let turn. Again.

Meal Planning also Means Healthier Eating 

This benefit to meal planning really should be obvious. When you start meal planning, your whole family starts eating healthier.

Why?

#1- Because you quit eating out, and cut out the fast food. If you sit and look at the nutritional value of the burger and fries you get from your local joint every Wednesday night, you might be appalled. Personally, I found that making burgers and fries at home is half the cost, half the calories, and none of the grease.

#2- When you take the time to plan out your meals, you do not have to turn immediately to the most processed foods to make a quick dinner happen. Fresh fruits, veggies, and meats start to take the place of processed foods in your home.

Momma, I am here to tell you, it is like magic!

So, what are you waiting for?

I know, I know, it still seems like a lot of work. But I promise you, once you take the couple hours to sit down and meal plan for the first time, you too will see the benefits!

For those of you who are already meal planning, do you have additional benefits to add? If you are not yet planning, what is holding you back? Let me know below!

If you enjoyed this post, check out my recent post about 11 apps to make you money today!

The post Benefits of Meal Planning that will Make you want to Start Today! appeared first on TheCrazySAHM.

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Disclosure- This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on a link on this page, I may be compensated at no additional cost to you. It may not be much, but I am using it to pay off my own pile of debt.

So you have decided to make the commitment to pay your way out of debt. You have made your debt payoff plan, have read all of the Dave Ramsey books, and you are ready to get started. Only problem is, where do you make the extra money come from when there is nothing extra in the budget?

I have been in your shoes! Believe it or not, there are some major ways to make some extra cash using something that you already use every day.

Your cellphone.

Yep, that beautiful piece of technology that can now do almost anything a computer can now also can help you to earn extra money!

Do not get me wrong, none of these are get rich quick schemes by any means. They will however, help to put some extra cash back in your pocket. In turn, if you use that cash on some of that debt you have racked up, chances are you can pay off a nice little chunk. And all from your phone.

So how do you do it?

Sell Sell Sell 

Start by going through your closet. You would be shocked at how much extra money you can make just selling some of those pieces that you do not wear anymore.

Those boots you bought last year that you wore once then hid in the back of your closet? Probably time to part with them.

If you want to start selling immediately, take a couple photos of your items, and post them to Poshmark. (A super easy online selling app. You list with them, you sell, they keep a small portion of the profit and they cover the shipping and credit card fees. Order some FREE shipping boxes from UPS and you are all set!)

Looking to sell some of the kids clothes? Check out Kidizen! (Again, another awesome sales app! You pay shipping on this one, so be sure to price accordingly. You are marketing to all parents who are looking for good buys though, so chances of quick sales are high!)

Money Saving Apps

There are all kinds of apps out there now a days to help you save extra money on your everyday purchases. This is seriously one of the simplest ways to start saving money in a hurry.

Receipt Scanners

Receipt Hog – This one is easy. Scan your receipts (All kinds of receipts!) and you get points! Plus, for every week you scan your receipts in, you get a weekly bonus. If you only scanned in one receipt for 33 weeks in a row, you are going to get $40 to your paypal. (Not including the extra points you will earn for those scanned receipts, or the slots they let you play.)

$40, is $40, and that extra money is enough to payoff a small chunk of one of my cards.

Fetch Rewards – Again, another easy one for you. Simply scan your grocery receipts from where ever you shop, and Fetch is going to search for points for you! Fetch works on brands, so whenever you buy one of several popular brands, you are going to get points. These points convert to cash once you have enough saved up. Plus, enter code V1AQN when you register the app, and you will get an additional 1,500 points ($1.50) just for using my code!

These points cash out for gift cards to your favorite stores. While it isn’t cash to pay your bills, you could easily use the cash you are saving by using the gift card to put towards your debt!

Ibotta – Now if you are an avid reader of mine, you have seen me talk about how Ibotta paid for part of my last Disney trip. If not, then get ready, because I love Ibotta!

Ibotta allows you to select offers that you think will fit your shopping habits. Then you go do your shopping, scan you receipt, and within 2-3 days, the money from your offers is ready to withdraw! The cash you get back really adds up quick with this one!

Plus, if you use my Ibotta code ( jqgfqg ) when you sign up, you get a $10 welcome bonus when you redeem your first offer! Free money anyone?

Linked to your Card

Dosh – Ok guys. So Dosh is officially my newest money saving app, and I am in love! This one is so easy! You download the app, sign up, and link the card you use to do the most of your shopping. Then, Dosh finds deals for you at participating retailers and simply refunds you the money back to your account!

Not only that, but when you sign up here, you get $5 back when you link your card just for trying the app!

Also, (and this one is big), if you sign up using the link above between now and January 21st, you can make some decent extra money. Once you have signed up, share your referral link with all of your friends, and for each one that signs up and links a card, you get $15! (For real, I have already made $75 in less than a week.)

Work out to Earn

Achievement– This one is so cool, and links straight to your fitness tracker! Simply download the app, link it to your fitness tracker app, and you are good to go!

While you only earn about a max of 80 points per day, this app still adds up to you making an extra $30+ per year. Not a ton, but something else to add to your debt mountain!

Plus, sign up using this link and you will earn an additional 100 points just for using my code!

Direct Savings Apps

DigitDigit is another one of those apps that I have talked about before when I shared with you guys how I saved $1600 without trying. The premise behind this one is super simple though.

After you download the app, link your bank account. (Yes, I know this seems scary, but do your homework. They are insured) Then, Digit analyzes your spending habits over a period of time, and starts making small withdraws in amounts you will not miss.

A few dollars here, a few more there. You really do not miss the small withdraws, but boy does the money add up quick!

All of this extra money is stored in a savings account for you, that you can withdraw at anytime. Only downside is, I believe this app has started charging a few dollars a month to cover their overhead.

If you use this referral link however, you can try it for FREE for a month to see if it is going to pay off for you to use it! Just think about the bills you could pay off!

Qapital – This is my newest automatic savings app, and I am blown away by its functionality! Same basic premise as Digit as far as linking your bank account (also insured), however the savings add up according to your terms!

Simply set a goal that you want to save for, (a big bill maybe?) then pick out your savings rules. You can round up each purchase (the change to the nearest dollar is saved), do an automatic savings day, or even hook your fitbit! Yep, this app will let you pay your savings for every day that you hit your step goal.

Freaking cool huh?

Plus, sign up for Qapital here and you will get an extra $$$ when you complete your first deposit! FREE money again!

Survey Sites

Honestly, I could do a complete post on survey sites to make you money, but we will save that for another day.

Today, I will highlight two of my favorites for time’s sake.

OnePulse– This survey app is, dare I say it, fun! Seriously. The “surveys” or pulses as they call them, are all 3 questions each and are not that of your traditional survey site. Not only are they super quick, but the more pulses you complete, the more you get paid.

Not every pulse pays, but all of them contribute to your overall score. You score works to increase the amount you are paid for the monetary pulses. So far I am getting about 1 out of 10 that are paid, but for the 10 minutes a day I spend on the app, that isn’t too bad. (At least in comparison to some surveys I have spent 20 minutes on for $.20)

Swagbucks – If you have not yet heard about Swagbucks, it is time to get in on the game. Paid surveys, monetized videos, paid shopping, paid offers, this app has it all. And those Swagbucks add up to some serious cash in no time!

Yep, you will be tackling that pile of debt sooner rather than later.

Ready to join Swagbucks? Click here!

Well guys, it is not a “get rich quick” scheme by any means. These are, however, legitimate ways that you can make a few extra bucks to get your debt snowball going.

In what ways are you making extra money to pay off that debt? Let me know in the comments below!

The post 11 Apps to make Extra Money to Destroy your Debt appeared first on TheCrazySAHM.

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To those who know me, you are already aware of the fact that I constantly have 500 things going on at once. Kids, activities, trips, crafts, direct sales, exercise, daily household activities, writing a mom blog; I do them all.

The one question I am often asked, is where I find the time to do it all. How do I manage to be a productive mom?

And then I laugh.

I have three kids across a scheme of age groups. I constantly feel as if I am on the go, and often I do not let my brain slow down long enough to make my head stop spinning.

Most days I feel the opposite of productive.

When I look back on my accomplishments throughout the week however, I realize, I do manage to somehow get everything done, and done well if I might add. This made me sit down and ponder.

What causes me to be a productive mom?

To be completely honest with you, I never saw myself being a stay at home mom.

You see, I have always been business minded. Looking back through my work career, I can count multiple instances where I was working two, sometimes three jobs, all while juggling life.

Yeah, staying at home with my three amazing, yet rambunctious kiddos? Not something I envisioned for myself.

Yet when the opportunity presented itself, I was all about it. But with this change, came a change in the way I did things. I knew I had so many things I wanted to accomplish with the time I had out of the workforce, and I am determined to accomplish them all.

So, for the big question. How did I become such a productive mom, all while staying at home?

Start your Day as Soon as you Open your Eyes

Yes, I know it is hard. Your bed is just so warm and inviting, and 5 extra minutes of sleep would be great.

On my most productive days however, I find myself rolling my happy butt out of bed and heading for coffee as soon as I wake up. The longer I lay there, the harder it is going to be for me to get up.

No one said being productive mom is always fun. I miss my bed some days. (Most days. Well, all days)

Conquer a Task on your List in the First 20 Minutes of the Day

Ok momma’s, this sounds harder than it is.

So you know you have 50+ things to accomplish today, and sometimes that list just looks to daunting to even know where to start. Before you let that list get to you, make it a habit to conquer something on the list quickly.

For me, this is often starting a load of laundry first thing, or loading the dishwasher to get it started. Once I have accomplished my first task, I seriously feel like I raced a marathon or climbed a mountain because I managed to do a thing before 10am.

Guess what? That builds momentum.

Once I have accomplished one task, I find myself moving around to see what else I can get done in a short period of time. Before I know it, half of my to-do list is accomplished and I look like I did a great job momming.

Yes, I would like a sticker and a cookie on these days.

Learn to Multitask and Make it Count

So if you walk into my house at any given time during the day, you will often find me multitasking.

If I am working out on the treadmill, you will often catch my phone in my hand at the same time. Guess what momma? Nine times out of ten, I am not scrolling Facebook. (Of coarse, there is that tenth time when I am totally checking out cat memes.)

Nope, I am walking and working on my social media engagement for my blog followers. Really, I have been known to do any kind of blogging activity that can be accomplished from my phone while walking.

Why?

Killing two birds with one stone.

I also do my best to try to get in some self care while I am doing my household chores. Thanks to modern technology and all of it’s advances, I can now carry my phone or tablet around and listen to books with Audible. Audible is available through Amazon, and has a FREE trial that you can get by clicking here!

(Because being a productive mom means being able to juggle reading, laundry and diaper changing. Right?)

Prioritize your Day/Week/Month

Since I became a stay at home mom, I have found that prioritizing has become the key to everything.

Organizing my mom life was one of the first things I found myself doing because, honestly, I was going crazy.

In order for me to function, I now have an amazing planner, as well as multiple “to-do” lists that float around my house during the week. Not only this, but I am notorious for having everything on paper. Meal Plans, budgets, kids schedules, all of them have a place in my home, and all of them help make me a more productive mom.

Allow for Downtime

No matter how much you plan, or how many to do lists you make, realize that two things are always going to happen.

#1. Something will always go crazy at some point in the day, disrupting your plan.

You are a mom, not a genie. You are working with tiny humans who need food, sleep, 10 cups of juice and someone to wipe their butt.  Something is always going to pull you away from your list, and that is ok. Just learn to jump back into that list when you are done, and not jump onto the couch instead.

#2. Mom time starts at bedtime, regardless of how much you accomplished. 

Yes, you get time to yourself. Honestly, I am generally still accomplishing my to-do list items once the kids are in bed. These items however are centered around the activities I want to complete. Crafting and blogging are generally mom time activities in my world, and I live for them. Find something you love, and make sure you prioritize it onto your to-do list each day. You would me amazed at how accomplished you will feel being able to check something off the list that you actually looked forward to doing!

How to you find yourself being a productive mom?

Do you do all of these things in your home? A couple of them? Or are you planning to implement some of these ideas in your life this year to make things run smoother? Let me know in the comments!

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you check out my post on how to organize your mom life! It is a game changer if you do not know where to start!

The post How to Start being a More Productive Mom Today appeared first on TheCrazySAHM.

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When you decide to create a debt payoff plan, it can seem like an overly daunting task, especially in the beginning.

When you have calls coming in 5 & 6 times a day, bills in the mailbox from creditors and collections, and no idea where to start. Yeah, it is overwhelming to say the least.

How do I know? Because I have totally been there.

The bills piled up to a point that was embarrassing to admit. The calls were being screened, blocked, and ignored (like I had the money to give them anyway). Then, the summon’s papers showed up regarding a new creditor taking me to court for collections.

That was the last straw. Seriously, how did I let it get this far?





That was the point when I realized it all had to stop. The calls, the collections, the stress. Problem is, when it gets that bad, where do you start? When it is time to create a debt payoff plan, what is the first step?

Once I figured it out for myself (after hours/days of research, stress, and tears over the hole I had dug) I decided this was information best shared.

Why?

Because everyone needs to know how to get organized to get back out of the mess of debt. Everyone needs to know how to create a debt payoff plan, because no one should have to live under a mountain of debt forever.

Time to Answer the Calls

Yes, I know. This step does not sound fun, or enjoyable. I am here to tell you though, once you start talking to these people, you will be surprised.
Not only do they not want to be crappy with you (for the most part), they actually want to help you!

Yep, you read that right. They want to help.

You see, if you keep ignoring them, they have to keep calling. If you pick up and try to explain, most of them are going to work with you. That’s because them receiving even a little bit of money a month is better than them not talking to you, or better yet, them getting screamed at.

Not only that, once you talk to them and set up a plan, they quit calling!

Amazing stuff right?

Collect all of your Debt

All of those bills you have been stashing in a box in the bottom drawer of your desk. Yep, those. Pull those puppies out.

Next, gather up all of the envelops you have laying around that came in the mail that you were too depressed to open. We are going to need those to.

Sit down with all of your wicked little envelopes, a pen, and a piece of paper. It is time to come to terms with what this debt monster looks like.
Start listing out each of your debts. The total amount owed, the minimum owed, and the payment date. Finding debts that are in trouble? (Generally those printed in BOLD RED.) Let’s list a phone number with those, as well as highlighting them on your list.

Your going to want to call those nice people too so that you can create a debt payoff plan with them for that specific debt too.

Don’t fret. It seems like a lot, but it will become easier.

Get an Idea of your Credit Score Situation

Depending on how long you have been ignoring your debt, this could be the scariest part yet. Trust me though, it is essential when you are working to create a debt payoff plan.

Now a days there are several sites out there that claim to give you a FREE and accurate credit report. Of these, I have personally tried both Credit Karma, and Credit Sesame, and trust them both. While they differ in slightly in the scores they provide, they have given me a fair representation of where my credit stands in the past. They both also provide addition information and tools to help to improve your credit score, which will be helpful to you in the future.

So why do you need to get an idea of your credit score situation to create a debt payoff plan?

Often, when you go exploring your credit score, you will find additional debts that are hiding and effecting your credit. Yeah, you are going to want to add those to that list we made earlier.

Plus, paying off your debit is going to cause your credit score to rise. Being able to track where you started, and how your score is improving is going to provide inspiration. Later on in your debt payoff journey, when you are tired of paying things off, you can look back at your rising credit score and see that you are making a difference.

Sometimes, it is going to be the little things.

Lay Out all your Numbers in a Monthly Budget

Yes. I know. You don’t want to.

But this, my friend, too shall pass.

Seriously though. You remember that pen and paper you had earlier? Sit back down with them and start organizing.

List out your bills by name, date due, and minimum due. Make sure that you are incorporating your regular bills (utilities, rent/mortgage, gas, groceries, etc.) into this budget too.

Now, list this out into what has to be paid by week to stay on time, and compare these numbers with the amount you have coming in for the corresponding week. Hopefully, these numbers seem to look less scary at this point, and if not, do not worry, I will have a post soon to cover that as well. Your goal here is to stay as current as possible, with as many bills as possible.

Even if you are paying only the minimums at this point, that is something.

Create a Debt Payoff Plan

You have all of the number together. You have figured out the scary part, and now it is simply time to figure out how long (at most) it is going to take you to get rid of it.

In order to do this, simply start listing out your debts in the order that you want to pay them off. Then list out how long it will take you to pay them off at the minimum payment. Add in how much extra you can throw towards paying off your debt per month, and figure up how quickly you can pay off each debt. Organization is key here, but really, it is simple as that.

Something to keep in mind, there are many different plans out there that you can follow to pay off your debt faster. Personally, I have decided to follow Dave Ramsey’s snowball method, but everyone’s situation is different, and so that may not work for you. I suggest you research the different plans out there, and determine what works best for you when you create a debt payoff plan.


What is holding you back on your journey to get out of debt? Have you ever tried to create a debt payoff plan in the past? Any tips you didn’t see here? Let me know in the comments below, and best of luck on your journey!

The post How to Create a Debt Payoff Plan without Losing your Mind appeared first on TheCrazySAHM.

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Christmas is literally right around the corner, but how many of us are actually done shopping? I still find myself being one of the people who is getting texts from loved ones asking what my kiddos need for Christmas.

One of the most fun kids for me to shop for this season? My preteen girl.

Yep, you heard that right. I swear, this year has introduced a whole ton of gifts that she has added to her list! So for those of you out there who are still struggling with what gifts to get your preteen girl, check these out!

L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls


Some of you mom’s out there may hate me for this one, but the L.O.L Surprise! Dolls seem to be the big gift on every preteen girl’s list this year! This being said, their popularity has made them super hard to find.

I know. Hate away.

So what are they? I myself have learned quite a bit about them in the last few days. These little dolls come prepackaged in their little balls, and they are wrapped in numerous accessories to make playtime more fun! These dolls fit in the palm of your hand, and get ready for this.

If you add water, they surprise you even more! Yep, they may pee, spit, or cry!

These seem to be the replacement for the Shopkin’s craze, so get excited, these little babies will be all over your preteen’s house!

Hatchimals 


Yep, you read that right. Hatchimals are still a hot toy this Christmas, only now, they have added twins and special editions!

I personally did not join this crazy last year, however my daughter has collected quite a few of these mini hatchimals. They are cute to open and made her happy for the whole two minutes it took to open them.

Now, they are just another toy to fight with her brother over when he finds them on the floor.

Alas, it seems that the company running Hatchimals has fixed the glitches causing these critters to not hatch that was the big issue last year. That being said, these furry little Furby look-a-likes are a hot toy for preteen girls again this season!

American Girl Wellie Wisher 


American Girl Dolls have come a long way since I was a girl, however the prices have stayed pretty well the same. High.

This year though, I have seen an American Girl Doll alternative that I am loving, with a price I can deal with! The Wellie Wisher dolls are not only stupid adorable, but very affordable!

While I do see myself buying an American Girl Doll in the future, I feel that will be more of an experience than something I just buy and give to my daughter. For now, the Wellie Wisher dolls with be a cute fill in for any preteen girl!

Project MC2 Science Kits

So, has your daughter had you watching the new Netflix hit Project MC2?

If not, you need to have her check it out!

This show follows a clique of girls who use science to solve all kinds of problems! Great for my growing preteen girl who is being challenged with differentiating if it is cool to be smart or not.

Due to the popularity of the show, the MC2 dolls have become big in stores. Even bigger though, has being the Project MC2 Science Kits!

Now your preteen can use science to make lipgloss, perfumes, and soaps! Cool, no?

FujiFilm Instamax 

Remember the Mini Polaroids that were around when we were kids?

Yeah, they are back with the FujiFilm Instamax! This time though there is a bit better quality.

For real though, these camera’s are shooting, printing and developing all within 90 seconds. This gives your preteen girl the power to capture her life on film in minutes. Plus, you do not have to worry about printing the photos out or making a run to the store to pick up prints!

Books


Ok, so this one should be a given. Unfortunately, I have seen less and less books be given as gifts, and seen them replaced instead by Kindle’s or other e-readers.

While I am not usually one to bash reading, a preteen girl really needs a break from a screen. Kids now have personal computers in school and spend quite a bit of time learning on them. Cell phones are becoming the norm for preteen girls, which gives them another screen to be sat in front of. Don’t even get me started on all of the Netflix shows my kid watches.

Seriously, if your preteen girl does not have books on her Christmas list, she needs to.

The Dork Diaries, The Neverland Girls, James Patterson’s kids series….there are so many books out there that your preteen girl needs to be diving into. This is prime time to foster a love of reading for your daughter, so make sure you do not skip this one!

Well, there you have it.My list of must haves for any preteen girl.

While I could continue to go on with things that you could buy, these are some of the big ones for this year! While you are looking, you can try to get your hands on a Fingerling as well, but I am warning you, they suck to try to find one.

Have another gift idea that needs to be on this list? Let me know in the comments below! In the meantime, happy shopping!

The post The Perfect Preteen Girl Christmas Gift Guide appeared first on TheCrazySAHM.

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Disclaimer: I received free product in exchange for my honest review.

Holy cow! It is December already, which means the Christmas holiday has officially started. With that comes numerous family Christmas traditions! From trimming the tree, to visits with the big guy himself, each family has their own Christmas traditions to uphold. For us, the traditions begin with the tree.

That being said, I have also found that sometimes the traditions that mean so much to us, can bring upon unwanted stress in our little ones. As we are busy trying to ensure perfection, we often have itty bitties who are becoming whiny, fussy, and argumentative because they do not understand the wait or process of certain traditions.

How do you avoid having your kid melt down in the middle of your Christmas traditions? Here are a few ways my family has found peace and merriment (see what I did there?) in including my babies in our holiday traditions.

Explain the Christmas Tradition, and it’s Significance ahead of Time

So your family has decorated the Christmas Tree together while listening to Christmas Carols and drinking cocoa ever since you can remember? Great! I bet your babies will love to help you carry on the tradition. Before you start however, take a minute to sit down and explain to them the details of the project.

The ornaments you are putting on the tree? Some of them may be older than you, and your kiddo should probably know that they need to use extreme caution. Actually putting the tree together or cutting down a tree going to take more than 5 minutes? Let your children know so that they know to be prepared for a few extra minutes rather than being disappointed when you are not starting right this minute.

Also, be sure to let your kids know why it is important that you are carrying on the Christmas tradition. If you want them to appreciate the task, let them in on why it is significant to you! You would be surprised at how many conversation starters will come out during the activity!




Cut out the Extra Wait if Possible

We all know that waiting can be rough, especially on younger kiddos. And how miserable is it for them to have to wait to participate in a cool, Christmas tradition after hearing about it from you?

Best way to avoid the meltdown associated with the wait? Cut it out!

Seriously, before you begin with your Christmas tradition, think about how you could cut down the unexciting parts for your kids sake. is your four year old really going to enjoy watching you string lights around the tree while cussing over the tangles and strands that will not light? Probably not. So how about we do that part before we bring the baby into the event. Trust me, it saves a lot of fuss.

Headed to go see Santa, or the neighborhood light show? Try to go when you know it is not going to be so crowded. Taking the kids to visit with Santa on a week night can provide so much more magic, as there are not 50 other kids waiting to see him. This means more time for your babies to interact with Santa and experience the magic of the season, and you have less screaming and fighting with impatient kids waiting in an hour long line. Win, win!

Have Snacks readily Available 

What makes any situation better? Snacks! And having them readily available for your kids during your Christmas traditions will make everything so much more enjoyable for everyone!

For real moms, this year during our evening decorating the tree, we had a HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Tray on hand and it seriously made the whole event! The tray had something for everyone in my family, including crackers and cheese for my little 9 month old, Ellie. Not only this, but our HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays provided enough variety that no one in my household became bored with it. In fact, the family continued eating off of it for the rest of the evening!

Out and about? No problem! Grab a HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Trays and pack the contents to go! My kids love everything on the tray, so it makes an easy grab and go snack when it is divided up into baggies, and the snack is a great distraction from long lines!

Remember to Enjoy the Moment Yourself

The holidays are stressful enough the way it is. Then we add on our cranky, tired, beautiful, amazing kiddos, and it can provide for ugly crying and mass amounts of wine.

In the middle of all of this however, we as mom’s have to remember to put aside our need for perfection, and enjoy the moment. Kids putting all the ornaments in the same one square ft. of the tree while leaving the rest empty? Toddler refuse to sit with Santa and instead is throwing the worlds largest temper tantrum? Was the baby ready for bed an hour before your made it to the Christmas lights and is now screaming in the backseat of the car?

Soak it all in momma. Smile, laugh, enjoy your moments with your family. They may not all be perfect, but they are crafted specifically for you and yours, and you will never get these moments back.

Therefore, take them in. Spend less time stressing over perfect Christmas traditions and more time enjoying. At the end of the night, if you have to enjoy the entire bottle of wine to make it better so be it, but enjoy these moments for what they are. Kill the stress even more by picking up a HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Tray before your event to keep everyone snack happy so you can enjoy your moment in peace!

How do you Cut Down on Stress with the Kiddos during the Holidays?

Have any tips or tricks to help a momma out? Let me know in the comments below!

The post How to take the Stress out of Christmas Traditions for your Kids appeared first on TheCrazySAHM.

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Everyone knows that babies at 8 months old have the cognitive ability to make choices on their own. Rather than hold my baby back from making those decisions, I have decided to allow her to unleash her potential by choosing what she wants to wear.

Only 20 degree’s out and she chooses shorts? No worries, she will learn and not do it next time. I am just fostering her ability to be confident in decisions later in life, right?

Don’t fret, I am full of shit and not really doing this.

For real though, I am sure this suggestion is probably out there somewhere. Yep, probably in  psychologist backed article about how making too many decisions for our infants causes them permanent damage in the long run. We have all read those stupid baby warning articles, right?




This morning, I came across an article on Facebook about “Baby Container Syndrome.” (Yeah, get ready for this one.) It states that we as parents are now causing permanent damage to our babies by utilizing tools like swings, bouncers, and jumparoo’s.

Great stuff right?

Creating the Fear with Stupid Baby Warnings

Now the soon to be new mom is terrified to use anything in her registry because all of it will be detrimental to her child. Why? Because everyday another stupid baby warning is released that does not apply to the majority of the population. Yet  this warning strikes fear in the hearts of new parents everywhere.

I mean, seriously, look around in the media. Now-a-days you are going to damage your baby in just about everything you do with them.

“Don’t hold your baby too much, but make sure you are holding them enough.”

“Do not place your child in “restrictive containers” but also make sure you put your baby down and walk away when you are overwhelmed.”

“Do not feed your baby any kind of solid foods before 6 months, but also don’t get diagnosed failure to thrive because baby is not gaining fast enough.”

“Breast is best and formula is poison, but your doctor wants you to supplement. ”

“Keep your baby close at night to promote bonding, but do not co sleep or room share because it will create dependency.”

How exactly do we expect new mom’s to not be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder immediately upon delivery?

Deciphering the Truth

So here is my dilemma.

It seems like no matter what we do with our children in today’s world, someone out there is going to call us on it and tell us that we are wrong. Those stupid baby warnings telling us not to do common sense things with our kids are all over everywhere. Super awesome when we have fragile, young mom’s out there who just need some support, right?

The problem is, while there is some truth found in the majority of these statements that are being made, a lot of this is overkill for your run of the mill mom. In all reality, putting your child in a bouncer for an hour to entertain them while you vacuum floors is not going to cause permanent damage so as you are mindful of your child. In order for your child to develop many of the issues that are being blasted all over social media, a great deal of neglect occur as well. Don’t want your baby to have a flat head? Do not leave them on their back or in a “container” all day everyday. Common sense right?

The way that the media has portrayed so many of these issues however, is that you must keep your baby in a “free to learn, free of danger, free of gluten, non GMO, pro breastfeeding, pet and dust free, all natural, organic, fully supervised but not too close environment” at all times so that you can raise your child to be the best person that they can be.

Come on moms. Let’s get real.

 To the New Momma’s: Don’t Believe Every Stupid Baby Warning you See

So while the majority of this has been a rant, now I will get to the skinny of it.

Momma’s, you can do all the research in the world about how to bring your baby up the right way, but all you are going to do is work yourself into a complex.  Honestly, there is no one “right way” to raise a baby, and no one correct environment to keep them in. You are always going to find someone who can argue for or against your strategy, and that is ok. Really, even the latest stupid baby warning is not directed at you, but is more of something for your to ponder.

What you need to do is take a step back. Look at the choice you are making and analyze whether there really is a detrimental issue with what you are doing.

For instance, should my 8 month old be able to eat grass in the yard? No, probably not. But the one or two blades that she managed to put into her mouth while I was tending to her older brother is not going to kill her. If we keep our babies in this “plastic bubble” of a world in order to conform to all of the dangers that society tells us about, then our children are never going to have real life experiences.




I mean, come on, we ate dirt and played in contained play yards, and we turned out just fine, right?

What “Mommy Do Not’s”  or stupid baby warning have you heard about recently that have sent your head spinning? Let me know below!

The post Why I let my 8 Month Old Baby Choose to Wear Shorts in Winter (And Other Stupid Baby Warnings) appeared first on TheCrazySAHM.

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No lies, I am kind of sad that October is over. Alas, it brought some pretty big wins for TheCrazySAHM!

October 2017 brought about the change in color of the leaves, the cold change in the weather. It also brought some changes here in my blogging world, including the publishing of my first paid post, and my first month of $100+ in income. Yep, I finally brought in a Benjamin!

Want to know how it happened? Let’s dive in!


October 2017 Income

Total: $181.74

Holy cow! Looking back to September’s blog income, I feel like I made leaps and bounds this last month! My first two monetary sponsored posts, 5 Things I Learned Supplementing as a Breastfeeding Mom, and 5 Tips to finding the Perfect Family Car were both published this month,and that really changed my income game.

I also feel like I managed to catch on to some of the content in the AdSense reports. (You know bloggers, all of those reports Google provides that we generally do not look at.) I changed up some of my promotions based on the stats in those reports, and it made a world of difference!

Now, here’s to hoping I can keep up that momentum in November.

October 2017 Traffic

So I feel like my traffic numbers have remained somewhat steady the last couple of months. I have started changing some of the ways I promote my posts, and I have been reading up on increasing my traffic. This hopefully will mean higher numbers for November, but in the meantime, here is what I saw in October 2017.

Visitors: 1557

Views: 2050

Comments: 16

While my traffic did not make any kind of substantial increases, it also did not decline. I am ecstatic about this because honestly, my traffic could be a lot worse. I did complete some of the challenge that I talked about in my last income report, however I was unable to participate as much as I would have liked. My family took a vacation in October, and also hosted some family from out of town for a couple of days, which left me spending more time with loved ones.

Also, I mentioned diving back into Tailwind in my last report. Tailwind has been helping quite a bit to drive my Pinterest followers up! I managed to gain 71 followers on Pinterest last month, which is unheard of for my account. I cannot wait to see what else Tailwind can do for my blog as I continue to learn more about it!

October 2017 New Posts

During October 2017, I actually managed to post more that I have been! I had 7 total posts last month, a whole 3 posts more than I had in September. Check out what I was writing about:

September Blog Income Report– I am so excited to look back to last months report and compare it to this one! It really helps me to see my progress and to show my readers how much a blog can grow in just a month.

Perfect Gifts for your Baby under One Year of Age This is the first of my gift guides for the season. Be sure to keep a lookout for more throughout November!

How to Plan a Date Night for Mom, Even if she isn’t Asking for One- Moms, we all need a date night. This post is directed at providing your significant other’s with a plan to make it happen! You can thank me later.

5 things I wish I had known during my First Month BloggingIf I could go back, I would tell my newbie blogger self these things. Alas, I cannot time travel, so hopefully other blogging newbies will benefit from this post!

5 Things I Learned About Supplementing as a Breastfeeding MomMost all exclusively breastfeeding moms are afraid of the word “supplement”. I admit, I was too, but I learned quite a bit supplementing, and these lessons made the process easier.

Boys; Why I am talking about them with my 9 year old By far my favorite post of the month, namely because it talks about my oldest and the things we are learning together. If someone told you parenting a preteen would be fun, they lied. But since they lied, here is a a post to help you through the “boys” talk.

5 Tips to finding the Perfect Family Car – Cut the Stress out of Car Shopping– Looking to purchase a new family vehicle soon? This post contains tips to help take the stress out of shopping. Plus, Cars.Com has an awesome tool in this post that rates the safety of different types of car seats in new vehicles. Pretty cool right?




October 2017 Social Media Following

I am probably way more excited about my social media following than I should be. Honestly though, building my following is the fun part of blogging someday. This is namely because I see results much, much sooner, but I digress.

For those interested, here is how my following grew last month:

Facebook –  195 244
Instagram –  2403  2602
Twitter – 7,681  8729
Pinterest
555 626

My following is really starting to become something, which amazes me. Some people may be asking why a social media following is important. Here is what I have to tell you.

First, social media is how I promote my blog, so this is how I get the majority of my viewers to my site. Without followers to read, like, and share my posts, I would be nowhere. Second, my social media following is very important to prospective brands who are looking to sponsor posts for my blog. These brands want see that enough people have an interest in what I am doing to be worth their time and money investing in me to promote their brand.

Yeah, it is big stuff.

Kind of makes my head spin realizing I have come this far.

Until Next Month

I have several personal goals for my blog over the next month that I have written down in my handy dandy notebook. I will not bore you with all of them, but I will give you a couple of the big ones:

Create More Post Pins– One of the strategies I have read about to increase my pinterest traffic, is to have at least two different pinnable images for each posts. I hope to create new pins for the majority of my old posts this month and start circulating them. This should drive my pinterest traffic up over time.

Join More Influencer Networks– The best way to get sponsored posts, is to be able to find them. This is done mainly through Influencer Networks like Linqia. My goal for November is to find and join at least 10 networks within my niche. This should increase my opportunities of sponsored posts.

Well guys, that’s a wrap for October 2017. (Yeah, I am not over the corny Halloween puns yet.) I cannot wait to report back next month, but in the meantime, do you have any blogging questions or problems I may be able to help with? Anything on this report surprise you? Let me know in the comments below!

Ever thought about starting your own blog? Thinking about it after reading this post? Click Here to get started today!

The post October 2017 Blog Income Report appeared first on TheCrazySAHM.

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