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How to be a working mom that is not afraid of a little change.

Being a mommy is so incredibly hard, add in work schedules and this girl can become not only lost but entirely confused on what day it is and what she is supposed to be doing now.

Keeping your little loves happy with full tummies and clothes that fit (and are clean), getting them to off to the sitters, keeping up with work demands seem to occupy my day so much that some times I forget to look down and make sure my clothes are clean and matching. Wait- maybe that is just me?

There was one day I was so busy nursing a little baby, juggling property management details and taking my buyers out to look at new houses that I failed to notice a stain on my back side. Turns out after the last feeding, when I put Finney on my shoulder to burp, he spit up, all which just sort of tumbled down the back of my brand new sweater.

I was mortified when the client asked what happened to me. I am super modest so words like breastmilk certainly do not feel natural to me, even though I honestly loved breastfeeding, and then just showing a house knowing I had breast milk down my back felt so awful. Like why not just stick a flashing neon sign stating “I do not have my crap together” on my shoulders?!

Thank God she was a mama and totally understood my dilemma. I am not sure how I missed the spit up, but I am definitely not the best at checking the back of my clothes in the mirror. Life is usually way too hectic as I rush out the door to check mirrors. Most of the time I am just happy if my lady parts are all covered up and I am dressed somewhat seasonably appropriate.

Let’s make this INBOX official!

It is so easy in our rush to complete the day, to forget to stop and take in the important moments. Not necessarily the moments to check in the mirror for spit up, although that would have have been so incredibly beneficial that one day, but stopping to take in the moments that define your happiness.

The moments that shape our babies childhood. The moments that bring pure joy to our mommy hearts, the moments that make this life worth living. The sweet little parts of our day that make you feel all the feels you expected when becoming mommy.

When I start to feel so overwhelmed that I want to literally run for the hills screaming, or even wish for just a good breeze to maybe allow me to float away for a bit, I remind myself who I am, who I belong to and what I represent.

Great sentence but how does that work exactly? Well you forget the stupid rear view mirror.

I used to have this little white neon that I drove around. I was not the most responsible teenager or young adult and was pretty dang hard on that little car. Before that little car got handed off to my baby brother, I actually broke off the rear view mirror. I guess I twisted it one to many times and the thing just sort of bent off.

I was a broke college student and once it was broke, it was broke for life. Instead of saving up my money like I knew I should have, I just kept the rear view mirror in my cupholder. My thinking was, well, I only used it for make up before, I will just use my side mirrors and turn my neck as far as possible and hope for the best. I can whip out the rearview mirror for those moments when I really need it, but I was honestly shocked to find the policeman didn’t agree with this thinking.

I am not really suggesting we all do this here, but I learned to deal with it. It’s a silly story, but I feel like this visual will help teach such a deep life lesson. Stick with me here, but can you imagine if you were trying to drive down the highway only using your rearview mirror? How hard would that be, what if we could only see behind us to get where we are trying to go?

It would be chaos, you would surely wreck because you are only looking behind you, not what is coming up in front of you. My mom is so very cutely southern, she was constantly yelling out “eyes and feet!” with her deep accent as I was growing up. It always shocked me to hear it and I would immediately stop what I was doing to pay attention. I knew she saw something coming that I didn’t when she yelled this out. This was her way of telling me to watch where I was going, pay attention to what you are doing. Look forward.

I think being a working mommy, I sometimes allow my perspective to only be from my rear view mirror.

My frustrations and stress keep me living in the past, my fears and doubts keep me only looking in the rear view mirror. My mommy feet start moving one way, but my heart is still looking to the past to guide my decisions.

I am a part of a few mommy facebook groups, and the post I see the most, the one that just breaks my heart is when women post things like “I lost my identity once I became a mommy” or “I don’t even know who I am anymore.”

Honestly, I am victim of this thought too. This is where my rearview mirror story comes into play. Being a mommy is demanding and hard. It is exhausting and probably the most confusing role to fill.

The stakes are high, I mean you sort of have to get this right the first time, like there are no do-overs here. There is a little one depending on you, yet there is literally no manual to lay the correct path out. They make manuals for things like turning on the curling iron, but not for raising your baby….

If we spend our motherhood constantly checking the rear view mirror, constantly missing what we once had, and relying on who we knew we once were, we are looking to the past for answers. Constantly looking behind us will only ensure we will never be able to navigate the future as a mama.

You will never again be who you were before babies, that is okay. It is okay to miss the girl you once knew too, but so very important to look ahead of you while driving this motherhood vehicle down the road.

Think about it, if you were to drive by only looking in your rearview mirror, how well would you do? Trying to define yourself as a new mommy by comparing yourself to who you were before babies is the same kind of “ain’t gonna work” nonsense.

Being a mommy means I gave up a part of who I was. That is just the cold hard fact, but giving up a part of you is not bad.

Imagine the marble sculpture of David by Michelangelo.

Michelangelo chiseled away piece by piece until his masterpiece was created. What he started with though was a big slab of marble. The marble had to be chiseled at, had to lose pieces of itself until it eventually became what it was intended to be. Not that I aspire to be a perfect statue, but I do sort of envision this as me, going through life. Some experiences take pieces of you, they chisel away at you. Some moments hurt, some are wonderful, both shape you. For good or bad, you lose pieces of yourself in order to become the person you are today.

In the same way the statue of David can never go back to a slab of marble, I can never go back to Rachel before babies.

On the road to defining who you are, you are going to be chiseled. The road of motherhood does some intense chiseling too let me tell you. There will be tears and regrets, battle wounds and at times its going to look a hot mess, but in the end there is masterplan. A masterpiece that makes you who you are.

A result that you will only see if you allow the chiseling to happen. You are one thousand percent correct to say you lost your identity when you became mommy, just as that slab of marble lost pieces of itself to become the famous statue.

I am no longer the teenage girl I once was -Im not sure that is totally a bad thing though? I am no longer the young adult who just didn’t care enough to save up the money to fix her broken rear view mirror, while I miss that care free side of me, I would never trade this moment for that. Those moments shaped me into who I am. I used to be her and that was a wonderful season of life, but now I am mommy. A mommy who has been chiseled at through wonderful moments of bliss and through moments of complete devatstation. All brought me to where I am right now. Although I do not always completely recognize this new Rachel, I am still thankful for all the moments that got me here. I still stand for all the future moments and look forward to each minute that is to come.

Giving up who you were before mommy is hard, something to work at and come to terms with. If I were being honest it is not that I totally lost Rachel in being a mother, it is that I had babies and now I am Rachel, mommy to my little tribe. I am now a chaos coordinator that sometimes lacks the confidence to coordinate. That is what scares me. Not that I gave something up, not that I was chiseled in a way I did not understand, but more that I do not always know how to be what I am expected to be.

The scary part of motherhood is not that I am no longer a person I always recognize but more that I feel a little lost sometimes in parenting and that is so very scary. There is no real sure fire way of knowing I am doing good enough here. This is the biggest pair of shoes I have ever had to fill and I’m not sure I am wearing them right.

By focusing my thoughts on the road ahead of me, I can now embrace the mommy I need to be. I may not always know what that looks like, or be able to see the master plan, but at least I can attempt to navigate the curves if I am looking in the right direction.

By keeping my thoughts centered around who I need to be for the road ahead, the road to motherhood becomes easier to navigate. Not that we should all break off our rearview mirrors in protest of our past, but if we did motherhood the same way we drove down the highway, where we keep our eyes looking forward 99% of the time, we may just find ourselves.

If we learn to accept that in order to see the masterplan of who we are becoming, we must allow ourselves to be chiseled and sculpted. We must learn to accept the moments that scare us, that chisel away at us, so that we can now accept the woman we are after babies and work. The woman we become while juggling work, forgetting to check for spit up down her backside and fiercely loving her babies.

With a heart that is ready to move forward comes the strength to navigate the future. “Eyes and feet” sweet friend. It is okay to not know exactly who you are at this moment, the important step is to look ahead and try and navigate the traffic while you get there.

The post Working mommies with rear view mirror problems appeared first on .

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Two simple methods to living on a tight budget and crushing your goals as a busy mommy.

Raising babies and keeping the house running with a smooth budget is some dicey work, even for the seasoned mama, who let’s say runs a blog on budgeting and being a capable working mommy.

Tight budgets are stressful, building them while you keep your house functioning can be overwhelming. No one wants to sit and crunch numbers all day, every day, just to be sure you’re saving and getting ahead.

As mommies some of our decisions are made while flying by the seat of our pants. We are mostly winging it over here and that has to work in with our budgets.

If you’re like me, your day’s fly by and tend to get out of hand. Before you know it you are out of paycheck and still have some bills to pay. This is a problem that 92% of Americans have according to quora. Let’s attack this problem head on, but we need a plan.

It wouldn’t be my style to head straight to the point, first I need you to hear this story.

Let me just share where this little bit of wisdom came from first.

I believe it is so important for our future, to learn from our past.

There are people in our lives who will shape us, pour into us and help us navigate. We all need these people, it becomes our tribe, it takes a village to survive this whole parenting thing and that is something I think we tend to forget.

There was a woman who I had the pleasure of meeting, being mentored by and am just proud, in general, to have done life with, even if it was only for a short while.

She has since passed, but she taught me so very much. Her wisdom is something that I hope helped shaped me for the better.

In fact, I included some of what I learned from her in the Becoming All That is Mommy challenge. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or just looking for your mommy voice, head over to enroll. The challenge is 100% covered by The Secret Life. A little gift, just for you!

When this dear lady got married, her new hubby and herself had less than $10 to their names. Sure, they lived in a different generation, but together this family built a life.

On meager incomes they were able to support their children, grand children and touch the lives of so many people. Believe it or not, they did all of this with out fancy jobs or a complex system of keeping track of finances. They had 2 simple methods. No apps, no filing system that was color coordinated. 2 worksheets.

Not only did this wonderful lady mean the world to me, she taught me quite a bit by just being who she was, day after day. I do not believe her goal was ever to teach me strictly finances, more just the way she mothered. Showing love and caring deeply for others was her legacy.

She demonstrated the very picture of a strong woman, simply by being dedicated to who she needed to be for her family. Sometimes success is defined over a long period of time, sometimes you succeed by simply making wise choices day after day, and those choices eventually land you exactly where you trying to go.

With out ever having big fancy jobs that came with paychecks with lots of zeros, she was still able to afford everything she needed. Everything her babies needed, with each baby growing into a successful adult.

Being responsible and making informed decisions is 90% of the battle when it comes to finances.

In fact, I believe in this so much I am offering free budget work sheets for my readers! These little guys are my favorite and even though we have paid off debts, I still use the Budget Building cheat sheet to keep myself in line.

2 simple methods to becoming debt free. Snag them here, don’t want to miss this! 1. Building a plan for a pay period at a time.

So much about budgeting has a to do with the “bigger picture” that I think people get stuck on only thinking long term. You need to think long term, don’t get me wrong, but you get to the long term by the every day small actions. The decisions that feel small at the time are what you build success off of.

I think only seeing the big picture gets to be overwhelming. I tend to give up quick when I think I will never get there, theres no point.

You need to know where you are going, but you need the road map first. {Hence my cheat sheets!}

The Budget Building Cheat is a sheet I fill out each and every pay period. I have a budget binder that I put this baby in front every time we receive a paycheck. I know there are fancy apps for this, but this is how I stay organized. A huge part of budgeting is doing what works for you, creating a habit that is easy.

You need a plan that you will stick with. I will not stick with an app, but I will stick with my budget binder. The sheet is fairly straight forward. I enter each bill that is due for that couple of weeks, first. Then I put cash in my envelopes with the remaining balance. I take out my savings and move over to another account before I even have a chance to think about using it.

I look at my savings as not a part of my money at this moment. That is future Rachel’s money and I do not steal from her.

The Secret Life
2. Have a plan that attacks debt.

Debt to me is like being held down by chains. I understand some times it was necessary in the moment, but holding on to it only holds you back. Instead of building towards a future you are stuck paying off the past. How can you ever get ahead if even your wallet is stuck on debts from years ago?

Did you know that if you only make the minimum payments you are paying nearly double what the debt is worth. Debt is a product, sold by companies that make a profit off you paying them back. Slowly and over time.

Even if it is a 0% interest for a certain amount of time, the company is counting on you not paying off in the correct time period. If you want proof just look at the back of your statement.

“They” set you up with minimum payments that will never pay off the balance in their “0% interest” time frame. The 0% is a gimmick that they hope you are not going to call them out on.

I, for one, do not want to pay other people money who do not believe in me. I hate the feeling of being “had” by a large company that thought I would never make it any way.

Debt is not actually a product with you in mind, the lender ( whether it is on your home, on your car, or to Target) offers the line of credit because they are making a crap ton of money off of you.

I, personally do not want my money going to line some one else’s pockets. I want to keep as much of it as I can. So when Adam and I realized we had way too much debt, I made some more cheat sheets for us. I used this one in my budget binder as well, every pay period.

These cheat sheets were awesome in that I empowered myself every pay period. By filling this baby out I got to see how much progress I had made and exactly what I had left. It became a game, I was no longer stressed out by balances, I enjoyed watching them dwindle.

All I did is write out each balance. I added everything up so I could see exactly how much I owed. Sure it stung and was pretty scary in the beginning, but as my plan worked, I felt more and more empowered to keep going.

I was seeing a difference, I started to believe I could do this. The long term became short term. Baby steps grew out of the long term picture I had created.

To get started I got the sum of every debt, I decided on my goal. I wanted to be debt free in 18 months so I divided my total by 18. This was my number to include in the debt portion of my Budget cheat sheet. I started by paying minimum balances on every card, except for the highest interest rate credit card.

I threw everything left in my debt busting number ( the sum of all debts divided by your goal )at the highest interest rate until it was completely paid off, then moved down the line until the last debt was paid.

My numbers snowballed and before I knew it I knocked out my debt. I had everything except my mortgage paid off before my goal even. Sure my plan was simple, but simple is what it takes to become habit. If it is hard you wont stick with it.

Think long term, but act in the moment.

Creating a plan that you can act out in small steps everyday is the key to success here. Big picture plans are needed but are doomed to fail if there are not actionable steps to take in getting there.

Budgeting is easy, if you have the tools to build it up correctly. I am just a busy mom like you, trying to grow the best future for my family. My budgeting plan is simple, but simple is what works.

P.S. Want some more easy peasy tips? Join the Secret Life Tribe and get a free copy of Budget Bootcamp with Real Estate Mommy.

P.S.S My post does contain a few affiliate links. These are at no cost to you, but how I keep my little blog corner up and running. Please read my full disclosure here and join the mailing list if you would like to learn how to create a blog that earns a full time income for your little mommy empire!

The post How to live on a tight budget by using my two worksheets. appeared first on .

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Here is my open letter to the mommy I recently encountered at a hotel we all stayed at. Like when I say we all, I mean all 6 of us in a itty bitty hotel room on the worst week I have ever been forced to live through.

We are talking tornadoes, hundred degree weather, four kids and no air conditioning… I will just sort of sit back and let all that sink in. In one week. I still had to work and so did the hubs.

Dear Hotel Mama,

I heard about you playing in the pool with your little girl. She was very cute in the way she played delicately, only making tiny splashes because she wanted to keep her hair dry, I was told. I have a little girl too, she was the same way at that age. Everything was dainty, everything was small and meticulously thought out.

My boys were at the hotel pool too that day. Only I sent my big boys down to the pool by themselves (shock I know). They were only alone for a few minutes, I was just tucking their baby brother in for his nap and handing off some chores to daddy. My big boys are old enough by the hotel standards to be in there and I was coming right down. My boys are strong swimmers, I needed 5 minutes. Normally I wouldn’t do such a thing, but we were at the hotel because our week nearly wrecked us.

We had been dealing with the aftermath of a tornado that wrecked a lot of things we hold dear. We had just moved into teeny tiny lease home and came back to find the air conditioner quit on the hottest day so far this summer. All 4 babies were stressed, all 4 kiddos needed routine and needed some time to just be kids. This mama was overwhelmed, hot, sleep deprived and pretty dang grumpy by the time Saturday finally rolled around.

My kids had been cooped up while I dealt with damage, they had been shoved into a hot house while I came up with plan B, demanding they be quiet and still. They had been dropped off here for work and baby sat there while I took on extra work loads to desperately try and even things out. To say my babies, my big boys, especially needed some time to unload is an understatement.

I am raising men over here. I am attempting to keep my boys from feeling like there is something wrong with being rough and tumble. This world is not made for little boys anymore and I am desperately trying to protect the manliness from being squished out of them. Boys play hard, boys are rough and wild. While boys need to be respectful, they also need time to see what all they can do.

I am raising strong men who know how to be the head of the household, who are not scared to look under the bed for monsters or catch the little gecko who made it’s way into the house. Men who know how to treat a woman, how to help her and be the strength she needs.

The thing is though, strong men start off as little boys. As little boys who were allowed to play hard. They start off as little boys who were allowed to test their strength. Fearless men come from being a little boy who tested the limits, who was allowed to learn about fear and how to face it.

These same men, that you are probably dreaming of your daughter marrying some day, start off as little boys who like to splash in pools, who love to jump and do cannonballs. The fearlessness that all women want their men to have, starts off in little spurts of a boy learning he can fly through the air and make a big splash. That he can handle himself, even if it is just at the pool for 5 minutes while mom lays the baby down. The strength a wife wants in her husband, the helper attitude she craves, starts off as a little boy helping his mom get things done.

The way you treated my boys while they were playing was disgusting to me at first. How dare you scold someone else’s child? How dare you complain of getting wet while you are swimming in a pool?

You sent my boys running to meet me with tears in their eyes because of your mean words. I will admit, I was angry at first and this mama came to the pool looking to have words with you. The fact that you were already gone speaks volumes to me, but I want you to know we asked every mama at the pool after you left if my boys were bothering them.

We offered apologies and hand shakes, but not a single person took my boys up on an apology, only shook their hands. Everyone praised my little men. A moment this mama would have missed if you had not done what you did.

My little men said yes ma’am when you were treating them unfairly. My boys said they were sorry even though they had not done anything wrong. My little men got out of the pool and tried to leave you to play with your daughter, only to have you follow and make more complaints. I was told my littlest guy even helped your daughter up when she fell on the slick floor, all while you unfairly told him he had made her fall.

While the thought of your judgement makes me a little mad, it made me realize, I am raising men, and that my boys are understanding the lesson.

My boys play hard and test themselves and their capabilities, they are learning to embrace fear. My boys giggle at the feeling of doing cannon balls and big splashes. The minute they saw they bothered someone, they stopped and apologized.

In the face of an angry mama, that they did not know, and who was intimidating them they showed a kindness that their mid thirties mama struggled to find. They were respectful with their words, when I can assure you my words would not have been so nice.

My boys were proud to help their mama out, they were offering strength when I needed it most. They were being so very good at the hotel, even though they were being asked to deal with way too much. They were displaying strength and patience as they tried to be what I needed.

Check out my survival cheat sheet for this summer!

My men were even offering your daughter help when they already knew you were unhappy with them. They were offering her a bit of their strength, a bit of their fearlessness and you tried to squander it.

Our culture is not made for little boys. The men that our daughter’s dream of meeting are little boys at this moment. The characteristics you demand of your husband are currently being taught to this generation of boys, but what are we teaching them if they are not allowed to be a little crazy, a little rough around the edges as they test their own strengths?

My boys stress me out, they make messes and are sometimes a little hard to manage. Dear hotel mama you taught me to be more thankful for these moments with my boys. You delivered a sweet little moment for my little boys and just the moment this mama needed to finally feel like she had won a battle for this week.

My little men may fly through the air too fast at the pool, they may create huge splashes and be a little too loud, but they are learning to be strong and fearless. This was a lesson I was scared to death they may be missing in this culture, but you unknowingly proved they were excelling even beyond my biggest hopes.

I have you to thank for that. You provided a learning moment for my boys and they surpassed even my greatest hopes. Even though you left the pool a little early that day we went on to have a magical afternoon in the pool, with canon balls, splashes and giggles, we unleashed and found the fuel we needed to keep going. I have you to thank for that.

I can only hope this post finds it way to you specifically, but more than anything I hope that other mamas raising boys find their strength to keep going.

That maybe the next time you see a wild 10 year old boy flying through the air, absolutely killing it with his new trick, you think about the man he is learning to be. That you take in the moment you saw a child learning to be fearless.

Childhood is made up of tiny moments that shape us into the adults we eventually become.

This particular moment gave me a glimpse of who my boys will become and they are above and beyond what I could ever dream of. #proudboymom #bigsplashesdontcare

The post Excuse me I am just raising men over here. appeared first on .

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How to shop home insurance and be sure you are getting the best insurance for you.

Home insurance is one of those things that most people are clueless about. Even as a Realtor®, I get a little lost in the details of all things insurance. I have not really had a go-to insurance agent, I just sort of leaned on my preferred lenders recommendations when going through my deals. My clients also usually had their own guy they seemed to already like, so I would just go with it.

That had always worked out well for me, until recently. I found myself needing more information and not incredibly sure where to turn. Then came Drew- at just the right time.

Seriously, how did he know I had so many questions?

Working in the world of buyers, I find that most of the customers I take on, have one person in charge of budgets in their home. In most cases it is the wife. She is in charge of the budget, she spends the money and is the one heading up the questions needing answered.

Knowing this about my buyers and knowing I had a great opportunity to meet one on one with an insurance agent, I realized this is the perfect opportunity to pick the brain of someone in the biz!

If you are signed up for the newsletters you know I polled some of my most loyal readers and asked what are your biggest questions regarding insurance…. Where do you get lost in the details? What are your biggest fears when picking a policy or do you just wing it all together?

How do you know who to trust?

Sometimes it is hard to trust an insurance agent right away, there is sort of this stigma, even with a Realtor®, that we are in sales and commissioned so keep your guard up. I personally hate that. I hate being treated like I am just in it for the commission. Sure some of us are, but some of us genuinely have your best interest in mind.

It seems to me a no fuss way to learn information on policies is absolutely the way to go. If so many of us mama’s are doing the budget, thinking through the policies and trying to make informed decisions, I think it is time we bring the insurance agent to the mommy blog.

So meet Drew, the insurance guy with the answers, us mama’s need to hear.

As a mama, a Realtor® and the main person heading up the budget in my house I realized I needed to become educated myself. Things always work until they don’t. This is the perfect time to pick the brain of someone in the business… you know before you end up in a sticky situation. So pin this post for later, share it or book mark it, but keep reading for the interview with the insurance agent you need to hear.

Question numero uño…What do I look for in a policy?

-Secret Lifer’s first big question. ( a whopping 82% of you asked this one…)

“A lot of agents out there skimp on a few coverage options, which does whittle away at the overall premium, but in the end I don’t personally think it is worth it. (Read: I personally pay for the higher coverages). First is the liability levels. Not everyone does this, but most carriers max out at $500k. However, lots of agents drop in a coverage level of $300k. What I see is that this is usually an inexpensive upgrade (~$30/year) especially when you look at how much extra liability it provides. 

The next main coverages I’d look at are the water coverages. Sudden and accidental (ex. your water heater explodes) is covered by everyone I’ve seen. However, there are 3-4 other offerings depending on the carrier and it seems that most agents are either not adding these on to policies or are putting in minimal levels. The coverages are Seepage (ex. You have a pipe in your wall that leaks for 14+ days causing long-term damage), Foundation (ex. A pipe in your slab breaks and you have to demo your floor and jackhammer your slab to fix it), Water Back up (ex. A kid drops a toy in a toilet and it ends up backing up and running for a while, ruining floors and baseboards), and lastly Service Line (ex. A tree root breaks the pipe between the city’s line and your house). 

The last main thing I look at are the deductibles. Deductibles are the amount that you’re responsible for in the event of a loss. Example here is if you have to replace your roof and it costs $15k and your deductible is $5k, the insurance company will pay you $10k. 

There are two main deductibles – Wind and Hail, and All Other Perils (i.e. everything else – with a couple small exceptions). A typical thing here is that these are a percentage of your main home coverage, so depending on how much it would cost to rebuild your home dictates how much the price is here. Usually 1% is somewhere around $3k-5k. What I like to do where possible (i.e. you’re comfortable with the premium) is lower the All Other Perils deductible. It means you’ll be responsible for a lower amount in the event of a loss. 

Taking a little step back, I have listed specific pieces of a policy, but policies are written in two main ways that you should pay attention to – “named peril” and “all risk” or “open peril” (the last two are the same, just different name). The named peril policies only cover things specifically noted on the policy. Although these policies can be a little less expensive, the burden is on the insured (Read: You) to prove that one of those specific named perils is what caused the loss. On the flip side, the open peril policies cover everything except the exclusions listed, placing the burden on the insurance company to prove the cause of the damage is excluded. A few typical exclusions in the open peril policies are War, Intentional Acts (don’t go burning your house down on purpose!), and Flooding.”- Drew

2. How do you know good vs bad coverage?

– Secret Lifer question #2

“There’s definitely a range here. Personally, I’m going to tend to recommend “all the coverage your budget can handle.” Insurance isn’t sexy, but when you need it, it better show up. There are some definitive lines that can be drawn though. For example, on car insurance the (Texas) state mandated liability minimums are so low that my company refuses to write any business at that level. To say that another way, we will turn down the sale because of how many situations a person is left underinsured with that level of liability. 

On the home coverage, I would argue that any policy without the optional water coverages I mentioned above is “bad” since the highest number of claims in Texas come around losses due to water damage. 

Ultimately, like a lot of things in life, I think there’s a longer conversation here based around your personal budget, and your personal worth – what sort of loss could you absorb if you don’t have the insurance to do it for you.”- Drew

3. Renter’s Insurance – worth it or not?

-Secret Lifers #3 secret to expose.

“I will always say that renter’s insurance is worth it. Your landlord isn’t responsible for your belongings. Even if the damage/destruction of your couch (for example) is a direct result of a problem with their building, their insurance won’t cover it. So that means you’ll either fight them for it (and likely lose) or pay for it yourself. Also, the cost of this insurance is relatively inexpensive – somewhere in the range of $15-45/month, depending on how much coverage you select. Finally, the best discounts to be found in insurance come when you buy more than one line of insurance at a time. So there are solid discounts on your auto insurance (and in turn your rental policy) when you get them done at the same time. “-Drew

4. How does an independent agent or agency work?

-Secret Life question #4 and probably my biggest question personally.

“An independent agency has the freedom to work with any carrier that is willing to partner with them. For example, our agency works with ~30 carriers in Texas and roughly 80 across the country. Most independent agents and agencies are just themselves and their office staff – sometimes other sales people or a secretary. I don’t know a ton about other independent agents/agencies, but I do know that some, when you call for a claim or for help, will direct you to speak directly with the carrier, since that is your insurance provider. However, some agencies like ours are big enough to employ a service team to help you out. So if you want to add a vehicle that you just purchased, call us up. If you want to get some feedback from us before you decide if you file a claim, feel free. If you want us to “reshop” your policies to see if there is a better option for you in the market because your premiums have gone up after a couple years, we’re happy to. Ultimately, there will be strong and weak independents, based on how they build out their company to support their customers. “-Drew

Turns out Insurance is not as scary as I had thought.

Turns out if you have a great contact it actually can make some sense. Who knew?! I love where Drew points out Insurance isn’t sexy, but when you need it, it better show up.

Better to learn about policies on the best of the days, so when the clouds coming rolling in you are one prepared mama!

Still have questions for Drew? No worries, he has graciously agreed to be available for more questions.

Become educated mama, protecting your biggest purchase and probably your biggest asset is worth it. The long term should always be on our radar as we build our empires and a voice for our littles to carry through life.

Empower yourself to not just accept the first thing thrown at you. Go after the answers you are needing.

 
P.S. Drew is an insurance professional, but our interview can not be applied to your individual case, he is simply shedding some light on some broad topics and a few general questions. For more detailed information, for thoughts regarding your specific needs you should reach out to Drew or to any insurance agent of your choosing. The purpose behind the interview is to help provide an opinion on a few general topics and should be considered as general information, this blog does not contain legal advice as I am just a mama thinking out loud. For legal advice you need to seek a legal professional. Please read my full disclosure for my mommy blog.

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All the SEO blog post tips, popular topics and how to write a viral blog post…. all in one spot on The Secret Life.

This month The Secret Life is featuring topics that will empower other mommies to create their own blog. While I am putting the the finishing touches on Bloggy Mama, my very own Blogging super course, I wanted to share a few sneak peeks into the information I will be sharing in my course… um for free… so keep reading friend. This is GOLD.

Let’s make this INBOX official. First thing is first, let’s talk about your audience.

Blogging is a Customer Service industry. You are not writing about only what you want to write about, you are trying to add “value” to a certain demographics life.

What does “value” mean exactly? I hated it, no I loathed it when bloggers that I was trying to learn from just said things like add value, your know “strong content”….

The problem with being so vague is new bloggers, I.E. you, are left thinking, well great I will just be helpful and strong but the picture of what to do is no more clear than it was when you headed to this post.

When I say add value I mean I want you to think hard about your readers. Who are they, what does their day look like? What do they need and what problems are they facing?

Loving this post so far? Then you NEED Bloggy Mama- just sayin’ How do I get to know my audience?

This was a step I missed early on with the Secret Life. I kept reading I should get to know my audience but I didn’t know how so I sort of skimmed that part over. Problem was that meant I was sort of aimlessly blogging hoping people would head this way, and by people I mean people, not readers. Sure I got views, I am pretty good at making pins, but I did not get READERS.

When I tell you to get know your audience I want you to sit down and think about your ideal reader. Get out the pen and paper and answer these questions. What does their day look like? Where do they go when they have a few moments to just play on their phone or tablet?

What problems do they face everyday? If you are writing a blog, I bet you are trying to help with a certain problem.

For fun let’s say you are trying to help your readers learn to BUDGET better.

So in this scenario we know the readers you will find need help with budget ideas. These readers are stressed, they need quick ideas that will help them fast. Budget ideas should not be costly, after all these readers are trying to save not spend all their money on your products. Not to say you can’t sell products as a Budget Blogger, just you need to know how and when to hit them.

Traditionally you would assume these readers are male, but in fact, these readers are going to be 87% female according to Quora. Women, mainly moms, are in control of the budgets these days. So your reader will probably be a very busy mommy desperately trying to learn to make better financial habits.

Where do I find these mommy readers?

They will be looking up terms like “How to Budget” and “How to save more money”. I know they will be looking up these terms for the record, because 1- I am a budget blogger but 2- I used Jaaxy to find what key terms are the hottest searches right now. (if you don’t understand SEO you need Jaaxy….. game changer my friend.)

These are your key words just FYI, and these key words or search phrases are going to be entered into search engines thousands of times each day. Search engines like google, yahoo and Pinterest (yes Pinterest is a search engine, just with pretty pictures.) by your readers. This is how you find them. These phrases are where your readers are at.

The magic missing piece here is you enter these search terms in your blog post… every where you can. The title, the slug, the headlines, the image ALT descriptions. This is how you write a viral blog post. You write in different ways for the search engines to find YOU first and find you EVERYTIME. Dumping your readers into your lap EVERYDAY.

Not only do you use your focus key words, you use long tail keywords, as well. Know what that is? I did not until recently….

Long tail key word means that if I am writing a post on “How to write a blog post” , my focus key word is “How to write a blog post ” my long tail keywords are going to be words or phrases like “How to use SEO”, “How to write Headlines” or “Easy HTML coding” and “picking your niche” and “finding your readers”. Does that make sense? It is all words that revolve around my main topic. This lets google know I am legit talking about blogging, and lets my readers see I am a wealth of information… I know all these fancy terms. Ha- I kid but really long tail keywords make your blog happy and easy to find. Use them.

Finding the so called “valuable” content. Mini Mommy challenge hosted by yours truly. Umm you should def be in this.

When you sit down to write, after you have researched your key words and considered who your audience is, I want you to remember one more cold hard fact.

For every problem your readers search up, they actually have TWO problems. One is the physical, I need more money problem that brought them to search up “How to budget.”

The secret is, the second problem is actually how you become their go-to blogger.

The Second problem your readers face, the one they can not just google away, is the emotional effects the primary-physical problem brings into their everyday lives.

This is the game changer, the issue readers want you to solve, but are secretly hiding or even unintentionally hiding, maybe they do not even recognize this fact. This is what they want you to find though, this is what your readers need you to solve. This is the blogging GOLD you need to store away.

Solve this silent problem for your reader and you will be in. For example, the Budgeting example we have been using. These readers are STRESSED. My readers through The Secret Life want me to give them budgeting tips, but I know they are stressed over money, have fears that tight finances introduce. I know this because I was there. I know it is a struggle you hide and try not to share. I genuinely love my readers and tend to get to know them even, I do this because I understand the secondary emotional problem that readers need help fixing. Sure I want to be an amazing blogger, but my heart is to help. I can only legitimately help if I seek out the secondary problem.

My favorite opt in ever. Sign up now and get your free Cheat Sheets!

I seek out the second problem by creating Parenting tips to reduce stress or by introducing strategies to think longterm, not just the one day we are living in. I even offer free cheat sheets and Budget Bootcamps for those who sign up for the email list.

The heart of the Secret Life is to reach the Budget reader intentionally by sharing my cheat sheets for free, by giving the reader a few tools for free, even by setting up a Mommy mini challenge (for free) to help build up this sweet reader… for free.

Not everything in the blogger world needs a price.

Your readers must come first, genuinely first. Sure I sell courses, but I offer the bulk of my content for 100% free. My intention is my reader. I want to actually make their life better.

The beauty of being a writer means you get invited into your readers inbox, into their lives and everyday thoughts. This fact alone should always be treated with care. If there is something you find valuable enough to offer to sell, readers are typically cool with it, but you should be the filter of good products vs just oh hey buy this type ads. Writers need to earn a living, but the only way you can earn that living through blogging is to earn the trust of your reader first. So be a writer that is trustworthy.

Sign up straight through your INBOX

Now I that have absolutely exposed my top secret in the Blogging world, cat’s out of the bag – I want to see your blog posts with this tip in mind. Send them over, who knows, maybe you will even snag a guest post here on The Secret Life!

Love that post and can’t wait for Bloggy Mama to launch? Thats cool – Head to 10 ways to crush it with your post.

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Becoming a successful working mom was not easy, here are the tips and advice you most definitely need first.

In fact, it was so hard for me to grasp becoming a successful working mom that my first few months kicked my butt. I quickly began to doubt myself, doubt my ability to create an income, or that I could even build my online business.

I thought there is no way. How in the heck do these ladies work all day, have a clean house, get dinner on the table, and get up to do the whole dang thing all over again, with a smile on their face. I was baffled.

I worked for about 3 months and cratered. I fell apart. There were tears, even temper tantrums and laying on the ground saying no I don’t want to go- haha. It was not pretty. Sadly I was in my late twenties, I knew better.

I gave in, melted in my insecurities, was frustrated and felt like a failure, so I turned in my two weeks notice. Gave up, and officially quit the job.

I am super competitive, so quitting hurt. It hurt my pride something awful. Quitting, was legit heart break for me. I felt like a complete failure.

I had let my family down, our budget suffered, my kids were never going to college and my house would probably always look like a tornado had just gone through the center of it, even if I was now a stay at home mama, because I was failing on all fronts.

I was a quitter. I failed, quickly gave into my fears.

In the middle of, probably the biggest temper tantrum I have thrown in my adult life I realized, I did not have a plan going in…. my number one rule to Mommin’ is always have a plan going in.

Killing it as a working mommy doesn’t just accidentally come together, it is a skilled thought out routine that each and every mommy I admire most has arranged.

It is a choreographed dance that the mommy has put together and gracefully worked hard to balance. It was insanely unfair of me to just assume I could waltz in and have each piece fall, peacefully together.

I needed to do research. I needed get pen and paper and I was going to sort this crap out. No way am I going out like that. So I did my favorite thing, called up some of my favorite girls and picked their brains.

What did all these successful women have in common?

What traits did they all have, what all did their success stories have that mine did not?

How were they adulting like a pro, while I was over here on the bathroom floor crying that I have to get up and get ready again before the sun is even up.

I grabbed my pen and paper and made a list. I thought of all the Mommies I had met, that were absolutely rocking at this whole working mom thing.

 7 distinct traits that made these women strong, successful. Here is another one for the diary of motherhood, keep this list handy. Snag your free mini mommy challenge! 1.These successful women were fierce, they never gave up.

As Mommy’s we all have that inner Mama bear and your babies are probably one of the things that brings it out of you the fiercest.

Use that! Fight hard to conquer being a working mommy for those babies. Chances are you are working because you love the job and/or need the income. Your building a life for those babies.

Those sweet little smiles and tiny hot sticky little hands make your heart oh so happy, even if they are mini little monsters ALL of the time -I kid, but seriously mine are crazy little human tornados the majority of the time.

The thing is though, they are MY monster tornados and 110% are depending on me to get this right.

Failure is just not an option for this Mama.

One day my house will be quiet, my rooms will be clean and laundry will finally be put away. One day this crazy dance will pass and I will have more time to work with.

One huge thing tho, that very thought breaks my heart. I do not want this time to pass, when I remind myself how short this little chapter is I find my strength again. While this season of life is hard, I want it to last forever. I want my babies to stay little and I would do anything to make the most of this time we have together.

Eventually, my little tornados are going to grow up and branch out into their own corners of the world. While I am excited to see who they become, I am saddened to know they will be leaving my little nest. Knowing this moment will come keeps me strong, I can not fail at prepping my littles for this exact moment. I need to be strong so they can be.

2. These Fierce Mommies were Organized .

This one is more than just organizing your closets, which is awesome and a feat I can’t seem to manage for some reason?

Organize your thoughts, calendars and goals. I am still a pen and paper kind of girl, I love cutesy stationary and all things girly and glittery for this.

For some reason a list of goals and to do’s seem more manageable with Rose gold shiny letters…

Writing down your thoughts and organizing them into a manageable list so you can see everything easily helps. Armed with your check list you now know exactly where your end point is and can map out your route for the day to get there.

I can handle any storm if I know where the beginning is, the middle point and can clearly define the end for myself. The only way I can do this though is to be writing my plans down, giving myself a birds eye advantage of the day.

I write my goals down for life, for the month, for the week and the day. It sounds like a lot, I know, but it keeps me focused.

3. Fierce organized successful Moms had a Mission Statement.  

Once your thoughts are organized, make a mission statement. I know I have said this before, but it is still just as true. You need a mission statement.

Write it down, memorize it.

Whats your mission? Why are you doing this crazy busy dance of working and mommin’ so hard?

Maybe its to finally get that dream house or maybe it is to pay of debts and bring Hubby home from a job that has him gone for extended amounts of time.

No matter what that plan, is write it down and put it in a place you see every day. This way when the day comes, and it will, the day that the “Fit really hits the Shan” you can easily find the inner strength and remember why you are busting your Mommy booty to get the job done.

You mean we are all just winging it?! 4. These fierce Mommies allowed themselves room to grow. 

Forgive yourself when you fall short, allow yourself to admit you do not know everything and can not be every where at once. It is ok to make mistakes and to admit that you fudged it a bit.

In fact, despite growing up in real estate, despite all my training and experience, there are times I am still asked questions that I do not know the answers too.

My industry keeps growing and changing, I find my clients respect it a bit more when they know I will tell them if I am just not sure. I assure them I will absolutely do some research and get back to them. Do not be afraid to get your hands dirty and go find the answers, in doing so, not only will you gain knowledge, you will also learn to trust yourself more, and gain the respect of your peers and clients.

Honesty is always respected.

Free Mommy Challenge. 5.  My fierce working Mom friends had their tribe. 

These women I admire the most surround themselves with women like them. Im not saying  you should exclusively hang out with other strong working Mommies, but have that tribe of Mom’s who fight the same fight you do.

You need people to build you up and encourage you along the way. You need other mamas who know how it feels to work a 10 hour day, come home and make it to baseball, make dinner, clean a dirty kitchen and put together a costume for the next day’s play at school.

It is a proven statistic that we become who we hang around, that birds of a feather stick together. Why not surround yourself with women you admire, have common threads with and would not mind becoming a little more like.

Allow yourself that time to joke around, get margaritas and tacos and simply remember who you were before being a busy mommy. You deserve it and need it. I find I am most successful on the days after my Mommy night out. Its a thang, I promise!

6. Fierce Moms are not afraid to prioritize. 

It can be hard to pick what chores to scratch of your list for the day, some days I struggle with, well it all needs to be done!

Honestly though, do you have clients today? That needs to be top over perfectly swept floors. Is there a task that produces more yeild for your family? If so that needs to be top, perfectly organized drawers make me so happy, but my clients and closings come first.

It will have to be ok if the drawers up stairs in my boys rooms are a disaster for that day. It will not be ok though if I disappoint my clients. Learn to prioritize, also just throwing this in, having your mission statement clearly defined will make it that much easier to decide what is a priority and what is not.

7. Delegate Mama.  

Never be afraid to delegate. We are only as good as our support system. There is no shame in asking for help or relying on others to help you out with your chore list.

Do you have a significant other that can help? A parent or a child old enough to take on new chores? I know for example, teaching my 12 year old to do the dishes has been a life saver.

I love having that help and she is very proud of being able to help. Maybe you are at a point in your career where it is just time to hire more help even.

I personally, had to admit I can not do it all and hire on cleaners. I felt selfish at first, now though I see it as some much needed help. I see the money being spent is not just for a clean house, it is buying back valuable time for me.

3-4 adults cleaning can get my home spic and span in 2 hours. It takes me all day. That $100 buys me a day, absolutely worth it and not selfish at all. If I do not have chores for the day, that is one day I get to be just mommy.

I simply can not take on Real Estate, a blog, chase 4 babies all day and still have a clean house. I needed to delegate, I needed the help. The money being spent was hard to swallow at first, but now I see its not just paying for cleaners. Its being spent so I can enjoy my family a bit more. 

Once I applied these traits to myself, I was enabled to take on the world. Not to say each day is perfect, but each day I feel strong and confident. I am able to apply these steps as I go through life as a busy working mom knowing I am doing my very best. I am fierce. The day may not have gone exactly as I planned each time, but I know I came prepared.

I hope you can apply these to your life and become as successful and confident as you desire to be. You got this! Build that empire. 

Snag your free Mommy confidence challenge today here. Building strong mommies today for a better tomorrow.

       

My post does contain some affiliate links, please read here to learn exactly what that means for you as a consumer. Interested in earning a great income online? Let me share my jedi ways mama.

 Love this post and still needing more?! Join hundreds of other Secret Lifer’s as we move through the Mini mommy challenge. Did I mention it’s free? What do you have to loose?? Other than your fears..Your debt…. your frustration… Just sayin’, I got choo Boo! Head here love!

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So you want to be a blogger…. but what the heck do you do after deciding to create one?

I am pretty sure you are me a couple a years ago.

I love Real Estate and all things mommy, but was desperate to start a community for my platform. I wanted so bad to have a place to write, a creative outlet, but still contribute to my growing family.

The very thought of creating a website from scratch just overwhelmed me to the point I did not even really look into it. 

Well then came Bluehost.

-but let’s start from the beginning. I can list a home, sell a home, help with investments, help bring a lease home a great tenant, not to mention I grow tiny humans and keep them alive, but start a website? I was not so sure that was for me.

I had a huge learning curve ahead of me and I knew that, but I was determined to try. We’re talking a year of I still don’t even know what I’m doing, maybe I should just quit.

A funny thing happened though, I made a little money. Not much, but just when I was going to quit, I suddenly made a couple hundred bucks. I suddenly had a few steady readers, with comments and questions.

Blogging is not for everyone, but if you are determined it can happen. You need to take just a few specific steps to get there. Quitting the 9-5 and being in charge of your own financial health is absolutely a attainable dream, let me show you how I did it.

I would love the chance to help you guys not struggle the way I did.

Keep reading for my easy peasy blog tutorial. #thestruggleisreal #howdoyoudothis #iamlost

When starting a blog there are a few key factors to consider. Domain, Platform, theme and host site. All four are equally important in my opinion.

I had no idea what these things were before starting a blog. So I’ll shed some light below so you are off to a better start than I was!

Domain-  This is everything you guys! This is where you pick the name of your blog. Keep in mind your blogs world will revolve around this idea. This is how your customers will recognize you and how they will find you. Make this easy to remember. 

secretlifeofrealestatemommy.com was my pick. I love that it has the word secret…. everyone wants in on a good juicy secret. I love that I can give you the behind the scenes of Real Estate and also share my mommy secrets with this name.

I love that you will get to own domain if you sign up with Bluehost. I thought this was outrageous, but remember, you get what you pay for. Not all sites allow you to own your content. General rule of thumb, if you are not paying, you do not own.

As a business woman to the core, this was huge to me. I want to own my site and be able to aways use it. I always want access to my content and complete control over it.

Hosting site– I started to google the idea of owning my own domain and came across Bluehost. Several blogs I followed had also mentioned this hosting site and it seemed interesting. Everyone went on and on about how user friendly it was, as well as ranking the customer service highly. Having zero experience with building a blog, these were determining factors for me.

{Just adding in here, these two factors turned out to be 110% true. I set up my site easily in an hour or so and had a few questions that the chat team walked me through. I did not know how to do a task they needed me to complete, to answer my own question, so the guy even sent me instructions on how to work my own computer.

I was amazed at how kind and professional he was. I mean, I was laughing at myself at this point. Who needs help working their own laptop in order to answer their own questions!? Umm me, thats who. #nottechsavvy}

The commitment was pretty low here too,  I had a link for a rate of $3.95 a month and thought why not. When I went to sign up I realized they even offer a 30 day guarantee. With nothing to lose I jumped right in, in the back of mind I was thinking I will probably need to fall back on that 30 day guarantee- so I am might glad you offered it ha

Since I have already joined, however, I found a link for an even better discount code, I am providing below. Just click the get started and you will be taken directly to Bluehost site, where you will be able to set up today. 

Make sure any hosting site you go for offers really good plug ins. Its ok if your not sure what that is, just know they will make or break your blog at this point and you want them. They are sort of like apps on your phone. Some of them you really need, some are for fun, but too many will slow ya down.

Platform- What is the purpose of your blog? Who are you trying to reach with it? What are you trying to share with the world here. Pick a niche that you can write on for years and can expand on.

I decided to start with a pretty broad niche, I wanted to give myself a chance to see which topics I enjoy writing the most, and how I gained traffic which each topic. I wanted to find out how I could have the highest earning potential with my particular blog.

I figure I can always narrow down as I grow a following but I wanted my blog to stand a chance in whatever route I decided to go. 

** Just a fun update, I have already narrowed down after a couple months. I am better at writing how-tos and business building. It seems my readers enjoy these posts the most. So very glad I kept my niche broad enough that I could head in this route. **

If you have nailed down these facts, you are ready to actually roll up your sleeves and start the blog. Follow along below for my tutorial, with pictures! 

First, go to Bluehost and check out their plans. I chose the lowest level one, I do not really feel like at this point I need anything more? Here is a link to make it super easy for you to use the same plan as me.

After clicking that link you should see a screen similar to this one below. You can add on packages. I did add on the security, just because if my site gets hacked I have no idea what comes next

After picking your plan, you will be taken to a place to input your information. I think this was pretty easy and straight forward.

After your information is in you will come to a screen asking for your domain name. We determined this one ahead of time so go ahead and fire up that baby.  

After this, I got to the place, I needed the most help. I did not understand a lot of the links once I got here. 

Let me break this page down super easy for ya, this one took me days to fully understand.

Themes-  This is the visual experience your giving your reader. Pick one that flows with your content. Check it out on a mobile device and desktop. Most my readers come from a mobile devices, just FYI. Bluehost offers a ton of free options, you can purchase some here or even from Etsy. I chose to go with a free theme until I started making some money, I still have not switched from blossom theme. 

** Update, I have actually purchased a theme at this point. I decided I would wait until my site grew, I finally hit my number and was ready. I strongly encourage waiting to spend money until you are sure you are going to stick it out.**

Plug-ins – These are basically apps you can add to your blog that make it run smoother. You can do a smart crawl to help google find you, smush pro to make images work better for you. Mail chimp to grow your email subscriptions, Hustler to to add polls and quizzes and various pop ups. Do not go over board, you want a smooth reading experiences but plug ins make or break your blog.  Too many slow you down, not enough will actually hinder your growth.

Widgets- Think menu here, put them in places that make sense and make it super easy to find all your great posts.

Pages vs Posts- Y’all this one threw me. Pages are what your readers will land on when coming to your blog, or great ways to advertise different products. Posts are the different articles/blog posts in your menus.

Sounds easy now, but that took me about a month to fully grasp. Your page/ landing place will be sort of a home page while your readers scroll thru your posts. Make the home page a good one, nice and sticky so your readers will keep coming back.

I like using pictures and personality on my pages. It is more inviting to actually see the person behind their blog. I even chose to write a little about me on “Heres the down low”, my sticky home page. My goal is to become friends with my readers, to really connect.

Once you have nailed this down you are ready to be up and running my friend! Its official, you are a blogger. Now you need traffic and ads if you are looking to monetize. Be sure and subscribe if you like this tutorial! As my blog grows I will keep the tutorials coming!

**Updated posts below, just to name a few. Head to the Blogging tips section for even more tips on growing your blog to a full time business!

How to gain traffic, 

How to monetize

How to master Pinterest

Grow your blog on Pinterest with the Mom squad.

More blogging tips with Real Estate Mommy

I absolutely want to follow your new blog, leave a comment below with your blog links and social media. I love a good blog!


{This site does contain affiliate links, please find my full disclosure here}

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A Secret life confession of my very own on raising a daughter who was suddenly diagnosed with two serious auto immune diseases, Celiacs and Hashimotos.

Symptoms of Celiacs disease are hard to diagnose in children. Anxiety attacks, slow to grow, struggling with constant tummy aches can all fall under so many categories.

So many children go undiagnosed. Words like failure to grow, anxiety disorders or mysterious tummy pains start to get thrown around. A immune system attacking itself gets confused and jumbled up with a child who is overly stressed. Leaving parents broken, lost and unable to help a little one who just can not seem to gain weight.

Celiacs disease is not new, apparently medical journals have records going back as far as 2000 years ago (quora). Cases of sickly children, slow to grow made the notes, but there were no blood tests to understand the reasoning. These same sickly children excelled when the wheat crops failed. Strangely their bodies started growing, when otherwise healthy children were loosing weight. A correlation was suspected but again, lack of a formal diagnosis was available.

In the 1950s a modern understanding of the connection between gluten and illness dates from a pediatrician Dr. Dicke, writing in the Netherlands, following the observation that some children who had been hospitalized with a mystery wasting disease actually improved during a wartime famine.

I remember the day Celiacs Disease became a word in our home.

I remember the day like it was yesterday, I remember the guilt, the fear. I didn’t realize, I didn’t know. To be perfectly honest, I did not even understand what gluten was before. I sort of thought it was some hippie dippie BS that people with tons of time find a way to eat around. I am so very guilty in this scenario. Ignorance would be the word to fully describe this moment for me.

I am proud to say I am reformed. I now understand the concept that I, as smart as I think I am, do not actually know everything. Just because it sounds foreign to me does not mean it is not a thing.

I wrote this about my little girl. About our story, with her permission course, after all it is her story to share. We had the hopes that another mama struggling to understand, may find the strength to trust her gut and keep searching for the answers.

Even if you do not understand the answers once you have them -keep going. You are the only voice your child has. They depend on your ability to learn and to keep searching.

My pretty pink ballerina. The girl and the autoimmune disease.

There once was a little girl. She was so incredibly strong, something her mommy did not quite fully understand. She had big brown eyes and crazy curly brown hair. She made her mama giggle as they played afternoon tea and barbies.

Dress up was their favorite, anything sparkly that twirled just right should be worn at all times they decided together.

Long afternoons spent with anything that glittered, Hot pink nail polish and sparkly lips were their favorites. Foxy the fox and Purple care bear would always be in attendance as they curtsied through their afternoons.

One morning there was a change in this little one though. Something a little different, something not quite right. It was all the little things at first, but this mommy knew in her heart something was not working right deep inside her little girl.

Something inside her had changed.

The girl grew a tummy ache. A tummy ache that lasted for years, she stopped growing, became scared of the world and stopped playing dress up. Her bones hurt and swelled at the joints along with a redness that seemed to come and go as it pleased. There was no answer, there were no cures.

The tea parties grew quiet as the little princess grew too tired. Her body no longer enjoyed the cinnamon rolls they always served or the spaghetti-os that were once her favorite.

The mommy did her best, tried bringing about glittery tea parties, but nothing covered up the tummy ache or the insides hurting. Nothing made the little one want to dress up and twirl with pink sparkly lips or dance along with Aurora. Something had changed deep inside, but the mommy could not answer.

Lists came, needles poked, blood was stolen from the little girl. Test were negative, no answers, just confusion with a tired little one who was no longer growing. Devastated the mommy watched as the little girls light began to dim, as worries took over her heart and frustration seemed to always to settle in. No answers, no reasons, no cure.

A few years later, one list came that changed everything. The answer was sort of an accidental find in a routine checkup. What they had learned to accept as normal, was not normal and finally we started to grow with a new change.

Celiacs disease was the answer. The tea parties changed, gluten free was the solution. Twirling could happen again, along with sparkly lips and twirly dresses. The solution helped for awhile, but one day a new change. The light that had started to brighten, quickly dimmed again.

Her body was not ready, something was still not quite right.

The girl was still tired. She was still super worried and things did not feel right to her mommy.

Still something was off, but what could else could it be?

Devastated the mommy went back to researching. Back to search for more answers, only to hear quiet. Nothing seemed to make the little girl’s light brighten. By now, the tea parties were a thing of the past, purple care bear and Foxy the fox were worn tired by afternoons spent being held too tight.

Again, an accidental find during a routine check up. A number a little off, something is not quite right. A thyroid being attacked, a hormone a little too low.

More needles and pokes, more worries for the little girl. A new day brought a new autoimmune disease. Hashimotos was the new answer.

A thyroid that had been attacked for years was now nearing it’s end. Numbers were too low, the little girl needed the tiniest of pills to put back what her body had lost.

Scared and shaken the girl found her voice from deep with in. The girl was so very strong, something her mommy did not understand exactly but this little girl was so incredibly special. God had made her for bigger purposes.

She grew a voice so loud it was heard by all, a light so bright began to shine with in her, that everyone around her would stop to see. The tea parties were now outgrown, but in the best of ways. The little girl was growing, her worries were becoming a thing of the past as her body was finally heard by those around her.

Celiacs and Hashimotos do not define this girl or hold her back, they only showcase the way her body likes to be fed. This little girl is strong. This little girl was meant for big things.

For the little girl had a strength with in her, one her mommy saw early on, and one that will carry the little girl as she goes through life. Her little light will always shine.

We all take a path that will throw us a curve. The curve is not what matters- what matters is how we navigate the curve. The little girl understood the wisdom that maybe the mommy did not.

Me and my girl, happy and healthy!!

P.S. Did you love that post? Secret Life Confessions is all about bringing mommies together. Send over your mommy confession, serious or not and your may just see it posted!! Every week we try to have a new confession up for our mommies!

Also- there is a free mommy challenge just for signing up as a reader! Would love to include you! Get the deets here!

The post The girl vs the autoimmune disease. appeared first on .

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2 simple methods to pay off your debt.

Raising babies and keeping the house running with a smooth budget is some dicey work, even for the seasoned mama’s who, say runs a blog on budgeting and being a capable working mommy.

Tight budgets are stressful, building them while you keep your house functioning can be overwhelming. No one wants to sit and crunch numbers every day to be sure you’re saving and getting ahead. Our days fly by and before you know it you have more month than paycheck.

Of course to get to my real point, I need for you to hear this story.

There was a woman who I had the pleasure of meeting, being mentored by and am just proud in general to have done life with, even for a short while.

She has since passed, but she taught me so very much. Her wisdom is something that I hope, helped shaped me a bit! In fact, I included some of what I learned from her in the Becoming All That is Mommy challenge.

When this woman got married, her husband and her had less than $10 to their names. Sure, they lived in a different generation, but together this family built a life. On meager incomes they were able to support their children, grand children and touch the lives of so many people.

Not only did this wonderful lady mean the world to me, she taught me quite a bit by just being who she was, day after day. I do not believe her goal was ever to teach me about finances, more just what she demonstrated by being a strong woman, being dedicated to who she needed to be for her family.

By being a strong woman, who was dedicated to those she loved she built a family, a life. With out ever having big fancy jobs that came with paychecks with lots of zeros she was still able to afford everything she needed. Everything her babies needed, with each baby growing into a successful adult.

Being responsible and making informed decisions is 90% of the battle when it comes to finances. In fact, I believe in this so much I am offering free budget work sheets for my readers! These little guys are my favorite and even though we have paid off debts, I still use the Budget Building cheat sheet to keep myself in line.

Building your household budget. Let’s make this INBOX official! 1. Building a plan for a pay period at a time.

So much about budgeting has a to do with the “bigger picture” that I think people get stuck on only thinking long term. You need to think long term, don’t get me wrong, but you get to the long term by the every day actions.

I think only seeing the big picture gets to be overwhelming. I tend to give up quick when I think I will never get there.

You need to know where you are going, but you need the road map first. {Hence my cheat sheets!}

The Budget Building Cheat is a sheet I fill out each and every pay period. I have a budget binder that I put this baby in front every time we receive a paycheck. I know there are fancy apps for this, but this is how I stay organized. A huge part of budgeting is doing what works for you.

You need a plan that you will stick with. I will not stick with an app, but I will stick with my budget binder. The sheet is fairly straight forward. I enter each bill that is due for that couple of weeks, first. Then I put cash in my envelopes with the remaining balance. I take out my savings and move over to another account before I even have a chance to think about using it.

I look at my savings as not a part of my money at this moment. That is future Rachel’s money and I do not steal from her.

The Secret Life
2. Have a plan that attacks debt.

Debt to me is like being held down by chains. I understand some times it was necessary in the moment, but holding on to it only holds you back. Instead of building towards a future you are stuck paying off the past.

Did you know that if you only make the minimum payments you are paying nearly double what the debt is worth. Debt is a product, sold by companies that make a profit off you paying them back.

Even if it is a 0% interest for a certain amount of time, the company is counting on you not paying off in the correct time period. If you want proof just look at the back of your statement. They set you up with minimum payments that will never pay off the balance in their “0% interest” time frame. The 0% is a gimmick that they hope you will not meet.

I, for one, do not want to pay other people money who do not believe in me. I hate the feeling of being “had” by a large company that thought I would never make it any way.

Debt is not actually a product with you in mind, the lender ( whether it is on your home, on your car, or to Target) offers the line of credit because they are making a crap ton of money off of you.

I, personally do not want my money going to line some one else’s pockets. I want to keep as much of it as I can. So when Adam and I realized we had way too much debt I made some more cheat sheets for us. I used this one in my budget binder as well, every pay period.

These cheat sheets were awesome in that I empowered myself every pay period. By filling this baby out I got to see how much progress I had made and exactly what I had left. It became a game, I was no longer stressed out by balances, I enjoyed watching them dwindled.

All I did is write out each balance. I added everything up so I could see exactly how much I owed. Sure it stung and was pretty scary in the beginning, but as my plan worked, I felt more and more empowered to keep going. I was seeing a difference, I started to believe I could do this.

After I got the sum of every debt, I decided on my goal. I wanted to be debt free in 18 months so I divided my total by 18. This was my number to include in the debt portion of my Budget cheat sheet. I started by paying minimum balances on every card, except for the highest interest rate credit card.

I threw everything left in my debt busting number ( the sum of all debts divided by your goal )at the highest interest rate until it was completely paid off, then moved down the line until the last debt was paid.

My numbers snowballed and before I knew it I knocked out my debt. I had everything except my mortgage paid off before my goal even. Sure my plan was simple, but simple is what it takes to become habit. If it is hard you wont stick with it.

Think long term, but act in the moment.

Creating a plan that you can act out in small steps everyday is the key to success here. Big picture plans are needed but are doomed to fail if there are not actionable steps to take in getting there.

Budgeting is easy, if you have the tools to build it up correctly. I am just a busy mom like you, trying to grow the best future for my family. My budgeting plan is simple, but simple is what works.

P.S. Want some more easy peasy tips? Join the Secret Life Tribe and get a free copy of Budget Bootcamp with Real Estate Mommy.

P.S.S My post does contain a few affiliate links. These are at no cost to you, but how I keep my little blog corner up and running. Please read my full disclosure here and join the mailing list if you would like to learn how to create a blog that earns a full time income for your little mommy empire!

The post Living on a tight budget and conquering the world with budget building worksheets. appeared first on .

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With summer looming around the corner, busy moms every where are getting a little antsy about how to entertain these kids all summer long.

I mean, what the heck am I supposed to do with these kids at home, in my hair, for a full 3 months?! I still have 5 days left of school, so my survival list is definitely starting to take shape.

For all you mama’s with littles’ thinking, my baby is always home, what’s the big deal? I am just going to allow you to keep your sweet little innocence for now. It’s cute really, but for the other mamas doing this thing with out nap time, I know you understand the struggle.

I was there, I get it. This whole freaking out about summer thing and having your kids full time seems foreign to the newbies, but you just wait. Your time will come mama and you will understand.

The middle years are confusing and hard. Not harder than the newborn years, just a different hard. We are no longer babies (well 3/4 of my kids are no longer babies..) but we are not teenagers that can drive or head out with friends alone either.

We are little humans with the full range of goals and expectations out of the day, but lacking the ability to form the plan and understand all the emotions around getting to where we are going.

Basically we are almost teenagers who want and need all the benefits of leading their own lives, but still wholly dependent on me to make it happen, which is wonderful, but absolutely zaps my ability to lead my own life. I am chauffeur, short order chef, personal assistant and personal shopper to 4 of my favorite people ever. Summer is the beginning of that position having zero breaks in the day. There is a love/hate relationship with that thought.

Having four kids ranging from all ages I realize I have no idea what I am doing. I have no real control over our schedule, how we do things or when we do it. It is chaos over here with our soon to be full on summer schedule.

Instead of putting together the usual slew of survival lists for the summer, crafts for kids and activities to do this summer with your kids, I thought as busy moms we need a general list of things not to do this summer. You know, loose guidelines on how we can all survive.

First off, do not structure every minute of the day.

Summers will only mean a full house, depleted of any and all groceries, with kids lounging about for so many years in our lives. The way I see it, I am mid way through this whole raising kids thing, I have already spent half my summers with my babies home, my oldest, I have already blown through over half her summers here with me.

I want summer to be fun, to be relaxing and this magical memory she looks back on for when she had zero responsibilities. Every summer after she hits 18 will be about college, advancing herself in life, earning money and paying bills. Even though the thought of all 4 kids home, for 24 hours a day, scares me a bit, I can protect these precious few months where she doesn’t have to do anything, but be a kid.

Do not worry about schedules or what others say you need to do.

Now is the time you can latch on to just having fun, summers’ can be about the family, embracing the few short months without someone else reaching into your schedule and telling you how things will be.

Embrace it. Before you know it summers will be spent with a quiet house, without any changes in work schedules needing to be made, the only real change you notice being the weather.

One thing that drives me insane is other people telling me what to do with my kid or when to do it. If your kid wants to play sports, this is a thing. I love that most our sports take a break over the summer, these are my short months with out practices, games and tournaments. It is just the 6 of us, doing our thing. We get to bum around a lot of the day and it is just about my favorite. I love it!

Do not let your attitude get the best of you.

Those dog days of summer are coming. I know I just said it was magical, but some of it is me trying to convince myself it is, too. Those long days in July are coming, where every one is bored and sick of each others faces.

Attitude is key on these days. I am determined that our outlook is what predicts our days.

Rachel @ The Secret Life.
Do not forget kids are people too.

One of my favorite things to do on day 1 of summer is let the kids create a vision board. This is their break time too, their moment to shut the world off for a little bit, and even though they may not mention it, there are things they want out of their summer.

It encourages me to view it that way when I see how excited they are over their summer plans. Summer is magical to the middle aged kid, this is their time to be a kid, one of their last few summers with nothing to do but hang out.

I think as busy mommies it is so easy to forget that our kids are not tiny little robots who do exactly what you say, when you say to do it. They have emotions too, their own thoughts spinning in their little brains.

They are little humans with the full range of emotions, that some times they do not show. I love that my kid’s vision board will bring out every expectation they have for summer, even the ones that are hidden down in their little kid brains, the ones they forget to tell you, but are secretly very important to their little hearts.

The project is always fun for my babies and this mama can rest at ease knowing if it made it to the board it must be important. I now how have my targets to hit for the summer and can do my best to work a few of their favorites in.

Summer is always a little scary peering in from this side of May, but I know by August it is always sad to send these guys back to the real world.

This summer while you are focusing on those babies and soaking in each moment, join in the free mommy mini that will help lift you up. Taking time to find yourself is so important in keeping your head in the game and building a voice your children will carry through their lives.

Read along the mommy diaries though out the generations with me!

Sign up for the free mommy mini sesh!

P.S. My post has a few little affiliate links, read my full disclosure here. These links may bring me a commission if you decide this is a product you are interested in, but all is at no extra cost to you.

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