Win a $1500 Gift Card to Start Your Money-Making Dream!

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I recently had the priviledge of being a part of the Money Making Mom book launch. You can read my review and take-aways in my previous post, Two Dares from Money Making Mom.

This book really has me brainstorming the ways I could use my gifts and talents to earn extra income. And if you, too, have dreams to start your own business, be a money-making mom, or just earn some extra income on the side, I have something awesome to pass along to you!

To celebrate the launch of Money Making Mom, Crystal Paine (author and blogger at MoneySavingMom.com) is doing a $1500 Visa gift card giveaway in order to help someone else get started on their money-making dreams!

This giveaway ends in a few days, so be sure to enter soon!

And if you have any interest at all in starting your own business, I would definitely recommend you read Crystal’s new book. You can even read the first chapter free here, if you would like to “try before you buy.”

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Two Dares From Money Making Mom

You may have seen on my Facebook that I was chosen to be a part the Launch Team for Crystal Paine’s new book, Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference.

mmmimageWhat you may not know is that I have been following Crystal’s blog for about six years now. And, yes, when you do the math that means I was already into couponing, money-saving, and frugal living even when I was in high school! (Talk about nerd!)

Over the years, I have learned so much about being frugal and gained so much encouragement and wisdom from her blog, MoneySavingMom.com. I am ever inspired by Crystal Paine. Which is why I was ecstatic when I was one of the people chosen to be on her Launch Team and read her book before it was released to the public!

After reading Money Making Mom, I am yet again inspired by Crystal Paine! There are so many great quotes in this book! And I believe this book is relevant for so many women. Who is looking for financial freedom? Who wishes they could help others more? Who wishes they could be work-at-home mom so they could to spend more time with their kids? Who wishes they didn’t have to work a 9-5 job the rest of their life?

If you ever catch yourself asking those questions, Crystal’s book has two dares for you (and me):

1. Dare to dream big.

dreaming bigSo many times when I start dreaming about the possibilities – Could I do something greater than I am now? Could I have my own business? Could I make income using one of my skills or hobbies? – it’s like I “catch” myself. My insecurities pop in my head and say things like, “Who would want to buy something you made? Who would want to listen to what you have to say? Do you really think that has potential to be successful?”

Crystal’s book Money Making Mom tells us to silence the nagging of our insecurities and to dare to dream big.

So, just dream for a moment…dream big…

What does “financial freedom” mean to you?

How would you like to use your skills and talents to help others?

How would you help others and make the world a better place if you only had more resources?

What do you want to be remembered for?

And now…what’s stopping you?

Money Making Mom reminds us that the world needs what you have to offer: “You are the only you in existence. The world needs your story. The world needs your gifts. The world needs you. May your life be a force that channels change in this world.”

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Crystal’s book gives me the encouragement not only to dream, but to believe I could do something greater and make a difference in the world.

From reading this book, the wheels have been spinning; I’ve been brainstorming about what gifts, talents, and passions I have that I could use to make an income. I’ve been thinking long and hard about how I would like to give more to others if I had the means. I’ve been considering how I could influence the world. Most of all, I’ve pushed away the insecurities nagging at me and I’ve started to believe in the possibilities.

I dare you to, too. Because as Crystal writes, “Friend, I say this with every bit of conviction: you were made for more than just surviving the day, making a decent income, living for the weekend, or making your car payment on time. you were created to make a difference.”

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2. Dare to fail.

I think all the nagging insecurites we face ultimately come down to one thing: we are afraid to fail. We are afraid to ever carry out those big dreams because we are afraid it will all end up being a complete failure.

Crystal shares in her book that she had to face many failures before she became a successful blogger. And she affirms, “I’ve learned much more through failure than I have through success.”

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We think of failure as such a scary thing, but through failure we can learn more about what works and what doesn’t, what improvements we could make, or even what our true purpose or calling is. When we are trying something new, we are bound to fail, but every failure is just another stepping stone to success.

jumpingSo that’s why I dare you (and me) to fail. Take one step towards your goal. And then take one more. Step outside of your comfort zone. It’s ok if you fail. Learn from it and keep pressing on. Your dreams are worth it.

If you need some motivation, listen to this quote that Crystal shares in Money Making Mom: “In her book Love, Skip, Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Yes, author Shelene Bryan wrote, ‘I’m not concerned that you’ll fail at something. I’m concerned that you’ll succeed at something that doesn’t matter.'”

How are you going to dream big today?


mmmbookIf you are interested in starting your own business or making extra income from home, I recommend the book Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference!

This book will:

  • Expand your thinking to consider multiple money-making ideas
  • Dream big and set long-term financial goals
  • Forge an intentional path with clear priorities
  • Nurture your unique skills, talents, passions, and knowledge
  • Conquer the saboteurs of insecurity, fear, lack of time, and naysayers
  • Shift your perspective to live more generously for others
  • And more!

Money Making Mom is available on Amazon, ChristianBook.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and BooksaMillion.com.

You can learn more and even read the first chapter on the Money Making Mom Website.

Saving Money With Rebate Sites: 101

Who wants to save more money on groceries? I’m pretty sure everyone is raising their hand!

money calculatorI think all of us want to save a little bit of money on their groceries, but not all of us have the time or desire to clip coupons. I totally get that: it does take time to clip or print/cut out coupons, plus time researching to match coupons with current grocery deals (for those who are over-achievers!).

Your time is precious. That is why I recommend rebate websites. If you’re looking for a way to save money without clipping coupons, rebate websites are a great resource.

What are rebate websites?

A rebate is when you receive money back for a purchase. So rebate websites are sites that offer you rebates on select purchases.

groceries bananasThese websites will list which specific items are eligible for rebates. Sometimes they have to be brand-name items, others can be any brand. Eligible purchases may be groceries, baby items, household goods, or even online or in-store retail purchases!

Once you purchase the select item, you will submit a request for a rebate. This may be done in a number of ways, it just depends on the specific website:

  • snapping a picture of the receipt
  • scanning the barcode using the camera on your device
  • or some sites actually sync up with grocery store loyalty cards and can track your purchases as long as you scan your card at check-out

Depending on the product, you could earn rebates from 20 cents up to several dollars. Yes, that’s small, but over time these small amounts add up to become extra money in your pocket.

So, what’s the catch?

Does it sound “too good to be true”? Seriously, it’s not!

However, I do advise you to pay close attention to the requirements for each rebate. Be sure to note things like

  • Size or quantity. Ex: The rebate may only be for the 16oz bottle of salad dressing, not a 10 oz, bottle.
  • Store. Is there a certain store you must purchase the item from?
  • Dates of purchase. As in, what is the timeframe that you have to purchase the product?
  • Deadline to submit purchase. By what date do you have to upload the receipt?

One Caveat

The one caveat I offer is this: you actually aren’t “saving” money up-front on your purchases by utilizing these rebate websites. However, you are earning money back for purchases you were going to make anyway!

The money that you earn back through these rebates could be some extra money you can use for Christmas gifts or even some fun money to use to treat yourself after all your hard work being thrifty. 🙂

saleI also advise you to remember: it’s better to not spend any money at all than purchase something you don’t actually need or want just because it’s “on sale.” Just because there is a rebate offered for a certain product, doesn’t mean it’s a wise purchase. If you see a comparable product at a better price, I would buy that one instead. Remember to use your head and don’t get suckered in to “discount fever.”

Are you excited to get started earning rebates?! Here is my list of the rebate sites I use, ranking them by how useful I find them.

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1. Ibotta

Ibotta is where it’s at! Ibotta is by far my FAVORITE rebate website. They offer a long list of rebates every week and a bunch of “generic” rebates that can be any brand.

Ibotta also has a “teamwork” function that makes earning rebates actually…fun! You can team up with your Facebook friends to complete various earning goals each month, which unlocks additional rebates!

How to get the rebate: You have to “unlock” each item, often by watching a short commercial video. Once you unlock all the rebates you want to claim, you will scan the barcode for the products and upload a picture of your receipt. Or, for some stores, the purchase is tracked through your store loyalty card.

Time-frame for purchases: Ibotta runs Sunday-Saturday. So you must purchase the select product and claim your rebate within that time frame.

Cashing-out: You can cash out once you accumuluate $10 in your account. You redeem your money in the form of a gift card or transfer money directly to a PayPal or venmo account. There are various gift cards available to choose from.

You can sign up for Ibotta here!

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2. MobiSave

I’m pretty new to MobiSave, but it comes in as my second favorite because all rebates are immediately deposited into your PayPal account…no minimum cash-out requirements! Also, the little swimming whale is pretty adorable.

One note: after signing up for MobiSave, it took several weeks before I was admitted. It seems as if they limit how many new accounts they take on at one time…probably because it is such a new site, they want to make sure they have enough supply to meet demand.

How to get the rebate: You must select which items you will purchase before you check-out in the store. Select them and put them in your “cart.” After making the purchase, you simply upload a picture of your receipt and select those rebates from your “cart”. And, done!

Time-frame for purchases: MobiSave runs Monday-Sunday. New deals appear Mondays at 12:00am. You must purchase the items and submit your receipt within this time-frame.

Cashing-out: Like I said above, there is no minimum requirement before you can cash-out. You connect your PayPal account to your MobiSave account and all earnings are immediately deposited into your PayPal account. Pretty cool!

Here’s the link to sign up for MobiSave.

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3. Checkout-51

In my opinon, Checkout-51 is just okay. I really liked it when I started using it a few years ago, but then they made some negative changes that really limited the rebates you can earn. Now it is starting to get better again. So I still have hope for it.

One con to Checkout-51 is that you can’t cash-out until you reach $20. I also don’t like that you can choose only one of the fruits and veggies they offer each week for a rebate.

However, recently they have brought in some new brand-name products eligible for rebates, including Kellogg’s products. I’m a big fan of Kellogg’s, so this is a definite win in my eyes. I’m hoping that Checkout-51 will continue to make improvements such as that!

How to get the rebate: Upload a picture of your receipt and select which rebates you are claiming. That’s all!

Time-frame for purchases: Checkout-51 runs from Thursday-Wednesday. New offers go live on Thursdays at 12:00am and expire Wednesday at 11:59pm. So you must purchase the items and submit your receipt within that time-frame.

Cashing-out: You can cash out once you have $20 in your account. They send you a check in the mail.

You can sign up for Checkout-51 here!

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4. Snap by Groupon

Snap definitely comes in last for me. Most of their rebates are for products I do not purchase. Lately they have had “generic” product offers, but it seems as if once you claim one, you can never claim a rebate for that product again?! If you are looking to get started doing rebates, this is the last site I’d recommend.

How to get the rebate: Upload a picture of your receipt, select which offers you are claiming, and submit it.

Time-frame for purchases: Offers do not expire until the maximum number of redemptions have been reached or the product program has concluded. There are no set dates or deadlines. You must simply purchase the product while the deal is available.

Cashing-out: Once you reach $20 in your account, you can request a check.

Even though this isn’t my favorite site, you are still definitely welcome to sign up here!

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5. SavingStar

I put SavingStar as number five not because I think it is the worst, but because to be honest, I’ve never really used it before! I recently created an account to check it out, so I haven’t formed an opinion of it yet.

From my first impression, I see some products that I do purchase and others that I’ve never bought before. I like the fact that you can cash out once you reach $5, so you’re not waiting forever to see your money back. Overall, I think it has potential. If I become a huge SavingStar fan, I’ll let you know!

How to get the rebate: Select the products you would like to purchase before you go shopping. Then either scan your loyalty card at check-out or submit a picture of your receipt. You can also get rebates on online purchases by going through the SavingStar website.

Time-frame for purchases: Each product has its own specific expiration date. Purchase the product and submit your receipt before this expiration date.

Cashing-out: You can cash out once you have $5 in your account. Money is deposited into a bank account or your PayPal account, or you can also choose to donate the money to charity.

Click here to join Saving Star.

So, which one are you going to try today?

How I Make Credit Cards Work For Me

“Credit cards are evil!”

Or, so some might say. And many others might not go as far as calling them “evil,” but they strive to live a life free of them.

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You might think these types of people are what we call “paranoid” or “out of touch with technology,” but when you read the alarming facts about credit cards in America, I don’t think you can blame them for being against credit cards:


1. The average cardholder in America holds 7 credit cards.

2. According to figures from the Federal Reserve, total U.S. outstanding consumer debt was $3.34 trillion as of February 2015.

3. The total U.S. outstanding revolving debt, which is chiefly made up of credit card balances, was $884.8 billion as of January 2015.

4. The average credit card debt per U.S. adult, excluding zero-balance cards and store cards is $4,878.

5. Roughly 1 out of 20 Americans with credit files are at least 30 days late on a credit card or other nonmortgage account, according to a 2014 report by the Urban Institute.


No, I certainly don’t ridicule those who choose to shy away from credit cards. When you see how in-over-your-head a credit card can make you, it may be a very wise decision to choose to live credit card-free.

Because unfortunately, many people do get in-over-their-heads when it comes to credit cards. Many view credit cards as a way to buy it now, and then pay for it later when they have the money. Others may view it as a little extra spending money, not even bothering to think about the consequences of paying it off in the future. Some even get into debt and then apply for additional credit cards to help them pay off the debt they already owe!

Quickly enough, the bills pile up and you feel like you’re a slave to your creditor. Large amounts of debt hover over you. You might even feel great anxiety every day as you crunch numbers in your head, trying to figure out how you’re going to pay the bills that month.

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It would almost seem like there are only two choices with credit cards: either run from them or become a slave to them. But I want to offer you another way to look at them: using credit cards so they work for you. (Yes, I know that’s not Dave-Ramsey-approved, but we’re all entitled to our own opinions, right?)

My husband and I have chosen to use credit cards. In fact, we use them for the majority of our purchases! Yet, we have no debt.

To us, credit cards are essentially like debit cards. We know how much income we have each month, and so that’s how much we can spend, period.

Because, let’s face it, having a credit card in your hand doesn’t change how much money you have in the bank.

For us, when it comes to making purchases with our cards, we ask, “Would I be able to purchase this right now with my debit card?” If the answer is no, we don’t buy it.

And when our credit card bill comes in the mail, we pay off the balance completely, every single month. That means we pay no fees and no interest.

Paid bills rubber stamp

So, you might ask, if you treat your credit card like a debit card, why don’t you just use a debit card?

While we see the potential dangers of having credit cards, we also see the benefits. Credit cards help you to establish credit. And when you spend responsibly, that means you can build good credit. That will come in handy if you ever want to lease an apartment, buy a home, or buy a car. Because let’s face it, most of us will have to get loans for major purchases like houses or cars, not everyone can pay cash for things like that!

Additionally, there are many credit cards nowadays that give you rewards. For example, you might get 5% cash back on the purchases you make.

So when you spend only what you already have and pay off your bill every single month, you are not only building a good credit report, but you are being rewarded for the purchases you were going to make anyway.

That’s what I call letting your credit card work for you!

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It sounds pretty simple, but the truth is, it might not be that simple for you. For some people, having that little card might be too much of a temptation. You may not have the self-control that it takes to use a credit card responsibly. That’s not something I’m judging you about, it’s something you should be honest with yourself about. It would be good for you to cut out that temptation from your life.

They say that for most people, the action of swiping a card actually releases endorphins that make you feel good. Whereas, when you hand over cash, the action of the cashier taking the cash from you makes you feel sad as you are watching your money physically disappear.

For me, it’s actually the opposite. When I have cash on me, it seems very dispensible. I make more petty purchases because I think, “Oh it’s only a couple bucks and I have it right here on hand.” And then those little frivolous purchases add up and I have no idea where my money went (because I hate keeping receipts!).

But when I use my credit card, I can go back and see exactly what all I purchased. There is accountability. I can’t hide it from myself or my husband that I frivolously spent money on a Frappucino or a Sonic slush.

So the main thing is, you need to figure out what system works best for you. What helps you to spend your money in the most successful way possible? Do you feel giddy when you swipe your credit card? Do you see a credit card as a way to buy it now and pay later? Then maybe having credit cards isn’t the solution for you.

If you think you can have the self control to spend wisely, I would definitely encourage you to use credit cards so they work for you! Do some research into different credit cards. Find out if there are any fees, even if you pay off your whole balance every month. And look into cards that offer rewards like cash back or points. (But beware, research has shown that having a rewards card may actually cause you to spend more money than you would otherwise!)

And if you decide to get a credit card for the first time, don’t go into it alone. Ask a family member or close friend to keep you accountable for at least the first few months, while you get a hang for your spending personality. Be ready for them to ask you tough questions: “Are you spending more than you are making?” “Did you pay off your credit card completely this month?” Even though sometimes it might be annoying to have to answer to them, remember they want you to be successful. If you find that you are starting to spend more than you can pay off each month, then it’s time to get rid of the credit card. End of story.

When it comes to credit cards, there isn’t always an easy answer. And I know that everyone is entitled to have their own opinion…if you disagree with me, that’s okay! But I truly believe that with a little self discipline, we don’t have to completely run away from them, nor do we have to become slaves to them. Let your credit card work for you and enjoy the benefits of spending responsibly!

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References from credit card facts:

1. “Fast Facts About Credit Card Debt” from ABC News

2. “Credit Card Debt Statistics” on creditcards.com

3. “Credit Card Debt Statistics” from creditcards.com

4. “Credit card statistics, industry facts, debt statistics” from creditcards.com

5. “Credit Card Delinquency Statistics” from creditcards.com

Intentional Finances: Homemade Laundry Detergent

As I am seeking to be intentional in all areas of life, that means intentional finances, too. I believe that everything I have is God’s, he just entrusts his world and his resources to me, including my finances. So I want to be the best steward of our money as I can be! That means seeking to live a frugal life and finding creative ways to save money!

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For a while now, my husband and I have been interested in making our own homemade laundry detergent. We’ve heard that making your own cuts down on costs and gives you the control over what chemicals go into your wash. Since our store-bought soap is almost out, we decided it was the perfect time to try our hand at it.

I spent a little time online looking up various recipes and tips about it. I found a lot of great information out there, especially since many people nowadays are choosing to make homemade detergent as a way to live a more natural life. After comparing multiple sources of information, this is the basic recipe I found across the board:


Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent

 

Ingredients:

1 bar laundry bar soap (Such as Zote, Fels-Nephta, Ivory, Dr. Bronners)

1 box Washing Soda

1 box Borax

(All of these ingredients were found in the laundry aisle at our grocery store)

 

Directions:

1. Grate the bar of laundry soap with a cheese grater. We chose to use pink Zote soap. Smells pretty good! For grating, I placed a sheet of wax paper down to catch the grated bits.

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DSCN0082The shavings look like confetti!

2. In a large bowl, combine 2 parts borax & 2 parts washing soda to 1 part soap. Our soap was 14.1 oz (according the wrapper) so we measured out 28 oz of both borax & washing soda (using our liquid measuring cup). Mix together with a spoon.

DSCN0083Such a handsome guy!

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3. Blend mixture in a blender or food processor. We used our Magic Bullet and blended about 1 cup at a time. This will create a fine powder that will easily dissolve in cold water loads. Place powder in a sealed container. We used an empty plastic canister.

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DSCN0088I feel like Vanna White, modeling the finished product. 😉

 

How to use:

For small loads use 1 Tablespoon, for medium use 2 Tablespoons, and for large loads use 3 Tablespoons.

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We decided to give it a try right away. My husband actually said, “Now I’m excited to do the laundry”! Haha. Looks like it worked great and our clothes smell nice and fresh!

 

In total, we made 140 Tablespoons of detergent. How many loads this lasts us will just depend on what size of loads we run. This amount would make about 140 small loads, 70 medium loads, or 46 large loads. From my estimations, it cost us $4.21 to make this batch.

Kevin and I will keep tally of how many loads we get out of our batch and I’ll update with the final numbers. But if my estimations are correct, we are definitely saving money!

 

Today we priced some other detergents at Wal-Mart. Here are the prices we found (these are all liquid detergents):

50 small loads Purex $3.97

100 small loads Purex $6.97

64 small loads Tide $4.97

25 small loads Gain $4.97

 

Have fun making your own detergent! This is just one of many ways to be intentional in your finances.