Category

Stay at Home Mom

Serving Joyfully in a Self Serving World – Introduction

It’s funny how when I’m reading the Bible certain things can stick out to me even when I’ve read that passage of scripture before. When I’m doing my devotionals I try to let my mind and heart truly open to receive whatever God wants to tell me or learn. Although things aren’t always clear, and not always immediate with what I should take away from my reading, afterward I reflect and pray on what I read.

 

Lately when I was reading a passage, the word serve stuck out to me. More than usual, which I know for certain meant that I needed to pay attention. The more I read and thought about that word (I should have written that specific passage down, not just the word!), I felt like I needed to study passages that had this word in it.

 

The more I read passages that spoke about serving, the more I felt it was speaking to my heart. Serving has such a negative connotation these days, and why wouldn’t it? In our social media world with most people have a “me” mentality and wondering what is in it for them, serving isn’t something people want to do or even talk about. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t look out for your best interests, but serving others joyfully is something I’m focusing on this year – joyfully being the key word.

 

I wanted to share what I have been studying and reflecting on these last few months in the hopes it might help someone else like it has helped me. So starting Friday 1/19/18, I will be starting a 4 week bible study course specifically about serving. What serving means from a Biblical standpoint, specific areas you can focus on serving, and how having the right mindset can make all the difference. I hope you join me as we really dive into God’s word.

Embracing Simplicity this Christmas

I was sitting with my kids in the playroom of our house the other day, and like I do probably at least once a week I thought to myself “Wow my kids have WAY too many toys!” Then I started thinking about the toys they will be getting this Christmas from my husband and I, Santa, and all of our relatives… and like some of you I started to get overwhelmed. WARNING – real life photo ahead of our actual playroom and my kiddos.

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It’s hard for me to share pictures of my playroom in all its glory. I have been trying to break my perfectionist habits, especially when it comes to my kid’s spaces. They are supposed to be messy. They are playing and learning, but you see so many perfectly manicured images of playrooms on social media it can be hard to accept anything less than perfection. But I wanted to share this picture with you all to show you that you are not alone in your mess.

 

There are certain things that I have found as I get older that stress me out more than others. The biggest one for me is clutter, mainly disorganization in general. So as I looked around at my messy, unorganized, overflowing playroom I decided the 10 presents we already had for the kids was going to be enough. 10 presents TOTAL for 2 kids, spent around $120 so they are not big gifts, and I decided I was done. Maybe because my kids are younger I am able to do minimal Christmas gifts, but I have been actively finding ways to keep Jesus the focus of this holiday season.

 

I digress… I wanted to do something more than just the usual give a bunch of gifts and call it a day (already working on an organizing game plan for the playroom, so stay tuned for that!). So, this is what I am focusing on giving my kids this year instead of buying any additional gifts:

 

A focus on giving back – It never ceases to amaze me that God puts me exactly where he wants me to be, when he wants me to be there. The same day I was thinking about how many new toys my kids will be getting for Christmas, I was in the mall with my mom and we walked by a giving tree. It is a local organization that has gift tags on a few Christmas trees, and you pick the tag of someone you want to buy a gift for. It has all age ranges, from newborn girls and boys to special needs adults. You have to return the gift with the assigned gift tag on it the weekend before Christmas, and they have these gifts available for people to pick from. I absolutely love this, and will be having my daughter come with me to pick out the gift and help me wrap it for the age group we picked. Although she’s 3, I want to instill in her now how important it is to give back when you are able.

 

Experiences are what make the season magical – I don’t know about you, but when I think back on my favorite Christmases, none of them are about what gift I got that year. I remember decorating Christmas cookies with my 3 siblings when I was young, and the Christmas concerts at elementary school. I remember one particular Christmas when my mom drove myself and my siblings from South Dakota to Colorado to see my grandparents in blizzard conditions for half of the trip. We made it safely to Colorado, but the fun of the road trip as a kid and spending time with my grandparents are what I remember most. I decided I am going to spend the money on gingerbread houses and baking supplies, going to Christmas festivals, volunteering in our community, and driving around in the car looking at Christmas lights drinking hot cocoa. These are the things I want my kids to remember.

 

Presence over Presents – I saw this during Christmas last year on my social media and I absolutely love this simple phrase. I have found myself going back to this phrase often this year, more than just during the Christmas season. The less I am focused on finding the perfect presents, buying those presents at the perfect price and wrapping them, the more time I have with my family. This year is the least stressful Christmas I have had in the last 5 years that I can remember, and I love it. I haven’t been able to get everything done as quickly as I wanted, but I am not stressed about any of it. It will all get done, and if it doesn’t that’s OK too. I have way higher expectations of the season than my kids do. If certain things don’t get done I will be the only one who knows it.

 

 

All of this boils down to one thing that I want to share – what you are doing is enough. If you want to buy your kids a bunch of gifts, do it! I am not judging anyone who chooses to spoil their kids with a bunch of gifts this Christmas, that is not my intention. Maybe you have older kids and splurged on getting them a tablet or phone this year, or maybe you can finally afford to buy your kids everything they want this year, and that is great! Just because I am choosing not to do that this year doesn’t mean I am judging or think anything is wrong with it (who’s to say I won’t be doing it in the coming years). This year I personally have just been craving simplicity as much as possible.

 

We put so much pressure on ourselves as parents, mainly all us moms, to give our kids the perfect Christmas. Your kids will think it’s perfect no matter what you buy them. Spend some time with them, watch a Christmas movie, go look at Christmas lights, play a game while drinking hot cocoa, put together a gingerbread house, the list goes on and on. What makes this season truly special, is slowing down and spending time with those you love most.

Date Night In Box – Review & Giveaway!

*** This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I 100% believe in and love, and by purchasing through my links you are helping support me as a stay at home mom. For more information click here. ***

 

Before I started blogging, I was searching for easy date night ideas for my husband and I. Having two toddlers, going out for date night isn’t the easiest thing. Not only is it hard to find time, but it can get expensive! Between a babysitter, dinner and a movie, date nights can easily cost $80 if not more. We are lucky to have family and friends in town who offer to look after our kids for no charge, but between busy schedules and just plain exhaustion it’s hard for us to still find the time and energy to make plans for date night.

 

But, I am a firm believer in continuously dating your spouse. My husband and I have been together for almost 11 years, married for 6 of those years, and dating your spouse is so so so important. I’m not saying it is the most important thing, but I honestly feel it should be made a priority especially if you have kids. Finding ways to have alone time with your spouse helps you stay connected and the romance alive once kids are in the picture.

 

So, here I am on Pinterest just a few months ago looking for an easy date night idea that I could possibly do at home after the kids are in bed. That is just the season of life we are in now and that is OK with me. I just want to spend some alone time to connect with my husband, it doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing that is important to me. I was finding some really cute ideas, and as much as I loved them I just couldn’t find the energy to do any of them. Then, I stumbled upon Night In Boxes.

 

This company has exactly what I needed! A date night all ready to go, minimal planning required. They have Date Night In, which is the box that I picked for this post, Faith Night In, and Kids Night In. Date Night In is exactly what it sounds like, a date night in at home with your significant other. Faith Night In is also a date night in, but is religious based. Kids Night In is an activity box for kids.

 

Night In Boxes is a subscription box service, and you won’t know what you are getting until your box comes in the mail! You can choose to buy just one box, or you can save some money by buying a subscription service to have them delivered every month. Each month a new box is curated for whichever Night In Box you have selected, and has a theme. I decided to try the Date Night In, and this box is the November “Give Thanks” Box. So with the theme of Give Thanks, all of the activities in the box are geared toward this theme.

 

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This is the first Date Night In box my husband and I have tried, and we both loved it. It really enhanced our date night and put such a unique spin on an average “dinner and Netflix” that our normal date night ins include. My box came with a pamphlet of information so you can follow along and set the mood for your date. I would highly recommend looking at this a day before or a few days before your actual date night at home because it has recommendations and tips on how to make your date night special.

 

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Date Night Itinerary with included candle

 

First off, I will start with setting the mood. The pamphlet included in the box has a recommended dinner menu for your date night. This was so well thought out and is developed by a wonderful food blogger specifically for each date night box. This menu for this box had an appetizer, entree, and dessert, as well as options on what to drink. My box came with mulled cider, so it had recipes on how to add alcohol if you would like or how to make a simple cinnamon whip cream to put on the top. I loved the attention to detail with this, because you can truly elevate your date night box with the easy to follow recipes.

 

Not only does the box have a menu recommendation, the pamphlet directs you to an already made Spotify playlist and this month’s box came with a candle. Candlelight, dinner, and a playlist made specifically for you is a great way to set the mood. During dinner, in keeping with the Give Thanks theme, you are encouraged to tell your partner how thankful you are for them. In addition to telling them, it comes with an activity with Post It Notes and a pencil. The Post It Notes say “Thank You For”, and you are supposed to fill them out and leave them in special places for your significant other to find them. I love this, not only so you can verbalize what you are thankful for, but putting them places your spouse won’t find them all right away keeps your date night going past the actual date night.

 

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After the Post It Notes activity, there is a Thankful Mad Libs activity that I enjoyed. Again, it makes you fill in verbs and adjectives to remind you what you should be thankful for. This box came with mulled cider and pumpkin seeds, so we did this activity after dinner and drank our cider and ate our pumpkin seeds. Both were delicious, but that cider is the best cider I have ever had in my life! Notes of apple, pumpkin, and a little licorice made this cider really delicious.

 

To end the date night, this box included a segment with Operation Gratitude which I absolutely love. The end of the pamphlet encourages you to reuse the box by sending it to a member of the military. It comes with a paracord to make a bracelet together with your significant other, as well as see through baggies and a list of items to include in your box for the care package. The address is provided to have it shipped, as well as a website address of where you can get a shipping label provided by Night In Boxes. This was the only part of the box that I was confused on, as my husband and I thought the materials for the bracelet were for us to keep. In rereading the instructions we saw there was only enough for one bracelet and was to be included in the care package to a military member. We had fun making in and included it in the care package, it was just a little confusing at first glance.

 

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Although lengthy, I had to post a full and honest review. My husband and I loved this date night box and **highly** recommend it to anyone who is thinking about trying or gifting it. I loved how simple and thoughtful it was, it really made us take the time to connect and were reminded what we are thankful for in life. The boxes have a new theme every month so you won’t ever get bored, and all the guesswork is taken out for you.

 

Night In Boxes is giving me a box to give away this month! Just in time for the holidays! You can pick from the Date Night In, Faith Night In, Kids Night In, or a gift card to use whenever you see fit! All you have to do is head on over to my blog’s Facebook Page, like this post and comment to win! The giveaway closes on 11/30 at midnight, and the winner will be announced Friday morning 12/1 on my Facebook page.

 

I would love to hear if you have used this company or what box you would pick if you won!!

Simplified Planner – Walk Through & Review

**** This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I 100% believe in and love. For more information click here. ***

 

I am a planner person. I like to write things down, and checking things off my to-do list as I do them. It makes me feel like I have accomplished more in a day when I can check something off a list.

I found a planner company about 5 years ago that I absolutely adored. I wrote in and used the same type of planner for 2 years in a row and thought I would never switch. It was when I had my daughter that I started falling off using my planner as often as I used to. I used it some, but not daily like I had before. And yet even though I barely used it I still ordered one every year.

Now, I am not one to say negative things about companies so I won’t name the planner company I was using before. They are great planners and they worked for me once, they just don’t work for me in this point in my life right now. After having my second child I fell off the planner wagon all together and in my 2017 planner I have written down 5 things. 5 things total. A few months ago I decided to look for a new planner that would better fit my needs in this season of life.

I had certain criteria that I was looking to meet when picking a new planner. It had to be simple, and for me that meant color coordination, clean lines, and space to accommodate my large handwriting. It needed to be on the somewhat smaller side as I wanted something I could keep in my purse but wouldn’t take up the entire thing. But it couldn’t be too small, because I needed to be able to read it of course! It had to be durable, because kids. And if possible, I wanted it to be pretty. First world problems I know, but who doesn’t like pretty things? It makes you want to use things more, at least for me personally!

 

All of this sounded like easy criteria to meet, but there are THOUSANDS of planners out there! And they are all great and worked for so many other people, but it was information overload for me when I was trying to narrow it down to one planner. Earlier this year I read Emily Ley’s Grace Not Perfection. I loved the book so much I started following Emily’s Facebook page. I had no idea that she had this wonderful line of planners that her book was actually inspired by called the Simplified Planner. So I decided to go to her website and check them out.

 

 

Looking at this planner on the website I immediately knew it was for me. The title is “Simplified Planner”, if that wasn’t a sign that I needed it in my life. There are two versions of this planner, the daily and weekly planner. The weekly planner gives a general overview of the entire day, versus the daily planner gives a very detailed breakdown of each day by hour. At this point in my life I don’t need to account for every hour of the day, so I decided to go with the weekly planner. I thought it would be fun to take a few pictures and show you what it looks like inside!

 

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Such a pretty little planner, I picked the Fancy Floral print and I adore it. That beautiful navy blue box underneath? That is what it arrived in. I am a sucker for pretty packaging, and this is already a perfect gift in my opinion all you would have to do is put a bow on this! This planner is not only pretty, but very durable. It is the side of a hardcover book as well as the durability of a hardcover book. And the edges are reinforced as well, which is genius because edges get damaged so quickly and can in turn damage pages. So far this planner is already meeting two of my criteria, pretty and durable.

 

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When you open the planner, on the first page there is a spot to put your name. On the next page you will find a note from Emily, but the next few pages are my personal favorites of the planner. Emily Ley is all about simplifying, and on this page she encourages you to simplify your life and recognize daily the things that matter.

 

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On the pages after this, there is a spread with the usual overview of the year along with a list of 2018 major holidays. The next page, a personalized 2018 Bucket List.

 

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In addition to a list maker and planner enthusiast, I find if I don’t write down my goals for the year I either won’t remember what they are. Or I don’t have something to come back to for inspiration or some way to track my progress. I was challenged last year by a friend to write down my goals so I have something to look at to remind myself of what I am working toward and I love how it held me accountable. The fact that this was in my planner, and in the front, is a great way for me to make sure it isn’t loss and something I can look at throughout the year and update as the year progresses.

 

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Very simple layout for the monthly overview, there is enough room on the days to mark important things and room on the left to make any notes. My favorite part you might not see right away, but it’s on the top of the right page. It’s a Simplicity Tip, and they are on every monthly layout of the planner. In the first 8 pages of this planner I am being encouraged and reminded to simplify my life. I am also being challenged, which I actually love. Being challenged to have goals and being reminded of what I am working toward is very rewarding for me personally.

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So, this is what the week layout looks like in the weekly planner. Very simple, and each day of the week is a different color which I love. Each day also has a little box to write your meal in for the day which is definitely going to help me with meal planning! Saturday and Sunday have the least amount of space to write, which I am fine with because those are the days I am spending with my family. Every Sunday there is a check list of simple reminders to help get you mentally prepared and refreshed for the week ahead. Again, I love how encouraging it is and it challenges me to prepare for the week ahead so I won’t get too overwhelmed.

 

At the end of the planner there is about 20 pages worth of space to write notes, lists, reminders, or whatever you decide! I love that it has so much room for this so I can have everything in once space. Did I mention yet that it also comes with stickers?!

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So there you have it! A sneak peek at this wonderful planner and what I love so much about it. It met all of my personal criteria and I cannot wait to start filling it in (more than I already have!). So I don’t seem too bias, I would say the only thing this planner doesn’t have that I wish it did is a place to put a pen. Because the weekly planner is hardbound like a book, there’s no coil (which was a big sell for me, I am not a plan of coil bound planners) so I can’t just put a pen in there. This wasn’t a huge deal for me because I keep a pen in my purse, but just something to keep in mind!

 

I love love love this planner and can’t say enough wonderful things about it! You can find them here, and you can also take a look around at the daily planner which may work perfectly for you! They have so many cute designs for both the weekly and daily planners, it was hard for me to choose which pattern I wanted. If you haven’t yet, I would also check out her book Grace Not Perfection that I also loved (you can find that here). That book ties in with her mission for these planners so wonderfully, and I plan to re-read the book at the beginning of 2018 so I can refocus on simplifying even more in the new year.

 

I also have to let you know that these will be ON SALE Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, so if you have been wanting to buy one this discount is *huge* and something Emily maybe does twice a year. I will share more details on that tomorrow on my Facebook page here.

 

Do you have an Emily Ley Simplified Planner? If so I would love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below if you have one, or what your favorite planner is!

How to set up a devotional space… and why you need one!

As a Christian I make it a priority to spend time reading the Bible and spending time in His word daily. The deeper I have gotten in my faith, the more important it has been for me personally to create a special place in my home to spend time by myself to read and worship. Especially since I became a mom, it is also good for my mental and emotional health to have a quiet space in my home just for me. No kids, no noise, no distractions. A relaxing and inviting space helps me focus and renew my mind and spirit daily.

 

Today I am giving you a look into my devotional space in my home, as well as what I have in mine to set myself up for success.

 

 

Recognize what you need to focus.

I don’t know about you, but all day long I am bombarded by noise. Having a one year old son and three year old daughter, I am used to constant noise in my house. But when it gets too noisy and there is too much going on, I get overwhelmed. The TV is on, my son is crying, my toddler is screaming and/or running around our laminate floors with a plastic grocery cart, my phone starts to ring, the list goes on and on. It can all just get so noisy, and I have noticed when I try to read my Bible and devotionals I can’t focus as much as I need to when my environment is noisy.

 

Now, for you noise might not be a problem. Maybe you have a hard time being around clutter/disorganization, or maybe a trigger for you is a place you associate with other things, such as the kitchen. When you know your trigger that makes you unable to concentrate, this will help you decide what to focus on when finding a devotional space. If noise is distracting, then your main focus will be somewhere quiet. If clutter is distracting, then you will want to find somewhere in your home that is tidy and organized so you aren’t distracted with thoughts of organizing while trying to spend time in His word.

 

Find a space you can make your own.

For me, I found the perfect spot for a devotional space in my husband’s office. Although we set this room up for my husband’s job when he works from home, we set up a couch/futon in the office and I have officially claimed that area as mine. I love having a spot where everything is cozy and most importantly, quiet. This is probably the least used space in our house because it’s not a bedroom or main living area. That means I can leave things there and they won’t get moved… because, kids. Quiet, cozy, and no interruptions are exactly what I personally need when reading my Bible.

 

 

Once you have decided where you want your space to be, think about the things that help you relax and incorporate them into your space! For me, that’s peace and quiet, candles, cozy blankets and pillows, and somewhere to set my coffee. So in the office, I have a little side table next to the futon. On that side table I have my bible/devotional book, a spot for my coffee, and normally a candle. I have a big cozy blanket and a pillow ready to go on the futon (see below!) as well so I can be as comfortable as possible.

 

 

 

 

Everything in its place.

In addition to having your own space as well as some of your favorite things, I also have a basket that has everything I need while studying my Bible and devotional. In my basket you will find my current devotional books, bible highlighter, pens, notebooks, and a prayer journal. Having all of those things in one spot helps me to focus and relax before I even open my Bible. Knowing I have everything I need so I don’t need to run around looking for it while I’m trying to read makes my type A personality very happy. Maybe you have a favorite chair that you have made your devotional space; you can set a small end table next to it and add a decorative basket that you can easily access during your devotional time. Or maybe you prefer to have your devotional area in your bedroom with all of your things on your nightstand. Whatever space you choose, make sure it’s one that invites focus and relaxation.

 

 

 

Do what works best for you.

This may seem silly to say, but if you don’t like your space then change it! Maybe your devotional space is in your living room but you find you are too distracted with the TV. Or your devotional space is in your kitchen but you can’t focus or stop staring at your dishes or crumbs on your floor. Give it a good week, and if the spot doesn’t work for you then move it! For the longest time my devotional space was in my bedroom, and I kept everything on my nightstand. That worked wonderfully for me until I noticed I spent more time cleaning and watching Netflix then I did reading the word. Changing my devotional space did wonders for me and I will continue going to this space until I feel I need to change it.

 

 

While this may seem like common advice, or you already have your own devotional space set up, I find that when I am intentional and consistent I am the most successful at reading my Bible daily. It’s very simple, but if you have a devotional space for yourself in your home you will more than likely use it. I personally feel every Christian should have a space where they can read and worship privately and comfortably in their own home. It doesn’t have to be an entire room, just somewhere you can focus and clear your mind of everyday thoughts. A corner of the couch, your favorite chair, your dining room; make your space your own and enjoy your time with Jesus.

 

Do you have a devotional space already? Where is it in your home and what items do you have in it? If you don’t have one yet, I encourage you to make a space and see if it makes a difference for you personally.

 

 

-Kristen

12 Financial steps I took to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom

Immediately after the birth of our daughter in summer of 2014, I knew I wanted to be a stay at home. Being a stay at home mom wasn’t something I had considered doing prior to her birth, and I didn’t even know if we could afford to do it financially. But when I started dreading going to work every day and found myself daydreaming about leaving my job, I knew I had to see if we could find a way to make this work.

 

When this overwhelming desire of my heart came to me after my daughter was born, I did a lot of praying. Whenever I have had something like this happen, I always pray about it and spend time in His word to ensure this is something He has laid on my heart. I feel like this is the most important thing to do when you are considering a major life transition. If it’s God’s plan, it will happen. During this time, I felt like God was telling me to wait, but if I was patient it would happen. While I waited, I started doing these things to help with the financial burden of going from 2 incomes to 1:

 

  • Go over, in very full detail, all of your expenses right now. Childcare, insurance, mortgage, car payment, gas, electric, water/sewer/garbage, tithe, cell phone, cable, student loans, groceries, gym membership, credit card, etc., and add it all up. Figure out how much you are spending now versus how much you make with both your income and your spouse’s.
  • Once you have figured that out, take out expenses that would go away once you leave your job. For us, it was childcare. We also spoke with our tax advisor*** and found a way to pay off our car loan and my student loan. With paying off those two things and deducting childcare costs, it was $1000.00 a month that was immediately deducted from our budget once I would be able to stay at home.
  • Now, compare your budget minus the bills that would go once you leave your job and see how realistic it would be. For us, that original budget minus $1000 of expenses that would decrease once I left my job was more than enough for us to live off with just my husband’s income.
  • If possible, try to just live off your spouse’s income while you are still working. For the last 6 months I was working, we lived solely on my husband’s income. Everything I made would be used toward the expenses we hadn’t paid off yet (childcare, car loan, student loan) and the remainder went to our savings.
  • During the time I was waiting to leave my job, we really focused on building up our savings account. We wanted at least 3 months’ worth of expenses in our savings account in the event of an emergency. We built it up while waiting, and after I left my job we had 6 months’ worth of my husband’s income in our savings account. This also helped me feel more confident about leaving my job, knowing we had that cushion.
  • Set a budget and stick to it. This one is HUGE! We personally have been following Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and we love it. When we first started talking about me leaving my job, we found out we were spending over $100 in eating out a month! That is not only hard on my budget, but explained why I couldn’t lose the weight I wanted to. We set our budget to $50 for going out to eat, movies, coffee, etc. so we could do those things in moderation and not blow our budget.
  • Think outside of the box! I started doing research on ways I could save $20-$50 a month because that can add up fast! 2 examples of this:
    • Gym Membership – My husband and I are very active, so there was no way we were giving up our gym membership. Our gym charges $90 a month for a family membership. However, our insurance credits your bank account directly for $20 for up to 2 people if you have 12 gym visits a month (12 visits per person). That is $40 a month we would get back making our membership only $50 for a family. It also holds me accountable to get my butt moving! If I want that money back, I have to go to the gym.
    • Cell Phone – I started to do some research on how I could lower our monthly cell phone bill. Depending on the company you work for, you can get a huge discount on your plan! For us, we receive 27% off our data package just because of where my husband works. In addition, I found the credit card I have (check with your bank!) offers free cell phone insurance if you pay for your cell phone bill monthly on your credit card (up to a certain dollar amount per year). We were paying an extra $20 a month for cell phone insurance, and cutting that saved us $240 a year!
  • Figure out what is important to you. This might seem a little harsh, as well as obvious, but it’s true. Back to our budget scenario, I love Caribou Coffee. I also love drinking it as much as possible. When going through our budget, I had to make a decision on what is important to me. Was coffee more important, or was saving money so I can stay home more important? Now I only have Caribou a couple times a month versus a couple times a week. Can you get a more affordable car? Could you get rid of a car if you have two vehicles? Would you be OK cancelling any subscriptions that might be expensive? The more you can trim your budget, the better.
  • Purge! I went through every room in my house and decided to sell as much as I could and whatever I couldn’t sell I would donate. To date I have made about $400 from selling things we no longer need in our house just in the last 6 months. This also helped get rid of some of our clutter!! Go through your house, closets, garage, and whatever you don’t love, think about selling it. I have had the most success on Facebook Buy/Sell Groups.
  • Shop around – Could you find a cheaper cell phone plan elsewhere? What about a different insurance plan or gym membership? Shopping around could help save you money as well. We went with a different insurance plan this year and have saved $150 this year alone.
  • Side Hustle – I have been doing a lot of research on companies that let you work from home (non-phone jobs) with flexible hours. There are a lot of great companies out there that let you work as many hours as you want and are flexible on the times you work. Some of these companies include LionBridge, Appen, iSoftStone, and Leapforce. Other ways you can make money are blogging, direct sales, or even getting a flexible part time job!
  • Coupon/Shop the Sales – I have started using SwagBucks so I can earn cash back for shopping online. I also have some couponing apps on my phone so I can get money back on my grocery purchases – my favorites are Ibotta, Cartwheel (for Target), Checkout 51, Snap, and BerryCart. I also pay attention to the store sales and try to only shop for produce that is in season.

 

Here are some recent pictures of the kiddos! They are a constant reminder of what my husband and I are working toward.

I was able to leave my full time job in June 2015. I love being a stay at home mom! All of the tips I shared above have really trimmed our budget and we are thriving financially.

 

Have any tips that helped you become a stay at home parent or help you now that you are stay at home? I love hearing tips that help others stay on budget. Comment below, I would love to hear from you!

 

 

Kristen

 

 *** I am not a tax advisor or financial advisor. If you have any tax related questions, please consult your tax advisor. ***

 

 

3 easy ways to bring Fall into your Home

You know it’s fall when you see pumpkins, apples, and sweaters everywhere! I love fall, and over the years I have found a few things I like to do to bring the spirit and warmth of the fall season into my home.

 

Get Cozy!
When cooler weather hits, I always think cozy. Give me all the blankets and all the pillows, I just want to cuddle with my family in front of the fireplace. The blankets and pillows don’t need to even be fall themed, if you have lots of pillows and blankets it will instantly feel more cozy in your home.

 

 

Fall Scented Anything
I love the smell of fall! Pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, apples, sugar, caramel… the list goes on and on. Light a fall scented candle, bake something with one of your favorite fall ingredients (I have a few good recipes coming soon!), get some fall scented soap, or even some fall scented cleaners (thank you Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Apple Cider!!). Simply having something in your house that smells like fall to you will help bring the season into your home.

 

 

Make it Pretty!
It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, but I always decorate my house with the change of seasons. Simply switching out the tablecloth, buying some orange/yellow/red candles, and placing some small pumpkins around my house makes it immediately feel like fall. I found a beautiful fall tablecloth at HomeGoods for $10, a candle for $5, and a bag of decorative pumpkins and small gourds at my local grocery store for $4. That is $19 for fall decor and that is all I needed! Of course, you can spend less or more, the choice is up to you!
*** Tip: If you have storage options that allow it, I always shop the clearance at the end of the season for next year’s decor. So the day after any major holiday, I buy clearance decor for the following year. Especially after Christmas. The day after Christmas when Target clearances out their Christmas decor is my favorite!! ***

 

I like to try and keep things simple. Decorating your home for the seasons should be simple and relaxing, not stressful and competitive. It is so easy in today’s world to be envious of what someone has on Instagram for decorations, but don’t do it! Find some things that make you happy and enjoy the seasonal decor in your home.

 

 

 

What are some of your favorite ways to usher in the fall season? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!