Down With Debt Mid-November Update

I’ve gotten so behind on posting updates about our finances, but I wanted to at least do a quick check in.  So far, November has been more kind to us, in regards to surprise medical bills and unexpected car repairs.

 

indexOur cat recently started peeing outside the liter box and the other day we noticed blood in his urine.  I called the vet and scheduled an appointment, and $233 later, we’ve got two prescriptions that I can’t get him to take.  Because I didn’t have a budget for vet bills, it was put on our credit card…AUGH!  I was quite shocked when I saw the bill and realized that $40 was charged FOR THE PHONE CALL I made to schedule the appointment.  Don’t think I’ll be calling them again.  We’ll just have to show up, ha ha.

 

Other than that, things have gone about as expected.  Our pet food bill will be going up, as we’re supposed to put our cat on a wet food-only diet to help with the crystals forming in his bladder.  I just bought a pet water fountain on Amazon to try and help encourage more water drinking, but that didn’t cost anything because I had earned enough Amazon.com gift cards with Swagbucks.  I also have a Prime account, so the shipping is free, and I’ll get it in 2 days!  I hope it’ll help.

 

Another expense that we don’t have monthly occurred (it happens every 3 months):  enrolling my daughter in gymnastics ($180).  It’s the one thing I will NOT sacrifice.  She’s waited so long to start, and when I finally bit the bullet earlier this year, she was the 11-year old girl in a class with 6-year olds.  She stuck with it and has advanced every single term, and, starting December 1, she’ll be enrolled in the highest level they offer before competitions!  She’s finally learning with girls her own age, and it’s been a dream come true for her.  I’m so happy she’s found her passion.

So far we’ve been able to pay $864.63 on our debt.  Using the YNAB budgeting software has been SO helpful in helping me to know exactly how much I can put to our debt.  I anticipate that as we keep using it, we’ll be able to pay a little more each month to debt, simply as we find little extra bits of money here and there.  Of course, it’ll help to avoid some of the financial “surprises” we had in the previous 2 months!  Fingers crossed. :)

 

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday – First Ever Birthday Party

My son has autism, and as such, he doesn’t always do well in crowds.  For that reason, and others, we haven’t ever thrown him a birthday party with friends.  Sure, we have a party every year with family, but the friends thing is new.  Invitations to birthday parties are also far and few between…so we really wanted to make this first birthday bash of his fun (on a small budget, of course).

 

Ninja Turtle Masks and Nunchucks

Ninja Turtle masks and nun chucks.

 

 

Rafael fruit plate

The birthday boy with his Rafael fruit plate!

 

 

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle birthday party Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle birthday party

The sign we used to welcome people.

 

 

Pin the Mask on Mikey Pin the mask on Mikey

We made a “Pin the Mask on Mikey (Michaelangelo)” game for the kids.

 

Make Extra Holiday Cash From Home

We are all connected thanks to the internet now and this has allowed for a lot of new opportunities to conduct business from the comfort of your own home. Internet marketing has opened doors for anyone who wants to earn part time or full time income. There are opportunities in many areas and if you have enough skills with writing, graphic design, web design, transcripts and similar work that can be delivered through the internet, you can easily make a good amount of money from it. There is a boom in freelancing websites now and a lot of people are being able to take advantage of this.

holidaycash

What if, like me, you aren’t a graphic designer, or knowledgeable in web design?  What if you’re not a great writer?  (Like me again.)  Fortunately, there are still a lot of places online that you can spend some time “working” with and make extra cash.  Will you break the bank or replace your income with these places?  Heck no.  But if extra cash is what you’re looking for, especially this season, then you’re in luck, because that’s exactly what these places offer.  Here are a few websites that I do work for/with:

 

Online Surveys:

 

Survey Spot – Another survey site.  I don’t know if it’s just me, but I have a hard time qualifying for surveys here.  I don’t qualify for 80% of the surveys I try to take, and that can get discouraging.  Still, when I do qualify, the points are decent for the time spent.  You can redeem the points for cash.  I’ve made $17 since August 2014.

Zoom Panel – Earn points for each survey you take.  If you don’t qualify for a survey you started, you will get 5 points for trying.  I’ve redeemed my points for probably $100 or so in Home Depot Gift Cards, and $50 or so for Amazon.com Gift cards.  I earn a $25 gift card every few months here.  If you redeem an amazon.com gift card, the points work out to be 1 penny each point.

Vindale – This survey site offers cash for surveys, and for studies.  The “surveys” are usually offers, like credit card offers.  I personally haven’t done ANY of these, but they pay pretty well if you are interested – between $2 and $25 each, depending on the survey you are doing.  The “studies” are more like a typical survey, and they pay between $0.75 – $1.00 for each.  These are what I do.  In addition, you can read the blog and compete for cash, as well as sign up for Reward mail – making you 5 cents each time you click on a link in the email they send you.  I’ve made $100 in the last year with this company.

 

Cash Back -

Swagbucks – If you haven’t joined Swagbucks yet, I’m telling you, you’re missing out.  It’s FREE money!  It’s a search engine just like google, and every time you do a search for anything, you have a chance to win 8 or more bucks – swagbucks.  These can be redeemed for prizes or gift cards.  My personal favorite is the $5 amazon.com gift card for 450 swagbucks.  Easy!  You can also earn bucks for a host of other things, like taking surveys, watching videos, printing coupons, or doing online shopping.  It’s the holiday season – you’re going to be searching for gift ideas anyway, and shopping online anyway, dang, get something out of it!  I’ve earned 6,461 swagbucks, which equals out to 14 $5 gift cards, since joining.  This does NOT include any referral points.

 

Social Marketing:

Izea - I’m pretty new to this company, but they have different “campaigns” available.  There are campaigns for blog posts as well as Twitter posts.  I have only taken advantage of Twitter posts so far.  Last month (my first month working it) I made $9.  The time it took to make that $9 was a total of maybe 10 minutes.  Yay! :)

Influence Central/Mom Central – This is a good-paying site that allows you to sign up for campaigns based on your demographics.  If you are chosen, you follow the instructions, which usually include posting a review or other blog post about the topic (sharing only YOUR HONEST opinions and experiences), and perhaps sharing a link or two on social media.  The jobs are far and few between, but the pay is awesome and worth the wait.  I made $150 earlier this month with them.

 

Of course, there are many others – these, however, are among my personal favorites.  What money-making sites are you a member of?

 

 

 

 

The Skinny Gut Diet by Brenda Watson – Book Review

9780553417944The secret to permanent weight loss revealed. The real reason diets fail has nothing to do with calories and everything to do with the balance of bacteria in your gut. A simple guide to show you how to finally achieve your ideal weight.
The 100 trillion bacteria that live in your digestive tract—which make up 90 percent of the cells in your body—are the real reason you gain or lose weight. When those microbes are out of balance, chronic health conditions can occur, including irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, and obesity. By balancing the good and bad bacteria, you can finally achieve your ideal weight—for good.

 

When I first heard about this book, I really wanted to read it – not for the weight loss side of it, but simply for the “healthy gut” side of it.  I recently learned about the incredible amount of bacteria in the digestive tract, and have been working with a homeopathic – style doctor to address it.  When I saw the statement about balancing good and bad bacteria, I was hooked, and knew this was a book I’d be able to really get into.

The author, Brenda Watson, CNC (learn more about her HERE), includes a 14-day start-up food plan and a bunch of recipes.  A good amount of these recipes are things I can eat on my anti-inflammatory diet, although not all.  I’m impressed by that, because I KNOW how healthy the anti-inflammatory diet is.  This woman knows her stuff, and she’s legit.  While she talks about weight loss, the feel of the book, at least to me, is more about creating a HEALTHY body/gut…not necessarily a skinny one.  That’s something that I appreciate SO much.

I won’t lie, the diet proposed is not an easy one.  Gluten is out the window.  Don’t plan on having milk.  Most oils are eliminated, as they have inflammatory properties.  That means that you aren’t going to be able to eat many processed foods, if any. (I wish companies would create organic chips with olive oil, but it’s cheaper to use canola oil, or something else not good!)  However, I HAVE GIVEN UP ALL of these foods – at the same time – and I’m telling you, it CAN be done!  If you have a support system, oh man, what a difference it will make.

 

If you want to learn more about The Skinny Gut Diet or the author, you can head to this website.  There you’ll find a full synopsis as well as information on where you can find the book for purchase.  It’s a book I HIGHLY recommend to ANYONE looking to improve their health – whether it’s digestive health or not.  This diet will change your body, on the inside for sure, and likely on the outside as well!  5 stars for me. :)

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  The opinions are mine alone!

 

Menu Monday and Weekly Goals November 10

Whew!  The weeks are flying by!  Why is it, I wonder, that the days seem to drag, but the weeks, months, and years fly by?  Time…what a concept.

 

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We had a good time over the weekend at the Turkey Trot….it supports a local school, and I love a good cause.  Munchkin wasn’t really smiling though – she got ran over by a biker.  Poor kid.  Yesterday we did a mega cleaning of the house.  The kids were miserable, and I was thrilled!  We’d hit a room, and then we’d take a 10-minute break (the kids were, after all, miserable, ha ha).  Then we’d get another room, and so on until the entire house was clean.  I’m loving it, and I’m sure it’ll last for a day. :)

Oh hey, don’t forget:  I’ve got 3 giveaways currently running.  Two of them end this week!  Be sure to enter.

Their Name is Today – ends tomorrow!

Manic Drive CD – VIP – ends today!

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas Prize Pack
 
 
As we head into a new week, I want to at least pretend try to keep organized.  Thank goodness for the menu plan, right?  Here’s what we’re having:

 

  • cheese-enchiladas-3-picturesMonday:  Chicken and Dumpling soup (with gluten-free dumplings)
  • Tuesday:  Pigs in a blanket, lettuce salad
  • WednesdayEnchiladas
  • ThursdaySlow Roasted Persian Chicken,
  • Friday:  Leftover night
  • Saturday: Roasted Potatoes (Sweet and White), leftover chicken
  • Sunday: TBD

 
 

And the goals for the week?  Well, let’s be honest, I’m not shooting for the moon. :)  It’ll be a good week, though.

  1. Pick up, separate and freeze 40 lbs chicken (the chicken from Zaycon was delayed, so I’m getting it tonight.)
  2. Activity Days Reward activity
  3. Get ready for and hold Buddy Boy’s birthday party.
  4. Munchkin gymnastics
  5. Update the budget.

 

Have a great week!

 

 

 

Holiday Shopping: Rubber Band Bracelet Kits and Accessories

Every young women loves bracelets and what better way to make a statement than with one of these low cost Rubber Band DIY kits?

I’ll tell you what:  My daughter taught me how to make my first bracelet last week.  She wanted to hold a “class” for me, and so I complied, thinking what a generous mom I was to give her this time doing something so juvenile.  Guess what….I LOVED IT!  The bracelets and other creations you can make really are fun to do.  So it turns out I was NOT the generous one that day.  It was my sweet girl. heart

These kits will give any girl hours of enjoyment where she can express her unique style and make a statement with her one of a kind creations.


Source – Pixabay

 

D.I.Y. Rubber Band Bracelet Loom Kit with Rainbow Bands

D.I.Y. Rubber Band Bracelet Loom Kit with Rainbow Bands

Whether you want to give something hand made to friends or sell items at the local flea market. This Loom Kit will add style and hours of enjoyment as you make your own Rubber Band Bracelets.

Midwest – Expressions Girl / D.I.Y. Rubber Band Bracelet Loom Kit with Rainbow Bands – $5.79, 5.01 shipping – Available at Amazon.com

 

Wonder Loom Rubber Band Bracelet Kit

Wonder Loom Rubber Band Bracelet Kit

Wonder Loom allows you to add color and creativity. Share with your friends and make your own statement with these beautiful DIY bracelets.

The Beadery Craft Products – Wonder Loom Rubber Band Bracelet Kit 30652494 – $11.59, 5.40 shipping – Available at Amazon.com

 

Super Fun Silicone Band Bracelet Making Complete Kit

Super Fun Silicone Band Bracelet Making Complete Kit

Rubber Band Bracelets are all the rage. This DIY Bands Kit is another fun option!

Rainbow Research – Loom Colorful DIY Bands Kit – Super Fun Silicone Band Bracelet Making Complete Kit – $8.49, 4.84 shipping – Available at Amazon.com Marketplace

 

Rainbow Loom Rubber Bands for Bracelet Making

Rainbow Loom Rubber Bands for Bracelet Making

This low price kit has everything you need to get started making Rubber Band bracelets. A perfect gift to share with friends and family.

Generic – HOT DIY Rainbow Loom Rubber Bands for Bracelet Making Toys Kids Toys – $4.98, See Site shipping – Available at Fullfillment By Amazon

 

Braided Loom Watch Rainbow Kit

Braided Loom Watch Rainbow Kit

Want to go beyond a standard bracelet? Take the kits one step further with a watch. Perfect for a low cost home made gift to give to that special someone, or just keep it for yourself.

ManTou – DIY Knitting Braided Loom Watch Rainbow Kit Rubber Loom Bands Self-made Silicone Bracelet (watch+rubber+clip+hook) (Red) – $7.98, Free shipping – Available at Amazon.com Marketplace

 

BlueDot Trading – Teal 600 piece rainbow loom bands

BlueDot Trading - Teal 600 piece rainbow loom bands

Have the kit, but just need specific colors?  (I know Munchkin can relate!)  There are one-color options available at Amazon.com, like this gorgeous teal.

BlueDot Trading – Teal 600 piece rainbow loom bands – $6.68, 5.07 shipping – Available at Amazon.com

 

B and S – Amazing Loom Bands Kit

Amazing Loom Bands Complete Collection Kit - 6,800 Bands +300 Clips

This B and S Amazing Loom Bands is a complete collection organizer kit.  It includes 6,800 bands, 300 clips, and a variety of 12 beautiful colors – including Tie-dye and Glow in the Dark!  Pretty cool, eh?

B and S – Amazing Loom Bands Complete Collection Organizer Storage Kit, Includes 6,800 Bands +300 Clips a Variety of 12 Beautiful Colors – Including Tie-dye and Glow in Dark Ruber Bands (Compare to Twistz Bandz Rainbow Loom Bracelet Rubber Band Kit) – $25.79, 4.84 shipping – Available at Fullfillment By Amazon

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links provided by Postpresso.

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas In Theaters November 14, and a Giveaway!

kirk-cameron-movie-war-on-christmas-e1409264297862

This Christmas, have your family join with Kirk Cameron’s family and dive headfirst into all the joy, dancing, celebration, feasting, imagination, and traditions that glorify the true “reasons for the season.”  KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS is an engaging story that provides a biblical basis for our time-honored traditions and celebrations, and the inspiration to stand strongly against a culture that wants to trivialize and eliminate the faith elements of this holy season.  So take in the splendor, take in the majesty, take in the story.  Take it all in…and let’s put Christ back in Christmas!  KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS is in select theaters for a limited engagement beginning November 14 for TWO WEEKS ONLY!

 

I was SO lucky and fortunate to be given the chance to view this movie early…before it came out in theaters, and I’m SO glad I was!  What a great film.  The very beginning was a bit cheesy, and I couldn’t decide if it was to be funny or not.  I’m hoping the cheesiness of the beginning setup was on purpose, because I found it humorous. :)  As the film goes on, Kirk tells the very engaging story of the histories of different Christmas symbols.  He talks about commercialism, although not in the way you may think!  The beauty of this movie for me is the WAY these stories are told.  Adding film to the story, and dramatic music, adds so much to the power of it all.  I’m looking at Christmas in a whole new way, and I’ve always been a big believer in keeping Christ in Christmas anyway!  I really enjoyed it, truly.   I can’t lie, I’m dying to get out my Christmas decorations now, and to share with my children the symbolisms and the histories.  To share with them in this new light, as it has been shared with me.  (My husband won’t likely let me get stuff out quite yet, however. ;)  )

 

Would you like to see the film yourself?  Go to www.savingchristmas.com to watch the trailer and to find a theater near you.  Don’t waste time though, because as I said, it’s only going to be in theaters for 2 weeks.  

 

And hey, in keeping with the Christmas, I’m gonna hook you up!  One lucky reader is going to win the following:

 photo 1
A SIGNED Saving Christmas movie poster (by Kirk Cameron), the soundtrack to the film, and a car air freshener (they smell like Christmas trees! :) )  Open in the US and Canada.  Good luck!
 
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Menu Monday – Weekly Meal Plan and Goals

 New week, new month!  Holy cow, did fall suddenly hit you like it hit over here?  We went trick or treating on Friday evening and didn’t even need jackets.  By the next morning, November 1, it was freezing!  I kinda get a kick out of it when the weather acts so on schedule.

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I hope you all had a happy and safe holiday weekend.  Now that it’s over, it’s time to get back to the schedule.  Here is our menu plan this week:

Breakfasts:

  • Whole grain toast and or Bagels (for the kids)

  • Fresh fruit (for all of us)

  • Home canned applesauce

Lunches:

  • Leftovers (for me)

  • Whole grain bread (for the kids)

  • Fresh fruit and fresh veggies (for all of us)

  • Greens chews (for the kids)

  • Turkey bacon (for the kids)

Quinoa Crusted ChickenDinners:

Monday – Turkey and Cheese Quesadillas (For the kids, I’ll have plain turkey quesadillas), Cucumber Guacamole

Tuesday – Crepes

Wednesday – Slow Cooker Sausage Chili, Fresh Baked Bread

Thursday – Crust Free Turkey Pot Pie

Friday – Leftover Night

Saturday – Quinoa Crusted Chicken, Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sunday – Oven Porcupine Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Green Salad

 

I was able to complete all the “to-dos” on my list last week:

  1. Start new HIIT Training program designed by my doctor just for me (so I guess there is some benefit to these weekly dr appointments!)
  2. Finalize Halloween costumes for the kids.
  3. Go to church Trunk Or Treat on Tuesday.
  4. Wednesday:  NBA Jazz game (we got free tickets)
  5. Go over final budget numbers for October.

The fun plans this week:

  1. Activity Days

  2. 1 doctor appointment (only one this week; hooray!)

  3. Buddy Boy starts his rock climbing class.

  4. Picking up 40 lbs Zaycon chicken

  5. Fundraiser fun run for my son’s school

  6. Gymnastics for Munchkin

 

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed week!