2015 Goal Update

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goals for 2015This year I am updating you on my goals the first Monday of every month to hope that having to tell you how I am doing each month will keep me more on track to reaching each and every one this year.  You can view my goals in detail here.

10 Goals For 2015

My Mind

1. Read 52 books this year. 

I read  5 books in January.

My Health

Make A Fitness Goal For This YearHow to set and track a yearly milage goal (med)2. 1200 Miles Ran in 2015

WOW running 100 miles month requires a lot of discipline but I did it! In fact I ran 106 miles total. Some miles were walked but I was okay with that as when I made the goal I told myself I could walk 25% if needed.

3. Take an overnight, multi-day bike ride trip with my son

This goal won’t take place until late spring, but I am doing all I can right now to make sure I get my doctor’s okay, since she is the one who highly recommended I cancel this trip last year which was hard for me; I don’t like being a mom that backs out of plans with my kids.

6 habits to form this year for healthier eating creating good eating habits one inch at a time (med)4. Take six small steps over the year to build better eating habits

The plans for this challenge is to practice a new healthy habit every 2 months until it becomes engrained. January I concentrated on charting calories. I haven’t being doing as well as I hoped on this challenge charting probably on average 4 days out of the week. But it is making a difference in how I eat. I find myself being more mindful about what I am putting in my mouth.

My Marriage

5. 1 real date a month with my hubby each and every month

In January my husband and I attended the RV show together in Indy. We had a lot of fun checking out all the RV’s from the ones not much bigger than a tent to the ones almost as big as our first home as a married couple.

6. 1 weekend getaway per season just the 2 of us.

There just wasn’t a good weekend for us to get away for our winter getaway in January and I don’t see it happening in February either so hopefully early March; after all it is not officially spring until late March.

My Home

52 Weeks To A Simplified Home Decluttering A Home One Inch At A Time (med)

7. Declutter one area of my home each and every week of the year.

I am so glad with all the people who are joining in and decluttering their homes one inch at a time with me. There are currently over 50 people in the Snail Pacing Goal Achievers facebook group and although I made it clear in the description that it was a place for all those working on any goal the majority are in there discussing what they are decluttering and getting cheers and encouragement from others.

I finished the Library room over the month of January and I cannot believe how much larger the room feels; and so it should with 4 boxes off stuff out of it.

My Business

8. Write a 30,000 word ebook.

This is one goal I really have not made much headway on. I asked those who follow me on Facebook, what they would like to see me write about and those that did take time to respond mentioned the same topic I was thinking of writing on, so I guess I know for sure the topic now but that is all.

My Spirit

9. Do a word study in the bible  of the words, discipline, diligence and self control.

I finished studying discipline since I actually started studying it in late November. I am now studying the word diligence.

My Wow Goal

10. I like keeping my wow goal very private as it is so dear to my heart. It is just as big as last year if not bigger.

I feel like I am making good headway in making sure that I meet at least 1 of the 2 parts of my wow goal this year. I need to take more action if I am to reach the second part.

If you find yourself constantly making goals but never pursuing them or reaching them, I recommend reading 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life. An ebook by Crystal Paine that will help you break down your goals and develop the discipline to reach them.

Why I Rarely Talk About Our Debt Free Journey

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My families journey to becoming debt free won’t make the news. It won’t become a book. It isn’t the type of story you scream about on The Dave Ramsey Show. Why I rarely talk about our families journey to a debt free life

Honestly I don’t even like talking about our debt free journey because when I do mention it I can tell it makes people feel uncomfortable. It leaves them grasping for words. There instantly becomes this awkward pause in conversation when I mention it.

In fact I am only sharing it here today because I feel God tugging at my sleeves asking me to talk to you about the importance of handling financial windfalls well, and I can’t seem to write a word about it without first telling you our families story. How we have handled financial windfalls both well and poorly, and what we have learned from our mistakes, and our successes.

If I had to put our debt free journey into a sentence this would be it: My family is 100% debt free including the house today because people died.

Yes that statement is blunt, but making inheritances smell like flowers in spring time isn’t something I can do.

Don’t get me wrong I am so thankful for family members who paid their bills and left no debt unpaid. For family members who left behind life insurance policies to cover their funeral expenses and more. For family members who thought to pay off their homes in full before they passed away so proceeds  from the sale of their homes could be enjoyed by those left on earth.

But it still hurts. I never forget the day the inheritance check came from my mother’s estate, I was crying so hard as I took it to the bank that the bank teller had to wait for me to stop sobbing to explain what I wanted to do with the check. She even had to go searching for tissues so I could dry my eyes enough to see the forms I was signing.

In that moment all I could think was “God, would you take this check and just let me spend one more day with my mom”.  I know I will see her in heaven one day, but on that day all I wanted to do was exchange that check for another day with her here on earth with me.

But I couldn’t. What I could do however, was make sure I used the financial gift she left me wisely. To make it count. I knew what I wanted to do. My husband had been working 60 to 70+ hours a week for years to pay our bills. I wanted to give our family the gift of a dad and husband who was home more.  I knew to do that I needed to reduce our monthly bills and the only way to do that was to reduce our debts.

Our lives before we became debt free

First let me tell you our debt wasn’t high to begin with, we had around  $5000 in car loans, $10,000 in student loans and $60,000 in a mortgage. Roughly $75,000 in debt including the mortgage, or $15,000 without. Not large debt numbers, since we have always been thrifty people who have lived on a budget, refusing to carry a credit card balance from month to month. Our month to month payments were  right around 25% of our take home pay before overtime and the second job. These numbers sound conservative, comfortable even but we had a few challenges.

One challenge was we wanted children raised in a home with a full time mom present. My husband is an RN, a good job, with good pay, but still one job in a two income world is hard.

We had also been paying cash for me and one child at a time to make the 3000 mile trip to my mom’s several times a year during her 4 year battle with cancer, and that wasn’t cheap.

These trips had left us paying minimum payments only on our debts, which was a first for us in many years of our marriage. They also left us unable to fix a home that was so badly in need of repair the ceiling was falling on our heads (well thankfully just the dining room table and no one was hurt).

I knew my inheritance check was coming months before it arrived and I spent the time praying to God about how use to wisely in a way the would best benefit my family and honor my mother.

Our Plan To Become Debt Free

Our plan ended up being a bit crazy, but  it worked. With my inheritance check  from my mom I bought a  $9,000 home, paid off the rest of our student loans and our small car loans.

The plan was to renovate and then move into the $9000 home. Once moved we would fix the home we currently had mortgaged. In the end we were going to decide which one we liked best, and sell the other to pay off the mortgage and be 100% debt free.

With no debts we would have lowered our expenses enough for my husband to quit his second job and work a 40 to 50+ hour week ( there is hardly an RN position out there that doesn’t require you to work some overtime). The children and I  would see him more and yet our family could still be able to live life thrifty yet comfortably.

The plan sounded great but those who have renovated before would have seen our error right away. We were not at all realistic about the cost of renovating two homes. Our money ran out just as the first home was finished.

We were moving into our newly fixed paid in full home and trying to figure out how to raise the cash to fix our original home when my maternal grandmother died. She left the share of her estate that should have been my mother’s to my sister and I.

With a grieving yet grateful heart I took the money my grandmother left me and set aside enough to fix our original home, as well as pay off its mortgage while we were working on it, and the inheritance stretched just far enough to buy a 3rd home for $15,000 and fix it up to rent.

We were now 100% debt free with 2 rentals.

Yes I know our debt free story should end there BUT it doesn’t.

Make sure to come back next week, (sign up for emails of my posts)  when I share our $40,000+ stupid tax story, what we learned from it, and how we became 100% debt free again and plan to stay that way.  (update: you can now read part 2 here as well as part 3: what living debt free looks like for our family)

I mentioned two  Dave Ramsey terms  in this post, so just in case you don’t know who he is, Dave Ramsey is the author of The Total Money Makeover as well as Financial Peace University and his talk show The Dave Ramsey Show. He shares wisdom on getting out of debt and staying out of debt. You can check him out at Dave Ramsey.com.

Linked to Thrifty Thursdays, Frugal Friday Link Up,

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Snapshot Thursdays: My Office, My Trail, My Love

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Snapshot Thursdays 3 pictures from my week to give you a peek into my daily lifeWelcome to Snapshot Thursdays. Please join me on  Instagram  to see more pictures I share all week long.

trail I run on a beautiful winter's dayWe had a week of 30+ temperatures here in Indiana, and that means a break from the dread tread for me. I can’t run in the super cold weather, to hard on my lungs, and too much risk of falling on ice. So I took full advantage of the days of warmer weather running outdoors. The first few days my runs were slowed due to remaining patches of ice, and working my way around large puddles without getting in the way of cars. Finally I headed to a local trail hoping it would be puddle and ice free and it was so I ran a full 7 miles and enjoyed every minute of it.

(oh and I am loving the earbuds I got for Christmas, they allow me to listen to my favorite music on the run without falling out, or budging at all, plus they deliver great sound)

my home office 2015I have been enjoying reading Jamerrill’s 3 part series on how she works from home (she runs the blog Free Homeschool Deals)

She and I share a similar work at home schedules including our secret weapons. Reading her post made me think perhaps you would like a peek at my home office set up. Well one of the three home offices I have. Actually I guess they are really more like movable home office areas.

This is a picture of my master bedroom hideaway. My husband works 4 10 hr shifts so he can be home one day a week to let me blog. During that day he takes care of homeschooling, dinner and does errands he needs to do while I hide up in the bedroom blogging. I was spending this time at a local coffee shop, but then they changed internet providers and now their internet is so slow I get more done faster at home, provided I tell all my kids it is my work day “so ask Dad” and I lock my door. Sometimes if they get really loud I put on my noise cancelling headphones.

(another great inspiring read on Jamerrill’s blog is how she managed to free her husband from his relentless job and bring him home full time)

tim hortons in my townThis picture makes me very happy. It isn’t the sight of the Tim Bits, as much as it is where I was standing when I took the picture. I was in Fort Wayne Indiana less than an hour from where I live and I was at Tim Hortons. During the 12+ years we have lived in the States the closest Tim Hortons to me has been almost 3 hours away.

I grew up on Tim Hortons and I have so many memories of my mom and I sharing their soup and sandwich deals together. Now that she is gone those memories are precious. I know it will sound odd, but going to Tim’s is like a warm mom hug for me. I can here her laugh, I can see her smile, and I get to eat great food and drink good coffee.

Do you have a restaurant full of memories?

3 Giveaways To Enter

Duraflame is giving away a prize package that includes one case of fire logs, a Kindle Fire® Tablet, and a Keurig® Brewer with coffee, tea & hot cocoa k-cups, to one lucky winner. Plus, the winner gets to Share the Warmth by sending the same set of gifts to a friend. Enter now (click on image to take you to entry page) for your chance to get cozy and Rekindle the Warmth.

Sign up for  zulily for FREE and be entered to win a $100 zulily gift card. Entries must be submitted by February 1st, 2015. The winner will receive the $100 credit within their zulily account. A random winner will be selected February 11th, 2015. Enter here.


Another doughnut shop I love is Dunkin Donuts and their perks program is pretty awesome; regularly sending you new deals. Sign up and start off with a free coffee coupon. (click image to go sign up)

7 Ways I Help My Body Get A Better Night’s Sleep

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I had always had trouble falling asleep, until I put a routine in place that helps. I have certainly not become one of those people that falls asleep the minute they hit the pillow but I do now fall into a deep slumber within minutes, which is so much better than the hours is use to take me.

7 ways I help my body get a better night's sleepIf I don’t sleep well, I am not productive at all. In order to keep all the balls I am juggling I need my sleep. Here are 7 things I have found that help me not just get more sleep but sleep better

7 Ways I Help My Body Get A Better Night’s Sleep

1. I wait until I am tired to go to bed

In winter especially I  think about how great it would be to curl under the covers with a good book, but for some reason this always messes with my body’s “time for sleep” signals and I fall asleep too early only to wake up three hours later wide awake and unable to get back to sleep.

I also notice if I stay up past being tired, I get a second burst of energy about an hour later and if I should push through tired to that one, sleep that night will not be happening.

2. I turn off screens about 1 hour before sleep

I am not perfect about this but I notice that I get a deeper sleep when I shut down my computer and read a real book and not one on my kindle paperwhite about 1 hour before bed.  Sometimes I break this rule to do some TV watching but I do notice that when I do I don’t sleep as well. I try my best to spend the last hour I am up curled up on the couch  reading in a room without TV.

3. I moved my mug of coffee to first thing in the morning

I use to have a cup of coffee mid afternoon as a wake me up, but I was noticing last year that  I wasn’t sleeping well (I was waking up periodically throughout the night), so I decided to switch my coffee to first thing in the morning and a mug of green tea in the early afternoon. Sure enough I started sleeping well again (age perhaps?).

4. I exercise almost daily

I notice a big difference in my ability to fall sleep and stay asleep on the days I do exercise versus the days I don’t. So much so that I now try to at least fit a 30 minute walk in on my rest days from running and biking.

Of course timing is everything with workouts helping me sleep. If I work out too late in the day, they keep me up. For me I get my workout done by 5 pm at the latest.

5. I keep a gratitude journal

There is just something about writing down a few blessings before bed that takes your mind off your worries and allows you to drift into slumber peacefully.

6. I read a devotional

Right now I am reading Jesus Today, which is good but not as good as Jesus Is Calling which was my last years devotional. I find ending my day with a few words on the word keeps me from letting worries keep me up. (my morning devotion time is when I study God’s word in more depth)

7. I keep only magazines by the bed

If I am still not quite ready to turn out the lights after writing in my gratitude journal and reading my devotional I might read an article or two of a magazine. I don’t allow myself to read books as I find that I am horrible about getting so caught up in the story that I read way way past being tired, and then never do sleep right.

Doing these 7 things over and over helps me get the rest I need to be productive day after day.

 Is there a tip you would add to my list that helps you get a better night sleep?

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52 Weeks To A Simplified Home: Project 4

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It felt so good to finish decluttering the library this week. I swear the room feels bigger. Which, it should considering over the last 4 weeks I have removed 5 plastic grocery bags full of trash, and filled one box for the second hand homeschooling curriculum sale I do every year, plus 3 more boxes went to the local thrift store.

Realizing I took that much out of one room, is kind of satisfying and disgusting at the same time.  Satisfying that the room is now simplified;disgusting that it got that bad in the first place.

wardrobeAgain no staging here, oh how badly I wanted to remove those baskets full of shoes. We don’t have a front entrance closet at all so those baskets are our solution to shoes everywhere. The broom was left by the child who had sweeping this room as a chore the day before. The cardboard you see stuffed beside the wardrobe is the white science project boards I use to take my blogging pictures.

As you can see the horrible secrets of what is inside the cabinets is already leaking out into the room. That is yarn you see sneaking out of a draw there.

wardrobe openThe cabinet is full of picture albums, yarn and craft supplies.

cleaning wardrobeFirst I emptied out the entire wardrobe and then wiped it all down with our families favorite cleaner from ePantry (save $10 off your first order of $30 or more when you sign up through my referral link).

wardrobe messThe amount of stuff the wardrobe was holding was kind of overwhelming to look at.

chair of wardrobe junkYep that is right, the contents filled up the couch, the chair and a coffee table and spilled onto the floor. I must admit I just sat and stared at it for a few minutes not knowing quite where to start.

pattern binderI had forgotten all about this binder full of patterns I thought I might want to try some day. Ah the days before Pinterest.

recycle binIn the end I kept just a small handful of patterns. I kept to my promise of keeping only things for the stage of life I am currently in, not the one I might be in someday, and not the one I was once in.  I also figured pretty much any craft I want to try I can find a tutorial on Pinterest for.

trash from wardrobeI am very embarrassed to show you just how much trash came out of that wardrobe. About half of it was clothes I put in there to mend, and well……I don’t mend. I always like the idea of mending. It is thrifty, and green but I never make it a priority. The mending pile had been there so long that there was a maxi dress for my daughter that she could now wear as a shirt. SHAMEFUL.

The other half of the trash was empty plastic bags and pieces of this and that I had kept hoping to find the rest of the ..this and that. It has been years I don’t think they are showing up now and even if they do I don’t think we need them.

more stuff to give awayI also filled up about half of a box with stuff for the thrift store.

glove and hat drawerI had so much room in the drawer area of the wardrobe when I was done purging, I was able to devote a drawer to gloves, and another one to hats. This gave me room in the bookshelf I did earlier this month for my sewing box which meant I could now use the top of the wardrobe just for display items.

done wardrobe.I am very happy with the end result. My bamboo knitting needles now have their own home in one of the glass jars on the top of the wardrobe. Which I think adds the perfect homey touch.

What did you declutter this week?

3 coupons to help you declutter

I don’t know about you but the hardest part for me about decluttering is starting. Starting with a cup of coffee in one hand helps, as well as the promise of chocolate when I am done. Also although I do use reusable cleaning clothes, I also use paper towels.

$1.00 off any ONE (1) McCafe Coffee Item

$1.00 off TWO bags of M&M's Chocolate Candies

$0.50 off any one Sparkle 8 regular roll or larger

7 Ways To Build Blogging Friendships When You Can’t Attend A Conference

I have been blogging for 3 years now and in that time I have attended just one blog conference. I do however feel like I have formed connections with other bloggers beyond those I met at the conference and some of those connections are leading to friendships.

7 ways to build blogging friendships when you can't attend a conference

It isn’t that I don’t want to go to conferences it is just that they don’t work into our budget right now. Still I have learned a few ways of getting to know other bloggers more without having to attend a conference.

7 Ways To Build Blogging Friendships When You Can’t Attend A Conference

1. Read their blogs

This is vital, if you want to make a friendship with someone it is a lot easier if you know their interests and bloggers tend to write about what interests them.

2. Leave great encouraging comments

If you want to form a friendship with a blogger, don’t leave comments like, “hey I blogged about this too check it out” and then drop a link. Instead read the blog post with a pen and paper in hand and as you read. Write down aspects that interest you as you read each and every word of the blog post. I write it down because often I will get to the bottom of a post and totally forget my thoughts I had sentence one into the post. It is important to read fully to avoid comment mistakes, like finding out the question you asked about paragraph 2 was answered in great detail in paragraph 5.

3. Follow and interact with bloggers on Instagram

Instagram is my favorite way to follow bloggers I want to make friends with. Instagram is the one social media site where bloggers tend to drop the business side of things and let you into the behind the scenes real life stuff.  Real life stuff is what true friendships are made of.

It is also really easy for a blogger to hop over to your Instagram feed and get to know you better too.

Leave comments, not just likes. Answer any replies you get. Don’t get creepy and like and comment on every photo they ever posted. Simply stick to commenting on those that genuinely got your attention and that you can relate too.

4. Get into facebook groups

I join pretty much any blogging orientated Facebook group I am invited too. I will admit I don’t get to spend that much time in them but I still find them very valuable to forming blogging friendships.

I try to spend time once a week, 20 to 30 minutes perhaps, scrolling the feed in the groups I am a part of and joining conversations when I feel I have something that adds to the conversation in a positive and helpful manner.

Not a part of a group? Create one. If you already have a few blogging connections create a Facebook group and invite them to join.

5. Share their work

Crystal Paine said something at the one and only blogging conference I have attended that has stuck with me and I feel has been vital in me forming blogging friendships, “We are not competitors we are co-laborers” . Sharing other blogger’s work won’t harm your own instead it will not only grow your work but more importantly grow friendships between you and other bloggers.

If your blogging friend writes a great article, that fits with what your blog is about, share it on your social media platforms. If they write a book sign up to be on their book launch team and write a post about what the book inspired you to do.

(One last tip if your blogging friend writes something you love but it is totally off topic for your blog audience, share it on your personal Facebook page instead.)

6. Go to local events

Due to health problems, a horrible winter and a packed schedule I didn’t get to do this as much last year as I would of liked but I hope to do it more this year. Usually through Facebook groups, I will find a group of bloggers near me (as in less than 2 hours away) getting together a few times a year.

These are inexpensive ways to meet bloggers face to face when compared to conferences. There is just something about face to face interaction that forms bonds to depths the internet has a hard time copying.

If you don’t see anyone doing this in your blogging Facebook groups be bold and ask if any live near you and see if they would like to meet up. You might have to drive a bit out of your way, but the seeds of friendship sewn will be worth it.

You can also sign up to go to a local (in) Real Life Conference. They conferences are really more like meet ups and although not attended exclusively by bloggers, most that attend are and they are held all over the states, so there is bound to be one near you. Plus the price is very reasonable, and usually comes with great sign up bonuses.

7. Remember this verse

Ephesians 4:32 And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted) forgiving one another (readily and freely) as God in Christ forgave you. (Amplified)

God has used this verse in my life again and again to remind me what it takes to be a true friend. You can do all 6 steps above but if you don’t do it from a heart that truly wants to serve instead of be served, the friendship bonds you desire will never be created.

Before approaching any blogger  for help I pause and think “what have I done for them lately”. Have I prayed for them? Have I promoted their work? Have I complimented them when I saw them do something awesome? Did I do the last favor they asked me to do? . Or is the relationship getting “me” sided.  If it is the latter, I make sure to correct matters right away.

I am not perfect at this. I am a work in progress, which is why I love the end of the verse “forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you”.

How about you? Have you found a great way to form friendship bonds with other bloggers that you might not be able to meet in person? Share them in the comments below.

blogging tips from a blogging student (small)This post is part of the series What I learned My Junior Year Of Blogging University. You can view all my blogging tips here

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How I Got Paid $75 To Stay Home On Black Friday

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Yes the title is true I basically got paid $75 to stay home and shop in my PJ’s Black Friday. I did have to wait a while for my pay check to arrive. It really just came last week, that 2 1/2 months of waiting was worth it though.  I was so excited to see the $75 in gift cards arrive last week. All for restaurants the hubby and I love;date night here we come.

How I got paid $75 to stay home on Black Friday

All of the gift cards came from My Points and all of the points I earned from just one transaction. My Black Friday, at home on the computer Christmas shopping.

How I Got Paid $75 To Stay At Home On Black Friday

Truth: I did place a substantial order

My husband and I decided that we were going to cut out a lot of Christmas extras this year and spend that money plus more on one BIG gift for each of our children.

Trust me  this is not normal for us, and we explained it to the kids while they were wide eyed Christmas morning ,that this was a one time thing. They all had something that was wearing out or getting too outdated for updates that they wanted to replace and we decided to get it for them for Christmas just once instead of our usual save up for it yourself routine.

Needless to say Santa brought next to nothing with stockings consisting of only socks, gloves and chocolate but my teenage boys love their play systems and my daughter loves her iPad mini so much they didn’t seem to mind the the practical stocking gifts and lack of any other present what so ever under the tree for them.

Truth: I was tempted for the first time ever to go out and shop Black Friday

I know some of you love Black Friday because of the awesome deals, and so I thought I would save a bundle too, since this year all of the gifts we were buying were in the sales at significant markdowns.

As the day approached though I started to get really anxious about all those crowds, so I decided to do some research and see if I could find a retailer offering the same deals online as in store. Turns out this wasn’t hard at all in fact I found several within minutes.

Truth: I saved more than those standing in line on Black Friday

Once I knew I was going to shop online and what store I started looking for ways to make my online deal even sweeter. I tried looking for a discounted gift card at Cardpool but they were out of cards for the store I wanted.

I knew I didn’t need to look for a free shipping code since my purchases met the free shipping limits. I did try to look for a discount code but there wasn’t one.

I then went online cash back shopping and discovered My Points had the biggest cash back available for the store I was shopping.  I clicked through their links over to the store and earned 12,863 points enough for $75 in gift cards to date night restaurants and I still have 1863 leftover which I could have spent on a $10 gift card meaning I really made $85. I however opted  to save towards another $25 card (the cards start at around 3600 for a $25 card, or 1650 for a $10, making saving up for a $25  better deal).

When I was all done shopping online it hit me. I got a better deal than in store shoppers, and I didn’t spend time standing in line or fighting crowds, nor did I have to drive anywhere.

I was so stunned by this realization that I didn’t want to talk about it here on the blog until I actually had the gift cards on hand so I myself had hard evidence that Black Friday in store shoppers are not getting better deals than us stay in your PJ’s at home shoppers. (but if you really like the thrill of it well than go for it :) )

Truth: I don’t do this often enough

This is one area of savings where I am going to try and be more diligent in doing from now on. I would love to say that as a thrifty lifestyle blogger I remember to check for cash backs 100% of the time, but that isn’t honest, truthfully I remember probably close to 60% of the time. I am hoping this year to improve and make it to 95% of the time (no one is perfect).

I order from ThredUP, Zulily, Groupon, Old Navy and more consistently through out the year and I can be earning cash back on all of those purchases.

I  live in a smaller town where retailers often don’t carry my tall size, or my son’s tall and skinny size. They also don’t offer the same selection in their stores as their online counterparts do. I find myself forced to either spend time driving to a bigger town or save the time and gas by shopping online. Plus from what I learned through this experience I could be earning gift cards for  date nights too!

I am thinking this could add up to a significant amount of savings for my family.

Companies offering cash back on online purchases

To earn the most possible back for your purchase  I find it best to be a member of many different sites so I can check around for the best rate first. It doesn’t take long to compare rates, perhaps a minute or two at most. Also not all sites carry the same stores.

Do you currently use cash backs? If so what do you like to do with yours?

Linked to Frugal Friday,

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SnapShot Thursdays: How I Survive Winter

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Snapshot Thursdays 3 pictures from my week to give you a peek into my daily lifeWelcome to Snapshot Thursdays. Please join me on  Instagram  to see more pictures I share all week long.

mile jarsI am shocked at how much these two jars motivate me to get out there and run despite the cold. Yes, I have been running on the treadmill at the Y more often than outside but still, looking at these jars gives me the motivation to get my gear on an head out in the cold to get to the gym.  If it is a warmer day, I have been running outside, despite rain.

pink flower in winterHaving fresh flowers in my home during cold winter days always makes me smile, and my husband knows it. He was kind enough to pick me up not one but 2 bunches of flowers last week when I sent him to Aldi for groceries while I was busy writing.

true lemon rasberry lemonadeOne of my health habits that I want to make this year is to drink more water. Sometimes especially in winter when I don’t seem as thirsty water can be a bit plain. I love dumping a True Lemon Raspberry Lemonade package into a huge mug of water in the afternoon. It is sweetened with stevia , and has 100% of my daily vitamin C needs which during winter is something I like to make sure I get enough of to avoid colds. It tastes so good, it is a treat I look forward to every afternoon. If you order from Amazon there is a single pack that is available as an add on if you want to try it.  (I get mine at Amazon with gift card codes earned from Swagbucks & InstaGC)

Deals I found this week

If you haven’t joined Zulily (my favorite daily deal site for name brand clothes) here is an extra push to do so. Sign up through these referral links  by January 31st 2015 and you will be entered to win a $100 Zulily Gift Card. (random winner will be selected Feb 11 2015). ( By signing up you will start getting their daily deal mail in your inbox )


The Ultimate DIY Bundle is going on right now but only until Monday can you grab this bundle of $1200 worth of ebooks, ecourse and bundles for just $34.95. (here is the write up I did yesterday on it) .

boxed cards day spring

DaySpring has a sale on boxed cards going on right now. You can get 2 boxes of select cards for just $10. That is 24 cards for $10 which works out to .42 cents a card. DaySpring’s 50% to 75% off Christmas Clearance Sale is also still going on.

A Great Deal For DIY Lovers And Crafters

(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

The Ultimate DIY Bundle contains $1200 worth of ebooks, video course and bonuses for just $34.95 for the pdf version or $39.95 for the Kindle file version.

The Bonus That More Than Pays For The Entire Bundle

One bonus in particular more than pays for the entire bundle which is why this thrifty craft loving bookworm decided to pass the deal on to my readers.

craftsy bonusCraftsy is offering all those who buy a bundle one of their top quality video instruction courses for free (up to a $60 value). That 1 bonus already pays for the entire bundle and more.

Craftsy offers courses in …

  • Sewing & Quilting
  • Cake & Cooking
  • Yarn & Fiber Arts
  • Art & Photo
  • Home & Garden
  • Jewelery & Paper Crafts

If you are the type who likes to try before you buy you can go to Craftsy and sign up for one of their free mini courses and instantly watch one of the instructional videos to give you a taste of what a full length class would be like.

Of course The Ultimate DIY Bundle  is so much more than just one free course.

eBooks

The bundle includes $720 ebooks covering DIY projects in the following areas

  • Crafts -Chalk pastels, Easy DIY crafts, handmade gifts, miniatures, printables, children’s craft ideas and more.
  • Holidays & Seasons -DIY Christmas ideas, Birthday printables, gifts kids can make, DIY baby shower and more.
  • Home & Garden -DIY personal care products & cleaners, cake & cookie decorating, gardening and more.
  • Home Decor -Thrift store transformations, home staging, modge podge, autumn decor and more.
  • Photography -manual mode, pet photo tips, child photo tips and more.
  • Scrapbooking & Art Journaling -coloring book, child memory book, scripture cards, and more.
  • Sewing – quilting, sewing 101, hooded vest, skirts, parisian top, tote, dress pattern and more.
  • The Business Of DIY -how to sell at craft shows, social media tips, photo editing, pinterest tips and more.
  • Writing -writing prompts for children and adults as well as writing tips for bloggers.

You can check out all the ebooks offered in the bundle in detail over at The Ultimate DIY Bundle website.

 eCourses

The bundle includes 9 eCourses that offer step by step in-depth instruction through either, illustrations, video instruction, or daily emails to keep you on track (make sure to read the course descriptions to see how each course is taught)

  • Artful Adventures: Art Journaling Basics
  • Family Writers Club: (for inspiring young authors)
  • How To Scan & Digitize Photos & Memorabilia
  • iScrap N Snap: (iphone photography tutorial)
  • Photo Editing For Absolute Beginners
  • Photography 101: If you have a DLSR this course will show you how to get it out of manual mode.
  • Story 101: How to Find Your Voice
  • Use Your Stash: (how to use up those scrapbook supplies)

Click through to The Ultimate DIY Bundle homepage to view all the eCourses in detail.

Bonuses

I already mentioned one bonus above, the free full length Craftsy class with up to a $60 value but there are 3 more

  • FREE $15 Credit to the Hope Ink shop PLUS a free 8×10 art print
    $43 value
    Hope Ink create inspiring art prints for your home.
    Standard shipping charges apply.  Ships anywhere. Must be redeemed by February 26th, 2015. ( I couldn’t find anything under $15 to use the credit on but the prints are AMAZING, very beautiful and you get one free, it would make a great gift)
  • FREE Sewing Pattern + Premium Video Class from UpCraftClub.com
    $19.99 Value
    UpCraft Club is a modern sewing and crafting association offering different classes to members each month in sewing, knitting, quilting, and crafting techniques as well as a growing database of certified digital patterns.
    Must be redeemed by February 26th, 2015.
  • FREE $15 Store Credit to be used at Fawnsberg.com
    $15 Value
    Fawnsberg offers beautiful cards, paper, art prints, stamps and more.  They believe that when it comes things like gratitude, connecting with a friend who is far away, sympathy, birthday wishes, holiday greetings, or a heart felt congratulations–paper just fits.
    Standard shipping charges will apply upon checkout. Must be redeemed by February 26th, 2015. (notecards start at $4.50 each meaning you could get 3 with your credit, and just have to pay shipping)

You can check out the bonuses in greater detail over at The Ultimate DIY  home page.

My Thoughts On The Bundle

There is a lot of great information in this bundle that makes it a great deal for many people. However, you need to decide if it is a great deal for you. I suggest going through the entire bundle writing down the titles of all books and programs you are 100% interested in and know you will use. Beside each title put the retail value of the item.  When you are done total it up. If the total is more than $34.95 and you have that money in your budget to spend then it is worth it.

Don’t forget to read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle so that you know everything you need to know before you buy.

52 Weeks To A Simplified Home: Project 3

(post contains affiliate links see disclosure)

This week I decided to tackle the long sofa table. At least that is what I am calling it. It is a table my husband made for me one year.

sofa table declutterRemember I promised no altered pictures. Oh how I wanted to at least remove my shoes from the floor and the blanket and jacket on the chair before taking this picture.

Now some of you might be eying those 2 board games and going “hey didn’t she take those to the thrift store last week?” Yes you are right they were in the thrift store pile but then a teacher friend of mine saw them in last weeks pictures and asked if she could have them for her classroom. She was in luck my husband had not dropped the stuff off at the thrift store. So after decluttering this week, they are now in my car to give to her next time I see her.

Also I don’t normally keep cleaners in the library but I had been taking pictures for my ePantry post and I just dumped them here. They are now in the bathroom cupboards. I promise :)

Now that I am done making excuses for the sad shape this area is in lets get on to decluttering.

sofa table uncoveredNow you know another secret. The table has yet to be painted even though my husband made it 7+ years ago. Which is why it has the table cloth over it.

First I took everything out of the table and went through each and every basket.

box for thrift storeWhen I was done I had filled an entire box with things to go to the thrift store including a few puzzles, and a tablecloth.

sofa table doneAs you can see the contents of the baskets are no longer over flowing.

sofa table top all doneOne of the reasons the top of the sofa table was so clutter was that after the Christmas stuff was put away we never brought down the things that normally sit on it. A big blank surface like that is a clutter magnet in our home, so I went into the attic and got a few things to display on it. A picture drawn by my daughter, some yard sale found pottery vases, flowers given to me by my hubby, and one of my favorite willow tree figurines.

What did you declutter this week?

If you too are decluttering your home one week at a time this year join the Snail Pacing Goal Achievers Facebook group where people are sharing their progress, cheering each other on and achieving this and other goals.

52 weeks to a simplified homefree printable plan (small)Hop on over to the first post and grab the free printable plan and join along.

A few deals to help you with your organizing and cleaning

Dayspring has their 2015 calendars and day planners 70% off. If you haven’t yet sit down and planned out your year, or created a family appointment calendar yet this is a great deal to take advantage of.

calendars on sale

Trash bags are a must when you are decluttering your home. I also use ziplock bags and containers to store bits and pieces I find while decluttering, such as drill bits that my husband is famous for leaving around. I have a box with his name on it with all my small finds in it for him to sort at his convenience.

$1.00 off any ONE package of Hefty Trash Bags
$1.00 off any two Ziploc brand bags
$1.00 off any two Ziploc brand containers