Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

What I Earned From One Month With Ellevest from MomAdvice.com

 

Are you looking for an easy way to start investing? Robo investing might be the perfect option for you and I am sharing the scoop on what I learned from investing with Ellevest.  Today I’m sharing what I really earned and about the process of getting an account started as we explore passive income money making opportunities for moms. Be sure to visit our entire Passive Income Ideas for Moms Series all year long as I challenge myself to find new ways to earn money for our family. 

I can’t believe that we have another month behind us in our Passive Income Ideas for Moms series.  I have been SO thrilled to get so many messages and comments from women who have been taking this challenge with me and are feeling empowered to start investing in themselves.

Today I get to reveal the results from my month of investing with Ellevest.

Honestly, as exciting as it was to share with you about Rakuten, I was ten times more excited to start my first portfolio with some of my earnings from MomAdvice. 

If you have been intimidated by the investment process (*raises hand*) I think you will be really happy to hear how easy this was and how incredibly thankful I am that I started doing this.

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest from MomAdvice.com

(click here to get $20 to start your Ellevest portfolio today)

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest

What is Ellevest?

Ellevest is a woman-owned company that focuses on building investment portfolios. What makes it unique is that they have something called an, “Impact Portfolio,”  that allow you to invest in stocks that support women in business.

This is a robo advisor tool that makes investing easy and also doesn’t cost the consumer an arm and a leg.

Robo advisors (also known as automated investing services or online advisors) use computer algorithms and advanced software to create an investment portfolio for you.

They are referred to as robo because this is mostly an automated process that requires little to no human interaction.

This translates into cost-savings for you because they are using these automated tools to build your portfolio.

The biggest difference between this company and other companies is that their focus is on wealth-building for women by investing in other women.

They call these portfolios, “Impact Portfolios,” because you are making a positive impact on women.

Pretty cool, right?

For an Impact Portfolio, they use these three key criterias in selecting your investments:

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP

Funds investing in companies with more women leaders and policies that advance women.

SUSTAINABLE, ACCOUNTABLE COMPANIES

Funds investing in companies working to meet  for sustainability and ethical practices.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Funds providing loans to support women-owned businesses and companies that provide community services – child education, performing arts, and housing and care for seniors and individuals in need.

They also realize that women have different life spans than men and they adjust your retirement requirements accordingly.

Want to learn even more about Ellevest? Be sure to read this introductory article to Ellevest that includes a really awesome interview with the Ellevest CEO, Sallie Krawcheck!

How Much Did I Invest This Month with Ellevest?

Just as a reminder, there is no minimum balance to open your account!

I decided to set up a one-time deposit of $2,000 into this account and then set up automatic deposits of $300 monthly into my wealth-building account. 

I also wanted to create a little vacation fund for us so I have $50 going into a one-time splurge account that we will be able to earn some money on while we save. 

Just as a reminder, I did work one month ahead so I could walk you through the process of setting up an account.

Technically, I invested $300 in my wealth-building account and $50 into our splurge account for the month of November.

Investment Goals with Ellevest

What Types of Accounts Did I Invest in With Our Money?

Ellevest is set up in a simple goal-oriented format that, basically, allow you to set up buckets for investing. 

Anyone who has been a fan of the envelope system for savings will appreciate this. Basically, it is a virtual envelope system to invest in yourself.

I selected their Impact Portfolio over their Core Portfolio because my goal is to have a great retirement…while lifting up other women.

Choosing this portfolio allowed me to do both those things. 

I also created a splurge fund to put towards a future family vacation.

Was It Easy to Earn Money Through Ellevest?

YES, this is SO easy because you are putting your investing on automatic. 

Once you set up those goals for your account, you tell Ellevest what day of the month you would like your automatic withdrawal to happen and that’s it.

I haven’t had to think about investing at all because it all has been done for me automatically.

If there is anything I’ve learned through this wealth-building series it is how important it is to automate these investments in myself.

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest

What Was the Outcome of My Ellevest Portfolio?

In October, I earned $56.89, in net returns, after opening my account with $2,000. 

In November, I deposited an additional $300, earning me $71.64 (for the month of November).

In total, I’ve earned $128.53 with Ellevest in two months.

I don’t know about you, but that’s a heck of a lot more than what I was earning with my money sitting in my bank account.

For my modest $50 splurge fund deposit, I earned $2.80 on my monthly investment.

What Did It Cost Me to Invest With Ellevest?

This tool is much cheaper than hiring a financial advisor because a more personalized services can charge you a whopping 1% annually.

With Ellevest, your annual management fee is .25%.

If you saved $5,000, for example, you would pay $12.50 for the entire year. 

For the amount that is within these accounts, my charge was $1.80.

This amount will shift as more money is invested, of course.

Ellevest Impact Portfolio Example

Did I Really Support Women By Investing With Ellevest?

Earning money is great, but did I make any impact on women in business?

Good news… I did!

How do I know this?

If you look at my Impact Portfolio (see the image above) you will see these green circles with icons that tell me why they picked these stocks and how it impacts others.

This icon tells me that I’m supporting Women in Leadership. These funds invested make an impact on women leaders and policies that advance women.

This icon tells me that I’m supporting Sustainable, Accountable Companies.

These funds invested make an impact on companies that are working to meet higher standards for sustainability and ethical practices.

 

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest from MomAdvice.com

 

As you can see, 53% of my portfolio really goes into those impact funds. Impact funds are the ones that are distributed to women in leadership, sustainable companies, and to community development.

Why am I not 100% invested in women though?

As a fiduciary, Ellevest prioritizes the appropriate mix of investments to help you reach your goals.

This means a low-cost, globally diversified portfolio invested across many asset classes.

At this time, there are not sufficient impact investments to meet their fiduciary criteria for all of their asset classes.

They do continuously monitor the marketplace for new impact investments that they believe are suitable for your Ellevest Impact Portfolio.

In a nutshell, they research each impact investment in your Ellevest Impact Portfolio to ensure it meets their fiduciary standards.

Then they make it even greater by investing to make a positive impact in the world.

Did I Really Earn Money on Referrals Through Ellevest?

Ellevest does have a referral program (open to everyone) that you make a referral credit for each person that signs up and have created an actual account. 

That means, the accounts must be fully funded for you to receive a referral credit. 

Credits are then applied to your highest-priority funded goal.

If it’s a taxable account (not an IRA), the credit is applied as a one-time deposit and you’ll see it as a pending transaction in your goal.

The major complaints about Ellevest had been about the referral program.

If people haven’t went through the process of establishing the account and making a deposit though, you don’t get credit for that.

For example, I have 13 pending accounts that just might be waiting for this results post before they go through the process of setting that up with their bank.

For now, I have earned $100 on referrals that are being added to my account.

Not only that, but once you refer two friends (that have fully vested) you are considered an Elle Raiser Ambassador.

The title “ambassador” just tells the world about the leadership role you’ve taken on in the Elle Raiser community: talking the talk, walking the walk by bringing their friends, family, colleagues — fill in the blank — into the movement of supporting women through your investments.

If you didn’t know,  MomAdvice is all about empowering women and I’m proud to be doing exactly what I set out to do over sixteen years ago.

Will I Continue Investing With Ellevest?

YES!  This has been such an easy thing to automate in my life and I’m so proud to be investing in myself.

November ended up being our most profitable month on the site and once that money deposits, I’m moving it right on over to my retirement.

I can’t imagine not investing in myself now.

If you want to start investing in yourself too, here is $20 to get your account started!! Don’t hold me to this, but I noticed they are now giving you $50 to start an account so don’t be surprised if you get a $50 deposit instead!! 

What I Have I Earned So Far With Ellevest?

I have earned $130.22 with Ellevest and an additional $100 through their referral program.

Earnings totaled: $230.32

What Have I Earned So Far With the Passive Mom Income Series (started in October 2019)?

In an effort to be completely transparent with this series, I will share with you what the outcome is each month and how much was earned from a year of dedicating my time to this project. 

Rakuten- $601.47 (read more about this passive income opportunity)

Ellevest- $230.22 (read more about this passive income opportunity)

Total Earned So Far With the Passive Income series- $831.69

See you on the blog tomorrow for our December Passive Income For Moms Challenge!!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Love this post? Here are a few others you might love!

Passive Revenue Ideas for Busy Moms from MomAdvice.com passive revenue ideas for busy moms

Earn Money With Rakuten Cash Back Offers from MomAdvice.com earn money through rakuten cash back

Real Rakuten Results Cash Back Earnings Report from MomAdvice.com do you really earn money with rakuten?

how to invest in yourself with ellevest

Don’t forget to follow along on our Passive Income Challenge series. You can head here to see all the posts in one place. Did you sign up for to invest with Ellevest? What was your experience with this passive income money maker for November?

What I Earned From One Month With Ellevest from MomAdvice.com

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Earn Money Investing in Women With Ellevest

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

Earn Money Investing In Women With Ellevest

 

Are you looking for easy ways to earn extra cash for your family? Today I’m sharing how easy it is to invest in YOU with an incredible robo advisor tool. Ellevest is committed to helping you achieve your financial goals by investing in yourself and in women-owned businesses. 

This is the second challenge in our Passive Income for Busy Moms series. Be sure to visit our Passive Income Ideas for Moms Series all year long as I challenge myself to find new ways to earn money for our family.

Does the idea of investing in yourself feel intimidating?

You aren’t alone.

I have always been intimidated by this process and, honestly, have never invested in my own retirement.  Although we have been aggressively putting money away in my husband’s retirement account, I started thinking about how nice it would be to take some of my own salary and start investing in myself.

The thing is… where do you even start?

I spent weeks and weeks researching different companies, reading reviews, and watching interviews with representatives from different investment companies. It is through that research that I stumbled on the most incredible investment company that makes it UNBELIEVABLY easy to start investing in all of your financial goals.

Honestly, I am so  excited about this and can’t believe how sleekly automated and easy this tool is.

First of all, are you unfamiliar with how robo-advisors work?

I know I was!

I will walk you through everything I have learned this month and even share $20 to start investing in YOU today!

Also, for the record, this is a REAL review of Ellevest based on my first month with them. Many of the reviews I read NEVER had a REAL PERSON using Ellevest for investing- they just seemed to be in it for affiliate money.

Anything I share with you, through this series, are things that I’m exploring right along with you. It is my promise to you.

Earn Money With Ellevest

Earn Money Investing in Women With Ellevest

What The Heck is a Robo Advisor?

Robo advisors (also known as automated investing services or online advisors) use computer algorithms and advanced software to create an investment portfolio for you. They are referred to as robo because this is mostly an automated process that requires little to no human interaction.

This is a really great way to get started with entry-level investing because everything is done automatically for you and you don’t have to spend a lot of time babysitting your portfolio.

These robo-advisor tools can vary based upon their platform that they offer and what the goals of your portfolio are.

The reason I settled on Ellevest is because it is a goal-oriented program (something I find very attractive!), it is user-friendly, and their impact portfolios are pretty darn awesome.

What is Ellevest And Why Did You Pick It?

(Head HERE if you just want your $20 for your free Ellevest account!!)

As I explained, I did a ton of research and spent many nights reading article after article on different investment tools. The idea behind this series was that it would be easy to implement and that it wouldn’t require a ton of time for a busy mom.

It is through this research that I stumbled upon this interview with Sallie Krawcheck on The Daily Show.

I really encourage you to take the time to watch it because it does a much better job than I ever could on just how important it is to support women in business and why this company is pretty groundbreaking.

As you can see, this lady is a real bada$$ and wants to do a better job representing women in the financial industry. This approach to simplify investing makes long term goals simple and straightforward.

From the Ellevest site, “Co-founder and CEO, Sallie Krawcheck, realized the investing industry has been, frankly, “by men, for men” — and has historically kept women from achieving their financial goals. Sallie has made it her life’s mission to unleash women’s financial power and get them invested in their biggest goals.”

How Much Money Do I Need to Open an Ellevest Account?

Honestly, you can open an account and invest zero dollars.

Of course, that’s how many you will make back too.

In all seriousness, you determine how much you want to invest to start and then Ellevest offers up how much you should regularly be depositing to reach your goals, within your desired timespan.

They also understand that women also need other types of shorter term or once-in-a-lifetime type of investments. They create this investment plan and then offer options for other goals based accounts.

Some of the offerings are funds to start a business, once-in-a-lifetime splurges, retirement, kids, buying a home, and emergency funds.

How Does Ellevest Determine My Investment Goals & Strategies?

Ellevest uses a algorithm to calculate financial goal targets to meet your specific needs, including a larger retirement target amount for your potentially longer lifespan (ladies, we need to save MORE because of that!).

Did you know that women retire with two-thirds as much money men do, but we live six to eight years longer?!

These are the circumstances that are factored in with a company that understands women.

Once they have calculated the amount you should aim for, they suggest how much you should contribute in order to get there based on your financial profile, a gender-specific salary curve, and your target horizon.

This is processed through a Monte Carlo simulation.

What the heck is Monte Carlo simulation?

My thoughts exactly.

Monte Carlo simulation is a forward-looking, computer-based analysis in which they run recommended portfolios and savings rates through hundreds of different economic scenarios, to pick the best one for you.

Earn Money Supporting Women With Ellevest

How Is Ellevest Supporting Women?

Is it just me, or are you as jaded as I am when people make broad claims about how they support women?

In this case, they REALLY do.

A lot of people love to aim products towards women, but really don’t stand behind that message.

This is where my real love for the company is…they tailor a portfolio that helps YOU support WOMEN IN BUSINESS! 

Is that not the coolest?

They settled on three criteria of support that I think are really amazing (not to mention hiring female investors to work on your accounts):

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP

Funds investing in companies with more women leaders and policies that advance women.

SUSTAINABLE, ACCOUNTABLE COMPANIES

Funds investing in companies working to meet  for sustainability and ethical practices.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Funds providing loans to support women-owned businesses and companies that provide community services – child education, performing arts, and housing and care for seniors and individuals in need.

How Hard is It to Create An Account?

This was incredibly easy to set up and it all made sense to me because of its goal driven platform.

They use a tool, that my hubby immediately recognized as a TypeForm template, that I found very easy to use.

How to Set Goals With Ellevest

You answer some really basic questions, like in the screenshot above, and that helps you see how much you need to put away each month to reach your goals.

Ellevest Real Review

Once it has this information, you can set up how much you want to start putting away into your accounts automatically.

Just like a withdrawal you would have for a bill, this takes out the payments you set up monthly.

You can also add additional money into your account and there is no minimum balance.

If you earned money from one of the other passive income ideas I’m sharing, for example, you could put this unexpected money away for yourself to earn a little more.

How Much Does Ellevest Cost?

This tool is much cheaper than hiring a financial advisor because more personalized services can charge you a whopping 1% annually.

With Ellevest, your annual management fee is .25%.

If you saved $5,000, for example, you would pay $12.50 for the entire year. 

They do offer a more expensive premium account that allows you to receive coaching and some other benefits.

For that account though, you need a minimum private wealth investment of $50,000.

Is Investing Money With Ellevest Risky?

Investing does come with risks and it is important to understand what those risks are.

I found this article to be very helpful in explaining what risks might be involved.

Why Did You Start This a Month Before Me?

With something like investing, I thought it was important to do the entire process so that I could be honest about how easy or hard it is. I put in $2,000 into a wealth-building account.

Real Ellevest Earnings

This is my current status for potential earnings!

Of course, investing is a long haul game, but it is fun to see that needle shifting in my favor a bit.

Should I Be Investing If I’m Worried About a Recession?

Some experts are saying that a financial recession is looming.

Here’s the thing, I am going with these opinions and agreeing with the experts on this one. I do believe we will be facing another recession soon.

I think this is a valid concern and something that we all should be thinking about as we make choices with our money.

The most important thing you can do is to prepare an emergency safety net so that you can weather the economic changes.

The second most important thing?

 Pay off your highest interest debts NOW. 

If you need another gentle nudge, you might enjoy my book! (I’m pretty proud of it!)

I think this article does a really great job at explaining how to invest if you are worried about another recession.

The biggest thing I am learning from wealth-building is that it is REALLY important to keep things diversified.

Never put your eggs into one basket.

Earn Money Supporting Women With Ellevest

Join My November Passive Income Challenge

If you think you would like to start investing in yourself, here is $20 to put towards your account.

Ellevest gives their customers an invitation code (that’s what I’m sharing) so they can put $20 in their account and they also give the referrer $20 for sharing about the service.

Your challenge is to set up an account and invest in yourself. If you only have $5 a month, that is $5 more towards reaching a financial goal FOR YOU.

Start brainstorming with your family about what would benefit you the most right now.

Putting your savings and investments on automatic makes it easier to stay on track with your financial goals.

Please note, this Ellevest affiliate program is not associated with being a blogger.

Each customer receives a unique code so if you love it as much as me, you can share your own code with your friends and start putting away MORE money in your account.

Also, let it be known, although I love the focus on women, men are more than welcome to invest too.

If your guy is as awesome as mine, he will love putting his money towards companies that are helping women level the financial playing field.

Love this post? Here are a few others that I think you might love too!

Passive Revenue Ideas for Busy Moms from MomAdvice.com passive revenue ideas for busy moms

Earn Money With Rakuten Cash Back Offers from MomAdvice.com earn money through rakuten cash back

Real Rakuten Results Cash Back Earnings Report from MomAdvice.com do you really earn money with rakuten?

I’d love to hear what has been your experience with Ellevest or with using a robo-advisor for your investments? How do you make investing in yourself and your retirement a priority?

this post contains affiliate links

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What I Earned From One Month Using the Rakuten App

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

 

Real Rakuten Results Cash Back Earnings Report from MomAdvice.com

Are you looking for an easy way to earn cash back or even double cash back on your purchases? Today I’m sharing what I really earned through the Rakuten app as we explore passive income money making opportunities for moms. Be sure to visit our Passive Income Ideas for Moms Series all year long as I challenge myself to find new ways to earn money for our family.

I can’t believe all of the enthusiasm and excitement for this new Passive Income Ideas for Moms series that I have started. It has meant so much to me to have your support and have you join me in these challenges. It’s also such a joy to have some of our older readers back now that I’m exploring another frugality series. 

I am so happy to have you here and helping you explore new ways to make money for your family.

If you are new to the series, I am challenging myself to find new ways to make money for our family and taking you on the journey with me. I started with learning about the Rakuten app and shared how you could use this too as you were shopping.

Now that I have the first month under my belt, I’m sharing what I thought about my month with this app.

What I Earned From One Month Using the Rakuten App

Real Rakuten Cash Back Results

What is Rakuten?

Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is a site (and app) that gives you cash back on on qualifying purchases. If you didn’t join me last month, simply use this referral link to receive your first $10 to shop with and to get began earning your own cash back rewards.

Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo and is a a Japanese electronic commerce and online retailing company. The company handles a lot of different types of services like Rakuten Kobo Ebooks, Rakuten Credit Cards, Rakuten Super Points (which include member rewards), Rakuten Viber, and so much more.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know how to say the name of this service company, the Rakuten marketing team handled that with this clever commercial.

Spoiler alert: I was saying it the WRONG WAY all month long.

Was It Easy to Earn Money Through Rakuten?

Although I had been with Ebates (years ago!), I had completely forgotten to use this for my purchases. Downloading the app was super easy and it was also very easy to install the extension that allowed me to see what the cash back rewards were as well as any coupons that might be available for my purchases.

What Was the Outcome of the Cash Back Rewards?

Although I had planned to make a few purchases for the exterior of our home, we ended up doing some unexpected travel and that meant that no one was here to purchase or install these items. I have a feeling these next few months will be much more rewarding because of these home purchases as well as our upcoming holiday gifts we will be buying.

I am not a big spender so the results on the cash back rewards matched my spending habits.

Here are some creative cash back rewards though that I did receive:

Rakuten Real Results

We Got Cash Back on Our Food Delivery– Rakuten gives you cash rewards for shopping through DoorDash so I used the app for our family’s sushi delivery. Since I was a new customer, I was able to have the delivery fee waived, had a great coupon code, and also got $2.67 back on our dinner delivery.

I Got Cash Back on Our Day Pass to Great Wolf Lodge– $2.25 was deposited in my Rakuten account after snagging day passes for us to hit the water park over our fall break.

I Got Cash Back on my Old Navy Purchase– I ordered a few sweaters, for fall, and ended up getting $1.85 back on my purchase.

I Also Have Cash Back Pending on Travel Expenses- Since Rakuten was affiliated with Expedia, I booked my airline ticket through them so I could get the cash rewards. I also secured a Groupon, that is in processing, so I’m waiting for those pending charges to go through.

Airline tickets, for example, take six weeks to process so you don’t see immediate results.

As you can see, it was not an exciting month of purchases, BUT the point was to earn money on things I was already buying and not buy things just to buy things.

Overall, the total earned through my shopping was a mere $6.77.

If you are a big shopper, the potential for rewards would be much greater.

I have now trained myself to do targeted shopping and to check for double cash back rewards. 

It only takes a minute, but it is more money back in my pocket by being strategic with this app.

Rakuten Affiliate Results

Did You *REALLY* Earn Money on Referrals Through Rakuten?

I am really surprised that Rakuten does not have a cap on how many referrals you can cash in on. I know most of you were already signed up with this company so I didn’t think this was going to be a big earner.

It’s important to know that you don’t actually earn the referral cash unless the person spends $25 using the app. I had a lot of people sign up, but many who have not made their first purchase (21 pending referrals are still not activated). These just stay in a holding pattern until they make their first $25 purchase.

I still ended up referring 11 new people to the shopping app who actually made their qualifying $25 purchase. This yielded a $275 profit in my account that will be applied to my next big fat check.

I did share that I understand that I have an unfair advantage with this because of the website referrals. Even if I didn’t though, I can see how sharing your referral link, especially as people begin holiday shopping, can yield holiday cash for anyone. They offer easy ways to share on Facebook, text, and email. 

While many affiliate programs are limited to bloggers, I love that this one is open to anyone who wants to share and that is a very high return on sharing a link on social media.

Rakuten App Screen

Will You Continue Using Rakuten For Shopping?

These are one month explorations because I may or may not feel like these efforts are worth it.

With this one, I actually do plan to make this a regular part of my spending routines. It was so darn easy to use and I loved their easy way of finding additional coupons for my purchases.

It wasn’t completely seamless because two of my purchases didn’t go through and I thought I wouldn’t receive my cash back credit.

I emailed the help desk a copy of my receipts and the deposit was quickly processed.

Overall, I’m really impressed with the customer service and the ease of the app.

I also realized that I had pending cash (from 2008!!!) that they still had in their system to credit me. That means that my actual check is $321.77, but isn’t actually reflective of my October earnings.

Grand Total Earnings for October: $281.77

NOT. TOO. SHABBY.

I will continue to keep you updated on totals as we go through this year.

Tomorrow I will be sharing with you a bigger November challenge that might get you thinking about how you are investing in yourself. I’m a month ahead of you, this time, so I can make sure that I could fully check out this next passive income builder for you and make sure it is worth your time.

See you on the blog tomorrow for our November Passive Income For Moms Challenge!!

Don’t forget to follow along on our Passive Income Challenge series. You can head here to see all the posts in one place. Did you sign up for Rakuten or start using it again for cash back rewards? What was your experience with this passive income money maker for October?

This post contains affiliate links. 

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Earn Money Through Rakuten Cash Back Offers

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

Earn Money With Rakuten Cash Back Offers from MomAdvice.com

Are you looking for an easy way to earn cash back or even double cash back on your purchases? Today you will learn how Rakuten can save you money online and at your favorite brick and mortar stores. Join me for the first post in our Passive Income Ideas for Moms Series.

Have you heard of Rakuten before? Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is a site that gives you cashback on on qualifying purchases. Simply use this referral link to receive your first $10 to shop with and to get began earning your own cash back rewards.

How Do I Get Started With Rakuten?

Begin by adding the Rakuten extension to your computer and also downloading the Rakuten app to your phone. These two quick installations will make it so much easier to remember to use this tool when doing your shopping.

Be sure to completely fill out your Rakuten profile and either supply your shipping address for checks or PayPal account information to have your earnings directly deposited in your account.

Once you have your Rakuten account set-up, take a few minutes to browse the site and begin adding shops to your personal favorites list. Keep in mind, Rakuten has over 2,500 shops (!!!) so it might take a little bit to add all of your favorites to your own personal list.

If in doubt, your cash back button can let you know if they offer a reward or not.

 

Your list may look similar to mine (see above) so here are some examples of the shops I have added to my Favorite Shops list!

Old Navy
Amazon
LOFT
Brandless
Grove Collaborative
Walmart
Target
Anthropologie
Gap
Banana Republic
eBay
The Vitamin Shoppe
Groupon
Orbitz
Travelocity
Dollar Shave Club
Florists.com

How Does It Work?

The purpose of these passive income monthly challenges is meant to encourage you to EARN money and not SPEND it. I encourage you to use this as a tool only for purchases you were already planning to make this month.

Earn Money Through Rakuten Cash Back Rewards from MomAdvice.com

If you are online shopping, click the store you want to shop and make sure that you have your cash back button activated. Alternatively, you can shop directly by visiting the Rakuten page itself.

Click, “Activate Rewards,” and then be sure to note any coupon codes that they also provide within the pop-up.

That’s right. You CAN layer coupon codes with your cash back rewards!

How cool is that?

Once the store has let Rakuten know that you have completed your purchase, they add and notify you of the new rewards in your account. Please note, this does sometimes take up to a few days to show up in your account. Don’t worry!

Every three months, they will send you the Cash Back you’ve earned via a Big Fat Check or the PayPal account you supplied. If you have been dependent on points for rewards before, you are going to love this strategy for making real money instead!

Earn Money With the Rakuten Cash Back Offers from MomAdvice.com

How Do I Take Advantage of Rakuten Cashback Rewards at Brick & Mortar Stores?

Do you prefer shopping the old-fashioned way? You can still take advantage of the Rakuten Cashback rewards at your favorite brick and mortar stores. Since you downloaded the app already, you are halfway there to that bonus money in your pocket.

Click on the In-Store Cashback Offers link and and on the store offer you would like to take advantage of. You will then link the offer to the card you plan to use when you do your shopping.

Once the card is saved, this will allow Rakuten to track the finalization of the purchase and add your cashback rewards to your account.

Earn Money With Rakuten Cash Back Offers from MomAdvice.com

How Can I Make Extra Money for My Family With Rakuten?

I want to make the most rakuten cash that I can this month so here are some things I’m planning to do to increase my balance.

Book Our Vacations & Travel Through the Rakuten App– I am attending a conference next month and never realized that they offered cash back rewards on things like car rentals, flights, hotels, and even Groupon deals. I have to book my flight anyway so I might as well make 5-6% back on my my travel expenses.

Earn Money Through the Rakuten Cash Back Offers from MomAdvice.com

Watch the Double Cash Back Stores Listing For Gifts- As we ramp up for the next round of holiday shopping, I am going to make their list of double cash back rewards a priority to shop through. If I double my earnings, that will allow me to collect my cash back quicker.

I typically purchase floral arrangements for family holidays and now I know that one of their cash back shops offers a whopping 17% back on your purchase. It will also be a good place to check if I do any subscription box services as gifts this year. Birch Box, for example, makes 7.5% back!

Purchase School Supplies & Uniforms Through Rakuten- School uniforms can be a big expense each year so it is a no-brainer that this app is the way to go to get a little of our cash back on our purchases. While I did get my kids their summer shirts, I will still need to load up on their warmer uniform apparel and winter coats.

Make Some Household Expenses Through Rakuten- There are lots of things we have to buy for our household that could be earning us some cash back rewards. Some of our regular purchases include air filters, light bulbs, toiletry items, pet supplies, ink cartridges for our printer, contacts, glasses, vitamins, and supplements. All of these can now be seen as avenues for cash back into our wallets!

If I’m printing any photos or doing holiday cards this year, I do plan to check here first before making any decisions.

We also happen to be making improvements to our home’s exterior so I will be visiting their list of shops (like Lowes & Overstock) for discounts on my new shutters and outdoor lights.

The Lucrative Refer a Friend Program- Did you know that for every referral you send to Rakuten you make $25? Each of your friends will receive $10 and you will receive the $25 just for sharing about this smart shopping app.

Obviously, being a blogger does have referral advantages, but I bet you have people in your life who don’t know how much they could be earning too. Share your referral link with them via email or through your Facebook wall.

Are you part of any Facebook groups that offer space for referral sharing? Several of the Facebook groups I am part of, for example, have a designated share thread where you can refer people to things you are loving weekly.

Keep in mind, Rakuten does offer a credit card with additional rewards, if you are looking for more money back too. The potential for stacking all of this is pretty incredible.

Passive Revenue Ideas for Busy Moms from MomAdvice.com

Join My October Passive Income Challenge

For the month of October, I am going to be purposeful with using the Rakuten app to see how much we can earn.

Would you like to take the challenge too?

I would love to have you!

In November, I will report back what I learned through this experience and how much passive income I earned.

I’d love to hear what your experience has been with Rakuten! Have you earned money from this passive income avenue before? Do you have any tips for shopping to share with our readers? I’d love to hear them!

this post contains affiliate links

Earn Money With Rakuten Cash Back Offers from MomAdvice.com

Passive Income Ideas for Busy Moms

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

Passive Revenue Ideas for Busy Moms from MomAdvice.com

What if I told you that you could be earning thousands by learning about passive income streams? This year we are exploring the best side hustles to help you earn money for a better financial future. Be sure to bookmark this page to learn ways I’m making extra money for my family. 

Many years ago, I was featured on a couple of talk shows to chat about my experience with work-at-home scams. I just couldn’t believe my luck. This broke Midwest woman would be ON TV to teach others how to avoid scams.

Here’s the thing.

I thought that I was going to be the EXPERT.

When the segment began, I quickly realized that I was the work-at-home VICTIM instead.

I Want To Help You Because I Was Scammed

The truth was, I had been a victim of a work-at-home scam and I was really ashamed of it.

When I was a brand new mom , I desperately wanted to find a way to stay home with my kids. This desperation is why I signed up for a UPS & Federal Express refund software software program. With this purchase, I was promised dozens of dollars. I was so excited to get my business started and unlock this secret wealth with only $69 of software!

Frankly, I was surprised no one else had discovered it.

I was sold a software packaged that claimed to track packages to see if they were late for delivery or not.

Did you know that if a package arrives late for delivery, that you are entitled for a full refund?

According to the software company, many businesses send out large shipments, but don’t ever track their packages.

All I had to do was call, on behalf of my clientele, and they would receive a fifty percent refund.

The other fifty percent would go in your pocket for your good detective work.

Obviously, these people will agree to this because this is money that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Did you not know that you can make $50-75 an hour from the comfort of your own home just by tracking packages?

Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

First of all, neither Federal Express nor UPS is affiliated with any of these software programs.

Secondly, they also had every right to refuse the refund to you. After all, you were just a third-party who did not pay for the shipping in the first place.

UPS online tracking system can only be used by the sender of the package or by the recipient, making my software absolutely worthless.

This tracking software could not be for someone’s commercial gain unless UPS openly authorized it. To top it off, UPS prohibits any uses of automated software to access its online shipping-related systems.

Therefore, the software you would be using would be deemed illegal.

I had also been under the assumption that the company would provide a list of people to contact to make this magical money.

What they actually did was provide was a list of categories of businesses to target, like the health industry or retail.

Then, apparently, you just sit back and watch people chomping at the bit to get this amazing service.

Who in the world would ever give out any of this private tracking information on their packages to a complete stranger though?

The answer to that, of course, would be no one in their right mind.

This was my embarrassing story for the world and I’m so thankful I can tell a different one now.

Passive Income Ideas for Busy Moms from MomAdvice.com

Passive Income for Busy Moms Series

If you haven’t read my book, you might not be aware that our family became riddled with debt after the dot com bomb happened. My husband’s job loss found us deep in debt and struggling to even pay for our groceries. You can read a little more about our story in this feature in Redbook!

Financial struggles, honestly, ended up being the hardest and best thing that I could have been given.

Although being broke was so damn difficult it ended up strengthening our marriage and providing a new job for me.

During that challenging chapter, I tried so many crazy things to make our family money. In the true height of my hustling days, I filled out surveys, working to accumulate points through purchases, and even mystery shopped.

Now that we are in a much better place financially, I am looking ahead to new opportunities to save for our retirement. It is also why I’m, personally, taking a deep dive into wealth building.

What fun is it to do this alone when we could do this together though?

Of course, a savvier business woman would make you buy an online course or spend time writing a book. The thing is, I’m a big fan of the blog format and think this would be such a fun exploration.

If you are saving for retirement, not making enough working full-time, or just a single mom who is responsible for two incomes (NO BIGGIE! YEAH, RIGHT!)… I want to help you.

Please keep in mind, I plan to offer realistic strategies. As a working mom, I am already to capacity with how much I can take on my plate so I understand how important it is to not sacrifice a lot more time for money.

Whatever amount of money you are after, I am hoping to provide some new ways to make money for your family.

How Will the Passive Income for Busy Moms Series Work?

Each month I will share one way you can make money for your family through a variety of avenues. These posts will encourage you to explore creative ways to make money that you may not have thought of.

I will be signing up for these programs (or as much as we can that is applicable to our family) and sharing my results after one month.

If you are interested, you can sign up for these programs too and we can share how we all did in each segment.

NO PRESSURE THOUGH!

Here’s the thing… if there is one thing I have learned from making money through my blog, it is that you should NEVER put all your eggs in one basket.

I am using that same strategy this year to build passive wealth.

In a year, I will share how much I accumulated through these passive income streams and what I learned from the experience.

Is This Only for Blogging or Podcasting Moms?

No, this series is for everyone. I do plan to share though about how I make passive income through affiliate marketing and affiliate links in one post, for my blogging/podcast pals. I do personally know that blogging can be an incredible avenue to financial freedom. That is how we broke free from our debt-ridden lives.

I started my blog many years ago though and now it seems SO much harder to build a loyal audience. I am not saying that you can’t have instant blogging success, but I do think it takes time!

What Do I Get Out of It?

We have TWO teenagers that we hope to be able to help financially with some of their college expenses. We also are working hard to save for our own retirement and know that we need to learn new ways to save to reach those goals.

These blog posts are going to hold me accountable to try all avenues to wealth building and share this with you.

While extra money is incredible, I am even more thankful that we can spread the wealth around and bless others with it. We try to do as much as we can to assist others while still keeping our financial safety net in place.

As a blogger, I do make commissions if you sign up or purchase anything through my links. You don’t have to do that, but it won’t cost you anything to use them.

Although it might be taboo to talk about, running this website is a huge expense for our family. There are lots of expenses that go into website ownership: paying to mail newsletters, web hosting, graphic design tools, photography tools, courses, food/craft supplies, and social media scheduling tools… just to name a few!

Running this site (a gift- I promise I’m not complaining!) costs our family thousands and thousands of dollars every year.

Those commissions help this site to continue being a long term free resource to our readers.

Now that you know about the series, we will be jumping in with our first experiment together. I will keep the list of passive income stream opportunities below and the one month reflections will also be linked. Be sure to bookmark this page or subscribe to my newsletter to stay up-to-date with this experiment.

Passive Income Ideas for Busy Moms from MomAdvice.com

Passive Income For Mom Wealth Building Lessons & Results

Earn Money With Rakuten Cash Back Offers from MomAdvice.com Earn Money Through Rakuten (October Challenge)

Real Rakuten Results Cash Back Earnings Report from MomAdvice.com What Did I *REALLY* End Up Earning With Rakuten? (October Challenge Results)

Earn Money Investing In Women With Ellevest Earn Money With Ellevest (November Challenge)

What I Earned From One Month With Ellevest from MomAdvice.com What I Earned From One Month With Ellevest (November Challenge Results) 

This post contains affiliate links.

 

Passive Revenue Ideas for Busy Moms

 

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

 

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning from MomAdvice.com

 

Back to school is the perfect time to work on your family’s good habits. Set a goal of getting your kids’ great new habits to stick and make their school mornings a little easier. Just a few minutes a day and some creative thinking can make the school year start off right!

 

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

How’s your fall going so far?

It’s felt a little chaotic at my house.

For weeks now, I’ve been saying, “We’re still getting into our school year routine.” But guys? We’ve been back to school for a while. If I can’t get my people into a routine soon, I’m going to have to change my excuse to, “Well, the holidays are just messing us up.” And then it’s winter break and the new year and the flu and spring break and end of school and summer. 

Because the truth is, we’re constantly entering or leaving one busy season or another.

During this stage, with two busy kids and two busy adults, we just don’t have a long stretch of “normal” to look forward to. There’s no sense in waiting to get back to normal before getting organized, finding routines, or learning how to live — because I’ll be waiting forever. 

The number one thing I’ve found that makes a difference in how my kids — and I — deal with busy seasons?

Sleep.

Our quantity and quality of sleep makes an enormous difference in everything — in our health, our attitudes, our discipline in the other things that make life easier or otherwise better. Sleep kind of makes our world go ‘round.

And sleep is a funny thing. Everyone needs it, but everyone needs a different amount. And everyone seems to need different conditions to get good sleep. So it’s a universal need but also a personal one.

Therefore, rather than tell you one, laser-focused solution that works for my family, today I’m sharing several things that seem to make a difference for at least one person in my house. Hopefully something I share will work for someone in your family, and together we can stop needing excuses for being so out of sorts as we move from season to season.

 

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning from MomAdvice.com

Know the facts

When we get busy with evening activities and homework and movie nights and one more story at bedtime, we can easily cut our kids’ nights short without realizing it.

That’s why it’s good to know — and then keep in mind — how much sleep is recommended for each child, based on their age. This article from the American Academy of Pediatrics lists the recommended sleep times that studies have shown are the best for each age range from four months to 18 years. 

This chart was helpful for my family as it showed me that it’s not weird for my 11-year-old to need more sleep than my 4-year-old. Last year I let my older daughter stay up later than her little sister, because I assumed she could handle it. But over the past few months I’ve realized that just isn’t true. They need different amounts of sleep, and what I assumed was wrong. Now they go to bed at the same time, which feels weird — but the AAP says is acceptable and not that weird after all.

Bathe at unusual times

Sometimes it feels like I have to choose between hygiene and sleep — for my kids and for myself! But what I’ve finally realized (it only took me how long?!) is that we don’t have to bathe (or shower) at the “usual” times. I can shower before bed instead of in the morning if I have to. My kids can bathe right after school instead of getting to bedtime and realizing we’ve run out of time and skipping it…again. It seems like a little thing, but it’s made a big difference for us. (And this tip goes for any bedtime or morning task. You can have story time right after dinner, and you can make lunches at night instead of after breakfast.)

Brain dump before bed

While I don’t often struggle with insomnia, I’ve certainly spent many nights staring at the ceiling as my worries or ideas or to-do list run through my brain on a loop. I’ve learned it’s better to just turn on my lamp, grab a notebook, and write it all down. That way, my brain can rest, knowing that I’ve captured all the things and I can tackle them the next day.

Sometimes my kids need that, too. I try to make sure I don’t shut them down if they bring up a tough subject or start telling a long story at bedtime, but when possible, I will ask if it’s something we can talk about the next day. And then, to make sure they know I’m serious, I’ll let them see me make an actual note so we don’t forget to come back to that topic or story.

 

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning from MomAdvice.com

Set alarms!

I use the alarms on my phone to keep me on track all day long, all week long. This is especially important for making sure we all get the sleep we need without being late for school or work. I set alarms for —

  • When we need to go upstairs to start the bedtime routineWhen my oldest daughter needs to bring her book out to the hallway (so she doesn’t stay up super late reading…like her mama!)
  • When I need to turn off the TV and start my own bedtime routineWhen I need to get up, at the very least a few minutes before the kids
  • When I need to wake up the kids (I need to get back to setting my 11-year-old’s alarm in her room; that helped her morning attitude a lot when we did it before.)
  • When we need to go downstairs to start packing lunches and eating breakfastWhen my oldest needs to go to the bus stop

Without those alarms, we would be lost!

Make expectations clear 

Nearly every argument my girls and I have in the morning is about whether or not they’ve completed their morning routines: making their beds, brushing teeth, brushing hair, putting on clean clothes.

It doesn’t seem hard to me, but they struggle — so writing down the morning routine and sticking it on the bathroom wall has helped.

I also included what times we do things, so they know if it’s close to 7:30 and they aren’t close to ready for breakfast, they’d better get a move on!


7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning from MomAdvice.com

Have your own morning routine

What makes you feel awake?

Do you need coffee before you can deal with people?

Or perhaps it’s a tall glass of ice water or a few minutes of stretching that gets your blood moving?

For me, it’s turning on all the lights, brushing my teeth, and putting on a bra. Without those things, I am a slug — and not a very nice one either. We all win when I make sure to complete my own morning routine!

Take a moment 

Look, nobody in my house likes mornings.

So I’m not about to tell you to take hours of your morning to connect with your people. But! If you can take even a few seconds to look them in the face and wish them well (on a test, with a friend, in general) or perhaps play their favorite song in the car and share a smile in the rearview mirror as you do your best car dance, I guarantee it will make a world of difference.

And if you have more than a few seconds? Five-minute family devotions, love notes in the lunchbox, or a blessing prayer in the carpool line will take little time and effort, but leave you feeling like you’ve got this morning thing mastered.

Those are just a few things that help us have better mornings.

We aren’t perfect, and don’t do every thing every day. But when we do our best to check most these boxes? We are more rested and less frazzled, and mornings don’t seem so bad (even to my house full of night owls).

 

What helps your family have a great morning? Be sure to scroll down for more great parenting articles!

7 Habits for Better Mornings With Your Kids from MomAdvice.com

 

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog,MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

Like this article? You might find these other parenting articles helpful too!

 

How to Handle Lying from MomAdvice.com how to handle lying

 


A New Way to Teach Your Child to Tie Their Shoes from MomAdvice.com a new way to teach your child how to tie their shoes (my kids learned in 5 minutes flat!!)

 


Teaching Kids the Importance of Failure from MomAdvice.com teaching kids the importance of failure

Homeschooling a Child With Special Needs from MomAdvice.com homeschooling a child with special needs

 

How to Find & Write Pen Pals from MomAdvice.com how to find & write pen pals

 

DIY Tween Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com diy tween self-confidence kit

5 Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter from MomAdvice.com 5 book series for kids who love harry potter

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How to Check Out Library Books on Your Kindle for Free

Monday, July 29th, 2019

 

Did you know that you can check out books for free just using your library card? Today I wanted to share a quick tutorial on how to borrow Kindle ebooks through your public library for free. 

Don’t have a Kindle device? 

That’s okay! 

You can also get books for free using a simple Kindle reading app on your phone or tablet. 

The reason I wanted to share this is because when I bought my Kindle Paperwhite (this is what I read on!), I had the hardest time figuring out how to borrow these books from their lending library and how to get those books that I ordered to move over to my Kindle device.

To me, it just wasn’t an intuitive process so today’s post is for anyone else who has struggled borrowing books on their Amazon Kindle or Fire tablet.

Step One: Get a Library Card

If you want to begin checking out Kindle books, you will need to begin with getting a library card from your local library. This card number is what you will use to access your account and allows you to get these free Kindle library books and audiobooks for free. 

When you get this card, you are typically assigned a pin that you will then use to access the Overdrive app that allows you to search for the books that you are interested in. If you have trouble figuring out a great library pin number, a local librarian offered the tip to make your pin the last four digits of your library card so you never forget it.

This is a great time to just confirm that your library is participating in Overdrive and also to ask about any other apps that might be available to you for digital lending. It is HIGHLY likely that your library is participating since over 11,000 libraries now offer this option. 

Step Two: Download the Overdrive Library App

Once you have confirmed that your library is participating, you will need to download the Overdrive Library App to your phone or tablet. If you do not want to use a mobile device, you can also access it online through your desktop. 

My library homepage, for example, is linked to Overdrive so I can just search directly on my desktop. 

Step Three: Sign Into Your Overdrive App

Once you have installed the app, you will select Sign Up Using Library Card  (or sign in using library card).

At this point, you will be able to search for your local library name or location. Select this library once you find it. You will want to search for the overall local library system (the county name) versus just the local branch you use.

You will then be prompted to add your library card information and pin number that you were assigned. Once you are signed in, it is time to start searching for digital books and audiobooks.

Step Four: Select and Check Out Your Books

I wanted to walk you through the step-by-step process of checking out the books, once you have the Overdrive app installed. This is where I got confused because I didn’t understand how the book was supposed to magically appear on my Kindle Paperwhite. 

Begin by searching for the book that you would like to borrow. You can search by title or author. Be sure that you are searching for the Kindle format and not the ePub because the Kindle format is what you will be reading on your Kindle device or through the Kindle app. 

Once you find your book, click BORROW to borrow this book.  Once you borrow it, you will be prompted for the timespan you would like to borrow this book for.

Make sure that you adjust this, especially if you need more time to read so you aren’t at risk of giving it up if it can’t be renewed. I always adjust my time to 21 days so I can enjoy the maximum length for borrowing times. 

Step Five: Sign Into Your Amazon Account and Borrow the Book

Once you have clicked that you want to borrow a book on the Overdrive app, it will automatically redirect you to your Amazon account to sign in. Sign into your account and then this screen will appear where it says, “Get Library Book.”  

As you can see in my screenshot, it is defaulting to the device that I use most (Amy’s 5th Kindle)…yes, we do own five in our house. 

Don’t you judge me. 

Once this has been clicked, you will find the book on your Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire, or in your Kindle app on your phone or tablet. 

Step Six: Complete the Book Download

Now that you can see the book on your chosen destination, click on it to download it. You will need to have wifi to complete this step so be sure you do this at home, if you might be traveling.

Once the download is complete, you can begin reading your book. 

Step Seven: Return Your Book When You Finish 

The other thing that often confuses people is how to return your book through the library reading apps. Honestly, you don’t need to necessarily return them when you finish because once your book expires, it will automatically remove itself from your Kindle. 

Overdrive does have book limits though so if you want to check out more, you might need to return your book to do that. 

Head to your Amazon account and then to the, “Manage Your Content and Devices,” page. You will see the book(s) you have borrowed and you can click the Actions tab next to it.

As shown in this screenshot, “Return This Book,” is one of these options.

Select that to return the book to the library. 

That’s it, you have successfully borrowed a book from the Kindle store and added it to your own personal library. 

Other FAQ About Borrowing Digitally

How do I renew my library books?

Is your Kindle (Paperwhite) library book expiring? Check this page for a step-by-step tutorial on how to renew that book

What other free reading apps might the library be connected with?

Looking for more free reading apps? 

Check your local library website or ask a librarian! Our library, for example, offers Libby, Hoopla, and Flipster

We can also checkout independent documentaries and films through the Kanopy app. 

This frugal girl loves a freebie so you know that I’m using ALL THE APPS.

What about free audiobooks from the library?

Did you know you can get audio books from the library for free? Borrowing audiobooks will differ depending on the type of device you are using to listen to them. The best resource for that will be this page that explains it step-by-step depending on your digital device you are using.

I usually just listen to them on my phone through the Overdrive app directly, but you might have other options depending on the device you are using. 

Where else can I read free books through my Kindle app or device?

First of all, if you are a Prime member, you can get a FREE book every single month!

Amazon Prime has a great program called, “Amazon First Reads,” that allows Prime members to shop for a book for free before it is released to the public. 

How cool is that? 

You can check this page each month for a free book

They also generously give you two books on certain months too. These aren’t throwaway books either. Some of my favorite novels have been from this Kindle First program.

Also, as a Prime member, you have access to the Kindle Lending Library where you can borrow books for free through Amazon. 

FYI- This is NOT the same as the Kindle Unlimited paid program (another confusing element to the Amazon services). 

You can access thousands of books for free through Prime and the offerings do change monthly. 

I would suggest signing up for their newsletters to stay up-to-date on the book offerings. They often send emails that warn you if a book is going to be removed from their Kindle Lending Library program and also lets you know when new books become available.

Project Gutenberg also offers over 59,000 books for free that you also can check out! 

I borrowed a book, but I’d love to have someone read it to me. How do I do that without buying or borrowing the audiobook version?

Did you know that Alexa can read your books to you?

NO JOKE. 

Keep in mind, this won’t be the beautifully narrated audiobook version, it will be Alexa reading to you. 

Get the scoop on what Alexa can read to you over here.

Why does my library not have new releases available to me?

This article might explain the issue better and the hurdles you may face securing a new release.

I want new books though. Where can I get them for cheap?

Check my deals page A.S.A.P. Bookmark this page and check back daily for the best Amazon steals and deals.

What Kindle book should I checkout next?

You will NEVER be bored again with reading because I’m here to guide you through every second of the way. Visit my book reviews section for the best reading material or join my FREE book club so you can find and discuss books with other bookworms! I even hosted an IN REAL LIFE reading retreat for our book club members

Still not enough book ideas? This MomAdvice Summer Reading Guide has you covered!

Have any questions about reading for free on your Kindle device or app? Leave them below and I will be happy to answer them. Happy FREE reading, everyone! 

Please note, this post contains affiliate links.

Back-to-School Meal Prep Ideas

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Back to School Meal Prep Ideas from MomAdvice.com

It’s time to bring on those meal prep ideas for packing lunches for back-to-school. I’m sharing 7 tips to nail your meal prep game for your kids and YOU. I’m excited to be partnering again with the Florida Department of Citrus for the back-to-school season and showing you some fun new strategies for lunch preparation.

It seems surreal to me that we are already talking about back-to-school, but we are just one week away from sending our kids off to school again. It is with this big occasion in mind that I look forward to getting back into our healthy eating routines and finding new ways to minimize stress during our busy weeks.

One of the ways I do that is through our meal prep routines.

back-to-school lunch meal prep ideas from momadvice.com

back-to-school lunch meal prep ideas from momadvice.com

Let’s talk about 5 really great strategies for meal prepping that can help you this year.

back-to-school lunch prep ideas from momadvice.com

back-to-school lunch prep ideas from momadvice.com

 

back-to-school lunch prep ideas from momadvice.com

Find New Ways to Use Up What’s Already in Your Fridge

Meal planning can save you tons of money at the grocery store, but I have the tendency to get excited about new meals without using up what we already have in our fridge.

Make a plan, but acknowledge ways that you can use up items that may be nearing their expiration date. I love frittatas, for example, because they can be whipped up from whatever you have lurking in your crisper drawer and from your weeknight meal leftovers. Today’s frittata, for example, was made from cherry tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and feta…all items leftover our salad nights this week. Ask your kids to help you come up with combos and give them the opportunity to brunch it up at school.

If you are looking for a great recipe, check out my Chicken Pesto Frittata or my Dairy-Free Sausage & Vegetable Frittata for two great options. Either of these can omit the meat for a fun vegetarian option too.

I paired this frittata with orange juice to round out the meal. Keep in mind that the recommended daily intake of Florida OJ is eight ounces for adults and four to six ounces for kids! The best part is that every glass of Florida Orange Juice provides the amazing 5. In fact, you have taste, vitamin C, folate, potassium and no added sugar in just one glass.

back-to-school meal prep ideas from momadvice.com

back-to-school lunch prep ideas from momadvice.com Consider the Snack Pack Trend

We caught a commercial for, “protein packs,” that you could purchase for your lunches that had meat, cheese, and nuts in them.  Even though my husband can’t cook, even he was laughing at how ridiculous it was that people couldn’t put these together themselves.

Snacks packs aren’t a new concept, but they ARE a perfect concept if you have a kid that is a snacker or if you happen to be a snacker yourself.

Utilizing toothpicks, stack a slice of lunch meat, a grape tomato, and a cube of cheese for a delicious bite that is easy enough that your kids can do it (and make their own dang lunch!)

I paired these with fresh veggies, a little ranch, and roasted salted almonds.

Want to add some fruit? Consider an apple! Using an apple slicer like this, slice the apples and then pull them back together in their original shape around the core with a rubber band.

Did you know that for additional insurance you can brush the apple with some orange juice to really help your apple retain its crisp appearance and cut down on browning? Now that’s a #lunchhack

prep peanut butter & jelly

Kids Keeping it Basic? Prep That Too!

I had one child who refused to eat anything except a good old-fashioned PB&J. I admired that she knew what she liked and that she kept it simple for her mom. That said, even those simple tasks rob us of precious time to get ready in the morning so I started meal prepping even these simple sandwiches.

If your child’s favorite is this sandwich too, simply spread peanut butter on both slices of bread to create a wall to prevent the jelly from making your bread soggy. Smear your jelly on in the center of one slice of bread and then put the two slices together. By creating an assembly line of sandwiches for your week you only dirty up the kitchen once and get back a little more time to enjoy your morning cup of coffee.

back to school meal prep ideas from momadvice.com

 

orange chicken meatballs recipe from momadvice.com

Plan Around Your Own Guilty Pleasures

Have you thought about packing yourself a lunch? I have the tendency to get out of the habit of caring for myself when the back-to-school rush happens and find myself grabbing takeout or “forgetting to eat,” when I don’t have something convenient to grab.

Jot down what your takeout weaknesses are and start searching Pinterest for some great alternatives for your meal prep day.

For me, Chinese is my weakness so these Make-Ahead Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs were just the ticket for my meal prep day. The sauce, of course, gets all of its orange goodness from a little Florida OJ!

Don’t Have Time To Make Separate Lunches? Double Up on Those Dinners!

Life gets chaotic this time of year so if you can’t devote a day to making lunches, consider doubling up on dinner ideas instead. For some great cold options, here are a few of my own recommendations!

Quinoa-Salad-In-A-Jar-7 quinoa salad in a jar with spinach & tomatoes

chicken caesar pasta salad chicken caesar pasta salad

Berry Pecan Salad

berry & candied pecan salad with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette (make with or without chicken)

Caprese Pasta Salad #recipe via MomAdvice.com caprese pasta salad

Roast Frozen Chicken in Bulk roasted chicken (perfect for salads & wraps)

Don’t forget those sides!

make-ahead hard boiled eggs make-ahead baked hard boiled eggs

Smoothie Bowl Recipe smoothie bowl recipes

roasted garlic hummus roasted garlic hummus

No-Bake Gluten-Free Granola Bars no-bake gluten-free granola bars

  trail mix energy bites trail mix energy bites

I hope that today’s ideas inspire you to try something new this year with your meal prep. Self-care is just as important so be sure to take some time out for YOU too with a few of my favorite self-care tips. Thank you to the Florida Department of Citrus for letting me share about these tips with you! Be sure to make Florida OJ a part of your daily routines to help boost your immune system during this challenging mom season.

This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

 

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5 Natural Ways To Stop Anxiety Quickly

Friday, August 4th, 2017

5 Natural Anxiety Remedies

Do you struggle with anxiety? When we met with the specialist to talk about my diagnosis, she asked me this very question. Embarrassed, I responded that I did.  She quickly assured me not to be ashamed of my anxiety because it is often a symptom that goes along with all my other health issues.

Anytime there are big changes in my routine, it often sends my anxiety into a tailspin. Big things like discovering you have a connective tissue disease definitely sent me spiraling. Little things though, like the start of each school year and doing allthethings, can also send me down the tunnels of anxiety.

An admitted perfectionist and people pleaser with anxiety?

Yep, it is often the reason why I suffer from sleepless nights and stomach aches.

This year I have really been working on my responses to things and have been finding natural remedies to curb my anxiety symptoms. I wanted to share them with you today because they have helped me so much.  Here are 5 things I’ve discovered can stop my anxiety quickly.

mark-twain-quote

Working through the “then what” scenario

I shared that this year I decided to see a counselor to help me get my life back on track. We talked about changing some of my routines and habits to reduce stress and help me be more productive at my job. As a people pleaser, I find it difficult to let people down in my life. He worked with me on talking through these situations and now I use this trick when talking myself through tricky conversations or scenarios I might be faced with.

For example, my body’s new limitations made working and lifting food at our food pantry hard to do. Instead of admitting that it wasn’t a good fit for me, I continued to do it and flare up an elbow issue that I had. I told my counselor how it was causing strain, but I worried that I would let the director down.

Him- Why can’t you tell her that you can’t work the food pantry?

Me- I made a commitment and I know that there aren’t a lot of people to help. I love doing it, but it is causing pain.

Him- What do you think she would say if you told her that you couldn’t work the food pantry?

Me- Well, she will probably be very disappointed in me. She will think I’m a flake. I told her I was going to do something and then I didn’t do it.

Him- Do you think she will be angry?

Me- I don’t know.

Him- What if someone told you that they had an injury and couldn’t do a job for you?  What do you think you would say?

Me- I would be disappointed that I didn’t have help.

Him- Then what?

Me- I would tell them I’m sorry they are hurting and I understand.

Him- Then what?

Me- I would probably find someone else to help.

My initial reaction is everyone will be angry with me if I change a routine or have to bail on a commitment, but a lot of times these scenarios never happen. Of course, as soon as I told her that I couldn’t do it because I had an elbow issue and was starting physical therapy she told me she would miss me, but COMPLETELY UNDERSTOOD. She graciously said she would be happy to have me back whenever I felt better.

Really?

It was NO BIG DEAL.

Working through the then what, then what, then what helps me guess what might happen and put away irrational fears about situations in my life, but it also helps me prepare a response ahead of time for the changes I make that are healthy for me. You can’t plan for everything, of course, but it has helped tremendously.

The stop sign trick

Joanna Goddard, from Cup of Jo, shared a really great trick that she learned from her therapist that helped her with anxiety. Her therapist told her that when her spiraling thoughts started that she should start visualizing a stop sign.

A small switch that is completely free?

Sign me up!

This week, for example, as we prepare for the new school year, my anxiety really starts to ramp up. I will lay awake thinking about the physicals I forgot to schedule, the new bus schedule, the school supplies we haven’t bought, the uniforms…. Once the floodgates are opened, the anxiety of the upcoming year starts pouring out.

Now I have started to use this tip once my mind starts going and it does, truly, help interrupt the anxiety routine.

I didn’t get the school supplies… STOP SIGN

I forgot to schedule physicals… STOP SIGN

I…STOP SIGN.

The 7-second rule

One element of my anxiety is saying the wrong thing in social situations. I will be having a great day with friends just talking and enjoying each other’s company- all in all, a perfect day. On the drive home though, my mind starts thinking again about EVERYTHING I said. Did I say too much? Was that wrong of me to say? What if their feelings were hurt? Why did I share that?

It goes on and on.

I read about the 7-second rule though and I have started to apply it to my life. I’m generally (*ahem*) good people and I try really hard to say the right things. I would never intentionally hurt someone with my words and the things that I typically worry about, I’m pretty sure no one else is replaying over and over again in THEIR mind.

Only allowing myself 7-seconds to replay things has changed this routine of replaying the night over and over and over again in my head to a mere few seconds. I also try to extend the same grace to other people and even share the tip with them when they apologize to me for something they have worried about. Seriously, 7-seconds and moving on.

Stop looking for it

I have a BAD habit of looking for things to become anxious about- do you do this too?

For example, I had a terrible nighttime routine of checking Instagram and Facebook right before I would go to sleep. I would, essentially, look for things to be anxious about and then try to go to bed. Social media, for me, has ALWAYS been a trigger, but it is also a necessary part of my work.

Yet, let’s be honest,  it is not a necessary part of my work to start scrolling at 10PM.

Now I turn off all social media in the evenings and keep normal “business hours” with my time. I also don’t go hunting for things to be upset about (another REALLY bad habit) on my feeds. In the morning, I seem to have the ability to distance myself more from things that cause me anxiety and I can apply that ol’ stop sign rule when my thoughts start spiraling.

Peace Over Worry

Get involved in an anxiety interrupter

I am sure you have heard that yoga is helpful for anxiety, but it isn’t necessarily the movement that helps my anxiety. It is the fact that it is a mind interrupter.

When doing yoga, the instructor is guiding us through movement with directions and oftentimes isn’t demonstrating the movement. I have to think really hard to stay with the flow of the class and remember one pose to the next. I become so focused on moving through poses that I can’t let my mind spiral.

Anxiety interruption also happens when I go to dance class because I’m so focused on following the movement that my brain doesn’t have time to think about anything else. When all my brain cells are dedicated to one thing, there are no brain cells to contribute to my irrational worries.

I have been looking more for healthy anxiety interrupters like this in my life. Walks with husband around the neighborhood, a good book, podcasts, volunteering, a documentary, doing things (and being present) with my kids are all good examples of good things that have helped interrupt my anxiety routine.

Of course, do not be afraid to talk to your physician or a therapist about your anxiety. You don’t have to suffer alone!

Natural Products/Services That Also Help My Anxiety

Calm Now Supplement (I take this in the afternoon)

Natural Calm The Anti-Stress Drink (great bedtime routine)

L-Theanine (I used this with great success before taking the Calm Now supplement)

Calm Meditation App (the sleep stories really help me in the evenings)

Epsom Salts (I buy them in bulk) with 5 drops of lavender oil for a nighttime bath

Sleepytime Extra Tea

Kill News Feed Plugin

Facebook Unseen

What YOU Say Helps

T. says, “I read somewhere when in the middle of an anxiety/panic attack is to tell yourself I can anything for 10 minutes. It’s what got me through a 6 hour drive just hours after we were involved in a car accident that totaled my car.”

J. says, “I  was on medication for anxiety/depression for years and found that while it helped the anxiety, it was affecting other areas of my life so I went off them and started looking for natural options.

I do a lot of the things you talked about in your article, especially the interrupter. I use exercise, and I was thinking that it was the exercise itself that was helpful, but I think it is also the interrupter. I often do a workout on my lunch break at work and it really helps me to shut off the stress of the morning and get back to a more neutral head space.

I am also a creature of routine and habits, which is great for organization and generally keeps the anxiety manageable, but when things throw the routine off, it is often extremely difficult to deal with. Sometimes I get worries that play on a loop in my head, like when I’ve texted my son who is out somewhere and he doesn’t text back when I think he should and I start imagining the absolute worst and it won’t stop until he either texts back or gets home. If my husband is home, I can tell him specifically what is in my head, what the specific worry is and he helps me to break it down and either get rid of it or at least lessen the anxiety a bit.”

H. says,“I replay my conversations or what I post in my head all of the time, like you! When my anxiety gets out of control I have meds, but one time I didn’t have any on me and I was having a panic attack and luckily my husband happened to be with me and he told me to get outside with him and go for a walk. That interrupter (like the yoga you mentioned) really calmed me and stopped the attack from happening. Interrupters are really good for me. I found that coloring in the adult coloring books helps a lot too. I really try and go more natural unless it gets to a point where I can’t control it.  I also use Tulsi Tea and it helps, but it could probably be a placebo thing, but I don’t care!”

M. says,  “I have been trying to get into a routine of meditation. Just 10 minutes a morning. I have been using the app 10% Happier. I love their logical approach and the concept of ‘just begin again.’  Since I have been doing it I’ve noticed that when my mind starts racing later in the day, or even when it wakes me up at night, if I take 30 seconds and focus on my breath it really does reset my brain. I think it is the same idea as the interrupter.”

Katie says, “I take a magnesium supplement before bed that has really helped me with sleeping. Since I started taking it, for the first time in years I am able to fall asleep easily. Another thing I’ve noticed is I get significantly fewer headaches taking magnesium. In general, getting on a vitamin routine has helped in a lot of ways. For example, I found out I tested low for vitamin D and that had a correlation with my stress too. Taking omegas and B12 has helped managing moods when I’m stressed.

Another trigger for me is if I am not drinking enough water or eat meals too late. My husband is really good at letting me know that I need to eat or drink something when he can tell I’m getting stressy and it’s a nice gentle reminder to take care of my physical needs but also “check myself” on my emotional state. It works well for us because I know he is doing it out of love and not to poke at me.

I love my essential oil diffuser with lavender or other calming blends in the evening in our bedroom.

I have moved the FB and Instagram icons off the front page of my phone and put them in a separate folder on a page I have to scroll to at times to help break the habit of getting on just because I pick up my phone.”

Another J. says, “I’ve had success in managing my anxiety with various herbal tinctures and elixirs, which I always fear makes me sound all “woo-woo crazy”, but I’m so much more consistent about taking them than sipping tea. They’re fast! 🙂 My favorites are Motherwort (<– the real workhorse of the bunch!), Borage Flower elixir (calming and mellowing), Milky Oats tincture (<– also a great one for dulling intense responses), Wild Rose Elixir (awesome for brightening mood and promoting optimism), and Skullcap tincture (my go-to for stopping racing thoughts in their tracks at bedtime.)”

A. says, “One thing that my therapist worked with me on was journaling, which I use not only as a way to get my thoughts out, but as a way to keep myself organized. When things get chaotic and disorganized I can always feel the anxiety start to ramp up.”

 

5 Natural Anxiety Remedies

If you liked this article you might enjoy my natural ways to relieve joint pain article! I’d love to hear from you some natural ways you have found to reduce anxiety in your life?

How to End the Year Well

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

How to End the Year Well from MomAdvice.com

Last week I read an article about how to create a dumpster fire ornament, in honor of the year we’ve had. It was hilarious – and sad. I mean, yeah, I laughed, but only so I didn’t cry. Because, for a million reasons, this year has been difficult at best and devastating at worst.

I know I’m not alone in looking forward to a fresh start as we flip over the calendar.

But before we head into a new year, we still have a few days left in this one – and I’m determined to make the best of them. Rather than simply throwing up our hands in disgust or defeat, let’s take back what’s remaining of this challenging year. Let’s celebrate what actually worked or went well, and let’s give thanks for the blessings we received in the midst of hardships.

No matter how this year has treated us, I believe we can still end well. Here’s how:

1. Make a gratitude list. I know, I know, you’ve heard this one a thousand times. But there’s a reason for that: it works! No matter how bad a situation (or calendar year) might be, we always have something to be thankful for.

Are you healthy? Do you have a place to live? Is your family nearby – or far away? Do you have at least one person to love and who loves you? Did you read a good book or see a great movie? Have you created a piece of art or finished a project? Did you make it through Thanksgiving or the election cycle or a trip to the post office without coming to blows with anyone? Then you have something to be thankful for!

How to End the Year Well from MomAdvice.com

2. Look at the photographic evidence. Instead of clicking over to Facebook one more time, open up the gallery on your phone. Scroll through your own photos and take time to appreciate those goofy smiles, those messy faces, the trips to the zoo or the doctor’s office, the impromptu road trips or picnics, the selfies and the you-can’t-make-me-smile serious faces. Remember the sunset, the finish line, the delicious dessert, the colorful leaves.

Whether you’ve already printed all your photos and placed them in a lovely album or scrapbook, or they’re stacked up on your phone (and hopefully saved in the cloud), I bet you have some evidence that this year brought something lovely, something beautiful, something good.

3. Find the silver linings. I’m not sitting at a desk gazing out the window to a pastoral scene as I type this post. Nope. I’m sitting in my living room, balancing my laptop on a TV tray while my toddler sits on my lap smelling slightly of her overnight diaper and watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. And as often happens in our house, Daniel Tiger is sharing a message that is almost unnervingly relevant for our day. Daniel and his friends are singing about disappointment, and here’s the advice they have for us all: “When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good.”

Seriously, Daniel Tiger? Seriously.

You really can’t argue with that preschool wisdom. And as I’ve reflected on the last year, it really is something I’ve considered. What are the silver linings hiding on the edges of this hard season?

For me I’ve had to face how my fear of confrontation has led to unhealthy relationships and behaviors. (Which is, initially, still a bummer but ultimately a good thing to realize.) I’ve also been forced to stop waffling on some political issues as this divisive year has made it clearer than ever what my priorities and values are. And, most importantly, going through a tough season is always a catalyst for appreciation and gratitude for me, making me more thankful than ever for my family, my freedoms, and my faith. All of these silver linings come at the cost of some very dark clouds, but I am grateful for them nonetheless.

How to End the Year Well from MomAdvice.com

4. Give back – and then some. One of the most encouraging messages I’ve seen following some of this year’s troubles is a call to action. No matter where you fall on all the issues that have divided our world, every one of us can reach out to others, serve others, love others. Just like the well-known and oft-quoted advice from Gandhi suggests, rather than complaining about a dumpster fire of a season, be the change you wish to see in the world instead.

The benefit goes beyond what you give to other people, too, because not only does helping those in need combat injustices you perceive, it also helps you adjust your perspective. It gives you a bigger picture and more accurate way to gauge your own circumstances. It also gives you a sense of more control and therefore increases your overall satisfaction. Talk about win-win!

5. Don’t wait for January 1. We don’t have to start a new habit on a Monday, and we don’t have to wait for January 1 to turn over a new leaf of gratitude, compassion, and positivity. We can do that today. The world may seem like it’s spinning off its axis some days, but we are still in control of our own choices. We get to decide how we receive news, how we process situations, how we respond to circumstances. We get to choose.

Let’s make the best of the days we have, friend, no matter what the calendar says. Let’s be kind when we don’t have to, let’s be thankful even when it’s difficult, let’s look for the good and be the good. Let’s end this year well.

How to End the Year Well from MomAdvice.com

 

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