Archive for the ‘New Parents & Babies’ 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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10 Genius Ways to Make Your Kids Love Reading

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

10 Genius Ways to Make Your Kids Love Reading from MomAdvice.com

 

Do you have a reluctant reader? Julie joins the blog today to help our children develop into kids that, truly, enjoy reading.

Helping your kids develop reading skills is important, but encouraging your children to be the kind of kids that CHOOSE to read is even more important..

These creative solutions will help you choose books your child will never want to stop reading, help them pick the right reading materials that they will be excited about, help you learn to model that behavior, and (of course) make reading to your child a priority.

Be sure to scroll down for all of our suggestions on how to teach your children to read, picture book suggestions, and even more tips on books to add to your home library.

 

From our monthly contributor, Julie!

Over the course of my teaching career I’ve given a lot of thought to helping kids become better readers.

I’ve tried to figure out what helps some kids love reading and what leaves some kids dreading books.

This list of 10 ways to encourage your child to read at home is the result of my experiences with teaching reading and talking to hundreds of teachers, parents and students.

When we can provide ways for kids to see the benefits and excitement of reading, we can create lifelong readers.

10 Genius Ways to Make Your Kids Love Reading from MomAdvice.com

10 Genius Ways to Make Your Kids Love Reading

Pick Up Your Own Book

I interviewed a couple hundred parents as I put together this list and one thing really stood out to me: Parents who read, raise children who read. Oftentimes, when kids see parents make reading a priority, they are more inclined to make it a priority. I could give you quite a few cliches about this, but it really comes down to making sure you practice what you preach.

Listen to a podcast.

I listen to a lot of podcasts. When I listen, I get excited about new trends, products, and people in the industries that interest me. The great news is that there are also great podcasts for kids about reading designed to get them excited about new books, introduce them to authors and discover new genres. Here are some of my favorite recommendations.

Be creative about what they can read

This year I had a student who was determined to beat his brother at Minecraft. So he decided to check out a Minecraft book at the library, but stopped himself because he wasn’t sure if the book would count as reading since it didn’t seem like a real book. I assured him that this book very much counts because one of the reasons people read is to learn new information and this book looked like the perfect way for him to do just that. Just like adults have varied reading interests, we should encourage kids to read a variety of texts as well…books, magazines, blogs, graphic novels.

Go to a Children’s Book Festival

One way to help build excitement is to head out to a Children’s Book Festival. Meeting authors, seeing other kids who love reading, finding new books to read and experiencing a fun reading atmosphere can help kids see reading as an enjoyable experience rather than as a dreaded chore.

Put reading on the schedule…and protect it.

One parent I interviewed said they schedule in family reading time just like they would a sports practice. The family often reads for more than the scheduled time, but they have found that having that dedicated time on the calendar helps them make reading a priority instead of just giving it leftover time.

Put down the devices

It can be difficult to focus on reading when the tv is on, the gaming systems are fired up, and various other devices are in our hands. Set aside time in the day for some tech free time and pick up a book instead. I’m always amazed how much kids enjoy device free time…even if they don’t think they will!

Read aloud to your kids

I once had a 4th grader boy tell me how much he missed having his mom read a chapter each night to him from a book. When I let his mom know she excitedly selected a new book and started the habit back up. Many kids love being read to and reading a book aloud together can be a great way to encourage the love of literacy and bond between caregiver and child.

Choose a family book and have everyone read it

How fun for kids when they know they aren’t reading a book alone, but can call up grandma, an uncle, or a cousin to talk about the book they are reading. This is another opportunity to make reading more fun instead of something kids feel obligated to check off the list.

YA Book of the Month Club

Book subscription boxes

Do a quick online search and you’ll find loads of book-themed subscription boxes for every age. Building excitement and anticipation for books helps kids think of books as less of a chore and more as something exciting.

Did you know that Book of the Month now has a YA Club? This would make such a fun holiday gift for a reader in your life.

Join now and get your first box for $9.99 (or $5 off) when you use the code BFF5 at checkout!
 

Join a book club for kids…or start one!

Many adults find it helpful to have accountability by reading in a book club.

This means someone is going to check to see if they finished the book and they’ll have someone to discuss the book with if they have questions or thoughts.

Kids also like being able to talk about the books they are reading and a book club for kids is the perfect place to do that.

If you can’t find any book clubs near you, consider starting one of your own.

Have your child pick out a book, invite a few friends to read the book with them and then gather together with snacks to talk about the book they read.

About Julie-

Having taught in both California and Pennsylvania and everything from 3rd to 8th grade, this year Julie is teaching 3rd grade at an elementary school in Southern California. She enjoys helping her students fall in love with reading and reading during the school day is a big priority. Julie loves traveling in her free time and always makes time to pop into local bookshops when she travels. When she’s not reading or teaching, she loves running, cupcakes and Christmas. You can find her blogging too over on her blog, Girl On the Move.

This post contains affiliate links

Love this article? Here are some other great articles on getting kids to love reading!

Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter book series for kids who love harry potter

The Best Back to School Books for Kids the best back to school books for kids (from kindergarten to middle school)

How to Homeschool Child with Special Needs from MomAdvice.com homeschooling a child with special needs

8 Middle School Series Books to Get Your Child Excited About Reading from MomAdvice.com teacher-approved middle series books to get your child excited about reading again

Do you have any genius tips to make your kids excited to read? We would love to hear them!

10 Genius Ways to Make Your Kids Love Reading from MomAdvice.com

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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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

This post contains affiliate links.

 

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The Best Back To School Books For Kids

Friday, August 30th, 2019

Looking for books to help your child as they start school? These teacher-approved books are perfect for young readers. This book list is for parents and teachers to share these beautiful back to school stories with their kids. Whether you are looking for a read aloud book to get your kid ready for kindergarten (and all those new school rules), or you have an anxiety-filled middle school student on your hands, this book list has you covered! 

From our new parenting contributor,  Julie DenOuden

Freshly sharpened pencils. New school shoes. Sparkly clean lunchbox.

It’s that time of year for back to school and while we might not want summer to end, these back to school titles can help your family get ready for the new school year.

These books are also a great way to ease back into the routine of reading if your child hasn’t read very much over the summer.

The Best Back to School Books for Kids

General Books

One thing I learned during my years as an upper elementary and middle school teacher is that kids of all ages enjoy picture books. So just because the back of the books says it’s suitable for ages 4-7, doesn’t mean older kids won’t connect with these books. These back to school books help calm nerves about the first day, provide excitement for a new school year, and emphasize the importance of showing kindness to the people around us.

First Day Jitters

First Day Jitters

This book has a fun twist at the end and is great paired with some of your very own Jitter Juice (1 part 7up + 1 part Hawaiian Punch + sprinkles)

The Day You Begin

The Day You Begin

A wonderfully illustrated book about having the courage to connect with other people even when you feel like you don’t fit in with everyone around you.

The Exceptionally Extraordinarily Ordinary First Day of School

The Exceptionally, Extraordinarily Ordinary First Day of School 

An excellent book for kids who will be going to a new school and kids with a big imagination. 

If I Built a School

If I Built a School 

Help kids imagine what their dream school looks like to help create excitement for the new school year. And if they really like this book, there are two others in the series to continue the fun.

We're All Wonders

We’re All Wonders 

A gorgeous picture book that pairs with bestselling book Wonder to help kids understand the importance of always choosing kindness.

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree 

A chapter book designed to help kids realize that everyone is smart in different ways so it’s okay to ask for help and embrace who you are.

Grade Specific Back to School Books

I love general back to school kids to help build excitement for the new year but it’s also helpful for kids to identify with book characters their very own age. Each grade comes with a unique set of worries and milestones and reading these books is a fun way to prepare for the year.

The King of Kindergarten

The King of Kindergarten 

Help build excitement for this milestone day of the first day of kindergarten.

Junie B. Jones First Grade

Junie B Jones 

First grade is synonymous with Junie B. Jones and this series will accompany your budding reader all year along.

 

Second Grade, Here I Come!

First Day, Here I Come!

A book of poems to create excitement for the upcoming year in second grade.

Third Grade Angels

Third Grade Angels 

Navigating life as a third grade can be challenging but this is a fun look at this transitional year of school when kids really switch from learning to read, to reading to learn.

Fourth Grade Rats

Fourth Grade Rats 

Continuing from Third Grade Angels, now it’s time for these students to become the Fourth Grade Rats.

Tales of a Fifth Grade Night

Tales of a Fifth-Grade Knight

A wildly imaginative book about an average fifth grader whose life takes a turn from ordinary to extraordinary.

Diary of a Sixth Grade Ninja

Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja

Another excellent book about transitioning to a new school and making new friends. As a bonus, this is a series, so if they get hooked kids can keep on reading!

Middle School The Worst Years of My Life

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life 

A graphic novel that tackles the issues of middle schoolers…buillies, crushes, and fitting in. Another book that is the beginning of a series so kids can continue reading if they get hooked.

About Julie- 

Having taught in both California and Pennsylvania and everything from 3rd to 8th grade, this year Julie is teaching 3rd grade at an elementary school in Southern California. She enjoys helping her students fall in love with reading and reading during the school day is a big priority. Julie loves traveling in her free time and always makes time to pop into local bookshops when she travels. When she’s not reading or teaching, she loves running, cupcakes and Christmas.  You can find her blogging too over on her blog, Girl On the Move.

This post contains affiliate links

Like these parenting tips? Here are 3 other posts you might find helpful today! 

How to Homeschool Child with Special Needs from MomAdvice.com how to homeschool a child with special needs

7 Habits for Better Mornings With Kids from MomAdvice.com 7 habits for better mornings with your kids

teaching kids the importance of failure teaching kids the importance of failure

Book Series for Kids Who Love Harry Potter book series for kids who love harry potter

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

 

 

 

6 Steps to Planning a Sweet Summer with Your Family

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Since she was a preschooler, I’ve taken my oldest daughter on a date after the last day of school. It’s an opportunity for us to have some sweet, one-on-one time, but also a time for us to reflect on the last nine months. I ask about her favorite parts of the school year, the hardest parts, and what she learned. But then, we turn to the future.

Making plans for the summer is one of our favorite things to do. Because yes, I’ve trained my daughter to love lists and schedules and plans just as much as I do. Parenting win! But seriously, we do love it — me because we come up with a plan on how to survive the summer months and her because she gets to share her ideas and have a bit of influence on what we do.

That’s not to say I show up at our lunch date with a blank calendar. No, by the time school is out, I’ve already registered my kids for camp parents’ night out or open houseparents’ night out or open house, made hotel reservations for any trips, and started talking to possible babysitters for the days I just have to get some work done. But we still have plenty of summer hours to fill and plenty of days to plan.

Are you worried that I’m that uptight mom who over-schedules her kids? Wondering if my girls even know how to play on their own? Longing for the days of old, when kids got out of school and then spent three months playing pickup ball, riding bikes, and catching fireflies?

I know. Me too! So don’t panic. I promise that’s not what I’m about. If you crave structure and need to have a general idea of what you and your kids are going to do this summer, but also want to leave plenty of space for regular old playtime, I’m here to help. This is not possible. We can do it! Read on for tips for planning a sweet summer!

Do your homework.

Pull up all the websites in all the tabs. Camps, churches with VBS programs, library programs, bucket lists from Pinterest, summer school listings on the district website, road trip itineraries — get it all in front of you.

Are you going to do all these things? Heck no. But you want to know what your options are before you start picking and choosing the few things you’re going to do.

Try something new.

Summertime is the perfect time for trying out a new hobby, activity, or sport. I couldn’t fit a full week of art camp into our budget, but I signed up my youngest for a morning drawing class. And I’m not sure my oldest will like karate (we’ve tried it before, but I’m determined to have her try again), so rather than commit to a weeks-long session, she’ll attend parents’ night out or open house at the local martial arts school to test it out. 

Include your favorites or family traditions.

Do you always watch fireworks from the park down the street? Do you kick off the season with a big barbecue or just by pulling out the fire pit? Are summer afternoons time for bubbles and sidewalk chalk and bike rides? Do you let the kids set up a lemonade stand every year or go geocaching in the woods behind your house? Are they (and you) looking forward to their annual visit to the grandparents’? Whatever you’ve made a habit of doing year after year — big or small, at home or on the town, silly or serious — make sure to include these things on your summer agenda. And if you’re not sure which activities or outings your kids are counting on this year, just ask them! You might be surprised by the things they remember and love the most.

Give the kids choices.

Speaking of what the kids want… Now’s the time to get them involved in the process of making plans! You might not want to give them carte blanche with your calendar, but you can give them some leeway. Perhaps come up with 10 ideas for summer projects and ask them to pick three. Or sit together and sift through all the ideas you found when you did your homework. Make a giant wish list, then pare it down to what’s doable for your family. 5.

Make margin and leave room to breathe.

While we want to keep our kids (and maybe ourselves) busy during our break and while we want to do everything we can to make summer fun for everyone, there’s something to be said for downtime. Unscheduled time. Blank space on the calendar and breathing room in our souls. Let them be bored sometimes. Stay up late and take naps. Leave room for spontaneous playdates or game nights or pizza picnics on the back porch.

Only you know what the right amount of rest is for your family. And this is something that will change from year to year (maybe from day to day)! So, give yourself time to figure it out and room to adjust. And just know that what works for other families might not work for you. And what worked just fine last year might be completely different from what you need this year.

It’s all about balance.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If your family is all about baseball and that’s all you do, all day, every day, that’s awesome! I mean, it is not for me — but I’m not your kid! If your family is all in with an activity or hobby or sport, go for it. But for many of us, a little balance goes a long way.

When I’m making summer plans for my family, I try to balance all the things: indoors and outdoors, sports and art and science and music, active and resting, fun and learning and chores and more fun, planned and unplanned, time with friends and time reserved for family. Do you think I ever get that balance right? No, of course not. But I try, which means we end up with more balance than if I didn’t try at all.

That’s it. That’s how I plan our summers and what I recommend to you. But more important than following my steps and suggestions is following your heart and what you know about your family. Choose the things that work for you, that bring you joy, that keep you sane, that create the summertime memories you — and they! — will treasure forever. And let the rest go.

Love these ideas? Here are a few more you might enjoy!

7 Promises I’m Making to My Kids This Summer

Using Technology on Summer Break

DIY Summer Time Capsule Craft for Kids

DIY Fluffy Slime Recipe (so fun!!)

DIY Rainbow Bubble Snakes

Have you started making plans for this summer?

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 toincourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

Planning a Spring Break Staycation

Monday, March 18th, 2019

Today we have gathered the best tips, easy projects, and fun activities you can play for the ultimate family staycation. Be sure to bookmark this for some of our favorite boredom busters!

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

Last year, on the Friday before our school district’s spring break began, my daughter went on a field trip with her class. It was her first experience roller skating, and all week my husband and I joked with her, saying more than once, “Don’t break your leg!”

Well, the joke was on us, because just a short hour after I dropped her off at school that morning, I got a call from the school nurse. My daughter had, indeed, broken her leg. That ordeal is a story for another time. But what I’m remembering today, as we head into spring break season once again, is how so many people reacted to the news by asking if we’d had big spring break plans.

Apparently, many families plan big trips for their kids’ spring breaks. I feel silly admitting it, but I really had no idea. I had assumed most families would be staying home, juggling work and childcare, catching up on home projects, and possibly taking a trip to the movie theater or park before sending their kids back to school.

After all, that’s about all I had planned!

After hearing about other families’ more extravagant and adventurous plans, I didn’t feel guilty that we couldn’t afford that kind of travel or time off in the spring. But I did feel bad that I hadn’t put more thought into what we would actually do instead. Last year’s spring break was consumed by pain medicine, follow-up doctor’s appointments, and begging my daughter to JUST TRY TO USE THE CRUTCHES. But this year, I was determined to make the most of our five days off school!

Here’s what I did:

Evaluate your free time. Plan your work time.

Because of the nature of my work, I can’t simply take a whole week off. (Okay, I can, but it requires a level of nose-to-the-grindstone intention that I just didn’t pull off this time.) But I also don’t want to spend five days trying desperately to finish projects while hearing my kids ask, “When are you going to be finished?” So I’m planning three half days of work (and probably a chunk of time on the weekend to catch up). That way, they know they’ll have to entertain themselves during those times and I know I will need to focus so I can maximize those times.

Now we’re left with two full days and three half days. What will we do?

Take a look at your to-do-someday list. Get something done.

I’m not the only one with a Someday To-Do list, am I? A list of house projects, inconvenient errands, or seasonal tasks that always seem to get pushed to the back burner during the regular school year?

The trick with this part of a spring break staycation is positioning your to-dos as adventures or fun projects. If your kids are anything like mine, half the fun of spring break is spending extra time together — so why not use some of that together time to accomplish something? You’ll be relieved, and they’ll be proud they helped.

At least that’s my hope for having my girls help me recover the dining room chairs. I’ll let them weigh in on the material we choose, and any project involving a screwdriver and staple gun is fascinating to them (even if they don’t actually use the tools themselves). And since we sit on those chairs every single day, they’ll see the fruit of their labor daily. (Plus, at least in my house, anything can be fun if we add loud music, funny faces, or a special snack to eat when we’re finished!)

Other chores or errands might require some incentives, of course — like shopping for new spring clothes, but only after we go through and clean out their closets, or a trip to a special ice cream shop but only after we finally return those Christmas presents you’ve had in the trunk of your car for months and drop off the Goodwill donations you packed up back in January when you KonMari’d your house like the rest of the world.

Because I want to have two full days for full-blown staycation adventures, I’m planning our “project” (chore and errand) days for the other half of those days I’ll work. Now, finally, it’s time for the fun part!

Explore your town. Connect with friends. Make memories.

Whether you have a couple full days to fill, a few hours here and there, or an entire week, planning for fun will make sure your break doesn’t slip away without doing anything to write home about. (I know, you’re already at home. You know what I mean.) Here are some ideas:

  • Does your community have a children’s museum? Or art museum? Or, really, any kind of place where your kids can let loose and have fun (while also learning something because you’re a sneaky mom like that)? Go there. Bonus tip: Look on the museum’s website to find out if they have free days or hours, coupons, or special events that you can plan around.
  • Who are the friends you keep meaning to see but haven’t been able to? Who lives too far away for a simple dinner together during a normal week? Make plans to see them! Invite them over to your house for a playdate or lunch, or meet them at a park somewhere between your homes. (Or, if you really want to mix things up, you could combine an errand with a friend date and do your errands together. Need to stock up at Costco or Trader Joe’s? Why not go with a friend? Then grab lunch somewhere with a playplace so your kids can run free while you catch your breath.)
  • What’s new? Has a big store opened up recently? Or perhaps a new restaurant? Make an adventure of checking out the new place by putting together a scavenger hunt for your kids or giving them a “mission” or mystery to solve while you’re there. Tasks or items might include eating a food they’ve never tried before, spotting specific items or colors or numbers, deciding how they’d like to spend a certain amount of money (either pretend or real), or even figuring out where the public restrooms are located.
  • Take a trip down memory lane. If you’ve lived in your city for a while, take your kids to see some nostalgic sights (like your childhood home, the restaurant you and your husband had your first date, the park you took them to when they were much younger). If you’re new to town, you can use this time to learn about your community’s history. Check out a local museum, ask a neighbor to share one of their favorite spots, or just explore an area, road, neighborhood, attraction you haven’t visited yet.
  • And don’t forget this: My city has a specific website for parents, listing out special events, fun excursions, coupons and promotional codes, and more. I always, always go there first when playing a staycation. Does your city have something similar? (Or, perhaps a local parenting group on Facebook? Or your MOPS group? Whatever source has a collection of information about activities in your city, go there!)

Put the “stay” in staycation.

Finally, you don’t have to even leave the house to have fun during your break. If you have little kids or a health condition or any reason at all that makes going out to find fun more difficult than usual, just stay home! But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with Disney Channel reruns or another week of mac and cheese lunches. You can mix it up, right from home!

Some of our favorite things to do on those days are trying a new recipe (let the kids help cook), doing simple science experiments we’ve found on Pinterest, trying to imitate the trick shots of Dude Perfect or the dance moves of Kidz Bop after we watch a few videos on YouTube, or doing one of those messy craft projects I normally don’t allow. (Hello, glitter slime!)

Whatever your staycation looks like, you can make it fun. And really? Your kids will enjoy just as much and remember just as fondly the day you let them spend hours in their swimsuits, splashing in the tub with all the toys as they would some tropical trip. Are you together? Are you doing something out of the norm? Are you laughing and letting loose, even just a little?

Then your staycation will be a success!


A few more tips for you:

  • Set a budget. Even if you’re staying home, you’ll likely spend a little more money when all your kids are home and “needing” to be entertained.
  • Plan for rest. Much as I adore schedules and lists, I know we can’t fill up every minute. Both my kids and I need downtime and quiet time, so I might as well plan for that, too.
  • Sprinkle in surprises. Even on those work or project days, you can delight your kids with their favorite dessert, a new Spotify playlist, a quick manicure, or a break to play catch in the backyard.

Want more fun activities for the perfect staycation or family getaway? Here are a few of our faves!

exploring columbus, ohio

exploring saugatuck, michigan

exploring grand rapids, michigan

printable travel games (for those of you hitting the road!)

 

try our diy fluffy slime recipe

mix up our 3-ingredient cloud dough

make these fun rainbow bubble snakes

make an easy dreamcatcher

make pom-pom flower bouquets

dye a pair of canvas shoes for spring

try these fun rainbow science experiments

 

Still bored? Here are 22 of our favorite spring break boredom busters! What do you like to do during a staycation?

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 toincourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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The Best Gifts My Kids Ever Received

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

What kind of shopper are you? Are you the type who buys everything in a frantic flurry on Black Friday? (I suppose I shouldn’t make assumptions; I hereby recognize you may attack the post-holiday sales with military precision and a budget Dave Ramsey would admire.) Or do you collect presents for your loved ones all year long, stashing them away after entering them into your top-secret gift spreadsheet?

I fall somewhere in between those types, attempting to buy presents ahead of time but occasionally forgetting what I’ve bought, who it’s for, or where I hid it.

And don’t even get me started on all the great intentions I’ve had for saving up for the holidays — or the ways I’ve abandoned those plans with, well, abandon.

Current state? I have small piles of packages in a few places around my house, one in plain sight yet strangely overlooked by my nosy kids, and a spreadsheet about said gifts that was updated sometime before school started. And hopes for a year-end paycheck that comes in time to hit the best sales (on the internet because this mama doesn’t do Black Friday or mall madness).

But as I started to feel stressed while making a list of all the stores I need to visit and purchases I have yet to make, I remembered how I felt on my oldest daughter’s birthday this fall.

As I’ve shared before my daughter is an enormous fan of all things Harry Potter. It was a given that her 11th birthday party would have a Hogwarts theme, and thanks to my tendency to lose my Pinterest-loving mind when it comes to planning parties, going all out for this celebration was also a given.

From the invitations and the decorations to the games and the food, we went crazy.

In a good way.

Planning the party was a blast, and my Griffyndor-wannabe (I get it, I do. But Pottermore sorted her into the house of Hufflepuff, and I do not question Pottermore.) was thrilled.

However, the best part of the whole weekend wasn’t a display of floating candles in the dining room or chocolate treats turned into golden snitches.

It wasn’t even the set of paperbacks I’d found on sale weeks before (though that did earn a whole lot of hugs and thanks).

The best part of my daughter’s birthday weekend happened when one of my best friends drove three hours to help us set up the party, bringing her own Hogwarts robe and magic wand and spending hours talking with her about details of the characters and plotlines I can’t keep straight.

The weekend got even better when another one of my best friends and her husband showed up for the party in full costume, down to preppy vests and scary tattoos.

My girl didn’t stop smiling that day and has yet to stop talking about how amazing it was that, not only did her friends come to celebrate her birthday, but so did mine.

The fact that adults who are not related to her (or obligated to spend time with her) showed up in such a big way was an incredible gift.

When I think about the best gifts my kids have received, experiences and quality time come out miles ahead of any toys, books, or clothes they’ve been given. Trips to the art museum with my brother, pumpkin carving and bread baking and apple picking with my parents, notes in the mail from a Sunday school teacher who shows up every single weekend, questions and conversations from my friend who always takes time to sit down, make eye contact, and really connect with my kids on their level — all of these blow coloring books and stuffed animals and iTunes gift cards out of the water when it comes to gifts that matter.

I do realize, by the way, that this illustrates my family’s privilege.

Our basic needs are met this year, so wishlists and shopping lists can be about presents just for fun, but we’ve had other years when we’ve been exceedingly grateful for winter coats or backpacks for school that the grandparents have purchased. If you’re in a season where the gifts your kids need are sturdy jeans, a new toothbrush, or help paying for dance class or soccer cleats, I get it.

However, if you are looking for fun gift ideas this holiday season, tangible ways to show your kids they’re loved, or answers to aunts or friends or grandpas who ask, “What should I get them?” — my number one suggestion is time.

Here are a few ways you can give (or recommend other loved ones give) your kids the best gift ever:

  • Sign up for a lesson or class together. Learn to cook a new dish, improve your golf swing, or make a birdhouse for the backyard.
  • Buy gift cards to a restaurant or coffee shop, with the plan and promise to use them together.
  • Put together a craft kit to pass on a skill or art you’ve mastered. This could be cross-stitching, calligraphy or hand lettering, or making the perfect pancake.
  • Create a doable bucket list for the next year (or month). Maybe even create it together!
  • Buy passes to a sporting event, concert, play, book signing, or other event they’d like to attend — and go with them.
  • Buy tickets to local attractions, such as the zoo, museums, or parks — and go with them.
  • Create a coupon book of low-budget ways you can spend time together — and follow through whenever they want to redeem a coupon.
  • Make a list of conversation starters and put them in a container. Use them regularly to get to know your kiddo better.

All kids want to know they’re valued, that at least for a few hours they’re more important than work or schedules or chores or even their siblings. And the gift of time — a shared experience, a regular “date” or plan to get together — lasts so much longer than toys that fall out of favor and use within months (or sometimes even before they go back to school in January!). I still have some shopping to do, but this year I’m making sure I plan for gifts that focus on quality time, shared experiences, and ways to grow closer to my kids.

Looking for more advice for the holiday season? Check out these posts!

the real santa story

choose your own adventure christmas gift

christmas tree cinnamon rolls tradition

celebrating st nicholas day

free printable advent calendar (for big kids!!)

 

What’s the best gift your kids ever received?

Mary Carver is a writer, church planter, wife, mom and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life at www.givinguponperfect.com.She also contributes to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com, and she’d love to connect with you on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

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