Creative Ways to Have Extra Christmas Money

Wouldn't a little extra Christmas money make Christmas a little more magical and a lot less stressful this year? And focus our hearts on Christ in Christmas

Wouldn’t a little extra Christmas money make Christmas a little more magical and a lot less stressful this year? While giving gifts isn’t the main message of CHRISTmas, we do want to show people how loved they are! But we don’t always have the funds for what is in our hearts.

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Every year, I promise myself I’ll actually enjoy Christmas with all the delicious baking and warm family times.

But the stress of the holidays often gets in the way. One way to take that stress down a notch is to remove the worries over money.

Wouldn't a little extra Christmas money make Christmas a little more magical & a lot less stressful this year? And focus our hearts on Christ in Christmas

Are you guilty of treating Christmas like a surprise?

Christmas is the same time every year, but often we start scrambling to afford gifts come October or November, which is really too late. Then we plunge into credit card shopping only to dive deeply into debt. No one wants to start a new year paying off the last one.

Don't treat Christmas like a surprise! Plan ahead to have extra Christmas money now! Click To Tweet
  • DOES this seem like a strange post for me? It might, but going from two good salaries to one has made me realize how much stewardship is involved in properly handling our money. God has been gracious to provide for our family in many ways, but these are a few ways I’ve been thrifty and stretched every dollar!

We’ve been able to have Christmas paid for before the gifts were wrapped and under the tree for several years. Want to know how?

Tip #1 – Take $50 off the top.

Call your bank and have $50 a paycheck/$100 a month directly transferred to a savings account each month. This builds your savings without thinking about it. And gives you $1200 for extra Christmas money if you need to dip into it.

If you think I can’t afford $100 a month for savings, see if there are luxuries you can do without. Living beneath what you can afford makes money stretch.

Tip #2 – Find creative ways to EARN money!

Taking surveys, opening emails, watching advertisements isn’t going to make you rich, but it is a way to make spending money while watching television. I use several sites and redeem my points/cash expressly for extra Christmas money.

My Points is awesome! It’s a website that sends marketing emails. Each email you open is worth five points, some are worth more if you make a purchase or sign up for a service. Also, you can earn points for donations to the Red Cross and animal welfare sites.

Why I love it!

This year, I’ve earned points for up to $100 in gift cards. I can redeem my points for gift cards to many national chains including Amazon, The Children’s Place, Bass Pro Shops, Home Depot, Sears, Kohl’s, Old Navy, even Papa John’s!

Another similar site is Inbox Dollars.

I earn a few cents a day just opening emails. They pay in cash and offer surveys too. I have earned $35 in just a few months. That’s a Christmas gift or movie date night!



SAVE Money on Groceries!

One of my favorite ways to earn extra Christmas money is through the Ibotta app!

Ibotta is like reverse couponing. I scroll through the app after making my grocery list. After shopping, I scan the items I purchased into the app with a copy of my receipt. I’ve earned $182.65 using the Ibotta app so far.

Walmart Savings Catcher is another easy app. Every time you shop at Walmart, scan your receipt into the Walmart App in the Savings Catcher section. I’ve saved $190 using the app. It literally takes seconds as I walk to my car! I deliberately don’t use those dollars until Christmas and can transfer my credit to the Walmart Pay section of the app to pay for gifts.

Wouldn't a little extra Christmas money make Christmas a little more magical & a lot less stressful this year? And focus our hearts on Christ in Christmas

Do you shop online?

I shop online through Ebates – I can shop for Christmas while earning extra Christmas money! This year, I’ve earned $120 buying things I was purchasing already!

I just go to their site or app and shop, earning money back on homeschool products, website subscription services, Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock!

They even have a browser extension that pops up and reminds me to activate their service if I’m shopping a site that works with Ebates.

Last Tip – Shop smart & start EARLY

Shopping smart won’t earn you extra Christmas money, but it can save you enough to be worth doing.

I’ve already begun stock piling gifts.  I usually start in September. If you are saavy, watch for great sales now. A lot of catalogs count on Christmas to make their year, prices right now are often lower than they will be later.

Shopping early lets you have plenty of time to shop around for the best price and take advantage of early sales.

I make a list of everyone I need gifts for and begin keeping an eye out for just the thing that will make them laugh or smile or be really useful. Especially for my husband!

If nothing else, I can earmark all my planned gifts for Cyber Monday and be ready to snag the deals, having my budget set and Ebates locked and loaded.

Plan ahead, budget wisely, use some creative ways to earn extra Christmas money and this might be the most stress-free holiday season yet!

Bonus Tip

Plan ahead to be generous. Set aside some of your Christmas money to give to charities that matter to you.

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Intentional Multitasking for Busy Moms

What is intentional multitasking? It's how I quit feeling stressed and crazy, started getting stuff done, and found more time for enjoying my child.

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What is intentional multitasking?

When I was at my wit’s end, I had to find a way to quit feeling like a spinning top.  Intentional multitasking helps me get more done with LESS stress and MORE time to be the homemaker and Christian woman I strive to be.

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Even during this season of disability, I’m still BUSY!  But, I got tired of feeling frazzled, stressed, and distracted! I don’t want to miss my daughter’s childhood.


Something had to change . . . how I tackled multitasking!

Tips for Intentional Multi-tasking

Have a daily WRITTEN to do list

One of my largest stressors is worrying about forgetting something. By having a written list (even just a note on my phone), I don’t forget anything and don’t have mental stress over forgetting something important.

Put the quality back into your quality time with Intentional Multitasking

When I remember something I need to do, I write it down. Instead of shifting away from the task I’m working on, I save it to my list. Then, I finish the priority task rather than let all my random thoughts distract me.

Combine activities, don’t split focus.

I can combine some activities, but some really need focused attention. I choose one task that needs most of my focus and combine it with some mindless mom task, like folding laundry.

They are PERFECT opportunities for intentional multitasking. I can chop vegetables while helping my daughter read a book (hint-if you plan meals well, you can chop/prep for a couple of different meals at once). I can vacuum while reviewing my mental to-do list or even use that time to pray for friends and family.

Intentional Multitasking? Put more quality back into your quality of life. Click To Tweet

Throw in a load of laundry while reading a book with the kids. Use toy clean up as a chance to do squats or stretch. Make it a game with worship music and you’re cleaning, praising, and spending quality time with the kids.

Right now I have a load of laundry going, my daughter is working on some math, and I’m finishing this post.

I can combine tasks, but never split focus. Giving my best attention to the most important part of this mom life.

I need most of my attention to proofread and write, but can take a minute here and there to check on my daughter’s progress and to switch laundry from washer to dryer.

Make Time for Quiet Time

Quiet time can be one of the first things we set aside when life gets busy, believing we’ll get to it later, but the day only gets busier.

Some of my quiet time is listening my daily Bible reading on the YouVersion App. I wouldn’t trade all my Bible reading for audio, but while washing dishes or fixing my hair, I can primarily focus on God’s word. And it’s pretty hard to be bitter about chores while listening about the Israelites complaining in the desert. 😉

 

Driving in the car, it’s easy to turn on the radio, but I have a few favorite preachers I find uplifting and convicting, so I listen to recent sermons instead, which helps pass long drives and is great way to hear in-depth teaching of God’s word when I don’t have MARY time in my MARTHA schedule.


Using social media is the death of productivity. It’s a rabbit hole that will suck hours of your life away. If I want to get things done, I have to close tabs on my laptop, silence my phone and turn it screen down.

In fact, multitasking with our devices decreases productivity and even our IQ!

I literally work ON social media, but I have to set strict limits on it during the day or I find myself spending all day reading important articles and viral posts and then I’m commenting on my friends’ statuses. Next thing I know, it’s dinner, and I’m still wearing pajamas.

But if you’re on –

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Know when NOT to multitask!

Trying to complete two tasks that require high levels of mental attention at the same time means doing them both poorly. It takes intentionality to know when I can’t multitask. Sometimes, I have to block everything out and finish something, especially something time-sensitive or important.

The Daniel Tiger-esque rhyme I created is “do one thing until it’s done, then you’ll have more time for fun!”

When I decided to stop making myself crazy doing a little bit of a lot of things and chose to do a couple of things with my best attention, I learned to use intentional multitasking to stay on task, to prioritize my to-do list, know when to multitask & not to.

Now, my daughter gets more undivided attention with lots of stories, hugs, and kisses. Unrushed quality time just feels longer!

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Natalie’s Juice – a fresh take on juice

Natalie's Juice - a fresh take on juice that I feel good taking home to my family.

Between shopping with a 5 year old who thinks she needs to have an opinion on everything I buy (or pass by) and navigating nutritional labels, grocery shopping is more and more challenging these days. I am trying to balance making healthy choices with not allowing a fear of additives and GMOs, etc. to overwhelm me, but it is hard to know what are good choices.

Being a Christian parent my faith is part of everything I do, including grocery shop.

I want to be a good steward of the body God has given me and teach my daughter to do the same.

When I saw a sample table in our path, after an hour of negotiating the commissary with a cranky 5 year old, I was hoping for a little pick-me-up.Natalie's Juice - a fresh take on juice that I feel good taking home to my family. Heaven Not HarvardI was willing to let my daughter try a few sips of a juice and move on, but as I listened to the representative, I got excited about Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice.

Ever wonder why most store bought juice is nothing like fresh-squeezed?

Concentrating juice doesn’t just remove water, it also removes the flavour. After it has been reconstituted, manufacturers add ‘flavour packs’ — cocktails of chemicals which restore ‘natural’ oranginess. 

Doesn’t that sound tasty? 😛

In contrast, Natalie’s was started by a mom who wanted to give her child the healthiest juice possible, just like ME. Okay, so now, I’m listening. Then the representative said those magical words, “No ADDITIVES!” Only the lemonade varieties had any added sugar, but 100% pure cane sugar, not GMO sugar beets.

As my daughter diligently tasted each juice, I picked up a brochure. Natalie’s juice is made from handpicked, non-GMO Florida fruit and fresh-squeezed daily to order (not sitting around on a shelf or in a freezer!) It is also pasteurized at the lowest temperature for the shortest amount of time to make sure the juice retains fresh flavor and vitamins. Natalie’s Juice never has any added flavor packets or chemicals!

The company takes the entire process beyond healthy and delicious to environmentally responsible by making sure every part of their packaging is made in America and is 100% recyclable, while maintaining the smallest carbon footprint in the juice industry.

I was sold, but how does Natalie’s Juice taste?

We squeeze our own often, so I know this is the closest, freshest, and sweetest juice I’ve ever tasted from a store.

All the varieties we tried were delicious: Orange, Orange Pineapple, Honey Tangerine, Grapefruit, Orange Mango, Lemonade, and Strawberry Lemonade. Our favorite was probably the Honey Tangerine (which is made from honey tangerines) because we both like our juice a tad tart, but all were refreshing and crisp.

We found Natalie’s juice delightful. The friendly sales representatives chatted with my enthusiastic daughter, who loved playing taste tester. They even gave me a few samples to take home.

Better still, when I mentioned I was a Christian blogger, they pointed out the ichthys fish symbol on their packaging.  I love supporting responsible, female-owned, small businesses, especially faith-based ones. Win-win-win!

Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company is a home run. But don’t take my word for it – they’ve received many national awards including ones from Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, and Cook’s Country.

And they’ve earned my business. I feel good sharing this juice with my family. I hope you will look for it next time you make the magical journey through the grocery store.

Blueberry Muffin Bread Pudding Recipe

Scrambling to make something great with leftovers? This delicious Blueberry Muffin Bread Pudding recipe solved my crisis with empty plates in record time.

Scrambling to make something great with leftovers? This delicious Blueberry Muffin Bread Pudding recipe solved my crisis with empty plates in record time.

Some days, dragging myself out of bed is hard enough, much less trying to find something more creative than cereal to feed my kiddos. I was really excited when my brainstorm blueberry muffin bread pudding recipe was a hit!

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One morning, I had a rare occurrence – leftover muffins. They had gotten stuck in a container and hidden WAY in the back of the fridge. You know the kind of ‘Tupperware’ that originally had food in it, and you forget what’s really in there? Yeah, we’re that family.

Scrambling to make something great with leftovers? This delicious Blueberry Muffin Bread Pudding recipe solved my crisis with empty plates in record time.I didn’t want them to go to waste, but the nutritional value of just muffins for breakfast was not what I wanted for the kids, and we were running low on just about everything since we had just returned from vacation!

Brainstorm – Blueberry Muffin bread pudding!

I rough chopped the muffins into chunks and put them into a loaf pan. You’ll want to grease your pan if it isn’t a miraculous non-stick pan like mine.

I LOVE my Farberware nonstick!  It rarely needs any greasing. I have used these pans for all sorts of delicate recipes that usually require greasing or even flouring, and the cookies, cakes, etc, just slide right off! Even muffins come right out without greasing, papers, or those silicone muffin cups that are a pain to clean.

For the 7 muffins I had, a loaf pan was perfect, but if you use a larger amount, you might want a 9×9. You want to have the bread be about 1 1/2-2 inches deep in the pan loosely packed.

Ingredients

  • 7 blueberry muffins

  • 4 eggs

  • a cup of milk

  • dash of vanilla.

I whisked the eggs, milk and vanilla together until well mixed and poured over the bread making sure all areas were saturated, and let it rest for 5 minutes to soak up the milk.

Then, I sprinkled cinnamon sugar over the top and baked for 35 minutes at 350. Test with a toothpick, make sure it comes out cleanly.

After letting it cool a bit, I dusted each piece with powdered sugar and a drizzle of organic maple syrup. This made one serving for each medium-sized muffin, although the teenage boys ate two pieces each.

My daughter who is notoriously SLOW to eat breakfast, finished her piece before I even started eating. VICTORY!! I took something that was nutritionally less than ideal, added protein and calcium, and they liked it even better than the muffins alone!

And Mom for the win!

Blueberry muffins into bread pudding for the win! Easy, delicious and a bit more nutritious. Click To Tweet

I am excited to share anything that makes being a Godly mom easier. We’re all trying to balance nutrition, time, value, effort, etc. with all the needs of our spouses and selves. This recipe using leftover blueberry muffins took minutes to prepare; I could sip my coffee and get dressed while it baked, and used up things taking up space in my fridge.

This would also be something you could make using store bought muffins and make into a semi-homemade dish for a brunch. Who doesn’t need more impressive looking recipes that are too easy!?

Celebrating the Days of Summer

On a budget? But want to make the most of your summer? Summers days fly by too quickly. An easy way to make each one special. Heaven Not Harvard

Looking for ways to make summer fun without breaking the bank? Us too, all the time! Even an outing to the movies can cost upwards of $100 with a family of five for all the bells and whistles, never mind the cost of an amusement park or out-of-town vacation.

Our income dropped in half when we moved here and decided I would stay home. We had to find different ways to make the summer days fun for our family without spending a small fortune.

Food seems to be the center of many family celebrations, so when I came across this idea, I knew I’d found a winner. We are celebrating the days of summer! Summers days fly by too quickly. An easy way to make each one special. Heaven Not Harvard

Everyday is a food holiday (see the Nibble’s list here). Yep, everyday. In fact some days are more than one. July 20 is hot dog day, lollipop day, fortune cookie day and ice cream soda day.

While we simply can’t do them all, we certainly are giving it our best shot. So far, we’ve celebrated holidays for strawberry shortcake, fudge, black cows (coke floats), cherry tarts, picnic day, vanilla milkshakes, peaches & cream, onion rings, pecan sandies, strawberry parfait, chocolate pudding, ice cream sodas (which gets celebrated several days a summer in various forms), creative ice cream flavor day (we made banana peanut butter chocolate ice cream from scratch), ginger snaps, chocolate wafers, BBQ ribs, apple turnovers, fried chicken day, strawberry sundaes, chocolate with almonds, pick blueberry day, blueberry muffin day, french fries, and beans&franks day, and tapioca pudding day last night for dessert.

We start the day the boys arrive for the summer and try to celebrate as many as we can. If there is a day that we can’t celebrate like alcoholic beverages or lobster which was not in our budget, we either finish off the leftovers of previous days or pick a day’s celebration that we will miss after they leave.

I usually grocery shop with the week’s holidays in mind, but don’t tell the kids the coming holidays so that they can be surprised each day as we prepare the treat for dessert or dinner.

Looking for ways to make every summer day fun? Try celebrating the "Days" of summer.Blueberry picking day came with an outing to a local orchard. It was hot and sweaty work, but that blueberry pie was so much sweeter when we picked those berries ourselves.

I have found different sites have slightly different lists. Foodimentary’s list is a little different than the Nibble’s, which might vary from another site.

Who cares if these are really real or really official? The fun is in making each treat. We can prep and cook as a family. This sneaky momma teaches cooking, measuring, and kitchen skills while they’re busy having fun.

I try to use a different list every summer for some variety. We have other traditions and summer activities, but celebrating all the days of summer is one way we make summer feel like one long holiday.