Homemade Easter Cards

by

Does your family celebrate Easter?

If so, I’ve got a fun little craft to share and it’s not too late for you to join in the fun with your kiddos!

IMG_2918

Since we don’t live close to any family, it has been very important to me to make conscious efforts to stay connected to our out-of-town relatives. Part of this is including them in our kids’ lives in big ways (trips to see each other) and small (sharing pictures/crafts/etc.). I’m thankful for technology that allows us to send emails with pictures, FaceTime on the phone, and stay connected that way. But sometimes nothing beats a good, old fashioned card in the mail. Add a personal touch (a child’s creativity), and you’ve got something special. Even better – its a Cheap (or Free, if you have the supplies) activity you can do together with your kids!

Step 1:  Buy Envelopes

My first step was to buy envelopes. Last time I did a kid craft that I had planned to mail to family (around Christmas time), I made the craft too large and had to buy special, large envelopes and pay extra for postage. Doh! This time the FIRST thing I did was go to the envelope aisle at the grocery store and find a box of envelopes. I paid $4.50 for a box of 50 envelopes. They’re pastel colors (10 each of 5 different colors), and larger than regular envelopes, but still only require “normal” postage.

Step 2: Raid Your Craft-Supplies

Aside from the envelopes and postage, I didn’t want to pay anything for these crafts so that meant using stuff we already had on-hand. I dug out some crayons and Crayola kid-paint from the girls’ closet (I’ve had these supplies for a long time), then I went to my scrapbooking box (I’ve scrapbooked for years and have a huge supply of card stock) to pick out the papers. I selected solid yellow, green, and purple paper, and pretty Spring-themed paper. Then I was on my way!

Step 3:  Let the Kiddos Get Busy (While YOU get busy, too!)

First, I cut the solid yellow papers into egg-shapes. I stripped my kiddos down to their diapers (learned this one the hard way when the “washable” kid paint stained my girls’ clothes during a previous crafting session) and put big bibs on them. Then I let them sit at the table and offered a variety of options:  various colored paint and crayons. I would’ve loved to use Spring-colored paint (pastels), but the paint we had on-hand was “normal” (red, blue, green), so that would have to do.

IMG_2838 IMG_2832

For the record – I drew the squiggly lines on the eggs. The girls much preferred the paint (though they liked using the crayons as paint-brushes! Perhaps I need to put some “real” paint brushes on the 30 Day Want List??)

While they painted, I cut the Spring-themed card stock down to size so it would fit in my envelopes. It was basically like a half-sheet of card stock (if you fold in half like a hamburger, not a hot dog). I also cut the solid green card stock down to size and cut small slits in the top to mimic the look of “grass.”

Step 4:  Assembly

We had a break while the paint dried on the Easter-eggs (during which time I was giving the girls a bath), then it was their nap time. Perfect time for some adult assembly! I have a mini-glue gun (believe I bought it from Dollar Tree) and I used that to glue the grass onto the card stock. I only glued along the sides and bottom of the grass because I wanted the top to be open, creating a little “pocket” in the grass. With the solid purple card stock, I cut those down (I got 4 purple cards out of each piece of paper) and glued to the back of the Spring card. At this point, things were looking like so…

IMG_2917 IMG_2920

If I were really being meticulous, I would have covered the entire back of the Spring paper so you couldn’t see the grid lines. But by this point I was over it and ain’t nobody got time for that! Plus, this is a card for family, not a fine art project for a grade or some prize. Family is going to love it regardless.

I was trying to play up the “Easter” theme, so instead of writing “Happy” Easter, I wrote “Hoppy” Easter. Har har har. I also added a little personal message to the specific person the card was intended for.

Next I wrote on the “back” side of the eggs (I say “back” in quotations because the girls really ended up painting BOTH sides, so….yeah.) It’s silly and cheesy, but I wanted to think of a saying that had 3 elements:  Something to do with Easter, some type of play on the word “egg” (egg-cellent), and something to do with an easter egg hunt/find/search. I did some brainstorming and the best I could come up with was, “This Easter we hope you’ll find……YOURSELF, having an egg-cellent time!” – Hey, I never claimed to be a poet!

IMG_2921

Then I tucked the egg into the envelope, and voila!

IMG_2918

Step 5:  Add pictures and mail!

Okay, so I guess I lied because I did pay for one additional thing…

I forced coerced the girls into a little “modeling” session while wearing some big bunny ears their Mamaw sent them. I found a coupon code online for printing photos at Walgreens for .15 cents per print, so I printed up enough of these pictures to stuff one in each envelope.

IMG_2872

Clearly I’m no photographer either. But at least I try!

Then I addressed them, added postage, and mailed out!

Easy-peasy and I’m sure our family will love and appreciate the homemade craft and new photo of the girls! We don’t get to see each other nearly enough and they grow FAST at this age! They’ll be two in just a couple of months! (tear!)

So there you have it!

Whether you want to make this as a card to give to family, or just let your kids have some fun crafting, I’m sure it will be a hit!

Have a great weekend!


The Tax Man Taketh

by

Ugh, taxes.  We have never owed before, but this year Uncle Sam held his hand out for about $2,300. It hurt, ya’ll. I can’t say that I didn’t have an inkling that this would happen.  For the last couple of years we have adjusted our withholding so that we would not get a refund at the end of the year.  I’d rather have that money year round than let the government hold on to it interest free for a year. Well, last year I did not figure it correctly and it kind of came back and bit me.  Luckily, we had what we needed to cover it.  It impacted our debt repayment plan a bit but I’m thankful that we had enough in savings to cover it. Hopefully this year I’ll do a better job with my figures!


Lesson Learned

by

Before I get into this post I want to say thank you.  Ya’ll just don’t know how much your thoughts, prayers, and stories have helped me. I can’t say it enough, thank you all!

Ok, onward and upward!

When my husband and I were first married we lived in a teeny tiny apartment.  It couldn’t hold much furniture but the few pieces we did have were hand me downs from various family members. We lived there for a year and then moved into a rent house that was a little bit bigger so, we inherited a few more second hand items.  We always felt like we weren’t really fully functioning adults until we had bought brand new furniture.  I hope you read that in Bob Barker’s voice, cuz that’s how I hear it in my head.  Anyway, a couple of years ago a local furniture store was having a sale and if you qualified you could get 0% financing for a few years. We decided that it would be a good time for us to replace some of the hand me downs that were junkin’ up our house (not really but, we thought newer must be better!).  We had the money in savings but thought it was a great idea to finance the purchase since there would not be any interest. Soooooo, that’s what we did.  We bought new bedroom furniture for the master which consists of a bed, night stands, and a dresser.  We also purchased two new couches and three end tables for our living room. This all added up to about $7,200.

Now, you may be thinking that the point of this post is that financing the furniture was a bad move.  While that is true, my main reason for posting is that the quality of the furniture we acquired more debt for is far inferior to the old furniture we’d been given.

photo

This picture isn’t great, but you can see how the edge of the drawer is kind of splintering.  I’m not sure how else to describe it. The really aggravating part is that we don’t really use the dresser that often.  Most of our clothes that we wear on a daily basis are in our closet. I will never ever buy new furniture again. Did ya’ll know new furniture functions the same as the old stuff?  You sit on it, lay on it, and put stuff in it whether it’s new or not. I’ve learned my lesson.  From now on I will only buy (or maybe find) reused, 100% wood furniture and I can refinish it my dang self if I don’t like how it looks.

So what do ya’ll think?  Anyone ever buy new furniture that they felt was worth the money spent?


Striking Out on Your Own

by

Several years ago, I wrote an article on my personal blog about Striking Out on Your Own. I was forced to start my own business because of my priority in staying home with my children.  I have absolutely no regrets about that decision. BUT…

My natural tendency is not be the #1 when it comes to business, I am much more comfortable as a #2.  I tried explaining this to my twins as they start feeling out what they may want to do with their lives.  It came out a little bit like this…typically, the head of a company is the visionary, has great ideas, is great with networking and people and can influence people.  That’s not how I see myself.  I see myself at the support staff…you give me the idea and I can make it happen.  I am smart, determined and know how to find good resources. I am really not good at social situations and my visionary abilities stop at planning a great vacation.

So with that being said, as I am Exploring Making more Money, I have been looking for ways to streamline what I do so that I can do more.  My business is just me, no subcontractors, no staff, just me.  I do all the work: the marketing, the management, the sales, the customer service, the administration and the actual technical work.  I have been focusing on tracking my work and free time to see if there is anywhere that would be the most economical items to contract out to free me up some.

I know I then have to weigh the benefits and cost of subcontracting versus doing it myself, but this is where my mind is heading right now.  So my question is for you entrepreneurs out there, what tasks have you found to be most effective and efficient to contract out versus doing it yourself?


The Struggle and then Love Steps In

by

I am really struggling.  The sacrifices for this debt free journey are tough. I am so thankful that I am a natural optimist or I think I would just quit and go get that pedicure I really want or even get my eyebrows waxed!  Yes, that is my reality.  We are eaten frozen meals and Ramen to fill in the gaps between our healthy, budget conscious meals.  And I am envious of my little ones regular movie attendance with their dad, even if it is to a cartoon movie.

Ok, I know I sound really whiny, but I miss shopping, new shoes, going out to eat!  I hate having to say ‘no’ to my friends when asked to go do something.  But I do and I will and I am determined. And as I’m feeling really down in the dumps about this…I arrived home to 3 GIANT boxes on my front porch labeled Amazon Prime.

My wonderful friend, without asking, without shaming ordered us a bunch of household stuff….I opened the boxes to tons of toilet paper and toothpaste, soap and detergent, cleaning supplies and shampoo.

You see, my friend used to live on our street and we spent countless hours together. Her kids were always at my house! And as she has worked toward her Yoga Instructor licensing, her kids have spent many a weekend camped out here.  This last time, when they came into town for one of these trainings, I had to break down and ask her for money to take care of her kids.  Not because I wanted to charge her, but because with our $150 a week budget, I just simply did not have the food to feed 3 extra kids for 4 days and her on the meals when she was here…

Of course, she gladly provided money.  But I HATED having to say anything, it completely goes against my nature to ask for help.  I hated showing her just how tight things are, I hated opening myself up to judgment, I hate being vulnerable.

So to come home this past week to this very generous “EASTER” present as she called it, all I could is cry and be so grateful for all the many, many, many blessings I have in my life.  This struggle is HARD, it’s exhausting and it’s really lonely, but she reached out in a practical way to show me that I was not alone and that it will be better.


Top Ten Most Popular Personal Finance Books of All Time

by

note:  this list is not my own, they are according to Amazon’s best sellers of all time.  

Who here can disagree that personal finance is one of the most important skills you can possibly learn?  It’s sad that most people are naturally born with this trait and we know most schools don’t teach this subject.

Like everything in life, you can possibly beat the curve ball with someone to guide you and teach you about the value of holding onto your money, using it to make even more money.  Sometimes your parents are these people, sometimes it is a mentor you have to pay for, or sometimes it comes through in the form of literacy.

With the rise of e-publishing, any one can self publish a book now a days.  So try to stick with these best-selling books by true financial experts.

10.  Secrets of the Millionaire Mind:  Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth, by T. Harv Eker

This is a great book that allows the reader to explore their childhood experiences and figure out if these memories are sabotaging their chance of being wealthy.  It strives to get to the bottom of understanding everyone’s “money blueprint” that is embedded in their heads.

9.  How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free, by Ernie J. Zelinski

This book offers great tips on how to retire early, how to do so without a million dollars in the bank, and how to keep yourself busy and happy each day.

8.  Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill

Simply one of the best personal finance books out there, and I would argue one of the best books ever written.  You can take these principles that are outlined in this book and apply them to so many other facets in your life.

7.  The Magic of Thinking Big, by David Schwartz

This book, really hits home as of late, especially where this blog is concerned.  Schwartz’s idea is that people succeed only if they are optimistic, believe in themselves, find something positive in even the worst failure, and assume they’re going to win.

6.  Smart Money, Smart Kids:  Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money, by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

The book I am currently re-reading.  Does me succeeding even matter, if my kids live the same kind of life I did?  This book is a reminder that nobody is born knowing how to use money properly.

5.  The Truth About Retirement Plans and IRAs, by Ric Edelman

I have to admit, I never read this book.  But if it is in Amazon’s Top Ten Best Selling Personal Finance Books… I am sure to look into it.  In the book Edelman works to make financing one’s retirement as uncomplicated as possible.

4.  Get Rich Carefully, by Jim Cramer

Another book I never read.  Supposedly his reputation for being loud and boisterous is an act, and that this book has a lot of wisdom in it.

3.  The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy

This is one of the books that really left an impact on me after reading it.  The book’s thesis:  every little decision you make in life, even ones that don’t seem like anything, has a compound effect on every other part of your life.

2.  Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki

One of the funnest and easiest to read books that will escalate your financial knowledge tenfold.  He tells the story of two fathers:  his own (highly educated, never made a lot of money) and his friend’s (dropout that is now a millionaire).

1.  The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey

One simple rule Dave Ramsey lives by… don’t borrow money, pay with cash every time.

Did your favorite make the list?


Parents’ Attitudes About Finances & Kids

by

T. Rowe Price Just Released its 6th annual “Parents, Kids & Money Survey.”  For the past three years I have read this survey and I like it because I believe that teaching my kids good money habits is a crucial and important parental responsibility.  And as I look at the results of the survey, I can usually get an understanding of how other parents are handling this situation.

Some of these results really caught my eye and made me ponder:

  1.  Just about half the parents that were surveyed use money to encourage good behavior from their kids.  This is something I am very against, I don’t plan to give our kids money for good grades and I surely won’t use money to try to buy off bad behavior.  These are qualities that are expected in my household.  Same goes for chores.  Now  I totally believe that I should give my children money and teach them the responsibilities that come with said money.  I just haven’t decided on how to go about doing this just yet.  My sister is actually fighting with her son right now, because my parents gave him $50 for straight A’s on his report card.  He expects his mother to pay him $75 for doing so.  My nephew is 10 years old!
  2. Thirty percent of parents raid their kids’ piggy banks.  Wow!  This is simply astounding to me, but maybe I am just reading into all wrong.  Maybe it is more innocent than it sounds – the pizza guy is knocking on the door and you realize you have no cash for a tip.
  3. Sixty One percent of children shop online – including 54 percent via mobile apps.  The immediacy of online shopping is making the world into something totally different.  We already know that our grandparent’s time was for saving, and now this society is all about spending.  But this is turning into a whole new ballgame with mobile apps that tend to prompt spontaneous spending.  Kids definitely think of currency differently than we did growing up due to so many transactions being digital now a days.
  4. 74% of parents admit to being reluctant to talk with their kids about financial topics.  The primary reason was that their didn’t want to have their kids worrying about finances.
  5. More than half of kids expect their parents to pay for most or all of college.
  6. Parents are open to finances being taught in schools:  87% of parents agree that it would be appropriate for kids to learn about financial matters in school.  The fact that it is not, leads me to believe many things.

Now there were much more discussed in the press release.  I suggest reading it and telling me what you all think was important findings in this survey!


Pages:1234567...349