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How to Rock Your Job Like a Boss

how to rock your job like a boss

With over 10 years of experience, I’ve learned how to rock your job and help you stick around for the long haul.

Between high school, college and now I’ve had a number of jobs.  Now, don’t start thinking that I’ve job hopped over the years.  That’s not true.  I typically stick at a job for well over a year, but I sometimes add 1 or 2 jobs on top of my main one.  You see, I don’t like to sit still and I like to make money.  So I’m willing to bust my butt to reach my goals, which I have to say, are mighty big!  

Over the years I’ve seen co-workers come and go.  I’ve seen bosses get agitated with some characteristics of my fellow co-workers. I’ve created a list and I want to share it below with you.  There are certain things that we all know we shouldn’t do on our job – steal, lie to our boss, procrastinate, etc.  But do we know what we should be doing?  What qualities do we need to possess to be a standout employee?  Well, I’m here to help.

I’ve always tried to put my work first.  Now, don’t get me wrong – if my family or friends really need me then I’ll be there in a heartbeat.  But I like to think that my strong work ethic at the office has helped my bosses to be more understanding when I do need to take off.  I also try to not make a habit of it.

A few years ago I was working in a small attorney’s office.  At the time, it was just the attorney and me.  Now, years later, the attorney has expanded well beyond the two-man operation from when I first started.  That has nothing to do with me, other than the fact that I was willing to help out and was honest when I couldn’t take on more.  Anyways… back to my story…

A few years ago, one of my closest friends lost someone very important to them.  Now they never asked me to attend the funeral.  They knew I was working and had school, they also knew the 6 hour round-trip car ride wasn’t going to be easy with everything else going on.  But I knew in my heart that I needed to be there.  This girl meant the world to me and she still does. So I asked my boss if I could have 1 ½ days off.  He asked why and I could tell he was thinking – this isn’t even a family member why should I give it to you.  But I said one thing that really helped – I understand this is short notice, I will work late the next few days to get caught up and I do not expect to be paid for vacation time.  He looked at me and said if it’s that important then you need to be there.  I can manage for a day without you, but be prepared to work when you get back.  So I left.  I drove 3 hours home, went to the funeral, sat by my best friend and was just present.  

At the end of the day, I drove back and showed up to work on time the next day.  I worked my tail off getting caught up and none of my work slacked in the least.  I proved that I was worth having.  But what I never admitted and was hoping that I wouldn’t have to is that I knew in that moment how valuable I was.  I knew that I was replaceable, but I also knew my friend wasn’t.  So I was willing to take that risk, but by being granted a little freedom and understanding, I was willing to prove him that I was worth keeping.  That’s what you have to do.  You have to be willing to give more than you take.

Let’s face it – employers are looking for key characteristics of a good employee.  

If you have a few qualities that’s good, majority then that’s great, but if you have all of them then you are going to be in a golden position to work your way up.  

Here’s what I’ve noticed over the past ten years as the qualities employers are craving for in their employees:

clock

SHOW UP EARLY – I understand rare mornings happen and your alarm doesn’t go off or the baby was sick and you just couldn’t get there on time, but the majority of your mornings you need to show up early.  I’m not talking an hour early, but a few minutes or so.  I know when I get to the office, I have to turn my computer on, get some water and set my purse down.  By getting there a few minutes early, I can take care of all of that without rushing around.  That way when 8:00 am hits you’re already at your desk ready to work.

STAY LATE – If the work isn’t done then be willing to stay a few minutes late.  It won’t happen every day and it will really show your employer you’re committed.  

I had a job once I loved.  It was hard and challenging, but I loved it.  My boss was great, my co-workers were wonderful and I went to work everyday loving what I was doing.  So on the rare occasion a client’s documents weren’t completed or a client needed a late appointment, I was willing to stick around.  I didn’t do it because I was hourly and liked the extra 30 minutes of pay – that wouldn’t be worth it.  I did it because I thoroughly enjoyed what I did and liked helping.  That’s how it should be.  

BE POSITIVE – No one likes Negative Nancy.  Don’t be a naysayer.  There is nothing worse than someone who complains all. the. time.  Stay upbeat and you will notice how easy it is to hit your goals or how much more willing your co-workers will be to help you out.  You never know – you’re day may actually go by faster, too!

Ask for more work – Once you’ve completed your daily, weekly or monthly tasks don’t just sit around on Facebook.  Reach out to get more.  Try to learn as much as you can because you never know when it’ll come in handy.  Plus, if you’re willing to take on more work to help out then that might cut back the nights you have to stay late.  Just a thought…

TAKE THE INITIATIVE – This quality goes with the one above it – asking for more work.  If you see something that needs to be done then do it, even if it’s not your assigned task.  It’ll keep you busy, help the office and you might just prove yourself a bit, too.  Plus, taking the initiative means not putting something off until the last minute.  There is nothing more frustrating than watching a co-worker be assigned a task to complete by the end of the month.  Here we are on the last day of the month and they are just starting the task.  Then you find out that they can’t complete their assignment because they don’t have all the pieces.  If they would have started 3 weeks ago when it was first assigned, then they would have noticed what all they needed and it could have been ordered.  

Here’s another example of taking the initiative.  I had a job once where the receptionist was suppose to clean while she had free time.  If we were extra busy one week then the cleaning would slack because she would have less free time.  So if I went to the bathroom, I would just grab the cleaner and wipe everything down when I was done.  It took less than 2 minutes and the bathroom was clean for the next person.  Plus, it really helped out the girl at the front desk who was swamped with calls and appointments.  She was instantly my best friend because I was willing to help her.  

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GO ABOVE AND BEYOND – again, show them you’re worth it.  I am a huge believer in NOT doing the bare minimum.  If I want my job to last and I want to prove that I’m irreplaceable then I am willing to take on more work, work harder than anyone else and commit to the company.  

In one job I had worked my way up to be the office manager, which meant I was writing everyone’s paycheck, balancing books, paying our payroll taxes, ordering supplies, managing and training the staff.  However, the office needed more.  The staff was behind and we needed help with drafting documents.  So instead of saying, “sorry, that’s not my job anymore.”  I figured out a way to help.  I took the smaller cases aways from the paralegals so they could spend more time on the bigger, more complicated ones.  It was hard and I was stressed some days, but being able to help out was so much more important to me.

BE WILLING TO LEARN – The first thing you have to realize in any job that you take on is that you don’t know everything.  With that in mind, you have to be open.  You have to be willing to try new ways of getting the job done and finding better solutions.

BE WILLING TO TAKE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM – I used to be the first one to become defensive when I just felt like I was going to be criticized.  It’s a hard pill to swallow to find out that the work you did isn’t good enough or right.  It’s rough.  But to grow as a person you have to be willing to take criticism.  Now, I am NOT talking about destructive, down-right mean criticism.  I’m talking about listening and learning from someone that is willing to help you grow.  

One really standout way to take constructive criticism is by taking notes.  In the moment, I may not be thinking clear because I’m trying to still defend why I completed those actions.  So by taking notes then I can process everything on my terms.  Plus, it’ll help me the next the situation comes up because I can refer back to what was suggested to me.  It shows the boss (wo)man that you’re really invested in getting better and are willing to learn.

BE OKAY WITH GRUNT WORK – Let’s go back to the time I cleaned the bathroom to help out.  Now, it wasn’t the only time I helped clean that office nor was it the only job I had that I cleaned at.  I remember working at Office Depot my first few years in college.  I liked it for the most part, but my least favorite task was cleaning the bathrooms.  Disgusting.  But it was a task that rotated between staff members so when it was my turn, I would roll up my sleeves and do the best job I could.  

I knew that job and that task wasn’t forever.  And I also knew that I wasn’t too good to scrub a toilet.  I was not raised to think that something was beneath me, so I gave it my all.  You have to be will to scrub a few toilets (figuratively or literally speaking) to get ahead.  What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.

Startup Stock Photos

BE A TEAM PLAYER – you have to be willing to put the company’s well-being above your own.  Now I’m not suggesting you lie, cheat or steal to help the company, but what I am saying is pitching in to help out.  At my current career (I say career and not job here, because this is what I will be doing for the rest of my life) we have quotas to hit. So, as a team we help each other reach our individual quota. If I’ve hit mine then I ask who needs help and vice versa.  That’s they way it’s suppose to be.  If we each hit our quota then we win individually (a nice little bonus!), but if we help the office reach the overall goal then the office does better, which we will see a benefit from in the long-run.

Like I said earlier, you have to have some of these qualities to be successful at any job.  I used a lot of office-type jobs in my example, but I’ve done most types of jobs.  The only one I haven’t done is food.  Well, I worked at an ice cream shop and snow cone stand one summer, but that’s the closest I’ve come to food.  I’ve worked at several different types of retail stores and office jobs, but they all have one thing in common to be successful.

You can check out my other career tips here

You have to be willing to work hard, show up and get the job done.  This is how your rock your job like a boss!

Buffalo Chicken Manicotti Recipe

stuffed chicken manicotti recipe

O.M.G. This Buffalo Chicken Manicotti has to be one of J and mine favorite meal.

It’s sooo good.  I mean, seriously, it’s that good.  I love pasta and J doesn’t so for me to get my pasta fix I usually have to find a way to add some kick to it.  Then he’ll be happy.

I made a buffalo chicken lasagna roll-up not too long ago and it’s a very similar recipe, just different noodle.  I have to get creative to get pasta!  I’ll have to share that one with you at some point.  I used Simply Gloria’s recipe as a starting point and made my own tweaks to it.  I am not a big fan of having to purchase a ton of ingredients or having to spend too much time in the kitchen.  I actually made the recipe just as Gloria does and it’s delicious.  But this time around, I took a few shortcuts.  It was still just as good and J couldn’t tell the difference.

I am not a big fan of anything spicy, so I usually start out making a normal dish then divide it in 2.  I add buffalo sauce to J’s portion and keep mine as is.  They are both delicious – well J thinks the buffalo chicken manicotti is amazing and I think my regular chicken manicotti is to die for.  So at the end we’re both happy – he gets a kick and I get my carbs!

The other night I went to make some buffalo chicken lasagna, but I of course did not have the right pasta noodles.  I did, however, have some manicotti shells leftover from another dish.  So I had my bright light bulb moment and this recipe was born.

buffalo chicken manicotti

I start by poaching chicken and then shredding it using my KitchenAid mixer with the paddle attachment.  It’s so much easier and faster then trying to shred by hand using two forks.  I usually end up giving up after a few seconds and burn my hands to use my fingers.  So this way, I don’t burn myself and don’t have to have a lot of patience to get the job done.

I purchased jar Alfredo sauce (gasp! I know).  It was a lot easier and quicker to use then having to mess with making my own cream sauce.  I just heated the sauce on the stove and added in a bit more of pepper to taste.

Combine the shredded chicken, cream cheese, and mozzarella.  Once it’s mixed well divide the mixture into two.

buffalo chicken manicotti

In the second bowl add the buffalo sauce and stir well.  If you want the whole recipe to have buffalo sauce then go ahead and keep it all in one bowl.

Cook the manicotti noodles for about 5 minutes because it will finish cooking in the oven.  Drain and set on paper towels to remove any excess water.
buffalo chicken manicotti

This is the fun part!  A little messy, but so fun!  You want to take a spoonful of the chicken mixture and start stuffing into the manicotti shells.  You want to make sure they are stuffed to the brim.  Any excess pasta showing on the inside will just harden in the oven.  Do this with both the regular chicken mixture and the buffalo chicken mixture.
buffalo chicken stuffed manicotti, pan

Take a little of the Alfredo sauce and cover the baking pan.  Lay the stuffed noodles in the pan.  Once they are all placed, take the remaining Alfredo sauce and cover the pasta noodles.  You want to make sure everything is nice and covered to prevent them from hardening in the oven.  Plus the liquid will help the noodles finish cooking while it’s baking.

buffalo chicken manicotti

For the buffalo stuffed ones, I drizzle a little extra buffalo sauce on top before baking.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

buffalo chicken manicotti

Ingredients for stuffed buffalo chicken manicotti:

12 manicotti noodles, cooked and drained
2 chicken breasts, poached and shredded
1/4 cup buffalo sauce (can add more or less to your taste)
1 jar of Alfredo Sauce
1/2 package (4 oz.) package cream cheese, divided
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Directions:

  1. Add manicotti pasta to large pot of boiling water, let cook for 5 minutes and then drain.  Place noodles on paper towels to remove any excess water.
  2. Heat Alfredo sauce on stove on medium heat.
  3. In large mixing bowl, add shredded chicken, cream cheese and mozzarella cheese.  Mix well
  4. Divide chicken mixture in half and place second half in another bowl.  Add buffalo sauce and mix well to combine.
  5. Put a spoonful of Alfredo sauce on bottom of baking pan and spread to cover.
  6. Stuff manicotti noodles with chicken mixture – half with buffalo chicken mixture and the other half with the regular chicken mixture.
  7. Spread remaining Alfredo sauce on top.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Why I’m not a Fan of the Classic Bump Pictures

no to baby bump pictures

I know you’ve seen them on instagram and pinterest.  You know – the bump pictures.  The women who are strategically standing in front of a full length mirror or having someone take a nicely posed image of their bump.  They usually have their hands wrapped around their growing belly to showcase their little one inside.

But… you will not see that baby bump image from me.

I am just no a fan of classic baby bump pictures.  Or any bump pictures.

I just don’t want to see an image of myself.  I know it stems from me being self-conscious about my body, which came way before my pregnancy.  For the longest time I didn’t feel pregnant and I knew I didn’t look it.  Now, with every kick and rib cage jab, I know that I am very much pregnant with an active little boy.  However, I still don’t like looking it.  J can’t understand.  He tries to be supportive.  Telling me I’m pretty and that it’s okay I look pregnant – because I should look pregnant!

This is my time to shine and all I want to do is hide it under flowy tunics and cardigans.

I’m not sure why I’m so self-aware, but I am.  This is part of the reason why I have zero. zip. natta. baby bump pictures.  I’ve even decided against having a maternity photoshoot.  I just don’t want it.  I will never display the pictures and am much more likely to save the money for a newborn shoot instead.  To me, choosing between a maternity session or newborn session of our son is a no-brainer.  I would choose the newborn photos every single time.

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I remember seeing this article where the dad takes the maternity pictures in place of his wife. Why?  Because his wife simply didn’t want to.  I remember thinking to myself this is genius and funny and amazing!  I would be that woman.  I would be the wife that just didn’t want to get in front of a camera and I applauded her for it.  I still do.  Here I am sitting, pregnant belly and all and I still feel the same way about maternity pictures as I did before I even was married and thinking about a family.

Sure, it would be nice to have comparison shots for our (potential) second child.  That way I can see how different I carried our first born to our second (and probably last) born.  In reality, though, I don’t think I care enough to take the bump shot.

You may be thinking to yourself – geez this woman must have gained a ton of weight so far.  And no, that’s not the case.  Yes, I was a bit heavy before the pregnancy, but nothing too crazy and I wasn’t ashamed.  No, I have not gained much weight at all.  The doctor says everything looks good and the baby is normal, so I’ll go with what he says on my weight.  I know I have about 4 months to go, but I’m feeling good (except right now because he has made himself at home digging in my ribs again – thank you baby boy!).

What do you think about maternity shoots or the classic baby bump pictures?  Are you a fan or not?  

crockpot meatballs – only 3 ingredients

3 ingredient crockpot meatballs

For Christmas this year we spent it with J’s family in St. Louis.  We had a blast!  I might have mentioned this before, but luckily my family and J’s family are both easy going.  So we switch holidays each year.  This year was Thanksgiving with mine and Christmas with his.  Next year, we’ll switch.  I love not having to drive across the state on Christmas morning.  It’ll make life so much easier when we have our little boy.

The weekend before Christmas is when we got together with my family.  My cousins came into town and we all headed over to my Grandma’s.  We had a huge, HUGE feast.  Everyone brought at least one dish to contribute, which made it a lot easier.  This year I brought my go-to meatballs.

Whenever we have a family gathering or a get-together with friends I always volunteer to bring meatballs.  I have two reasons for my go-to appetizer. First, they are always, always a hit!  Everyone loves them and they usually disappear within minutes.  Second, they are the easiest appetizer to make.

For Christmas with my family, I of course volunteered to bring meatballs.  I mean, why wouldn’t I bring the best dish there?!  I started them a few hours before we left for Grandma’s and didn’t even have to think about them once while they were cooking.  That’s my kind of dish.

crock pot meatballs, 3 ingredient meatballs

3 ingredient, crockpot meatballs:

1 – 2lb bag of frozen meatballs

1 – 18oz. bottle of BBQ sauce

1 – 18oz. jar of grape jelly

Place all ingredients in the crockpot, stir well to mix and then cover.  Cook on high for 3 hours then switch to the ‘keep warm’ selection for serving.

Like I told you, these crockpot meatballs are the easiest dish to prepare and are a huge crowd pleaser.

I use the KitchenAid 6 quart slow cooker.  It makes cooking a breeze!  I set a timer for how long I want to cook the meatballs and then when time is up and automatically turns to the warm position so nothing overcooks and the meatballs don’t get cold.  It’s perfect.

Three Dogs and a Baby Bump

The other day I was watching one of my favorite movies – 3 Men and a Little Lady.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the first one just as much.  It so sweet – the story of these suave-like men struggling with simple tasks like changing a diaper, feeding and hiding drugs in the baby’s diaper; and yet in the end that baby was exactly what they needed in the lives.  In the second one I just loved when Peter and Sylvia finally got together and they all lived happily ever after.

I have a little funny scenario going on in my life… three dogs and a baby bump.  These dogs just think they rule the house, which in reality they do.  But I haven’t been able to bring myself to tell them that will all change in just a few short months.  At times I feel like they have no idea what’s going on with Mom, especially when they decide to rough house and use the couch as the safe zone until one of them tackles the other.  Then they do something that surprises me – they’re calm.  Each one, in their own way.

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The other night while sitting and watching TV, I was about to fall asleep when Bud came and joined me.  You see, J has let Bud think he controls the seat.  So he wants right in between your legs.  Usually using your leg as a pillow, but that night, Bud did something sweet.  He laid his head on my ever-growing belly and was calm.  We sat like that for an extra long time.  And I just knew that he was listening to his little brother in there.  The baby was calm, Bud was calm and I was able to close my eyes for a bit.

A similar situation happened with Tiny one night while laying in bed.  The baby was moving like crazy and sometimes it was actually hurting – he really likes those ribs!  Tiny came up and put her head on my belly … the baby laid still and settled.  As soon as Tiny got up the baby did a high kick straight into my ribs.  I think he liked having Tiny right there…. at least I did!

merelynne

Maggie, she’s my princess.  My first one and the start to my strange-love to save all dogs.  She cuddles more and has wanted to spend a lot of time in the soon-to-be nursery. I can’t tell if she knows changing is coming or if she doesn’t want to miss any of it.

I’ve been noticing a pattern whenever one of the dogs put their heads on my belly.  Everyone gets calm.  I have a pretty strong feeling this little boy is going to be so loved, not just by me and J, but also by these three crazy dogs of ours.

My Fiverr Experiment

fiverr experiment

Fiverr. Here we go!

Ever wonder how those blogs make so much income every month?  Well I do.  I am trying hard to figure how they make affiliate income, how they are able to get guest posts opportunity and so much more!  So I am going to work really hard this year to make this blog profitable.  Now I don’t want to sell my soul and I don’t want to create so much work for myself that I end up hating blogging, but I am curious how it all works.  I’ve been spending the last month researching and reading so I can learn how it’s done.  I know I need to take baby steps and that’s my plan.

The first experiment I am going to try to start making a little more income is with Fiverr.com.  I have setup my first gig and have started promoting it across my social media.  I also have been reading other blogs about their Fiverr experience and think I am ready to see what I can get from it.

Here is what I plan to do on Fiverr:

Here’s what I can’t do (at least right now):

  • I don’t have a fancy, high-dollar budget to actually spend on promoting my gig either on Fiverr or Facebook, so I will have to wait until some income comes in before that’s a possibility
  • Be too cheesy.  I know a lot of bloggers recommend reaching out to people in your network or social media that could benefit from this, but I just can’t get myself to do that yet.

What ways are you making extra income on the side? I’d love to know!  Write a comment and share!

Crockpot Chicken Fajitas Recipe

crockpot chicken fajitas

Mexican food is my favorite!  J’s too.  So I would be fibbing when I say that we have Mexican food at least 3 times a week.  EEK!  That sounds like a lot, but it’s just so easy to prepare, always a favorite and there are so many different ways you can mix it up.  We have enchiladas, burritos, tacos, fajitas, taco salads – you name it and we’ve probably had it in the past 2 weeks.

Plus, Mexican food is so error-proof that J helps me out with it a lot of nights.  He usually gets off of work about an hour before me, so he can go home and start dinner so that it’s mostly ready by the time I get off.

Have I told you how J and I are really like 80 year olds?  We eat dinner before 6 and are usually in bed by 8:30 each night.  Yep, we’re super fun!

On the nights I have a late meeting or J has a busy day I usually go to my handy-dandy crockpot for dinner.  These chicken fajitas are probably my favorite crockpot recipe right now.  Everytime I make these, they just keep getting better and better! Plus, it takes less than 5 minutes to prep everything in the morning before I run off to work and by the time we get home, dinner is served!
crockpot chicken fajitas
First, chop your onion.  I typically leave mine a little big since J isn’t a crazy onion fan like me.  That way if he wants to remove some then he can.  He still has the onion flavor, just not the hunks.

crockpot chicken fajitas

Next, chop your three bell peppers.  You can use all of one color, a mixture of colors, it’s up to you.  I usually go with what’s cheapest at the grocery store that week.  I’ve made them will all green bell peppers before and they were just as tasty!

crockpot chicken fajitas

Top the veggies with your chicken breasts.  This recipe is so easy going that you can use thawed or frozen chicken breasts.  Whatever you have on hand.  I’ve used both and the recipe always tastes the same.  Once the chicken is in place, sprinkle with your taco seasoning.  You can use store-bought kind (I usually reach for the low sodium kind) or you can make your own taco seasoning.  Check out my recipe for some really great taco seasoning here.

Place your lid on top, no need to stir or add water.  What??! No water?!?! Yep, that’s right!  Do NOT add water to your chicken mix.  Leave it alone.  There will be more than enough liquid from your onion and bell peppers to make this work.

Cook on low for 8 hours and then serve.  I love my KitchenAid slow cooker.  I can set the timer for 8 hours and then it will automatically switch from whatever temperature I have it on to warm until we get home.  That way our food doesn’t overcook or get cold.

ingredients for crockpot chicken fajitas:

1 onion
3 bell peppers
4 chicken breast
1 pack of taco seasoning (low sodium is my favorite)

Chop the onions and bell peppers.  Place in the crockpot.  Place chicken breasts on top and cover with taco seasoning.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Remove chicken and shred*.  Place chicken back in the pepper and onion mixture, stir to combine.  Serve on tortillas or on top of a salad.

*I like to shred my chicken in my Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle attachment.  So much easier then doing it by hand with a fork!

crockpot chicken fajitas

How to do Christmas on a Budget

Christmas on a budget

Christmas always comes quick around here.  I’m always caught off guard and end up running around like a crazy lady trying to get everything done.  Plus, with a baby on the way I really wanted to be conscious of just how much we were spending.  Money can get tight from time-to-time, like I’m sure most families can be.  I wanted this year to be memorable with some surprises, but I didn’t want it to break the bank.  

So I planned ahead.  A few weeks before Thanksgiving I came up with a list of what to get everyone in my family and J’s family, plus I added in my work gifts that we exchange.  Then I decided on a budget per gift, which was really helpful when it came to sticking to it.  Last year and in years past, I just decided on an overall budget for everyone.  But that never seemed to work.  I always ended up going over.  So this year, I went about it a little different.  Each person had their own budget.  If I went over on one then I had to cut from someone else.  It’s rough and cold, but it had to be done.  

I was really frugal with everyone’s budget.  I tried hard to think of gifts that were reasonable and that people would really love.  Then I did a bit of research before assigning their budget.  That way I was educated when it came to creating my overall savings goal.

Then I shopped smart.  I used ebates.com*, which I talked about the other day (check out how I make money shopping).

I enlisted my saved total from my Walmart Savings Catcher, I shopped Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, used free shipping coupon codes and found gift packages that I could use for multiple gifts.

Once I purchased a gift, I immediately updated my spreadsheet.  I kept my Christmas List handy by using Google Sheets, which I love.  I could pull it up anywhere, no matter what device I was using.  I would add what I purchased, highlight the person showing they were done and then entered in the actual amount I spent.  

I went over on my father-in-law’s gift, but luckily my cousin gift exchange present wasn’t as much as I was planning.  So in the end it evened out and no one had to suffer.  But without using a budget-per-person I wouldn’t have been able to see it.  I would have kept spending money like it was coming from a tree and by Christmas-time we would have been hurting.

Also, by using my $70 from my Savings Catcher I was able to cut down a huge portion of our Christmas budget, which really helped us!  We ended up coming in $100 under budget this year!  I was pretty impressed with it.

Here are my top tips for doing Christmas on a budget:

  1. Make a list of everyone you have to shop for – include family, friends, and co-workers.
  2. Give each person their own budget and me strict with the budget you give.
  3. Shop deals like Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  4. Search for Coupon Codes before shopping.  I use Coupon Sherpa on my phone when I’m in store and just Google any other place while shopping online.
  5. Don’t use credit cards to purchase any gifts – use cash!
  6. Take advantage of money saving apps and websites – ebates.com* is my favorite and the Walmart Savings Catcher app.
  7. Create inexpensive gift baskets that really mean a lot.  You can find items for a gift basket that don’t cost too much, but can be really personalized.  The DIY Mommy has some really great gift basket ideas that are super easy and really impressive!
  8. Don’t be afraid to make something.  I did this last year with homemade Christmas ornaments and they went over great.  Check out my tutorial here.  

DIY Christmas photo ornament how to

*referral links.

How I Make Money Shopping Online

 

ebates.com and walmart savings catcher, making money shopping

I don’t like to spend a lot of money.  I guess you could say, I like to save as much money as possible!  Some call it cheap, but I call it being frugal.  I like to make my dollar last, which means I’m not afraid to get down and dirty to save a few.  I’m willing to take the time to find the best deal, submit my receipts for money back, and search out coupons.  Luckily, I have discovered a few things that help me accomplish saving money!

One of my favorite sites to make a little money while I shop is ebates.com*.  I discovered ebates.com after seeing their commercial for like the hundredth time.  I had my laptop near me and I just decided to see what it was all about.  I have to admit I was pretty skeptical at first.  They’re going to send me a money for shopping? Yeah right!  

Then I started using it.  I started small – login before ordering our dog food.  We buy dog food every 2 weeks, so it was pretty consistent total each time.  Then I received a check in the mail for a few dollars.  Hmmm maybe this does work.  

How I Make Money Shopping, ebates.com

So I added a few more – birthday gifts, clothing purchases, more dog food and toys.  This year I even did all of my Christmas shopping online so that added up to be quite a bit.

Now I have a pretty substantial cash back check waiting to be sent.  It sends automatically every few months.  I don’t have to remember to tell ebates.com to send it to me.  It’s usually a nice little bump when it comes in.

This year, I combined ebates.com* with my Savings Catcher Receipt money from walmart.com.  I do most of my grocery shopping at Walmart, so once I’m done and loaded in the car I quickly scan my receipt before pulling away.  I started in February and by Thanksgiving I had a little over $70 saved!  

I asked Walmart to send me my money via an e-gift card and within a few hours it was in my inbox.  

Then I did something crazy – I went to walmart.com through my ebates account.  I purchased $70 worth of Christmas gifts for our family on Black Friday, I received free shipping and used my e-gift card to pay.  I actually made money for not even spending one dollar!  Crazy pants!

Now I’m just sitting back waiting on my packages to arrive and my ebates.com check to come rolling in and it’ll go towards our Christmas Savings for next year.  Boom! That’s how I make money shopping online, pretty easy!

Here are my favorite money saving apps.  Check them out!

*referral links

My Excitement and Fears of Motherhood

excitement and fears of motherhood

It’s getting close.  Soon this little being growing in my belly will be ready to make his debut.  I have about 5 months left of this pregnancy and then I will get to meet my little baby boy.

I am getting more and more excited with each passing day.  The little movements I feel, the changes I see in the mirror (though scary, they are so thrilling!), all of it has been quite a ride.

I have to be honest though, I haven’t been a fan of pregnancy.  It’s been rough these past weeks!  I’m sick almost every day, I’m exhausted constantly, I’m struggling with accepting my changing body, and I had a lot of issues at the beginning that made it more scary than exciting.  

Now that I’m further along, the complications are less but the fear and anxiety is still there.  Here’s what I have running through my mind every. single. day.

Will I be a good mother?  

Will J and I be able to parent and communicate as one?

Will I be enough?

Can I do it all?  Motherhood, Wife, Career-woman, student

Can I control my anger when I’m tired and frustrated?

Will J still look at me like he did when we first met?

Will I be happy with my body even after childbirth?

Then the excitement kicks in and slowly takes away some of my fears of motherhood.

I will love this child more than life itself.

I will show them God’s love.

I will share the world, just as my parents did with me.

I will instill confidence and self-love.

I will not be afraid to ask for help.

I will put their needs, wants and desires above mine.

I will focus on them and give them my attention.

I just have to survive the final weeks before I get to meet this beautiful child.