Category Archives: How To

20 Ways To Make $100 Fast

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Are you looking for quick ways to make a buck?  Well you’re in luck!  I have put together a great list of 20 ways to make $100 fast.  

Now most of these on the list are things I have personally done and can share with you my opinion.  But before you take on any job or sell anything, please do your research.  Make sure it’s from a reputable company or from someone you personally know.  There are too many times people are taken advantage of and you should protect yourself.

Alright, now that my little disclaimer is out of the way let’s dive in.  Here are my 20 ways to make $100 fast:

Sell old phones, laptops and tablets

You can find different online companies, like gazelle.com that offer to buy old electronics (I have never used gazelle before, so please do your research).  You can also sell old phones, computers and such online through craigslist and Facebook swap shops.  A lot of times people are looking for parts and are willing to pay for an older phone.  

Sell old clothes

This is one of my favorite ways to make extra money!  All you have to do is clean out your closet, your husband’s closet and your kids’ closets.  You can sell on Facebook Swap Shops or create an Ebay account to sell.  I have sold older coats that I no longer wear on Ebay before and it’s super easy.  Plus Ebay will give you a few credits each month so you can list quite a few items at no cost.  Now you will pay a processing fee for selling, but it was minimal in my experience.  

Have a Yard Sale

I’ll admit I have a love/hate relationship with Yard Sales.  Here’s why – you can put so much work into them and then end having a dud.  Plus during the summer when it’s so hot, the last thing I want to do is sit outside most of the day.  However, with that being said I still love yard sales.  It forces us to clean out closets, get rid of items we no longer use and then we try to make some money off of them.  You can even come together with another family or with your neighborhood to hose a giant yard sale.  When you offer a multi-family yard sale then you typically end up with more buyers, which means increased number of eyes looking at your items.  If you’re looking for some great tips on how to host a successful yard sale then check out this post from Money Crashers.  

Sell Items You Don’t Use

This goes right along with selling old clothes and having a yard sale.  If you aren’t using something and haven’t used it in a long time then get rid of it.  You could easily make some cash and make more room in your house.  For instance, our old bassinet we had just sitting in our little guy’s room.  We hadn’t used it in months (I’m pretty sure we stopped using it before he was even three months old) and our little guy was over a year old.  We decided it was finally time to sell it.  We made back over half of what we paid for it, which was awesome.  Now we cleared a corner in his nursery for the growing pile of toys.

Volunteer for Overtime

If you work in a service industry type field then you may be able to volunteer for a few hours.  I know in the tax and accounting field a lot of overtime is earned during tax season, which is a great way to make some extra cash.  So just keep you eyes and ears open to see if any extra help is needed.  You can score some brownie points with the boss and make some money too!

Take Part in Your Company’s Customer Referral Program

A lot of workplaces offer a referral program – either refer a new client or a new employee.  This is a great way for you to earn money on the side, just by promoting what you do for a living. 

Offer Baby Sitting

I know a lot of parents are afraid of leaving their children with people they don’t know.  So offer babysitting to people you trust and who trust you.  You can put up flyers around your church or work to offer babysitting a few times each month.  You could make some serious cash!

Start Pet Sitting

Not that I want to compare a child to a pet, but people will do some crazy things to keep their pets comfortable.  Offer to some friends who are planning a vacation to take care of their dogs while they’re away.  More than likely it will be a lot more cost effective then a kennel for your friends and you could earn some money while doing it.

Sell Your Photography Skills

Are you an avid photographer?  Well you could be making money.  If you’re willing to upload your pictures to a site like shutterstock then you could turn your hobby into a side job.  Online photography sites typically offer a way for you to sell good, quality images without much of a startup cost.  

Apply for extra work 

There are so many websites and job boards online that are looking for someone to edit images, grammar check posts, and even ghost write a few posts.  By joining a place like Upwork, you can put together an online resume and then bid on different jobs.  I actually use to write on Upwork quite a bit.  I would put together articles for other finance sites and even created a handout for a gym owner in Australia once.  

Clean Houses

Put together flyers to put around town, at your church or online to offer some cleaning skills.  Cleaning houses could turn into a regular side job that makes some pretty consistent money for you.

Detail Cars

How many people do you know that actually enjoy cleaning their car?  And it’s so hard to find a decent person who can detail a car without overcharging.  Put together a weekend job where you detail cars.  The startup cost is minimal and you can earn some serious money for the time you put 

Create on Fiverr

Can you quickly proofread a short document or have a simple way to create an image?  Well then you could be making some money over at Fiverr.  It’s a cool site that you can sell your services or products for $5.00.  Now you can offer an upcharge for any special add-ons, which is great.  I have personally used Fiverr on several different occassions and always end up with great service.  

Offer Tutoring

If you are profecient in a subject at the local high school or college then you can turn it into a weekend gig.  Offer tutoring to local students on the weekends or one evening a week.

Ghost Writer on a Blog

If you have some writing skills then you can easily turn that into a gig.  A lot of sites that publish articles multiples times a day are always looking for ghost writers.

Offer your Editing Skills

Along with becoming a ghost writer, you can offer your editing skills as an on-going job to websites and bloggers.

Become a Social Media Manager

If you know you’re way around the major social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest then you can easily offer yourself to bloggers and smaller companies.  They are always looking for a strong social media presence, but may not have the budget to hire some in-house full-time.  So offer your services on a small hourly or flat rate fee.

Donate Plasma

If you don’t mind donating blood then you can try your hand at plasma.  There are quite a few places that will actually pay you to donate.  

Give Up Cable

I know this one might be a bit harder to do because you probably have a show (or two) that you love, plus you may be a sports fanactic like my husband.  But if you’re willing to go with out your cable then that could potentially save you MORE than a $100 a month.  There are other services available to help with cutting the cord.  You can get the Amazon Fire Stick (affiliate link), you can try Hulu and Netflix to make sure that you still have some entertainment for the little ones.  We love our Fire Stick and have discovered a ton of great shows – for us and for our little guy for free.

Stop Eating Out for a few weeks

If you find yourself eating out way too often then try taking my No Eating Out Challenge.  You will be surprised by how much you save just by eating at home and taking your lunch with you for a week.

Which ones are you going to try to make $100 fast?  I know we love selling old items online and through yard sales as a quick way to get rid of junk while making money.  

DIY Sharpie Mugs

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What do you do when you have a ridiculous early flight out and need a ride?  You bribe your sister and brother-in-law to take you to the airport.  Well technically I didn’t need to bribe them, but I still wanted to say thanks for getting up super early, driving us to the airport and still making it to work on time.  

Of course, I was trying to stick within our budget especially with our Florida vacation that we were flying out to.  I opted for a simple homemade gift.  I love homemade gifts.  I have made quite a few over the past few months.  Usually I save them for Christmas, but I’ve been known to break out my crafting skills when the occasion calls for it. 

Seriously – I have an addiction to homemade gifts.  

Here are just a few of the others I’ve made over the years.

DIY Front Door Wreath

DIY Ribbon Wreath

DIY Mother’s Day Picture Frame with handprints gift

DIY Father’s Day with Handprints gift

DIY Christmas Picture Ornaments

Let’s get back to this DIY project – making Sharpie mugs that are super easy. 

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All you need is a plain mug and a few sharpies.  The best sharpies are the oil-based Sharpies, but when you don’t have them then you make it work.  You can be as creative or be as basic as you want.  I wanted to keep the message simple – best aunt ever and best uncle ever.  

Once you have the design on your mug, just let it dry for a few hours.  I let mine dry overnight before baking.  After a few hours then you can bake it at 350 for 30 minutes.  

TIP: Put the mug in the cold oven before turning it on.  Once the oven hits 350 degrees then let it bake for 30 minutes.

These mugs should be hand washed (even if using the oil-based Sharpies) to help preserve your design.

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These mugs turned out so cute!  Totally makes up for the early flight, right?  That’s what I was thinking! What thank you gifts are your go-tos?

My Top Productivity Tips

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Mom’s let’s face it the house would fall apart without us managing it.  Right?  I love my husband and he does an amazing job when I work late or have to study or just need a break.  He can cook a great dinner, he does dishes and will even do laundry (although he’s usually too afraid since I’m super picky about my clothes).  He’s awesome.  …. But….

When it comes to knowing what we need to buy at the store, remembering the dogs’ heart worm medicine, pediatrician appointments, when to buy diapers, paying bills, and just overall management that falls to us.  Now, I’m not saying J couldn’t handle managing the house, just like you’re probably thinking your husband could do just find managing your house.  But it’s just easier if we do it.  We don’t have to explain where anything is or how we know when to pay which bill, we just do it.  

With working full-time, branding my own business, studying for the Certified Financial Planner exam, being a full-time Mom, wife and dog mom has taken some serious efficiency.  

And a few times I forget to grab the bottle of milk before heading to the daycare in the morning… oops!

Here are my top productivity tips to stay on top of every detail in your life while making it look effortless. 

Google Calendar

You need a place to organize all of those appointments, reminders and events.  My secret weapon to remembering the dogs’ heart worm pills, changing the water filter for our house, and scheduling appointments is by making an event in our Google Calendar.  You can setup your Google Calendar any way you want, I even created a whole post sharing how our family manages our calendar.  But keep it simple.  Have one calendar for you, one for your husband and one for the family.  Honestly, J probably doesn’t even use his own calendar, but it makes me feel better knowing he has one.  

The personal calendar is just for you.  What reminders do you have each week or month or even each quarter?  Go ahead and write those in and setup an automatic reminder.  In Google you can have an alert emailed to you at your specified time to remind you to do something – that’s how I remember all three dogs’ monthly medicine.  

The family calendar is for everything family or what you need your husband to know.  You can use it for out of town trips with the girls or work conferences, so your family knows you’ll be out of town.  Use it for family doctor appointments and events you need everyone to be aware of.  It’s great when your husband is trying to plan a weekend camping trip with the guys he can quickly look at his phone to see when there is a free weekend.  

No more having to re-plan or move something that’s been on the calendar for weeks. Your communication is now clear.

Google Drive

Google Drive can keep all of your important information.  You can keep your budget and check register in Drive, like my family does.  Which is great on the road because you always have access to your check register so you know exactly how much money you have in your bank account.  

The possibilities are endless with Google Drive.  Here’s how it helps my productivity:

House Projects – we keep a running list of projects we want to work on around the house.  That way if we have a free weekend or a day off work there’s no guessing of what needs to be done.  You can pull up the list and get to work.

Budgeting – I mentioned this above, but it’s my favorite reason to use Google Drive.

Blog Post Ideas – I have a folder where I keep a list of blog ideas that pop in my head.  There is nothing worse than laying in bed dreaming of the perfect new post and convincing yourself you’ll remember it in the morning … and then of course you don’t.  

Meal Planning – we keep a few meal planning recipes in our Google Drive that way when we sit down to create our newest Meal Plan for the next two weeks, we know which meals are winners and worked well for us.

Addresses – I keep an updated address book in our Google Drive for when we need to mail invitations or thank yous to family and friends. 

To-Do List

This one is more of a paper and pen idea, instead of on the computer.  But it really helps to have a giant to-do list you keep with you.  That way when something new pops into your head, you can jot it down and then stay focused on your project at  hand.  I’ve written a post on how I stay on top of it all by having a notebook with me at all times.  It works great!

Wait To Check Emails

The first thing I do in the morning is NOT check my phone.  It’s so easy to get sucked into checking emails, responding, and then heading to Facebook to scroll through everyone else’s lives.  One of the best things you can do in the morning is not check your phone first thing.  Spend some time waking up (without a screen), take a shower, drink coffee and just enjoy the morning silence.  Because we all know the quiet moment each morning doesn’t last very long when you have little ones running around.  Wait until you get the kids off to school or even when you’re at the office, which is what I do.  I always think clearer when I’m more awake and can process things faster.  Keep your productivity up by not getting pulled into the endless email pool – just wait and get ready for the day so you can be on your A game.

Here are my top productivity tips for you.  Simple, right?  But somehow we all need to be reminded of them from time-to-time.  Just keep your day focused by using your energy where you want it most.  For me that’s family, work, and my online business.  I don’t worry myself with too much of the other stuff that doesn’t mean as much.  By setting reminders, having your information at your fingertips and setting boundaries you can be productive with your time and more efficient in your day.

DIY Grandparents’ Day Gift {Personalized Oven Mitts}

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Do you know what is not easy?  Getting a toddler to hold still long enough to put paint on their hands and then take that painted hand to press on an oven mitt.  It’s just not easy!  Don’t get me wrong he loved the part of smearing his hand in the paint, but then he wanted to play with it and not cooperate.  I’m pretty sure I got more paint on me then on the oven mitt or even the plate filled with paint.  

We wanted to create a sweet Mother’s Day gift for my Mom and my Mother-in-law this year.  We were getting ready to leave on our Florida vacation the next day so I wanted something that we could easily create and something that would be easily packed in our already filled car.  

I had been scouring Pinterest for a few ideas and I just love the ones using our little guys hand and feet prints, but I have to admit it was so much easier to get a perfect stamp of his hand or foot when he was just a newborn.  Now at a year old, it’s like wrestling a really strong monkey who makes noises at you and somehow overpowers you.  

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To find these oven mitts I went to the local Big Lots to see what they had.  I had planned to go to Wal-Mart, but Big Lots is so close to our house and I like keeping things simple!  I paid $6.00 for each set, so it was a little over $12.00 with tax.  Next, I dug in my craft bin (which is actually a old tool box) for some green paint and some fabric paint to finish them up.  

These DIY oven mitts were so simple and so easy (minus the toddler making messes).  I made them for Mother’s Day, but you could even make them for Grandparents’ Day or even as a sweet Christmas gift. I just love making homemade gifts – nothing says I love you like taking some time out of your busy schedule to make something.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not super crafty and I am not a perfectionist, which means a lot of my gifts don’t turn out the cutest.  Once our little guy is a bit older I can pawn off the workmanship on him so there will be a good reason as to why the paint is smeared or the something is misspelled.  

Here’s some of my other easy and budget friendly DIY projects:

DIY Sharpie Mugs

DIY Front Door Vine Wreath

DIY Ribbon Wreath

DIY Christmas Photo Ornaments

DIY Father’s Day Gift with Handprints

DIY Mother’s Day or Birthday Gift with Pictures and Handprints

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Funny story – this past Christmas I made a super sweet wall hanging for my Mother In Law.  I took our little guy’s footprints around this nice poem I had typed.  I then framed everything together in this beautiful frame.  After we gave the gift, they were passing it around reading the poem and looking at it.  Someone in the family noticed the poem was about Grandchild’s Hand and the hope for the future…. But I had stamped our son’s FOOTPRINTS on the paper.  What?!?! I don’t even know what I was thinking!  

I remember trying to get his handprint while J held him and he just kept fighting me.  Each attempt was worse than the one before.  The print was smeared or I didn’t get a whole print.  So after what felt like a thousand attempts, I just did his feet.  But it never occurred to me I needed to change the poem!  UGH!

Oh well.  Now I just had to change the poem (which I still haven’t done yet) and the gift will be just fine.  

How To Keep Track of Your Baby’s Milestones On Your Phone

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As a first time mom I wanted to make sure I kept track of all the firsts for our little guy. The first time he rolled over, sat up and stood. I even wanted to get the not-so-fun moments since our little guy was in the NICU I wanted to make sure I tracked his weight and growth. I’ve talked about a newborn baby app I loved. It helped us track when he ate, how much he ate, when he pooped and more. It even had a nifty growth chart so I could track his weight and other measurements.

As a Mom you probably want to be able to keep track of and remember all of those firsts.  First time they roll over, sit up on their own, stand, and their first steps.  However, you don’t want to miss any of those moments.  You take pictures and videos to share with family and friends, but you want to know the date.  The specific date and sometimes time your little one conquered something new.  At least I did.  

If you’re like me then you’re a slacker when it comes to craft projects. You probably dreamed of creating a beautiful baby book filled with pictures, milestones and memories to pass down. But then life happened. You got busy with work, raising your child and managing your home. The pictures and keepsakes are collecting dust in the dresser drawer and you were worried about forgetting those precious memories.

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I bet you don’t want to miss any of those firsts though.  You need something that is at the tip of your fingers, something easy to jot down so you can get right back to being in the moment.  

Here’s what us moms want:

Something quick and easy to use
Something we (more than likely) won’t misplace
Something we can backup for safekeeping

As a first time mom, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing a great new app (which I’m sure exists) or some sort of journal idea, but I couldn’t find anything.  After some trial and error, I figured what works best.  Today, I am going to share with you how to keep track of your baby’s milestones for free on your phone.  

Use Your Memo Feature in Your Phone

That’s it.  Using your memo feature to keep track of baby milestones is the easiest way to remember those important dates.  It’s super simple to use and more than likely you already have your phone with you either taking pictures or video of your baby learning something new.  

 I created a memo called “Milestones” then I pinned it to my home screen on my phone (I have an android so I don’t know if you can pin a memo to your home screen in the iPhone).  That way I can click the memo on my screen and it automatically opens to update.  I keep the listings super simple and to the point.  

Here’s what my listings look like:

Smiled at Mommy 5.16 (meaning May 16, 2016)
Outgrew Preemie clothes 5.1
Rolled from tummy to back 7.11
Sat up on own 9.15
First step without holding on 3.3

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You can even use this memo to keep track of your child’s growth from their wellness visits.  I know some day I will finish (or actually start) his baby book so I want to keep track of his milestones between.  I would be so upset with myself if I forgot when he took his first steps or when he said “Momma” for the first time.  I don’t want to forget any of it, but I know life is crazy and hectic right now.  So even if I tell myself I’ll remember this day, the chances are it will start running together.

Every few weeks or so just email the memo to yourself.  I use google and gmail for just about everything (the calendar feature and as a check register) so by emailing the list to my gmail account I know I will never lose it.  I can search for it by his name and it will pop right up.  I just keep updating myself with the new list every few weeks.

You don’t want to forget these special moments and there is no need to over complicate how to keep track of baby milestones.  What do you use to keep up with all of your little one’s firsts?  Leave me a comment, I love to know!

 

How To Do It All As A Mom

how to do it all as a mom

Ever since I was a little girl I would always fill my plate too full (figuratively, of course – unless we’re talking about cake!). I would take on too much, not sleep, get grumpy and end up sick. This was a pretty regular circle I would put myself through. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better about what I take on. I try not to do too much or over-commitment myself. These days I don’t have time to get sick. I no longer just have to worry about myself. I have a family who needs me. Mommy doesn’t have time to lay in bed for a day to sleep.

I’ve shared how I stay on top of everything before using a handy notebook. My process is still pretty similar, but I have made a few tweaks and my productivity has skyrocketed. Even with being a wife, mom, running a household, working full time and going to school. I get so much done in a day – it’s crazy! My 20 year old self would be jealous.

how to do it all as a mom

Here’s what I do in my notebook:

MASTER TO-DO LIST

I create a master to-do list. Usually it’s just a brain dump. I keep 2-3 (or more) pages blank for my master list. I write down everything – no matter how small or how big, or how expensive it’s going to be. As new projects come into my brain, I write them down. This helps a lot when trying to focus my attention to something specific.

For example, I was trying to study for my Certified Financial Planner exam that is coming up. This always seems to be the time my brain starts thinking of thousands of things to do. I keep my notebook near turned to my master list page and jot down what pops into my mind. I get it out of my brain and then I can stay focused on my task at hand – studying.

RUNNING GROCERY LIST

I have a running grocery list in my notebook. This way if I’m doing my makeup and run out of makeup remover, then I can write it down. Or if I’m out and J texts me he’s going to need more lunch meat for next week – I write it down. I tend to keep my notebook with me wherever I am. If I’m in the kitchen, it’s on the counter. If I’m running errands, it’s in my purse. If I’m at work, it’s on my desk.

I tend to go grocery shopping every two weeks. So I pull out my notebook to see what random items need then I prepare my meal plan and create the big grocery list. I also am a little compulsive and make my grocery list in order of the store, but this is so I can save money and not get distracted.

DAILY TO-DO LIST

The biggest change I’ve made in using a notebook is taking my master-list and breaking it down to a daily list. Having something for each individual day has really helped me get more done. I highly recommend to everyone I talk with to use a daily to-do list. It will help keep you focused and on the right path to reach your big goals.

Each morning once I get to work, the first thing I do is grab my notebook. I add my number one goal to the first line. For me, it’s to workout. I have been trying hard to bump up my workouts and to make it a habit. So that’s what goes down first. Then I look at my work calendar to see what meetings or client tasks I need to get done. Those are listed next. Finally, I look at my master to-do list to see what tasks I can break down.

For example, on my master to-do list I have to create a blog post three times a week for the rest of the month. After all of my work tasks are written I will add one or two personal tasks to my list. My goal of creating new content for the blog is easy to break down. I work on creating the post one day, edit and create images the next, then post. So in two days I can create a new post. Some days it may take more or less time to finish one blog post, but you get the idea.

USE IT EVERY DAY

I get out my notebook every single day. Even on the weekends. This helps keep me focused on my bigger projects. For instance, we’re wanting to replace the baseboards and repaint our entire home. It’s going to be expensive and a big undertaking. But by breaking it down into smaller steps then it’s no so overwhelming.

I don’t plan on painting every room the same color, so one day I may decide which rooms to start in. Then I will pick out the colors and measure the room to determine how much of investment new paint will be.

The next weekend may be pulling off the old baseboards and prepping for paint.

Then we paint the rooms and buy new baseboards.

Next weekend will be painting the baseboards.

The final weekend will be cutting and installing the baseboards.

See how I took a big project and broke it into smaller steps? Seems super simple, but a lot of people get stuck on the big goal and it paralyzes them. They may see paint and install new baseboards and get very overwhelmed. Then it just sits on their to-do list for months. By breaking it down your cost is lowered and the commitment each weekend isn’t too time consuming. It may take 5 weekends to do it all, but that’s okay if it relieves the stress.

My notebook has really helped me get more done without making myself sick or crazy. If I don’t have time to get it all done, no big deal. I turn to the next day’s page and jot down what’s left. I’ve given myself permission to not be perfect, to not get it all done in one day. And that feeling has been amazing and a total game changer.

It only takes 21 Days to Make a Habit

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Did you know a habit can be made (or broken) in only three weeks?

I like to look at the positive side – let’s create a new habit. It’s not because I don’t have bad habits that need to be broken, but I want to encourage improvement and progress. Remember progress, not perfection.

It’s my motto.

What new habit am I going to work on creating? Simple. Being more active. My goal is to do something, anything that is active every day. I’ve been trying to take the little one and one of our dogs on a walk at least three times a week. Then I’ve added a workout DVD or program three times a week. You may be thinking… that’s only 6 days Meredith. You said every day. Well I did. And I am active. Every Wednesday night we have our bowling league. So I bowl 4 games and trust me, by the end of the night I’m exhausted.

I created a habit tracker to keep me motivated and to keep me accountable. I thought I should share it with you! Let’s be honest, we can all use a little motivation to create new habits or break bad ones.

You can get this tracker for free right now, but I may end up taking it down and offering it in my online store once I get it back up. So make sure you take advantage of it now, while it’s free.

Download your free make a habit tracker.

DIY Baby Sensory Bag

DIY Baby sensory bag

I’ve seen these sensory bags all over Facebook and decided it was about time our little guy had one. I of course didn’t want to spend a fortune and I didn’t want to take forever to make one.

I created a quick video tutorial or you can follow along below:

Supplies Needed for your DIY baby sensory bag:

Gallon freezer bag, make sure it’s the freezer one since they are thicker and more durable
Duck Tape
Hair Gel
Colorful Items – I used sequins, pom-poms and foam stickers
Scissors

create a baby sensory bag

All together I spent $5.00 on this project. I went to my local Dollar Tree for everything. I’m thinking the hair gel must be petty decent because I had to search for 2 bottles. They were completely out of stock.   I already had the freezer bag and duck tape, so that helped in my savings.

First, put the gel in the bag.

Then add the colorful pieces. You can as much or as little as you want. I did quite a bit to have different stuff to catch our little one’s eye.

Close the bag and then place your duck tape around all four edges. This just gives the bag some extra toughness to help prevent any leaking,

baby sensory bags

That’s it. You have a DIY baby sensory bag! Our guy loves it. I tried to pick it up to move him into the other room, he gave me a really mad look and held onto the bag with a death grip.

How to Personalize Your Snapcode

Create Your Own Snapcode for Snapchat

I have finally started getting into Snapchat.  I used Snapchat when it first came out and then I stopped.  But I’ve been seeing some of my favorite bloggers use it and I love the behind-the-scenes glimpses in their lives.  So I wanted in on the action and created a new account.  I’m constantly sharing the struggles of having a newborn, working, and being very sleep deprived.  Follow me @meredithines.  

You know, it’s easy to hide yourself and hide behind a blog post.  But to grow your business then you can’t be afraid to stand out. (Tweet that!

Anyway, I had to personalize my own Snapcode to match my blog a bit better and add my username.  It’s super easy and thought I would share it with you.

Step 1

On your computer, login to Snapchat.

Step 2

personalize snapcode

You will see a screen like this one, click My Snapcode.  Then click Download Snapcode.  It will download as a ZIP file containing the PNG and SVG files of your Snapcode.  

In the file there are Snapchat’s Dos and Don’ts of personalizing your Snapecode.  Pay attention to those guidelines, otherwise your code won’t work.

Step 3

Use a photo editor for the next steps.  I like using Pixlr, a fee online editor that is similar to Photoshop.  Open the PNG format.  

Step 4

personalize snapcode

Select the wand tool and select the yellow portion of the image.  Once it’s highlighted, you can change the background to your color choice by using the paint bucket.  I think making it a color you use on your online presence is a good idea.  I use teal in a lot my images, so that’s what I went with.  If you know the color code you would like to use, you can enter it in.

personalize snapcode

Step 5

You can enter your own image under the ghost.  Using the wand tool, select the white portion.  Then click delete.

Step 6
personalize snapcode

Selecting the image you want to use.  Go to Layer > Open image as layer.

Step 7

Move the image under the ghost.  Click on Layer > Move layer down.

Step 8

If you have a portion of the image that sticks out, you can remove it.  Use the lasso tool.  Draw around the part that you want to remove. Once highlighted, hit the delete button.

Step 9

You can add text at this point.  Just don’t cover up the black dots since that’s your code.

Step 10

snapcode

Save your image and you’re done.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope this helps!

Leave me your snapchat name in the comments so I can follow you.  

How To Start Your Own Blog

Note: Some links in this post contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for supporting my blog!

how to start your own blog

 

I’ve been getting asked how did I start my blog, why did I start it and how do I know what to write about. So I thought I would finally sit down and tell you a little bit of back story. Then I thought I would share a step-by-step guide on how to start your own blog – a self-hosted blog that is! It all started back in 2008 when I wanted something more to do because going to school full time and working full time just wasn’t enough. HA!

I started with a DIY blog and I created loads of crafts and recipes. It was going great, I had made some online friends back before Twitter was big and way before Instagram was around. I even hosted a few guest series and was featured as a guest on a few different blogs. I liked writing and sharing, but the thought of coming up with another DIY project on a college girl’s budget was just draining. It started to feel more like a job and less like a fun hobby. I wasn’t making money and it was costing me quite a bit of my going out money.  So I lost interest.

Flash forward 2 years and I was back. I had created a new brand – merelynne.com and jumped in feet first. I decided to not label myself as one specific type of blogger. I had seen some bloggers call themselves a personal lifestyle blogger, so I took the title and ran with it. I would write about what I wanted, when I wanted. I focused on fashion, recipes, DIY projects and just simply sharing what was going on in my world.

Over the years my blog has shifted and I now write about what I’m passionate about – finances, mommy things, and recipes. The blog look has definitely changed over the years too. Today it’s much more simplistic. I’ve learned a lot since I first started over 8 years ago. I think it’s time to share what I’ve learned with you.

When I first started out I was on blogger and it was okay, but I wanted more. I wanted to be able to have plugins that could help me with SEO, social media and just give me more of a customized feel. Blogger wasn’t capable of that at the time. Years ago I made the switch to WordPress and I’ve never looked back.

WordPress is what I’m comfortable with it and what I would recommend to any new blogger. They have plugins, which are tools created to help you. There is a plugin for just about anything and everything. I have one for SEO optimization, social media sharing, spam comment blocker, and many more.

There are other options besides WordPress and Blogger. Another one is Typepad, but I haven’t used it before.

After you decide where you want to be, the next step is choosing a domain name. You want something that describes your blog or you, plus you want something that is easy to remember. My name came from a portion of my first name and my middle name – Meredith Lynne.

Once you have a domain name selected, I would highly recommend purchasing that domain. There are good reasons to purchase your name. First, to make sure no one else has it. Second, to own it. In case it takes off or you decide to make it a business then owning the name is vital. I like the fact I own my name. I don’t have to worry about building this blog for years then realizing my blog name is already taken.

I use Go Daddy to purchase all of my domain names. They have pretty good deals and it’s very easy to use.

I also recommend to all new bloggers to self-host their blog. It sounds complicated – self-hosting, but it’s not. I use Bluehost for my blog and I’ve never had a problem with it. What I love most is their awesome customer service. If I ever have a question they respond quickly with helpful advice. I can even tweet to them and they will respond within minutes typically. It’s rare to find a company with such great customer service, which is part of the reason I’ve been with them for so long. The other reason is the ease of use. Setting up my blog was painless.

In addition, Bluehost offers a free email email address with a hosting package. I can add more emails later if I need to, but I like having one as my contact source for all blog related messages. I have it forwarded to my gmail account, but I can reply as my domain email so it seems more legitimate to businesses that I reach out to for sponsored posts and guest posts.

Also Bluehost gives you a free domain name with your hosting package.  So you can skip using GoDaddy.com and get it all in one stop.  Back when I purchased a domain, it was easier to use Go Daddy for it then Bluehost for the domain.  But now they have made it a lot easier and a one-stop shop, which is so nice!

Setting up a self-hosted blog doesn’t cost as much as you think!

Deal Alert: Bluehost even has a special deal for my readers who are starting out. You can get a killer hosting deal for only $…. It’s a great opportunity and hard to find a hosting service this inexpensive. Since I love a good deal I thought I would pass it on. So if you’re on the fence, it’s time to hop on over and get started. You never know where your blogging dreams can lead you!

I’m hoping they will allow me to keep offering this deal for a long time, but you never know. So don’t miss your chance to save some money!

Please note that Bluehost bills upfront for their hosting services. There is one big reason to pay upfront:

Make sure you don’t come across any issues that can stop your blogging from being set up. When I was first starting out I was on a college girl’s budget and the thought of a one-time expense scared me. So I opted to do the monthly payments. Then a few months in my card expired and I received a new one. I didn’t remember to go into my account and switch the card number. I came way too close to losing all of my hard work. As soon as I realized what I had done I switched to an annual payment and have never looked back.

Once you have your hosting setup it’s time to get started. I’m going to walk you through the steps I took to start this blog. I promise it’s not hard.

How do I know what to write about:

Well as I’ve changed over the years so has my blog. Like I mentioned earlier I used to be a DIY project kind of gal. Now I’ve shifted to talk more about what I’m passionate about. I like to share topics on budgeting and finances, easy-to-prepare recipes, and what being a new mommy is really like. I keep a running list of post ideas on my phone so whenever an idea strikes I can write it down to save it for later. I constantly am circulating through ideas. Some are really good and others never get finished.

When you’re trying to think of what you want to write about remember one thing – It’s your blog, so do what you want! You can literally write about whatever you want: your passion, interests, family, career, anything!

You have to realize that the sky is the limit.  You can grown your blog, your site and your dream to be as big as you want.  Because you are only as big as you dream. (Tweet that!)

Can you make money from blogging?

Yes, yes you can. I don’t share what I do on here, but I’m thinking that’s going to change very soon. I’ve never been very focused on creating an income from this blog, but I know the potential is there and I think I’m finally ready to tap into it. You can join ad networks, affiliate programs, hosts sponsored posts, and so much more. I take part in all of these, but have never really followed through with them until recently. It’s going to be exciting to see where this blog can take me.

How to start a self-hosted blog on Bluehost, a step-by-step guide:

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the post, setting up your blog. Here is an overview of the process.

1. Open a new window or tab in your browser. That way you can keep this guide handy through the whole process.

2. Decide on a blog name. Remember to make it something that describes your blog or describes you. You want it to be easily remembered and easily spelled.

3. Purchase your domain from GoDaddy.com. The first step in purchasing is making sure the domain is available. Then once it is you can buy the domain straight from GoDaddy. I have step-by-step instructions below on this process, too.

4. Get a hosting package – I recommend to all newbie bloggers to go with a company that is well trusted and reasonable priced. I personally use Bluehost and would recommend them to anyone starting out. Don’t forget about the hosting deal you can get by going through my link.

5. Install WordPress with one click. Bluehost actually offers a service to bloggers that allows a one-click install. Within minutes your new website will be up and running on WordPress, which is the best blogging platform in my opinion.

6. Purchase and Install a theme. The theme is the look and feel of your blog. WordPress has free ones you can install to get started, which is what I did for a long time. You can also search for paid themes that are more customizable.

Step-by-step Instructions to Purchase a Domain from GoDaddy.com

1. Go to GoDaddy.com and type your wanted domain name into the search bar.

how to start your own blog
2. If the domain is available you will see, Yes! Your domain is available. You will also be given the opportunity to purchase the .net, .org, .us, and .info domains as well if you want. That’s up to you. Buy I would highly recommend purchasing only the .com version. That is the most common and most recognizable.

3. Click Select, then click Continue to Cart at the top right.

4. Another option you have when purchasing a domain is if you want to make it private or not. It’s an extra fee and it means that if someone is searching for the domain they will not be able to see your contact information. I don’t have mine set to private since I don’t imagine anyone wanting to spam me or offering to purchase my domain name. I would also skip over the Linux Web Hosting and Website Builder options. Bluehost will offer an email to go with your new account, so skip over the email address too.

5. In the cart you will have the option to select the term length for your domain name. I started with 1 year to make sure I was really committed. After the first year you can change it to be longer.

how to start your own blog

6. Make sure the spelling of your domain is correct then proceed to checkout. You will need to create an account and enter your credit card information.

Step-by-step Instructions for Bluehost blog Setup

1. Head on over to Bluehost.com and click the green “get started now” button.
how to start your own blog

2. Bluehost also offers a chance for a domain name as well that is included. You can go with this instead of purchasing one through godaddy.com. I have one here, but I also purchased one through Go Daddy as a forwarding web address to my blog.

3. Enter your account information.
how to start your own blog

4. Choose which hosting package you want. Normally, hosting is offered for 12, 24 and 36 months. The longer the hosting package then the cheaper the per month price is. I personally went with the 12 month package my first time because, again, I wanted to make sure I would commit to this blog. However, it is up to you. There are other package options, but I didn’t select any for myself and I haven’t regretted it.

Side note: backing up your blog is important, but WordPress offers plugins that you can do this with and that is what I would recommend.

5. Enter your payment information and click submit.

how to start your own blog

6. Your account is setup and you can get started installing WordPress. Bluehost has a great service that allows you install WordPress with one-click. It’s amazing!

7. Navigate to your Account Dashboard and look for the “Install WordPress” button.

how to start your own blog

8. Once you have clicked the button you will see the installation screen. Click “Install” to begin installation. You can pay a fee for WordPress Starter, which will get you a theme credit and installation, but that’s up to you. It’s not difficult since you’re starting from scratch and I like to save as much money as I can.

how to start your own blog

9. Select your domain so Bluehost knows where to install WordPress. A warning might pop up about overwriting files, but as long as you don’t have another website you’re good to go.

how to start your own blog

10. Click on “Show Advanced Options.” This will allow you to setup your own username and password for the WordPress install. I would recommend using a different name other than “admin” and a very strong password.

Make sure “Automatically create a new database for this installation” box is checked, unless you have a database you want to use. Read the Terms and Conditions, then click “Install Now.”

how to start your own blog

11. You will see the progress page at this point. Once WordPress is installed it will give you your URL for your new site, your username and password. You will receive an email with the URL and username, so make sure to keep that information.

12. Check your inbox for the confirmation email. In there you will find the admin URL you will need to login to your WordPress. It typically looks like this: http://www.yourblogname.com/wp-admin. Enter your username and password to access your Dashboard. Now you can control everything – write posts, create pages, and start adding plugins.

Installing A Theme to Your Site

There are three types of themes you need to know about: free, premium and custom.

Free Themes: if you’re just starting out and money is tight then free is the way to go. It’s what I did for a long time. WordPress offers many different free themes and you can always upgrade later on.

Premium Blog Themes: premium themes offer a bit more. They typically look nicer and have a lot more features. They typically start at about $80 and can go up from there.

Custom Designed Themes: These are the top offerings. The pricing can range from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. I haven’t been able to pull the trigger on a custom design just yet, but it’s a dream of mine.

There you have it, my tips for starting your very own self-hosted blog. It’s not complicated and once you get going there will be no stopping you. Remember self-hosted and purchasing your domain means you own your site and the content on it. Happy blogging, friends!