5 Things to Do Before You Go Car Shopping

Sponsored Post: This post is sponsored by Cars.com, but the opinions expressed are my own.

 

Have you bought a new (or new to you) car recently?  What was your experience like?  Let’s face it, buying a car is a big deal!  For most of us, buying a car is the only time (outside of buying a home or getting student loans) that we sign on to spend thousands of dollars at once.  I don’t know about you, but when I spend that kind of money, I want to be prepared and I want the experience to be a pleasant one.

My husband and I bought a car last spring and it was our first time buying from a dealership, getting a car loan, etc.  Always before we would buy decent cars, but ones that would cost just a few thousand dollars that we could pay cash for.  We have reached a point in life though, where we wanted to be able to hop into a car and drive it across the country if we wanted to without worry about its reliability.  Anyway, I have always heard nightmares stories about car shopping and it taking full days and the negotiation process being overwhelming.  I really had no intention of having this kind of experience so I planned in advance.  I took care of several things before we even headed out shopping for a car and that made all the difference in the world and I can honestly say that our car buying experience was a pleasant one.

If you want to have the same kind of experience, here are 5 Things to Do Before You Go Car Shopping:

  1. Determine what kind of car you want.  Honestly, we had no intention of wandering through car lots looking at different cars for days on end.  We have children and frankly, that just doesn’t sound fun to me.  We decided in advance what kind of car we wanted by doing research on reliability, space, fuel economy and whether or not we liked the look of it.  We decided to go with a Camry.
  2. Get pre-approved.  Whether you go through your bank or credit union or another finance company, I cannot tell you enough how important it is to get pre-approved for your vehicle before you even shop for one.  First of all, you want to know you can afford it.  Second, the finance part is a breeze if you walk in with your financing paperwork in hand rather than having the dealership do it for you.  *Always tell the dealership that you have pre-approval and you DO NOT want them to run your credit.  (Car dealers are notorious for putting several hard inquiry hits on your credit report.)
  3. Shop online. Cars.com is an awesome website for car shopping online.  You can search for the year, make and model of the vehicle you are looking for and you can also dictate price and mileage caps.   We ended up finding the car we were going to buy this way.
  4. Negotiate over the phone or email.  Before we ever went to the dealership, I spent a little bit of time on the phone with the salesperson negotiating our price.  I then moved the conversation to text messages so that I had our final number in writing.
  5. Test Drive.  Although we were confident we were going to buy the car we had been negotiating on (2016 Camry), we had still never driven one, so my husband and I both spent time behind the wheel during a test drive so that we knew we liked it before we signed on the dotted line.

 

I really did follow these tips to a T and we were in and out of that dealership within 35 minutes.  The car buying process wasn’t so bad after all.

 

How I Got Rid of My Migraines for Good!

I have been a migraine sufferer for 20+ years.  I was a teenager the first time I experienced the excruciating pain that is a migraine headache and man did it hurt.  It never got better either, as I got older I got them more and more often and more painful all the time.  I have ended up in the ER several times just so I could get through the pain.

Over the years I have had quite a few migraine prescriptions, including all of the common ones.  I used them in nasal spray form and in pills and none of them really helped me.  Yeah, the dulled the pain a little bit, but beyond that, they did not make the pain go away.  I was dealing with 2-3 debilitating migraines weekly.  That meant 3 out of 7 days per week I was stuck laying in bed, not being a good mom or wife. Living with migraines is an awful, awful thing and I honestly would never wish it on my worst enemy.

I tried the pills, I tried chiropractic care, I tried massage, I tried herbs and oils, nothing worked and I began to think that I was never going to find a way to live without the constant migraines.  Then last summer, my husband was at work and having a conversation with a co-worker about the fact that I was sick with a migraine again.  This particular co-worker was an M.D. and suggested that I go gluten-free.  He said he thought that going gluten-free was a fad thing and he didn’t really fall for it until his wife did it and she became migraine-free after several months.  My husband casually mentioned this conversation to me, but I didn’t put much stock in it because I eat healthy (lots of fruits, veggies, lean proteins and whole grain) and I have never had any other celiac disease type symptoms, so I figured no way could I be having an allergy to gluten.

After several more months of non-stop migraines, I decided “what the hell” and I went for it.  What did I have to lose, other than migraines (and maybe a couple of pounds), right?  As crazy as it seems, I chose the week before Thanksgiving to make the switch and while it is taking some getting used to, I am happy to say IT IS WORKING!! Since the week before Thankgiving, I have had 2 Migraines.

  • One migraine was two days after Thanksgiving and I will admit that I slipped up a bit and had a piece of pie, thinking that just a little bit of crust wouldn’t hurt.
  • The second migraine was the morning after my husband had brought me lunch from our favorite hamburger joint.  I happily scarfed the whole thing down without even thinking about the fact that I was eating the bun.  He and I both just chatted away while we were eating.

Other than that, I have had no migraine headaches at all.  For real, I am now 2 months into my gluten-free journey and I can officially call it a success.  I am sure that this will be a lifetime change for me and I am okay with that.  Other than my incessant craving for a brownie, it really isn’t that hard.  Knowing that I will get a migraine from choosing the wrong food keeps me from doing it.

Since this lifestyle is new to me, I am still learning new tricks, new products and new recipes that I will be sure to share with you!

Online Side Hustles, Surveys and Other Money Making Ideas!

A long, long time ago when I very first started this little blog, I wrote an article on how to make money online.  Well, my life and experiences have changed drastically since then and I have a lot more to say on the subject!

Have you ever wondered if there are legitimate ways to earn money online?  I know that there are countless “make money now” scams online, but did you know that there are legit and honest ways to earn extra cash online.  Some of us even make a full time living doing it!  I know from personal experience because for the last 4 years I have made a full time living while working online.

My first experience earning any money online was with survey companies.  Yes, there really are ways to get paid for surveys!  Here are just a few of the legitimate companies that I have done work for:

Surveys are a great way to earn a couple of dollars here or there and even get free products!

While staying busy with surveys I decided I wanted to help my family out even more so I began looking for ways to earn real income and I stumbled onto Textbroker.  Textbroker is a great place to get a start on an online copywriting career.  They pay anywhere from $0.01 to $0.05 per word depending on your writing skill.  You will not get rich from this, but the more you work and the better you perform, the more you can earn.

There are other freelancing sites similar to Textbroker that offer great, higher paid work, but it will involve higher quality, so be prepared to work for real!

  • Freelancer.com
  • Odesk.com
  • Fiverr (You may think that Fiverr is a no-go because it only pays $5 per job, but the truth is, you can easily raise the price of these jobs by adding in extras.  I have met several people who have made $30k+ per year selling on fiverr, plus you can do almost anything on that website.  Awesome for creative minds.)

 

Swagbucks is a great place to go to earn “swagbucks” which can then be converted to gift cards.  I have used Swagbucks to pay for all of Christmas before.  So, no, you won’t make a full time living here, but you can easily make $10-$50 per month that can be used on household necessities, Christmas and Birthday funds, etc.

If you have lots of stuff to get rid of, or if you are an expert at snagging a good deal, you can sell your goods on Amazon or eBay.  Selling isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I have made several hundred dollars selling my old clothes on Ebay before.

Here are some books that will help if you want to be an online seller:

The Big Book of eBay: How Start an eBay Business, and Make Money Selling Online

eBay For Dummies

If you are handy or creative, Etsy is the place to go to sell those types of items.  Here are some books that will help you get started:

Okay, here are the big ones though.  For the last several years I have earned a full-time income online by being a blogger and Virtual Assistant.  I personally do most of my VA work, creating content for other, bigger bloggers.  I got started in an unconventional way as I started a small coupon blog and got noticed from some bigger bloggers who then offered me work helping them.  It has grown from there so now I create content (articles, printables, roundups) and I offer social media management to companies and bloggers alike.  In order to grow my business though, I read several books and have taken several trainings.

Here are a couple books that I highly recommend:

The Bootstrap VA (Seriously the BEST book I read regarding becoming a VA)

Becoming a VA: The Key to Unlocking the Virtual Assistance Industry

Virtual Assistant: Take a Leap of Faith And Start a Virtual Assistant Business (Your Guide to Establishing a Successful Business As a Virtual Assistant)

Here are a couple of courses that I have taken:

Rocking VA Course (Sadie and David are experts at this….I know Sadie has acknowledged making six figures last year and she knows what she is talking about)  I highly recommend this course.  It does cost just shy of $300, but once you have the extra money, it is worth it.

Rock Your Pinterest Course.  This one is free and offered by the same people that offer the Rocking VA Course.  It helps you become a Pinterest Pro which gives you the ability to offer it as a service.

I haven’t taken this one yet, but I have heard good things and I just signed up myself.  It’s free!

Work at Home School

 

Also, there is always money in starting your own blog.  That being said, too many people though start a blog thinking it’s easy money, it is not.  You can make a lot of money, but it requires a lot of work and time.  But boy can it pay off!

First, you need to get yourself a domain name and hosting.  Here are a couple of companies that you can go through…

Domains:

GoDaddy

Hosting:

GoDaddy

BlueHost

 

 

 

 

Daily Burn Update…

(nope, that’s not me either 😉 )

Okay, time to fess up.  I tried.  I really did.  I genuinely wanted to like Daily Burn, but the fact of the matter is, I simply do not like working out in my living room trying to follow along with a personal trainer online.  The older I get, the less coordinated I get it seems which may affect how much I enjoyed this workout plan.  I always felt like I was off time with the fitness folks on the screen.

One thing that did happen though is that doing Daily Burn for a week (wow, a whole week?!), did get me into workout mode and I have been doing 20+ minute elliptical workouts every day with the exception of Sunday which I took off for a basketball tournament for our daughter.

So, if you like dancing around and you enjoy working out in your home, Daily Burn may be just the thing for you!! (Especially since you can get 90 days free from Groupon right now)

Daily Burn, Day 2 Review

Did you check out my day 1 review of Daily Burn?  I’m making it a goal to blog about this every single day and make this fitness program work.  I’m only on day 2, but so far it is working.  I am able to work out with my toddler in the same room and I have felt great 2 days in a row now.

If you are wondering what the workouts are like.  Here’s my review of my second day of workouts:

Daily Burn Day Two:

So, I didn’t spend enough time looking around at all of the fitness programs they have available.  I just clicked on the “other workouts you may like” section.  Since I am only 2 days in and obviously still out of shape I am going for the shorter workouts to start with.  I chose DB15 MMA without realizing that it had a workout level of Hard.  Boy was it!  I actually sat out for about 2 of the 15 minutes because I was hurting (my feet aren’t used to so much work!).   That all being said, it was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it again when I am in better shape.

Because I forgot to do it yesterday, I will be taking measurements and weight today to see if and when I start seeing some progress.  I will keep you all posted.

Daily Burn, Day 1 Review

Okay, Y’all.  It’s time to get real!  I am also 2 years postpartum and I need to lose this baby weight.  I have been carrying it around with me for far too long, plus hubby said he is going to take me on a cruise this Fall!! It’s time to get swimsuit ready!

Do you see that girl in the photo above? That’s me.  Okay, it’s not me at all, it’s just a stock photo, but her expression while looking at the scale is the same expression I get when looking at my scale.  Anyway…I’m ready to start getting a smile on my face when stepping on the scale again!

Here’s the thing though.  I have a toddler at home which makes working out hard.  Plus, I live in the good old Pacific Northwest which means lots of rain.  I can’t just stick him in the stroller and go for a walk.  Additionally, I live in a rural community which means the closest gym is 20 minutes away, which is fine, but it doesn’t have a daycare.   So,   decided to sign up for a free Daily Burn Membership (I took advantage of this free 60 day membership via Groupon) to see if working out at home would be an option for me.  I have decided to share with you, my readers, my experience with Daily Burn as it happens so that if it is working for me, maybe it can work for you!

Let’s get started:

Daily Burn Day One:

I’m out of shape, I admit it.  No shame here (okay, there’s a little shame, but I am trying to own it).  For the first little while, I am choosing just Easy Workouts so that I don’t get discouraged.  For day one, I chose DB15 Let’s MOVE.  It was a shorter workout (15 minutes) and honestly, it was fun!  I got sweaty, my muscles hurt in a couple parts, but it was a fun little dancing workout that I wouldn’t mind doing again!  Lot’s of fun musical themed workouts (she even added a Kid n Play workout in the mix).

I’m only one day in, but I love it.

Please follow along (or join in) on my Daily Burn journey!  I would love the company.

 

My Struggle with Post Partum Depression

You may recall about 2 years ago, I announced that I was going to be having a baby.  Well, I had a beautiful baby boy about 18 months ago and my life has never been the same.  Truth be told, he is my third child.  I knew how much I was going to love him, I knew how much work he was going to be and I knew that we had a new family dynamic that was about to take place.  What I didn’t know though, is how sad I was going to be.  Like not-get-out-of-bed-for-2-days-straight sad and crying all the time sad.

We Kinda Guessed

At around month 3 my husband and I had a long conversation about it and came to the assumption that I had Postpartum Depression.  At this point, I did nothing about it, other than try to relax.  I let my hubby and kids take over most of the household duties that I typically handle, but even with less stress I honestly wasn’t getting any better.  I had a fear of talking to the doctor about it because I was scared.  I had never really dealt with mental illness as it pertains to me before and I just didn’t want to acknowledge that I did, in fact, have depression.

I had other symptoms besides sadness too:

  • forgetfulness
  • lack of drive
  • lack of focus
  • no desire to work or be productive at all

The Doc Confirmed It

Well, at about 5 months in, I still cried all the time.  I got out of bed more often, but rarely felt motivated to shower or do any activities and my husband and I decided that it was time to see the doctor.  Once I went to my regular family doctor she confirmed that I did, in fact, have Postpartum Depression.  She gave me some pamphlets and prescribed me some medication then sent me on my way.  Truth be told the medication wasn’t my favorite, but it did help with one thing.  I cried much less often.  I wasn’t happy per se, but I had fewer tears so I was thankful for that.  I really was tired of my poor children and husband seeing me cry all the time.

I am thankful for the medication that I had during those few months because I genuinely feel like they helped me to some degree.  They didn’t cure me, but they helped me get through for a bit.

What Next?

I stayed on the medicine for a couple of months and then for various reasons, I decided to stop taking it.  Before you ask, yes, I did it under my doctor’s watch.  Antidepressants are scary, I followed all of their rules to the T.  Once I stopped taking the medicine I found myself laughing a couple of times.  Like real laughing, that I hadn’t done in a year or more.  It was wonderful.  I was also ready to get out more.  My husband took me on a couple of hikes (my favorite thing) and even surprised me with several beach trips now that he knew I wouldn’t nix the idea.  It was glorious.  All of that said, I did still have depressive episodes that brought me down more often than I would have liked, but I have powered through and I am getting better each and every day.

The tools that I have found that have helped me the most are:

  • Exercise
  • Sunshine
  • Vitamins
  • Family time
  • Healthy Diet (even when I wanted to eat chocolate cake morning, noon and night)
  • Lots of water

Speak Out

Even with all of the talk about mental health and the public’s desire to see it brought to light more often, there seems to be a major stigma surrounding Postpartum Depression.  Once I came to terms with what was wrong with me, I started speaking about it a lot.  In fact, I made it social media public (this photo and partial quote is from my Instagram account) and you know what?  I felt immediately better.  There is no shame in having Postpartum Depression.  Just like there is no shame in having regular depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or any of the other many mental health disorders.  Feeling free enough to talk about it and to get help will make all of the difference in the world when it comes to your treatment.

I think that there are great medical tools available to us for improvement in mental health (of course, more improvements can be made), but first and foremost, this stigma that is out there about mental health disorders needs to go away.  I was afraid to mention my postpartum because I had seen so many scary things in the news that I figured people would think that I wanted to hurt my baby or myself.  It wasn’t like that at all, I was just very very sad.  But because of these fears, I was hesitant to talk about my situation with anyone.  Had this stigma not been out there, I am sure I would have gotten help sooner.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Are you tired of all things pumpkin yet?  I’m not!  It is still October after all.  The thing is though, I also really like chocolate so I can never decide which dessert to go with.  So, why not both?  I decided to whip together these Pumpkin Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins and boy was it easy!

It takes just 3 ingredients!

 

I used just a box of chocolate cake mix, canned pumpkin and chocolate chips.  Yep, not kidding.  That is it!

Mix the three ingredients together, the mixture will be creamy, but thick.  Spoon into muffin or cupcake tins and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  The mixture, again will be very thick, so if you are looking for a pretty muffin, you will need to smooth out the tops of the muffins before baking.  Me personally, I don’t care what my cupcakes look like, I just want them yummy!

Here’s what you need:

  • A box of chocolate cake mix
  • One can of pumpkin
  • Chocolate Chips (I used half a bag, but feel free to use the whole thing…go hog wild!)

As you can see, I enjoyed my muffin right away and it was delicious!  Full of ooey, gooey, chocolatey goodness!

Ozeri INSTAVAC Nesting Food Storage Container Set Review

Are you looking for a way to keep your extra food lasting as long as possible?  As a family who has wasted far too much money in food that has gone to waste, I am always looking for ways to make my food last as long as possible before I toss it.

I got this Ozeri InstaVac Food Storage Set a while back and my initial reaction was that the set I got is a little bulky for my taste.  I cannot find a good space to store it in my kitchen, but to be fair I have a very small kitchen (soon to change as we are getting a new house!!), I actually have loved what it has done for my food.  I made a salad last week and ended up with lots extra, so I put it into one of these Ozeri bowls and oh my goodness, 2 days later it was still crisp.

The size of this set notwithstanding, I actually have loved what it has done for my food.  I made a salad last week and ended up with lots extra, so I put it into one of these Ozeri bowls and oh my goodness, 2 days later it was still crisp.  This has worked out so much better than those cheap sets I have been buying at the dollar store and Walmart.

 

Disclaimer: Okay, here’s the deal:  I was provided with this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion.  All opinions, thoughts and reviews located herein are mine and mine alone and were not influenced at all by the company or its affiliates.

Mystery Tackle Box! The Perfect Gift for a Fisherman!

Oh my goodness you guys!! I saw this info this morning and I am about to freak out.  See, my brother in law is a huge fan of fishing and I am always at a loss as to what to get him when it comes to birthday and Christmas gifts, but I love this Mystery Tackle Box Idea and I think I might have found his next gift!

Mystery Tackle Box is the #1 fishing tackle subscription service offering anglers and fishing enthusiasts a fun and affordable way to discover new fishing lures, learn new techniques and catch more fish! If you, or someone you love, enjoys fishing, get them a Mystery Tackle Box Subscription today. You’ll enjoy a monthly box full of new and innovative fishing lures and products, content on how to use everything, plus stickers and special offers. Visit MTBFISH.COM to learn more!
My Readers Get $10.00 Off Your First Mystery Tackle Box – New Subscribers can enjoy $10.00 off their first box of Mystery Tackle Box fishing tackle subscription by using the promo code USFAM10. Get a box full of new fishing products delivered straight to your door. Subscriptions start at $15 per month. Coupon valid through December 31st, 2017.