Here I Raise My Ebenezer

The Abundant Husband and Wife

Sequoia National Park: General Sherman Tree

“Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come.  And I hope by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.”  Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson

Have you ever sung the song above, and wondered “What on earth is an Ebenezer?”  Well, the word Ebenezer means “Stone of Help” in Hebrew.  It comes from 1 Samuel 7:12, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.'”  An Ebenezer is a monument made of stone(s) “to signify the great help that God granted the one raised the stone.” It is a way for people to “acknowledge God’s bountiful blessings and help in their lives.

When we lived in China from 2007-2009, our director often encouraged us to share the ways in which we had seen God’s help in our lives.  He actually had a real pile of stones in his backyard from all his travels, and each stone had a story.  I preferred writing my stories to share with others.  It is a practice that I continue to this day.  When I am feeling discouraged, I try to remember to raise my Ebenezer.  I hope that you will find inspiration in these five short stories of God’s help from these last 8 months.  If you have never done so, I encourage you to raise your Ebenezer, and remember how God has helped you!

December 4, 2014– Having loved ones on both coasts always makes it difficult to say goodbye. Yesterday, as we walked out of the Sacramento International Airport terminal, the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and a breath-taking double rainbow appeared from one end of the sky to the other. God blessed us with a gorgeous welcome home banner, and the reassurance of his everlasting covenant with us! (Genesis 9:8-17)

On April 28, 2015 I remarked to Brad that I was hoping not to purchase any more groceries during the month of April because we had reached the end of our “Grocery Envelope” for the month. He was hoping for some snack foods at that moment, particularly a bowl of popcorn. On April 29, a friend stopped by the house and unexpectedly handed us two large bags of groceries. We had to laugh when we looked inside and saw two packages of Jiffy Pop Popcorn. God obviously has a sense of humor!

May 19, 2015– Our dryer stopped working more than a month ago. We paid a $50 diagnostic fee to a repairman who told us that it would cost another $150 to repair it. We have been trying to decide whether to repair the dryer, get a new one, or do without it. Tonight some friends were discussing washers and dryers, and one husband asked the group, “Does anyone want a dryer?” I said, “I do!” It had been sitting in their yard for a week. He and his wife brought it over to our house immediately afterward. God is so good.  🙂

June 22, 2015– Our city has a population of 65,000 people. We’re so thankful for the young couple who found Brad’s wallet and its contents in the middle of the road, where they’d been run over by traffic, and then returned them to us immediately. Thank God for Good Samaritans!

July 18, 2015– Today we received a bill in the mail for $197.00 from a simple medical examination for Oliver (we hadn’t reached our deductible yet for 2015). In the same mail we also received a check for $152.70 from the State of Maryland Treasurer’s Office. I filled out a form to claim our Unclaimed Property (from our Homeowner’s Insurance Policy in Maryland) a couple months ago. So the bill, and the means to pay it, came in the mail the same day. God’s timing is perfect.  🙂

How has God been your “Stone of Help”?  How has He helped you?

A Valentine’s Day Dedication to the Man I Love


Brad has been in Colorado all this week for what Young Life calls, “Timeline Training.”  It is a week of continuing education classes at the beautiful Cheyenne Mountain Resort.  With Brad out of the house, I often notice the things I take for granted when he is here.  It’s true, absence often does make the heart grow fonder!  Brad is great at showing love for me in many ways:

  • He is usually the first one out of bed in the morning, so for the last several weeks he’s been bringing my coffee to me while I’m still in bed.
  • Being the first one up means he also gets to two-year-old Evelyn first, changing her and dressing her for the day.
  • Brad will often urge me to forget the dishes if there is something he would like me to do, saying he’ll wash them for me instead.  (I’ve been known to put off doing the dishes just so he’ll make this offer!)
  • Brad handles the vast majority of the laundry around our house, which is a lot when you have three messy little ones, and the youngest is still wearing cloth diapers.  He washes, dries, folds, and puts all the clothes away.  He also makes our homemade laundry detergent.  I always forget what a big job this is until he’s gone.  Last year our dryer was down for months, and I completely forgot about it because he never mentioned it.  He dutifully hung the laundry on the line for months without complaining about it.  It wasn’t until he went on a trip that I realized how urgent the need was!
  • Brad always thanks me for preparing meals, and makes sure that the kids thank me as well.
  • Brad recently decided that our family needed a “Day Away” each month, so in January we went to Lake Tahoe, and in February we went to Yosemite National Park.  He has been very helpful in planning and packing for these days, and in keeping costs to a minimum.
  • Brad takes care of most of our lawn and garden chores, keeping our house looking nice on the outside.
  • Brad usually puts the kids to bed on nights when we don’t have guests.  Lately he’s been reading to the kids from the gospel of Mark, and they love how dramatically he tells it.
  • Since we only have one vehicle, and Brad needs it more often than I do for work, he often asks me if there is anything I need him to do or pick up while he’s out.  He also watches the kids for me sometimes, so that I can get out without taking all three kids with me.
  • He occasionally buys me a card, sends me a funny text message, gives me a flower, or brings home a special  treat “just because.”
  • He is quick to compliment my appearance, and remind me that he finds me irresistible (no matter what I happen to look like at that moment).
  • He encourages me to pursue my interests and hobbies, and to build relationships with others.

I am so thankful for Brad, and I am so proud of him and all that he does.  With every year, he is a better man than the year before.  He is thoughtful and creative, consistent and helpful, funny and loyal.  He loves God, and loves others so well.  I am so blessed to married to a man like him.

Now, it’s your turn!  Who loves you well in your life?  What do they do to show you that they love you?  Who do you love?  How do you show them that you love them?  I hope you each have a lovely Valentine’s Day, and take the time to show someone that you love them today.



“We love because he first loved us.”  1 John 4:19

Our Financial Goals: Paying Off Debt (February 2015)

Our Financial Goals: Paying Off DebtPhoto Credit

Today I met a frugal friend at the park for a play date.  When I came home, I put the kids down for a nap, and then decided to update “The Abundant Wife” for the first time since last June.  I believe the last post before that was in April.

I’m sorry I haven’t written in so long, and left without any explanation.  Frankly, I didn’t know what to say.  We were on reduced salary for almost half of last year.  We weren’t making any progress on our debts.  My frustration with our financial situation was hard on our marriage, and I needed to stop talking about money.  Period.

So I quit.  Lucky for you, I couldn’t figure out how to delete this confounded blog.  😉  I’m somewhat tech savvy, but I couldn’t figure it out.  In the meantime, I focused more on being a “wife,” and less on being “abundant.”  The break has been great for our marriage, and I’m happy to say we’re doing better than ever.

I also began homeschooling our oldest daughter for the first time.  This was a huge jump for me, as someone who did not grow up around homeschooling.  It’s been a difficult transition, but also a good one.  After 6 months, Naomi and I are finally starting to develop some routines that are working for us.

Lately I’ve been getting the itch to write again.  So here I am at my husband’s roll-top desk, sitting cross-legged in a creaky wooden swivel chair, tapping away on my laptop.  My kids are watching Disney shorts on the iPad (a Christmas gift from Grandma) in the next room.

Our finances are looking the best they have in years, causing me to cross my fingers lest some major expense set us back again.  As of today, we owe

  • $1,185 on our last Student Loan (4.5% Interest Rate), and
  • $103,979 on our Mortgage (4.125% Interest Rate),

for a Grand Total of $105,164 in debt.  We have paid off almost $133,000 in 9 years of marriage!  Wahoo!

I cannot tell you how relieved I am to be close to paying off our last loan.  If all goes according to plan (which it almost never does) we will be debt-free in the next 2-3 months!

If you are still following me, thank you for sticking around.  It’s been almost 4 years since I started this blog, and it’s been full of stops and starts.  It’s hard to believe I’ve published 475 posts about living abundantly on less.  Thanks for hanging in there, and cheering us on.



And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Hebrews 12: 1-3

What I’ve Been Up To For The Last 6 Weeks & How My Goals Are Changing

Come Fly With Us!

I looked at the calendar today, and realized that it has been 6 weeks since I last posted to my blog!  I could blame the fact that I substitute-taught for several days in March and April, or the fact that Brad went on a mission trip to Mexico for Spring Break, or even that my computer was so tortuously slow that I began to avoid it completely.

But really, the thing that has been taking up most of my free time is I have been finding ways to help my husband with his youth ministry responsibilities.  And honestly, I’m loving it.  It’s been great for me, great for my husband, great for our marriage, great for our kids, and great for our ministry.  It turns out that I make a pretty good administrative assistant.

I’ve often noted that the things I learn here at The Abundant Wife help me in other areas of my life.  Well, it turns out that these things are helpful to my husband as well.  I created a Twitter account for him, and updated his calendar, photographs, website, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube accounts.  I’ve created Facebook events, Excel documents, researched fundraisers, written recommendations, and helped him create and mail a newsletter.  I’ve sent e-mails, Facebook messages, made phone calls, written thank you notes, and run errands for him.

One of the biggest things that I have done for my husband, is I have made his goals, my goals.  Instead of focusing on the $4599.79 left until we are debt-free, I have been focusing on raising the $13,000 he needs to complete his annual budget.  Instead of substitute-teaching, I began asking what I could do to help him with his job.  Instead of worrying over our loss of income, I got involved in raising the difference.

As of right now, one of the primary ways we are raising the funds we need is through a fundraising website called Razoo.  I have been responsible for creating this fundraiser, and our entire ministry committee has been inviting their friends and family to donate.  I have never asked any of you to support our ministry on this website before, but today I would like you to consider giving to our campaignWe hope to raise the entire $13,000 by June 30, 3 weeks from now.  So far we have raised almost $4,000!  Each donation is tax deductible, and allows us to continue sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the high school students in our area schools.

If you can’t give to our campaign, you can also help us by sharing this post, pinning the image above, sharing the Razoo link, and finally, most importantly, praying for us.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for considering our campaign.  Thank you for putting up with my long breaks from blogging, and thank you for being the world’s best readers.  I couldn’t ask for more!




Our Financial Goals: Paying Off Debt (April 2014)

Our Financial Goals: Paying Off DebtPhoto Credit

This past week, our tax refunds arrived!  I waited a few days for the money to be confirmed by our bank, and then sent all of it to Sallie Mae.  After almost 8 1/2 years of marriage, it is so satisfying to see the end of our student loans in sight!  We began our marriage with $238,000 in debt ($70,000 in 3 student loans, $150,000 in 2 mortgages, and an $18,000 used truck).

As of today, we owe:

  • $4627.85 to Sallie Mae (4.5% Interest Rate)
  • $105,632.03 to Wells Fargo (4.125% Interest Rate)

for a Grand Total of $110, 259.88 in debt. 

So we have paid off $127,740.12 in 8 1/2 years!

Despite all of our success, I have been discouraged by our debt these past few weeks.  I have been weighed down by self-pity and impatience.  I am so tired of spending our present to pay for our past.  After 8 1/2 years of marriage, I want to be DONE with this debt!  Inwardly I stomp by feet and shake my fist angrily, like a small child saying, “I want it NOW!”

Recently however, our family has also been touched by grief of all kinds.  Cancer.  Divorce.  Drugs.  Abuse.  Poverty.  Death.  It can be so hard to spend years struggling to overcome debt.  Yet it is also important to remember to keep our struggle in perspective.  Debt is (often) a struggle of our own making, and one that can (usually) be overcome.  Others are not so lucky.

Today I challenge you to celebrate how far you’ve come in your debt pay-off journey.  Then stop to look at the people around you.  What struggles are they facing, and what battles are they fighting?  Pause to pray for these people, and then see if there isn’t some way you can help to lighten their load.

Celebrating Easter Traditions

When I was growing up in Maryland, Easter traditions included dyeing hard-boiled eggs, Easter baskets, Easter egg hunts at my grandparents’ house, eating my Grandmom’s Chocolate & Butter Cream Easter Eggs, Easter clothing, family photos (usually in front of a giant yellow forsythia bush), and a big meal at my grandparents’ house.  Here in California, we don’t have any family nearby and our kids are still little.  We have not had a lot of luck establishing any Easter traditions yet, but we have tried several different things!

Sometimes we dye eggs (even if it’s a few days after Easter),

Dyeing Easter Eggs

and sometimes I make my Grandmom’s Chocolate & Butter Cream Easter Eggs.  (which are just as amazing as I remember them!)

Grandma's Chocolate & Butter Cream Easter Eggs

Once we had a mini Easter Egg Hunt in our backyard on Saturday,

Backyard Easter Egg Hunt

and another time we participated in our church’s Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday.

Church Easter Egg Hunt

Sometimes I just dress the baby up in bunny ears and take photos.

Baby Easter Bunny

More than our Easter traditions though, what matters most is that we remember what we are celebrating:

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.  Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”  But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.  As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.  “Don’t be alarmed,” he said.  “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him, just as he told you.'”  –Mark 16:1-7

The Bible tells us that there is no greater love than to give your life for your friends (John 15:13).  God loved us so much that he sent his one and only Son Jesus to die for us, while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).  God did this so that everyone who believes in him will not die, but will have eternal life (John 3:16). 

Did you know that Jesus loves you so much that he died to give you life?  When he rose again, he gave us victory over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:57).  Nothing can separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).  If you confess your sins, he forgives them and cleanses you from everything you’ve done wrong (1 John 1:9).  If you would like to invite Jesus into your life, you need only declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved (Romans 10:9). 

This Easter I hope you will reflect on the greatest love story ever told, and the One who paid the debt of your sin when he died on the cross.

Happy Easter!

 How does your family celebrate Easter?  Do you have any Easter traditions?


What We Did Right When We Went $238,000 In Debt

What We Did Right When We Went $238,000 In Debt

I talk a lot about all the things Brad and I did wrong prior to reading Dave Ramsey and Crystal Paine in 2010, but I don’t talk a lot about all of the things we were doing right during those first four years of our marriage.  Despite the fact that we entered our first year of marriage with $70,000 in student loan debt, a new house (with two mortgages) worth $150,000, and a used car loan for $18,000, we were doing a lot of things right.  Now, once you’ve finished laughing at that statement, you can read on!

  • I paid off my car one month before we got married, only two years after I purchased it for $13,000.
  • Brad’s parents covered his first four years of college, and my parents covered a significant portion of my Bachelor’s degree.
  • Brad and I applied for and received a lot of scholarships and financial aid throughout college.
  • I lived with my parents for the 2 1/2 years between college and marriage.  Although I had a long commute, I saved significantly on housing costs.  Brad also lived with his parents for a year, and then for a few more months right before our marriage.  During the summers between semesters in China, we lived with our parents and worked as lifeguards at a summer camp.
  • Brad often supplemented his income with acting at a local dinner theater, coaching soccer, tutoring math students, lifeguarding, and buying and selling items on eBay and Amazon.
  • When Brad and I got married at the end of 2005, we qualified for a house that cost twice as much ($300,000) as the one we bought ($150,000).  We opted to buy a house that we could afford on one income so that if I became pregnant, I could stay home with our kids.
  • Since we only needed one income to support ourselves, for the the first 1 1/2 years of our marriage we put the entirety of our second income into paying for my Master’s degree up front each month, incurring no interest.
  • When we couldn’t sell our house in 2007 for anywhere near what we paid for it, we rented it out.  We’ve been renting it out to the same renters ever since.
  • When we received tax refunds, we used them to pay our mortgage ahead by a month, and then by two months.  This was very helpful in 2010 when we suddenly found ourselves unemployed.
  • While we were in China, we used our tax refunds to pay our loans out a year in advance.  We still incurred interest using this method, but it gave us a year of relief from that debt.
  • We always paid our bills on time, and we never carried a balance on our credit cards.  We paid up front for everything, from large purchases to vacations.
  • We communicated openly with one another and others about our financial situation.  We were always seeking input and sharing with others what we were doing to pay off our debts.
  • From the time we got married, we lived frugally, cooked from scratch, meal-planned, declined cable TV, and set aside as much money as we could to cover our debts.  When Brad wanted to buy a treadmill, he sold his CD collection to pay for it.  I have packed my lunches since I was in the third grade, and we’ve always packed our own food when we travel.  I shopped for household items at Goodwill and yard sales, and often used gift cards for purchases.
  • The $18,000 pick-up truck we bought has been a very reliable vehicle for us.  We’ve had it almost 8 years, and it has only rarely needed maintenance.  I owned 3 different cars prior to our truck, and it’s been the most reliable of the four.
  • We have always chosen to live close to work, saving on fuel expenses.
  • I had a purebred Shetland Sheepdog for 15 years who passed away just after we left for China.  Although I love animals and grew up in a house full of animals, we’ve held off on getting any more pets since then.  Pets (especially large pets) can be very expensive.

Starting off our new marriage by going deeply into debt was not wise, but year after year we have chosen to tackle our debts head-on.  Although it may seem like we have paid off a lot of debt in the last four years, we began with a strong foundation of frugality, hard work, saving, and team work.  Our parents also gave us a great foundation on which to build a debt-free life.  In hindsight we can easily see the mistakes of the past, but it is also good to remember our successes along the way.

Now it’s your turn to brag!  What did you do right when you found yourself in debt?  What choices do you look back on with relief and gratitude?

 (Today I am linking up with Thrifty Thursday…I mean Friday!)

How to Find Encouragement When You Are Discouraged by Debt

How to Find Encouragement When You Are Discouraged By Debt

On March 31, my husband received his monthly paycheck, and it was $510 less than usual.  We were not surprised, as we had been anticipating this hit for awhile, but it still hurts our budget.  We will be on reduced salary for the next several months until we can raise our ministry budget.  That same week we found out that our tax refund would be significantly less than the previous years, and received an unexpected $400 medical bill in the mail for some routine blood work.  When a family member mailed us a $25 Visa gift card in the mail, we had to use it for a long-overdue oil change.  I was disappointed and discouraged as I looked at the numbers and realized that it would be nearly impossible to be debt-free by August as I had hoped.

How can you find encouragement, when the road to debt-freedom can be long and painful?  When you look around you and see all of your friends buying bigger homes, dining out, going to the movies, buying name-brand clothes, and taking expensive vacations it can be hard to stay optimistic.  I won’t lie to you–it’s hard.  The road to debt-freedom is an uphill climb, and you’ll probably want to give up more often than not.  Here are a few ways I find encouragement in the journey:

1. Take Action–When you are at your lowest, turn your frustration into motivation.  In the past 2 weeks I’ve made $118.57 on eBay, $2.38 on Recycling, $21.48 on Amazon, $29.79 on Rewards, and I’ve substitute-taught 5 times for $90-$110/day.  So I’ve made about $672 in the last 2 weeks!

2. Count Your Blessings–Today as we drove by a local church distributing food to the homeless, my kids had a lot of questions.  As I explained to them how sad it is for some people who have no home, no food, and no job, I was reminded how much we have to be grateful for.  I told my children (and myself) that we should always thank Jesus for giving us a place to live, food to eat, and a job we love.

3. Talk About It–You may laugh, but this blog is great therapy for me.  Not everyone has the patience to sit and listen to me share our 4 year road to debt-freedom.  Talking about our struggles and triumphs here helps me to stay accountable, reach out to others, and look for the good in what has been a difficult journey.  Thanks to my blog, I now have random people stop me on the street to tell me about their debts.  It’s so encouraging to me to hear that my words have helped someone else in their journey!

4. Find Some Frugal Friends–One of the things that I loved about my church when I moved here was that our pastor’s family knew more about Dave Ramsey and debt-freedom that I did.  My church is now on their second year of Financial Peace University, and it’s fun to have more and more friends “get it.”  They’ve just recently started a support group for FPU Alumni, so that they can continue to support one another after the class is over.

5. Celebrate Big and Small Accomplishments–As you pay off your debts, keep track of your progress.  Post a chart in a central location, and update the numbers each month.  Set goals for yourself, and then celebrate when you reach them!  When you feel down, remember how far you’ve come from when you first started.  Also imagine how you’ll feel when you accomplish ALL of your goals!

6. Budget for “Fun”–You can try to go for years without spending money on anything fun, but it will just make you miserable.   Eventually you’ll long for the old days when you could binge on whatever you wanted.  So budget for fun.  What makes you happy?  What makes you laugh?  How do you like to relax?  Make sure that you and your spouse both receive a small allowance to splurge on whatever fun you like.  Just this week I used a $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks and $1.56 of my “Fun” money to purchase some contact paper to decorate our bathroom medicine cabinet.  Sprucing up our house always makes my day brighter.

7. Find Spiritual Encouragement–I try to read my Bible and take time to pray every day.  I also like to read books that encourage my faith in Jesus Christ.  It is rare that I do not walk away from my Bible feeling encouraged.  Lately I’ve been working my way through Nehemiah, Esther, and Job.  I love reading about these heroes of the Bible, and I so am inspired  by their examples.  The Bible is also jam-packed with wisdom on the topic of money, so you’ll learn a lot while you’re studying!

I know that the road to debt-freedom is not easy, and may take longer than you want.  I know that you may wish your life looked different, or that you could spend your money differently.  However, when you look back on these years you will  be so glad that you pressed on toward the victory, and achieved your goals!

How do you find encouragement when you are discouraged by debt?

(Today I am linking up with Thrifty Thursday…I mean Wednesday!)

60 Free (or Almost Free) Activities to Do with your Toddler or Preschooler

60 Free (or Almost Free) Activities to Do With Your Toddler or Preschooler {The Abundant Wife}

Do you ever feel like your life is dry and boring because you can’t spend any money on anything?  It can be difficult (especially at first) to think of free activities to entertain your little ones while you’re on the road to debt-freedom.  Well, just because you’re poor, broke, or in-debt-up-to-your-eyeballs doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun!  Here are 60 free (or almost free) activities we have done with our toddlers and preschoolers over the last 4 years:

  1. Play in Dress-Up Clothes
  2. Hammer Nails into Scrap Wood
  3. Make Paper Bag Clothing
  4. Laugh at Yourself
  5. Write Your Kids’ Names with Pancake Batter
  6. Color in Coloring Books
  7. Make Homemade Play-Doh
  8. Organize Art Supplies with Ice Cream Tubs
  9. Wash the Dishes
  10. Fold the Laundry
  11. Play with Legos
  12. Make Leaf Rubbings
  13. Put Multi-Colored Ice Cubes in the Bath Tub
  14. Print Morning & Nighttime To Do Charts
  15. Paste Tissue Paper Leaves on your Windows
  16. Make a Jack-O-Lantern using Construction Paper, Tissue Paper, and Markers
  17. Draw on Butcher Paper
  18. Visit a Museum
  19. Build with Toothpicks and Marshmallows
  20. Go on a Field Trip
  21. Paint Faces
  22. Play with Play-Doh
  23. Go Outside
  24. Make Handprint Flowers
  25. Play in the Sandbox and Water Table
  26. Draw with Sidewalk Chalk
  27. Mix up some DIY Finger Paints
  28. Paint a Thank You Note
  29. Remove the Couch Cushions
  30. Do a Science Experiment
  31. Visit Your Relatives
  32. Play with Animal Magnets
  33. Recycle Plastic Containers
  34. Make Homemade Cards
  35. Make a Gingerbread House
  36. Play Outdoors
  37. Put Glow Sticks in the Bathtub
  38. Assign Age-Appropriate Chores
  39. Play with Found Objects
  40. Make an Oatmeal Container Straw Game
  41. Trace Sidewalk Chalk Outlines
  42. Draw on Hard-Boiled Eggs
  43. Paint an Autumn Tree
  44. Assemble Chocolate Acorns
  45. Make Homemade Pizza
  46. Create a Box-of-Fun
  47. Practice Counting
  48. Play Beauty Salon
  49. Make the Best of a Rainy Day
  50. Play in the Pool, Play House, or Climber
  51. Dig in the Garden
  52. Read a Book
  53. Hang Balloons in a Doorway
  54. Throw a Party
  55. Take a Nap
  56. Put on a Movie
  57. Bake Cookies
  58. Decorate the House
  59. Go on a Stay-cation
  60. Visit the Library

Entertaining your toddler or preschool-aged child need not be expensive, time-consuming, or even well-planned.  Many of the activities listed above were spontaneous, accidental, or planned the same day.  As often as possible, I try to use what I already have on hand so that I don’t have to go out shopping for more supplies.

This list is not exhaustive by any means!  What free (or almost free) activities do you like to do with your toddlers and preschoolers?

14 Ways to Make Easy Money Using Swagbucks

14 Ways to Make Easy Money Using Swagbucks

One of my favorite ways to make easy money is by using Swagbucks.  Today I checked my Swagbucks account, and found out that I have earned 15,873 Swagbucks over the lifetime of my account.  For every 450 Swagbucks I earn, I purchase a $5 Amazon gift card.  So I have earned 35 Amazon gift cards, worth $175 total.  That’s good money for very little work!  I usually use my Swagbucks to purchase birthday and Christmas gifts for my family, and I get free shipping by ordering more than $35 of qualifying merchandise at one time.  You can purchase hundreds of other items with Swagbucks too.  The best part is, it’s incredibly easy to use Swagbucks.  Here are my 14 tips for making easy money:

  1. Make Swagbucks your Default Search Engine–Every time you do a search, you increase your chances of winning Swagbucks!
  2. Download the Swagbucks Tool Bar–The tool bar makes searching with Swagbucks a piece of cake.  I love the “Check for Swag Code” button, and the bubble with my current Swagbucks total.
  3. Shop through Swagbucks–Every time you make a purchase on-line, click through Swagbucks to get to your shopping site.  You will earn a certain amount of Swagbucks per dollar you spend.
  4. Answer the Daily Poll–Answer one question each day for 1 Swagbuck.
  5. Finish the Daily NOSO (No Obligation Special Offer)–Click “skip” through an advertisement or two, enter the captcha, and earn 2 Swagbucks a day.
  6. Invite your friends–You can earn Swagbucks every time a friend you invited earns Swagbucks.
  7. Check for Swag Codes–Use the “Check for Swag Code” button on your Swagbucks toolbar to see if there is a code available.  If there is, enter it in the box at the top of the Swagbucks home page, and earn Swagbucks.  You can also find Swag Codes on their Facebook, Twitter, and Blog page.
  8. Complete Special Offers–Click through Swagbucks to make a purchase from another website, and earn Swagbucks.
  9. Buy Daily Deals–Like completing special offers, earn Swagbucks for puchasing Daily Deals from other websites.
  10. Take Surveys–Answer questions, and earn Swagbucks.
  11. Watch Swagbucks TV–Earn Swagbucks for watching a wide variety of TV options.  If you don’t feel like watching TV, mute it and let it play on you computer or smart phone while you do something else.
  12. Play Games–If you like to play games, play them to earn Swagbucks.
  13. Perform Tasks–You can earn Swagbucks for performing various on-line tasks like searches, categorizing, and completing surveys.
  14. Recycle Used Books & Technology–You can earn Swagbucks by trading in your used books, phones, games, and more.  Books worth at least 600 Swagbucks ship for free.

Once I have downloaded the Swagbucks tool bar, and made Swagbucks my default search engine, I forget about it.  I may do the Daily Poll and daily NOSO for awhile, but mostly I enjoy the residual rewards of searching and friend referrals.

Have you ever used Swagbucks before?  What are your favorite ways to earn Swagbucks?

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