So I fell off the face of the Earth on this series for a little while and yes it was because I 'fell off the Keto wagon' but I'm back. If you're reading consistently on the blog you will have likely read the "Comfort Eating" post a few weeks ago and I was just not able to consistently keep myself on track for a while after than, on any plan, not just Keto. Life got a little stressful but I've been working on finding ways to manage my stress more efficiently and am hopeful that my stress level won't be an excuse to ignore my health goals in the coming months. Not hopeful, determined. That is a much better mindset I think. I am determined that I will remain on track towards reaching my goals despite stressful situations that might arise. I've been back low carb for two weeks and Keto for a little over a week and have lost the weight I put back on -at the highest was 7 pounds- as well as 1 additional pound. I also lost an additional 0.4 inches off my chest (I had gained 1 inch as of last week but lost it plus 0.4 inches this week) and 0.2 inches off my waist somehow, not that I'm complaining!.
My favorite food the last two weeks while I've been getting back on track has been my keto pancakes that I'm sure anyone who follows me on Instagram has seen posted several times lately. They're so good and I'll likely end up doing breakfast for dinner with a few of them paired with scrambled cheesy eggs. A quick meal as I keep a stock of pre-made pancakes in my freezer as part of the meal prep process but still super tasty and filling.
I haven't had that many cravings this week but I did want a couple of carb-y things earlier in the week when I made the transition to keto from low carb. I wanted tomato soup and a (gluten free) grilled cheese when it was cold and wet outside and I wasn't feeling all that great. I expect that one was more of a comforting memory trying to come back into my life- habits are hard to break! The second was ice cream, because ice cream haha. I'm not sure why this one came about but it coincided with some insomnia so that may be related.
I'm thinking that keeping track of how well my weight loss correlates with what's going on in my life might be useful so I'm adding a scaled list of items that may affect or be affected by my diet. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest...
Compliance/Remaining "Keto": 9
Next update I may add a few sample days of menus as well but I'm not sure what would be the most helpful. Let me know please. Are you guys interested in meal plans or meal prep posts and videos?
Until next time,
I'm back again to tell you about another money-saving (or in this case, earning) app so that you can be sure it is legitimate- and decide if its worth your valuable time- before you download and try it yourself. This time I tried out the app CoinOut which seemed too good to be true from the description. They claim that you can get money for your receipts with no minimum payout and no gimmicks.
While I went into it thinking it was going to be an epic disappointment I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were exactly as they presented themselves. A quick, bulleted run-down of what they offer and my experience with each:
All in all this app appears to be all its representing itself to be and is one I'm going to be keeping on my phone and uploading to when I upload my ibotta and ReceiptPal receipts every few days for sure. It took me less time to earn money on this one than it has ReceiptPal or ReceiptHog (review of this app is still in progress) and the cash out process was super simple so its got my vote for 'work' during CSI or on a lunch break.
On to the walk through!
Once you open the app you will see this simple green screen. Clicking the orange "SCAN" button takes you to the photo on the right where you will align the receipt and scan it into the app. Its really as simple as that.
Again, sorry for blocking info but this store is around the corner from my place so blocked out the address and phone number get. *shrug* But yeah, $0.02 went into my account for this Wendy's receipt or a few dollars.
I already showed you what happens when you click on a badge above when discussing them so I won't show you again but I will show you the row of icons above it. Those stores open for you to shop and get coins for shopping there as well. I haven't had opportunity or need to shop online really but I will try out this feature in the future.
The last 2 screen grabs wrap ups this walk-through. Its a where you go when you hit the "Savings" or "Share & Earn" buttons. Savings is a list of suggested investment apps and savings accounts to deposit your money in. You can transfer it anywhere but they are giving you options if you want somewhere new. The Share & Earn area is their referral page. Currently you get $0.50 for referring someone who joins CoinOut.
Speaking of referrals, if you're interested in trying out this app click over their webpage here or search them in the app store. My referral code is RCZ9JND if you don't mind supporting me in creating more content like this. It doesn't cost you anything and earns me a few extra coins which is always lovely.
Until next time,
Receipt Pal is probably the easiest, low key ways to earn gift cards I have tried yet. It's an app that asks you to snap a photo of all of your receipts each week in exchange for points that can be redeemed for gift cards. When you open the app you are presented with 'cards' of 4 receipt photo uploads. Once you have uploaded 4 and they have been verified you get the 100 points listed on the left side of the card. If you fill all the cards for a given week then you are able to upload additional receipts for entries in a raffle drawing instead.
This isn't the app for you if you aren't comfortable sharing your receipts (for marketing purposes and such, that's why they can pay you after all) but it does pay out and requires minimal effort which is nice.
Pay out, you say? What's that look like Heather? Well let's take a look! I saved my points up for what felt like forever because I wanted to get a $25 gift card. In reality it took about 6 months. So not a huge money earner but $50 a year here, $50 there and before you know it you've got free groceries for a month.
Once you choose what to redeem it is nearly instantly emailed over to you (note the time stamps below... at 11:33 PM I clicked Yes and I got the email within a minute.
If you choose "gift card" rather than Restaurant.com (which I've used before and there isn't much in my area as I'm pretty far outside of Fort Worth at my new place. Check the website first before you elect that option is my suggestion.) then you have an added step of choosing which gift card you want to receive through the Virtual Reward system. I took screen shots of all the current options for you guys but it may change. I chose Amazon, of course, because I order from Amazon a lot... like too much if we're honest.
The whole process took less than two minutes to get the Gift Card delivered (it did take me a few minutes to remember how to add it to Amazon, oops) and I already used the Gift Card towards some new teaching supplies for my online classroom- a rolling whiteboard! I was so excited to use a bunch of gift cards I had from various places to lower the price of the one I really wanted down to a more reasonable level.
Obviously I am going to vote this one a big thumbs up as I got $25 out of it for simply scanning my receipts while watching The Great British Bake Off every week. I 100% suggest you use this one if you're cool sharing your receipts with marketing companies (NPD Group).
To download this app just head to the app store and type in Receipt Pal or go to their website to click through to the app store directly.
As a side note I'm already back up to almost enough for another $5 gift card but I plan on holding out for another $25 gift card in a few months.
Until next time,
We have our first guest post today which is exciting. Alice has some wonderful recommendations for keeping a clean and decluttered home. Check out her tips below and come back next week for the beginning of a new series... I've started decluttering my own home!
Having a decluttered home may seem trendy, but it can improve the quality of our lives. When we aren't surrounded by things, we can focus on what matters. However, throwing items away is not the answer. Recycling and reusing what we can keeps our planet and our houses healthy.
Keep the Home Clean
Having a decluttered home is only as freeing as how clean it is, so you'll want to maintain that fresh feeling. However, when you clean, you need to use things that are good for you and the environment. From reusable cloths to non-toxic chemicals, there are choices for everything. One way to incentivize yourself to stay on top of cleaning is to get a good vacuum. A high-quality vacuum with the capacity to quickly remove dirt and grime can make cleaning a breeze. Since there are different models to choose from, check out online reviews to ensure you’re getting a great one.
Simplify Your Furniture and Appliances
Larger goods can often be difficult to dispose of in an eco-friendly way, but it's not impossible. In fact, it can be downright easy if belongings like bedding, large electronics, and more are in decent condition. Many donation centers will come and collect big items, even if they aren't perfect. Take advantage of neighborhood yard sales as well, or list an item online as free or for a small price. Make the caveat that the buyer needs to pick it up themselves so you don't need to worry about transport. If, for instance, an old refrigerator no longer works, you still have options to explore. Companies like Best Buy will take electronic goods and appliances at no charge, but call and ask if your local store has a similar policy.
Sell What You Can
Sometimes, it's worth our while to not just list something as free but to make a little extra cash from it. This doesn't just apply to things that are in pristine condition. With a bit of time and effort, you can restore or transform older goods into something completely new. For example, you could put a fresh coat of lacquer or paint onto wooden tables or stools. Or, get a swath of colorful fabric and repair the seat of a computer chair. There is no end to what you can do, as even mismatched dining room chairs can be transformed into a chic bench. If you love what you've made, keep it. If not, list it on a site like Etsy or eBay and make a tidy profit.
Paper clutter is pernicious and can invade every room if we're not careful, which is why it's a good idea to go digital, whether that's bills or storing photographs online. Plus, you'll save paper waste from rotting in a landfill. However, make sure you know which cloud service offers what you need. Some are free, while others are paid but provide additional services. You might need a storage service that syncs continually or a cheaper one that only does it manually. If you have large files, you'll want architecture that allows for unlimited capacity. You also shouldn't rely solely on one service, so have backups on flash drives or external hard drives to be safe.
Rethink Your Media
Are you going to re-read that book that's been sitting on the shelf for years? What about the movie you bought on a whim, watched once, and only thought was okay? One solution is to go digital. You can store your movies — even books — on your tablet or laptop. With the availability of different streaming services, owning physical movies is another form of clutter. This is especially true if you're hoarding a load of VHS tapes just in case, as outdated forms of media rarely come back into vogue. It's time to clean up and upgrade your entertainment.
We don't need to live our lives in hectic chaos. By decluttering our homes, we simplify and relieve stress. You don't need a house full of things to be happy. Instead, only keep what truly makes you joyous, and let the rest go.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
I wanted to chat today about a side hustle that I tried out in my free time recently- driving for Favor!
To start working for Favor you, of course, have to apply. It only took a few minutes and they asked me to pick a time to come in for orientation. I don’t know why but when I received that request it was rather unexpected- but I’m glad I pushed forward as the orientation was actually really informative and I went into driving for them with open eyes and feeling prepared.
For me, orientation was on the other side of town and wasn’t until the next day so I couldn’t apply and start driving on the same day (something to keep in mind) but I was able to get started fairly quickly in the scheme of things. I was doing my first delivery within 48 hours and had my first paycheck within the next 48.
Here’s what I learned in orientation and over the course of the few weekends I ran errands for Favor:
So, on to the main question… how much did I make? I tried out several different areas of the metroplex and times of day and found the best times of day were during meal times (duh, haha) and especially during dinnertime. The average amount I made for hour in the DFW area was about $11 if you include wait time and $14.30 if you only count time I was actively on a Favor.
While I wouldn’t make Favor my full time job it’s definitely great if you have an unexpected bill or want to make some quick cash for a night out with friends, especially as they pay out in about 48 hours. If you want to give Favor a try too click over to apply at https://apply.favordelivery.com and enter my code HEATH171.
Until next time,
This month has been full of ups and downs when it comes to my finances- mostly ups though! I'm going to show you the graph early in today's blog post so that you can see what I mean. I'll be moving the graph over to 2019 only next month so that it is easier to see but for now you can see all of 2018 plus January 2019.
The reason some of the decrease in November and December is also the reason for a portion of the sizable bump up this month- the market. The amount that my house is estimated to be worth went up this month and even though I don't have a lot invested right now- less than $10,000 divided between a 403b from my time as a teacher and a 401k from my current job- those accounts also increased this month, by more than just contributions. My job also started matching 4% in my 401k this month which did add slightly to the increase as well. The rest was good old fashioned payoff of debt. I'm positive I can hit my goal of being net worth positive this year so I'm feeling pretty happy right now.
I didn't bring in a lot of extra money from side hustles this last month ($56.18) but I was able to pay for several items with gift cards received over the holidays and from various apps that I have been trialing for the blog. Gift cards used this month included one gift of $50 and another $75 earned through travel programs and apps. It sounds fairly small but for me that's a week of groceries- or more if I'm eating mostly from the deep freezer's stash of meal prepped food with fresh veggies added in! I was also able to use a travel voucher I received due to a delayed flight last year to lower the cost of of my flight to DC later this year which was already budgeted for. This means that voucher allowed me to move $100 back into the general budget for allocating towards debt payments. These small savings really do add up.
The final piece of the puzzle, as it were, was medical benefits restarting for the year. My company puts $700 into my HSA for me at the beginning of each year (and then I contribute another $2,800 to reach the max for a single person on a 1/25th per paycheck schedule for the rest of the year) plus they fund my Limited FSA of $500 upfront so I tend to get a bump in January each year on the graph due to this inflow. A lot of this money, if not all of it, will disappear over the next few months as my medical bills start rolling in. I anticipate hitting my out of pocket max of $5,400 for medical this year on top of the expenses that I know are not going to be covered- some of my chiropractor bills, my mast cell stabilizer medication, my inhaler, all of the over the counter medications that my allergist has in my therapy plan, and etc. and then the Limited FSA will cover most of the cost of my glasses and contacts which need to be purchased early this year. My medical costs are likely higher than many people's due to my medical issues (and my plan is fairly good, thankfully) so later in the year I'll likely create a blog about how I budget for and save money on my health care costs in a separate post. For now I just wanted to touch on these accounts as they do affect my net worth as the money in these accounts, especially the HSA, could potentially be money that is growing if I was able to not utilize it.
What do I think February will look like... budget wise we were looking pretty good until a few weeks ago. Unfortunately it looks like the people who flipped my house cut corners (surprise surprise) so I will need to complete a repairs and projects on my home in February that may end up putting me in a little more debt. Not the direction I wanted to be going but you'll see why its important they not wait when you see the list:
Until next time,