Back to Blogging {The Next Level}

I have had this blog since 2013, and I had a Blogspot site before that. However, I have only recently taken the steps to make this space something that others would want to enjoy. It has been only a few months since I decided to get serious about blogging and actively look for ways to reach more viewers and perhaps get into monetizing.

When I first became interested in blogging again, I posted Back to Blogging {A Basic Starter Kit}, and now it’s time for The Next Level!

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Spread the Word

I love my blogging Facebook groups. Some are only for sharing your posts and requesting others to pin your Pinterest pins. Others are for advice and encouragement and random questions. It helps to have someone in your same niche or someone with more experience to guide in the blogging process.

Here are a few of my favorites (you may have to request to join):

Social Media Scheduling

I work more than 40 hours a week at my day job. I do not need the additional stress of posting to Facebook and Pinterest at the ideal times. And that’s why scheduling was invented.

I highly recommend Tailwind. As I am still getting the hang of it, I cannot provide a full review, but I have loved everything it has done so far.By the way, if you sign up with my referral link through the month of February, you will receive $30 off! (That’s roughly two months free.) If you are reading this after February 28th, don’t panic, you can still use the link to receive $15 off… http://twapp.it/i/deannalexis?

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And who could resist a cute pun?

Office Supplies

When we were looking for a place to rent right before we got married, I prayed that we would have a third bedroom or even some kind of space that we could turn into an office. I was incredibly surprised when we happened upon a three bedroom house – the third bedroom was the perfect size for our little office.

 

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This is a page from my planner, downloaded from Building a Framework.

It’s no wonder I love crafting and office supplies. Keeping my blog planner accessible and neat requires a binder and a variety of pens so I can color-coordinate it. Okay, just kidding. I bought the Sharpie pens because they were cute, but my attempts at color-coordinating have fallen by the wayside. I do use very handy binders, though! Avery is my favorite brand of 3 ring binder.

 

As I develop as a blogger, I will be sharing more and more ideas and tips.
Why don’t you share yours? What tools do YOU use to grow your blog? Share your methods in the comments!

After the Altar: Saving Money as Newlyweds

In case you missed it, my “After the Altar” series on saving money as newlyweds concluded last week. You see all the posts below. I hope this series was encouraging to you, whether a newlywed, a single person, or a more-experienced married person.

How to Save Money and Live Frugally as Newlyweds at Grace Upon Grace Blog

Since money is one of the biggest reasons that couples divorce, I wanted to deal with it quickly, both on my blog and in my own marriage. What are some other issues that you have faced in your own marriage? I would love to continue exploring how to make marriages (especially new ones) even better. Please comment below with suggestions or contact me here.

After the Altar Series Recap

Part One: 6 Things We Just Don’t Buy

Part Two: 4 Things We DO Buy

Part Three: 4 Things I’d Like to Stop Buying

Part Four: 3 Ways We Make a Little Extra Income

Don’t forget to check out my Facebook page and Pinterest profile!

How to Save Money and Live Frugally as Newlyweds at Grace Upon Grace Blog

To Be a New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19

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When you become a Christian, a new life is born in you. Literally, you accept Christ’s sacrifice in place of your sins, and God forgives and redeems you. You are a new creation. God calls you New.

What does it mean to be a new creation? First, you are different from those who are not new. You desire to please God, and you choose what He commands. You can choose selflessness instead of thinking only of yourself. You are not held in bondage to your sins because you have been forgiven by the grace of God. There is freedom in being a new person.

Second, it means that you have a new purpose. Instead of living to please yourself and your desires, you are now a bearer of what the Apostle Paul calls “this wonderful message of reconciliation.” (NLT) You are not made new simply for your own benefit, but for the responsibility you now have of sharing the Gospel. You can bring the good news of salvation to people who do not know what it is like to fully accept God’s grace and forgiveness.

Who in your life does not know the joy of the Lord? Let your identity as a new person in Christ be a ready invitation offering them the same new life. How can you be a minister of reconciliation for him or her?

Originally published in Her Binder Project, February 2017. I absolutely love the free study resources at Her Binder Project and I completely recommend them. This is my first month writing for them, and I hope to continue!

Interested in which Bible I use for my daily study?
See my review of my two favorite Bibles here!

What does it mean to be a new creation? Thoughts from Grace Upon Grace Blog at deannalexis.wordpress.com

3 Ways We Make a Little Extra Income

With a wedding behind us, student loan payments now, and a family in the future, the husband and I are looking for ways to save money, make money, and spend less. This post is part four of a four-part series on living frugally. See the previous posts in this series here: 6 Things We Just Don’t Buy, 4 Things We DO Buy, and 4 Things I’d Like to Stop Buying.

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{This post may contain affiliate and referral links. I only recommend products I use and love.}

The number one way to save money is to buy less, with the exception of buying items in bulk. However, what really helps is making a little more money here and there. Here are our favorite ways to do just that.

A Second Job

As teachers who don’t yet have kids of our own, we work over 40 hours during the week, but we are off on weekends, school breaks, and summertime. In order to make a little extra spending money, we take jobs during those times. My husband has refereed soccer games since he was in high school, and he can make over $100 in one weekend. Since he chooses the games he wants to work, he still has time with me and time to go to church. In addition, we are both planning to get part-time jobs this upcoming summer.

The trick is matching your skills with what people need: Do you have experience with children? Do you have medical experience? Could you get lifeguard certification? Have you ever worked in an office? Are you good with numbers? Can you write, proofread, design, or draw? One of the reasons we have experience in various fields is that we often volunteered in those fields first, and then we have experience to list on a job application. What extra time do you have? Could you work another job during that time?

Reverse Couponing

I love clipping coupons as much as the next frugal gal, but apps that work with a click are are a ton easier than stacking and cutting over and over again. Also, if I’m going to buy it anyway, I might as well get cash back for it, right?

I love Ibotta and highly recommend it. Click here to use my Ibotta referral link on your smartphone or computer and you’ll get $10 when you redeem your first rebate. I have earned $146 in the last two years and it comes straight to my checking account via apps like Dwolla and Venmo. You could earn more money much faster if you have a larger family for which to shop.

Other apps I have used and recommend include Checkout 51 and Receipt Hog. Receipt Hog is great because, by scanning your receipts, you can earn enough “coins” to redeem for an Amazon giftcard. It costs you absolutely nothing beside the items you were already going to purchase.

Sell the Things You Make

Everyone has heard of the highly popular Etsy, where you can sell anything from vintage finds to handmade decor to ebooks. I like to think I am crafty, but I know I’m not ready to sell anything on Etsy. I do, however, sell teaching materials. I have made over $100 selling materials that I have written and used as a teacher. It is so nice to use what I have already made for a second purpose, and it feels great helping fellow teachers.

Do you have any experience with teacher materials, kid-friendly graphic design, computer programs like Photoshop, or homeschool curriculum? Sign up here with my referral link to open your own store. Teachers Pay Teachers has two options: one where you pay nothing upfront (but a portion of your sales goes back to them) and a second option where you pay a fee upfront and then a much smaller percentage (if any, depending on the situation) is taken out of your sales.

Bonus: Blogging!

As I am relatively new to the blogging world and extremely new to efforts to monetize my blog, I have not yet made any actual income from my blog. It is my hope to be able to afford to buy a few years of self-hosting in advance, and that is the goal I am working towards. So many resources have been helpful to me on this quest, but one that truly stands out is the Building a Framework ebook and materials from Just a Girl and Her Blog. I absolutely love the ideas, suggestions, and resources, and I appreciate everything I have learned. As I develop as a blogger, I hope to share more and more about the money I have made from this venture.

How do YOU make a little extra income?

Hurry to pick up Abby Lawson’s Building a Framework ebook all about blogging before it is temporarily unavailable! Grab your copy before Tuesday, February 14th.

4 Things I’d Like to Stop Buying

This post is part three of a four-part series on living frugally after the altar. With a wedding behind us, student loan payments now, and a family in the future, the husband and I are looking for ways to save money, make money, and spend less. You can also read part two (4 Things We DO Buy) and part one (6 Things We Just Don’t Buy).

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{This post may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products I use and love.}

The number one way to save money is to buy less, with the exception of buying items in bulk. However, the following items are things I would like to stop buying, even in bulk, even on sale, because there is probably a better option.

Pizza Dough / Crusts

We love making our own pizzas. It’s cheaper than ordering takeout and better than frozen pizzas. However, unless pre-baked pizza crusts are very much on sale, it’s a lot cheaper to make your own. They taste better as well. One reason we have not yet gone to homemade pizza dough is because I don’t want to wait for the yeast to rise and I don’t want to have such a big, floury mess to clean up each time we want pizza. I found this dough recipe, though, and it looks good. What do you think? Do you make your own pizza dough?

Ice Cream

I love ice cream, particularly mint chocolate chip and cookie dough and moose tracks… Mmm! Unfortunately, that money and that sugar add up a lot. I have not found any good ice cream recipes don’t require an ice cream maker… Maybe we’ll purchase an ice cream churn they get marked up for summer.

Salad Dressings

A couple weekends ago, I made a lovely vinaigrette with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. It cost basically nothing since I already have all of those pantry staples. I would love to make ranch-style dressings as well, and I’ve seen some ideas using plain yogurt or sour cream. I already make my own vinaigrettes, but I would like to start making my own creamy dressings. We’ve recently stocked up due to several coupons and deals, however, I think I’ll use what we already have first.

Breads and Bagels

We eat bagels (with either peanut butter or eggs) around 3 or 4 mornings a week. If I could find a way to make my own bagels, I could save a lot of money. Currently, we take advantage of a free bread ministry offered by our workplace, and we stock up and freeze bagels when they’re on sale. Bread is the same way. I LOVE making my own bread, but it never comes out quite like sandwich bread, which is over half of the reason we buy bread.

Friends, I would love to hear YOUR ideas! Which items would you like to stop buying? And what suggestions do you have for me and my list?

4 Things We DO Buy

With a wedding behind us, student loan payments now, and a family in the future, the husband and I are looking for ways to save money, make money, and spend less. This post is part two of a four part series on living frugally. See part one (6 Things We Just Don’t Buy) here.

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{This post may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products I use and love.}

The number one way to save money is to buy less, with the exception of buying items in bulk or buying things that will last. Here are some of my favorite things that we do buy, even though they might seem more expensive, because it pays off in the long run.

Multi-Use Food Items

I spend money on quality ingredients that can be used for a variety of recipes. Food items such as breads are only as good as in the ingredients in them. When I’m buying a premade ingredient, however, especially one that will only be used for one purpose, I usually buy a lesser or least expensive option. For example, I generally only use pasta sauce for pasta, so I buy a cheap pasta sauce and then doctor it up with canned or fresh tomatoes, which are usually a higher quality because I can use canned tomatoes in a variety of different ways.

Larger Sizes or Bulk-Packaged Foods

I always check the price per ounce or per item on foods that are nonperishable or easily frozen. Often, it is ridiculously cheaper to buy the larger size, since the items cost less when packaged together.

Higher Quality Household Items

We saved up some money to buy higher quality items for our first home. We also put some of these on our wedding registry. Many well-made products last a lot longer than those that are cheaper, meaning you have to buy a replacement rarely or never. For example, I got tired of buying new muffin/cupcake pans every time a tin pan rusted or get scraped. Instead, I bought Wilton silicone muffin pans, and they are absolutely wonderful. They have lasted me a lot longer than tin or aluminum pans and they are easy to use, clean, and store.

Another high quality product that we love is our glass Pyrex food storage containers. This is a twenty piece glass storage set with plastic lids that we have and highly recommend. When we used plastic storage containers for our leftovers, I would have to throw one away weekly due to staining or warping. Glass containers do not have that problem.

Frozen Fruit and Vegetables

We love frozen food items that contain just the fruit or veggie, not a sauce or rice combination. I use frozen blueberries in smoothies, infused water, or homemade muffins, and I use frozen green beans in casseroles or side dishes. The best part is that they don’t go bad! In addition, most of the time, frozen fruits and veggies are picked and flash-frozen at a perfect ripeness, so you can have good produce even in its off-season.

Stay tuned next week for part three of the series! Missed part one? Check it out here

What do you buy in order to save money?