Posted at 8:00 AM on Feb 27, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren
I’ve been very vocal about my dislike of credit cards in the past, but I have a confession to make…
I’ve changed my mind, and I want to tell you why.
I still don’t ‘like’ credit cards, but I’ve learned that if you use them correctly you can actually do something pretty cool with them.
Let me back track a little bit to help you understand…
My sister Jenna, her husband and two their two children moved away this summer to Southern Asia. Jenna is one of my best friends, we’ve lived in the same city for most of our lives, and raised our kids together. I was there when she had both of her children, our kids are best friends, and I share a birthday with her son Liam. When they moved away, I was heartbroken to know that I wouldn’t see them for a long time. I started looking at plane tickets to go and visit them, but at the price tag of $1,200 per ticket there was NO way that I could afford it.
My friend Jeff Rose told me about this guy Brad, who is a travel coach. He runs the website RichmondSavers.com and teaches people how to fly for free. I was intrigued and got in touch with him. We set up a phone call and he talked me through exactly how I could fly over there for free with my son. FREE? I must have heard him wrong. He then went onto to telling me about I would need to start signing up for targeted credit cards that would give me point bonuses, these point bonuses I would trade in for miles and get free airfare. I told him that we didn’t do credit cards and hadn’t even owned one for years. I was very hesitant but Mark and I decided to think and pray about it.
I had a nightmare the next night, that I was going to go back into debt, I woke up sick to my stomach. It was a feeling that I did not want to have again, so I told Mark there is NO way that I was going to sign up and own a credit card again. We’ve been in $40,000 worth of debt, credit cards were the main culprit of that debt. Since I am naturally a spender, it just doesn’t work for me!
Mark told me that he thought we should do it, but only under 1 condition. That we use it for business expenses and pay it off directly after each purchase we make. I agreed hesitantly, because I really want to see my sister and the thought of not seeing her for four years makes me cry.
We signed up for our first credit card and I started charging my business expenses. It costs almost $1,000 per month for me to keep ‘I am THAt Lady’ up and running, so I would meet the minimum spending requirements just by charging those expenses and paying them off right away. I couldn’t believe it was actually working! I wasn’t having to spend money on things i didn’t need, I was only putting the money I had to spend anyways on the card.
That was six months ago and I’ve officially earned my two FREE TICKETS to see her this summer!! I could cry how excited I am! I didn’t want to tell you all anything until I could see that it actually worked, and now I am letting you know how I did it.
Here are a few things that I learned about dealing with credit cards this time around:
1.) Be afraid of them!
They have the power to crush you! Seriously – they have the power to consume your life, take away everything you worked so hard for, and you need to be afraid of them because of that power. I still am afraid of them and what they can do to my family. But – I’ve set VERY strict boundaries.
2.) Be accountable to someone.
If I didn’t have Mark checking the balances daily and paying them off, I may forget about them or miss payments. I love that Mark is aware of them all and helping me keep them paid off and organized.
3.) Pay them off as soon as you get home.
Don’t wait until the end of the month – use them only if you have the cash to pay for something, and then pay it off as soon as there’s a charge on it. I only use these credit cards on expenses that I have the cash for and pay them off immediately. My balances are always at Zero.
4.) As soon as you reach the minimum purchase requirement for your bonus points – stop using it!
One thing that Brad taught me is to only use the cards up until you have reached the spending minimum. Some of these cards offer you 50,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first three months, so once I hit the $3,000 in spending I stopped using the card and put it in a drawer. Once I am ready to purchase my tickets, I will use my points and then close the card.
5.) Don’t carry them in your wallet.
We don’t carry them around in our wallets. They stay in a drawer and when they are needed, we take them out and use them.
The only thing that I recommend when thinking about attempting travel hacking, is that you should NOT be doing this unless you have a trip planned or would like to have a trip planned.
Would I have ever done this five years ago when I was already in credit card debt?
Do NOT do this if you have credit card debt – DO NOT! It is playing with fire – I would only recommend trying this out if you are debt free and are looking to get a free plane trip to visit friends and family or for a vacation.
I am SO thrilled that I can go see my sister this summer – I cannot wait to snuggle the kids and kiss them and am so thankful that Mark talked me into trying them out again!
Do I think you should change your mind and like credit cards again? Nope, but I just wanted to share my experience with you and hopefully it will help others just like it did me.
Posted at 8:45 AM on Feb 25, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve read about my love for homemade and eco friendly cleaning products. I love to save money on eco-friendly cleaning supplies even more!
I recently saw an article on another blog about ePantry, and was very intrigued. I took advantage of the offer and purchased some of my favorite cleaning supplies. I was SO pleased with it that I reached out to them and asked if they would give my readers an exclusive offer just for YOU! The agreed, so here I am sharing our exclusive deal I am that Lady readers will get a Free Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap, Free $10 Credit, & Free Shipping for my readers!
What is ePantry?
ePantry, one of my favorite new eco-friendly subscription services.
- ePantry alleviates shopping frustrations by sending eco-friendly cleaning and personal care products right to your door when you need them!
- You can use ePantry to plan months ahead
- All of ePantry’s products are made by eco brands: Method, Mrs. Meyer’s, Seventh Generation, Tom’s and more!
I partnered with ePantry to offer an exclusive promotion for all readers of I am that Lady: You will get a free Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap, a $10 credit, and free shipping on your first order!
How ePantry works
- First, sign up for an account with this link. The limited-time offer is only available now through March 3rd.
- Next, answer a few simple questions about your home (this only takes 2 minutes!) Your responses are used for ePantry to suggest products for your future shipments.
- The third step is the most fun: customizing your basket! You can add or remove as many products as you wish.
- To get the free Mrs. Meyers Hand Soap and $10 off, there is a $20 minimum. The minimum is for first-time orders only.
- Lastly, check out! Once you have your basket set, click Finish & Pay. Your free Meyer’s hand soap and $10 credit will already be included.
Example basket: I put together an example basket, to demonstrate the amazing value of this offer:
Here is what I included in my purchase.
- Method Daily Shower Spray: $4.07
- Method Kid’s Shampoo and Body Wash: $5.29
- Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap: $4.03
- Mrs. Meyer’s Toilet Cleaner: $4.99
- Mrs. Meyer’s Bathroom Cleaner: $4.15
- Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap: $3.89
- ePantry Cellulose Pop-Up Sponges 3 Pack: $2.99
- ePantry Soy Candle: $9.95
- Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap : Free with your offer!
With a $10 I am that Lady credit, the total comes to $29.36. This is normally a $66+ value!
Refer friends and family, get $10 off!
- If you spread the word about ePantry, every person you refer will get a $10 credit on their first order! Even better, you will also receive a $10 credit after they check out. It’s a win-win!
If you are looking for a major time-saver and earth-friendly products, then ePantry is for you! The customer service folks are super friendly. They even offer an extra $2 off if you answer the question in the chat box. So go ahead and try it out! What excites you most about ordering all-natural products online? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Posted at 8:00 AM on Feb 24, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren
It is that time of year – where everyone is hustling around trying to get a tax appointment lined up so you can see how much of a tax refund you get. Or maybe, you are brave enough to tackle the job yourself!
Doing taxes yourself is definitely doable, but here are some reasons why I recommending hire a tax professional to do it and how it might save you money in the long run.
Here are the 6 reasons you should be hiring a tax professional
1.) It gives you piece of mind.
Accountants deal with people and taxes every day, that means that they know what deductions to be looking for. It feels better to have someone else handle that for me.
2.) You may be losing money
The decision to do your taxes by yourself might be an effort to save money, but it could be counter-productive to not hire someone who could help you get more of your money back – to the point where the tax appointment will often pay for itself. A tax professional will often find more deductions for you and help you earn more of your hard working money back.
3.) Audit support.
If you’ve never been audited, you are blessed! Mark and I were audited back in 2009 and it would have been a nightmare had it not been for our tax professionals. They helped us through the entire process and made it so much more manageable.
You will need to ask your tax accountant if they help in the case of an audit, so pick one that does for extra support.
4.) Time spent wisely
It could take you 10 hours to make sure you have all your ducks in a row if you try to do your taxes yourself. Going to a tax professional often takes less than an hour and you have now gained 9 hours hours of your life back.
5.) There are no hidden gimmicks.
Many times when you sign up for a free tax offer, you spend an hour or two filling out the form, you are nickel and dimed for each page you use. And then, if you qualify for the earned income tax credit, suddenly it’s not free anymore. You will have to pay a fee to get your total form processed. When you hire a tax accountant, you know what you are getting up front and know what to budget for.
6.) Hire THE professional.
You do what you are good at – let other people do what they are good at. Our tax code is very complicated, and it makes sense that this be one of the things that you should be hiring out. Your next problem is finding a good person to hire. That brings me to my next point.
There is a great website called Prosado.
It is a great website that helps walk you through picking the perfect tax professional – it is a bit new, but I think it is a very promising concept.
Here is how it works:
1.) Sign up for a free account here.
2.) Enter in your zip code.
After entering your zip code, you will see a list of tax and accounting professionals that are near you.
3.) Invite local accountants to bid to get your business.
You can contact professionals from your search results to help you decide who you would like to invite to bid on preparing your tax return. Once you have invited up to 4 professionals to bid, you’ll have a personal dashboard where you can monitor the bids you receive.
4.) Choose the best professional for you.
Once you have chosen the tax and accounting professional you would like to work with, Prosado will email both you and your chosen professional all contact information. The transactions are processed through Prosado and the accountant gets paid when the job is done. It gives you a peace of min knowing that all of the payments and money is handled through a secure environment.
It’s that easy!
If you are a Tax Preparer – it is good for you too!
- You can sign up for an account here.
- Potential customers invite you to bid on them.
- Your bid is either accepted or denied by the customer.
- If accepted, Prosado collects the money and as soon as you mark the job complete, you get paid.
I think this website is a win/win for both customers and accountants. It is hard to know who to trust with your hard earned money, so try out Prosado and let me know what you find.
Disclosure: This post has been part of a sponsored campaign by Prosado. All opinions are 100% my own.
Posted at 10:25 AM on Feb 23, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren
The biggest hurdle many beginning home gardeners face after the Seeds or Plants question is where and how much work will this involve. Here is a simple guide to beginner gardening to help you start nice and easy and know what you are getting yourself into:
1.) Pick your Garden Spot Wisely
Make sure that your garden spot isn’t too far from your home. If it’s a trek to get there, you’re more than likely to not want to go there.
I made this mistake last year and joined a community garden. I thought it would be easier than having to set up my garden myself, but it was 10 minutes away and I never had time to go out there. This year, it will be in my backyard and I am SO excited about it!
Your garden area should be in a sunny location, that doesn’t receive a lot of shade. Most garden plants will need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight, although 8 hours is ideal. It should also be close to an outdoor water faucet or water source so it’ll be easy for you to water your plants.
Make sure that your garden area has good drainage. The last thing you want to do is drown your plants! Your space should be slightly elevated so that any excess water can drain off or you could also use containers or raised gardening beds.
2.) Prepare your Garden Spot
Once you’ve determined the best place to plant your garden, you’ll need to get it ready to plant your vegetables. If you have a tiller available, that will be the quickest option. If not, use a garden hoe to break the soil and remove any grass and weeds. The more you get rid of now, the easier your garden will be to maintain down the road.
Try to refrain from spraying any chemicals on your garden spot to kill the grass that is currently there. These chemicals will stick with the soil and will pass onto your plants. If you feel like you need to spray them with something, use this organic weed control spray::
Organic Weed Control Spray Recipe
- 1 quart white vinegar
- ¼ cup salt
- 1 tsp organic dish detergent
- Mix all ingredients in a medium size stove pot and heat over medium heat until the salt is completely dissolved.
- Once it’s cool, add to a spray bottle and spray any weeds you wish to get rid of.
3.) Amending Your Soil
Rich garden soil is essential to good plant growth and production. Inadequate soil is a source of contention for many gardeners. While you might think that you’re stuck with what you’ve got, that isn’t the case at all!
After tilling up your garden spot of the year, add in some aged manure, fallen leaves, straw, or some compost from your kitchen waste. All of these options are cost effective (even free!) and can provide many valuable nutrients to your soil, not to mention that it will improve the overall texture of your dirt.
4.) Don’t Overwhelm Yourself!
When Spring hits, I’m in a seed and plant buying frenzy. All I want to do is plant plants and get outside. However, too many plants can be a bad thing! As a beginning gardener, start small and work your way up instead of planting 20 tomato plants right off the bat.
You should ask yourself what your purpose is with your garden. Are you looking to supply your family with all its vegetable needs during the summer months? Are you wanting to preserve any of it to use throughout the winter? Or, are you just wanting to play around and eat from the garden occasionally? This will help you to determine how many plants you need. If you’re looking to see if you have what it takes to garden at home start with one plant of the main vegetables your family likes.
Do you have any other tips for helping people start their gardens?