Browsing Category: Intentional Living

How I Afford My Very Expensive Habit

How I afford my very expensive book habit without spending a penny

I have to confess something: I have a potentially VERY expensive habit. I’ve tried to kick it, I’ve tried just being OK with it, but it’s not going anywhere. Now, I just need to deal with it, because nothing seems to be able to put this thing behind me. I love…LOVE….LOVE books. I can’t NOT read them or buy them. The newest Christian non-fiction? Gotta have it. That highly recommended children’s book? It’s in my amazon cart before we finish talking. That book from the library that I really liked? Bought it already. It’s bad.

How I afford my very expensive book habit without spending a penny

I’m scared to figure out just how much I actually spend a year on books (outside of school books) because, quite frankly, the number would probably kill my husband. Fortunately, I haven’t figured out how to itemize my Amazon order history to do this.

But there is HOPE!

This is how I afford my very expensive book habit.

I’ve come up with somewhat of a solution that seems to be helping, at least a bit. Here it is: DON’T PAY FOR THEM! That’s it, very simple. Now, before you freak out that I’m suggesting that you steal books (whether it’s socially acceptable or not, I can assure you it is still illegal). There are several ways to get your books for free; these are the two methods I use.

Method 1: Review Them

This method used to be available only to bloggers, but in recent years, since social media has overwhelmed the blog and e-readers have become so popular, many publishers and authors have opened their reviews to anyone. Some do require that you have a certain sized following or a website on which to post your reviews, some don’t. I’ve had a lot of luck with getting really fantastic books simply by reading and writing a review.

I’ve worked with the following:

 

Method 2: Buy Them

I know I said that I’ve managed to not have to pay for most of my books. This is true. But there are ways to buy books, without having to foot the bill yourself.

Introducing….cash back bonuses!

Chances are your credit card has a cash back bonus option. Find out and use what you earn for book purchases. I have an Amazon Prime visa, which means I get 5% cash back on every purchase I make on Amazon, and 1-3% on purchases made elsewhere. Being that I rely pretty heavily on Amazon and my Subscribe and Save (we do live almost an hour away from any chain stores), that’s a hefty chunk of change every month. Sometimes I do have to force my self to wait a month or two to make a purchase, but that’s really OK.

Look into Click-Thru Cash Back Websites.How I afford my very expensive book habit

I’ve had a ton of luck with click thru websites! There are several out there, but the ones I’ve had the most luck with are the following (these are my referral links):

  • Ebates.com – I’ve earned $344.77 since I’ve had an account with them a couple of years ago (I use this for almost ALL of my online purchases)
  • Ibotta (smartphone App) – $31.65 since November 2016 (I use this for any of my purchases on iTunes and more specifically for grocery shopping)
  • SwagBucks – Another really well known one…I haven’t focused too much energy on them though
  • TopCashback – Just found out about them, but all the reviews say they’re fantastic, better than Ebates

My recommendation on this method is pick one that works great for you and stick with it. Yes, you could go through all of them, but you’re more likely to forget to use your links and it will take you longer to save up your earnings. However, I do recommend that you cross reference who is giving the most cashback on certain websites, especially when you’re making a big purchase (when I wrote this up I checked Lands’ End…ebates was 2%, TopCashback was 4%; Lowes was 2.5% on Ebates, 5% on TopCashBack – so definitely do your research).

One of the best things about any of the click thru websites is that they very often they will give you cashback for any friends you refer that sign on….which can add up quickly. Another fantastic thing is that just because you’re going to a brick and mortar store don’t assume that you can’t get a cashback. Most major chains offer in-store pick up. Use a click thru website to place your order, get the cashback and very often the websites offer their own coupon or discount codes.

Where To Start

I know this is a lot of information and a lot of methods to sift through, but start somewhere. I recommend signing up for an account with Ebates.com or TopCashback for your online purchases, and start following your favorite authors on social media. Before too long you should start seeing the results of a little bit of effort.

Don’t limit yourself to books with this either! Think of all the things you could be putting extra money toward, without spending a penny more than you are already:

  • Vacations
  • Clothes
  • Christmas and Birthday Gifts
  • Groceries
  • Memberships (gym, book, website, etc)
  • Fabric
  • Coffee
  • Ministries, Charities, and Missions
  • THE SKY IS THE LIMIT! Use your imagination.

A Weekend Trip to Dublin: Proving to Myself that I am Capable

The end of a year often results in retrospection and the creation of new plans moving forward: Those very ideas stress the bejeezers out of me. The very idea of dissecting the good and the bad and thinking that somehow I’m going to do “me” different in the next year has, in my experience, resulted in more failures and disappointments than not.

I kind of take each year as it comes. Of course, I toy with the idea of hitting up the gym to lose those pesky last 50lbs post babies or setting up a new morning routine, but I know me…at least a little bit. Those kinds of “resolutions” just are not going to be what motivate me to do anything. I have to come to things by a much more….organic method.

I was listening to the SortaAwesome podcast while cleaning church this afternoon and they were talking about the personal growth and development that each of the hostesses experienced in 2016. I rolled my eyes, in my direction…not theirs, and though to myself: I think the only growth I had could be measured on my scale.

Then as I listened something started to whir inside of me…a few gears were beginning to tick and something began to foment in my mind. 2016 was LONG…not just long, but LOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGGG! Or at least December was. December alone was incredibly hard, not for me personally, but for our family, specifically my sister (she’s been in and out of the hospital with what can only be described as a medical mystery seeing as no one knows what’s going on).

But there was January. A whole year ago.

Last January, I did something crazy and completely out of character for me…something that some would consider borderline irresponsible/crazy. At the time it was just a fun idea, a pipe dream if you will, but it quickly progressed past that into one of the greatest gifts someone could have ever given me.

My parents and sister went to Ireland last January for a 10 day vacation. I have loved Ireland since I was a tween…like L.O.V.E. it. I studied abroad there the summer of 2014, Matthew and I went in 2016. It truly is my second home, and some place I would not be at all surprised to find myself living when I grow up.

On a particularly hard Mom-Wednesday I was googling airfare on a whim, because honestly I was done with the screaming and shouting and arguing about doing school, and I found an incredible deal on airfare from JFK to Dublin. I giggled, texted Matt I was going, and chuckled. Then I kept thinking about it….my parents were scheduled to be in Dublin on Friday and come home on Sunday. And I kept thinking about it. I mentioned it to Matt. He chuckled too.

But I kept thinking about it. All. Night. Long.

I sat at the computer on Thursday morning and looked again, it was still there. I bravely mentioned it to Matthew and kind of made a joke about it, because SERIOUSLY there was no way I was going to go Ireland that night. Who does that?! Matthew texted me back a little later:

“Do you really want to go?”
“Well YEA! Who wouldn’t? But I know that’s completely unrealistic.”

30 minutes later Matthew called me, telling me to book the airfare, his mom would take the kids that night and Friday (he’d be home on the weekend). I was dumbfounded. Like seriously could NOT say anything. My hands started shaking, I was thinking the airfare would be gone, I’d do something and book the wrong thing. I started texting people to find out where to park my car, how to navigate a last minute flight out of JFK.

I managed to book the airfare and received my confirmation (hoping that my passport that would expire the following month wouldn’t be an issue).

“It’s booked. I can’t leave without saying good-bye to you first.”
“I know. I’m hurrying to get home. – My dad is going to take you to the airport.”

There were no words.

Matthew got home in time to not only see me off, but drive me to the airport too. I was off to my second home!

I landed in Dublin the following morning and walked out in the frigid sunshine, all smiles. I found the bus that I needed to take to get to where the AirBnB was that my parents were renting, hopped off, and began my meander through the city center and Trinity Colleges campus. The cold air filling my lungs, my thighs feeling frosted and warm from walking in the cold, and it was WONDERFUL!

I was completely alone without a schedule or anything else, and I had successfully navigated an international airport, and a city bus system without getting lost!

There was something that I desperately needed to learn on that trip…

While I am a wife and a mother, I am not defined solely by those things: I am a capable adult.

I am a capable adult outside of those titles, and I can do things that I’ve sort of forgotten that I could. It’s not that I became incapable at anything besides being a wife and mother, it’s that I forgot who I was as just me.

Finding Your Rhythm of Rest

I’m a mom…there’s no rest for moms. We are among the ranks of those who are on duty 24/7/365. While there’s definitely no rest for moms, we are most certainly among those who most desperately need rest. We cannot function in a manner that is glorifying to our God or an example to our children if we DO NOT REST.

Last winter I was burnt out, and it WASN’T from the baby! The triplets had stopped napping, we were homeschooling, we were trying to work through things that had crept up in our lives and needed to be intentionally dealt with. All of it left me feeling drained. I had nothing in me to give, nothing in me to share. Nothing.

I’m still a work in progress. I still fail miserably at getting and giving myself time to rest. BUT there is hope!

For the past few years I’ve been following Shelly Miller of Redemption’s Beauty (she has a beautiful IG feed), when she shared about a book that she had been working on for the past year or so, called Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World.  I could use a little advice on how to find rest amidst the busy.

289793_rhythmsofrest_meme-2Sabbath-keeping not only brings physical refreshment, it restores the soul. God commands us to “remember the Sabbath,” but is it realistic in today’s fast-paced culture? In this warm and helpful book, Shelly Miller dispels legalistic ideas about Sabbath and shows how even busy people can implement a rhythm of rest into their lives–whether for an hour, a morning, or a whole day. With encouraging stories from people in different stages in life, Miller shares practical advice for having peaceful, close times with God. You will learn simple ways to be intentional about rest, ideas for tuning out distractions and tuning in God, and even how meals and other times with friends and family can be Sabbath experiences.

Ultimately, this book is an invitation to those who long for rest but don’t know how to make it a reality. Sabbath is a gift from God to be embraced, not a spiritual hoop to jump through. ~ From Amazon.com

Shelly does a beautiful job of wrapping all of the wisdom of Sabbath living into one package; easily navigable, easily applicable. Through a collection of letters and stories and scripture, alongside Shelly’s own words, she has crafted a beautiful guide to how we can find and create a rhythm of rest in our own world-weary lives.

It’s a wonderful book and it releases TODAY!

I’m hoping that my hard copy arrives in the next day (the digital copy just isn’t so easy to make notes on).
You can order your copy on Amazon (last I checked it was discounted, selling for $8.92!)

 

Living in a World at War

All of yesterday my mind was raging, wondering what my response should be regarding the new deaths of two black men. Am I even allowed to have a response? Last night I lay in bed, my mind definitely not shutting off. How could it? The news had just flashed across my feed telling me of the deaths of even more people. Senseless deaths, because honestly, is death ever senseful?

I’m white. My husband is white. My children are white. Hell, our last name is White. We are as white as wonderbread. We don’t have colored friends. I never have. I live in rural New England: There are no blacks here. I’ve mourned that for all of my aware life. So no. I don’t understand all of the subtle cultural nuances and difficulties. I want to.

Someone tells me I’m not allowed to have an opinion because I’m white. Someone else tells me I don’t get it because I’m white. Someone else tells me that if I don’t speak up then I am part of the problem.  Someone else tells me I don’t have the right to speak up. Someone else says that I can’t mourn the murders of two black men and police officers. I don’t know the right things to say, I don’t know the right words to use.

The only thing I do know is that ALL LIVES MATTER (I know there are those who HATE that statement). I don’t say that as an excuse or a platitude, I’m not trying to justify the lives lost on any side.  I say that because it is the Gospel truth. Jesus does not care about the color of one’s skin: People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

I know that police can step out of line and be bought and racist. I know police can step in the line of fire to protect those they have sworn to serve, without questioning the “worthiness” of that person’s skin color. I know people do things out of character when they are scared. I know that things can be set in motion that no one intended to have happen. I know people will kill others without a thought. I don’t know the numbers and statistics of deaths and murders, the ratios of blacks to whites. What I don’t know is a lot more than what I do. But I am trying.

I don’t know the fear of a mother with a dark skinned son, or a wife with a husband in blue. I do know the fear of a wife and mother though. I know the fear that someone may take the life of one of my children or my husband. I’m sure someone will say that I have no real idea of that fear because I sit in my white privilege castle, and maybe that’s true.IMG_1551

I also don’t know where mine or my children’s lives will be called to go. I don’t know if one of my children will swear to serve and protect, or serve as a missionary. I don’t know if a son or daughter in law of mine will be black. I don’t know if there is a precious little one somewhere with dark skin that Jesus is calling me to love and mother. But I do know that I want to be able to hold my head up and tell them they are loved, that their life is valued, that I didn’t just sit at war in myself about what to do, doing and saying nothing.

We are a society that does not value the inconvenient inconsequential life, the life that makes us uncomfortable. We place value only on what is valuable directly to us; on that, all sides are guilty. Life doesn’t matter in this world.

The lives of others don’t ever matter nearly as much as our own. No other cause holds more importance than our own. We champion our cause as the only important one, the only one that matters. That if we don’t address THIS cause first none of the others will matter.

Black lives matter. Unborn lives matter. White lives matter.
All lives matter
.

This truth of equal value doesn’t lessen the value of it’s parts. A truth can’t ever lessen the truth of other truths, it can only bring about the commonality in all of them. LIFE MATTERS! I do know that every single life matters. I do know that until we are ALL willing to hold ALL life sacred it will keep on happening. Until we are willing to step outside of a culture bathed in blood, stand firm and say NO MORE,  we will continue to drown in it.

 

*Disclaimer: I will not entertain any derisive comments. I am not perfect, I’m sure I have said or viewed things wrongly. I only know that my heart is breaking, I am sick to my stomach at the amount of bloodshed that has occurred this week alone, and I have no answers or solutions.

How to Have the BEST SUMMER YET!

How to Have the BEST SUMMER YET! (and what does that even mean) @JessicaMWhite.com

It’s official: Summer is here!

School finished last week, swim lessons are soon, and the temperatures are rising: There are just some things that just ooze summer. Particularly when it comes to magazine articles and ads all toting the same message: “MAKE THIS THE BEST SUMMER YET!” That somehow by using this product or buying that gadget, our burning desire to experience the ABSOLUTE BEST SUMMER YET will be fulfilled.

Here are some easy tips, that I’ve tried, that certainly help me to enjoy the best Summer has to offer:

How to have the Best Summer Yet
{in 3 easy steps}

How to Have the BEST SUMMER YET! (and what does that even mean) @JessicaMWhite.com

Stop

Stop racing around, feeling like there are a thousand things to accomplish, because summer is only so long. If you’re racing all over the place, you’re not enjoying what you’re actually doing. Look at the schedule, make some changes. Maybe it means not having the kids in so many activities, canceling a few engagements, or reprioritizing what’s on the agenda.

Drop

Once in a while drop what you’re doing and take 10 seconds, 10 SECONDS; close your eyes, breath and feel what’s around you, really taste that berry, or relive a favorite memory. Don’t even think about telling me you don’t have 10 spare seconds in your day, because ain’t nobody that busy. Those 10 seconds will give you enough time to process what your thinking about, and give you a momentary respite from the chaos.

Roll

Roll with it. If you have a crazy whim to forego dinner and get the kids an ice cream…it’s seriously not going to kill anyone, but I can guarantee you the kids will remember that ONE TIME {or more} that mom let them have ice cream for dinner. If someone calls you about a spontaneous get together, do it {even if it means going to the grocery store and bringing a deli salad}. Or invite them over. Don’t think about what your house looks like, think about spending time with your family, a friend, a neighbor.

If you can do those 3 three things, I can pretty much guarantee that your summer is going to be the best yet, because you actually took the time to remember it, to experience it to the fullest.

Those advertising people are sneaky. Somehow they convince us that we need their things in order to be happy; to have a Summer that is actually worth bragging-rights come the Fall. Psst….we don’t. All we need to have the best of any thing, any experience, is to actively pursue God’s desires for us in this life, which is to enjoy the world He has created for us and the people he has blessed us with.

“But seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33

Now, this doesn’t mean since we were kind enough to include God in the things that we think are the “best” for us, that it will be given to us. We must pursue what God deems best, what He would have us find fulfillment in, which is Him; activities and things which will draw us closer to Him. That is always what is Best.

As long as we are seeking our own enjoyment, we will be left disappointed. Having missed out on what truly is the best of anything. As long as our heart is motivated for ourselves, not God, we won’t find fulfillment in what the world deems the best-ever-of-all-time anything.

Summer is here, a time of year we all rejoice in. Seek not the best of the world, but the best of God in the world. The beauty He has created for us to enjoy, drawing our hearts and minds to Him, and all the best He’s created just for us.

“The heavens declare the Glory of God; the sky proclaims the work of His hands.”
Psalm 19:1

Every summer already is the “Best summer yet”, because every day is new, every day is a fresh start, a new day for us to seek God and His will for our lives, to go deeper in His word and draw closer to Him. Why settle for less, when God will ALWAYS give you the best?

How do you plan on truly enjoying your Summer?

 

This post originally appeared on my other blog, on 6.30.14.