(Note: This post was sponsored by Monarch and Alpha Omega Publications. Read our disclosure policy here.) If you are a homeschooler who is considering trying an online curriculum, if you are someone who is thinking about homeschooling next school ...

Intentional finance. Intentional family. Intentional business.

Get a FREE 30-Day trial to Monarch Online Homeschool Curriculum!

(Note: This post was sponsored by Monarch and Alpha Omega Publications. Read our disclosure policy here.)

If you are a homeschooler who is considering trying an online curriculum, if you are someone who is thinking about homeschooling next school year, or if you are looking for something to help supplement your kids’ education this summer, you’ll definitely want to check out this offer for a FREE 30-day trial to Monarch Online Curriculum!

We used this curriculum for two years while we were homeschooling and there were many great things about it. I love that kids can do it at their own pace, that much of the work is graded automatically, that the online curriculum is so interactive — there are the usual textbook-type copy, but then they break things up with videos, interactive quizzes, audio lessons, and games to play (these were favorites at our house!).

We also loved that they could log into their school from anywhere where there was a computer and internet access… and we often took school with us on the road or on a plane! I also loved that our kids could go at their own pace and we had access to all of the curriculum. So if a child finished the current subject in their current grade, they could move on to the next grade — without us having to buy any new curriculum or pay an additional fee!

In addition, we loved that you could mix and match grades. For instance, Silas struggled with reading and phonics but excelled in math. So we let him work ahead a few grades in math because he was getting all of the answers correct and was highly motivated to see how far he could get!

I also loved that I didn’t have to plan lessons and that I could see instantly how the kids were doing in all their subjects by logging into the teacher/parent portal.

If you are looking for something different and fresh for your homeschool curriculum next year, definitely sign up for the FREE 30-day trial to Monarch Online Curriculum. There are no strings attached and no credit/debit card required. It’s a truly free 30-day trial!

Monarch Online Curriculum offers many benefits:

  • It’s flexible. No matter the time, place, or your child’s preferred pace, Monarch lets homeschoolers study when and how it is convenient for them.
  • Students build professional communication skills every day. Monarch’s built-in messaging system provides students with an opportunity to practice virtual communication skills as they encounter questions or concerns while completing coursework.
  • It provides immediate access to the latest information. As history happens and technology advances from day to day, there’s no need to wait around for software updates or a new edition of your textbook. Monarch Online Curriculum can be updated any time, providing your child with constant access to the most up-to-date information.
  • Record-keeping is easy and feedback is instant. All of the student data is stored digitally, and 85% of student work is graded automatically.
  • Their subscription plans provide access to 50 courses for grades 3 through 12, allowing students to mix and match courses across grade levels to suit their individual learning needs.
  • There are four budget-friendly plans to choose from. Pay as you go for a budget-friendly approach to homeschooling or save even more when you purchase a yearly plan. Both options are available for an individual student or the whole family.
  • It’s PC and Mac compatible.
  • They offer secure data storage. Monarch’s secure learning environment stores your child’s academic records for seven years after your subscription ends. Accessible anytime, your child’s grades are neatly logged, so you have everything to accurately prepare high school transcripts.

Want to try the Monarch Online Curriculum?

Right now, MoneySavingMom.com readers can get a FREE 30-day trial!

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How to Make Money From Home as a Virtual Assistant

So many women are looking for ways to earn money from home — which I’m a big fan of! Many try signing up with some kind of company like Plexus or Young Living or starting a blog. Those are great options and I know many people making a full-time income from them and loving doing so.

But one option that is very under-explored and few people seem to consider is becoming a virtual assistant. Many online (and offline) companies will hire virtual workers to help with a variety of projects for their site and there is always a big need out there for good virtual assistants.

In fact, most of the great virtual assistants I know are turning away jobs because there is so much opportunity and not enough time!

No matter what your skill set is, there’s a good chance there is a virtual assistant opportunity for you. For instance, here are some of the ways I currently use virtual assistants on my team:

  • Graphic design, website design, website maintenance
  • Customer service — trouble-shooting tech issues, issue refunds, answering customer questions
  • Blog posts — Finding, vetting, and drafting posts, responding to comments, designing graphics for posts
  • Facebook — Scheduling posts, responding to comments
  • Facebook advertising — Setting up ads, watching and tracking the results
  • Email — Answering questions from readers, keeping my email organized, fielding complaints, setting up email newsletters
  • Advertising and marketing — Talking to potential advertisers, negotiating contracts, keeping all of the details straight for ad buys
  • Product creation — helping me create course content, managing & running the details of a course launch, setting up all of the details for affiliates

And that’s just a very short list! There’s no way that I could do what I do without having a fantastic team of virtual assistants working for me. Some of them who started out as part-time contractors are now full-time employees, but they still work remotely!

People can’t believe it when I tell them that we don’t have an “official office space” and that most of the people on my team live in different states and time zones!

That is the beautiful thing about running an internet business. You can find the best of the best people and hire them — without having to ask them to relocate to your area!

4 Steps to Getting Started as a Virtual Assistant

Over the years, I’ve had people come and ask me how you become a virtual assistant. The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all plan — especially because there are so many types of virtual assistants and there are so many different companies looking for virtual assistants. But if you are interested in becoming a virtual assistant, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Be a Self-Starter — Don’t wait for the opportunity to drop in your lap. Go out and teach yourself everything you can to be the best virtual assistant you can be in the area you believe you are most suited for.
  2. Volunteer Your Time — Is there a company you are interested in working for? Approach them and volunteer your time and services for the first 20 hours. You have to start somewhere and not only will this be great experience, there’s a chance that the company will hire you on after you’ve completed your 20 hours!
  3. Keep Your Rates Low — Many virtual assistants can charge upwards of $35 to $40 per hour. Which is fantastic for them, but that might be way out of reach of newer bloggers and online businesses. Start out by charging a really competitive rate like $12 to $15 per hour. As you gain more experience and the work opportunities pick up, then you can increase your rates.
  4. Be Incredibly Thorough — When someone will email me and offer their services or ask for a job, I quickly scan the email to see how attentive they are to detail. You would not believe how many times there will be glaring errors in an email (like spelling my name wrong or getting my website URL incorrect)! And this is often in an email from someone who says they are detail oriented or fantastic at customer service! The little details matter.

If you are interested in becoming a virtual assistant, I want to invite you to join me on Thursday for a free webinar I’ll be doing with Gina Horkey.

During the last three years, Gina has replaced her previous full-time salary with part-time virtual assistant work. And she still works as a VA – in addition to teaching others how to become or find one.

In this webinar, Gina will teach you:

  • What a virtual assistant is.
  • What VAs do.
  • The current need that exists.
  • How to get started working as one!
  • Plus, she’ll take your questions live at the end!

Sign up for this free webinar here.

P.S. Can’t make the webinar live? Go ahead and sign up and we’ll send you a replay after it’s finished!


Gretchen’s Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan


We were out of a LOT of items since I haven’t done a grocery shopping trip in a couple of weeks! This was probably one of the biggest shopping trips I’ve done in quite a while!

5 Kroger Cheese – $1.99, used $1/1 e-coupon x 5 (no longer available) – $0.99 each after coupons

1 Turkey Hill Ice Cream – $2.99

1 Danimal Smoothie – $1.49

1 can Kroger Great Northern Beans – $0.59

1 bag Milky Way Bars – $1.99, used $1/1 e-coupon – $0.99 after coupon

1 Kroger Unbleached Flour – $1.29

1 Post Honey Bunches of Oats – $2.29, used $1/1 e-coupon – $1.29 after coupon

2.62 lbs Bananas – $1.28

3 Enjoy Life Chocolate Bars – $1.59 each, used $4/3 printable AND $3/3 Ibotta rebate – Free plus overage after coupon and rebate (Plus, received a $2 catalina!)

1 KidFresh Fish Sticks – $3.49 (Special treat!)

2 Casa Fiesta Refried Beans – $0.99 each, used $1.25/2 Ibotta rebate – $0.37 each after rebate

3 Navel Oranges – $2.67

2.53 lbs Sweet Potatoes – $2.50

Submitted $0.25/1 Ibotta rebate for any receipt

Total after coupons and rebates: $21.79 (Plus received a $2 catalina!)


2 pkg Strawberries – $1.29 each

1 gallon Milk – $1.77

3 dozen Large Eggs – $0.44 each

1 pkg Frozen Chicken Breasts – $5.99

1 can Enchilada Sauce – $1.89

1 can Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies – $0.59

1 loaf Bread – $0.89, used $0.10 Checkout 51 rebate – $0.79 after rebate

1 pkg English Muffins – $0.79

1 pkg Rice Cakes – $1.49

1 pkg Tortillas – $0.99

3 cans Green Beans – $0.44 each

1 lb Ground Turkey – $1.89

1 lb Ground Beef – $3.19

1 Mayonnaise – $1.89

1 lb Butter – $2.46

1 pkg Peanut Butter Crackers – $0.89

1 pkg Brown Gravy Mix – $0.35

1 pint Grape Tomatoes – $0.79

1 pkg Gala Apples – $3.99

1 can Cream of Chicken Soup – $0.49

1 can Pumpkin – $0.79

1 Vegetable Oil – $1.85

1 pkg Celery – $1.29

1 pkg Hot Dog Buns – $0.83

1 pkg Red Grapes – $1.58

2 Cucumbers – $0.59 each

1 pkg Oyster Crackers – $0.79

1 Sour Cream – $1.19

1 pkg Baby Carrots – $0.99

1 bag (5 lbs) Potatoes – $2.49

1 pkg Crackers – $1.39

Total after rebate: $49.83

Total for both stores: $71.62

Menu Plan for This Week


Toast & Eggs x 4

Cereal x 2

Cinnamon Rolls, Fruit


Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Grapes x 2

Cheese, Crackers, Fruit, Veggies x 2

Fish Sticks, Fruit Salad

Baked Potato Bar



Eggs, Toasted English Muffins, Strawberries

Spaghetti, Biscuits, Green Beans

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili, Pumpkin Muffins, Crackers

Brown Bag Burritos, Homemade Applesauce, Sliced Veggies

BBQ Meatballs, Homemade Bread, Steamed Peas (from freezer), Sweet Potatoes

Slow Cooker Chicken & Gravy, Rice, Fruit Salad

Homemade Cheese Pizza, Breadsticks, Tossed Salad


It was a BIG week at our house last week!

Welcome to my weekly post where we take a break from money-related posts and I share about what I’m loving right now and give you a little peek into our life from the past week.

Whew! It was a BIG week at our house last week! We got a new pet, we celebrated Jesse’s birthday, Jesse and I ran the Tough Mudder, and I spoke at the Tribe Conference! Here are a few pictures and more details…

Meet Quill, our brand-new hedgehog We have been researching, learning, and planning for him to join our family for a number of months, so getting him this week was pretty exciting!

I will try to refrain myself from sharing too many Quill photos on here, but we kinda think our hedgie is just about the cutest, so yeah, no promises that I won’t at least share a favorite photo here and there! 😉

For September 11, Jesse and the kids did the 343 Workout of the Day at Crossfit — one rep for every firefighter who lost their life on 9/11.

Since we had the privilege of getting to go to the 9/11 Museum & Memorial this summer, our kids have a much deeper understanding of the significance of this day.

Silas did all 343 reps because, he told me, he, “wanted to make sure to honor every single hero.”

There were many, many more heroes on that day, but it was a small way for our kids to stop and remember.

May we never forget.

Jesse celebrated his birthday this week and we had fun doing some fun things for the occasion — including a dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants and some surprise gifts we had planned for him. His birthday also caused me to reflect on the last few years.

3 1/2 years ago, because of how unexpectedly well the blog was doing, we made the decision for me to step into the primary bread winner role. I haven’t talked about this much online, but there were definitely a lot of challenges to us as we’ve navigated this new season.

Some days, we didn’t see eye-to-eye. Some days, we both wanted to throw in the towel. Many days, people questioned or criticized or didn’t understand our decision.

But I’m grateful we stuck with it — even on the hard days. Because we are growing in our communication skills, growing in our respect for one another, and growing into the gifts that God has uniquely equipped us with.

With each passing day, I become more grateful for this man and the sacrifices he makes so I can live out the calling God has given me. Our family is stronger, our kids are happier, our marriage has been strengthened, and individually we are more fulfilled.

This year, I feel like we’ve really found our sweet spots and both feel so content and fulfilled in knowing them. This peace was hard won and required many honest and difficult conversations. It required compromise and sacrifice on both of our parts. But it’s been worth it.

Sometimes, God calls you to take a leap of faith that doesn’t make sense to many people. Sometimes, it’s hard and lonely and filled with wondering whether you really made the right decision.

But you keep trusting, keep taking the next step, keep having the hard conversations, keep going when people tell you you should turn around.

And then you wake up one day down the road and see that it wasn’t a big mistake. It was actually the road to greater blessing and joy than you ever dared hope.

I had the opportunity to speak at the Tribe Conference on Saturday. I talked about How to Build Your Blog Without Killing Your Soul — sharing some of my lessons learned from my Year of Rest. I loved getting to be there — and to meet some of you!

On Sunday, Jesse and I ran our second Tough Mudder. It was 10 miles and 23 obstacles and we did it in less than 4 hours — which was our goal!

We had so much fun and this one was MUCH easier for me than last time around. (Read all about my very first Tough Mudder experience here.)

I realized that not only am I physically stronger and healthier than I was last time, I’m also mentally much stronger. All that working out + eating healthier + taking better care of myself + deep heart work is paying off!

Was I scared about some parts of this Tough Mudder? Absolutely! Were there times when I wondered if I’d be able to complete an obstacle. YES!

But even though I was scared, even though I had doubts, I did it scared… and I totally surprised myself by what I was capable of! Plus, I had so much fun!

Take that, fear! I don’t have to live in bondage to you. I can sign up, show up, do the thing, and have fun in the process. Because you are not the boss of me!

Links You Should Check Out:

Ever thought about becoming a virtual assistant? There is a HUGE need for this right now as I know many blogger and online entrepreneurs who are looking to hire those with excellent skills. If you are interested in what it takes to become a virtual assistant and what types of jobs you can do, you don’t want to miss Thursday afternoon’s free webinar I’m hosting with Gina Horkey. Sign up for it here.

27 Ways to Feel Happier For FREE! I had fun putting together this list of some of my favorite ways to have a pick-me-up, without spending any money.

Like free samples? Sign up to get free samples from PinchMe!

I’m so excited that the trees are starting to turn colors! I’m determined to soak up every bit of fall foliage this year and here’s why.

Looking for a yummy weekend breakfast? I highly recommend these Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls.

Did you take the free Productivity quiz yet? If not, go take it here. I found it really insightful — and encouraging!


Would you like to make money online as a virtual assistant?

Have you ever thought about making money online as a virtual assistant? I’m excited to be hosting a FREE webinar on Thursday afternoon with Gina Horkey all about becoming a virtual assistant.

During the last three years, Gina has replaced her previous full-time salary with part-time virtual assistant work. And she still works as a VA – in addition to teaching others how to become or find one.

Are you wondering if a VA side hustle is right for you? Or if you can make a career out of virtual assistant work?

If you haven’t quite figured it out on your own yet, are interested in this whole “VA thing,” but not really sure what a virtual assistant is or how to get started working as one, then you’ll definitely want to check out this free webinar!

Gina will teach you:

  • What a virtual assistant is.
  • What VAs do.
  • The current need that exists.
  • How to get started working as one!
  • Plus, she’ll take your questions live at the end!

Sign up for this free webinar here.



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