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Here you’ll find a list of all of my favorites tools and services, from blogging to homeschooling to finance and everything in between!
This takes up the biggest chunk of my time but for good reason! These are the services and sites I use to make sure our homeschool runs smoothly, efficiently, and economically.
AmblesideOnline – This is what we use for our overall curriculum and it has been so wonderful to be able to access for free. You can read about how we use it in my term overview posts here.
Lessontrek – I have used this in the past for our lesson planning and it makes recurring lessons and moving subjects around a breeze! (Get a 10% discount on new accounts with code AFL10!)
Anna Vance Charlotte Mason Inspired Homeschool Planner – If you prefer paper planners, I can’t recommend Anna’s planner enough. It’s not only beautiful and inspirational with Charlotte Mason quotes scattered throughout it, it’s also well-made and extremely helpful in keeping all of my homeschooling organized.
RightStart Math – This is the math program we have used since first grade and I absolutely love it. It offers different ways of learning various math concepts through hands on activities with manipulatives and all of the lessons are scripted and laid out for me in advance so I have to do very little prep work.
Beautiful Feet Books – This is a great source for homeschooling books and resources, including the blank maps we use for the Holling C. Holling books in Years 1 and 2 (and we’ll use the last one in year 4).
Imagine Childhood – I love this little family-owned business for finding absolutely wonderful toys, games, books, and other gifts for my kids that double as excellent tools for homeschool. They even have an entire section dedicated to nature study! (You can find a list of some of my favorite products from their store here.)
BookFinder – This is where I find all of my used books and it’s a great way to save money while homeschooling!
Epson EcoTank Printers – I have the 3700 model and use it for all the printing in our house, including our homeschool materials, and I absolutely love it. In the two-and-a-half years that I’ve had it, I’ve filled the ink tanks one time (and I do a LOT of printing) and those bottles actually came with the printer when I first purchased it. It prints beautifully and it saves so much money on ink!
Here are a few services I use to save money while I’m shopping online and in-person.
Rakuten – Formerly known as Ebates. I have the Chrome extension that automatically tells me when there are coupons or cashback for a site I’m visiting! Occasionally they have 15% cashback on many sites which is a nice little discount for things I’m already planning to buy!
Honey – If a site doesn’t offer any Rakuten discounts, I use this with Chrome to automatically find coupons for me when I’m in the checkout. They also offer a type of rebate system, and if Rakuten doesn’t offer a discount for a certain site, I’ll use Honey. Instead of offering cashback, they give you points for each purchase instead. When you collect enough points, you can redeem them for giftcards at stores like Amazon!
ibotta – I use this to get money back from grocery shopping. Usually I’ll look through the app before I head to a store to see if there are any discounts being offered for things that are already on my list, but might be a different brand than I’d normally try, and I’ll get those again. It’s a nice way to offset the grocery bill!
Aside from our mortgage, we have been debt-free for over ten years. These are the tools I use to keep it that way.
YNAB – I have been using YNAB for several years to keep both our home and business finances squeaky clean. They’re always making improvements and I’ve been so thankful for how easy it has made budgeting!
USAA – We use USAA for pretty much all parts of our financial life. All of our family bank accounts, credit cards, home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, previous car loans, etc. are or have been through USAA and we’ve never regretted it. If your parents or spouse are members of USAA, or if they or you are former or current military, then you’re eligible for membership.
Freedom Filer – I have been using this filing system for over ten years and it has kept all of our paperwork, including taxes, bills, receipts, and all of our other important documents, well-organized and easy to find!
Food and what I serve my family is very important to me so I’m sharing my favorite ways to get organic, natural, real food at the best prices.
Azure Standard – I use them for bulk items and hard-to-find-at-the-store products, including perishable items. They deliver to a central drop point in different locations, so check to see if they’re in your area!
Amazon Subscribe and Save – When I subscribe to have at least 5 items per month automatically delivered to me, I get a 15% discount on those items. I use this for non-perishable things like canned soup, tuna, sugar, and ghee as well as facial moisturizer and shampoo.
Costco – I make a trip once-per-month to Costco to stock up on things like almond flour, maple syrup, honey, frozen fish, and more. It saves us a lot of money on our grocery bill each month and it’s nice to have bulk items to pull from in the pantry!
Butcherbox – I use Butcherbox primarily as a reliable source for getting grass-fed, pastured beef roasts, ground beef, and delivered to my front door every other month. It was especially helpful to know I’d still have access to high-quality meat when COVID-19 started.
Natural Grocers – This is, hands-down, my favorite grocery store. All of the produce is organic. All of the dairy is pastured. All of the eggs are at least free-range. They even have a rating system for their meats. Their prices are competitive with the same items sold at larger chain stores, and their bulk options can’t be beat!
I prefer to keep things simple when it comes to housekeeping. These are a few resources I have come to really appreciate when it comes to keeping my home.
Plan to Eat – I have used Plan to Eat since 2010 to keep track of my recipes, make weekly and monthly meal plans, and build grocery lists. It has saved me time, money, and sanity as it makes meal planning SO MUCH easier than how I used to do it. You can read about how I use it here. (Get a 45-day free trial with my link!)
Plant Therapy Essential Oils – Did you know that some essential oils are not safe to use around kids? I didn’t until I started using this company’s products. They have an entire line of oils and blends that are specifically formulated to be safely used around children. I use their blends often in my diffuser (Germ Destroyer is my blend of choice during the COVID-19 pandemic) as well as mixed with my all-purpose cleaning spray. Their oils are high in quality, but well-priced, and they’re also available through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program!
I am what you’d call “fashion-challenged.” I honestly couldn’t put together an outfit to save my life. When I discovered wardrobe guides a few years ago, it was a game-changer for me. Now I actually enjoy going into my closet to pick something out and here are the things I use to make that happen while not breaking the bank.
thredUP – I get about 95% of my wardrobe on thredUP these days, which has saved me a LOT of money. Being able to find specific pieces listed in the Putting Me Together Start Kit Wardrobe Guides at a huge discount has greatly improved my wardrobe and my confidence in being able to put an outfit together. (Get $10 toward your first order with my link!)
Dear Mushka, – I like really simple, minimalist jewelry and Dear Mushka, fits the bill perfectly. Not only is this a small business run by a mom, but the jewelry is absolutely beautiful and reasonably priced. (Get $5 toward your first order with my link!)
MyChelle Dermaceuticals – As I’ve gotten closer to 40, I’ve started paying more attention to my skin. While I was ready to graduate to a better line of skincare products, it’s not really in our budget for me to be spending $100s on facial moisturizer. MyChelle is a wonderful balance and most of their products are EWG verified.
If you’re interested in starting your own blog, here are a few of the resources I recommend after having had my own blog since 1998 and helping other people with their websites.
WordPress – This is my content management system and I recommend it to anyone starting a new blog. In my 20+ years of blogging, I’ve done everything from hand-coding all of my posts to using Greymatter, Blogger, Movable Type, and now WordPress. I also contracted with Six Apart back in 2005 responding to support tickets for TypePad. WordPress is the most user-friendly and easy content management system I’ve used to date. If you have your own domain and hosting, you can install WordPress on your own server, or get started for free on theirs.
A2 Hosting – If you’re interested in installing WordPress on your own server, which allows for a lot more flexibility, then you need a host and I use A2 Hosting for this purpose. Their uptime is fantastic and their plans are extremely flexible. They’re also a small business and not owned by any larger corporations (like EIG), which means they can provide better service.
Restored316 Designs – If you’re not sure where to begin with your website and are willing to invest in a beautiful design, I highly recommend Restored316. Her designs are gorgeous, very customizable, all run on the Genesis Framework.
Studiopress – If Restored316 isn’t quite your style, head over to StudioPress to find even more fantastic themes for the Genesis Framework. When I stopped creating my own themes for my site, I was very picky about which themes I would use. StudioPress offers a great variety of different styles. If you like variety and changing your themes occasionally but don’t want to change each one individually, get the Pro Plus All-Theme Package which gives you access to all current themes and future themes for life. I got this on a sale a few years ago and never regretted it!
MailerLite – This is what I use for my newsletters. Their prices are very competitive compared to other email marketing providers and I have been very pleased with their service! (Get a $20 credit for a new account with my link!)
Tailwind – I use this for scheduling Pins and it’s made my Pinterest marketing strategy so much easier! I highly recommend it if you’re wanting to increase your traffic through Pinterest (which is a good idea in general). (Get a $15 credit for a new account with my link!)