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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Finding Financial Freedom in Motherhood

Finding Financial Freedom in Motherhood

Blogger Crystal Paine explains how women can uncover their talents, knowledge and passion to generate marketable ideas and live more generously in a discussion based on her book Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference.
Original Air Date: May 23, 2016


John Fuller: “Money Saving Mom” Crystal Paine shares about the hard work and determination needed to make money at home.


Crystal Paine: I’m gonna think outside the box. I’m gonna find a way and I’m gonna keep trying and keep at it and keep, you know, even if it’s just this little trickle of a stream of income, I’m gonna just chase after those trickles until those trickles can turn into a river, that can turn into a stream, but now have turned into this raging torrent.

End of Teaser

John: You’ll hear more from Crystal about practical ways you can use your talents to provide for your family on today’s “Focus on the Family” with your host, Focus president and author, Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: You know, for most families, finances are tight. It’s just the reality of life. There’s so much tugging at the budget—insurance, house payment, all of those things that just cost us to run a household. As a result, it requires both spouses to work sometimes and I think recent survey data I saw, almost 60 percent of families with children under the age of 18 in the home, both parents are working. And it shows you how expensive it is to live today.

Other households are tryin’ to live off one income, but often going into debt as they’re scraping by and are living paycheck to paycheck. And regardless of where you’re at financially, today we want to empower you with some creativity, I think some determination and hopefully, some confidence that you can contribute to your family’s finances, even if you’re working from inside the home and not goin’ out to an 8 to 5 job every day.

John: And we’ve invited Crystal Paine, as I said, as our guest today and her blog www.moneysavingmom.comis one of the most popular personal finance blogs out there, with over 2 million hits a month. And her latest book is Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference. And she and her husband, Jesse, live with their three children in Franklin, Tennessee.


Jim: Crystal, welcome back to “Focus on the Family.”

Crystal: Thanks so much for havin’ me. I’m so honored to be here.

Jim: Okay, so 2 million moms are contacting you every month. What are they sayin’ to you when it comes to their financial situation and what they want to try to do to help their family do better?

Crystal: Well, when I started “Money Saving Mom” in 2007, I really started it with the goal of being able to help families with very practical ways that they could cut their grocery bill and live on less. And as I did that, over time people started saying, “Well, that’s great, but I’m doing as best as I can with my budget and we don’t have a budget problem; we have an income problem. What are we supposed to do about that?”

So, this book, Money Making Mom was really written to help those families who say, you know, we’re doing really well with budgeting. We aren’t living extravagantly. We aren’t living, you know, outside of what we’re making, but we just need to make more, ’cause we’re barely eking by on what we’re making.

Jim: What are some of the ways that a mom can do this? I mean, what are those things that you’ve seen women do to help lift the income in their family?

Crystal: There are so many different things and one of the things in my book that I really tried to bring across was that, it’s not just one thing. And you know, people think that, oh, well, you’re a blogger, so this book is about blogging. And it’s about so many different things.

But one of the areas that I will say is really up and coming right now is virtual assistant. There are so many online sites that need people to help them with data entry, with graphic design, with website design, with video editing, with social media, so many different things. And I know many moms who are making a very good income from home, on their own time, maybe when their kids are napping or at night after their kids have gone to bed, by being a virtual assistant for these online businesses.

Jim: How does a mom find that opportunity though? Where does she go to say, you know, I have some time? Is there a website you go to, to plug into somethin’ like that? How do you find a job like that?

Crystal: Yeah, well, I think it starts with really analyzing what am I passionate about? What am I good at? What do I want to be good at? What are my interests? What are those things that I do, if money and time weren’t an issue? Like what would I be drawn to?

For me, that’s writing and computers. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to have a computer. And that was the thing, like when I was old enough to be able to earn enough money to buy this old computer, this used computer from my dad. At his office he’s get these used computers. I bought this computer and I bought this desk and I put it in my room and I was so excited and that’s what I wanted to do. And so, realizing that, that’s something that I’m passion about, computers and online stuff.

Whereas, with someone else, you might be passionate about pets and you might want to do dog walking or pet care of pet grooming or something like that. So, figuring out what is it that you’re passionate about and start with that.

Jim: You know, some people may be disconnected with what it feels like to be trapped in that situation that you described a moment ago, that we’re doin’ all we can on the expense side. We’re livin’ frugally. We’re doin’ everything we can. We just need more income. What does that feel like? And maybe you were experienced [sic] that early in your own marriage. Give us an example of how you and your husband struggled in this area.

Crystal: Yes, so actually my site, www.moneysavingmom.com came out of that exact feeling that we had in our own marriage. So, my husband had started law school and he was in law school and we set this audacious goal that we were gonna go through law school debt free.

And that was great until I found out that I was pregnant and I had to quit working because I was so sick and so, I’m laying [sic] on the bed and paving this path from the bed to the bathroom and back and thinking, there’s no way we’re gonna be able to follow through with this audacious goal if something doesn’t change, because the numbers aren’t gonna meet on paper without my income.

And so, I started researching everything I could about making money online and fell into this thing called “blogging,” which was brand new at the time and [I] started this little mommy blog. And one day on that mommy blog, I said something about buying all the groceries for $17 that week. People started coming out of the woodwork saying, “Oh, my goodness. How are you doing that?”

So, I started blogging on frugal living and cutting your grocery bill and realized there was so much interest in that. It was something that I was passionate about, something that I had experience in and so, then ultimately, in 2007, I started “Money Saving Mom.”

And so, it came out of kind of, you know, wrestling with, we’ve gotta do something. This isn’t working and I’m not going to just say, “Well, it’s not working, so it’s just not gonna work.” I think that you have to have that attitude of, I’m gonna think outside the box. I’m gonna find a way and I’m gonna keep trying and keep at it and keep, you know, even if it’s just this little trickle of a stream of income, I’m gonna just chase after those trickles until those trickles can turn into a river, that can turn into a stream, but now have turned into this raging torrent. So for me, that was really, it was just, you know, being in that place of almost desperation and saying, “I’m gonna get creative here.”

Jim: Did you anticipate that it would turn into something that big? Was that your goal? Would you describe yourself as a goal-oriented person? Or were you just doing that day what you needed to do for that day?

Crystal: You know, I am definitely a very positive, optimistic person and so, I think that helps a lot and I don’t take no for an answer. And so, if somebody tells me no, I’m gonna say, “Well, I’m gonna go find another door to knock on.”

And so, I think that’s one thing, but also it’s when you need to put a roof over your head and when you say, “We don’t want to go into debt, so let’s see if we can figure out a way to make this work.” That was really what it was for me.

But to answer your question, I never envisioned that it was gonna turn into this, you know, kind of full-time thing, that my husband and I did and that we were gonna employ people around the country. I never anticipated that. I honestly, when I started “Money Saving Mom,” I said, “I’m probably gonna blog on here three times a week, I think.

Jim: (Laughing ) Right.

Crystal: And it’ll be this little side thing, but God had other plans.

Jim: Isn’t that great? It’s amazing to see what the Lord’ll do with it. What about though, the mom that, they’re working—that 60 percent I talked about at the top of the program—where they’re both having to work and she’s hearing you say this and it sounds good, but I’m already exhausted. I can’t even find the capacity to think outside the box, to think what it is I’d like to do and how I might be able to do that from home. How does she begin to reorient herself around the possible?

Crystal: Yeah, my heart just goes out to those women, ’cause there are so many of them out there. And I think that you can look at someone like me and say, “Well, you know, it works for you, but it will never work for me. But I think when there’s a will, there’s a way. And so, you have to start with that will and then from there, you say, “Okay, what is the way? How much time do I have to invest each week? Do I have an hour to invest each week? Do I have an evening that my husband could watch the kids and I could go to a coffee shop and work on a business idea. So, start with what you have and then work from that.

So, I would say, block out on your calendar this appointment with yourself to say, at this time and this time during the week, I’m going to focus on building a business and that’s gonna start with researching and figuring out what I’m good at and figuring out what are other people doing in this field that I could possibly do? So, start with what you have and don’t look at other people and compare yourself to them.

Jim: Oh, that’s a good point, you know. That’ll slow you down in essence and—

Crystal: Yeah—

Jim: –become a barricade.

Crystal: –it can paralyze you. It can just paralyze you and keep you from starting at all.

Jim: What are some of those questions a woman can ask herself about her gifts and talents and skills and the way she’s, you know, able to apply herself? What would be an example of some of those questions?

Crystal: I think one of the best things that you can do is kind of have this brainstorming session, where you think of words that describe you. And I would encourage you to, if you are married, to have your spouse do this with you. Invite a couple of good friends to sit down there and just brainstorm with you. What are you really good at? What do you love? What words describe you? What are you passionate about? What do you come alive when you talk about?

Like one of the things I didn’t realize that I was super passionate about was marketing and business (Laughter) and earning an income. And so, then when people started asking me questions and I just would talk and talk and talk and talk and talk about it. And then they’re like, “Whoa, that was more information than I expected, that I was gonna get,” and realizing that’s something that I’m passionate about.

And I’m passionate about helping people cut their grocery bill, but I didn’t necessarily recognize that myself. It was other people saying, “When you start talking about that, you come alive and I can see it in your eyes.” And so, asking other people around you to give their input and help you to brainstorm to say, what are you good at? What do you love? What would you do if money were not an issue? What is the thing that you go to when you’re relaxing, on the weekends? What are you reading and studying? What do you look at online? Just start thinking about all these things and that will help you to start getting an idea of what you’re really passionate about and then how you can meld that passion with a profession.

Jim: And you know, one thing that’s really important is, you don’t have to have degrees or advanced degrees to do any of this. I mean, you just have to have the “want to.” Is that a fair statement?

Crystal: Yes, absolutely, because I never went to college.

Jim: Right.

Crystal: So, I don’t think, you know, degrees can be fantastic in certain areas and I feel like there are some times when you need to get more skills and training. Maybe you need to go and learn from someone else, maybe almost like an apprenticeship model. But at the end of the day, it’s not a college degree that’s going to guarantee you a good income.

Jim: And you can’t let setbacks take you down too far. In fact, you started something that didn’t go well. Talk through the emotion of that. What was it and how did you manage not succeeding?

Crystal: I’ve had a lot of setbacks and mistakes over the 10 years of having my own business, but when I first started this mommy blog, we were in this little basement apartment and my husband’s in law school and I had this mommy blog that was doing fairly well. I mean, I’m making almost maybe sometimes a part-time income off of it.

But I wanted to do more, because I knew that it still wasn’t enough. So, I met this family, who they have this frugal living site. And I was talking to them and they said they were making $1,300 a month off of Google advertising on their site. And I looked at their site and I thought, well, I can do that, too.

And so, I decided, well, I’m gonna start my own frugal living site. So, I did and I started this site and put all this time and effort into it and then I launched it to the world, thinking it’s gonna be this amazing thing and this is what’s gonna like carry us out of law school and we’re gonna be making more than a part-time income. And it was crickets, crickets chirping and (Laughter) no one ever really came. It never took off and I realized that you can’t chase someone else’s dream. That was their dream. That was their gift. That was what they were supposed to do, but it wasn’t my dream. I was trying to do what they were doing because I thought, well, it’s working for them. I should try it, too.

Jim: You did the same kind of thing with wedding dresses, didn’t you?

Crystal: Yes, so also (Laughter), yes, I’ve had many failed businesses. So, one of my first business ideas was that I was going to make custom-made wedding dresses–

Jim: Sounds good.

Crystal: –not me, not me, because I don’t sew, but I was gonna contract with seamstresses across the country and do this. And I quickly learned that it’s much harder than it might seem on the —

Jim: Yeah. (Laughing)

Crystal: –on the surface and that we were basically running a charity, because we were not really making any money. But I learned a lot from that and I learned what doesn’t work and I learned how to build an e-mail list and I started really discovering that you can’t just have this great idea and put up this nice site. You have to put a lot of thought and effort into it and I didn’t even like doing this. And so, realizing that don’t chase after something that sounds like a good idea if it’s not something that you’re passionate about.

Jim: Spiritually and emotionally, how do you keep yourself buoyant? I mean, you described yourself as a pretty optimistic person. What about the person that isn’t so optimistic, the mom that, you know, it’s that kind of thing comes a little more difficult for her. What advice do you have for her, especially when she faces setbacks?

Crystal: I think one of the best things that you can do is surround yourself with cheerleaders. So, finding a few people from the get-go, who are gonna be your cheerleaders, who they believe in you. They believe in your passion. They believe in your idea and on those days when you’re really discouraged because you didn’t make another sale or you got another rejection or it just feels like it’s not working and you’re just tired, you can go to them and you can say, “I’m tired.” And they can remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing and they can encourage you and they can just really push you to keep going and not give up.

John: Some great perspective from Crystal Paine on “Focus on the Family” with Jim Daly. Crystal’s book is called Money Making Mom and we’ve got that and a CD or a download of this conversation at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or call us and we can tell you more, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

John: In fact, if you can donate generously to Focus on the Family today, we’ll say thank you by sending Crystal’s book to you as our thank you and just a way of putting a great resource in your hands for either your family or someone you know. Again, the number, 800-A-FAMILY.

John: Yeah, you know, Jim, you mentioned the spiritual component and there’s a deeper reason beyond just being busy and bringing income to the table, I think in your message, isn’t there, Crystal?

Crystal: Yes and that’s really one of the reasons why I wrote the book, Money Making Mom, was because I saw there are a lot of books out there that are about how to make money, that are how to grow your business and get more customers. But very few of them were talking about the why behind the what.

And so, the first half of my book is all about setting up y our business and marketing your business and being successful as an entrepreneur. But the second half is the why and that’s really my heartbeat. I think to make an income so that you can make an impact.

And for my husband and I, we want to live simply so that others can simply live. And we see that being strategic with the products that we develop and with our site and with everything that we do, by being strategic and being wise with our finances, then we are able to give more generously.

Jim: In fact, Crystal, some people might be critical of a title like Money Making Mom, especially in the Christian section of the bookstore. It seems, I guess, opposites, but it is a Proverbs 31 thing, isn’t it?

Crystal: Yes, it is and I think there are people who feel like, you know, maybe women shouldn’t work or women shouldn’t make money or, you know, it can kind of be a little bit of a hot button issue, that you would make money and almost like I’m encouraging people to chase after money.

But it’s not that. I’m encouraging people to use their passions and their gifts that God has given them in order to make a difference, because I feel like that all the money in the world, you can make it all, but if you don’t, you know, make it and use it for a purpose, what’s the point?

Jim: And I want to dig into the help save people part of what you said a moment ago. By living frugally, how do you take your resources and then help other people?

Crystal: So, that’s one of the things that for our family has become just why we do everything that we do. And we are so passionate about being able to live our life with open hands and open arms, because we feel like, we want to be conduits for God to just pour through to others.

When we hold tightly onto our stuff and our possessions, there’s no blessing in that. So, we found so much blessing by just looking for opportunities in our local community, in the U.S. and around the world, to really be able to come alongside people who are struggling and to be able to bless them and encourage them and help them, so that then, they can go and make a difference, too.

Jim: On the practical side, Crystal, you know, making money from home is often like a direct-marketing pitch or you know, some kind of multi-level thing and everybody’s a little uneasy with that sometimes. But talk about how it’s not that. It can be a variety of things that aren’t intimidating in that way.

Crystal: Yes and I think that people sometimes are turned off like, oh, now; she’s starting a business and now every time we get together, she’s gonna talk about her business and tell me how I need to sign up under her or something. (Laughing)

And in the book, I really talk about how to network well and that is, how to give to others and ma … build relationships with others and it’s not about what can I get from someone else. So, that’s really impacted me and in networking with other people.

But I think that it’s not necessarily, maybe you’re supposed to do something that’s multi-level marketing, but I think there’s so much potential now with the Internet, that at our fingertips there are literally hundreds of thousands of job possibilities, thanks to the Internet.

So, maybe you’re supposed to have a job in your local community, a brick and mortar business. I talk about that in the book. But maybe you need to think beyond that and look to an opportunity that’s on the Internet. There’s, you know, simple things like Etsy or like we talked about, being a virtual assistant or starting a blog, that those are very simple things that so many people can do and be very successful at.

Jim: What are some things outside of that? I think you talked about one question, do you love the gym? Then teach exercise classes. That’s a good one. Do you have two or three others like that?

Crystal: Do you love to cook? Could you have some kind of business where you’re catering or where you’re making food that you then sell to a local restaurant? Things like, do you love to organize? Could you go into people’s homes and organize for them?

Do you love to drive in the car? Could you run errands for people? There are so many people that would love to have someone who’s just kind of like their little “gofer,” that will run their errands and do that.

Jim: They’re an angel.

Crystal: That’s right. They’re angel[s]. And so, just think about what are the needs that you know. What would you love to see? And is there a way that you could turn that into a business?

Jim:John: Okay, so Crystal, there are some women who are saying, “Really what I would love is five minutes, just five minutes without the kids in my face” or whatever it is. Is there a way for that mom, who feels overloaded right now to somehow make the time, find the time, create the time so she can do somethin’ like that?”

Crystal: Yes, I think that it starts with really looking at what you’re doing with your life right now and analyzing your calendar. Look at your commitments right now. Can you clear some of the schedule clutter? Are there things that you’re saying yes to, but maybe you don’t love to do? Maybe you feel obligated to do. Maybe you feel like you should do it, but you say, “If I were to say no to that for a season, I would be able to say yes and carve out this time to breathe and to possibly pursue some of my passions.”

So, start with what does your calendar look like and then maybe think beyond that. Is there a way that could you barter with another mom, that if you have young children that are at home, that every Friday, that you switch off and one Friday, you take care of all the kids and the other Friday, she takes care of all the kids, so that both of you get a Friday off and then you’re able to have that full day or that half day or even just three hours that you can have some quality quiet time to be able to focus on something like this.

Jim: Crystal, that’s really good. When you look at the whole landscape, here you were in 2007, you know, tryin’ to figure out where am I gonna go? Should I launch this thing? [Your] husband’s in law school. We’re living lean. We have bills to pay. And now eight years later, you’re sitting at Focus on the Family, talking about having 2 million blog readers a month and helping all these women do things differently, having greater success in a godly context, having more resources to support ministries that are doing things that line up with your passions.

Did you ever think it was gonna come to this? And really for that woman who’s just at the gate, she’s now in 2005, where you were, kinda going, “There’s gotta be more to it than this,” what advice would you give her?

Crystal: I never could have dreamed or imagined what God had in store. And I think that our lives and our testimony and my blog is just really a testimony to the fact that God can do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ever ask or think.

But it’s not like I started out saying, “Hey, I’m gonna build this big website and I’m gonna do this, that and the other.” I just had to take the next step. And so, my encouragement to that mom who is feeling really overwhelmed and she’s feeling discouraged because she looks at their monthly bills and she looks at their income and she says, “I just don’t know what to do.”

I say, take the next step. What is the next best thing that you can do? Do you have an hour this week that you could carve out, that you could spend time researching? Make three goals for yourself over the next six months, three very small, simple goals.

Maybe you say, “I’m gonna figure out two things that I’m passion about and I’m going to research opportunities in those fields. And I’m gonna talk to people who are in those fields.” So, you set those three goals and you say, “I have an hour every week that I’m going to commit and I’m gonna look at that paper and I’m gonna do the next thing during that hour.” Set the timer and when the timer goes off, put it away and work on it the next week.

You can’t do everything. You can’t, you know, so many moms they feel discouraged and overwhelmed, because they feel like there’s so much that I should be doing and so much that I want to do. Just do what you can do and don’t look at what other people are doing.

And I think sometimes people can look at me and they can say, “Well, but you’re so successful.” And I say, “I wish you could’ve seen me in 2005, when we couldn’t even afford to buy fish food. Like I wish that you could’ve seen me in those days when it was so lean. When I got pregnant and I was like, “God, You’re gonna have to provide maternity clothes for me, because there’s no way on earth that I can even afford to buy them at the thrift store.” And He did. Someone sent me a box of maternity clothes and God was always so faithful.

But two, don’t compare yourself to someone who has had a lot of success. Compare yourself only with yourself and do the next thing. And I would tell you, success brings its own set of struggles and hard things. And so, just honestly, last night I had someone who has 600,000 followers on Periscope, who did a whole scope on, that I’m a fraud and this whole thing. And it was this kind of awful thing that was very discouraging to me.

And so, it was because she’s seen my success and she was discouraged by it and so, she was upset. And so, I guess I just share that with you to say, that don’t look at someone and think, they have it all together and it’s just perfect and they never have discouragement. There [are] hard things in every season of life.

Jim: Well, and that’s important to know. I mean, that is life. Life isn’t easy. When you look at those impediments and you’ve touched on a couple of ’em, how do we limit God in what He would like to do with our lives, because really our lives belong to Him. But how do we get in the way of what He would like to do?

Crystal: I think that’s so good and for me, it’s having to constantly go back to God and say, “Give me light for the next step.” So many times people say, “So what are the next five years gonna be for you ? What does the future hold for you?” And I’ll just honestly say, “You know, I don’t know. God is at the helm of the ship and I want to live with my arms wide open and say, “Just give me that light for the next step and I want to take that in faith and in obedience and not worry about the future.”

Because sometimes I feel like worry can paralyze us. We can think, well, what if that doesn’t work out and how am I gonna do this in three months from now and three years from now? Instead of saying, you know, God only gives us our daily bread. He gives us what we need for this moment. So, live this moment completely and 100 percent and trust Him for all the moments to come.

Jim: That is well-said. Crystal Paine, Money Making Mom, it’s been great to talk with you and thanks for giving moms in the audience ideas that they could begin to change their circumstances. Thanks for being with us.

Crystal: Thanks so much for the opportunity.


John: And Crystal’s book will help you determine your talents and how you can make those marketable and you’ll find a copy of the book at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.

Well, we’ve talked about finances today and the importance of using your money to help others. And it may be that you’re in a good spot financially speaking. If that’s the case, please when you get in touch, consider helping us help others. Every day we come alongside marriages and mom and dads and help equip them with the type of practical advice you’ve heard today to get some momentum, some positive traction in life.

And last year alone, 660,000 families said that Focus on the Family helped them build stronger, healthier, more God-honoring families. And we need your partnership to continue with this mission. I’ll encourage you to make a generous donation at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. And today when you contribute a gift of any amount, we’ll send a copy of Money Making Mom as our way of saying thanks.

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, I’m John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow, as we hear from Dr. John MacArthur about a topic of immense importance today, as he talks about divorce and the alternatives to it.


Dr. John MacArthur: Forgivingly, graciously, mercifully, consistently, unwaveringly and the exhilaration of loving like that, it transcends the kind of selfish love that defines most people.


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Money-Making Mom

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