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The holiday season tends to wreak havoc on our bank accounts. Between the gifts, the parties and the inevitable self-indulging, most people blow through their holiday budgets in no time and dip into other accounts. But it doesn't have to be that way, mama.

Here are 17 ways you can start working towards your financial goals now.

1. Rebuild (or start) your emergency fund

To rebuild your savings in the new year, set up automatic transfers. Typically, we advise clients to save a minimum of 10% of their gross monthly income. They set-up automatic transfers to move the money from their checking account to their savings account on the days they get paid. Just set it and forget it, you'll be amazed how quickly your savings grow!

2. Set up goal-based budgets

Another tool we use to help our clients get organize is goals-based budgeting. Make a list of the goals you hope to accomplish next year, then figure out how much you need to save to make them a reality. Planning a vacation for June that will cost you $1,000? Transfer $200 to a travel savings account each month and you will save that money in just five months. You can have a different account for each goal and make contributions on a weekly or monthly basis.

3. Start saving for the next holiday season

To avoid the usual holiday spending trap, start saving for next year now. Putting just $50 away each month will help you save $600 for next year. Can you afford $75 each month? That will get you to $900.

4. Track spending + cut wasteful costs

A new year is a great time to review your spending from the previous year. Take some time to look over bank statements and credit card bills to discover your problem areas (some credit card companies even provide year end summaries showing what you spent on the most). This can help you identify areas where you are overspending or wasting money. You should also review the subscription services you and your family utilize. Are you using them? If not, cancel them.

5. Clean out your closet + declutter your home

This is perfect time to clean out your closet and get rid of items you no longer need or want. You may find that there are clothes you forgot you owned, some of which have never been worn. You might be able to save yourself a shopping trip just by organizing your closet and seeing what you already own. Clean out junk drawers, hall closets and kitchen cabinets. Take inventory of everything you find and use it all before you go out shopping.

6. Sell unwanted gift cards, clothes, electronics, etc.

Did you get a gift card you'll never use? Are you holding on to clothes that you will never wear? Do yourself a favor and take advantage of sites like Raise, CardPool and GiftCardGranny that allow you to sell unused gift cards for cash. Once you've cleaned out your closet and decluttered your home, use thredUP, Poshmark, or Tradesy to sell clothes and shoes. For electronics try Gazelle, Nextworth, or Ebay. Amazon and Best Buy also have trade-in programs that allow you to exchange electronics for store credit.

7. Save up your spare change

This is probably the easiest thing you can do to save money this year. I keep a mason jar on my windowsill and empty the change from my wallet into it every couple weeks. Some people take this a step further and put dollar or five dollar bills into a jar every time they clean out their wallet. Either way it adds up over time, and once you've filled the jar you can use this money to treat yourself to something special.

8. Make a change

Are you eating too many meals out? Do you have a bad (and expensive) habit you've been meaning to kick? Make a point to tackle these problems in now. Not only will it help you save, but you will also make strides to improving your personal well-being too.

9. Do the side hustle

Sometimes cost cutting just isn't enough. Figure out a side hustle that can help you bring in more income. It doesn't have to be starting your own business, it can be something simple, like babysitting or dog waking. Have experience in hospitality? Waitron is revolutionizing staffing in the NYC area. You can become an employee and work as often (or as little) as you want.

10.  Start investing

Investing doesn't have to be scary! And you can start small! The easiest way to get invested is to make sure you are enrolled in your employers' retirement savings plan. Ready to take the next step? Try using one of these apps to help you get started, Stash, Robinhood or Acorns. For those a bit more comfortable with the stock market, you can buy shares of an ETF or enroll in Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs).

11.  Try a no spending challenge

Sometimes we get off track and need to refocus. When this happens, I recommend trying a no spending challenge. Whether it be for a month, a week or just a few days, it is beneficial to reset and find a way to recommit to your savings goals.

12.  Schedule cash-only days

Like the No Spending Challenge, cash only days give you the opportunity to be more mindful of your spending. Using cash instead of credit cards will help you identity areas where you're being wasteful. Typically, people have a harder time shelling out cash than they do swiping a card. You will notice that you are less likely to make impulse purchases and end up spending less when you shop.

13.  Automate payments

Monthly credit card payments should be automated to avoid missed payments and the resulting late fees. In addition, you can automate your cable, utility, cell phone and pretty much every other monthly bill to be automatically deducted from your bank account or charged to a credit card. If you are deducting from a bank account make sure you have enough funds to cover the payment and that you are enrolled in overdraft protection, just in case.

14.  Do credit score maintenance

Everyone should use CreditKarma to check their credit score. There are always opportunities to increase your score, and doing so will help you in the long run when you apply for things like personal loans, mortgages or additional cards. For those who have a high credit score and are responsible card users, there are many opportunities to earn rewards points. CreditCards.com is a great reference for finding cards that best fit your needs and help you build the rewards that will be most useful to you.

15.  Look for daily deals + comparison shop

Groupon, Living Social and other daily deals sites can help you save money on everything from household items to vacations. You should do research and shop around, but don't write off these sites. When shopping for more expensive items, make sure you shop around compare prices before making a purchase.

16. Negotiate a raise

This time of year, many companies are doing their annual performance reviews and giving out raises and promotions. If you anticipate that you will be receiving a raise or promotion you should do your research ahead of your annual review.

Find out what people in your position make at other firms using Glassdoor. Make sure you are earning what you're worth and don't be afraid to ask for it! Chances are if you are receiving a promotion they value you as an employee and will be open to paying to keep you.

17.  Learn accountability + mindfulness

The most important aspect of a financially fit lifestyle is creating accountability and mindfulness around your financial decisions. You should set goals with specific intentions and see them through. Creating a rewards system or doing a monthly review of you spending are two ways to create accountability and mindfulness.

Originally posted on Financial Gym.

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Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.


This article was sponsored by Lovevery. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Breastfeeding is not easy. But neither is weaning. That's why this powerful photo from Brazilian mama Maya Vorderstrasse is going viral. Her husband captured the first time she ever breastfed their second daughter and next to it, almost two years later, the last time she fed their daughter from her breast.

And it's not just the photo that is powerful. In her caption Maya shares her emotional struggles with weaning and the tricks they used to make this transition easier for their youngest daughter. The caption reads:

"The first and last time my precious daughter ever nursed.

I didn't know that one person could feel so proud and so broken at the same time, right now I am a hormonal, emotional, and mental mess.

Raising my arm in this picture was very difficult for me as I had to fight through uncontrollable tears: this picture meant that I would never breastfeed my daughter ever again. I have been nursing for so long, that I don't know what it's like to not nurse anymore.



As I looked behind the camera, my husband is crying like I had never seen him cry before, like seriously, a deep gut cry. I was her comfort, her safe place, and I hope she still finds me that way. A month shy of 2 years old, she finally has a bed in a shared bedroom with her sister. We bought her her first bed, used any distraction we could come up with, snacks and new toys to keep her mind off of it.

My husband has taken over bedtime completely, including all nighttime wakings. We are on our third day, and every day gets a little bit easier. The guilt I feel for not putting her to bed is so intense and I can't wait to go back to it once she doesn't ask to nurse anymore. Closing a chapter is painful, but I am hopeful that this new season of our lives will also be special in its own way.

Through this maturation step she will not only grow more independent, but I will get a much needed break. She unlatched for the last time and sobbingly I said to my husband: "I did my best". He hugged me and responded with: "No. You did THE best, because you gave her your all". I love my family and am so thankful for such special and unforgettable moments like these. 💛

*my lazy boob has no clue about what's going on, but thoughts and prayers are accepted for my good one, I really think it might explode🤱🏻

**thank you to my husband, for insisting on filming this, I will treasure this forever.🤳🏼👩"

You've got this mama!

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If you're looking for basics for the kids for summer, you're in luck, mama. Primary clothes don't have logos or sparkles—they're classic prints and colors that can easily transition from one kid to the next. And this week, Primary is celebrating the new season with a major summer sale.

Items, like swimsuits, dresses, polos and more, are over 50% off. Most pieces are under $10 so you can stock up on an entire new wardrobe without breaking the budget.

Here's what we're adding to our carts—shop the entire sale here:

1. Baby rainbow stripe rash guard

With UPF 50, you can rest easy knowing baby has extra protection outdoors.

$14.50

SHOP

2. The track short

The easy pull-on waist will make outfit changes a breeze.

$10.50

SHOP

3. Rainbow stripe one-piece

Cute? Check. Will stay in place? Check. UPF 50? Check.

$18.00

SHOP

4. The short sleeve twirly dress

Made of 100% cotton jersey, this one will be a staple all summer long.

$10.00

SHOP

5. The polo babysuit

Perfect to dress up or down.

$8.00

SHOP

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Being an adult is no joke. Beyond dressing ourselves and our kids and, ya know, feeding and bathing everyone, there are so many other things that life throws at us. And because we're adults, we have to take care of these myriad to-dos. Welcome to: Adulting!

I'm not just talking laundry, filling up your car's gas tank and stocking the fridge with groceries. Getting life insurance. Refinancing your loan debt. (Students loans? Us, too.) Marriage counseling. Yep—I'm talking about all the cringe-inducing to-dos that you've likely been putting off for a few months… or years.

But guess what? Because it's 2019 and a little something called technology exists, these seemingly heavy-lift tasks are now a whole lot easier and faster to tackle. Here's how to check off your most tedious adulting chores.

The life insurance

When you're a single with no descendants, life insurance doesn't seem like a top priority. But when you suddenly have a kid (or three), setting your family up for longterm financial success is a must. And thanks to Ladders, obtaining a policy isn't the taxing, cringe-inducing process it used to be! Modern and so easy to use—seriously, you can even get one from your phone or tablet—Ladders makes it possible to obtain a policy in under five minutes. Yes, really. See? No need to procrastinate!

SHOP

The student loan redux

You have the degree and the career—and you also have the debt. And like us, you're likely just paying your monthly minimums without a thought to ever refinancing your student loans. Because that sounds hard and complicated, right? Right. Not so with help from Laurel Road, however. On this straight-forward site you can check your rates in only a few minutes —fear not, doing so won't impact to your credit score!—and refinance your debt, saving yourself (and your family) thousands of dollars.

SHOP

The marriage counselor

Did you know that 66% of couples report a drop in marital satisfaction when new arrives? It's not surprising considering the stress an infant creates for mamas alone, but all that pressure affects your relationship, too. But taking the time to really invest in marriage counseling often falls to the bottom of the to-do lists because of the many hurdles—finding a therapist, traveling to appointments, the cost of copays or out-of-pocket fees, the stigma of need therapy. With Lasting, however, you and your partner pair your apps and can begin working on your relationship together on your own timeline.

SHOP

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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A lot of women are literally walking around in fashion mogul Jessica Simpson's shoes, but there was no way she was going to be getting her feet into any of the footwear with her name on while she was pregnant.

A few months ago, back when she was still super pregnant with her third child, Simpson posted a photo of her left foot on Instagram and honestly, just looking at it was painful.

"Any remedies?! Help!!!!" she captioned the pic of her incredibly swollen ankle and foot. Thankfully, now that she's in her fourth trimester and no longer pregnant, Simpson's feet have chilled out. She posted a new pic with the caption: "I spy....my ankles!!!!

Before + after

The commenters on Instagram are now as happy for Jessica as they were were as shocked back when she posted the first foot photo.

"Omg Jessica call your Dr. Keep feet up lower salt intake and no heels," one wrote (although the last bit seems like it probably wouldn't be an option even if she wanted to wear them).

Calling the doctor is not a bad idea if your foot look's like Simpson's before photo, because swelling during pregnancy can be a sign of preeclampsia, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation, which notes that "a certain amount of swelling is normal during pregnancy," but suggests that moms-to-be watch out for "pitting edema" (which means that when you press on the skin an indentation stays for a bit) and leg discoloration.

"If you suspect this kind of edema, notify your healthcare provider. You should also put your feet up every day, but avoid sitting for extended periods of time," the foundation states on its website.

What mamas need to know about swollen feet

Simpson took her swelling with a sense of humor, posting a before and after pic of some super high wedges and her swollen pregnancy foot with the caption #tenyearchallenge, but swelling can be serious in pregnancy.

It can be related peripartum cardiomyopathy a rare kind of heart failure that can develop in the last month of pregnancy or in the first five months postpartum, but, according to the the American Heart Association, isn't easy to diagnose as the symptoms (like swollen ankles) are also symptoms of third trimester pregnancy.

So swelling is something to watch and definitely talk to a health care provider about—but it also happens in many uncomplicated pregnancies, as a lot of Jessica's IG followers pointed out. "That happened to me with my 1st pregnancy. Lots of elevation for my feet and fluids. Watch the sodium intake. Hang in there," one mama wrote, throwing in a 💞 emoji.

Jessica Simpson just launched a collection of flats 

Another commenter offered a funny story to put Jessica at ease: "My feet looked like this the last month of my pregnancy (if not worse) and I had normal BP and didn't have preeclampsia. I'm 5'0" and retained so much water. My OB-GYN at the time (a 65 year old man) told me that I had what he called "Fiona feet"....yep, the ogre from Shrek. Yep. 🤦🏼♀️ Needless to say, I switched doctors after my daughter was born."

Jessica Simpson's shoe collection currently includes a wedges, booties and a gorgeous stacked stiletto, and she recently launched a collection of flats, which should be helpful to all the mamas-to-be who have swollen feet (although not as swollen as hers were, she should design an extra-wide slipper for that season of life).

[A version of this post was originally published January 11, 2019. It has been updated.]

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