Not Only Did We Cut the Credit Cards… We Sold the Car!

Last week I posted a video of me cutting up my credit cards on Facebook and the response was surprising. Hubby and I completed Dave Ramsey’s nine-week Financial Peace University program last fall and now we’re laser focused on getting out of debt. Currently, we’re on Dave’s baby step number two out of seven. We were glad to hear shout outs from several friends who already embraced Dave’s way, but a few friends inboxed me questions asking why we were doing such radical things. So in response, I thought I’d blog about it!

Hubby suggested we take the course over a year ago, but I didn’t think we needed any help with our finances. We don’t have any consumer debt, have a savings account nicely funded and own our home. So we’re good, right? Oh boy did I learn how wrong I was. I thought that the more “good” debt you have, like student loans and mortgages, the better. So what changed for me? This summer our church studied stewardship and the series primed my heart to be open to changing my behavior towards money.

In the the second or third class Dave Ramsey talks about how having a good credit score is not the number one financial goal. In fact, he turns credit scores up-side-down and offers a perspective I’d NEVER heard before. He believes that credit scores are not a measure of wealth or prosperity, but just a measure of how well you manage your debt – which means you have to be in debt to have a credit score. Dave claims he does not have a credit score because he has no debt. Can you imagine, he’d probably have a hard time renting an apartment based on his non-existent credit score, meanwhile he could buy the entire apartment complex using cash. Ha!

He goes on to teach that the ultimate goal is to be debt free so you can live and give how you want. That is a motivating vision for me. Imagine what your life would be like if you were debt free? Hubby and I latched on to this vision to remove all debt from our financial picture with what Dave calls “Gazelle Intensity.” This term comes from the fact that gazelles can out run the cheetah, even though the cheetah is faster, but only because the gazelle is running for its life while the cheetah is just trying to catch a snack.

As we looked at our financial snapshot and where our debt was coming from, we kept our focus on eliminating as much as possible in 2014. We started with Dave’s quick list of 29 ways to get out of debt and took several of them to heart. Some of the items we were already doing, such as no cable, borrowing books and movies from the library, and sharing a bank account. However, there were several new behaviors on Dave’s list that we were not incorporating such as budgeting and using the envelope system. Honestly, Hubby and I had never used a budget and tracked our expenses. We started using cash envelopes for the categories that were out of control before taking Financial Peace. For us, food spending was massively out of control, so now we take out cash for food twice a month, and when it’s gone, it’s gone! This has forced me to bring lunch to work and greatly reduce the amount of times and caliber of place where we eat out. Now, I’m not saying we don’t eat out anymore, but now it may be once a week instead of all weekend in addition to a few times during the week.

The big catch for us was #10 on Dave’s list of 29 things – sell the car. The first time we heard this discussed during the class I’m pretty sure we both brushed it off as a universal given that a two parent working household needed two cars. Period. Even if that meant having one or two car payments. Dave’s philosophy is that having a car payment is not the way of life. In fact, he says that while most people think that’s the normal way of thinking, when it comes to money, “normal is broke!”

We took our 2011 7-Seater Hyundai Veracruz to Carmax the next week and sold it on October 15, 2013. We no longer have a car payment and now can take the money we saved including gas, oil changes, tags, tolls and insurance and apply it towards accelerating our student loan payments. The number one question we get is, how can we manage five people’s schedules with just one car. Well, we’ve had to simplify life A LOT. There are a few main reasons why this works for us, and number one is that all three children go to school within walking distance of our home. Even though Hubby works about 32 miles (yes, I’m counting) from my job, we are making the sacrifice to get out of debt. The main reason this works for us is that we are in agreement and are working together. I can’t stress enough how important this has been for us.

At times, it’s a little embarrassing and definitely uncomfortable to whip out the cash envelope or “carpool,” but ultimately the bigger picture remains in focus for us. Having one car has meant that I can’t run errands whenever I want, the kids cannot be in several activities, and we have to actually communicate and plan our schedules each week. At the end of the day, we’re glad that our finances are aligned to the Word and in a few years we’ll be free of student loan debt. Woohoo!

Finances - 02.10.148 comments

Trifecta V

Boots, Caterpillar, Gadget, Our Quiver - 02.07.140 comments

Throwback Thursday

Boots, Caterpillar, Gadget - 02.06.141 comment

Common Scenes

How to Make a Blogger Media Kit

This summer I was blessed to attend and speak at the 2013 BlogHer Conference in Chicago. I was asked to speak about how to develop a stellar, sponsor-catching media kit. After working in marketing at a leading consumer packaged good’s company for four years, and mommy blogging for five years, I wanted to share industry secrets on how to make the best media kit for your blog.

What is a Media Kit?

A media kit is a visual resume for your blog. Even if you’re a beginner blogger, having a media kit is a great tool for articulating and gaining focus on what you write about and who you are. At a minimum, if you look in the mirror and pretend someone asked you, “What do you write about?” You should be able to answer this question with a simple, one sentence response that includes your major topics or focus of writing.

This ‘visual resume’ is a pitch deck for media audiences. It communicated the value of your blog and gives perspective sponsors everything they need to know about you. Your media kit should look professional and reflect your blog personality, tone and look and feel. “Looking professional” simply means that you put in some time and energy to gather the right content, with you blog’s look and feel, and the right flow of information to communicate why you are so awesome.

Media kits are not just for bloggers who do product reviews. Any blogger who is committed to developing their blog and writing skills should have a media kit because it lays the foundation for who you are and will be an important asset and tool to help get you where you want to go.

Why is a Media Kit Important?

A media kit is important because it helps you articulate your value proposition, provides clarity in your blog’s purpose, and helps determine who’s a good fit for you to partner with. For beginner bloggers, creating a media kit is a great exercise for you to practice communicating what you plan to be all about. For intermediate and advanced bloggers, this is the opportunity to determine what your filters are, and which topics are exclusionary, controversial, polarizing or completely off limits on your blog.

Ultimately, a media signals that you are serious about blogging. Taking the time to say who you are in the right way demonstrates that you are a force to reckon with!

What goes into a Media Kit?

Your blog’s name or logo. I would think seriously about creating a logo if you currently do not have one.  A logo is a visual design or picture of your blog’s name. If you know what you want I suggest using elance or, if you have a broader or general direction you can use to have freelancers design a logo for you.

A close-in picture of your face. A picture of you from thirty feet away is neither intimate nor personal, and definitely does give a sense for who you are. If someone passed you on the street after seeing your far way photo, they would not have a chance at recognizing you, and therefore the picture is less valuable. Choose a photo that’s tight in and truly depicts what you look like.

Blog color pallet. Once you’ve selected a logo, you should decide on which colors represent your blog. My logo and text are the same color, and I accent the blog with a light tan, orange and use a blue-turquoise for links. Select colors that are complementary and represent the tone of your blog. If you are a fiery, controversial blog, colors like pastels and muted neutrals may not match your personality.

Fonts. If you consistently show your words and ideas using the same type of imagery, folks will begin to attribute certain visual characteristics and traits with your blog. I use two fonts, and only two fonts throughout my blog, so when I went to create my media kit, I used the same two fonts. I use one font for my blog title and certain headlines, and another font for my post titles. This makes it really easy to recreate the experience of my blog in another setting or different medium. Design is very important to me, and having selected design elements (a logo, color palette and font) makes it easy to demonstrate your essence in any written or visual setting.

Key icons. If there are certain topics you reference a lot, or certain images which your readers can easily relate to, includes these in your media kit. Either reference the blog post as a favorite, or sprinkle these key content guides as your most influential or credible topics throughout your media kit.

Homepage screen shot. Take a screen shot of your homepage when you write about one of your key topics and use this as your webpage image. If you frequently write about dogs, but the day you make your media kit you write about the weather, wait a day and post something more relevant to your key subjects before you take a screenshot. Each individual element in your toolkit should amount to one holistic story of who are you and what your blog’s story is.

Stats: Analytics, demographics & reach. Your statistics will be a combination of your blog stats, the demographics of your readers, and your social media platform and email subscribers. I’ll in detail about each of these later.

What goes into a media kit, page by page:

Cover page. Your cover page should reflect the look and feel of your blog. It should include your blog title, your name and contact info, inclusive of your email address, and blog url, phone number (only include the phone number if you’re comfortable) and the any social media platforms where your blog has a presence (i.e. Facebook, twitter, instagram, YouTube, Etsy, amazon, etc.). Not every social media channel will be useful or relevant to you. For example, if you blog about and make jewelry, having an Esty, or Amazon page is more relevant and makes sense. If you write about politics, it may not make sense for you to utilize these social media platforms. Just include the ones that work for you. I only included my twitter handle in my initial media kit.

About Me page. This page should you things, the close-in picture of you I referenced earlier, and a short bio (4-5 sentences) described your background. In my ‘about me’ I share where I’m from, and relevant tidbits of my life that are related to the topics I blog about. If your blog has been featured on or published in any notable media outlets, feel free to include this information in your About Me page. The main purpose of this page is to provide information so that people feel connected to you.

Background page. Because my blog title is unique, this is where I take the opportunity to explain what ‘spelhouseLove’ means with a one-sentence definition. In an ‘about’ section I succinctly illustrate what I write about in one sentence. Aside from developing your media kit, if someone stops you on the street and asks you what you blog about, you should be able to answer that question in one simple, brief answer. For example, “spelhouseLove is a family and parenting site about my life as a working mom of three.” The last section on my background page includes key topics I write about. If you frequently write about specific themes, a topical series, or provide seasonal content, this is the place to include this info. If you write about any and everything, you may not have key topics, and would skip over this part. I hope the main takeaway you get from this article is that every media kit will look different, depending on your personality, topics, style, content and reader engagement.

Site Statistics

Your stats are comprised of three categories: reach metrics, reader demographics and subscribers.

Site Statistics: The most important blog statistic that people will ask you is ‘what are your pageviews?’ This is determined by the number of blog posts that visitors read on a monthly basis. In addition to pageviews, I would only include additional statistic if they are favorable. You can include your absolute unique visitors, average pageviews (number of pages each individual visitor clicks on), time on site (number of minutes the average visitor spends on your site. If more than 2-4 minutes, include in your media kit), bounce rate (if less than 50% include in media kit), and percentage of new visitors.

These stats should be updated every three to six months, but only if your readership demonstrates significant growth. If your numbers look the same in January as they do in June, no need to update. Your statistics can be aggregated using Google Analytics, which I highly recommend.


This is the section where you communicate who reads your blog. There are two ways to get this information. The first is to publish a survey on your blog, like Survey Monkey. You can ask ten simple questions that gather the details on your readers, or you can use Quantcast and place a piece of code on every page of your website to collect reader demographics. I went the survey option. On this page in the media kit, you want to capture the major trends of your readers. If the majority of your readers are females, moms and work at home, this is where you include those data points.


This is the section where you include you email and rss subscribers, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and/or Instagram followers… but only if they are favorable. If you only have ten twitter followers, do not include that statistic here. The entire point of a media kit is to highlight the positive attributes about your blog. If you’re a new blogger and do not have a substantial following, then completed skip this section. You want to show your blog in its best light.

What is if I have zero subscribers?

If you are the blogger than falls within the ‘I-have-ten-twitter-followers’ category, then this section is perfect for you. Focus on your site trends. This is where you highlight your growth. If you have grown from 100 pageviews to 200 pageviews, highlight your site’s growth in readership here. If you don’t have high pageviews, this is where you highlight high engagement on your blog. If your readers spend 15-20minutes on your blog each visit, then freakin’ highlight that! If they click on 20+ pages each visit, highlight the depth of the reading. If over 50% of your visitors account for over 90% of your pageviews, communicate how invested your readers are. Basically, if you don’t have impressive numbers, leave them out and focus on an attractive subscriber statistic from another angle.

The Ask & the Dollars

You have a couple options in this section. You should determine what type of partnership you are looking for. For example, you could do:

  • Videos/vlogs,livestream, google chats
  • Live appearances
  • Event promotion
  • Social media before, during and after
  • Series of posts over a period of time
  • Merchandising/co-branding
  • Localized or regional content
  • Spokesperson
  • or simply place banner ads.

In this section you will outline the details of whatever type of partnership you recommend. You should provide options for the terms of sponsorship you are seeking, as well as what a brand will get out of partnering with you.

A sponsorship package could look like:

$1000 Sponsor Level includes:

  • Videos
  • Social media promotion
  • Series of posts over a period of time
  • Banner ads

$500 Sponsor Level includes:

  • 1 Blog post with an organic mention of the brand/product
  • A giveaway
  • Social Media Promotion


  • Product Review Post
  • Banner Ads


For whichever promotion tools you offer, include all the details. If you’re offering banner ads, make sure to include the number of ad units you are offering, the ad unit sizes, location on your blog (Is it above the fold), and duration it will remain up.

Also include your policies. If there are certain topics that you do not blog about or certain categories that you feel uncomfortable partnering with, make sure to place this information in your media kit as well.

Payment Details

Here is where you list how you like to get paid. Either a check, PayPal, Amazon, etc. You should include your account name so that sponsors know your payment terms, which include the timing on when you’d like to receive payment.

Contact Info

This section should include all of your contact information, including your name, blog title, email address, and all your social media platforms for you and/or your blog.

The last step is to save your presentation as a PDF. This condenses the size of the document and makes it un-editable for the recipient. It is also necessary because if you use custom fonts, your recipient’s computer may not have those fonts installed, and your entire professionally made media kit will transform into a mess.


  1. Why don’t brands want to be contacted directly?
  2. Brand managers typically rely on their PR partners to screen and evaluate bloggers. Their PR contacts are skilled and extremely familiar with how to select the right blogger for the assignment.

  3. Should I have a common media kit on my blog and customize for specific brand pitches?
  4. If oyu are emailing a brand directly I highly recommend customizing the pitch. If you are true brand fan, your pitch is tailored to what’s relevant to your chosen brand at that time frame.

  5. How do I find out the PR company? What’s the best title to reach out to?
  6. I recommend reaching out to the Communications Manager listed on the boiler plate on PR announcements that companies put on their invest relations pages.


Blogging - 01.27.140 comments

Hi. I live in North Texas with God, my man, my boys, and a sweet baby girl.
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    BlogHer '13