The 15 Very Best Freebies You Can Get On Your Birthday

From the age of 3 (when you begin to realize what is actually happening) to about 22, your birthday is highly anticipated and somewhat magical...

...after 22? It begins to lose its novelty more and more with each passing year.

Should it be like this? NO! It’s your birthday — your time to celebrate you! 

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If you are looking to enjoy your birthday all the more and spoil yourself with all kinds of FREE goodies, check out this list I compiled of the very best birthday incentives, which include:

Applebee's: FREE birthday dessert

Redbox: FREE movie rental

Starbucks: FREE birthday drink

Red Robin: FREE birthday burger

Pinkberry: FREE birthday yogurt

The Melting Pot: FREE chocolate fondue for two

Olive Garden: FREE appetizer or dessert

Krispy Kreme: FREE donut 

Jersey Mike's: FREE sub and drink

Dunkin' Donuts: FREE specialty drink

Denny's: FREE Grand Slam

Cracker Barrel: FREE dessert

Tony Roma's: FREE entree 

Waffle House: FREE waffle

Sonic: FREE dessert

(PSST... do yourself a favor and set up a special birthday email account, so all of the birthday offers -- and other weekly emails -- are not crowding your inbox!)

Do you know of another freebie that everyone should have? Let a mamma know in the comments! 

Hacks for Flying Free, Dining for Less, and Saving More on Vacation

Late last year, I published a survey asking what it is you want to see more of on Side Hustle Mom and what I can do more of to benefit you! 

Much to my surprise, one of the biggest responses was that you didn’t want generic daily remote job listings, but instead more money saving tips that are easy to apply to your every day life.

I heard you loud and clear, which is why I have been trying to share deals that I have run across, as well as brainstorm topics that would be most beneficial to other busy parents! If your family is anything like mine, you LOVE to travel and LOVE to get a good deal, which is why I wanted to share a few of our money saving tips and tricks that nearly anyone can use!

Without further ado, I present to you our Secret Hacks for Flying Free, Dining for Less, and Saving More on Vacation!

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To give you a little background, my husband and I love to travel (it is seriously our love language... which I guess would translate to quality time?), and are always planning our next vacation. With my husband and I both being cheap — err, I mean thrifty — we are always looking for ways to save. 

 A few little snippets from our 3 nights in Vegas.

A few little snippets from our 3 nights in Vegas.

This year, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary and went back and forth on where we wanted to go. Since my parents volunteered to watch the boys for 3 nights, we decided to opt for somewhere close by, which is why we decided on Vegas! While we did do a little splurging (we set a couple hundred aside to gamble with, saw a show, ride the open bar High Roller, and my hubby surprised me with a helicopter tour of the city), we also did some serious saving.

Without further ado, here is how we saved on our trip to Vegas (and got both a free flight and hotel!):

1.) Rewards Credit Card: Okay, I am a HUGE follower/fan of Dave Ramsey and I know he hates credit cards and advises against ever having one, but... we have a Visa Sapphire Preferred card, which we charge literally everything on and pay off multiple times a month (it’s linked to our bank account, so we treat it like a debit card and only spend money we actually have). The reason we decided on this card in particular is because your money back can all be applied toward 25% more in travel redemption, so we were able to get both a free Southwest flight (to and from) and a free 3-night stay at Planet Hollywood with lots of points left over to go toward our trip to Disney later this year! Now, I know that method isn’t for everyone, but if you are good about paying off your card each month (which can be easier said than done, I know), we highly recommend looking into the Visa Sapphire Preferred.

2.) BYOB: I’m not necessarily proud of this one, but I am going to share it anyway, as we saved a lot by bringing booze in our checked bag. As you probably know/figured, alcohol in Vegas is EXPENSIVE (but totally worth it, as where else can you carry an open can of beer down the street?), especially in restaurants or from vendors who sell the colorful mixed drinks in souvenir cups. While buying your drink of choice from one of the Strip CVS’ or Walgreens will save you a buck or two, hitting up your hometown discount liquor store before the trip (and then packing it securely in your checked bag) will literally cut your bill down by at least one-third. 

We brought a few bottles to make mixed drinks with, made the drinks in our room, and then took them with us  down the Strip.

Trashy/sketchy/ridiculous? Totally.

Worth it? You betcha.

3.) Groupon: Does anyone else go a little crazy with the Groupons whenever they go on vacation?? One of our favorite ways to use the discount site -- whether we are at home or on the road -- is on food, so be sure to check out any available deals before you go! (Tip: ALWAYS read the fine print before you buy, as some deals may only apply on certain days.) For our last two Vegas trips, we have taken advantage of the 1/2 off Pampas Churrascaria Brazilian Grille (inside Planet Hollywood) Groupon, which comes with not only an all-you-can-eat spread brought right to your table, but also bottomless mimosas, beer, and/or sangria. Cheers! 

4.) Opt for the free memberships: Free is good... especially when it comes with something beneficial! It seems like every casino has a special member's club they want you to join, boasting free play, drinks, buffets, etc., so be sure to sign up! (It really wasn't much of a hassle; we simply went up to the pay-out counters to sign up... it took maybe 3 minutes and we got free table play.)

Obviously, some of these hacks apply more so toward Vegas than anywhere else, but I will plan to make another post in the future with any other tricks I pick up along the way! In the meantime, what do you do to save on vacation? 

Mom Boss Interview: Lisa Peek from Babierge

Last month, we introduced you to an epic work-from-home opportunity that is Babierge; a "platform business that helps you rent out baby equipment that you deliver and setup for traveling families and local grandparents hosting grandchildren." 

While the theory of renting out the baby gear you already have at a daily rate sounds super lucrative (and maybe even a little too good to be true), is it? To find out, we reached out to a REAL Babierge Trusted Partner, who runs her business out of San Antonio and was super gracious in allowing us to interview her. 

Mammas: Meet Babierge Trusted Partner Lisa Peek! 


Tell us a little bit about yourself, Lisa. I read that you are a Texas girl with two boys, but what is your professional background?

Well I need to update my profile because I actually have THREE boys now!! But I’m from Michigan originally, moved to San Antonio about 12 years ago with my full time employer - AT&T. I’ve worked for them for about 16 years starting in Michigan. I started in retail and moved to training which is what I do now, mostly virtual training now which is super great for a new mom like me - easy to do from home. I have a bachelors degree in PR/Marketing as well! 

Before becoming a Babierge Trusted Provider, did you try any other side hustles (and if so, is it something you still do in addition to Babierge)?

Before becoming a Trusted Partner with Babierge, I had tried a few self employment side gigs - social media management, dog walking, blogging - but none really seemed to jive with me. I still have my blog up, but I don’t contribute to it as regularly as I’d like. 

Tell us a little bit more about working for Babierge: What exactly is a Trusted Provider and how do you become one?

A Trusted Partner for Babierge is an independent contractor position. You are your own business, but through the Babierge network - which gives you access to a nationwide name and network and affiliations that you may not have otherwise. You can easily start a business with Babierge by joining via their website - and then one of the leaders will reach out to you. Tell them you heard about it from me! And anyone who may be interested can feel free to reach out to me as well and I can help. 

Is the equipment you rent out baby gear that you already own or did you have to purchase new items?

The great thing about this business is it’s relatively low cost to start up. They advise you purchase a full size folding crib to start, because those are hard to get quickly if you need one. However the rest of the gear they encourage you to buy as you need because most is easy to get quickly from Target or Amazon with Prime. And it’s actually advised to not buy too much at first because every market is different so it’s hard to say what your most rented items will be. 

Do you choose the pricing for your items or are they pre-set by Babierge?

We choose our pricing and delivery fees! We just pay a small portion of our per day rate to Babierge as a service fee. 

Finally, do you have a favorite memory from working with Babierge (whether it be a specific client, scenario, etc.)?

My favorite memory working Babierge is definitely a customer I had. His wife and daughter were flying in to visit for 4th of July, he’s stationed here with the military. He got a bunch of items - car seat, stroller and crib. He chose the Bob for his stroller. After I dropped the items off to him he messaged me to inquire about a tray for the Bob. I don’t have one but I told him I could get one if needed. He said I didn’t need to get it, but it was just that his daughter is blind and doesn’t like to be restrained and they use it at home to keep her in. I said say no more please let me get it for you, so I ordered it Amazon 2 day just in time for the weekend in which they would be out and about and need it most. I just like being able to do things like that that make parents lives easier because I’m a parent myself and travel and know how traveling can be stressful with kids and the more comfortable and like home you can make it, the better! 


Super fun, right?! To get started with Babierge, please visit their website (and be sure to tell them that Lisa referred you!). 

Mom Boss Interview: Meghan Benson from ellie & james

Another Monday is upon us and if you are dreading your upcoming work week, today's mom boss interview is for YOU! 

How so? 

Well, because it is with a smart, creative, and SUCCESSFUL mom boss who is making a great living while working from home and designing her own jewelry line! 

So, so fun, right?! 

Side Hustle Moms, meet Meghan Benson: A hard-working and loving mom, wife, and former teacher who now runs the popular jewelry line, ellie & james


Meghan, we know you as a wife, busy mamma to three, and inspiring mom boss, but tell us a little more about yourself! What did you do before ellie & james? Have you always been in a creative line of work?

Hi! Yes, I am a wife, mama and mom boss, but beyond these current hats I wear I have a few hanging on the shelf that I still pick up from time to time. Prior to starting my business I was a high school math teacher and soccer coach (I LOVED working with high schoolers).  Outside of those day jobs I also taught in the Education Department of a local University, encouraging future educators headed into middle and high schools.  On campus I was a technology trainer for educators and spent most of my free time studying the newest ways to integrate technology into classrooms. I actually thought my next position would be in this area, and, I have a Masters degree in Educational Technology. Fortunately, my degree has helped tremendously with running an online business, and I still get to tutor math and help coach soccer from time to time (my daughter just finished her first season in her league of 5 year olds). :)

When did you decide to leave your job as a math teacher to stay home with your kids? Was it something you had always planned to do?

I have always felt career oriented and did not plan on leaving my job to stay home. I thought I could do it all, but once we made the decision to add to our family through adoption, I knew that staying home was super important for the bonding and attachment to our son.  I also could not resist staying home with our daughter. She was so much fun and at 15 months old I started to feel like I was missing out… then began the conversation about what it looked like for me to stay home.  My husband and I moved closer to family, left our Orange County lifestyle behind, and decided that maybe staying home was what I was called to do.  Just to put this in perspective, I did not feel relieved at first… I actually felt like I was sacrificing by staying home because I loved my job and had big plans for where I wanted to go professionally. My husband and I had even discussed the opposite scenario of me in the workplace while he stayed home.  In the end, I chose to stay home and I would do it again. This is definitely where I am supposed to be.  Opening my own business gave me a sense of professionalism and an outlet that I craved. I also learned that staying home is really hard but really important.  Parenting is the most difficult job I have ever had.   

When did you begin making your fabulous jewelry? Did it start off as a hobby or did you begin designing as a potential side income?

I began making jewelry kind of suddenly one day in 2014 while looking for a birthday gift idea for my sister. She had lived in Barcelona and was missing it a lot.  I wanted her to have a map of Barcelona to wear and found the idea through a random google search. I am a little on the penny-saving side so I thought to myself, “I could make that.”   I ordered a kit with 5 pendants and 5 chains and taught myself how to do it.  I made three gifts and one necklace for myself, and then people began suggesting that I sell them.  After about 2 weeks I opened a shop online!  The rest just unfolded in the most unexpected ways, and I learned very quickly the power of social media in today’s business world!  

What was it like to sell your first piece of jewelry (and, if you don’t mind my asking, what was it and who did you sell it to)? Did you begin your sales journey at storefronts or as a vendor, or have you always been online? 

The first sell was exciting, but I will admit it was to one of my best friends. :) She bought a pendant with lyrics from Mumford and Sons on it. The next sale was from her mom… when I began getting orders from people I didn’t know (a few weeks in), that is when it started to get really exciting!  I instantly began to figure out Instagram and how to sell on there. The majority of my sales even today are from customers who visited my site through Instagram.  I do sell in storefronts around the country, but many of the boutique owners found me through Instagram and I have not physically seen my products in the stores (crazy, right?!).

How do you find the time to be a full-time mom, design the jewelry, photograph it, update your website, etc.? Can you walk us through a day in your shoes? 

There are no two days that are alike. I have three kids, three schedules, and they are little so those schedules change ALL. THE. TIME.  I struggled with balance and had a lot of growing pains once the business took off. This happened around year two.  My third year I finally hired help and life makes sense again! No, really, hiring was the biggest game changer because it allowed me time to do the business side of things, creative, designing, accounting, etc. 

Here is a ‘typical’ day… when my older two have school:
6 AM - up and get dressed before kids are up (otherwise it’s hard to ever get totally dressed)
7 AM - breakfast for all, nurse baby, snack for my son’s preschool, lunch and snack for my daughter in Kindergarten
7:45 AM - Out the door and the drop offs begin, kinder first, maybe a quick drive thru Starbucks run, Pre school drop off
9 AM - home to feed baby food and myself because I usually don’t get to eat when feeding the kids
9:30 AM - baby plays in office while I answer emails or plan out work for the day. Maybe I get things ready for my employee or I design something I plan on making later in the day (custom orders, wholesale, etc.)
10 AM - nurse baby and try to get her to take a nice nap :)
10:15 until baby wakes up - WORK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!!! The small window of “kid-less” time is so important if I have any making to do, business calls to make, or anything that needs undivided attention
11:45 - pick up time for pre school and kinder… race around getting kids
12 PM - lunch for all! 
12:30 PM - Homework time (yes, there is homework in Kinder and my Pre Schooler loves to do ‘homework’ too)
2 PM - nurse baby again and hope for a second nap (sometimes this is the first one)
2:15 PM - Back in the office! Photos, gluing, chains, charms, packaging, shipping… get it done! 
4 - 5 PM - Wrap it up for the day, post office trips, emails, etc.
5 PM - make dinner, the occasional dance party to celebrate the end of the work day, take kids outside to play
6 PM - Family dinner when daddy arrives home
7 PM - The bed time routine begins...
8 PM - We made it! Parents celebrate with some homemade sweets or This is Us/Fixer Upper. I try not to do work after hours so that my husband and I can spend time together but occasionally I have a thing or two to finish up.

What tips can you give to anyone out there interested in beginning their own creative side hustle? Is there anything you wish you would have done differently? 

Find a small group of local creatives like you who are running a business (and moms!). I have a group of 3 mamas that I meet with 1-2 times a month to talk about our businesses. We encourage, support, advise, review, etc. with one another and because each of us runs our business alone it is great to have others to bounce ideas off of. Also, we are all in different industries so it works really well to have outside perspectives (and not be in a group with a competitor… instead we can collaborate).

Second tip, don’t reinvent the wheel, but don’t steal. You will see others in your industry with awesome ideas. Learn from them, but make it your own. DO NOT STEAL OTHERS’ WORK.  It happens all the time in the creative world and is obvious. If you want a creative side hustle, get creative with your product. No copycats!

Learn your target audience. Who do you want to sell to or appeal to? What is unique about you, your product and your audience? Don’t waste your time with events or avenues that have nothing to do with your target audience. This is one area I would have examined more if starting again. I wasted a lot of weekends at un-targeted events. It puts a strain on your family when you have a lot of littles running around and you are away, especially when it isn’t productive. 

What is your favorite way to market your brand? Do you stick to social media or have you found better ways to promote ellie & james?

Social media and handmade events have been successful for me. Again, find your target audience and run with it!

Let’s end our interview on a fun note: Is there a certain piece or collection you have designed that is your absolute favorite? What was it and why?

Oh, I am always changing my favorite as I come up with new things here and there. Currently, I LOVE the bar necklaces (I wear those all the time). I created one that said 'I am enough’ just for me, one of a kind. That was probably my favorite. But now it lives with a friend who was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Vegas.  It was one of those times I knew she needed it more than I did and I probably designed it with myself in mind but was always meant to give it away. :) 

Meghan is so awesome, right?! Now that you know all about Meghan, be sure to connect with her via the ellie & james website, Facebook, and Instagram