Not Another MLM!?! Is Network Marketing a SCAM?!

You’ve seen it a hundred times.

Your good friend Karen is just a normal person, minding her own business… then

BAM!

Karen joins an MLM company.

You avoid talking to her.

You ignore her messages in your inbox.

You may even unfollow her on social media so you don’t have to see the posts about her products.

You are convinced that MLMs are bad news. You haven’t ever actually done business with one before, but you’ve heard a lot of rumors. And they aren’t good:

  • The products are overpriced
  • The reps are obnoxious
  • They have bad business practices
  • MLMs are a scam

While some of this may be true of some companies or some reps, it is important to note that Network Marketing (previously known as Multi-Level-Marketing) is none of these things in and of itself.

Network Marketing is just a way that some companies do business.

It’s simply a different marketing strategy.

Just as most companies employ “conventional” marketing techniques like TV commercials, billboards, internet banners and other such methods, Network Marketing companies employ an equally valid marketing technique:

Word of Mouth

It is well-known in the world of retail sales that the gold standard of advertising is word-of-mouth advertising for a couple of reasons:

  1. Word of Mouth advertising is free
  2. Word of Mouth advertising is incredibly effective:
    • If your mom tells you she just had the best burger of her life at the new restaurant on the corner…what will you be having for lunch tomorrow?
    • If a guy you meet at work tells you Lasik eye surgery changed his life and he hasn’t had to use glasses for 13 years, are you likely to consider it for yourself?
    • If you watch a girl at church go from a size 18 to a size 6 and she tells you it’s because she started drinking a certain brand of shake, how likely are you to look up that specific brand as soon as you get home?

Word of Mouth Advertising is powerful. When someone you trust tells you that a product is good, you listen. And you are much more likely to buy that product than if you just saw it on a TV commercial.

And that referral didn’t cost the company anything!

Companies all know that word-of-mouth marketing is the most influential marketing of all, but they all use different ways to entice people to recommend their products.

Some companies offer affiliate programs to bloggers or social media influencers. For example, if you sign up as an affiliate for Amazon, you can create product links that generate a commission for you whenever someone buys. The larger your referral sales, the higher the commissions.

If you like to look at reviews before buying a product, you have probably seen reviews that said, “I received this product for free/at a discount in exchange for my honest review.” Companies are desperate to harness the power of word-of-mouth. So desperate, they are willing to give their products away for FREE to get it!

If every company in the world could use the power of Word-of-Mouth marketing for every product, they definitely would.

What Makes Network Marketing Different

Network Marketing companies harness the power of Word-of-Mouth marketing instead of traditional marketing methods—and they use those billions of dollars of advertising budget to pay a grassroots army of reps, who live and work among the masses.

People like your cousin Lucy or your uncle Marvin.

People you trust.

People you love.

And if your mom is selling a great shampoo, wouldn’t you much rather use your dollars to support her than buy an inferior quality product from a big box store?

The strategy is genius if you think about it: the product has to be great, or they won’t find people to recommend it to everyone they know.

Because of this, the products from network marketing companies are often far superior to anything you can buy on the mass market.

BUT…??

Now let’s look at a few of the objections that may pop up in your mind when considering a network marketing company or opportunity:

Objection #1: The products are overpriced.

I used to think this too.  After all, why would I buy a $30 face wash or a $50 supplement when I can get what looks like the same thing for ¼ the price at Target or on Amazon?

It looked like those multi-tiered compensation plans just created a bunch of needlessly expensive products.

Then I did some research.

I started seeing products I really wanted to try from network marketing companies that I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Sure, there is a supplement that says it does the same thing on Amazon a lot cheaper, but when I look at the reviews on that product it doesn’t seem to be working for people. When I find one online that does have great reviews, it is even more expensive than the “expensive” network marketing product I was trying to avoid! And often the network marketing products last a lot longer or include freebies with a purchase… and they want to give me a discount!

When I really started looking into it, I realized the products weren’t overpriced after all. They were often better quality than what I could get anywhere else, and they were cheaper!

Almost every network marketing company offers discounts on their products based on an automatic shipment, and most also offer wholesale pricing to distributors, or to people who want to buy a bundle of products initially.

Quality matters. I have come to learn that I get what I pay for. People aren’t buying expensive things because they are stupid. They are buying more expensive things because there is value there.

Have you ever purchased a cheap product from a retailer and it barely survived the ride home? Purchased a supplement or protein powder of inferior quality that did nothing for you—or worse—made you sick?

These products have rave reviews for a reason. People are paying their prices for a reason. The quality demands it.

Did you know there is a 70% mark up on any product you buy on a store shelf? There are a lot of expenses that go into a product that have nothing to do with its quality:

  • Manufacturing
  • Advertising
  • Distribution
  • Retailer Mark-up

You are never paying what it costs to make the product because there are so many steps (and people who need to get paid) in-between.

So if you are buying a bar of soap that costs $1, think about it: what kind of quality can it possibly have? It cost the manufacturer 20-30 cents to make it. Are you willing to wash your body with something that cost 20 cents? If you’ve ever tried to make soap, you know it costs more than $1 just to make it with the raw materials, not even including the effort, marketing and shipping. So that soap you thought was such a good deal? Watered down and likely toxic. All so you could save $1.

The businesses that create products are doing it to make money. Everyone has to make a living. So if they are selling cheap products, it’s worth considering what you are really spending your money on. If it’s an inferior quality product with toxic ingredients that will last you a week instead of a month, are you really getting such a good deal?

Story Time

Once my husband purchased “cheap” underwear at Target. He expected that maybe it wouldn’t last as long as the ones he usually bought, but what he didn’t anticipate was that he couldn’t wear them at all. They were itchy and uncomfortable, and he threw the whole package away. Did he save money or waste it? Now he only buys quality underwear, even if it costs three times as much. They are comfortable and they last 2-3 years, so for him that is the value that matters.

When you do a bit of research, you will find that most network marketing companies provide products of superior quality which present a better value than cheaper products offered in stores.

Another example: for years I looked for a natural shampoo that would make my hair healthy. I tried every product on the market: whatever I could find at my local health food store, at salons and online. Nothing ever worked for me.

My hair was damaged, frizzy, thin and unmanageable. I was frustrated because I was not willing to compromise on ingredients. I only wanted to use something natural… but nothing natural ever worked!

I heard about a hair care brand called MONAT, but I balked at the prices. Why would I pay so much for shampoo? When I looked at salon-quality brands, however, they were even more expensive—and filled with toxic ingredients I didn’t want to use!

So I tried it.

Guys.

From the first wash, I could see, feel, smell the difference. My hair was smoother, shinier, more manageable without me doing anything different! Not only that, but that handful of hair I used to shed in the shower? It was reduced to just a few strands.

Photos on the left: before MONAT. Photo on the right: about 11 months of exclusive MONAT use.

I was hooked. How could I not use this stuff? I had been looking for it for YEARS.

And as it turns out, the first bottle I ever purchased lasted me almost a YEAR. That made it cheaper than anything I’ve ever used before: even the clearance stuff of the store shelf at a big box store!

Some things are more important than saving a little cash.

We have to consider the quality of the product.

If I’m faced with a crappy cup of coffee or no coffee at all… I choose no coffee. Every time. It’s not worth it to me if I don’t like it.

The experience also counts for something. Just walking into a locally-owned coffee shop relaxes me. I feel comfortable and wanted: it makes me want to stay awhile. On the contrary: walking into a convenience store is harsh and sterile. I want to get out of there as soon as possible!

I will happily go out of my way to go into a locally-owned coffee shop and pay four times the price of a cup of coffee—because cheap gas station coffee isn’t worth getting at all.

This is the whole idea behind Network Marketing. What if, instead of buying from a corporation, we could buy from our friends… our family… our neighbors?

What if we worked together and helped each other? When all of my friends have small businesses, I can get everything I need from my circle…. I don’t  have to step foot into Wal-Mart or Target if I don’t want to. I get the best products for a great value and the best possible customer service—because I’m shopping with my friends.

Objection #2: The reps are obnoxious.

Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with people who were involved with Network Marketing companies. Maybe they hassled you and bothered you and spammed you with information you didn’t ask for.

Maybe someone sent you a friend request on social media, only to immediately send you a cold message asking you to buy their products or share their business with your friends.

These are not good business practices; they never were. Not only are they annoying, they simply don’t work. Irritated people will not become your friends, your customers or your business partners.

But think about it: just because some people do it wrong doesn’t mean you should never do business with anyone involved in Network Marketing.

As we discussed above, the quality of many products from Network Marketing companies is superior to anything you can find in the store, and often at a better value.

Why would a bad experience with one person or company prevent you from benefiting from great products or even a business opportunity you could really use with another person or company?

Most companies appeal to consumer wants and needs through advertising.

Network Marketing companies appeal to consumers through relationships.

It’s like the difference between going to a gas station for coffee or stopping in at a locally-owned coffee shop.

Sure, you may pay more for the coffee from the coffee shop, but you probably get better quality coffee (that tastes better), a more inviting atmosphere, and you can sit and chat with the owner while you are there.

Which one is really the better value?

Objection #3: Pyramid Scheme! 

We’ve all heard that MLMs are “pyramid schemes.”

But this isn’t accurate.

From Wikipedia: A pyramid scheme is a business model that recruits members via a promise of payments or services for enrolling others into the scheme, rather than supplying investments or sale of products.

Pyramid schemes are illegal, and don’t involve any products or services. They ask for money from participants, and promise that everyone will make much more money than they “invested.” No products or services are exchanged.

Example: Sally tells Bill that there is an investment opportunity that is really easy. All he has to do is invest $1000 and recruit 2 or 3 other people to do the same, and he will make back $5000. Sound good? Maybe, but it also sounds very sketchy.

Pyramid schemes are illegal for a reason: they are a true scam. People at the top make all of the money, and people at the bottom are left holding the bag when the whole thing collapses.

Network marketing companies aren’t like this at all. There are true products and services involved, and that is what you exchange your money for. Just like when you walk into a store and fill your cart then pay for it… you do the same thing with network marketing companies.

The ONLY DIFFERENCE between network marketing companies and other companies is the way they market their products. That’s it. Just the advertising. Everything else is the same.

Now let’s do a little exercise.

Pull out a piece of scrap paper and draw the organizational layout of the company you work for. Or of Sony. Or Ford.

There’s a guy at the top, right? Usually the CEO. Then a couple of people under him, and a few people under them, and on and on and on.

What shape does your drawing make?

Pretty much every company makes this shape: with the people at the top “making the most money,” and the people at the bottom “doing all the work.”

So next time you are tempted to yell “pyramid scheme…” think about it.

The thing I like about network marketing is that it is a level playing field. Literally anyone can be successful, with little to no start-up cost.

Do you have to work hard? Yes.

Do you have to be determined and persistent? Yes.

But is there any limit to what you can accomplish? No.

Sounds kind of like the American Dream to me. 

The tax savings alone make it worth joining a network marketing company, because when you do, you are “starting a business” in the eyes of the IRS, and that means tax deductions, which can get you a fat return check in April.

Besides tax savings, residual income is definitely something you want–and network marketing companies provide that in spades. Would you like to work once and get paid forever? That’s the kind of potential we are talking about here.

To Recap….

Network Marketing is a business model that involves marketing primarily based in Word-of-Mouth advertising. Network marketing companies harness word-of-mouth marketing over traditional mass-marketing methods.

And in the process, they partner with individuals like you and me. They allow us to be their spokespeople, which is way better than hiring celebrities and purchasing TV spots or internet banner ads.

Better for them, and better for us.

It’s better them, because they pay out their “advertising costs” on commissions.

Instead of spending millions of dollars on an advertising campaign, they will pay out millions of dollars in commissions to regular people like you and me.

That advertising money is spent either way. But when it’s spent on commissions rather than advertising, everyone wins.

The company gets more effective advertising, dollar for dollar. And we have the opportunity to build residual, passive income and become financially independent.

Once you understand what Network Marketing is, and what it is capable of giving you, I think you will believe (like I do) that it is the best business model there is.

What Do You Think?

Did you learn anything new about Network Marketing or MLM business strategy?

Will you think differently about it the next time you hear someone say, “I don’t do MLMs,” or, “That’s a pyramid scheme?”

 

 

More Resources

Residual Income: How to Get it in 5 Steps

You Need a Side Hustle: Tax Advantages to Having a Home-Based Business

How to Get the Best Hair of Your Life–And Make Money Doing It

Save the Most Money Possible on the Best Natural Haircare and Skincare

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

 

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo by Skin Science: An Honest Review

I am a sucker for natural products. Anything that claims to use the power of nature to work wonders on my skin, my hair, my body, or my overall health has me entranced, and I have to try it. 

Hair History

For years, I bounced from shampoo to shampoo, looking for natural products that would make my hair healthy, shiny, thick, smooth and manageable. I tried everything I could find: online, at the health food stores, and even in salons. Nothing ever worked for me: my hair was thin, fine, frizzy, flat, weak and pathetic. It was very frustrating. 

About two years ago I found a product that transformed my hair: it is now thicker, longer, healthier, shinier, smoother and so much more manageable than ever before. My shedding is down 80% and my hair is 2-3x thicker than it’s ever been. It would never grow past my shoulders and now it’s half-way down my back. It’s just overall better. 

That doesn’t stop me from seeing ads for other products that come out, however. 

I’ve been eyeing this WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo by Skin Science for awhile: the ads are everywhere and they look really good! I’ve even had a couple of friends say they love it.

Apple Cider Vinegar is making people’s hair thicker, shinier, longer, healthier! It’s getting rid of dandruff and build up! (Basically everything my current shampoo has done for me. But this one looks like it might be cheaper, and what if…?)

So when I was offered the chance to try it, I thought this would be a great time to compare it with my current routine. 

Full disclosure: I love my current hair products. They have done wonders for my hair. I don’t think I’ll ever switch. But if I found something I liked better, that was just as natural and cost less, I absolutely would switch. And I would promote that shampoo instead of the one I have been talking about. 

So let’s see how this one shakes out. I will try not to compare too much with what I’m using, but I’ve been using it for almost 2 years, so some comparison is inevitable: I am used to my hair being the way it is, so I have to compare my experience here with that. 

Let’s see how it goes! 

First Impressions

  1. Large Bottles, Low Price
    My first impression is that at first glance it appears to be very affordable. The bottles are 16.9 ounces and I paid $29.99 for a shampoo and conditioner set (they’re about $20 each if purchased separately on Amazon).

Over the past couple of years I have realized that fluid ounces of hair product + price is not always the most accurate indication of value. Most shampoos I’ve looked at are heavily diluted, so it’s necessary to use an entire handful to get a good lather on my head. If that’s the case, 16.9 ounces may not last as long as it looks. If I’m using almost an ounce of product for each wash, it will last me less than 20 washes.

2. The Ingredients

I also had to look at the ingredients. I have become somewhat of a shampoo ingredient guru over the past 20 months with countless hours of research under my belt, and I can recognize the main offenders of toxicity and build-up in hair care products pretty quickly. 

I noticed the claims of WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo by Skin Science (from the official Amazon store):

  • BEAUTIFUL, STRONG HAIR: WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo is able to balance the pH level that closely resembles human hair to help obtain the silkiest, softest, glossiest hair. Use twice a week to be less prone to breakage, split ends, and thinning hair.
  • CLARIFYING CLEANSER: Detox your hair & scalp – cleaning the buildups caused by dirt, dust, filth, dead scalp cells and styling product. Raw apple cider vinegar ensures removal of toxin in damaged hair. Helps rejuvenate & refresh for men and women.
  • MAXIMIZE HAIR SHINE: Improve your hair cleansing routine with our deep cleaning shampoo to get the best results possible. You’ll reduce dandruff, flakes, and frizz while enhancing shine and gloss to your hair. Get the best hair nourishment available.
  • SLOW DOWN HAIR LOSS: Saw palmetto helps slow down hair fall and male pattern baldness, reducing the amount of hair strands falling during a shower. With a little patience, your hair will have more volume and will feel softer, thicker and natural.
  • NATURAL INGREDIENTS: Our WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo is hypoallergenic, sulfate and paraben free for moisturized and hydrated hair. Massage scalp and stimulate hair follicles to be less prone to breakage, split ends, and thinning hair. Cruelty Free.


Sounds pretty good! I did notice that there were no claims to not contain any PEGs or petroleum derivatives, silicones, waxes, gums, phthalates or harmful fragrances. 

This distinction is important for a few reasons: 

PEGs or Petroleum derivatives are the most toxic ingredients in most hair and body care products. All of the problematic ingredients: sulfates, parabens, phthalates, harmful fragrances, harsh sulfates and other toxic chemicals are most often derived from petroleum. If you see a guarantee that there is no petroleum or PEG (petroleum derivatives), pay attention! 

Harmful fragrances (derived from PEGs) cause a lot of problems! Many people have become very sensitive to artificial fragrances and with just a passing exposure can have symptoms like migraines, dizziness, nausea, or worse! Even if you don’t have a fragrance sensitivity, these fragrances can cause hormone imbalance (endocrine disruption) and absorb into our bloodstream, causing more health issues over time (and sometimes building up to result in the fragrance allergies listed above). 

Silicones, waxes and gums are not necessarily toxic, but they are deadly for your hair! These artificial (and sometimes even natural) ingredients build up on the hair strands and in the hair follicles. They are in most hair products for a reason: they make hair feel soft, silky and smooth by coating the hair strand with a waxy, plastic-like substance that glosses over the imperfections and damage of the hair cuticle. The problem with them is that they build up on the hair strands and on the scalp over time, causing issues like dry, brittle, frizzy hair, dandruff, oily scalp, and even hair thinning over time! That’s the opposite of what we want from our shampoo!

Phthalates, parabens and harsh sulfates are also commonly derived from petroleum (PEGs) and therefore carry the same health consequences listed above. I have seen some sulfates that can be derived from other sources, like coconuts (as in the case of Dr. Bronner’s Sal’s Suds), but for the most part, ingredients like SLS are toxic and will damage your health and your hair in the long run. Your best bet: find products completely free of PEGs or petroleum products of any kind. 

Overall, Wow Apple Cider Shampoo and its accompanying Conditioner are not as bad as many mainstream products, but I was not impressed with them as a whole.  

3. Where is it Made?

The bottle indicates WOW Apple Cider Shampoo and Conditioner by Skin Science are made in India. I do like that my current shampoo is formulated, manufactured, processed and shipped from start to finish on American soil. Not only is it a point of pride and provides jobs for American workers, it makes the products more Eco-friendly as well, cutting down on pollution from shipping and other environmental footprints. 

4. Is it Eco-Friendly? 

As it contains petroleum derivatives, that already makes it less than ideal from an ecological standpoint (as well as a health one). The bottles do have a “1” plastic recycle code, which means they are recyclable. Hooray! But the fact that they are less concentrated means they use more plastic than necessary, and more bottles need to be used and recycled than if it were more concentrated. So overall, not terribly impressed with the eco-footprint, especially combined with the fact that it is made in India and shipped to me across the world, containing mostly water. 

Testing the Product

Without further ado, let’s see how the product works!

The First Wash

I followed the instructions on the bottle, which advise to use a “generous amount” of shampoo, lather on the scalp, and allow to sit on the scalp for up to 5 minutes for best results, then rinse and follow with conditioner.  

In doing this I noticed I used 5-6 times as much product as I usually do to get a good lather on my scalp. It definitely is not nearly as concentrated as the products I have been using.

The Fragrance

The shampoo smells like apples, and the conditioner smells like coconuts. 

But not like smelling an actual apple or coconut… more like smelling an apple or coconut candle. Very artificial fragrances. I am not chemically sensitive to most fragrances unless they are in my face and I’m breathing them in heavily for over an hour, but I can usually spot harmful artificial fragrances just by their overpowering, artificial-smelling scent. These products do not even claim to eliminate harmful fragrances, so it’s clear that the fragrances are not natural or safe. 

Shedding

My primary concern before using my current shampoo and something that is very important to me is shedding. Since I was a teenager I would shed handfuls of hair in the shower every time I washed, and then I would be shedding hairs all day long: every time I ran my fingers through my hair I would get 4 or 5 hairs. In order to prevent my hair covering everything, I made constant trips to the trash can to throw away the hairs that were inevitably in my hands every few minutes. 

Shedding I have experienced over the past two years with my current products and routine, washing 1-2 times per week.

 

The shampoo I’ve been using for the past couple of years cut that shedding down by about 80%, which also has made my hair much thicker as it’s grown out without all of the constant fallout. I was very curious to see what happened when I used this shampoo, and a little bit worried because I don’t want to lose all that hair again after growing such a thick, healthy head of hair over the past 2 years! 

 

 

 

Shedding from shower using WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner.

In the first wash, I did experience about twice as much shedding as I usually do with my current shampoo. Not as bad as before, but still not exciting to me. 

Tangling

My hair type is fine and thin, so I have always had some issues with tangling and knotting, especially when my hair is damaged and I need a haircut. With my current shampoo regimen I almost never have any tangling. If i do have tangling (once every month or two) I use the detangling spray from our junior line and that takes care of it. 

Shedding when combing out numerous tangles after using WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner.

With Wow Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and their accompanying conditioner, my hair felt more coated than I am used to, and it was much more tangled. When using my wet brush to brush it out, I lost about the same amount of hair I had lost in the shower when I was washing! 

To be honest, the shedding alone makes me hesitant to use this product again, but I want to use it at least a few times for a fair review. 

 

 

 

Results

My main requirements are low shedding, no frizz, manageable, thick, healthy hair with shine and volume, that will grow past my shoulders. Of course I don’t want to add build up to my hair if i don’t have to either.

Knowing the detriment of buildup to my hair health, why would I? 

For the purposes of review, I did everything the same as I normally do it with my hair: I most often air dry by twisting my hair up into a bun and allowing it to dry in loose curls that way. So that is what I’m doing with WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner by Skin Science

Here are my results: 

  1. Shedding. As I discussed above, the shedding has quadrupled in just one wash. Not loving it. 
  2. Frizz: More frizz than normal, but not terrible. Definitely not as bad as before I started using my current products. 
  3. Manageable: Slightly less manageable overall. My hair felt coated and heavy and didn’t “fall” in the effortless way I am used to. I found myself brushing it every few minutes to try to get it to lay down and look decent. Finally I gave up and pulled it into a pony tail. I can’t remember the last time I needed to do that before day 5 after washing. 
  4. Thick: I’d have to use it for a good year to see the difference in how it grows out, but if the shedding is increased, my hair will not be thicker. 
  5. Healthy: My hair is already healthy, as it’s been growing out with my current products for almost 2 years, and getting better and better with time. It will probably take a year or more of exclusive use to see if there is a real difference. 
  6. Shine: I didn’t notice any difference in shine compared with my current routine.
  7. Volume: Volume was decent in the first wash. 
  8. Growth: Again, impossible to say for sure unless I use it for a long time. 

Overall, on day 2 (the day after my wash) my hair felt heavy and coated. I was surprised that it didn’t look terrible, but it didn’t feel good either. It was a little more frizzy and less manageable than I am used to, and the artificial fragrance lingered and was nauseating after a while. 

WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo  by Skin Science promises to remove buildup and resolve scalp itchiness and dandruff… yet, my hair and scalp felt coated and less clean, and my scalp itched a little bit (it usually doesn’t itch at all). So that is a concern with continued use as well, because buildup can have that effect. 

Cost Analysis

I had to use a full handful of this product to get a lather all over my scalp. I would say I used at least an ounce of product, but to be fair, let’s say I will get about 20 uses out of this bottle, which means it will last me about 10 weeks if I wash my hair twice per week. 2.5 months for a bottle of shampoo that cost me $15 comes out to $12 per month for both shampoo and conditioner, or $1.50 per wash. Not a bad value!

Also a lot more expensive than what I am currently using and what is giving me much better results. The first bottle of my current product lasted me more than 10 months… roughly 4-5 times the 10 weeks this may last if I can stretch out washes to twice a week (doubtful since I already want to wash my hair on day 2).

Even with a lower cost per bottle, this still makes WOW Apple Cider Vinegar 2-3 times the cost of what I am using now.


Given my current experience and how it compares to my regular shampoo in terms of cost, safety of ingredients and results achieved, there is little chance I would ever use this product long enough to see what happens with continued use.

I will probably use it one more time, for the sake of a reasonable test period, but I really don’t want to. I will probably have to wash sooner than the 4th or 5th day (the soonest I usually have to wash with my current routine), which will be an added cost of time and money (if I’m washing more often than twice a week as I do now, the bottles will not last even the projected 10 weeks, which is much shorter than I’m used to already). 

Side Note: My Skin

Another thing… when my hair feels dirty and oily, it makes my skin feel oily and dirty too, which for me usually results in breakouts. As another uncomfortable side effect of using this… definitely not persuading me to continue. 

Conclusion

I stated from the beginning that I love the hair products I’m using now, but after using them for almost two years, I thought it would be fun to try something else that claims to do the same things, and might be cheaper. 

My conclusions for this test of WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner by Skin Science are: 

  • It leaves my hair feeling heavy and oily
  • I have slightly more frizz than I’m used to. 
  • My hair is noticeably less manageable than normal.
  • Volume and shine seem about the same. 
  • I will need to wash more than my normal 1-2 times per week. It’s only the 2nd day and I already want to wash my hair because it doesn’t feel clean and it’s making my skin feel oily and clogged. 
  • It is much more expensive than what I am currently using because it is much less concentrated and I will have to wash quite a bit more often. At most, if i wash 2 times per week, these bottles will last me 10 weeks. My first bottle of what I am using now lasted me more than 10 months, 4-5 times longer. Even at retail price, my current products are half the price of these and give me much better results. At the wholesale price I pay, WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner by Skin Science are about four times the cost of what I am using now. 
  • The ingredients of WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner by Skin Science are not as clean as the products I am using now. They use toxic PEG (petroleum derivatives), harmful artificial fragrances, and ingredients that build up on the scalp and hair cuticles. After almost two years of researching the ingredients in hair products, these do not impress me, especially for something that claims to be all natural and pure. 

 

Bottom Line: While WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Conditioner by Skin Science is less toxic than most mainstream brands of hair care, it does not match up to my current hair care on any level: not in terms of cost, performance or toxicity. 

 

Want to know what I’m using instead? Check out this review.

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

The Truth About Fluoride

No matter where you live or what you believe, you’ve probably heard conflicting information about fluoride.

We are all taught from an early age that fluoride is beneficial for teeth and that it can prevent tooth decay. We hear this from the dentist, from our parents, on TV, and we may even be exposed to an advertising campaign aiming to make sure we know all the wonderful benefits of having fluoride in our toothpaste and in our water.

We also hear conflicting information, however: and usually this information comes from less… “reliable” or “trusted” sources.

Perhaps you heard it from your conspiracy theorist uncle, or you saw alarmist posts on social media. Maybe you’re noticing the products on the store shelves that boast a lack of fluoride (fluoride-free toothpastes and water filters that can remove the fluoride from your water).

Is All Fluoride Created Equal?

First of all, I have been researching natural health and how to heal ourselves without meds for over a decade. During that time I have discovered that nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Fluoride is no exception. It’s not a clear-cut case of “Fluoride: bad, ” as it turns out.

This fact was discovered by my friend Kara over at Deep South Crunchy Mom when we were discussing Kombucha. She told me that in an effort to cut back on coffee, she was now drinking Kombucha every morning and it was doing wonders for her gut health and energy levels. I told her I had read on the blog Cheeseslave that there were high levels of fluoride in Kombucha, both because tea leaves tend to absorb fluoride from the soil, and because fluoride is a byproduct of the kombucha-making process.

Kara was devastated (but not for long). She knew the fluoride in our water and toothpaste was bad (see below) but thought there had to be some difference between naturally-occuring fluoride in tea and kombucha, and the nasty industrial waste product found in our water supply or even the pharmaceutical grade fluoride found in our toothpaste (which is still a neurotoxin).

See what she found here.

Then, if you are curious about Kombucha and what it can do for you, head over to my friend Sara’s blog Clean Living with Kids, to learn more about Kombucha and how to make it.

What is the Truth About Fluoride?

If you’re here for the first time, you may not know it, but I have been researching health, nutrition and the big industries in America for over a decade. (Read here about how I got started on this journey).

I have learned a lot of very eye-opening information during this time, but the number one thing I’ve learned is:

We can’t trust everyone, especially those who are profiting from our trust.

Have you ever heard the term, “Follow the money?”

It may seem cliche, but this phrase one of the truest statements you will ever hear regarding the dangers in our food and water supply as well as a lot of the other dangers in our society today.

If you hear of a “conspiracy” in any area of society, whether it pertains to food or politics or anything else, and you think, “Why would they do that?” The answer is almost inevitably: “Follow the money.”

A Brief History of Fluoride

Fluoride was first added to the U.S. water supply in 1945 in an effort to combat tooth decay.

It seems strange that this was the goal, however, because the year before (1944) the American Dental Association found that fluoride was actually detrimental to teeth and could cause decay and other issues.

The 1944 the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that using between 1.6 and 4 ppm (parts per million) fluoride in water would cause 50% of adults to need false teeth. On top of that, the world’s largest study looked at 400,000 students, revealing that tooth decay increased in over 25% with just 1ppm fluoride in drinking water. (Source 1)

To understand why a chemical of then unknown risk was added to our water supply for seemingly no good reason at all, we have to understand the mindset of the scientific community in post World War II America:

“The history of community water fluoridation is a reflection of the post WWII era of the 1950’s when many thought chemicals in one form or another could solve almost any problem. Our gaze was focused on the beneficial properties of the chemicals, not on the potential hazards. A classic example is DDT, that in addition to being a potent pesticide, almost killed off predatory birds and more recently was found to be harmful to humans.”  –Steven Gilbert, Ph.D., founder and director of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders (INND) (Source 2)

Since that time, it has become widely known that fluoride is a neurotoxin, yet it is still added to approximately 70% of US water supplies. Why?

Any dentist will tell you it is beneficial for our teeth. But is it?

And what are the potential hazards of this chemical?

And how is it produced?

We’ve already discussed that the American Dental Association has known since 1944 (the year before water fluoridation began) that fluoride is actually not beneficial for dental health. So why have they been adding it to water supplies ever since?

In 1945, a large quantity of hydrogen fluoride was produced as a byproduct of industry from DuPont’s Deepwater, New Jersey, plant. The huge quantities of this chemical byproduct were a problem: they had no good way to dispose of it, so they proposed a solution: add it to the water supply. After the government was convinced that fluoride was good for our dental health and that it should be added to water, they continued to do so, finding other sources, like the fertilizer industry, which produces phosphates as an industrial byproduct.

Again from Dr. Gilbert:

Many are surprised to learn that unlike the pharmaceutical grade fluoride in their toothpaste, the fluoride in their water is an untreated industrial waste product, one that contains trace elements of arsenic and lead.

Without the phosphate industry’s effluent, water fluoridation would be prohibitively expensive. And without fluoridation, the phosphate industry would be stuck with an expensive waste disposal problem.”

Studies Proving Harm from Fluoride Ingestion

If you thinks this smacks of conspiracy, take a look at this. When European countries such as Germany, the UK, Italy and France did a risk analysis of fluoride, they all concluded that it was a dangerous toxin and that any potential benefit was not worth the risk.

They further concluded that adding fluoride to drinking water has no measurable benefit to dental health at all. It doesn’t even make sense to take it internally when it is only supposed to help prevent enamel erosion and decay.

Dr. Gilbert explains that the U.S. government’s decision to fluoridate drinking water was the result of two short-term studies that compared cavity rates in a city with water fluoridation (Muskegon/Grand Rapids, Michigan) with the cavity rates in a city without it (Kingston/Newburgh, New York).

These two studies were set to run 10 years, but when early results showed cavity reduction, the U.S. Public Health Service approved water fluoridation after five years — with no data or safety studies on long-term toxicity.

A more recent study done by researchers collaborating in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico shows that fluoride levels ingested by a pregnant mother is inversely proportional to the IQ of the child she is carrying. Because of reports of neurotoxicity from fluoride, these researchers wanted to do a study that measured the actual effects on prenatal brain development when the pregnant mother ingested differing amounts of fluoride. The study included 299 participants and the results were astounding: for every increase in maternal urine fluoride by0.5mg/L, the IQ of the child she was carrying was lowered measurably and significantly (Source 5).

Okay, so we shouldn’t fluoridate our water… but what about toothpaste?

If you are thinking that maybe fluoridating the water supply went too far, but we should still harness the dental health benefits of this chemical at the dentist and when we brush our teeth, think again.

Remember, it’s never a good idea to put a neurotoxin in your mouth.

Let’s look at this logically. Pick up a tube of fluoridated toothpaste and look at the back. There is probably a warning on the back that it is “harmful if swallowed,” and that you should call poison control:

Wait…what?

You should call poison control if you swallow something that you put in your mouth every day? Does that sound reasonable to you?

How much fluoride is worth calling poison control?

The amount of toothpaste that the package itself says it harmful to swallow (and that poison control should be enlisted) is the amount in one use: a pea-sized amount (as listed on the package).

Do you know anyone who uses a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when they brush their teeth? Do you? These are the images we see every day, on every package of toothpaste, and on every television commercial:

To me that looks like about 6 peas lined up together, and one source said the “pea-sized amount” is about the size of a split pea: much smaller than you would think!

So if more than a tiny pea-sized amount of toothpaste, a product we put in our mouth every day at least once, is swallowed, we are supposed to call poison control. Because fluoride is toxic. Does that sound okay to everyone?

Add this to the fact that the fluoride found in toothpaste is actually pharmaceutical grade, and the fluoride found in our water supply is an industrial waste product (most recently being purchased by our government from China’s industrial waste supply, because not even China thinks fluoride is safe enough to put in their water supply)….

 

…and to the fact that fluoride doesn’t even benefit our teeth! The evidence that there is any benefit to dental health at all is sketchy at best, and far outweighed by the toxic nature of the chemical itself.

Which really begins to beg the question… why are we being poisoned with fluoride?!

Is it Really That Bad?

At this point you may be thinking, “Okay, I’m sure fluoride is toxic at high levels, but surely we aren’t ingesting anything significant in our drinking water, right?”

Wrong.

And that is why adding fluoride to drinking water is so dangerous. The amount of water people drink on a daily basis can vary widely from person to person, and the toxicity of even just a minute amount can affect a baby much more than it can affect a 200-pound man.

So how can the government be so irresponsible as to allow a known neurotoxin to be added to our water supply? And why would they tell us it’s good for us?

The world’s largest study looked at 400,000 students, revealing that tooth decay increased in over 25% with just 1ppm fluoride in drinking water. How much fluoride is in our drinking water? A minimum of 1ppm.

And how much fluoride do you have to ingest for it to become toxic? Well, that depends what you mean by toxic. The minimum lethal dose of fluoride is 5 milligrams of fluoride for each kilogram of body weight. And how much fluoride does the average fluoride toothpaste contain? About 5 mg in a tiny pea sized dollop (which we 10x every time we brush our teeth).

For an adult, one swallow is not a lethal dose of fluoride, but consider that many children’s toothpastes are also fluoridated:

“Most disturbing, however, is the fact that even bubble-gum and fruit-flavored toothpastes for children contain sufficient amounts of fluoride to kill a child. Indeed, as shown in the following table, an average-weighing 2-year-old child could die from ingesting just 40% of a “Colgate for Kids” bubble-gum flavored toothpaste.”  (Source 6)

So… we make children’s toothpaste taste like candy and then put enough fluoride in less than half a tube of it to kill them.

Perfect.

Another disturbing fact is that fluoride builds up in the body. It is not flushed out like you may think. This means the effects of this poison are cumulative.

Now that 8 glasses of water we drink every day doesn’t seem so harmless, does it? That tiny bit of toothpaste we swallow twice a day just got a lot more intimidating.

 

The Plot Thickens…

Don’t forget to check out my friend Kara’s post about why not all fluoride is created equal…

And if you are curious about Kombucha, check out Sara’s post about the benefits of Kombucha and how to make it yourself.

Resources and Citations

  1. https://www.naturalnews.com/036280_history_water_fluoridation_FDA_approval.html
  2. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/05/23/statement-opposing-fluoride.aspx
  3. Hazard Profile on the Fluoridation of Drinking Water 
  4. Health Effects Database
  5. Prenatal Fluoride Exposure and Cognitive Outcomes in Children at 4 and 6–12 Years of Age in Mexico

  6. What is a Lethal Dose of Fluoride?

  7. How Fluoride Was Sold to America and How We Bought It
  8. More Fluoride Resources

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

Make 15 Non-Toxic Products with Essential Oils in Under a Minute (for less than $1!)

Perfume is everywhere: it’s an ingredient in laundry detergent, many body care and cleaning products, and it’s even a thing we pay big money for to spray on our bodies so we can smell it all day long!

We buy air fresheners for our cars and for our houses, and we love candles and room or linen freshening sprays to eliminate (or mask) unwanted odors and keep everything smelling fresh and clean.

But perfumes, when they are made with artificial fragrances, present a constant exposure to toxic fumes that can wreak havoc on our hormones and our health. (To learn more about this: watch the documentary STINK! on Netflix).

People who are allergic to perfumes may get migraines or feel dizzy or nauseous when confronted with an overpowering fragrance from any source. These people often have to avoid fragrances of any kind in every product, which can be difficult!

Luckily for us, nature has a solution: Essential Oils!

Essential oils are nature’s perfume, and unlike toxic artificial fragrances, are actually really good for us!

There are all kinds of benefits to smelling (and even topically using) essential oils, from boosting immunity and healing disease to balancing hormones, stress relief and help getting to sleep at night.

I love this article by Dr. Axe that expounds on the benefits and uses of essential oils. 

If you have never used essential oils, you’ve probably heard a lot about them and may even be intimidated.

Where do I start?

Do I need them?

Which ones do I use and how do I use them?

If that’s you, check out this great post from Clean Living with Kids that will help you decide on the BEST essential oils to start with, and why.

 

I stood on the sidelines for awhile before trying essential oils at all. Then finally, I decided to just dive in and try it!

Now, several years later, I have built up quite the collection of essential oils, and I recently bought a shelf just for them.

In this post I want to share my experience and a few easy recipes that have saved me hundreds (maybe even thousands) of dollars on products that I wanted to ditch anyway (because of toxic ingredients, including the dreaded fragrance).

I’m not recommending any specific brand, and I think there are a lot of great options out there, especially if you are using them in the recipes like the ones I’ll share below.

If you are applying them topically or diffusing them, it’s best to make sure they are organic or at the very least that they are pure.

Quick tip: Not all essential oils are created equal. If you see “essential oils” at the dollar store, they probably aren’t the real thing. There is no regulation in essential oils, and some manufacturers have been known to cut their oils with chemicals or not use essential oils at all—replacing them with chemical fragrances.

 

Well, that defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? So whichever brand you choose, be sure it’s from a trusted brand so you know for sure you are getting what you pay for.

Essential oils have all kinds of great uses, and a few limitations. Check out this great post from Deep South Crunchy Mom detailing the best ways to use essential oils topically, diffused and which ones are safe for kids.

Easy Ways to Use Essential Oils Every Day

I love to drip them into my Epsom Salt stash for a relaxing, aromatherapy experience every time I take a detox bath. Just a few drops of your favorite scent will make the whole batch smell great! I also use them in my home-made deodorant recipe. I make a different scent for my son, my mom, and myself…because we all have different favorite scents, of course! I even use them in my own skin-care recipe (I’ll share that recipe with you in a different post).

Here’s a list of all 15 recipes. If you want to jump down to one, click it here:

🌎
BODIES AND KIDS

In the summertime, it’s important to have a couple of things handy at all times: insect repellent and after-sun spray.

🌱

Insect Repellent

When I first started searching for a recipe for insect repellent, I was surprised to see that a wide variety of essential oils provide insect repelling benefits. So I usually just mix up whichever ones I have. The most important ones to include are citronella, peppermint, lavender, and lemon eucalyptus.

Here is a basic recipe that is super effective at repelling all the bugs! With just a few inexpensive bottles of essential oils you will be bug-free for years to come!

Ingredients


Directions:

  1. Add the witch hazel and essential oils to the bottle (it should be about half full)
  2. Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water and shake well
  3. Shake well before use. Spray on skin or clothes before going outside!!!
    🌱
    Soothing After-Sun Spray

    I’m not a huge fan of sunscreen, so I usually wear hats or hang out in the shade, so on the rare occasions I get a little pink, this after-sun spray comes in very handy! It’s cooling and soothing, and brings immediate relief.

Ingredients:

Directions:

Mix Aloe and essential oil drops in the spray bottle then fill to the top with distilled water.

Shake well before each use and mist on sun-kissed skin as needed.

🌱

Anti-bacterial Hand Spray: Safe, Effective, Chemical Free!

Waterless hand cleaners are all the rage, but did you know the chemicals in them are dangerous and are absorbed into the bloodstream in less than 30 seconds? Also these harsh chemical anti-bacterial agents have contributed to the sharp rise in superbugs in recent years.

Essential oils are nature’s anti-bac. I love to use the immunity blend for mine (also called onGuard and Thieves with other brands). See the fascinating story behind this blend here.

This recipe is really easy!

Ingredients:

  • Reusable spray bottle
  • Distilled water
  • A few drops of vegetable glycerine (optional: for moisturizing)
  • 20-30 drops Immunity blend of your choice (including Clove, Cinnamon, Lemon, Rosemary, Eucalyptus Essential oils)

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients into the spray bottle and carry wherever you go.
  2. Shake well before using: spray liberally onto hands or surfaces that may harbor germs (such as door knobs, handles, purses, counter-tops, etc)

🌱

Go-to-Sleep Roll-on or Spray (for kids big & small!)

Insomnia plagues children and adults alike. There is nothing worse than laying in bed with your eyes wide open, hoping sleep will come.

You’ll be surprised how well this quick, easy, inexpensive trick works every time!

Ingredients:

  • Reusable spray bottle or roll-on bottle
  • Magnesium oil
  • 20-30 drops lavender essential oil

Directions:

  1. Fill container to the top with magnesium oil and essential oil drops. Shake well.
  2. Shake well before using and apply to the bottoms of the feet at night.
  3. The spray can also be used as a linen spray to lend a fresh, soothing scent to your pillow and bedding for better sleep as well.
  4. This gentle, fast-acting formula of magnesium and lavender absorbs into the bloodstream quickly and your child (or you!) will be in dreamland before you know it!

🌱

Fever Reducer Roll-On

 

Say goodbye to over-the-counter drugs! You probably heard about the Tylenol recall a couple years back. Despite being cheap and easily-obtained, over-the-counter drugs are not safe for anyone: especially children.  Each drug has its own dangers, and acetaminophen is particularly dangerous for children when they are sick: it blocks the production of glutathione in the body, which opens up detoxification pathways. Stopping detoxification is the last thing you want to do when you are sick–so here is a great recipe for a roll-on that can help reduce a fever if you are concerned.

(Also, see this post about why you may not want to reduce the fever at all, as well as some other easy, non-toxic fever reduction methods).

Ingredients:

  • Reusable Roll-on bottle
  • 4 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • Distilled water or Fractionated coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Fill the bottle with distilled water or fractionated coconut oil and top with essential oils
  2. Apply to the bottoms of the feet every 15-20 minutes as needed.

🌱

Migraine Roll-On

Headaches are the worst: when I feel one coming on there is nothing more I want to do than prevent it from becoming a full-blown, all-day affair. Headaches affect everything: productivity at work, ability to interact with people in social settings, and general ability to do anything at all.

I don’t get frequent headaches, but I had heard from a lot of people that headaches and even migraines can be relieved with essential oils. I’d heard simply putting peppermint on the back of the neck can make a big difference. The first time I tried it I was amazed how well it worked: my headache disappeared immediately!

I’ve also seen migraine blends that are mostly peppermint but have a few other ingredients as well. Here is a basic recipe that works for me, but feel free to play with the different oils and applying them different places to get relief.

Ingredients:

TIP: Because oil and water don’t mix, if you use water you will need to always shake before using. If you use fractionated coconut oil, the essential oils will incorporate into the oil and will have a smoother application.

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to the roller bottle and shake
  2. Shake before using. Apply to the temples, back of the neck or other areas

🌱

Perfume!

We all love to smell good, and to have pleasant smells around us wherever we go. Since conventional perfumes are not an option (and we should all avoid these toxic synthetic fragrances anyway), why can’t we harness the power of essential oils to be able to use “perfume,” and also get the benefits of essential oils (relaxation, focus, stress relief, healing, etc) at the same time?

The great thing is that an essential oil perfume is so easy to make and to use:

Ingredients:

  • Reusable spray bottle
  • Distilled water
  • Essential oil or essential oil blend of your choice (play with the combinations until you create your perfect scent!)

Directions:

  1. Combine water and essential oils (use about 10 drops per ounce).
  2. Shake and spray!
  3. This can also be used as a room spray, linen spray, bathroom freshener, or in place of any other “perfume” you would normally use!
🌱
Bathroom Stink Eliminator Spray

Have you seen the ads for Poo-Pourri?

Eliminate embarrassing smells in the bathroom with a simple spray.

Could it be possible?

Yes–actually it is! All with the power of essential oils.

And this two-ingredient recipe is so simple–just mix it up and leave the spray bottle in the bathroom or carry it wherever you go–and it costs just pennies and less than a minute to make!

Ingredients:

  • Reusable spray bottle
  • Distilled water
  • Your favorite essential oils (citrus ones like lemon, bergamot, grapefruit and lemongrass work great, but others work too!)

Directions:

  1. Mix up 10 drops of your chosen essential oil for each one ounce of water in the spray bottle and shake to mix
  2. Spray 4-5 times in the toilet on the water before you go. The essential oils sit on top of the water and trap odors in. It’s like magic!

🌎

CLEANING RECIPES

 

🍋
All-Purpose Cleaner for Counter tops, Stove tops, Windows and More!

Move over, chemicals: the cleaning power of lemon and vinegar has entered the building! You will be shocked how well this simple combination cleans everything in the house!

Ingredients:

  • 1 part distilled water
  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 10-30 drops lemon essential oil (depending on the size of the bottle)
  • Reusable spray bottle

Directions

Add ingredients to spray bottle and shake before using.

🍋

Ceramic (White) Sink Cleaner

If you have a white ceramic sink like I do, you already know how difficult it is to keep those clean and shiny! Every little thing stains and marks that white surface!

Here is a quick, easy way to clean those ceramic white sink surfaces as white as new. I do it on a weekly basis.

Ingredients:

  • Vinegar in a spray bottle with lemon essential oil
  • Baking soda
  • Scrub brush

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle baking soda all over the sink, concentrating in areas with stains or marks
  2. Spray the baking soda with the lemon vinegar until it sizzles and looks wet
  3. Allow to sit until it dries, about 10 minutes
  4. Scrub out the sink with the brush.

🍋

Oven cleaner

Commercial oven cleaners are highly toxic, caustic chemicals that can be dangerous to breathe, let alone use on something you use to cook your food. This easy recipe is similar to the sink cleaner above, and it really works well with no dangerous chemicals. Plus it’s a huge money saver, as all of the ingredients are incredibly cheap.

Ingredients:

  • Reusable spray bottle with white vinegar and orange essential oil
  • baking soda, it will fizz up
  • for tough stains, grab your orange essential oil bottle
  • small scrub brush

Directions:

  1. Spray entire surface of oven generously with the vinegar until it is very wet
  2. Sprinkle baking soda everywhere, concentrating on problem areas
  3. On stubborn stain areas, drop orange essential oil directly on top of the baking soda
  4. Allow to dry for at least 10 minutes, then scrub away

🍋

Floor Cleaner

Floor cleaner is quick, easy and cheap: I throw a batch together every time I clean my floors: it’s just a matter of adding a couple ingredients to warm water!

Ingredients

  • 2 – 3 cups of warm water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Castile soap
  • 10 drops of essential oil of your choice (citrus oils like lemon and orange work fantastic for hardwood floors!)

Directions

  1. Mix the ingredients and use your mop or microfiber floor cleaner with your cleaning solution.
  2. You’ll be amazed how clean and shiny the floors are!

🍋

Cream Cleanser For the Bathroom Sinks and Showers

Similar to “Soft Scrub” this creamy cleanser can remove soap scum and other yuckies in the bathroom sink, tub and shower areas, including tile and grout.

It also makes an excellent non-toxic toilet cleaner, and leaves the whole bathroom smelling amazing!

Ingredients:

  • 1 mason jar
  • 1.5 cups baking soda
  • 1/2 cup liquid castille soap
  • 4 T water
  • 20-30 drops lemon and/or tea tree essential oil
  • scrub brush

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients into a creamy paste
  2. Apply to bathroom surfaces and scrub

🍋

Non-Toxic Shower Spray that Smells Great!

If you want to avoid having to clean your shower or tub altogether, this after-shower spray is a great non-toxic option. Just spray it in your shower after every use, and it will greatly extend the time between scrubbings. An added bonus: it makes the bathroom smell amazing!

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a refillable spray bottle and shake well before using
  2. Use as an after shower spray to prevent soap scum, mildew and mold

🍋

Laundry Softener and Scent Boost

Two of the most toxic things in any household are fabric softener and dryer sheets.

Why?

The artificial fragrances used are strong and they are toxic. They also both put a film over clothing (for “softness”) that is very difficult to remove, even with multiple washings. This coating can irritate the skin and makes the harsh fragrances linger for a very long time.

I’ve personally never used fabric softener or dryer sheets, but one time a friend bought me a pair of leggings. We were going on a trip, so she washed them before we left and then gave them to me.

That was over a year ago, and I’ve washed those leggings multiple times, but I can still smell the strong fumes from the fabric softener on them.

Eliminating fabric softener and dryer sheets is easy: simply add vinegar to the fabric softener cup in your washer, and use these wool dryer balls in place of dryer sheets. You’ll save time and cut this major offender of toxins out of your life.

As an added bonus: vinegar is antibacterial and anti-fungal, and it neutralizes uric acid! So use vinegar if you have broadsheets or dog beds that have been urinated on!

Wool dryer balls also cut down drying time, which can save you on energy costs!

If you like your laundry to have a great scent, here’s a recipe for a natural, non-toxic laundry softener and scent boost.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 2 cups Epsom Salt
  • 10-30 drops of your favorite essential oils (some good choices are lemon, lavender, lemongrass, or another scent you prefer)

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together well, evenly distributing the essential oils
  2. Add 1/4 cup to each load of laundry
  3. You laundry will smell great, and the baking soda is a cleaning booster! The Epsom salt helps to soften the fabric.
🍋 BONUS! Non-Toxic Foaming Hand Wash

Conventional hand soap has a lot of toxins that absorb into our bloodstream within 30 seconds of washing our hands, and the artificial fragrance is a problem as well as the anti-bacterial chemicals used, such as triclosan, which has created the surge of antibiotic resistant superbugs we are experiencing today.

Want a cheap, easy, safe alternative to paying $4-$5 per bottle for toxin-loaded hand washes?

Try making this quick, simple foaming hand wash in less than a minute, for less than 25 cents per bottle.

 

🍋 🌱 🌎

What are your favorite essential oils and what do you use them for?

Do you have any other recipes using essential oils you like to use?

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

CBD: Hype or Healer? 5 Things to Look For

You’ve likely heard a lot about CBD oil lately: it’s the newest health craze. People are claiming it can cure any ailment! Alleviate any discomfort! Heal any sickness!

With any “miracle cure” it’s hard to distinguish the truth from the hype.

We all have access to so much information these days, there is hardly an excuse to be uneducated about anything–so let’s find out what CBD oil is and if it’s worth investing our valuable time, effort and money.

After all, if the things people are saying are really true, who wouldn’t want to benefit?

In this post, we’ll discuss:

🌱What is CBD Oil? 

CBD oil (cannabidiol) is a chemical compound found in the cannabis sativa plant (from which both hemp and marijuana plants derive) that is reported to have healing benefits to the human body.

There have always been claims regarding the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant. In several states, “medical marijuana” has been legal for quite some time. More recently, legislation has passed for the legal recreational use of marijuana in many of the same states.

Marijuana can now be found in dispensaries on almost every street corner in states such as Colorado, Oregon and California.

🌱 Hemp and Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

The first thing to understand is that CBD oil is usually derived from the hemp plant, not the marijuana plant.


Both hemp and marijuana are varieties of the cannabis sativa plant, but have each been selectively bred and cultivated with very different purposes in mind. Marijuana has been bred to enhance THC, the psycho-active chemical that will make us “high” when smoking marijuana.

Hemp, on the other hand, has been bred to enhance more practical uses: strong fibers that can be woven into fabrics, ropes, clothing and industrial uses.

Both hemp and marijuana varieties of the cannabis sativa plant contain chemical compounds called cannabinoids. THC, the psycho-active component of marijuana that makes you “high” is only the most famous cannabinoid. CBD is another one.

In all, the cannabis plant contains at least 85-100 different cannabinoids.

Legality. While THC levels in marijuana can vary from 5-30%, hemp plants contain inconsequential amounts of the psychoactive chemical. In the U.S., the FDA rule is: any product containing THC levels under 0.3% are federally legal, because at these levels there are no mind-altering effects.

Another important cannabinoid, CBD (cannabidiol) has garnered a lot of attention and scrutiny lately, with claims that CBD oil can heal almost anything.

The hemp plant, which contains very low levels of THC, contains much higher levels of CBD than marijuana.

Additionally, research has shown that CBD acts to inhibit any psychoactive effects of THC–which widens the gap between the two plants even further.

But does it really work?

Traditionally, CBD oil was used as a cure-all, and it was a component of almost every medicinal remedy until the early part of the 20th century.  If you look up pictures of old medicine bottles, a staggering number have CBD listed in the ingredients.

Why is that?

If it’s so effective, why has CBD fallen out of favor in the medical community?

(Will prescribing medicine from a plant–that anyone can cultivate in the back yard and use personally–create profit for doctors or drug companies?)

Though CBD is no longer widely used in pharmaceutical drugs, people everywhere have been re-discovering the healing benefits of CBD.

There is no shortage of information about CBD oil on the internet: from video testimonials to articles, documentaries to clinical trials and research studies: the evidence is compelling.

So compelling, there is no reason not to try it.

🌱Top 5 Considerations to Choose the Best CBD Oil

My research into CBD oil has convinced me that it is safe, and the abundance of studies, research and testimonies have convinced me that it is effective.

If it can do even a fraction of what people are claiming it can do, who wouldn’t want to try it?

If you have decided to try CBD oil, the next questions are:

How can I get some?

and

How do I know if what I’m getting is good quality?

With any supplement, FDA regulation is loose. Because it’s not technically a “food” or a “drug,” (as long as it is within the minimum levels of THC) the FDA has permitted the sale of CBD anywhere in the US, and does not regulate quality or potency.

Here are the top 5 things to consider when choosing a CBD oil:

1. Pure and Unadulterated

Because supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way as food or drugs, some companies will inevitably maximize profit by diluting a product to cut costs. Cheap fillers in some CBD supplements are not only ripping us off, they can be harmful to health.

Ensure your CBD oil has guaranteed levels of CBD in each serving: look for verified independent accredited lab tests that demonstrate these levels.

Remember: CBD is what we are paying for–so if the maker can’t guarantee the levels of CBD, what is the point?

2. Legal

I live in California, so it’s easier for me to get hemp or marijuana products from a dispensary, but the good news for everyone else is:

CBD oil products that contain less than 0.3% THC are federally legal!

Because the government is only concerned with THC levels, and CBD oil doesn’t contain significant THC, CBD oil and supplements are legal on the federal level.

That’s good news for us, because right now anyone in the US can benefit from pure, organic CBD oil.

3. Organic

Any crops that aren’t certified organic are sprayed with a cocktail of pesticides, herbicides and other toxins that can disrupt our hormones and make us sick. Hemp is no different.

I live in California, where a law for recreational marijuana use was recently passed, and where medical marijuana has long been legal.

Though cannabis products are easier to get, studies show high levels of pesticides and toxins in 93% of dispensary marijuana and CBD products tested.

If your CBD isn’t organic, find one that is! The added toxins may be doing more harm than the CBD is doing good!

4. Low in THC

The main issue with marijuana for me, and for many others, is the psycho-active properties of the chemical THC found in marijuana.

After all, you want healing benefits, but you don’t want to be mentally compromised when you are driving, working or taking care of your kids!

Besides, if you don’t live in a state where marijuana has been legalized, getting a product with high levels of THC is not only harmful, it’s illegal!

Ensure the CBD supplement you choose is guaranteed to contain maximum amounts of CBD and minimal amounts of THC.

5. From a Company You Can Trust

For all of the above reasons, when finding a source of CBD oil, it’s crucial to find a provider you can trust. High quality CBD oil is not cheap, but it is a case of getting what you pay for.

How to Find the Best CBD Oil

Most states don’t have dispensaries, so many people have to find a CBD source online. Find a company you know is committed to quality: purity of the oils, no adulteration of the product, insignificant THC levels, and most importantly: an ORGANIC source.

In my research there is only one company that fits all of these criteria: Hempworx. I trust Hempworx’s commitment to quality and purity in the products, and the results speak for themselves.

If you’re looking for a high-quality source of healing, organic CBD oil supplements, I urge you to look into Hempworx and try their products for yourself. They even offer a “PURE” line that contains guaranteed 0% THC for those who undergo drug tests with no-tolerance policies, such as military personnel, professional athletes, policemen and firefighters.

How to Save Money on Hempworx CBD Oil

You want to try CBD oil and now we know that Hempworx has the highest quality CBD oil available. Now learn how you can save the most money possible on Hempworx CBD!

 

🌱3 Ways to Order

  1. Sign up as a “preferred customer” No commitment and no risk. Get the best price and a full 60-day money-back guarantee!
  2. Sign up as an Affliate. You can also become an affiliate for a one time fee of $20 and start earning your own income just by recommending CBD to help others! You’ll get your own website, 24/7 support, training to start at your own pace, and earnings right away on orders through your unique referral link.

As an Affiliate you can earn commissions for anyone who buys CBD oil from you, and you can use Hempworx as a SIDE HUSTLE

Hempworx doesn’t spend big bucks on advertising–instead they use word-of-mouth “Affiliates” who make a commission on the sales they refer.

🌱How do I know it will work? TRY A SAMPLE.

If you have priced CBD oil, you know the good quality ones don’t come cheap. And if you aren’t sure it’s going to work for you, you may want to try it first.

Luckily, you can order a sample and only pay for shipping. This is a low-cost way to see how your body reacts to CBD.

Samples are great… but some of the best results do take time to achieve.

If your endocannabinoid system is deficient, you will need to give your body time to build up its stores for you to get the full range of benefits. It’s ideal if you can try CBD for at least a few months to really see how it’s going to work, but a sample can give you a good idea how your body will respond within 1-2 weeks of daily use. What do you have to lose?

🌎

BONUS: What is a SIDE HUSTLE?

Did you know you may be able to reduce your tax burden while increasing your income?

Most of us have jobs. A side hustle is an income “on the side.” Working for yourself! There are so many advantages to working for yourself: flexible schedule, tax deductions and extra income!

Tax Deductions

The biggest benefit of working for yourself is the tax deductions. Businesses deduct expenses from their taxes every year. With a side hustle, you can take advantage of this business benefit–deductions can reduce taxable income and may even bump you into a lower tax bracket–so you pay less tax on all of your income!

  • If you work from home you might deduct part of your mortgage or rent.
  • If you use your car for your side hustle, you might deduct applicable mileage.
  • If you use your computer, internet, TV, cell phone, groceries–you name it–you might deduct the cost of those items (or a percentage) on your taxes!

This is huge. The money that you are already spending on everyday expenses could be deducted from taxes, simply by getting a side hustle!

Tax deductions alone should be motivation for everyone to have a side hustle. 

Extra Income

Naturally you will tell other people about products you love: we all do it. So why not make money helping people get products that have changed your life? Why not get paid for it?

I work with several companies that allow me to earn residual income while maintaining the things that really matter to me: family, raising my son, and traveling. Is it time you look into a side hustle for yourself? You’ll save money on taxes (potentially thousands), make extra income, and maybe just find the financial freedom you’ve been looking for.

Contact me by email (leah at freedomandcoffee dot com) or message me on Facebook to discuss how a side hustle could work for you!

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

In this CBD oil review, I share what CBD oil is, why I am using CBD oil, what the benefits are, and whether or not it may be able to help you. I also talk about how to choose the best CBD oil brand, how I evaluated the different CBD oil products and companies, and why I chose to become a distributor with a specific company.

I am not an accountant, so please talk with your accountant or tax preparer for more details on the tax deductions for which you qualify. 

 

Resources:

What's the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

Cannabis is Contaminated in California Dispensary Samples.

If I'm Healthy, How Can CBD Help Me? 

What is the law regarding CBD in America?

A doctor and a mom talk about effectiveness of CBD 

Get your side hustle on and deduct the expenses on your taxes! 

What is the Endocannabinoid System? 

 

Residual Income: GET IT! 5 Simple Steps

Let’s talk residual income and how to get it.

What is residual income, and is it really possible?

Residual income almost sounds too good to be true:

  • Make money while you sleep
  • Work once and get paid forever
  • Become FINANCIALLY FREE

This may be why you’ve disregarded claims about passive income.

Is that possible?

How could I do that?

Where would I start?

It is possible. And every person who builds wealth does it. 

We are all taught the “path to success” from an early age:

  • Go to school
  • Learn things
  • Get a job
  • Work your way up the corporate ladder
  • Retire

How many people do you know who have followed this path?

Most people.

And how many of those people are financially free?

Many are struggling.

Some are comfortable.

But none are wealthy.

That’s because it’s not possible to become wealthy while building someone else’s dreams.

Wealthy people (in every sense of the word)* work for themselves.

They are entrepreneurs. 

Take a moment and look it up: the wealthiest, most successful people in the country, in your state, in your city: what do they do?

I’m willing to bet they are almost ALL entrepreneurs of some kind.

In order to create real income and true wealth, it is imperative to create passive, residual income. Without it, you’ll never do more than just “get by,” and you’ll never be paid what you are worth.

Once you understand what residual income is and how it works, you will want it. Surprisingly, it’s not incredibly difficult to accomplish, but it does take work!

Maybe you have tried your own business…

Lately I’ve been talking to a lot of new entrepreneurs.

These people want to work from home, but are frustrated with their “new businesses”

Many have joined network marketing or direct sales companies.

I haven’t gotten any sales!” Stephanie complained.

I’ve talked to people, but no one is interested,” lamented Melanie.

I’m just not very good at selling,” Olivia sighed.

What’s the problem?!

The frustration is real, but if you consider a few simple factors, you will see that true, substantial residual income is not only possible, it’s attainable by anyone: even you and me!

You just may need to reconsider your approach.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing YOUR Side Hustle

1. The Products

People often tell me they chose their side hustle because “the products are amazing,” or “they changed my life.”

That’s great!

But is it a good enough reason to make that your side hustle?

Of course, it’s important to be passionate about the products you represent.  It’s guaranteed that if you don’t think your products are life-changing, nobody you talk to will get excited about them either.

Your products ABSOLUTELY must be life-changing, and you must believe in them 100%!

So if you are representing a product you love, you will definitely be successful, right?

Not so fast. There are four other very important considerations, and it is crucial that they all apply to your business if you are going to be successful.

2. The Competition

Ask yourself objectively: How many other companies carry products that are similar to yours?

  • You have 100% organic bath and body products? Great! So do 100 other direct-selling companies. Even more importantly, organic soap and lotion are quite easily bought on almost anywhere with no commitment or interaction.
  • You have the cleanest make-up around? That’s amazing! How many other companies offer organic make-up and skin care? (Also, not everyone wears make-up. Your audience is limited to women, and then only some of them use make-up often if at all).
  • Your weight loss shakes transformed your health and you lost 60 pounds? Perfect! But if every other company you see sells weight loss shakes and supplements, it may be difficult to compete. Do they all have amazing testimonies that look just like yours? (And even if people buy weight loss products, how long will they continue to purchase? Generally, they either don’t work and they stop buying it, or they work great… and they stop buying it).

COMPETITION MATTERS. It can make or break your sales.

What sets you apart?

You should offer something people can’t get anywhere else.

“But these shakes are truly revolutionary! They do things no other shake does!”

Your shake could be amazing, but that testimony isn’t very convincing to your average consumer, who has 5,326 other options for shakes that (to them) look identical to yours. And that’s if they are even in the market for a shake: only a fraction of the population is interested in shakes at all!

Ideally, your product has NO competition.

And you should be well-versed on what sets your product apart.

EXAMPLE: I love MONAT haircare products. Of course there are many other brands of shampoo, but what sets MONAT apart is:

  • It’s the only anti-aging hair care on the market. (Check out this testimony!) When your hair looks younger, so do you!
  • It is non-toxic. Conventional shampoos contain a dizzying array of toxic chemicals that absorb into your scalp and enter your bloodstream within 26 seconds of contact! These chemicals do all kinds of damage, from disrupting hormones to causing migraines or worse. That’s bad news. We ran all of MONAT’s ingredients through EWG’s Skin Deep site, and the average score is 2 out of 10 (10 being most toxic… think Johnson & Johnson’s baby wash, Pantene, Herbal Essences).
  • It doesn’t promote build-up. Build up is a big deal: most shampoos contain silicones, waxes, gums and keratins that build up on your strands and your scalp. This not only suffocates your hair and makes it dry and unmanageable, it can cause thinning and even balding in the long run! MONAT removes existing build up and doesn’t add any back in. Check out this video of an expert stylist who shows the build-up that is likely lurking on your hair and scalp.
  • No artificial fragrances. This is a biggie: it’s great if your shampoo smells amazing, but more and more people are becoming intolerant to chemical fragrances, which can trigger migraines, respiratory problems, or worse! MONAT’s fragrances are all essential oils, so they are actually good for you. And they smell INCREDIBLE.
  • MONAT is salon-quality and it is the ONLY direct-selling hair care company. People can’t hear about it from you then turn around and buy it on Amazon or CVS like they can do with other salon products.
  • It is demonstratable. There are literally thousands of before-and-after pictures and testimonials on social media: real people showing exactly what MONAT has done for them, some in as little as one wash!
  • There is a 30-day Money-Back guarantee. No other salon-quality hair care brand offers that, anywhere!
  • MONAT is very concentrated, and one bottle lasts an average of 4-5 months. You can actually SAVE MONEY using this over even store-shelf products!
  • Samples are available to let potential customers and team members try it out before they take the plunge. Sampling is very effective!

That’s just one example… now look at your products and see what makes them unique.

Come up with a list of things that sets your products apart.

Make sure your list is compelling, and that you have it committed to memory.

If you can’t come up with a good list of reasons why your product is ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE, you may have found the reason it isn’t selling well.

If your product has too much competition in the marketplace, the dollars will be spread over every option, giving each one a smaller share.

The problem may not be you: it may be your products.

3. The Company

The products can be amazing and there can be no competition, but if the company lacks integrity, you have a problem.

Research the company you are looking at.

  • Is it owned by a family or a mother corporation?
  • How long has it been in business?

(If a very long time, like Avon, Amway or Mary Kay, the market may already be saturated).

  • How does the company treat their associates?

Do they value the people that work with them or have they ripped people off, leaving distributors unhappy?

Do they offer valuable incentives, trips, and a generous compensation plan with bonuses that encourage success?

  • What is the structure of the business model?

Is it direct-sales, network marketing, traditional marketing, commission-based?

Do they provide resources and quality marketing materials to give their associates the best possible chance at success? Do they provide training videos?

4. The Compensation

You can have amazing, unique products that have no competition and a wonderful, family-run company that treats their distributors like gold, but if they don’t have a great compensation plan that allows you to build significant residual income long-term, how can it be the right vehicle?

The first thing to look at is the nature of the products. Do they allow for residual income by being used up, so people keep coming back for more?

  • The product should be consumable.

Consumable means they run out: they must be repurchased regularly.

While selling something like hair clips or jewelry is fun, every time you want to sell more, you have to find more customers, and sell more.

That’s not passive income—that’s active income. It can be one type of income stream, but it will NOT create residual income—because people aren’t re-ordering on a regular basis. After all, how many pieces of jewelry does a person need?

Conversely, if one of your selling points is that your customers only ever need to buy one thing every few years (like with one cleaning company I’ve worked with that sells high-quality cleaning cloths), what does that mean for you? It means you have to hustle a lot more to make a decent income, and it won’t be very residual.

To build truly residual income, your products MUST BE consumable.

  • Study the compensation plan.

Any time you are considering a company, you need to evaluate the compensation plan and really understand it.

There may be videos that go in depth, or maybe the person who told you about the company can explain it in more detail so you know how they get paid and what you can expect.

It’s great to find a company that not only pays commissions on personal sales, but also incentivizes building a team. This way you can earn commissions on all of the people on your team, not just your customers.

See how far down you get paid: if you build a large team, is there any point at which you don’t get paid on the people far below you?

Look at the top earners in the company. How much are they making and how long did it take them to get there? How many people are making really great incomes?

Also many companies have bonus incentives the first 1-3 months after joining: so you start making good money right away and get your business on the right track from the beginning—which is good for everyone!

EXAMPLE: MONAT has a period called Smart Start that lasts the first 3 months after you join. You get paid the normal commissions on all sales, and you also get bonuses if you build a “block,” which is 3 VIP customers and 1 Market partner (distributor), and if you build 4 blocks you get another additional bonus on top of that! You also get bonuses for ranking up to the next level. Some people have made several thousand dollars in their very first month and got their business off to a great start—already earning residual income on all of those sales!

Bonuses built into the comp plan, especially at the beginning, allow for active income (now) and passive income (residually…forever)!

The details of the comp plan matter. A lot.

5. The Team

Lastly, examine the team you would be working with if you joined your potential business.

  • Do you like these people?
  • Are they successful?
  • Do you like their strategies?
  • Can you relate to them?
  • Would you like to work with them and learn from them?
  • Are they people that could be (or already are) your friends? Would you be happy to travel with them and do events together?

One of the biggest benefits of having your own business is the ability to work with people we like. We can choose who our teammates will be! And when they succeed, we succeed–we are literally invested in each other’s success.

Over the past year, I’ve met some of my best friends doing this business.

Some of them live near me, and some live across the country. I’ve traveled to the Bahamas with some of them (a free vacation on MONAT!) and look forward to many more trips with these new life-long friends.

  • Does your potential team work together well to achieve goals?
  • Do they help each other?
  • Do they like each other, or is there a lot of drama and fighting?
  • Can you get on board with the team’s strategies? Are they open to your ideas?
  • Can you see yourself contributing and being successful with them?

These are all questions you must ask yourself when considering a serious side hustle.

Network marketing is a team effort–your choice of team is important.

 

Now that we’ve gone through the top 5 things to look for when choosing the side hustle that is perfect for YOU… let’s talk about some questions or objections you may have.

But isn’t Network Marketing a Scam?

Network marketing  (MLM) has a bad reputation.

Some people call it a “pyramid scheme” (which isn’t accurate—look it up! Pyramid Schemes are illegal and don’t involve any products!).

Let’s look at what Network Marketing is, exactly.

Network Marketing is a business model that involves marketing primarily based in Word-of-Mouth marketing.

Why?

Because studies (and common knowledge) show that the most effective way to get a new customer is if someone they know and trust recommends it to them.

Plain and simple.

People buy what their friends and family recommend.

But what kind of marketing do most companies do?

Billboard ads, TV commercials, radio spots, Internet banner ads, etc.

That advertising is far less effective than word-of-mouth. But for huge corporations, it is a lot easier to spend money to advertise than to enlist an army of faithful customers to dedicate their time and efforts to spreading the word about their products.

And that’s what Network Marketing companies do. They harness word-of-mouth marketing over traditional mass-marketing methods.

And in the process, they partner with individuals like you and me. They allow us to be their spokespeople, which is way better than hiring celebrities and purchasing TV spots or internet banner ads.

Better for them, and better for us.

It’s better them, because they pay out their advertising costs on commissions.

Instead of spending millions of dollars on an advertising campaign, they will pay out millions of dollars in commissions to regular people like you and me.

That advertising money is spent either way. But when it’s spent on commissions rather than advertising, everyone wins.

The company gets more effective advertising, dollar for dollar. And we have the opportunity to build residual, passive income and become financially independent.

Once you understand what Network Marketing is, and what it is capable of giving you, I think you will believe (like I do) that it is the best business model there is.

I have a couple of companies that I work with, and of course I’ve applied all of the above criteria to each of them. That being said, if I come across products I really want to try and I can get a wholesale discount by signing up as a distributor, I usually do it: because that makes that purchase tax deductible, and if I recommend it and someone buys I can make a little bit of money as well.

Here are the companies I have found to meet all of the above criteria and offer (with work) the best chance of success:

MONAT haircare.  I was never a “hair person” before, but guys: this stuff is life-changing. I always thought I had bad hair, but it has been literally transformed in the year since I’ve been using it. (And it’s helping people GROW BACK THEIR HAIR from thinning, balding, Alopecia, chemo, and other hair loss. This stuff is flying off the shelves!) It’s just a great business model, comp plan, company, team, and consumable product.

  • Click “join now” to get the best hair products you’ve ever tried at wholesale prices, write off all of your hair related expenses on your taxes, and make great money! Always a 30 day money (empty bottle) money back guarantee on every purchase–so there’s no risk! If you’d rather try a sample first, click here.

Wholesale Travel Club. Do you wish you could travel more? What if you could take 5-star vacations at 2-star prices, plus get wholesale discounts on plane tickets, rental cars, hotels and theme part tickets? I’ve found that just the mention of “wholesale travel” piques all kinds of interest: I had 4 people sign up with one Facebook post! Everybody wants to travel more, and there is one reason they don’t: money. It’s a great way to write off your vacations on taxes, save money on great destinations, and make money to boot!

And of course if you ever have any questions or would like to discuss anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My google voice number is (802) 227-7051. Feel free to call or text me any time, or PM me on Facebook messenger.

*Wealth: What is “true wealth” (in every sense of the word). It is a lot more than money. It is freedom. 

  • Time Freedom: Make your own hours, do what you love on your own schedule. Pay attention to your kids when they need you. Take a vacation on your clock. 
  • Location Freedom: Work wherever you are: from your phone, laptop or in person. At home, on the beach, in a ski cabin, across the world. 
  • Freedom Freedom: Be your own boss. Call your own shots. Choose the people you work with.
  • Financial Freedom: To accomplish all of the above, you have to make enough money to finance it. Don’t be a slave to your job, your bills, your taxes, your mortgage. Live in freedom. 

Resources:
Is Network Marketing a SCAM?? The Truth About MLMs

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

There is Hope for Infertility

Please welcome my friend and fellow blogger Rebekah Greco, of the blog Brothaholic. Rebekah suffered from infertility, miscarriages and pregnancy complications, but then discovered how she could heal her body and now has six healthy children! She has generously contributed this educational guest post about infertility and her experience, as well as ways you can heal and find hope to conceive! 

Infertility can be a topic that is treated a lot like money: it is mostly avoided,  but bringing it up can cause explosive reactions or grief.

It is a topic that involves feelings of despair, shame, and hopelessness. While it can be a painful topic, infertility is a condition that is pretty common in the US.

My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage.

While pregnant  with my second daughter, I was told that I had the beginnings of both endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). After that birth, my husband and I packed up and moved to another state. I had a new doctor and a new set of eyes to look at more ultrasound results. At this point I was pregnant again. I was told the same thing: Endometriosis and PCOS.

My doctor told me that this would likely be my last birth, that my diseases would continue to escalate, and eventually I would need a hysterectomy. I was told to mentally prepare myself.

I miscarried another pregnancy after that appointment.

Just like the first miscarriage, it was emotionally devastating.

During these years I began to really research the causes of infertility, miscarriage. My search for answers has continued for another eight years.

I have discovered there are a lot of possible causes and various forms of infertility. For one person there may only be one or two reasons to experience infertility, for someone else it may be a combination of several reasons, and some never find a reason.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is when the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus.

It is an inflammatory condition that can cause cramping, pelvic pain and heavy bleeding. (See the sections below about true vitamin A and progesterone as they are related.)

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome aka PCOS

PCOS is diagnosed when either one or both ovaries are present with regular abnormal cysts. It can cause delayed or infrequent ovulation and can be associated with later experiencing type II diabetes and heart disease. It is associated with low vitamin D levels. (1)

Low Progesterone

Low progesterone can occur during different times for women of childbearing age. Some women have low progesterone, ovulate, are able to conceive, but experience very early miscarriages or what is called chemical pregnancies.

Then there are women that produce enough progesterone to conceive and have pregnancies which go four weeks or more.

During early pregnancy, an ovary will have a beneficial ovarian cyst called the corpus luteum cyst that supplies progesterone to the baby until their own placenta takes over and begins to produce its own progesterone to sustain the pregnancy. This occurs around the twelve weeks gestation mark.

For some reason, in some women, the placenta never fully takes over progesterone production, and this causes miscarriage or it may produce progesterone on a more low side of normal.

The ones producing low, or on the low side of normal, may have frequent cramping and spotting. Low progesterone can cause a subchorionic hemorrhage behind where the placenta is implanted. Low progesterone can also cause stillbirth in late-term pregnancies.

Low progesterone is associated with estrogen dominance. (2)

Fallopian Tube Blockages

Fallopian tube blockages can cause the inability to conceive. They can also cause a tubal pregnancy where the baby begins to grow inside the fallopian tube and is most often a medical emergency.

The most common cause of fallopian tube blockages is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, aka PID, from sexually transmitted infections or surgical infections.

Blockages can also be associated with endometriosis. Unfortunately, the solution to this is not dietary/lifestyle changes. These changes could certainly help to prevent further damage, but a minor procedure using a laser can be used to clear out the tube or tubes.

For some types of blockages, a non-surgical procedure can be performed using a special catheter to unclog the blockage.  

Low in True Vitamin A

Being low in true vitamin A makes it difficult for the body to rid itself of excess estrogens. Excess estrogen can cause excessive bleeding and is associated with endometriosis. (3) Excess estrogen causes progesterone insufficiency.

We associate Vitamin A with eating orange vegetables or green leafy vegetables.

Unfortunately, converting beta carotene to true vitamin A is dependent on a few factors. Does the individual have the proper gut bacteria present to make the conversion, and are the vegetables consumed well-cooked and with saturated fat? If not, the conversion will not occur (4). 

(Note from Leah: You can boost your gut bacteria by taking a high-quality probiotic and real-food supplements. For more information on how to increase beneficial gut bacteria, see my post  Bacteria Boom: What Are Probiotics and Why are They So Popular?).

There is a way to bypass these issues by eating foods that have true vitamin A, like pastured eggs (the nutrients are in the yolks!), pastured butter or ghee, and organ meats from pastured animals. For the more squeamish, grass-fed desiccated liver pills can be found online. They come in easy-to-swallow capsules.

Reduced Cervical Mucus

In order to conceive, cervical mucus is needed to transport the sperm to the egg. In fact, noticing extra cervical mucus is typically a sign that the body is in its fertile phase.

When a woman does not produce enough cervical mucus, everything in her fertility may be in working order except for the cervical mucus production. This is when beta carotene from orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes becomes a shining star because it increases cervical mucus production, many times significantly (5).

A Regular Low Body Temperature

Hypothyroidism is associated with infertility.

Some cases of hypothyroidism are from the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Other cases are more easily fixed.

The thyroid gets stressed from not eating enough calories, excessive dieting, excessive exercise and in turn lowers adrenal function. Hashimoto’s on the other hand typically requires a gut healing protocol and testing for a chronic high viral load from things like Epstein Barr.

Removal of heavy metals may also be necessary. Other causes of a chronic low body temperature (below 98.6) can be fixed by reducing stress, sleeping more, eating enough calories, and avoiding excessive exercise.

While low-carb diets are beneficial to some women, for other women these diets can stress the thyroid excessively, affect the adrenals, and make conception difficult. (6)

Toxic Exposures

Toxic exposures to poisons can cause both the inability to conceive as well as miscarriages.

An example of this occured where I live in the Plano/Frisco area in North Texas. The water supply was poisoned with trihelomethane, which is a known female fertility disruptor. Who knows how long this had been going on and where else this is occuring.

Our family relies on a heavy duty gravity filter, like a Berkey, to reduce our toxic exposures. We do not drink or cook with water directly from the tap.

Early Ultrasound Exposure (before 13 weeks)

Unless a tubal pregnancy is a serious concern (extreme pain in the pelvis and sometimes bleeding caused by the baby growing and the tube rapidly expanding), early ultrasounds are mostly always unnecessary.

Ultrasounds have been shown to cause changes in tissue temperature and depending on where the baby is attached in the uterus and how long the ultrasound takes, it could be dangerous. We do not fully know the effects at this time. (7)

I personally had two miscarriages after an early ultrasound. I was on progesterone at the time, so low progesterone was not the cause. During the ultrasounds the babies appeared to be very healthy and active.

Though it’s possible the ultrasounds did not cause my miscarriages, for the rest of my pregnancies I have avoided early ultrasounds. This is merely anecdotal evidence, and is up to your discretion.

How I Healed

After the birth of my second child, I had begun to clean up my diet.

I have never been one to avoid eating regular fruits and vegetables, so that certainly was not my problem. I did begin to eat good fats, such as coconut oil, butter, real olive oil, avocado oil and meat fats.

I had no idea in years previous that consuming my regular salads with store bought salad dressings was causing chronic inflammation in my body and not allowing my body to properly convert sunlight exposure to vitamin D.

At that point, I rarely ate things like packaged cookies, crackers, or chips (which are mostly all loaded with cheap, rancid omega 6 oils), but until I became rigorous in avoiding high omega 6 vegetable oil products, I did not see results.

Another thing that helped my body convert sunlight to usable vitamin D was transdermal magnesium. I happened to have moved to a place by the ocean and had my feet in magnesium-rich ocean water regularly.

Those not by the ocean can get extra magnesium by using magnesium oil or magnesium lotion on their skin. Epsom salt baths are another great, inexpensive way to absorb more magnesium, as well as detoxify your body. Another way to get more magnesium is by switching from table salt to Celtic Sea Salt, which has more magnesium. I personally did both.

During this time, I began to do something else that helped my body get rid of mineral deposits in my reproductive organs, which was to consume more vitamin K2. This happened purely by accident, because I had discovered how to make Parmesan cheese crisps and ate them liberally.

Vitamin K2, not to be confused with vitamin K, helps the body to stay in balance. A lack of K2 may cause mineral deposits or plaque in the brain, arteries, kidneys and ovaries instead of in the bones and teeth. Foods with vitamin K2 are pastured egg yolks, grass-fed butter, cultured vegetables like cultured (not vinegared!) sauerkraut, hard cheeses, and natto.

I changed my fats, was out in the sun, had magnesium exposure, and ate parmesan cheese with wild abandon–and I got pregnant again. 

My doctor was not optimistic about this pregnancy, but when I had another ultrasound, there was no sign of endometriosis or PCOS! He was so confused that he went to my old records to re-verify that he was not mistaken. I have had multiple ultrasounds since then and it has never come back.

A Supplemental Band-Aid And More

I had to use progesterone to maintain my pregnancies starting around 6 weeks and lasting until 34 weeks.

I cleaned up my lifestyle increasingly with each consecutive pregnancy.

I began to avoid eating or drinking from plastics or cans because they contain chemicals that cause hormone disruption.

We began to filter our water with a Berkey. I did a gut healing regimen to heal from mold exposure that had sickened me in many of the places I had spent a lot of time, like places of employment, a rental home, and a home we owned that we discovered had mold. Mold can produce mycoestrogens, which can also disrupt normal hormone levels. (8)

Another thing I discovered to avoid was conventional beef.

Beef is one of the last meats on the market that allows excess estrogen unless it is labeled as hormone free. When the cows or steers are put on a feedlot, they are given an ear piercing that delivers estrogen to cause them to gain weight quickly. (9) At home we eat grassfed beef, but when we go out to eat, I now avoid beef.

In my quest to avoid estrogen producers, I also began to avoid soy (with the exception of organic fermented soy sauce or occasional natto) as soy is estrogenic. (10)

Furthermore, to avoid hormone disruption, I also changed all of my personal hygiene products to ones that avoid toxins and hormone disruptors.

 

My Real Food Success

My last pregnancy was different than all of my other pregnancies.

For the first time in my life, at six weeks of pregnancy, my progesterone levels were on the low side of the normal range. I was always below normal in week 6 and 7 in previous pregnancies (per the levels recommended by the Pope Paul IV Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction, which differ from the levels presented as within normal range by The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology).

Since I was on the low side of normal, I took progesterone again to prevent nuisance cramping.

As a note: I used supplemental high dose progesterone.

For one pregnancy, I had done the progesterone injections and had a terrible reaction: huge hives at the injection site.  For this reason, I do not recommend the injections because the carrier oils can cause the body to overreact with what appeared to be an autoimmune response.

The pills (Prometrium) are bioidentical, but my Dr felt they were not as effective as progesterone vaginal suppositories. To prevent pregnancy loss I took them for a few days until a compounding pharmacy could finish a prescription for the bioidentical progesterone suppositories. I did this a few times during times of bleeding while I waited for my prescription.

My Experience

What does all of this mean? At this point, if I were to conceive again, would I need supplemental progesterone? I do not know the answer to that, but I am really happy with the results I have gotten so far. I no longer have any signs of endometriosis or PCOS, my progesterone levels during early pregnancy with my last child were close to normal for the first time and I now have six healthy children.

–Written by Rebekah Greco of Brothaholic


Looking for ways to clean up your diet and lifestyle for reasons of disease prevention, infertility or so you can live a happy, healthy life for years to come?

Learn more here about how to cut processed food from your diet and how to navigate the confusing, muddy waters of health and wellness.

And if you are looking for great prices on clean, natural, organic groceries and staples, check out Simply Real Foods Market–with a low-price guarantee, no GMO food in stock, no membership fees and free shipping!

Sources:

1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4669857/

2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3902220/

3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4521362/

4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10799382

5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6441332

6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15007197

7) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.7863/jum.2008.27.4.541

8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5036702/

9) http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=B1302&title=Implanting%20Beef%20Cattle

10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270274/

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Disclosure: many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

Clean up Your Cleaning Game! Cut Toxins and Save Money.

I have a dilemma.

I hate cleaning. There are just so many other productive things I can be doing with my time. I don’t want to live in a dirty house, however, and my husband is an absolute clean freak, so regular cleaning is a necessity.

Little Helper

Now that my son is 12, I have him contribute to the household chores. He washes the floor of the entire house at least once a week, helps with the dishes, and keeps his room and bathroom clean, among other various housecleaning activities.

Personally, I can be very sensitive to the fumes and scents of most cleaning products, and I definitely don’t want my son breathing those noxious chemicals in while he’s doing chores to earn his screen time.

Indoor Air Pollution

We all know that there are many toxins and pollutants in the air we breathe every day, and depending on where we live, pollution may become a health concern causing acute issues like asthma, migraines, and upper respiratory infections.

To avoid this, many of us keep the windows shut all the time so we’re not breathing all of the polluted outdoor air.

But did you know that it has been found that indoor air is even MORE polluted than outdoor air, no matter where you live?

This can result from a number of factors: from the fact that the air inside already comes from outside, to paint and carpet fumes, off-gassing from yoga mats, appliances and furniture, and a number of other toxic things that build up as a result of our everyday lives.

Even if you have air filters or purifiers in your house, the number of things polluting your indoor air would probably astound you.

One of the biggest causes of indoor air pollution may be surprising however: your cleaning products.

To cut down on my household air pollution, I’ve been searching for non-toxic cleaners, and have been surprised that what I have found is not only completely non-toxic, but also more environmentally friendly, and CHEAPER!

Of course the first place I looked was at the store in the “natural” section of the cleaner aisle, and I was dismayed to find those products not only more expensive than the conventional products, but the ingredients they contained didn’t seem that much better than what I was leaving behind.

Real Alternatives.

In the realm of non-toxic, all-natural living, vinegar, baking soda and essential oils are superstars, and for good reason: they disinfect and clean a lot of things, and not only are they safe they are actually edible, so there are no worries of toxins invading our spaces from those!

Vinegar. I love to use vinegar for lots of things:

  • Spray cleaning counter tops
  • Disinfecting surfaces
  • Cleaning urine out of furniture (vinegar neutralizes uric acid, so even if you can’t throw it in the washing machine, it will get the smell out!)
  • In place of a fabric softener in my laundry
  • As a rinse agent in my dishwasher!

Baking soda is also great:

  • Add it to a pot of boiling water to get stuck-on and burned-on food or stains off of your cookware
  • Clean glass and stainless steel to a bright shine
  • Make a paste and apply to ovens for deep cleaning
  • Adding as a cleaning agent to my laundry detergent
  • I even put it in my deodorant recipe for a super effective all-natural deodorant!

I also discovered the “magic erasers” can be good for cleaning soap scum and other build-up from sinks and tubs, but I did worry about what those sponges were made of and what it was leaving behind, because to be sure they are not natural, safe and non-toxic.

Revelation

Then one day I discovered microfiber cleaning cloths, and I fell in love. If you haven’t tried microfiber cloths for cleaning, you are in for a wonderful treat: using just water and these cloths, you can clean almost anything to a bright, streak-free shine. How economical is that?!

I’ve been using those for a couple of years, and then I came across a company that takes this concept to the next level.

Not only did they take the microfiber concept and run with it in the form of different types of microfiber cloths for different uses, they also wove antibacterial silver into the fabric, making the cloths themselves able to disinfect using only plain water!

This is huge. Now I am able to use simply water and these cloths to clean virtually any surface in my house, from countertops to floors, furniture, sinks and tubs, walls, and even my body! They even have a cloth that cleans fruits and vegetables! It virtually eliminates the need for cleaners or soaps of any kind, making this a great investment that pays for itself almost immediately.

Non-toxic living: the best of both worlds.

If you or anyone in your household suffers from asthma, allergies, have chemical sensitivities or have a compromised lung capacity for any reason, these cloths can literally save  your life! They clean allergens, dust and toxins from your home using just water, so they don’t add to the toxic load in your household, creating a “safe zone.”

The Benefits of Non-Toxic, Eco-Friendly Cleaning

I love to see stories like this one, where a mom was able to protect her micro-preemie baby by using these safe products to clean her home:

Even better, the quality of these cloths is so much better than what I was using before, and the company guarantees them to last at least 2 years from the time of purchase, so they are a phenomenal value.

Saving money and making my job easier. 

Now I don’t need to buy fruit and veggie washes, furniture polish, all-purpose cleaners, floor cleaners, dusting sprays, tub or sink cleaners, toilet cleaners or even body wash! These kinds of consumable products take up a large chunk of every household budget, as we have to replace them all at least once per month. Imagine more than 24 months of not having to purchase any of those products, and the toxins that are eliminated from your household by not using them at all!

I am a believer in the efficacy of using these cloths to clean everything in my house, and I will never again be persuaded to waste money on expensive cleaners that only add a toxic load and a large footprint to my household. It’s the greenest of all possible choices!

Visit the Norwex website to peruse all of the zero-footprint, eco-friendly, completely non-toxic products they offer, from the super convenient dust mitt to the microfiber floor sweeper and mop, to the window cloth and polisher and the body cloth. There are so many great customized options to cater to every cleaning need in your house, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

You may never have to buy another cleaning solution again!

And, unbelievably, my dilemma is made easier, because using these cleaning cloths actually makes cleaning fun!

I tried out the dusting mitt on my super dust-prone entertainment center: it’s black glass so every bit of dust shows up and I have to dust it often! The dust mitt is soft and fluffy, and picks up tons of dust, and you activate it just by rubbing it together then wear it like a glove and wipe every surface.

Check out these before & afters!

 

Gross! All of that was on my furniture? I love that all I have to do is wipe everything down and then throw this mitt into the wash. It’s so easy! And did you know that those dusting sprays actually coat the furniture in a film that attracts dust? So using this means you can dust less often.

I’m sold. Check it out for yourself! 

Contact me by email (leah at freedomandcoffee dot com) or message me on Facebook to learn more about how to live your life toxin-free.

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

 

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

 

What is a Side Hustle? (And Why Everybody Needs One)

Have you ever looked at your paycheck and been frustrated with how much of it is taken out for taxes?

Have you ever thought what you could do with all of that extra money if you could actually keep more of what you are earning?

Have you ever wondered why you still have to pay more taxes in April, or why you’re not getting nearly enough money back on your tax returns?

You should get a side hustle.

A side hustle is any work you do “on the side.” Some examples are: cutting hair, mowing lawns, tutoring, or selling products. Side hustles are done on your own time for extra money.

You may already be involved in a side hustle and not even realize it.

But there’s more benefit to a side hustle than just earning a little extra cash.

Money you spend to fund your side hustle is tax deductible–AND some of your current expenses could also be tax deductible!

Did you know that you can also deduct expenses that you may not have thought of?

Some examples:

  • A portion of your rent or mortgage if you do any business or preparation for business at home
  • Mileage on your car if you ever use it to drive to and from places you do business or try to get new customers
  • Utilities
  • Internet bill
  • Cell phone bill

These kinds of expenses really add up. If you are paying these expenses anyway, and you can use a portion of them to deduct money from your taxable income, your tax bill not only shrinks, but you may bump yourself into a lower tax bracket.

We’re talking potentially thousands of dollars in tax refund money.

You might say:

“I don’t have time to do anything else.”

When you think about the tax savings, you can really see the potential: what if you were doing something that only took a few hours a week but saved you thousands of dollars on your taxes, PLUS the money you make doing what you’re doing?

Do you have time NOT to get a side hustle?

You might say:

“I don’t have money to invest in a new business.”

What if you could invest a couple hundred dollars and save a few thousand dollars on taxes, and make money on top of that? Do you have the money NOT to invest in that kind of side hustle? That’s a pretty great guaranteed return, no matter what business you are in.

Here is a simplified example of the kind of tax savings possible with a side hustle:

Say you make $65,000 per year. According to your tax bracket, you’d pay 25%, or $16,250 in taxes over the course of one year.

If you had a side hustle, let’s say you could write off $15,000 in expenses per year (car mileage, part of your rent or mortgage, a portion of your cell phone bill, purchases and supplies for your business, start-up costs. If you take a trip for your business, the tax-write off numbers could easily be higher).

It is acceptable to take a “loss” in a new business for up to the first 3 years of the business. If you don’t make any money on your business the first year, here is your new taxable income:

$65,000 – 15,000 =  $50,000 taxable income. 

Now you’ve bumped yourself into a lower tax bracket, which only taxes 12% of your income. Now you’re paying only 12% taxes on a total income of $50,000

$50,000 x 0.12 = $6000 taxes.

Originally you would have paid $16,250 and now you’re paying $6000. 

You just made $10,250!

And that’s without doing anything other than starting the business– and not including any money you make for your business.

These are all estimates and would vary based on your specific circumstances, but you can see how this works. 

How would an extra $10,250 per year change your life? 

Maybe you could pay off that credit card bill. 

Make several mortgage payments. 

Take a family vacation… or four. 

Get your Side Hustle On!

 If you don’t already have a side hustle, you should definitely get one. But what kind?

For anyone in search of the perfect side hustle for you, this is an excellent webinar that discusses all of the considerations to make when choosing your side hustle.

There are lots of things you can do, from tutoring to babysitting to mystery shopping. The way to really make money, however, is to sell things. And you need to find something to sell that people really want. If you sell something you love, you can even deduct some of the products you use on your taxes as well! After all, if you are selling something to people, you need to try it out so you can tell them how great it is!

The great thing about a side hustle is that it’s flexible, and it’s based on effort.

If you don’t have a lot of time and you don’t need to make a lot of money: perfect! Do a little here or there and make some extra cash while saving tons of money on your taxes.

If you dream of quitting your job and finally being financially free: PERFECT. You can totally do that.

A Slave to the J.O.B.

I love to talk about ways to save money, and even make a little money or bonuses doing things you already do–like shopping online.

Today I want to talk about something more powerful, though: residual income.

You know how….

you go to work and you get paid for the time you spend doing things they tell you to do?

 you can have a great job with lots of money and amazing benefits, but if you don’t show up to work, you don’t get paid (or lose your job)?

 your boss (or your company) can make you do things you don’t want to do because they have the power to take away your livelihood?

 rumors in the company about layoffs keep you up at night, worried what you would do if you lost your job?

The big corporations we work for have us at the end of a rope, and there isn’t much we can do about it. We need the money they are paying so we will do whatever it takes to earn it.

  • Hour-long commute in rush hour traffic.
  • Long days in a boring office sitting at a computer.
  • Eye, back, neck strain from sitting at a desk all day.
  • Doing the same thing every day.
  • Longing for that next vacation.

What choice do we have? We have to earn a living. We have bills to pay, kids to feed, Christmas presents to buy!

Where does all the money go?

Enter: Side Hustle

What if you could reduce your tax burden while increasing your income?

Most of us have jobs. A side hustle is an income “on the side.” Working for yourself! There are so many advantages to working for yourself: flexible schedule, tax deductions and extra income!

You can make your own hours–you can work as much as you want to, and you don’t have to quit your current job (unless you want to…).

There are so many benefits to getting a side hustle, you may be wondering why you don’t have one yet.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding on a side hustle:

  • If you could do something you love and get paid for it, what would that be?
  • How much money would you want to make to reach your goals?
  • What is your biggest motivation for finding a side hustle?
  • How could your family’s life change if you made an extra $1000 a month? An extra $5,000? $10,000?
  • What personal goals could be pursued or attained if you had financial freedom?

 The answers to these questions may bring you closer to the side hustle that’s perfect for you.

Of course, I have a couple of favorites, for very good reasons. I’d love to discuss with you why I chose them and why they are working for me!

Learn a little bit more about the ones I’m involved with here:

(Try it for yourself: get FREE samples!)

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! 

I love this webinar that goes through all of the things to consider when deciding on your perfect side hustle. Watch it here:

 What do you think? What kind of side hustle would suit you best?

 If you want some suggestions or tips on finding a side hustle, email me at leah@freedomandcoffee.com or message me on Facebook and we’ll discuss your goals and how you can achieve them!

Contact me by email (leah at freedomandcoffee dot com) or message me on Facebook to learn more about the side hustles I’m involved in and the side hustle that is perfect for you.

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

I am not an accountant, so please talk with your accountant or tax preparer for more details on the tax deductions for which you qualify. 

Bacteria Boom: What are Probiotics and Why are They So Popular?

Over the past couple of years, I noticed that the pastor at my church has had some health issues which made him him sometimes miss meetings, stay home sick from church on Sundays every once in awhile, and generally just not feel very well.

Thinking back, I remembered about two years ago he had a big infection and was hospitalized for several weeks. During that time, he was put on an aggressive course of antibiotics (as most sick people are, whether or not they have a bacterial infection).

I don’t know the details of this original illness, but I do know that he’s been suffering from digestive issues ever since, which have increasingly tormented him and prevented sleep at night, interfering with his work and ministry at church.

One day after hearing he was again missing meetings, I emailed him and told him my suspicion: the course of antibiotics resulting from his illness two years ago had wrecked his gut and had precipitated most (if not all all) of his current issues.

I recommended he try taking some high-quality probiotics.

I shared some articles and research, then gave some recommendations of how to choose a few good ones.

I told him to start slow (because there can be an adjustment period as “bad bacteria” die off and “good bacteria” begin to populate the gut–but nothing worse than the symptoms he was already experiencing).

Two weeks later my pastor approached me and said, “Leah, I’m a new man! I feel so much better! I’m sleeping better and I have energy and I don’t feel sick any more!”

Word began to spread at church, and now I have people approaching me with questions about their health all the time. I’m happy to pass along any knowledge and resources I have, because the information is all out there!

What are Probiotics? 

Probiotics are “beneficial” bacteria. In modern society, we’ve been conditioned to see all bacteria bad, foreign things that will make us sick, but this is simply not true. There are millions of bacteria that live with humans and animals in a symbiotic relationship: they benefit us, and we benefit them.

Why do We Need Them?

We don’t know the full scope of the symbiotic role that beneficial bacteria play, but we are beginning to understand how vital they are to our existence.

  • It is estimated that human bodies are made up of approximately 90% bacteria by volume. These microbes are everywhere: on our skin, in our sinuses, ears, mouths, in our guts… literally everywhere. These microbes do a good job of helping to regulate our bodies and keep them functioning properly, and in return, we feed them with the food that we eat or byproducts from our bodies, like skin cells and sweat.
  • A huge variety of our bacteria live in our digestive systems, or our “guts,” and researchers are discovering that at least 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut. Our guts have a huge influence on our overall health: both physical and mental.
  • Bacteria do a lot of work in our bodies, including helping to regulate hormones that control fat stores, skin issues, auto-immune response, fertility, available energy, and overall well-being.
  • Balance is key. We refer to bacteria as “good” and “bad” but really we just need a balance of the bacteria in our guts. The fact is, we all have “bad” bacteria such as E. Coli in our bodies, but if these bacteria don’t overrun our systems or multiply too quickly, they are not a threat. Even “good” bacteria can cause problems if there’s too much of it. Our bodies generally do a good job of regulating the population of bacteria, as long as we ensure we have a good variety of bacteria for our bodies to work with. As long as we have enough “good bacteria,” or probiotics, in our guts, they will fight off the “baddies” and keep our bodies balanced and healthy.

How Can I Get Them?

You may have noticed an array of probiotic supplements in your local health food store (and how expensive they are).

The good news is that you don’t have to buy a lot of expensive supplements to get a good balance of bacteria in your body. In fact, different fermented foods carry a large population of beneficial bacteria, and they are really easy to make, and to eat.

Yogurt is the most popular and widely-known source of probiotics, but not all yogurts are created equal.

Many of the yogurts on the store shelves are full of sugar (which feeds bad bacteria) and a lot of them even have harmful additives like carageenan (which has been found to cause cancer) to keep them refrigerator shelf-stable for weeks at a time.

Store bought yogurts can be a source of probiotics, but you need to know what to look for, and they shouldn’t constitute your only source of probiotics.

  • Look for “live and active cultures” on the container, and check the ingredients for which specific cultures are contained.
  • Find out if the yogurt has been pasteurized. Most yogurt is made with pasteurized milk, but even after it’s been turned into yogurt is then pasteurized again. Pasteurization will kill the beneficial bacteria that were necessary to make the yogurt, so they won’t benefit you.
  • Get organic. Yogurt is made from milk, and if the milk is not organic it will contain antibiotics and hormones that were given to the cows. These substances are detrimental and even toxic to our bodies, and can cause hormonal imbalances and antibiotic resistance in the long run.
  • Get plain and unflavored yogurt. You may not like the taste of plain yogurt, but you can add fresh fruit and honey for flavoring, instead of consuming a lot of extra added sugars.
  • Get whole milk yogurt. Studies have shown that low-fat dairy products do not contribute to weight loss and may actually cause weight gain. The full-fat options allow your body to more efficiently process the beneficial fat-soluble vitamins in the yogurt, and the fat will make you feel full longer, so you’ll eat less overall.
  • Check the ingredients. In addition to checking for live and active cultures, make sure your yogurt doesn’t have any additives like carageenan, sugar, color, or anything else. Ideally, it should just be milk and a culture.

Did you know? 

Yogurt is so easy to make. Yogurt makers are inexpensive and make it easier, but you don’t even need one to make yogurt. My favorite yogurt is clay-batch yogurt, which I make in VitaClay.

VitaClay has a built-in yogurt maker in most models.
VitaClay Personal Yogurt Maker and Slow Cooker

All you have to do is load in milk and a yogurt culture and press “yogurt” and a few hours later you’ll have the best yogurt you’ve ever tasted, and a starter batch to make more!

Kefir is a milk-based probiotic beverage that is also known as “drinkable yogurt.” Kefir often contains different bacteria than yogurt, and sometimes at greater quantities per serving. If you’re buying kefir from the store, apply the same checks as listed above for yogurt. Add kefir to smoothies or drink it plain–it tastes like buttermilk.

Incidentally, my father suffered from terrible seasonal allergies for over 60 years. My mother read about kefir and started making it at home, and he hasn’t had a problem with allergies since!

Homemade Sauerkraut: cheap, easy to make, and loaded with probiotics!

Other fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchee, natto and miso contain other probiotics that are beneficial, and they are delicious additions to your diet. Sauerkraut is super easy to make, and two ounces of homemade sauerkraut contains exponentially more beneficial bacteria than a whole bottle of store-bought probiotics, for pennies on the dollar!

Chop up the ingredients for salsa, then just add a little whey and let it sit on the counter for a couple of days–you won’t believe the healthy zing!

Additionally, lots of things can be fermented: I’ve fermented homemade salsa, which was super easy and so delicious! I’ve also seen recipes for fermented carrots, onions, cucumbers (pickles!), and even guacamole! The possibilities are endless! (Wild Fermentation link)

If you don’t want to make these fermented foods at home and would rather buy them, follow the rules listed under yogurt, and make sure they have live and active cultures (which is, after all, the whole point). Also watch for additives such as MSG and citric acid, in addition to those listed for yogurt.

Probiotic Supplements

Overall, I think that many probiotic supplements are a waste of money. As discussed above, the probiotics in just one serving of homemade sauerkraut can contain more good bacteria than an entire bottle of store-bought bacteria! This generally applies to lacto-based bacteria, however, which are the type contained in yogurt and most fermented foods. These bacteria are good, and you should definitely get them. If you absolutely don’t want to ferment anything at home, go ahead and buy them.

A few great brands to consider are: 

I recommend going to a health food store with high-quality probiotics rather than trusting a drugstore brand.

AND! Check out this really great database that can help you determine which probiotic strains may help you the most based on your current symptoms and struggles!

Look for a bottle that lists the type of bacteria included and a guaranteed number of live bacteria per serving (usually listed in the billions CFU). The higher the number, the more bacteria it will contain (and very high numbers will require a slower breaking in period, which you can discuss with the worker at the health food store). These higher-quality probiotics will cost more, but this is a classic case of getting what you pay for, and what we want here is results.

Probioitics I buy

My one exception to the “store-bought probiotics are a waste of money” rule is in the category of soil-based probiotics. Here’s why: the lacto-based probiotics like those found in yogurt, sauerkraut and other ferments are so easy to make and so delicious to eat that there’s no reason to pay expensive store prices for a shelf-stable inferior product.

Soil-based probiotics, however, are different strains that have a different effect in our bodies: they go deeper into the gut and contribute differently to immunity. So we need both, but soil-based are found in soil, as the name implies.

In antiquity, people got a good amount of soil in their diets from digging up veggies and eating them.

These days, I don’t trust the soil as far as I can throw it. It’s been compromised with pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceutical drugs, and all manner of other toxins from our waste water and runoff. Even if I were inclined to eat soil (I’m not), it would probably do much more harm than good.

So when it comes to soil-based probiotics, I will purchase them from a reputable company that can guarantee their purity, quality, and effectiveness–even if they are expensive. I’ve listed below a few soil-based probiotics on which I have done research. I trust them to deliver a safe, effective, quality product.

What About Prebioitics?

Prebiotics are the “food” for beneficial gut bacteria that already live in our guts. And since not all gut bacteria can be supplemented with probiotics, it’s a great idea to get some good prebiotics in your diet as well.

As a matter of fact, you probably already do get some prebiotics, as they are often soluble fiber found in fruit.

There are also symbiotic prebiotic-probiotic supplements that you may find beneficial, especially if you have recently taken antibiotics or had some digestive problems. Here’s one I like because it includes a prebiotic in drink form, a probiotic with several different types of strains, and a real food multi supplement. 

One Last Thing

Since probiotics by their nature will multiply in our guts, it is unnecessary to take the same one every day of your life (though it is a great practice to ensure you are always getting plenty of prebiotics so your gut population can flourish). In fact, it’s better to switch them up, comparing the ingredients to ensure you get different bacteria with each different supplement.

Once a bacteria colony is established in your gut, it will likely be there awhile, so after you’ve taken one for a month or two, you can move on to a different one with different strains. You may want to double back to one you like in a few months or in a year to make sure that colony is still thriving, but overall, your body will maintain those bacteria once they are established (until they are killed off by antibiotics or toxins in the diet).

Read this article about how different strains may help different health issues.

Resources:

Humans: 10% Human and 90% Bacterial
Our Bodies, Our Health, Our Gut Bacteria  (Cornell)
5 Quick Tips For Healthy Guts And A Healthier Immune System
The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet (Johns Hopkins)
Gut microbes closely linked to proper immune function, other health issues
How to Repair Your Gut After Antibiotics
Why Antibiotics Today Could Threaten Your Life Tomorrow
Antibiotic overuse: Stop the killing of beneficial bacteria
Is Carrageenan Safe?

 

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