Monthly Archives: September 2013

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September Wrap Up and October Goals

october goals

September is almost gone and October is right around the corner.

Here’s how I did for September:

1) side hustle – 95%

eh… not the best, but really this was my first month at trying to make any money on the side.  So, with that in mind I am not disappointed.  I sold an order on Etsy, which just made me do a happy dance.  I joined Elance and had one completed job that I got paid for.  With two success I would give this a 95%. I had hopes of making more, but I will take it.

2) purchase the big items for our favors – PASS

Our favor items have been purchased and now we move on to the next project.  It was such a relief the night J and I went to multiple stores to buy all the different pieces we were looking for.

3) pay $200 towards our smallest debt – FAIL

We…er…I miscalculated our emergency fund total and that $200 went in there.  Now we are on track for next month and we will kick butt on paying off some debt.

4) fund our emergency fund all the way – PASS

It is such a good feeling to know that we are covered for any unexpected events.  We do not have to stress if the car breaks or freak out over an unexpected bill.  This makes me a lot calmer and probably nicer to be around.

5) knock out ¼ of the remaining Dave Ramsey Videos – PASS

We do not have that many videos left and we are ahead of schedule.  I think I am learning too much, if that’s even possible.  Sometimes I like to quote Dave Ramsey and J is not amused with me, especially when we are in public.  I like to think I am passing around useful information to those around us, but he does not see it that way.

October goals:

1) Get everything in order for our wedding in ONE month – CRAZY!
2) Book a few more side hustle jobs
3) Pay $200 towards our smallest debt
4) Take the dogs for more walks
5) Finish the Dave Ramsey videos

We are getting married in one month and two days.  Just seems crazy that my life is where it is.  I am so excited for our future together and the years that we have ahead of us.  I think we are in a good place and ready for this step.  It’s just crazy!

Cheers!

Faking It

faking it

Does faking it work?

It’s no lie that there are days that I just do not have my stuff together, like the other day.  I wake up late or I just cannot seem to wake up.  I have zero motivation to get things done.  It happens to us all, well at least that is what I’m telling myself – days like these happen to everyone, not just me.  But when you are trying to start a career these days need to be rare.

How do you get over the blah feeling?  Fake it.  When you leave the house and step into the workplace, you leave that blah feeling at the door.  You plaster a smile on your face and carry a notepad with you so you do not forget anything in the fog.

I know faking it will not always get you to the place you want to be in your career or will it completely erase that blah feeling.

Take lots and lots of notes.

 I have always loved to-do lists, even at a young age.  So, on the days that you just aren’t feeling it carry around a notepad.  That way you are prepared when your boss calls you into his office to give you a jumbled to-do list that deals with 8 separate clients and a few administrative tasks sprinkled in.  Make details so when you come back to the office the next day your notes make sense and you can remember what you are suppose to be doing.

Wake up early.

If you are like me and like to hit your snooze a few times, then set your alarm earlier.  That way when you finally roll out of bed you will still have time to wake up, get your bearings, and not be rushed.  I feel fierce the mornings that I take time putting makeup on, picking out an outfit and finding jewelry to wear.  I know the days that I leave the house fully dressed I feel good about myself and I rock it at work.

Wait until you get to work to check e-mails.

I get distracted when the first thing I do in the morning is grab my  phone to check  e-mails.  That is the worst mistake I can do.  An e-mail  can get me all worked up then I spend too much time thinking about it and not enough time getting out of bed.  I have started waiting until the workday has began to check e-mails and it has made a difference.

Let’s be honest, my work does not care one bit if I am “out of it,” the clients do not understand when I say that my head is just not in it .  That screams I am unprofessional.  So, faking it the days that you need just a little push will help.

Cheers!

A Life Lived

Last night I had one of those down moments.  Where everything just seemed to be going wrong.  There is not enough time to get the details done, I haven’t found time to finish thank you cards for a shower, J could not do anything right, the dogs were driving me crazy, and I just needed to sleep.  It was a mountain to climb and I just did not have the strength to even try.

Those nights it is just best to call it a night and lay down to sleep.  I woke up this morning in a much better mood, realizing that things aren’t as overwhelming as I tend to make it.  Surprise!  I have a clearer outlook for today and spent time to make a list of what needs to get done.  I do love a good to-do list more than most things.

Life lately has been one big, fun ride with trips to see family, friends, and outings with some pretty fun people.  There are times when it hits me that this really is a great part of my life.  I am getting ready to marry by best my friend in less than 2 months.  Even though I get stressed out with wedding details, all the car rides for work and to see family – I am truly blessed.

Counting my blessings.

marrying J
two sweet, sweet dogs that truly love me unconditionally
a nice place to call home
a job that lets me have flexibility
great friends that have been there for me through so much
new friends that really make me feel like myself
family that has always supported me
J’s family that is there for us
the desire to be healthier and cook more at home

life lived

Life is good.

Cheers!

Riding Along and Piling on the Wedding Stress

wedding stress

My life is just one long car ride these days and that is causing some serious wedding stress.

Every other week I head back to our old town to work for a few days then I head back home.  That ride is 3 hours one way and has to be the absolute most boring drive in the history of drives.  I mean more boring than having a professor in a monotone voice talk about the Cold War.  I am ready for the day to come that I do not have to make that drive every 2 weeks.  At this point, I would be ecstatic with just once a month.

Add all of our awesome wedding plans on top of the driving for work.  I have had to drive to my hometown for a shower, next weekend I am driving to our old town for another shower and then travel for my bachelorette party.  Well all of these trips are pretty awesome and I am not complaining about them at all.  I miss my family and my friends, so these trips are totally worth it!

Let’s just say I will be happy when each weekend does not have an out of town trip planned so that J and I can spend a Saturday together with no plans.  39 more days until we walk down that aisle and prepare to spend the rest of our lives together.  I love that man, he is my best friend and soulmate.

Cheers!

Not Worth the Sacrifice

sacrifice

Is sacrifice really worth it?

Recently I have come across a multitude of budgeting and personal finance blogs.  All have something great to offer and little bits of advice that are great to know.  While I was reading what things people gave up to become debt free, I realized that there were some items that i just wasn’t going to sacrifice.

Now hear me out for a second.  If I had a large monthly car payment along with a multiple credit cards that were maxed out then I would be having second thoughts; however, J and I are in a pretty good position.  We are making substantial progress so far and we are not quite finished with our Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

I have my reasonings besides money for why I will not give up certain things in my life.

sacrifice

First up – my makeup.  The majority of what I use is Clarins and MAC makeup – both somewhat on the not-so-cheap side of beauty expenses, but I just cannot leave them.  My main reasoning is my allergies.  I struggle trying to find makeup that does not cause an allergic reaction.  I’ve used MAC and Clarins for awhile now and have never had a problem, so I will continue.

As a side note – I do not have a ton of makeup and I use my extra $50 a month to save for what I need.  I simply cannot just head to the makeup counter and buy 5 eyeshadows, the newest mascara, and a blush – it just does not happen that way.  I guess that is one sacrifice I gave up – impulse shopping.

Second – my hair appointments.  At least not until after the wedding.  We just moved, so I am in need of finding a new hairstylist.  But I refuse to find someone new and/or save money on my appointments until after the wedding.  I have been to the same amazing woman for 7+ years now and I just do not trust anyone else to touch my coif until after the day I am photographed the most out of my life is in the past.

Third – Vet appointments for the pups.  Their health means a lot to me and with Tiny being the most skittish dog I have ever had the pleasure of having, I need a Vet that will be gentle and is knowledgeable.

If the times comes and I need to cut to pay bills then I will re-evaluate, but until that time comes these are three that I will not sacrifice and will shell out money for without blinking an eye.

Cheers!

The Perfect Gallery Wall

tips for creating a gallery wall

I love a good gallery wall, they are eclectic and a good way to express my personality. Which obviously consists of a whole lot of mis-match items that when combined create something beautiful.

Now that we are FINALLY in our new place and most of the boxes are unpacked, it was time to hang some pictures.  I promised J that I would keep his beloved fish that was caught by grandpa and passed down the family.  I needed items that can balance out the fish and make it look like it belongs on the wall.  Not like I just stuck it in the corner, behind a door to say that I was good partner because it was on a wall.

create a gallery wall Here are some tips for creating a gallery wall that is perfect:

1) find pictures that are unlike each other – either having different frame types, coloring, or are pictures of landscape, sculptures, and people.
2) lay your arrangement on the floor.  Play with it and make sure you love it.  It took me awhile to get it just right.  A lot of frames came in and out of this arrangement.
gallery wall tips3) get someone’s opinion.  I asked J what he thought before  putting one nail into the wall.  Not that he actually cared what it looks like, but it was nice to have that affirmation.
4) start nailing it! We measured out the wall space to find the middle, then measured out the arrangement to find the midpoint.  Match those two up and start hanging.
5) stand in awe of your awesome gallery wall.

creating a gallery wall

Cheers!

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Budgeting To Have Freedom

Budgeting Tips

I never wanted to be someone that lived paycheck-to-paycheck or had to ask my Husband if I could take a trip to the mall just because.  I learned early on, thanks to my awesome parents, that two people working together to build a life could still have freedom to do what they wanted.  J and I are working towards financial freedom and are taking steps before we are even married.

 For me it was important to not have to ask permission to go to the mall, just like J didn’t want to have to ask permission to grab a beer with friends while watching the big game.  I truly felt like that would ruin us.  I did not and do not want a life where we have to answer to one another about spending money.  It’s not for me. 

We budget everything, including our no-questions-asked-blow money.  Each month we get $50 handed to us that we can do whatever we want with, for you it might be $200 or it might be $25.  That is what we can comfortably afford.  We can save it or we can blow on the first day – the best part is that it does not matter.  It is my money.  It is his money.

It’s nice to have some freedom when we are being careful with every other dollar we make.

Cheers!

Weekend Recap

weekend recap

A simple weekend recap.

J went out of town for his Bachelor party this past weekend, which left me alone for the first time in our new place.  I’m not complaining because the dogs and I got the whole bed to ourselves.  Plus, they slept in an hour longer than usual as their gift to me.  I’m pretty lucky.

weekend recap weekend recap While, I did miss J, I had an absolute blast.  I got to check out places around the city that I’ve never been to – Gus Pretzel, Anheuser-Busch Beer Garden, Winery, and then the local dive bar.  Overall it was a great weekend!

Cheers!

15 Super Easy Ways to Save Money Without Thinking

I’ve learned saving techniques from my Dad at a young age.  I mean, what 12 year old was given “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason as a free-time read?  I was.  And… I loved it.  

Easy Ways To Save Money

I learned at an early age that saving was important.  You want something, you save for it.  You want to go somewhere, you save it.  It is a no brainer.  I have learned to trick myself into saving money on top of the obvious ways to save.  Let’s get it started: 15 Super Easy Ways to Save Money Without Thinking

Savings in the Bank

1) Transfer 10% of each paycheck into a savings account off the top.

2) Get any bonuses or work overtime? Put directly into savings.  You have live off an income without the bonus, so why not save that extra dough?

3) Cash in spare change. J has the worst habit of leaving spare change everywhere.  I find it on the coffee table, the kitchen table, the dresser, the washing machine – everywhere.  It adds up.  Right now we have about 2 steins and 1 change jar full of coins.  It’s about time to wrap it and trade it in for some cold-hard cash.

4) Tag-along on a yard sale.  I will be the first to say that throwing a yard sale just seems like too much work for me.  However, I am happy to bring my items over to a friend who is hosting.  She gets the joy of my company all day and I do not have to find folding tables, hang flyers, or post on Craigslist.

Spend Less

Easy Ways to Save Money

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5) Pay cash.  On average people will spend less when eating out, buying groceries and just about anything when they pay cash.  It hurts more to hand over that green bill then it does a ‘magic’ card.

6) Calculate your grocery List.  When I go into a grocery store I have my list, a pen, and my iPhone in hand.  As I put items in the cart, I look at the price tag and enter it into my calculator.  We budget $75 a week in groceries and ever since I started calculating the prices, I spend on average $65 a week.  That’s a savings of $10 a week … or $520 a year!

7) Find a coupon site.  I have been known to get an entire dinner table to download a coupon app to save a few bucks on a meal, so it should come as no surprise that I search for coupons to almost everywhere and for almost everything.  I work on our grocery list for a few days before we go and look for printable coupons on the brands we buy.  The savings can add up.

Vehicle Savings

8) Save on miles per gallon costs.  For the first week or two in our new home I had the opportunity of working from home and J had to drive about 20 miles to work.  One day as we were heading to meet family, I had the light bulb moment and asked J why he was not taking my car.  My little SUV compared to his big ol’ truck saves quite a bit in gas.  My car sat in the driveway most days and even when I do go into the office it’s not as far away as J’s work.  Now he drives my car to work and if I need to go in I take his truck.

9) Shop for lowest gas prices.  I downloaded the app GasBuddy.com for my iPhone and check local gas prices before I fill up.  Usually driving an extra mile will save me $.05 a gallon and we fill up J’s truck that’s a big savings to us!

10) Improve your gas mileage.  Have you air-filter changed, make sure your tires are inflated properly, and don’t have a lead foot.  Simple, small changes can help add up and make your gas last longer.

Around the Home and Bills

11) Turn off lights.   This one was a big one for me to learn.  J used to clap for me whenever I would leave a room and remember to turn off the lights – that’s how rare it was!  The longer we have lived together, the better I am getting about turning off lights.  The savings from turning off lights and not leaving every single light on for hours and hours will add up.

12) Stay on the family’s cell phone plan.  It’s no lie that a family plan is the way to go when looking at phone plans.  J’s work provides his cell phone at no charge, which is great for the budget but also means that he is on call at all hours of the day.  My parents are willing to let me stay on the family plan for a while longer.  My portion is cheap compared to a plan by myself.

13) Become healthier.  By picking up healthy habits you can avoid getting sick often and that means less doctor appointments, and in turn less co-pays.

Eating Out Savings

Easy Ways to save money

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14) Pack your lunch.  It may seem easy to just run through a drive-thru and eat off the dollar menu every day, but that adds up.  Let’s do the math – $3.50 a day for lunch is about $17.50 a week, which is about $910 a year!  Most grocery stores will have deals on lunch meat and bread each week, plus any coupons you can find.  Let’s say a pack of lunch meat for $1.80 and a loaf of bread for $3.50 will make about 7 sandwiches, give or take a sandwich.  For all of the work days throughout the entire year you will have to buy 45 packs of lunch meat and loaves of bread, which is only $238.50 a year for sandwiches.  That’s a savings of over $670 a year! Whoa!

15)  Share dinners when eating out.  Restaurants’ portions are outrageous and most of the time, they can feed two people comfortably.  Use the the portion control and size guide for an idea.  Some restaurants may have a plate sharing fee but typically that’s just $1 or $2.  So, order one entree and split it.  It’s the right portion for your stomach and your budget.

Cheers!

How We Are Gaining in Our Personal Finance

managing personal finance

J and I are working hard to get control of our personal finance before we are married, which is why so many of my posts lately have been about money.  Well, that’s not the only reason – I actually am interested in it.

  Here’s how we are gaining control:

1) we communicate.  It may come as no surprise, but to work out a budget with 2 incomes the people bringing in the money must talk to one another.

2) bi-monthly budget meetings.  J and I get together when we get paid which is every other week to talk about what bills need to be paid and how we are doing on our personal finance.

3) allocating money.  We know how our money is going to be spent before we ever spend one dollar.  Basically, we know that J’s income goes to certain bills and mine goes to certain bills.  At that point anything left over goes to our savings and/or debt.

4) talk to someone we look up to.  My Dad is really good with money.  I mean scary good with money, but that’’s his job and that’s probably why is so good at it.  We talked to him about what our goals.  It’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas that has been there done that.

5) we are taking Financial Peace University.  This is probably one of the biggest things that has helped us so far with our personal finance.  First our number 4 point, my Dad pointed us in this direction and encouraged us to take the classes.  Second, everything else that we were already being successful at prior to FPU (points 1-3) were taught in FPU, which made us feel that we were on the right path.  We are learning how to save money and pay off debt with the snowball effect.

That’s it.  5 simple steps and we are gaining control over our personal finance, our budget, and building a savings while paying down our debt.  It’s pretty neat how it’s all coming together.

Cheers!