Category Archives: Tips

10 Ways To Strengthen Your Marriage

There are ways to strengthen your marriage because it should come as no surprise that a marriage takes some work.

10 ways to strengthen your marriageIf it is a surprise then you must be living in a rom-com that has a happily ever after and the credits roll just as the have their grand finale kiss.  Marriage is hard.  It has its good days and its not-so-good days.  We struggle learning each other’s rhythm and thought process.  But in the end it is so worth it.  I have never worked at something like I have marriage and have it be the most rewarding gift I could ever imagine.

We’re not perfect, but to me that’s half the journey.  Lust is something that gives you a high, but love is what you work for, strive for and in the end – what you earn.

 There are proven ways to strengthen your marriage.
ways to strengthen your marriage
Here are my top 10 that we strive for every day.

1) Listen to One Another
2) Learn to Fight Fair
3) Don’t be afraid to pray together
4) Laugh
5) Date like you’re sixteen again
6) Like each other’s friends
7) Don’t pass judgment
8) Have your own life
9) Send sweet nothings
10) Be selfless

I love my husband with all my heart.  There are days that he gives a lot and days that I give a lot, but all that matters is that we give to one another selflessly and with our whole hearts.

The Best Economic DIY Carpet Cleaner That Actually Works

DIY carpet cleanerMy parents bought us a carpet cleaner for my birthday last year and I was stoked.  I guess that’s the true sign you are no longer a child and are a full adult when you are excited over a carpet cleaner.  But hey, with 2 dogs it is amazing.
DIY carpet cleanerTiny really likes the clean carpet and might be a little unsure of why the crazy lady is taking pictures of the floor.
Carpet cleaner solution can get expensive and not to mention the chemicals in the solutions are not ideal if you have small children or are crazy-obsessed with your dogs like I am.  I had to find another cleaning solution before I went broke and made the dogs sick.

I discovered the power of white vinegar.  If you have seen my previous cleaning posts (how to easily clean your microwave and the best stain remover) then you know my love of white vinegar.  So I had a light bulb moment – maybe it would work in the carpet cleaner!  And you know what?  It does!  It works beautifully.  Dare I say better than the fancy expensive cleaners?

Here’s all you need for a DIY Carpet Cleaner:

Fill your tank with warm-hot water; and
Add in 3-5 T. of white vinegar, depending on your tank size

That’s it.  Then steam your carpets like usual.

The carpets will have a nice vinegar smell to them, but that disappears as it dries.  To me it smelled a lot like salt and vinegar chips, but hey! those are my favorite so I wasn’t really complaining.

You could probably add a few drops of essential oil to the solution, but I didn’t really want to mess with it.  The smell wasn’t that strong and it was such a nice day that we had the doors and windows open.
DIY carpet cleanerLet’s do some math, shall we?  I like to have proof that my ideas are valid.

Gallon of White Vinegar – $1 (There are 256 Tablespoons in a Gallon, so you will be getting about 51 uses)
Water from the faucet – $0 (unless you have a separate bill for water, but the charges are trivial)
Total Cost per use: $0.02

Bottle of carpet cleaner – $10.99 (is a 2-quart size, which has 64 Tablespoons, so you will be getting about 12 uses)
Water from the faucet – $0
Total Cost per use: $0.92

As always, test a small area of carpet before doing a whole room to make sure that the vinegar doesn’t have any strange reaction to the carpet fibers.  I had no problems with my carpets or area rugs.

Simple Technique For Not Getting Overwhelmed

not to get overwhelmedWant to hear a little secret on how I thrive and not get overwhelmed?  It’s a simple, no smoke and mirrors trick that always works.

A little back story first because we all love a little story.  In college, in high school, in every job I’ve ever had I always get overwhelmed.  I over commit myself and run a million miles an hour to get things done at the last minute.  You might be thinking “why wait to the last minute?”  Well I didn’t do that on purpose.  It was a b product of having too much on my plate.

After the hundredth time I’ve made myself sick from exhaustion and from stress, I had enough.  It was time to make a big change in my life and what I put on my plate.  So, I learned the PAUSE. THINK. SAY NO. process.
for not getting overwhelmed
It’s beautiful.  Really, it is.  Plus it’s simple. When asked to take on a new project, meet up for dinner, agree to do one more thing all you do is pause, think it over and then more than likely say “no.”

Want a real life example?  Let’s say you are approached by a friend to speak at a local organization’s gathering next month.  You have a lot going on between your work, family, side projects, etc.  You do not really have the time to dedicate to preparing a presentation, plus you are not really passionate about the topic.  So, you enact the PAUSE. THINK. SAY NO. technique.

You tell your friend – let me think that over, check my calendar and get back with you.  Then after a few days or however long you need to mull it COMPLETELY over.  You call or email your friend and say, “I took a good look at everything I have going on the next few weeks and I unfortunately do not have the time to dedicate to a presentation.  I am thankful that you thought of me, but I just am unable to do this.”

See what you did?  You said no, but were polite about it.  No hurt feelings or friendships ruined and you do not have anything else to add to your plate.  It’s magical.

If you instantly say no to someone then they will think that you are blowing them off or just being rude.  So instead, take time to really think it over.  If you are passionate about the project, task, or whatever it may be then by thinking it over you can decide on a game plan to get it done. Everyone can be respectful of you asking for time to think their request over.  If the person is not reasonable and can’t give you time to mull it over, then you want to say no immediately!

Simple. Beautiful. Easy.

3 Easy Tips to Create a Savings Plan You Will Stick To

savings plan Am I right when I say that most of us wish we had more money saved up for those rainy days?  If you are like J and I then you are saving for a specific goal in mind, like a new car, vacation or in our case, a down payment on our first house.

With 2014 rocking and rolling it’s time to really get started on those resolutions that we set, right?  If you’re like me, some of my resolutions involved saving more money.  I dreamed big and I want to make sure that I reach my goals.  Here are some tips to get off on the right foot and to make sure you create a savings plan you will stick to:

1) Set the magic number. Don’t be overzealous and chose a monthly savings amount that is half your take home pay.  Make sure that you can survive, comfortably if you are setting back an amount each month.  Take a look at your monthly bills and expenses to see where your money is going.  Then decide, as a team what amount can be put into savings.  If you find yourself wishing to put more aside each month then take a good hard look at your discretionary spending like eating out and see what you can cut down.

2) Pick where the money is going to go.  This might sound strange, but it’s important to know where your savings is going to go, as in – which account will the money be housed in.  There are many different options out there, but the key point is that you do not want it easily accessible.  With that said, you want to be able to reach your money within a few business days in case of a real emergency, but you don’t want the ability to make a few simple clicks of the mouse and clean out your hard earned savings account.  What worked for us was having our account at a separate bank then our day-to-day checking account.  That way if we need money, we have to make the effort of going to the bank with our savings and make a withdraw.  That extra step keeps us reminded of what we are working towards.

3) Set the plan in motion.  The final step in setting up a savings plan is getting it started.  Once you come up with the amount and the place the money will be housed then the next step is to pick a start date.  If you are in between pay periods then it might be best to wait until the next payday.  That way you can start with clean slate and have a positive start.

Also, I have found that we have the best success when we pull out our money for savings as soon as we receive our paychecks.  That way the money is out of sight and we are left the amount of money that we have budgeted for.  It helps eliminate the temptation to over spend.


20 Ways to Declutter and Clean Up Your Life

ways to declutter
Now with the new year fully rolling it’s time to get a handle on things, don’t you think?  I was sitting here just thinking how I function so much better when my house is clean.  I do not know about you, but every once in awhile the mood to deep clean sets in; and I feel like nothing in my life is going right until I get my house in order.

There are things you can do so that life does not pile up and you can keep everything smooth sailing.

1) When the mood strikes to clean stick the rule of 5.  In every room get rid of 5 items.  Throw away old magazines, remove items that do not belong in that room, or get rid of something that you haven’t used in ages.

2) File as you go.  Get a bill in the mail, then file it immediately.  Do not let bills and other important documents pile up on your table.  Go ahead and put them in their proper place when you get them.
Ways to De-Clutter 3) When cleaning your bedroom, always make the bed first.  It will look like a huge improvement and act as a shelf as you tidy up.

4) Go through your closet at least 4 times a year to get rid of clothes you no longer wear.  You can create a donation box in the basement or garage, but by cleaning it out multiple times a year you will keep the closet looking neater and be doing a good thing.

5) Fold your bed sheets together and then place them in a matching pillowcase.  Your sheet sets will be together and your linen closet will look so much nicer.  That way when your parents are visiting and need a towel you won’t be embarrassed.

6) Open your mail next to the trash can.  That way any unwanted pieces go straight to the trash and not onto your countertops.

7) Use plastic boxes, cubes, and other gathering places to organize.  Sure you may need all of those office supplies, but after awhile they start looking bad on top of your desk.  Use a coordinating canvas cube to gather all of your items then slide onto a bookshelf.

8) Do one small task a day so that it does not get overwhelming.  Sweep the kitchen floor one day a week, vacuum another, straighten up yet another day.  By dividing tasks to separate days you can conquer a lot easier.

9) Keep a jar on top of the dresser and where you place your keys to collect loose change.  If you are prone to carrying change in your pockets then having a collection spot where you come and where you get dressed helps from loose changing being all over the place.

10) upgrade to a universal remote.  You may have a remote for the TV, the DVD player, the surround sound, and even your cable box.  That’s a lot of remotes so get rid of the clutter by upgrading to one do-it-all remote.

11) Clean out the medicine cabinet. You may have duplicate boxes of the same, exact medicine or you may expired meds that need to be tossed.

12) Clean out the fridge once a week.  Trash old leftovers or the food that no one is planning on eating.  Check expiration dates and toss the ones that have gone bad.
Ways to DeClutter13) Be honest about those craft projects.  Have any unfinished projects laying around?  Well it’s time to be honest with yourself – are you ever going to get them done?  If the answer is no, toss and if the answer is yes, set a specific completion date.

14) When your donate box is full, take it to the car.  That way it is out of the house and easier for you to drop off.

15) Do the dishes each night.  Nothing feels better than coming into a clean kitchen each morning.

16) Set the timer for 10 minutes every other day to walk through the house to find items that are in the wrong place, no longer wanted, or old and needs to be trashed.

17) Take the trash out the moment the can is full and on your way grab the trash for bathrooms and bedrooms.

18) Wipe down the bathroom counter after brushing your teeth before bed.

19) Concentrate on one area at a time.  It’s easy to get side tracked by a different room, especially when you are putting things away.  Stay on the task at hand and finish one specific area.

20) Remember what is important.  Don’t toss items that hold a special place in your heart.  Just make sure that you find a special place for them.

How To Write A Personal Mission Statement

The definition of a mission statement is to give purpose or direction for a business.  It is the company’s meaning of existence.  A personal mission statement is just that, but for you, the individual.

Defining your personal mission statements will probably take several drafts.  And then after you have written a few drafts, write more.  Until it’s perfect.  It’s going to be frustrating.

If you are trying to remind yourself what you are all about then a mantra will point you in the right direction.  Especially in the online world of blogging, Youtube, Pinterest, Google Plus and so much more.  It is easy to get a split personality without even noticing.
define yourself
First things first on developing your personal mission statement – determine your values.  What do you believe in?  What are you most passionate about?  Think about keywords and phrases that stand out to you.  It’s time to brainstorm.

Here are a few that stand out to me:

Passion // Creative // Family // Making money count // Gaining knowledge // Fabulous

In the end there is no right or wrong way to write a personal mission statement.  Remember that it is an expression of who you are and how you want to present yourself to the world.

Be proud of what you have created.  Hang it on the wall and make it beautiful!

Time Management Tools: Pump Up Your Efficiency

time management

Today we are introducing the last post in the time management tools series.  You can probably tell from the title that we are going to work on amping up our efficiency levels.

You can read my previous post about time management here about getting yourself organized.  Now that you’ve set your priorities it’s time to amp up your efficiency.

One of the most important things to increasing your efficiency is knowing what you are good at.  Then doing something with the rest.   Delegate.  Delegate what you aren’t good at or do not have the skills for.

If you have a friend that is excellent at taking pictures then plan a day in the park so she can knock out your photos for you.  It might cost you a lunch for the favor, but she could get credit for the photos and you don’t have to suffer through them.  The one key part is that you have to be organized and know what pictures you want shot.

Fiverr is a great source for all things.  You can find someone to tweet your products to their followers, design a cover page images for your Facebook page, write a bio for you and all of these services are only $5.  Five bucks – that’s it.  It’s a pretty good deal if you ask me.  Do you not want to waste time in your down area?  Then search Fiverr and I bet you can find someone to do it for you.

Another great way to pump up your efficiency is to setup your workspace to work for you, not against you.  Know what type of environment you work best in. Quiet?  Soft music in the background?  Alone?  With others?  Then that’s what you should surround yourself with.  Have a clean space that you can spread out on.  Make sure you have all the tools you are going to need.  Being good at this point requires that you plan your day.  That’s where the last part in the series comes into play.  You have to be organized and know what you want to get done.

My favorite part of developing time management tools is by rewarding yourself when you save time.  Even it’s just a pat on the back or a piece of your favorite candy.  A little recognition goes a long way.  When you save yourself time you gain so much more.

Time Management Tools: Get Organized

time management
Welcome back to the time management tools series.  We are developing skills to become masters of our time.  So that we can do more, successfully.  We’ve talked about setting a value to your time so that you can do more in your day, which you can read about here.

If you have probably heard the next advice before, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly.  It’s the stepping stone to developing your time management tools.  Please do not skip this next step: set priorities.

If you do not know what task is the most important then you will waste your time.  As mentioned in our previous post – assign a value to each activity that you want to get done.  By establishing a value to each task then you know which one to tackle first and which one can wait.

When you have a full to-do list people tend to put their faces down and get to work.  Majority of people do not look up to see which tasks can be done quickly, which ones are more important.  So you have tendency to get side tracked by the minute stuff.

By taking a few minutes each day to evaluate your activities then you make a powerful to-do list.

By creating a to-do list you are making a map for your day that you can follow.  Try to pick at least three things that you want to get done each day.  Tackle them and then move on to the lesser important tasks.  If you try to spread yourself too thin with too many tasks then you won’t actually get anything fully completed.

Three tasks.  That’s manageable and not overwhelming.  If you would like to read the first post in our series, take a look at it here.

Time Management Tools: So You Can Do More

time managementDeveloping time management tools are key in your professional life, personal life, and just to keep your sanity in the crazy of it all.

Almost everyone has felt at some point that there wasn’t enough time to get it all done.  If only you could have just 2 more hours in your day.  You could get your to-do list done, have more time to spend with family, cook more homemade meals, and sleep the recommended eight hours a night.

However learning time management tools will help you achieve more in just 24 hours. The first thing you have to do is give your time a monetary value.  They say time is priceless, invaluable if you will.  But if you do not know how much your time is worth then it is easy to let the unimportant tasks consume your day.  The value can be whatever you want or feel is appropriate.  For me, my day job bills my time out at $100 per hour.  Now that might be way too much for my personal time, but that’s what I am use to so that is what I use.

After you have valued your time then decide how much you are willing to “pay” for each activity that you want to do.  Is hand wrapping Christmas gifts worth an hour of your time over putting everything in a bag with tissue or paying someone $5 to wrap the gift for you.  Now do not get me wrong, I love living a frugal life.  I like to save my money and spend it wisely.  However, the time I could be wrapping gifts is time I could be spending writing a freelance article that will pay me money.  That’s how you have to look at your time.

I tend to work on during the evenings, after J has gone to bed and it’s just me with the two pups sitting downstairs.  For me that time of day is my discounted rate.  I can’t do too many other activities at 10pm.  J is in bed, most businesses are closed, and my friends are at home with their families.  Therefore, it’s perfect to spend an hour or two pouring over articles to learn how to grow my little blog.

Next, I work a day job from 8-5 so that time is pretty valuable.  Because if I am taking off work to do something else than I am missing out on my pay.  This activity that requires to be done between 8-5 better be worth it.  It takes a lot for me to miss out on actual money.

Finally, early mornings are the worst for me.  I am not a morning person. At. All.  I despise the mornings.  I mean the idea of getting up to go to the gym early in the morning is similar to going to get a root canal.  It’s just not worth it.  That means that if I am having to get up before the sun rise then it better be one of the most important tasks.

Driving to see my family is one thing I will get up early for.  Taking the dogs to vet.  Spending time with J.  You may notice a trend here.  Morning tasks are usually strictly saved for family.

Time management tools are important to have.  When you value your time and then value your tasks you will see what is important and what can be done at another time.  Next up on the time management series we are going to talk about getting organized.  If you’re just joining in on the time management tools series then you can read the first post here to learn all about it.

Time Management Tools Series

time management tools

Welcome to my series on developing time management tools.

I’ve been tossing around this idea for the past few weeks to talk about time management tools.  Not just talk about it, but also share what I’ve learned from trial and error, from others, and from all the books I’ve read.  I’ve mentioned here how I love to read books that make life easier.  Developing time management tools will make your life so much easier and you will be so much more productive.

Now for a little confession, you see time management is a touchy subject for me.  I haven’t always been good at it.  I can still hear my Dad’s voice in my head saying “You are burning the candles at both end.  You are taking on too much.”  Yet, I would never take his advice.  In the end, I would wind up sick and exhausted.  In high school I would plan in one day what should have probably been done in two.  Just because I hate missing out and I want to get every memory that I could.

As I’ve gotten older I still hate missing out, but have learned how to be better at time management.  That way I can take on a lot, still have fun, and get things done without getting myself sick.  It’s a pretty good feeling to know that you have a lot on your plate and have it all under control.  I guess I thrive in those situations or get something weird out of them.  I am not sure which, but my brain is hard-wired to be busy.

Sitting still was never fun for me.  Ever.

In this series I am hoping to share some time management tools that can help you do more and be more successful.   I plan on sharing tips so you can get organized, do more, and boost your efficiency.  Can’t wait to get this party started!