Tag Archives: Tips

5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Graduating College

The other day I was having a conversation with my parents about life, childhood, and the fact that I am getting married, which blows my mind.  We were talking about life in college and how I could always hear my parents advice in the back of my mind, which guided me.  Or as I like to think kept me from having too much fun, until that one day at a local bar where a friend of mine got drugged because she took a drink from a cute guy.  The cute guy’s friend offered me a drink that looked eerily similar to my friend’s and I turned it down because I heard my Dad’s voice telling me not to take a drink that I didn’t see get made.  At that moment,  I couldn’t understand why the guy instantly lost interest in me… I was cute, I was funny, but why did he stop talking to me?  The next day as my friend was really sick and couldn’t remember the night… it hit me, I know he lost interest because I turned down his drugged drink.
5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Graduating CollegeI really think that with their guidance I have made it pretty far in life with not many bad moments or memories.  My parents always helped and were there for me, sometimes they would let me figure things out on my own; and those moments were harder for me.  Once I graduated with my Masters and started really thinking of my career is when I realized I still had quite a bit of learning to do.

I always hear advice from family, friends, and sometimes even strangers about life.  Sometimes their advice is solicited and sometimes it is not.  So I listen to learn.  There are times that their advice misses the intended target or I have to learn on my own.

Here are 5 things I wish I would have known about before graduating college:

1) Trust your gut when it comes to your career.

it’s important to know that it’s okay to walk away.  Do not waste time in a career that is not right for you.  Now I am not suggesting quitting a job without any source of income or another job.  So, bide your time, look for a new job and when the time is right for you, make your exit.

For example, I thought retail was the answer.  My major in undergrad was Marketing – Retail/Merchandising.  That must mean I wanted to work in retail, right? No.  H-E-double hockey sticks No.  I tried it after college, full-time.  The hours were not great, I missed J in the evenings and on the weekends, and the part that determined my exit was being tossed around and had smoke blown in places that it should not be blown.

2) Don’t lose your best friends.  

My mom always said that there will be friends that go with that phase of your life, but then there are special friends that you will carry through every phase of your life.  It’s important that you keep those people you love, and to keep them, you have to be willing to work at those relationships.

3) Getting an A or a B really doesn’t matter.


I wrote about this in a letter to the incoming freshman class awhile back.  I wish I would have taken it a bit more seriously in college and would have had a bit more fun.  I am not saying that I never had fun, but there are moments that I missed out because I was worried about getting that A.  It didn’t matter.  I’ve never been asked for my GPA or class rank.  I think the degree I earned speaks for itself.

4) Don’t replace the busyness of college with an overwhelming workload.


In college I was actively involved on campus with several clubs and my sorority, and I always had something to do or people to talk to about something.  After college I felt the need to keep myself busy and threw myself into my job.  I wasn’t getting paid that great and there was really no room for me to grow, and I had just set the precedent that I would be available at 10pm Monday-Friday and anytime on the weekends.  When the time came for me to get a life outside of work and I met J, it was hard for my coworkers to swallow that I would only be working 45 hours a week and not 60.

5) How much work it is to be an actual adult without the label of being a student.

I never realized during college how much work and planning it takes to be an adult.  There are responsibilities that come the moment without any hesitation once you walk across that stage and receive that empty leather diploma holder.  I am not talking about bills being due or needing food and shelter; I am talking about the social responsibilities.

Don’t get me wrong being an adult is 1000x better than being a student, but sometimes I wish I could go back to that irresponsible student if only for a moment.

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

background image source

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

background image source

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!

10 Bad Working From Home Habits to Kick

bad work habits to break

Lately I have had the pleasure to work from home some and I found myself picking up some bad habits.  Let’s face it, we all have bad work habits and I am no longer in denial about mine.

Here we go, 10 habits to break when you are working from home:

1) turning on TV.
2) sitting on the couch, not at a table or desk.
3) not setting alarm as if you had to go into an office.
4) not logging onto your work center at 8:00 so you can see everything that you need to get done for the day.
5) getting distracted by other sources of entertainment, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, or OMG! Yahoo
6) spending time during the workday doing laundry or other household chores
7) not forcing yourself to continue working until 5:00 or the agreed upon quitting time from your boss.
8) getting annoyed with people back at the main office – you do not know what their day is like and therefore, cannot get upset when they have you do something that only takes 30 seconds and they could have done it in the time they took to send an email asking you to do it… yes this one might be a bit passive aggressive, but it’s a habit to break.
9) procrastinating
10) taking too many breaks

I know I am guilty of some all of these from time to time.  I’ve made it a priority to refocus my energy and pretend that I am in the swankiest office.

Cheers!

Organize Your Desktop, simple easy steps with a template

organize your desktop

I have seen on Pinterest a few organizing tips to cleaning up your desktop icons.  I thought it was genius, but there was not a template that quite made a place for all of my icons.  Of course, I decided to create one on my own, because that’s just what I do while J and I watch TV.

First, I looked at my desktop and arranged them in categories that made sense to me.

Second, I created an image in Photoshop with labels for all of my categories.  My favorite is the Money one, mainly because I used dollar signs…

Third, any icons that did not fit into my new categories got deleted from the desktop.  My thoughts were that if I didn’t need a category then I did not need an icon junking up my screen, simple as that.

I have added the image I used and an image with the category titles removed.  Hope you find it useful!

organize your desktop organize your desktop

Cheers!

 

Open Letter to the Incoming Freshmen Class

open letter to incoming freshmen

Yes, that’s me …on a mechanical bull.
One of those nights.

I loved college to the max.  It’s where I discovered that I am, in fact, an extrovert, found some of my best friends, became adventurous.  I developed a love for sushi, the hair poof, dancing like a crazy person – even when sober, and where I learned to speak my mind.  I am not the wisest person or the most eloquent, but I do have some advice for freshmen that was willed down to me.

Dear Small Freshman,

You are about to embark on the best years of your life.  You will drink too much, stay up too late, not study nearly enough as you think you should, and make some of the best memories ever.  To be successful and get the most out of your short time, you have to:

Develop a schedule.  Have specific nights that you stay in, do laundry, get caught up on homework and studying then have nights that you don’t do any of the boring stuff.  For me, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were the fun nights, which meant Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday I stayed in and worked on all my class assignments.   It’s about moderation.

Be adventurous.  It took me the whole first semester before I got this part down.  You will have so much fun if you are up for random road trips, staying up late, or heading to that random dive bar that no one has ever heard of.  Only say no the illegal, try everything else.

Avoid the “Freshman 15” by all costs. In my case it was the “Freshman 15” then “Sophomore 20.”  Workout, join the (probably free-to-you) gym on campus, go for a run with your friends.  It took me 2x as long to lose it all after college then it took for me to gain it all.

Make a connection in each of your classes.  Eventually as you work through your degree program the class sizes will get smaller and you will see the same faces in majority of your classes.  It’s best to make alliances early so when you’re sick or miss class for “whatever” reason then you have someone to call to get notes or turn an assignment for you.

Here we go, pay attention to the next part.  It’s probably the most important to your academic career: Talk to your professors.  Go to your professors during their office hours to ask an assignment question, test question, or anything.  You want your professors to know your face, think you are dedicated to your studies, and in turn, they will be willing to help you succeed or bump you from that 89.2 to a 90.

Most of all, do not stress too much.  Everything will be fine.  My Dad told me one thin that stuck with me “You will not remember in 20 years if you made a C, B, or an A on that test, BUT you will remember that random night when you went out with your friends.”

Have fun!

Yours truly,

Older and Wiser Ex-College Student 

Tips to Simplify Your Life

merelynne tips to simplify your life

I am always drawn to articles, books, and readings about simplifying my life.  I run around all day like a chicken with its head cut off.  I’ve always hated that saying because I literally imagine a cartoon type chicken running around without a head in the middle of the desert.  Why the desert you might ask?  I have no idea, perhaps too many episodes of Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner as a kid.  Anyway back to what I was saying.  An article that promises to calm my life with just a few simple steps is like a magnet to my A-type personality.

I have learned through college, working, and then family life a few tricks that always work for me.  Now that I’m getting older I have found that these tricks are even listed on most of those fancy-shmancy articles.  I’d like to think I’m that smart, but it’s probably because I’ve read so many of them.

Here we go my top 5 tips to simplify your life and enjoy your life more:

1) Prioritize – sounds simple right?  You need to pick 1-3 tasks per day to complete each day.  Spend a few minutes each morning or when you arrive at your desk to think about your whole day and what all needs be accomplished.  Highlight 1-3 tasks depending on the time you have and the time you assume each one will take.

I keep a running to-do list of items at work, for my Etsy shop, for the home, and for this little blog.  I then pick 1-3 things that I need to do.  Usually the days I work I pick 1-3 to do the 8 hours I’m there and then maybe only 1 to do from home, Etsy or blog for when my work day ends.  I’m not saying pick a hobby task over your actual job – you gotta make that money, honey.

2) Pick What Makes You Happy – it is super easy to get swallowed whole by work; try not to let that happen.  Select 1-2 things each day that make you happy and fulfilled.

A few months ago I switched up my job to work at a local retailer.  Most days I would not get home until 9:30 and I realized that I missed having dinner with J.  Now I make it a point to have dinner with J every night.  Also, I chose Crossfit.  I’m new at it, it will always be challenging, but I am absolutely enthralled by it.

3) Block Out Distractions – get your environment ready to crank out your top priorities.  For me, it’s  not only turning my phone on silent but turning it over and popping in my earbuds to listen to some Pandora.

4) Just Say No – remember that drug prevention club in middle school?  Just Say No to Drugs… Okay, well maybe your school wasn’t as cool as mine, but anway you get the point.  Say no to things that are not a priority.  Keep yourself single-minded when it comes to tackling.  Don’t take on too much.

5) Breathe – I have a habit of running around like a crazy woman when I get stressed so I am still working on this one.  Every once in awhile remind yourself to breathe.  The world will still be here tomorrow even if you do not get everything done on your list.  It’s okay, be forgiving to yourself.

Now, I think this post might be more for me then it is for anyone else.  It’s a simple reminder to simplify your my life so that you I can enjoy more and stress less.

Cheers!

How to Remove Pet Odor from Area Rugs

rug2

Alright, I have two dogs and okay, my area rug in the family room started smelling a bit.

It happens when you have a puppy that is learning how to be house-broken.  Not to mention this said puppy is absolutely terrified of people and has a problem holding it in when she gets scared.  It’s hard to be upset about being scared, but I can be upset that my brand new, gorgeous rug was starting to smell.

Finally, after buying carpet cleaner after carpet cleaner I learned of this neat little trick that worked perfectly.  So, I thought that I would pass it on to you.

What you’ll need:

1) The rug you want to clean
2) An area outside to layout the rug in the sunlight
3) Spray bottle
4) White Vinegar
5) Water
6) Hose
rug
First, you want to soak your rug with the hose.  I like to use a good amount of water pressure to make sure to break up any dirt.
ingredients
Second, spray down the rug with your vinegar solution (1 part vinegar and 3 parts water)

Third, let dry in the sun.  I think the heat from the sun really helped get rid of the smell.

Voila!  Easy, simple and completely doable.  The rug is as good as knew and our house smells wonderful.

Cheers!

Knowing When You Have The One Worth Fighting With

IMG_3706

Want to know a secret?  I’ll let you in to a little personal secret of mine pertaining to my past relationships.  You see, back in high school and undergrad of college most of my friends thought of me as this “2 week girl.”  No, not because my relationships would only last 2 weeks, but because I couldn’t stand having a disagreement with someone.  I just never saw the need to fight or not get along.  It wasn’t really important to me to fight.  I thought, why waste your time?

So, that’s where my “2 week girl” came into play.  You can bet that after an argument that I just didn’t see the importance of the guy and me would be over in about 2 weeks.

I promise that I am not this cold-hearted, stone-faced woman.  I really do have a heart and I would bend over backwards to help my partner out.  I would be there for them, whether if it was helping study, a family crisis, etc.  I was there.  I just did not see the need to fight.  Why?

Then it all changed.  One night, I met J and he changed my world.  We fell fast for one another.  We decided early on that it would be the two of us.  The two of us against the world and we would be together.

us J

It hit me one day – J was worth fighting with.  We may not always agree on every topic.  We frustrate each other.  Our personalities are not identical.  I am much more reserved and J is very outgoing.  I am a homebody and J is happy out with people.

We also make each other happy, laugh, and work harder at being a better person.  J pushes me to go after my dreams.  I do not think I would have been as passionate about MereLynneConcepts on Etsy without him.  We are there to listen to one another and help each other.

As women (well most women) we watch these romantic comedies, you know – the cliché ones.   The movies where at the very end, right before the credits roll the two characters embrace and say something like, “I’d rather fight with you then make love to anyone else.”  Then there is an extremely long and passionate kiss.

Super unrealistic.

J and I may get into it time from time, but he is worth every hard discussion, every time I have to admit I’m wrong – J is worth it all. We’ve had to learn how each other react to a fight or disagreement.  Not just learning but compromising our typical actions for the one we love.

I may not have the romantic comedy ending, but I do have the person that makes my soul instantly melt. I found the person that I will face the world with, as a team.  For that I am grateful.

4 Tips for Healthy Eating

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA photo source

In the past 3 years I have learned a lot about myself and a lot about eating healthy. I have my good days. I have my bad days. Just like the majority of us out there.

A few items I’ve learned about eating healthy.

1) You must be realistic with yourself. If you love chocolate (like I do) or salty foods (like J does) then telling yourself you will never eat a kit-kat again is just plain pointless.

2) Listen to your cravings. When I crave chocolate it could mean a variety of things. First, it’s that lovely time of the month and I’m feeling vulnerable. Second, you are having a bad day and your serotonin levels might be low; and you want a jolt of feeling good. Third, your magnesium levels might be low.

3) Moderation. I can put down a pack of cookies like no one’s business. I know this lovely fact about myself. I avoid putting myself in those situations.

4) Forgive yourself. When I was first on my journey to healthy eating I would get so upset with myself if I allowed my old habits to come forward. What happens when you’re sad? You want something to make you feel happy. For some of us that’s food. So we eat. Then we realize that we shouldn’t have done that. So we get sad again. What happens when you’re sad? You eat. It’s a vicious circle. The best thing you can do for yourself is to forgive yourself. Your mind, body, and emotions will thank yourself.

Just a little advice from a girl who has done the opposite of every single one of those points listed above and has learned the hard way. Take my advice.

Cheers!

Wedding Budget Tips

wedding-budget

photo credit.

Budget. That word alone can usually cause stress in most people, including me.  However, it is imperative to have/know your budget when planning a wedding.  There are several ways to determine your budget and I was lucky to have parents that helped A LOT with my budget.

TIP 1: I determined that amount of money that J and I would have to plan our dream wedding after talking with my parents.  Then in my typical fashion I cut my budget by 15%.  Wait… what?! I cut money out of my budget? Crazy, huh?!

Well… hear me out before you think I’m that crazy.  In my mind, I know… I just know that unexpected charges or needs will come up during the planning process and I don’t want to be scrambling for money.  By taking 15% of the budget away on paper then I know that if an emergency arises, we are safe and okay with money.

TIP 2: Prioritize the important parts.  When J and I started thinking about what we wanted our wedding to look like we had to prioritize what was most important to us.

We came up with three categories.  First, highly important.

Photographer
Venue
Music
Cake

Next, important.

My Dress
Food
Flowers
Groom’s Tux
Groomsman Cake (well in J’s case a cookie cake)
Hair & Makeup
Stationary (invitations & thank you notes)
Favors

Finally, not that important.

Bridesmaid Dresses
Transportation
Seating Chart

Tip 3: Knowing your guest number limit.  J and I started crunching numbers and decided that we would ideally like to invite 175 people.  Knowing that on average 20% of those invited will not be able to attend.  That would leave us at about 140 guests.

Tip 4: Don’t forget about tax and gratuity.  Those charges can add up pretty quickly.  For example, let’s say that you’ve budgeted $2,000 for flowers.  You start talking roses, lilies, carnations, baby’s breath and next thing you know the subtotal is $1,999.  You’ll be surprised to learn that your total will be over $2,140 (at least in Southwest Missouri because our sales tax is 7.06%).

Don’t be afraid to ask your vendors what the tax rate is and how it is applied.  I learned that there is no tax on linens because the vendor pays the tax during the purchase and cannot pass that on to each customer.

Also, gratuity is another hidden budget balloon.  I talked to one caterer that charged a pretty high gratuity, which after the tax put her way above my budget.

Tip 5: Ask your vendors if they are running any specials for booking that month.  Since I started planning in February for a November wedding a lot of my vendors were running specials.  For example, my caterer through in a house salad for each guest at no charge, which will save us about $2 per guests (140 guests x $2 = $280 savings).  Also, my venue had a free champagne toast for booking… that saves a lot of $$$.

Hope these tips are helpful during your wedding budget planning! Let me know what you think!

Cheers,

Mere