Wednesday, November 30, 2011
via quirky momma (this was my fav article):
- We do the “packets” budgeting system. All spending money we take out at the beginning of each month. We then pay for everything with that cash, when it is gone there is no more till the next month. This budgeting method works for us, find one that works for you!
Cash is king in most budgets. Any of you tried this method to keep yourself from overspending on clothes, entertainment, or some of the other tough catagories?
- Surround yourself with “frugal-minded” folk. If you don’t have any friends who are willing to make a frugal journey with you try looking online, Frugal Village is a great network, and One Income Dollar and the Prudent Housewife are both great inspirational blogs. We found it is easier to save when you are not surrounded by spend-happy folks.
My closest friends are budgeters (some because I make them be) and this really does work! We do more redboxing, cooking in, groupon dining, etc because were all trying to be smart with our money. The best part is then no one feels like they have to bow out because of funds - were all fund concious and we help each other out!
- Meal plan and coordinate so that leftovers can be utilized fully, yet keeping variety. (Ex: Tacos day one, use left over taco meat day 2 for stuffed peppers)
I love doing this. I plan my meals at end of a week, grocery shop over the weekend, and cook on Sundays usually for my lunches and dinners for the whole week. This would be slightly more complicated if I was feeding 3-4 people, but it works great for us singles or just marrieds. Packing my lunch to take to work has saved me TONS.
Also from Pinterest and worth reading is this ladies post.
If you're thinking about going to a cash system in 2012 there are some precious make-your-own-cash-envelop craftings happening there as well.
As for me, I'm not sold out on being 100% cash...BUT I will say, using cash in my trouble areas (clothing, food, entertainment, travel) really helps me keep to what I say I'm going to spend. Budget reasonably...you know you're not going to spend only 20 bucks in 6 months on clothes...we realistic. But determine what's appropriate and stick with it.
Here's to a budget friendly 2012 with lots of saving in store for me.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Naturally, I had to take speech in college like everyone else and because I can write a good speech, I was able to do well. But every critique I got came back reporting that when my nerves take over I talk so impossibly fast I'm hard to understand. Honestly, I think that's pretty much every day anyway.
So, I'll take all the prayers I can get this week as I prepare to give a 5 minute talk for this season's FPU graduates. We've talked about budgeting here on the blog in the past and I think most of you who have been here for any length of time know that I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and that like most things took in SERIOUS. It was excited to announce via twitter when I became debt free (other than my condo, they don't make you count house debt) and I've been diligently saving for my 5 year plan.
So, I'm headed to hopefully inspire the new grads the way I was inspired my taking and later leading the course, myself. I've written out what I want to say and will most likely be practicing it in front of the mirror all week to hopes of speaking in understandable English by Sunday.
I think it's important to celebrate your successes, your met goals, your accomplishments, and your milestones. I'm coming up on 2 years of living on a budget, 2 years of being a homeowner, and 2 years since my weight loss journey with 60+ lbs kept off. I feel really good about the last couple years!
I also wanted to get some feedback from you all. Do you budget? What do you find works for you? Are you good about saving? I'm always looking for good tips and tricks.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Are you read this I'm en route from North Carolina back home to Tampa for a whirlwind day of wedding festivities. I spend the last 3 days in the Carolinas with my sisters, bro-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents and I now much hurry home to celebrate my sweet friend Joy's nuptials.
Joy and I met in May of 2008 when I moved from Purdue University to Tampa, FL and took a job with Impact. Joy and I were the Teen Impact Coordinators together, each assigned to our own territory and we worked together planning retreat, events, speeches, pranks, and just about anything else you can think of. She's been a sweet and faithful friend since our departures from Impact as well and I've grown to cherish her in so many ways.
Here's a little picture tribute to my friend Joy on her wedding day:
John Mayer Concert - September of 2008. (clearly before I dropped 60+ lbs)
Rocky Horror Picture Show on broadway - October 2008 (am I little bit redhead here?)
End of the year banquet for work.
Celebrating one of our birthdays...I think mine?
So this morning I'm flying home, grabbing my car, changing my clothes, and driving out to the beach to watch this sweet friend and beautiful lady tie the knot! Congrats and may this be the beginning of your happily ever after!
Friday, November 25, 2011
Hello from North Carolina!
I hope this blog post finds you all fat and happy after a great thanksgiving feast yesterday. I'm still in NC for another 24 hours before I jet back to Tampa for wedding festivities but I wanted to share with you what I brought with me (via Kindle) to read while I'm away.
Months after reading the first one (so clearly I'm not obsessed) I'm finally going to read the second book in the Hunger Game trilogy - Catching Fire.
I'm more excited to share this one:
From Amazon (booklist): Maggie has just returned home from a long stay in the hospital to repair the leg that was badly injured in an automobile accident; Caleb has just returned from prison, where he served nine months for driving the car that hit Maggie. In spite of a court order to stay away from her, Caleb continues to encounter Maggie and even ends up working for Mrs. Reynolds, the same elderly lady who Maggie helps. Telling the story in alternate chapters, Elkeles reveals the traumatic accident and its consequences from both victims' points of view. Maggie can no longer play tennis and is now convinced that she is ugly; Caleb must endure the harassment of his former friends, especially the beautiful, seductive Kendra. Not everything in the crowded plot is adequately addressed, but Elkeles creates raw emotions, dialogue, and high-school ambience that's just right. Maggie and Caleb are complex and authentic teens whom all readers will embrace. Theirs is a delicate, delicious love story--without the happy ending.
I have a feeling it won't be the best written book I've read to date BUT it looked like a fun vacation type read. It's also only 99 cents on Kindle so for my other ereadin' friends - you may want to check it out. Hope you all are getting to happily read off your food comas as well.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I've recently been exploring their steak topper ideas as Auburn and I will be changing up our Christmas dinner tradition and cooking in, instead of going out this year. Auburn is an incredible cook and I want to be like her when I grow up. But I've offered to grill steaks for our dinner this year, so I'm trying to take a page from her book and do it up right. I'm leaning towards a topper that involved blue cheese. Mmm.
Anywho, hope you enjoy my new favorite recipe. Let me know if you give it a try!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
You all know I love a bargain more than the next wanna-be-fashionista and fall/winter really brings it out in me. I don't believe in store credit cards, which I've probably shared is a direct result of my taking the Dave Ramsey course a few years back BUT I have to say I'm a huge supporter of stores who are not issuing rewards debit cards and Nordstrom is the one that got my vote. I signed up for the Nordstrom debit card, which comes directly out of my normal checking account but I still get points as if I had their credit card - cha-ching. This way I'm never tempted to spend money I don't have BUT I still get rewarded for being a more than faithful Nordie Rack shopper.
Since the Tampa Nordstrom Rack is just around the corner I peruse the sale racks fairly regularly, hunting for buried (clearanced) treasure. This week I found this fabulous jacket market down from 158 to 38 AND thanks for my Nordstrom debit card, I had $20 in 'Nordstrom Notes'...so for $18 I got a jacket I can't wait to wear in North Carolina this week.
Please excuse the makeup-less face cell phone photo, I will try to be more prepared in the future.
Anyone participating in Black Friday this year? I have a few friends that make this a tradition and I admire them but as for me and my house? We don't fight crowds an early hours in the cold. We watch the pre-black-friday specials online and strike while the irons hot and sans tent, hot choco, and crowds. This year I diligently hunted for a petite TV for my bedroom. I'm not a huge TV watcher but since my roomie moved in, in May, the idea of having a second TV in the house, in my bedroom started to appeal.
So I present you, my new darling...
Don't ask what's on the TV, there was a commercial on at the time, ok? And that weird glow on the wall is because my accent wall (located directly behind is magenta. But I had to show you my first ever Black Friday purchase. : ]
In 2010 I shared all that I learned from my church's 'Creating Space' series and the steps I would take to create space in my own life. Well, 2011 came and went with purposeful busyness that has accomplished many new goals and while I'm thankful for that, I realize that it's time to revisit creating space as 2012 is quickly approaching.
While I'm not one for new years resolutions I do find that the new year lends itself to reevaluating where you're spending your time and how you're using your resources. What needs the boot in 2012 to create space for new opportunities? What good things can go so God things can come?
I hope to find a quiet spot over Thanksgiving to really start muscling through these areas so that I can streamline and begin this new year with purpose and poise. Anyone else worried that if they aren't intention this holiday season will leave them exhausted and uninspired? I want to use the time I get off work and out of town to regroup and redouble my efforts towards my long term goals/five year plan.
Anything getting the boot in your lives for the coming year? Anything you want to create more space for? Any advice you want to give me for 2012?
Monday, November 21, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
We all know how much I love snail mail and how much I love the holidays so I'm teaming up with Krystal and Meghan to make sure we all get enough holiday snail mail this Christmas season! We know the holidays can be chaotic AND expensive so we're giving you the chance to spread some holiday cheer without breaking the budget! The three of us are hosting a holiday card swap!
Enter your information below and we will pair you up with 4 other bloggers to exchange cards! You're welcome to include fun photos or little extras but please keep it simple - this is a one stamp kind of deal!
This is a win win friends - so get on it.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
So I made a bold move this year and put my blog address on my Christmas cards. The big debate amongst bloggers seems to be - how much privacy do you keep as a blogger? Many bloggers don't share their blog with their 'real life' friends and enjoy the privacy of being able to share openly without judgement. Clearly, that is not the case with my blog. There's nothing anon happening here (not even comments!). BUT even though my blog is public via facebook - there are quite a few people who will receive my cards this year who don't know about the blog yet.
I decided though this would be a great way for them to keep up with me. Despite my diligent letter writing and forced phone call making (I am not a phone talker) - it's hard to keep up with everyone and even when I do, it's hard to remember to relive all that's going on. I have a busy life, in case you haven't noticed. ; ]
So tomorrow night is our banquet for work and I'm excited to wear my cobalt blue dress my Mom bought me (that I previously shared on the blog). Hopefully I'll get some pictures up Friday morning.
Wednesday (one week from today) I will be headed to North Carolina to see my sweet family there as well as hopefully meet my niece (if she arrives in time). It will be a whirlwind Thanksgiving with my flying in Wednesday night to Raleigh, driving to Winston Salem with my sister and bro (if no baby) for thanksgiving and a 10am departure Saturday morning to head back to Tampa. Saturday I land at noon and I have a wedding at 2:00 out by the beach. So I will be in a sprint to get my bags, collect my car, assemble myself, and drive out to the beach for my former coworker and sweet friend Joy's wedding festivities.
Then back to this side of the bridge for another engagement by 6. Never let em see ya sweat, right? Even holidays are manic for me.
I've got 50 christmas cards printed and read to address so I figure I'll take those along to the Carolina's with me next week and knock them out - then they'll be ready to ship in mid Decemeber. I bought those cute disposable goodie boxies to deliver Christmas baked goods to my favorite neighbors (have I ever mentioned how much I love my 'hood?). My Christmas presents are more than halfway bought AND I wrapped 3 of them already.
After Thanksgiving the official countdown to Christmas begins folks.
Let's do this.
Monday, November 14, 2011
People are quick to use the line 'misery loves company' but as I've grown up what I realize is that through a rather crazy year of ups and downs I have chosen to be happy with this life I've built and as a result it has been easy to be happy for others. Talking this through with a friend the other day I said it something like this - 'I guess I finally realized that I've grown up this week. Because when I think back on the people who have hurt me most over the years and how hard it use to feel to forgive them now I look back and I hope that the Lord blesses them as much as He's blessed me'.
This is what one might call a breakthrough. The point in your life where you're so happy (not that everything is perfect, by ANY means) that even the malicious motives of other people that have contributed to who you've become and where you are in life can feel like blessings. That you can be thankful for the good and bad circumstances that brought you here and hope the best for those who have hurt you. Breakthrough.
This year has tried my communication skills like no other year before it. I started the year single, living alone, and in a pretty easy role at work. By mid year I was in my first serious relationship since college, living with a roommate, and had taken on a much bigger role at work with more responsibility as I entered my 3rd event season on staff. I remember laughing to my best friend as I said, 'I swear I started this year thinking I was a GOOD communicator and the more I've learned about communicating the more I realize how much more I have left to learn'.
The relationship didn't last, the roommates still going strong, and I survived a crazy event season feeling like I really grew. But most of all I take away from this that growing up is hard! Learning to communicate openly, honestly, and out of love is challenging, even for those of us who are obviously very good at saying alot without really saying what we mean. The gloves came off and the honesty box was entered and I have to say that as tough as it's been - the growth has been worthwhile. I anticipate that like most disciplines, it will get easier the more I practice it. Or at least, I'm hoping.
I'm thankful that the while misery may love company - so does happiness. This is the life I wanted. This is the future I'm building. And I'm excited for the successes of my friends and my foes. I'm thankful for the people who build me up and the people who have forced me to grow stronger.
Oh my oh my...the art of growing up is hard to master.
Friday, November 11, 2011
I got back in my groove by participating in last weeks Book Club Friday - but after reading this post by Heather, I immediately downloaded this book on my Kindle ereader:
Never one to keep good ideas to myself - I immediately told Candy, my best friend and Brandy, my sweet friend from back in Indiana to download it as well. I knew they both had e-readers and they've bought books I've recommended before. I needed someone to obsess with me while I read at rapid speed.
Let me just say that I couldn't put this book down. I finished it literally in 24 hours (and this was a workday - so know that I read on lunch, at stoplights, while I dried my hair, etc).
My one caution should be that there is some 'adult content'.
I loved it. Brandy finished before I did (she stayed up late and read it all in one night) and Candy was close behind. They both LOVED it as well and we've spend the rest of this week trying to decide if we want to buy the other 2 books Jamie McGuire has written, even though they're not in the same genre. We've also all felt sad it's over now that we hurried through, we wish we'd rationed it out! Ha! Thanks for Heather for a great recommendation - it made my week!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
November and December are crazy months but to of my favorites to be certain. Holidays, family, shopping, baking, still football season. What's not to love?
Coming up for me:
- Our work banquet which will include hearing Nicole C Mullins sing live (yay!) and Dr. Ben Carson as our speaker. After seeing the movie about his life, gifted hands, I have to say I'm giddy with excitement to hear what she shares.
- A batchelorette party
- A wedding
- A post-elopement wedding reception (not for the wedding I just mentioned)
- A trip to North Carolina
- A trip to Indianapolis
- A couple days in the 'burg with my bestie
- Christmas parties for work and friends
- Birthday parties/dinners/festivities
- Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years
Ee can I just prance around for 2 months in fabulous dresses and heels please?
One month to the day after the end of our event season for work ( I work in event - in case you missed that) it feels good to be down almost 10 pounds, back in the gym 4 days a week, AND back in my reading groove, having demolished 3 books in the last week. Ah, I'm back.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
I have grown so much this year as a friend, a daughter, a sister, a homeowner, a coworker, an employee, a leader, a blogger, a reader, a writer, a christian, and a person. I have faced more obstacles than any previous year and I'm happy to report with more grace than in years past. I've gone through some tough times with friends and relationships and grown and learned from them in a way I can be proud of.
I am thankful for grace and forgiveness. For the people in my life who call me out and hold me accountable. For new, attainable goals. For provision. For spiritual growth. And amazingly, for the Lord allowing me to see some things and some people really clearly this year.
It has been a year full of many things - good and bad. But I find myself living in a state of thanksgiving for where the last few years have brought me. I'm loving the life the Lord has given me and the person I feel like he's growing me into. I have never been this happy to be me.
What a great year this has been.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
I believe I shared last year that I wanted a tradition with my best friend when it came to Christmas. The chances that we'll get to spend Christmas together are pretty slim with our families living in different places and our lives seeming to keep us a few thousand miles away. So, for now, we settled on exchanging Christmas ornaments every year. Last year I gave her a starfish painted to look like santa claus with my name and the year on the back. Today I'm off hunting for her Christmas 2011 ornament (maybe I'll post a pic after I give it to her) - I thought the JL fair would be a great place to find a unique one.
She gives me one too but as I may have previously confessed I've never actually had a tree in my grown up life. For now, I spend Christmas with my parents every year (and one or both of my sisters depending)and they have a tree so I've never felt the need to have my own. I hate the idea of storing Christmas decor all year to use it for a month. I guess I could take Tara's route and leave it up year round to make it worthwhile?
I've been toying with the idea of a small fake tree though - maybe buying one after the holidays this year for next year? (I'm cheap, this much you know).
I did hit up the Nordstrom Semi-annual sale this week and at regular Nordstrom all I bought was this fabulously comfy tee:
We in Tampa are lucky enough to have a Nordstrom Rack as well - and I bought an additional two shirts on clearance there. I've been trying to build up my 'tops' wardrobe. It seems like every time I have anywhere to go I reach for a dress as my go to outfit. But the weather may someday decide to cool off a bit here AND sometimes a girl wants to wear jeans and sit with her knees apart, you know? So for those such occasions said girl needed some shirts.
Yesterday I wore my new White House Black Market jeans for the first time. I snagged them on clearance during my outlet mall trip with the girl last weekend for $20! I got several compliments on them, especially the slightly ornate booty pockets I was feeling self concious about. I usually pick very plain pocketed jeans.
I know this is the season for buying gifts but I have to say -I save up a little for myself this time of year as well. When I'm out snagging fabulous gifts and nifty prices, I want to have room to splurge on a few things for myself as well. $20 jeans and $12 shirts are in all the time, in my mind.
Anyone doing black friday this year? I don't get up early for anything that involves a crowd, but I am hoping to snag a small TV for my bedroom during the pre-black-friday-online-deals. Arguably, cheaters do sometimes prosper. Just saying.
Friday, November 4, 2011
So for the book portion of today I should tell you I was finally able to finish The Help.
I have to say what I found most fascinating about this book is that Stockett was a first time author - the Help is her first book! What? Can I get a lunch date with her and talk about what she did right to have such a widely read first novel that went on to be a successful movie? I need some advice, sista.
I had a great talk with my Mom about her take on the movie (she's not a big fiction reader) and she said it hit home for her. My Mom grew up in small town North Carolina during the integration of schools so the racism that's dealt with the the Help as well as the overwhelming desire of that 'middle class' to be socialites isn't far from the truth of her childhood. It was fascinating talking through some of that with her after I finished the book.
I haven't watched the movie yet but I hope to in the near future (redbox style). As for the book - it was good but not great for me. I was glad I read it but with as slow a read as this was for me I would also somewhat hesitate to recommend it. Does that make sense?
I'm headed to a wedding tonight, the Junior Leagues Christmas market Saturday morning, some babysitting, lunch date with my friend Jason Sunday after church, etc. November and December are going to be delightfully busy with fun activities and parties. I can't wait to send out my Christmas cards and distribute my baked goods in the cute Christmas goodie boxes I bought.
What are you reading lately and what are your weekend plans?
Oh yeah, I'm already flying through the 4th book in James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series - 4th of July.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The good news is - I have two close friends I'm extremely honest with (ok, so I'm extrememly honest MOST of the time with everyone) and they reel me in when I'm obsession with succeeding at something starts to run over the rest of my life.
I need to be better at balancing things. Learning to let the small stuff slide. Being content with my best and not feeling like I have to beat myself up when the good isn't great or my best isn't perfect. I tend to be a 110% all of the time kind of gal with high expectations for myself. Sometimes the girls have to reign me and give me the 'Rome wasn't built in a day' speech.
I AM learning though. I'm trying to grow and take it all in stride and learn to just relax, laugh, and enjoy. This has been a strangely logner and harder process than one might imagine. Whew. I feel better having confessed this!