8 Simple Ways to Save $$$ on Valentine’s Day Gifts

VD2 Mi Amor de me Vida!

It’s already started…the flood of emails from every retailer in America! Even my cellphone company has inundated my inbox with “the perfect gift” for my Valentine. Funny, I am pretty certain the perfect gift for my valentine, can’t be bought, and in fact would be illegal if paid for in 49 states. This all goes back to the society of consumerism we live in. Hell, I can’t blame these companies for wanting to make a buck or well, 40 billion bucks give or take, but I can refrain from their super sweet passive aggressive tactics to get me to spend, spend, spend. And you can too my friends! Here is a list of things to do other than spend $$$ to have a romantic, fun Valentine’s Day.

  1. Make the Beast!

    This one is first in honor of my good friend, Darren. Anyone who has seen The Addams Family Musical will know what this means, but for those of you out there scratching your heads, I will lay it out for you. Be intimate with your partner. There is no better day for it and here is a link providing you all the wonderful health benefits of getting it on (courtesy of Men’s Health). This is free and fun! Be adventurous. For the ladies, find something in your closet that your partner would find incredibly sexy if it were worn with nothing underneath. Maybe it’s the clichéd men’s work shirt, or maybe you have some sheer tops you typically wear to work. Pair that with a sexy pair of panties (such a gross word) and boom! Instalingerie without the hefty price tag Ms. Secret places on all her fancy schmancy items. For the gents, do something super sweet. Maybe you grab her a single rose or get the oil out and give her that massage she has been begging for since you said “I do.” Perhaps cook her a delicious meal and make the whole conversation over dinner about how much you adore her. We eat that shit up like candy, bro!

  1. Rent Sappy Old Love Stories From The Library

    Go to the library and rent some classic love stories that maybe you have or maybe you haven’t seen before. Movies today are just not the same, and these old love stories are bound to make sure you get to #1 on this list. Here is a link to AMC’s list of the top 50 romantic movies. There are some oldies and some newer options for your viewing pleasure. Pop some popcorn, and snuggle up on the couch. Better yet, blow up the air mattress and create a little lover’s paradise on the living room floor. This can lend itself to all sorts of fun, romantic ideas. Maybe have some chocolate covered strawberries and champagne ready for candlelit conversation on your little lover’s paradise. The options here are endless.

  1. Handmade Valentine’s Swap

    A few years back, we decided we would not buy each other VD gifts, but rather we had to make something. I grabbed a plain white coffee mug from the dollar store, and used a sharpie to write the words to our wedding song on there. I am not going to lie…this looked like a 3 year old did it. It was awful, but the hubs loved it, or at least pretended to love it. Come to think of it, it is kept in the garage to hold pencils, so maybe he is embarrassed of it….anyway, his gift to me was amazing! He wrote me a poem and framed it for me in a huge red frame. This hangs in our room today, and brings me a smile every time I see it. Guys, I am serious, WRITE A POEM! Guaranteed to make the beast at least three times that night. Just sayin. I have not decided what I am going to do this year, but I sure will have to get creative as we are in #nospendfebruary.

 

Smile

Smile

  1. Go For A Romantic Walk/Picnic

    Now if you live where we live, you will not be participating in this activity unless freezing your balls off is appealing to you. Some people do love a winter hike, my husband included, but I leave that for him and the kiddos. The three of them love winter adventures, and I, well, I love hot chocolate and summer, and all things Olaf loves because all of those things are warm. I am cold enough on my own, thank you very much. In all seriousness though, this is a great idea! It is good exercise, it is aesthetically appealing to the eye, nature is good for the soul, and the list goes on. Grab a bird book from the library, and see how many birds you can spot. Take photos of the flowers, trees, wildlife, etc, and create an adventure book. In the summer, I am all over these types of adventures. Very romantic!

  1. Cook a New Meal Together

    Hey, ya gotta eat, right? So why not spend your grocery money on some ingredients you may have never tried before to cook a unique meal. Crab legs are probably on sale at this time, and they are super easy to make. Make a triple layer mousse cake or some other decadent dessert that will make you feel as though you are dining at Chicago’s finest restaurant. You could even set the tone to reflect a romantic restaurant. Grab a card table, throw a white table cloth over it, put a candle on, remove all clutter and kids toys and make a romantic spot to enjoy your meal. Music! Be sure to have romantic music on in the background. Get dressed up! Put on that dress that makes you feel like the goddess you are, and gents put on a nice pair of slacks, a button down, and a tie. Just because you’re staying in, doesn’t mean you can’t get all fancy.

 

Get A Load of This Guy

Get A Load of This Guy

  1. Dance

    Guys, how many times have you just grabbed your wife and started slow dancing with her? If the answer is never, you’re doing it wrong. I know it probably seems silly, but this is one super romantic gesture. Anytime our wedding song plays, we stop what we are doing and slow dance. It takes me back to that day we said our vows each and every time. I look at my husband and think how lucky I am to be married to him. I get to share my life with this man, and when he wraps me up in his arms for a dance, it just melts my soul. This Valentine’s Day, after dinner, have a few songs ready to go, hit play, and just hold each other close. Feel the warmth of the other person, inhale them, and just take this time to fully let go and just be. If you want to liven it up, have a set list created pre-valentine’s day, and dance it out all night! Our daughter wanted a disco ball for Christmas, and I tell you what that little $20 investment really does create a club like setting at home. We had a dance party with the kiddos over Christmas break and it was pretty damn awesome.

  1. Host A Beer/Wine Tasting

    For #nospendfebruary we are limiting the amount of cash we spend on alcohol, but we factor that into our grocery budget so for us this wouldn’t be breaking our challenge. The grocery stores by us have a craft beer section that is all individual bottles and you can create your own 6 pack. This would be an awesome way to host your own tasting. Each of you could pick 3 or 6, and do some research on the brewery and what the beer pairs well with. This will give you things to talk about and learn while you try new beers. Wines would be a little more difficult, but maybe you each grab one bottle of wine and do the same thing

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    1. Pick Up A Newspaper

      Ok, bear with me on this one. I am not suggesting a romantic evening of reading the newspaper, however if that is your thing, high five bro! I am making this suggestion for you to check out what’s happening in your town locally that may cost next to nothing or even nothing at all. There may be open mic nights, free theatre shows, maybe a book signing, perhaps a poetry reading etc. Your community has a lot to offer, and if you are only using your phone to surf the web for ideas, you may be missing out on a lot of great things happening in your own little community. In Chicago, for example, several of the museums are offering free admission for Illinois residents. That’s pretty sweet! A day at The Art Museum can be quite the romantic venture.

      Long story short, there are a lot of things you can do this Valentine’s Day on the cheap yet make it more memorable and romantic than any other VD prior. VD is about love, not gifts. I understand that some people like to show affection with gifts, and that is ok. I am not here to judge you, but rather challenge you to consider showing your love in different ways. Don’t be a slave to consumerism, my friends. Get creative and have a super fun, sexy, crazy, romantic #ValentinesDay!

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Why The Eff We Are Not Spending Any Money In February…Well Almost No Money

Jan1

(some pics from our “mardi gras” weekend)

We recently made the announcement that we would not be spending any unnecessary money in the month of February. We were quickly met with various reactions ranging from: “OMG! That is great! I need to try that!” to “Ha! Yeah Right!” or “Well, you have to buy gas and groceries.” The latter I wanted to respond sarcastically with a “No shit Sherlock!” But I politely smiled, and explained that we would only be spending money on necessities, and that is was only the unnecessary items in life we would be eliminating, for example, eating out. There is no reason you NEED to go out to eat, but in my house, we do it A LOT! In the month of January, we spent over $600 in eating out. Do you know how impactful and extra $600 could be in my life!? Right….you probably don’t, so let me explain.

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 Don’t we clean up so nice!?

For those of you who know me, you know that I went to law school. For anybody with a pulse, you know that law school ain’t cheap! Grown Up Amy is still paying for the whims and wishes of young whippersnapper Amy to this day, and so, the hubs and I have decided that we need to change our behaviors to prevent Retired Amy’s social security from also being used to pay down this massive debt that incurred by that youngster with a dream. With that being said, we took a long hard look at our 2015 and realized we did ourselves no favors last year. Sure! We had a hell of a time. We did a lot of super awesome things like saw The Dave Matthews Band, and went to Disney, but even outside of those big events, we realized we were just bleeding money on things like going out to eat ALL. THE. TIME. Now, I can give you a million excuses for all of those times we went out to eat, but it mostly boils down to a lack of planning. We don’t have a plan for dinner, and BOOM! Hello Bdubs!

Now don’t get me wrong, we are experience people more so than materialistic people so even when we have a plan we can easily get caught up into going out to eat or for drinks after work. One thing that being experience seekers over materialistic worshippers that has been a good thing is that we don’t want to have a lot of things. In fact, in our effort to live a more minimalistic lifestyle, we have started to purge things from our life. But the one thing that trips us up, is the feeling that we have to be out spending money to experience life. We love live theatre, concerts, going out to eat, going to the movies, getting cupcakes at fancy schmancy cupcake shops etc. Anything that is an experience is something we simply cannot resist, but that is changing for the next 29 days! We had a little Mardi Gras, if you will, Friday and Saturday night this past weekend. We went out and lived it up. We went to karaoke and had drinks, and the next night we went out for a very delicious, expensive meal. We spent over $200 in one weekend!! The weekend prior, we spent $150 on “entertainment.” We had a great time both weekends, but ultimately, neither of these experiences got us one step closer to enjoying a debt free life.

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about failure. It’s only February 1st, and I am already feeling the guilt of possibly missing a show my friend is in. Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday, and we always go out to eat to celebrate. I am going to have to tell dear, old dad that we will have to cook him something this year. There’s a kick ass brewfest we wanted to go to, etc. but here’s the thing my friends, every month is full of obligations and super fun things to do. It’s tough, but ultimately, we need to become debt-free. Sacrifices must be made, and while one month of no spending isn’t going to catapult us into the debt free life, it is a start. It is a step in the right direction, and that is where we must start….with one step.

So, to my friends out there who are also passionate about becoming debt free, are you ready to make some sacrifices? If you are ready to take charge of your life and your finances, join us for No Spend February! It is not too late to get started. Maybe you spent some money today or maybe you didn’t. The nice thing is, it is a leap year and so you got one extra day this month anyway! Share you experiences at #Nospendfebruary Get ready for a month of soul searching and really focusing on what’s important in your life!

This is me after day 1: None the worse for wear!

Jan3

My Talented Friends!

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Why You’re Not An Asshole For Saying “No” To Your Kids

In today’s fast paced, instant gratification society, it is no surprise that kids constantly want, want, want. Before we moved to a home that did not have internet access, our kiddos never watched regular TV. Instead they had Netflix, and at the time I didn’t realize just how awesome Netflix was. Sure, I understood that we could pick what we wanted to watch and when we wanted to watch it, but something bigger was happening without my knowledge. Netflix was protecting my kids from this constant want, want, want or need, need, need mentality that is so ingrained in our society. How? Because the viewing was ad-free. The kiddos weren’t constantly being bombarded with the latest and greatest new toy every ten minutes. Think about that for a minute. For every thirty minute television program, at least ten minutes is pure advertisements, in which advertisers are forcing themselves onto those impressionable young minds. No wonder they want every damn thing under the sun. Well, those ads hang on in their little minds, and we cannot so much as drive by Target without the kids begging for a new toy. Well, frankly, I am that mean mommy. You know, the one who doesn’t buy her kid a new toy every damn time we go to the store. Gasp! How dare I deny my kid the next greatest toy ever invented!?!?! Well, my friends, think about the lessons you are teaching your kids about money when you give in to their begging and whining for a new toy every time they ask. In case it is hard for you to see, I will lay it out for you.

Snowy Walk 2

First ice skating venture at a friend’s birthday party. Tons of fun and very few bruises! An overall success!

Lessons You Teach Your Kids When You Give Them Everything They Want All The Damn Time

  1. A disrespect for money:

    Ok, well, why should we “respect” money? Maybe respect isn’t the best use of language here, but you are teaching them that money is just no big deal. Like my mother used to tell me, “money doesn’t grow on trees,” but when you buy them something new and shiny all the time, this is exactly what you are teaching them. That money does in fact grow on trees, or in the field or something, because if it didn’t, you wouldn’t part with it so easily. A kid doesn’t understand that you bought them a cheap-o toy that cost less than an expensive toy. All they know is that they wanted to buy something with YOUR money, and you gave in. Money must be easy to come by if every time they ask, you buy.

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Smore’s on the campfire up north with our besties! Look at the happiness!

  1. The Idea That Being Loved Means That Someone Spent Money On You:

    This is a huge one, my friends. It is definitely a nice feeling to be surprised by a loved one with a random gift. For me, I love when my husband picks flowers at work and brings them home to me. This is more special than anything he would ever buy me, but if you were talking to the woman I was 10 years ago, I would not have been so in love with this concept of hand picked flowers. I was very materialistic. In fact, as I type, the reflection of the diamond ring on my right hand reminds me that when I wanted a gift my man wouldn’t buy me, I just went out and bought it myself. I considered this an empowering woman thing to do, but yet I constantly harped that he must not have loved me because this was the one thing I asked for Christmas. Since he didn’t cave in and buy me an obnoxiously priced diamond, I went and bought it myself because he didn’t really love me anyway. The real joke was on my 21 year old self though because I financed it and ended up paying interest just to prove that I didn’t need a man to buy me things. (Please note this was an ex-boyfriend and not the hubs) I equated love with gifts, and that is not what love is. So next time you want to go buy your kid some major gift that they don’t need for no reason or even continuously buy them small gifts at the store every time you go, remember that you are teaching them to equate love with gifts. Instead, sit with them for an hour playing with the toys they already have. They will love that more than any new, shiny object you may buy for them.

 Snowy walk 4 

We had a blast this night at a free after party for one of the local theatres. Good friends, good food, and excellent quality time with my little girl.

 

  1. It’s Not Important To Take Care Of The Things You Have Because You Will Get A New Toy In A Few Days Anyway (Lack of value):

    I don’t know many kids who don’t have a closet or toy bin full or even overflowing with toys. If we were asked if our kids needed a new toy, the answer would always be, “no.” Toys are not needs. Toys are wants. When we buy a new toy, the kid is likely going to devalue all of the other toys they already own. Why would they want to play with the doll they got last week, when the one they got this week has super fun fairy wings? And so the wingless Barbie gets tossed aside and will sit in the bottom of the toy bin until mommy goes hunting through their toys for things to sell on Ebay or take to the thrift shop. We need to teach our kids to value the things they have, and to take good care of the things they have so they don’t “need” a new toy every time we go to the store. They will value the things they have and not be constantly on the lookout to replace their perfectly good toys all the time.

 

  1. A Life Of Always Wanting More or A Constant Feeling That You Will Be Happier If You Just Have One More Thing (Never Being Satisfied With What You Have):

    While I am no psychologist, I have studied a thing or two about human behavior. It is so obvious when adults are just trying to fill some void in their life by constantly buying new things. These folks have all they need and all they want, but they can just never get their fill. The satisfaction or thrill of the purchase lasts for a day or two, maybe a week depending on the purchase, but then the satisfaction is gone. In order to get that high, they go out and buy more and everything they have bought previously sits collecting dust. I want my kids to feel satisfied with the things they have and seek happiness through connections with people rather than material things. For us, trinkets and material objects quickly lose their thrill and fade away, but the memories we make by connecting with each other over a delicious meal or a family game night are forever in our memories. These things cannot be taken away from us.

 

 Snowy Walk 

Amazing how a walk on the beach in the winter can bring such great joy! Nature, Dig it!

  1. A Belief That Money Buys Happiness:

    This goes hand in hand with #4 above, but it is worth a separate mention. There’s the old joke out that there that people who think money doesn’t buy happiness have never experienced (fill in the blank). Sure, money can buy things that will temporarily make you happy. I challenge you to name one thing that you bought that is still bringing you as much happiness today as it did the day you bought it. Be honest with yourself. The only thing I ask is that you leave out things that were bought for sentimental value, for example, a wedding ring. While I didn’t buy my wedding ring, every time I look at it, I am reminded that each and every day, I get to call him mine. If I lost the ring or if it were stolen, I would be sad, but my memories are made with my husband. The ring isn’t what brings me happiness, it’s the man who gave it to me. So, again, name one thing you bought in your life that still brings you the same level of happiness as the day you bought it. Its our job to teach our kids that materialistic goods do not bring permanent happiness, and we should evaluate what we spend our money on to make wise decisions.

 

  1. A Disrespect for the Work That Brings Home the Bacon:

    My little man used to get very upset when I would leave for work. He would cry and beg me to stay home. It was absolutely heartbreaking, and I tried several things to get him to understand why I had to go to work. This past year, I would say “mommy has to go to work so we can go to Disney World,” and that appeased him for a little while, but then he started to tell me that he would rather have me home than go to Disney. Talk about melting my heart! What a sweet, sweet boy. What I was doing though, was essentially telling him that to have any fun, I had to go to work. He was willing to give up fun, because we have already started to instill in him an understanding that family is more important than things. Experiences and memories are more valuable than any toy he could ever receive. So I had to change what I told him in the mornings. I began telling him that in order to have a house and food to eat that mommy had to go to work. Believe it or not, we don’t have meltdowns any more. He now understands that we have basic needs that must be met and in order to meet them, mommy and daddy have to work. He values and appreciates that we do go to work to take care of his basic needs. This is not to say he never asks for a new toy, but our little man is much more in tune with the concept of money and how important it is that mommy and daddy work to receive money to take care of our basic needs.

    1. Funny Side Note:

      When we went to Disney last year, the kids each had spending money they received from their birthdays and special gifts from their grandparents. I told them they could spend this money however they wanted. The Bean was eager to spend her money, and the first night we went to Disney Springs, she saw those cheap ass light up toys and the girl had her heart set on buying all the things! The hubs and I tried to convince her that this was junk, and it ended up in an argument with crying and everything. I told her if that is how she wanted to waste her money, that was on her. Little man starts balling his eyes out crying that “She’s gonna spend all her money on Chinese junk!” (wonder where he heard that from) It was the cutest moment of a little brother’s concern for his big sister. He gets it. At just 4 years old, he gets the importance and value of money. Proud Mama!

Basically, my friends, I am here to tell you, that you are not a bad parent just because you say “no” to your precious little one’s obsession with getting new toys. In fact, you deserve applause! You are doing it right! You are teaching your kids that we can’t always have everything we want. A life lesson better learned as a child than a twenty-something who was recently introduced to credit cards! So many young people were never taught this notion of delayed gratification, and they become grown-ups who drop a Benjamin every time they go to target for milk simply because they’ve never been taught to say no to their wants. They’ve never been taught to evaluate each and every purchase to determine what the purchase in question is really going to do for them.

Good money habits are not instinctual. They must be taught, and as a parent, I want my kids to understand the value of money and not just from a monetary stand point. I want them to understand the time value of money, and how we exchange our time for money to meet needs and sometimes meet wants. The Bean is of the age at this point that we are going to introduce chores and an allowance. I am not sure of the ins and outs of that just yet, but it’s coming! Money, unfortunately, doesn’t grow on trees, and so the right thing to do is teach our children exactly how we get money, why we can’t have everything we want all the time, and why it is so important to learn to be happy with the things you already have. “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you got.” – Sheryl Crow

3 Things You Should Ask Yourself Right Now To Decide If You Are Fulfilling Your Destiny!

DreamsWe have all been told to follow our dreams, and that if you find something you’re passionate about to make that your job and you will never work a day in your life. That is all well and good, but nobody ever really tells you how or truly believes what they’re saying. There, I said it. All these folks encouraging you to follow your dreams are liars. Because if they weren’t liars, they wouldn’t shudder or look at you like a weirdo when you tell them your dream is to create a business model that allows you to work remotely from anywhere in the world, but that you are still in the research phase. When you tell someone you’re going against the grain of normalization, they can’t fathom such an idea, and so on one hand it’s “follow your heart” and on the other it’s like “you’re heart is an idiot, go get a traditional 9-5 like the rest of us, sparky.” And so, we do. We become good little citizens with a dog and a mortgage. Think about that idea for just a moment. When you buy a home, you have just signed your life away for 30 years. This isn’t the kind of freedom I am looking for. Sure, we can move at anytime, but the idea of a 30 year mortgage to me sounds more like indentured servitude than freedom. A surefire way to keep me from the life I desire by locking me into a 30 year promise.So what’s the solution, right? How do we break free from the traditional way of “normal” society. The first thing we have to do is figure out what the hell our purpose is. Here in America, we expect 18 year olds to have this figured out so that they justify they enormous amount of debt they are about to take on in that deep, dark hole of despair we refer to as college education. Don’t get me wrong. I am very much pro-college degrees, but what I am not for is the high price tag that comes along with it. #Berniewillsaveus! College has become nothing more than high priced luxury item used to lure our most vulnerable citizens into yet another form of lifetime servitude, but alas my friends, this post is not about college. This post is about finding out who you are, and how who you are can help you determine what career path is best for you.

  • Ask Yourself If You are Happy or Merely Following the Path of Least Resistance

    At the ripe old age of 13, I told my parents I was going to be a lawyer. You can imagine their delight! From that day forward, the word on the street had been that Amy was going to be a lawyer, and that was that. Amy went on to college and studied pre-law aka political science, and then went on to law school. I didn’t finish, however because, truth be told, what Amy really wanted to do was to play a lawyer on TV, but that dream was a scary one you see, because that wasn’t main stream. Over and over and over again, I was told things like “do you know how few people can make it as an actor?” or “Do you know how many starving actors are out there?” or “Yeah, you have talent, but the competition is too much”, and people in the theatre community where I am from have flat out said to me “Give it up, kid. You’ll never make it.” I am not saying my parents said these things to me. They of course were and are my biggest supporters of anything and everything, but it wasn’t realistic according to the world around me. It wasn’t an easy path, and so I was diverted away from it by teachers, professors, and colleagues. Since then, I have constantly been trying to conform to mainstream, and while I’ve done very well with the conformity piece, my soul is screaming to break free. I am meant for other things than what I am doing, but what are those other things? This is the question I have struggled with for years because every time I ask myself this question, those demons pop into my head reminding me that my dreams are unrealistic, and then I give up. This is no longer the case though. I am at a point in my life were my husband and I are done with the mainstream. The definition of insanity is when you continue the same behaviors expecting different results. We have followed the rules of society only to be left with a large amount of student debt and nothing else to really show for it. If I am working to merely pay Sallie Mae, then it is going to be on my terms. (More on this later.) Here is a photo of me from Chicago Med. At the tail end of last year, I actively started to pursue my dreams of becoming an actor. This experience has lit the fire under my ass to seek out my dreams! WOOT!ChiMed

 

  • Ask Yourself What You Find Yourself Doing That You Enjoy, But Never Get Paid To Do

    For me, this is easy. There are two things I love to do, yet have never really been paid for either. The first is, of course, acting/singing. The second, is giving advice. I absolutely LOVE to help people with personal issues that life throws their way. I find pleasure in helping people with something that has been super perplexing for them, and seeing them resolve a situation due to the different perspective I was able to provide. I love to connect people whether it is on a personal or professional level. One of my dear friends used to joke that she owed me her life because of the connections I was able to provide for her from both a professional and a personal standpoint. I, of course, told her she did all the hard work because that is the truth of the matter. I gave her a hand up not a hand out and she turned the dreams into realities. The things you love to do may not directly lead you to a dream job, but if you look at it from a different angle, you may find exactly what you’re looking for.

  • Ask Yourself If You Are Settling

    This is probably the most important question to concern yourself with. The millennial generation catches a lot of BS from our preceding generations. We are lazy. We don’t know what it means to work hard. We don’t know…well, anything really according to those before us. Perhaps it just cliché, typical rhetoric from our elders, but most experts agree our generation is the worst hit generation since WWII. Most of us graduated either right before or during the big crash of 2008, and that left us with fancy schmancy degrees that cost us boku bucks in a market where unemployment was on the rise. I don’t know about you guys, but I basically fell into the career I am in now in 2009 thinking it would just tide me over until something better came along. Well, 7 years later, I am still in the same industry. We settle. We get comfortable and we don’t leave for the fear of what we don’t know. I talk with people about their finances all the time, and the one thing that is a recurring theme is that they have a strong desire for job satisfaction through entrepreneurship but the desire is quickly clouded by their unwilling nature to leave the cushy confines of their salaried gig. This to me is sad. Why do we do this to ourselves? Several reasons, I am sure, but I wouldn’t doubt that a lot of it comes from our fear to break from the societal norms imposed on us through our elders and our media. If you answered “yes” to this question, I implore you to grab a piece of paper write now and write out what you would be doing tomorrow morning for a career if there were absolutely no restraints on you whatsoever. The one caveat is that you can’t say “sleeping in and doing nothing.” 😉 Although, I admit with our goal to work our own business online one day, that may very well become every Monday for us and I absolutely hate Mondays!

Guys, I know these aren’t easy questions to ask ourselves. These questions force us to look at who we are, who we have become, and if this is the person we thought we would be when we were teenagers. For me, the answer is a resounding “NO!” And so this is the year I begin to take control of my life to be that person. I have always felt I was destined to do great things, but the one person constantly holding me back was……..me. If you are holding yourself back from becoming who you are meant to be then make today the day that you stop. Stop telling yourself you can’t. Henry Ford reminds us of this, “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” You can take control of your life. You can be whatever you want to be. You are the only one who can decide what your dream life looks like and make it happen. So if you are living life based on what all the naysayers tell you that you can or cannot do, I beg you to stop. Tune those sons’abitches out and start creating the life you were destined to live! “No day but today” – Rent.

The Lottery That Broke Them All

Right now, the Powerball is sitting over 1.5 Billion dollars just waiting for some lucky sap or saps to take it home and buy all the things their hearts desire. Sure, some folks say they’re going to solve world hunger or clothe the poor, but mostly people are going to go out and buy all the things. In fact, there are more than a handful of folks who won and are now living a life of shame for blowing through their earnings. This does not surprise me as people who come into this kind of money typically have no idea how to manage it. This amount of money seems so large that it is impossible for someone to imagine even being able to spend that kind of money in one lifetime, but it can be and has been done. Check out these crazies who once were the luckiest folks on the block only to be broke as shit now.

  1. Abraham Shakespeare – Murdered! This poor guy was hounded by his friends and family for money after winning a $30 million dollar jackpot. He ended up meeting and hooking up with some mystery woman. She was able to persuade him to transfer his assets to her name, and then BOOM! He disappeared into the thin, blue air. His friend was sentenced to life in prison for his murder.
  2. Urooj Khan – Murdered by poisoning. One day after this gentleman won a measly 1 million dollars (come on, all things consider with the current jackpot, this is nothing!) he drops dead. Autopsy discovers he was poisoned with cyanide. Who would commit such a crime? Unsure

    3. Michael Carroll- Get this! This guy actually blew his money on cocaine and hookers!! Didn’t we just hear some idiot say that’s what he would spend the cash on?? Well, he should be careful not to end up like Michael. Michael blew through 300K in a matter of a couple of weeks. Within one year he was a million dollars in debt and filing bankruptcy. His life ended at age 65 while he was collecting food stamps. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would wind up on foodstamps after winning 15 million dollars, but I guess hoes ain’t cheap!

    4. Andrew “Jack” Whittaker – Talk about a tragic story! This man had already built his wealth through hard work, and was estimated to be worth about 17 million when he bought the winning ticket. He won 315 million in the lottery, and was the hit with a string of bad, bad luck. After donating 14 million to Christian charities, and supplying the woman at the convenience store who sold him the ticket with a new truck and a new house, he was robbed of 545K cash that sat in his car as he sat watching strippers shake their boobies in his face. Who the hell leaves 545K in their damn car!? I guess to him that was no different than had I left $5 in my car. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me…well, Mr. Whittaker again left 200K in his car, which was also stolen from him. It was later recovered, but damn dude! Stop leaving cash in your car!! In addition to that, his granddaughter’s boyfriend overdosed on drugs and died in Whittaker’s home and a few months later, his granddaughter did the same thing. Lastly, he was sued, never paid the debt, and he claims to be flat broke. His famous last words: “I wish I’d torn up that ticket.”

    And lastly for your viewing pleasure…the top 10 stupidest lottery winners ever! So you see my friends, you may think life sucks an average broke-ass American, but here’s the alternative. Grass isn’t always greener, and with that as you get ready for work this morning, don’t despair your broke situation, embrace it as you sip your ramen noodles for lunch knowing that you are better off than these folks!

To Vacation or…Lose $900

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Vacation Looks Good On Us, Right!?!?!

We have all made a bad decision or two, right? Well, the Hubs and I made one epically bad decision May 14, 2014, and it has haunted us ever since! Ok, well that is a little dramatic, but it was a decision that has us asking ourselves if we should take advantage of the horrible decision and vacation just 3 months after our last vacation or just flat out lose the $900 investment. I can rationalize either decision to sound like the best one, but the truth of the matter is I am incredibly torn. So here’s the story:

In 2014, my beautiful mother turned 60, and my brother and I decided that we should go to Disney World to celebrate. The deal was that my brother and I would cover the rooms that we needed. He had stayed at this resort in Orlando the previous year, and was able to secure it very cheap if we just agreed to a 90 minute presentation about the time share. I was hesitant. I didn’t want to spend my time that I consider more valuable than anything listening to some scam presentation. I wanted to stay on Disney property, but the fact of the matter was it was just too expensive for us at that time, and so reluctantly, I agreed. 90 minutes. An hour and a half. I can spare that, and hey! they agreed to feed me breakfast. The hubs and I already had all of our reasons to say no to these people and we had our game faces on! Watch out time share lady! It’s on!

We sat very stoic the entire time. No questions were asked. Finally, she was done. I was already putting my sun block on to hit the pool. We were at the presentation with another couple. (Not my brother) When the lady walked away for us to consider it for a moment, we were ready to bolt. The other couple started talking about the deal, and how it really was a good one. They discussed the ins and outs of time and how this would save time and money, and how awesome it was that you could pass this down to your beneficiaries. The hubs squeezed my hand because he knew we hit the jackpot coming to this with the other couple. They were going to be the sorry suckers that ended up with a mortgage on “property” they could never really own. At this point, I am pretty sure I had already put my bikini on. In my mind, we were already out the door! BOOM SHAKALAKA!!!

The lady returns and the other couple open their mouths to speak. This is it! Here is out ticket out the door!! AHHHH!!! The suspense is killing me! We started to stand up only to quickly realize, the other couple quickly shot out their reasons for why this was not for them and threw in there that it was something more suited to a couple of our age. They were asked to sign a piece of paper quickly and they were out the door. We sat there stunned. We knew that our 90 minutes were about to turn into 90 hours. FML. That is all I could think over and over. And there we sat. Like deer in headlights. What are we going to do now!? My husband looks at me, and I politely say something about not being interested and that we won’t travel enough to make it worthwhile etc. I figured if they got to leave that easily so should we. Right? Wrong!!!

To keep you from feeling as awful as we did as we sat there for 3 more hours, I will spare you the info about how many times she left and came back and how many different managers with different deals we saw. After 3 hours, they finally broke us. We couldn’t take it any longer. I have not met a salesman in my life with such determination to bully a customer to the point of pure torture. This was brutal, and we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and all we had to do was sign a few pieces of paper. These signatures guaranteed us that we would have a week’s vacation in a 1 bedroom villa at a Westgate resort of our choosing. In addition we would have 3 getaways that we would have to pay for but the cost would be significantly reduced. We didn’t want this. We didn’t need this. BUT we wanted to be done with this never-ending presentation, and to be done and not get screwed into paying more for the room we were already in, we had to have their permission to leave. And so we signed.

Fast forward to September 2015. We call to book our week’s vacation. WOOT! We were going to Disney anyway, and so we were just going to add a week to our trip. We figured, what the hell, why not!? Eager and excited I called Westgate and the cold voice on the other end of the table quickly turned that eager and excitement into anger and frustration. “I’m sorry ma’am there is no inventory for the week you are requesting.” To which I tell her I just looked online and there was plenty of “inventory.” “I’m sorry ma’am that is not the same inventory.” So, same resort, but it’s different inventory?? “Yes ma’am.” Fine! Whatever!

Fast Forward January 2016. With the same emotions as before, I call to book for my daughter’s spring break week. “I’m sorry ma’am if you want to travel that week, it will be an additional $200 because that is a peak season week.” OMG!! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!?!?!?! I am already paying an outrageous amount of money for this, and because I hate parting with our savings money, we of course “financed” this little ordeal at 17.99% so they were already raping us on that and now they wanted $200 more dollars. This time I was hot! I demanded to speak to a manager. She came back online to tell me that a manager was too busy to talk to me but that they agreed to put us up in a studio for no extra cost. Well, little did she know that despite getting scammed into this arrangement in a moment of pure desperation and weakness, I am no idiot. So I say to her that the only reason they will accommodate this is because that is a lesser room which would cost less money anyway and so I am in no way winning here and that is unacceptable. After about 10 more minutes of back and forth, her manager is all of the sudden available and he offers to share the $200 cost with me by splitting it 50/50. I am still not thrilled with this arrangement and so I tell him I will think about it and get back with him.

And so here we sit with a week’s vacation that we have already paid $900 for, and a decision to make. This should have been a no-brainer. We paid for a week of vacation, and yet twice when we have tried to use said week, we were shut down in one way or another. Take heed my friends, and do not ever go to a Westgate resort for vacation or any kind of time share presentation. You will be scammed, and then you will be sitting at your kitchen counter weighing the options of what to do.

Option 1: Go to Orlando! Woot! Disney World!

Pros:

  • It would be just me and the hubs since we refuse to pay an additional $200 for the week of spring break and we can’t take the bean out of school again
  • Mickey Mouse! Drinking around the world at Epcot! Mickey Mouse!
  • Warm weather while it is cold back home!
  • Cheap Flight
  • Room’s paid for already

Cons:

  • We wouldn’t be taking the kiddos and I feel bad leaving them behind while we go to the most magical place on earth!
  • Tickets alone will $650 for 4 days of park, which is an expense we won’t have going somewhere other than Orlando
  • Really, that is it. No kids and more $$$
  • Once you’ve been on Disney property, nothing else can compare. We feel like this would not be nearly as magical as our last vacation.

Option 2: Go to another Westgate property

Pros:

  • Much less money. Right out of the gate we save $650
  • A more relaxing vacation

Cons:

  • It’s not Disney!
  • The flights are double so that $650 savings, gets cut down to$350
  • The other resorts get terrible reviews
  • We can’t seem to get too excited about the other options

Option 3: Eat the $900 loss and take it as an expensive lesson learned.

This is my least favorite idea, but it is a strong contender. I would hate to have lost this money, but we are trying to change our lives. We are trying to pay off this student loan debt sooner rather than later. We could take the $2000 and plop it down on one of those bad boys and call it a day, but I am so hung up on what we are losing. $900!!! That is a lot of money to part with. The practices that Westgate participates in should be illegal. It’s a form of false imprisonment! 🙂 They promise only 90 minutes, but then keep you captive for hours on end. I researched reviews on several of their properties and this was a recurring theme among them. While I don’t know what we will do just yet, and we are open to comments and suggestions, I do know that this will be our last interaction with Westgate ever. I urge you all to steer clear of this scam machine! If you’re looking for a timeshare to consider, I’d recommend Disney or Blue Green. I have heard great things about Disney and I have personally experienced Blue Green. We told them “no” a couple of times and that was that. We were allowed to leave with no restrictions or specials deals to sign.

I will keep you all updated as we come to a final decision! Much love my friends!

2016 Money Saving Challenge

The 2016 Money Saving Challenge

Christmas time is here…ok, well actually its over now, but let me ask you a question. Are you still reeling from guilt over how much you spent on Christmas? Maybe you are maybe you aren’t, but I think we can all agree that Christmas can be damn expensive. 2015 was the first year I didn’t fret as we were racking up the charges because I had secretly over-prepared us for the spending all year long. How you may ask? By taking part in a savings challenge.

I liked the idea of the 52 week savings challenge that basically had me putting away the same # of dollars for the week that we were in the year. So week 5 for example, required a $5 contribution. Week 35, a $35 contribution. This was a lot of fun! I know that sounds bizarre, but I love saving money! I especially love it when I can put away $2 in week two and know by the end of my challenge I will have saved $1,378!! My goal for this money was simple and straightforward: Christmas Money!

I have grown tired of putting off saving specifically for Christmas just to feel super guilty when we would pay for Christmas out of our main savings accounts. To me, that money was money I acted as if we didn’t even have. That is rainy day money. That is the car broke down money, the heater went out money, the kids broke a leg money…the list goes on, but it definitely was not spending an absurd amount on Christmas gifts money. (which I will blog about in another post shortly) So it pained me to pull it from there, which took a little bit of the magic out of Christmas for me, but this past Christmas was totally different.

I actually enjoyed the shopping process in 2015, and we actually spent less than we had in years past. Go figure. Spending money is very psychological. In years past, I was basically telling myself “no”, and if you know me at all, you know that I don’t take “no” for answer very well at all. This year, I had a budget of $1,378. Plenty of money to have a stellar Christmas, but what I found myself doing this year, was looking for quality gifts that would bring joy to the recipient. Years past were definitely more about quantity than quality. In my mind I was buying little things here and there and without even realizing it, I was spending way more $$$$ on “Chinese junk” as my husband refers to it. So this created two problems. First it created a hit to our savings account that I didn’t really care to see, and second it left us with a bunch of small broken toys that didn’t make it through Christmas dessert. Well, lesson learned my friends, and so 2016 will be yet another year we take on the money challenge! If you want to play, let me know! I’d love to be your weekly savings cheerleader and keep you motivated! Small changes add up to huge savings. ****Please note, we did not spend that much on Christmas and that budget was for everyone. (kids, parents, teachers, nieces, nephews, etc.) I say that I had a budget of that amount knowing that if I spent that much, I wouldn’t be out anything from our real savings account, but I wouldn’t say I ever had intentions of spending all of that.

Week No. Deposit Amount Total Balance
Week 1 $1.00 $1.00
Week 2 $2.00 $3.00
Week 3 $3.00 $6.00
Week 4 $4.00 $10.00
Week 5 $5.00 $15.00
Week 6 $6.00 $21.00
Week 7 $7.00 $28.00
Week 8 $8.00 $36.00
Week 9 $9.00 $45.00
Week 10 $10.00 $55.00
Week 11 $11.00 $66.00
Week 12 $12.00 $78.00
Week 13 $13.00 $91.00
Week 14 $14.00 $105.00
Week 15 $15.00 $120.00
Week 16 $16.00 $136.00
Week 17 $17.00 $153.00
Week 18 $18.00 $171.00
Week 19 $19.00 $190.00
Week 20 $20.00 $210.00
Week 21 $21.00 $231.00
Week 22 $22.00 $253.00
Week 23 $23.00 $276.00
Week 24 $24.00 $300.00
Week 25 $25.00 $325.00
Week 26 $26.00 $351.00
Week 27 $27.00 $378.00
Week 28 $28.00 $406.00
Week 29 $29.00 $435.00
Week 30 $30.00 $465.00
Week 31 $31.00 $496.00
Week 32 $32.00 $528.00
Week 33 $33.00 $561.00
Week 34 $34.00 $595.00
Week 35 $35.00 $630.00
Week 36 $36.00 $666.00
Week 37 $37.00 $703.00
Week 38 $38.00 $741.00
Week 39 $39.00 $780.00
Week 40 $40.00 $820.00
Week 41 $41.00 $861.00
Week 42 $42.00 $903.00
Week 43 $43.00 $946.00
Week 44 $44.00 $990.00
Week 45 $45.00 $1,035.00
Week 46 $46.00 $1,081.00
Week 47 $47.00 $1,128.00
Week 48 $48.00 $1,176.00
Week 49 $49.00 $1,225.00
Week 50 $50.00 $1,275.00
Week 51 $51.00 $1,326.00
Week 52 $52.00 $1,378.00

 

4 Ways to Make the Money Savings Challenge Successful

Money Savings Challenge Part 2

In my previous post, I shared why I took the money challenge in 2015. I am going to share how I did it to be successful, and some various ways you can too. Saving money is very similar to losing weight, and what works for me may not work for you. So read on for some tips and tricks to be successful!

  1. Set it and Forget it!

    One of the more frustrating parts of this process for me was that I could not just tell my online banking what to do with a quick click of the button. Instead I had to set up each week’s savings plan individually. I essentially did them one month at a time until it was over. You may be thinking that sounds tedious, and it was. For me though, I liked seeing it pop out of my account each week. It helped me to skip a lunch out to eat that week or forgo one or two of my weekly Starbuck’s treats. I needed to see the weekly step up in my savings account to keep myself motivated.

 

  1. Monthly Payments:

    You may find that you don’t need the weekly motivation. If that is the case, you could easily go into you online banking account and set up a monthly transfer. There would be some leg work in that you would have to calculate how much you would need for each month, but that wouldn’t take that much effort my friends. If you started with $100 per month and then increased it by $5 each month, you will hit $1530 by December.

 

  1. Physically Marking it Off:

    Some people like the idea of lists and checking things off as they happen. This gives you more freedom in your plan than step one. You could print off the entire year, and as you come into money each week, make a certain payment and then mark it off. So maybe you got a bonus on a paycheck that you weren’t expecting and it is only week 10, well rather than pay $10 that week, you pay $52 and mark that payment off of your list. Maybe you sell an item on ebay, and you want to pay $35 in week 7, by all means, GO FOR IT! Cross it off and move on to the next week. I could see how this might be a fun way to get some of the big payments out of the way early on. For me, I like the weekly payouts.

 

  1. Get a Savings Buddy:

    There is nothing better than having an accountability partner to keep you on track! Maybe it’s a friend or even your spouse. It doesn’t matter who it is, but it does matter that they are on board with you and are willing to push you when you want to give up. Maybe you and a friend could make a competition out of it. Set the goal and if you each hit your goal, you go out for a meal together, but if only one of you hits it, the other must dip into their savings and pony up for the whole meal. Or pedicures, manicures, drinks…whatever trips your trigger.

 

  1. Sell Your Stuff:

    If you’re being honest with yourself, you know that you are sitting on a bunch of crap you DO NOT NEED and likely aren’t even using. Have you ever heard the Goodwill commercial that tells you to turn all your hangers around and each time you wear something turn it the other way so that at the end of the year you can donate anything on hangers that are facing the wrong way? Well, yeah…first off this assumes that I have a somewhat organized closet, which I don’t, and second off it assumes that I am not already aware of the fact that I have clothes from high school that “I am going to fit into when I lose a few pounds…ok like 50 pounds. When I lose 50 pounds I am totally going to sport my letterman’s jacket again.” NOT! Goodwill, I already know what I can and should donate, but I am on a mission and so I must sell these items myself. And after taking a peek in your back room, I don’t think you are going to miss out if I don’t donate this year. Ebay, Craigslist, and Garage Sale sites on Facebook are great ways to unload your crap onto someone else who probably doesn’t need it either, but hey, they are not committed to becoming financially fit like you are and so…the jokes on them! Your closet will be slimmer and your bank account fatter. Win-Win!

 

These are just a few ways that you could take the 52 Week Money Challenge, but there are countless ways to make small changes to yield big results. I will continue to focus on how to get on track to a healthy savings account, but one thing I really want you all to take away from these last two posts is that saving money is vital to your financial well-being. I know some of you reading this may be thinking to yourself, “how can I save money when I am already living paycheck to paycheck.” I have been in those shoes, trust me, but to that I would say that if you were to really examine where your money is going, you might be surprised at how you are unnecessarily stressing yourself out by not being in control of your money. Is your money ruling you or are you ruling your money? Do you know where every dollar is going before you even pocket it? If the answer is “no”, I bet we can find some money in your monthly budget to save. Don’t become a debt victim because you didn’t prepare for an emergency. One bump in the road can set you back significantly if you aren’t prepared for it, and that is the last thing I want any of you to experience.

So tell me, what are you doing in 2016 to fatten that savings account?? Comment below!

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5 Things We Are Giving Up (temporarily) To Reach Our Goals

In my last post, I spoke about living life intentionally. That may seem like a bizarre concept, but when we get to the root of our troubles, we may think we are doing everything to fix the situation, when in reality we are just stalling the situation. If we don’t set out a plan that has intentional behaviors, we are doomed to fail. Case in point: “I want to lose weight.” Ok, great. That sounds like an awesome goal, but what are you going to DO to lose weight. “Well, I am going to eat better.” Ok, awesome. What the hell does that mean? That is not being intentional. That is letting life live you when you should be the one in control. A more intentional approach would be to say that you are going to invest in a meal planning service like emeals.com and grocery shop every Saturday and then do all meal prep on Sunday. You are now in control so that when 3pm on Wednesday afternoon rolls around and you are starved you know that your dinner has already been planned and you won’t cave into eating out that night wasting both money and precious calories. Intentional living isn’t just saying what you want. It is dreaming, planning, and then doing.

I mentioned that I would do something with intent each day this year, and so far I have not failed. I said that I would do at least one thing every day to support my goals mentioned in my previous post, and I have. Now I am going to dive in more to really become intent on meeting those goals this year. And with that, I am going to share with you the 5 things I am going to give up right away to make my ultimate dream of working for myself from anywhere in the world a reality.

1.Starbucks

I shutter at the thought of this. I love Starbucks. I live for Starbucks. I didn’t give two shits that the cup wasn’t decorated with snowmen or snowballs or anything Christmas related. All I cared about was the crack cocaine they put in there to get my daily fix. I don’t bat an eye when the beautiful people at my local SB say “that’ll be $5 (and some change)” To me, it is worth every cent…well, it was to the old me. To the new, intentional focused me, it is one of the barriers between me and my life goals, and it has to go. In your mind, you may be thinking a $5 cup of coffee (or insert any other small habit like smoking, fast food, lottery tickets) is no big deal, but let me put it into perspective for you. Let’s say you spend $5 a pop just three times per week. That is a total of $780 a year. That is a hotel stay for a week at Disney if you know how to do it right or even a week long cruise. That is a lot of money for something that I do not need to survive.

The Fix:

Keep K-Cups and hot tea bags on hand for my midafternoon fix and take my Starbuck’s Verismo machine to work for days when I really want a latte. Savings: $619.20 per year and that assumes one K-Cup per day for every working day of the month.

 

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2.  Impromptu Eating Out

It is silly to think that we will Never Ever go out to eat. We love food, and we love experiencing new food at cool restaurants. We love having a server take care of us and a chef prepare for us. We are those people that see food as an experience not just fuel for our bodies. The issue that we have is the impromptu eating out. The “ugh we have nothing set out for dinner and I have zero desire to try to think of something so lets order pizza or Chinese or better yet lets go spend $75 or more at Buffalo Wild Wings.” Every time this happens, I feel like a big suckfest after. Not only did we just blow money that we didn’t need to, but I put a bunch of garbage in my body that will no doubt wake me up a 3 a.m. for a violent pukefest. WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?? It has to stop. We spend on average $200 a month on going out to eat. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT!?!?!?! Absolutely insane. I know of bloggers who feed their families of four on less than that for a whole month’s worth of meals. (breakfast, lunch, and dinner!)

The Fix:

We have established a year’s worth of meals by signing up for E-meals. This should avoid any issue with meal plans so we will always have a plan for dinner. This doesn’t solve the problem with impromptu eating out entirely so we are also going to keep a stock of things on hand like pepperoni, Italian sausage, English muffins, rice, frozen peas and carrots etc in order to whip up a quick, homemade version of some of our favorite out-t0-eat meals like pizza and fried rice when we are feeling less than prepared for dinner or less than eager to cook or eat what we have planned. Savings: leaning toward the safe side I can say this will save us $2000 per year or more. Holy cow!! Writing that number out just sent shivers through my body. How have we been ok with this for so long!? Well, I can’t change the past, but I most certainly can learn from it. Moving forward this will stop!

Who's Looking So Dapper? So Dapper!

3. Deals of the Day!

If you are an American person, you have no doubt went to a retailer to buy something and they so innocently asked you if you would like to give your email for specials coupons and savings and you of course agreed. Next thing you know, you have 500 emails a day coming out of your ass with the BEST DEAL EVVVAAHHHHH! I mean, seriously, every day Bath and Body sends me the “deal of a lifetime,” and they are so good at making it feel so urgent that you get this deal or you will be the only loser in the world who missed out on such an epic deal. Spending money on things is psychological for me. I love the thrill of a good deal, but like my friend, Perry, always says “just because a Cadillac is on sale doesn’t mean you go buy one.” I used to think this was the dumbest apples to oranges argument ever. My $30 candle purchase isn’t the same as buying a $40,000 car, but in a way it is. There are probably months where my impromptu spending to get such an awesome deal would total the payment on a Cadillac. The point is just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you NEED it. In fact, you likely don’t need it as a need is something you must have to avoid death or injury or something to maintain your well-being. While my candle obsession soothes my soul, I cant really say it is keeping me from death or harm. In fact, in the grand scheme of things it is actually harming me…my future me. The me that day dreams of working remotely from anywhere in the world.

The Fix:

It’s hard to say that there is really a fix other than self-restraint, but there is a way I can help myself avoid temptation. I can either spend hours upon hours unsubscribing to emails or I can simply start a new email account. This will be the account that is for me and important things and absolutely no retailers whatsoever. I have read about people who didn’t buy anything they didn’t need for an entire year. I don’t know that I am honestly at that level yet, but maybe in 2017? What I am ready for is to really assess any purchase and prior to pulling out the plastic, talking about every purchase with the hubs. This is going to be hard. I love to buy things, and while my purchases are never secret, I will say I probably buy more than he realizes. (Sorry babe!) So this accountability measure should help us keep things in check.

4. My Social Life

This is the one I am dreading the most. It seems that we always have something going on that involves a night out paying for food and drink. We have a lot of super talented friends which has us taking in live theatre quite often, which again includes dinner and drinks before and again after the show. Add that to the birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays and our social life is quite active and I love it! But it is too active. We have to start saying “no” more often or opting to invite people over to hang out versus going out on the town, and since not everyone is on the same journey I cant expect people to embrace our new fondness for bottled beer versus draught. I have to remind myself that this is temporary and hope that our beautiful and talented friends understand that we are on  a path to better our situation. The hubs and I have talked at length about how we do not want to retire to a life that is anything less than full of adventure, and that we in fact don’t want to wait until retirement for adventure to begin. “Adventure is out there!” – Russell from UP.  And we are ready for it!

The Fix:

Since we can only control what we do, we have to get creative to somewhat keep up with our friends. We will have a monthly budget. I can’t say exactly what that budget will be since the hubs and I have yet to discuss it, but I am thinking somewhere around $100-200 a month. This will be our entire entertainment budget for the month, and if something big is coming up, we will have to save our dollars from a few months to be able to go. It is really going to depend on our income, (which mine fluctuates) and what I think we can realistically spare while not deviating from our main plan. I am not going to extremes here. I am much too free-spirited to restrict ourselves to absolutely nothing. Maybe I will get that zealous about it at some point, but for the time being I am just trying to strike a healthy balance…well a balance that leans a lot more toward sacrifice to better our situation than living life to the fullest now, but one that still allows for a little fun. Also, we will be discussing every outing before giving someone the ok that we are in it to win it. I often sign us up for things and the hubs just goes with the flow. I think involving him prior to approval will really help us evaluate what we truly want to spend our money on. I will also get creative by keeping an eye out for promo nights that the theatres may offer and we will not make it a whole dinner and a show situation. He is an amazing cook. There is no reason to go pay for a mediocre meal somewhere when we can have an awesome meal for a quarter of the price. (or less) Savings: I really don’t know how to assess this one other than trying to piece together every charge on my card from last year. On average, these outings run upwards of $80 and usually surpass $100. If I averaged it out, these probably happen twice per month so potential savings of $1200 or more per year.

Franklin   Party

Lots of fun to be had!

5. Laziness

This one is really more of a theme or subcategory of some of the things mentioned above, but I think it is important to discuss here. I am a working mother. One who works a lot more than 40 hours per week. This isn’t necessarily required of me at my job, but in my line of work it just seems there are never enough hours in the day so I find myself working more than the typical 40. I skip my lunch breaks and sneak out for 15 minutes to grab a snack and a coffee just to get right back to my desk. I come home and the kiddos need my full attention and the house is chaotic with getting dinner ready and cleaning up the house and bath time and story time and so on and so forth. It feels very stressful most nights from 6pm to 9pm, and so once the kiddos are in bed, I too am ready for bed. This leads to sending the bean (our daughter) to school with lunch money rather than a nutritious packed lunch. It leads to mommy not eating breakfast or taking a lunch, which leads to unnecessary spending later in the day, which isn’t good for our pocketbook or my waistline. Laziness leads to random grocery trips just buying whatever whether it is on sale or not, which leads to overspending on groceries. Laziness leads to eating out. Laziness leads to a house full of clutter because “I am going to sell this on Ebay!” and that never happens so I have boxes of crap just taking up space. Laziness is the reason I don’t make our own laundry detergent, cleaning products, and beauty products. I tell myself I have the right to be lazy with these things because I work all day, but it is costing me money in the future and it is costing me the future I dream of.

The Fix:

I can’t realistically tackle all of these issues in one day, but I can start somewhere and be patient with progress. I will start with the Bean’s lunch. She has been begging for homemade lunches, and so this will kill two birds with one stone. She will be happy because she gets to rock her Anna and Elsa lunch box to school and it saves us money. It also means I know she will not be eating garbage at school. Thumbs up all around!

I know you may have been expecting this article to be about things we are cutting that are obvious, and you may be wondering why I am not cutting cable or internet or my fancy cell phone, and there is reason for that. We haven’t paid for cable since 2013, and we actually can’t get the internet where we live, which don’t even get me started about. It is 20-freaking16 and we can’t get the internet!!!!???? We don’t live in the hinterlands so why that is the case is beyond me, but anyway…that’s not what this post is about. In reality, we don’t have many things like that we can cut, because we are already doing without. Our cellphones are our only source of internet, which I need to have on my phone for work and for our side business venture with Amazon. Otherwise the items mentioned above are our splurge items that we must get under control. Do you remember reading that we will save at least $2000 per year in eating out expenses!?!?!?! Yeah, that’s cray cray! (Love you, Monkey) The hubs hates the phrase “cray cray” and since I am 32 I probably should stop. So anyway, the things that most people give up, we don’t have the luxury of giving up because we already gave them up years ago. (cable, internet, gym memberships and other monthly subscriptions, etc) So I had to look at where our money was going, and it is all going on frivolous spending that comes from a lack of planning. Our life was ruling us and our money, but not this year and not ever again. We bring home the bacon, and it is up to us to make sure that we are the only ones cooking it.

In closing, the main thing to take from this post, is that you must be proactive to get the things you want out of life. It was so easy to wake up on Jan 1 of this year and reflect on all I didn’t do last year to better our situation and react. It won’t be as easy to proactively seek solutions, but I am starting. As a little pat on my back, this morning I was unprepared for the day from a food standpoint. Last year, I would have thought “oh screw it, I will pick something up. I can get a good deal at the local sandwich shop today since it’s Monday.” But I didn’t do that today. I grabbed the leftover potatoes from dinner on Saturday and an avocado, and that was my lunch. It was satisfying and quick and didn’t cost me anymore than we already paid for the potatoes and avocado. Little changes add up my friends.

What little changes can you make today to make a big difference in your tomorrow?

 

Living with Intent

living-with-intention

Do you ever feel like you are constantly caught up in the trivial, mundane garbage of the day in and day out? Do you ever say to yourself, “there must be more than this”? The days pass, the weeks go by, the months drift away, and then you wake up on New Year’s Day of 2016 and reflect on the year only to think “what the hell did I do in the past year that meant anything”? Well, if you find yourself in these predicaments, I say to you, “what are you doing to change your life?” I will bet the answer is nothing or possibly that you constantly think about ways to change your life yet nothing ever comes to fruition. Why am I so certain of this? Because I am in the exact same sinking ship with you.

Life goes by, and I think tomorrow I will be better. Tomorrow I will live with intention. Tomorrow I will be more productive in life to get the things I want out of life. The thing about tomorrow, my friends is that it never really comes. Tomorrow is an infinite idea, and so I challenge you to take the bull by the horns and do it today. I don’t know what your “it” is, but get out there and do it.

How? I am sure this is the question you ask yourself over and over. How can I change my life or my situation? Maybe your buried in debt, maybe your marriage is falling apart, maybe you’ve been forever single and looking for the right person, maybe you hate your job, maybe you have no patience for your kids, maybe you want to travel the world, maybe you want to feed the poor or clothe the homeless, maybe….there are countless maybe’s out there, and only few of them will ever turn into realities. Do you want to be the person who is forever wishing on a maybe or do you want to be the person that everyone envies because YOU turned your maybe into a reality?

I want to be the latter of the two, and what I have realized in the last few weeks is that I am not living with intent. I am letting life just happen to me with the hopes that I might win the lottery or that Sallie Mae’s records will be hacked and they will lose all the proof that I owe them a dime. Well, I don’t play the lottery, and I am sure that Sallie will never lose her records. So that means that it is up to me, and only me to change my life, and the only way to do that is to BE intentional in everything that I do.

You have to figure out what it is that you want, and then take the steps to get there. They are not easy steps. The last thing I want to do after I have worked all day and dealt with the kiddos all night is work more. I want to sit and veg out on reruns of Game of Thrones or play the Frozen game on my phone. I want to do things that take absolutely zero brain cells to complete, but let’s take a look at what that is getting me…..NOTHING. I am no closer to paying off my student loans, I am no closer to owning my own business, I am no closer to being able to quit my job and try my hand at acting etc. I am closer to being a robot that just falls in line with society and all its rules. I can assure you that is NOT what I want, yet I have become so complacent with the idea of this life. WHY!?!? Because it is easy. It is easy to follow the road that is heavily travelled. There are footprints to follow and convenient stops for beer along the way, and at the end of the road is retirement. YAY! Right? WRONG!

We are not guaranteed tomorrow, so why do we fall in line so easily by the dream of retirement? We work our lives away making the rich richer with the hope that we will survive to full retirement age to collect our social security and our 401k money. I am ok with the idea of delayed gratification, but DAMN! That’s a long wait. And in the meantime, I have just become a shell of a person going through the motions. I don’t think I will even know myself by the time I retire if I continue on this path, and I refuse that as my future.

So here are some of my maybe’s, and my goal for 2016 is not to lose weight or be a nicer person or any of the other cliché resolutions, but rather to live with intent. To live my life rather than let life live me. I am taking the plane off of autopilot and while it’s going to be a difficult and bumpy ride, I am prepared for whatever blows my way. Are you ready? If you are, I say to you: Let’s freaking do this!

My Maybe’s:

  • Pay off 25% of our debt this year
  • How?

*Get my blog up and running

*Start a side business with the hubs selling on Amazon (FBA Seller)

*Sell the massive amount of things we do not need or use online

*Plan all meals so we don’t end up eating out randomly

*Be incredibly productive at work making the most of every opportunity that comes my way.

  • The Blog – Make it successful
  • How?

*Do at least one thing every day that involves my blog

*Post at least one post per week

*Figure out how the Hell people make money blogging

*Patience with progress

*Learn Twitter and Instagram to use them to support the blog

  • Amazon FBA Business with the Hubs
  • How/Goal?

*RESEARCH!

*Get a product created and begin selling

*Make $1000 in profit monthly within 6 months

  • Long Term Goal: Become a business owner that can work from anywhere in the world and begin to take advantage of that by travelling the world.
  • I will blog more about this in a separate post.  🙂

This already feels overwhelming, but here is my promise to myself and to you. Each day doesn’t have to be some huge task, but each day must be lived with intention. I am not saying that I will never veg out with Game of Thrones, but what I am saying that every day, even if it is the most miniscule of tasks, I will do something to turn my maybe’s into my realities. We can do this my friends. Define what you want. Define how to get there. And most important do it. Every day. Even on days when you want to curl up in your bed and do absolutely nothing, I encourage you to fight that feeling and DO SOMETHING. The only difference between you and the people living the life you want is the persistence and effort to live with intention. Make a plan and execute it!

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

Dream. Plan. Do.