Monday, January 31, 2011


I've posted before about wanting to master this couponing thing. I'm not sure I'll ever be a "master", but hopefully I'll be better soon. I've been trying to be better about bringing coupons for things that I know I'm buying and it has helped, but now I'm trying to step it up a bit and get serious about stacking coupons and savings, we'll see how it goes. I'm heading to the store today with a stack of coupons and a plan, we'll see how it goes. I'll be sure to let you know if any of my efforts paid off or not!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Reading any good books?

I've noticed that in the last several years, probably since college, I slowly stopped reading for fun. Life got in the way of that pleasure. Between home, job, kids and everything else--reading got pushed out. On the other hand, though, I was watching a lot more TV. It seemed like I was up to date on all the latest shows and knew what was on each of the network channels. It turns out that a bunch of nonsense, depressing junk was on! Shows that were about murders, kidnapping and other horrible things happening to people or the 'light-hearted' shows that were all about back bitting, lying, hurting people and rejection. Slowly I started losing interest in hearing about and watching all the awful things people do to each other and suddenly I had a lot more time on my hands! Turns out you can do a lot more productive things when you're not stuck in front of a TV. :) We've enjoyed a lot more family time and I've enjoyed a lot more alone time and down time for myself. Now I can't wait to get to my book on the nightstand while the kids are napping or once they've gone to bed. I haven't even noticed that I'm missing something "good" on TV.

Do you have time to read? It's such a great habit and relaxing! I've loved finding books that are uplifting, full of life skills and teachings and good reminders of how to treat people I'm in relationship with.

What books are you reading?

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I've always been interested in learning skills that our grandmothers and their mothers way of life. Things like knitting, sewing, cooking from scratch, gardening and all sorts of things that was necessary during their  lifetimes. The sad part is that for us they've become some what of a lost art. I'm excited to see that there are people in our generation who are wanting to learn these skills again. Anyway, last year a couple ladies from our church taught a large group of us the basics to knitting and we made scarfs. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then, this year hats have been totally in season and in style, especially for little girls. So I thought I'd learn how to make some for my daughter. So, I called up my friend and asked for some more lessons! :) Here is the final result from my first knit hat:

I have several different style and colored flowers that I put on clips and will change them out to match her outfit. I figured that would be easier then knitting a billion hats! ;) I have totally fallen in love with this new hobby though and am currently working on a thinner white one and a multi-colored hat for her. I've already had a few adult requests too! ;) I've really enjoyed this aspect of learning new skills and finding our way to doing things the 'old fashion' (simple life) way. 

This hat would've cost me about $20, but I made it for about $2! :) And that doesn't even include the skill I've gained.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bulk Meat

One of the ways we've kept our grocery budget low is to buy our meats in bulk. There are a lot of resources available for ways to get your meat fresh from farmers in large quantities. As I've shared on here before we've found farmers in our area that sell grass fed, hormone and antibiotic-free beef, pork and chicken.  They also sell milk and eggs too. We've opted to use different farmers for each kind because of the benefits we've found that way. Anyway, we order our fresh, natural chicken in 40lb boxes. Last year our box lasted us about 11 months. This month I ordered again and I'm hoping it'll last us about the same length of time. So for $79 I'll have nearly a year's worth of chicken. That ends up being around $7 per month if you average it out. It's much less then what I'd be spending each month on a large pack of chicken, plus it's so convenient to have it on hand. 

So yesterday was pick up day and I spent about an hour and a half preparing all my chicken.

I like to package it by serving size, so most bags have 2 large breasts in them because typically that's what our family can eat. If there are really large breasts, which there were, then I'll just put one in each package. One of the things I do to simplify my dinner preparations later in the year is to pre season and marinate some of the breasts before freezing them. Yesterday I seasoned enough for about 10-15 meals worth and left the rest plain. 

I know that seasoning really doesn't take that much time, but one of the main benefits I've found to having some meat pre-seasoned is that you don't have to thaw it before cooking it. You can literally go from freezer to oven/grill to table. :) It will only take about 30 minutes for your chicken to go from freezer to this: 
And, it saves the "what should I do with this chicken?" question too! :) 

I did also chop some of them into chunks for easier preparation too. I have about 5 bags worth of chopped chicken, all unseasoned, so they can be easily used for pastas, fajitas, soups, and casseroles. 

One less step on a busy evening! 

**To local readers: if you're interested in the finding out about the local farmers that will sell bulk meat, please let me know. I'd love to pass on some information to you.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I've been reading a book by Lisa Bevere called Nuture. In it she brought up a topic that has been addressed by several other women, both in formal ways and in informal ways.  The isssue? Competition, jealousy, lack of support, judgmental opinions between women.  It's not something we think about all the time, but it affects us all. Here is an example most relevant to my current situation and one that if seen played out. The judgments going on between stay at home moms and working moms. There are thoughts that working moms are choosing a job or money over their kids. Then on the other side there are opinions that stay at home moms sit around and do nothing all day, watching TV or going to coffee with girlfriends. The sad part is that most of the opinions come from other women. We are very judgmental and harsh toward each other and the choices we've had to make for our families. Why can't we be a source of encouragement to each other's situations? Can't we learn from each other and benefit from our different experiences?

There is a quote from Lisa's book that struck me and prompted this post. She explains a scene of young girls that performed at their high school with an audience filled with mostly young girls. These poor girls performed and didn't receive applause from their peers, because even as girls, we've never known how to support each other. We don't clap for each other.  Here are Lisa's words, "Sisters, we need to start clapping for one another! Mothers need to clap for daughters. Mothers need to applaud each other. Daughters need to lend some props to their  mothers. Daughters need to cheer for each other. Everyone needs to clap for their grandmothers! Why do we want to withhold support from each other? Are we that threatened and insecure?"

Can we be the generation that turns this around? That stands up and encourages each other. That teaches our daughters to applaud for their friends and peers. That models what it means to be real girlfriends.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cosmetic Savings

I'm learning a lot from the LearnVest emails, so you get to too! :) Today was all about cosmetics and saving money on make up. Apparently women are spending about $3,100 a year on all things beautifying & age reversing. First of all they, like many other sources, point out that the designer makeups perform just as well as the cheaper brands, at least for most people. 

Then they gave some alternatives to use and skip the chemical filled, over priced products. 

You can replace...
Make up remover
Baby Oil
Body Lotion
Coconut Oil
Shaving Cream
Coconut Oil
Hot Oil Treatment for Hair
Coconut Oil
Teeth Whitener
Baking Soda

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dave Ramsey Wisdom

Here are some of my favorite things I pulled off of Dave Ramsey's latest facebook status updates:

"When budgeting/working on your plan...if you get off track, get back on. Don’t give up. Like a flat tire-you fix it & move on, you don’t poke holes in the rest of your tires!"

"Possibly the greatest waste in life is the gap between what you are and what you could become." ~Zig Ziglar

"Never co-sign...EVER." ~Dave Ramsey

These two made me think...

"At least half the domestic disturbance calls we get, the core problem is money. ~Police Officer that just called the show" 

"A new Forbes survey finds that 1/3 of Americans admit lying to their spouses about money & 58% of those said they've "hidden" cash."

I never want to be one of those couples. Talking about money is always better then lying and violence. One thing we've learned through this process is that coming together and working toward the same goals, makes us a stronger and better couple, even if facing the facts and truth is at times painful! 

And this....

"About 80% of all vacations are completely charged and the average cost of a vacation is $3,155". – Third Age Survey

Yikes! Imagine how much people end up paying after all the interest and fees are added to that total. I'd prefer a cheaper, paid for in cash, stress free spending vacation then whatever anyone does for $3,155!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shopping for clothes?

I know us girls and our love cute clothes, new fads and styles! I got this email from the LearnVest bootcamp and thought it was a fun one to share. 

I've also discovered that one of the best ways to update your wardrobe without spending a lot of money to keep the basics and then add the "fun". 

Here is my "clothing philosophy": 
*Always have the basics for each season.
My "basics" include:
-neutral colored tops appropriate for the every season. I have tops in different styles (button-up, turtleneck or sweater, tank tops, t shirts) in the following colors: white, black & brown.
-neutral bottoms for each season too. I always have different styled bottoms (skirts, pants, shorts) in the following colors too: jean, black, khaki, brown and sometimes gray. 
* Add style and flair through accessories and a few key "trendy" items. This is the cheapest way to add color and fun to your wardrobe. Once you have your basics all you have to do is add a cute scarf & fun jacket to them in the fall and winter and sparkly jewelry and fun shoes in the summer and spring. The options then become limitless! Of course, I'm just giving you some examples, but all of the accessories can dress up your outfits for every season. Cute hats, a new purse, boots, bold and bright colored shoes, a clunky necklace, leggings or tights. Most of these things can be found for far cheaper then a bunch of new clothes and they are versatile & can be used throughout the years. The other benefit is that your basics last for years because your style changes with your accessories, not your clothes. Of course, I have a few fun seasonal things that aren't "basics" to mix in, but your savings lie in not having to have a full wardrobe of cute things for each season. 

With that being said, here are the tips from LearnVest:

The other suggestion they gave was to consider swapping clothes and accessories with friends, which I've thought of before too! ;) But have never actually done it. They did give the following sites to try too:, and

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Simple Living--A matter of Perspective

I've been thinking the last week or so about what my view/opinion on living simply looks like or is. I've come to the conclusion that simplicity is a matter of perspective. To some living simply may be a lot like it does for me--living within our means, living in a comfortable and modest home, trying to be more "green" in our thinking about our effects on the environment, etc. (You've read all about it, if you've been following all along). But, to others, living simply looks like the picture above--barely surviving, having everything they need for that day and nothing more, a total dependence on others and on God. And then, even to others, it may be living a life that pleases them, doing what they enjoy and being around people they love, buying what they want, living where and how they want. It really is a matter of perspective. 

So the question I've been wondering is, what IS simple living? 

Nothing more to share...just what I've been thinking about. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Soap Refill

While I was at the store shopping for some household items, I did some comparison shopping. I had the soap refill bottle on my list, but while I was there I wanted to see how valuable of a purchase that is. Wow! Is it ever worth it! Here's a little bit of the numbers for you: The cheapest bottle (generic brand) of hand soap, same brand that I was buying and same "kind" was a 7 oz bottle for $0.94, good buy, right? Not so fast...the large refill bottle is 64 oz for $3.84. I did the math and the smaller bottle is two times more expensive per ounce ($0.13 for the smaller bottle compared to $0.06) and you'd have to buy 9 bottles to get the equivalent amount as the larger one. So you'd actually end up spending $8.46 for the same 64 oz. of soap. I'll take the large refill bottle, please! ;)

Not to mention the convenience of having it on hand and just refilling your bottles when necessary. Also, this price comparison was done with the cheapest bottle, imagine how much you could be saving if you've been buying a more expensive brand or from a speciality soap store which could run $5-8 per bottle.

Sidenote: If you love the foam soap I found a great recipe for making it online. I haven't tried it yet, b/c I'm currently satisfied with my refill soap, so I haven't needed to & I don't have the foam bottles. Although, it would make mine last even longer, so maybe I'll try it! ;) Anyway, after finding out that it's basically a little soap and mostly water, I've decided it's a total scam and someone is making millions off of us buying about a tablespoon of soap per bottle. Just thought I'd give you that little warning! ;) So, if you'd like to make some, keep your foam-style-pump bottle and check out this recipe, it'll save you hundreds. The millionaires don't need your money anyway! ;) If you like a little more instruction or ideas of how to get the foam dispensers, try this site.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Meal Update #2

Alright, I promised an update, so here it is! I'm actually very pleased with the quality of meals we were able to pull together this week from what we have on hand. In fact, I'll probably continue this throughout next week, because we have plenty of food here! I'll just get some produce this week and that'll probably be all we'll need to make another week without the store. So exciting! I'm certain my bank account is thrilled too.

I think I mentioned in the last update that we were going to have a roast on Thursday night, which we did and it was pretty good. We even had enough leftovers for another meal. So all the leftovers were put in a ziplock, and laid it flat in the freezer for a future in-a-hurry dinner. It was your typical roast, it was more of a creamy, sauce with cut up roast in it and served over parsley potatoes or buttered noodles, so I'm certain it'll freeze and thaw fine. Not to mention it came from my freezer meals cookbook! ;)

Friday was a pull-things-out-of-my-fridge-into-a-pan kind of meal and it was a hit! These sorts of  meals always have the chance to be an "um, that didn't turn out quite like I imagined it would" or "maybe we shouldn't make this again" kind of response around the table, but not this one. I had an idea of the things I wanted to use and boy it turned out tasty! I even got the "can you write down what you put in this so you can make it again? This is really good!" Comment from the hubby, which is always a great compliment. :) So, maybe some of you would like it too. Of course I have NO measurements because that's not how I roll on these types of meals. You'll just have to guestimate as best you can....

-Noodles, whatever kind you have on hand, I used thin spaghetti

-Olive Oil, just a bit drizzled in the pan
-Italian sausage-I didn't use much, just some leftovers (probably about 1/2 cup, it wasn't the link kind either)
-Chicken-2 small thighs, but anything would work
-Chopped onions (about 1/4 C)
*I let these cook first, while I got the rest of the ingredients gathered
-1/2 a jar of artichoke hearts (it was a small jar) and a little bit of the oil it was in
-1 roma tomato, diced
-Heaving Whipping Cream (maybe 1/4 C??)
*after all that was heated through and the noodles were boiled, I added the drained noodles into the sauce mixer, let it get warm again. I then sprinkled it all with salt and pepper and a little parmesan and dinner was served.

Then, last night we had a light dinner because we had a big lunch and birthday cake that afternoon. So it was chicken nuggets, left over mashed potatoes, applesauce and fruit.

Tonight, I'll be making either a homemade pizza or calzone/Stromboli whichever I'm most in the mood to make. I have frozen bread dough that I'm currently thawing for it. Some of my topics will include several other items found in my freezer like: meatballs (chopped up in smaller pieces), onions & peppers. I'll use my canned marinara and a few fresh veggies like tomatoes and possibly some of the left over jar of artichoke. I might make a couple different choices. :) Ooh...I also have chopped ham too.... the choices are endless, which is exactly why I'll be doing this use-what-we-have again next week! :)

I  LOVE my freezer!! :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ways to Increase your Income

Other then getting a good ol' raise or a new job that pays more then your current position, it may seem really difficult to make any more money. It's especially daunting when both adults are already working full time, the idea of an extra job or two seems nearly impossible. So how can you raise your income? How can you bring home more money in order to get out of debt, short of working evenings and weekends too?

I'd like to suggest a few things that may work for you to increase your paychecks. Keep in mind that I would only recommend these for TEMPORARY circumstances and I'd only do it if you are currently in debt and plan to set things back to normal after you've become debt free.

*Reduce your tax deductions--if you are having a large amount taken out and then getting a large refund each year, it's possible that you could reduce the amount of the automatic withdraw so you're paycheck will be larger and you can put that toward your debt. Depending on how much you lower it, be sure to talk to someone about what your tax liability will be, because you could end up owing if you don't have enough taken out. This change may be one that you can maintain even after debt if you've had a history of really large refunds, again talk to someone who knows about taxes & your situation before you make a drastic change.

*Lower your retirement contributions--this one is TEMPORARY! You never want to cheat yourself out of a decent retirement, so it's important to save for your future. BUT, if you need to increase your income for debt reduction purposes, this may be an option for you. Maybe you should just lower it or maybe you need to stop contributing for a season. Again, be careful with this and be sure that you have a goal and plan in place to use all that money ONLY for debt reduction with the intention of saving even more for your retirement after you're out of debt.

Now, a few other suggestions that you've probably already heard:

*Get a part time job or home business to bring in extra income
*Ask for a raise
*Look for a higher paying job

...and of course, the one we do the most is cut your spending!

Please keep in mind that I'm NOT a business expert, but these are some suggestions I've heard or read about that have helped people on their debt reduction goals, but only you know your limitations and how committed you are to not overspending and falling further into debt. The last thing you need is trouble with the IRA or no retirement when you're old enough for that, so be wise and ask counsel from people near you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Energy Saving Ideas

As I've shared on here before, I've been getting some bootcamp emails from LV. As is the case with a lot of money saving ideas, a lot of them are the most common suggestions, but I have learned some new things from these and as always, that means I share them on here. 

One day they sent an email with ways to reduce your energy bill and I found a lot of them to be great and new ideas! You may have heard of some of these before, but I think refreshers are always helpful and a reminder to maybe add a project to our to do list! ;)

The first suggestion was to add surge protectors to the plugins for appliances and also using power strips where available so things can be turned off when they aren't in use. This is a really in expensive way to cut your power usage. 

Another idea, which I'm hoping we'll be able to do this year is to plant trees. According to the email, "Three trees properly placed around a house can save up to 30% in energy use. Plant on the west and northwest to provide mid-to-late afternoon shade. We recommend deciduous trees because they drop their leaves in the fall, letting in more light and heat during the winter." 

Insulating your home always seemed like a very daunting and huge project to me. Turns out it can be as easy as adding a foam insulation pad behind each outlet plate, to each outlet that faces an exterior wall and cost as little as $5 each. 

The thing I liked about this email was how easy these ideas are! Here is another simple idea that can take as little time as one minute and save you $20 a year! They suggest that your refrigerator temperature setting be between 35-38 degrees and your freezer should be set to zero degrees. 

Apparently opening the oven while baking is a big no, no for your bill! You lose 25-50 degrees of heat each time you open it! Also, if you use a small pot on the large burner you waste 40% of the burner's heat. If you put smaller pots on the smaller burners you could save up to $36 a year! I've already been more mindful of that one, who knew? 

It's also best to use the air dry on your dishwasher. 

This was also really great. I haven't had a chance to do it myself yet, but I think it's worth a try! "Check out Earth Aid, a green website that tracks your utility bills and gives you reward points when your usage falls below the prior year's. We calculated that you could save about $360 per year simply by reducing your energy consumption and letting Earth Aid reward you for it. That's a sweet deal if ever we've heard of one." 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Meal Challenge

I've been full swing in my meal challenge this week and thought you'd like to hear about it! :) I'm happy to say, I haven't cheated AND we've had some pretty good meals too. I started on Tuesday, but didn't prepare dinner that evening. We have dinner at church on Tuesdays, so I brought what I had signed up to bring.  On Wednesday we ate a soup that I had frozen in the freezer along with a can of biscuits that were anxious to be used! ;) Last night we ate a chicken recipe I found in the "Don't Panic, Dinner is in the Freezer" cookbook that I've been wanting to try. I served it with rice and frozen green beans from our farm day. I've enjoyed trying some of these recipes before doing large patches of them to make sure they are ones our family will like. This is one I had on my "try" list because of how simple it was and how few ingredients it uses. *I'll write more about that in a minute. Then, tonight for dinner we are having a roast, another one from the same cookbook and all of them have been made with ingredients we've had here! I'll serve it with some frozen veggies from the farm day too and it's one with a sauce that I'll pour over mashed potatoes, again, from the farm day! ;)

*About that chicken recipe, here it is: 
4 chicken breasts
8 oz. of Catalina dressing 
1 can of cranberries (I bought extra during Thanksgiving sales)
1 onion soup mix (I bought extra during Thanksgiving sales)

Mix the sauces together and pour it over the chicken. Bake at 350 for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until done. *Those are their directions, but we checked ours around 30-40 minutes and it was done, so I'd check sooner if you make it. If you want to freeze it, do so before cooking by putting it all in a freezer bag and labeling. Easy, huh? Well here is our family review: a bit on the sweet side, which we expected, but maybe a little too much. Also, I would really add more chicken because there was a TON of sauce left over and nothing to put it on. I think I'd do at least one or two more breasts if I did it again. So, if you like a bit of a sweet flavor, then this is an easy dinner to pull together in a pinch and for pretty cheap too. 

I'll keep you posted on how the rest of the week goes, I have some meal ideas for the next few days, so I'll share them with you later!! :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wasteful Spending

During the last couple weeks, I've been thinking about things that I buy that I don't need to. I'll share an example with you. I just ran out of lotion, so out of habit, I added it to my shopping list. Then, as I was going through our drawer of old gifts for a white elephant, I found several gift sets with lotion and bath care products in them. I think every woman has a stock of these "bath gift sets" some where stashed away that they never had any intention of ever using. It was a common gift I'd get while I was teaching, so I probably have at least five full bath sets. So, I took lotion off my shopping list and have decided, it's time to use all those sets that have been taking up space in my house! I'm certain I could probably get a years worth of bath care out of these sets, I can already see the savings adding up!! :) How about you? What do you have stashed away that is taking up space that you could be using. Maybe it's time to pull it out and use it up!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cell Phone Bill

Yesterday we reviewed our cell phone bill and noticed we were paying for a plan we weren't fully using. In addition to having way more minutes then we needed, our provider had a new plan that included free unlimited texting, which we had been paying for. So, after a few adjustments we lowered our bill by over $30 a month. :) Which over the year will be a $360 savings--I could use that!! :)

Then, today we got an email from the LV bootcamp about doing just that!! ;) Which makes me believe that there must be a lot of us out there that are paying more then necessary on our cell phone bills. Maybe it's time you look over your bills for the last few months to see if there are adjustments you can make to save your family too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A New Challenge

Anyone interested in joining me on a challenge? I want to see how many great, yummy meals I can come up with this week from things I already have. NO CHEATING, no going to the store for missing ingredients. It's all about what I have. I think a week should be a reasonable amount of time before all the fresh ingredients need to be bought. Join me, it'll be fun, I promise! :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Flow and Structure

Today has already been a productive and fulfilling day! We've done very little sitting around, wasting time and the laundry is nearly done, we got the paints and crafts out, and had fun with a friend. Now we'll have rest time and by this evening we should have all the chores for the day. It's nice to have more of a structure to the day. I'm liking this goal. :) Hopefully we'll be able to maintain it. How are your goals coming? Have you been working on keeping up with them?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Turning Goals into Reality

...requires a plan. I spent quite a bit of time yesterday working on making plans in order to implement my goals for this year. Not all of them can be "planned", but I did put together a chart and a calendar to keep record of my goals and plan for them. One thing that can't be planned, but I can prepare for is our family devotion time goal. We already are in a routine of reading Bible Stories each night before bed, but I think it's time to move toward a more focused time of teaching and not just reading, so I'll be researching and buying a book or program that will help us be more intentional during that time. I'm also setting aside some quotes and Bible verses that are meaningful to me and will type them up and start putting them up in a visible place. I'm looking forward to having them up! :)

So here's the plan:
*I'll be inputting reminders in my phone for things like praying for my husband and doing nice things for him.

Then on the calendar:
*I wrote out the plans for preschool lessons for each month to do with my daughter. I haven't planned them all, but I did plan the 12 themes we'll focus on and then each month I'll come up with the activities and lessons I'll do with her.
*I also wrote in the letter and number of the week on each week too.
*One of the family goals was to plan special outings, so that's something else I worked on. I put at least one activity on the calendar for each month. Most of them are festivals or things that take place in the area, I'm hopeful that this will help us remember when they are coming up so we don't miss them! :)
*I also scheduled one of the get aways for me and my husband, and wrote on the calendar to plan the next one.
*I did the same thing with the date nights, we have a date per month already planned and on the calendar. I'm looking forward to them! :)
*Finally, the last thing I put on the calendar was what the deep cleaning room would be for that month.

I already feel so much more prepared and ready to tackle these things one month at a time. The hardest part is behind me, now, all I have to do is follow what is scheduled.

The other thing I worked on was putting together more of a routine for cleaning and time spent at home on a weekly basis. I've learned that it's good to have a "structured" (I use that term loosely, b/c it's more of a flow then a set schedule, I'm a big fan of flexibility!!) routine to our days and weeks. We're more productive, engaged and proactive--all good things. When there is too much 'slack time' we don't do anything fun, we don't plan things, the kids get bored and act out and sitting around makes everyone dreary and irritated. So, a flow, we will have this year! :) It's going to require more discipline from me, but I think it'll be better for me too.

How are your goals coming? Do you have a plan?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Family Savings Tips

I came across this website and it's full of great money saving tips for families and also some ways to teach these principles to your kids.

Link for Tips

The emails I was referring to in my post, came from RealSimple. This will actually take you to their month worth of tips. Hopefully you'll find them helpful! I'll probably talk about more of them as I go through the month, but this will give you an extra resource. There is also this link that will take you to the site that I started getting the emails from. You can choose which bootcamp works for you and they'll send you emails that pertain to that topic. It's great because it'll help you learn about investing too, if you aren't dealing with debt. Hope that helps.

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 Goals

I haven't forgotten to write and post my goals for this year. I've simply been avoiding it. I think there are a number of reasons: 1. Once I write them down and share them, I need to get moving towards making them reality. 2. I don't want to fail--I KNOW--I just explained in my recent post this is to be avoided, but no one likes to have a plan and it not work out. So, I'll look past that and move forward with my goals and hopefully they'll work out! :) And if they don't, I'll still strive towards them and make this a great year of growth, right? ;)

So here goes:
Spiritual/Personal Growth
-Read a daily scripture/devotion each day
-Start a family devotions routine
-Work on AWANA verses throughout the week
-Read at least 4 Bible study/growth books throughout the year
-Create a bulletin board/area to display verses & helpful quotes to keep my days focused on Jesus.
-Write a calendar of prayers to pray for my husband as the spiritual leader
-Write out and read a prayer of blessing over our children throughout the year

-Write out and read a prayer of blessing over our children throughout the year.
-Establish a cleaning routine that involves a few "chores" for the kids and a plan for me too
-Once a month deep clean a room
-Find ways to be more 'present' with my kids at home by planning activities, games and time to be together
-Start intentionally teaching our kids preschool.
-Finish 3 decorating projects

-Write a calendar of prayers to pray for my husband as the spiritual leader
-Do an "I love you" (a special romantic surprise) each month
-Plan a special get away twice this year
-Plan a 'special' date each month to do on our regular date nights
-Notes of encouragement throughout the year

-Continue with our cash budget and debt diet, with a goal of paying off at least a $1,000/month
-Generate income by working side jobs
-Continue to find ways to cut spending

-Get to the gym regularly
-Make healthy diet changes
-Schedule exercise/physical play for the kids each day

-Plan 2 outings/month for family time
-Read for fun
-Schedule a regular time to do crafts and scrap booking
-Take a family trip

YIKES!! That looks like a lot! The good news is that a lot of these will come naturally and thankfully they won't all take much time! :) Now, my plan will be to set up some of these things throughout this week, so it'll be easier to keep up with throughout the year. For example some of the scheduling, I'll write on the calendar now so we'll already be preparing for that as that month arrives. Hopefully I'll have a chance to keep you posted on the progress. I'll be sure to let you know if I end up cheating and hiring a cleaning service too! ;) Maybe I'll start saving up for that...we'll call it "planning ahead".... haha! :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Track your spending

I signed up for an email that will send me money saving tips throughout the next couple weeks and today I got the first one. The point was to: track your spending. Know how much you are spending, so you can figure out where you're over spending and to establish a reasonable, realistic budget. I've already been doing this fairly well with our cash budget, but there are a few areas that I've noticed we aren't spending the amount in our budget regularly, where some others seem to run out way too quickly. I thought maybe getting a more precise number would be helpful. I started with last month's grocery budget and realized I'd only spent $145 for the month! I'm already tracking this months and so far I'm on track for another great month! :)

Anyway, I'd like to do this with our personal budget as well, since that one seems to be hardest to predict. It's essentially a misc. category and I'm considering separating it into two new categories to make it easier to track and cut back on spending. I think I'll make a 'household' category which will include anything from toiletries to household repair items or decorations. The 'personal' would still exist, but it'll include things like haircuts, diapers, gifts and misc. items that don't fit any where else. After tracking this this month, I'll see if I still like that plan. ;)

The simplest way to track your spending is to keep your receipts for a month and at the end of the month categorize them and total your amounts. Then create your budget based on the numbers you've come up with and adjust them as needed.

Great tip!

My girlfriend posted about a great tip to minimize the holiday stress for next year, so I thought I'd share it here too.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Money Saving Ideas

I got this email from Baby Center and thought it had some helpful tips.  A lot of them are ones I've talked about on here too, but it's always nice to have a little refresher. It's a great time to make money saving goals and start changing your money habits to make 2011 a great financial year!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A new year....

I've been pondering my goals for this year and haven't really nailed them all down. I'm wanting them to be realistic, yet challenging. I'm also wanting to set goals that are enjoyable and ywill bring a positive outcome for our family. For whatever reason, I'm having a hard time nailing them down, maybe I'm feeling like I'd like to do more then I know is possible or I'm not sure how to "measure" some of the goals for this year. Anyway, I haven't forgotten to write them or update on here, I'm just not sure what they will be yet.

I do want to set goals for different areas of life, so that I'm experiencing growth in multiple aspects of who I am.

I'll--eventually--be writing goals for the following categories:
Spiritual/Personal Growth

We'll see how this all goes... :)
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