Saw this on Instagram the other day (from user @f*ckjerry), and it had me cracking up. Had to share.
Saw this on Instagram the other day (from user @f*ckjerry), and it had me cracking up. Had to share.
This is a guest post from the lovely, Sarah Ann Noel. Hope you’re having a great holiday week! – Anna
When we found out we were moving to NYC, I decided to seriously downgrade and purge most of our belongings. I managed to turn off sentimentalism (which normally runs thick through my blood), and I really did a number on our collection of stuff. Of course, now it’s Christmastime and I’m at my most nostalgic, realizing that sometimes an emotional attachment isn’t so bad! What I left of Christmas knick-knacks seems like sparse decor for even a tiny Brooklyn apartment! So I quickly conjured up what this non-crafty mama could DIY to add some holiday cheer to our place. Below are the decorations that we’ve made for our home, and these also are great inexpensive crafts to make with kids during the loooooong holiday break!
8 Easy, Inexpensive Holiday Crafts (& Decorations) to Keep the Kids Busy…
Jennifer is a Spending Faster who is sharing the process here. To catch up from the beginning read this post: Introducing a New Spending Faster!. – Anna
Due to a sudden change in roommate status, I was unable to save for my first month of the Spending Fast. My roommate decided to suddenly move out, so I had to unexpectedly cover the month’s bills. I’ll get a new start in this second month. The good news is my dear friend, Tina, has decided to live with me for the next year and a half, giving me the time I need to complete the Spending Fast.
What are some of the good and bad living situations you have encountered?
I’m sure everyone has experienced it in one-way or another. I know I have many times over! But after the Spending Fast, my hope is that it will be the end of roommates.
I’m not counting this month as a total loss, but instead as a month of changing bad habits to achieve my goals. I tackled my worst habit of buying breakfast and coffee from Starbucks EVERYDAY! I am proud of myself for this WIN. But how did I do such a thing, you ask? It wasn’t easy. I dusted off my old single serve coffee machine and got a killer deal online of T-disc for 50 cents per cup! Who knew I could get so excited over math! Changing everyday decisions like these will help me in the long run, and is why this was my first area of concentration.
This situation is so so so similar to Anna’s breakfast burrito problems. (See: Your Habits are Making You Broke)
The next thing I need to tackle is spending money on social situations. This month I went back through my online bank entries and wrote down every entry that could have been avoided. Between social situations and spur of the moment decisions, I could have avoided spending $112.49. A movie, a pizza delivery, a sushi outing and 3 bar tabs. Those were my weak moments that I need to tackle next and avoid.
I am not perfect and these were my results for the month. Looking at this in writing, and knowing that I could have the amount of $112 as opposed to $0 saved, makes me face this reality and want to do better.
Month 1: $0.00 savings
Do you have some bad habits that are affecting your financial situation?
P.S. Follow along with all the Spending Fasters.
On Facebook people kept telling me about a liquid laundry detergent recipe they were seeing on Pinterest, and I decided to give it a try. I’ve experimented with making my own powder laundry detergent in the past so I’m familiar with the general idea of how to make detergent at home but the liquid version always eluded me because for one, I didn’t want to put soap in the big pot that I cook in all the time because I thought it would ruin it, and also because the recipes I was coming across always seemed super intense. So when people told me about this recipe for DIY laundry detergent, I was like, “Okay, now this looks doable”. I gave it a try, and it was easier than I expected.
I wasn’t going to put this recipe on the site if I didn’t work so I decided to test it out on the grossest, dirtiest, narliest thing I could find: my baby’s super-poopy, cloth diapers that had been sitting in the diaper pail for a day or so just marinating into a nasty, smelly poo stew. I figured, if we’re gonna test this recipe, we’re gonna TEST IT.
We always buy the generic, perfume and dye free detergent for all of our clothes, and I have been using a special (read: expensive) cloth diaper detergent for the diapers. I’m happy to report that this laundry detergent recipe worked great, and the diapers came out whiter than I have ever seen them before. Also, they passed the sniff test, and no stinky residue was present. We will now be switching over to this homemade version for both our clothes and the diapers especially since this recipe is INSANELY inexpensive to make, costing just under 5¢ per load. Seriously. (See the full break-down at the end of this post if you’re curious about the numbers.)
(Also, just as a side note, I tested this recipe on our front-loading HE washing machine.)
How to Make Liquid Laundry Detergent…
When Aaron and I did The Minimalist Challenge we got rid of a total of 748 items (!). Following the challenge we did a big ol’ garage sale, and made some money on all the things we were getting rid of. It felt so amazing to clear out all that stuff, and to this day I haven’t missed a single thing that we got rid of!
A whole bunch of people told me about how the garage sale idea was great, and all, but they just didn’t have the right set-up with their home (apartment or condo) or time to do one. Also, with cold weather your options are limited to only holding garage sales at a certain time of the year. I completely understand all these issues because I’ve encountered them, too.
When I found out about this site that basically allows you to hold virtual garage sales, I instantly thought, “Yep. There it is. Perfect.” It’s called, appropriately enough, VarageSale. Get it? Get it? Virtual garage sale! ;) In 2012, it was founded by a woman named Tami when she was on maternity leave. She then worked with her husband to develop the site.
Here’s How You Can Hold Your Very Own Online Garage Sale…
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! We went over to a friend’s house, and everyone was impressed with how the Tofurkey we brought was actually not disgusting. The standard it had to meet was pretty low so it had that going for it. This morning, Henry woke up at 6:30 am like he likes to do, I turned on the news, and I was half-way listening to it while I sat on the floor with him as he pulled out every single book. On the news they were talking about the worst things to buy in December, and my ears perked up like I was dog who had just spotted a squirrel. I was all over that shit.
The 3 things they say you absolutely should not buy in December? A treadmill, a TV, and winter clothing items and gear. The best time to buy those things? In January! With New Year’s Resolution’s fitness stuff is marked down significantly, TV’s are marked down because of The Super Bowl , and winter clothing and gear is greatly reduced because retailers are starting to think about making way for the Spring merchandise.
The more you know, right?
Continuing on with my collaboration with Kmart we’re going to talk about a ton of ways to make the most of Black Friday. Black Friday is the Friday that follows Thanksgiving, and it’s also the official start of the holiday shopping season. Black Friday is all about deals, bargains, and sales, and that’s something I can fully get behind because, as you know, saving money is my thing.
I had a chance to ask Heather, someone who has been shopping on Black Friday for the last 7 years, what advice she would give to new Black Friday shoppers. She says, “Be prepared with a list of what you want to get, and stay calm when crazy people are near. Also, go in groups so 1 person can finish shopping while the other stands in line.” She said that the best deal she ever got on Black Friday was on an Xbox, and that “the best deals are usually on electronics but clothes and boots are always cheaper on Black Friday too!”
17 Ways to Make the Most of Black Friday
1. Create Your Gift-Shopping List
I’ve mentioned this before but it’s such an important part of saving money around the holidays that I’ve got to mention it again. Planning ahead is absolutely vital when you’re buying for the holidays. Write out who you’re going to buy for, what you’re going to get them, and be sure to have alternatives in mind in case the item(s) you want are sold out.
2. Decide on a Holiday Shopping Budget
Again, super important. You don’t want to be hating life as you stare at an empty bank account come December 26th. Saving money = good. Spending all the money = not good. We know this.
3. Do Your Research
Know the hours of the Black Friday sale, and when the items you want to buy, in particular are going on sale since some items go on sale at different times then others. Also, do some research online to see if you need to get in line early or if there are likely to be people camping out.
4. Check both online and paper ads
5. Combine the deals you find with coupons to save TONS
Take advantage of all the printable coupons that you can.
6. Look on Social Media
Check out the social media pages to find out about deals that may not be advertised through the traditional methods. Twitter is one of the absolute best places to find out about not as widely known sale info.
7. Make a Plan
If you can, go to the store ahead of time. Ask the sales attendants where the items you want to buy will be at since some of the items might not be in their standard location because of different promotional displays. Then, draw out a quick layout of the store, marking the path you’re going to take the morning of Black Friday.
8. Ask the Sales Attendants for Insider Info
Okay, so while you’re talking with the staff at the store about where the items will be on Black Friday also ask them if they know about any unadvertised deals. This is the thing, the staff gets info about deals way ahead of everyone else because they have to plan the displays. Be nice and friendly, and they just might spill some extra money-saving beans.
When the holidays roll around I always have a mix of things going through my head. Mostly, it’s guilt-tinged thoughts of, “I really should make all the gifts to save money but… I just don’t, realistically, have enough time.” And the relief-filled thoughts of, “It would be easy to find some reasonably priced gifts.” So, usually, I end up doing a mix of both DIY gifts and store-bought items. Balance is a thing, right?
When Kohl’s asked me to come up with a few items that Aaron would like as gifts I immediately thought about how he wears dark wash, slim fit, Levi’s every single day but won’t by them at the Levi’s store because they’re at least 100% more expensive there then they are at Kohl’s. Anyway! That has nothing to do with this post.
I rounded up a few items that Aaron would really like, and the price of each item is under $22 because I’m cheap like that.
P.S. Isn’t Michonne the biggest badass ever on Walking Dead? I want to be her when I grow up. (Just a heads-up that link is to a fairly graphic zombie killing scene. If you’re not into that type of thing you might not want to watch it.)
In compliance with FTC guidelines, I’m disclosing that this is a sponsored post. However, the opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this site possible! – Anna
I love how when the holidays roll around charity work gets highlighted, and everyone is a little more kind and giving.
So today, I’d like to introduce you to a new, online clothing store called 15each.co. Today just so happens to be their Grand Opening and they’re one of the most charitable companies I’ve come across. The site was created by Bryan Harmon. He’s an entrepreneur who’s motivated by giving back to the people. Harmon has an interesting and eclectic background. He’s a disabled vet who served in the Marines and then he transitioned into eCommerce because he saw a lot of opportunities for improvement.
15each.co provides jobs to veterans (veterans are very close to my heart since I came from a long-line of military), and college students. Currently, they’re donating $3 from each item that’s sold on the website to help the flood victims in Pensacola, Florida. (A major storm dropped several feet of water on the city, and caused some of the deadliest floods ever. The city was rocked with flooded homes, collapsed highways and submerged cars. See images of the flooding destruction here.)
Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her October update for us below. I’ve got to say, I am SO incredibly proud of her! I love that she’s chosen to change her life, and whoa. Just whoa. It’s so awesome how much she’s been able to save in such a short amount of time. This is what the Spending Fast and Spending Diet is all about. Getting the hell out of debt ASAP. – Anna
After the roller coaster of money emotions that was September, I was hoping for more stability in my savings for October. And the good news is that with my second job’s back pay, I was able to save $1,400 in October! So good, right? Well, yes and no. I managed to save $1,400 which is $400 over my savings goal, but I still went over my $100 Spending Diet limit. (Insert sad trombone.)
In some ways I’m super proud of myself. I saved $1,400 in one month. ONE MONTH! Let’s go ahead and get personal, that’s over half of my paycheck (after taxes and insurance is taken out). But I’m ever the perfectionist and as much as I try, try, try to stay positive, I always seem to be a glass half empty type of gal. Why didn’t I save more?!?!
Well, there’s a few reasons:
1. I managed to get some great deals on pants at the thrift store, but I have a wedding to attend and I didn’t feel that I had an appropriate dress to wear. Could I have borrowed something? Maybe. Could I have found something cheaper? Maybe. I did use a coupon and I felt like I got a good deal, but I still spent money that I didn’t allocate to spend.
When I added that dress to my online shopping cart, I also added a skirt and a top. I justified that I could wear them to work and it was “Buy two, get one free!” It was a moment of weakness.
2. I forgot my lunch a few days this month and I had to go to the grocery store at lunch to pick something up. That was kind of unavoidable, but the nitpicker inside of me wants to say “But you should have backup snacks in your desk at work for this situation!”
Nitpicker be damned! I’m proud that I’ve managed to save over my savings goal this month. I know this holiday season is going to be difficult though. My $100 Spending Diet includes gifts. I’m currently formulating a plan for holiday spending that includes coupons, starting my shopping early and handmaking what I can. And as always, I’m trying to stay positive.
How will you, my budget-friendly friends attack your holiday spending? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! -Melanie
I’m teaming up with Kmart on some upcoming posts. This is a good match because I always find myself at Kmart if I need (of all things) inexpensive planters and potting soil. And, if I get a craving for my favorite childhood food, Little Cesar’s, I know can get some pizza pizza there.
Kmart is also a place that we used to go to ALL THE TIME when I was I kid. I distinctly remember being in line one time, and thinking about how I could be a millionaire when I grew up if only I could save every single penny from that moment on. That didn’t happen (obviously), and instead, I went ahead and bought my mini gumball machine with my birthday money. I even wrote a post about that experience a long time ago (here it is if you’re interested: Switching Over). Needless to say, I’ve got a whole bunch of Kmart memories. Another day I’ll have to tell you the story about the baby bird.
But today, I want to talk about a topic that I, surprisingly, have never covered on the blog before: Layaway.
So, when I started thinking about this topic I started asking everyone I know if they’ve ever used Layaway, and if so, what did they buy, and why did they use that method to make the purchase. Aaron told me that he bought his parents a ping-pong table for Christmas and used Layaway to buy it for them. That was 15 years ago and that thing is still going strong in my in-laws ice-cold basement.
On Facebook, a whole bunch of readers told me how they’ve used Layaway, and not surprisingly, it seems that it is primarily used to buy Christmas presents.
I know it feels a little early to start thinking about the holidays but I’ve found that the earlier I make my gift shopping list and get the “errands” part of the holidays taken care of the more I can actually enjoy what the holidays are all about: eating until you’re so stuffed you can’t move. Nah, seriously though, it’s about spending time with your loved ones, and I would much rather do that than be stressing out about what I’m going to get everyone.
Morale of the story: if you start early you can spread the cost of the holidays out and also avoid a ton of last-minute stress.
Alright, so let’s talk about details of Layaway in case you’re not familiar with how it works.
Enter to win 75 Bucks! -GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
So, get this… Kmart is giving away a $75 gift card to one reader to help you get a start on your holiday shopping! All you have to do is tweet about some of the items you’ve put on layaway. Be sure to use the hashtags: #KmartLayaway and #ATWS so your tweet can be found, and so you can be entered to win. The giveaway will end on Monday, November 10th at 6pm MST. Good luck!
This is a sponsored post, and I am a Kmart K-Club blogger. But, as always, my opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this site possible! xo, Anna
This is a guest post by the awesome Sarah Ann Noel who recently left us here in Denver for New York City. – Anna
Well, we have just moved from Denver to New York City with two toddlers. No, seriously. One is three and one is two, and I’m trying to keep straight which way is which on the G train while making sure that both those little wanderers get on the same train as me too. Are we crazy? Perhaps. But we are making our way in our little corner of Brooklyn.
Of course, even though you have the knowledge of the expense of New York, it’s still a shock to come here and try to function in it. I’ll admit to living a little large when we first moved, just trying to take advantage of it all; but that’s just not feasible for every day life. So below are twelve free activities that we use often!
12 Free Family-Friendly Activities in Brooklyn and NYC (& how to find more!)…
This is a sponsored post but, as always, my opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the companies that help make this site possible. – Anna
Awhile back I shared Jackie Beck’s story of how she and her husband got out of $147,000 in debt (!!! nuts, right?!). They were persistent and committed to the process of getting out of debt and, not surprisingly, it worked!
Jackie has created a great app that is appropriately called: Pay Off Debt . Pay Off Debt is an iPhone and iPad app that has helped tons (tens of thousands) of people pay off debt by using the snowball method.
Let me tell you, I really wish this app was around when I was going through my Spending Fast and Spending Diet (not that I had an iPhone then but still…) because it would’ve made it so nice to see the progress I was making and how far I had come. I also would’ve really enjoyed seeing how my pay off date was changing based on the aggressive payments I was making every month. I think that would have been so fun to see it getting closer and closer!
There’s even a feature with the app that let’s you email your snowball information to yourself. I would’ve printed out my progress reports every month, and taped them all over my house, so I could be simultaneously thrilled and horrified/motivated at how far I had come, and how far I had yet to go.
Here are some my favorite features that the app offers:
Jackie also mentioned that she often gets asked why the app costs $2.99 instead of offering it for free. She said that the reason it isn’t free is because she doesn’t want to have ads on the app, and she didn’t want to have it set up to cost $10-$15/month for a subscription type of service in order to access all of the features. She said she would much rather just sell the app up-front for a few bucks, and get on to helping people get out of debt!
Jackie is giving away a copy of the iPhone/iPad Pay Off Debt app to 3 readers! To enter leave a comment below, saying how you would feel if you were debt-free!
Be sure to fill in the appropriate email, name, etc., fields so we can contact you if you win. The giveaway will end on Friday, October 17th at 5:00pm MST. Good Luck!
**Update 10/14/14 Apologies to Jackie. In the original post I mistakenly called the app by the wrong name. It has now been corrected.
Y’all, you know me. I (obviously) like to save money. With the holidays coming up we’ve been throwing around ideas about what we should do. We’re planners, we’re Virgo’s, we’re Type A (well, Aaron is more than me;), and we also know that the earlier we buy our plane tickets the more money we can save. I’ve even heard that for each day you wait to buy it’s an average of $5 that’s added, per day, to the price of the ticket.
One of the ideas we have is to go visit my family in Lincoln, Nebraska. We’d probably fly because the tickets are so inexpensive, (relatively speaking), and the flight is a mere 1 hour long. If we drive then it’s close to 8 hours (or, it can be done in 7 hours if you only stop 2 times, and go 7 to 10 miles over the speed limit the whole time. Not that I would know.).
When thinking about flying with our little guy, Henry, (his 1st airplane trip) we definitely did not even consider the possibility of buying him his own seat because, I mean, duh. Babies under 2 can fly for free! So you better believe we were going to take full advantage of the chance to save some money!
What I didn’t realize though was that there may be risks to not getting him his own seat. I thought things like:
– “He’s so little it would be no problem to keep him on our laps. He
might will be squirmy but it won’t be for long so it’ll be fine! Let’s save money when we can!”
– “That’s such a waste of money to be going and getting all spread out and luxurious on the plane! We’ll just be scrunched up for a little bit! It’ll be fine! Let’s save money when we can!”
– “Only people with money to spare (like lots of it) would ever buy their baby their own seat. I mean, come on. There’s money to be saved here so let’s save it! We’ll be fine! ”
I never thought about not going with “baby flies free” option because I never had a reason not to. You see, the other day I joined a Facebook group called Car Seats for the Littles. I was scrolling along thinking about how complicated this whole car seat thing is when it really shouldn’t be that hard, right? And then, this article pops up about changing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations for kids under 2. My first thought was what it had always been: “Oh hell no! SAVE THE MONEY!”
But then, I read a this: Babies Have a Right to a Safe Seat with Proper Restraints – The Infant Seat Exception Should be Abandoned, and that completely changed everything.
Now, I feel like if we do fly anywhere before the baby’s 2 years old there’s no way I can justify not spending money on a seat for him after knowing what I know now. If, heaven forbid, anything were to happen I would never be able to forgive myself for not buying a seat just to save some money.
To me, it just isn’t worth the risk. I’ve got to say, there are some things that are far more important that money, and this is one of those things.
So, I have a hundred (6) questions for you: What do think about all this? Did you know about the risks associated with having a Lap Baby? Is it worth the extra couple hundred bucks? Am I over-reacting? Why isn’t this something we hear about more? Why isn’t this a bigger deal to people?
It’s been a little while since I did a Thrifty Weekender post, but, I think we should just get right back into it. Whattya’ say?
Here are some posts/things on the web that stood out to me this week:
What are you up to this weekend? We have to go to Home Depot to get some parts to try to fix of garbage disposal, and Aaron’s birthday is Sunday so I’m going to bake him a huge, chocolate chip cookie “cake”, and then I’m going to frost it with a shitload of buttercream and sprinkles. We’ll eat too much of it, regret it, then vow to get healthy again on Monday.
I hope you have a great weekend, and keep that spending on lock down! Read these get out of debt pledges if you need a kick in the ass/jolt of motivation. I read them very often to keep myself in check. xo, Anna
On Monday morning I was on Colorado Public Radio to join in the discussion about how some FICO credit scores may be getting a boost soon because medical collection debts won’t be getting weighed as heavily as they have in the past. (This is such great news!) I talked more about my story and how I got out of debt while Chad Gentry from Mpowered talked about the nuts and bolts of how the change will affect consumers.
We were interviewed by Ryan Warner, and I’ve got to say, his voice is amazing. I might have to have his interviews on repeat, so I can listen to them whenever I need to relax. Smooth and soothing with great questions mixed in.
The very first question he asked me is, “What is your credit score?” When I was getting ready for the interview it dawned on me that when I was in the thick of my debt I used to have NO IDEA what my credit score was! I was completely ambivalent. It was partly because I wasn’t applying for any car or home loans so I didn’t really have to know. (Just wanted to clarify, in the article on the CPR site they said that I just recently found out my credit score, which is not correct. I just recently looked up my current score. While I don’t have my past credit scores memorized, I was aware of what it was after I got out of debt.)
I’d love for you to listen, and tell me what you think about the new FICO model. Do you think medical debts should be weighed as heavy as other types of debt? Do you agree or disagree with the change?
Here’s the link to the audio recording: Consumer Credit Scores Could Soon Get a Boost – on Colorado Public Radio. (My part starts up at the 6:36, if you’re rushed for time.)
Have you had medical debts go to collections? Will your credit score be going up?
Your partner/spouse may have vastly different ideas about how your joint personal finances should be managed. It seems that in relationships this is usually how the combo’s usually work out:
– One half is more in-tune with financial matters, and deals with all the money matters while the other is happy to stay out of the fray and focuses on other things that impact the relationship.
– One partner is the Spender and one is the Saver (that’s how me and Aaron are. He’s the Natural Saver and I’m the Natural Spender.)
OR one partner used to have different (more frugal) ways about money when you got together, and has, over time, changed their ways, and has started to make financial changes that you don’t necessarily approve or agree with (“Let’s spend ALL THE MONEY!! YEAH! SHOTS FOR EVERYONE!”). Now, that’s a very sticky situation.
Ideally, both people in the relationship would agree on money matters, and work towards a frugal, savings-focused financial life but what if you see things differently? Maybe you’re ready to start living in a new way, and get your debt wiped out once-and-for-all but your partner wants to keep ordering pizza every other night and is totally fine with having the mega-channel, cable package that you are convinced you don’t really need. How do you get on the same page with money much less convince your partner that being frugal is going to be TOTALLY AWESOME? Well, here are some ideas.
13 ways to convince your partner that being frugal is the way to go…
Hey there, I’m in New York City this week shooting a few more instructional videos for PNC Bank (I’ll be showing pics from the week on my Instagram if you want to follow along.) so here is a very timely, back-to-school post by Mr. Mike Dariano. xo, Anna
I don’t know exactly what my children do at school but whatever it is they must be doing it nonstop. They must be like little hummingbirds, buzzing from room to room, activity to activity, because when my kids finish school each day they are starving. If their teacher is training them to be sherpas on Mount Everest I wouldn’t doubt it.
There was one day when all my daughter had as a snack was a handful of TicTacs and granola bars. I felt bad about this and vowed to plan better snacks for them but vowing and having are two different things. Now that the school year has just begun, we have less time and more things to do so our snacking needs to be organized better. Here’s what I’ve done to avoid any more TicTac lunches.
5 Quick, Efficient Ideas for School Year Snacks…
1. Make Efficient Use of Your Time: Slice three apples at a time.
My kids love Gala apples and they’re a regular snack around our house, unless we don’t have time to eat them. I could let them eat a whole apple but at five and three years old they’re messy enough. Instead I slice three at a time and put them into a container in our refrigerator. If they want them at home, they know where to find some. If we’re rushing out the door, I know where to grab them from.
2. Keep it Simple: Buy only one brand.
In our house we love granola bars so, we’ve settled on Cliff bars as the only granola bar in our house. My goal was to limit the amount of sugar in a granola bar and increase the amount of protein and these bars fit those 2 needs. The secret to having them when we need them? Don’t let them ever enter our house. Keep them stored in the car so they are always ready for emergency hunger attacks.
3. Make Inexpensive Veggies Accessible: Broccoli and carrots.
It our house the easiest veggies are simple, sliced broccoli and carrots. When these come home from the store they each immediately get cut into dippable pieces and placed in the refrigerator next to the apple. Besides being ready for the kids they also make easy vegetable additions to dinner.
4. Skip the Expensive Pre-packaged Snacks: Make it at home.
Rather than buying pre-packaged trail mix we make ours right at home. I’ve found that if the kids make something they immediately like it. We gather up all the possible trail mix ingredients and start mixing together the cereal, nuts, dried fruit, and candy together and portion it out in zip top bags so we can grab these and go out the door. This is also a really great way to use up foods that might be going bad soon.
5. Do Not Buy Bottled Water: Bring your own re-usable bottle.
Water is great but expensive bottled water is not. That’s why we keep our water bottles at the ready. At school my daughters seem to be interested in everything except for keeping themselves hydrated so when they settle into their seats after school they are thirsty little animals. At night we put out our water bottles along with shoes so they too are ready for the next day.
There is a lot of running kids around so with a little bit of planning ahead, we can do without stopping at McDonald’s every other day. Most of what we do is to have things ready to go by the door and we keep things in the car. Once we got over the hump of starting the new habits we all became healthier and the snack portion of the budget got a lot smaller.
How do you save money on after school snacks? If you have any secrets we’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Mike Dariano is a father to two daughters, walker to two dogs, and husband to -thankfully – one wife. He writes at mikedariano.net
Being on a money-saving mission typically means that when something’s broken you try to fix it, yourself, rather than buying something new. Some lucky souls are born with handyman skills which allow them to handle any repair or home improvement project that comes along. However, there are a lot of us who may have the ambition to get the job done but lack the knowledge or experience to get the job done right. Rather than jack something up even worse, and rather than taking a lot of time to teach yourself something that someone else is already fully trained to do (and therefore losing hours of your life – which is way more valuable than money).
You might be surprised to hear me say this but, there are actually some home improvements or repair projects that I fully believe you should just pay someone else to do because they are simply over the DIY/money-saving-at-all-costs level.
Not Worth the Trouble (or Time) – 8 Home Improvement/Repair Projects You Should Just Pay Someone to Do
1. Electricity-Related Projects
Electrical work can be deadly if not done properly. Not only is the one who is doing the work at risk of being severely injured (or even killed) everyone who lives at the home (and surrounding homes if you’re in a condo or apartment) can be injured if electrical work is done wrong. So, if you’re not experienced in electrical work, leave it to the professionals. In many locations, electrical work can only be completed by a licensed electrician and will require inspections once the work is completed. If you end up needing electrical work, call up contact a certified electrician.
2. Plumbing Work
Like electricity, plumbing is better left to the professionals. Plumbing work needs to be done properly by an experienced plumber or you end up putting your home at-risk for water damage and flooding. If you know nothing about plumbing, contact a certified plumber to take care of installing new pipes or replacing broken, leaky ones.
3. Pool Installation
You might be thinking, “Uhhhh… pool installation, really?” BUT. Get this – there are actually many new products on the market that allow you to easily set up a backyard, in ground pool. Yes. Seriously! (Like this DIY pool installation kit) While these pool packages are cost-effective and relatively easy to set up in your yard, there are plenty of other factors to consider. Namely, the safety of the pool is a concern. If you set-up the pool at a location where the yard is not completely level, your pool won’t be stable and may even become unsafe to swim in. Unless you are an experienced excavator, hire someone to professionally level the ground and set up the pool so it is reliable and safe for the whole family.
If the trees in your yard are much higher than your reaching abilities, hire a professional tree trimmer to safely trim off the lengthy limbs. Tree-trimming is a task that should be completed by a professional due to the many safety issues. Professional tree trimmers are properly trained and have the necessary equipment to reach the branches situated at great heights. Never climb up the tree with a chainsaw if you don’t know what you are doing as the limbs lost will likely be yours. No bueno, yo.
5. Mold Remediation
If your basement or some other area of your home retains moisture and develops mold, leave the remediation work to the professionals. Some mold and mildew that develops in a home can be harmless but there are also a lot of mold variations that are very harmful to one’s health. If you discover mold growth, don’t attempt to attack it with some bleach on your own (I’m always tempted to do that) because the mold might be far more insidious than you realize with an untrained eye. To ensure the job is done completely, properly, and safely, find a mold remediation specialist to get the job done right.
6. Asbestos/Lead Removal
Many older homes contain harmful amounts of lead paint or asbestos which can be exposed during a renovation project. Tearing down walls or ripping up floors can stir up the poisonous dirt that can cause major respiratory illnesses. Avoid the potential health concern by hiring a professional contractor who knows how to deal with the harmful debris, and has the equipment necessary to get the job done correctly. Even if you are not intentionally trying to remove these harmful materials, any renovation work done on older homes may expose dangerous particles of asbestos, lead, or other harmful materials.
7. Pest Infestations
If your home needs improvement to eradicate pests like ants, termites, or rodents, it is ideally, better to hire a professional who can solve the problem for good. Commercial pest sprays and traps can be somewhat helpful but will not get to the root of the problem. A pest company can find out where the home base of the pests is (usually out of sight), and eliminate it for good so you don’t end up with a recurring problem. Pest experts can also advise you on the damage that has been done due to the pests to make repairs more effective. Pests can cause damage that you may not be able to see but which it could put your home at risk.
8. Energy-Efficiency Improvements
There are several tax breaks that are available to homeowners if you increase the energy efficiency of your home. By hiring an energy-efficient expert they’ll be able to analyze the areas where your home is lacking efficiency, and make the necessary recommendations for updating. A professional can also do a more thorough job of increasing energy efficiency than a do-it-yourselfer because if you miss areas that need improvement you may be still losing money through unrepaired areas.
Did I miss any home projects that should be left to the pros? Or, what do you think, can some of these projects be done DIY just as good as the pros do it?
(Kind of related because we’re talking about house stuff, and home improvements: 6 Tips to Weigh the Best Resale Home Improvements)
“Sometimes, you must do what’s best for you and your life, not what’s best for everybody else.” – Unknown
When I start thinking about creating these hope/motivational posts (because they are SO needed when you’re in the trenches of saving money/getting out of debt) I scroll through my ever-running list of quotes, and I think, “Okay Universe, what does someone need to hear today?” And then, I’m drawn to one quote over another. I like to think that it will help one (or ALL!;) of you get just the push you need to keep going, and help you stay motivated on your trek to a life free from debt!
It can get really tough battling debt, so we’ve got to stay strong as we fight the evils of debt together! (I just imagined like, a zillion She-Ra’s with swords drawn, and debt just dropping dead all over the place. You too? Okay, good.)
Now about this quote here… So, CLEARLY it’s great to care about how your actions will affect others but sometimes you’ve got to say, “Screw it!”, and maybe be a little selfish if that’s what it takes to get yourself to a healthier place. I think this concept applies to all areas of life, and not just to the financial aspect. Do you have people in your life that are keeping you in unhealthy habits? And then do you in turn feel like crap because the choices you’re making aren’t honoring the TRUE you? If so, that’s a feeling you should listen to. You’re getting those shitty feelings for a reason… to prompt you into action.
Sometimes friends/family/partners don’t “get” why you would want to get out of debt if it means you have to do some sacrificing. I understand that to a point, and I believe that it’s usually because they love you and don’t want to see you suffer. However, if you find that after you tell certain people that you’re trying to get out of debt, they still pressure you to spend, and minimize your efforts and successes even after they’ve had time to come around then it might be time to be “selfish” in your effort to become a better you.
For me, being “selfish” meant that I had to tell people stuff they didn’t want to hear sometimes. Usually that was saying, “No” to invites to dinner or lunch out, saying “No” to concerts, and saying “No” to trips. It wasn’t fun to do, and some people got mad and called me selfish but I did it, and made it to the other side. And you know what? I’m glad I stuck to my mission, and was committed to at least trying to become debt-free. To me, in those instances, being selfish was needed, and absolutely the best option for me to make.
What do you think? Have you ever had to be “selfish” in order to protect what’s best for you? I sure have. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.
I was at Target yesterday, and I noticed that they already have the Back to School stuff out! I can’t believe it; seems like summer just started!
Summer is that idyllic time when memories are made so be sure you are getting the most out of the short-lived season (no pressure, right?), while also not spending a ton to make those memories.
Let’s get out there, and enjoy what we’ve got left of summer!
23 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Summer…
1. Realize the Benefits
You know how they say laughter is the best medicine? Well ‘they’ know what they are talking about. With the hectic lives we lead, a little downtime does the body good. Part of being healthy involves feeling good about yourself and having fun. Summer is the perfect time to let loose a little bit and be proactive about having fun.
2. Mix Scheduling With Spontaneity
For bigger trips and events, make sure to schedule ahead of time to make sure your plans will go through. For the things that do not need to be scheduled in advance, take some time to truly enjoy the spontaneous moments of life. It can be a great stress reliever and return you back to reality as a happier, calmer person.
3. Go Local
You don’t have to hop on an airplane to have a great time. Take a day trip around your local area and check out things you take for granted. Many places offer free newspapers or pamphlets listing free or low-cost events like fairs, carnivals, or even educational opportunities. It’s cost-effective to come home each night after exploring something new all day.
4. Go Back in Time
Consider the things you loved doing as a child. There are so many simple trips that likely have become your best memories. Entertain your own kids by introducing them to your all-time favorite summer activities. Have a water balloon fight, invite the neighbors for backyard volleyball, or set up a tent in your yard and tell ghost stories.
5. Take a Mental Health Day
If you do not have a vacation allowance at work just yet, consider calling in for a mental health break. That one extra day can be used to do absolutely nothing but what you want to do. Watch movies, read a book, just be lazy for a change.
6. Tackle the Big Jobs
A honey-do list may not be the most exciting part of your summer but tackling projects around the house that need your attention can go a long way to easing your everyday stress. Using some time off to get stuff done can also help you save money on major repairs.
7. Learn a Skill
Keep your mind active by learning a new skill this summer. Learn how to kayak or get educated on how to can the vegetables and fruits in your garden. Picking up a new skill can introduce you to new hobbies and make you a well-rounded person. You can also make a buck off your skills too: How to Figure Out Your Skills and Sell Them for Cash.
8. Create New Traditions
The winter holidays are not the only time to consider family traditions. Start a few so your family has something to look forward to in the summer months. Start a nightly family walk, scout out a favorite fishing hole, or host an annual backyard cookout.
9. Get Educated
If you have more free time in the summer, invest in your own education. Take courses online or at the community college to get some credits out-of-the-way. Be sure to check out these 8 Insider Tips to Saving Money on Textbooks.
10. Find a Swimming Hole
Whether your family prefers the public pool or enjoy jumping in the local river, find a fun place to cool off on a hot day. If there aren’t any good swimming locations nearby, invest in a sprinkler and let the hose flow freely for a little while.
11. Ditch the TV
Unless it’s a rainy day, keep the television off as much as possible. Take bored kids to the library or the park. Cancel your cable for the summer to save on your expenses.
12. Make New Friends
There are some cool ways to meet new people so get out there and do it. Join a club that focuses on your interests in books or hiking. Say, “Hi” to new people at church. Attend the community block party and meet all your neighbors.
13. Take a Big Family Trip
If it’s financially viable, plan a big trip for the family vacation. Let everyone in the family have a say about where to go. Get in the habit of planning in advance for the larger trips. Working with a travel agent, you can often ‘layaway’ a trip and make payments on it over the course of a year.
14. Find a Fitness Buddy
In order to stay motivated about being physically fit, find a friend that will hold you accountable for your inactivity. Ask a neighbor to go on a daily walk or find a friend that likes to run. Ask your pal to join a dance class with you. Here are 12 Free Exercises to get you started.
15. Volunteer Your Time
There a number of ways you can lend your time to help someone else. Whether you have one hour or forty to give each week, find something you enjoy doing that in turn helps others. Cook at a soup kitchen, teach a class at the community center for free, walk dogs at the shelter, or help build a new house for those in need.
16. Go Camping
Nothing says summer like the smell of marshmallows roasting over a campfire. Find a place to camp on the cheap at a nearby campground or state park. Even if you lack the necessary equipment for camping, you can rent a cabin and borrow supplies from your friends and family. Family camping is a great way to get everyone to unplug and relax for a weekend.
17. Invite Guests to Stay
If you have some out-of-state friends or family, invite them to visit. It can be a whole different experience seeing your local area through a new set of eyes. If you want to take a family road trip, hit up your out-of-state friends and family about a visit.
18. Get Sporty
You only have a limited time to do outdoor sports and adventures like hiking, boating, and water skiing. Take a family fun day and learn how to do a new water sport you have never tried.
19. Join a Team
Some communities or even your workplace may have established sports teams for summer play. Find out how to sign up for the softball team or get involved in some playground basketball. If nothing is in your area already, start a summer league with your friends.
20. Update Your Resume
Summer time is often a time of reflection and pondering what you’d like to improve in your life may reveal your desire to change jobs. During some time off, you can reorganize your priorities where your career is concerned. Update your resume and check out the online job boards to see what else is out there.
21. Hit Up the Yard Sales
Yard sales are growing in popularity. Get up early and hit some local yard sales to see what is being offered. You may be surprised at what some people want to get rid of at cheap prices. You may also want to hold your own sale to de-clutter your house of unwanted things and make a little summer fun money in the process. (Cough, cough… Minimalist Challenge anyone?)
22. Find a Farmer’s Market
If your goal is eating better, find out where the local farmer’s market is. You can pick up the freshest, summer produce for a low-cost. Invest some time in finding new recipes based on your farmer’s market finds.
23. Get in the Hammock
There is nothing like a lazy day of summer where you get to be lazy. If you happened to find a hammock during your yard sale spree, be sure to take some well-deserved time to lay in it. Recharge your batteries before school starts and summer is just another memory.
What are your plans for making the most of this summer? Got any fun trips planned?
Happy 4th of July! What are you up to today and this weekend? Anything fun? We’ll be staying in tonight since the baby goes to sleep really early, (7:00 – 7:30 pm) and all the fireworks displays start around 9:30 pm but we might be meeting up with some friends for some BBQ-ing at the ol’ park. I hope that whatever you do you are having fun today!
Here are this week’s Thrifty Weekender links:
Things have been pretty busy around these parts! I’m working away on the book (OMG. It’s a lot of work!), we’re in the midst of our wedding photography season, and then there’s all the regular old life stuff that is happening, of course. ;)
I owe ya a couple of updates on The Minimalist Challenge. Turns out, Day 18 was a pivotal point in the process, and I gained a lot of insights about what I have been hanging onto. Probably one of the biggest insights so far throughout The Challenge has been that I’ve realized that I’ve got to stop bringing stuff into the house… even if that stuff is free (local newspapers, things from friends, knick-knacks, etc).
Below is my update on The Minimalist Challenge for days 13 through 18. Up to this point I’ve gotten rid of a total of 171 items!!
Day 13, Get rid of 13 things:
Going through my closet I found myself thinking/deciding/having these realizations:
– “Have I even EVER worn this?!”
– If I only feel so-so when I wear a piece of clothing then I need to get rid of it.
– There are some clothes that I pull out of storage every time the seasons switch and I always think I’m going to wear but just never, ever seem to get around to wearing. Those items need to stop taking up time in my life and have been put in the Get Rid Of pile.
– Some clothes I like the idea of more than the reality of.
Day 14, Get rid of 14 things:
Day 15, Get rid of 15 things:
Day 16, Get rid of 16 things:
Most of these items we just don’t use anymore.
Day 17, Get rid of 17 things:
This is the medicine cabinet edition;) so most of these things have to be disposed of.
What’s with all these empty and expired things?!
Day 18, Get rid of 18 things:
The Linen Closet edition…
I think I still have a linen-collecting problem! :/ Linens showed up on my original Spending Fast Wants list and it looks like that problem area has slowly creeped back in.
So, at this point I’ve gone through: my closet, bedroom, coat closet, linen and medicine closest, and our office (surprisingly the least-cluttered area). The next areas that got tackled: junk drawer, Craft/Junk Room, and the basement storage unit.
Are you doing the Minimalist Challenge too? If so, how has it been going for you?
“If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.”
Today I’m counting: when I get my baby to laugh, when the sun peeks through the canopy of trees at the park, getting to go to yoga at the crack of dawn before the city wakes up, free parking at the meters by yoga because it’s so early, cuddling up with Aaron on the couch to watch a random show after the baby goes to bed.
What are you counting today?
This Sunday will be Aaron’s very first Father’s Day, and I made him something pretty neat that the baby will give him:), and I got him a couple of little things too. (I can’t wait to show you what I made him it’s a simple but impressive DIY that could be adapted for just about any holiday/event throughout the year.)
We’re continuing to clear-out the clutter through The Minimalist Challenge and my word, gotta say, while I know it will ultimately be cleaner after we get rid of the stuff, during the process of this Challenge our dining room has become a massive mess. I’ve been trying to remind myself, “Alright, it’s going to get messier before it gets cleaner” because we’ve got bins stacked upon bins, and since those are all packed full we’ve switched over to garbage bags so we have a place for the rest of the junk to go. I don’t know how we’ve accumulated SO much stuff! Barf. I’m so ready to let the things go even more now that I’ve had to stare at the piles of stuff everyday!
And now, let’s get into the Thrifty Weekender!
I hope you’re having a great weekend! Give those dads some extra tight bear hugs today! :) xo, Anna
I’m excited to share this week’s Minimalist Challenge update! It’s crazy to realize all the random crap that I’m been mindlessly accumulating. Oh my word… It’s kind of sickening but awesome at the same time to be taking action to end the problem!
Turns out, ACTION = RESULTS = FEEL GREAT.
Since I didn’t realize how much junk
we’ve I’ve been “collecting” I think I want to try to do this Challenge every year. It’s turned out to be such a great opportunity to clear out all the un-needed crap, and I love the idea of lightning up our load in the springtime.
So, I started the challenge with just pulling all the obvious items that were just hanging around out in the open and got a pretty good amount of stuff to get rid of by using that method. Soon though I’m going to have to tackle the more densely populated junk areas if I’m going to be able to make it through The Challenge.
Oh! And Aaron is participating too but he’s not taking pictures of the things he’s getting rid of so at the end of the 30 days we’ll have a big ol’ garage sale to try to make some cash off this stuff! So for most of the items when it says SELL that’s what I mean, that I’m going to try to sell the items at the yard sale first and then if it doesn’t sell, depending on what it is, I’ll either try to sell it elsewhere or I will donate it.
Today I’m going to give you the Day 3 through Day 12 progress report so with these items the total number of things I’ve been able to get rid of has risen to: 78!
Day 3, Get rid of 3 things:
Day 4, Get rid of 4 things:
Day 5, Get rid of 5 things: (I can’t count apparently;) so there are 6 items in the picture)
Day 6, Get rid of 6 things:
Day 7, Get rid of 7 things:
Day 8, Get rid of 8 things:
Day 9, Get rid of 9 things:
Day 10, Get rid of 10 things:
Day 11, Get rid of 11 things:
Day 12, Get rid of 12 things:
My SELL and DONATE bins are already filling up fast and it feels so good!
Are you doing the Minimalist Challenge too? If so, how has it been going for you?
Be all in. There is no halfway.
Do yourself a favor and conquer the getting-out-of-debt part as fast as you humanly can so you can get to the living the freaking amazing debt-free-life part a whole lot sooner. Go all in! Decide that it’s okay to suffer a bit now so you can soon enjoy life without that massive, shitty, debt cloud hanging over your head. I mean, really. Plus, it goes by a lot faster than you think it will… I did it so I know these things! :)
You can do this!
I don’t know about you, but when I had to be at the office right at 8:00 am on the dot, it was always a struggle. And, as much as a I wanted to get to the office at 8 am every day (if not before) it was always something I had to constantly work hard at accomplishing. My persistent struggle with timeliness is not something I’m happy to admit to but I’ve got to keep it real, folks. My Night Owl ways have haunted me for quite awhile; it’s just the way I function.
I knew that if I wanted to be seen in a favorable light, and if I wanted any chance at getting ahead I had to make the effort to get my butt out of bed just the littlest bit early.
So, if you’re looking ahead to a promotion, a review, or if you just generally want to kick things up a notch at your job, there are things you can do right now, yep, today! to increase your advancement potential. Luckily they’re easy to implement and only a couple of them require that you get up earlier!
19 Ways to Get to Work on Time and Improve Your Job Performance…
1. Change Your Evening Routine
You may be set in your ways… going home each night, eating dinner, hanging out with the family, and then mindlessly playing on your phone or watching television until you realize exactly how late it is, again. Examine your habits so you cut out the mindless, time-sucking activity, and get yourself to bed at a reasonable hour each and every night.
2. Prep for Tomorrow, Today
If you tend to run late to the office morning after morning, you may have too much on your plate in the early hours. Work on preparing for the next day each night. Pack your lunch, select your clothing, and make as many preparations for the next day as possible to get out the door faster. Then, come morning you can coast out of the house on auto-pilot.
3. Keep Your Car Tuned
If you have to call in late to work a lot because your vehicle keeps breaking down, it could ruin your reputation for being reliable. Keep your tires, your oil, and your engine in good shape so you don’t have the headache of being late due to car troubles. And, if you’re a bus-rider, like I was, be sure to catch a slightly earlier bus than the one that gets you there just in the nick-of-time because you just never know what you’re going to have to contend with as a bus-rider. Here are some examples of things I’ve experienced on the bus as I’ve tried to get to work: lots of wheelchairs and strollers loading and unloading, detours, brawls, the bus breaking down, the bus getting hit or hitting someone (or something), or you might have a traffic accident to content with.
4. Forget the Convenience Stop
If you tend to stop every morning for a cup of coffee and some donuts (or a breakfast burrito) just like every other commuter, you can cut out all that waiting (and the major annual expense) by investing in a thermal mug to fill up at home. Keep a stash of handy breakfast snacks to bring on the road or wake up 30 minutes early to grab a healthier breakfast in your kitchen.
I love making a double-batch of blueberry baked oatmeal at the beginning of the week and then I just eat that each morning.
5. Get Right to Work
When you get to work in the morning, wave to your co-workers but hit the ground running. If you typically spend two hours socializing, and doing other non-valuable activities in the workplace before actually doing any work, revamp your schedule. Get to work and get on the important tasks of the day. While your co-workers might wonder what’s up with your new-and-improved work ethic, your boss will totally appreciate it!
6. Self-Evaluate Your Performance
Before you attempt to get ahead, evaluate where you have been. You can’t expect to be successful at getting a promotion (or a raise) if you are a mediocre worker. Be honest about what you’ve put into your job so far. You may find some areas that need improvement, and that’s fine! Figure out what kind of training you need to get up to par and take advantage of any mentor programs that you can. You don’t need to go shoutin’ it from the roof-tops if you need to improve (not work-place appropriate and it could back-fire) but you can subtlety improve any areas that you find that you’re deficient in.
7. Consider Your Direction
Many people work at jobs only for the paycheck. Make sure you know where you want to go and more importantly if your current job will keep you moving in the right direction. If your current job is not on your goal list, consider finding something new where you can get beyond more than just a paycheck. There’s nothing worse than painfully waiting for each minute at work to pass.
8. Ramp Up the Positives
The workplace can definitely be stressful but do what you can to get (and maintain) a positive attitude. By doing so it can really help get to where you were you want to be. Be positive at work and find the positives that are worth working with. Try to avoid the office gossip and other negatives that can influence your work life. Avoid harping on the negative aspects of your job because that will just make them seem worse the more you drone on and on about them. If you’re really struggling, try to find one new thing that you are grateful for each day about your job. A couple of examples: “Because of this job I’m not homeless”, “I’m ‘paying my dues'”, “This is only temporary”, “The vending machine has peanut M&M’s”, or “My computer starts up quick”.
9. Analyze the Trends
For the industry you are in, it can be helpful to have the insider’s perspective on trends. Start reading industry publications and online resources to get familiar with what is going on. Most industries are progressively changing and if you are planning to stay on the career path, you owe it to yourself to know what is going on beyond your cubicle walls. Even better? Talk to people in your industry that you respect. Offer to take them out to lunch or coffee and pick their brains. While I typically don’t advocate going out to eat or to coffee often this is one of those instances where the benefit outweighs the cost. The cost of a lunch is a solid (and relatively small) investment in your career.
10. Be Ready for More Responsibility
When you know you are ready but no one is asking you to take on more work, step up to the plate and ask. Speak with your supervisor about becoming involved in special projects or be extra helpful in a group situation. By taking on work, any work – not just the “glamorous” work – you’re showing that you want to get ahead and that you really care.
11. Chat With the Boss
While many people actively avoid their boss like the plague, it may be worth your while to schedule a sit-down with her, and let her know that you’re interested in moving forward. This is a good time to showcase the many contributions you have made throughout your time at the company, but don’t make the mistake of making the conversation all about you and your wonderful talents. Let your boss get to know you a little better but be sure to keep your own ears open to see what you can learn.
12. Proffer Your Participation
When in meetings, be sure to participate. Don’t sit back and pretend to take notes. Get engaged in the conversation and offer up your two cents whenever possible.
13. Find a Mentor
Finding someone in the office or on the outside that does what you want to be doing can be a great way to learn the ropes. A mentor may be a co-worker, your boss, or an acquaintance. Your mentor can offer you direction, advice, and support because they understand what you are going through. They may also be able to offer networking opportunities for your own advancement but again, don’t take advantage. Think, “What can I bring to this situation” and “How can I be of service here?”
14. Become a Mentor Yourself
If there are new employees around your office, step up and become a mentor for them. Your employer will likely appreciate that you’re willing to take employees under your wing. By doing so you’ll confirm your commitment to your job and your chosen career path.
15. Practice Better Communication
Some people are not naturally good at effective communication. This may be something that is holding you back on the job. Ask friends, family, and co-workers that you trust to evaluate your ability to communicate. It may be worth your time to take classes to learn better communication practices and techniques because if you can’t effectively convey what your thoughts then you’re at a severe disadvantage.
16. Work Smarter
Just because you stay in the office until late at night doesn’t mean you’re working harder. The key to success is finding ways to work smarter and learn how to be more productive in each day. You may need to learn new skills to increase productivity and work more effectively every day. Eliminate those time-sucking activities that aren’t advancing you or the workplace forward. Also, be careful about too much socializing. While socializing it great for networking, and while it does make work a lot more fun, it usually takes up way more time than we realize.
17. Know Your Limits
While you have to put forth the effort to get ahead, you need to know your limits. Going full steam ahead can lead to burn out. Be willing to go the extra mile but don’t push yourself over the edge trying to get ahead. Don’t forgo vacation days or the occasional mental health days to get the rest you need to recharge your batteries.
18. Get More Education
In some cases, advancement means more education. Check with your human resource department to see if your employer offers any financial assistance for going back to college. Find out where the seminars and conventions are that may help you earn more experience and gain more insight into your job and industry.
19. Resolve Conflicts Like a Grown Up
Because you spend so much time with coworkers in the office, conflicts are sure to come up. You need to handle them like adults and not resort to childish behavior. If a calm approach doesn’t work, go directly to your supervisor for mediation.
What tips do you have for getting to work on time and being better at your job? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
What are you up to this weekend? Since season 2 of Orange is the New Black just came out of Netflix we’ve been binge-watching the shows after the baby goes to sleep and we’ve been loving every minute of it! Have you gotten into the series? I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in Piper’s shoes with the past coming to haunt her like that. After the first season came out I hunted down the real NY Times article that Piper’s fiancé Larry wrote (I felt pretty cool when I found it;), and here it is if you’re interested: Modern Love: A Life to Live, This Side of the Bars.
Right now it’s dark and rainy out, and there is thunder booming in the distance. It’s the perfect weather to catch up on writing and napping… I’ll start with the catching up on blogging part and then, if I’m lucky, I might be able to do the napping part. I’ve also been doing The Minimalist Challenge everyday and I am shocked at how much junk I’ve been accumulating that I haven’t been using. My SELL and DONATE bins are filling up so fast! I’m going to have to start putting things in trash bags since I’m running out of room in the bins. It feels so good to clear stuff out! Have you been participating? How has it been going for you?
Let’s go ahead and get right into the Thrifty Weekender…
Hope what’s left of your weekend is great! xo, Anna
Yesterday, I wrote about how I’m undertaking The Minimalist Challenge for the month of June. Here is an update for ya:
Day 1, Get rid of 1 thing:
Day 2, Get rid of 2 things:
Do you think you’re going to do the challenge too? What would you get rid of first?
Also! On Twitter, @sathlondonshona, told me that there is a hashtag #minsgame where you can follow along with everyone else who is doing the challenge. So fun!
It seems like everywhere I look lately different people are talking about “clearing out”, “de-cluttering”, and “living with less”. Maybe everyone is in the Spring Cleaning state of mind or, it could have to do with people seeing how much mental space is cleared when crap isn’t in the way…?
I mean, have you ever thought about how high-maintenance crap is? All those material objects need to be bought in the first place, then arranged, cleaned, maintained, and if you’re anything like me, there’s a layer of guilt thrown in there too for buying the object in the first place, and then there are all the considerations of so now, “Should I return it?”, and the mental chatter and conflict goes on and on for pretty much, forever.
When I did the Spending Fast I learned how much mental space material objects take up. I was shocked that all that stuff I had been buying pre-fast wasn’t just jacking up on my wallet but also my mind. Who knew, right? During the Spending Fast I found that my mind was so much clearer and I found that I had so much more time! I knew my over-spending habit was costing me a lot of money but I never realized how much time it was taking up too.
Very, very slowly, material objects have started to accumulate in my house again and to be honest, it’s making me nervous. I don’t want to fall back into my old spending habits. I don’t want that old way of life back. Plus, it was hard enough to get out of debt in the first place so, I definitely don’t want to have to do it again!
There’s something I really love about moving — not the actual packing and unpacking (that sucks) — but the clearing out and starting fresh that is a result of moving. During a move it’s easy for me to be cutthroat with my items and look at them in an objective way — something that I can’t seem to do as easily on the spot when I’m going through life day-to-day. Usually, I find that I put lots of stuff in the Junk Drawer or in the Craft Room. The “Craft Room” has slowly started to become the room version of the Junk Drawer. It’s really the catch-all, “I’ll deal with that later room.” Stuff accumulates and never gets tossed because, “I just might need it” and “You just never know! That could come in handy!” I’m so over thinking like that.
I want my mind to be clear again. I want more of my time back. I want less stuff to take care of. I want less. A lot less.
So since we’re not planning on moving anytime soon this is where The Minimalist Challenge comes in. I found out about the challenge on The Minimalists website where they discuss what they call The Minimalist Game. (They also have a new book out called Everything That Remains. I haven’t read it yet but I would love to, and seriously, what a great title! I’m bummed that I missed them when they came through town to promote their book back in April. Hoping they come through again…)
Basically, you start on Day 1 getting rid of 1 item. Then, on Day 2, you get rid of 2 items. You keep going like that, ideally to 30 days and see how many items you can get rid of. When I brought up the idea of doing The Minimalist Challenge to Aaron, he was ALL ABOUT IT which did not surprise me one bit considering that he usually says we should get rid of stuff and I know he thinks I would be a Hoarder if I could be (I wouldn’t).
I calculated it and if we each do the challenge this month we’d each be getting rid of 465 items throughout the 30 day period. For a grand total of 930 items getting freed from our lives!
Holy crap, that’s a lot of crap!
This is how The Minimalist Challenge is gonna go down:
– I’ve got 2 storage size containers. One is labeled with DONATE and the other with SELL. I’ll have another category of TRASH, and all of that stuff will just go into the trashcan right away, obviously;). Right now I’m thinking that I’ll wait until the end of the month to sell and donate stuff so I can consolidate my efforts. Maybe I’ll have a yard sale and whatever doesn’t sell I’ll bring right to the thrift store (and get myself a receipt for tax time;).
– If I have a hard time deciding if I should get rid of an item or not I’m going to evaluate every item with these questions: “When was the last time I used this?” (if I haven’t used something within the last year I probably won’t use it the upcoming year), and I’m going to ask, “Does this item add value to my life or take away value (time) from my life?”
– I’ll take pictures of the stuff I’m getting rid of each day and I’ll post an update on the blog once a week-ish to keep you posted on how things are going. (I will, for sure, be documenting my progress on the blog but I don’t know if Aaron will be documenting his progress here or not. I hope so! But can’t say for sure quite yet.)
– My plan of attack with be the high-junk concentration areas like: our basement storage area, the “Craft Room”, my closet, office, and the junk drawer. I started getting rid of things yesterday since it was the 1st but you don’t have to begin on the 1st of the month (first update coming tomorrow)! Just start with whatever day you want and go for 30 days.
I would love for you to join me! Are you in!? Let’s get rid of some shit together! Say yes! Say yes!
Father’s Day is coming up quick (June 15th to be exact) so I’m starting to think of what to get Aaron for his very first Father’s Day. These goodies from Uncommon Goods are some of my top picks. The great news is all of these gifts are all under 50 bucks so they are perfect for those of us who are money-conscious! ;)
1. Magnetic Keyring Holder (Aaron loves it when our place is super organized so this would be perfect for him)
4. Scratch Map Deluxe (always the traveller, Aaron would love this cool gift where you scratch off where you’ve been – so neat!)
What do you have planned for Father’s Day, and what are your favorite ways to show your papa you love him?
This is a sponsored post but as always, my opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that help to make this site possible! xo!
Today Aaron and I are photographing our first wedding of the season so my sister came into town to watch the baby while we work. We’ve been having fun enjoying the cooler weather at the park and roaming around town. Oh, I love my sisters and brother so much! It’s so cool to have parallel lives with people and to share a history with them.
Let’s jump right in because it’s Thrifty Weekender time!
You know how when taxes are automatically pulled from your check it doesn’t really seem like you’re missing out on that money since you never saw it in the first place? Yeah, that’s kind of cool in a weird way because while paying taxes stinks because you can’t spend your money the way you want it IS nice that you don’t have to write out a check every two weeks to pay what you owe. This app, SavedPlus, works in a very similar way. Had I known about this app back when I wrote the post 16 Apps that Will Help Make Your Life More Efficient and Help You Save Money I definitely would’ve included this one in the list.
In a nutshell, this is how SavedPlus works:
That’s it! You set it and forget it. Other stuff you should know about:
Anything that helps to make saving easy and painless is a win in my book!
This is a sponsored post but as always, my opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the companies that help to make this site possible! xo!
Money touches every. single. area. of life so it’s not super surprising that if your financial life is outta control the rest of your life will feel that way too. When I was in debt I ALWAYS felt like my life was unmanageable. I was constantly thinking thing’s like, “Why can’t I catch up?”, “Why do I feel SO overwhelmed?”, and “How come no matter what I do it just doesn’t seem to make a difference? AT ALL?!?!”
Some times were, of course, way worse than others, and in those really bad times, my thoughts would spiral out of control, running far too fast for me to handle. My money situation left me feeling anxious, worried, scared, depressed, and generally, really, really crappy.
So when you’re feeling all those super shitty things how the heck are you supposed to do what you so desperately need to do? You know, take some freaking positive action? What worked/works for me is to just put one foot in front of the other. That’s it.
While getting control of your life is a process there are some things you can do right away to help stomp out the flow of insanity and get things moving back in the right direction (rather than free-falling into the abyss). Oh, and guess what else?
When you control your money you control your mind.
12 Ways to Make You Feel More in Control of Your Life…
1. Prep for a New Day
Every day is a new beginning – a time to start anew. So be ready for it by preparing ahead of time. If you have to rush around first thing in the morning it can start things off terribly which can progressively make your day feel more out of your control. Each night before going to bed, set out your clothing, pack your lunch, prepare your coffee. Do whatever is necessary to make your morning smooth and un-rushed.
2. Gain Some Perspective
For centuries, people have utilized techniques like meditation and other exercises to clear the mind and gain some fresh perspective. Add a block of time to each day where you sit quietly, breathe deeply, and find your inner-self. You don’t need to sit in any certain position to meditate and you don’t even need to call it meditating. You can just plop your butt down and try to just be.
3. Write It Down
People often feel most out of control when they forget to do necessary things. With so much to remember throughout a day in your life, it can be hard to keep it all straight. Write down your thoughts, ideas, and must-do’s on paper. This is a great way to have total recall and stay in touch with your accomplishments over a 24 hour period. Plus, it feels really good to get it all out of your head. I’m a huge list-maker because it just helps me keep my head straight.
4. Consider Your Brain Clutter
There are a lot of factors in your life that can be causing interference with the things that matter. Take some time to consider what is unnecessary in your day and make a plan for cutting those things out of your life. This may include things that make you tend to procrastinate like television, video games, and unhealthy addictions to your cell phone (I’m raising my hand over here).
5. Boot the Drama Kings and Queens
We all have people in our lives that can be mentally and emotionally draining. These people often take away too much of our energy, leaving us unable to do what we need to do for ourselves. Take steps to limit time spent with them or cut them from your life entirely. It’s amazing how much time listening to drama takes!
6. Improve Your Methods
If your routine is causing a case of procrastination, make another list of all the things you do in a day. Then brainstorm ways to do your tasks in a different way. Streamline your processes so you’re improving them instead of consistently wasting time on ineffective methods. OR, maybe you’ve never considered how you do things. Take some time to evaluate how you’re doing things and you’ll gain a fresh perspective.
7. When In Doubt, Source It Out
When you spend a lot of time thinking about all the things you should be doing but just don’t enjoy or just don’t have the time to do then it’s time to start considering the benefits of outsourcing. There are tons of people who are looking for odd jobs and they might even enjoy doing things you don’t care for. Likely there are people in your family, neighborhood, and your circle of friends that would love to earn a few extra bucks weeding your garden, mowing your lawn, cleaning your home, or taking care of your laundry. Your peace of mind is worth way more than the few bucks you’ll have to pay out, and then you’ll be freed up to do the things you actually enjoy doing or you’ll have the time to put into your own side jobs that you enjoy.
8. Put the Word ‘No’ Into Practice
Sometimes our lives get out of control because we are quick to give our time over to other people. Learn to say ‘No’ to people and things that aren’t part of your own vision. It’s fine to help out every now and then, of course (!), but don’t feel obligated to say ‘Yes’ just because some asked something of you.
9. Get Your Beauty Sleep
Life is just more difficult when you’re tired. Make sleep a priority and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take life on. Doesn’t like just seem harder when you’re tired? I know it does for me.
10. Find Your Happy Place
When things become too overwhelming, have a place in mind where you can go, and just refocus. You may dedicate a room in your house, your backyard, even the quiet local library can be a place where you can sit alone with your thoughts for a period of time without interruption. Or, if you don’t have those spaces available to you simply step into the bathroom, lock the door and hang out for a 10 minutes. Give yourself that bit of space and time.
11. Utilize Your Good Time
Some people work best early in the morning while others are night owls (that’s me). Whatever time you’re at your best, plan to tackle your more difficult tasks then. Work with yourself, not against yourself. By doing so you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, and you can spend the other times of the day doing the less important (but necessary) work.
12. Find the Positives
Feeling out of control can also bring about a sense of negativity. Make a point to find at least 1 positive every day. Surround yourself with meaningful, inspirational pictures, quotes, stories, and people as often as possible. Feeling grateful for what IS right in your life can help you keep perspective on the things that aren’t going so well.
What about you? Do you have any tips for what helps you to feel in control of your life?
I just so happen to know a good number of people who are moving now so I thought it would be good to cover some tips for relocating to a new town. Most of these tips will also work if you are just moving across town.
One of my worst moves of all-time was when I was moving to a new apartment right around the corner from where I was living. I thought it would be the easiest move EVER because it was just around the corner so I didn’t pack things as I should. I also drug the whole process out far too long by moving over the course of a few days, instead of just busting it out over a day or afternoon. So, needless to say, now I always pack like I’m moving across the country even if it’s just across town.
Bust it out. Get it done.
Here are 19 tips for relocating across the country (or across town) for pennies:
1. Ask for Assistance
If you are moving due to a job change, be sure to ask your new employer if they offer any type of relocation assistance to help you cover costs of the move and resettlement into a new place. They just might so you don’t want to leave any funds, or help on the table.
2. Hoard Packing Materials
Every time you visit the grocery store ask customer service for any heavy-duty boxes they still have after restocking their shelves. The liquor store is also a good place to get boxes that are segregated which makes packing glasses and knick-knacks much easier. Collect other materials like newspaper and bubble wrap from family and friends to prevent having to spend money on those types of packing materials. Old blankets are a great way to protect the furniture that’s going with you.
3. Start a Packing Timeline
If you are not in a rush, start a few weeks early by writing down a plan of attack. The less stress you have trying to get and stay organized, the less money you’ll spend purely out of convenience.
4. Keep a “Hold All” Box
Keep one larger box or a plastic tub to the side where you will keep all of your must-have items such as packing tape, pens, markers, scissors, paper, important documents, medicines, toiletries, and anything you’ll need until the minute you leave home. This will prevent having to buy new stuff every time you pack away or lose things you need. Keep this box with you at all times so you can get access to these important items when you reach your destination.
5. Keep an “Open First” Box
This is like the Hold All packing box, but not unlike the above box where your priority items are this box will hold what should be considered your 2nd on the list priority items. Give some thought to what items you’ll need (or want) to have right when you get to your new home. Maybe you’ll want to include things like the coffee maker, coffee cups, toilet paper, towels, and toys to keep the kids busy.
6. Label All Boxes
It can be really easy to skip this step or to just do it sloppily. Some people would actually rather go out and buy new items instead of searching through yet another box for something they need. Nip unnecessary spending in the bud by marking each box with a permanent marker noting what room it belongs in with a brief list of what’s inside. Try to avoid my technique that usually comes out at the end of the packing experience where I throw stuff into the boxes and just label them all MISCELLANEOUS…;)
7. Clean as You Go
When you pack up an area, give it a good cleaning immediately after the space has been cleared. This will keep things efficient and prevent you from having to hire cleaners to do your entire residence when you are sick of the moving process. Cleaning will also be beneficial if you rent and are counting on a security deposit refund.
8. Ditch the Junk
Keep a JUNK and GARAGE SALE box close by. While you’re boxing up your keepers, you’ll easily be able to toss your junk and garage sale items into their proper boxes. Moving is a great chance to clear out the stuff that finds a way to accumulate over the years. Plus, you’ll spend more money if you have to move boxes of stuff you don’t even want anymore. Sell anything that is still in good shape by having a moving sale when you near the end of your packing process.
When you make your donation to the thrift store be sure to get a donation receipt because that will come in handy when tax time rolls around.
9. Be a Sell Out
It may benefit you financially to move across the country as light as possible. Consider the cost difference between hiring a large moving truck to haul your large items versus the cost of buying new stuff when you get to your destination. What you discover may surprise you (or it may not)!
10. Check Out Storage Options
For any family heirlooms or pieces you may want back at some point, consider renting a low-cost storage unit to house your items until you can have them set to your new place of residence and cheaper option is to consider asking trusted friends or family to house your treasures in their homes until you can arrange for transportation. If you do decide to go with the storage unit be sure that you don’t forget about it and continue to rack up $50 + a month in fees. (Check out this post for more on the subject: Do You Have Too Much Crap? Money Wasted on Self-Storage)
11. Get Several Quotes on Moving Companies
If you decide to have a moving company move your stuff be sure you get multiple estimates and quotes before making a decision. You want affordability, of course, but you also want reliability.
12. Pack It Yourself
Moving companies will provide you with a moving team, a truck and a driver all you have to do it pack up the truck yourself and they’ll drive it across the country.
13. Be Truck Smart
If you plan to rent your own moving truck and haul your stuff across country on your own, make sure to only reserve the truck size you need. It can be bad to underestimate the space you’ll need in the truck but it will cost you a lot of extra money (in gas and truck rental fees) if you book a truck that is too large.
14. Pack Strategically
It can be tempting to just fling your boxes inside the truck. Give yourself enough time to ensure you pack strategically using every ounce of space in the most logical way. This way you will be able to make sure everything fits and that it will be protected along the journey.
15. Seek Out Hotel Deals
When you have to travel a long distance and plan to do it on the road, you’ll need to consider stopping to rest. You can find valuable coupons in the books available for free at state welcome centers. Look for coupons for hotel deals and restaurants along the way and online before you leave.
16. Reach Out to Friends
If you have friends and family along the travel route, ask them if you can borrow their couch for a night rather than spending your money on hotel lodging. Plan out your travel time so you can leave some extra time to hang out with friends and family you haven’t seen in a while.
17. Camp Along the Way
If the weather is nice and you don’t have any friends or family along your route, consider camping out instead of staying at a hotel. Pick a campground that has showers and you’ll be set for another day of traveling.
18. Pack a Cooler
Depending on the room available in your vehicle you can save a good amount of cash if you pack your own snacks and drinks for the morning and afternoon. Then, only stop for dinner.
19. Don’t Buy Until Settled In
When you make it to your new home, give yourself time to unwind and unpack. Don’t rush out to the store to buy what you think you need. Give yourself time to sort through your stuff and get set up, keeping a list of ideas along the way. If you rush off to the store the 1st week you’re in town it will likely lead to overspending, especially on things that you don’t really need. The only store you need to hit in the first few weeks is the grocery store.
Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear them!