First of all: How is it April already?!

This year is flying by! I haven't written at all for a few reasons:

1 - Learning how to juggle 3 jobs and run a business. Yes, 3. All part-time-ish. All requiring me to own my own business which means doing adult things like quarterly taxes, writing contracts, and sending out invoices [not as easy as I thought]. Not because we need it but because I'm probably certifiably insane, love what I do, and can't say no?

2 - Flu/Strep combo and that little concussion. Minor Detail. No joke. I had two weeks off for Christmas/New Years, the first was spent with family in Ohio and the second was supposed to be used for getting ahead with my business, taxes, cleaning the house, and prepping blog posts. One day in to that second week I couldn't move, breathe, stay awake, eat, etc. Just as I was able to breathe again, I couldn't swallow without feeling like I was swallowing glass. Super fun. Thankful for a dad who called in some antibiotics and I was better before work started up again the next week but I ended up getting way behind with everything else!
Later in January we went on a ski trip to Breckenridge, Colorado with a huge group of friends/co-workers [something like 16 people total?!]. On the second, and thankfully last, day of skiing, I was hit in the back of the head by a snowboarder, flew in to the air landing head-first with my feet pointed uphill. Thankfully I was skiing with a helmet. I had a headache the size of Texas and kept feeling like I needed to go to sleep so I was taken to the hospital via ambulance for evaluation. After failing the balance test but not throwing up, passing out, or seizing [hooray!], it was determined that while I did suffer a concussion, I did not have a brain bleed and could fly home the next day. I could not however: read, use a computer, watch TV, be around loud crowds [ha - we were sharing a 3 bedroom suite with 9 others], etc. ..and the next morning I woke up with whiplash which made walking through the airport fun! I spent the rest of the month sleeping before and after every activity. January was not my month for getting things done.. but yes, I will go skiing again!

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Ironically we were waiting to buy my helmet here!
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Pre-concussion
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3 - New Year's Resolutions [Seriously. I actually made some this year and am attempting to stick to them!] During my time of reflection after the concussion, I decided to make some New Year's goals. In order to try to stick to my resolutions and make them a priority, I made a rule that I had to show commitment to each goal before I could write again.
Resolution 1: Start drinking more water. I now start each morning and end my day with at least 1 8oz glass, keep a full tumbler with me at work, and make myself drink a full glass of water before I'm allowed to have any other drink with a meal. I'm still probably not at the recommended amount but considering I detest water, it's a step in the right direction!
Resolution 2: Join a gym and actually go [ya know, after being medically cleared]. I crushed this one. I joined the beginning of the second week of March and had a goal to go at least 6 times by March 31. I doubled that.
Resolution 3: Use a planner. Getting better at this one but still need improvement! Next year more thought will be put into what type of planner I purchase - I need one more tailored to how I like to view my month/week/day!
Resolution 4: Start doing daily devotions. I like to start things with a purpose and be 'exact' with things. So when I went to the Christian bookstore at the beginning of March and bought my new devotional books and one had a "daily" plan for 30 days, I couldn't start it until April 1. Just couldn't. And I hate to do day 3 devotion on day 4 so I think I'll be sticking to this!
Resolution 5: Don't get overwhelmed. Blogging is a hobby, not an only source of income. If it doesn't get done, it doesn't get done. It shouldn't take away from time with friends and family.

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4 - I can't keep a secret. I kept wanting to share pictures of our house and projects we were doing but I also didn't want to until our show aired so you could see some of the 'before'! .. So now, the only reason most of you are here, the BIG news: WE GOT THE EMAIL! Last night, we received an email from the production company that our show will air NEXT Saturday, April 11th at 9:30 AM on HGTV! If you want to record it, our episode is called, "Third Round Knock Out." I'll post a full disclaimer on Monday!

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    We are so excited to finally see the episode ourselves and excited for you all to see it as well. Be prepared for several home posts afterwards to see what we've done since moving in! Happy Easter!
"2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; He has risen!" Luke 24: 2 - 6a
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    Continuing with the "Investment" theme..

Invest in Others

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    See that huge smile on that little girl's face? That's all you need to see to feel like the richest person in the world. This is my husband and I on our first mission trip together, Senior year of high school. We went with a group of teachers and students, including my sister, to beautiful Costa Rica. We helped in orphanages and in this church. Building and painting in the morning, holding Vacation Bible School in the afternoon, and touring the city at night.
    While Costa Rica was one of my favorite mission trips ever, and a mission trip to Africa is a deep desire for both my husband and I, we can't afford to go to either of those places right now. The good thing is, as with investing in yourself and the ones you love, you don't always have to spend money to invest in others. A few weeks ago, my husband and I went with Chick-fil-A Walnut Creek and employees from Kaiser to volunteer at the City Team International shelter in Oakland, CA. Chick-fil-A's Owner/Operator [pictured handing out meals below] generously donated 300 meals for the event. Coats, clothes, and shoes were collected from various places around the city to provide a free store for the homeless and less fortunate in the area.
    Doors to the shelter-turned-free-store officially opened at 11:00am, but when we arrived with the food at 10:30am, the line was already down the block. It was a pleasure to be serving and truly eye-opening about the needs in our own backyard. Volunteering [in other words, investing in others] is also an investment in yourself and your growth as a person. You realize just how good you have it.. which, if you're reading this right now, is better than most.
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    Investing in others can be costly, time, energy, and money-wise. You have to take time out of your daily schedule, maybe even several days off work if you're going to go on an actual mission trip, which may mean less money in your paycheck. It also takes money to travel out of the country, you might have to buy and bring supplies, may end up leaving the clothes and shoes you take with you there because there's a need and you can't say no.. and you lose a lot of energy doing manual labor if you're not used to it.. but from first hand experience, I can guarantee you that none of that will matter when you see the smile on the faces of those you're helping.
    Other than doing Operation Christmas Child together each year, my husband and I hadn't truly volunteered together since Costa Rica. It was such a blessing to do this together and we are committed to doing more in the future. I encourage you to take a step back from your daily life and go volunteer somewhere. You won't get paid for it, but you will be blessed. Or, if you believe in Karma, it'll come back around.
    Bless and be blessed!
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      It's the month of love, how do you show love? Many of us show love through our investments, whether it be time, money or both. Four Tuesdays in February = four investment tips: invest in you, invest in the ones you love, invest in others, and invest in God.

Invest in You

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    Investing in yourself does not mean go splurge on every item on your fashion or home decor Pinterest board. Investing doesn't always have to involve spending. In order to invest in anything, you have to invest in yourself first. Kind of like, in order to love someone else, you must first love yourself. So how do you invest in you?
  • Take Care of Your Health and Well-Being:  You're always taking your pets or children [if you have them] to the doctor, what about yourself? When was your last check up or dental appointment? When was the last time you worked out? How many times have you cheated and substituted chips because you didn't take the time to slice up an apple? Your health is so important to your daily functioning, take the steps to take care of you! For me, it was investing in a gym membership, the kind with classes that hold me accountable! Also, not going to the store hungry and purchasing all the unhealthy food. Maybe for you it's brushing twice a day for two whole minutes and flossing daily.. actually, yes, that's probably it!
  • Take a "Selfie": No, not a picture. Take a Selfie Day. This goes along with your well-being. Take some time for you. Relax, watch an old movie, read a good book, take a cat nap. No work emails, no distractions, even if it's just for an hour, and even if you have to hire a babysitter and you don't ever leave the house. You deserve some you time to rejuvenate.
  • Allow a "Splurge" [Now and Then]: You're allowed to get yourself a mini-gift every once and a while. Just don't overspend. Make a goal for yourself and when you meet that goal, you're allowed to reward yourself. Ps. Make your goals fitting for the reward. None of this, "oh, if I clean the kitchen I get a new car!" - cleaned the kitchen? Great! A new baking accessory would be a more appropriate "reward". Graduate college and get a job? Then we can talk about a car..
  • Make Something Happen: That dream you have? Chase it. Invest in your interests. Want to learn to sew, paint, write calligraphy? Take a class or if that's too much of an investment, have a friend who is good at it teach you and give them a heartfelt gift as thanks. If you don't do something your heart desires, you'll regret it later.
    Hopefully this inspires you to do something for you! The better care you take of yourself allows you to give more of yourself and your best self to others!

*Photo from bubblews.com

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Budget Talk

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    Is your resolution to start saving money by couponing? This post is totally not to trash "Extreme Couponers," but to inform those who may be getting into couponing and falling into the traps of couponing. I don't know if I can still categorize myself as 'newlywed,'  but I will anyway. As a newlywed, I quickly learned that my college diet of cereal, peanut butter and jelly, Lean Pockets, Goldfish, and carrots and apples for every meal wouldn't cut it. I had to start shopping for actual meal food to support this "growing boy." Our first grocery bill made me want to cry. I had never spent so much in a grocery store! Enter idea: start cutting coupons!
    These are some things I learned about cutting coupons:
  • It's time consuming.
  • They don't work if you leave them clipped to the fridge door. Or in your purse.
  • Couponing can actually make you spend more money by enticing you to purchase things that you wouldn't normally buy. And then you may or may not ever use that item..
  • Purchasing something because the coupon says, "buy one get TWO FREE!" is NOT a good idea if you have never purchased the product before - it's wasteful after you try the first yogurt and it was awful so the other two just sit there and grow mold. This is also not a good idea if you have to use an extra bathroom as a storage room. "Honey, where are the paper towels?" "Oh, in the shower!" - True story. I think that was from a Wife Swap or Hoarders show.
  • Percentages aren't always as big as they seem! Beware Target Cartwheel users: 5% off doesn't even cover tax anymore!
     Tips for Couponing:
  • Try using apps on your phone to spend less time cutting!
  • Don't let it become to stressful or overwhelming. Saving money should be fun!
  • Only coupon for things you need!
  • Along with the first one, don't buy something just because it's on sale.
  • If you're going to do a "buy one get TWO FREE" deal - check expiration dates! Is this something you can "get rid of" or eat before it expires? In addition, set reminders for Groupon expiration dates and read the rules closely!
  • If you can, wait until you're ready to check out before looking for coupons. Target and my local grocery store both have free WiFi in stores and they have couponing apps [seriously the way to go]. I avoid spending excess money by looking at what's in my cart then searching in the keyword search bar for that item [or on Target's app you can just scan the item with your smart phone. Genius.].
  • If you ignore the previous tip, you'll end up spending more money and time doing this: Looking through Target's coupon app before heading in, Ooh! "20% shirts" and "5% shoes," head straight to those departments and force yourself to find something just because it's "such a great deal!" Who knows how much time you'll spend trying to find something to fit the "deal."
    I'm not a pro or extreme couponer by any means, and I am definitely not an expert. But these tips are from personal experience of how I [in a sense] lost money from couponing. If you want to learn more and save more, I recommend using:
..along with any coupon app your local grocery store might offer! Happy Saving!

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Happy New Year!

    Turns out, due to the mail and packaging services being behind and the fact that I only sent them out a week prior to Christmas, our cards were super late - sorry friends and family! This year I resolve to getting them out earlier in December so that there is less of a chance of that happening again!
    As part of my resolutions for the New Year, I am beginning "Tuesday Tips" and "Friday Favorites." I will try to post as many Tuesdays and Fridays as possible; but with work, trying to get a new hygiene license, and preparing for a move that we don't have a date for yet.. it might be tricky! A move? Yes, we will be moving in 2014! No set date yet though! The new city [revealed later, unless our moms, dads, or siblings have already spilled the beans!] wants Tyler there May 1, but they want to keep him here until his replacement arrives in June - so for now, the two cities are battling it out!
    Today's tip, and many Tuesday Tips, will be about budgeting. Everyone's making resolutions for the New Year and this is a popular one! I feel like [while yes, I am a shopaholic] this is something I have a grasp on and can help share my budgeting and saving tips with you! It also helps me to have it written down and out there so I can "practice what I preach" so to say. Here it goes!

If You Can Wait, Wait!

    I know. This is the hardest thing to do, ever. You love that over-priced sparkly pillow and it would look just perfect on your couch. Or that $90 sweater that would look great with your new pencil skirt. Happens to the best of us. We rationalize spending on things that go on sale a month later and we haven't even used or worn them yet! I will admit, there are things that are not worth the wait and sometimes you just need to pamper yourself, but do it within reason!
"Good things come  
                to those who wait.."

Worth the Wait: Holiday Decor.
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    This year I was out of town, so I did not get to go after Christmas shopping for deals on Christmas decor - even my husband was disappointed we missed getting more Christmas decorations. Even though I missed out, by some grace of God, there were a few things left at Pier 1 when I stopped in last night. I picked up the ornaments above for about $1 each. To begin with, the ballet flats were just under $4 and the high heel just under $6, and I got the flats for $0.96 and the high heel for $1.38. Quite the steal. I purchased several of the flats to use under bows for next year's Christmas wrapping.
    All holiday decor is like this! Once the season is over, everything goes on major sale so they can get rid of it and stock the next item. You may be a little short on decor this year, but you won't be short on cash from over-spending, and next year you'll have a great selection!
How to Wait and Deciding What is Worth the Wait

It's a long process, but I make myself do this with most items and it's saved me a lot of money!

1. Take a deeeep breath and walk away from the item.
2. Go home and wait a minimum of 3 days. But preferably a week.
3. After the required time, reevaluate. Have you forgotten about the item? If so, not only is this item worth the wait, it might be something you can live without. Can't get it off your mind, dream about it nightly? Continue on before rushing to the store:
4. Make sure you have funds for the item in your spending money [complete breakdown on how I get my "Spending Money" number to come in a future Tuesday post] - not only should you have the funds for the item, but you should have 1.25x the price. Ex. If an item is $25, make sure you have at least $31.25 available. This accounts for tax, a pack of gum or lip balm you might pick up in the check out lane, and leaves you a little bit of cushion so you're not maxing out your spending money.
5. Have a vision for the item. If it's a clothing item, do you have at least 2 outfits prepared for it? Shoes, same thing. Home decor, if it's not holiday decor, is it something that can be set out for at least 2 seasons of the year, and is it a durable, "years to come" piece? You get the picture; make sure it's not something you'll only wear or use once.
6. Still in love with the item? Check online. Sometimes other stores have the exact same item at a lower price - just watch out for taxes and shipping fees. Also, check the store for any coupons or online deals. No luck? Proceed to step 7.
7. Head to the store and find it. If the item isn't there, I tell myself it wasn't meant to be. If the item is there, I do three things [I told you, long process!]:
  • Pick it up and reevaluate. Again, think of just how you'll use the item. Also, if it's clothing, try it on! Some things look great on the hanger and awful on.
  • Walk away without it. If it's painful, keep walking. Graze down a few isles and come back to the item to see if you still feel the same way about it.
  • Count. Is it the last one? or are there plenty there? If the answer is plenty, it might be worth waiting to see if it goes on sale at a later date. Last one, or only a few left? Proceed to final step.
8. Buy it or Wait. You're seriously thinking, "but I did wait.. a whole week!" After truthfully [see steps 4 and 5] going through the steps, if you've decided it's needed, buy it! You've waited long enough. If it's still if-fy, then wait a little longer. I once walked away from a necklace that was $30 thinking it was over-priced for dainty costume jewelry. I repeated these steps a total of 3 times. The 3rd time I went back to the store, the necklace was over 1/2 off. Definitely worth the wait!

    Yes. The process is long, and painful, but worth it. I can honestly say I've saved a TON of money and stayed in budget by being patient and waiting! What's meant to be in your closet will always find a way to be in your closet.

Happy Saving!
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