Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Dreaded Financial Hangover

The holiday season is such a fun and special time of year with so much to celebrate. I love driving through town and seeing Christmas lights and hearing Christmas music wherever I go. I also love all the delicious holiday treats and big family dinners on Christmas Eve. But, with the holidays can also come some stress, some chaos, and even some financial woes, especially come January when the bills start rolling in from your generous Christmas giving and you feel the weight of throwing that budget out the window in the name of the Christmas spirit. Today I have a few ways to avoid that dreaded Financial Hangover in January.

Get in the habit of paying yourself first

My parents always taught me that it was important to pay myself first when it comes to savings account. Its easy to tell yourself that you will save whatever money is left over at the end of the month, but I find myself spending whatever I have in my checking account. So, whenever we get paid, I first put a small amount into savings, and then I pay bills, go out to eat, get a coffee, buy gifts, or whatever else I have planned. We have learned to make it a habit to save a portion of our income and then force ourselves to live on whatever is left over. That way, we always have that savings account to fall back on in cases of emergencies. Emergencies don't take a break during the holiday season, unfortunately! Just in the past month we've had to replace my car tires and I've had some medical expenses come up unexpectedly. Having a savings account, even a small one gives me a peace of mind.

Write Christmas Gifts into Your Monthly Budget

If you are already using a monthly budget, and I hope you are, one really great way to be financially prepared for Christmas is to set aside a Christmas Gift portion of your budget and save a little bit of money each month or paycheck so when Black Friday rolls around, you can snag up some awesome deals with cash in your hand!

I would recommend setting aside about $25-$30 a month for your shopping, depending on how many gifts you plan on buying. If each month you set a little money aside, you won't have to feel the pressure of buying gifts for everyone with no money saved.

Keep Track of Your Expenses & Income
I use an excel sheet to keep track of our regular monthly bills, our income including blog money and side jobs, and any unexpected things that come up like car repairs, medical bills, etc. Each month I analyze our spending to see where our money is going, and where we could cut down. We leave room in our budget to treat ourselves, but it helps me to know exactly where our money is going. Putting a dollar amount to our "treats" really helps put it in perspective and makes me more conscious about our spending. This helps me make better decisions for the upcoming months, and it allows me to prepare for the big ticket bills that only come up rarely, like our HOA dues or our Insurance which we pay biannually. Being aware of your finances, of where your money is going and what is coming up is a big part of having financial peace.

Use your Credit Cards Responsibly

There are two sides of the street when it comes to using credit cards, and I will tell you that we will always be for using them responsibly because in the last year we've gotten some really amazing rewards including free plane tickets and gift cards! The key to using credit cards responsibly is that you commit to paying them off each and every month. It is possible for you to have this intention but then the end of the month comes and you don't have that amount of cash, so stick to your holiday shopping budget, write everything down that you spend, and pay your card off as soon as possible. If you pay your card off each month, you won't pay a penny in interest but you will receive the rewards. Do some research about your cards and if you aren't getting rewards from using it, its time to switch! We pay our credit cards off sometimes immediately after making a big purchase so the balance doesn't get to high, and I make a payment every payday just to be sure we never run into a situation where we owe more on it than we can pay off.

Financial Peace is attainable, even during the holidays! 

While you may have gifts, greetings and get-togethers on the brain, it's important not to lose sight of your financial goals. All of Capital One 360's Black Friday Sale deals are designed to encourage consumers to keep their finances top of mind. Visit to give yourself the lasting gift of financial peace of mind by taking advantage of Capital One 360's deals on banking, brokerage and mortgage products.

Just for opening a new checking and savings account, you could earn a $200 bonus! Think of the Christmas shopping you could do with that! The best part of these accounts is they are fee-free and they earn interest. You can also score some amazing deals on brokerage and mortgage products, and even get bonuses for referring a friend. Make sure to stop by and check out this amazing holiday magic that will help you stay on track to meet your financial goals this holiday season. This awesome Black Friday sales ends Monday at 11:59 ET.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Richy Blessed

Last night I was driving home from work, feeling the weight of the holiday season. That is a sad sentence to type, isn't it? Holidays are about thankfulness and gratitude, about family and celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. But even with the best intentions, for many of us, with the holidays come STRESS. The list of things I am currently stressing over include both small, trivial things like feeling pressured for time to cook the three side dishes I am making for Thanksgiving and having to work Black Friday to bigger things, like worries about medical complications and the bills that go with them.

My schedule has been insane this fall. I picked up a second job nannying on the side and many of days start at 6:30 AM when I leave the house for my day job, and end at about 9:00 PM when I get home from my babysitting job. It leaves me exhausted and cranky, with little time to blog and even less time to read your blogs, friends. But last night, I came home from work, put on my pjs and crawled into my warm bed. I hopped on my computer and for once, sat down to catch up on my blog reading. And then the Lord just broke me and my idols of security, comfort and control. I read Nicole's post about a young couple who is facing a scary cancer diagnosis which is heartbreaking enough in itself, but I read on to learn that they recently lost their home and belongings in a house fire. Nicole is doing a fundraiser to help them get back on their feet after this devastating loss, and I immediately welled up with tears reading this.

I don't know what it is like to lose everything, but my attitude lately has been one of someone that already has. My selfishness, my pride, my need for things has never been so apparent than when minutes after complaining that I don't have enough, I see a family who really has lost almost everything, but still has joy and hope. I am so convicted, sitting in my warm house surrounded by so many material things, that I have never wondered where my next meal was coming from. I've never had to worry where I would sleep at night or if I would have a coat to keep me warm this winter. I've never faced a season of unemployment or lived without my car or faced losing my spouse to a terminal illness. I am truly an American costumer who at times has felt that not being able to buy a new sweater is what it feels like to go without.

Confession: Money feels tight for my husband and I right now. I haven't said that out loud because there is a ugly thing in my heart called pride that doesn't want to admit that, but with our school payment and some unforeseen car and medical expenses that all reared their ugly heads after we came back from our trip, it feels like we've been barely keeping our head above water. But God has absolutely walked this journey with us, hand in hand, and provided us with extra income through this blog, through my babysitting,etc that some months has JUST gotten us by. And even when money is tight, and even when we have to say no to coffee dates or a new outfit, and even when I have to work a second job to make ends meet in this season, I know we have been RICHLY BLESSED. And because of this, I felt absolutely called to donate to this family who needs that $5.00 far more than I do. Reading about Devin and Danielle has been such an eye opener for me, just a day before Thanksgiving. I am so thankful that even in our biggest storms, God is a faithful God who doesn't leave his children alone.

Because of this, I encourage and beg you to stop by Nicole's blog, Bloom, and see if you can donate just $5.00 to help them rebuild all that they've lost. I pray that you can find it in your heart to give up a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha this week to help them experience God's love and the gift of community that joins together to give back. I know this blogging community, and I know how generous and kind hearted each one of you readers are and I ask: Have you been blessed? Can you in turn, bless this couple who is fighting a tough battle?

By donating just $5.00, you are able to enter an amazing giveaway that would probably take care of all your Christmas shopping! There are some incredible gifts from some amazing shops and even a $100 gift card to Target included in the prize pack. Go stop by Nicole's blog and lets rally around Devin and Danielle, praying for a miracle for them and for them to be blessed in a huge way by this fundraiser. I believe God can take our small gifts of $5.00 and MULTIPLY those gifts in a powerful way, if only we can step outside of our own needs and care for others.

PS: I'd like to add that Nicole didn't ask me to post this today, and she doesn't even know I am sharing the giveaway information. I truly believe God intervened in my life, when I was feeling the heavy weight of trivial things, to show me just how blessed I am, even when life seems overwhelming or hard. I believe because we've been richly blessed, my response should be to bless others when and however I can. I'm not always obedient to this but God used this story to touch my heart and call me to action, and I hope it touches yours too.

Friday, November 21, 2014

If You Didn't Know Already...

Woah-Friday, where did you come from? Don't get me wrong, I couldn't be more excited but it happened so fast because I was BUSY this week. Monday-Wednesday I worked all day and then babysat til about nine and came home and crashed every night. Last night was my first day getting home before dark and I was just beat from such a busy week.

Anyway, today I thought I'd  just share some things you may or may not know about me because I know there are some new faces around here and I haven't properly introduced myself to you all! If you're new, thank you for dropping by and I can't wait to meet you. Leave your blog URL in the comments and I will come stop by and say hello!

If You Didn't Know Already...

I am a Idaho girl married to my husband of one year and (almost) two months.

I work full time in Human Resources and a few nights a week I babysit after I am done with my day job.

My husband is going to school and working full time, so between the two of our schedules, we're always busy and always tired it seems!

I love the holiday season but I don't love winter or snow or cold temperatures. I feel like Idaho's fall was about a minute long, and I blinked and it was gone which makes me sad.

My electric blanket is probably my most treasured possession.

Every day the first thing I do when I get home from work is put on my yoga pants.

I am a total book worm and LOVE to read. I am into girly, emotional love stories and a lot of the younger teen popular fiction, like Twilight and Hunger Games and Divergent I am all over that too. If you have any recommendations on a book I must read, please let me know!

We have a dog and a cat but you won't ever hear me call them fur babies because that just makes me cringe. Our dog is an Australian Shepard named Jak and he's the golden animal but our cat Ollie is quite the terror who enjoys jumping on surfaces such as counter tops and night stands and knocking down everything on top of them.

I am a lover of coffee, sleeping in, running, and Gossip Girl binges on Netflix to name a few things.

That is all I have for you today friends. Happy Friday!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Coffee Date

Today would be the perfect day to be having coffee together, in our comfiest clothes, curled up on the couch with oversized throws on our laps and a holiday candle burning. It has been snowing in Boise for the past 24 hours, and the roads here are treacherous. Its below freezing so the snow just kind of turns into ice on the roads, and then more snow covers it and its just a big mess out there. Thankfully, I am working from home today and can avoid driving all together.

If we were having coffee today, I might be drinking tea. Ever since I came down with a bug and have been sick, the thought of coffee kind of makes me stomach churn. I am finally starting to feel a little bit better, but I haven't been brave enough to give coffee a try again yet. The thought of a Peppermint Mocha in a red cup from Starbucks is quite tempting though and with the weather the way it is, today might be the day.

If we were having coffee, I would confess to you that starting a new job has been wonderfully hard. I am so thankful for my new job and am excited about all the new things I am learning, but change is not something that comes easily to me. I am a creature of habit, of routine and I don't really like unknowns. So learning a whole new industry of work ,getting to know my new coworkers and boss, and figuring out the workplace norms and culture is challenging. I miss my coworkers who knew how I took my coffee and who knew who I was outside of the office. I also miss working in the same building as my husband. I would tell you that I am happy about my new job, but the adjustment period is just that-an adjustment. And every day I feel a little more at home there.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that over the past few weeks, I have seen my husband in a whole new light. He is one of the hardest working individuals I know and he relentlessly serves me and loves me, even in my darkest, grumpiest, and irritating moments. I have them, trust me. He makes me want to love not only him, but others better and continually shows me what it looks like to love sacrificially.

If we were having coffee, I'd share with you the way my heart has been breaking for children in foster care, or children who are headed that way. With a job in the law enforcement industry, I have seen and heard stories about broken families that absolutely wreck me. I can't share these stories because of privacy requirements, but I've been praying for all the little babes who don't feel safe or secure in their homes, who feel unloved or unwanted, who don't have  beds to sleep in or warm coats for this winter. I am still working through what part God wants me to play in all of this because I know when He places something that weighs so heavily on our heart, our response should be more than prayer but also action in obedience. I am working through it now, and while it is absolutely heartbreaking it also gives me hope to know that I can make a small difference in a child's life.

Thanks for bearing with me on a couple of "heavier" topics that are on my heart this week, friends. I always feel a little lighter after releasing these things onto paper  a screen. Have a wonderful, relaxing weekend. Linking up with Jenna from Dearest Love.

Monday, November 10, 2014

When Blogging Seems Like A Daunting Task

I don’t know if it’s starting a new job or if it is my second job that keeps me out of the house from one to three evenings a week, being so sick for the past almost two weeks that I immediately crawl into my bed when I get home from work and stay there until I rise for work the next morning, or if it is that coming back to real life from vacation blues, or a combination of all the above but I have found myself in some sort of funk and in the meantime, lost my writing mojo.

I know I don’t owe an explanation about why I haven’t been blogging regularly BUT I personally don’t like not showing up here. Not because I feel like I have to, but because I want to. I want to write and process and connect with you who make me feel not so alone when you say “me too” to my craziest thoughts. But lately, showing up has seemed like a very daunting and overwhelming task. (Unless I have anniversary pictures to share)

Whenever I start to feel stuck, when I find myself in somewhat of a funk or just notice that overall, physically, mentally and emotionally I’m feeling off, at some point I have an A-ha moment and ask myself “what is different about the past few weeks?” I’ve examined my life lately a little bit and asked myself what I am doing more of (working, learning, adapting to a lot of change) and what am I doing less of. I’ve noticed that A. I haven’t worked out ONCE since I got back from Hawaii and B. I haven’t written a real blog post, one that really allows me to pour my heart out and process whatever feeling I may be having. Duh you might say, we’ve covered you haven’t blogged. But I think for me, writing is more than publishing a blog post to check it off my list. Writing is therapeutic; even when my blog post sits in drafts indefinitely and no ones eyes ever see it besides my own. Writing, much like running, helps get my crazies out of my head and helps me make sense of the world. My head can be a scary place sometimes-so full of all of these thoughts and what ifs and what’s next that I have to find a way to get them OUT. Running helps me name my feelings, writing helps me sort them out. And I haven’t done either in a few weeks.

So, I don’t know what the next few weeks will look like for my blog but I have made a commitment to myself to get out and do some sort of physical exercise AND to write five times a week. I bought myself a new pretty journal for the days that I don’t have a blog worthy topic to give myself permission to just write without feeling the obligation to post what I write. To write about my day, my feelings, my fears, my failures, my hopes, etc. I don’t want to feel pressured to write something I deem blog worthy OR to publish something crappy that even I wouldn’t want to read, I just want to start putting words on paper (or a computer screen).

 I’ve also given myself permission to do whatever kind of exercise feels good. Although I hope to not be feeling so crappy this week as I did last week, if all I feel up to is a 20 minute walk, I am going to make that a priority. If I don’t feel like going on a three mile run but I can handle a relaxing yoga class after work, then that is what I will do. Somedays the thought of a 30 minute run is overwhelming so I choose to stay on my couch versus even taking a simple walk outside. My body needs the endorphins and it seems like I need the process of writing just as much. Its only taken me three weeks to figure out what I need to do to get out of this funk, but I really think this is a step in the right direction.

Also, a side note is that have you ever noticed that when you sit down to write, even when you think you have absolutely nothing to say, once you get started, the words come? Sometimes they are words you want to publish (after some serious editing business) and sometimes they aren’t suitable for the whole world to read, but the words do tend to come once you start writing. So that’s my hope. That I start exercising again, and I start writing to find those words and my mind will settle and my heart will feel a little more at ease.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Anniversary Pictures

Ronnie and I hit the photographer jackpot when we met our wedding photographer (and her husband!) I knew from the very beginning that we wouldn't be saying goodbye at the end of our wedding but "see you later" because I knew they would be in our lives for a long time. We were lucky enough to get to spend an evening with them in October shooting these gorgeous fall anniversary pictures and afterwards we went out to dinner and enjoyed our time with them and their new baby Carter. 

If you are in Idaho and are getting married or want some gorgeous photos by an amazing photographer, you must check Carli Hobson Photography out! 
Her husband Beau is also an incredible videographer and I would (and do) recommend them to everyone I know!

Onward to the pictures: there are a LOT that I love, so I picked some of my favorites but I suspect there will be a round two of these pictures because I have even more favorites I want to show you! The hard part will be choosing one for our Christmas card!