Since my boyfriend and I started the Spending Freeze at the beginning of January things have started to change when it comes to how we both look at money.  The biggest takeaway so far is the power of no and being able to say no when we feel tempted to spend or feel pressured from an outside source to compromise our financial goals.  We have been able to say no to eating out, traveling, going to the movies, and extra items at the grocery store.

The power of no in a certain way is actually quite liberating because it allows you to control your finances and realize where you want your money to go.  Financial priorities are important because it allows you to focus on what is important to you instead of just letting those little slips happen.  Sometimes it feels difficult to say no to things you would have previously said yes to but realistically I don't feel like I am sacrificing much by doing so.



Maybe you feel guilty from telling your friends that you don't want to go to a fancy place and spend money on drinks or maybe you feel like these relationships will suffer from your decision to not over indulge.  Here are some tips:

1.  Figure out who your true friends are.  Basically all I am saying is that the people how really care about you will understand and respect your decisions to not throw money away on things that don't meet your list of financial priorities.  Also,  refrain from letting "associates or acquaintances" dictate what you should be spending money on.  A true friend will also meet you where you are.

2.  Find ways to hang out and visit friends that doesn't involve spending anything or is very inexpensive.  Meet at a friends house for a potluck or series premiere of a television show you both watch, go on a walk, meet for drinks at someone's house before going to dinner or research restaurants that offer discounts or specials if you simply must eat out.  Anna Newell Jones has some awesome ideas of things to do instead of spend money.  Websites like GrouponLiving Social, and Scout Mob are all great places to start for deals in your area if you can't completely slash eating out or events.

3.  See if you have a fellow frugal friend.  Maybe one of your friends wants to start a spending freeze or limit what they spend, by teaming up not only do you gain an accountability partner but you can also have an ally when it comes to everyone making plans for the weekend.

4.  Use moderation and set limits.  If you know that it will be impossible to stop going out to eat with your friends or doing other things that can add expense to your budget then set a limit.  Maybe instead of doing something a couple times a week do something once a week or wait until the weekend.  If your crew likes the weekend scene, see if you can look for deals or promos that will help you save some dough or meet up for brunch or lunch which are usually cheaper than dinner and drinks.  Give yourself a budget for each outing so you have an easier time staying within your monthly goal.

5.  Feel good in your choice.  If saving money or paying down debt is important to you then DO NOT let anyone waiver your decision to put your financial priorities on hold.  Remember only you know your finances and there is nothing wrong with you choosing to abstain from expenses that are not necessity in order to make your goals a reality.

Often times we charge things to a credit card start paying it off months later and have no idea what was so important at the time that we couldn't spend the cash on it then...it's time to take control.

The power of no is about empowerment!  Even now that I am unemployed I am not too worried about finances because I have managed to pump up my savings and get my budget down to the bare essentials.

The important point to realize is that by saying no to certain things you are able to say yes to others like paying down debt, saving, and planning where your money goes.  Maybe your goal is to pay off all your credit card debt and start saving to buy a new car or go on a fancy vacation.  By saying no to a pair of to die for heels or not hitting Starbucks a couple times a week, you are able to say yes to slashing that debt and freeing yourself.

Saying yes to taking control and utilizing the power of no will not only help you better control your money, but will also leave you empowered with your priorities.  You can do it!


Spending Freeze Report: Week 4

This past week wasn't terrible for spending considering I had some bills that were due.  My plan for this coming week is to gear up for my classes that start next Tuesday.  I also just canceled my satellite tv service which will save me $72.41 a month, granted I did have a termination fee of $120 but I will still see a savings because the term fee only decreases $20 a month. Here is the breakdown of the monies:

Monday:  $71.08 Trader Joe's groceries  $25.66 Publix groceries (- $40 from the boyfriend)

Tuesday:  $7.25 college transcripts for Emory

Wednesday:  NO SPENDING DAY

Thursday:  $40.76 utilities - electric

Friday:  $75.01 utilities - gas  $25.01 fuel 

Saturday:  NO SPENDING DAY

Sunday:  NO SPENDING DAY

All in all I am still holding it down on my controlling my wallet.  I look forward to tallying everything up at the end of this week and see how the monthly budgets breakdown.

Happy Spending Freeze!




Spending Freeze Report: Week 3

This week was another success because I was able to stick within my budgets.  As the end of the month gets closer I get more excited about how much money I haven't spent this month and how much farther my money is going.  Here is the breakdown for the week:

Monday:  NO SPENDING DAY

Tuesday:  $77 cell phone bill

Wednesday:  $4.37 Target groceries  $4.34 Panera (lunch with girls from work to celebrate my leaving)  $27.58 Publix groceries

Thursday:  NO SPENDING DAY

Friday:  NO SPENDING DAY

Saturday:  NO SPENDING DAY

Sunday:  $58.49 book for paralegal class (used and half the price of the new one)

This week was low expense and I like it that way.  I have utility bills due this coming week and the boyfriend is buying groceries this week so that should help to balance out the expense.  I wish I would have started this Spending Freeze sooner, but all in all I am already proud of how things are shaping up.

Happy Spending Freeze!

XOXO,

Alaina M.



Peppermint tea,  Greek yogurt, and crunchy peanut butter with a fuji apple are the perfect start to the day

Stress is something that we all battle with and it always seems that no matter how much we try the world always seems to get in the way.  With that being said this Fit Friday is going to be devoted to managing stress and dealing with it in a healthy way.  While I am not a fitness expert or doctor I am busy just like you.  I have compiled a list of things that I have found to effectively manage my stress level and hope that some of these items will be helpful with you as well.

Herbal Teas 

While Lance Armstrong may be underwater for doping, Livestrong.com's recommendation about the benefits of herbal teas for fighting stress sound worthy of looking into.  They basically mention three types: chamomile, kava, and valerian.  I personally love chamomile tea like the Celestial kind pictured above because it's available at most big box stores, inexpensive, and the flavor is so rich that I don't have to add sweetener.  I like to start my morning with a cup or even later on in the day when I need a breather.

Routine

Routine can be boring yes but it can also be very rewarding.  Whether that means getting up ten minutes earlier so you aren't starting your day frazzled and running late or getting ready for bed a few minutes sooner than normal to unwind, you will surely see the benefits.  I like to start my morning with breakfast, a cup of hot tea, and reading something of some sort.  One of my goals for the new year has been to be more diligent in my quiet time with GOD, so I've been either reading the Bible or working through my women's Bible Study book, the Wiersbe Bible Study Series on Ruth/Esther.

Exercise to Relax

We are always being told that exercise is a helpful tool when it comes to managing stress, but sometimes it seems knowing we need to make time to get to the gym can add too much to our plate.  Exercise is meditation, boosts your metabolism, and also releases feel good chemicals to your body.  Breaking a sweat may also work to your benefit when it comes to fighting off depression and will help boost your self esteem.  The Mayo Clinic breaks everything down and goes further into depth about why you should pencil in time to workout.  For those of you that don't have a whole lot of time, I get it, here are some exercises that you can try that won't zap your day.  In the words of Elle Woods from the movie Legally Blonde, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't."

9 Minute Workout

Hit Every Muscle in 5 Minutes

5 Minute Workout to Reshape Your Body

Meditation

You may be picturing a small Indian man seated with legs crossed saying "ooooohhhm", but that is not the only form of meditation.  Meditation is basically just about being relaxed and enjoying the quiet.  That could mean prayer, yoga, or just taking three minutes at your desk to close your eyes and tune out all the white noise.  White noise is anything that is creating a distraction whether that's coworkers gossiping in the cubicle over, noisy children fighting with each other over a toy, or traffic outside your window at night.  Taking a few deep breaths to regain your focus is sometimes all it takes.  I encourage you to try and see what works for you.  Maybe going to GOD in prayer is calming, maybe it's yoga practice, or maybe it's taking a moment.  Benefits of Meditation for Stress Management will force you to turn off all the unnecessary noise.

"Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The LORD is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to GOD.  And the peace of GOD, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:5-7 

Healthy Eating

When your body is getting the right amount of daily minerals and vitamins it is more likely to work more efficiently for you.  By eating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, slow burning carbohydrates, and reduced fat dairy your body has all the needed fuel to work for you.  Your body can't fight for you if you are filling it with excess sugar and carbs that have no nutrition value.  Everything from tuna, to almonds and leafy greens are mentioned as 10 Feel Good Foods that can fight stress.

5 Year Rule

The 5 year rule is something that my family and I started using when I was in high school and basically just means that if whatever you are worried about won't matter in 5 years then ditch it.  If you are overly stressed about something that won't truly have an effect on your life in 5 years then stop worrying about it because chances are it doesn't matter.  This rule started in high school when I was stretched thin and started having atypical migraines on a regular basis. I was experiencing everything from "mini blackouts" to tension in my jaw similar to TMJ.  After I had pretty much every type of scan performed my doctor and I determined that managing my stress was the best way to be able to lead a normal life without having to worry about the atypical migraine symptoms.  Stress can affect and destroy your whole body, but the 5 year rule will allow you to put things in perspective.

Do What You Love

This may seem like a no brainer, but there are a lot of people not doing what they enjoy for fear of what that might feel like.  Maybe that means breaking society's mold and casting your own.  Maybe that means saving up to start your own small business or Etsy shop online.  Maybe that is going to school at night or during the weekends to pursue a career change.  Your vision for your life is greater than the regret you will feel for not following your passion.  My dream is to start an Etsy shop and sell my gourmet canned products.  Everything from balsamic strawberry jam to spicy haberno peach hot sauce.  My passion stays alive by constantly thinking of new ideas and pursuing a career change that will allow me time to work on these products as a side business.  You can do it, just don't be afraid to!

“love the life you live.
live the life you love.”

― Bob Marley

I hope these tips will help you stop to smell the roses and relax around imperfection...because at the end of the day living a simple life will help with the stress more than any of these tips. The more you focus on living frugally, cherishing your family, and staying active the more your life will be complete with GOD at the center.

Happy Friday!

XOXO,

Alaina M.










My  work in progress motivation board in my "at home gym"
Staying motivated can be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to obtaining any goal or breaking any bad habit.  That is definitely true when it comes to staying healthy through eating right and working out.  The best way I think to overcome this by a physical representation of what you are trying to achieve and daily reminders.  

A motivation board is a great way to visually see things that will keep you motivated and on track with your goal.  My suggestion is to keep this in a place you will always see it and put items on there that motivate, inspire, and challenge you.  My board is a work in progress and I still have loads of other things to add but it's a start.



My board has everything from a picture of Ryan Gosling to POP Pilates thigh workouts and inspirational sayings.  I have a calendar to help me see which days I have worked out that week.  I put a tiny dot on each day where I have worked out so I can visually see if I am meeting my goal of 4 days a week. 


I also have two yoga charts with poses to help me with different progressions.  These charts are easy to pop off and sit on the floor while I work on my yoga practice.


This binder allows me to clip items from health magazines that are really information or provide diagrams of exercises I want to try. 



The best thing about the binder is that it is portable, so no matter where I am headed I can take it.  This will come in handy when I start spending time with the boyfriend on the other side of town and am away from my beloved treadmill.

I hope this will encourage you to make your own MOTIVATION BOARD!

Happy Fitness!


Yesterday was by far one of the best Mondays I have had in a long time.  Not only did I quit my miserable job, but I was able to focus on me and all those little things that come along with extra time.

It's truly unbelievable how entirely refreshed I felt after I turned in my resignation letter.  It's so silly to think how much a little tiny piece of paper can allow you to feel so liberated.  I'm ready to start this next chapter in my life.  I'm ready to start my classes, change my career, become more focused on my quiet time, and continue to grow with my honey.

I spent yesterday as a way to catch up on some stuff like bed making, cleaning, and rearranging some furniture.  I also managed to exercise a little as well.  My treadmill has literally been collecting dust...gross.  Gross because it's gotten dirty and gross because I am so out of shape.  I'm ready to be rock hard again and ready for this new phase.  The Spending Freeze has already proven to be challenging but so life changing in a certain way.  It's wonderful how content you feel when you can control your wallet.

Since I took yesterday as more of a "personal" day after I quit my job I was able to cook and be merry.  The cooking part comes from making this tasty Cranberry with Crystallized Ginger Bread and creating this sorta Valentine's Day like banner.

What's tastier than the heat from crystallized ginger?

Glazed and ready to eat
For the bread I substituted lime zest and juice instead of the lemon in both the batter and the glaze and it was perfect.  The loaf is beautifully studded with cranberries and crystallized ginger and not too sweet.  This quick bread is the ideal snack or indulgence.

Love always has a place in your home


The banner turned out adorable with a little help from some leftover fuchsia yarn and card stock.  It adds just the right amount of whimsy to the mantle since it's naked without all that Christmas garland. 

I hope your week has started out with all the joy that mine has.  Happy Tuesday!


before the maple cream cheese glaze
This weekend was one for the books when it comes to loving the simple life and realizing that that is what GOD wants for us.  Saturday was a relaxing day...I took Chloe to the vet's office first thing in the morning, took her on a long walk, then Bernard and I came down to his house in the suburbs of Atlanta.  I even whipped up some yummy cinnamon buns thanks to the recipe provided by Smitten Kitchen.  It was about time to break in the beautiful Kitchenaid mixer my sweetie got me for Christmas.



Today we got up and headed to church to hear Andy Stanley preach.  The message was absolutely perfect to what we needed to hear when it comes to making your time count and living each day to its fullest.  Check out what Andy had to say here about Breathing Room.

So often we add items to our schedule because of obligation or what society says and we forget that not each day is promised.  Why not focus on our relationships instead of slaving away for the corporate man?!  Spend more time with our families and less time trying to impress people we don't even know?!

What wonderful things to think about as we start this work week...



Spending Freeze Report: Week 2


This week was a success in more than one way.  Not only did I manage to get over being sick, spend very little, and decide I will be quitting my job tomorrow, but after today's message at church I will more than happy to be trying to live a simple life.

Here is the breakdown of the spending:

Monday:  NO SPENDING DAY

Tuesday:  NO SPENDING DAY

Wednesday:  NO SPENDING DAY

Thursday:  NO SPENDING DAY

Friday:  $1.81 Chick-Fil-A  (even though I made a promise to not eat out, I had to celebrate with my girl Anja at work as it was my last full day, so after her free chicken sandwich coupon I purchased a lemonade)

Saturday:  $92.75 Chloe's monthly Addison's shot and influenza vaccine  $20.00 groceries  $72.41 Cable bill (soon to be cancelled)

Sunday:  $25.20 gas/fuel  .50 toll through GA 400  $128.93 dues to the Georgia Association of Paralegals

All in all this week was pretty low expense and that is an awful good thing because things at work have been ridiculous and I will be quitting my job tomorrow.  I've figured out I can take classes at Emory a month early, so everything will work out while I look for something else.  The bullying and discrimination at my job has got to stop, so it's a blessing that I've started to get control of my money and have wages in savings.

Happy Spending Freeze!


New years are always a way for people to focus on things they have not been able to master in the past and 2013 is a great way to get a fresh start.  Goal setting is important when it comes to being successful in pretty much any area of your life.  Whether your goal is to get fit, save more money, or spend more time with your family you can make it happen if you focus on what you can do everyday to reach or become closer to your goal.

An awesome tool to try would be to use the SMART goals criteria.  The SMART goals model allows you to be specific, measure your goal, make sure it is attainable, realistic, and time sensitive.

Some of the things I hope to achieve in 2013:



1.  Read at least one new book a month until my paralegal classes start.  The one I am reading now is called Set Free to Live Free and so far is truly exactly what I need.

2.  Be more diligent about my quiet time with GOD.



3.  Focus on Bible Study with my sweetie and make that more of an emphasis in our relationship.  We will be starting to read 5 Love Languages book together and there is even a free study guide on the website.

4.  No technology one night a week.  My boyfriend and I have agreed that Wednesday will be a night when we read and do other things non-technology related.



5.  Workout at least 4x a week for 45 minutes a session.  Last year I trained and ran a half marathon (13.1 miles) and this year I want to possibly run another one and continue to focus on myself and my fitness.

6.  Start and finish my paralegal certification program and make a successful career change as a paralegal.



7.  Get rid of my debt and adhere to the terms of the Spending Freeze.  This means slashing debt, saving those pennies, and planning large purchases without financing.



8.  Go on a fun vacation with my boyfriend.  You may think this goes against the Spending Freeze, but once the debt is paid off we want to be able to go on a little vacation at the very end of 2013 maybe even the holidays.  Planning how much to save per pay period between now and then will help us make that happen.



9.  Focus more on simple living.  When you live in a large city it can be difficult to focus on the things that matter and limit distractions.  This is something I hope to tame in 2013.  Basically less materialism and more whole living through body, spirit, and mind.  For us this means enjoying the spring and summer months with a garden and spending warm weekends at the park with Chloe instead of going out and spending too much money on dinner and drinks.

10.  Have fun and enjoy every precious moment!

I hope this has inspired you to set some goals for 2013!  It's never too late to take charge of your life or enhance something you are longing for.

What are some of your goals for the new year?  Are you focusing on saving money, getting fit, or spending more time doing the things that you love?  I want to hear what's important to you!  


Refrigerator Snap Shot
Making meals ahead of time is simply the easiest way to save money and save time during the workweek.  Take one day or even an afternoon and prep food for the week to take in your lunch at work or make meals to feed your family and put them in the freezer.  My refrigerator looks like any other I am sure.  Just your basic turkey sandwich with a side salad of romaine, spring mix, cucumber, and grape tomatoes.  To mix things up check out these links:

10 Healthy Lunches from Women's Health Magazine

Hearty Homemade Lunches

Lunches for Little Ones

Freezer Sneak Peak
 Cooking from my freezer is my new favorite is the ultimate in every category.  Easy, quick, homemade, cheap, etc.  My freezer has everything from BBQ Chicken Burgers, to Chicken Parmesan Meatballs with Homemade MarinaraHomemade Granola/Protein Bars, Pizza Pockets, Homemade Cheesy Rice, and Black Bean Quesadillas, Broccoli and Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes.

Ultimate Website for Once a Month Cooking

Freezer Cooking Recipes

I hope you start cooking from your freezer!  Not only is it a huge time saver, but it is an easy way to save some extra cash if you make recipes with sale ingredients.  ENJOY!



Spending Freeze Report: Week 1


Here is a breakdown of what I spent money on this past week.  I will be starting from Tuesday since that was January 1st.

Tuesday:  NO SPENDING DAY

Wednesday:  $110.50 Chloe (boarding from NYE)  $7.00 Bible Study Book

Thursday:  $25.20 gas/fuel  $4.49 Bible Study Book

Friday:  $711 Rent  $30.00 Auto-Insurance Payment 

Saturday:  NO SPENDING DAY

Sunday:  $21 groceries

I haven't really felt the need to impulse buy this week and have done a good job of prepping food for the week so that I am not forced to eat out for lunch.  It is also important for me to prep meals in advance so I'm not swamped thinking about cooking a whole meal when I get home from work.  I am really into planning meals and freezer cooking.  Give it a try and I promise it will make your life so much easier.  I am hoping that by publishing these weekly reports it will help me to stay even more accountable with my spending.

Happy Spending Freeze!


Today has been day four of our Spending Freeze and here are a few things we have been doing to stay on track and do things right from the beginning.




1.  Write down each expenditure daily and log it on a calendar in a place where you will see it daily.  We printed this one from The Twinery and taped it to the front of my refrigerator.  This makes it easy to see days where no spending occurs.

...bubbles...

...and more bubbles...

2.  We have decided to run errands on Sunday this week which has resulted in inventive uses of things we would normally not go without...like putting dishwashing soap in the dish washer.  Yes,  there lots and lots and lots of bubbles.



3.  Print out a budgeting spreadsheet(s) that will help you see what you project to spend, what you actually spend, and the difference.  This is also a good way to see your bills and your financial goals.  Here are a few different guides to help:

Build a Budget Worksheet

Spending Worksheet

Financial Goals Sheet

Debt Load Worksheet

Dave Ramsey Budget Sheets

I hope these tips will help you realize that you can make your spending dreams (or lack thereof) possible.  Believe in what you are doing and know that while things may be difficult they will always be worth it.


Instagram

Followers

Featured Posts