Monday, May 26, 2014

Small Things That Really Pay Off

One of my favorite activities of the week is buying flowers for the home. It's done with quite a bit of care and I'll spread them all around the house in small vases to give some color and life to each room.




Being able to wake up everyday and see them reminds me of the small pleasures in life that really don't cost a lot of money but have big payoffs.

This can go right into any part of your day and your personal finance journey. What is the bright spot in your day? Sometimes it's getting lunch from a nearby restaurant. However, if you get it everyday, it doesn't make it anymore special than a daily routine. Limiting it to only one day a week really livens up that small meal, but also helps divert that money towards goals that you didn't think could be accomplished.

We had been looking for ways to redecorate our home, on the cheap, and wherever we went, we couldn't find exactly the right design that we wanted. With a little TLC invested into the sewing machine, it is up and running and our house is on its way to becoming a home. It's not only the satisfaction we get from seeing them on an everyday basis, but knowing that we made them ourselves.

It can be easy to pick up what you need on the way home from work, but without prior research, it can become a thing that sits in your household because it has served its purpose for one time, or that is no longer liked after a few months. Being able to identify what it is that's really needed or wanted in the moment might take some time, but can provide a lasting and satisfying end result.


What are some small (or big!) things that have had a big payoff for you?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Favorites: Round 3

Ah, the weekend and another week of work starts! The weather has really held out here for the week, so I've spent a lot of time on the patio getting caught up on my reading! This weekend has nothing in store for me because of work, so the usual of farmer's market and relaxing when possible! How about you? Any good Memorial Day plans?


And of course, some great articles from the week!

When I hear others saying that they don't have any money saved, it makes me wonder, what are they actually doing with that money? Over at Making Sense of Cents, Michelle writes a great article on a few of the excuses people use.

Over at Budgets Are Sexy, there' a great discussion on maximizing money to get yourself the most amount of happiness.

What could have your student loan payments gone to and what are they preventing? That's the question at Journey to Saving asks you to ponder as she talks about her life plans.

Laurie at Frugal Farmer tells her story about how eating organic has really changed her health and her life. I'm a really big advocate of eating well for your body and love highlighting stories of people who have found healing through healthy diets.


Hope all of you have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Unexpected Costs of Graduation

Ah, graduation! They come in all sorts from kindergarten all the way to college. It's a great time for all involved, but for any college graduate, it can be a scary time. It's finally time to fly out of that nest and show what you can do as a full fledged adult. There are quite a few expenses that will creep up, but with some planning, can turn out to be steps in the best direction.

The costs of going to or hosting a graduation party. Usually family will pick up these costs, happy to make the day special. But hosting a whole bunch of people for the after party might cost you a pretty penny. Look at doing a pot luck and everyone bring a bottle of something or other. This will help keep costs low but ensure that there is enough for everyone.

Move out day! Hopefully by graduation day the ex-students have plans as to what their next few steps are, especially if they don't have a job lined up. If not, finding a last minute place and a quick way to move might break the bank. Movers definitely don't come cheap and if you are looking at your own place, look at putting down quite a bit of money for first and last months rent along with a security deposit.

The financial costs of finally being on your own. This is the day some parents have been waiting for their entire lifetime. The day they tell their kids that they are no longer on Mommy's and Daddy's payroll. That it's all up to them. It can be a scary thing if the kids don't know, but most parents start leaving hints months before.

For those that are prepared, the most important thing is having a budget all lined up and understanding what is coming in and what is going out. Whether it be a part-time job down the street or their dream job, expenses will start piling up quickly. And the cost of things, especially essentials, will be quite a shock if your not used to it ( I certainly was not completely prepared). And how about those unexpected expenses? Those life moments? That's when an emergency fund comes into play. For a single person just starting out, $1k is definitely enough to get through most of the typical emergencies like car repairs.

Student Loans. They are the most obvious but along with that, usually forgotten until the bill comes in the mail. Even though there is a six month grace period, it's not a time to relax! A few extra payments during this time can shave quite a bit off the years you have to pay.

As you can see, graduation season is chock full of expenses, especially ones that can lead down a road of a lifetime of bad habits or a short term strapped for cash moments. But there are always frugal ways to celebrate any special event!

Can you think of any other graduation costs? And congrats to all those grads out there! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Favorites: Round 2


Credit: FlyingAppleSaucer


There were so many amazing articles this week that I want to share with you guys! It seems like there is a lot of creativity floating around!

Over at Budgets Are Sexy, a new member of the Money family is being welcomed. Love the naming system!

Who doesn't like a well established daily routine? Over at Mish Lovin' Life, she talks about she's feeling now that she and the bf aren't traveling all over the world at a moments notice.

Deciding what you want to do with your life while still in high school is a truly challenging task. I'm lucky that I had a passion and am working my towards getting there. But Leo does an excellent job of explaining the importance of being prepared for any job in life.

Compromise is something we all have to work on, especially in all parts of our relationship. Over at LiveSimply-LiveWell, we learn how they compromise on the aspect of money and paying down their mortgage.

Ah, work. It's something that we all have a love/hate relationship with, which is exactly what Joshua talks about over at becoming minimalist. Earlier in the week I wrote something about my current feelings about my job and it's sometimes easy to see where working for a living is the perfect term to use.

Along those same lines, over at Fit is the New Poor, Michelle talks about finding out what you don't want in a job is just as important as finding out what you do.

And, because this must be some sort of sign or something, Untemplater discusses those people who are not only burned out from work, don't get paid enough and realize something has to give with their job.

How about when you are working or when you are at home, are you using the time you have productively or flittering it away? Color Me Frugal has some great ideas on how to make you super productive and give you time for all the small stuff that never gets done (because one day, it will have to get done!).

And last but not least, over at Dear Debt, the importance of being ready for whatever life brings you. It's definitely important to always have preparations for every avenue in life you want to go down. Because you might find yourself surprised the moment all the pieces start fitting together.


Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend! It's the beginning of the work week for me, so I'll be plugging away and earning the bacon. There are lots of little projects around the house keeping us busy, but slowly it's becoming a wonderful haven for us both. There are also the first few signs of something growing in the garden (other than weeds) so it's all starting to look promising!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What Do You Work For?

Hello everyone! It's been awhile, but here I am, not swallowed by the world yet! The change in schedule has left my body a bit worn and tired, but finally there is some relief! My body has started adapting and I'm finally coming into a normal sleep pattern.


Lately, as I spend many of my summer nights at work, it's left me questioning why some of us work and what are we working for. A fellow coworker works three jobs, but she does it for mainly financial reasons. Mainly, people there work that one job and go home to their families, enjoying the time and days off that they have.

As for me, I'm kind of left holding the bag.

Financially, it feels great working two jobs and having the money coming in to not only pay off those student loans, but to save for those future goals.

Emotionally, it's also a great experience to meet new people, learn from them, and create new experiences. Being able to go to work fulfills me and gives me a sense of accomplishment that I probably would not find anywhere else. That yours truly is a useful member of society.

However, there are days where I feel kind of blah. Working in an office and find myself wondering what I could have been doing if I wasn't in that office. There really was no time for daydreaming at my other job because it was much more fast paced and along with that, there was a new experience everyday.

And some sort of answer started to take shape. I love keeping busy and learning new things, it's part of my nature. I work not because of the money, but for the actual experience of working. It would be hard for me to spend all my time at home, doing things that I only find pleasure in because my time is more limited now than before. It's like having too much cake and realizing that you are eating to eat it and not to actually enjoy it.

The newness of the job is definitely wearing away, but it's a learning experience that I can appreciate and understand. Knowing what type of work I want to do in the future and for what reasons will help me lead a more fulfilled life.

So, what do you work for?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Weeding Out Those Expenses

Ah, even though spring is in the air, I really haven't taken advantage of it due to juggling two jobs. Again, my budget has gone out the door, and a few overdue gifts probably pushed me over the limit this month. But now that regular paychecks are underway, paying the bills should become much easier, along with keeping track of my spending!


Hope you guys have been getting out and about and working on those gardens! Now that spring is in full force, it's the perfect time to start weeding out that small plot of land and planting those seeds. Along those same lines, it's the perfect time to consider weeding out your budget. There might be some expenses that are no longer relevant, or there might be some that have gotten wildly out of control.

Evaluating your budget before the summer gets in full force allows your to know where you stand before going on vacations. Hopefully you have been saving money all year long for these trips, but perhaps you still haven't set up your budget for eating and souvenirs. If you find yourself overspending month after month on pleasures in the here and now, you won't have enough to splurge on that restaurant that is a must try. It's also never to early to start thinking about Christmas spending at the end of the year!

As for me, I've definitely been looking at my budget and seeing where I can and need to cut back. Now that my job has no places for me to easily eat out at, my snacks budget is almost non-existent. However the bf and I will not be taking any vacations this year, so we are more likely going to have date nights and spend a bit more exploring restaurants in the area. Making sure that weeds don't grow over the important parts is what makes gardening and budgeting worthwhile!

What are the areas in your budget that need to be looked at? Do you know which areas you can readily cut down or need to increase? 









Monday, April 14, 2014

Projects That Pay Off



It's easy to go to stores and buy whatever but it takes imagination and creativity to do these things at home. There are tons of projects out there that are not only on the easier side, but also can save you a bunch of cash! Here are a few that I've personally started working on:


Handmade napkins: Not only are paper napkins bad for the environment, they can be a huge waste of money if used on a daily basis. Paper napkins are definitely great for the messy stuff, such as wings, but for every day use, cloth napkins do just as well, and sometimes even better. If you have a sewing machine, they make for a great afternoon project that will not only save you money but add character to your dining room decor.

Cushions: These things are severely overpriced at any store! It's basically a big square that has stuffing in the middle! And if you are like me, you can never find just the right pattern! Again, another great afternoon project that can spice up any room in your home!

Blankets: What's a great way to spend a No Spend Day? Knitting and watching tv reruns! When you are working on a long project the actual progress can make you want to stay home and get as far as possible! There are many free patterns on the internet, and if you don't know the difference between a crochet hook and a knitting needle, Youtube has great videos that will take you step by step.

Artwork: It can be a great family project on a rainy afternoon that might produce some masterpieces. This can be a free for-all, or perhaps, finding inspiration from Picasso. Afterwards,, spend some time looking around the house for the perfect place to hang them all up! This will showcase the families artistic abilities.

Setting up a Clothesline: This might take a bit of a handyman, but an earth friendly project it is! You don't need to hang everything outside, but a few pieces can lower your dryer use and save you a few bucks.     And don't you just love that summer air scent?

Most of these projects require upfront costs that can vary. Such as what happens when you don't have a sewing machine. But alternatives can be done, such as hand sewing. The best thing is that in the long run, you'll have something that was made with lots of love and care and customized just for you!

And with many of these projects, there are varying levels of difficulty. You can make them as easy or hard as you want them to be, and can spend as much time on them as you wish.

What are some other projects that pay off?