03/01/2013

February Review + Weekend Reading List

Is anyone else as excited for it to be Friday as I am? Also, does anyone else think it is crazy that today is March 1st? Where is the time going! Before we know it spring will be here, and winter 2013 will be nothing but a distant memory…crazy!  Before we dive head first into March though, here are a few of my own favorite posts from February:

 

Weekend Brunch: Mom’s ‘Sweet and Nutty’ Granola

 

sweet and nutty granola

 

L-O-V-E

 

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Imperfect Perfection

 

1 corinthians 6 19-20

 

Healthy ‘Hot Cocoa’ Waffles

 

hot cocoa waffles

 

Fall into Financial Love

 

financial love

 

I also just wanted to thank everyone for their comments and tweets on yesterday’s post about finances in relationships. It seems like a lot of you could relate to how Tim and I handle money in our house. It seems pretty unanimous too that finances can either bring a relationship closer, or tear it apart; one more reason why being fiscally responsible is so important!

 

I enjoyed writing last Friday’s post about some of my favorite links from the week, so I decided to carry on the tradition today as well. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite reads of the week:

 

weekend reading material

 

Blogging

Google Reader & Bloglovin’ Tutorial via Peace Love and Oats

 

Giveaways

Beautiful, Cozy Workout Clothes – a Giveaway via Nutritionella

(You have until Monday to enter!)

 

Relationships

Living Together: 5 Decorating Tips for Couples by Alex Gariano via www.LaurenConrad.com

 

Life

Love is Louder than the Pressure to be Perfect via Chaarg 

(Read this post to show Molly support for sharing a very personal story to encourage others)

 

Fashion

4 Ways to Wear Spring Trends from the Bottom Up via Rue La La

 

Organizing

Home Office Storage & Organization Solutions via Better Homes and Gardens

 

Quote of the Week:

“Stop looking to everyone else to make you happy and start finding ways that you can make other people happy.”

 

 

Have a great weekend!!

 

Talk to Me!

  • What are you looking forward to in March?
  • What are your favorite memories from February?
  • What was the best read from the week that you found?  Feel free to link up!
02/28/2013

Fall into Financial Love

I mentioned yesterday that Tim and I had sat down together Sunday to discuss the current state of our finances, budgets, and savings. Since Tim began his new job, we thought this would be the perfect time to see where all of our money is going and plan for the future. This is never a fun conversation to have, but it is always a good reminder for making sure we are on track, and if we aren’t, it offers us the ability to get back on the right path. We usually try and have this conversation at least quarterly, or when we are contemplating a large purchase, like we did last year before we bought our cars. However, we hadn’t talked it all through in awhile, so after we purchased our new washer and dryer last month, we realized we were overdue for a financial discussion.

After Tim and I first got married, I remember thinking that combining our finances was a huge step in our relationship, and it turns out that this was truer than I even knew. Combining our accounts and sharing with each other any debts and all our individual savings was extremely nerve wracking initially. Have you ever heard the saying ‘what’s mine is yours?’ Well in marriage, it doesn’t ring truer in any area than it does in the area of money.

However, I think combining finances really helps to bring a couple even closer together. You have to learn to trust that other person, you make sacrifices together where needed, you plan for the future together you want down the road, and you become an open book financially. All these things, if done right, can make a relationship become that much more secure and trusting. If trust is broken from a financial point though, it can be hard to repair, but not impossible! I am no expert on finances, but here are a few golden financial rules that my husband and I try to follow in our house:

 

FYI -We are not perfect and have certainly made money mistakes along the way, but thankfully we are learning young and are working to improve ourselves from a fiscal perspective every day! Remember though, you are never too young or too old, too poor or too rich, to take a good hard look at your spending versus savings!  Also, these suggestions can be used for everyone, whether you’re single or in a relationship; share an account or have your own.

 

financial love

 

1) Be Honest

This is the number one rule we try to follow. Being honest about how much we are spending, individually and as a couple, helps keep the trust alive in our financial marriage. Sneaking purchases, bringing in money the other person is not aware of, or being downright untruthful when it comes to any financial issue can be a recipe for disaster. Make sure you are both aware that honesty is a key priority not only in your relationship as a whole, but also in your financial one.

 

2) Write it All Down

Writing down every dime that is brought in, as well as every penny that goes out, makes it that much easier to track your expenses and find out how much you have left after the bills are paid. This can be truly eye-opening once you start realizing how much everything costs. Here is a list of expenses Tim and I take into perspective when tracking our money:

  • House – includes mortgage, tax, insurance, maintenance
  • Electric, water, trash service, etc.
  • Cars – monthly payments, tax, insurance, maintenance
  • Health Insurance, HSA / FSA Accounts, Dental Insurance, Vision Insurance, Life Insurance, etc.
  • Retirement, 401K
  • Cable / DirecTV, Internet, XM Radio, newspaper, other media, etc.
  • Phone Bill
  • Groceries
  • Gasoline
  • Pet – food, grooming, boarding (during vacations), Veterinary appointments
  • Credit Cards
  • Student Loans
  • Extra Monthly Expenses
  • Savings Account
  • Finally…Fun Money!!

Whoa! It is truly amazing how much everything adds up, right? Seeing it all on paper though allows you to visualize the big picture, which makes it impossible to ignore the expenses you would prefer didn’t exist, like student loans for example…!

 

3) Look for Ways to Save

After we write down all of our expenses, we look for areas that we can save a little more. For example, our current goals are to cut the grocery bill by $100 per month, (A $50 savings every two weeks.), cancel the movie channels from our DirecTV to save $50 per month, (We currently have Netflix and a Blue Ray and we can rent a Red Box movie for $1.), pay off credit card bills to save $150 per month, (We have a furniture store account open that is interest free and will be paid off by the end of the May, which will be 2 ½ years before the 4 year no-interest rate is up!). There are a few other areas we are looking to save too and when it was all added up, it came to over $600 worth of potential savings we would have missed if we hadn’t wrote it all down and discussed together.

 

4) Don’t Skimp

I know this seems like an oxymoron, but I encourage you to not skimp on the important things, including: Good health insurance, (I work in this field and I know how important medical coverage is!), depositing into an FSA / HSA account, (Again, I see this every day. You know at some point you will have medical expenses, so you may as well start saving now and if your insurance is with your company, FSA / HSA accounts should be pre-tax!!), investing in a 401K and other retirement accounts, (try to invest at least the matching percentage your company offers, again if it is offered from your company it should be pre-tax), and placing money into your personal savings account. Obviously when you are young, your income is tighter and it’s not as easy to save, but try and set goals and put away $50 per month if that’s all that is possible. Every little bit helps!

 

5) Relax

If there is one thing I am learning, it’s to try and not get overwhelmed by the current state of your finances. If you are honest with yourself and your partner, write down all expenses and incoming dollars, look for extra ways to save, and don’t skimp on the important stuff, you will be on your way to a stress-free financial future. It may never be perfect, and it may take fifty years until you are debt free, but if you keep working on it and stay positive, things will begin to look up. Plus, having less financial stress is a huge burden to keep out of a relationship. If saving is worth anything, a peace of mind might be the biggest bang for your buck you can get!

 

Let’s Talk!

  • Do you share a bank account with your significant other? If so, did you find this to be a big change for your relationship? What have you learned about sharing finances so far?
  • Do you ever write down all your incoming and outgoing expenses? If not, how do you stay on a positive financial track?
  • I am always looking for new ideas to save. Tell me, what are some of your favorite ways to save money? Do you have any unique or different ideas out of the ordinary?
  • For me, things like health insurance, retirement accounts, savings accounts, etc. are important areas that I don’t like to skimp in investing. Tell me, what are some of your ‘no skimp’ areas that are important to you?
02/27/2013

WIAW: Dinner and a Movie

To me, last Sunday was what I would call the epitome of a great day. It started with prayer and devotionals, and ended with a sound mind and a calm heart; exactly how each and every Sunday should.

Since here we are once again at Wednesday, that means it is time for WIAW just like every week. Today’s documented eats and events took place on this past Sunday.  Enjoy!

 

WIAWbutton 

We originally had early morning plans Sunday that were cancelled last minute, so instead of getting up early we were able to sleep-in without an alarm. Absolutely heavenly, even if I do still wake up naturally by 8 a.m. at the latest.

Saturday night, Tim was out late working at a fish fry fundraiser for his softball team and didn’t get home until about midnight. Since he was starting his new job Monday, I knew he needed some extra rest.  I tried to stay quiet and let him keep sleeping as I crept down the stairs to take care of Tebow, and then proceeded to brew a fresh pot of coffee. He needed to go to his office for a couple hours when he woke up, so I went ahead and made myself an easy breakfast for one. (This is also one of my favorite quick meals to make for breakfast during the week).

breakfast wrap

Into my wrap went one egg, two egg whites, and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese. On the side was a hot cup of coffee with a splash of almond milk. I ate my breakfast while reading morning devotions and then worked on my blog and caught up on some news.

A couple hours later, the sun was starting to shine a bit so I put on my warm layers, leashed Tebow up and we headed outside for a nice long walk. Tebow was spoiled this past weekend since the weather was so much nicer than it has been lately. He got two walks on Saturday and one walk on Sunday, so needless to say he was one happy puppy! We walked for about an hour, maybe about 3.5 miles, and were both ready to be inside a warm house by the end. It may have been 40 degrees outside, but when the clouds rolled in it was bitter cold. I went right upstairs, took a hot shower and put on some extra cozy and warm clothes.

At this point I was ready for a little lunch so I looked in the fridge for some easy leftovers. I decided to go with leftover Skinny Salisbury Steak with Mushrooms, I followed this recipe except I only used ground turkey and added a little extra tomato sauce, and I also found some steamed Brussels sprouts to have on the side.

salisbury steak

I really liked this recipe a lot, but I am not sure if it tasted like Salisbury steak per se.  (However, I did substitute some ingredients so I can’t compare the two exactly)!  Mine turned out more like individual meatloaves, which were still great, just didn’t taste exactly how I expected. The first day they were made, I served them with a side of mashed cauliflower that went really well with this recipe.  I will definitely be trying to make it again though, but maybe the next time I will follow the recipe ingredient-for-ingredient!

By the time I finished lunch and cleaned up, it was about 1:00 p.m. and Tim was supposed to be home around 2:00 p.m. I have been wanting to organize my closet for a while now so I went ahead and started on it knowing that it wouldn’t be finished in only an hour. I am only about a quarter of the way through, but I already have a bag of stuff that is too small, too worn, or too old to keep wearing. It is amazing how many clothes we keep in our closet that we haven’t worn in a year or more. I will be sharing some before and after pictures once the closet project is completed.

When Tim finally got home, we headed first to Caribou Coffee to sit and talk about finances, budgets, and savings, which like many couples know is always fun…!  I ordered a non-fat latte for some energy and to help me warm up a little.  About an hour later, we headed back outside and walked around the outdoor mall, going into a few stores just to window shop.  We then grabbed dinner at Chipotle…

chipotle

Into my salad bowl went a lettuce base, black beans, chicken, extra mild salsa,  light sour cream, and extra lettuce on top. Always a winner!  I absolutely wanted some guacamole, but $1.80 for a small side or a scoop seems a little much.  I usually just suck-it-up and still order it since it’s that good, but Sunday I was able to hold off, maybe it had to do with having a savings conversation only a couple hours before?…?  Who knows, but I can’t make a promise I will resist next time though!

After dinner, it was finally time to see Safe Haven! I finished reading the book last Thursday and was so excited to see the movie. I think Julianne Hough being in it made it that much easier to talk my husband into going, but by the end of the movie we were both pretty enthralled. It truly is quite the tear jerker, (I was a mess by the end), but it also has violence and action in it too if you are looking to bring your significant other with you as well. It will have you on the edge of your seat many times throughout, but especially if you haven’t read the book and don’t know what is coming next, or how it will end. I know some people didn’t like a certain part of the ending and said it was out of place, but honestly if you read the book it would make a lot more sense and I really appreciated that the movie stayed true to the book in that sense. There were some slow parts that dragged a little bit and the movie was really long, I would say at least two hours, but I would still recommend seeing it. The movie drifted away from the book a little bit, but the main details were still pretty much included in the plot, which I always find is a really important aspect of successfully turning a book into a movie.

After Safe Haven finished, we headed home to get ourselves together for the upcoming work week. That meant putting away laundry and washing any dishes we may have missed, cuddling up on the couch to watch a few shows, and then going to bed early to start Monday on the right foot!

Questions:

  • Have you seen Safe Haven? What did you think of the movie?
  • Is there a movie you can talk your significant other into seeing strictly based on an actor/actress that is in it? (I can 100% talk Tim into seeing anything with Blake Lively and for me, Ryan Gosling!)
  • Are there any movies out right now that you are dying to see?
  • Any other Chipotle guacamole lovers out there?  How do you justify the price?
  • What is the best thing you ate this past week?