Sunday, April 26, 2015

Creating a Good Plan: Part 4

Today I would like to share with you my budget plan. This is the final part to the, 'Creating a Good Plan' series that I have been sharing with you over the past month. 

For me budgeting is so important. When I was younger and in college, I decided that I was going to open up a few credit cards, just for emergencies and little things, ya know? Boy was that the biggest mistake ever!! Somehow, one outfit became two, a quick stop for Starbucks one day, became a daily routine, and I'm sure I purchased a few a lot other things that in my crazy, 21 year old mind was justified as a need. Let's just say, I had to thank daddy for helping me out of that hole, so that my credit would not be ruined forever. 

Sometimes, I wish I had been a little bit more responsible back then. I'm sure budgeting my money wasn't the only thing I had failed at. I did pay my father back the money that he so generously gave to me and it did take a very long time! However, it taught me a great lesson. One that I am so thankful for today. I learned that money spent with credit cards is not really my money, and it can quickly add up. It taught me to save for the things that I really wanted, because everything I want is not really a need. The reward for paying for something with my hard earned money was worth so much more than worrying about when I was ever going to repay it back. 

I am not saying that I don't ever put anything on credit cards anymore. I am just more responsible about it now. About two years ago, I created a budget plan for my husband and I, and it has been the best thing that I could have done for our finances. It has really helped us to watch our spending, pay off our credit card debt, and really save some money! 

I grouped together all of the different expenses in our budget and put them into categories. What you have in each of your categories might be a little different, but I thought grouping them together might help.

Once you have all of your expenses listed in your categories then you start to fill them in with the amount you pay each month. I filled in all of the bills that that are going to be the same amount every month first. Then I subtract that total from our total monthly income. The amount that is left over is where you have to start to divide the rest of your expenses up. Figuring out exactly how much to alot each of these remaining expenses can be tough. Some examples of bills that are always the same would be your mortgage or rent, phone bill, car payment, student loans, etc. A few expenses that might vary from month to month would be groceries, spending money, gas and savings.

The best thing to do is just create a rough draft of your budget and see how it goes for the first month. You may see that you need to add more money to your groceries or take away some money from your spending. You cants adjust it for the following month. It took me a couple months of adjusting to get my budget just right. There are still some months when I need a little extra money for one of my expenses, but there are also months when I have money left over that wasn't spent.  

I have a cute little notebook/ledger where I keep track of our budget. At the beginning of every month I write out my categories and list my expenses with their amounts. I then go through each week and check our balance. I check to see what bills have been paid and which ones still have not come out yet. I also keep a on going list of things that we need to buy that are separate from our budget. This list might include gifts, date night expenses, clothes for Grey, etc. These expenses get paid for out of our emergency funds (even though none of those things I just listed are really an emergency).

I know that this budget plan may not work for everyone, but I thought I would share for those who need somewhere to start. I don't have a special print out that I fill in every month. I just have one small notebook where I keep track of everything and compare it to our accounts. This is the easiest way for me and it has really helped us to stay on track, while still being able to save money. 

Feel free to leave a question or a comment to let me know what you think. 

Many Blessings,

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Creating a Good Plan: Part 3

I hope everyone is enjoying the warmer weather! And if you are some place right now where it's cold,  then I am so sorry for you.

There is something about the warm weather that just seems to get me motivated, and when it comes to working out and eating healthy, I definitely need a lot of motivation!

Today, I am going to talk about my fitness plan. It is really more of a set of guidelines that I try to follow, rather than a plan.

First, I want to talk about the Lose It app. Before I started watching exactly what I was eating, I could probably consume close to 2500+ calories a day. That is not good! I don't know a whole lot about dieting and fitness, but I know consuming more calories than you are supposed to in one day, is just not good for you. Especially if you aren't working out to burn off any of those calories!

Let me stop for a minute and first tell you what my actual goal was when I first started my fitness plan, because this goal might be different for you. I didn't really want to lose any weight, maybe a couple pounds. I just wanted to start watching what I was eating and how much I was eating every day. I also wanted to get back into shape. I was running out of breath walking up and down my steps, for goodness sake. I am going to be 33 and would like to try for another baby soon, so it is very important that I am eating healthy and staying in shape. Plus, as we get older things start to slow down, we are at more of a risk for different things and we want to be able to take care of our families and feel good about ourselves. So even if your goals are a little different than mine, the end result is still the same.

Now back to the Lose It app. I love this app for so many reasons. First, you enter in your personal information. Then you select your current weight and goal weight and you select how many pounds you want to loose each week. The app will then automatically calculate how many calories you are supposed to have a day if you want to reach your goal. There are 4 different sections for each day, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. You can select from a list of foods and drinks that have already been entered into the app or you can create your own food and enter in all the info yourself. Pretty soon the app starts to recognize the items you eat frequently.

There is also a section for exercise. After you exercise, go into the app and enter what you did and for how long and then the app will recalculate your calories and add more for that day. You don't always have to eat more just because your calorie amount went up, but it is nice to know that maybe you can treat yourself to something a little extra.

Here are a few more tips that I try to follow on a daily and weekly basis:

1. Allow yourself 1 or 2 cheat days, depending on your week. Let's be honest, we all need to treat  ourselves to the things we love, because if we don't it will make our plan that much harder.

2. Try to work out at least 3-4 times a week. I go for a long walk as well as do my ab workout for two of the days and then I do my fitness circuit on the other two days.

3. Try not to eat anything after 7:30-8pm. This can be very hard. That's why I said 'try'. It's not good to eat anything within a few hours of sleeping, because your body slows down. Anything you eat is just going to sit there.

4. Try not to order out a lot, especially fast food. You can still enjoy a lot of the things you love when you cook at home. Plus you are saving yourself a ton of calories and money. Try to go for foods with a small ingredient list. All that other stuff they add is no good!!!

5. Drink a lot of water! Or in my case seltzer! They say that you should drink half of your body weight in ounces everyday. It's ok to treat yourself to a latte or a iced coffee once in awhile, but try to cut out soda and other sugary drinks as much as possible! Water is best!!

5. The biggest one for me is not comparing myself to others. Everyone has their own struggles. Not everyone is working toward the same goal, but the outcome is the same.  To be healthy and feel good! Try to be there for one another to encourage them and keep them motivated. That's what helped me!

I hope this information will help you to create some sort of fitness goal or plan so that you can eat better and stay healthy. Unless of course you already are! Then you go girl!

Here is a link to my fitness board on Pinterest. There are some healthy recipes and different exercise plans on there.

Remember, you have to figure out what you want your personal goal to be. Not what Jane Doe's goal is. We are all different and we all have different needs! So our plans will all be different!

Be Healthy. Be Happy. Stay Fit.

Many Blessings,

Friday, April 10, 2015

Creating a Good Plan: Part 2

This is the second part of the "Creating a Good Plan" series. In this post I will talk about my cleaning plan.

From a young age I always liked to have my things/room clean and organized. I hated when things were out of place. I loved going through things and re-organizing them. I was also notorious for going around the house to "straighten things up". I didn't like it when things were not neatly organized. There was always a place for everything in our house when I was growing up.

Fast forward 20 years and things are still the same. I may even be a little bit more crazy with my cleaning and organizing now.

I understand that for some of you, there is no need for a cleaning plan. Some of you may just clean whenever you get a chance. Others may just devote a whole day to cleaning, and if that works for you, then there is no need to change, but for those of you who are like me, we need a plan.

I divide my cleaning up during the week. Each day I have a different task. This way I don't have to do it all at once and for the most part my house stays pretty clean. Notice I said, for the most part. There are days when I just don't feel like doing anything or we have something major going on and my cleaning gets pushed to the side for a few days. After all, having a spotless house all the time is merely impossible and also not something I strive for. Sure I like a clean house but I also recognize cleaning is not the most important thing in my life. I just like routine and I like not having to do all my cleaning in one day.

Here is my weekly cleaning plan:

Monday: Laundry
Tuesday: Dust & Clean All Windows
Wednesday: Bathrooms
Thursday: Vacuum All Carpets & Floors
Friday: Clean Kitchen & Wash All Floors
Saturday: Makeup Day (If I miss a day)
Sunday: Funday, No Cleaning!!

Once a month I will go through and clean and re-organize certain things. This includes our junk drawers, my closet & dresser drawers, our fridge & food pantry, and any other area that gets cluttered or messy as the month goes by.

There are also a few other smaller chores that my husband does, as needed. They are day to day things, such as doing the dishes, taking out the trash, oh yeah, and caring for our son all day while I'm at work. He's a great guy!

So there you have it. My cleaning plan. I don't know if something like this would work for you, but I hope that maybe it gave you a place to start or an idea for you to create your own plan.

Here are few extra tips that I have discovered that I think you will really love.

Tip #1: Take some toilet paper and wipe up the floor in your bathroom with that before you clean it with your cleaner. The TP will actually pick up so much of the stuff that just gets pushed around when you use a wet towel. I used to get so mad because I would go to clean our bathroom floors and I felt like I had to keep going over them because I could never get all of the hairs!

Tip #2: Cloth diaper inserts are the greatest cleaning tool ever!! You can use them to dust, clean your windows, wash your floors, just to name a few. The best part, throw them in the washer and use them over and over again!! They sell them in packs of two.

Tip #3: Baby wipes are also great for wiping up messy surfaces. I use them all the time on our couch to get Grey's milk and slobber stains out, and they don't leave water marks.

Happy Cleaning and Many Blessings,

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Great Commission

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.   -John 15:13-14

It is hard for me to imagine giving my life for someone else, especially for someone I don't even know. Of course if it were my family, that would be different, but even with all the love I have for them, it still would not be easy. 

Giving your life for someone is not something we think about often, because we hope that it would not be something that we would never have to do. 

Jesus did. 

For all of us, so that if we believed we could live forever with Him in eternity.

He took all the sins of this world upon himself so that we could be free.

He did it for us because He loves us more than we could ever imagine.

A love so powerful that it overcame death.

And all He commands us to do, is love one another as He loved us!

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.    -Romans 3:23-25 (NLT)

Let this be a reminder to you on this joyous Easter Day! (Free Printable) 

Many Blessings,

Friday, April 3, 2015

Creating a Good Plan: Part 1

Today is the first part of the series, "Creating a Good Plan". 

There are four parts to this series. In each part, I will talk about a different area of my life for which I have created some sort of plan. These plans help me stay organized and stay focused on the goals I have made for myself.

The four areas are:


Fitness & Health



Today I will talk about my reading plan. I used to never like to read when I was younger, but as I have grown up a little, I regret not ready as much. I feel like I missed out on a lot of good books and I needed to find a way to make up some of that time. I created a list and a plan for my reading, because now that I actually want to read, I don't have as much time. I have to schedule it in.

I have divided my reading into three different parts or times, rather. Morning, lunch, and before bed. It's actually pretty simple. I read my devotional in the morning when I wake up. I try to devote at least 30 minutes to this reading time.

During my lunch break at work or during my son's nap time when I am at home, I read whatever my personal choice book is. This list includes a lot of fiction and high interest books (crafting, cooking, etc.) On some days it might even be a magazine issue. I also try to devote 30 minutes to this reading time.

Finally, before bed, I spend the last 15 minutes or so before I shut off the lights, and read whatever classic novel I have chosen. This reading time is fairly new for me. I recently listened to a wonderful podcast by Edie Wadsworth. She talks about going back and re-reading some classic novels that you had to read in high school and college. She makes a great point that we should never stop educating ourselves. We need to be life-long learners. I created a list of 10 books to start. We will see how far I get. I'm hopeful!

Here is my classic's list:

1. To Kill a Mockingbird 
2. The Picture of Dorian Gray
3. The Pilgrims Progress
4. Mere Christianity
5. The Outsiders
6. Hamlet
7. Uncle Tom's Cabin
8. Lord of the Flies
9. The Great Gatsby
10. The Scarlet Letter

Here is a link to some of the other books that I want to read. I am in no hurry to finish any of these, as long as I am reading a little bit, mostly everyday, I am sure I will finish most of them, eventually.

One thing I have to remind myself though, I may not get a chance to read at each of these times every day. I may not even get a chance to read at all on somedays and that's ok. The most important reading time for me is my morning devotions. I try to do them everyday.

It is good to have a plan, but sometimes there are other things that consume our time from day to day. Happy reading!

Leave a comment with some of your favorite books. I would love to add them to my list.

Many Blessings,