Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Financial Fittness - August Challenge

I get regular emails from EveryDollar and You Need a Budget (YNAB) with financial tips. I often don't read them. I leave them unread with the intention of reading them later. Well, there's no time like the present! As Gary Vaynerchuk says "You're gonna die..." So let's embrace the now.

EveryDollar's August Challenge is "3 Ways to get Organized with your Money." Their 3 tips are:

  • Get rid of the paper pile.
  • Plan out your meals.
  • Make bill paying quick.
The first two we already do. YNAB has made it easy to input expenses on the go and online banking has made saving receipts a thing of the past. No paper pile! And let's be honest as a family of 4 with toddlers, we HAVE to plan meals. Or we would never eat. But I'm not very good about the third challenge. They suggest "Set up as many bills for autodraft as you can so they are paid easily, predictably and consistently. For the ones that don’t offer that option, pay them as soon as you get them instead of letting them all pile up. The sooner you pay, the sooner you can think about something else!

Now that is something that has my attention. It's true unpaid bills just linger in the back of the mind. They are a burden! I don't particularly like Autodraft. It always catches me off guard. But I can set up each bill to pay automatically when it comes to my mailbox. Almost autodraft, but with me in the driver's seat. YAY! NEW GOAL - set up bills to pay automatically once I have received and reviewed them. BOOM!

We've had a few setbacks in the getting rid of debt department (mainly that the debt pile is going up instead of down), but I'll save that for another day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Transformation Tuesday

So it's Tuesday and I woke up early excited to workout, take a photo to compare it to last week, and celebrate my success. Then real life happened. Both girls woke up about 2 minutes after I did. They woke up grumpy. We rushed to take dad to work which made it all worse (he ended up walking). It was at that moment of group tears, I decided we all needed to take a deep breath and just slow down. Things got better. We made it to the inside park. The girls ran their little hearts out! Laughed. Yelled. Ran. Jumped. Climbed. It was glorious.

But, E1 is in a boundary phase. Every transition can be a struggle. She says "NO" a lot. She wants to do it "all by myself!!" a lot. It can be hard to slow down enough to let her do these things. By 11am I was tired. I ate a horrible lunch. Bought chips at the store (because we shopped right before lunch, bad idea!). It was one of those stress-eating days.

So here I am at 9:00pm with a glass of wine. Having eaten like shit all day and having missed my workout (then didn't feel motivated anymore), being reminded by my husband that tomorrow is a new day. To try again. To be honest about the struggle.

So let's do part brag, part reality check. I have worked out consistently for a whole week!! WAHOO!! I actually thought about running and felt like I might be strong enough to give it a go! I have been feeling strong in general. Less winded. Less fatigued. My sleep is better. Overall, it's been amazing! PiYo is my friend. It gets me!

But today was real. Real life, with disappointments, missed expectations, and bad habits. But tomorrow is a new day!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Financial Fitness

I love Dave Ramsey and You Need A Budget. Dave Ramsey is a constant source of inspiration for me. I love when he shares stories on facebook about families getting rid of hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. I get goosebumps. I feel like, we can do this! Another friend introduced me to YNAB for budgeting. It's been really hard, I still suck SO BAD. At least I have a tool that I like.

Taking honest stock.
We owe someone (lots of someone's) about $55,000, not including our house.
I'm willing to take out the car payment and the school loans for the sake of not being totally overwhelmed, so let's say we owe $13,000 somewhat urgently. It's half credit card debt, a quarter unpaid taxes, and a quarter medical bills. Ugh.

I have a plan.
Goal #1, We are going to use some of J.'s severance to pay off those medical bills. Pesky little things, they gotta go.

Goal #2, We run a guest house and have been nonchalantly spending that money. We need to put it to better use. I think we can easily pay off those outstanding taxes by the end of the year (maybe faster?!).

Goal #3, The credit card. I have to be honest, I feel the most demoralized by this. It's always there. I have struggled for 2 years to pay it off and it always comes back. I'm strongly considering cutting them up. We need a hard reset. Any tips? Until then we'll keep chipping away; however, pointless it feels.

Having money for emergencies and to put towards retirement is worth the work!
Now let's do this!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Starting over...

Somewhere between some minor health issues that became major health issues, and the seasons transitioning from spring to summer, I lost myself. I became engrossed in just coping with the day to day. I stopped exercising. I started sleeping more. I haven't totally gone back to the early days of 2 kids where I would single-handedly demolish a pack of Oreos, but I am addicted to Boom Chica Pop, Sweet, Salty Kettle corn. Then J. lost his job, and we took stock of our financial situation and I realized, I need to find myself. Fast!

Enter my friend (facebook friend, real life acquaintance) Carla. She's a Beachbody coach. More than that she used to be a body builder, then got pregnant with twins and has shared a very real, public journey back to fitness. If she can do it, I can do it.

My goals ::
1. Headspace, time each day where I do something for me, that's not work and that's not family.
2. Fitness, I want to be able to run with my girls this fall (when it's not 100°). I need strength, core, arms and legs. I want to regain some muscle definition, I don't need to loose weight, but I'm flabby.
3. Financial Fitness, we have debt. We need to get rid of it.

Starting on re-building core strength I joined a PiYo challenge through BeachBody. Today is day 1.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

This new life of parenting...

The thought of being a working mom with two little kids can significantly overwhelm me if I let it. In my love of spontaneity and winging it lifestyle, I suddenly find myself totally frozen. Overwhelmed with choices, and chores, and little needy people. Because of this, my journey of embracing parenthood has also meant embracing some lifestyle changes. As the author "From Frazzled to Focused" says, "allowing yourself to envision doing things differently is a formidable gift you can give to yourself" (Be warned, I will repeatedly quote this book, it is speaking my language!). As a mom I find I want to do it all! And as the author warns "not having a clear sense of what your top priorities are will lead you to focus on the wrong things." So in my frazzled chaotic state I'm turning from focusing on all the wrong things to setting some priorities.

"Systemizing allows you to leverage your time and minimize needless thinking and planning so you can do things you choose to do smarter and in the best way you can." When I first read that sentence it felt so liberating. It still does, every time I read it. AND I'm happy to say, having a meal plan (even a simple one that includes macaroni and cheese and spaghetti) is really helping. It takes away the agonizing moment when Jay and I look at each other (tired and hungry ourselves, with a crying child) and ask each other, "whats for dinner?"

So now that we've done a couple of weeks of dinner meal planning I'm thinking about what's the next frontier. What is that next system or plan that would continue to empower me and free up some of that crippled head space for things I really care about? Maybe it's a clean/dirty sign for the dishwasher so everyone knows when they can load their own dirty dishes. Maybe it's some wipes in a nice container on the bathroom sink so people can wipe it down daily cutting down on the grossness that is happening there currently. Maybe it's planning when I do laundry better so the dry, clean and unfolded laundry doesn't sit for a week waiting to be folded.

This life of "libearation through systemization" is a great life. Six months from now with TWO kids, I'll be planning my menus, organizing my wardrobe, AND having a consistent date night with your spouse set in stone, along with a pre-booked babysitter.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bulgur Risotto with Corn and Shrimp

Yield: Makes 4 servings

2 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 c. bulgur wheat
1/2 tsp. salt
12 oz fresh or frozen shrimp (shelled and devined)
      *we use salad shrimp or shrimp meat
2 c. corn
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 lime juiced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring for 30 seconds; add bulgur and salt; stir 1 minute more. Gradually stir in 2 cups hot water, 1/2 cup at a time (waiting until bulgur absorbs it to add more), until bulgur is slightly soupy, 8-10 min. You may or may not use all the water. Add shrimp. Add corn, bell pepper, juice from lime and red pepper flakes; stir, adding water to keep mixture creamy. Cook, stirring, until corn and peppers and shrimp are warmed through, 1-2 minutes.

Per serving 347 cal., 9.6g fat (1.3g saturated), 45g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 24g protein

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Today I learned...

...about Stefan Lux. I get a daily email update with the media buzz from the previous day. Each day also poses a Question of the Day, and the answer to the previous day's question. 

Yesterday's question was "In 1936, a Jewish journalist and poet entered the assembly hall of The League of Nations in Geneva and shot himself, committing suicide before the entire group. Who was it, and why did he do it?"

The answer is Stefan Lux, "who shot himself in an effort to alert world leaders of Germany's increasing antisemitism, expansionism, and militarism." His last words were "C'est le dernier coup" ("This is the final blow,"). Most tragically Lux and his work has been mostly forgotten.